New Years Resolution: Bringing Zen Qualities into Your Life

It’s that time again, a new year begins and we start making all these resolutions. Whether it’s building a pond, being healthier, volunteering more, or simply being in the moment, we have a tendency to lose momentum a few months (or weeks) in. Total Pond is setting an example and the intention of bringing Zen qualities into their readers’ lives in 2018. Each month we will cover a different aspect of living a Zen lifestyle and guide you on how to incorporate that into your life.

Everyone talks about being Zen but what exactly is it? According to the experts it’s a practical experience and you can’t really understand it until you practice but we will do our best to try to explain what Zen is all about. Zen in Japanese means meditation and is a way of vigilance and self-discovery, which traditionally is practiced while sitting on a meditation cushion. It is the experience of living from moment to moment, in the here and now or what we now call mindfulness. It uses exercises like sitting in silence, focusing on posture and breathing, and letting your ego and your unconscious mind fade away. Many people associate this with feeling calm and peaceful and these practices help you achieve these emotions.

There are ways of achieving a Zen state without going to a temple or dojo and becoming a Zen monk. You can incorporate different aspects into your everyday routine. People often find nature and, not surprisingly, water calming and peaceful and being in these environments can create a Zen effect. Hearing running water and being near water have positive psychological effects which we have discussed in our blog, “The Link Between Mental Health and Ponds”, and having a water feature in your home offers these benefits as well as a place to practice the Zen philosophy.

Over the next year we will focus on a specific Zen technique each month. We will cover topics like doing one thing at a time, doing it slowly and deliberately, doing it completely, doing less, putting space between things, developing rituals, designating time for certain things, devoting time to sitting, smiling and serving others, making cleaning and cooking meditative, thinking about what is necessary, and living simply. The idea behind all these suggestions is to reduce stress and clutter and be in the moment. We are constantly distracted by our environment and our thoughts and often don’t really engage and take in where we are, what we are doing, the company we keep, and the impact we have on others and vice versa. These practices will help you to become more self-aware, realize what is important in your life, and help you to focus more on that.

Even if becoming more Zen is not your resolution, utilizing these practices will help you to achieve your goals. Stay tuned with our blogs and let us help motivate you to keep your resolutions this year!