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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192 replies
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  1. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    Very thoughtful advice. I particularly liked what you said about allowing emotions, but not to chew on them either. One has to leave space for them to rise, but certainly you don’t want to become completely absorbed in them.

    Reply
  2. Beyond Positive Thinking
    Beyond Positive Thinking says:

    I’m sort of new around here, but as I read your wonderful words I feel compelled to respond, for it is as if I am reading the words of another self, so clear and dear to my heart… In your comments you mentioned using The Power of Positive Thinking to help Stevie get to a place of positivity on his journey towards stillness. I think this is a crucial advice you offer here for everyone…

    You wrote: “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… 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…

    That short passage you wrote right there is one of the most eloquent and profound things on the art of meditation I’ve ever read. For the person just entering these wisdoms, that gap is a fleeting nectar, so refined as to be the sweetest moments of one’s life…

    As you progress it becomes a sanctuary of stillness towards which all things flow and return. It is that gap, that silence where-in the absolute dwells that forms the foundations for everything else in our lives… It may be most fleeting at first, but as you said, with the power of positive thinking, we transform the agitated mind into a positive mind, and with the power of Zazen we transcend the positive mind and find ourselves dwelling effortlessly in the gap between two thoughts…

    Thank you for you eloquence Anmol, and the beauty of this video you’ve shared with us… Not only a teacher and a guide, you are an inspiration to maintain and rekindle my practice…

    Humorous end note: I received my Zabuton 16 years ago, rolled and tied to my backpack it has travelled the world with me and remains one of the three personal belongings I have carried, protected, and enjoyed for the longest in my life… I did not think of it until I read your article, but it occurs to me know how special these simple sanctuaries of meditation can be… :-)

    Reply
  3. Paul Raven
    Paul Raven says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful article. I am always grateful to find an article that will help guide me towards inner peace.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,

    Paul Raven
    Close Your Eyes And Go

    Reply
  4. Harsh
    Harsh says:

    Hi Anmol,

    I have greatly benifited from your yoga and breathing techniques. It has transformed my dull life to life full of energy,postive mind and happyness. I want to start medidation so my have one question in what order one should do yoga,meditation and breathing exercise?

    Reply
  5. chris
    chris says:

    anmhol i cannot thank you enough my friend, you changed thousands of lives. i will donate when i have the time thank you Anmhol.

    Reply
  6. Megs
    Megs says:

    Hi Anmol,

    Your website is wonderful. My mom recently introduced me to Yoga and I started particing it. I do feel better, a sense of power in me. I am very short tempered and i need to start practising Meditation to clam myself. Is Zazen the right one to start with or should i first try something simpler. As i said, i just started Yoga. Right now i am trying to incorporate some breathing exercises with weight loss kunalini steps like you mentioned.

    Reply
  7. Trupti Mehta
    Trupti Mehta says:

    Joan,

    The explanation on how to meditate seated is given in the video link. We did not have the video up at that point – thus the request for an explanation.

    Let us know how it works for you.

    Trupti

    Reply
  8. diane
    diane says:

    i want to add zazen meditation to my morning practice but am unsure if there is a particular order to do things. I am doing the spinal warm up and want to add this meditaion as well as prayanama. Also, would it be alright to add Sat Kriya to this?

    Reply
  9. Trupti Mehta
    Trupti Mehta says:

    Corey,

    Yes, I agree – you should stay and watch all feelings and thoughts. Let them rise, run their course and finish off…. and Yes it still is Zen meditation…. :)

    Thanks for sharing.
    Trupti

    Reply
  10. corey
    corey says:

    i do this type of meditation but i also like to feel and be with my negative emotions not ignore them and watch them try to find an impression on me until they subside. i find that it is great for dealing with anxiety. is that still zen meditaion or is that something else?

    Reply
  11. Trupti Mehta
    Trupti Mehta says:

    VK,

    Its ok. Create the suction as Anmol has indicated. Tongue on roof will help too…but it’s okay if saliva accumulates and you have to swallow.

    All the best,
    Trupti

    Reply
  12. VK
    VK says:

    Hi Anmol,

    I really like your website and have recommended it to several friends of mine. Thanks for spending so much time and effort in creating and maintaining this site.

    I had a question regarding Zazen meditation. When I’m sitting, I still have saliva accumulating in my mouth and have to move my tongue to swallow it now and again. I try not to move any other part but my body does shift sometimes. Is this something that is common or does putting the tongue on the roof of the mouth supposed to stop saliva from being produced?

    Thnx

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] March:      Zen Meditation Technique […]

  2. […] There are some excellent techniques in yoga and ayurveda to help you deal with anger issues and help you free yourself from anger.  Anger, as I have mentioned previously, is simply energy and many of the problems that anger leads to is due to the storm of powerful egocentric and aggressive thoughts that arise as a result of it.  For long term peace and tranquility there is nothing better that meditation for dealing with anger.  Techniques such as Zen Meditation Technique, So Hum Mantra Meditation or Smiling Buddha Meditation for Happiness are great for this.  But, a more active and immediate method for dissipating anger and finding the calm within comes from the school Kundalini Yoga. […]

  3. […] March:      Zen Meditation Technique […]

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