Prepper Mindfulness| Zen in Prepping

by Tommy Grant

This is an updated article on Prepper Mindfulness. Our first article was several years ago, and we will continue to update this article when any information changes or develops related to how mindfulness can be used for preparedness.

Buddhist Zen defined Japanese Samurai for over a thousand years, permeating their tactics, code of ethics, and lifestyle. Recently, there has been a resurgence in the importance of mindfulness- a large aspect of Zen itself.

Samurai Zen methods are being combined with newer science, such as biometric feedback to enhance warfighters. These same methods are being used to condition elite athletes as well. What is the secret to how Zen methods help samurai, athletes, and warfighters reach a higher potential? Mindfulness.

What is Zen?

Zen is, in large part, a cornerstone of Buddhism which originated in China. Buddhism spread from China to Vietnam, Japan, and Korea very early on. Zen emphasizes the importance of daily interactions with others, self-control, and meditation.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to yourself at the exact present moment, without judgment. It is often used as a tool for stress reduction and promoting overall well-being.

Mindfulness is often a part of meditation, yoga, and tai chi. But, you don’t have to be doing any of those to practice it. Many people integrate it into daily activities such as walking, eating, and even driving.

What is Prepper Zen?

When you strip the religious implications out of Zen, you have three basic ideas: breath control, meditation, and mindfulness.

Breath Control: Have you ever used breath control while shooting a rifle? Controlling your breathing to manage your body while shooting is very relaxing and can also help clear your mind. Stopping, counting down from 5, and exhaling is a well-known form of controlling your breathing and can calm you during stressful situations. This technique is often used in anger management to help you control your decision-making.

Meditation: Whether you know it or not, you have already meditated before- probably even earlier today. Whether you were thinking about your day in the shower or saying a prayer today, you have meditated. Meditation is very broad and covers almost all forms of self-reflection, inward thinking, and prayer. The type of meditation that Zen focuses on is using self-control to clear your mind of all thoughts. This can be relaxing, good for your health, and help you focus. It may be difficult to achieve in stressful situations, but it is a good way to manage stress.

Mindfulness: Being aware of yourself and how you are reacting to the present is one of the most important aspects of Zen and it is very important to a prepper. Calmly recognizing your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without acting brashly is extremely important during emergencies. Mindfulness can enable you to make concise, clear decisions and is a true asset when SHTF. Simply being aware of your thoughts when you are in a bad situation can help you make better decisions.

How Preppers Can Use Mindfulness

Preppers plan, train, stockpile, and learn about possible threats and disasters before they happen. Why wait until SHTF to train your mind for stressful situations? Unhealthy amounts of stress from a disaster can not only cloud your thinking, but it can also cause physical complications as well. Low energy, insomnia, ulcers, weaker immune system, rapid heartbeat, and headaches are just a few symptoms too much stress can cause. Here are some quick steps on how to be more aware of your thoughts before you act:

  • Monitor your physical symptoms: It may be difficult to recognize when you are over-stressed until it is too late and you have already made decisions brashly. Fast-onset stress is almost always accompanied by an elevated heart rate. Monitor your heart rate with a FitBit, Apple Watch, or other heart rate monitoring device to stay one step ahead.
  • Plan your reaction method: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a good starting point. Pick a method that works for you, practice it, and stick with it. Feel free to try options until you find the right fit for you or a variation of one that works.
    • Tool 1: Body Scan. Concentrate your thoughts on the sensation in your toes and work your way up. Stop at your chest and think about your breathing. Note any pains or tension in any area. Your body is in the present, and concentrating on it will help you ‘zero’ back in and lower your worries about the past or future.
    • Tool 2: Thought Focus. This is not about keeping your thoughts focused, this option is about focusing on your thoughts. Think about what you are thinking and how it makes you feel. Once you note your thoughts, re-focus them on the present.
    • Tool 3: Breath Control. Think about your breathing. Slow it down using a count and concentrating on timing. Breathing exercises are easy to do and are a great way to clear your mind and control stress.
  • Practice your reaction method: None of the options work if you don’t train yourself to use them frequently. You will only use them in a stressful situation if you already feel comfortable doing it, like a routine.

The Final Word

While we are not encouraging you to sign up for a new religion or lifestyle in Buddhism, it is interesting that there are aspects to learn from other cultures. The legendary Samurai culture shows the effectiveness of being mindful of your thoughts and actions in the most extreme situations. Calm decisions are usually the best decisions.

Speaking of good decisions, here are some other articles our readers have found helpful:

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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