Experiencing Zen

I have been fascinated by the concept of Zen for a while. Urban dictionary shows us one way to think about Zen – ‘a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.’

I am, by nature, anything but Zen. I am generally fidgety, easily distracted, and have been prone to manic highs and accompanying lows. So, it’s been quite an effort over the past few years to tone that down and attempt to experience Zen. It started with an attempt at focusing my attention. In 2012, my laptop wall papers read –  ‘”Doing one thing at a time ” is how one Zen Master defined the essence of Zen.’  While that didn’t mean I actually did it, it certainly raised my level of awareness about my focus levels.

However, in the past 2 months, I feel like I have been frequently experiencing a Zen-like state. I could point to a few reasons for this, but, I think the truth lies in the fact that I’ve wanted to experience this for a while and I just wasn’t ready for it. My limited understanding of Zen is that it requires a relentless focus on process and an absolute disregard for the destination. It is impossible to focus totally on something if you are worried about the results. Focusing on the process (and the process alone) has been a difficult life lesson and I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it after 5 years of failed attempts.

And, that’s been a feature of the last couple of months – a firm focus on the process. In my case, it has been the process of wrapping up professional life and then getting prepared for a cross-continent relocation and graduate student life. There’s been a lot to be excited about. I have been, sure. But, it’s been a state of excitement rather than a feeling – ‘be’ vs. ‘feel’. As a result, there’s been no manic high or low. There’s just been organization and effort. There have been many mistakes and challenges (they never stop – Zen or not) but I’ve found it easier to deal with them because, at some sub conscious level, I’ve expected them. A focus on the present seems to come with a healthy measure of realism as well.

It’s an exciting evolution. I am experiencing “being” a lot more than “feeling” and that brings with it a great amount of stability. Stability, in turn, helps with many good things, most of which lead to getting sh*t done and being happy.

There’s many things I still need to learn – for instance, I still don’t do “attention” well. I think that’s an important part of the Zen state too. One day at a time, hopefully. Every day we do get better…