What Is Mindfulness
Zen and mindfulness, more or less, are two sides of the same coin, and there are many ways to practice mindfulness. While there are some subtle differences between the two terms, they are similar in definition, and more importantly, both strive towards the same end goal. Both Zen and mindfulness focus on centering and clearing the mind through a variety of techniques in order to better perceive and regard the world around you. There are many different techniques used to accomplish this, with one of the most dominant being meditation. Through Zen meditation and mindfulness meditation, one can open their minds up to the many events that happen around them which wouldn’t normally be noticed, gaining a greater appreciation and understanding of our world. Many people wish to learn how to practice mindfulness for anxiety. These practices can also lead to increased memory, better cognitive reasoning, and a greater appreciation for life. Learning to use these skills all throughout the day can lead to enormous benefits, and can be utilized almost anywhere, including in careers, once you learn how to practice mindfulness at work.
Difference Between Zen and Mindfulness:
Many people use the terms Zen and mindfulness synonymously, and while they do share many similarities, there are several differences between the two. Both of these terms are used to describe specific states of mind and thought. They also share a similar end goal: to expand a person’s mental facilities and provide ways of thinking that would otherwise normally be eschewed. The primary differences between the two comes in how they achieve this shared end goal and they methods used to facilitate an expanded thought process. In short, Zen typically focuses on the self and the inner workings of one’s consciousness. It provides a way to view and accept oneself in a different manner, and thus allows the practitioner to view the outside world differently looking at it from a new prospective gained from seeing themselves differently. Mindfulness, on the other hand, tends to focus primarily on the outside world directly. It involves, almost contrary to Zen methods, keeping mental clarity and focus on the events, generally those that are small and overlooked, of one’s surroundings. Through looking at the world differently, it provides greater insight to one’s inner workings, and gives insight on how to practice mindfulness throughout the day. Both methods will produce a greater mental facility for both the outside world and the inner being, however the main difference is on the focus of each method, and how this is achieved.
Fundamentals of Zen:
Zen, as described above, is a school of thought which primary functions to expand conscious thought in order to gain a greater enlightenment into both one’s own inner thought as well as a greater appreciation and understanding of the people and events around us. Zen is a school of thought belonging to Buddhism, and was conceived in China during the early AD years, mostly between 200 AD and 400 AD. Since that time, Zen has spread its reach to all parts of the world and many different cultures, aiding people around the world to obtain clearer thought and greater understanding of many aspects of life. There are many specific practices in the Zen school, however none is more important than meditation. Through Zen meditation, one is meant to essentially observe their own mind and consciousness in order to gain a greater understanding of how the world around us is interpreted. These meditation sessions can be done in two ways;
- As a part of a group meditation.
Other common Zen practices can include breath practices and yoga.
Basics of Mindfulness:
Mindfulness, like Zen, is a school of thought used mainly to expand one’s view of both oneself and the world and events around us. The concept of mindfulness also originated as a part of Buddhist practices. Unlike Zen, however, mindfulness generally focuses on the events occurring around us, and uses these surroundings to attain a more enlightened self. The basic concept derives from the fact that the majority of our lives are spent on a sort of auto-pilot. While we absorb these knowledge and events going on, the vast majority of this information is simply discarded before ever being useful. The purpose of mindfulness is to attain a state in which this auto-pilot feature is used as little as possible, and even the smallest of occurrences are recognized, evaluated, and used to provide greater understanding of ourselves and the world. There are many methods to consider when learning how to practice mindfulness. Like Zen, one of the primary methods of the school of mindfulness is meditation. By clearing one’s mind completely, these events which are generally completely overlooked can become more apparent. It is also important to know how to practice mindfulness throughout the day, instead of at only specific times. For example, learning how to practice mindfulness at work can be beneficial. By becoming more away of the actions and events that occur around us, one can fully engage in a mindful way of thought.
Meditation is the most important practice for both Zen and Mindfulness:
For both the schools of Zen and mindfulness, meditation is likely the most important practice. For those that don’t know exactly what meditation is, it can be loosely defined as learning to clear one’s mind entirely. This may sound easy at face value, however in practice, this is actually very difficult to master. While many people learn and practice for years to achieve full meditative states, the basics of meditation can be performed by anyone, and even those that are not masters can receive extremely beneficial results by practicing meditation.
For one, it is one of the best solutions in the world to control stress and anxiety and gives insight into how to practice mindfulness for anxiety. Meditation, even for beginners, can also begin to provide expand thought and consciousness, giving one a greater understanding and appreciation for our lives, as well as providing greater memory and cognitive abilities as you learn how to practice mindfulness in daily life.
The act of meditating can be performed relatively easily in your own home.
- First, find a quiet room of your house
- Remove as many outside interferences as possible
- Turn of televisions and stereos
- Turn off any noisy appliances, etc
- Also, turn off the lights.
- Find a comfortable spot and either sit or lie down: a bed works great or simply putting a cushion on the floor works.
- Next, close your eyes, and simply think about nothing
While turning of the light, though it is not necessary for the room to be completely dark, if you have windows or other natural lighting, however the room should at least be dim.
Closing your eyes and think about nothing is what sounds easy at face value, however, especially if you are new to this, you’ll find your mind will being to wander without your consent. When you realize this, simply cease these thoughts, and continue to erase all thoughts from your mind. At its essence, this is the act of meditating.
This simple act can help to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as enlighten you as to how your mind works and wanders when left to its own devices. This alone can provide much more insight to your life than you would first believe. The greatest benefits from meditation come after practicing for a while. Many people can even attain different levels of thought during these states, attaining various stages of trances as well as having dreams while still awake, leading to more complex, though also more enlightening, levels of meditation.
Other Tools of meditation:
While meditation can be done completely independently, many people also choose to employ various other tools in order to help them with this process and maximize their results while meditating. These tools can vary in nature, and each can provide different experiences and results for the user.
Mala beads as a tool of meditation:
Our mala beads are one of those tools that can be chosen for meditation. Mala beads are simple in premise: they are a string of beads, tied in a similar fashion to a bracelet. Each strand of mala beads contains exactly 109 beads. There are 108 smaller beads, referred to as the mala beads, and there is one large bead, known as the guru bead. When meditation, these beads are held in one hand. Beginning with the guru bead, the user can use their thumb to slowly count through each of the beads. Once they return to the guru bead, it is known that they have counted through exactly 108. By counting through these beads, it gives the mind something to focus on entirely, preventing it for wandering through unwanted thoughts. It also doesn’t require any conscious thought to process, as the number of beads is already known. This allows for a greater and more consistent meditation experience. These beads can also be used independently of meditation when learning how to practice mindfulness throughout the day.
Use of crystals in meditation practices:
Many people also choose to use crystals in their meditation practices. We offer a wide range of crystals as well. It is thought that crystals contain a much greater power than their outward appearance would suggest. By meditating with our crystals simply sitting nearby, this power from the crystals can be absorbed while meditating. The crystals can also have a focusing effect, allowing for a greater inner experience while meditating. Similar to the mala beads, many people also choose to hold the crystals in one hand while meditating, and slowly rotate them. This provides a unique tactile experience to focus on, which can prevent the mind from wandering while attempting to meditate.