For those new to Zen, a zafu simply means sitting cushion. In Soto Zen we sit on black zafu's. They are usually round and placed upon a zabuton, or sitting mat. When we sit down to meditate our focus is upon our breathing...and that's all we do.
Even though when you sit upon a zafu and look motionless in zazen, there is lots going on...at least in my head there is. I tend to have a lot of mental chatter going on, typically called 'monkey mind' in Zen circles. Monkey mind loves to chatter endlessly.
The insights I will share are again my experiences and not eternal truths or to be taken too literally. Trying to describe what happens sometimes while sitting is truly at times trying to describe the describless. The real experience cannot truly be captured in words or pictures. As I have mentioned in other posts, you need your direct experiences. That is what counts. I am only sharing mine in the hopes they inspire you in your practice...and writing helps me keep the monkeys from taking over.
So, this is one of my first insights about zen practice. Don't try and get rid of the monkeys. This only makes them noisier and more mischievious. To quiet the monkeys, just watch them and allow them to quiet themselves down. You see, your monkey mind is like a spoiled child who screams and screams for what it wants...and if you give in to it you reinforce bad behavior. Best advice is to ignore or just note the monkeys exist as you are watching your breaths in zazen.
Over time, they do quiet down...but very rarely are they truly quiet for me. Even during intense moments of 'clarity' there is a subtle 'chatter' going on. Just part of the whole experience, neither to be sought after or gotten rid of. Just watch and see what happens. Regardless, monkeys are everywhere.