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  • Writer's pictureKasia Kubizna

10 to ZEN - How to achieve Zen state of mind

What comes to our mind when we hear the word ZEN? Most likely you will think of terms like peaceful, serene, still and calm. You also might picture a nature scene, garden, or even someone meditating. But where does ZEN come from? ZEN is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang dynasty, known as the Chan School, and later developed into various schools. Ultimately ZEN is the Japanese pronunciation of a Chinese word, ‘chan’, which comes from a Sanskrit root meaning thought, absorption and / or meditation. And of course meditation is at the heart of ZEN, along with an emphasis on self-control and insight.

However today I want to look into a Zen state of mind in the sense of a peaceful, relaxed state of awareness, freed from negative feelings and beliefs. How to achieve it?

1. Let go of comparing.

It begins in early childhood - comparison with others, initially it is done by our parents and other family members and friends. Later, we do it ourselves, right through our life, we compare ourselves with others and their achievements.

We compare each other because in this way we find our place, our position in society. We create such a specific ranking that proves our value, where others constitute a point of reference for us. However the consequences of comparing ourselves with others can be very negative. First of all, our personality can suffer and self-esteem can lower. There could be jealousy involved, discouragement to act, fear of failure and many more. Comparing becomes a habit, something that we do so naturally without even noticing it.

How to stop?

Appreciate yourself and your life - each of us has a talent, so do you. Write down your strong points and look at it as often as possible, even if they are (in your opinion) minor things.

There is no one like you. Develop and learn at your own pace, without looking at anyone else. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, and not to others. For a change, try to exaggerate happiness instead of problems. Always remember: You are special. You are neither worse nor better. You are in your moment of growth. You are where you should be.

2. Let go of competing.

In some cultures, competing is perceived as a sign of ambition, power and strength. Certainly there are some circumstances when we have no choice but to compete, for example when we are applying for a new position at work or attending job interviews or in sport. However, in our own private world there are many situations when we make the rules. We can choose to compete with others; compete over the points like who is more attractive, wealthier, happier, talented, or more successful or we can live our own lives and mind our own journey, enjoying and creating our own path. If you feel you need to compete – compete with yourself however the Chinese proverb says, “Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are” therefore you don’t need to compete. You can simply accept.

3. Let go of judgments.

Judging others is often aimed at lifting our spirits, improving our assessment, feeling better, wiser, richer, more efficient than others. Judging, criticizing or gossiping about others can give some kind of sense of satisfaction at first; it can gives us the impression of being better, feeling that we know better, that we can see and understand more. However, subconsciously judging always affects and dismays us. By criticizing others, we make our thoughts joyless. We weaken our spirit, we lower our life energy, which makes us feel more lonely and disconnected. By judging, we distance ourselves from our true nature, from the essence of love and acceptance that is held deep in our hearts. We are all one Life manifested through each of us. So, instead of judging try to understand, accept and wish others the best. Do it every day, you will feel so much better.

4. Let go of anger.

Anger is not only the rage that comes out immediately in the episode of a sudden event. The small, everyday irritations that we do not respond to or push them aside make our mind disturbed and irritated too. Great part of an anger is a reaction to stress and frustration in situations where an important need cannot be met or when there are obstacles to achieving a goal. So how to deal with anger? Meditation helps staying impartial. It helps managing emotions - it is important to become aware of our feelings and try to name them and find their cause - this attitude allows us to "look from the side" and stay in control of our feelings. A pinch of humility, a bit of good will, the ability to look beyond yourself are the main motives that encourage the act of reconciliation and harmony within.

5. Let go of regrets.

Regret is the feeling that comes when we think our situation could be better if we had acted differently in the past. It results from the lack of acceptance of reality as it is here and now. Feeling regret is related to the ‘my life should be different’ way of thinking. Regret involves two elements: decision and imagination. In short - if you make a certain decision and then imagine that your life would be better if you decided otherwise - you will feel regret. The more a given situation depends on your decision and the more decisions are related to it, the greater the regret could be. However, regret may well be a constructive emotion if we know how to handle it. This is when regret does not tell us that we didn’t do well only it tells us that we can do better. So how to deal with it? It is worth distinguishing between situations over which we have control and we can do something about, and situations over which we have no control. In the first case, the solution is to learn from the mistakes made and take action. In the second case - acceptance is the path to healing and letting go of regrets.

6. Let go of worrying.

Remember that health is the highest price you can pay for worry. Many health issues are caused by staying in a state of constant apprehension and fear. Have you ever wondered - why are you worried? The honest answer frequently would be because it is convenient to worry. Regularly, when we have problems, we get an immediate excuse for doing nothing, not taking up challenges, poor quality of our work, mistakes or not keeping our word. After all, we are worried, stressed and we cannot concentrate because there are black clouds hanging over our heads. Worrying about the worst and anticipating the worst also protects our self-esteem, because when we fail, we can always say - “I knew it would be that way” - blaming the external conditions and letting go of responsibility and our own field of influence. Worrying can become an addiction. That's why it's so hard to get rid of. Stuck in stressful situations and meditating on them for a long time causes depression, anxiety, hinders rational thinking and acting, and in more serious cases may cause neurotic disorders or depression. Chronic stress disrupts almost all physiological processes of the body and leads to cardiovascular diseases, disorders of metabolism and digestion, and diabetes.

Fortunately, there are ways to change the way you think when you are constantly worried. One of the best ways to control the habit of worrying is to follow these two steps:

Step 1 - look at your thoughts from the outside. Think to yourself that it is not you but some other person who is worried. Watch them closely as they do this. Look at your thoughts aside to identify them.

Step 2 - go back to your worries. Worry very consciously, unfold your darkest scenarios and above all, feel all the emotions that arise from it. Control these feelings, but don't suppress them. And have a lot of compassion for yourself, finally awaken this compassion and understanding.

7. Let go of shame.

Shame - Where Does It Come From? Some people feel more ashamed because of their sensitivity to how others perceive them. Shame can be about appearance, contact with other people. Some people do not speak at work meetings, and get embarrassed when they meet a new person. The fear that they will fall out badly paralyzes their lives.

It is worth starting the fight against shame by ceasing to deny that we are ashamed of something. Considering the situations in which and how shame manifests itself is the first step to helping yourself. Shameful people appear more easily in front of people who do not think they are judging them (for example in front of children). So let's give it a try. It also helps to confront shame, but done in small steps. There is a lot of truth in the saying "Training Makes It Perfect" and it is not about throwing yourself into the deep end. Mastering shame also means accepting our own weaknesses and not trying to become or act like someone else. You can work on yourself without trying to be like others. Just because someone is calm or unlike celebrities does not mean that they have a greater cause for shame and that that shame must accompany them. Being able to forgive yourself is also very important. Everyone stumbles, only the one who does nothing doesn't make mistakes. It is worth not to be the strictest judge for yourself and not being dead serious about yourself, this will definitely help overcome shame. Learn how to accept others, though nevertheless accept yourself and let yourself to be you.

8. Let go of guilt.

Guilt is often the result of low self-esteem. Of course, if we know that we have made a mistake, it is enough to apologize or, if possible, correct it, draw conclusions "to move on", but thinking about it, accusing ourselves, overthinking may cause us to worry that is disproportional to the offense. Don't exaggerate the problem, make it real and take it as a lesson - "I did something wrong, I'm not proud of it, I will fix it if possible, I'll do something different next time" - this is a sufficient position. There is no need for tormenting yourself by considering how you might have acted differently and what would have happened if you had acted differently.

Separate your mistake from yourself as a person. Just because you have done something wrong doesn't mean you are a bad person. Remember that cultivating guilt not only takes your time and self-esteem, it also stifles your creativity and sense of happiness. And who should care more about your happiness if not yourself? Take it easy - you have one life and it's a shame to waste it constantly worrying about unimportant matters. Think about what makes you feel guilty and whether you really want to cultivate that feeling? Notice your mistake, correct your behavior, apologize if possible and move on, spend as little time as possible in the past.

9. Let go of fear.

Focusing on the negative aspects of life comes from human evolutionary conditions. Fear can be like a snow avalanche - it can be violent, dangerous and unstoppable. However, there are ways to tame it.

  • Be aware of your inner dialogue - pay attention to the voice inside your head giving you fear-inducing thoughts. Catch them in your thoughts and write them down. The phrase that makes you fearful, take it under the scrutiny of your common sense. Is there really anything to be afraid of?

  • Go back to the present - now everything is fine, you are here, you breathe, you are alive. And that's enough. If you feel deeper into yourself, there is no problem here and now. To become more rooted in the present, use relaxation techniques - breathing, listen to calming music, meditate.

  • Let it go - we are most afraid of what is beyond our control, and there is a lot of it. Think about what is beyond your control and forget about it. At least today. You will see how relieved you will feel. Repeat to yourself: "Everything is as it should be."

  • Talk to someone about what you fear. Saying words that make you fearful disarms the enemy to some extent. He has already been exposed, you are standing in front of him, you have acted and you are less afraid.

  • In addition, a kind person can help you to calm down by showing that things are not as hopeless as you think.

10. Have a proper belly laugh at least once a day.

Laughter is a natural medicine. It is interesting to know that laughter therapy is also used now more and more. It sounds frivolous, but scientists have proven that laughing helps to relieve pain and is very beneficial for the entire body. There is even a special science dedicated to this phenomenon - it is called gelotology, while laughter therapy is called gelo-therapy. It has been proven that sincere laughter:

  • reduces muscle tension,

  • soothes pain,

  • has a preventive effect by stimulating the immune system,

  • has a great effect on the nervous and circulatory systems,

  • helps in the fight against physical and mental suffering.

You can learn to laugh, or rather remember that we used to be able to laugh in various, often trivial situations when we were younger. Playing with children can be helpful, observing their joy and spending time together. It's not really difficult, and it makes it much easier to deal with everyday problems. In fact, not as important as we think.


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