Some Zen Steps
by Dr Brenda Shoshanna
Tapping Into Our Fundamental Strength
In Zen we say, “Open the treasure house within.” This reminds us that we are all endowed with many resources that we’re not aware of, and do not use in our lives. In order to access these innate abilities, we must stop blaming and leaning on others, and turn within. As soon as we start to look within, to take responsibility for how we respond to events, we begin to tap into our fundamental strength.
We are what we think about. It is easy to become fixated on a negative situation and become in the grip of self-centered thoughts. The more we give attention to that which is negative, the more strength it has to rule our lives. This can be counteracted rather easily. Take charge of your focus and attention. The power of focus is the power of life.
Spend time each day developing focus and concentration. This is also called meditation. Withdraw yourself from the external world for a period of time each day, and place your attention within. Sit with a straight back, do not move and concentrate upon your breath. Let random thoughts come and go. Do not suppress them, but do not let them grab your attention away. Count your breath from one to ten, then all over again. Do this for at least ten to fifteen minutes without moving. By not moving we are stopping what is called the monkey mind.
Stop The Monkey Mind
The monkey mind is the mind that jumps from one thing to the next, fears, demands, grabs and sabotages our lives. But when we take charge of our focus, we still and dissolve the monkey mind, and we also discover a place within which we can always return, for wisdom, strength and comfort. When we allow the external world to consume us, we are simply giving our natural treasures away.
Take Charge Of Focus
Reality continually renews and confronts us with new tasks, challenges, opportunities and solutions, day after day. Are we in touch with this ever flowing reality? Usually we focus upon what is missing, what we lack and what hasn’t worked out as we hoped it would. We do not focus upon what is available now, the gifts we are receiving and what we can give to others. It is a simple matter to turn this around.
As we take charge of our focus we dwell upon our strengths and the strengths of others, not the weaknesses. We find what is healthy and encourage that to grow. Rather than struggle to analyze and undo our patterns, we work directly with our focus. The question before us always is: What am I focusing on this moment? Am I available to what is going on, or lost somewhere in a dream?
As we choose to focus on all that we are receiving, what others need, what we can give, at a certain moment we become aware that our state of mind has become calm, balanced and positive. There’s nowhere for upset to take hold. Beyond that, as we learn to do each action with full attention, we do not dwell upon the outcome. Our joy and satisfaction comes from acting with a whole heart and mind. And, of course, when we are not absorbed by concern for outcomes, how much anxiety can we ever have?