Zen is a decisive tool in training presence. It is also a school where we learn to take step back inwardly and have a sense of humour. Because Zen is not exotic, but rather a simple exercise in sitting still. Zen allows us to take to heart everything that is specific, commonplace, measurable and understandable, say a clock and the time it measures, and at the same time to be rooted in a “place” where there is no coming and going, no before and after, and where there is total freedom, and therefore freedom from time.
By allowing the thoughts that inundate us to calm down during meditation, we experience silence and emptiness.
If you would like to try out Zen mediation at home, we have some tips to help you:
1. Sitting position:
There are various ways to sit. You can sit cross-legged in a slightly elevated position on a cushion or footstool, or you can sit directly on the floor or a mat.
If you choose the second variant, you can either sit cross-legged in the Lotus position used in yoga or choose an easier position such as the half-lotus or sitting on your heels.
Your back must be straight but completely relaxed, your pelvis should inclined slightly forwards.
Place your left, open hand in the right, with the tips of the thumbs touching. The outside edges of your hands (on the side of the little finger) should be placed on your abdomen. Your head should rest loosely on the end of your extended spine.
Your eyes should focus above all on the floor, i.e. they should be open. Your mouth is closed but not pressed shut.
Pay attention to your breathing, feel how it flows in and out of your body, completely natural and calm, as if by itself. Each time you breathe out, let all thoughts, ideas and images go. If you start to dream or your thoughts stray, bring your mind back to the exercise. Your breath is there, it will not leave you. Give yourself time.
Why should you practice Zen?
There are various reasons for practicing Zen. In principle, we make a distinction between the following, although the boundaries are fluid.
- Zen to reduce stress: Sitting calmly upright and paying attention to your breathing results over time in a deep relaxation and strengthens your nerves. In addition, practicing Zen can help to retain and promote your creative abilities.
- Zen as a quest for meaning: Many people suspect there is something else between heaven and earth than our intellect can understand. It is the “longing for a longing”, the search for a meaning in life, that motivates these people to persevere.
- Zen as a way to enlightenment: Finally, there are people who are set on doing everything in their power to experience enlightenment – to discover their original true nature and be at one with everything and everyone.