Zen Master Daizan Skinner Roshi spent almost 20 years training in Zen Monasteries in Europe and Japan, where he eventually received Dharma Transmission and permission to teach. Today, he lives in London and travels all over the world teaching a unique style of Zen yoga and meditation creating wellbeing and spiritual development. Here Daizan Skinner Roshi gives us five Zen-inspired tips to remain calm in chaotic cities…
- Keep Cool in Traffic Jams
Filling yourself with frustration won’t get you to your destination any faster. If you’re going to be late, why not be cool and late? Simply do your best to inform those waiting for you what’s happening and then treat the time as your secret urban retreat. Life is telling you to slow down, come to your senses, breathe and enjoy. Turn off automatic pilot mode and allow your mind to be here and now. Do your best to relax, focus on something, anything in your immediate environment that is pleasurable or beautiful. Listen to some music or just watch the world go by. Everyone else around might be seething but you can quietly chill out.
- Let Go Of Stress
Living in a city can be hectic. Accept whatever state you’re in at the moment and realise this feeling is only fleeting. Make friends with your body. When we’re anxious, our body becomes tight and tenses up – stress can get trapped and stored in our tissues. The best way to release this tension is to physically let it go – do some yoga, go for a run or cycle somewhere. When something triggers us, we can choose to react calmly. Try to act as a witness and resist the temptation to respond straight away. Reactionary behaviour only creates greater levels of stress. Simply step back from your thoughts and try to dis-identify with them.
- Meditate at Work
If you can find even a few minutes every day when you sit still and bring your attention to your breath, letting all the thoughts and feelings arise and pass, you’ll lower your heart rate and blood pressure, sharpen your mind and tap into a very nourishing source of inspiration. You can practise mindful abdominal breathing anytime and anywhere. By meditating frequently, your wisdom naturally grows – you become more aware of your emotions and how you can use your breath to manage them.
- Practise Being Present
Life happens here and now. There is no other place to live a fulfilling life. The more present you are, the more resourceful you can be in facing the tough stuff and the more pleasure you can find in the joyful moments. Being present with friends and family also enhances your relationships. One of my students says to himself multiple times every day, “This is my life.” Try it.
- Replace Multi-tasking with Mindfulness
The benefits of multi-tasking are a myth. Experts say it’s an unproductive habit that quickly increases anxiety levels and drains focus. City living has plenty of distractions – make a commitment to putting your energy into doing one thing at a time. For instance, it’s best to turn off your phone while you’re driving. You’ll be more efficient, effective and satisfied.
Daizan Skinner Roshi is teaching Advanced Meditation and Mindfulness Training from 3rd until 10th October in Sahasrara, Spain. For more information or to book go to Zenways.org