September is a busy month! School is back in session, sports and activities have returned full swing and with the sun setting sooner it feels like there is less time each day. But don’t let all the busyness carry you away and distract from what is important. Remember to take time for yourself and Zen out!
Zen is a tradition brought to us from Asian cultures. And Zenning out can be achieved in many ways. It is often called mindfulness. The idea is that you are so engaged in the present moment and the activity at hand that your brain is not having other conversations. Instead, your body and mind are present, peaceful and relaxed. This practice benefits both your heart and brain!
So how do you Zen out? It is up to you. What do you like to do? It can be a hobby like drawing, sewing or baking. It can be a physical activity like sports, dancing or walking. It can even be a chore. You can have a Zen moment while washing dishes, mowing the lawn or vacuuming the floors. It can also be achieved by finding a peaceful place to sit, relax, breath and take in the scenery. Here are a few more ideas to get outside and Zen out this September.
Practice a beginner’s mind
You are never too young to learn the benefits of having a beginner’s mind. When you approach life with this attitude you will never be bored. Instead, you will be overflowing with curiosity and wonder. For example, you may have walked around your block dozens of times, so maybe you don’t even notice the trees or squirrels scurrying about anymore.
With a beginner’s mind notice what is around you like you have never seen it before. What is the texture of the bark? Are plants growing on it? Are bugs crawling on it? Are there holes in it? Be in awe of everything around you! Be curious! Be amazed!
Make a mandala with natural items
Gather a variety of natural items like rocks, flowers, leaves or twigs. Make sure you have permission first. It is illegal to pick or collect anything in a forest preserve, and you don’t want to ruin your family’s flower garden. Once your items are gathered, pick a centerpiece. Then start arranging what you have gathered around that. Continue arranging item in a circular pattern.
Enjoy placing your items in a design that is pleasing to you. When you are finished, take a photograph of your mandala. Then you can start over, scatter the items or leave it there and observe how the wind and rain slowly make it disappear.
Rock balancing is a practice of patience. You cannot rush or do it halfheartedly. You need a tranquil mind, a steady breath and calm and deliberate movement to achieve it. Let the shape and surface of the rocks help guide you. Do you have many flat-shaped rocks to stack? Can you find an indentation or groove in a rock and another with a point destined for that groove?
Do not practice rock balancing in forest preserves and creeks. Many critters make their home under rocks, and it is not nice to disrupt their habitats. Only stack or balance rocks in your yard or a location where you have permission.
Whatever activities you do, make sure to take some time to be present this September!
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