If you want to look for a place to start finding your inner peace, look to mindfulness.
Mindfullness orignated from Zen Buddhism and will guide you to find the road to happiness and peace, although you have to remember, following Buddha’’s instructions won’t ultimately provide these states of mind, it will only teach you how to find it.
Buddha’s intention was not to tell you what to do but to encourage you to focus on your own direct experience and pave the path for yourself.
If you want the crash course for the Zen life, here are 5 things to help guide you:
1) Sitting and Meditating
This one you would’ve heard before and probably one of the top things that come to mind when you think of Zen Buddhism and mindfulness. It’s called Zazen in Zen Buddhism and it is proven to lower your stress and anxiety levels.
A lot of people may seem skeptical of this practice and don’t bother trying because they don’t believe they can reach enlightenment.
The truth is it doesn’t have to be about reaching enlightenment. It simply is to slow your pace of life down and to sit, relax and not think of your daily tasks that are bothering you. It’s a quick escape from reality, a time to let your brain rest.
Like every other skill, the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. You’ll feel a lot more refreshed and focused after a couple sessions.
2) Finding a Mindful State
Similar but a little different to Zazen, being in a mindful state can be when you’re still in action.
It’s to draw your thoughts to the present reality and to focus on what it is you’re doing. To wake up and feel grounded with your surroundings. It’s to forget worrying about your tasks you need to get done later in the day or what you will be doing in a month’s time. Focus on the present time.
The practice of mindfulness in itself isn’t difficult, but continuing to remain present in any moment does require awareness – of when your thoughts are not present or when you are being judgemental of your situation or surroundings, or your mind is elsewhere.
3) Cultivating Compassion
As the Dalai Lama said, compassion is an aspiration, not just a passive emotion. This is a big part of Buddhism learnings. To learn how to express compassion to the ones around us will give us a deeper sense of peace and happiness. It may be one of the most difficult things we learn, but it will be one worthwhile and will bring stronger bonds to relationships.
Perhaps the Dalai Lama says it best with this wise quote:
“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
4) Finding the Road to Happiness
While things like money, power and success bring some people happiness, those things tend to be temporary relief. True happiness does not exist outside oneself, you have to find it within. From the practices of mindfulness, compassion and meditation, a road will open up to happiness. This happiness is renewable, it is under your control and power.
Andy Rooney says it best:
“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his/her happiness on major events like a great job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time.
If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”
5) Simplifying Your Life
Changing what we consume mentally and physically can significantly change our mood.
Most of us are too occupied by things like social media, TV, gossip and other
distractions that don’t add value to our life.
Slowly eliminate some of these distractions, or at least limit yourself on how much you spend on these activities. You will find that your life has more purpose, that you’re not comparing yourself to others and it will make finding that mindful state a whole lot easier.
These points may not seem like much but they do lead to significant changes which you will only believe once you experience it for yourself.
Originally published on The Power of Ideas.