Sitting Zazen

by Stefan Chiarantano, Jul 18, 2006 | Destinations: Japan / Tokyo

If you are interested in personal growth and development, perhaps, you might consider giving zazen a try.

It doesn't cost anything to do. You can do it anywhere. You don't need a guru or have to join a temple or belong to a religious affliation.

What you need is time and a commitment to the practice and a willingness to be open to the process as it unfolds.

It can help you gain some measure of control over your life, help you understand who you are, and what makes you tick. I am supposing this is of interest to you. It also provides a means to gain some detachment from the world around you.

It's been said that sitting zazen can lead people to the state of enlightment. I don't know how many people in the world have enlightment as their goal but the practice of zazen can help people function and cope with the world around them.

Sitting zazen is a practice of Zen Buddhism. Zen teaching, introduced in Japan during the Kamakura period, was brought to Japan by a Japanese who had studied Buddhism in China.

Sitting zazen is a way of seeing and looking and a take on life. It can help you look at things in a new and fresh way.

An important concept of sitting zazen is a beginner's mind. What is a beginner's mind? It is an open mind, a mind unburdened by habits, prejudices, pre-conceived ideas and beliefs, and free of anxiety.

A beginner's mind is open to possibilities, new ways of seeing, and is situated in the moment. It observes and sees things as they are and is awake to what is happening before it.

A beginner's mind is cultivated by sitting zazen. Because it is in the sitting we can notice the busyness of our minds and develop an awareness of our thoughts that parade daily through our mind.

While sitting zazen, focused breathing is practiced, which is a means of quieting the mind and gaining awareness.

First, relax your diaphragm. Then, focus on your breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out. Focussing on the breathe helps to get in touch with the present moment. Awareness begins to set in. For example, I'm focussing on my breathe. I am sitting in my apartment on the living room floor. I can hear the din of traffic coming into the apartment. I can hear the ticking of the wall clock and dripping of the sink faucet. What happens is you to start to see things as they are.

In sitting zazen, one doesn't block out, cling to, or react to any of the thoughts or feelings that come into mind.

The aim is to let your thoughts and feelings be. The goal is to be mindful of them and to develop an awareness of them.

The ultimate goal is to accept and surrender to them as they are.

Self-awareness is a tool for personal growth and development. Perhaps, you might give sitting zazen a try. Good-luck to you!

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