Manage everyday stress like a Zen Master

Dubai - Accessing ancient oriental wisdom for practical modern living

By Anjaan

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 7:38 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 7:42 PM

Stress happens mainly because of two reasons.

The first is when stress manifests as we bring our past concerns into our present day.

The second is when our future anxiety and worries cause tension and stress.

An accumulation of either of these will almost always result in creating high stress levels. To be able to really live our life to the fullest and in the most joyful way, we must train to “dump” all of our concerns from the previous days and our fear of future uncertainties. This is why meditation or “Dhyana/Zen” is a powerful practice as it gives us the tools to concentrate on the present moment.

There is no question that high levels of stress can have harmful effects on your physical and mental wellbeing and your emotional state has a direct impact on the way you think and process information. Therefore, it’s crucial to learn emotional self-regulation skills.

Tip #1: Shoganai

Decide right now to release every thought from yesterday and be only mindful of the now — this thought only, this breath, this moment. Inhale three very deep breaths and slowly release each thought from the past that is troubling you. Memories are great, but don’t let them cloud your present.

At the same time feel each and every concern, fear and worry for the future. Become aware of every unresolved moment, and allow them to dissolve. You can deal with them at a later time. For now, you are only to be in this very moment.

The Zen term for this is Shoganai. It can be roughly translated to “it can’t be helped.” When you accept that something is out of your control or to describe the act of moving on with no regret.

Tip #2: Ryūi shimasu

Think of one particular act, like watching the sunset, playing with your child, walking barefoot, cooking, painting, writing an excel sheet, making a presentation and do ONLY that ONE simple thing. While engaged in this activity — allow your mind to be focussed only on the activity, and tensions won’t reach you. This is the fastest way to find inner peace.

The Japanese Zen Monks I trained with would often say Ryūi shimasu, which roughly translates to “be mindful”.

Free your mind and body of all worry, regret, disappointment, fear, anger and grief by really involving yourself in the action you are doing.

Practise this act of attentive action each day and you will see that you will accomplish so much more. At the first sign of being stressed, go back to being mindful, take inspired action and start all over again until you have reached your inner place of calm.

Tip #3: Kansha

The Zen mindset of practising gratitude or appreciation can be called Kansha. Many studies have shown that expressing gratitude can improve your mood.

People who regularly express gratitude for the positive things in their life are shown to be happier overall, leading to lower rates of stress and depression. Showing gratitude and being thankful helps to paint a worldview of optimism and hope.

The very best thing that you can do for yourself is to eat, drink and rest — with gratitude. Stress is easily brought on by not eating and drinking properly.

Even be grateful for your breath. Take time to breathe properly with deep belly breathes to send pure oxygen to all of your body. Engage in healthy and fulfilling relationships and work on problems that would erode the closeness that you have with someone special.

Self-regulation: The way of Zen

Self-regulation in the most basic sense, involves controlling your behaviour, emotions and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. More specifically, mental self-regulation refers to the ability to manage disruptive emotions and impulses.

The above three simple tips will help you reduce your cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone in your body and leave you feeling lighter. Being more self-aware will give you the skills to stay calm under any type of pressure.

Know that you can take control of your stress today! I wish you the resilience to train self-regulation constantly — like a Zen Master.

Connect with Anjaan across social media @MeditateWithAnjaan

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