What Is Zen Meditation?

Zen meditation is one of the most famous types of meditation techniques. Zazen, which literally means seated meditation, is at the centre of the Zen Buddhism practice. This meditative practice aims to achieve enlightenment as was achieved by the Buddha. At the centre of the meditation is the study of oneself. In this process, the individual realises self-discovery. In self-discovery, the individual learns to forget the self and to simply be aware of the here and now. Concentration and focus are achieved with the act of sitting down in silence and letting go of thoughts and images.

Proper Posture and Position

Central to Zazen is posture and position of the individual. The meditation practice is done sitting down. In some cases, this is done with the help of a zafu or a small cushion to raise the hips and let the knees touch the ground. There are several ways of sitting for this type of meditation. The choice will depend on the flexibility and level of experience.

For beginners, the best position would be the half lotus, where the left foot is placed onto the right thigh and the right leg is under the opposite thigh. The full lotus will be more difficult to achieve. This is done by placing each foot on the opposite thigh. The other position options include the Burmese position, which is simply done by crossing the legs with knees resting on the floor. Whatever position is chosen, the important thing to remember is that spine and neck should be straight and the posture strong.

The hands are positioned similar to the half or full lotus position, with the palms facing upwards. First, place the right hand on the right thigh, and then place the left hand on the right hand.

Clearing the Mind

In Zen meditation, the principle is to not think, to clear the mind of intentional thoughts and images formed in the head. During the meditative practice, it is but natural that images and thoughts suddenly form. It is not the goal of the individual to forcefully drive away those thoughts and images. Instead, they should be allowed to pass by naturally. As the breathing becomes more natural, the thoughts and images will dissipate and go away. When ending the meditation, stay calm and stand up slowly. Do not talk for a few moments so as to explore the stillness that was achieved.

For beginners wanting to practice Zazen, it may be best to do it facing a wall to avoid distraction and enhance focus and concentration. Practice Zazen slowly by doing it for 15 minutes during the first week then adding 5 minutes the succeeding week. Ideally, the meditation is done 45 minutes to an hour every day.

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