What is Zanshin?
Zanshin is a concept found in Zen, Budo (Japanese martial arts), particularly Kendo, and in many Japanese arts, such as Ikebana (flower arrangement), chado (the tea ceremony) and sumi-e (ink painting).
Simply put, Zanshin is the state when the mind is fully vigilant and aware of its surroundings; when the mind remains still without being attached to anything and is totally present during every moment and action in the here and now.
Everything is interconnected, and the entire Cosmos is influenced by our attitude; that is, all the words we speak, all the actions we carry out, and all the ways we move influence what is happening inside of us and around us.
Every action and every thought in the here and now must be right and harmonious: this is Zanshin. Every action is important: eating, getting dressed, washing, going to the bathroom, putting things away, interacting with other people – all of these actions are important and should be done with Zanshin.
When I eat, I eat. My mind is fully engaged on the action of eating. When I fight, I fight. My mind is fully engaged on the action of fighting.
The concept of Zanshin is that one should be fully present in whatever action is at hand. When I eat, I eat. My mind is fully engaged in the action of eating. When I fight, I fight. My mind is fully engaged in the action of fighting. I am in the here and now, totally immersed in the task at hand, and I will complete what I have started.
In Budo, Zanshin means being aware of one’s surroundings and enemies, while being prepared to react and being unaffected by pain. It is a state of mind that takes years of training to develop.
Through the practice of meditation and martial arts, little by little, this kind of alertness can expand to every action of one’s daily life, and in the end, one realizes that there are no ordinary moments.