zen living

5 Key Concepts for Zen Living


I thought I’d write a “Start Here” arti­cle,” — 5 Key Con­cepts for Zen Liv­ing — to help you get on board with some of our per­spec­tives. This arti­cle con­tains mul­ti­ple links to our site, and to oth­er BLOG arti­cles. Click around and enjoy!


1- Zen Living — Perspective Colours Everything

zen living
We see what we see

I write from sev­er­al per­spec­tives. First of all, I was a Human­is­tic, Transper­son­al Psy­chother­a­pist, until my retire­ment in 2013. This is baf­fle-gab for assum­ing that human nature has with­in it a pull to things which go beyond the ratio­nal and observable.

I also ascribe to Zen Bud­dhism, and this per­spec­tive on being colours my inter­est in sim­ple pres­ence, med­i­ta­tion, and expe­ri­ence ver­sus think­ing.

Thus, my book, Half Asleep in the Bud­dha Hall

I’m in rela­tion­ship with the love­ly Dar­bel­la Mac­Naughton (a.k.a. Dar), and she’s been my favourite per­son since 1982. We use a com­mu­ni­ca­tion mod­el that has yet to fail us, and our approach to each oth­er is to encour­age explo­ration and self know­ing, while keep­ing each oth­er in the loop through total hon­esty.

You can read about the com­mu­ni­ca­tion mod­el we use in my book, The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever.

OK, so those are a few of my perspectives.

I am clear that these are not option­al extras for me–these are my core beliefs / ways of doing life / ways of relat­ing. Every­thing I write in some way reflects these per­spec­tives, as well as a host of less­er themes.

If you have not explored your per­spec­tives, and instead think that what you believe match­es what oth­ers believe, you need to rethink it!

I was just talk­ing to Dar­bel­la about a friend not lik­ing what she heard from her part­ner. Dar said (with a big, cheesy grin on her face…), “Tell her to write him a script and give it to him so he says the right thing next time!”

I hope I don’t have to say she was being iron­ic. We often do not hear what we want to hear, and assume the oth­er per­son is wrong. Hint: they’re not. They just have a dif­fer­ent perspective.


2- Zen Living — Life is Linear, and also a Spiral

I could swear I saw that prob­lem yesterday…

One of my favourite writ­ers is Abra­ham Maslow. His Hier­ar­chy of Needs is cru­cial for our under­stand­ing of human devel­op­ment. I wrote about his hier­ar­chy a while back, and also looked at his work as it relates to Body­work.

Humans devel­op through var­i­ous stages, some of which are obvi­ous. Phys­i­cal devel­op­ment, for one, fol­lows pret­ty uni­ver­sal rules, as the cliche “You have to walk before you run” points out. 

Men­tal and spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment also fol­low pat­terns or stages, and what’s odd is that most peo­ple do not put much ener­gy into this work. They assume that things are sup­posed to mag­i­cal­ly work out, and when they don’t, they blame oth­ers.

Our approach is simple.

We teach full and direct self responsibility. 

Part of this is to accept that your job, your path, is to fig­ure your­self out, while at the same time mov­ing “up the spi­ral” — in oth­er words, we re-vis­it famil­iar themes through­out life, and as we move past these themes, we then con­front the same issue from a more com­plex point. It’s like walk­ing up a spi­ral staircase.


3- Zen Living — Meditation teaches us self-knowing

burmese meditation posture
It is…what it is

Many peo­ple have heard of the hyped up ver­sions of med­i­ta­tion. You know it’s one of those if there is a promise of future rewards con­nect­ed to the med­i­ta­tion process. 

If you med­i­tate to: relax, feel bet­ter, become spiritual–you are miss­ing the boat.

Meditation is a process of slowing down, and simply sitting (zazen.)

If you’d like addi­tion­al Med­i­ta­tion infor­ma­tion, it’s avail­able through this link

In this process, you engage ful­ly with liv­ing, and part of that is that you are present with all of you–with your thoughts, your emo­tions, your aches and pains. Med­i­ta­tion is “being present with.”

If you spend suf­fi­cient time med­i­tat­ing, you’ll notice that you do actu­al­ly get more peace­ful and clear, yet the zazen is “in and of itself.” This process allows us to see just how busy our minds are, and gives us the space and oppor­tu­ni­ty to “just notice.”


4- Zen Living — Breathwork and Bodywork teach us about holding and being free.

hands on belly
Hands on is best

There’s a whole sec­tion on Body­work on one of my web­sites. You can spend many prof­itable hours there, learn­ing about where and how you hold ten­sion and emo­tions in your body.

There are sev­er­al ways of work­ing with the body, from Reich’s idea of char­ac­ter armour and use of pres­sure to release blocked emo­tions, to acupressure–which helps with blocked chi, to think­ing in terms of Chakras. If you click this link, you’ll find an entire series of arti­cles on the top­ic of chakras.


5- Zen Living — Communication requires a commitment to honesty

couple hugging
Get your words on

We use a com­mu­ni­ca­tion mod­el that was devel­oped by Ben Wong and Jock McK­een at The Haven. It’s easy enough to learn, and is help­ful for, for instance, teach­ing the dif­fer­ence between an emo­tion and an interpretation.

For exam­ple, peo­ple say, “You make me sad!” This is untrue. I make me every­thing!

In a very real sense, I choose sad­ness in reac­tion to my judge­ment of what I think you are doing or intend­ing. And most­ly, peo­ple do not check out these inter­pre­ta­tions with the oth­er per­son, so such con­ver­sa­tions rapid­ly turn into messes.

We there­fore teach two things: 1) use of spe­cif­ic lan­guage, and 2) total honesty. 

When I speak, my pro­noun is “I.” What I report is what I am think­ing, how I am inter­pret­ing my expe­ri­ence, and what I am going to do about my expe­ri­ence, emo­tions, and judge­ments. To learn a lot about com­mu­ni­ca­tion, click this link.

So, those are 5 things that are impor­tant to us. The links in the arti­cle great for dig­ging deep­er into any or all of these themes.


About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is known on the web as the Sim­ple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Pri­vate Prac­tice Coun­sel­lor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the lat­est being The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever.

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