Zen Meditation Technique – Practice & Hidded Secret – Free Guided Meditation

Buddha Doing Zen MeditationThe Practice of Zen Meditation – Zazen

The first meditation we will explore in the Free Online Guided Meditation Techniques E-Book is the famous Zen Meditation Technique, also called Zazen or Breath Meditation.  At the end of the meditation script I will reveal the real secret behind this most profound meditation technique.

1

Background of Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

This was the meditation technique of Lord Buddha – I should have to say no more in order to motivate you to try this meditation. It is one of the most widely used meditations in the world and is the heart of Zen Buddhist teachings.  If one was to make a short list of the best meditation techniques, Zazen would most certainly make the top 10 list.

Tools required for Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

  • Zafu (traditional Zen Buddhist meditation cushion), Smile Cushion or other firm meditation cushion.  I purchased mine from zafu.net. I also purchased a zabuton (meditation mat) from them, a zabuton though is optional.
  • Loose comfortable clothing.
  • An alarm clock, stop watch or other time device.

Benefits of Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

Primary Benefits: 

  • Builds Concentration and Focus.
  • Self Knowledge – both, the workings of little self (ego) and awareness of the Big Self (True Divine Nature).
  • Calmness
  • Compassion
  • Spontaneous Joy

Secondary Benefits: 

  • Improves health and wellbeing.
  • Increases willpower and builds character.
  • Bestows psychic powers.

Cautions for Practicing Zen Meditation Technique (Zazen):

There are very few cautions with regard to Zazen practice, but the one I would like to point out has to do with emotional storms. 

There can be periods of time, either during a single sitting or spanning across several weeks, when emotions you may have suppressed rise up to the surface and force you to deal with them.  During these turbulent times, don’t exacerbate the issue by chewing on the emotion laden thoughts that come up.  Traumatizing yourself in this way has no value.  Instead, sit with the emotions and related thoughts without resistance, then let them go and return your awareness to your breath. 

This emotional cleansing is due to the visibility of the subconscious mind once the conscious mind is quieted by the meditation.  In the short term, this can be a difficult time to go though, but in the long term its a necessary and healthy cleansing that will promote greater peace, depth, joy and clarity in your life. 

Basic Zen Meditation Technique:

  • Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable cross legged position.  If using a zafu or similar meditation cushion, sit on the forward third of the cushion.  The objective is for your hips to be raised above your knees and to form a three point base with your knees and buttocks touching the floor/cushion (leave a comment below if want to use a chair or meditation bench and would like me to explain those details).
  • Set your alarm or other time device for 20 minutes.
  • Now elongate your spine upwards and to align it with the back of your head, subtly bring your chin back and in like a soldier at attention.  There will be a slight inward arch in your lower back.
  • Now rock gently from side to side in big arcs, making them smaller and smaller till you drift to a stop.  You should find yourself perpendicular to the floor with no tension or pull from either side.
  • Have your eyes half open with an unfocused gaze on the floor in front of you.  You should be looking down at a 45 degree angle about 2 to 3 feet in front of you.  You may also close your eyes if you prefer.
  • Bring your hands to your lap and place them in the cosmic mudra.  To do this rest your right hand on your lap, then rest your left hand on top of it and have your fingers overlap.  Now bring the thumb tips together thus forming an oval frame.
  • Close your mouth, swallow your saliva creating a slight vacuum and place your tongue against the roof of your mouth.  After this point there should be absolutely no more movement of the body.  No fidgeting, scratching, shifting – nothing – be like you are frozen in time.
  • Take 5 deep, slow breaths though the nose.  This will oxygenate your blood and relax you.
  • Now bring you attention to your breath without trying to manipulate it further in any way, just become aware of its flow.  Spend a few minutes just observing it intimately till it starts to become regular and relaxed.
  • At this point begin counting your breath.  Count an inhalation as one, then the exhalation as 2 and continue to count your breaths until you reach 10.  At which point return to 1 with the next inhalation.  If at any point you get caught in a mental story line and loose your count, gently, without passing any judgment, return to 1 and start over.  That’s it, continue for the duration of the meditation.

Intermediate Zen Meditation Technique:

Follow all the steps for the Basic Zen Meditation Technique, except for the last step a complete inhalation and exhalation cycle should be counted as 1.  So you will do 10 full cycles of inhalation and exhalation before returning to 1.  You can also increase the time to 30 – 40 minutes.

Advanced Zen Meditation Technique:

Follow all the steps for the Basic Zen Meditation Technique, except for the last step instead of counting the breaths, just “be the breath”.  Don’t try to jump to this step too soon, first build your concentration and focus.  You can also increase the time to 1 hour.

Hints and Tips for Zazen:

  • Do some stretching or Yoga before sitting in zazen.  It will help your body adjust better.
  • Be regular, the benefits of this meditation are vast, but they take time to manifest.
  • Some good internet resources and books on zen meditation and zen teachings are listed below…
    • Charlotte Joko Beck’s Ordinary Mind Zen School and her book Everyday Zen: Love & Work
    • Zen Mountain Monastery – Mountain and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism
    • Shunryu Suzuki’s San Francisco Zen Center and his book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Secret of Zazen:

The secret of zazen does not lie in the awareness of the inhalation or the exhalation.  It lies in the gap in between these breaths.  It lies when the breath is spontaneously suspended.  It is in this gap where the mysteries of the Universe are hidden.  This gap and the gap between 2 thoughts are best friends, and in this silence between 2 thoughts the absolute is revealed.  Don’t try to force this pause, just continue with your zazen, it will come about naturally.

More Internet Resources for Zen Meditation

Zen and Zazen Information

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  1. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    hi Anthony,

    The leg falling asleep problem does go away, but what I would recommend is to make sure that no material is bunching up behind the knees when you are sitting. I sit wearing a pair of pajamas that I cut above the knees and this helped a lot with my leg falling asleep issue.

    Hope this helps.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  2. stevie
    stevie says:

    Hi Anmol,

    When starting to practice zen meditation it is usually advised that a teacher/master is sought out before you begin , due to the emotional storms that you have outlined. Would it be safe for a person to begin practice without a teacher/master, who has had alot of emotional turmoil and difficulty in their lives?

    Thankyou

    Reply
  3. Eric
    Eric says:

    The only way I found to fix it was to use an additional cushion on the back edge of the pillow situated so that it rotates the pelvis slightly backwards. I think the problem is related to nerve pinching in the hip joint. I tried just living with it to the point of my legs becoming immobile. At first I would laugh at myself trying to walk around without any feeling in my legs or the ability to bend my feet. I definitely learned compassion for those who can’t use their legs at all. But, after a while it just became discouraging instead. Anyway, I hope this helps you out.

    Reply
  4. anthony
    anthony says:

    amnol, i cant seem to stop my right leg from falling asleep, it’s happens every 5 minutes
    i even use a cushion, my left leg is okay but my right leg feels kinked by the hip when i sit in your position on the video
    and the zazen meditation felt almost half an hour but it was only 4 minutes
    it’s like when you start doing a kriya it’s all easy
    then it starts to become hard on the 2nd or 3rd time
    im doing class 101 and cant seem to make it through the 3rd day mostly, then i start all over
    but ill keep trying

    Reply
  5. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Steven,

    The general rule when starting out, is to sit for 5 minutes more than you are comfortable doing. My suggestion though to you is to sit for the 20 mins, even if concentration is low, if you have the time and willpower.

    I have found this meditation to bring enormous positive changes at 20 mins, that may not be initially detectable but accumulates over time.

    Just stick to it, thats the most important thing.

    All Good Wishes,
    Anmol

    Reply
  6. Steven Leslie
    Steven Leslie says:

    Hi Anmol,

    I have problems maintaining good concentration for 20 minutes. My mind really starts to wander after about 10 minutes. Is it better to start off with less time, but better concentration. Or, is it better to stay on the cushion for 20 minutes and let things progress that way?

    Thanks,

    Steven

    Reply
  7. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Particia,

    Great to hear you are going to take the online classes. Let me know if you run into any issues. I also look forward to any other feedback you may have.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  8. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Vinod,

    The best recommendations to help with the posture, specially the back are the following 3.

    1. Get a Zafu or Smile cushion (or other firm meditation cushion). They help more than you can imagine. Here is an article with all my tips and tools for meditation.

    Tips & Tools for Daily Meditation Practice

    2. Strengthen the back and help it’s flexibility. The following yoga set should be very good for that.

    Spinal Warm-up Series – Free Yoga Video

    3. Make sure you are perfectly in equilibrium. So rock yourself in big arcs and let your body settle into perfect balance so your back has no pull to either side.

    Hope this helps, let me know.

    All Good Wishes,
    Anmol

    Reply
  9. Vinod
    Vinod says:

    I have been doing the zen meditation technique for some time now. I want to focus a bit more on my technique (keeping my back straight) – its still a bit of a challenge. Anything you reccomend?

    Reply
  10. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hey Vin,

    Thanks for stopping by. The Zafu will certainly help w/ Zazen. Will send out that email to the meditation and yoga class to see if others are interested in the bulk order. Will let you know.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  11. Vinod
    Vinod says:

    A very nice summary – I want to start practicing the zazen technique. Also, am very glad that you were able to add video to the site. Will let you know how I progress.

    Reply
  12. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hey Stephen,

    I would like nothing better than to know that I have pointed some fellow travelers in the right direction and thus help them in finding their Way. Thank you for your encouraging words.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  13. @Stephen
    @Stephen says:

    Thank you, Anmol, for the wonderful summary. I could have used something like this a couple of years ago when I was “seeking” a way to learn without having access to a guide. There are so many books available, it is difficult for a beginner to know where to start. Trial and error is the worst way to learn about meditation. I have come a long way, and I know that I have yet further to go. Thank you for helping to point the way.

    Reply
  14. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hey Desika,

    Zazen is the meditation I use to set the stage to penetrate the false, thus, it is very close to my heart. I am very happy to share it with you and others.

    Blessings,
    Anmol

    Reply
  15. Desika Nadadur
    Desika Nadadur says:

    Hey Anmol,

    Very simple and powerful meditation. The cautionary note you gave on ‘suppressed emotions coming up’ is a good one and is applicable to any spiritual practice, not just this practice. Self-mastery can come only after emotional cleansing and mastery over them. One step at a time!

    Thanks for for this beautiful practice.

    -Desika

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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