Our life is endowed with encounters with inspiring people who enrich our lives, challenge the way of thinking, who show there is more, take us far beyond our knowledge and quite often they recommend remarkably good books to read. I have recently had this opportunity and was introduced to Zen via books written by Shunryu Suzuki, a Sōtō Zen monk and teacher (e.g. a book called Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind)
By reading this book and getting acquainted with thoughts shared by Shunryu Suzuki I have acknowledged how important it is to regularly detox not only the body, but also the mind. In the era of High-tech and an overload of information, it is inevitable more than ever before.
And since it is important to start with ourselves – even though still reading the book I am embracing his wisdom step by step, every day believing that consistency is the key to changing our habits and achieving significant results.
So what is the most striking lessons I have learned so far? To explain it let me use Shunryu Suzuki’s quotes from the book and my understanding of the insights.
1. Clear the mind and embrace
emptiness – you will hear more
“Instead of gathering knowledge we should clear our mind. If your mind is clear then knowledge is already yours. If you listen with pure, clear mind you can accept it as if you were hearing something you already know. This is called emptiness.”
Embracing emptiness and free ourselves from expectations is vital. Quite often our thoughts don’t reflect reality, they include unconscious bias based on our past experience. We should be open to see and hear things as they are, not as we wish them to be.
2. Be like a dark sky – let it go
“You are like a dark sky. Sometimes the flash comes and after it passes the sky forgets all about it and is still the dark sky”.
When we learn to BE who we are, when we learn to accept that moments, situations, people enter and leave our lives like flashes leave the sky, when we learn to let it go we become calm like a dark sky.
3. Focus your mind on NOW – live now, not in the past or future
“Thinking makes our mind very complicated. When our mind is busy it is difficult to concentrate on what we are doing. “
How often do we think or browse through the smartphone while eating being unaware how the food tastes? How often do we spend time with family but our mind wonders elsewhere? How often do we walk without noticing the world around? Shunryu Suzuki reminds us to live in a present moment. Thinking about the past means living in the past, why do we waste our precious time with something that is already gone?
4. Give your mind and brain time to rest – meditate
“Meditation can take many formats. Meditation means concentration on an activity in that very moment, keeping mind free from thoughts and ideas, nothing else”.
Mediation does not necessarily mean practicing yoga even though this might be one option. It can be practiced by walking, reading, gardening or performing some other activity. My favorite mediation (apart from yoga) is to watch and listen to an ocean / a see reaching the shore or looking at mountains while listening to its amazing silence. Very importantly, we should cultivate and feed our mind with positive thoughts, kindness, and love. Don’t let toxic thoughts infect your mind.
5. Let the detox of the mind become a regular routine.
“Zen is not some kind of excitement but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”
Taking care of our mind as much as we take care of our body needs to become our routine. It will help all of us to have better life, to shape better professional and personal environment, and to build a better and more compassionate world.
I am looking forward
to continue reading Shunryu Suzuki’s book. If you are his fan too and have more
to share from him, please share.