Zazen is like water in a glass. Leave the water to sit quietly and soon the dirt will sink down.- Taisen Deshimaru
Having established in motionless position of legs, arms, body and head in a traditional lotus posture, with breathing controlled, incessantly calming of thoughts and integration of consciousness using special methods of concentration, with the development of control over emotions and strengthening the will, with cultivation of deep silence in the farthest corners of consciousness - in other words, Zazen practice creates optimal conditions for looking into the heart consciousness and discovering in it the true nature of existence.
Zen meditation is traditionally practiced in full or half lotus position, supported by a thick round cushion to elevate the hips and allow the knees to touch the floor. It is also possible to practice sitting on a chair, in Burmese position or kneeling in Seiza. The body should be upright and well-balanced, neither too tense nor too relaxed.
Zen is the best practiced while sitting in a comfortable posture. There are several postures into which one can perform Zen.
- Full Lotus: This is so far the best and most stable position for Zen. In this position the each foot is placed on the respective opposite thigh. In this position, left foot is placed on the right thigh and right foot is placed on the left thigh.
- Half Lotus: In this position, left foot is placed on the right thigh and the right foot is tucked under the legs.
- Burmese: In this position, the legs are crossed and placed in front of you.
- Sieza: Seiza position can be of two types. You sit on the bench with legs being folded under it. Or you sit on a cushion and partly on your heels, knees are on the floor.
Main Zen Meditation Techniques
In zen meditation the eyes could be softly open with unfocused gaze to help the meditator stay awake and alert. Better to face a wall to avoid distraction. The hands are held in a cosmic mudra with the left hand supported by the right and the tips of the thumbs touching each other.
The breathing in zen meditation is usually through the nose, calm and slow. The mind calms down through deep concentration on breathing or witnessing everything coming into the mind.
To practice zazen one has to correct the posture first, then watch the breath, then watch the mind, then integrate all the stages and the final step is the complete, perfect silence – pure being, consciousness and bliss.
- Observation of the breath
Meditator should sit in any zen meditation posture comfortable enough to sit for 50-60 minutes. Awareness is directed towards observation of breath. First watch air coming in and out all the way from nostrils to belly. Then try to feel just something coming in and going out of your body. With practice it could change to prana, life and death, creation and destruction or just emptiness without distinction inside and outside. Be fully present and alert.
- Watch the mind (just sitting)
The meditator “just sits” and allows the mind just to be. Eyes are closed or half-open and unfocused. Meditator allows thoughts to flow through his mind without judgment, grasping or rejection. Attention does not follow coming thoughts but stays present and alert, here and now.
This Zen meditation is practiced with no object of meditation, anchors or contents.
With eyes softly open and unfocused sit and do nothing at all. Complete inner stop, complete emptiness inside, no any reactions on anything coming from outside or inside, no names, no even recognition of any object. Just pure existence, pure being.