Finding Your Place of Zen

“What do I mean by finding your place of Zen? Well, I am glad that you asked. A place of Zen is your own little corner of the Earth where you can relax, think to yourself, listen to the birds or the trees or the whistling of the wind.”

In an increasingly fast-paced and tumultuous world, it can be quite difficult to find a place of calm, quiet, and serenity. You may find you are in a big city or a large town and can’t have a moment’s worth of peace.

You are also being constantly bombarded by visual stimuli through the forms of advertisement, phone pings, car honks, and loud talking. You can’t seem to think through all the noise that you are constantly surrounded by without a needed pause. It can be almost impossible to get away from it all unless you are actively looking for a place of Zen.

What do I mean by finding your place of Zen? Well, I am glad that you asked. A place of Zen is your own little corner of the Earth where you can relax, think to yourself, listen to the birds or the trees or the whistling of the wind. Only you and you alone know about it, and you only decide to share it with those people closest to you, if anyone at all. It can be a pond or a lake or a bay dock. It can be a mountain overlook or a nearby stream. It can even be a field of grass tucked away from sight and for which you only know how to reach. If you are really being creative, even going up in a tall tree or taking some time out in the desert sands may be your own place of Zen.

The key word to keep in mind here is the ‘Zen’ involved. Does your own place that you can seek out serenity or calm or quiet give you a bit of inner peace? Does it quell your anxieties, your fears, or your doubts? Does it allow you to think deeply about your past, your present, or your future or generally whatever is on your mind?

If the answer to all these questions is a strong ‘Yes’, then you have found your place of Zen. Just 5-10 minutes there will improve your day in my view. I believe that we all need some time alone to recharge, to destress, and to come back better than ever after taking a break in our place of Zen. If you have a few minutes per week or ideally each day to visit this place of Zen, you will be better off for having been able to go there.

‘Zen’ involves total concentration, total awareness, and a dedication to come back there again and again. If you are not consistently able to go there and is out of reach for you, then you should consider finding a new place. To maintain that Zen beyond your own special place and to stay calm, cool, and collected when you are not actually there, you must be able to visit there at least once a week. I do not think it is enough to only go there once a month or once every other week, you should be able to take the time and the effort to go there at least once a week to get the various positive results out of your visits.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to keep your place of Zen a secret to others. The world can be a crowded place sometimes and we all need our own little space to think, to relax, to observe, and to reflect without anyone joining us. It’s important to have our own secret space to come back to and find if anything has changed there besides you as you go through the years of your life.

I have written before about how ‘a walk in the woods’ has been beneficial to my life and how it has calmed me, kept me centered, and allowed me to reflect. I have found my own place of Zen that I hope to have for many years to come. You can have more than once place of Zen if you’re lucky but if you find other people constantly there or intruding on your time spent there; it may be best to find a new place to find that brings you Zen-like relief. The good thing is that if you’re reading this article, you already crave to have that special place to call your own where you can be more Zen-like and improve your life at the same time. Zen does not come to those who do not seek it out to begin with.

While the world is likely to get more chaotic, more unpredictable, and perhaps more crowded as well, having our own place of quiet, serenity, and peace that only you know and appreciate will become even more important. The world can be a rough and tumble place where it is not easy to catch your breath, to refocus yourself, to be at ease, and to relax fully in the quiet around you but I believe it is vital to do your best to find your own place of Zen. It may not be easy to do so but I think the journey to find that place of Zen will be worth the effort you put into it. Good luck.

Anatomy of a Scene – ‘A Small Measure of Peace’

“To be at a certain place or with a certain person for the rest of your days and to be at ease with your decision, that contentedness is to have found the ‘small measure of peace’ that we can spend our entire lives trying to capture but only a few ever truly find.”

The Last Samurai (2003) – ‘A Small Measure of Peace’

There is a distinct moment in our lives when we realize that the fight is done, and the work is over. It is a pleasant realization that all you can do has been done and that you must take the rest of our days to welcome ‘a small measure of peace’ in one’s life, which is not easily found or embraced. To be at a certain place or with a certain person for the rest of your days and to be at ease with your decision, that contentedness is to have found the ‘small measure of peace’ that we can spend our entire lives trying to capture but only a few ever truly find.

It does not mean that the work is over but rather that the trials of our life have come to pass and that what we have fought for, bled for, or even cried for have now come to pass. While there may no final resting place until we depart from this Earth, finding a small patch of land to call your own, a garden or a farm for you to mend, and a woman (or a man) for whom you can love freely, that is the ‘small measure of peace’ to strive for obtaining, especially in one’s later years.

One man who was able to find his small measure of peace was Nathan Algren, who in ‘The Last Samurai’ can redeem himself, end his alcoholism, and fight with courage and honor in preserving the memory of the Samurai. While the Samurai age came to an end, Industrial Japan, and its Emperor, partly thanks to Nathan leading the Samurai into battle, to preserve their dignity and honor, were able to leave their mark on Japanese culture and history. While he may have been the last Samurai and a foreigner in Japan, he was able to rally them to a glorious end for which Imperial Japan would never forget.

“Tell me how he died.” “I will tell you…how he lived.” Even after losing his close confidant and friend in the final battle, the samurai Katsumoto, who took Nathan under his wing, told him the ways of the Samurai, and introduced him to the woman he came to love, Nathan wanted to preserve his memory to the young Emperor and to let the Imperial Japanese court know how special the age of the Samurai was and how it should not be forgotten.

“Nations, like Men, it is sometimes said…have their own destiny.” While nations choose to look forward to the future, they must also embrace the past to preserve their identity. What was once part of their culture may go away but it can leave an imprint and be remembered by generations to come. Japan’s destiny lies in looking to the future but always remembering the past, such as the age of the Samurai. Nathan Algren, the American who learned the ways of the Samurai, was able to throw off his own turbulent past as a Civil War captain by learning to fight with dignity and honor as a Samurai in a cause bigger than his own ego.

“As for the American Captain, no one knows what became of him…some say…he died of his wounds…others…that he returned to his own country…But I like to think…he may have, at last, found some small measure of peace…that we all seek…and few of us ever find.”

After trying to get himself killed or trying to deliberately drink himself to death, being able to survive as the last Samurai and tell of their traditions to keep the memory of Katsumoto alive, Nathan Algren was able to finally let go of the demons of his past and find the small measure of peace in a small Japanese village where he was first introduced to the only woman he truly loved. In her, Nathan finds a reason to stay alive, to make a life away from war and suffering, to be part of the woman’s village again, and perhaps start anew where he could be at peace with the past and have a pleasant future that is filled with love and peace.

As Nathan gathers his horse and rides down to Taka’s village, he is a man who is content, who is at peace, and who knows what exactly he must do for the rest of his living days. Taka and Nathan have a history together over the course of the film but by the ending scene, she is happy to see him alive and well again. Her beauty, grace, and femininity shine through as she gazes at Nathan, giving him a heartfelt smile, happy to see him in her presence again.

One look at each other says it all and they have been through so much in their time together that just to be making eye contact again is enough to fill up both of their hearts with joy. Like how Japan was willing to move forward to a new age while remembering the last Samurai, Nathan is also ready to be at peace with his past while looking to the future with Taka.

Peace of the Ocean

“Some folks prefer the mountains, others prefer the river, but I prefer the ocean. As the saying goes, “The ocean has no memory.” It doesn’t care who we are or where we come from, it’s just glad that we are there.”

Witness the waves splashing down on the sand, hear the wind swirling throughout the beach, feel the coolness of the water lapping up against your feet, and experience the solitude that you gain from being by yourself at dusk or dawn with a full view of the brilliant ocean. These are just a few ways that the peace of the ocean can captivate us and keep us coming back for more tranquility. Some folks prefer the mountains, others prefer the river, but I prefer the ocean. As the saying goes, “The ocean has no memory.” It doesn’t care who we are or where we come from, it’s just glad that we are there.

In this increasingly fast-paced world based around complex technology that can be both addictive and time consuming, it’s truly peaceful to get away from it all if only for a short while by taking time to go to the ocean. You don’t even have to get in the ocean but by being near it, I believe it refreshes us, it calms us, and allows us to be left with our thoughts and our memories.

Some folks like to swim, some like to surf, others like to fish, while some enjoy lounging on the beach; in all, there are dozens of options on how to interact with the ocean allowing us to find our own peace by being in the ocean or nearby it. The beauty of the ocean is that every time is a little bit different for the person who goes there. The setting may be the same, but you’ve changed as a person and so do your thoughts, feelings, and desires upon coming to the ocean. You grow older, you change jobs, you move places, you bring new people with you, but the ocean and its bounty never truly changes.

How you interact with the ocean may change too and what you decide to get from it will also adapt but nothing that ever changes is that we all seek peace of our own from this beautiful locale. Regardless of the activity involved, the ocean recharges our batteries, lets us relax, keeps us honest, and allows us to leave our troubles behind for a little while. Because of its restorative powers, it is no wonder why millions of people live by the ocean and why billions around the planet seek to visit it year in and year out.

The ocean is such a powerful part of human nature that we bury our dead there at times, that we memorialize people who made a living from it, and that we honor those who preserved peace when wars were fought over access to it. Humanity is always linked to the ocean and if we do not protect and preserve the ocean, a part of our humanity would be lost in the process. The ocean is a living and breathing thing providing us with the oxygen, nutrients, and food that we need to survive each day.

In return for the calm, tranquility, and overall peace that it brings us, we must do our part to keep it clean, keep its inhabitants from becoming endangered, and making sure that it is around for future generations. When we can no longer fish the waters, swim in the waves, or relax ourselves at pristine beaches, we will lose a piece of ourselves, and we will lose our own inner peace that the ocean cultivates in those of us who go there to rejuvenate and restore ourselves each time.

The ocean gives us peace of mind, peace of body, and peace of spirit. It’s only fair that we strive to give back as best as we can by taking care of it and letting it be enjoyed far into the future. Acidification, pollution, loss of natural habits and pockets of floating trash threaten not only the ocean but the rest of the planet too. We will not be able to have as much as peace if the ocean is dying. When we can no longer fish the waters responsibly, swim in clean waves, or go boating with clean energy, we will suffer a true lack of peace. Our minds and our bodies won’t be at ease if the ocean is not at ease.

The climate change crisis is not just about preserving the planet, but it is also about preserving our own mental peace of mind. The ocean allows us to feel better about ourselves, improve our social relationships, and spend quality time away from work or other commitments. If we lose the chance to enjoy the ocean, that lack of peace will hurt us as human beings. If we can no longer enjoy one of our best natural environments, we will lose a great way to relax, rejuvenate, and recharge ourselves to deal with life’s challenges and opportunities. I hope we can do better in the future to keep the ocean beautiful, clean, and vibrant because I enjoy the peace that it brings me in return.

Cancun Sunset

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Camera: iPhone 8

Location: Cancun, Mexico

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