Most teachers I know are truly lifelong learners. They never stop honing their skills or acquiring new knowledge. For many of us, that learning comes from more knowledgeable others, often through books and written words. During summer break I am excited by the prospect of having more time to read and savor professional books, there are so many I can’t wait to crack open.
But this summer I am committed to finding more balance in my life. It is often hard for my brain to shut down and allow me to be present in a moment. There is always a to-do list to tackle, ideas that float through my mind, people who need my attention-and these are good things to me. They are satisfying aspects of my life. But as I grow (ahem…age) I have a stronger desire to just BE. It’s a hard concept to describe but it’s what I consider ZEN.
Taoism.net describes it better than I can:
- Zen is more of an attitude than a belief.
- Zen is the peace that comes from being one with an entity other than yourself.
- Zen means being aware of your oneness with the world and everything in it.
- Zen means living in the present and experiencing reality fully.
- Zen means being free of the distractions and illusory conflicts of the material world.
- Zen means being in the flow of the universe.
- Zen means experiencing fully the present, and delighting in the basic miracle of life itself.
I’m not going to become a Zen Master or practicing Buddhist this summer, I just need to add “Moments of Zen” to my life. So how do we find them? I think we have to plan for them, to consciously create opportunities, and to connect with our earth more. Summer is a perfect time for that! Nature is beckoning us to engage with her. Our senses can help us connect in a variety of ways as we look, listen, touch, taste, and smell the world around us.
Here are some of my favorite “Moments of Zen” so far. Each allows me to be fully present in the moment and tune out the daily distractions-if only for a little while. My senses are activated in ways that bring me pleasure. My rational mind is freed up to focus on intuition and experience. I feel a part of something bigger than me.
- Sitting in the woods listening to bird calls
- Beachcombing for interesting shells and rocks
- Floating in water and experiencing weightlessness
- Lying in my hammock being warmed by the sun
- Sitting next to the ocean listening and watching the breaking waves
- Lying with my pets on the couch and noticing the syncing of our breath
- Monday morning yoga on the riverfront.
I’ll keep adding to my repertoire. I’d love to hear your “Moments of Zen”.
What’s On My Book Radar?
This was my first summer read and it is one I have been truly anxious to get my hands on. It was SOOOO worth it. Lily was born Tim, but knew early on that she was a girl trapped inside a boy’s body. Dunkin is really Norbert Dorfman who is ‘trapped’ by his odd name and a painful secret he doesn’t think he can share-even with parts of himself! This book will open your eyes to the real life struggles of human beings in our society who just want to belong and could use our help and support to be the people they were born to be. I dare you to read this and not feel changed. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.