7 Essential Keys to Help You Be More Like a Zen Monk

The great thing about being like a Zen monk is their inspirational way of life. They try to live their lives in a simple but enlightening way. The simplicity of their lives, concentration, mindfulness of every activity, and the peace and calm they find in their days...
7 Essential Keys to Help You Be More Like a Zen Monk

Last update: 02 January, 2021

Why live more like a Zen monk? Because everyone can use a little more concentration, tranquility, and mindfulness in their lives. For hundreds of years, Zen monks have devoted their lives to being present in everything they do, being dedicated, and serving others. 

It serves as an example for our lives, and whether we really reach that ideal isn’t the point. The entire world just started being enriched by the boundless wisdom of Buddha’s teachings. Many were positively affected by the beauty and enrichment of Zen living.

“If you meditate earnestly, pure in mind and kind in deeds, leading a disciplined life in harmony with the dharma, you will grow in glory. If you meditate earnestly, through spiritual disciplines you can make an island for yourself that no flood can overwhelm.”

-Buddha-

Zen monks made simplicity and focus a way of life. Somehow, they manage to achieve that internal balance we all dream of. The notable mindfulness aspect of their reality is truly commendable. 

Want to learn exactly how to live a more authentic Zen life and bring peace, joy, and balance into your everyday life? To discover all about the real essence of Zen practice itself, these vital rules will teach you how to live more like a Zen monk.

1. Do each thing with all of your being

This is the most straightforward point on this list. In many ways, it symbolizes a key aspect of the spirit of Zen. So, we thought it may be a great point to start with. Doing something with every ounce of your being means always living with concentration and mindfulness. 

It means being totally and completely focused on that one thing with every inch of yourself. This doesn’t simply mean to do one thing, it also means to be totally concentrated on that task. It’s about being completely mindful and concentrated on the moment.

2. Do things slowly and deliberately

Although it may seem contradictory, people who reach goals quicker are those who do things deliberately and slowly. You may do one task at a time, but also rush that task. Instead, take your time and move slowly. 

This is another key to Zen living. Bear in mind that the idea is to make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random. It takes practice, but it helps you focus on the task. This way, you ensure concentration.

3. Put space between things

To establish order, it’s imperative not to schedule way too many tasks for a short amount of time. Related to the “Do each thing with all your being” rule, yet it’s a way of managing your schedule so that you always have time to finish each task. 

Don’t schedule things close together. Instead, leave room between tasks on your schedule. That gives you a pretty relaxed schedule, leaving space in case one task takes longer than you planned.

4. Develop rituals

Zen monks have rituals for many things, from eating to cleaning to meditation. A ritual gives something a sense of importance. If it’s important enough to have a ritual, it’s important enough to be given your entire attention and to be done slowly and correctly. 

You don’t have to learn the Buddhist monk rituals, as you can simply create your own. Everywhere from the preparation of food to eating to cleaning to what you do before you start your work to what you do when you wake up to exercise. Anything you want, really.

5. Devote time to sitting

In the rich life of a Zen monk, sitting meditation, also known as zazen, is one of the most important parts of the day. Each day, there’s a designated time just for sitting. This meditation technique is synonymous with learning to be present. 

You can devote time to sitting meditation. Alternatively, you can use running as a way to practice being in the moment. You could use any activity in the same way, as long as you do it regularly and practice being present.

6. Simplify your life down to the essentials

By the time we’re adults, we’ve amassed many things in our lives that are either relatively unimportant or useless (material possessions and non-material things). The monastic way of life (for any spiritual tradition) is created so that only the essentials remain: physical nourishment, a place to rest, a community, and the practice.

This might be a little extreme and even unnecessary to most, but the idea is what’s most important. The idea is to remove everything in your life that isn’t essential. Essential to what? Essential to your well-being and the well-being of others.

7. Make household chores a meditation

Household chores such as cooking and cleaning are two of the most exalted parts of a Zen monk’s day. Not only are both great ways to practice mindfulness, but they may also be turned into one of the daily rituals. 

If cooking and cleaning seem like boring chores to you, try doing them as a form of meditation. Put your entire mind into those tasks, concentrate, and do them slowly and completely. It could change your entire day (as well as leave you with a cleaner house).

You likely noticed how universal these Buddhist rules are. That’s because Zen is empty of a defining set of ideas. Zen is a practice – the very expression of great wisdom. We hope you find these keys to help you be more like a Zen monk useful in your own life in pursuit of boundless peace and deep joy.

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  • Suzuki, D. T. (2004). Introducción al budismo zen. Editorial Kier.