You know me by know: I am loyal to practicing and keeping a Zen attitude as much and as often as I can.
Sure, I would love to check-in in an ashram right now and practice Zen teachings in silence and prayer, but for the time being I have to be here in my daily life – as in to take care of my family, run a household and a business, deal with traffic, bills, arrogant post officers etc. just like anyone else.
So, how do we do that? How can a normal person with a normal life keep her Zen attitude through a normal & maybe hectic day? The answer is:
It’s not simple, but it’s doable.
I’ll give you an example. These days there are few things that ruin my mojo, so to speak. But yesterday, while talking to my best friend, a simple (innocent) phrase she said triggered an avalanche of negative thoughts in my head.
I was totally taken by surprise (in the most negative way) and felt quite disappointed by my reaction. I thought I was cool and Zen and that nothing could get to me. Well, I was wrong!
I felt those negative thoughts and words burning my chest.
A couple of deep breaths later, I told myself that I should accept the situation, forgive myself for acting crazy & egocentric, and start searching within for the cause/root of my reaction. Soon I learned that I have a problem (since forever) with people’s opacity in general & their black-or-white attitude. That for me, as a flexible thinker, is hard to digest.
After more research & reflection, I reached to the conclusion that I am only human (therefore I make mistakes & am not ego-free) and that every situation/ reaction/ event is only a new assignment and a new opportunity to discover more about myself and to release whatever negative patterns I still have.
Two things helped me in the process: first – to admit that there is still more inner work do be done (and that that’s okay), second – to forgive myself and to learn something out of it.
Forgiveness. Love. Surrender.
Three magic words that lead to learning a valuable lesson. And healing.
What would I do differently if faced with the same situation? Maybe I would be wiser, calmer & react differently. Or maybe not. Maybe I would have the exact same reaction. Who knows? I still have to wait for a similar situation to show up and then to see if I learned my lesson or not.
Coming back to you, fellow Zen person reading this, my suggestions for keeping a Zen attitude in the middle of everyday events are these:
1// Keep in mind at all times that you are human & eligible for making mistakes.
2// Know that the ego will always find a way to reappear in your life.
3// Don’t blame yourself & don’t judge yourself/ others too harsh. Like back in the school days, sometimes we learn a lesson and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes a lesson needs to be taught twice or trice before we understand it and learn from it. That’s okay. We are all students of Life.
4// Don’t ignore the situation and also don’t maximize it. Face your fear/ ego/ reaction/ negative pattern with gentleness and the will to learn something out of it.
5// Take three deep breaths. Cliche? Yes! But it’s working!
6// Forgive yourself and forgive those who may have triggered something in you. It’s not about them, it’s about us. As you know by now, people around us are just mirrors and a reflection of what’s going on inside of us.
7// Let it go. Learn your lesson and then move on. Next time you’ll do/know better.
8// Let your feelings spread through the pages of your diary. Write it down and let it all out. I find this to be liberating, but I know some people consider it boring, so it’s up to you. Take whatever works for you.
I hope this helps. If you have other suggestions to make, please feel free to do so. I welcome in advance every comment you may have.
Sending love and light your way, plus a ton of Zen vibes,