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Carolyn Rubenstein

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Ten Ways to Nourish Your Inner Zen

Posted: 07/09/09 07:11 PM ET


Ten Ways to Nourish Your Inner Zen: Part One

"Things do not change; we change." - Henry David Thoreau

While "Zen" originates from Buddhist practice, it has transformed into a cultural phenomenon. Rather than attempt to list a multitude of definitions for the concept of Zen, I want to move beyond mere details and focus on how one can ignite his or her inner Zen, something that can be experienced as a state of inner calm.

Without searching for the magic wand that will obliterate our less than ideal conditions and leave us with a surplus of worry-free time, how can we use personal intention to translate inner Zen into our current life?

While I can't claim that I am the most "Zen" person you'll ever meet, I am working towards making changes that help me take steps towards creating a life that includes my inner Zen as a significant component. Regardless of where you are today, you can revel in the knowledge that at any moment, you can simply decide to begin nourishing your inner life.

I will discuss 5 methods in Part One and 5 methods in Part Two that may help you find that inner Zen. After reading through these five methods, be sure to check for the little extra bonus I've included at the end of the post.

1. Breathe
So simple; so reflexive, yet how often do you consciously think about "breathing?" For me, the answer is...not too often. Recently, I was reminded of the importance of not letting this action remain on autopilot. That powerful reminder came in the form of a recent post entitled "Breathe" by Leo Babauta on ZenHabits.

2. Ask Powerful, Thought-Provoking Questions
Jennifer Lee, a life coach, artist, and yogini, created Artizen Coaching to inspire unfolding your life vision. After working through three forms posted on her site, I realized the importance the sense of Zen is to my personal development. The forms helped me assess my life overall, determine what is essential for my personal well-being, and enable me to create actions that align with my vision.

3. Replace "Uhm" with "Om"
I began practicing yoga six years ago, and the effort started with lots of uncertainty. I had never before done anything that required my mind to stay so focused on "now." When the instructor asked us to lie on our backs for the last 15 minutes of class, I darted out the door. Still, I returned day after day; I had found something compelling about yoga that I couldn't find in anything else. In a word, it was "mindfulness." Below are a few great resources to help you explore the basics of yoga. For those who already practice yoga, these may help you find some unique types of yoga to explore.
-> Yoga Basics
-> My Yoga Online
-> Yoga Journal Online
-> OM Yoga
-> PranaVayu Yoga
-> Shiva Nata: The Dance of Shiva

4. Relax
Relaxing is an action, so feel free to do something relaxing. Some examples include knitting, scrapbooking, photography, creating handmade gifts, sitting in a comfy position with a great magazine or book, or taking a walk outside.

5. Simplify
In order to begin nurturing your inner life, you must first create a strong but flexible foundation. Rigidity is not conducive to exploration. To focus on less and overcome the persistent distractions that encumber us, it's important to learn how you can simplify the things that are causing the most resistance in your life. I am fortunate to be able to work with Aby Garvey, otherwise known as the creative organizing and simplification guru. Aby strongly emphasizes the importance of quality over quantity. Stuff, tasks, and action items are constant components of our lives. You can indeed live by focusing exclusively on the things you must still do, or you can choose to live a life you love--while still being successful. In short, there is no magic wand. Instead, the secret lies in joining a process of trial and error that will ultimately give you the control you need to decide how you're going to focus your energy. Simplifying your life is much more than assembling a collection of color-coded file folders and calendars; rather, it takes reflection and consistent dedication.

Without creating space for "you" in your life, establishing a sense of inner calm will remain a constant struggle.

- - - Download - - -

To supplement this post, I created a download that you can utilize to establish a personal treasury of the resources, thoughts, and tips that are most beneficial to you. I kept it simple so you can tailor it to fit your specific needs. This "knowledge treasury" can serve as a printable inspiration board.

I hope you find the download helpful, and I look forward to providing more resources that can serve as catalysts for turning knowledge into action--and action into change.

--> Download Document


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