Meditation: Be a Zen Master

How to use meditation and other techniques to lower stress

Want to become a Zen Master? Ok, not actually a master but more like a relaxation enthusiast! We all experience stress in our lives from time to time
so it’s useful to have a few meditation techniques up the sleeve to use either during the hard moments or at the end of a hectic day.

Avoid multi-tasking:We’re all so busy that we have a number of tasks on the go at once and we feel like we are stretched thin. Despite
our good intentions, sometimes this is not always productive.
Instead, simplify your life but undertaking one thing at a time. It’s called single-tasking; if you’re eating, eat (don’t check your phone or watch
TV), if you’re taking a bath, just bath (don’t read a book or worry about tomorrow). Focusing on one thing and doing it well, may even save you
time in the end.

Allow enough time or extra time. This goes hand-in-hand with the “do less
idea above. By allowing yourself more time for tasks it’s a way of decluttering your schedule so you are not in a rush. Don’t schedule things close
together — instead, leave some room between tasks. That gives you a more relaxed schedule and leaves space in case one task takes longer
than you planned.

Create rituals. Zen monks have rituals for many things they do, from eating to cleaning to meditation.
Ritual gives something a sense of importance. You don’t have to learn the Zen monk rituals — you can create your own, for the preparation
of food, for eating, for cleaning, for what you do before you start your work, for what you do when you wake up and before you go to bed, for what
you do just before exercise.

Make quality time for quality things. There are certain times in the day of a Zen monk designated for certain activities.
A time for bathing, a time for work, and so on. This ensures that those things get done regularly. You can designate time for your own activities,
whether that be work or exercise or quiet contemplation. If it’s important enough to do regularly, consider designating a time for it.

Devote time to sitting. In the life of a Zen monk, there is time designated just for sitting.
This meditation is really practice for learning to be present. You can devote time for sitting meditation, or do an activity like running on a treadmill as a way to practice being in the moment. You could use any activity in the same way, as long as you do it regularly and practice being present.

Make cleaning and cooking become meditation. Aside from the zazen mentioned above, cooking and cleaning are two of the most exalted
parts of a Zen monk’s day. They are both great ways to practice mindfulness, and can be great rituals performed each day. If cooking and cleaning
seem like boring chores, try doing them as a form of meditation. Put your entire mind into those tasks, concentrate, and do them slowly and completely.
It could change your entire day (as well as leave you with a cleaner house).

Focus on what is necessary. There is little in a Zen monk’s life that isn’t necessary. He doesn’t have a closet full of shoes, or
the latest fashions. He doesn’t have the latest gadgets, televisions, or iPhone. He has basic clothing, basic shelter, basic utensils, basic tools,
and the most basic food. Now, I’m not saying you should live exactly like a Zen monk — I certainly don’t. But it does serve as a reminder
that there is much in our lives that aren’t necessary, and it can be useful to give some thought about what we really need,
and whether it is important to have all the stuff we have that’s not necessary.

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