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Zazen Meditation

Zazen meditation is different from other forms of meditation. There are three ways to perform it.  Focusing on a koan is one popular method, originated by the Chinese.  Another method is completely different.  Instead of focusing on a particular object like breathing, the idea is to not focus on anything.  The period of reflection is not geared towards any particular thought.  This may seem strange, but it serves a very practical purpose.  This practice is central to Buddhists, but anyone can benefit from it in their daily life.  In fact, a daily practice of this is something you may want to take into consideration.

Mahayan Buddhists originated Zazen meditation.  They practiced this alongside forms of Yoga.  Walking meditation was also coupled with the Zazen meditation.  These Buddhists would engage in very long periods of Zazen, that were announced with the ringing of a bell.  Many Buddhists would sit in a hall called a zendo and perform Zazen together.  

In order to perform one form of Zazen meditation, find a comfortable place to sit down.  It can be a chair or the standard cross-legged meditation position.  Be sure to be completely still.  When you learn to sit still, your mind will become still also.  Don’t worry about the thoughts that are coming to your mind.  This is completely natural.  Just let them come as they please. They’ll also leave as they please.  Don’t try to slow your breathing or even worry about it.  Just breathe completely natural. If you let yourself dwell on a thought that enters, it will stick around longer.  After a little while of silence, your mind will calm down.  It will not be racing from thought to thought.  This is the ultimate goal of Zazen meditation.

After a few days of practicing this, it will become easier and easier for you to achieve this mental state.  Just like everything else, this is a habit.  Habits take time to develop, but once they do, they just happen naturally.   Be sure not to confuse Zazen with other forms of meditation.  We are not trying to reach a higher plane of light or have an out of body experience.  This meditation is very real and grounded in the present.  Awareness is the key.

As in other forms of meditation, Zazen will help develop control of your own mind and body.  It is a discipline that takes effort on your part to master.  You can’t just sit down one day and completely master it.  With anything worthwhile, there is some work required.  Learning to control your own mind will bring you into a realm that you previously had no idea existed.  It will open many doors and possibilities for you.  Consider instituting a regular practice of Zazen meditation into your schedule.  You will be glad that you did.

By Mary Jones

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