Can You do Zen Meditation in a Chair: How Zazen Works

Can You do Zen Meditation in a Chair: How Zazen Works

Can you do Zen meditation in a chair? When you think about it, this should not even be a question, right? However, the thing is, when it comes to Zen meditation, there are certain things that you should follow.

Not that some requirements are actually needed, but a lot of people who were successful in doing Zen meditation suggest that you should have specific things to be able to immerse yourself in the activity properly.

Another thing to note is that Zen meditation is also connected to Zen Buddhism, so following the steps that are unique to tradition is not just about doing things correctly, but also a sign of respect. Further, a lot of people who do Zen meditation really do not get out of the norms because the traditional way of doing it works really great. But again, we are just talking about a chair here.

We do not aim to change the way you meditate; instead, it is just a question of where you should sit. A quick Google search will show you that people who do hardcore Zen meditation are against this practice, but does it really affect your way of meditating?

Why does it matter if you sit on the floor or a chair? Join us as we discuss this somewhat highly debated issue and find out if you can do Zen meditation in a chair.

What is Zen Meditation?

For us to fully understand the issue of using a chair or not, we should first know what the core of Zen meditation is. The practice of Zen meditation is also called Zazen. This Japanese word, when translated, means sitting and meditation. With this, we can conclude that the sitting part is as significant as the postures for meditation.

The goal of Zazen is for you to discover yourself. By doing so, you will eventually have a spiritual awakening for you to merge with the universe. It is not a belief or a religion; rather, it is an experience. Thus, the actual meditation and doing it correctly is important because these are what will get you to that “zen.”

When you practice Zazen perfectly, it becomes part of your daily flow. It will be with you when you are eating, working, sleeping, talking, etc. This idea is actually very simple. In fact, it is so simple that it is difficult to grasp, but the hope is that you will get to understand what Zen is all about when you concentrate on your breathing, posture, and what not to think about.

Can You do Zen Meditation in a Chair?

It is still unsure if you can or cannot do Zen meditation in a chair. So, we are going to provide you with explanations for each answer.

  • No

Zen meditation on a chair is not the way to go because Zazen relies heavily on proper posture, positions, and breathing. For you to properly execute this, you need to be sitting on the floor with a meditation cushion. At the same time, some positions need you to touch the floor. So, how else will you do these positions if you are in a chair?

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Another thing to note is the fact that you also need to consider the existence of the chair in your meditation. Usually, the first step of Zazen is to be aware of your surroundings.

If you are on a chair, you should also think about its weight, its feel, its design, etc. This adds more thought to your meditation that only people who have been doing Zazen for a long time can do properly. In a nutshell, being on a chair can also distract you.

  • Yes

Zen Buddhists are also uncertain on this, but a closer look at the whole idea of Zazen supports this answer. Just like what we discussed before, the end goal of Zazen is for you to fully immerse yourself in the universe; for the things around you and yourself to become one. Then, if using a chair will help you get to that point, why not use it?

Also, Zazen is not a discipline that should be hindered by rules. The fact that you may be restricted to certain floor positions can be considered as a deterrent to reaching zen. The important thing is the fact that you are sitting while meditating. It does not matter how you got to your sense of self, rather the thing that you should note is that you were able to meditate.

Lastly, being in tune with zen is if you are incorporating it into your daily life. In today’s time, you really do not have to carry a cushion with you everywhere. If you are at work and feel the need to meditate, you can simply start doing so in the comfort of your office chair. This action alone is the embodiment of Zazen.

How to do Zazen on a Chair?

Here are the correct steps for doing Zazen.

  1. Choose a chair with a cushion. Never use revolving chairs and those with armrests.
  2. Make your environment comfortable and remember that the goal is not to stimulate your five senses. Hence, it is best to face the wall.
  3. Relax your body and plant your feet flat on the ground. You must also maintain proper posture and stabilize your lower body.
  4. Sit in the front half of the chair and do not lean back.
  5. Once seated, take deep breaths as you think about your vertebrae stacking from the bottom up and let your thoughts reach up until your neck. Once it does, pull in your chin to be in the proper relaxed position.
  6. Put your left hand on top of the right hand with the tips of your thumbs together and place them on your lap.
  7. Breathe out a few times and slowly sway side to side while maintaining a straight posture. Imagine you are following a horizontal line.
  8. While swaying, keep your eyes open and just look at the wall in front of you.
  9. Keep on swaying slowly while taking deep breaths until you reach a relaxed state; from here, you can do meditation.
  10. After meditating, do not stand abruptly. Go back to swaying to get back to the feeling of you being on a chair and stay still for a while before leaving the Zazen posture.


The answer to “Can you do Zen meditation in a chair?” is not really an exact one. The thing to note is the goal behind it. Doing it the traditional way may make you reach the zen state easier, but it does not mean that you cannot do it in your own way. Just as long as you are meditating properly, it does not really matter where you are meditating.

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