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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193 replies
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  1. Sujay
    Sujay says:

    hey Anmol,

    i am a student of std. 12th and successful till now.. i have scored 96.15% in my boards of 10th and now i m going to appear for my 12h boards.. i am very much tensed and out of anxiety and tension i committ silly mistakes in papers… so i wanted u to help me in any possible way… tried zazen but can’t keep my mind calm.. i think about various thoughts and then later think about what and why i am thinking them and eventually become restless by thinking about giving up all the thoughts… it doesn’t work for more than 1 min 49 seconds… please help me i am depressed… pllz contact me on my email id.. eternal.denied.monk@gmail.com

    Reply
  2. Stacy Cole
    Stacy Cole says:

    woops. I cut my comment short. I was going to say that I want to also start the Heart Chakra balancing class to heal my heart. Thank you for what you are doing. It’s cool, too because I’ve been doing Ravi Singh and Ana Brett videos for a few years. I didn’t know he was your teacher!

    Reply
  3. Stacy Cole
    Stacy Cole says:

    Hello Anmol. I would like to start doing this meditiation. I’ve been looking for one to do for 40 days and this one resonates with me. It just seems to get right down to the bottom of the matter. After a couple of weeks I’d like to start the Heart Cha

    Reply
  4. AlexH
    AlexH says:

    Hey Anmol, I’ve got a question.
    Recently, I’ve been feeling a lack of emotion, apathy.
    I don’t know what’s wrong with me but i can’t seem to feel any strong emotions. I have also been having these random negative and violent thoughts, and i do not want them. It feels as though these thoughts are not part of me and they just appear randomly.

    What do you recommend doing, and what do you think the problem is? I want to get rid of these negative thoughts and become balanced and more emotional as well.

    Deep thanks,
    from Alex H.

    Reply
  5. krishna
    krishna says:

    hi anmol i have been doing this meditation for about 6 months,
    the benefits came hard still now i am able to concentrate better, i can relax easyer, i more confident, i am able to observe my thoughts and i discover how many negative thoughts i had in my subconcious, i can se on the secondary benefits that this meditation bestows psychic powers, what kind of powers do you get? i set my goal for 1000 days with this meditation since i know that 1000 days means mastery in yoga.

    Reply
  6. Vasudev
    Vasudev says:

    I’m 20 years old and have been interested in meditation and since past five years. Many times when I meditate, I go into trance like state for few minutes after which I end up either dreaming or thinking about other things without being aware of it. How do I rectify it?

    Reply
  7. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Faith,

    It can take the body time to adjust to the new program, and it is fine if you want to split the yoga and meditation parts of the class. You can do the yoga/breathing in the morning and meditation in the evening.

    In time though you will find it quite possible to do the complete routine in the morning, but as I said till then feel free to split it up.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  8. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Patricia,

    Here are details for using a chair.

    Using a Chair:

    Description: Use a chair that allows you to sit comfortably. Sit with your back straight and erect, but do not use the chair’s back for support if possible. Using the chair’s back for support will actually prove to be more difficult over a longer period of time than sitting without it. Head is pulled back slightly so the chin is ever so subtly drawn back and in – such that back of the neck is aligned with the spine. The eyes are closed and the hands are held in the cosmic mudra. The feet are kept flat on the ground and are about shoulder width apart. It is best if the height of the chair lends itself to your knee joints making a 90-degree angle.

    Benefits: Very much like Sukh asan. Sitting this way makes you alert, provides essential nourishment to the brain and helps relax the breath.

    Cautions: Because the base is not as wide and solid as Sukh Asan, there is a greater chance of putting strain on the back and thus having it become sore during prolonged sitting. For this reason it is important to develop the strength and flexibility of your back. Also, it is fine to use a flattish cushion to sit on to prevent your butt from getting sore.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  9. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    Can you tell me how to do this meditation while sitting in a chair. I am not able to sit on the floor.
    Thank you for your wonderful website.
    Patricia

    Reply
  10. Faith
    Faith says:

    hello.. so I have been doing the beginners kudalini week one and am five days in.. no problems per se, but I do notice some things with the Zen meditation. on day three, I didn’t do the set early morning, I started it in the afternoon. due to a visitor, I did the meditation that night.. I was able to sit through the whole 20 minutes of it. In the mornings, when I do the kriya, the breath of fire, the warm up and then morning exercises I end with the meditation. It doesn’t become physically impossible, but uncomfortable.. I can get through 14 minutes or so of it.. why is it so difficult in the morning and not at all at night? In the morning, I get a tightness in the chest and torso and my breathing becomes a bit strained.

    The day that I did the meditation at night, it was after a friend of mine came by. She does reiki and did a bit of a small healing on me, sensing that my solar plexus was very much out of whack. Was it that healing that made the meditation easier? Or is it because I had not built up so much energy as I do in the morning after doing all the previous exercises?

    Faith

    Reply
  11. Deepak
    Deepak says:

    Hi Anmol,

    I have been doing Gyan Mudra meditation on an ON/OFF basis. I have had difficult time being consistent with meditation due to my work and school schedule. I finally would like to make this happen and start from your introductory course so that I can be on the right path to meditation.
    I was told by one of the palmist to do Gyan Mudra meditation – but just like a lot of people here, I had a lot of distracting thoughts, and no concentration. It has been quiet a difficult journey for me.
    I would like to start and stick to the meditation practice once and for all using your website courses. In order to do this, I have to buy the Zafu cushion – question is which kind of cushion is best for me (By the way I am a 26 year of single male in a healthy condition (except a lot of work/family stress)). When I was looking at the cushions, I saw a multiple type of cushions and I wanted to know if you have any suggestions over which type of cushion to buy for Zazen practice.

    Thank you for your help,

    Deepak.

    Reply
  12. Parul
    Parul says:

    Jai Radhe Madhav,
    it has been a great journey in reading articles from your site and watching videos for clearing doubts in practical processes. thanx for article like Zen Meditation, i have really enjoyed reading through it and hopefully i shall be able to bring into my life soon and master it. 1 more thing i wanted to ask in context to spirituality only- do u have any idea/ have you ever come across the idea to learn Tai Chi. it is also very powerful one and very close to nature. its a humble request, if you can include that part of information here at your site. as you know in Northern India such art is not available, i know its a part of martial arts but now a days its been also used to increase spiritual energies in oneself. so i would like to ponder over on this matter too. thank you.
    GOD BLESS YOU!

    Reply
  13. Peter L
    Peter L says:

    Hello Anmol.

    I just started out with this technique and it feels like it could be the right one for me. But I have one concern though. It might sound strange, but for some reason I have a hard time concentrating on my breath without manipulating it. It feels like i’m contantly controlling the depth and rhythm of my breathing during my session, instead of passively observing it. Do you think this could be a problem?

    Reply
  14. zend
    zend says:

    hi anmol,
    why does it seems like at the start of meditation, we start with one notion and end up just opposite of that?
    Is it a common thing that we return to the beginner’s position after every step?

    Is it a natural revelation that we get, that its not the position, not the posture, not the mind-balance thought, not even meditation thats there?
    .

    Reply
  15. anthony
    anthony says:

    hi anmol, ive been practicing 2 sets this meditation for 20 minutes, but ive modified it to where im looking at the tip of my nose

    my vision feels funny afterwards

    Reply
  16. Angela
    Angela says:

    Dear Anmol and Fellow Students,

    I finished my 2nd morning of the beginners course. I have enjoy doing the class as well as sharing comments with so many. Thank you so much for this life living and giving site.

    Best regards,

    Angela

    Reply

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