Zen meditation, also known as Zazen, is a profound practice rooted in the rich soil of Buddhist psychology.
The practice aims at regulating attention and nurturing a state of reflexive awareness.
The result? A sharpened focus, enhanced consciousness, and a deep sense of inner tranquillity.
So let’s start.
The Zen Way: An Overview
Zen meditation is an “open-monitoring meditation,” wherein practitioners utilize their monitoring skills to cultivate a state of reflexive awareness.
The scope of attention is broad, not limited to any specific object.
Zen meditation is akin to mindfulness, as it promotes focus on the presence of the mind.
However, while mindfulness zeros in on a specific object, Zen meditation embraces a general awareness.
The Zen Experience
Contrary to other forms of meditation, zen meditation encourages practitioners to keep their eyes semi-open.
This practice is a departure from other meditation techniques that advise closing the eyes.
During Zen meditation, practitioners dismiss any thoughts that pop into their minds, essentially cultivating a space for “thinking about not thinking.”
Over time, Zen meditators learn how to prevent their minds from wandering, and some may even tap into their unconscious minds.
The goal is to become more aware of preconceived notions and gain deeper insight into oneself.
The Zen Meditation Journey: Step by Step
1. Creating the Right Environment
Zen meditation begins by establishing a serene space.
Find a room that is quiet, peaceful, and free from distractions, you will need to sit on the floor for a period of time, so use a yoga mat if this makes you more comfortable.
The room shouldn’t be too dark or too bright, too warm or too cold.
2. Achieving the Perfect Posture
The right posture is essential for an effective zen meditation session.
Whether you choose the full lotus, half lotus, or seiza position, ensure your back and head are erect.
The key is to keep your body upright and well balanced.
3. Zen Breathing
Breathe through your nose in a natural, unforced rhythm.
Zen breathing is quiet and focused.
You should concentrate on the inhale and count one, then focus on the exhale and count two.
The goal is to reach a count of ten without any thoughts crossing your mind.
4. The Cosmic Mudra
In zen meditation, the position of the hands is called the Cosmic Mudra.
The left hand rests on the right one, palms turned towards the sky, forming an oval by touching the tips of the thumbs together.
Both wrists should rest on the thighs, with the edge of the hands against the belly.
5. The Role of the Eyes
Traditionally in Zen, the eyes are kept open during meditation to prevent falling into a state of drowsiness.
Without focusing on anything in particular, direct your vision about one meter in front of you on the floor.
Your eyes will naturally come to rest in a position that is half opened and half closed.
6. The State of Mind
Refrain from trying to stop your thinking–let it stop by itself.
When a thought comes into your mind, let it come in and let it go out. Just let them go without judgement, like clouds in the sky.
7. Starting the Zen Meditation
Once you have established the right posture and mindset, you are ready to start zen meditation.
As a beginner, it is advised to practice for 15 to 30 minutes.
8. Finishing Zen Meditation
After completing Zen meditation, stay sitting calmly and quietly for a few moments.
Try not to talk for a few minutes after completing zen meditation.
The Transformative Benefits of Zen Meditation
Zen meditation offers a plethora of physical, cognitive, social, spiritual, and emotional health benefits.
Not only does it serve as a potent stress reliever, zen meditation also has the potential to transform the brain, foster creativity.
1. Impact on the Brain
Zen meditation has been shown to enhance focus, and attention, and limit distractions.
Regular practice can lead to activity in the “default network” of the brain, linked to wandering minds.
This can drastically enhance one’s capacity to stay focused in today’s digital world.
2. Access to the Unconscious
Zen meditation might allow practitioners to better access their unconscious minds.
This can foster greater creativity and help people become more aware of what they need to do to reach their goals.
Discovering Zen Meditation
You can learn more about zen meditation through audio programs, online videos, online learning programs, and books.
You might also consider attending a zen meditation class or a meditation retreat.
Is Zen Meditation For You?
When it comes to meditation, the key is to find the type that best suits you.
Zen meditation may not always be a favourite for everyone. In fact, it’s often near the bottom of the list.
But if you try zen meditation and find it right for you, it could open a door to a whole new world of peace and self-awareness.
The primary purpose of zen meditation is to regulate attention and nurture a state of reflexive awareness.
The practice aims at cultivating mindfulness, concentration, and awareness of the present moment.
Zen meditation involves focusing on the breath and observing the mind without judgment.
Practitioners sit in a specific posture and use their breath as an anchor to bring their attention back to the present moment whenever their mind starts to wander.
Zen meditation offers a plethora of benefits. It reduces stress, enhances focus and attention, and fosters creativity.
Regular practice can also transform the brain and even aid in drug abuse treatments.
As a beginner, it is suggested to practice zen meditation for 15 to 30 minutes.
However, as you grow comfortable with the practice, you can gradually increase the duration.
Yes, you can practice zen meditation at home. All you need is a quiet and peaceful space where you will not be disturbed.
You can create an uncluttered space, free of as many distractions as possible.
Zen meditation is a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness.
It’s not just about sitting in silence but involves a profound exploration of the self.
By practising zen meditation, you can cultivate a sense of inner peace and develop a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.
So, are you ready to embark on this enlightening journey?