The Zen Series: Embracing Your Challenges

Parsi Times presents our readers ‘The Zen Series’ by PT Columnist, Kashmira Shaw Raj – a professional Taichi and Qigong practitioner and teacher, as also a sought-after clinical psychologist and healer. These Zen stories will resonate with you and help you connect within, at a deeper, inner level to encourage and empower you to reflect. These make for good reading across people of all ages and speak to the reader at several levels. If you’re looking to bring about a positive change in yourself, ‘The Zen Series’ will inspire, motivate and facilitate you in realizing truths about yourself and life, to ultimately set you on the path of growth, wisdom and happiness.

In this thirteenth part of ‘The Zen Series’, a Zen master’s answer to a monk’s innocent question, reveals great wisdom to be applied in life!

No Cold And Heat

A monk once asked Zen master, Tozan, “How can we escape the cold and the heat?”

Tozan replied, “Why not go where there is no cold and no heat?”

“Is there such a place?” the monk asked.

Tozan responded, “When cold, be thoroughly cold; when hot, be hot through and through.”

 [Courtesy: ‘Zen Koans’ by V’ble Gyomay M. Kubose]

This amazing Zen Koan (or story) throws light on how embracing a challenge in its totality, solves half the issue right there! Challenging situations bring to the surface fears, reservations, resistance, hatred and more. There is a constant tug of war within us – between our emotions, thoughts and ideas.

When you are on the opposite side of the issue, it becomes next to impossible to accept and address it. We don’t have to love it, but acceptance is the first road to any positive solution. It is about acknowledging and changing our mindset – “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” or “I just can’t accept this! It’s too much for me to take!” or “No! This cannot be happening right now!” – are examples of our resistance and refusal to accept what is happening. That is denying the truth itself and no solution can come of such a mindset in denial.

But, what if we changed our approach, in contrast to the above reactions to – “Ok, I accept that there is an issue and let me see how I can work around it,” or “Like it or not, I am beginning to realize that this has happened and I need a way to move forward from here,” or “However shocking and unbelievable, I am ready to address this and do what needs to be done.” The best outlook of all would probably be, “What is the learning in this for me and how can I move forward and grow from this experience.” These statements can totally change your perspective and make you objective about the situation, thereby giving it more positivity, and helping you see that one thing which you missed before.

Even if the situation does not change in the way you were hoping for it to change, your approach, outlook and overall way of looking at it, will, bringing about an overall positive change around you. Learn to accept the hurt, the pain and let it overflow and then, slowly cool down.

You cannot keep on pushing it away like an impending wave. Once the wave laps around you and you just let it do so, you will find some relief and even peace, and the wave will recede. When confronted with life’s tough challenges, learn to embrace them. Feel that inner surrender – not to give up, but to accept and become stronger instead. We often exclaim how hot it is. The more we say it, the more we believe it and feel even more miserable! But if we agree that it is warm, accept it and then think of ways to cool down, the focus shifts from the feeling of heat to being in a place where you will be more comfortable.

Here are a few of life’s lessons learnt, that help us through our toughest challenges:

  1. Accept mistakes and focus on the solution – do damage control.
  2. Wade right in and sort out things. Don’t hide away.
  3. Sometimes situations may worsen before they get better, but that’s the ultimate goal isn’t it? To get better. Getting messier for a while is just a temporary challenge. So, take it on in the knowledge that in some time, it will ease up.
  4. Escaping, running away, brushing it under the carpet – none of this helps. It all keeps piling up. And then it becomes too much to handle. Instead, go it bit by bit.
  5. Mental tenacity and fighting your fears, does it every single time. Nothing else. Be brave.

When we are ready to go with change and flow like water, we can move forward smoothly. Change is inevitable. Rather than holding on to what was and grumbling about your lot, wake up to realize that this is it for now. That was then, but this is now. And you are living in the now, so get going NOW!

The lockdown has taught us some valuable lessons. The real Master is able to synch with any season and be in harmony with the storms outside and within. He saves himself from angst and grief. Addressing the change now, looking at the new normal and moving forward from here on, will set the right tomoe and make life much simpler and better for us.

Maturity isn’t about biological age, it is about how one is able to address situations – both good and not so good, harmonize with it and make it a part of one’s life. We can grow up or just grow… it’s up to us!

Kashmira Shaw Raj is a professional Taichi and Qigong practitioner and teacher. Also, a successful clinical psychologist, psychic and healer, Kashmira runs ‘The Tai-Qi Touch’ with her husband, Dr. Brijesh Raj, a healer and a Vet. Taichi practitioners for over fourteen years now, they are instructors in Sifu Carlton Hill’s Tao Taichi Qi Gong organization, and Shibashi Instructors under Sifu Wing Cheung from the Feng Shui and Taichi Institute, Hongkong & Canada. 

The Tai-Qi Touch offers classes for adults and children at ‘Infinite Studio’ (Opp. Starbucks Café, Chowpatty, Mumbai). To contact Kashmira, M: 9323874418 or Email:

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