Some people might think of Zen meditation as a centuries-old ritual that only seasoned monks can pull off. While this form of meditation began back in the 7th century during the Tang Dynasty, the truth is that everyone can benefit from it.
With Zen meditation, the goal is to quiet the mind and find inner peace and heal yourself mentally and physically from within.
This kind of meditation does not have as much to do with religion as most people might think. So no, you do not have to drastically change your life, put on orange robes and spend the better part of your working day sitting still in an ancient oriental village to reap the benefits of Zen meditation.
But what exactly is Zen meditation? Meditation is just medication, right? Actually, no. Zen meditation is different from other kinds of meditation, as you will find out soon.
What is Zen Meditation?
Zen meditation is also called "Zazen". The essence of Zazen is to focus on the breathing process. Instead of encouraging the practicer to free the mind from the world, the goal of Zen meditation is to keep fully aware of the surroundings with a vigilant attitude.
Research shows that people who regularly practice Zazen are less likely to be interrupted by the surrounding noises. Their brains can return faster to what they were focusing on despite the interruptions.
Besides, Zen meditation is slightly different from other kinds of meditation in that you should leave your eyes slightly open during the process.
With other kinds of meditation, you will usually have to shut your eyes completely.
In a study involving Zen monks and disciples, it was discovered that the mental benefits of Zen meditation persisted much longer after the meditation was over. This is not always the case with some other forms of meditation.
In another study, it was even discovered that Zen meditation was so effective that it could be prescribed as a solution to some neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and ADHD in the future.
More Benefits of Practicing Zen Meditation
There are multiple reasons why practice Zen meditation can detox the mind. One of the main benefits of Zen meditation is that it makes it possible to let go of bad thoughts and feelings, and that results in a healthier and more satisfying life.
Through this kind of meditation, you can let go of stress and even relax your mind and body for a more contented life. The meditation can also offer great insights into the body and the mind.
The practice can even result in physical health benefits such as lower blood pressure and higher levels of immunity, better sleep and so forth.
As a matter of fact, Zen meditation is much deeper than other forms of meditation, and it is, therefore, better suited to handling underlying psychological and emotional issues that other forms of meditation choose to ignore.
How Zen Meditation Can Help Detox the Mind?
Our minds can get polluted by a lot of things. These include greed, hatred, jealousy, worries, stress, ego, fears just to name a few.
Whenever you react negatively to a situation, regardless of how justified you are, you are polluting your mind with the negative thoughts that will linger even after the situation has passed.
So, if a person says something negative about you, and you let it trigger negative thoughts in you, you will have compromised your peace of mind and polluted your mind.
Basically, Zen meditation, when done properly, rewires your thought patterns. It means that while a bad incident would have completely ruined your day in the past, that will be less likely to happen after becoming a fan of this meditation technique.
Your mind will more readily repel negative thoughts and focus on happy thoughts, keeping the toxicity such ill thoughts bring into your life off your mind.
How to Practise Zen Meditation?
1. Find a Quiet Place
If possible, physically find a quiet place with as little distractions as possible. Otherwise, find a quiet place in your heart.
While at it, make sure you limit the controllable distractions as much as possible. For instance, put your phone on silent mode, lock any doors, and retreat to a place where people are less likely to come into.
For Zazen, you don’t need to put on light music or whatsoever. Simply take a deep breath and look inside of yourself, searching the most peaceful status in your heart.
It won’t be easy at the beginning, but with the time, you’ll notice the differences.
2. Do Some Relaxation Exercises
You will not always walk into your meditation setting in a relaxed mood. So, to achieve this, you should try to relax through some exercises and whatever else you need to relax your muscles and calm yourself so that there is no tension in your body.
During this process, also try to center yourself towards a good attitude for welcoming Zen mind. Letting go of all the stressful thoughts and understanding that it’s important to letting things take their own course.
3. Sit Properly
First of all, you should sit on a pillow. It could be a traditional meditation cushion such as a cattail hassock or just a flat pillow that allows you to sit comfortably. You can even sit on a chair. But the most important thing is to sit comfortably.
There are many Zazen position – the full lotus, half lotus, the seiza, and even the Burmese sitting position. The most common one will be padmasana pose, which is also known as lotus position.
I must point out that it won’t be easy to sit with lotus position at the beginning. It requires you to bend your leg in a special angle that requires practice. But with the time, it is achievable.
So, for beginner, you may sit in a normal positions as long as it makes you relaxed and comfortable. It should leave you focused and also free of any tension. Again, the most important thing is to get into the Zen mind first.
You can even wiggle about and turn your body in circles until you find the perfect position before placing your hands on your lap with your palm facing up and your left palm over your right-hand palm with the tips of your fingers touching slightly.
4. Your Mouth and Eyes
Once you have found a comfortable sitting position, you should close your mouth, make your tongue touch the roof of your mouth immediately behind the teeth and then look at the wall ahead of you.
After that, you should lower your gaze to about 45 degrees and then allow everything within your sight to fade into a blur.
If that fails, you can close your eyes for a short while and the open them slightly in case you start feeling sleepy.
5. Control Your Breathing
The next step involves mastering the breathing process. In this case, you should take deep breaths. This should happen through your nose since your mouth should be closed.
You do not have to try to adhere to any rhythm, just make deep deliberate breaths.
6. Count to 10 Without Thinking about Anything
Try to count the breaths to ten without a distracting thought getting in the way. This may take a few tries, but every time a thought interrupts your meditation, you should start all over again.
If you are a beginner, several thoughts may make this seem like an insurmountable challenge. But with some few tries, you can calm your mind long enough to count to ten without any distractions.
7. When the Thoughts Won’t Go
When thoughts arise, do not try to force them out of your mind, as that means putting more thoughts into your head, which is the last thing you need.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, and be patient as you try to accomplish this goal.
8. In Case you Feel Sleepy
If you feel too drowsy soon after you begin the meditation, you can experiment with walking meditation, also called kinhin. All the while, remember to keep counting your breaths.
9. Once You Are Done
To ensure the benefits of the meditation extend to your daily life, you should not do something too mentally stimulating after the mediation. The idea is to ensure that the peace of mind you get from the meditation session becomes part of you regardless of what you are doing.
So, you can start off with something mundane like doing the dishes rather than listening to loud and highly stimulating music.
The fact is that the world will always be full of things that can pollute our mind. Fortunately, we can decide whether to give these pollutants a chance to make our thoughts and lives toxic or not.
While there is little we can do about the sources of these mind pollutants, there is plenty we can do about the impact they can have on our minds and our lives. One great way to get rid of all this toxicity and enjoy a healthier mind and body is through Zen meditation.
As you can see above, this form of meditation has many great benefits; and the steps necessary to master it are pretty simple and straightforward.
So, if negative thoughts are having the better of you and weighing you down, it’s time you gave Zen meditation a try. Negative and distracting thoughts are not healthy, and so are negative attachments, and you can lose them all through dedicated Zen meditation.