You don’t have to be a Zen monk to find great inspiration in the way they live their lives.
You probably don’t want to become a Zen monk either, but you can live your life in a more Zen-like way by following these simple rules.
As Zen Monk Shunryu Suzuki says in the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”
This means it’s accessible to everyone by making some simple practices part of your routine.
1. Do one thing at a time
This rule is simple to follow and is about focus.
When you’re doing something, focus completely on this. As the Zen proverb says, “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
2. Do things slowly and deliberately.
Don’t rush. Keep things simple. Take your time and make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random.
3. Don’t move on to the next task until you’re finished.
Once you’ve completed the task you’re focusing on, then you can move on to the next task.
Too many times we get close to finishing but then leave things at the last minute. This creates a problem for us down the line.
Instead, keep focused and finish the task off so that you can move on to the next task.
4. Do less
This isn’t about being lazy. It’s about being selective with the tasks you choose to focus on.
It’s important to do things that are productive and help advance an overall strategy or mission.
Be mindful about what you’re working on so that everything adds value in some way.
5. Put space between things
Don’t schedule things so close together. Then you won’t have time to unwind and reflect on what you’re doing and why.
Having a more relaxed schedule helps you to manage yourself and create some space for when tasks take longer than expected.
6. Develop rituals
Rituals help to provide a sense of importance on things you’re working on. If it’s important enough to have a ritual, then it’s important enough for your focus.
7. Designate time for certain things
This is simple but deceptively important.
By creating a specific time for certain tasks, you ensure they get done on a regular basis. This helps you to create momentum in your life and gives you time to work on other important tasks.
For example, have a time for bathing, a time for work, a time for cleaning and a time for eating. It will help you develop a routine and you’ll be much more productive.
8. Devote time to sitting
In the life of a Zen monk, sitting meditation is one of the most important parts of the day.
The meditation practice is really just about being present. You can do this at any time, just sitting down and observing what’s happening around you, and how you feel in your body without thinking too much about it.
9. Smile and serve others
Zen monks spend part of their day in service to others, whether that be other monks in the monastery or people in the outside world.
It teaches them humility, and ensures their lives are devoted to others.
You can do this in your life as well, by focusing on helping others in your community, doing charity work or just generally being kind to people around you.
10. Make cleaning and cooking like meditation
Cooking and cleaning are two of the most important parts of a Zen monk’s day.
They are both great ways to practice mindfulness and can be excellent rituals to perform at set times.
Put your entire focus into these tasks, concentrate and do them slowly and completely. It may change your entire day, and create much better conditions for your life.
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