Zen Meditation is associated with the Zen branch of Buddhism, which emphasises meditation as its core technique for uniting the body and the mind. The goal of all meditation is to focus and calm the mind, thereby increasing the awareness of the individual.
Meditation is typically practised by concentrating on a single activity to the exclusion of all else. Various techniques are employed to reach this state, and can promote general wellbeing and health, as well as helping to boost the immune system. Zen meditation concentrates on clearing the mind of all thoughts by focusing on posture and breathing techniques. This is designed to alleviate the individual of the psychological burden of everyday worries and help to attain a higher state of consciousness.
Follow these simple guidelines to begin learning basic meditation techniques:
- essential conditions for meditation include a quiet, undisturbed space to meditate in
- try to meditate early morning or late evening
- ensure you are not tired
- one should also dress comfortably to ensure distractions are minimised
- sit in a comfortable position on the floor, with a mat or cushion for support
- keeping the back, and therefore the spine, erect is essential
- relax physically and mentally
- empty your mind of all thoughts
- concentrate on your breathing, specifically breathing through your nose in a calm and even manner
Essentials of Zen meditation
Meditation is closely associated with Zen Buddhism, and has developed a number of positions to achieve the necessary state. This includes the classic Lotus Position, which involves a cross-legged position with the feet on opposite thighs. This is a particularly difficult position for beginners, but easier variations do exist, including the half lotus, Burmese and seiza, which involves using a pillow or low bench to support the thighs. One can also sit in a chair, with the back supported by a pillow or cushion to ensure the spine is erect. Zen meditation is traditionally either practised alone facing a wall, or in a group circle.
The benefits of meditation
Meditation has been recognised for centuries by many cultures and religions as a discipline that has a range of mental and physical benefits for an individual, including:
- reducing stress and anxiety
- increasing concentration
- improving posture
- coping with depression.
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