Sitting on a cushion ('zafu'), the legs are crossed in the full or half
lotus position. The pelvis is slightly bent forward, the back stretching
upwards. The head is straight and the chin tucked in. The eyes are
relaxed, looking downwards with the eyelids half closed. The fingers of
the left hand are resting on the fingers of the right hand, palms upward
with the tip of the thumbs touching each other. The hands, thus forming
a 'mudra', are put against the belly.
Zen-breathing is different from normal breathing. The emphasis lies on a
long deep exhalation in which the energy is collected in the area just
below the navel ('Kikai Tanden'). The belly is relaxed and at the end of
the exhalation slightly pushed outward. After the exhalation there is a
short spontaneous inhalation and a new cycle begins.
The state of mind:During Zazen the mind will calm down. Thoughts may appear but you let
them go without hanging on to them, judging them or reacting to them.
Thus the mind is not grasping anything. This state of mind can only be
reached by concentrating on the posture and breathing, not by willpower.
The practice of Zazen
Many people are not really in touch with themselves. Their inner sense
of direction is poor and they are out of balance. Zazen will help you
get in touch with yourself again and find your balance.
By practicing Zazen you not only discover that all parts of your body
are interconnected but also that your posture has a direct influence on
Practicing Zazen helps you build and strengthen the true foundation of
your life. Your energy will spread throughout your whole body and your
life will become more intense. Liberating one part of your body means
liberating one part of your consciousness. Then you will discover the
function and powerful effect of the breathing and become aware of the
universal energy which unconsciously, naturally and automatically
will learn you to concentrate and balance inside yourself.
Practicing Zazen and refining your posture is an ongoing process which
will slowly bring about a change in your daily life. Zazen is not easy
and not difficult. However, it needs commitment and perseverance.