Have you ever meditated before? Why did you do it? Did someone recommend the practice to you, or did you hear about it and decide to try it out for yourself on your own? Did you even know where to start, or what it truly meant to meditate for real?
Zazen meditation, which we more commonly refer to as Zen meditation after the Zen Buddhists who first practiced it, is probably the form of meditation you think of when you think of it. The idea is to sit in silence and be as aware of yourself as possible in order to separate your mind from your body. Here are a few quotes from Zen masters about meditation and living more peacefully in the world.
1. “Melting our attachment to self is the most powerful medication for bringing mental and emotional imbalance in check.” – Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
A big part of practicing Zen meditation is learning how to detach your emotions and thoughts from yourself. It is not all about you. Many of the things we worry about are selfish, whether we are aware of this fact or not. As you begin to meditate more regularly, focus on your thoughts and feelings as things separate from yourself and apply them to your existence in the world as a whole.
2. “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” – Thích Nhat Hanh
This ties in with the above concept of separating ourselves from the things we have convinced ourselves we desperately want and need. As we meditate we must also teach ourselves how to let go of the viewpoints other people have etched into our minds. Being open minded and willing to accept things for what they are is how we can come to be at peace with the world we live in and all it has to offer us.
3. “The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something.” – Koun Yamada
Zen meditation is about letting yourself come second. In the moments you spend still and silent, alone with your thoughts and emotions, your goal is not to process those thoughts and feelings, but instead to come to terms with your surroundings and how you are responding to that stimuli.
4. “The greatest effort is not concerned with results.” – Atisha
Meditation is not something that should ever be practiced to see results. It is not like physical exercise, which changes the body. It is mental exercise, which cannot be directly observed. The goal of meditation is to calm and appreciate the way you think and feel in the present moment. The future does not matter.
5. “Zen has no business with ideas.” – D. T. Suzuki
There is no thinking in Zen meditation, at least not in the way you know how to describe thought. Meditation is not a time in which you spend brainstorming a plan or coming up with something to say to a co-worker. It is about recognizing that you have thoughts and emotions and ideas, and setting aside the worldly aspects of those things.
6. “This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now.” – Alan Watts
Looking to the future is not always the best option. When we spend too much time looking ahead of us or glancing behind us, there is potential that we will miss something that is directly in front of or beside us. We need to practice appreciating the moment. Learning to live in the present is an essential part of, and long lasting benefit to, practicing Zen meditation, or meditation of any form. You exist here and now. There may not be a tomorrow. Appreciate where you are and what you are doing. Pay attention.
7. “Every being is in search of truth, but small fears go on preventing you.” – Osho
One reason many people meditate is to decrease anxiety and calm themselves down if they are worried about something. In life, we all want to know the reasons why things are the way they are. Being honest with yourself is one way to find these kinds of answers. However, fear can try and stop you from letting in the thoughts that scare you. Use meditation as a way to deal with your fear, so that you can live more peacefully knowing the truth.
8. “As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color and fragrance of the flower, so do he wise move through the world.” – Buddha
Your purpose in life should not be to disturb every person or place in your path. Sometimes it is okay to move about the world to simply observe and admire, using the resources around you without causing upset or distress. Meditation can teach you how to co exist with the people and things around you without seeking only to take. When you sit still, and learn to appreciate the beauty around you, you will be less tempted to rush through life trampling everything that stands in your way.
9. “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” – Eric Hoffer
The sole purpose of meditation is not to make yourself happier. Seeking happiness from practicing meditation is like expecting to ace a test just by sitting and staring at your textbook. Meditation on its own cannot erase all the other things going on in your life that may be causing you distress. Meditation is simply a way to calm and center the mind and relax the body. That, combined with positive thinking and other healthy habits, is what brings people happiness.
If you are interested in giving Zen meditation a try for yourself, you can follow this beginner’s guide.
Meditation, particularly Zen meditation, is about existing in the present and separating your worldly self from your thoughts and feelings. These quotes from the experts show how meditation, true meditation, has the potential to improve your life for the better.