How To Easily Meditate Zen: Instructions For Beginners

How To Easily Meditate Zen: Instructions For Beginners

‘You should meditate for 20 minutes each day unless you are really busy; then you must sit at least for an hour’ – Ancient Zen proverb

Zen or ZaZen meditation gives you an opportunity to de-clutter you life and open up your mind.

If you are willing to increase your awareness and perception with meditation, then let us guide you on how to meditate Zen.

 

What is Zen meditation?

Zen or ZaZen lies at the very center of the Zen Buddhist practice.

Originally termed as Dhyana in India, Zen reflection is a simple yet effective form of meditation.

The word ‘Zen’ can roughly be translated as ‘meditative state’ or absorption.

It emphasizes on rigorous self-control and deep meditation, especially for the benefit of those around you.

 

What is the experience like?

Explaining the effect of Zen meditation is similar to describing the flavor of sweet nectar, to a person who has not tasted it earlier.

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It is a way of self-discovery and awareness. You will feel it as a form of spiritual awakening from which all other life functions emanate.

It is a way of living in the moment and experiencing now.

 

What are the advantages of Zen meditation?

  • ZaZen meditation brings about an excellent clarity of the mind. It filters all intrusive thoughts allowing you to make wise decisions.
  • It significantly alleviates anxiety and stress.
  • Zen Meditation has been clinically known to reduce chronic depression.
  • It helps in deep and restful sleep.
  • It is an excellent way to strengthen relationships.
  • Zen meditation improves self-confidence and trust.
  • It helps you in reducing blood pressure and control.
  • It strengthens your faith. In the world, and in yourself.

 

How to practice Zen meditation (techniques)

You can practice Zen meditation on your own or as part of a larger group.

Remember, the aim of meditation is to still the mind.

It is one of the simplest forms of meditation and can be practiced by anyone who has the will.

 

Things you will need

  1. Soft Mattress (also called zabuton)
  2. Small pillow or round cushion (also known as Zafu)
  3. Comfortable clothing
  4. Bottle of water

Following are the different steps to practice the various forms of mediation:

 

Step 1: Pick a suitable place and time

Zen meditation is that it can be practiced during any hour of the day. Select a time that suits you best.

Although, you should preferably practice it in the early morning when you are free from all forms of stress.

Just ensure that you are not too tired to meditate as it requires focus and concentration.

Selecting the place

Find a quiet and tranquil place to sit. It greatly helps if space is uncluttered and free of any distractions.

Working to create an outwardly calm and space reflects our concern towards our meditative practice and also supports the inner aspects of our zaZen.

The space in which you practice should not be too bright, nor too dark. It should not be too hot nor too cold.

Make sure that the setting is such that you are not disturbed. Turn off your cell phone before starting.

 

Step 2: Try some stretching exercises to get comfortable

Sitting for a while depends on the flexibility of the body. Stretching before sitting will help alleviate discomfort and tightness.

It will help your body adjust to sitting for a long time.

 

Step 3: Get into a comfortable position

There are many different postures that you can try out in ZaZen meditation.

The word zaZen means ‘seated position.’ So, how you sit is most important. Following are some of the most common postures in Zen meditation:

  1. The Half Lotus Pose (Hankafuza in Japanese)

Start by sitting on a small round pillow. Then tuck your left foot under your right thigh and place the right foot under your left thigh.

The Half Lotus Pose

source: theyogatradition.blogspot.com

  1. The Full Lotus Pose (Kekkafuza in Japanese)

It is the most stable pose for Zen meditation. Place each foot on the opposite thigh such that the line of the toes is aligned with the outer edge of the thighs.

It may be painful at first but do not give up.

After some practice and the leg muscles will loosen up. It is tough, and if it is still painful after a week of training, you will get accustomed to it.

Stop and take rest if pain persists.

The Full Lotus Pose

  1. The Burmese Pose

It is a simple pose in which you sit cross-legged with both knees resting flat on the floor. One ankle should be placed in front of the other, not over it.

  1. The Kneeling Pose (Seiza in Japanese)

Kneel down with your hips placed gently on your ankles.

  1. The Standing Pose

This position is practiced by those who find it difficult to sit for long hours.

You have to stand straight with your feet a shoulder-width apart. Your heels should be at a lesser distance apart compared to your toes. Let your knees be slack.

The Half lotus and full lotus pose are the most common in Zen yoga. These postures may initially seem unnatural and uncomfortable to most beginners.

But with time, your hips and legs will gain flexibility and these postures will become comfortable to you.

If all else fails, then you can also meditate by sitting on a chair with a back support.

 

Step 4: Ensure that the neck and back are straight

No matter what position you adopt, your neck and back need to be as straight as possible.

You should pull your chin inwards to make the neck erect. Try pushing the top of your head upwards to bring balance in your posture.

Keep your mouth closed during Zen meditation; bring your teeth together, and place your tongue against the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth.

 

Step 5: Place your hands in cosmic mudra

The cosmic mudra hand position (Hokkaijoin in Japanese) is adopted for all the sitting positions in Zen meditation.

Start by placing your left hand on the right one, with your palms turned upwards.

Now, form an oval by pressing the tips of the thumbs together. The tip of your thumbs should touch each other lightly and be aligned in a straight line.

Both the wrists should rest on your thighs; with the edge of your palm resting against your stomach. Your shoulders should be relaxed during this exercise.

Cosmic Mundra

source: coventryzen.org.uk

Step 6: Keep your eyes open during meditation

Traditionally in Zen, the eyes are kept open during meditation. It prevents the meditator from getting drowsy or entering into a state of daydream.

Direct your eyesight about 1 meter in front of you on the floor ahead. Focus on nothing in particular.

Lower your gaze to a 45-degree angle for comfort.

When practicing zaZen in a group, the meditator usually looks at a wall to avoid all distraction. You might try doing the same.

 

Step 7: Focus on your breathing

Concentrate on your breath.

As you inhale, count one.

Then focus as you exhale and count two.

Inhale once more, counting three, exhale once more, counting four.

Your aim is to count to ten without any thoughts crossing your mind. If thoughts distract you, start over from one.

Breathe through your nostrils in an unforced and natural rhythm.

 

Step 8: Let your thoughts flow freely

Abstain from trying to prevent your mind—gradually they will stop by themselves.

When a thought pops into your mind, let it come in and let it leave your thoughts freely.

Slowly, your mind will start calming down on its own, and your mind will follow your breathing.

 

Step 9: View your thoughts as your friends and not as intruders

When thoughts do arise, recognize them but do not pursue them. It gives you an insight into your mind.

Continue this till your mind is devoid of all thoughts and you are just breathing.

After some practice, your mind will start clearing on its own.

 

Step 10: Explore the stillness you have created within yourself

ZaZen is more than just quiet sitting.

It can lead to a whole new awareness and increased perception within you.

The final step is attained by exploring and the stillness that you discover.

 

Step 11: Finish with a prayer (gassho in Japanese)

Complete Zen meditation by placing your palms together in prayer and bend forwards as a sign of respect towards Dharma.

As a beginner, it is advised that you should practice for 15 to 30 minutes. Gradually, increase this time as you gain practice.

 

5 Things that will help you in ZaZen meditation

  1. Turn your focus away from the outside world and concentrate on your inner self.
  2. Be patient.
  3. Avoid slipping into a sleepy or dull state.
  4. Embrace a positive attitude. Avoid all negativity.
  5. Focus on your breathing.

You can also listen to Zen music if it helps you concentrate.

Zen meditation is not a religious practice. It does not require you to believe in anything.

The benefits of Zen meditation are actually amazing. It allows you to become more peaceful and focused. ZaZen helps you relax, unwind and de-stress.

It will help you be awake and let go at the same time!

We hope that this article on how to practice Zen meditation has been helpful to you.

 

What Is The Correct Position To Sit For Meditation?
How To Meditate Deeply: Achieve The Depth With Simple Steps
 

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