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Understanding Zen
By:Irene Lizarraga

Originally from China, Zen is a school of Buddhism that aims to help the individual reach enlightenment and self-realization through meditation and daily rituals. It has become popular in occident because it offers a way of simplifying one's life and achieving inner peace, elements that are sadly missing on modern living. Zen is not a religion and doesn't talk about supernatural beings or life after dead. It is a philosophy of living, an alternative way of seeing things and perceiving the world. Zen is a state of consciousness.

Zen is all about questioning what surrounds us, and finding the things that really matter, our core values. Those are the things our lives should focus around, and anything else is just a distraction. Spending time and energy on things that aren't truly important for you leads to unhappiness and lack of focus, which Zen can help correct. Saying yes to everything and committing to many things leaves you no time to focus on your core values, the things that actually matter for you. Zen is all about focusing on the things that are important and letting go of the rest. This reduces suffering.

If you want to introduce Zen principles into your life, letting go of material things should be at the top of your mind. This doesn't mean selling everything and just living on the street though. It means getting rid of the things that clutter your life and your workspace. In this aspect, Zen is very close to the principles of Feng Shui, for which clutter has a very negative effect on the healthy flow of energy. Remove from the top of your desk anything that doesn't belong, including papers that should be filed away, or thrown away. Just having a clear space to work will help you think more clearly.

Make a point of prioritizing your life and meditating on what is important to be able to focus on it, and you will find yourself closer to understanding what Zen is.