What is Zen?
The word Zen simply means meditation.
It is a Japanese derivation from the Sanskrit dhyana, which refers to a process of contemplative and non-judgmental witnessing of the self, within and without. The word meditation in English is at best an approximate translation, as its traditional Western meaning isn’t quite the same as what’s generally considered to be meditation in the East.
Thus, Zen meditation isn’t exactly about relaxation or about thinking or not thinking — it’s a little more subtle than that.
What is Meditation, in the Zen Sense?
Meditation is a simple shift in perspective...
from looking to seeing…
from listening to hearing…
from touching to feeling…
from doing to flowing…
from wanting to accepting…
from resisting to allowing.
Meditation has little to do with sitting in silence. It can be practiced at any time, on any day, anywhere, and in any circumstances whatsoever. Being meditative means becoming receptive to the world around us, in a manner which strives to be non-judgmental and non-conceptual.
Through meditation, the universe is transformed as we begin to allow ourselves to see it in a more altruistic manner, beyond our individual needs and our ego, and as we start seeing others from their own perspective.
Meditation isn’t something we do, it’s something we become. It’s a state of flowing through life with minimal resistance — with surrender, surrender to ourselves — the true self that lies beyond the ego.
How Should One Meditate?
There are myriads of meditation techniques out there, suited for every occasion and every person. I encourage you to try them out, see what works for you.
Keep in mind, however, that meditation is never goal-oriented. If one goes into meditation with the aim of stopping thoughts or emptying the mind, then one will fail — as those very intentions live in the mind, creating a vicious circle.
Meditation is not about stopping thoughts. To the contrary, it’s about welcoming whatever thoughts might show to our steps. It’s about welcoming them, giving them the voice they need by listening to what they have to say, but then letting them go once they’ve done their job.
The benefit of allowing our thoughts to come and go is tremendous: we free the mind from those thoughts which might become blocked and turn into worry or anxiety. We listen to the subtle messages our intuition sends us. And in that, we become more mindful and receptive to everything the world tries to communicate to us in every single moment — those things a busy mind would be unable to perceive.
What Can Meditation do for Me?
Meditation is a means of deepening our awareness and consciousness of the world as it is, transcending the judgments and concepts with which we learn to navigate through society. It’s a way of empowering ourselves as individuals, of coming to meaningful contact with who we really are and what we long to be.
Through meditation, we become aware of our patterns — addictive, avoidance, or otherwise — and gain deeper understand into both our strengths and our weaknesses, in such a way that these may stop being weaknesses and instead be transformed into virtues. Problems can cease to be problems, from doing nothing other than seeing the truth of them.
Meditation promises nothing but can deliver truth, and what you do with truth is entirely up to you.
An important part of my coaching practice is Zen-inspired inquiry. My role as coach is that of holding a space where curiousity enables an inner journey of discovery.
You’ll find a set of playlists crafted for meditation here.