As unlikely as it may sound, 40 Years of Zen delivers on its promise of getting you to a state of being that it takes a zen monk 40 years to achieve… What moved me to do this course was a number of events in my life and my growing interest in mindfulness and mindful meditation. Not to mention, the program takes place in Seattle, Washington in a destination with spectacular views of the mountains, zen gardens and a safe environment where you get off the grid completely. Being a New Yorker, I was longing for that break!… When my friend Dave Asprey, a well known bio-hacker suggested I do this, I was extremely enthusiastic to take part.
Day 1: An Intimate Experience
On the first day of class I met the other 4 participants. Only 5 people get to do the 40 Years of Zen course at once which makes it a very intimate atmosphere. Just as a quick aside, my group was comprised of a neuro-scientists, medical biohackers and experts in mediation. We were greeted by an extraordinary and competent, loving staff.
Brainwaves Don’t Lie
They got us started with mapping our brains using a type of imaging called fMRI. This immediately gives the staff and you an idea as to the reality as to where you live in your head. There’s no hiding when you can see all of your brainwaves, where you are weakest and strongest and why you may suffer needlessly in the ways that you do. Using myself as a case, I came to deal with much of my preoccupations, concerns and worries over a multitude of issues – from a mother who I care for deeply at almost 90 years of age, to my own aging body. I found myself worrying excessively over the temporal nature of things and suffering over them before I did this course. This was something I have kept well hidden from the world and in many ways it was very invisible to me.
Letting Go of Outside Distractions
But let me mention that prior to diving in, we had to let go of all outside distractions.
No emails, text messages, cell phone, television or social media… NADA… The point is in large measure to connect you and keep you connected to the experience you are about be enveloped into.
Heavy Emphasis on Meditation
Every day there was tremendous emphasis on meditation and how it affects the human condition. Meditation can especially help to release fear, anxiety, anger and mental stress.
Doing mindful meditation – whether it’s 1 minute a day or 3 – 4 hours a day (like the Dalai Lama), allows you to take a deep dive into your consciousness. This type of reflection can likely bring you numerous benefits such as peace of mind, contentment, freedom from agitation and equanimity. It can also produce less abstract states such as improved performance, stronger immunity, a body better adapted to stress, greater energy, better sleep and more gratitude for the place you are in your life.
Appreciation for Life
When I think about gratitude, I realize through this course I’ve found a rejuvenated sense of appreciation for the life I do have instead of the constant complaining (which most of us do reflexively). This shift of subconscious thoughts allows us to break unhealthy patterns of negative thinking.
There’s no hiding in 40 Years of Zen. From the days you are there you know what your path will be, what your work will be and how meditation becomes a tool that can pull you out of your drama, soliloquy, ruminations and worries. It allows you to to be present to this remarkable existence.
To Summarize My Experience with 40 Years of Zen
This 40 Years of Zen program summarized was a mash up of the ancient and archaic practices of meditation and post modern technologies of neuro-feedback. Together you enter into an accelerated environment of meditative traditional practices while working with the latest instruments science provides in studying the human brain and allowing your mind to reach deeper, more complete states of meditation faster. What I left Seattle thinking was, “What would your life be like if you were free?” I know what that means to me; What would that mean to you?