Stress and Zen

Stress is a part of life in the relative world that we live in. As a Zen practitioner (of some 30+ years) and as a therapist, my interests have been in stress management. The ultimate goal in Zen is enlightenment, but even looking for enlightenment will hold it at arms length. Resistance always causes reciprocal resistance from the mind. Therefore, to still the mind is bound to create stress, but as a Zen practitioner I use this stress to discover more and more of what it standing in the way of my progress, rather than trying to relieve stress. Paradoxically, accepting whatever is in one's experience eliminates that experience, In zazen, this is achieved by focusing on the breathing, and acknowledging all "messages" from the body.

After much practice, such mindfulness can be extended into every-day activities being totally present in the moment of here and now with each and every task, and dropping the habit of hurry and worry. When a person is totally in the here-now, stress cannot occur, but stress has to be accepted and transcended. It is not the evil that some people think it is. It has a lot to teach us on our journey.

Zen Misconceptions

I have just finished reading a book called, ZEN Wrapped in Karma and Dipped in Chocolate written by Brad Warner who is a Zen teacher.

As a Zen practioner and therapist, I have often had to explain to clients who thought that I had something special, or some privelege that meant that I was not above getting stressed or screwed up in any way, so I can certainly applaud Brad in the way he takes away this illusion that Zen teachers are spiritually superior and completely enlightened.

A great read that gives the reader the truth about Zen practice, Zen masters and enlightenment.

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate (USA link)