Zen For Beginners

ZenIn this fast paced world everyone needs the time to stand back and evaluate where their life is heading. Questions about self-worth and identity do not go away after adolescence but plague us our entire lives. The empty rat race to financial wealth can only mean so much. We need spiritual practice to give meaning to our lives.

Zen is not based on any single dogma but on the whole experience of our daily lives. Zen is sitting quietly and just being. It is a powerful and refreshing practice that will lessen the questions and frustrations we feel. It isn’t necessary to undergo years of intensive training that most Zen masters go through. For the beginner there are only a few rules to go by.

Find the right equipment- You don’t really need to wear a monk’s robes to meditate. Simple and comfortable clothes would do. A mat or pillow is needed if you will sit in the full lotus position with your legs crossed in front of you. You may also just sit in a chair with both feet on the floor.

Breathing– Observe breathing during zazen. Count your breaths. You can either count your breaths in as one and so on without counting your breaths out. Likewise you can also count with both. Don’t count out loud.

Visualizing your breathing- This is a just a means to reigning in your wandering mind. You may have noticed that during counting your breaths you frequently lose track. Visualizing your breath and following it allows you to focus your attention to one detail. This isn’t actual enlightenment but the beginning of it.

Awareness- The next step is just to think. Don’t focus on anything in particular and let the ideas come to you.

Working with a Koan– Other practitioners of Zen work with a master who will give them Koans . Koans are traditional sayings of Buddha, a Zen Master, or a story from everyday activity. Working with Koans limit your random thoughts and brings you a step closer to seeing into your own nature. Meditating on the Koans is a wonderful way to further your meditation.

Arising from Meditation– Arise slowly especially if your legs have fallen asleep. Take a few deep breaths.

The practice of Zen can be incorporated into your daily life with the minimal of effort. The rewards are your mental well being and the ability to take on the daily grind with more equanimity than the rest.