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Who is the Buddhist nun with millions of fans who teaches on Instagram


From journalist to reference of Zen Buddhism. How your life changed and what are your tips for coping with insomnia and anxiety.

Sabrina Diaz Virzi

04/08/2021 6:00 AM

  • Clarí

  • Families

Updated 04/08/2021 6:00 AM



is the main portal to the treasure house, it is the entrance to the knowledge of oneself and everything," says São Paulo

Monja Coen

(73), one of the best known representatives of

Japanese Zen Buddhism




After multiple influences (from

The Beatles

to alternative communities), he transformed his life and in 1983 took the monastic vows in Los Angeles.

A journalist

by profession and connected to technology (her




2.5 million

followers) and virtual classes, she has a radio program, “Zen Moment”;

from there some of the teachings he shares on air were extracted and compiled in his latest book, "

Zen for distracted

" (Planet), the first translated into Spanish.

But ... What is Zen?

“We practice zazen, literally 'sitting in zen': the self that observes the self, which is perceived as interconnected with everything that exists.

Thus emerges a true understanding of oneself and of reality ”,

Monja Coen




Nun Coen (73), one of the best known representatives of Japanese Zen Buddhism in Brazil.

Photo: Andree Spinola e Castro.

What are the main tools of

Zen Buddhism


“The physical posture when sitting, the

conscious breathing

, the intention without intention, the pure presence, the confidence and the guidance of someone who has enough experience to help us in this search, in this encounter with reality as it is.

And this means being aware of the incessant movement and transformation, as well as the interconnectedness of everything that exists ”.

The awakening

While the daily

Jornal da Tarde

(evening of the State of Sao Paulo) was the scene of his work, “in 1968 in Brazil there was a military government: deaths, abuses, torture, disappearances.

I thought that there should be

non-violent alternatives to transform reality

, in order to minimize social differences, inequalities ”, he recalls.

At that time, after making a note on alternative societies in California, he met

Zen groups

that did not use pesticides in the cultivation of the land, they recycled and "had a simple life full of wisdom."

In turn, he was struck by the Vietnamese monks who committed bonzo suicide in public places in silent


("I was not impressed by death, but the capacity for self-control"), and he was struck by the fact that great musicians - such as band members Like The Beatles, Yes, Pink Floyd- they will practice meditation.


with a daughter who was the

fruit of a marriage in her early youth, several episodes and situations led her to seek an alternative to change herself and society: she found that path in

Zen Buddhism


"Zen for distracted", the first book by Monja Coen translated into Spanish.

- Why is it so difficult to combine “daily life” (work / study, home / family) with spirituality?

Is it possible to achieve a harmonious balance?

- Harmonic balance exists in daily life.

We only need to realize that


is in the way we live, think and speak.

This is why our founder in Japan in the thirteenth century, Master Eihei Dogen Daiosho Zenji, said that

“practice is realization”

: we are what we practice.

It is enough to create a habit of silencing and observing in depth yourself and reality.

So, it is more than observing, it is becoming the action with which we engage.

Any action is the spiritual portal if we understand and appreciate it.

- What can you tell us about acceptance, a necessary skill in these times, when reality is overwhelming?

- Acceptance of reality

does not mean pacifism or conformity


First, we have to accept reality, understand the causes and conditions for its manifestation.

Next, we must consider the

possibilities of transformation

and cure.

Like a good doctor, who listens to the patient, who examines and accepts that it is a disease, physical or mental.

So after recognizing it, you can try to find the way of cure.

The opposite of acceptance is


: it is an escape and blocks the possibilities for transformation and healing.

I am what I am now.

But it is not final, since everything is changing and we can decide what will be the direction of this change.

Nun coen

- Depression and loneliness are said to be the "pandemic of the pandemic."

How to react and get out of the well when the current invitation is to "stay in" and not leave the house?



was “on top” before the pandemic.

Now we have statistics of more nervous, anxious, desperate people.

Everything is uncomfortable, because we do not know how to be with ourselves.

We want entertainment, and when we have a lot of entertainment, we get bored.

Some of us find

pleasure in stillness

, in literature, in writing, meditating, reflecting, philosophizing, praying.

Others need physical, face-to-face contact.

We are not the same, we are a great diversity of human beings.

We are alike, but not the same.

We can look at the sky, look at the earth and everything there is, with the dazzled vision of the boys;

rediscover the wonder of existence


We can hear the birds and the cars, the motorcycles in the street and we will be happy for the simple fact of being able to clearly hear what it is.

It is not necessary to fight with who is close to us, nor to stay in a relationship all the time.

We all need moments of solitude, of stillness, of pure presence.

We must develop the capacity to go through this pandemic with dignity, respect, solidarity, tenderness and a lot of wisdom.

Wisdom is also practiced

: it is training, intellectual and ethical formation.

- You said we are all anxious (including yourself?).

How to handle that anxiety in these modern times and, even more so, in times when we are constantly “alert” to danger?

- Anxiety is

not being present

in what is happening now;

it is the affliction of wanting to get to the future, to an expectation that later will be better than now.

But it is a fallacy: if we do not appreciate the now, we never appreciate any moment of life.

Others are left wishing for the past, that "before was better", and are unable to appreciate the present.

It is necessary to appreciate the now.

Zen is a practice that brings us back to the now.

Here and now

is the place and the sacred time of our life.

It is enough to breathe consciously, feel the body and remember that we are now alive, that we can breathe without devices, that life beats in us and that every moment is sacred and precious.

- Insomnia is another of the marks of these times.

Could you share some advice on how to sleep better?

- Due to insomnia we can sit in Zen: breathe consciously, calm the body and mind, imagine scenarios and scenes, as in a dream.

In the event that the person sleeps next to someone, he can

imitate the breathing

of the one who is asleep, and then he will fall asleep.

Why are you worrying about insomnia?

Perhaps it is a

night owl


: use the time for a reading, a moment of reflection, relaxation, yoga… There are so many things we can do if we cannot sleep.

What is it that disturbs you?

What do we need to solve?

Write on a sheet of paper so you don't forget what you need to do in the morning and that's it: your mind can rest, since you won't have to worry about forgetting something.

If the body is not tired, sleeping is not easy.

Try to

get tired

during the day, exercise, move.

The sleeping sheet should be clean, and never use your bed for work or eating.


sacred place

to rest, needs to be preserved so that it can be given in confidence.

Turn off

TV, cell phones, computers about two hours before going to sleep.

The screens have the same influence of the morning light: they make us wake up.

Create causes and conditions to accept what is and change in a safe, lucid way.

Let's remember:

nothing is fixed or permanent, not even insomnia


But don't sleep during the day, get up early, do lots of things, feel free from burdens and guilt, and have a good night's sleep.

Appreciate your life.

Breathe, walk, talk, think lightly and wisely.

Develop compassion.

Gassho (hands in prayer).

Look also

Types of Buddhas: what is the meaning of each one and how to activate them in your home

Buddhas of happiness to change the energy of your home

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2021-04-08

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