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The 7 steps to living a Zen lifestyle

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Adding a little more “zen” to our lives is beneficial for both our brain and body. Mindfulness exercises are of course a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, great for incorporating into your Zen routine and living a Zen lifestyle.

But what exactly does zen mean? Zen stands for: simple, easy, calm. The comprehensive definition of zen is as follows:

The term Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪 (chán), short for 禪 van (chánnà), which is a Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word dhyāna ('meditation'). Zen emphasizes rigorous self-control, meditation practice, insight into the nature of the mind (見 性, Ch. Jiànxìng, Jp. Kensho, “perceiving the true nature”) and the nature of things, and the personal expression of this insight into the daily life, especially for the benefit of others.

So let's take a look at the 7 steps that can add more Zen to our daily life.

To get up early

Often times this is one of those tips that is much easier said than done, but we mentioned it earlier in the 5am club. Mornings can be very difficult for some because not everyone fully enjoys leaving his or her bed and the accompanying dreams - for the real world.

When we wake up, our eyes are still blurry, our brains are still dazed and the muscles are not cooperating. Every step after this mentioned step will help you become an earlier bird. Every day starts with getting up, which is why this is the first on the list. We know that getting up early isn't easy for everyone, but once you start it's amazing how many extra things you can accomplish in just a day.

Getting up early is one of the most important steps in living the Zen lifestyle (pict.)
Getting up early is one of the most important steps in living the Zen lifestyle (fig.)

Some tips to help you get up early:

  • Stay away from the snooze button on your alarm clock. "If you snooze, you loose." also applies here. Do you have trouble with it? Then put your alarm clock (or telephone) out of reach so that you really have to get out of bed.
  • Drink a glass of cold water. Refreshing and also good for your waste products, immediately a glass water drink when you get up.
  • Toothbrushing. Get up, walk to the bathroom and immediately start brushing your teeth. You will notice that this alone makes you a lot more awake.
  • Meditate. Start your day with a short meditation, feeling of self-reflection and fall back on this wonderfully when it gets too hectic during the day.
  • Come in motion. The preference and a boost for your metabolism: start right away train at home or a short one Tabata interval.
  • Shower immediately. Get on and start taking a shower right away if you have trouble waking up.
  • Eat something small. Unless you meet intermittent fasting does, it is good for some to eat something to get an energy boost and get on with the day.
  • Have a purpose. Do you really want to jump out of bed when the alarm goes off? Make sure you have a passion, purpose in life. What's your Ikigai?

Early Birds will know that getting up early keeps them organized, focused and productive. The world is literally and figuratively a lot quieter in the morning. Use this time as time for yourself.


We all know that exercise is important and that we could do more of it. Many of us have a gym membership that we don't use (especially because of the closed gyms during corona), or dumbells that are dusting, or have expensive fitness equipment at home. Getting motivated to move can be daunting, and sometimes the more you think about it, the less and less attractive it becomes.

Living a zen lifestyle doesn't mean you have to train hard for an hour or run a half marathon every day. Any kind of exercise is good for your brain. This earlier study of the Harvard Medical School exercise says it memory and the cognitive function helps - that's definitely a good thing. Exercise is also a great way to release stress and tension, because as you focus on your body, your mind can find greater clarity. Give your mind a break while you train your muscles.

Getting exercise can be as simple as light yoga or jogging. If that even that sounds like too much, take a walk. Just 20 minutes to start the day can greatly contribute to a Zen attitude. Take the dog or the kids (or both) and make it a more fun affair. You don't have to walk very intensively - just walk at your own pace.

A tidy environment

Okay, certainly not one of the most appealing items on the list. Get up early, exercise and then clean your house? Probably not everyone's favorite activity. But think about this: Have you ever seen a 'zen' environment that is very messy?

The zen lifestyle is one of clarity. It involves looking beyond our materialism and learning to value our individual selves. It may all sound a bit light-hearted and fairytale, but take a look at the science of a clean environment. One study shows that those who describe their home negatively in terms of clutter and mess are more likely to experience stress and adverse health effects. In contrast, people who characterized their homes with attributes of cleanliness and order were found to be much happier.

The so-called "decluttering" is a purification of your material things, and by removing items that are no longer important to you, that do not "bring joy," you eliminate these mini-stressors from your life. A zen house is a tidy house, and a tidy house is a zen mind and living the zen lifestyle.


Meditation is something that anyone can do. Plus, it's something that can be done anywhere, anytime. We often associate meditation with large lawns, quiet lagoons or rainforest retreats: places that are beautiful, earthy and ridiculously styled.

As you can probably guess, meditation is most effective in a place where it is calm and comfortable. Being outside in the fresh air is ideal, but really not necessary - a lounge area can serve you just as well. Sitting in silence with folded legs is not for everyone, but meditation is flexible. Lie on your back or sit with your legs out. Listen to your breathing, externalize your thoughts if you want. Talk to yourself and listen to what you have to say for yourself.

Guided meditation apps are great for those new to the zen lifestyle. Four such apps that we can personally recommend are Headspace, Waking Up, Insight Timer, and Calm. These offer walkthroughs of meditative exercises for those who prefer to be guided. Meditation can make you feel lighter and more free, and that's when you know you're feeling zen. A nice part of zen lifestyle.

10 simple rules that will change your life towards the zen lifestyle

Take a break

To be zen is to be mindful and have a sense of self. Know your own strengths and weaknesses and embrace them. Take a breather if you feel lost. But that's not why the holiday was invented? The vast majority of us don't have the option to go on vacation every two weeks, but that doesn't mean you can't give yourself a break.

Let's get to science again. People who take frequent breaks while working are more productive and creative throughout the day. Research has shown that working in sprints is the key to maximum efficiency, and that multitasking is actually the bane of productivity is. No one is always fully energized at all times - we are not robots. Taking a breather provides a mental break so that you can shift gears, organize your thoughts, and contemplate your next action.

So have a snack, go for a walk, do some stretching or have a chat with someone. By giving yourself time to step away from your activities, even if it's just for a few minutes, you can get back to a task recharged instead of bothering and worrying about possible deadlines. Find a balanced system of work and rest in which to thrive.

Treat yourself

There are so many ways you can indulge yourself while still following a zen lifestyle. Activities that you find enjoyable and relaxing are so important to include in your daily routine. This could be anything from drinking tea, reading, puzzling, relaxing, cooking, putting together your Pinterest boards, taking photos, watching your favorite show, or any of the things we've included in this list. Find satisfaction in what makes you happy.

If you're feeling uninspired or tense after a long day, it can be hard to get into your zen. Just remember that you don't always have to go it alone. Massage is also a proven form of relaxation for both mind and body, ideal as part of your zen lifestyle!

Don't neglect your night's sleep

After all these things you've done, including during your day - get up early, exercise, clean up - you might feel a little tired. That's great news, because now you can get ready for a healthy sleep pattern.

For some people, falling asleep can be as difficult as waking up in the morning. Using meditation or having a Zen massage before going to bed are both excellent ways to calm the mind and soothe the body. The time before getting ready to go to sleep is the time you should spend relaxing. A clear mind not only makes falling asleep a smoother process, but can also result in better and more complete sleep. Getting up early is much easier if you have had a good night's sleep!

Sources include DaringtoLiveFully (link), GetBlys (link), TheZenLife (link), ZenHabits (link)


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