The 5 elements that help you live a Zen life:
- Aahar (Nutrients that we take in)
- Vichar ( Thoughts)
- Vihar (Recreation and relaxation)
- Aachar ( conduct, attitudes, beliefs)
- Vyavhar (Behavior)
Aahara(Food and nutrition)- Use the process of Mithahara, which is defined as ‘moderate eating’, that is not consuming in excess or subjecting yourself to starvation. Instead moderate eating is the key to maintain good fitness levels in terms of nutrition and wellness.
Sometimes we wonder why people of the older generations are fitter and stronger, it is simply because they did not restrict nutrition, but had diversity in their diet. Ranging from sherbets, fruits, seasonal snacks, and local preparations of vegetables and grains.
The local variety of food naturally prepares you for that particular climate, and therefore builds your immunity. Therefore adding all seasonal varieties of local foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beverages in your diet is conducive for your health and nutrition.
Festivals, fasting traditions and holidays bring with it a new variety of foods that need to be relished with family and friends that not only engances your well-being and immunity, but also helps you bond with family and friends.
But even variety is not good in excess, one should therefore Focus on when and how they eat. Each meal should be taken with complete focus so that one can enjoy it with all their senses and instead of restricting themselves from eating they should allow their stomachs to tell them when eating another morsel would not satiate them but cause them trouble.
The body is in natural sync to lose any excess weight, hence is the most reliable indicator for how much to eat. Asking an outsider to dictate how much you should eat is like going to a local mechanic to fix your car rather than the authorised service centre.
Chewing one’s food adequately and enjoying one’s meals from time to time without the distractions of any gadgets is a must to embrace and eat by your bodily cues.
Vichara(Thoughts and mental cleanliness)- While physical health and cleanliness is important and must be undertaken regularly, cleaning one’s thoughts is imperative to face the problems of an impure mind. Impurities are nothing but the negative habit pattern of our mind and body to the many pleasures and tragedies of life. This causes both mental stress and physical diseases.
To clean any impurity, the steps are as follows:
Identify the impurity.
Accept it’s presence and the fact that it’s only temporary
Next time you have it, take it as a lesson and instead of letting it trigger you in a negative way follow the same steps again.
In cases when an action plan needs to be made to deal with a situation, do that and adhere to the action plan the next time it arises.
In order to be more and more aware of yourself, your emotions, feelings and triggers you could observe your breathe as it flows inside and outside your nostril and include this practice for 10-30 mins once or twice a day as per your convenience. This is also a great predecessor to meditation. As it helps you to delve deep within to clean your impurities. A meditation practice in your life would be incredibly beneficial. And when once to increase the power of their soul, and breathe correctly the practice of Pranayama helps to energize you and give your soul a new direction, especially helpful when you are lacking direction and need soul power to move on.
Aachar- Achar is the right conduct that the person has while living life. The more we indulge in wrong practices of living we are creating mental and physical distress for ourselves. As the impurities and negative habit patterns build up we don’t even realise it but it causes more and more trouble for our minds and bodies leading to issues like depression, loss of sleep, lifestyle diseases, terminal diseases etc.
As per Buddha the basic percepts of proper conduct are as follows:
1) Being truthful
2) Adhering to non-violence
3) Abstaining from intoxication
4) Abstaining from theft
5) abstaining from speaking ill of others
One should also follow the basic precepts and beware of the basic realities of life as identified initially by The Buddha:
- Everything changes- You can never expect life to be a smooth ride. There will be phases of happiness and sadness.
- Suffering is imminent- Suffering is omnipresent, we can not run from it no matter which social or professional rung we are at. And as Stephen Covey the author of ‘Man’s search for meaning’ sheds light, it in fact gives purpose to every human being. The real winners are the people who go through suffering by facing it elegantly, by maintaining their right thought, mental cleanliness, and basic precepts of life while going through suffering. When one keeps going through suffering without creating and accumulating impurities and negative habit patterns of the mind one can get salvation from suffering. But the first step to this process is to accept that suffering is imminent.
- No ‘I’- Us living beings are very obsessed with ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’, ‘myself’. ‘I’ takes shape in the form of the ego and most misconduct and issues arise when the ‘I’ gets hurt. The more we build compassion and empathy we move away from the ‘I’ and we realise that reality resides in the world being connected. This was very well manifested by the global pandemic that hit us recently.
Vihara (Recreation, Pleasures of Life and relaxation)-
Humans look for pleasure of the senses in life and that is acceptable when one does so in moderation. Enjoying the different aspects of life and engaging in activities that help us to relax is imperative to lead a fulfilling life.
People must opt for a few hobbies which help in relaxation this could be a playing a sport, singing, dancing, writing, cooking, creating art, learning a new skill, reading or any other activity that one derives pleasure from and finds challenging at the same time as such activities help our mental faculties grow and helps us enjoy life at the same time.
Any activity when done mindfully by being Fully present in it is inherently a spiritual activitiy as we are completely absorbed in reality while doing the activity.
Body movement and fitness activities are also a part of personal development and relaxation. One could be doing a yoga asana to ensure that their body is in good form to stay active in life as well as do yoga asanas for relaxation, and help in reducing health issues.
Vihara is an important part of a person’s life. A layman feels incomplete without recreation and relaxation in life. Even the bonds and social activities that we are a part of are advocated to Vihara. One must take some time, after work to spend with their family/friends and engage in meaningful activities to have a fulfilling life.
Being a part of a project or an organisation that is bigger than oneself where one uses his unique abilities to help the world is also an important factor that gives meaning and purpose to ones life. Whether this activity is altruistic or not, when one is part of something bigger than themselves they directly or indirectly serve society, now whether they are inclined towards doing so by volunteering or through monetary ways differs from individual to individual.
Vyavhar (Behaviour)- One’s behaviour automatically improves and the person could be classified as ‘Zen’ when one takes care of all the above elements. They are then leading their life of highest purpose, living their ideal life and using their ultimate potential.
We at Zen Ladder help you mold the nitty-gritties of your life so that you live your best life.