Zen lifestyle

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  • Over the last 2 years ive bee looking into all different types of spiritual stuff, and i do like the whole Zen thing i keep reading about, although im still confused by lots of different types of this and that (for example,buhdism has lots of varietys and i still fail to see the differences), my memory isnt that great. Im just trying to piece a list together of main points for someone adapting a better lifestyle, and would like you all to add your own.
    Main things ive found are
    - simple living
    -living a less materialistic life, all you need is a good book, a roof, a bed, and enjoy simple things like tea, a piece of chocolate, not over indulging in things.
    -eating a whole food diet
    -having self compassion, and compassion for others
    you get the idea, what other things can i be looking at.

  • I did this sort of thing (Buddhist simplicity living) many years ago. For about three years.
    One or two more to add to your list:


    Few possessions, but all you have must be worthwhile, and each must serve a practical purpose, including clothes. No ornaments.
    Look after yourself first, then you will be better able to help others.
    Avoid conflict at all levels whenever possible, even mental conflict.
    Keep mind like calm pond; stray thoughts should come and go and pass, and not ruffle the water.

  • Meditations can be useful. Im really into the Zen thing. Although before i read anything about it i realised i was already practising this way of life to some degree.
    Although i dont follow any particular religion I have found that of all the religions out there Buddhism is the one that seems to make the most sense to me. Good luck with your journey Darren.

  • Firstly i havnt a clue about some or most of these Religions or beliefs , but besides what most of us here think about possessions ,one way or the other , i think the most important thing is what actually goes on in our heads .


    Maybe not what we think we are to believe we should or shouldnt have around us . Props etc ,the lack of them or abundance of them .


    Have what you think you need , a few little luxeries wont harm either .


    But the truth lies is whats in your Head and maybe what isnt . :hippy:

  • Oldkieth, you say you lived like this for 3 years, im assuming you dont now? What changed? Have you been to the centre #winter? I guess alot of me pursueing it is im a negative thinker, a worrier by nature, but i only have what i need really anyway. Im just trying to be a bit more positive, and i do need to avoid conflict, i can get very defensive, especially behind the wheel of a car, although its quite hard not saying somthing to sombody if they need telling.

  • sorry Treestump i forgot to say also, how did you find the meditation helped? I did it for a while before but found it hard making it a routine and keeping it going. Ive got the meditation for dummies book ive been reading to get an idea and a bit of background.

  • When I lived miles from anywhere in Wales I did study Buddhism from books, But Buddhism really should be taught and discussed. Likewise it is often easier to meditate in a group
    I've not been to the Zen centre but heard good things about it, and have been to Sakya centre and Lam Rim centre in Bristol as well as Jamyang classes in Bath
    Bristol has loads of Buddhist groups its worth trying a few to see which approach works for you
    I would suggest avoiding the New Kadampas as they are the ones who protest at the Dalai Lama (Its a long and complicated story)

  • Thing is winter, this is what confuses me, all the different types, and im always unsure on what the differences are. Although, ive tried to incorporate the main principles into my life as much as i can.

  • Buddhism has developed in different ways as it has travelled to different countries
    Think of Christianity you have Baptists, Catholics Methodists and so on ...they all have the same core beliefs but different ways of expressing them so does Buddhism
    Thats why it is good to spend some time checking out the different types/centres to see what suits you

  • Oldkieth, you say you lived like this for 3 years, im assuming you dont now? What changed? Have you been to the centre #winter? I guess alot of me pursueing it is im a negative thinker, a worrier by nature, but i only have what i need really anyway. Im just trying to be a bit more positive, and i do need to avoid conflict, i can get very defensive, especially behind the wheel of a car, although its quite hard not saying somthing to sombody if they need telling.


    Hi Darren. What changed? Well, the Buddhist bit took place after I'd got separated, and was probably inspired by an intention to sort myself out, and 'retreat' from things, to a certain degree. I still had a day job, but I cut down on the amount I spent on frivolous activities like drinking, going out with mates, etc. So I gradually got myself more collected and together. More 'centred' as they say in martial arts.
    So during that three years I started doing things like going to arts and crafts classes, and more practical classes like building and carpentry, and meeting a lot more interesting and alternative people in orgs. like FOE and Greenpeace, etc. I became rather more 'hippified' by degrees, and took to wearing it long, etc.
    Then when I met a hippy biker girl I got on really well with, the Buddhist bit faded into the background. I moved in with her, and we lived a less secluded lifestyle, went to folk clubs more, got into a slightly different social scene.


    I still like meditation, and have practiced it from time to time over the years, but the slightly monastic side of things vanished as I got more involved in union stuff at work, alternative protests and involvement, and trying to help out socially locally, to some degree.
    I became, if you like, more involved in things around me. But I still think fondly of that therapeutic time - the sunlight in the empty rooms, the meditation on the mat, the earnest discussions with others on the same path as myself.

  • Hi Darren. What changed? Well, the Buddhist bit took place after I'd got separated, and was probably inspired by an intention to sort myself out, and 'retreat' from things, to a certain degree. I still had a day job, but I cut down on the amount I spent on frivolous activities like drinking, going out with mates, etc. So I gradually got myself more collected and together. More 'centred' as they say in martial arts.
    So during that three years I started doing things like going to arts and crafts classes, and more practical classes like building and carpentry, and meeting a lot more interesting and alternative people in orgs. like FOE and Greenpeace, etc. I became rather more 'hippified' by degrees, and took to wearing it long, etc.
    Then when I met a hippy biker girl I got on really well with, the Buddhist bit faded into the background. I moved in with her, and we lived a less secluded lifestyle, went to folk clubs more, got into a slightly different social scene.


    I still like meditation, and have practiced it from time to time over the years, but the slightly monastic side of things vanished as I got more involved in union stuff at work, alternative protests and involvement, and trying to help out socially locally, to some degree.
    I became, if you like, more involved in things around me. But I still think fondly of that therapeutic time - the sunlight in the empty rooms, the meditation on the mat, the earnest discussions with others on the same path as myself.


    I can see exactly what you mean. Thing with me is, i work away in the week, and in the evenings in my room its pretty lonely, im not into the big going out drinking thing, and i just keep myself to myself. I hate the job, but my plan is if i stick it for 4 more years my house will be paid off, (as i pump all my money into it), and ill be still young, but able to take a much more laid back approach to life and do what i WANT. Im just trying to find a better purpose as apposed to "oh this job is shit but its pays well so stick at it" or "if you leave this job you wont find anything else". Im a worrier, my mum still buys me self help books to this day haha,bless her. Im looking for an inner peace, a more positive feeling, more happiness. I think this is the path that can provide it, or is this wishfull thinking. Did it help you after the seperation? Or am i hating my job/being away that much im trying to occupy my mind.

  • I've always been a worrier too, so the meditation was very useful for calming the mind, especially at the time. What I found most interesting, and it creeps up on you when you meditate regularly, is that things you used to worry about seem not to have the same importance after awhile. You don't absolutely stop worrying, but things that you used to worry about a lot lessen in importance.
    Also I noticed little things, like if someone cut me up while driving, I did not get the immediate angry response that I used to; instead, I would just smile and think, oh, another berk, and the incident would be forgotten. Even the occasional near misses would fail to evoke an angry response. I became less ready to react angrily to things said, and more ready to listen to people, even if they were boring. I suppose I felt more content with me, and less bothered by what other people said or thought.


    I think it would be good for you, if you have spare time every weekday, to do some meditation. You would probably find yourself becoming calmer and less worried about things after a couple of weeks of regular weekday practice.


    Which kind of meditation suits you best is something you have to find by trial and error; no way is best for everyone. For example at one time I tried Transcendental Meditation (But without paying the big fees they want to charge, as it was only a trial). But it made me 'jumpy' more than before, and I became hyper-sensitive to sounds to some degree, and sudden noises upset me. Quite the opposite of the Buddhist meditation. So I gave it up after a couple of weeks. They said I would pass through this stage, and become more enhanced or evolved later on, but I figured they wanted the big bucks first, so it looked something of a con to me.


    Some of the philosophy behind the Buddhist meditation is interesting too, I found. It gives a bit of background to what you are doing. But I never got into the religious side of it, because a lot of that has been made up by various practitioners over many years, which has caused splits between various sects in different countries. At its heart, Buddhism has no god or gods, no worship. You are in charge of your life, and if you get it wrong, you face the consequences, and you have to work through them. In Buddhism there are no saints to pray to, none to intervene with god, because there are no saints, and there is no god. Really, it is more of a practical philosophical code than a religion.

  • Hi Darrren yes meditation is an art in itself, finding the time to do it, sticking to a routine, finding a meditation that suits you is another one.
    Have to agree with Oldkeith there are some meditations that may not suit you but suit others and some that do not suit others but suit you.
    I tell you what helps me to zone out and meditate - is when im next to an open fire or near water. That helps me focus on nothing. Focusing on nothing is very difficult however with practise it can sort of be acheived.
    Ive spoke to lots of people about meditation, some go really deep into it and spend more time in their meditations. I simply dont have the time to sit still for too long and im easily distracted.
    However I did get some useful tips from a Buddhist Policeman and another guy who was a fantastic Tai chi instuctor;
    Focus on what you are doing at any particular time.
    For example - your first foots steps climbing out of bed in the morning, imagine every part of your foot touching the floor and what it feels like under your foot. the sensations the sound, listen to how your body feels.
    Making your first cup of tea in the morning, focus on the sound of the kettle boiling, the water being poured into the cup the sound of the spoon chinking against the side of the cup and watching the water change from clear to golden brown tea colour.
    You become more aware of your surroundings and you can expand this exercise to walking in the park /woodland etc. Standing still for a moment and closing your eyes to count how many sounds you can hear.
    Its all about being in the moment. When you practise this Darrren you really CAN feel a lot more contented with life.
    Sorry im going on a bit lol
    By the way that Tai chi teacher wished i could remember his name because id like to find out where he is teaching - He was the most exceptional Tai chi instructor ever.
    I recall going to my first class with three firends - we all thought tai chi was a piece of cake, so we stood at the back taking the piss. Well the instructor heard our mumbles from the back of the hall and my god did he put us through out paces. I have never ever ached so much in my entire life. The next day i could feel EVERY muscle in my body. Then at the end of the session he showed us all a demo of his ability - He did every move at a faster pace and you could tell we were being taught by a master of his art.
    P.S. IMHO if you ever decide to take up tai chi research who is teaching you and decide if you just want to go along for a gentle exercise with a group of old foggies or if you want "proper" tuition in martial arts go to someone who will put you through your paces and teach you the REAL art not just a dance.

  • Personally, I think I would start with some easy breathing meditation, as that is something that is relatively easy to flow into, after a few attempts. As Treestump said, get into a routine and stick to it, same time each day if possible, or at least same time of day, even if half hour early or late. After awhile you will find yourself looking forward to it, like looking forward to meeting a friend!


    Breathing meditation is often used as mind-clearing meditation, whereby you gradually empty the mind of its usual jumble of thoughts and attain greater calmness. Once a regular breathing rhythm has been established, you can imagine a large pond, or an area of open sky, and across your conciousness lots of stray thoughts will creep in, and you will let them drift across your pond or sky, and they will vanish. Some will return, of course, and will vanish again. Gradually, your mind will see less of them, and you will attain calmness of mind. At least, while doing the meditation. Several attempts may be needed before you reach this stage, but every attempt is progress. The thing is to let it flow, don't try to control anything at this stage.
    Later, you will find that if untoward thoughts arise, you can immediately zap them out of the sky, if you don't want to let them drift away. This basic sort of meditation should leave you feeling happy and calm, and even with a small sense of accomplishment.


    Mindful meditation is excellent, but its purpose is not primarily to be relaxed. It is more to be aware, even absolutely aware, of what you are doing when you are doing it. The whole process of being here, now, and being aware of doing whatever you are doing, and even being aware of yourself as a sentient being doing it at this time and in this place, in these surroundings.
    The primary purpose of this kind of meditation is to raise your general awareness levels, because most people have a fairly low level of awareness. Regular practice does bring, as a side effect, a relaxed awareness. In the same way that regular practice of martial arts gives you relaxed awareness of places, situations, constant evaluation of surroundings, people, circumstances. This gives you the ability to see things before they happen, because you - your senses - are picking up and processing faint signals that most people ignore or are not aware of.


    There is no reason why you should not practice both sorts of meditation in different sessions. Over time, both will help the other.

  • So the breathing meditation, is that counting the breaths or focusing on the breath? And sitting of course?I like the idea of imagining the pond also, I will start a routine from tomorrow and stick too it. Thanks again for the wisdom its very helpfull

  • Personally I favour the Buddha's easy breathing method, where you just focus on your abdomen, and feel the breathing going in and out. Think of it as energy coming in if you like, and used air going out. This is very restful, and after only a few minutes your breathing will slow down to a regular, restful rhythm. Breathe through the nose if you can. If you have a bit of a cold you can try to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. A bad cold means using the mouth, anyway!


    Take the 'Easy Posture' at first, until your legs get used to sitting crossed, then you can move on to the more advanced ones. (Look them up on google images).
    About 20 minutes is usually enough to start, but you can extend this further if you do not feel cramped. Sometimes you will want to stay longer, sometimes less. Go with the feel, but try to do at least twenty minutes every session. What if your nose itches, or you just need to rub your ear? Gently attend to it, and go back into the breathing.
    (In some eastern schools, where they are very strict, you can get struck for scratching your ear. Personally I fail to see the value in this. Our teacher used to say 'Deal with small problem as it arises, return to centre').


    When the breathing has reached a restful rhythm for some minutes, and you feel relaxed, you can bring in your vision of a pond, or the sky. When stray thoughts arise, gently drift them across the pond or sky, and out of your vision. This is easier said than done at first, but it becomes easier with practice. Bring your mind back to the still pond.
    (What sort of pond you have depends entirely on your imagination and what you prefer. Some see an 'idealised' pond, almost an abstract drawing, others use a richer vision of an actual place, complete with trees and undergrowth around the edges. So long as nothing appears in it to distract you, you can experiment to find what suits you best. The 'pond' is only there as a representation of a restful place. Some use sky, some a blank wall).

  • So i started doing the meditation monday, 10 minutes each night in the evening. First day or two my mind was "like a monkey swinging from thought branch to thought branch" as the buhdists say, although i did manage a few moments wednesday and last night where my mind was completely blank. It was wierd,because i was actually aware, that i had no thoughts in my mind, i was sort of inviting thoughts in, if that makes sense? I am going to stick with it, and try and keep a long term routine going. Reading the meditation for dummies book is helping too, the way the guy describes the mind literally is like he wrote the book about what goes on in my mind, Thanks for the help oldkieth especially, and i do hope in the upcoming weeks i start getting some of the benefits, and get to know myself better in the process, and dismantle some of my negative thinking.

  • I relate to the buddhist philosophy, only with too much self doubt and i dont believe in reincarnation.


    I have trouble meditating by myself but i found going to a class at my local library and being in a group and hearing someone guide me through the relaxing of the muscles in my body and breathing
    Etc helps me focus and stick with it instead of getting distracted and making a brew and stuff.. i found i feel so much better afterwards :)