Origin & Meaning:
Zazen (坐禅) refers to, ‘seated zen’, or in other words ‘seated meditation’ according to the Japanese. It has deep-seated roots with Chinese Zen Buddhism (Ch’an)tradition. It’s history traces far back as 6th Century BC to the Indian monk Bodhidharma. In the West however, the most popular form of zazen comes from Dogen Zenji (1200-1253), the creator of the Soto Zen movement in Japan. Similarities exist between Soto Zen and the Rinzai school of Zen taught in parts of Japan and Korea.
How To Do It:
This meditation is typically done on a cushion or a mat over the floor. Traditionally, the practitioner sits in lotus or half-lotus position, this is not necessary. Most practitioners now use chairs:
The most fundamental tip for this method of meditation is to keep your spine vertical from hip to neck. The mouth must be kept close and your eyes must lowered, its gaze a few feet on the ground in front of you.
The mind aspect of this meditation can be broken into two parts:
Focusing on breath — Put the entirety of your consciousness on your breath. Doing things such as counting breaths will help immerse yourself into deeper levels of consciousness. If you lose focus, gently resume focus on your breath again.
Shikantaza (“just sitting”) — In this form the user does not focus their consciousness on any particular object. They do however focus on the present moment, trying to be aware of all aspects of the present including thoughts, memory, sounds, smells etc. This is a form of Effortless Presence meditation.
Is It For Me? :
Zazen is very orthodox form of meditation and has strong communities around the world practising it. There is also plentiful information around the web regarding this popular form of meditation. It is most commonly practiced in Zen Buddhist centres. A heavy emphasis is placed on posturing, as this helps aid in concentration. There are also ritualistic tendencies associated with zazen such as chanting and group readings of Buddhist teachings. This may appeal to some people.