To practice Zazen, or seated zen meditation, is a cornerstone of Zen Goshindo Karate. Today's post will give you a couple of meditative practices to do. But before I give them to you, a few pointers are necessary.
First, be consistent with your practice of zazen. It is best done first thing in the morning and approximately the same time. Standard sitting meditation time is 40 minutes, but five minutes or twenty minutes is okay too, as long as you do it.
Second. Make sure you are sitting in a proper position at the right height. If you have not had formal zazen instruction, just search the web for how to sit in lotus, half-lotus or burmese posture. If you have back or knee problems, use a chair.
Third. Be gentle with yourself. It is normal for the mind to want to wander away from your focus point. Just be aware of the wandering and return to your focus.
Fourth. Don't try to achieve any special state of mind. Just be where you are. Change will happen...don't force it.
So, after you have set yourself down and connected to your breath you can practice counting your exhales from one to ten. As your counting, if you lose track of your count, return back to one and start again. When you reach ten, then start over again. This type of meditation is good if your mind is feeling very scattered or if you are just beginning meditation.
Another focus when sitting zen is simply to be aware of your breath coming in through your nostrils or going into your belly. Watch it come in and watch it go out. Keep the mind here. When it wanders, just gently return it to breath. This is the most basic of zen practices.
To guide you along, you can also just focus on your exhales. This gives your mind a little time to catch in some wandering on the inhale...just come back when you exhale. For an added adventure, especially if you want to connect with the energy that breaths you, is to be aware of the energy just before you exhale. Simply be aware of it...over and over. This is my preference.
If you feel frustrated doing zazen or find it useless it is because you are trying to use it to get something special. Life as it is right now is the special. It may be comfortable or uncomfortable, but the way of Zen is simply to be aware of it. The practice of Zazen is not an escape from reality, but a direct encounter with it. At times serene...at times scattered...at times sleepy...at times tranquil. Reality is ever changing, as are you.
Practice is the only way. Recall Zen Master Bankei from the last post...'outside of the mind, there is no art of combat'. Your own mind is the battleground, and the number one rule when going into battle is to pay attention!
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