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Journey to Clarity: Discovering Ikigai & Zazen

Updated: Mar 20

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react that matters - Hector Garcia
Info-graphic image of the Ep-1 of our series Zen Zone Episodes

Table of Content


Section 2: Understanding Ikigai.

Section 3: The Art of Zazen: A Path to Mindfulness.

Section 4: Ikigai and Zazen: A Harmonious Intersection.

Section 5: Personal Anecdote: My Journey with Ikigai and Zazen.

Section 6: Case Study - A Transformational Journey.

Section 7: Applying Ikigai and Zazen in the Modern World.

Section 8: Conclusion and Takeaways.



Welcome to the inaugural episode (EP:1) of our unique "Zen Zone" series, where we delve into the harmonious intersection of personal and professional development, mindfulness, and Zen philosophy. This series, spanning five engaging episodes, is designed to resonate with the essence of our platform, "Zen Zone," focusing on the profound Japanese philosophy of self-development, professional growth, mindfulness, and Zen.

In this first episode, we explore the profound concepts of Ikigai and Zazen, two pillars of Japanese philosophy that have the potential to transform lives in our fast-paced, digitally connected world.

Ikigai, a term that compounds two Japanese words: iki (生き, meaning ‘life; alive’) and kai (甲斐, meaning ‘effect; result; fruit; worth; use; benefit’), translates to 'a reason for living [being alive]; a meaning for [to] life; what [something that] makes life worth living; a raison d’être’. It's a guiding compass that the Japanese use to navigate towards a fulfilling life. It's the sweet spot where your passions, talents, and the world's needs intersect. In the acclaimed book "Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long Happy Life," authors Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles delve into this concept and its impact on longevity and happiness.

The info-graphics showing the theme of the article EP:1 of the series. The article on IKIGAI & ZAZEN

On the other hand, Zazen, derived from the Japanese term "座禅" and the Chinese word "zuò chán" (坐禅), both meaning "seated meditation," is a meditative discipline at the heart of Zen Buddhism. It involves sitting in a specific posture, focusing on the breath, and clearing the mind to achieve a state of mindfulness and clarity. In the context of our series, we refer to it as "The Art of Zazen: Finding Stillness in a Chaotic World."

In our modern world, where technological advancements like AI and automation are rapidly changing the way we live and work, these ancient practices offer a much-needed respite. They provide tools to navigate the chaos, find balance, and uncover a sense of purpose.

In this article, we'll explore how the practice of Zazen can guide you towards discovering your Ikigai, leading to a life of fulfillment and happiness. We'll delve into the teachings of the renowned book "Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long Happy Life" and the art of Zazen. We'll also share personal anecdotes, case studies, and practical tips to help you embark on this transformative journey.

So, are you ready to embark on this journey with us? Are you ready to find your Ikigai and explore the art of Zazen? Let's dive into the Zen Zone! Stay tuned for the rest of the series, where we'll continue to unravel the mysteries of Zen philosophy and its practical applications in our daily lives.

Section 2: Understanding Ikigai

Ikigai, a term that beautifully encapsulates the essence of life's purpose, is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. The word itself is a fusion of 'iki,' meaning 'life' or 'alive,' and 'kai,' which translates to 'effect,' 'result,' or 'worth.' Together, they form 'Ikigai,' a concept that signifies 'a reason for being,' 'a reason to jump out of bed in the morning,' or 'what makes life worth living.'

Info-graphics of the concept of IKIGAI: From our article, Journey to Clarity: Discovering Ikigai & Zazen

This profound concept was first popularized by Japanese psychiatrist and academic Mieko Kamiya in her 1966 book "On the Meaning of Life." In the book, Kamiya presents Ikigai as a path to a fulfilling and happy life, a way to find profound meaning in one's existence or work. It's a beacon that guides individuals towards a less alienated, more fulfilling life.

Finding your Ikigai is a journey of self-discovery and introspection. It's about peeling back the layers of your passions, values, and talents to uncover what truly brings you joy and fulfillment. It's about identifying that sweet spot where your needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction intersect.

However, this journey isn't always straightforward. It requires mindfulness, clarity, and a deep understanding of oneself. This is where the practice of Zazen comes into play. Zazen, with its focus on stillness and mindfulness, can aid in this process of self-discovery, helping individuals navigate their way towards their Ikigai.

In the next section, we'll delve deeper into the practice of Zazen and how it complements the journey towards finding your Ikigai.

Section 3: The Art of Zazen: A Path to Mindfulness

Zazen, a form of meditation unique to Zen Buddhism, is a path to mindfulness and clarity. The term 'Zazen' translates to 'seated meditation,' and it is considered the heart of Zen practice. It's a practice that invites individuals to sit, breathe, and clear their minds, allowing them to glimpse the true nature of reality.

Info-graphics showing the flow-chart of Zazen, the theme of the article, Discovering Ikigai & Zazen

The practice of Zazen is characterized by its simplicity. It typically involves sitting in a specific posture, usually cross-legged with a straight back. The eyes are kept open, but the gaze is gently lowered, and the hands are placed in the lap, one resting on top of the other. This posture, while simple, is designed to promote physical stillness, which in turn fosters mental clarity.

The core of Zazen is the focus on breath. Practitioners count each inhalation and exhalation, using the rhythm of their breath as an anchor to the present moment. The goal is not to suppress thoughts but to let them come and go freely, without attachment or judgment. Over time, this practice allows the mind to become still and clear, free from the constant chatter of everyday thoughts.

Regular practice of Zazen can cultivate a state of mindfulness and clarity, providing individuals with a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world. This heightened self-awareness can be instrumental in the search for one's Ikigai. By fostering a sense of inner peace and clarity, Zazen can help individuals focus on their needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction, guiding them towards their unique intersection of passion and purpose.

In the next section, we'll explore how the practices of Ikigai and Zazen intersect and complement each other, creating a holistic approach to finding fulfillment and happiness.

Section 4: Ikigai and Zazen: A Harmonious Intersection

The Japanese concept of Ikigai and the Zen Buddhist practice of Zazen may seem distinct at first glance, but they intersect in profound ways. Both are paths to self-discovery and fulfillment, and together, they create a harmonious approach to finding meaning and happiness in life.

Info-graphics showing the interplay of IKIGAI & ZAZEN. The theme of the article, Discovering Ikigai & Zazen

Ikigai, which translates to "a reason for being," is a concept that encourages individuals to find the intersection of their passions, talents, values, and the world's needs. It's about discovering what makes you jump out of bed in the morning, what truly brings joy and fulfillment to your life.

On the other hand, Zazen is a meditative practice that cultivates mindfulness and clarity. It's a practice that quiets the mind, allowing individuals to see reality as it is, free from the distortions of habitual thought patterns.

The intersection of Ikigai and Zazen lies in the state of mindfulness. The clarity and mindfulness achieved through Zazen can be instrumental in the discovery of one's Ikigai. As individuals practice Zazen, they cultivate a quiet mind and a present-moment awareness. This heightened state of consciousness allows them to delve deeper into their desires, ambitions, and satisfaction, providing them with the clarity needed to uncover their Ikigai.

In essence, Zazen and Ikigai complement each other beautifully. Zazen fosters the mindfulness and clarity needed to navigate the journey of self-discovery, while Ikigai provides a framework for understanding and articulating one's unique purpose in life. Together, they offer a holistic approach to living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

In the next section, we'll delve into a real-life case study that illustrates the transformative power of Ikigai and Zazen.

Section 5: Personal Anecdote: My Journey with Ikigai and Zazen

In this section, I would like to share my personal journey with Ikigai and Zazen, or more precisely, Pranayama, a practice that shares similarities with Zazen. Both involve regulating the breath and focusing the mind, and both have been instrumental in my journey of self-discovery.

My journey began during a period of recovery from a knee injury. With the hustle and bustle of professional and personal life, it's easy to lose touch with our inner selves. We spend countless hours tethered to our smartphones, often neglecting the need to connect with our innermost thoughts and feelings. However, during my recovery, I found the time and space to practice Pranayama regularly. This practice opened up a mental space that was calmer and more settled, allowing me to reconnect with myself.

Info-graphics showing my personal anecdote of IKGAI & ZAZEN interplay.

As I continued to practice Pranayama, I began to notice a shift. I found that when I dedicated just 5 to 10 minutes a day to this practice, without any distractions, things started to unfold. I began to understand my passions and preferences more clearly.

One significant realization was my love for writing. I had stopped writing for about 3.5 years, but during this period of introspection and self-discovery, I found myself drawn back to it. I started writing again, expressing my thoughts and perspectives on various topics. I found that writing, without expecting attention or validation from others, was a liberating and life-changing experience.

In just five months, I wrote over 100 articles, amounting to around 50,000 words - enough for a standard hardcover book. Even now, I sometimes find it hard to believe that I accomplished this. While it may be too soon to say that I have found my Ikigai, I feel that I am on the right path.

In the next section, we will delve into a real-life case study that illustrates the transformative power of Ikigai and Zazen.

Section 6: Case Study - A Transformational Journey

In this section, we draw inspiration from an article by Gabrielle Collard on The Coach Space titled "Can finding your ikigai really change your life?". The article presents a comprehensive understanding of Ikigai and its impact on one's life.

Gabrielle Collard, the author, shares her personal and professional experiences with Ikigai. She emphasizes that Ikigai is not just about finding a meaningful career but creating meaning in your overall life. Gabrielle explains that Ikigai is a state of well-being resulting from an individual’s devotion to activities they enjoy and which also brings them a sense of fulfillment.

Info-graphics of the case-study of Gabrielle Collard on finding her IKIGAI

The transformational journey of discovering one's Ikigai is not about grandiose plans but about the little rituals in daily routines. Gabrielle shares the five pillars of Ikigai: starting small, releasing yourself, harmony and sustainability, the joy of little things, and being in the here and now. These pillars guide individuals in defining a life of meaning or consequence.

Gabrielle's journey of discovering her Ikigai led her to understand that true fulfillment is found in the joy of little things. She emphasizes the importance of being present and fully connected to moments as we experience them. This practice, she found, contributes to an overall sense of satisfaction with life.

This case study serves as an example of the transformational journey one can embark on when discovering their Ikigai through Zazen. It highlights the changes and growth experienced by the individual, both personally and professionally.

Section 7: Applying Ikigai and Zazen in the Modern World

In the fast-paced digital world of evolving AI and Industry 4.0, it's clear that rapid technological change is affecting almost every area of the economy, society, and culture. Technologies are becoming increasingly complicated and interconnected. This growing complexity makes it more difficult than ever to understand how they work or what is at fault when something goes wrong.

In this context, it's possible that concepts like Ikigai and practices like Zazen could help individuals find balance and meaning in a world that is rapidly changing due to technology. These practices can provide a counterbalance to the constant rush and noise of modern life, offering a space for quiet reflection and self-discovery.

Section 7.1: The Relevance of Ikigai and Zazen Today

Ikigai and Zazen are not just ancient practices; they are incredibly relevant in today's world. As we grapple with the challenges of the digital age, these practices offer a way to stay grounded and focused. They encourage us to slow down, pay attention to our inner selves, and reflect on what truly matters to us.

Section 7.2: Practical Tips for Incorporating Ikigai and Zazen into Daily Life

Info-graphics showing the application of IKIGAI & ZAZEN to achieve meaning and inner peace in modern world. The article theme is, Discovering Ikigai & Zazen

Incorporating Ikigai and Zazen into your daily life doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Start Small: Begin with just a few minutes of Zazen meditation each day. Gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable with the practice.

  2. Reflect on Your Ikigai: Take some time each day to reflect on your passions, values, and talents. What brings you joy? What are you good at? What does the world need from you?

  3. Create a Dedicated Space: If possible, create a dedicated space in your home for Zazen meditation. This can help you establish a regular practice.

  4. Be Patient: Finding your Ikigai and establishing a Zazen practice takes time. Be patient with yourself and the process.

By integrating these practices into our daily lives, we can navigate the complexities of the modern world with greater ease and clarity. We can find our own path to fulfillment and happiness, guided by the wisdom of Ikigai and the mindfulness of Zazen.

Section 8: Conclusion and Takeaways

Info-graphic table of the final takeaways from the article, Discovering Ikigai & Zazen

In this article, we've journeyed through the concepts of Ikigai and Zazen, exploring their origins, significance, and practical applications in the modern world. Here are the key takeaways from our discussion:

  1. Ikigai is a Japanese concept that translates to "a reason for being" and represents the intersection of one's passions, talents, values, and the world's needs.

  2. Zazen is a form of meditation in Zen Buddhism that promotes mindfulness and clarity, aiding in the discovery of one's Ikigai.

  3. The practice of Zazen involves a specific posture, focused breathing, and a clear mind.

  4. Ikigai and Zazen are deeply interconnected, with the mindfulness achieved through Zazen aiding in the discovery of one's Ikigai.

  5. Both Ikigai and Zazen have profound relevance in today's fast-paced, digital world, providing a counterbalance to the rush and noise of modern life.

  6. The journey to discovering one's Ikigai is a personal one, often requiring introspection and self-discovery.

  7. Regular practice of Zazen can lead to greater mindfulness and clarity, enhancing personal and professional development.

  8. Incorporating Ikigai and Zazen into daily life can be done through small, manageable steps like dedicating a few minutes each day to Zazen and regular self-reflection.

  9. Personal anecdotes and case studies highlight the transformative power of Ikigai and Zazen, demonstrating their potential to change lives.

  10. The practice of Ikigai and Zazen is a lifelong journey, not a destination. It requires patience, commitment, and an open mind.

As we conclude this first episode (EP1) of our "Zen Zone" series, we invite you to stay tuned for more insights into the world of Zen practices and their impact on personal and professional development. Remember, this is just the beginning of your journey. We encourage you to share your experiences and insights as you explore Ikigai and Zazen. Don't forget to subscribe to stay updated on upcoming episodes. Happy exploring!


Reference List

1) Collard, G. (n.d.). Can finding your ikigai really change your life? The Coach Space. Retrieved August 3, 2023, from


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