The word “Zen” is used in popular culture in many ways, but its real meaning is often obscured under layers of confusion. Zen is a lineage, or school, of Mahayana Buddhism. The religion is most prevalent in Japan, but Zen practitioners can be found in other countries around Southeast Asia.
The “Protestantism” of Buddhism
Zen developed as a reaction to more hierarchical, ritualistic forms of Buddhism that were developing in other parts of Asia. Zen practitioners called for a return to Buddhism’s most basic principles, leaving behind some of the ostentation that was forming within other Buddhist schools. Like early Protestant Christians, Zen practitioners wanted a return to the basics of their faith.
The Zen Style
As a result of this call for simplicity, the exterior style of Zen looks and feels very different from other types of Buddhism, such as what is commonly called Tibetan Buddhism. Zen monks and nuns favor simple, neutral-colored robes over the brighter maroons and saffrons in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Their temples, too, have a clean, open, simple look and feel that contrasts sharply from the intricate ornamentation of a Tibetan Buddhist temple.
Zen Ideas for the Home and Bathroom
If you like the look and feel of the open spaces, clean lines, and soft earth tones of the Zen style, consider simplifying your own home into a Zen-like sanctuary. Here are some tips for your making your home more Zen-like:
- Get away from bright, loud colors and go with tans, chocolates, blacks, and creams instead
- Use light-colored woods, especially bamboo
- Decorate the walls sparely, with prints that convey a spiritual meaning
- Reduce heavy drapes and fill the house with natural light
For your bathroom, try these tips:
- Use bamboo towels for eco-friendliness and comfort
- Bamboo bath rugs and bamboo bath mats are also available
- Trade in the hot pink bathrobe for a tan or cream-colored bathrobe
- Keep decoration minimal, and use a shade-loving house plant to add a splash of color
Ultimately, Zen is a spiritual tradition and a way of life, not a decorating style. However, you can encourage your inner peace by letting your inner sanctum copy Zen’s design principles.