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.


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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195 replies
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  1. Marcus Carlzon
    Marcus Carlzon says:

    I have a question : I can get caught in a mentalstory, but I don’t loose my count. It seems I can do these two things at the same time. Am I supposed to retorn to one if I just get into a mentalstory?

  2. Raj
    Raj says:

    Dear Sir,

    Thanks for the great lessons. I am starting this meditation from today. I will start the practice in chair before i buy the zafu seat. Please let me know the posture to be followed while sitting in chair for zazen meditation

  3. Iwan
    Iwan says:

    Hai, Ahmol
    I,m from Indonesia. I’m glad to find your web. This can guide me to know well about meditation that I really love for a long time.
    I have a problem with this Zazen. Well, when I do this for a minute I always fall to sleep, even I wake up again fast. Is it natural?

  4. pawan anand
    pawan anand says:

    hi anmol,
    i have two questions…
    1)please suggest sequence of exercise that should be practiced in rajyog.
    2)how to do pratyahar and dharna in practice of rajyoga

  5. thabani
    thabani says:

    Why do I get chest pain when I do this meditation on a chair but not lying down, is there a difference between sitting and lying down meditation and why am I feeling this chest pain.

  6. JC Whitely
    JC Whitely says:

    There were some bizarre circumstances that caused me to miss my daily meditations over the past few days (although I was able to fit in some random sessions here and there). Today I have resumed my daily morning routine.

  7. Adi
    Adi says:

    The people are far more inteligent than you think…
    and the people there are educated dont ever buy your inventions… educated means some degrees but with uneducated people you may have succes…and there are many …unfortunately

    • Anmol Mehta
      Anmol Mehta says:

      Dear Adi,

      Thank you for stopping by and contributing.

      Great to see your great passion for Zen and meditation. That is the most important ingredient. I am sure your intuition and love for Zen will help carry you to the Truth.

      All Good Wishes,

  8. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Dear Adi,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings.

    I wonder which Dojo the Buddha practiced in and who was his zen master?

    Run away from people who are teaching you these rules. The only dojo is life itself, and intelligence is the master.

    Love and Light,

  9. Adi
    Adi says:

    Zen is practice only in a dojo along a living master of the way.
    Do you have a zen master, do you go at dojo?
    My opinion is clear: You don t practice traditional zazen, the zen of patriarchs like Boddhidharma,Eka, Hui neng, Eno, Dogen, Keizan….
    You just use the word zen to make money and for increase your ego.
    The real zen is in a dojo, zendo practicing with an real zen master.
    For all…don t be fooled by such persons.
    Seek a true zen master an practice the real zen, the true way for free spirit.

    You don t have the permision of an zen master to teach the Zen practice.

  10. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Dear Sampath,

    Give it a month or so. The benefits are enormous, but takes time to happen.

    Gently strengthen it with yoga exercises designed for the legs and thighs. And stretch it will Basic Yoga Poses. You can search for both those on the website using the search box in the top right corner.


  11. Sampath
    Sampath says:

    Hello Anmol

    I am new to meditation and yoga. Recently I started the beginner pranayama and zen meditation technique inspired by your website. Although its been only a week how can I tell if I am on the right track doing meditation.

    Also I’ve been bothered with pain in my knee joints for few years now and I was wondering if you’d suggest any exercise to help relieve the pain.

    God bless you for your work and the sea of information you’ve shared here.


  12. deepak kumar
    deepak kumar says:

    namaste anmol sir,
    Sir I m doing kapalbhati and anulom vilom pranayam daily.
    Sir how can I awake my kundalini chakra from pranayam or from meditation?


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