Okay, the first part of the book is really interesting. It makes sense because Zen is one of the building blocks to the foundation of DBT skills. The book is nice since it really only has about a page of text about each of these points. It’s not really something I’ll expand upon to much in this one post, but I thought I’d give the points of each sections to show what the book is like.
30 Ways to Energize your “Present Self”
Try making a subtle shift in your habits.
- Make Time for Emptiness: First, observe yourself. Be with yourself as you are, but without haste, without impatience.
- Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier: The prescription for when there is no room in your heart. How being busy makes you lose heart.
- Savor the Morning Air: The monk’s secret to a long life is found here. Each day is not the same.
- Line Up Your Shoes When You Take Them Off: This will beautify your life. Disorder in your mind shows in your feet.
- Discard What You Don’t Need: It will refresh your mind. Part with old things before acquiring new ones.
- Organize Your Desktop: Cleaning hones the mind. Your desk is a mirror that reflects your inner mind.
- Make a Delicious Cup of Coffee: The happiness to be found in taking your time. When we eliminate effort, we eliminate life’s pleasures.
- Put Pen to Paper with Care: Your true self can be seen in your handwriting. Turn your attention inward.
- Try Using a Loud Voice: This is a way to get yourself motivated. Speak from your belly and awaken your brain.
- Do NOT Neglect Your Meals: Make your meals about the eating. “Eat and drink with your whole heart.”
- When Eating, Pause After Every Bite: Savor the sense of gratitude. Zen practice is not just seated meditation.
- Discover the Benefits of a Vegetable-Centric Diet: A vegetarian fast is a “quick cleanse” for your mind and body. Inspired by a high priest’s beautiful posture.
- Seek Out Your Favorite Words: Time for being with you mind. For example, “All things come from nothingness” — a Zen phrase to free yourself from attachments.
- Pare Down Your Belongings: Acquire only what you need. The concept of exhausting the essence of things.
- Arrange Your Room Simply: Doing so will simplify your mind as well. The difference between simplicity and frugality.
- Try Going Barefoot: How to keep sickness away. The reason why monks go barefoot.
- Exhale Deeply: How to eliminate negative emotions. Improve your breathing, and your mind, too, will improve.
- Sit Zazen: The effects of sitting and thinking. Humans are not capable of deep reflections while we are moving.
- Try a Standing Practice: A Zen-style method to make use of your commuting time. An easy way to motivate yourself.
- Don’t Waste Time Worrying About Things You Cannot Control: What does it mean to become spiritually lighter? The moment when you suddenly leave yourself behind.
- Become Adept at Switching Modes: Create gates within your mind. There are such things as “necessary nonessentials”.
- Breath Slowly: A five-minute “chair zazen” during your lunch break. To settle your mind, first adjust your posture and your breathing.
- Join Your Hands Together: The way to calm an irritable mind. The meaning of gassho: The left hand represents you; the right hand represents others.
- Make Time to Be Alone: The first step towards simple living, Zen style. The benefits of “seclusion in the city”.
- Get in Touch with Nature: Find the happiness that is right at hand. Create a miniature garden in your mind.
- Create a Small Garden on Your Balcony: A little place for practicing mindfulness. You can sharpen your mind, no matter where you are.
- Seek out the Sunset: Be grateful for making it through another day. Find your own “sunset steps”.
- Don’t Put Off What You Can Do Today: You cannot regret the future. Learn from a monk’s last wishes.
- Don’t Think of Unpleasant Things Right Before Bed: A five-minute “bed zazen” before going to sleep. Time to reset your mind.
- Try Your Best to Do What You Can Now: It will lead to good things. Don’t go chasing after clouds — you will never catch them.
There’s four parts in total to the book. I’ll try to post the other sections on other days. It just seems like so much to cover. A large part of all of these that I listed above for me personally will be actually -wanting- to implement them into my life. Some of these really will be hard and go completely against my own nature.
I suppose that’s part of the Willingness to try versus the Willfulness to continue to do what I’ve always done. If I want to see a change, I should at least be willing to try something new and see how well it effects my life.
Contemplating on a few of those:
#6 – Oh no, if that’s the chase, then my mind is piled up with everything. I keep so many things near by because I’m worried about loosing them. That means that it just ends up being a TON of clutter. I can’t even take a picture of my desk right now. I’m so ashamed of how messy it is.
#7 – I’ll try that with a cup of tea. Because it’s less about the drink and more about the act and mindset you take as you go about that one.
#10 & #11 – Mindful eating. When you’re doing Zen Meals there’s something called “the Five Reflections” which you should try. 1) Think about who brought us the food and be grateful for it. 2) Think about our own actions and quietly eat. 3) Savor your food – push out emotions such as greed or anger, and make sure to keep your mind on what you are doing. Refrain from zoning out. 4) Think of the food as medicine to nourish your body and sustain your spirit. 5) Thankfully receive the food as a part of your path towards enlightenment.
#20 – This one is a HUGE part of DBT and just therapy in general. You can only control what you have the power to control. If you cannot change something, the best course of action is to change the way that you react. If you’re worried about how things will go, practicing your Cope Ahead skill can really help you with your responses to stressful events and even how to calm down after those stressful things happen.
I’m really going to have to read through this first section a few times just to get my mind all right with the ideas. Are there any on this list that are a hard “no” for you? Morally, I’ve always had a lot of interest in Zen lifestyles and Buddhist mindsets. I’ve always thought that I wasn’t really a good enough person to take on that religion as a whole and it seemed awful to try and half arse attempt my way through it.
As more books seem to come out about these sort of things and Mindfulness has started to become an integral part of mental health care, I feel like giving it a whirl is at least a step in a good direction. I’d love to hear about your opinions on this in the comments. Thanks as always for reading, guys!