Your cart

Your Zen Map To Happiness

I recently asked my students, what would you like to learn about Zen meditation. And most people replied: I want to know how to stop thinking. I’m not sure if my students want to learn how to stop thinking because they think that’s what meditation is or because they don’t like what they’re thinking about.

If the aim of meditation is to stop thinking, it’s no surprise that so many people find meditation hard. Our body breathes by itself. We influence our breath through our martial art’s practice. We can change the quality and length of our breathing but we can’t stop breathing.

It’s the same with our mind. Our mind is as wired as our body is to survive. It has to keep us safe. It plans, judges, thinks. The natural instinct of the mind is to avoid pain and seek pleasure. But a life lived on satisfying every desire does not make us happy. And a life avoiding pain makes us fearful rather than fearless.

When we meditate, we don’t stop thinking. We stop reacting to our thinking and taking it so personally. When our mind says: I want chocolate cream. We don’t get up and eat chocolate ice cream. We listen, we observe, we come back to our breath or whatever we’re using as our meditation focus. Keep coming back and coming back. This is the first stage of meditation.

We all want happiness. But if happiness is North, most of us spend our whole life chasing South. We tend to believe that if only we can have: this job, income, wife, husband, pair of Nike shoes then we can be happy. This is the trick our mind plays on us but it's simply not true. True happiness is internal. It comes from our mind, not from external things. It comes from not reacting to every thought and feeling we have. 

It’s good to meditate after our martial art’s practice. Because our martial arts takes the focus off our mind and onto our breath and body. This helps our thoughts to slow down so we're not sitting with a torrent of thoughts.

The more we meditate, the less reactive we become. Through this simple shift in our relationship to our mind, we gain true freedom and happiness.  


  • Diana M Joice

    When I first started out to meditate I wasn’t aware that that’s what it was. I just internally observed my breath, where it went, how strong, warm, cold, still or tumultuous it was. Months later I learned that meditation can have many different forms, including doing breath work.

    I see myself in what you wrote and thank you from my heart for this gem.

    A smile and a bow,


  • Anthony Morocco

    Great article, thank you. Shifu when will your new book come out?

  • Tina

    Well said, Shifu, thank you. Profound and simple wisdom, yet we make it so difficult. As humans, we look for challenges to exercise control, discipline, and conquer in a physical way. Meditation slows us down without taking away anything that’s already there so we could observe, notice, and savor whatever is there without the need to grasp, to be attached to that thing. So, we struggle between the two aspects, the need to do something and the need to just be present in awareness. In my morning rituals, after my stretching exercise (yoga or qigong), I spend 10-15 minutes in meditation to re-group, get grounded, and feel the chi flowing through my body. This gives me peace and contentment for the day.

  • huang da sheng

    Shifu,happy to follow your teachings…meditation can perhaps be passive and active, yet we cannot totally stop thinking, we can care for the quality of thinking, and the speed of thoughts, we indeed, observe our thinking and its process when we meditate,we slow down the stressful tendency of rapid, confusing thinking ,during deep meditation, and take time to breathe and focus on the quality of our mind activity…which may be called MINDFULNESS,like in heart sutra meditation…we become aware of our deep self and of our external environment, becoming more sensitive, more attentive to inner feelings , thoughts,reactions..while also having more awareness of what is around us, in a clear mind, pure thinking,gradually attaining a higher consciousness of our existence…

  • Kathryn

    Thank-you :>

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published