The word Zen comes from the Chinese word chan and means to attain enlightenment through meditation. Enlightenment means to awaken, to become aware and to understand the nature of all that is.
There are many different forms of Zen Meditation. One of which is called Zazen which means to study the self. In Zazen meditation, particular importance must be paid to how we are seated in preparation. The seating position must allow total body stability and total openness, allowing the breath to flow effortlessly and easily.
The optimal seating position is to sit on the floor with a small pillow under your behind, cross your legs and allow your knees to touch the floor. At first, most people find this difficult but as the muscles relax, the knees naturally drop to the floor with practice. In this position you should try to keep your feet flat on the floor and straighten your spine. You should be sitting on the front third of the pillow only. This position provides the most stability. It is a pyramid shape and it is believed that using this position allows the body, breath and mind to become one. There are other positions but this position described above is the easiest for beginners.
Other important factors of preparation you should pay attention to are to keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nostrils only. Your eyes should gaze down at the floor about 3 feet in front of you. The eyelids will naturally be half closed in this position. Place your dominant hand in an upright position on top of your other hand which is also facing upwards, knuckles lined up and touch your thumbs lightly together. This is called the cosmic mudra. This position of the hands is believed to focus our minds inward.
Once achieving all these vital positions for successful Zazen meditation, it’s time to focus on what is called the Hara. The Hara is positioned two inches above your navel. This energy centre is believed to be the centre of the body’s spiritual and physical manifestation. The more you practice on focusing on this point, the more you will be drawn inward and hence studying the self.
Begin rocking gently back and forth finding your centre of gravity. Once you have found your centre of gravity, rest in this position. Continue focusing on your hara and imagine that you are breathing into this energy centre. Now start counting one through to ten in your mind. Each time you have an interrupting thought within your count, acknowledge it and then begin counting again. With practice you will be able to continue focusing on the count without any interruptions of distracting thought.
Once you have been able to achieve the counting without any interruptions, you will notice that you are more aware, Zazen now begins, and you begin to open up. Now focus on the inhalations and exhalations. Start to count each inhalation and exhalation. Continue to count until you can just comfortably focus on the breathing without the need to count. In this part of the meditation, thoughts will arise at random; let each thought run its course from the point of being the observer. Observe your thoughts. These thoughts need to arise and may occur several times during your meditation but allow them to happen until they resolve themselves. Then return to the count of the inhalations and exhalations.
This is Zazen meditation, with practice the arising thoughts will lessen and you will truly be focused inwards and on the self. Just remember to allow the thoughts to arise, allow them to run their course. They need to be brought to your attention in that moment then allow them to abate.
I have been meditating for 20 years and have learnt many techniques for achieving the greatest success in your meditation journey.If you would like to learn more about Meditation techniques, aids to meditation and share in my knowledge and experience. Please visit my blog at http://astralflyer-meditationforbeginners.blogspot.com/ or http://astralflyer-astralflyer.blogspot.com/
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