This is your space, a place where all the noise of your life ceases to exist. For as long as you’re in this Zen space, you’re untouchable.
Eyes closed, you become suddenly alert. A relieving feeling washes over you. You open your eyes and see a soft light gliding down across the room. A loud buzzing rings throughout the room, but you’re left unfazed. It’s 6 A.M., and your alarm is reminding you to get up for work.
But this isn’t like every other day. No, you may have just woken up to a sound you wish you never had to hear again for the rest of your life, but it doesn’t bother you all that much. It’s Friday, and you’re free.
If you’ve ever worked a traditional schedule- or went to school for that matter- you know the feeling. It’s the “Friday effect”. You may have just woken up in the same manner as every other day in the week, and you might be about to get ready for, drive to, and spend the next 8 hours at work, all things you’re never all that excited to do, but because it’s Friday, and you’re about to have two full days off, you feel free as a bird.
The holidays have this same effect on many people. I know a lot of people who, when the ornaments go up and the smell of pine trees starts to permeate the air, become noticeably happier (I confess to being one of those people).
External circumstances like this can have a powerful effect on our minds and even our bodies. If we can learn how to use this power we can emphasize feelings of peace and tranquility in our lives, and, as a result, become more peaceful.
For this purpose, you can create your own personal Zen space. This is a space you can build yourself, no matter how much money or resources you have. This is your space, a place where all the noise of your life ceases to exist. For as long as you’re in this Zen space, you’re untouchable. Imagine a thin field of energy encompassing you as you enter your Zen space, and as long as you stay in this space, your mind repairs and replenishes itself.
What is your Zen space used for? In your Zen space, you simply sit. This is your time to meditate in silence and solitude. You can simply be mindful of:
- your breath,
- of the many sounds in and around you,
- or even of the sights and scenes within your field of vision.
Whatever you do, breathe, listen, or watch mindfully as the silent observer of your own infinite nature. Feel your breath, hear the many people, and see the many things as part of yourself, and you as part of them.
Creating Your Zen Space
So where do you create your Zen space? Ideally, your Zen space should be a room or a section of a room, but your Zen space can be anywhere:
- a small corner with a pillow to sit and meditate on,
- a tree in your backyard,
- or it could even be your car.
- Or, if you’re always on the move, it could be a time of day regardless of where you are.
Because you’ll meditate while in your Zen space, typically your Zen space will end up being the same place that you practice sitting meditation daily. But there’s only one rule in creating a Zen space: it needs to instill in you a sense of peace and tranquility. So as long as it does that, or at least just allows for quiet, it can be wherever you’d like.
This is your chance to replicate the “Friday effect”, so use whatever you know will instill a sense of peace in you. For the most part, by simply following your practice you’ll eventually develop a strong feeling of peace towards your Zen space, but there are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your Zen space.
If you set up your Zen space in a room or section of a room, make sure the room or the area is as clear as possible so as to reduce distractions and calm the mind. No matter where your Zen space is, you’ll want to face in the direction that is least likely to distract you.
If you’re sitting next to a window and you’re following your breath, while at times it can be good to meditate in a more active setting to strengthen your concentration, in your Zen space you want pure peace, so turn towards a wall to reduce possible distractions.
Lastly, it can help to add symbols to your Zen space like a picture or a trinket that reminds you either to be peaceful or of some other important quality like wisdom, compassion, or love. You could even go so far as to build a small area in your Zen space filled with these symbols.
If a time of day is your Zen space, make sure to prioritize the time you spend in your Zen space. Make it the most important thing in the world for those minutes you spend in it, and make any arrangements necessary to make sure you don’t miss the time you’ve set aside for yourself to be in your Zen space.
Being In Your Zen Space
You can stay in your Zen space for however long you’d like. For a general starting point, I’d set at least 10 minutes a day to spend in your Zen space. More is better, but this will be enough a lot of the time to bring the chaos of the day to rest in your mind and allow you to find your center again. Take your time at first, don’t try to do too much at once. Later, you can spend more time in your space as you feel comfortable.
Do you have to meditate in your Zen space? That’s generally the purpose of the space, as the point is to bring peace to your mind, but you don’t have to restrict yourself to one form of meditation.
Meditating When You're Stuck
If, on a certain day, you feel more stuck than stressed, instead of practicing mindful breathing you can practice mindfulness of your problems. Sit with your problems in mindfulness, simply acknowledging every thought and feeling that arises while sitting.
After sitting like this for some time you’ll often realize something you hadn’t considered or uncover something that was hidden deep within you. This can be a great way to find a resolution to something when you’re unsure of what to do.
This is pretty similar to practicing mindful breathing, as you'll become aware of any thoughts and feelings that arise while being mindful of your breath, but sitting down with the intention of resolving a problem tends to help me find a resolution much quicker than simply sitting. The idea essentially is that you hold the problem in your mind for a moment before sitting, and this will make your subconscious rest more with the problem than with something else while you sit. Then, you simply sit.
Anytime you need to find peace, go to your Zen space. Your Zen space is your very own Zen temple. Do everything you can to uphold this sacred space, as it nourishes your entire mind and body and positively affects your whole life.
Don’t attach yourself to your Zen space, though. The purpose of your Zen space isn’t to come to depend on it as your sole method of calming your mind and healing your pain and suffering. Your Zen space is a supplement to your daily practice, it enhances your practice as a whole.
Remember always that your daily practice of mindfulness and meditation is your priority and you’ll be in the right mind to make use of a Zen space to enhance your practice.
The Ultimate Zen Space
Your Zen space is more than just a physical location where you meditate. The most important Zen space of all is the one within your mind.
Remember the “Friday effect”? You can create that same effect in your mind whether you’re in or out of your Zen space, whether it’s Friday or Monday, and whether or not it’s the holidays. Live deeply each moment with mindfulness and reverence to unlock the beauty of life and you'll find your Zen space everywhere you go. _________________________________________
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