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The Essence of Breathing in Zen Meditation
The Essence of Breathing in Zen Meditation

Zen meditation is letting go of pessimistic thoughts and simply relaxing. In Buddhism, it is a contemplative discipline performed to achieve calmness in the mind and body. Most importantly, it aims for a practitioner to understand the nature of life to obtain enlightenment.

To fully experience positive results of Zen meditation, there are three general methods to consider such as (1) Concentration; (2) Koan Introspection; and (3) Shikantaza.

Concentration is the main emphasis to start Zen meditation. You need to focus on your breathing which is commonly ministered by counting. Let breathing be your shield to any distraction. On the other hand, Koan Introspection focuses on “koan.” Koan is an entity used for meditation. “Just sitting” or Shikantaza is meditation where an object has no place, instead mere concentration is needed.

Once you have chosen a specific method, then it is time for you to be aware of the common positions undertaken in Zen meditation.

Burmese Position
At first glance the said position looks like a simple cross-legged position.

With the Burmese position, you need to situate your feet so it will be in front of one another and let both your feet relax on the floor. You need to ensure that your heels are pointed towards your pelvis. Also rested on the floor are your knees.

Seiza Position
Seiza is the Japanese term for correct sitting. It can be achieved by letting your lower leg kneel. Make sure that your feet are under your buttocks and that your toes are positioned in a backward manner.

Half-Lotus Position
Indian-style with one leg on the top of the other is the half-lotus position. To achieve such sitting position, you need to be seated on an Indian-style of sitting. After which, lift one leg without letting the legs be unfolded.

Full-Lotus Position
Make sure that you are seated Indian style. Then, pick one foot and take it to the crook of your knee. Let it rest, ensuring that the base of your knee is in an upward position. The final step you need to undertake is to bring the other foot to the other knee just like what you did on the first.

After you have chosen a comfortable Zen position for you, there are other important considerations you need to carry out:

  • Keep your mouth close. Ensure that your tongue is calmly pushed beside the upper palate to prevent salivation and swallowing.
  • Keep your eyes low. Fix your eyes on the ground.
  • Keep your chin tucked-in.
  • Keep your nose in line with your navel.
  • Keep your torso not to lean forward or backward.
  • Keep your hands enclosed in a “cosmic mudra.” Your dominant hand should be in an upward palm position to hold the other hand.

Zen meditation concentrates on breathing. Breathe in Zen meditation is said to be the fundamental force in one’s body. Together with mind, the two are considered the reality of life.

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