Views #1527 | Intermediate (B2)

Zen Life

Mark talks about the art of being zen.

Haruka: I know you love Zen, the concept of Zen. When did you start learning it?

Mark: I started learning about Zen philosophy when I was in college

Haruka: In college?

Mark: Yeah. Zen's not really a religion, but I've studied it in a religion class. It comes from Buddhism originally.

Haruka: Was it a Japanese teacher?

Mark: No, but it was an Asian studies teacher. So he was an expert in Asian religions.

Haruka: And what was the concept of Zen by that teacher?

Mark: Well, it's difficult to explain, but Zen is basically about appreciating the little moments in life and being in the present moment. A lot of times we think about the future or we spend a lot of time thinking about the past. Zen is mostly about trying to be in the right now.

Haruka Sounds like mindfulness.

Mark: It's very close to that. Mindfulness is discussed a lot in Zen philosophy.

Haruka : So, is there a way to be good at Zen or, what I can do to-

Mark: I think I understand your question. There is no good or bad about it. It's really like, do you like taking a walk in nature sometime?

Haruka: I love it.

Mark: Yeah, me too. And I think that in essence is Zen is just appreciating the beauty in nature or the wind on your face, or, the sound of the birds and the trees. It sounds a little corny, but appreciating that moment in time, that's basically Zen.

Haruka: So if I'm enjoying this conversation right now, that means I am in Zen?

Mark: Sure. In essence, if you're in this moment, as we speak, that's a form of Zen appreciation.

Haruka: Is it possible that I will be in Zen all the time, if I'm able to enjoy every moment of my life?

Mark: That's a great question. I think it's sort of impossible to constantly be present. It's a good goal to aim for, but it's sort of like an unattainable goal, like a goal that you can't ever get to because your mind is at some point going to think about tomorrow or remember something from the past.

Haruka: How much of a day do you think you are in the Zen moment?

Mark: I've never calculated it like that. I don't know, because I catch myself all the time thinking too much about the future or reliving a memory for too long. And then when I catch myself, I bring my focus back to what I'm doing at the present moment.

Haruka : Mm. Sometimes I focus so much and I feel like I'm in the zone, but it's different from Zen?

Mark: Well, I don't really want to define it because that's the paradox or the confusing thing about Zen, the more and more you try to define it, really, the further away you get from it. It's not something that there are like rules that are written down and you follow these rules. It's really more about just being, just being alive and acknowledging that, appreciating that.

Haruka: Maybe we can both go to the Zen garden and see how it works.

Mark: That's good. I would love to talk to a Zen monk or something.

Listen Mark talk about Zen on the Zensammich Podcast:


Answer these questions about the interview.
Audio Lessons about Phrases and Vocabulary

close to


It's very close to that.

Here, ‘ close to’ means to be similar to something. Notice the following:

  1. Marketing is close to advertising.
  2. Going on a walk to clear your mind is close to meditation.



Mindfulness is discussed a lot in Zen philosophy.

The word 'mindfulness' shows a person is aware of the people and situation around them. Notice the following:

  1. In my yoga class, we practice mindfullness as well as stretching.
  2. Mindfullness lets us be aware of our place in the world.

in essence


I think that in essence is Zen

The prhase ‘in essence’ is used to summarise information, or give information in a simplistic way. Notice the following:

  1. Investing in the stock market is, in essence, gambling.
  2. Pets are, in essence, a way for people to feel loved.

sound corny


It sounds a little corny.

If something sounds corny, then it sounds silly or childish or very simplistic. Notice the following:

  1. It sounds corny, but I love pop music.
  2. It sounds corny, but I love to take selfies with my dog.

catch myself


I catch myself all the time thinking too much.

If you 'catch yourself' doing something, then you realize it is something you should not be doing, and you stop doing it. Notice the following:

  1. I often catch myself biting my nails.
  2. I caught myself falling asleep, so I got up and made some coffee.

Vocabulary Qui

close • mindfullness • essence
corny • catch
  1. Yoga is, in , a form of medication .
  2. The joke sounds but it is funny.
  3. I often myself getting angry for no reason.
  4. Monks are taught to practice .
  5. Many Spanish words are to Italian words in pronunciation .

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1529 Dealing with Mental Health
Two people discuss mental health issues.
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1528 Meditation
Mark tallks about practicing meditation.
1525 Life in the 80s
1527 Zen Life
Mark talks about the art of being zen.
1525 Life in the 80s
1526 Becoming a Podcaster
Mark talks about being a podcaster.

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Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
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