Do Nothing – a Lesson in Zen

I’m reading a fantastic book at the moment called Zen and the Art of Falling in Love, by Brenda Shosanna (I highly recommend!) The book talks about Zen teachings and then applies this to modern life,  in particular, to romantic relationships. It is really insightful into the way we are in relationships: generally needy, feeling we are giving too much, (when in fact we may be giving only to try and satisfy our own needs), or else, unable to truly receive love and therefore end up equally disillusioned and unhappy. By learning the practice of Zen the author implies that we could find happiness in almost any relationship: it is our own chaotic mind, full of misconceptions and false truths about what love should look like, that holds us back.

One of the first Zen teachings it refers to is ‘Don’t Move’.

“The only real miracle is to stand Still.” – Henry Miller

In a Zendo you are taught early on to sit in complete silence and stillness on the floor – the purpose of which, as I understand it: to learn to be only with yourself (without feeling lonely) and grow to understand yourself completely by letting all the thoughts and feelings that will come when free of outside distraction, to flow freely. It teaches us to sit still and strong in the face of uncomfortable emotions, letting them eventually pass by, allowing for a sense of release and emancipation. This is a form of meditation, something I am new to and have yet to practice much but which I can certainly see the benefits of.

While on this trip I have thought about how I can apply this to my daily life. Beyond morning yoga practices, I have tried to use this technique at other times, from hectic bus journeys to simply walking around the busy, chaotic streets. When negative thoughts or difficult situations present themselves I am trying not to let them cause me anxiety. Instead I’m allowing them to exist for a little while, then I am consciously letting them go. And it’s working.

Travelling in India is perhaps the ideal playground in which to play this game. There are so many things which one could get worked up about – the lack of hygiene, poor punctuality, stress of bartering, the stifling heat, unpleasant smells and oppressive sounds all around…

It’s not always easy, trust me. But to be able to be surrounded by what many would call chaos and feel completely calm within is a wonderful feeling. That is one of the ways in which I am finding my Zen.

And of course visiting places like the above kind of helps too ;)

Namaste x

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