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ZAZEN> How to do ZAZEN

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Meditation can be an invaluable stress reliever. If you experience stress and anxiety for one reason or another, experiment with different meditation techniques. Zazen is a type of meditation unique to Zen Buddhism. It includes concentration on the breath and the present. First, find a convenient place and a comfortable position for yourself. Start with short breathing sessions. Over time, develop a suitable mode for yourself. At first, meditation can be difficult, since the ability to free the mind comes with practice, but in the end, you will find an algorithm that will have a positive effect on you.

General methodology for sitting meditation

Unlike traditional Buddhist meditation, the goal of which is to achieve satori, the first and main task of zazen is to calm the body and a soulful understanding of the phenomena of existence, only with years of practice sitting meditation can lead to a state of “lack of mind”, awakening and realizing the nature of the practitioner's Buddha.

Some sources claim that despite its apparent simplicity, this constant technique is sufficient to achieve enlightenment, as confirmed by numerous Japanese monasteries where zazen was the only practice.

General methodology for sitting meditation

Traditionally (but not necessarily) zazen conducted by groups of practitioners in a special room zendo (Japanese 禅堂, zendo:, “A room for meditation”) and may intersperse with periods of so-called “meditation during a walk”, kinhin (Japanese 経 行).

Session start zazen traditionally indicated by three strokes in a special bell, the end of the session - with one blow. Before the start zazenpracticing ritual bow (gassho, yap.合掌) greet fellow practitioners and masters.

In Japan zazen perform on special pillows dzabuton (座 布 団) laid on top of traditional straw mats. For practice zazen The following items are used:

  • kekkafudza (結 跏趺坐 跏趺坐) - the position of the "lotus"
  • hankafudza (Jap. 半 跏趺坐) - the position of "half-nose"
  • agura (Japanese 胡 坐 "Foreign (Indian) pose") - «in turkish»
  • seiza (Japanese 正坐, “correct (Japanese) pose”)

Nowadays, especially among practicing Europeans, it is often zazen It is carried out sitting on a chair, with a pillow placed under the lower back to support the natural curvature of the spine.

The main in the zazen position is the straight spine, aligning the ears and shoulders in one line. The chin should be retracted, the diaphragm lowered. Hands should be folded into “space mudra”: the left palm is on top of the right, the joints of the middle fingers are in contact, the thumbs are connected, as if a sheet of paper is between them. Hands should form a beautiful oval, thumbs should be at the level of the belt.

Usually practiced abdominal breathing, from the center of gravity of the abdomen (hara, yap. , 腹). Eyes are half-closed, never fully closed and never fully open (in order to avoid exposure to meditation by external factors and, at the same time, not to fall asleep).

As already noted, the main goal zazen - calming the body and mind. This zazen is somewhat different from the meditative practice of achieving enlightenment, which is usually characterized by the concentration of the mind on an object or phenomenon. Similar zazen the practices were often used by masters of art in Japan - before starting to work, the master had to calm, balance his mind, come to a state zansin (残 心 心), which may mean "balance of mind."

1. Seat

During zazen, it is advisable to place a thick mattress under your feet. If the litter is thin, then your legs will immediately hurt, you will only think about pain and will not be able to focus on practice. Do not be shy to use a thick mattress, since the practice of zazen is not patience for leg pain. On top of the mattress Zafu (座 布) - a special round pillow about 40 cm in diameter and 15 cm high to sit on it.

2. Seating methods

Kekkafudza 結 跏趺坐 ("full lotus")
Put the right foot on the left thigh, then the left foot on the right thigh. If you look at the statues of Buddha, then in them the right leg is located on top of the left. This is because the Buddha practically implements knowledge of the truth and leads people along the path to enlightenment, while we, as practitioners, should sit in the reverse order.

Hankafudza 半 跏趺坐 (“half-lotus”)

Put only the left foot on the right thigh, the right foot is under the left thigh.

Nihondza 日本 坐 ("landing in Japanese")

This position is usually called Saiza (“Proper sitting”), but unlike Saiza at Nihondza should be placed under the buttocks Zafu and put the big toes together. The distance between the knees is approximately two fists. In this position, the legs also begin to hurt with prolonged sitting. Then you can just pinch Zafu between legs, sitting like on a horse.

With prolonged sitting, the legs begin to hurt even for those practitioners who can take the position kekkafudza or hankafudza . In this case, you can alternate all three positions as necessary. Also in position hankafudza it is sometimes permitted to reverse the position of the legs when the right foot rests on the left thigh.

3. Hand position

Hands are placed over the legs. The right hand is under the left and touches the left foot. The thumbs of both hands touch slightly with their nails and form an oval shape (Hockey-joing 法 界定 印). When you want to sleep or are distracted by thoughts, this form may be disturbed. Therefore, hold it with moderate tension. Relax your shoulders and spread your elbows to the sides.

Straighten your back. Correct posture is extremely important in zazen, and special attention should be paid to this. However, even if you think you are sitting perfectly straight, your back will still be slightly rounded. Therefore, it will be perfectly normal to sit with the feeling that the back is a little rounded. It should be remembered that poor posture is not true zazen, so you should always try to keep your back straight.

Unlike ordinary meditation or relaxation in zazen, you should never close your eyes. When relaxing, it’s enough to calm down and feel comfortable. In meditation, they represent the image of a deity or something like that with their eyes closed until it seems real. People call it religious experience. Buddhist practice is not the same, it is not the desire for peace, relaxation with eyes closed or the search for unusual sensations. Here, to the last, one must keep one's eyes open and look directly at the essence of oneself. Directly, the gaze should be directed forward and down and fixed in a meter in front of you. No need to try to look at something closely, just look at what is in sight.

Before zazen begins, a slow deep breath is taken through the nose, while the diaphragm goes down and the lower abdomen is inflated, and after a couple of seconds - a slow long exhalation with the nose. Then go on to natural breathing through the nose. In Zazengi, this is called Kekki Issoku .

7. "Adjustment of consciousness"

  • Susokukan 数息観

During zazen, count the breath from one to ten ("one", "two",.). There are three options for performing the count: counting only exhalations, only inspirations, or both inspirations and exhalations. It is often said that the first method (counting only exhalations) is suitable when you want to sleep, the second (counting only breaths), when you are annoyed with something, or you can’t concentrate (thoughts are in a mess), and the third (counting breaths) you want to sleep or are very distracted. But, in principle, you should try all the methods and choose the most suitable for you. In any case, the most important thing is to focus on what you are doing. Do not think that “one”, “two”, etc. - these are ordinary numbers. You just have to merge with the score and say “od-i-i-n”, “dv-a-a” without thinking about the meaning. If you accidentally became distracted and continued to count further than “11, 12 ...”, then you do not need to worry and reproach yourself for your inability to concentrate. Then immediately begin to count again from one.

  • Zuizokukan 随 息 観

Instead of counting breaths, you need to “become” a breath. When you breathe in, you become one with a breath. When you exhale, you become one with the exhale.

  • Sikantadza 只管 打坐

Sikantadza - just practice zazen without any special method. "Sikan"Means" simple "," without looking back, ""Taza"- to sit" sincerely "," correctly "," impeccably. " In fact, all other ways (Susokukan , Zuizokukan and Koan) are ways to achieve Sikantadza. However, there is a danger of being fooled precisely because no special methods are used here. Remembering the word Sikantadzaare often misunderstood that just sitting is enough for excellence in the teachings of Buddhism.

Buddhism means getting rid of your "I". An aid to this is practice. Koan (Zen questions). Sometimes people are very mistaken about Koan in zen. It is sometimes criticized in the sense that it is only a study of something that is vaguely reminiscent of Buddhism. but Koan - this is a harsh practice, which you need to give yourself entirely and which allows you to achieve a state Muga ("not me ").

Questions Koan so skillfully composed that if you continue to hold on to your ego, then you can’t find out the answer. It is also necessary to have a worthy teacher and fortitude, a sincere desire to achieve the state of Buddha. Otherwise practice Koan becomes just learning or playing Koan. This must be borne in mind.

* In Toshoji, training for all beginners begins with Susokukan , and then depending on the disposition of each student go to practice Koan .

1. Seat

During zazen, one must sit facing the wall, although the presence of a wall is not necessary. The reason they sit this way is that if you look into the distance, your attention is scattered. Therefore, practicing at home, you can sit facing shoji , fusuma , tokonoma or the altar. The distance to the wall is at least one meter.

Eat up to 70 - 80 percent of the total volume of the stomach. After eating, relax a bit before starting zazen so that you do not want to sleep. It is ineffective and unhealthy to practice zazen when you want to sleep. This can lead to a bad habit of napping during zazen. However, it is better not to do hungry zazen either, because for practice there may simply not be enough physical and moral strength. Ideal to practice after eating a moderate amount of food. If there is enough enthusiasm and do not want to sleep, then you can continue to sit more and more.

3. Duration and frequency

If you think it is useless to practice zazen for only a few minutes, then this will be a big mistake. In fact, zazen even in one second is able to combine the infinite past and future, and has tremendous good power to cleanse the universe. Even if you do not believe in this, you can be convinced of what has been said by giving zazen a moment of free time.

The duration of daily zazen depends on both the practitioner and the environment. When there is a strong will, even difficult for others becomes easy for you. People often complain about the lack of time. However, time can also be found if there is a will to practice.

However, you should not try to sit as long as possible at a time, because fatigue builds up and you cannot concentrate. For beginners, it is recommended to limit the duration of zazen to 30 to 40 minutes at a time. If you want to continue further, then you can repeat zazen after kinhin* and a short break. For example, you can do 40 minutes of zazen, then 5 minutes kinhin * and a 15 minute break.

7. Records during zazen

During zazen practice, you should have a small notebook in your sleeve or pocket. It happens that during zazen in a calm atmosphere, something important is suddenly remembered. If you try not to forget about it, then these thoughts will prevent you from focusing. In this case, you can make a note on the notebook and sit still (Note: in zendo (zazen hall) in the temple during zazen it is not allowed to make notes. This can be done during zazen at home or during a break).

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