Zen Part three: Zazen
As I mentioned yesterday, Zen is very individual and is unique to each practitioner. Of all the forms of Buddhism, this is the one where it is most import to know yourself. How do you get to ‚Äúknow yourself?‚Äù For students of Zen, it’s done primarily through a process called ‚Äúzazen.‚Äù
Zazen is the practice of ‚Äújust sitting‚Äù and clearing the mind of all thought. Once your mind in unhindered by distraction is it far easier to attain enlightenment. There are specific postures and positions for this form of meditation, but it has been modified to suit all ability levels. Essentially, the Buddhist just sits, clearing their mind and focusing on their breathing, attempting to eliminate distractions and stray thoughts. Once you try it, you’ll experience just how difficult it is to think about… nothing.
I was going to write a lengthy explanation of zazen, but there are many excellent pages already written on the subject. Here are two that I think will be helpful.
Here is a video of the proper zazen sitting posture:
And here is a link showing modifications for those who can’t do that:
Personally, I cannot do the lotus positions, so I sit in a manner similar to the ‚ÄúBurmese Position‚Äù shown on the second link. Although some purists say you must do the full lotus and all the various positions, it’s better to begin in the best way that YOU can; it’s better to meditate in your own way than not to do it at all. Still, monks and practitioners have been doing this for centuries, and this is the way they have decided is best. Do what you can, but keep in mind that there is a “right way” to be doing this that you should eventually strive for.
Most Buddhists do some form of meditation similar to this. Take a look at the video and the pictures on the other link and we’ll talk more about this tomorrow.