|Whether newly single, or accustomed to the solitary lifestyle, spiritual exploration and practice can be extremely beneficial and rewarding. Although it may appear daunting to many due to its non-Western orientation, "Zen" is extremely approachable to anyone interested in learning more, and is especially appropriate as a solo activity.|
Often referred to interchangeably in the West as "Zen," "Buddhism," "Meditation" or "Mindfulness" among other names, the concept of focusing on your own mind and thoughts, and how you approach other "sentient beings" as well as the world at large is something anyone can do with little or no formal training.
Also, while it is the foundation for many Eastern religions, basic meditation practice can be done in complete harmony with whatever formal religious background you currently have.
The word "Zen" is a Japanese translation of the Sanskrit word for meditation, and while there are many Zen sects, they all trace their roots back to the Buddha, an Indian prince born somewhere around 500 BC. There are many, many resources that describe the life of the Buddha so we won't go into great detail here, but in grossly over-simplified terms, the Buddha was an ordinary man who found "enlightenment" or bliss through solo meditation, forming and proving the concept that everything we need is already within us. In general, all Buddhists meditate, but it does not necessarily follow that all who meditate are Buddhists, so it is fine to begin to explore the benefits of meditation without getting stuck on labels or names.
There are many medical studies which have shown the benefits of meditation, which include better health, better sleep lower blood pressure, less stress and better concentration among others. While these benefits are wonderful, for the single, the emphasis on self-awareness and self-acceptance are probably the most beneficial attributes of learning to meditate. Developing a Zen practice does NOT require sitting in the lotus position silently for a week, it does NOT mean you must become a Vegan, and it does NOT mean you have to give up all worldly possessions, pleasures and desires. What most Zen practice DOES do is to help you become aware that you as an individual have valid feelings, no matter what they are, and that you have a right to be happy. Often by "letting go" the meditator can find some inner peace.
Most meditation focuses on an attempt to become "mindful" and to quiet your internal thoughts so that you can just be in the present moment. Various forms of meditation often include a central mechanism to help with that, which might included a mantra, chanting or focus on the breath. There are also many types of postures including sitting on the floor, sitting on specialized mats, sitting in a chair or even "walking meditation," so there is surely a style that will feel right for you.
Focus on Self
Since there are dozens if not hundreds of different forms of Zen practice, with none being right or wrong, and with no needs or requirements for entry other than a desire to try, there is a Zen practice for everyone. Some people go on long and intense "retreats" while others meditate for a minute or two during the day, with the benefits being largely what you take away from your particular practice.
Just as there are many, many physical forms and styles of meditation, so too there are many different schools of philosophy and focus regarding the mental aspects of Zen. However, some common themes include an unconditional acceptance of yourself and your feelings, openness to all people and a desire to see less suffering in the world. These basic precepts are particularly applicable to the single. If you check some local listings, it is likely you will find some sort of group "sitting" in your area. These sittings, or Sanghas, are generally open and welcoming, and may be a great way to start learning more. There are also many good books and a tremendous amount of on-line resources.
So go ahead, find an "Intro to Meditation" book and a relatively quiet place, and give it a try. As the Zen saying goes, there is no time like the present.