I’m a Zen girl, and lots of people really have no concept of what that means. Popular media would have you believe that Zen and other forms of Buddhism are really about “blissing out”–being peaceful and happy. Some commercials would have you believe it’s about the clothing you wear or speaking in a soft voice. This is not really true.
Zen is about reality and awareness, about paying attention every moment of every day and experiencing each moment as fully as possible. Zen is in the details.
I was thinking about this the other day as I was shaving my head. I’ve currently got a Mohawk hairstyle because it’s fun and because I like my hair really short. This also allows me to cut my own hair which appeals to my thrifty side. This is where the Zen comes in.
I use electric clippers, and I’m able to see around the Mohawk to cut around the edges of it. I can see parts of the front in the mirror, and I can check my work by holding several mirrors. Mostly, though, I need to pay very close attention to what I’m doing and do it by feel, especially in the back. This takes a lot of concentration, and I’m getting really familiar with the shape of my own skull. The more attention I pay, the less I have to fix when I pick up the extra sets of mirrors. When I slow down and focus everything becomes easier.
I thought I’d share this because one of the first places I learned about Zen practice was from a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was really helpful to me, and I have never once tried to maintain a motorcycle. You may never shave your head, and you may follow a different faith, but you may also find a little bit of mindfulness adds a lot to your day. What can it hurt?
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
272. This week, give one of your routine tasks your full attention. How did it feel? Did you end up doing anything differently?