Finding Zen

Have you heard the terms “zen state” or “zen time”?  It is often used in conjunction with yoga, which is what most people associate it with.  However, it is not a form of physical exercise.  The word ‘zen’ originates from a school of Chinese religion dating back to the 12th century but has been further expanded by the Japanese in more recent times.  Zen focuses on self enlightenment through meditation, but in our western world, it has become a word meaning a state of relaxation, inner peace and reflection in addition to meditation.  It is usually used in reference to time away from the rat race lifestyle we all lead, a much needed break from work, co-workers, kids and the pressures of everyday life to.  Zen is a place, which can be physical or virtual, that allows you to be totally calm and become re-energized.

I’ve stood on my soap box before when it comes to this topic, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to those of you who visit often when I say that fitness isn’t always about the strength, conditioning and wellness of the body itself. Fitness is about the total wellness of our body in addition to our mind and soul.  If the mind and soul are out of balance, the body will soon follow (usually manifested as some form of illness, injury or even a lack of energy/motivation/dedication, etc.).  Through the last year and a half, as I have dealt with some substantially intense personal situations, I have experienced this more than once…just take my word for it.

Finding time for zen is *so* important!!  I know what you’re thinking, your days are already hopelessly full of appointments and meetings, not to mention the to-do list that you haven’t even had a chance to get to by the day’s end.  You’re probably already dismissing the idea of fitting one more thing into your already busy schedule by asking the age old question, “How am I supposed to find time for this too?”.  But before you dismiss it, allow me to give you a reason (or several) to fit it in.  The reality, my friends, is this:

If you don’t fit it in you will find yourself, as my mother used to say, at the end of your rope…your very frazzled and fraying rope.  You’ll be moody, depressed, irritable with your family, co-workers and friends, lacking energy and motivation and in a general state of unhappiness.  The bottom line is that we all need time to ourselves, for ourselves, to recharge our batteries, ground and center ourselves, find that inner peace and re-energize.

As I said before, zen is a place.  Where is your zen place?  All you have to do to find it is think of your happy place!  Don’t know what your happy place looks like?  Well, take a moment to go into a room where you can be by yourself and close the door.  Have a seat, close your eyes and let your mind go. For most people, zen is found in some form of nature.  As you sit there with your eyes closed, take note of the images your mind creates. Is there a waterfall nearby?  Or are you in a garden spot? At the beach? On a mountain trail? Is there soft rain falling or bright sunshine streaming down?


I find my zen in the sound of water.  It could be a rippling lake, the babbling of a brook, a river talking as it runs by or the sound of lapping ocean waves on a white sand beach (in which case there would be cute cabana boy too. Hey, a girl is allowed to dream!). Regardless of what your zen place looks like or where it is located, find your spot. Then, when life begins to get stressful, hectic, chaotic, fast paced and over the top, make the time to go there. You will be amazed at how it positively impacts your overall well being. Once you return from your zen place, life’s routines become easier and you are, once again, capable of accomplishing great things all with a smile on your face. Bonus! 🙂

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