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Achieving or Maintaining Zen in 10 Steps

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We live in an efficient, consumption-based society that is obsessed with looks, technology and social media. People work hard, run after their kids and their money in order to have a better material life. People have less and less time to themselves, they are more stressed, more and more anxious and develop other health problems.

At work, performance dominates—who does more and better, overtime, conflicts between colleagues or a lack of cooperation, of resources and of helpfulness.

People are afraid of not having enough money, losing their job, the kind of fear that slows people down from doing what they love. People like to control everything; they want to plan ahead.

But how can we achieve or maintain Zen within our busy lives?

First of all, what is to achieve Zen?

Being Zen is to be peaceful. It’s being in contact with oneself, to be present with whatever happens, it’s knowing and understanding who we are and fully experiencing it. It’s living life with equanimity without letting ourselves be overcome by conflict and emotions.

There are many benefits but here are a few: strengthening of the immune system, increase of work capacities, more creativity, improvement of sleep, stress reduction, reduced irritability and mood swings, improvement of emotional stability, etc.

Life is too idealized. We are always in search of perfect happiness. We envy others’ lives, their possessions, and even their spiritual lives. This creates a lot of pressure, stress and a vicious circle. One must accept that perfect happiness does not exist, that life is hard and that at some point in life, there will be suffering. One must realize that we are the masters of our own lives and we have the power over our actions. Maybe we should let go of things that are useless to us, take a step back from people who cause conflict and be conscious of what we really need, what our souls need.

Here are 10 tips that will help you maintain or achieve Zen:

First of all, there is a training involved, like any other habit you want to integrate; you’ll need to make some efforts. Also, give yourself the right to not be Zen: don’t be perfectionist and accept the moments that aren’t.

1)     As soon as you rise in the morning, sit down and fill up a page with everything that’s in your head, to let go, without restraint or censorship, whatever, about whomever, just allow yourself.

2)     Write down “I love myself because…” on a piece of paper and fill out an entire page with the end of the sentence.

3)     Meditate for 5, 10 or 30 minutes. Observe your breathing.

4)     Breathe, take the time for a few deep breaths several times a day.

5)     Take a step back, slow down to be conscious of your stress level and maybe stop. Let go.

6)     Take the time to rest.

7)     When you’re in a difficult situation, try finding at least three positive points about the situation.

8)     Do activities that you like. Learn to know yourself, know your needs and desires.

9)     Don’t do things you don’t want to do or simply can’t do. Learn to say “no”. Be realistic about what you can do, know your limits and what you like.

10)  Appreciate each little moment. Happiness is not in possessions; although they can make our lives more comfortable, try to buy just what you need, what your soul needs.

Look for things that do you good, that comfort you. However, it’s important to beware that something isn’t hiding a deeper need that you are trying to cover with material or food needs.

Make concessions: you don’t have to agree with anyone (colleague, partner, etc.) but you must come to an agreement that works for both parties and most importantly, you must accept what happens. Accept that people can make mistakes, and recognize every act from this fact.

Don’t forget that there is not just one definition of happiness: each person makes their own, but it’s rather a question of choice, to choose to be happy.

Swami Saranyananda
Yoga Santé Plus

I started doing yoga at age 12 after having suffered from intestinal problems, psoriasis and chronic fatigue for years. Through yoga, these problems disappeared and my life started to change. I met my guide and spiritual master, Swami Premananda Saraswati (Hervé Blondon) in 2008. Under his guidance, I was initiated to Sannywasa karma (Sivananda line), completed the level 1 Hatha Yoga training, the chakra awakening training and the advanced level 2 teacher training (Jyoti). My desire to work with everyone without exception also brought me to complete a therapeutic yoga training with Isabelle Sarne from the Gayatri centre, prenatal yoga with Lidija Segon (Lalita), therapeutic yoga at the Divine Yoga Institute with Sannyasi Vishnuswaroop in Nepal and restorative yoga with François Raoult, Richard Rosen, Vickie Bell and Judith Hanson Lasater. I have 10 years of teaching experience, as well as 993 hours of training and over 1600 hours of teaching under my belt. I also offer a Yoga therapy teacher training officially endorsed and certified by the International yoga federation and accredited internationally by the Fédération Francophone de Yoga.

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