Always in search of the ‘Zen Zone’

“You’re always trying to create the Zen Zone.”

“He who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not remains a fool forever.”

— Chinese Proverb

“You’re always trying to create the Zen Zone.”

“The Zen Zone?” I repeated to myself and chuckled.

A friend and I were talking about inherent tendencies of different personality types.

We had both, on separate occasions, taken a course designed to reveal our personality type – our true colours, if you will. My friend had become a bit of an expert on the topic and gave an assessment of what he suspected had been revealed in my workshop. His assessment was surprisingly accurate.

He touched on my need to ponder things deeply and my need to create harmony in my relationships.

It’s a little unnerving to be understood so well but, then again, one of the goals of self-esteem and empowerment-building is becoming transparent.

And by transparent I mean no hidden agendas – the “you” that is presented to the world is authentic.

Of course, my friend knew me well, which no doubt contributed to the accuracy of his appraisal. His comments did get me pondering. First of all, I liked the term, Zen Zone – a place of peace and bliss. It is something I strive to create every day. I’ve actually had colleagues come into my office, plop down in a chair and declare they need some time in my Zen Zone.

Zen is a Buddhist term referring to wisdom and the attainment of enlightenment, emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship and study of scripture.

For years, my Zen Zone was a false one built upon a foundation of fear.

Though I would have been reluctant to admit it at the time, I was not attempting to create harmony or attain enlightenment; I was actually attempting to reduce or eliminate conflict and confrontation. I have always preferred a calm and stress-free environment where everyone gets along, and though my efforts may have created the outward appearance of such, my life was anything but.

Though most of us would like to, few of us live in the Zen Zone.

The lives of most people are complex and busy – a metaphorical juggling act where (by choice or circumstance) more and more items are tossed at the juggler until juggling becomes an all-encompassing task.

Sometimes, like the juggler, we can become so busy keeping all the balls in the air that we become blind to everything else that’s happening around us. The first thing we need to do is stop.

Stop and take inventory of all the activities in our life. Stop and look at our motivations asking important questions like, “Why am I doing this?”

We might also ask who derives the greatest benefit and whether or not our actions are designed to impress others and create status. We must always be aware of the control that ego can exercise over our choices and perception.

We need to take an inventory of all the activities in our busy life accounting for how much time, effort and resources (physical, emotional and financial) each requires. Next, we can calculate the return each provides for the investment demanded. The results may be surprising.

There’s a great Buddhist saying, “Do not speak unless it improves on silence.” This philosophy can also be applied to our juggling. Do not do it – whatever “it” might be – if it does not add to making our life and the lives of those around us more positive, joyous and loving.

A state of peace and bliss must include reflection and self-awareness. There are many lessons to be learned by the simple act of looking back. With awareness, we can reflect back over past experiences with an eye to witnessing key turning points in our life. I have found it best to suspend judgment when reflecting – letting go of ideas of fair or unfair, right or wrong – looking at the act or experience objectively. If we can let go of our need for the act to be anything other than what it was then we can begin to discern the lessons hidden deep within.

There are many ways to reflect and come into the moment but for me the best is through meditation. Meditating can be as simple as focusing on our breathing and becoming physically aware of the sensation of the air as it enters our body and as it leaves. This is a powerful way to take our thoughts and experience from the external to the internal. For me, meditation allows me to clear my mind and be completely in the moment. Time – a product of the conscious mind – disappears when we turn our thoughts inward and seek that higher connection to self.

Practice mindfulness. We can work to maintain clarity of mind no matter what it is that we’re doing: working, playing or resting. By mindful, I mean be fully alert. Brushing your teeth? Be mindful. Washing the dishes? Be mindful. Shoveling the snow? Be mindful. Notice the position of our body. Feel every feeling. Pay close attention to the thoughts that move through our mind as we perform each activity. Practice letting go of all expectations, needs or desires and focus entirely on the task at hand. To me, it’s another form of active meditation.

Be thankful. Express gratitude for each experience. Be grateful for all the circumstances that have put us where we are at that moment. Learn to fully appreciate each moment.

“Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts,” wrote Hindu spiritual teacher Swami Sivananda. “This is the secret of success.”

I suspect this is also the secret to getting into the Zen Zone. When we are fully present, when we are relaxed and focused, we may find that place of calm, bliss and balance.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

Bharat Masrani, CEO, TD Bank Group speaks at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Shares in metals and mining companies have rebounded sharply

A worker carrying a disinfectant sprayer walks past a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft, after cleaning another plane at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
WestJet to lay off undisclosed number of pilots amid labour negotiations

Layoff notices to go out ahead of the expiration of a memorandum of agreement

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

Canada has ordered 24 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend Sunday Service, in Abbotsford, B.C., Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. A legal advocacy group challenging British Columbia’s COVID-19 restrictions on worship services and public protests is scheduled to be in court today arguing for the church and others that COVID-19 restrictions violate their charter rights. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Churches in court to challenge British Columbia’s COVID-19 health orders

Calgary-based organization says it represents over a dozen individuals and faith communities in the province

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against Team Alberta as second Shannon Birchard, right, and lead Briane Meilleur sweep in the semi-final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson wins second straight Canadian women’s curling championship

Einarson and her teammates celebrated Sunday in the silence in an empty arena

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the Golden Globes on Feb. 28, 2021. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
With loved ones and pets, Globes winners embrace cozier show

Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch

The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a photo after winning the Award for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Schitt’s Creek nabs two Golden Globes for its final season

Catherine O’Hara named best television actress in a musical or comedy

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Most Read