What does Zen mean to you? A life style, a form of self-reflection, the pursuit of peace of mind, a practice to benefit others, or maybe even another religion? As the word Zen has begun to gain popularity over the recent decades, you might be one of those who has tried meditation, or enjoys a simple, observatory life style, but have you thought of looking into some Zen experiences while you travel?
Zen started as a branch of Buddhism in China named Chan Zhong. As the religion spread beyond its original borders into Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, people started to refer to this religious practice using their own language. Among those, Chan’s Japanese version; Zen, became the source spelling when it spread even further around the world.
The word Zen then lost a lot of its religious intensity and became a life style. The modern day interpretation of Zen is no longer limited to a religious practice, but has expanded to represent a much broader and deeper-ingrained concept in people’s daily lives. One doesn’t have to be a Buddhist to try this ancient method of meditation to clear your mind and help you focus your thoughts, and Zen is not limited to simple, seated meditation. Anything that helps focus on personal practice can be a form of Zen. Physical labour, the specific arrangement of nature, the preparation and observation of food or drink. All can be a form of Zen when approached mindfully. Zen is simple and achievable most anywhere.
If you have been curious about the idea, but have experienced it firsthand, why not try the following travel techniques to get closer to Zen while you are in Taipei?
There are some centers that offer shorter meditation sessions. You can contact them to see whether they provide the course in your language.
-Taipei Meditation provides a Saturday meditation course [台北修心 Taipei Meditation | Meetup]
-The Sahaja Yoga provides a Monday session at 19:30 (2 hrs) on the 8th floor of the Jingxing Community Center
-The Manjughosha Buddhist Center provides an English language free drop-in session on Tuesdays. For more information take a look at their website: [Simply Meditate – Meditation Class in English (Mar-May) | 台灣噶當巴禪修中心]
If you are staying in Taiwan for a while, and are interested in a more thorough introduction to Zen, the None Zen Center provides a weeklong Zen course including meditation, food, and sightseeing. [None Zen Center 無有禪社]
The Beitou Museum was once a hotel. After that, it became an entertainment hall for Kamikaze pilots. The gorgeous, two-story wooden building is now a permanent exhibition featuring artifacts representing the close connection between Taiwanese and Japanese cultures. You can also find tea ceremonies or other cultural events regularly hosted at the Beitou museum. If you’ve heard of a Kaiseki meal (please reserve 5 days in advance) - a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, they serve a seasonal vegetarian form of it here.
Marshal Zhang was once a soldier fighting besides Chiang Kai Shek. After a failed rebelion, he was put on house-arrest. Now, after some renovation, the house offers guests hot springs, exceptional food, and is equipped with a tea house. Enjoy a bit of history, while you appreciate the Japanese style house and garden with nature surrounding you! (Reservation require!)
If you want to explore a more special Zen theme, come join our new Zen tour! Our experienced guides are going to lead you into the mountains where you can enjoy a hiking trail right outside of Taipei. Hopefully along with the Tea Sampling and Qi Gong lesson, you will also find your own interpretation and experience of Zen!