Zen Meditation: Technique, History & Fun Facts

Meditating - what does it actually do? Skeptics often ask this question, because at first glance meditation seems to be nothing more than "just sitting" (Japanese shikantaza ). In fact, however, the so-called Zen meditation is about much more than simply remaining in one position: the focus is on the present moment. You can read here how you can learn Zen meditation as a beginner and what it actually is.

Zen meditation: Here's how

Zen meditation: what is it?

Strictly speaking, there are different types of meditation . Yoga is also meditation combined with movement. But what we usually think of first when we hear the word is Zen meditation. In so-called zazen, you sit completely still with your eyes closed for a certain period of time.

The goal of zazen is just to be aware of the moment . Rather than trying to understand everything, Zen meditation is about looking at the now objectively. In concrete terms, this means: Even if you think of something supposedly urgent during the practice, you don't stop because of that, but instead recognize this fact and let it go away again.

In Zen meditation, it often helps, especially for beginners, to breathe consciously, but more on that later. For the moment, only this much can be said: The organs are better supplied with energy through calm, deep breathing . Last but not least, meditation also benefits physical health.

Incidentally, Zen meditation is based on a teaching from Mahayna Buddhism and goes back to the 6th century. This term does not mean a practice that is carried out selectively, but rather an attitude that can be applied in every situation in life : paying attention to the moment, to thinking and acting.

Learning Zen Meditation: Technique and Instructions

Zazen is a form of meditation that practically anyone can learn. You do n't need any large equipment or any specific physical requirements . All you need is your head - and a bit of practice, because meditation is also a matter of patience . Sitting still for a long period of time is not so easy for many beginners.

Sitting during zen meditation

Forget the classic image of the person in the perfect lotus position. This position is, of course, wonderful for Zen meditation, but not generally comfortable for everyone. You can only stay in a comfortable situation for a long time. If necessary, use a meditation cushion as a base or lean against a wall.

The main thing is that you can sit as upright and stable as possible. It is good to meditate in the following positions:

  • Lotus position (advanced) or half lotus position (beginner)
  • Sit on a chair (feet firmly on the floor, back not leaning against)
  • Heel sit (if required with meditation bench as support )
  • Burmese seat

When you have found a good sitting position, lower your chin very slightly so that your neck and spine are as straight as possible. Your hands are in your lap with your thumbs touching lightly. You can close your eyes or leave them half open .

duration of the meditation

The ideal length of a Zen meditation is difficult to determine. Advanced meditators meditate for 30 minutes or more, while beginners can only stay focused for a few minutes. The only basic rule of meditation when it comes to timing is therefore: establish a routine and always meditate at the same time. Zen meditation is particularly useful in the mornings and evenings, because that way you can start the day with more concentration and you can calm down better before going to sleep.

Zen Meditation: Exercises and Tips for Beginners

Now, if you want to try Zen meditation, there is no set set of steps you need to follow. So exercises can only be spoken of to a limited extent, because ultimately you just have to find the little tricks that bring you the most when meditating. Here are the 6 best tips for Zen meditation beginners:

  1. Choose the right place. The best place to meditate is in a quiet place that you are happy to return to.
  2. Wear comfortable clothing. This point is self-explanatory – you cannot relax with an outfit that is too tight.
  3. Use your breathing. By concentrating fully on the inhalation and exhalation, you can distract yourself from your train of thought. Each breath gets a number, so you slowly count to 10. Now you start over or stop. As soon as you notice that your mind is wandering, you can start counting again.
  4. Use your hands to help . Another way to keep your focus is with your hands: if you feel your mind wandering, squeeze your thumbs together slightly. Concentrate on the pressure in your fingertips.
  5. Hold on. Easier said than done - but an essential part of meditation practice! It doesn't matter whether it's itchy or your legs are falling asleep: simply observe the feeling and try to accept it.
  6. End the practice gently. Instead of being torn from your rest by a shrill alarm clock, you can gently come out of your meditation with apps like Zenfriend or a harmonious alarm tone. Stand up slowly and calmly.

Zen meditation is very simple in itself, yet incredibly effective. By consciously noticing the moment , you learn to remain more relaxed in everyday life and to act more confidently. However, simple does not mean that you will become a meditation professional overnight: For successful Zen meditation you need patience, practice and the willingness not to primarily want to understand everything, but simply to observe . But if you bring these qualities with you, you can only benefit from Zen meditation!


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