“We can all use a little piece of Zen in our lives…”

Webster’s defines Zen as a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation. The online Urban Dictionary gives this definition: “One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind.”

Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind.

Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without the distortion created by your own thoughts. I submit that we (Westerners) are often so distracted in our multi-task-driven lives that we barely have time to breathe, let alone find anything near the aim of the Mahayana Buddhists.

We can all use a little piece of Zen in our lives, if only for a moment. And while these suggestions may only be baby steps, they are hopefully steps in the right direction.

1. Zen through your eyes: Simply close your eyes. It’s amazing how much we can take in and how much we can wear out our poor pupils, especially sitting in front of computer screens all day. Give your lids a rest and close them – if only for a minute of solitude.

2. A zenful breath: Ujjayi is a yoga breathing technique used to try and center one’s focus away from all the many distractions in our daily life. The simplest way to describe the Ujjayi technique is to pretend you are holding a mirror in front of you and exhale and inhale deeply towards that imaginary mirror as though you were trying to fog it up. Now close your mouth, breathe through your nose as you remain aware of that same quality of breath (a Darth Vader-like breath, similar to the sound of the ocean). This sound is continued through a slight closing off of the back of the throat during both your inhales and exhales. Try breathing as deeply as you can using this technique for 20 full breaths to see what its effects are for your body.

3. The sound of Zen: Play a mix of your favorite calming tunes. Try sacred or classical music if you prefer something purely instrumental, or new age artists like TJ Rehmi and Enya for slightly more upbeat – yet meditative in their own way.

4. A sip of Zen: The benefits of green tea are many including lowering of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), helping to prevent cancer, reducing high blood pressure, lowering blood sugar and destroying the bacteria that forms plaque. Try a cup of Tazo’s Zen green tea when you need a meditative moment, with a side of health-minded benefits.

5. The scent of Zen: Use aromatherapy lotions or oil sprays (diluted oils in a spray bottle) at your desk, home or even in your car to surround yourself with the instant soothing scent of lavender or bergamot, the comforting aroma of vanilla, chamomile’s relaxing benefits or meditative effect of sandalwood.

6. The beauty of Zen: Take a moment to create something expressive…write a poem, song lyrics, a quick sketch or collage…something fun, creative and artistic. It’s during these moments of creativity that we can find peace and rejuvenation.

7. The path to Zen: It’s simple, it’s comfy, it’s a toasty pair of clean socks. That’s right, something as easy as changing into a new pair of socks during the middle or end of your day can give you a new found rejuvenation.

8. Understand Zen: If stress is piling up around you at work or home, take a few minutes to bring your awareness to the greater meaning of it all. Here are a few sites with inspirational quotes and zenful stories to bookmark on your computer:

9. Sharing Zen: We send out mass emails, forwards and e-cards, and rarely see personalized mail anymore. Pass on a bit of Zen through the unexpected personalized email or letter to a friend or family member – just because.

10. Healing touch of Zen: Aches and pains distract us from fully focusing on the present moment or task at hand. Help relieve the distracting tension by throwing a warm heating pad on those sore shoulders, neck or lower back.

By Carmen da Silva. First published on Divine Caroline  Kindly contributed to Zen Moments by the author

Photo: Tahoe Serenity by angela7dreams

Valeo Yoga Kit

Valeo Yoga Kit

Product Description
Yoga Kit Sticky mat 24″ x 68″; 72″ woven cotton strap with buckle; Two firm foam blocks 3″ x 6″ x 9″; Nylon tote bag with shoulder strap; Yoga instruction chart.

“good find ” 5 stars

“The mat is nice, sufficiently thick and sticky; the strap seems sturdy, and the blocks are nice and soft but firm. The material that the carrying bag is made out of does seem a bit thin, but still very usable, and hey all this for barely over 20 bucks, the bag is really just an extra in my eyes. If you are looking for an inexpensive but very functional kit to begin yoga, this kit is it.

UPDATE: Over a year later, this kit is still going strong, no problems whatsoever from anything. I use it regularly and it is holding up very well. Very pleased with this purchase.” Amazon customer reviews

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