Zen Practice

Snow LeopardPeter Matthiessen is famous for his book, The Snow Leopard. He passed away on April 5, 2014 at the age of 81.

It turns out the Matthiessen was a Zen Buddhist. I did not know this until these words of wisdom came in an email.

Zen is really just a reminder to stay alive and to be awake.

We tend to daydream all the time, speculating about the future and dwelling on the past. Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, then you are doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, and there is no reality apart from the here and now.

—Peter Matthiessen

This quote reminds me of what the Buddha was supposed to have said, “The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.”

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says it this way: “We are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.”

When I teach newcomers to Mindfulness in Healing sessions, I teach them a very simple practice that even the children understand. The practice goes somewhat like this.

Returning to the Present Moment

  1. Withdraw yourself into yourself and become aware of your breathing.
  2. As you breathe in, know that you are breathing in. You might say to yourself, “In,” when you breathe in. You might say to yourself, “Out,” when you breathe out. [This goes on for 1-5 minutes, or so.]
  3. As your in breath becomes deeper, and as your out breath becomes slower, you might change from “In…, Out…” to “Deep…, Slow.” [Another 1-5 minutes or so. And so on with “Calm…, Ease…, ” “Smile…, Release.”
  4. Now that you have a smile on your face and you easily release tension, you might say to yourself as you breathe in, “Present moment!” You might say to your self as you breathe out, “Wonderful moment!” [Continue this way for as long as you want :)]

This is the basic meditation practice I teach in Seven Secrets to Stop Interruptions in Meditation: How to Concentrate, Focus on Your Meditation and Deal with Distractions. Buy the book to learn more.

Do you have any questions about returning to the present moment meditation practice? I’ll be happy to answer them.

The Snow Leopard

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