“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”Shunryu Suzuki
Zen is synonymous with simplicity, calmness, and mindfulness.
Being zen can mean being present in the moment, or grounded (i.e. not stuck up in your head in your Mental Chatter).
Typically, most of my clients are Type-A, overachieving women who struggle to get out of their heads, so being more zen is something I’m consistently teaching and helping them with.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t mean you give up your ambition or drive. Instead, it means that you know how and when to “turn off the lever in your brain” as I like to call it.
Being more zen means that you have internal balance—the yin and the yang.
There are enormous benefits to being more zen if you’re someone who typically is wired a little anxious. Being more zen can help you release more stress, frustrations, and other negative emotions you may be storing in your body if you’re too in your head.
Having a zen attitude can result in a more positive outlook in life, and it can help you respond with stillness in the mindset of a chaotic life.
My own life coach once phrased it as “being the Buddha in the city.” Meaning there’s chaos and busyness all around you, yet you can still remain still and calm. This means that you control your emotional state regardless of your circumstances (something that’s so hard to do but oh so very worth it).
- Related: Mental Chatter (podcast)
How To Be More Zen
Because I know from my clients that incorporating more zen into your life takes practice and dedication, I want to bring to you some tips to get started so that you can see the awesome benefits of living this way, even if it’s with just a little bit of intention every day.
Tip 1: Simplify your daily activities
Slowly and deliberately, start to simplify your daily activities so you’re doing a little bit less every day.
This doesn’t mean you produce less—in fact, you can produce more in less time. This happens when you’re more deliberate with your time (something I teach in Grow You through my method of Calendaring).
But by freeing up some of your space in your calendar and intentionally creating “white space” you’ll start to feel freer and more zen as you focus on what matters most and ditch the rest.
- How To Plan Your Day (blog post)
- When To Say Yes And When To Say No (podcast)
- How To Live An Intentional Life (free course)
Tip 2: Establish a daily routine
One of the most important parts of creating zen in your life is in your daily routine.
Think about the space in between activities or daily tasks. What do you do with it? Most of us pick up our phones and scroll Instagram (or some version of it).
What if, instead, you decided to establish a daily routine where during all your in between time you decided to check in with yourself and see what your body needs?
It sounds like asking yourself, “what does my body need from me right now?” Checking in regularly (and making it part of your daily routine) can have the compound effect of grounding you, so you’re giving yourself a little extra love and attention and feeling more zen.
- How To Create A Morning And Evening Routine (blog post)
- Mom-To-Be Mindset Tips (podcast)
- Time Management Tools (free course)
Tip 3: Focus on one thing at a time
Zen is not some kind of mystical “woo woo” magic that just happens to you. It’s a feeling that you create when you focus your thoughts on the present moment and just be.
One way to do this is to practice focusing on one thing at a time.
Typically, we live in our minds which are racing a million miles per hour.
You can control this by redirecting your thoughts back to the one thing you’re focusing on.
Remember, this is new to you, so as you try it, you may find it challenging at first. That’s okay. Keep going with it. Over time, it will get easier.
Tip 4: Get prepared the night before
Another way to be more zen is to get prepared the night before for the day to come.
Spending time right before bed planning your self care, rest time, and zen time (whether that’s 10 minutes of silence or something else), can be a great way to get out in front of any miny daily fires that may come your way.
This means you can plan for obstacles (like work meetings or kids’ naps) and decide how best to prepare to have a few moments to yourself in the day to come.
The more you can center yourself internally, the better you’ll show up in your life for your family, so this is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
- How To Show Up For Yourself (blog post)
- Being Gentle With Yourself (podcast)
- Weekly Inspirational Email (freebie)
Tip 5: Intentionally plan to rest
Living with more zen and having a zen lifestyle doesn’t mean you stop creating and producing in your life. It means you balance that productivity with true rest and relaxation where your mind is totally in the present moment.
It’s easy to do one or the other—to produce at a high rate and overwork OR to always be in the present moment.
The harder thing to do is to do both—to produce AND to be present. To create and to be still. This is the balance that you want to strive for internally.
So, start this by intentionally planning to rest. This means you’re not escaping (with false pleasures, like wine and Netflix). It means real rest.
You may not know what that even means to you. This is a great journal entry—what does it mean to rest? What can you do to try to rest? How do you feel when you’re simply by yourself, doing nothing? Can you be with yourself without escaping?
Rest is the key to living with more zen, so do it thoughtfully and intentionally.
- How To Prioritize When Everything Is Important (blog post)
- Uncovering Your Purpose By Removing Escaping (podcast)
- 75 Journal Prompts For Women And Moms (freebie)
Tip 6: Practice 10 minutes of silence every day
One of my favorite ways to help clients start a meditation practice is through 10 minutes of silence every day.
With the chaos of everyday life, in just 10 minutes at home, you can create a lot of zen to help you get recentered.
To do this, find a quiet space in your home (to the extent possible!), set a timer for 10 minutes, close your eyes, and do nothing. Be sure to be sitting (not laying down) so your body is in a position where it doesn’t feel tempted to fall asleep. Repeat this every day. This is effectively like a sitting meditation that you can do very easily right at home.
This will help you feel more zen and quite truly change your life!
Fun Facts: Shunryu Suzuki, a Zen monk, established the first Buddhist monastery in San Francisco called “San Francisco Zen Center”. Check out more about him here or his book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Another monk I found super interesting was Thich Nhat Hanh who was a global spiritual leader. More on him here or check out his book, Love Letter To The Earth.
Tip 7: Release your energy through movement
Getting your body moving is a great way to release the emotions you’re carrying.
Have you noticed that going for a jog or dancing helps you release stored stress (or even frustration)? It’s a way for you to release what you’re carrying internally.
When you don’t move, you let that energy build up inside you, and it can get “stuck” in a way where it compounds, feels worse, and even becomes part of your day-to-day life.
Something as basic as cooking and cleaning can be a great source of movement for you if you can’t get outside. When you focus your built up energy on cooking or cleaning, you can use it for that task, in a way that releases so you feel more zen afterward.
A Final Note!
When you add more zen to your life, you’ll live your life in a way that’s more grounded, with less anxiety, and you’ll experience more joy each and every day.
For the type-A, overachiever, cultivating a zen attitude can help you reignite your life in a new and different way than ever before.