1. Do one thing at a time
According to feminine wisdom, as a man I can do nothing else; multitasking being beyond the capacity of my simple male mind. I am therefore, actually pleased I'm thus afflicted. Single-tasking, paying attention to what I am doing in the moment brings me closer to living my life rather than passing through it.
A Zen proverb reads: "When walking, walk. When eating, eat."
2. Do it slowly and deliberately
My Grandfather would often say, "Think twice, act once."
Limited as I am being a man and only able to do one thing at a time, doesn't mean I can't rush the task. I try to be mindful of what I'm doing, to take my time, to move slowly, to make my actions deliberate.
A Zen proverb reads: "One moon shows in every pond, in every pond the one moon."
3. Finish one job before starting another
Being one-minded, focused on the task at hand. Put away what is not needed, clean the path behind before moving ahead. Clean up as you go along.
A Zen proverb reads: "Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment chop wood and carry water."
4. Do less
Doing less is not about being lazy. I wake early and my days are full but I don't have a never-ending task list. I used to, but not anymore. There are things I want to do and some I need to do each day and I try to do them, but if I don't succeed in the time I'm prepared to work, then it doesn't matter. I tidy it away, and come back to it another day...nothing is that urgent. By doing less, I can do them more slowly and mindfully.
A Zen proverb reads: "Knock on the sky and listen to the sound."
5. Honour the space between
Begin with a mindful pause.
End with a mindful pause.
I build space between tasks to sit quietly if only for a few minutes to honour the space between.
A Zen proverb reads: "Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself."
6. Ritual and routine
I personally like routine, a time to do something and a place to do it in. Live by the seasons, eat what's in season and grow by the moon. I also take time to just sit and do nothing other than being mindful of just sitting.
A Zen proverb reads: We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.
7. Set aside time
A time for silence, a time to engage and a time to withdraw. Set aside a time to shower, a time to work and a time to rest. A time to clean and a times to eat. Throughout the day, week, month and year there are things I want to do, things I want to observe and things I need to do to maintain the way I want to live. I set aside time to contemplate, to meditate and weave these into what has become my daily practice. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today a gift to enjoy.
A Zen proverb reads: "Do not speak, unless it improves on silence."
8. Daily zazen
Zazen is the backbone to my daily routine. Za means to sit and Zen translates as meditation. This practice is one of the most important parts of my day and life. Meditation is the practice of learning to be present with oneself in the present moment.
A Zen proverb reads: "In the stillness of the mind, I see myself as I am."
9. Be kind to all you meet
Be kind, humble and gentle towards every living creature; practice ahimsa and smile...life is too short now.
A Zen proverb reads: "What was never lost can never be found."
10. Life is a meditation
Aside from my daily zazen practice, I make cooking, cleaning and eating a meditation practice. Being mindful of what I eat, how I eat and the cleanliness of my surroundings is vitally important to my sense of wellbeing.
A Rumi proverb reads: "Yesterday I was clever and wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
11. Want it, need it, is it necessary?
I try to reduce my life to what is needed and necessary to live in a simple way.
Gone are the closets of clothes and shoes, my refrigerator is mostly empty and the cabinets have only the bare essentials. Gone are the gadgets, never had a television or iPod. I love basic clothing, basic utensils, basic tools and I eat a simple vegetarian diet which I grow mostly myself.
Simplicity is a clear path to the truth.
A Chinese proverb reads: "If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life."
12. Simple living
I choose to live simply.
To do this, I rid myself of as many unnecessary and unessential things as I can in order to create the space and time for what is of value to me.
A Zen proverb reads: "If you are unable to find the truth where you are, where else do you expect to find it?"