Zen In, Zen Out

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There are times in life when you just want to find some zen. The word zen means to absorb or the art of being in a meditative state. This absorption happens while practicing meditation. This practice of zen focuses less on the sutras and doctrine and more on personal experience within the moment. Zen offers a deep connection and awareness of the self being in a meditative state. The idea is to observe. You are the witness. Zen includes a focus on the body, breath, and mind.

The ultimate goal is to observe yourself without judgment.

There are a lot of people I run into that tell me they are not able to meditate because they have such active minds and cannot sit still. I find the excuse ironic because the reason for meditation is to allow you to reach control of these incapabilities. Animals naturally meditate. I witness my cat meditating all the time, she sits comfortably on all four legs and finds a soft gaze or closes her eyes. As she sits there, she is awake and aware but completely calm and serene. This is meditation, I do not need a scientific study to prove to me what I already see for myself. If this meditative state is natural to us being animals ourselves, how can we reach control within the crazy society and lifestyles we live?

Experiment with meditation by finding yourself in a comfortable seated position on a cushion. Allow your spine to elongate and straighten as you root down through your tailbone and reach up through the crown of the head. Begin to close the eyes or find a soft gaze forward. The hands can be resting on the knees or legs comfortably. If you face your palms down you are seeking a quiet mind and a feeling of grounding within the self. If your palms face up you are seeking to receive information from the Universe or surroundings with a sense of opening. After the focus has concentrated on the physical body, the next thing you do is begin to bring your focus on your breath and mind.

We now bring the awareness to our breath. Our bodies naturally breath without even having to think about it. If we had to think about every breath we took in order to live we would all be extinct by now! This organic breath can be taken for granted as we are busier thinking about other things going on in our lives. To experience a meditative state, observing your breath is the most important step to reaching zen state. This step is simply just bringing awareness to the feeling of air inhaling into the body and exhaling out of the body. You can play with the rhythm of breath for experience such as deep breathing or quick pace and feel how the heart rate rises and calms. You want to reach the point where you can just observe the breath in its natural state. This observance is nonjudgmental and more about absorbing the experience.

The final step is to observe the mind without judgement. Notice whatever thoughts you experience during meditation. Allow those thoughts to flow into the mind the same way that fresh air enters on an inhale. Then allow those thoughts to flow out of the mind the same way the air leaves on an exhale. Continue this rhythm until you seek a steadier mind. Eventually it will become easier and quicker to seek a steady mind through practice. Now you know how to find your zen!

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