Meditation is pretty simple, right? A few deep breaths, chuck in a cheeky visualisation, maybe a few mantras before you’ve had your first cup of coffee?
Meditation might be our go-to for a de-stressing session, but you don’t have to restrict your me-time to one form of self-care. In fact, switching things up can help accentuate the mindfulness which is the key benefit of rolling out the yoga mat.
Zen Meditation is a Buddhist discipline which can be practiced by just about anyone. Although, Buddhists follow this practice for a more spiritual purpose rather than trying to stop worrying about whether you’re going to make rent next month. Zen Meditation aims to provide you with the clarity and the improved workability – yes, it’s a word – of the mind.
In Buddhist terms, when we return to the original nature of our mind, we are experiencing awakening.
In less spiritual and more physical terms, zen practitioners follow the zaZen Meditation: this is a sitting meditation, where you sit upright, follow your breathing, and feel it in your body. And while you can enhance this by practicing with a zen master, let’s stick to our bedroom floors for now.
Why you should be practicing Zen Meditation
When it comes to Zen Buddhists, they meditate for one reason: to observe and let go of the thoughts and feelings that are getting them down. In more spiritual terms, that is. But this meditation advances further than de-stressing.
Zen Meditation tackles the deeper, more difficult issues in ourselves, even when we still just can’t find an answer for them. And whilst it does provide you with the relaxation we are all in need of, it might bring you greater peace of mind than you thought when you pulled out your yoga mat.
And the benefits don’t stop there.
When you start to follow this spiritual path – no matter how daunting that sounds – you appreciate and become aware of the little things. You become more grateful for your life, and the things it can provide you with. And when we become more grateful, we can become more compassionate for others, sending on the positive vibes we gain from each meditation. Plus, as we send on said vibes, we become more fulfilled within ourselves. This is the spiritual essence of Zen Meditation.
Yet aside from a spiritual journey, Zen Meditation has a lot more to offer up.
Scientists have proven than this meditation actually thickens our brain’s grey matter. When you have completed 8 hours, you are believed to be experiencing a more positive outlook on life. And three hours later? You brain grows in size.
Also, if you’re a sufferer of chronic pain, Zen Meditation could be your new medication.
Additionally, the practice of zaZen Meditation – that is, sitting up – can improve our posture. Keeping those shoulders back is key to achieving a successful practice. And when you do a little every day, you can carve out some time for yourself, and look good doing it (and after it).
How to practice Zen Meditation
The key to Zen Meditation is observing our breath, as in any form of meditation. Grab a comfy cushion, and sit on it in a comfortable position, whether a half-lotus, a Burmese, or a seiza pose. Centre and extend your spine, and relax. And I mean everything; your position should not be causing stress on any of your body. Relax the shoulders, and lower your eyes to the floor about 3 feet in front of you. Then rest your hands on your lap, or your abdomen to ensure you aren’t causing stress to you arms. Zen Meditation is simply about finding a comfortable position which allows you to feel alert, but still.
When you’ve found this position, breathe. Count each inhale and exhale up to ten. Then repeat. And if a thought attempts to distract you, as we all know they love to do, let it pass, and refocus on the next breathe.
If you don’t feel ready to become a zen master just yet, don’t worry. ‘Just sitting’, the practice of letting thoughts flow through their minds without focusing on breathing is a common practice, and even has a name: shikantaza.
Zen Meditation is not about a goal, or an aim. Allowing your mind to just be can tick as many of the boxes of this spiritual journey as struggling to get into a lotus pose.
Plus, thanks to self-care apps, we are only a few clicks away from easy guides to the right kind of Zen Meditation for you.
And that’s just it – its all about you. Finding the right kind of meditation for you, if meditation even is for you! Simply making that time to do something for yourself can sometimes go a bit further than counting your breaths. Though it might make you feel a little more, you know, zen.