Sitting. Breathing. Walking. Being.
Zen is the school of Buddhism which emphasizes the practice of sitting meditation, or zazen. Zen teaches that zazen directly manifests our inborn enlightenment. So in a way, meditation and enlightenment are one.
Seated meditation can be done on a cushion (called a zafu), on a small wooden bench or in a chair. Posture and breathing are very important and we have several people within the zendo who can help newcomers feel more at ease in their practice.
Zazen sessions usually begin and end with a bell. Face the wall in the correct posture and focus on the in and out of the breath. As time passes, thoughts will arise, but don’t struggle against them. Let them come and go. Sometimes counting the in and out breaths helps.
Periods of zazen are often separated with periods of walking meditation, called kinhin. During kinhin, small half-steps are taken very slowly around the meditation area, while proper posture and breathing continue.
The traditions of Zen practice may seem confusing at first. But soon, each gassho and posture becomes second nature. Don’t distract yourself by worrying “Am I doing this right?”. It’s called practice for a reason.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Before sitting zazen, bow toward your cushion then bow outward toward the center of the room. Then sit.
- When the bell rings to end a zazen session, bow toward the wall from a seated position before standing up.
- At the end of a kinhin (walking meditation) session, bow in place before walking briskly back to your cushion. Bow inward toward the group.
- Shoes should be left outside the door in the hallway.
- Please silence any electronic devices.