Zen isn’t some mystical religion. Everyone practices Zen. If you are Christian in your actions, you are also practicing Zen. If you are Muslim in your actions, you are also practicing Zen. Zen is just living life with the best awareness we have. It is hard to describe because Zen is it’s own description. It is a verb and not a noun. Zen is living artfully.
Here is a short list of how you can practice Zen everyday. Zen is the practice of non-practice.
- Sleep well in a comfortably folded bed
- Prepare food and arrange it pleasantly on a plate; savor the flavors
- Give the dishes a bath; don’t just wash them.
- Pray without distraction; pray with every step you walk
- Give yourself a shower or bath; don’t just wash the body
- Converse with others; don’t just talk with them.
- Grocery Shop without distraction
- Taste and enjoy your tea; don’t simply drink it
- Listen; don’t simply hear
- See; don’t look
- Work; don’t just go to work.
Zen is practice of living with mindfulness and with calmness. Zen requires us to accept things as they are. To live artfully is to live consciously, with care, and with appreciation. I often fail to live artfully when I prepare meals, for example. I feel hurried and just slop the food on the plate. This is not artful living. It is better, and the meal tastes better, when I arrange the plate in simple pleasing ways. The food deserves my care; an animal has died so I may eat, or a farmer has worked so I may eat.
Everything in life is an art waiting to be perfected, from tea to driving a car and to making a bed. Living artfully is doing all of these things with appreciation and care. Living this way just means we do the best we are able in all things. Dishes should be bathed like a little child. When you shop, just shop. Don’t also try to talk on the cell phone. A sloppy life just breeds stress, anxiety, and discontent. The outer world reflects the inner world.
So breathe, go slowly. There is no hurry. We just have to live and nothing more.