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Zazen meditation is the primary practice of the Zen Buddhism tradition. This method of mindfulness stress reduction is highly effective, even for beginners. Let’s learn about the nature of existence and uncover the secrets of Zazen meditation.
What is Zazen Meditation?
Firstly, we live in a stressful world. Economy, religion, health, politics, and more are causing taxing rifts all over the world. Meanwhile, high-tech mindfulness solutions like apps and software from i-Doser.com have become the standard go-to for mindfulness. However, some methods require no technology at all. For example, traditions like Zen Buddhism have been using these methods for hundreds of years. Let’s take a low-tech approach to mindfulness and meditation and explore the nature of exitance. Above all, Zazen meditation isn’t complicated, and you might be doing the practice without knowing. Most importantly, Zazen is merely posturing, introspection, concentration, and meditation. So, how can you engage in the Art of Zazen? Easy! Though mindfulness stress reduction. With the power of engagement and some insight from this blog, you will soon be refining your meditation practice – with excellent results.
Defining Mindfulness Stress Reduction
There are many useful methods for mindfulness stress reduction. For example, Binaural Brain Apps, Mind Audio Platforms, Pro Video Tutorials, Amazing MP3 Meditation Collections, and much more are the foundation of mindfulness. Even more, while Zazen meditation is more focused on Zen Buddhism and the nature of existence, you have many options. Since our focus today is Zazen, we would recommend you research three key areas. Firstly, work on your personal meditation space. You need a quiet and comfortable place to meditate. Secondly, you need to define your posture. Work on finding a comfortable one. Maybe walking meditation is more for you, and sitting is less effective. Some even using swimming or floating. Moreover, work on breath and attention. Breathing and focus are critical aspects of Zazen. How well are you doing these during your meditations?
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Zazen Meditation Music
Zen Meditation Instruction from Yokoji Zen Mountain Center (a Zen Buddhist Training Center located in the Southern California mountains. Place a thick square mat (zabuton) in front of the wall and put a zafu on it. Sit down, placing the base of your spine at the center of the zafu so that half of the zafu is behind you. After crossing your legs, rest your knees firmly on the zabuton. Crossing your legs (1): full-lotus position (kekkahuza).
How Does Zazen Relate to Zen Buddhism
Zazen meditation is rooted in Zen Buddhism. In addition, mindfulness stress reduction should be personally defined. For instance, some of us have spent a lifetime researching our personal best methods of mindfulness. Zen simply means “meditation,” as the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “Ch’an.” Even easier to understand, Zen Buddhism is an obdurate meditation. That is to say, it does not rely on scripture or ceremonial procedures. Zen Buddhism is a personally-defined skill and is usually passed from teacher to student through training. However, we can still find value in this (without having a Zen Master teach us). Ready for the significant connection here? Most importantly, Zazen literally means “sitting Zen.” In the simplest forms, Zazen and Zen meditation is simply a seated form of intense mindfulness where we contemplate the nature of existence. But, why muse our existence?
Pondering the Nature of Existence
Learning Zazen meditation through Zen Buddhism may take a lifetime for some. Even if you take Zen and Zazen’s basics, you can better improve your mindfulness stress reduction. As we know, there is nothing inherently complicated about this practice. Above all, we can reduce it down to location, posture, and contemplation. So, what do we actually “think” about during a Zen meditation? Ideally, nothing. Or… everything? Most importantly, our personal nature of existence is determined by our mind, being through which we all experience reality. For example, where do we come from? Where do we go? The beauty of being mindful is you can practice a session where you are completely blank, entirely in control of breathing, excising all negativity. Or, ponder the nature of stance and everything that means to you.
Zazen meditation doesn’t have to be only for those steeped in Zen Buddhism tradition. For example, we covered several methods of mindfulness stress reduction that are effective even for those just starting in meditation. Good luck in your exploration into the nature of existence. Most importantly, we hope you will continue to uncover the secrets of Zazen meditation.
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At the heart of Zen training is zazen, or seated meditation. Here at Yokoji we sit zazen on a daily basis year round—check the schedule and join us when you can.
Through the practice of sitting quietly, the mind reflects one's environment and the self that is based on thought and description can be lost. This experience of reality is direct and intimate. Tenshin Roshi and Keizan Sensei co-wrote a book called Way of Zen which says this about zazen:
In our daily lives, zazen provides us with a situation in which we can remove ourselves from external acivities, turn our activity inward, and face ourselves. Zazen is not about achieving some particular state of consciousness. Rather, it is about discovering who you are and what your life is.
Zazen can be practiced by anyone, at any time. It is best practiced in a quiet space, using one of the postures shown. The video on this page shows all the different zazen postures and gives basic instruction as to how to sit. By sitting correctly and comfortably, it allows both body and mind to settle down. A core practice of zazen, is either counting or following the breath. The breath functions as a natural anchor point to come back to when the mind wanders. The practice of counting or following the breath is often given to beginners but it is not limited to those new to the practice—the sensation of breath entering and leaving your body will be with you your whole life. You can always return to the breath.
There are two main practices associated with Zen—Koan and Shikantaza. Koan is a Japanese word, from the Chinese gong'an, and literally means 'public case', from the time in China when magistrates would travel from village to village to settle disputes. Like a legal precedent, koans establish a standard of insight and understanding that must be matched by the student. A second meaning of the term koan, is to make even that which is uneven. Koans work by revealing to a student the gaps in their understanding of reality, and by looking into the question, the gap can be bridged, and reality and understanding made to match-up seamlessly. One famous example of Koan is Hakuin's 'What is the sound of one hand?' Another example is from Master Joshu: 'A monk asked Joshu, 'Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?' Joshu replied, 'Mu.'
Zazen Meditation For Beginners
Shikantaza is another Japanese word that means 'just sit hit mind'. This is the direct experience of the reality of this moment, over and over. The practice is to return repeatedly to the direct experience of whatever is coming in, whatever is 'hitting' the mind. It might be the breath, the sound of the birds outside, or the cars and people of a city, the light shifting below your gaze or physical sensations in your body. The mind does not need pointing in any direction, it naturally is all these things and awareness shifts accordingly. The trick is to stay focused rather than drifting off in to thought and fantasy. The abbot at Yokoji, Tenshin Roshi, is a master of both koan and shikantaza and uses both in his teaching.