What actually is ZEN? a Story from a London City Worker

You do not need to be a paid-up practitioner to have a vague understanding of Zen, one would need to be aware though that it is more than just being calm and content, it is a state of mind and embraces things such as being at peace with your own thoughts, being in the present, feeling comfortable with your place within the universe, having a respect for the past, service to the present, service to others and being responsible for the future.In other words totally incompatible with a 9 to 6 job running the rat race. If you are like me, the idea of practicing a ZEN lifestyle in London was ordering a takeaway and being calm when the scooter rider takes a bit longer to get to the door. Zen and modern city living forever seem to be competing ideals.The pandemic brought with it social isolation across the country and to keep the cogs of the economy turning, an upswing in Working From Home for those lucky enough to be in employment that could facilitate remote working.

The man from Japan and ZEN in an incompatible world

I used to work with someone here in London, who was originally from Osaka Japan. We were working on a live trading floor in the city. At that time in our careers work and life balance was not tenable. You can read the odd magazine or Sunday newspaper article on the topic, but at that time the pressures of the job were just too overwhelming. Hi Stakes work, if you were not thinking about potential work problems when out of the office, you would be stung when back in it. That was just the way things were.I remember one thing from the man from Osaka, and no it was not how rare it was to be working with someone from Japan in London, it was that he rented a flat not more than 10 minutes from the office. This flat had a balcony, on this balcony were 2 wooden deck chairs with a wooden table, a glass of orange juice on the table. In the background was the London dock with the sun rising.‘Great picture!’ I commended it, it was from the morning sunrise. This was my introduction to a life style that on paper appeared to be constrained in the same ways as my own. Clearly taking a different approach to my own. The man from Osaka followed almost a 2-hour ritual before being in the office, for deep meditation and relaxation.Record Screech sound, he lived ten minutes from the office I had to catch a train, I had the equivalent of flying to Barcelona each day on public transport. When I drew up the score sheet the man from Osaka and I was playing two very different games. But I digress but the point i am trying to make is this.

Working From Home the time is right to turn to a ZEN Life Style

When the foundations of working life are based on remote connectivity, scheduled social engagement, and scheduled interruptions we suddenly do have what I did not have with my colleague from Osaka, and that is ‘control’. In fact, in a working sense the everyday working from-home employee, possibly has more control now than any other employee in modern times.Now is the time to embrace control and now is the time to embrace aspects of a ZEN lifestyle that is compatible and works for you.

ZEN Life Style tips to implement

The Early Riser

Straight from the book from the man from Osaka, there is tranquillity to being up early. Even a walk to the shop in the morning, the birds, sun, sky everything in the morning glory just makes this time of day quite special. I strongly advise not using the time to watch the morning news channels or read the papers, but rather indulging in something that is the polar opposite of your day job.Listening to classical radio, learning to play an instrument, writing in a journal, meditating, going for a walk, and practicing mindfulness. The list is endless, what is more, with working from home and the absence of the daily commute you can spend a lot longer in the zone.Pre-6 am is for the fanatic but a post-6 am rise may just be what the mind doctor ordered. See how it goes and comment below how you got on

Keep Moving, keep fit, and keep exercising

Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and keeping within reason to your ideal weight are all things that are good for us. The research is quite clear on that, a healthy body after all helps to keep a healthy mind.Exercise is one of the great stress relievers that help boost those feel-good endorphins. A good workout also does the job of being in the present, allowing your mind to step away from daily stresses. A good aerobic workout will help you pull it back from the brink of doom.Exercise builds the body’s strengths in your cardiovascular system, digestive and immune systems. After a good run, a swim, a jog you may just be in a good place to reset yourself enough to put the stress away back into the box it belongs.

Declutter and Detox the tsunami of materials in your universe

I do like things when I say I like things I do like keeping things and am not so keen on throwing things away, I am not talking about toot and soot, I mean things that have material value, not 30 versions of similar-sized cartons for different jobs. I do empathise with trying to carry out the ZEN target of decluttering your life. The Victorians used to adorn every square inch of the walls in their house with paintings, on the other hand, the Japanese would have a kotatsu wooden table in the centre of the room and a sliding door. You pay your money and you take your chances to declutter the balance between those two extremes that would suit you well.I once faced a decluttering challenge in the flat I was renting, it was clearly too small for the items I had stored there. Then I started to put a value on air space and realised the flat was fine and it was the stuff that had to go. The cost of oxygen to me was a far higher value than the items clogging up my universe. A friend had a similar challenge they were moving from a house to a flat. They rented storage and put the overspill in the storage. One day they realised the storage costs per cost were wiping out the value of the items over time. They did a garage sale, then to accelerate things took off the cost of ongoing storage. The lot went.A cluttered space is likely to impact on your well-being and mental health, clear space is a clear mind.
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