Zazen, which literally translates to “seated meditation”, is a meditative technique or discipline belonging to the ‘Zen Buddhist’ tradition. The meaning and method of this discipline, however, changes from school to school.
Moreover, zazen is often referred to as a source of understanding the true nature of one’s existence.
Following is some more significant information about the Buddhist practice:
- It is believed by many that zazen is the heart and the soul of the Japanese ‘Zen Buddhist’ practice.
- According to the ‘Rinzai’ school in Japan, zazen usually means the study of ‘koans’. Informatively, the koan is the technique used to assess a student’s progress in Zen.
- The pupils from ‘Soto’ school of Japan practice it in their own way, setting their mind free from all the objects. They call it ‘Shikantaza’.
- Zazen says that any human can attain a certain state of mind by technique, manipulation or method.
Where to practice Zazen?
Zazen usually requires an environment of tranquility and peace to be practiced. Also, You must take care also of the following point as you start practicing zazen:
- Look for a quiet place that is free from any kind of disturbance.
- The place that you choose (to practice zazen at) should have moderate lighting, which means, it shouldn’t be too bright or too dark.
- It (the chosen place) should have a moderate temperature as well. Again, it should not be too cold or too hot there.
- The place should be spotless and pristine without any mess.
- A statue or painting of Buddha should be placed there (the place of doing zazen).
What And What Not To Do?
Accordingly, the practitioner must always keep in mind that they should avoid practicing zazen when they are not (feeling) fresh or physically exhausted. Also, before doing it, the practitioner should have eaten moderately and consumed no alcohol, or any other such substance. Apart from these, the following are some more dos and don’ts that a practitioner of zazen should always remember:
- One should perform proper ablutions by washing their faces, hands, and feet before sitting for this practice.
- The practitioner should wear low-cost and ordinary clothes. They should avoid choosing any expensive or showy outfit and wearing any heavy garment as well.
- It is advisable to wear a loose, clean and comfortable garment.
- The practitioner also should have slept well and not feel drowsy prior to the practice.
What are the steps?
In addition to these here are the following are the steps involved in the practice of zazen:
- Place ‘Zabuta’ – a thick mat in a square shape – right in front of a wall.
- Put ‘zafu’ – a round cushion – at the center of the ‘Zabuta’.
- Sit on the zafu with the base of your spine placed at its center.
- Make sure that half the zafu lies behind you.
- Place your left foot on your right thigh and the right one on the left.
- Cross your legs in full-lotus position.
- Your mouth should remain closed with your tongue placed against the palate (roof of the mouth).
- You should keep your eyes slightly open and look downwards.
- Follow your breath. Keep it calm and deep. Try exhaling from your abdomen.
- Zazen also involves a number of other steps like swaying (of the body), abdominal breathing, striving for mindfulness, and etc.