Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Making Plans and Taking Steps

Life is one plan after another, one decision after another, one step after another. How we approach these plans, decisions, and steps is up to us. If we want the best for ourselves, if we want a life of emotional, mental, social, physical, financial, and spiritual well-being, we keep this well-being at the forefront of our planning, decision making, and stepping. When things go awry as they are apt to do, we can think clearly and calmly and move forward with composure and confidence. We do this by looking within and recognizing our thoughts for what they are: most often ungrounded in reality and what never actually happens. We might have doubts and fears, but we keep planning, deciding, and stepping forward. We feel the fear and do it anyway, as Susan Jeffers advises in her invaluable book of the same title, because otherwise, we never do the things we want to do. Fear will slow down or stop our lives.

This may not sound like Zen but it is. Zen is not passive acceptance or inertia. Zen is not detachment or non-attachment in the sense of not caring or giving up. Zen is not just sitting on a cushion and meditating. Zen is about waking up to our lives. Zen is about positive action for a meaningful, contented life. Zen is about being in the moment as you are doing the moment. That moment constantly changes, sometimes to our liking and sometimes not to our liking. Nonetheless, we must step forward wholeheartedly and appreciatively.

Walking meditation, or kinhin in Japanese, reminds of this. We just take the next step forward over and over again into the present moment. Robert Maurer explains in his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, that we can do anything we put our minds to if we just do the next small thing we need to do and take the next small step we need to take. We can go forward in life with serenity instead of anxiety and confidence rather than uncertainty. This is kaizen. When we practice kaizen we take the next step necessary to continue on our spiritual path in a way that is meaningful and mindful to us. Kaizen is kinhin (walking meditation) in our every day daily lives.

 The ability to adapt to the ever-changing future and to know that we can handle whatever comes our day is a crucial skill to have. Adapting often means changing our minds about a situation and making a decision that creates a new and better reality. When we do this we create well-being in our lives. Well-being is the ultimate goal of Zen and of all spirituality and religion.

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