Due to Monday being a holiday and as a follow-up to my wildly popular (not) Unraveling My Zen post, I thought I’d post my Monday Musings today. It’s about ways in which I try to find, capture, and hold on to my elusive Zen.
Zen is kind of like Wi-Fi. You know it’s there but you don’t know exactly how it works. When you don’t have it, you’re searching for it and when you do, you feel so connected.
Brief History of Zen and Zen as a Brand, Product, and/or Concept
According to The Free Dictionary the word, Zen, comes from a medieval Chinese word Chán, which means meditation, contemplation. Way back in the 5th century a Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma, purported to be of Indian descent brought that word and the practice to China and established Chan Buddhism. Fast forward to the 7th century where it migrated to Japan and they pronounced the word, “Zen.”
We toss the word around a lot. It’s on everything from tee-shirts to coffee mugs. There’s “zen” words; hope, love, peace, joy and we paint those words on rocks and put them in bowls or baskets. Maybe Zen will be more apt to show up if we keep those kinds of things around. There’s Zen-like exercise such as yoga or pilates.
But are we finding it or are we just hoping to? Do we know what it really means?
My Zen May Not Be Your Zen
Zen may seem like a mystical something because the concept is thousands of years old. Most spiritual and religious teachings are and each of them has the same thing, I believe, in common. Striving for that which makes us become our personal best while at the same time finding inner peace and joy. Once we have it, we can’t help but radiate that outward which in turn affects everyone we come in contact with at any given moment.
The maddening thing is I don’t believe Zen is something we have to or should search for. The struggle for it goes against the very concept of it. When we struggle, we’re not at peace; we’re the opposite of Zen. We’re in conflict.
Zen, therefore is something that just is you. It’s a long walk and noticing something you’ve walked past hundreds of times before and that day, finding beauty in it.
It’s noticing a small child’s eyes following you and when you smile at her/him, their face lights up as if to say: I know you. But never you’ve seen them until that moment.
It’s when the little hairs stand up on the back of your neck and tingles flood your body because you’re witnessing a magnificent sunset; hearing a song that gives you some kind of message just when you need it; or, you smell cut grass and you feel the presence of a parent that’s left the physical world.
It’s your glorious humanness and all the emotions and love that comes from being who you are and a knowing that everything is exactly as it should be.
And all of that really, is just being aware. Being present. Being grateful. Not so mystical. I think we think of it that way sometimes. We fret over what tomorrow is going to bring, or what we think it will bring.
Until we come back to ourselves and there it is, our perfect Zen, right where it always is—within our grasp, within us. All we have to do is just be.
That’s some of my Zen. What’s yours?
Happy Monday (well, late Monday) and I hope you experience your perfect Zen today.
References: Tee-shirt, mug.
Zen definitions: The Free dictionary, Webster’s Dictionary, Urban Dictionary.
This is a nice followup to your last post. A wise man recently told me that, “Prayer is the original wireless connection.” I think that you have illustrated that concept quite well with respect to Zen.
Be here now,
Thanks Allan. And isn’t that the truth? Have a mindful day. :).
I agree with you, Brigitte, we don’t need to struggle to find Zen. For me, it’s very much like wi-fi. It’s there all the time, whether you’re connected or not is a different issue. In order to connect, you do need a tool of some sort: a cable, a frequency, an outlet. Once you know what your tool is, you can connect whenever you desire. There we go! xoxoM 😉
It sounds easy and I don’t understand why is always isn’t. Other days I seem to “connect” better than others. But I love the idea that it’s truly “there.” We just have to let the dust settle and tap into it. Be well and have a wonderful day, M. >
Think of it as clouds, Brigitte. The Sun is always shining, sometimes the clouds get in the way. All we have to do is continue our practice and wait for the clouds to move out of the way. Just Be, my friend! xoxoM
You know lots about this subject, M. I practice it as much as possible.:).
Good! It’s really about the practice, Brigitte. Trust that it is enough. That’s hard, lol! xoM
My most intense moments have been in the wilderness and in driving… driving not so wise. I’ve had to pull off the road. My most humorous interesting moment happened when I was out backpacking by myself once and had been hiking along for an hour or so practicing silence when suddenly I heard a deep, booming voice in my head. It said, “Talk to me, Damn it!” 🙂 – Curt
Nature most certainly invites introspection — you’re so right, Curt. And priority! I like that your “voice” wanted you to talk. I talk aloud to myself frequently. I’ve read it’s a sign of intelligence. ;).
Be well and here’s to being in the moment!
I think I tend to realize my moments of zen afterwards, when I’m reflecting back on things. When certain memories stand out more than others, that’s when I often recognize that I’d experienced something really meaningful. And now that we’re talking about this, it makes a lot of sense that those vivid moments would also be the ones where I found a moment of zen.
Always great to read your posts and get the mind moving, Brigitte. Thanks for always providing us with wonderful food for thought. 🙂
Lillian, so wonderful to see you here. I hope that you’re doing great and I miss your posts. I’ve been out of the blogging community for awhile. You know how that happens. Then I have a moment (smile) and I’m back in again.
Now you’ve given ME something to think about. Talking about vivid moments that stand out — of course those would be what we’d think of as zen moments. And some of those best moments aren’t really realized until after they’ve passed as you so eloquently put it. As always, it’s a pleasure reading your insight into my musings — you add so much to my muddled thoughts. ;). Thank you.
Can I have a bowl of Zen, please? And a side of peace–
It hard to shut the brain down or to find that “moment” right now.
I have just shipped one to you Sister. I won’t quote the peace Emerson quote to you because you already know that. I DO understand though, as you well know. Tell that busy brain of yours to chill and give yourself that moment. What else can we do! Good thoughts to you, friend. 🤗
There’s been a lot going on this summer that I’ve allowed to take me out of my Zen, Brigitte. So much so, that I decided to recenter and read me some Thich Nhat Hanh to recenter. “You Are Here” is wonderful – what a great practice: Breathing in, I know I am breathing in, breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
I think many people feel that meditation has to be done perfectly and in a specific way – sitting on a mat, time set aside (which often never happens), quiet space, and perfectly still mind. Really, as you say here, Zen can be anywhere, anytime, with just the simple acknowledgement of the the breath, a wonderful piece of chocolate, the smell of cinnamon buns baking. And your Zen posts couldn’t have been more timely in my own life. Thank you!
I know exactly what you mean Cathy. I think many of us need spiritual sustenance. I can always feel when I do; when I feel displaced or out of sorts or just a feeling of bluesy malaise, you know? I’ve not heard of Hanh, but just Googled him.Sounds perfect! I have Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude. If I don’t “control” my thoughts, they tend to spin out of control, if that makes sense.
Just writing about what’s making me off-center and then trying to find out what rights that center has always been helpful to me. I think we make it too complicated, trying to find some kind of all-knowing moment and I don’t think that’s the way it works. It probably could if one could go on a sabbatical and study with ones who have walked that path, but most of us have to fit in our “Zen.” Connecting with other souls, such as yourself, who get what my ramblings mean, well that is a perfect Zen moment for me. Thank you, Cathy and be well! >
Yes, I love Thomas Merton! Haven’t read his works in some time. And I agree, connecting with other sounds, such as yourself, helps me so much! Yes, I have conversations with my thoughts regularly – sometimes just telling my brain to “stop that!” It often works if I can remain conscious!
I know what you mean, Cathy. And sometimes an exquisite glass of wine brings me to my perfect Zen spot. ;). Life is too be lived, with all its glory and gloom, right? Here’s to both of us receiving exactly what we need exactly when we need it. >
Belated welcome back! (Sorry I’m late – just haven’t been out and around very much) … For whatever reason, I think that the majority of people hoping to find Zen in a way that Zen comes to them without effort. Oh well … hope all is well with you.
Why thank you, Frank and I understand about not being out and around. And yes, that is the best kind there is, the effortless though that seems to be the most elusive. Hope things are wonderful in your world.
love your explanation of Zen–particularly the fact that if you have to look for it you are not experiencing it–thanks Brigitte!
Hey Lou! How are you? Glad you enjoyed and hope you are wonderful. Miss “seeing” you. :).
miss you too