What is “Zen?” When I think of the word “Zen” a few things come to mind: peace, harmony, and balance. To me, “Zen” is about being present in the moment and being mindful of your actions. Personally, the closest definition of the word is simply a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort. For some the act of meditation will quiet the mind. For me, there are only two things that shut off the internal chatter and constant stream of thoughts, the monkey mind, if you will.  I find Zen in the art of Jiu Jitsu and surfing.


Both of these activities require complete focus and present an opportunity to clear my mind of all other thoughts. When I am training Jiu Jitsu, I have to be completely present in order to anticipate my opponent’s moves. If I allow my mind to wander, even for a moment, I will be swiftly taken down or submitted.


Surfing is similarly demanding; It’s a challenging sport that requires strength, coordination, focus and practice. Lots and lots of practice. I have to stay focused as I paddle for a wave and pop up, which is the motion of bringing your body from the laying down, paddling position to your standing stance when riding a wave. The pop up is a quick and dynamic move that requires timing and precision. I also need to be aware of other surfers around me, both in the water and on the waves. And, of course, there are the waves themselves, which can vary in size and power. It requires your mind to be only in the moment.

In both sports, the monkey mind is silenced by the need for complete focus. As a result, Jiu Jitsu and surfing provide me with a form of Zen that allows me to find peace amidst the chaos of daily life. I am not thinking about what I need to do later today or worrying about a problem from the past. Just completely in the moment, and it is this total immersion that allows me to find peace and stillness.

Jaxon Surfing

I live close to the ocean and I also own and run a Jiu Jitsu Academy, Main Line United BJJ. This allows me ample opportunities to find my Zen. At first, I could only achieve the desired state of mind competing or training myself. But lately, I’m finding a similar calm, teaching and coaching our students. In a way, it’s even more gratifying than achieving personal successes. Seeing the students grow in confidence and skill, learning to trust their training and themselves is very fulfilling. And when they can step onto the mat with that inner calm and power themselves, it’s a great feeling knowing that I had a small part in their preparation. So, while Jiu Jitsu is my personal getaway and sanctuary, coaching has become another way for me to find my Zen.

So, what’s your Zen? I can’t implore you enough to find it, whatever it is. For some it may be working on their Jeep. For others it could be gardening, fishing, camping, working out or simply sitting still. Find it. Taking time to relax and reset your brain can improve your quality of life drastically. You don’t have to dive into some hippie-dippie crap, start drinking wheat grass and wearing tie-dye. Just find the thing that brings you peace and sets your soul on fire. Do more of the things that bring you joy. Then lather, rinse, repeat.

“Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.” -Dan Millman

Jaxon is the afternoon host on WMMR Philadelphia.  Hear his show weekdays 3-7 pm. You can also follow him on social media.  Instagram  Twitter  Facebook



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