Zazen meditation to know Peace (script, virtues and history)

When you hear the word “zen,” what comes to mind?

Ideas of peace, calm and serenity quickly appear to us. Some also imagine long sitting meditations, while others will think of nature or a Japanese garden.

Today, we are going to look at a facet of Zen: its meditation, known as zazen meditation.

Contents :

Discover this meditation in video format

What is the principle of zazen?

The effects of this meditation

Preparing for zazen meditation

The different steps

Other guided meditations in our series

The history of zazen meditation

Discover this meditation in video format

What is the principle of zazen?

Zen meditation, also known as zazen, is a technique from a particularly influential branch of Buddhism in Japan... Zen Buddhism (how amazing!).

More than just a way of meditating, the term “zazen” describes the particular sitting position in which zazen is practiced. Don't worry, we will describe it to you in the paragraph aimed at preparing for the guided meditation.

Historically, zazen meditation is based on four main principles from the teachings of Bodhidharma (the “prophet” of Zen Buddhism, a Buddha/enlightened person who once traveled to Japan):

  • Zazen does not rely on writings or sentences.
  • Zazen speaks directly to the human spirit in its essence.
  • Its transmission must take place outside of writings.
  • To become a Buddha is to see the true nature of things.

In terms of its objectives, zazen basically serves to regulate the capacity for attention. A fundamental idea of ​​Zen philosophy is that of “full through emptiness”, “being through non-being”, “thought through non-thought”. Be careful, unlike a simple way of “emptying your mind,” zazen sees here the result of an active exercise.

Zazen meditation will thus aim to empty our mind to, paradoxically, fill it with its enlightening truth and thus heal us, illuminate us and make us gain wisdom. In fact, the goal of Zen in general is to make us let go of all judgment, to allow us to abandon our subjectivity and thus get closer to the truth.

During a meditation session, the practitioner is aware of his thoughts and the sensations that appear to him. Conscious yes, but without taking it into account because, remember, his mind must practice “non-thinking”. By observing things without passing them through the prism of our subjectivity (through thinking about them), their true nature can appear to us. However, the nature of each thing being as it is only in the present, this exercise naturally leads to an anchoring in the present.

The chicken or the egg, the question is asked but, according to Zen Buddhism, the opposite phenomenon can entirely occur: by actively anchoring in the present, the mind will learn to practice "non-thought" and objectivity.

Several energy medicine stones, a soothing singing bowl and incense conducive to meditation

Calm down, relax

thanks to meditation and its tools

The effects of this meditation

Most meditations seek to make us “empty our minds”. Where zazen meditation stands out from others is in its conception: while most spiritual movements see it as simple emptiness, here it is more of an active exercise.

This involves the use of our will and a certain need to train to succeed in meditation... but also benefits that are somewhat different from other meditations!

Another prism of understanding the world

Achieving spiritual awakening is the goal of thousands of monks. This is no coincidence: it allows us to see the world in its truth, and in its totality.

For Zen Buddhists, meditation involves observing and letting go of thoughts and feelings that arise in the mind. This allows you to develop an understanding of the real nature of the world, but also of yourself and others.

Unlike a whole bunch of other forms of meditation, this will not be a passive approach (by practicing the exercise, the truth is revealed to us) but an active one (because this practice will reveal the truth to us, we let's practice it). Concretely, this slight but very real difference in approach will offer us a prism of understanding of the different world and another type of wisdom.

Access keys to our unconscious

Following on from the previous idea, the practice of Zen could provide us with new keys to accessing our unconscious. This can be a way to resolve certain stress problems or heal past traumas. It could also be a question here of greater creativity and the possibility of triggering creative processes at will.

Sages have long wondered whether zazen could give direct access to our unconscious. For them, the answer is clear: no… or rather, only partly.

The unconscious is a vast and complex field of our mind. However, zazen meditation invites us to discover things one at a time. As explained earlier, the practice of non-thinking brings us to full awareness of the present. In an instant, our brain can only process one thing. When several events seem simultaneous to us, they are not in fact occurring in such a short time that they appear that way to us. In short, the unconscious being made up of several things at the same time, we can only observe parts of it one after the other.

Improved posture in daily life

This may seem anecdotal in the context of a search for spirituality but, if you know the influence that our back has on our mental state and more broadly our life, you can only give importance to this benefit.

To be clear, the position specific to zazen meditation would be ideal for solving our postural problems, strengthening the deep muscles of our back and helping us to be more upright (physically but also mentally). In fact, some physiotherapists even advise their patients to adopt this position when reading or working because its effects are so beneficial.

In addition, where the lotus position can be difficult to hold and overstretch the inside of our thighs, the zazen position is easily adoptable and does not require any particular flexibility.

Happiness and personal fulfillment

The image of the Zen monk smiling peacefully in his dojo or monastery is not that far from reality. Even if Japanese culture is much more modern than in the past, there remain peaceful hermits and paths of spiritual quest.

Rather than offering temporary solutions to life's problems, temporary relief, Zen seeks to provide us with answers to life's big questions.

This is true for many other schools of meditation but, again, the unique lens of Zen Buddhism will provide different answers that may suit you better.

At its core, zazen pinpoints the true cause of unhappiness and dissatisfaction: incomprehension. The key to happiness and personal fulfillment is neither fame nor wealth. It is found within us and is only made hidden to us by a misunderstanding of what it is.

Several high stones, placed in balance.

Preparing for zazen meditation

In terms of the position to adopt, there are several schools. For my part, I advise placing yourself in seiza, that is to say sitting on your heels. This is a traditional Japanese posture which expresses respect, calm and the desire for inner work.

The precise position of the feet is not very important as long as they do not interfere with you. You can even place a small cushion between your thighs and legs to make meditation more enjoyable.

Aside from that, open your shoulders, straighten your spine and maintain a certain flexibility, especially in the stomach area. It is also not recommended to wear clothing that is too tight as it would restrict your movements.

In zazen, the position of the hands is quite codified. Palms facing the sky, the left hand rests on the right hand. The thumbs of both hands are aligned and touching. The arms rest on the thighs, so that the hands are towards the bottom of your stomach.

Woman in meditation position, sitting in seiza in front of a boreal sunset.

The different steps

These different stages are actually supposed to follow each other harmoniously, rather than being cut into separate parts.

After all, this guided meditation forms a whole constructed as a single work, a single tool capable of functioning in its uniqueness.

In video and audio, no distinction is made.

The following breakdown therefore has the sole purpose of helping you, a posteriori, to understand the modes of action implemented within the framework of this meditation.

Step #1: Creating the Inner Wave

Zazen meditation is based on breathing and a certain “inner wave”.

A bit like the tide, each inhalation will see energy rising in your stomach, and each exhalation will see it descend. The idea here is not to create a new energy but to tame one already present in us.

Doing this exercise, each time a thought appears to you, you will simply have to not follow it and return to your breathing.

We will inhale through the nose, and exhale gently through the mouth. So let's start now.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

This wave starts from the bottom of your stomach, in front of your hands, and returns there with each breath. You can almost smell it, touch it.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Step #2: relaxation and concentration on the moment

Continue this exercise while listening to me.

Now take a moment to set your intention. What do you want to get out of this zazen meditation? What impact will it have on you?

By feeling this energy, you tame it and make it yours. This vital, essential energy.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

How a great ocean of calm appears within you. Your body is awake but relaxed, and your mind is calm.

Breathing becomes one with your inner wave. They go together, at the same rhythm.

Each breath makes the wave rise, and makes you feel a certain energy. Each exhalation brings it back down, and anchors you, fixes you in the ground.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Step #3: Reflecting on Emotions and Thoughts

Emotions course through your body, each one feeling crucial and compelling. But ultimately these are just physical sensations. Let them be, without taking too much into account.

Thoughts may also appear to you. Let them be. Their presence in no way hinders the life of your inner wave, but does not bring them anything either.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Inhale. The wave is rising.

Exhale. The wave goes down.

Thoughts are nothing but sounds inside our mind. Sounds that resonate within us. Let them be.

Step #4: Backup in the moment

Notice this feeling of great serenity etched there in your mind, in your memories. Notice how your body feels light and grounded at the same time, how your mind is calm but awake.

Create a mental image of this. If it helps you, imagine that you take a photo of this moment, that you put this photo in a box, a box stored inside you.

With this image, you will now be able to easily return to that state of relaxation that you know.

The more you practice zazen, the easier it will be for you to place yourself in this state, and the more you will develop your awareness and intuition.

You can now relax your body, stretch slightly and return to your other activities.

An open water lily on a body of water with bluish reflections.

Other guided meditations in our series

Among the many objects that we offer to our community, we have notably collected some meditation tools.

Here is the collection in question, made up of objects from cultures from the four corners of the world but sharing the same goal: to help the practice of meditation or, quite simply, relaxation and relaxation.

In short, you will find singing bowls, various musical instruments, flags and decorations, reiki pendulums and even certain ingredients and crystals.

Here is also a collection of free books that may help you in your life. Between healthy eating, self-hypnosis, prayers and self-confidence, many themes are covered in our library which, once again, has been entirely open to you.

If you would like to discover our other meditations, here is the section of our blog which brings them all together.

Here too, we wanted to deal with the most varied themes possible (within the limits of our knowledge, of course).

If, however, you do not find what you are looking for there, do not hesitate to tell us by leaving a comment in the section at the end of one of the meditations: we will read it and try to take it into account in our future work. !

Buddhist temple of zazen, in the mountain and the forest.

The history of zazen meditation

The term “Zen” comes to us from Japan (surprising!) and literally means “meditation” (equally surprising!). This philosophical current does not, however, originate from the Japanese archipelago, but from India.

Indeed, Zen is a branch of Buddhism which was brought to the land of the rising Sun by an Indian monk known as “Bodhidharma”. Considered the founder of Buddhism in Japan, Bodhidharma is also known for having built numerous monasteries, having achieved enlightenment through meditation, but also for his prankster temperament.

It seems that this great man lived in the 5th century AD. Beginning his journey in India, he crossed China and greatly popularized Buddhism there. Even if this religion was undoubtedly already known there, its influence then had nothing to do with it.

In short, it would be two centuries later under the Tang dynasty, in the 7th century, that this school of Buddhism developed its own meditation technique. Shortly after, it spread to neighboring countries, notably Korea and… Japan.

In China, this school was known as “Chán Buddhism” (or “Silent Meditation Buddhism”), in reference to its quest for enlightenment by the most direct path. The Japanese decided to call it “Zen Buddhism”. The meditation associated with it, as you know, was called “zazen”.

It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that Japan opened up to the world and the West discovered the culture of Zen. With things like garden creation, martial arts and obviously meditation, it was a complex and deep philosophy that was offered to us.

author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.