What is Zen Meditation?

zen meditation

Zen meditation is also known as zazen (za means sitting; zen means meditation) in Japanese and it is at the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. By sitting in a way that will enable one to concentrate on meditating for some time, Zen Buddhists have been known to experience calm in body and mind and gain enlightenment into our very existence and the nature of the universe. We tend to see the body, breath, and mind separately, but in zazen they come together as a whole.

Zen meditation allows the mind to relax and experience peace. The first thing to pay attention to is the position of the body in zazen. The correct seated position allows the body’s muscles to be correctly aligned so that unnecessary stress can be prevented. In order to get the most from your time in meditation it is best that you practice Zen on a daily basis and at a time that best suits you either in the morning or at night. As you read on, you will discover where Zen meditation came from and the proper seated position for zazen.

Where did Zen Meditation Come From?

The practice of Zen meditation has been around for thousands of years and it is believed to have started in India and Japan. Relatively recently it has made its way to the West where it has gained more popularity and acceptance. Many people in the West have traveled to Asia to learn the art of meditation after which they return and introduce the art to others. Now that you know a little about the origins of Zen meditation, let’s see the proper seated position for Zazen.

What is the Proper Seated Position for Zazen?

There are many proper seated positions while practising Zen meditation.  You need to know about the different positions and select one that you will be comfortable with.

The different proper seated positions for Zazen are briefly described below;

1.      Burmese position: This is the first and simplest position. You cross the legs and rest both feet on the floor while in this position.

2.      Half lotus position: This is a position where you place your left foot onto your right thigh and your right leg is placed under your left thigh. Most beginners are encouraged to become used to this position before practicing the full lotus.

3.      Full lotus position: This is a position where your two knees will touch the ground. In order for this to happen, you have to place each foot on top of the opposite thigh. This can strain the ankles and lower back for people who are not used to it. For the more experienced, you will find that it helps you to maintain balance for a long time during meditation. You need practice and patience to be able to master sitting in this position.

4.      Seiza position: Sitting in a traditional seiza position can be very uncomfortable because it requires bending the knees and sitting on your heals. The best way to avoid this discomfort is to rest your buttocks on a pillow or seiza bench (a little bench that is specially designed for meditating in that position).

5.      Chair sitting: When it comes to chair sitting during meditation, you need to find a chair that will allow you to have a straight-up posture. Your seat can have a back rest which may or may not be cushion supported.  When sitting for meditation you should not allow your thighs to rest on the seat, you should only allow your buttocks. Your two hands should rest on your two thighs in such a way that your wrists are on top of your thighs. Sitting this way will allow your chi energy to flow freely and you can meditate for as long as you want.

Zen meditation is a very useful and popular form of meditation that helps the body and mind when practiced regularly. You have learned where Zen meditation originated and the proper seated positions while meditating.

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