Leadership Lesson: Finding Solitude Within Your Zazen

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Great leaders must always take time for themselves.

So keeping in theme with Monday’s yoga exercise, I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes from Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen by Shunryu Suzuki.

Suzuki’s book presents the concept of Shikantaza, which is commonly translated as the art of “just sitting.” But much like some of the simplest concepts in life, the more you try to define Shikantaza, the further you get from its meaning. In essence, Shikantaza is really just about being yourself. And as a leader, being true to yourself may be the most difficult thing of all.

Calmness of Mind

“When we do not expect anything we can be ourselves. That is our way, to live fully in each moment of time.” (pg. 5)

“Calmness of mind is beyond the end of your exhalation.” (pg.5)

“When we are trying to be active and special and to accomplish something, we cannot express ourselves. Small self will be expressed, but big self will not appear from the emptiness. From the emptiness only great self appears.” (pg. 7)

Freedom from Everything

“Usually you have no freedom from the things you have or see, but when you experience Shikantaza, you will have freedom from things. You will truly enjoy your life because you are not attached to anything.” (pg.13)

“Enlightenment does not come until your mind and body are in perfect accord. IF you cannot accept your experience, you won’t feel you have enlightenment. In other words, when your mind and body are completely one, then enlightenment is there. Whatever you hear, whatever you think, that is enlightenment.” (pg. 15)

Enjoy your Life

“Instead of seeking for some success in the objective world, we try to experience the everyday moments of our life more deeply. That is the purpose of zazen.”

In the rush of today’s world it can be difficult to take time for yourself, but rewarding your efforts with a few moments of peaceful solitude can actually help revitalize the spirit. By taking time to sit and breathe, we may find the clarity we need to help translate our leadership efforts to others. And if for nothing else, do it to relax your mind!

One Comment on “Leadership Lesson: Finding Solitude Within Your Zazen”

  1. Thank you for this post. It has made me realize that I need to take time for myself.

    I’m glad you posted your favorite quotes. They are very inspiring and meaningful.

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