Zazen is a discipline of meditation that is most associated with Zen Buddhism. In the meantime, the name “zazen meditation” literally means seated meditation. Despite the practicing method of zazen meditation may vary in between schools and institutions, however all of them share the same objective which is an insight into the nature of existence.
One only aims to sit, while removing all forms of negative and judgmental thinking and allowing words, ideas, images or thoughts pass by the mind without getting too involved in it. Here are more information about zazen meditation and also the benefits of zazen meditation.
Brief History of Zazen Meditation
Zazen meditation, or Zen meditation in a larger scope is a Buddhist traditional meditation that dates to the 7th century China, precisely during the Tang dynasty. Due to its Chinese origins, it is originally known as “Ch’an,” only then it is known as “Zen” after it had been introduced to neighbouring Japan and Korea.
In the meantime, the word “Zen” is a Japanese variety of the Chinese term above. But then on top of all those, the terms “Ch’an” and “Zen” has its bigger roots on the Indian term “Dhyana” which means meditation or concentration.
Methods of Zazen Meditation
- Burmese Position
Burmese Position in zazen requires the crossing of the legs along with sitting upright, with both legs touching the floor. In fact, this is the simplest position there is in zazen meditation. The body parts that must touch the floor are from the knees to the toes.
For some, they might require a bit of flexibility stretching in order to make this possible. To make that process easier, sit on the front third of “zafu” mat so that the body shifts upward a little bit. Compliment it with the mind that also pushes upwards, and also straighten the spine, and finally let the legs rest loosely. In the meantime, the buttocks remain on the zafu and the stomach pushes out a little in order to get a proper position of this posture.
- Half Lotus Position
Second, the half lotus position requires the foot to be placed up onto the right thigh with the left legs being tucked under. This makes the half lotus position to be slightly asymmetrical, with the body adjusting a bit so that it becomes perfectly straight. Also, this position also requires seldom alternation on which legs go up.
- Full Lotus Position
Similar to the half lotus position by large, however the major difference in between full lotus position and half lotus position is that in full lotus position the body is balanced. In addition, the body position looks symmetrical and perfectly solid. However, one must always take note what matters most to zazen meditation is what is going on inside the mind instead of how each body part is being positioned.
- Seiza Position
The seiza position needs a slight lifting of the upper body by kneeling, with a pillow or just the floor as its base. The main difference in between using pillow and without using pillow is that with pillow the body weight is distributed evenly away from the ankle. Indeed, there is also a seiza bench available to enhance weight from keeping off the feet and also to help straighten the spine.
- Chair Position
Finally, there is the chair position, which by far could be the most comfortable position of all zazen positions. Both the feet and back needs to be laid flat and straight up respectively. A straight up position makes the diaphragm to move freely, hence allowing the practitioner to be deep, easy and remain natural. Afterwards, breath through the nose with the mouth closed, tongue pressed lightly on the upper palate to reduce the need of salivating, chin and eyes lowered down.
What are its Health Benefits?
- Zazen Meditation Explores the Inner Self Deeply
Zazen meditation explores the inner self deeply, in fact much deeper than other forms of meditations. Zazen meditations tackle much more intense and complicated issues in life, often venturing into areas deemed unanswerable in real-life situations.
- Zazen Meditation Helps to Better Address Core Issues
Rather than providing temporary solutions to life problems, zazen meditation helps to better address core issues by hinting long term solutions to this kind of problems and situations, like the symptoms of depression. For example, zazen practitioners realize that the true cause of happiness and satisfaction lies completely within ourselves, which is also in line with Buddhism spiritual paths.
- Zazen Meditation Makes Us Aware and Reach the Highest State of Calmness
Zazen meditation makes us aware in terms of realizing the interconnections and blessings to whatever life has given to us, and also reach the highest state of calmness at every day level. Similarly, calmness is also the key to an increased creativity and concentration.
- Zazen Meditation Leads to a Reduce in the Risks of Several Diseases
Practitioners have been reporting other than psychological and mental improvement, zazen meditations have also make them experience a reduce in the risks of symptoms of low blood pressure, anxiety, health risks of stress, poor immunity, insomnia, among other psychological-related conditions. In fact, zazen meditation works better than benefits of lorazepam for anxiety or benefits of gaba supplements for anxiety.
- Zazen Meditation Leads to Emotional Intelligence
An improved emotional intelligence lets us to be able in making decisions or thinking critically while under pressure. This allows us to be capable of handling critical situations sharply without the influence of emotions. Also, we are also having better focus and concentration while coping with boring or repetitive tasks, all thanks to the breathing exercises from zazen.
- Zazen Meditation Gives Better Pain Resistance
MRI tests have proven that zazen practitioners have better pain resistance compared to those who aren’t. In fact, zazen is better than morphine when it comes to dealing with pain, all thanks to concentration and the power of the mind.
- Zazen Meditation Improves Psychomotor Response
Restlessness and lack of sleep halts psychomotor responses, which makes poor coordination of different body parts. Practicing zazen meditation helps to deal with triggers that may disrupt our psychomotor responses.