blog 7 earworms sticky thoughtsThere's an annoying jingle stuck in your head. It's been going non-stop since this morning, perhaps even yesterday. Before that, you had a melody in your head that you actually enjoy, that wasn't as bothersome. But this one you need to get rid of. Should you put on your headphones, and look for music that you'd rather be listening? Or just wait for the damn thing to wear out eventually..? You could also just try to focus on your work, or perhaps the daily news. Maybe check your browser, see what's on the internet?

Or, what if you'd just stop the jingle in your head, as easily as you press the stop-button on your music player?

Perhaps because it may seem difficult, or even impossible. Noise is our constant companion. Some of it comes from the outside, but a lot of it is incessantly bouncing around in our heads. We can be so used to this ongoing chatter that feels like a normal part of our everyday lives. For the most part, we may not even notice it, or be aware that it's actually happening. But is this really a good, healthy way to go about our lives? Can you be at your best, if your mind unable to be silent?

I'm often surprised how, for many, the idea of regularly and purposefully training the mind is among the last priorities in life. We're ready to work hard, learn new things, and find different ways to apply our knowledge. But how many are actually willing to put daily effort into simply becoming better at calming and focusing their minds, without any extra-curricular activity? Based on my experience, surprisingly few.

One reason might be that even today, many still regard meditation as a religious, specialized or altogether foreign discipline. However, its true value ultimately lies in practical, everyday benefits. When practiced correctly and consistently, meditation not only helps us to set aside unwanted thoughts, but also makes us better aware of our conscious minds, and enables us to be calm and relaxed in any situation. And these are not advanced attainments derived from years of dedicated practice, but the most basic expected results of fundamental meditation practice.

Nontheless, it bears mentioning that if you really want solid results from your training, you should start by finding a good teacher. The mind is your most valuable resource. To learn how to use it, the best guide is someone who already has the skills.

 


 

Often just the word "meditation" can conjure up images of a tranquil and ethereal being sitting in a lotus position, as if no longer a part of this mundane world. However, this kind of "serious meditation" is slightly misleading, because meditation doesn’t need to be rigid or stiff. On the contrary, I think meditation practice is at its best when it’s a part of our everyday life, and its practice provides immediate results.

blog 6 baby funHonestly, would you be ready to be enlightened right this very moment? Or even pursue it seriously? Because that is the deepest and most fundamental aim of meditation.

But what if you could feel better in your everyday life? Make better and clearer decisions? Be more energetic and at peace with yourself? Creative and happy? Grateful and content? Healthier and more balanced?

The best meditation helps you connect with yourself and the world; to listen to yourself without judgement, without the need to change your thoughts or what you feel. Through practice, you'll begin to better understand and accept yourself, because you will get in touch with the part of yourself that often gets buried under all the noise of the mundane world.

It can be frightening to confront yourself honestly, and that’s okay. No meditation practice is always easy.

That’s why we at Shaolin Nordic teach our students to meditate for five minutes at a time. Five minutes. It’s not much, but for a beginner spending even that short of a time with your thoughts and feelings can feel like forever. As you progress, you can start to gradually meditate for longer periods of time.

 

 

What benefits can you expect from five minutes of meditation? A lot, because you practice daily. Daily meditation practice provides the means to develop skills at a steady pace. Meditation is not performance-based, but rather a skill, where the more you practice, the better you get at it. What is most important is that what you get from your practice are measurable and immediate benefits, like contentment, joy, sense of humour, the ability to enjoy life as it is, being relaxed and calm, having energy, being playful despite your age, and being at peace with yourself and grateful for your life.

Gratitude and joy are some of the surest signs of correct practice.

So, you don’t have to sit cross-legged with a frown to meditate successfully. Zen-meditation is actually really simple: relax, quiet your mind and enjoy the stillness. That’s it. Simple, but not necessarily easy! That’s why meditation practice should always be learned directly from a master or a competent instructor.

The greatness of zen meditation lies in the skills you acquire: once you have the skill, anything you do can be zen practice; dancing, walking in the forest, having a chat with your friend...or my own favourite: cooking. 

 

If meditation or mindfulness interests you, the best way to know if it's for you is to try it yourself. We are happy to answer any questions you might have, and warmly welcome you to our classes!

 


 

Although the term "Zen" is commonly used, many may not be aware of its significance. In fact, the word has multiple meanings, which for convenience can be divided to:

  • Meditation
  • Zen Buddhism
  • “A Zen-experience”

zen chan 2The most common use of the word means meditation. It is also used as an abbreviation in reference to Zen Buddhism, which is a widespread branch of Buddhist practices. Some also use it in expressions such as "Zen-experience" when referring to for example a deeply meditative experience of transcending the self. However, due to the popularity of the term, it is also not uncommon to see it used in misleading ways.

It bears to mention that only one of the above meanings has religious connotations - generally speaking "Zen" refers to practical benefits, or the training meant to provide them. Even Zen Buddhism is not a religion in the traditional sense of the word; worship or declarations of faith are not requirements in Zen. Therefore, both religious or non-religious people can be Zen practitioners.

Practically all existing schools and branches of Zen can be traced back to China's Shaolin monasteries. Although the popularized term "Zen" is a Japanese word, it is derived from the Chinese word "Chan", originating from "Dhyana", the Sanskrit word for meditation. This development also mirrors the spreading of Zen from India to China, Korea, Japan and all over the world, in which the Shaolin monasteries were instrumental. With the Shaolin practitioners of dynastic China, Zen or "Chan" became a uniquely Chinese art.