Zen meditation is a part of the practices of Zen Buddhism which originated from Mahayana Buddhism in India. After that, it has spread through China, Korea, Japan and throughout the whole world. With its approach, Zen is a way of self-discovery of our true nature or self. It is not a religion, philosophy or belief system.
One cannot fully understand Zen by reading the book about it. It cannot be described by drawing, speaking about it or conceptualising in any way. Any idea that pops up in ones mind is pointless. The only way to understand Zen and the path to our true selves is through non-thinking. Our mind is overpacked with thoughts, concepts and attachments to them. Since the moment were born we have gone through conditioning. Most of us were told to believe in someone elses ideas and truths without discovering things through our own experience. Many of us wander through lives without knowing who we really are. Life itself becomes too complicated and difficult to grasp.
Contrary to the delusions made of thoughts, labels and form, by practicing Zen meditation we simply exist from one moment to another. In this present moment, when we smell a flower, we smell a flower. When we hear music, we hear music. When we see a rainbow, we see a rainbow.
In its important sitting practice called zazen, the following postures can help us to meditate effectively: full lotus, half lotus, quarter lotus, Burmese style (placing one foot in front of the other with ankles resting on the floor or mat), Seiza (kneeling position) with bench, Seiza with cushion and sitting on a chair.
Back and neck are in straight position while the chin is slightly tucked in. Hands are folded in cosmic mudra in the way where active hand holds the inactive hand. It turns the meditators attention inward. The mudra can rest on the thighs or soles of the feet depending on the chosen sitting posture.Thumbs are slightly touching and forming an oval-like shape. Eyes can be open or half-closed gazing with the soft focus. Mouth is closed and tongue is placed on the upper palate.
In zazen, the focus on breath is as it is. We breathe in and out naturally. As we are aware of how mind is connected with breath, our attention goes to the place two or three fingers below navel called hara. The hara is the physical and spiritual center of the body. As we breathe in and out, we imagine how breath comes down to hara and arises from it. Also, the beginners can start to count the breaths while they exhale. This will help mind be focused and awareness will grow more as well.