Finding Zen and the Opportunities of This Time adapted by Colleen Keating

“We can create a fearless life
by living daily out of our comfort zone,
and in the deliciousness of uncertainty”

Finding Zen and the Opportunity of This Time

The truth is, all of this has always been here. We’ve always been distracted, numbing our difficult emotions like loneliness and sadness and anger with social media, food, alcohol and other comforts. We’ve always felt uncertainty, anxiety, frustration and overwhelm.

It’s just that this pandemic has brought it all front and center. Put it directly in our faces, so we can’t ignore it.

That’s difficult, but it’s also an opportunity — to look directly at the things we don’t want to admit to ourselves.

To become present to our emotions.

To train ourselves in compassion, gratitude, wonder, connection, meaning and mindfulness.

It’s terrible that people are get sick and die,— we don’t want to pretend that everything is rainbows and unicorns. It’s terrible and easy to turn to alcohol are other unhealthy ways of coping with all of this.

But we need to make the most of this time, use the opportunity of this time.

We start first by recognizing whatever is there for us: overwhelm, distraction, loneliness, sadness, frustration, disconnect, anxiety.

We get present with it: how does it feel in our body? Can we be with the sensations of these emotions, mindfully, gently, with openness and curiosity?

We bring compassion to ourselves — a sense of warmth and wanting happiness for ourselves.

We then try a new frame of mind — here are a handful to try out:

  • Curiosity: can we be curious about something in this moment, from the sensations of our emotions to what another person is going through? What changes for you when you practice curiosity?
  • Wonder: Can we view this moment (ourselves, our surroundings, other people) with a sense of awe and appreciation? With a sense of wonder at the miracle of life? How does that change things for you?
  • Gratitude: Can we feel a sense of gratitude for what we have in this moment, for the other person, for our eyesight? What would it be like to lose those things? Can we see the things we have through this new lense of appreciation?
  • Meaning: What if everything we did had a sense of meaning — what if every act could be a way to love ourselves, or to love and serve others? How would that change each act for you?
  • Mindfulness: Can we simply be present in this moment? Connect with a sense of spaciousness and awareness of what is happening right now? What shifts for you when you do this?
  • Connection: Can we feel a sense of connection to others in each moment? To the light in ourselves? To the world around us? And realize how we’re supported by the entire world.
  • Empowerment: There’s a big difference between doing something because we feel we should, or because we have to … and doing something because we choose to. Can you choose into each act in your day? Or choose out of it, if you really don’t want to do it? What would life be like if you were choosing to do things from an empowered place, rather than feeling like life was happening to you?

Choose one at a time, and practice it for a few days. Life in the pandemic will give you plenty of practice opportunities, if you look for them. Embrace them, and train.


Leo Babauta
Zen Habits      Thanks to Zen Habits

“We can create a fearless life by living daily out of our comfort zone, and in the deliciousness of uncertainty”

Finding Zen and the Guesthouse by Rumi


Coming to learn to be fully human consider my body a guesthouse

When you breathe deeply and go inward,
make space for whatever wants to come to visit your guesthouse today.
What do you notice rising up in you?
What could it be helping you accept or understand?
What has your grief taught you?

The Guesthouse 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jalaluddin Rumi

from Rumi: Selected Poems, trans Coleman Barks with John Moynce, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson (Penguin Books, 2004)


Finding Zen and Thich Nhat Hanh RIP by Colleen Keating

Finding Zen and Thich Nhat Hanh RIP

Zen Practice  

Go outside for a walk
somewhere in a garden
with trees or plants

focus on soaking up the oxygen
given out by the greenery nearest you

allow yourself to relax
and touch love in the air
in the steps that you make
in the communal energy of living things

Feel the warmth in the sunshine
the brush of air on your skin

give yourself permission to taste it
bit by bit

whisper your gratitude. and bow deeply.


“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body,
I am life without boundaries, I have never been born
and I have never died.
Over there, the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies
all manifests from the basis of consciousness.
Since beginningless time I have always been free.
Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out.
Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek.
So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye.
Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before.
We shall always be meeting again at the true source.
Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”

-Thích Nhất Hạnh, No Death, No Fear

with reference to Thich Nhat Hanh
and Sister Dang Nghiem in ‘Flowers in the Dark

“The Zen master Ling Chi said that the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth. You breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism announces that our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has passed away peacefully at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, at 00:00hrs on 22nd January, 2022, at the age of 95. We invite our global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay in our hearts in peace and loving gratitude for all he has offered the world.



Finding Zen to rest and replenish by Colleen Keating

Finding Zen to rest and replenish

As the last blog stated these days, many people are feeling overwhelmed and  exhausted.

Here are some nourishing, replenishing, restorative  actions we can take  when we feel drained:

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Take a pause to breathe and notice the moment.
  3. Take a nap
  4. Give yourself a day of spaciousness.
  5. Spoil yourself with a moment outside in the air, with a cup of coffee taken to the garden, with a few hours doing something you always wanted to do, with a holiday away, a retreat, a spa place, etc. from 5 minuits to 5 days  every small moment is a gift to you.
  6. Take a tea break with a little ritual about it.
  7. Sit and feel the sun on your back.
  8. Lay down , close your eyes , relax every muscle in your body and just feel nourished by your brath
  9. Be kind to yourself , serching out and being aware of this every day.

Remember the rule in an areiplane – the adult /parent, must always buckle in before they buckle in the child. Your might think it would be best to attend to the child first but you must be safe firstly to keep the child safe. Hence you must care for yourself firstly to care for others.

Thank you to Zen Habits and Leo Babauta for his many great writings which I adapt for my friends now for all of us.

Finding Zen and taking a break by Colleen Keating

Finding Zen  and taking  a break

These days many of us can get caught out feeling overwhelmed, drained, fearful, exhausted.  

There is so much going on and everything we do demands so much more protocol 

and the worry of the risk involved. 

Yet we have to carry on and look to the positive and the glass half full idea

  even as we can feel dragged down.    Sometimes we can feel a bit like Rabbit:

“Nothing’s working.” said Rabbit.

“Have you tried unplugging?” asked Bear.

“I don’t plug in anywhere.” said Rabbit. 

“Yes you do.” said Bear. “You’re plugged into the world around you.”

“Oh.” said Rabbit, giving this some thought. “How do I unplug then?”

“Close your eyes, let your muscles relax and listen only to the sound of yourself breathing in and out.” said Bear. 

“After a while, when you feel ready, plug back in, and try again.”

Tara Shannon, Julian Gough and Zen Habits by Leo Babauta
whose wrok I have studied for years and am very grateful for.

Finding Zen and our sneaky inner voice by Colleen Keating


Finding Zen and our sneaky inner voice

There are times when you hear a quiet persistent voice prattling away to you. 

You feel inadequate.

You feel not good enough .

You feel inferior to the group you stand or sit with. 

You need to tell that voice to be gone. 

If you can remember,

that every cell in your body is listening, 

– listening to your negative voice, and listening to your denial of that.’ 

Then say to yourself, so that every cell in your body hears it  ‘cancel. ‘

Over time of picking up the negative voice and saying ‘cancel’  your body will get the message that that voice is not accepted by you . And the voice will slowly dissipate. 


  1. Place you right hand gentled on your throat  

     2.  feel the breath in, out, three slow breaths 

     3.   Be aware of being centred with each breath out 

     4.   Place your right hand over your heart and say to yourself ,

            ‘I am enough”  

      5.   Breathe it in  and out.