Stress has been identified as one of the risk factors for serious illnesses and diseases. It may also trigger a headache, a stroke, an asthma attack, or skin allergy, to name a few. With ordinary lifestyles infused with stress coming from various aspects such as work, finances, home and relationships, stress management should become a part of your health plan. Satori is an old meditation practice that originated in Japan. The word “satori” literally means “enlightenment.” It has gained a following in the Western world because of its therapeutic effects.
While most people tend to think that meditation is a religious practice, anyone is free to apply Satori as a means of experiencing calm and relaxation. In Zen Buddhism, it is customary for a believer to detach one’s self from the outside world for moments of silence and deep thought. Zen believers often spend days pondering on questions about the self and life.
These questions appear to be very simple yet open to so much interpretation depending on how you look at it. These are known as Koans. An example of a Koan is the very basic question of “Who am I?” As you meditate and reflect on the question, you may find yourself moving from the superficial (I am 40 years old, a writer and a mother of two) to the profound (I am independent and I thrive on doing the things I love).
There is no right or wrong answer to a Koan as every individual is unique and experiences life differently from the others. Other questions that will help reach Satori include “What is my purpose?’ and “What is my true nature?”
Concentration is the key to meditation. For Satori beginners, being able to concentrate may not be easy as the mind is usually filled with thoughts that can distract. A Satori guide may help you concentrate by teaching you how to focus using a mantra that you chant mentally. You will also be taught proper breathing techniques and to mind how you breathe. Mindful breathing moves the focus of your attention from the external to your self. It is also a proven relaxation technique as breathing in and out supplies your brain with much needed oxygen to function well.
Try not to expect all your personal issues to be ironed out during one or two sessions or you may just be disappointed. Be kind to yourself and take one step at a time. Meditation will most likely give you an insight about yourself that you may have always known but have forgotten or that you may have been blind to. The technique is therapeutic not because of the answers that you may find at the end of a session but more for the process of discovering how you think, what your behaviours are and other details about your personality.
Aside from meditating on the Koan, you may also be taught “goalless” meditation that involves “nothing-but-sitting” or Shikantaza. Shikantaza is not simply sitting and not doing anything. It has for its purpose the setting aside of mind and body and dwelling in a state of “open awareness”. This is the next step after reflecting on the Koans and may require diligent practice before one can truly experience a dropping off of sensation and thoughts.
Once you have learned the basics, you can use the Satori technique any where and any time you are feeling stressed.