You've probably heard of Zen habits where people claiming to “Zen out” in order to rest and rejuvenate? But what exactly are Zen habits? And are they really beneficial, or are they just a fashionable trend?
Broadly speaking, Zen habits help you to orient yourself in the present, calming you down and improving your focus. For example, some Zen techniques involve changing how you start the day or how you unwind, while others emphasize how important it is to interact with others in specific ways. What these behaviors all have in common is mindful, self-aware action.
In this article, we'll explain what unifies Zen habits and walk you through a range of powerful ways in which these habits can enhance your life. Finally, we'll consider how you can immediately benefit from combining Zen habits with the Law of Attraction tools and techniques.
So, what is Zen? It originated as a set of Buddhism, focusing on refining and practicing meditation.
Consequently, looking at the way Zen monks live can help us understand how modern Zen philosophy works.
In particular, these monks focus on being present in all things at all times, and on being generous to others. They adhere to a central value of compassion and aim to serve others.
However, it's possible to take important messages from Japanese Zen and Chinese Zen without becoming a monk (or anything close).
The meaning of Zen is closely tied to individual interpretations. The nature of a Zen lifestyle can dramatically vary between people. For example, harmony is an important concept in Zen, but you can apply it in a range of ways.
For you, it might focus largely on Zen meditation and on associated mindfulness techniques, with an emphasis on making your mental life more harmonious. Meanwhile, someone else might refer to Zen primarily to inform their relationships with others.
However, no matter what kind of Zen life you live, the resulting feeling is likely to be similar – one of clarity, calm, and self-awareness. When you live in accordance with Zen ideology, you deliberately simplify life and aim to be authentic in all ways.
By taking on Zen habits and practicing associated techniques, you can reach a state of tranquility and peace that makes you happier in all areas of life.
Now that you have a sense of Zen philosophy, let's move on to look at how you can begin to incorporate Zen habits into your everyday life.
First, what is a Zen habit? Roughly, it's any way of behaving or thinking that reflects and embodies the key values of the Zen lifestyle.
Key values include – tranquility, compassion, authenticity, calmness, and mindfulness. Some such habits are personal, others are interpersonal, and yet more concern our attitudes to material possessions.
We'll explore eleven distinct things you can do to begin embracing Zen into your life today.
Each of the following habits will help you become more focused on the present, more generous and more self-aware. You might choose just a couple (e.g., Zen mindfulness and reducing clutter) before adding others, or you might opt to incorporate all into your life as soon as possible. Regardless of which you choose, all of these zen practices can be done without any specialist knowledge or equipment. All you need is curiosity, open-mindedness, and a willingness to move toward positive change.
You probably already know some positive thinking exercises, but there are particular Zen techniques you can apply here. Specifically, think about how you view suffering, and try to transform it.
Right now, you probably think about viewing discomfort as negative, like torture, as something you want to avoid.
But consider how often you've grown from difficulties.
Just as our muscles strengthen after hard workouts, our minds and characters evolve and improve as we go through challenges.
The next time you're suffering, do an exercise where you ask yourself what you will learn – what you're being taught.
How will you be better, stronger and more capable after this? Often, looking back to past examples helps us believe that suffering really is a path to growth. Shifting your perspective in this way makes you more positive, and more open to leaving your comfort zone.
These days, it's easy for us to live our lives without really connecting very much with the world around us.
We can live on our phones, on our computers, always looking down and getting sucked into the thing that competes for your attention.
Part of the Zen lifestyle involves disconnecting sometimes and simply tuning into what's in front of you.
The obvious way to do this is to go out into nature – take in the sights, smells and sounds, and appreciate what the Earth provides us. However, you can practice this kind of healthy disconnection by turning off your phone and watching your surroundings.
The key is to focus on all the life and immediacy going on around you, revitalizing your sense of connection with the world and other people in it. Try doing this for just half an hour a day and see what a difference it makes.
When you ruminate on the past or anxiously try to plan every aspect of the future, you miss what's happening in there here and now.
Zen philosophy emphasizes that the present is all we have and that we can thrive if we truly appreciate each moment as it comes.
There are all kinds of things you can do to remind yourself how to live in the present.
For example, one technique is to say daily affirmations that anchor you in the now, such as “I fully commit to the present moment.”
Another exercise you can do involves going on a daily walk and trying to soak up every detail – can you find ten beautiful things?
Alternatively, you might have an object in your pocket that you look at or hold every time you feel yourself getting sucked into obsessing about the past or the future.
Breathing exercises serve a wide range of purposes that align with the Zen lifestyle.
Firstly, it works as a kind of mindfulness technique, giving you something to focus on that slows your mind and encourages you to immerse yourself at the moment.
In addition, it calms your body down, regulates your heartbeat and relaxes you.
It's also worth noting that breathing exercises give you a chance to soothe anxiety, anger, and other negative emotions, encouraging you to lean into positivity and compassion.
All you need to do is find a comfortable, quiet place, sit down and close your eyes. Breathe into a count of five, hold it to a count of three and exhale to a count of seven.
Do this as many times as you like – many people start with 10 or 20 breaths. Try doing breathing exercises before bed and see if it improves the way you sleep.
The outward-looking aspect of the Zen lifestyle stresses the importance of approaching people openly, with warmth and positivity.
So, one of the daily Zen habits you can add to your life involves smiling at even those you don't know. You can take every opportunity you can to spread positivity and make connections.
In addition, helping people is the key to embracing Zen.
There are dozens of ways you can do this – from volunteer work to offering help to loved ones, listening to those who need advice, and reaching out to those who might be lonely or in need.
It's important to avoid draining your own resources in your quest to help others. You'll likely find that reaching out and giving your time and attention to people actually makes you feel rejuvenated and more at peace.
Again, the modern lifestyle is one in which we're constantly encouraged to multi-task.
We flit between different commitments and activities, often never really engaging in any of the things whole-heartedly.
Given the Zen value of mindfulness, there are better ways to approach your daily tasks. In particular, try to make a rule of doing one thing, giving each item on your list your full attention.
For example, instead of flitting back and forwards between a work task and your phone, complete the work assignment and then take a mindful break doing something you enjoy.
With bigger tasks and commitments as well, it can be healthier for you to do one thing at a time. Don't try to learn ten new skills – rather, methodically learn and perfect one, then move on to the next challenge.
Think about what is necessary for your life. If we go back to the Zen monk and ask what they have in their life, we'll find the answer is “Very little.”
Rather than having 20 pairs of shoes, expensive technology, and big television, the monk focuses on having functional, comfortable clothes, enough food to meet their needs, and the simple tools needed to get on with life.
The associated exercise you can do here is simply this: when you think about getting something new, ask yourself “Is this necessary?”. Of course, the message isn't that you need to live like a monk to get something meaningful from Zen teachings.
Rather, this is just a reminder that we often have lots of things that aren't necessary, and asking what we really need can help ensure that we focus on the things that truly matter.
Zen mediation doesn't always look like sitting on a cushion with your eyes closed.
Rather, with the right attitude and mindset, almost everything can become a meditative task that improves focus, induces feelings of calmness and helps you to clear your mind.
Good ways of introducing multiple daily meditative experiences include changing your attitude to cooking, cleaning and traveling.
Let's take cooking as an example. To turn it into a form of meditation, try to engage all of your senses in the process.
What can you smell? What colors can you see? How is your body responding to the food, to the desire to eat it? What can you hear? Notice the sizzle of a pan on the stove, the way herbs look mixing into a sauce, and the heat of a spoon in your hand.
Soon, you will be fully immersed in the present moment, unbothered by distracting thoughts.
The advice to follow a structured and daily routine can sound restrictive like it lacks spontaneity and emphasizes inflexibility.
However, the Zen message about following a structured routine isn't necessarily about repeating yourself and never revising your plans.
Instead, it's about ensuring that you dedicate specific times to specific aims and goals. This suggestion is similar to the above comment about multi-tasking, which urged you to do one thing at a time.
An example of living in a structured, focused way might involve setting aside an hour of your evening for meditative and self-reflective tasks, and an hour in the morning for writing about your plans and feelings.
It can also go beyond the daily, for example setting a monthly goal of visiting a new place and taking a mindful walk in nature or even setting life goals and working towards them daily.
The overarching aim is just to ensure that you're fully immersed in everything you do.
In many ways, the heart of the Zen lifestyle revolves around living simply.
Often without meaning to do so, we accumulate a lot of “things” over our lifetimes.
Sometimes things we don't even really want or need, that we just impulsively buy or that we receive from others. As the years go by, these material objects can begin to clutter our homes, and perhaps even our minds.
Messy surroundings can make our thinking chaotic. So it stands to the reasoning that simplifying those surroundings can make us think in a clearer, more focused way.
For material items in your life, ask “Is this needed?” or “What does this bring to my life?”.
If the answer is “No”, or “Not very much”, perhaps pass it by or give it away. A similar rule can be applied to certain ways of spending time, and even potentially toxic relationships in your life.
While it's good to challenge and stretch yourself, to constantly try to go grow and evolve, Zen philosophy tells us to make sure that we set realistic expectations.
Again, there's themes of simplicity and focus here, an encouragement to dedicate yourself fully to each task you engage in.
Whenever there's a chance to do more things at superficial levels or doing fewer things at depth, choose the latter.
Immerse yourself in what you love, and work carefully to meet your goals.
This Zen habit is applicable in all aspects of your life, and every day. One technique you can use is keeping a notepad where you'd write down three things you'll plan to achieve daily. Stick to those, and don't aim for more.
Then, use the rest of your energy for recreation and self-care.
You're now armed with 11 straightforward but powerful Zen habits that you can choose to add to yourself as soon as you like – even today. Finally, let's consider how these techniques can be combined with The Law of Attraction exercises in order to get the best results.
There are lots of points of overlap here, so let's look at three major ones. Firstly, notice that Zen's positive thinking habits also help to support the Law of Attraction goals. The Law Of Attractions goals are staying positive, vibrating on a high frequency, and focusing on abundance rather than lack. This means that Zen habits may help you to manifest your goals at a faster rate.
Secondly, as you may have realized, all Zen techniques that focus on mindfulness and on living in the present improve your ability to concrete on what you want to achieve. These habits help you cut out extraneous or irrelevant background noise – like negative thoughts, an excessive amount of tasks, or rumination about the past. So, Zen complements the Law of Attraction here, as effective manifestation requires focus and consistency of thought.
Thirdly, the way that Zen encourages you to treat others – with positivity and compassion – mirrors the advice we get from The Law of Attraction experts. The theory is that if we spread joy, we get joy in return. So, whenever we try to make others happy and display openness to them, we manifest more openness and pleasure in our own lives.