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. Jana
    Jana says:

    Namastey. I do yoga which I learnt from Vivekanada Institute in Bangalore. But I find your website with all videos very useful as they have variety and fulfills all aspects. It is a great help for all. I have one issue. Most of the time there is power cut. I want to do yoga in the evening after work and there is no power. Please tell me where I can get these videos for purchase. That will be helpful for me to do when I am free using my laptop.

  2. Jana
    Jana says:

    Namastey. I want to practise Zen Meditation. But cannot sit on the floor. Please advise instructions for sitting in a small stool or a chair and perform this Zen.
    Thank you,

  3. Jared
    Jared says:

    I do would like more information on meditation while laying down in bed? Can it be done this way? I haven’t found anything on your site about it (which is great! Btw) but I don’t know if laying down is actually hindering my process. Thanks so much for everything you do for everyone n.n

  4. pagbilang ng hininga
    pagbilang ng hininga says:

    I want to say thank you, I have done a lot of qigong in the past then I felt I’m lost i want to stick to one technique but i cant find I’m experiencing bad experiences my emotions are too intense i cant control it, feeling of energy moving up then got stock on my troath very annoying, having a dream I’m doing meditation then suddenly I’m paralyzed etc.. . Then I discovered zen meditation technique I really underestimated this technique that time thinking nothing would happen just observing and counting my breath not controling it so I did not practice it. But after a year I tried it and WOW this is simply great, amazing, wonderfull I felt joy, happiness, contentment, I saw my cat I felt hapiness I saw the tiny ants i felt happiness . Realy great Salamat po(thank you)!

  5. Greg
    Greg says:

    Hello, i have a very strong fear of meditation. I am terrified of going crazy during meditation. I know it is a good thing but i just cant get over my fear. I have no guidance and i would love to start practising meditation but i always remember of dangers associated with it.
    What can i do?
    Thanks a lot and have a nice day.

  6. Matías Guzmán
    Matías Guzmán says:

    I’ve been doing yoga for 2 years now, but I had never really tried meditation. I just tried this but couldn’t get pass the 5 minutes, I felt like I was caged in a really small room. I’ll keep trying, thanks for sharing :)

  7. Vdawg
    Vdawg says:

    I recently started this meditation and have already seen an increased calmness of my mind. Thanks for sharing this technique with us Anmol!

  8. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Dear Chippy,

    Generally the breath is left to its natural flow and eventually becomes very slow and fine.

    But you have every right to explore and discover what works for you.


  9. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Dear Bstill,

    I fold my hands and place them upon my chest. My legs are straight. Your intention to be respectful and having that humble state of mind is all that you need from that point of view.


  10. Chippy
    Chippy says:

    Question on the breathing pattern…

    Are the breaths that you take long and slow or short and shallow? For example if i deeply breathe in and out i find I can keep my focus on breathing for much longer than when my breathing becomes naturally slower almost as it would when i fall asleep. When it does slow down i start my count over at 1 (I’m doing the beginner meditation zazen class). Is this in a sense me forcing my breathing?
    Today I did the excersises this way and after a while i felt my body go almost paralyzed in stillness. It was calm and enjoyable, I even went over the time limit without getting bored or losing focus on meditation, im hoping this means the way i do it won’t only hinder me in the future..

  11. bstill
    bstill says:

    If I do lie flat on the bed for zen meditation,how do I hold my hands? Do I place my legs straight out? I do want to give the respect that is do. Thanks.

  12. Donna Bagley
    Donna Bagley says:

    Only lasted 10 minutes…… How do you sit in a chair (due to health issues) to meditate? Thank you & may God Bless you:)

  13. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Tarun,

    I would suggest lying down on your back if you want to meditate in bed, else it can get uncomfortable and slouchy. Else, meditate sitting up using a Zefu or firm meditation cushion.

    You are correct though that the back should be kept straight when meditating sitting up.


  14. tarun
    tarun says:

    hey what if you meditate on your bed with a pillow for your back. I do go in a bit- into the bed but is it ok as long as i keep my back and neck straight.

  15. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Dear Kai,

    Hope your recovery is going well. You can sit up on a chair to do this meditation. Have your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Try not to lean back on the chair as you hold this posture.



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Guided Zen Buddhist Meditation Method | Yoga... spiritual and health practice says:

    […] ; (free article with full details). The incredible meditation of Lord Buddha, Zazen or Zen Meditation Technique is explored in this video. A clear demonstration of Cosmic Mudra (hand position), as well as details on the posture and practice are taught […]

  2. […] is the heart of Zen Buddhism.  It is called Zazen and I have detailed it in the following article, Zen Buddhism Meditation Technique – Zazen.  Modify it though for children as […]

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