Mindfulness can be described as a state of being fully aware of the present moment....whether in body, mind, emotion, experience or life...moment by moment.
“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, 'The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation'
The roots of Zen Yoga.....
From a time when Buddha practised yoga diligently with the forest sages in his quest for enlightenment, exploring yogic Asanas (postures) as well as highly regarded Raja Yoga (meditation). Through Buddhism, some Mahayana schools have long named practices of chants, prostrations, breathing and meditation as yoga. At times hidden under different cultures or languages, but often practiced with Buddhism in China, Tibet and Japan. Zen Masters practised yogic exercises focused on mindfully releasing tension, energy flow and encouraging healing to aid those training in Zen meditation, but it was not until Masahiro Oki started using the term that Zen Yoga became more known. Today Zen Yoga can be practised by anyone who values mindfulness in living and open to exploring spirituality.
Elements within Zen Yoga
'Mindfulness' is at the heart of Zen Yoga and an inseperable element of the practice, complemented with physical alignment and flow of energy. Using tools such as Asana and breathing to Mudra, chanting, visualisation and meditation to gently achieve a united equilibrium of mind and body. It is essentially about awareness. Listening to your body, understanding what you need at that present moment and moving at a pace right for you.
Benefits of mindful Zen Yoga
Zen Yoga can be practised by anyone. Focused on mindfulness, gentleness, restoration & open to spirituality. Benefits include:
Improved breathing efficency
Improved body alignment or posture
Emotional and mental wellbeing
Resilience to stress
Building awareness and focus
Improved energy flow
"Our habitual patterns are, of course, well established, seductive, and comforting. Just wishing for them to be ventilated isn’t enough. Mindfulness and awareness are key. Do we see the stories that we’re telling ourselves and question their validity? When we are distracted by a strong emotion, do we remember that it is part of our path? Can we feel the emotion and breathe it into our hearts for ourselves and everyone else? If we can remember to experiment like this even occasionally, we are training as a warrior. And when we can’t practice when distracted but know that we can’t, we are still training well. Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what’s going on."
— Pema Chödrön (Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion)