Zen is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes the practice of meditation as a means to achieve a state of calm and clear awareness, known as the “zen state of mind.” Zen practitioners believe that this state of mind is necessary for achieving enlightenment.
Whether you want to get into meditation/zen state of mind to help with stress, help with a health condition, or to get closer to God, you may be interested in this post.
What Is a Zen State of Mind?
A zen state of mind is a mental state in which the person is not focused on either disturbing thoughts or external stimuli. It is a state of being awake but not focused on the world outside. It’s a state of mind created by proper nourishment, healthy lifestyle, and meditation.
A person who meditates may find themselves becoming more aware of their own existence. This in turn leads the person to become more aware of their surroundings.
How to Get Into a Zen State of Mind
Getting into a zen state of mind requires practice and dedication, but it’s a worthwhile goal for anyone hoping to achieve happiness and contentment. Zen Buddhism, along with other Eastern religions, has developed a number of techniques and practices that can help you achieve this goal.
Below, I have outlined the 12 most important steps that you can take to develop a zen state of mind.
How to Achieve a Zen State of Mind
01. Practice Meditation
One way to find your own zen state is through meditation. Meditation is the practice of being completely aware of what’s going on around you and inside you.
It’s a mental discipline that trains your brain to focus only on one thing at a time, without worrying about distractions. Meditation has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety and depression.
Why Should I Meditate?
There are many benefits associated with meditation, and the most obvious of these is the improvement of your mental health.
Meditation improves your mood, reduces stress, and calms you down, which is why it’s now used in many hospitals to help patients heal.
There are so many things that can make a person stressed out. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day hustle and forget about the important things in life.
So, sometimes we need a little extra help to get into a healthy state of mind. Meditation can improve focus, performance and help you reach your goals. It can also help you sleep better.
How to Meditate
Starting with guided meditation will make things easier if you’re just starting out. But what works best for each person is different and in most cases is probably a combination of things.
To learn more about the difference between guided and unguided meditation, please take a look at this blog post on Headspace:
The following are a few tips on how to meditate:
Live in the Moment and Be Mindful
Mindfulness in its simplest form is being aware of what’s happening in the present moment. It is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
It can range from a simple observation of your surroundings to a complex activity like doing math or playing an instrument. Mindfulness is being present.
Being mindful is being aware of what’s happening in the moment. It’s an awareness that is in the present moment, not in the past or future.
In my opinion, the most common misunderstanding about mindfulness that gets in the way of realizing its full potential is the belief that mindfulness has to do with controlling your attention or focusing on one thing.
Mindfulness is not a way to concentrate better. If you look into mindfulness literature, you’ll see that it’s all about being in the present moment without judgment.
To be mindful is to be aware of yourself, others and the present moment without getting caught up in judgment or expectations. Mindfulness is cultivated through meditation and other training practices, and can be found in most other major religions as well.
Use Your Senses to Find Peace
When you’re meditating, you want to be completely focused on the activity and not let outside thoughts occupy your mind. The best way to do this is to find a quiet, private place to sit, and set a time limit (start with five to 10 minutes).
Just listen to the sounds around you, like waves crashing on the shore or birds chirping in the trees. You might also try to do something soothing that makes you feel good.
Once you’ve settled into your spot, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Let your thoughts come and go, without focusing on any of them.
What Are Mantras and How to Use Them
Zen Buddhism mantras are short phrases that are repeated to help focus the mind. Zen Buddhism mantras can be used in meditation or chanting, or as a form of prayer. The mantras can be used as an affirmation of Buddhist teachings. They can also be used for contemplation.
Many people find that chanting mantras in a rhythmic fashion can be helpful in calming down during times of stress. Mantras can make it easier to stay focused on your meditation or other spiritual practices.
Develop a Meditation Habit
A recent study found that people who meditated for 10 minutes a day improved their mood, reduced their blood pressure and were less stressed. It is not hard to develop a meditation habit. All you need is 10 minutes a day, and it is best if you do it at the same time.
If you want to develop a meditation habit, you will need to be consistent and disciplined. If you are new to meditation, set aside 5-10 minutes each day to meditate. This will help you get in the habit of meditating regularly.
The best way to develop a meditation habit is by starting with short periods of time. It is important to find a time that works for you and your schedule.
Try meditating for five minutes per day for one week before increasing the duration of your sessions. It may be difficult to start something new, but I think it is worth giving it a try.
Establish a Home Meditation Practice
The best way to get started with meditation is to start at home. There are many ways to get started with meditation at home. You can purchase a set of guided meditation CDs or download a free guided meditation app on your phone. There are also many free guided meditation videos on YouTube.
The best way to find your own home meditation practice is by experimenting and trying different types of meditations.
There are so many meditation techniques, from those that require sitting cross-legged on the floor to those that can be done while lying in bed. In the beginning, meditate on something simple, such as your breath, or focus on a mantra.
02. Live Simply
A simple life is a rewarding life. Life is full of suffering and attachment. Suffering is inevitable, but attachment can be eliminated by living simply.
Zen Buddhism teaches that the way to enlightenment is to live a simple life, one free of material possessions.
Zen monks live a simple life, without attachment to material things. They prefer to practice in solitude and live a very simple life.
They eat only one meal a day and wear clothes made of rough and simple material. They live in a small hut and sleep on the floor with a mat.
They do not need much because they believe that life should be lived with less attachment to material things.
03. Clean up Your Mind
It is only during really stressful times when I start to realize that I am living in my own world, and that the constant flood of thoughts in my head is not helping my situation any.
It’s like when I’m sitting down and trying to have a conversation with someone I really like, but I can’t because all my focus is on what to say next, when to say it, and how to say it. I might be so preoccupied with how to act around this person that I forget to listen to what the other person is saying at all.
Our minds are always on the go. We’re thinking about what we need to do next, how we’re going to get it done, and what we plan on doing after we get it done. But is that how we should be living our lives?
Zen Buddhism teaches that by centering our minds on one thing only – we can find calm and peace. By cleansing our minds of the clutter that can be created from the stress of everyday living, we can be more focused and conscious of what we want to achieve and how we want to live our lives.
Mind cleansing can be done by following some simple steps:
- a) Work with your mind, not against it.
- b) Be aware of your thoughts.
- c) Be in the moment.
- d) Accept things as they are.
04. Get into a Routine
Some of the biggest changes you can make in your life to fit with Zen Buddhist teachings will take some time to work into your schedule.
It’s easy to say that all the stresses of everyday life can pile up and make you feel overwhelmed. You can get sidetracked and never really find your way back.
When dealing with the stresses and challenges of everyday life, it’s important to never let them get the best of you.
All it takes is a little bit of time and planning to make sure that you are not only on track with your goals but also that you’re able to find the time to make sure that you stay happy.
05. Spacing Things Out
If you are feeling overwhelmed by things that are causing stress in your life, give yourself a break! Take a walk, listen to some music, or spend time with loved ones.
But even when you are feeling good, you should give yourself regular breaks. Taking a break from your computer, phone, or TV can help you relax and enjoy life more.
Too often, we get caught in the trap of thinking that the way to become a better person is to work harder and harder. We focus on improving our weaknesses, making them stronger. And that’s not wrong.
Before you get started on your work, take a deep breath and ask yourself: “What is this task in the grand scheme of my life?” Is it really worth your life being in a tizzy over? If the answer is no, take a break, space things out a bit.
06. Take One Step at a Time
Zen Buddhism focuses on being mindful in the present moment, and this focus can help you advance in small, manageable steps.
This has big benefits. For example, it can help you make progress toward your goals at a pace that is right for you, and make it easier to adapt to changes in life, such as switching to a vegan diet.
As you move forward, try to set realistic expectations for yourself. Give yourself credit whenever you make progress, even if it is just a small step.
07. Take It Slow
If you look around at the world today, it is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and lose sight of what is really important.
We work incredibly long hours to afford the material luxuries that our neighbors have, we eat out so much that we rarely enjoy home cooked meals, and we neglect to spend time with our families to get more work done.
We can all stand to slow down a bit and spend a little more time each day cultivating peace within ourselves; and the zen mind state can help us with this..
08. Build Zen Rituals
Zen Buddhism is really a way of living that allows you to take control of your life and achieve happiness in the present moment.
One way to do that is to develop Zen rituals, patterns that allow you to reach a peaceful state of mind quickly. Here are two rituals you can start right now:
Japanese Tea Meditation
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony (cha-no-yu) ) is a ritual in which powdered matcha (powdered green tea), hot water and bowls are carefully prepared and then served in a meditative state.
In a sense, it is the Japanese equivalent of the Korean tea ceremony, with which it shares a number of similarities.
However, the goal of cha-no-yu is not to drink tea but to be one with the tea, as the tea master Sen no Rikyū (1522-1591) explains: “When you hear the splash Of the water drops that fall Into the stone bowl You will feel that all the dust Of your mind is washed away.”
Sitting Meditation (Zazen)
Zazen is performed in a seated position with the back straight and legs crossed. The practice of zazen has been described as “the sitting practice of dhyana, or meditation, in which one’s attention is focused exclusively on one’s breathing.”
09. Getting to Know Life and Appreciating It
The ultimate goal of Zen is to achieve a Buddha-like state, in which one is capable of seeing all things without distortion or illusion, and of acting in a way that is harmonious with the natural world.
A lot of people have misunderstandings about Zen Buddhism. Many people think it’s all about sitting in meditation for long periods of time, which is only one of the many things that Zen Buddhism is about.
Another common misunderstanding is that Zen Buddhism is a way to become enlightened or a way to reach some higher spiritual plane.
But Zen is not about reaching any kind of goal, it’s about being in the here and now. The present moment is all we ever have, and so we should appreciate the beauty of every second of our lives.
10. Serve Others with a Smile
When you do something for someone else, you should give the best that you have in you. In doing so, you are not only benefiting the other person but also yourself.
When we do something for someone else, it should be done with a feeling of joy. The Buddha taught that we should serve others as if they were our parents, children, or loved ones.
11. Keep an Open Mind
Zen practitioners need to express themselves in a non-dualistic manner. Known as the original “buddha nature,” it is inherent to all of us.
When you perceive the world as being composed of two opposing forces, such as good vs. evil, it results in an inability to accept the world as it is. This is one of the main reasons why people often suffer from anxiety and depression.
Ego-logical, dualistic paradigm of thinking is a form of thinking that identifies reality as being made up of opposite forces (ego-logical) and interprets everything in terms of opposites (dualistic).
The mentality that there is just two feasible alternatives: “I win – you lose” and “I lose – you win” leads to unhealthy competition and unhappiness. This is a very unwise approach, because the world is a place of continuous changes and uncertainty.
Not everything needs to be favorited over another, and we need not label something bad or good based on preconceived notions. So, keeping our dualistic attitude under control is important. To live in the ‘
zen state of mind‘ you have to be in a state of non-judgement
12. Start Reading Zen Buddhist Books
Reading Zen Buddhist books is a good way to learn more about zen state of mind. Books written by Zen Buddhist monks are often very informative and easy to read.
Some of the Zen monks may hold strong opinions and may be regarded as controversial. So, you should begin with familiar and popular books and gradually move on to more advanced study books.
Amazon has a good selection of Zen Buddhist books.