Zen meditation is an ‘open-monitoring meditation’ where a person’s monitoring skills are used. Such skills are modified into a state of reflexive awareness with a wide range of attention that is not particularized to a single object.
Zen meditation is analogous to mindfulness therein it’s about that specialize in the presence of mind. However, the difference lies here – Mindfulness focuses on a single aspect while Zen meditation revolves around a general awareness.
Unlike loving, kindness and compassion meditation, which focuses on cultivating compassion, or mantra meditation, which involves the recitation of a mantra, Zen meditation involves increased awareness of the continued physical and self-referential processes.
Zen meditation often involves keeping the eyes semi-open, which is different from most other forms of meditation that encourage closing the eyes. During Zen meditation, practitioners also dismiss any thoughts that pop into their minds and essentially believe nothing.
Over time, they find out how to stay their minds from wandering and should even be ready to tap into their unconscious minds. Often, the goal is to become more conscious of preconceived notions and gain insight into oneself.
There are six ways to sit for Zen Meditation. Let’s take a look into it…
1. The Quarter Lotus
Sit on your meditation seat with your legs crossed loosely with both feet lying under the opposite thigh or knee. This is a recommended approach.
2.The Half Lotus
This is a variant of the previous example. Your legs are crossed, and one foot is leaning on the hip of the person on the opposite side. The other foot may be folded underneath the top leg and tucked under the knee or thigh.
3. The Full Lotus
In Padmasana, your legs are crossed and both feet are lying on top of your opposite thighs (Lotus Pose).
4 . The Burmese Position
It’s great if you can’t sit with your legs crossed. Simply sit in this comfortable posture, aka Sukhasana, with both feet on the floor (Easy Pose).
Kneel and put a pillow or yoga supports between your legs instead of sitting with your legs crossed. Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Meditation Pose) is simply a propped-up Virasana (Hero Pose) or Vajrasana (Meditation Pose) (Thunderbolt Pose).
Finally, if you need to, you can use a chair. There’s no shame in it. Just make sure you’re seated away from the chair’s back and your feet are firmly planted on the floor, aligned with your hips and knees.
Zen Meditation’s effect on the human brain
For years, scientists have studied how meditation affects the mind and therefore the body. Zen meditation practice has always been a topic of curiosity and the question of why it affects the brain the way it does naturally arise a lot. In a 2008 study, researchers compared twelve people who had more than three years of daily practice in Zen meditation with those who had never experienced meditation.
Everyone within the study was given a brain scan and asked to specialize in their breathing. Occasionally, they were asked to differentiate a true word from a nonsense word on a display screen. Then, they were instructed to specialize in their breathing again.
The results showed that Zen meditation triggered activity in a set of brain regions known as the “default network.” It is responsible for the phenomena of a wandering mind.
The volunteers who regularly practised Zen meditation also were ready to return to their breathing much faster than the novices after being interrupted.
The authors of the study concluded that meditation may enhance the capacity to remain focused, concentrate, and limit distractions—all of which may be a struggle for people in today’s digital world.
Zen Meditation and how it affects the unconscious
There’s also been tons of curiosity about whether Zen meditation can allow practitioners to access their unconscious minds. It’s thought that the conscious mind can only specialize in one thing at a time—like your grocery list or a book that you’re reading.
But, experts suspect the unconscious mind is vast. Many researchers believe that knowing the way to access unconscious processes could foster greater creativity and help people become more conscious of what they have to try to do to succeed in their goals.
Research in 2012 studied whether Zen meditation helped professionals get better access to their unconscious minds. All the participants were experienced Zen meditators. A group of people was asked to meditate for 20 minutes. The other group was asked to read magazines. These groups were then compared on the basis of their experience.
They also were asked to type the solution as fast as possible. The individuals who meditated before the test were ready to complete the task faster, which demonstrated that they had better access to their unconscious minds.
Another research asked one group to meditate for 20 minutes while the control group was told to relax. The volunteers were then asked a series of 20 questions, each with three or four correct responses. They’ll be asked to identify one of the four seasons, for example. However, a potential response like “Season” blinked for 16 milliseconds just before seeing the question on the computer screen.
The meditation group gave an average of 6.8 correct answers to the subliminal terms. The control group only matched 4.9 words on average. The researchers concluded that meditators were better prepared than non-meditators to access what the brain was paying attention to.
According to the studies, Zen meditation may be able to provide deeper insight into what’s going on in the brain.
How to Practice It?
There are a number of ways to learn more about Zen meditation, including audio programmes, online videos, online learning programmes, and books on the subject. You may also be able to find a Zen meditation class where you can learn from a coach. There are also a number of meditation retreats available, ranging in length from a weekend to a month or more.
Tourists in China who want to learn about Zen meditation at a Buddhist temple flock to Zen meditation retreats in hordes. So, depending on your preferences, desires, and budget, you will find a course that will teach you Zen meditation techniques in a variety of ways.
Will it Work for You?
When it comes to meditation, it’s crucial to figure out which style is best for you. Zen meditation does not often turn out to be a favourite, according to research. In reality, it’s always near the bottom of the to-do list.
In a 2012 report, college students spent seven days over the course of four weeks practising a particular form of meditation. They were asked to rate the meditation activities in order of personal interest at the end of the study.
Vipassana (mindfulness) and Mantra therapy received significantly more votes than Zen and Qigong Visualization.
It’s also crucial to be careful and consistent. Allow yourself to let go of any hopes or goals you might have set for yourself. Though we are conditioned to work in this manner in everyday life, Buddhist meditation practise is allowing us to see ourselves and our lives in a new light. Simply devote yourself to zazen and let go of all your feelings, ideas, and stories. Daily Zazen meditation can help you achieve this.
The human mind is essentially unregulated, accessible, lively, and at ease. We learn to uncover the mind in zazen, to see who we really are, and to experience the world as it is.