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Simple Techniques for More Peace and Clarity

Zen Masters and Buddhist Monks the world over are winning at life. In the west, it appears, due to stress, that we are the ones losing. And while most of us don’t have monk-like discipline, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them and apply a just a little of all they offer for greater peace and harmony within.

After all, they appear to have an unshakeable grasp of their emotions, walking around with an aura of calm, peace, and genuine happiness that we pine for in the west.

The late great poet and writer, Bukowski was onto something when he said,

“People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.”
— Charle Bukowski
While Bukowski’s words resonate strongly, it was the Dalai Lama who delivered the knockout punch when asked what surprised him most about humanity,

“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
— The Dalai Lama
Maybe as a culture, we are starting to take note. Maybe we are waking up? But our deeply ingrained insistence on more and our reluctance to stillness is certainly not Zen-like, no matter how woke we claim to be.

Likely, because we don’t respect simplicity, instead opting to over-complicate. We try to hack everything. And we do this knowing simplicity is what’s proven the most effective since the Buddha himself set off on his Noble Eightfold Path to enlightenment some 2,500 years ago.

Zen simply means meditation. And we stand to gain a whole lot by adopting some of the habits, behaviors, and practical tips offered by Zen Masters the world over for our own clarity and peace of mind.

A noble pursuit if ever there was one.

Here are 10 Simple Zen Tips to Declutter Your Mind for Greater Peace and Clarity
Note: I’m not sure if all these are Zen. I guess anything can be Zen if you approach it with mindfulness. And that’s the goal.

As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh once said,

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh
1. Make your bed
Yup. A messy bed can equate to a messy head.

If you want to get the day off to the best possible start, be sure to make your bed, leaving it all fresh and plump, waiting to greet you for slumber in the evening when your day is all but done.

2. Own your morning
Create a morning ritual for you and you only. This might mean waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than your norm to find that sacred time for solitude.

Personally, I get up around six and usually start with some yoga, followed by meditation before heading out for my morning coffee. Bliss. Embrace what works best for you. Some people own the night.

3. Avoid the phone until after your morning routine
We are either proactive or reactive in the morning. And the second you go on that phone, whether you like it or not, you’re switching gears into reactive mode, as your brain begins to fire on all cylinders trying to figure out how best to deal with whatever shit it is you have to deal with.

It can wait.

4. Plan the day ahead
This, I believe, is best done the night before. With so much going on in our minds, our productivity can take a bashing due to the stress of it all.

By writing down your tasks for the upcoming day in order of importance, you’ll no longer have to worry about them rattling away in your mind. And when the time comes to pull the finger out, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done. Now all that’s left is to do it.

5. Clean your workstation
The fewer distractions and cleaner your workspace is, the more organised you’ll be, and the more likely you are to feel calmer, as well as boost your productivity.

And who doesn’t want that? So dump all that shit you never use and get out that polish for a much-deserved spring clean. You’ll thank yourself for it.

6. Empty your inbox
Not so long ago, I deleted close to 3,000 emails I had accumulated over the years. While that’s not quite up there with Hilary Clinton’s numbers, to say it felt cathartic is an understatement.

I also began unsubscribing to all the subscriptions that no longer serve me. Now I have full control over a tiny inbox that only causes me stress when someone annoys me.

Furthermore, I archive most emails so I can easily search them. It’s like I deleted them. But not really. Similar to sweeping shit under the couch — out of sight, out of mind. Zen.

7. Clean and clear out your home
Speaking of sweeping shit under the couch, this is one to work away on mindfully when you find the time. By embodying your inner Marie Kondo and turning your home into a sanctuary free of clutter, much of your stress can evaporate at the door. S BEAT ANXIETY AND STRESS
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10 Simple Zen Tips to Declutter Your Mind for Greater Peace and Clarity
zen tips to calm the mind
Zen Masters and Buddhist Monks the world over are winning at life. In the west, it appears, due to stress, that we are the ones losing. And while most of us don’t have monk-like discipline, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them and apply a just a little of all they offer for greater peace and harmony within.

After all, they appear to have an unshakeable grasp of their emotions, walking around with an aura of calm, peace, and genuine happiness that we pine for in the west.

The late great poet and writer, Bukowski was onto something when he said,

“People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.”
— Charle Bukowski
While Bukowski’s words resonate strongly, it was the Dalai Lama who delivered the knockout punch when asked what surprised him most about humanity,

“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
— The Dalai Lama
Maybe as a culture, we are starting to take note. Maybe we are waking up? But our deeply ingrained insistence on more and our reluctance to stillness is certainly not Zen-like, no matter how woke we claim to be.

Likely, because we don’t respect simplicity, instead opting to over-complicate. We try to hack everything. And we do this knowing simplicity is what’s proven the most effective since the Buddha himself set off on his Noble Eightfold Path to enlightenment some 2,500 years ago.

Zen simply means meditation. And we stand to gain a whole lot by adopting some of the habits, behaviors, and practical tips offered by Zen Masters the world over for our own clarity and peace of mind.

A noble pursuit if ever there was one.

Here are 10 Simple Zen Tips to Declutter Your Mind for Greater Peace and Clarity
Note: I’m not sure if all these are Zen. I guess anything can be Zen if you approach it with mindfulness. And that’s the goal.

As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh once said,

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh
1. Make your bed
Yup. A messy bed can equate to a messy head.

If you want to get the day off to the best possible start, be sure to make your bed, leaving it all fresh and plump, waiting to greet you for slumber in the evening when your day is all but done.

2. Own your morning
Create a morning ritual for you and you only. This might mean waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than your norm to find that sacred time for solitude.

Personally, I get up around six and usually start with some yoga, followed by meditation before heading out for my morning coffee. Bliss. Embrace what works best for you. Some people own the night.

3. Avoid the phone until after your morning routine
We are either proactive or reactive in the morning. And the second you go on that phone, whether you like it or not, you’re switching gears into reactive mode, as your brain begins to fire on all cylinders trying to figure out how best to deal with whatever shit it is you have to deal with.

It can wait.

4. Plan the day ahead
This, I believe, is best done the night before. With so much going on in our minds, our productivity can take a bashing due to the stress of it all.

By writing down your tasks for the upcoming day in order of importance, you’ll no longer have to worry about them rattling away in your mind. And when the time comes to pull the finger out, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done. Now all that’s left is to do it.

5. Clean your workstation
The fewer distractions and cleaner your workspace is, the more organised you’ll be, and the more likely you are to feel calmer, as well as boost your productivity.

And who doesn’t want that? So dump all that shit you never use and get out that polish for a much-deserved spring clean. You’ll thank yourself for it.

6. Empty your inbox
Not so long ago, I deleted close to 3,000 emails I had accumulated over the years. While that’s not quite up there with Hilary Clinton’s numbers, to say it felt cathartic is an understatement.

I also began unsubscribing to all the subscriptions that no longer serve me. Now I have full control over a tiny inbox that only causes me stress when someone annoys me.

Furthermore, I archive most emails so I can easily search them. It’s like I deleted them. But not really. Similar to sweeping shit under the couch — out of sight, out of mind. Zen.

7. Clean and clear out your home
Speaking of sweeping shit under the couch, this is one to work away on mindfully when you find the time. By embodying your inner Marie Kondo and turning your home into a sanctuary free of clutter, much of your stress can evaporate at the door.

zen habits nicky cullen.gif
I love this distinction from Gail Blanke,

“When we throw out the physical clutter, we clear our minds. When we throw out the mental clutter, we clear our souls.”
— Gail Blanke
Throw out the crap you no longer use but have left to gather dust over the years. Fill your home with plants, aromatherapy candles, and anything else to help instill a sense of calm within.

A minimalist approach siding with quality over quantity is touted by many looking to escape the stress of excess. So why not try it on for size and ease your way into it?

8. Practice being still
Allow yourself a minimum of ten minutes every day to do nothing. Bask in the cleanliness of your clutter-free home with some deep breaths to help restore calm in your mind.

As the master himself said,

“Silence is essential. We need silence, just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
9. Practice mindful eating
Food is something to be enjoyed, to be savored, not rushed. So savor yours. Taste, chew, and cherish all meals. Turn them into an occasion — even if you are eating alone.

View it as an opportunity to remind yourself that life is something to be enjoyed every day, not rushed.

Also, eating slower and chewing our food aids digestion and reduces the likelihood of overeating and putting on unwanted weight.

10. Write it down
Differing studies suggest we have anywhere between 6,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. These studies don’t appear credible, so don’t place too much emphasis on that.

However, I’m sure we can all agree, we think a lot, and if you are anything like me, you wouldn’t mind thinking a little less? Especially because the majority of our thoughts are negative — roughly 80% negative and 95% repetitive. Again, take it with a pinch. Regardless, that’s a lot of repetitive negative shit going on — shit I’d rather not have in my head. Especially if what Gandhi said is true,

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
A study by UCLA psychologists revealed that verbalizing your feelings — whether you speak to someone or write them down — will help ensure any associated negative emotions are less severe.

So if you can’t speak to someone, do yourself a favor and write them down. You’ll gain so much clarity, perspective, and dare I say positivity as a result.

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