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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194 replies
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  1. charu
    charu says:

    PRANM ANMOL, I HAVE BEEN DOING MEDITATION REGULARLY FOLLOWING YR GUIDENCE. SOMETIMES IGET A SLIGHT HEADACHE , IS IT OK. HOPE TO GET A REPLY ..LOVE CHARU

    Reply
  2. krunal shelke
    krunal shelke says:

    dear anmol,
    while doin zen after few mins i get very slight jerk it appears every 5 min is it normal i mean to say that i get drowsy feelin for a second but m not at all drowsy am i doing it right ..

    Reply
  3. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Sorry for the delayed response. The new certification programs are keeping me quite busy.

    You have the right combination for Breath of Fire and Zen meditation. I use them similarly.

    Great to see you have launched your new website. High BP is a big issue for many. All good wishes with it and feel free to use any relevant content from my site.

    Best,
    Anmol

    ——————

    Reply
  4. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    Hi Anmol,
    Many thanks for your extensive site. I came across you last Wednesday and am making my way through the site to try to get a snapshot of the information.
    What I have read and viewed so far is wonderful! I have been wanting to get back into practice, but just couldn’t find the willpower. Have done three days of Breath of Fire, meditation and exercise and it feels great. You probably discuss it in your blog, but is there a sequence to them? Thank you for generously sharing your knowledge.

    Elaine

    Reply
  5. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Gail,

    Thank you for your interest.

    This is planned for the future, but at this time I only have the books in digital format (e-books). Some do get them printed out and bound and you are welcome to do that if you like.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  6. Gail
    Gail says:

    Hi Anmol
    Do you have a book on meditation that I can purchase? Please give me the web address where I may purchase it. I do not want an e-book or online book, I need a physical book I can carry around. Thanks Gail

    Reply
  7. Gail
    Gail says:

    Hi Anmol
    Can you please explain how to use a chair or bench for meditation. I can not sit in the position you are showing in the videos due to arthritis in my knees and legs and I really want to learn how to meditate from your videos. Thank you, Gail

    Reply
  8. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Hello Anmol,

    Thank you for providing so much great information. I have done both, zen meditation and breath of fire alternating since 3 months. Is it counterproductive to combine both? I usually use breath of fire during exercise and zen in the morning.
    It is great to always read your encouraging words as I once in a while encounter real depressing phases, First, I am irritated by them, but eventually I force myself to notice that they are a side product of my meditation practices.

    If you would like to I would like to incorporate you in my blog about how to holistically beat high blood pressure. If you would like to take a look at http://beatbloodpressure.wordpress.com I only started it a few weeks ago based on my own findings and seminars.

    Great to have come across your homepage!

    Peace and smiles

    Ellen

    Reply
  9. Trupti Mehta
    Trupti Mehta says:

    Hayley,

    It is consistent with kundalini symptoms.

    If you are doing Zen Med, then the only switch you should make is to watching your thoughts/feeling more intently, once your thoughts settle down after watching your breath.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  10. hayley
    hayley says:

    couple of questions – is it ok if you set out doing zen meditation to switch – i just found myself doing so hum about halfway in, it felt right and i changed my hand position. should you go with ‘instincts’ like that or is it a form of mental fidgeting really?

    other question – what is that circular, or spiralling energy? is that kundalini? it literaly feels like an ‘energy’ is winding around my core and when it is strong i almost feel like i myself am sort of spiralling in that motion though i know physically i’m still.

    observation – i love the way that sound becomes a sensation – best i can do to describe it is to say that it’s like i’m the space that the sound is moving through.

    hope i haven’t made myself sound too crazy! would love to hear your answers. gut instinct was whatever happens i should be letting it go rather than getting caught up in it.

    Reply
  11. M. Herrmann
    M. Herrmann says:

    I used a stool for my meditation and sat with the knees bent and the feet point behind me. This allowed me to sit more comfortably through the meditation; sitting in the lotus or other cross legged positions for me are very difficult as they place stress on my ankles and i numb very quickly. I kept my eyes open and downward at forty five degrees and chose not to count but simply to observe the breath, as with the advanced breathing guideline above. I do however wonder what happens when the mind completely clears. Will I become completely unresponsive to my world? What then do I fill my thoughts with when the mind is blank throughout the day, what comes next?

    Reply
  12. Angela
    Angela says:

    Hello Anmol,
    I’m a very aggressive person… Gets agitated at little things.. find it really hard to contain my anger.. i try to suppress it… but it comes out in other ways… When I look at my self in day, I can see me yelling and screaming most of the time.. Would meditation help me to be a calm person? How can I let go of all the unnecessary resentment in me?
    I’ve tried practicing meditation and I noticed there as too much of things in my mind that was disturbing me… Is this common when we start meditating??

    Reply
  13. Haresh
    Haresh says:

    namaste Anmolji, thanks for the instructions. Most of us meditators here use the chair, and are unable to sit on the floor. Any instructions for us? Thanks. Haresh.

    Reply
  14. ssai
    ssai says:

    Hello Anmol,

    Thank you so much for the great materials. I started practicing last two weeks. I’m having challenges in bringing my attention to my breath. I’m hoping to get better at it. I’m planning to go back to Zazen for next few weeks.

    So far I encountered some problems.
    1) Problem due to cold (I have allergy issue too). I found one of my nostrils is stuffed up and I found difficult to practice these days. I want to continue practice it so that I won’t loose my interest. Any suggestion on the basic meditation technique I can follow even if I have cold.
    2) Trouble in keeping the starting time same. In the first few days I started in the early morning (around 5:00 am), now it is going to 6 and 6:30. I’m going to read your post about benefit of getting up early again to keep me motivated. Any other tips you can share!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing wonderful documents with us. God bless.

    Reply
  15. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Angela,

    Yes that is certainly one of the obstacles to zazen / meditation. It is more of a problem if you are not getting enough sleep. Splash cold water on your face prior to starting and/or keep some cold water water nearby to refresh yourself if you get too drowsy. I have poured ice water on my head before as well to keep awake :-).

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  16. Angela
    Angela says:

    Hello Anmol,
    I just started practicing meditation as I feel it will help me to calm down… When I read this article of yours, I opted to practice Zen meditation… Once I start practicing it, I feel as if I am drifting into sleep… or rather sleepy.. I am practicing it in the morning around 10:30AM when my son is napping… Why is it that I am feeling drowsy?? Is it a common thing?

    Reply

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