What actually is ZEN?
You do not need to be a paid up practitioner to have a vague understanding of Zen, one would need to be aware though that it is more than just being calm and content, it is a state of mind and embraces things such as being at peace with your own thoughts, being in the present, feeling comfortable with your place within the universe, having a respect for the past, service to the present, service to others and being responsible for the future.
In other words totally incompatible with a 9 to 6 job running the rat race. If you are like me, the idea of practicing a ZEN life style in London was ordering a take away and being calm when the scooter rider takes a bit long to get to the door. Zen and modern city living for ever seem to be competing ideals.
The pandemic brought with it social isolation across the country and to keep the cogs of the economy turning, a upswing in Working From Home for those lucky enough to be in employment that could facilitate remote working.
The man from Japan and ZEN in a incompatible world
I used to work with someone here in London, who was originally from Osaka Japan. We were working on a lively trading floor in the city. At that time in our careers work and a life balance was not tenable. You can read the odd magazine or Sunday newspaper article on the topic, but at that time the pressures of the job was just too overwhelming. Hi Stakes work, if you where not thinking about potential work problems when out of the office, you would be stung when back in it. That was just the way things where.
I remember one thing from the man from Osaka, and no it was not how rare it was to be working with someone from Japan in London, it was that he rented a flat not more than 10 minutes form the office. This flat had a balcony, on this balcony where 2 wooden deck c hairs with a wooden table, glass of orange juice on the table. In the background was the London dock with the sun rising.
‘Great picture!’ I commended, it was from the morning sun rise. This was my introduction to a life style that on paper appeared to be constrained in the same ways as my own. Clearly taking a different approach to my own. The man from Osaka followed almost a 2 hour ritual before being in the office, of deep medication and relaxation.
Record Screech sound, he lived ten minutes form the office I had to catch a train, i had the equivalent of flying to Barcelona each day on public transport. When I drew up the score sheet the man from Osaka and I where playing two very different games. But I digress but the point i am trying to make is this.
Working From Home the time is right to turn to a ZEN Life Style
When the foundations of working life are based on remote connectivity, scheduled social engagement and scheduled interruptions we suddenly do have what I did not have with my colleague from Osaka, and that is ‘control’. In fact in a working sense the every day working from home employee, possibly has more control now than any other employee in modern times.
Now is the time to embrace control and now is the time to embrace aspects of a ZEN lifestyle that is compatible and works for you.
ZEN Life Style tips to implement
The Early Riser
Straight from the book from the man from Osaka, there is a tranquillity to being up early. Even a walk to the shop in the morning, the birds, sun, sky everything in the morning glory just makes this time of day quite special. I strong advise not using the time to watch the morning news channels or read the papers, but rather indulge in something that is the polar opposite of your day job.
Listening to classical radio, learning to play an instrument, write in a journal, meditate, go for a walk, practice mindfulness. The list is endless, what is more, with working from home and the absence of the daily commute you can spend allot longer in the zone.
Pre 6 am is for the fanatic but a post 6 am rise may just be what the mind doctor ordered. See how it goes and comment below how you got on
Keep Moving, keep fit and keep exercised
Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and and keeping within reason to your ideal weight are all things that is good for us. The research is quite clear on that, a healthy body is after all helps to keep a healthy mind.
To exercise is one of the great stress relievers that helps boost those feel good endorphins. A good work out also does the job of being in the present, allowing your mind to step away from the daily stresses. A good aerobic work out will help you pull it back from the brink of doom.
Exercise builds the body’s strengths in your cardiovascular system, digestive and immune systems. After a good run, a swim, a jog you may just be in a good place to reset yourself enough to put the stress in away back into the box it belongs.
Declutter and Detox the tsunami of materials in your universe
I do like things, when I say I like things I do like keeping things and not so keen on throwing things away, I am not talking about toot and soot, I mean things that has material value, not 30 versions of similar sized cartons for different jobs. I do empathise with trying to carry out the ZEN target of decluttering your life. The Victorians used to adorn every square inch of the walls in their house with a paintings, on the other hand the Japanese would have a kotatsu wooden table in the centre of the room and a sliding door. You pay your money and you take your chances declutter balance between those two extremes would suit you well.
I once faced a declutter challenge in the flat I was renting, it was clearly too small for the items I had stored there. Then I started to put a value on air space and realised the flat was fine and it was the stuff that had to go. The cost of oxygen to me was far higher value than the items clogging up my universe. A friend had a similar challenge they where moving from a house to a flat. They rented storage and put the over spill in the storage. One day they realised the storage costs per cost where wiping out the value of the items over time. They did a garage sell, then to accelerate things took off the cost of the cost of ongoing storage. The lot went.
A cluttered space is likely to impact on your well being and mental health, clear space is a clear mind.
Next Week Will add more to the ZEN Journey bookmark and stay tuned!