Getting my Zen on Part I

Zen. The word invokes a peaceful state. I thought it was a peaceful state of mind by definition until I looked it up. Zen refers to a specific type of Buddhism that emphasizes meditation and intuition over ritual and scripture to get closer to enlightenment. For me, “getting my zen on” is my own slang for finding or establishing mental serenity. My quest for more inner and out peace is continual, so I plan to make “getting my zen on” a recurrent theme/post column on here. The true definition of zen is well-suited. Meditation, prayer, quiet reflection, and intuition play prominent roles in my quest for serenity.

From an early age, travel played a prominent role in self-reflection and spiritual growth. People often complain about flying and long hours spent in transit modes of all types. Perhaps because I started flying at a young age, my naivete and rare taste of indpendence created a Aciation for the travelling part of travel. In a society obsessed with being busy and being stimulated, transit forces respite, reflection, and new perspective.

My time on airplanes is spent in reflection on where I’ve been and where I’m going. Before having children, it offered a rare chunk of uninterrupted time (except for a drink offering by the flight attendant or a loquacious or snoring passenger).  Time without email or phones (there was no WiFi then and no one ever used the expensive plane phones). Time without influence from the people in my life with constant influence.

Well, now my travel time is full of noise and beautiful and draining chaos. Toddlers and babies don’t advocate serene meditation. So I have to squeeze in some quiet reflection in early morning, during naps, or late in the evening. When I don’t make time for a couple minutes of quiet, the whole day seems to get away from me.

Being quiet is hard. Simplifying is hard. But it is worth the effort.

Living in the countryside seems ideal for reflection and simplification. However, I quickly learned that you can fill your day with busy activity and noise no matter where you are. You can create distractions anywhere. Fill your day with committments to everyone else except you. Tend to your house, clean, focus on the endless need for cleaning dishes, clothes, floors, windows, and forgotten dusty crevices. Run around to the market, the bank, accumulating objects, amd getting more things to clean and organize. Hustle to take your kids to school, tutors,  music lessons, sports practice and so on. Once dinner is served and the kids go to bed, you fester over your to do list for the next day and then crash in your bed.

It is easy to fill each day with so much activity that we do not engage in conscious living. We never make the space for spiritual growth, reflection and rejuvenation. Take a moment for yourself and be conscious of yourself. Does all your activity reflect your values? Are you making time for dreams and growth? Take a moment with me and get your zen on.

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