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What is Zen Meditation and how can you learn it?

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What is Zen Meditation and how can you learn it?

There are many different ways to meditate. Zen meditation is one of the best known of these. However, before we look at the specific technique and meaning, it makes sense to first explain the term meditation in general. This refers to a series of concentration and mindfulness exercises. The aim of meditation is to bring about a state of inner peace.

Normally we are always thinking about something. If you meditate, you achieve a thoughtless consciousness. You are awake, but your attention turns inward and becomes insensitive to external stimuli. You let go of all your worries for a moment. This has a relaxing and anxiety-relieving effect. Meditating helps you to gather new strength.

What is Zen?

Zen meditation comes from Mahayna Buddhism and was practiced as early as the 6th century. The word "Zen" is Japanese and comes from the Chinese Chan, which translated means "meditation".

Zen is a philosophy that says you should just accept and live life in all its fullness. You stop looking for reasons why something happens or doesn't happen. Zen therefore refers to a mindfulness-focused approach to life. You trust the flow of life.

Instead of thinking about the past or worrying about the future, learn to live in the moment and find happiness in the present. This skill increases your well-being and quality of life.

Zen meditation: what is it?

Zen meditation, also known as zazen, is a classical form of meditation. Meditation. The technique is quite simple to explain: outwardly, you need do nothing more than close your eyes and sit motionless on the spot for a certain period of time. What sounds simple at first, is usually not so easy to implement in practice.

At the beginning it often happens that your thoughts wander. You may suddenly think of something that you urgently need to do. You may also find yourself thinking about unsolved problems. It is important to remain calm and not to interrupt the motionless state. This requires in particular Meditation beginners a certain amount of discipline.

Zen meditation is focused on noticing only the moment. Another term for this is mindfulness. Detach yourself from the desire to analyze and understand everything. Instead, focus your gaze objectively on the present. The thoughts that arise during meditation are allowed to be. Notice them and then let them move on.

Practice Zen Meditation

Practicing Zen Meditation: Step by Step

Learning Zen meditation is not difficult. Below we would like to present you with a simple step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Provide a calm and relaxed environment

To meditate, you need silence. So make sure that you are not disturbed. A good option would be, for example, to directly to meditate in the morning after getting up. At this time of day you are not yet stressed and have no appointments. Alternatively, if you don't want to get up early, you can meditate in the evening before you go to bed, when the day's errands are behind you.

When meditating, create an atmosphere of well-being. Chaos around you disturbs the relaxation. So tidy up beforehand and make yourself comfortable. If you like, you can light some candles and turn on some meditation music (e.g. nature sounds). But of course this is not a must. In the end, all that matters is that you feel comfortable. Switch your mobile phone to silent and turn off the phone.

Step 2: Choose the right sitting position

During Zen meditation you have to remain in your chosen sitting position for 10 to 20 minutes. For this to succeed, you should of course sit comfortably. The sitting position is crucial for the success of Zen meditation. Only when you feel comfortable will you achieve the desired inner relaxation. There are different ways of sitting:

1. heel seat: The heel seat is best suited for beginners. It is uncomplicated and requires no contortions. To make heel sitting even more comfortable, you can use a cushion if you wish or lean your back against a wall.

Second Burmese seat: The Burmese seat is a little more demanding than the heel seat. For this sitting position you need a meditation cushion. You rest your buttocks on the meditation cushion. You bend your legs and pull them in front of your body. However, you do not cross them.

Third chair seat: For those who suffer from joint problems, the chair seat is a good alternative. Sit on the front edge of the chair. Do not lean on it. Your body should hold itself upright. Make sure your feet are in firm contact with the floor. Place your legs parallel to each other.

4. the half lotus position: Cross your legs and gently pull them to your body.

5. the classic lotus position: The lotus position is the classic sitting position. However, you should be stretched and limber before assuming this position. Cross your legs and pull them close to your body. Place your feet on opposite thighs.

Basic tips: No matter which sitting position you choose: Make sure your spine stays upright throughout the meditation period. Adjust your posture if you notice that you are slouching. Bend your chin slightly towards your chest. Gently pull your shoulders back.

Place your hands in your lap. Your thumbs touch lightly. Close your eyes and resist the temptation to open them in between. Relax your facial muscles and breathe deeply into your belly. This brings us to the next step.

Step 3: The right breathing

Calm and deep breathing is the key to bringing the body and mind into the desired meditative state of rest. Count your breaths each to the inhale and exhale. This works as follows: You breathe deeply in and out (one). You breathe deeply in and out again (two). Continue counting your breaths until you reach five. Then start again from the beginning.

If thoughts enter your consciousness, notice them briefly and let them go again. You can do this by concentrating fully on the flow of your breath. In the case of very persistent, disturbing thoughts, a simple trick helps: press your thumbs together slightly so that they visually form a mountain peak.

Imagine that the thoughts/worries are sitting on this mountain. Now release the touch of the thumbs so that the disturbing thought can fall down into the symbolic valley.

Step 4: Concentration downwards

In Zen meditation, the concentration is on the lower half of the body. It is assumed that the energy rises from the bottom upwards when meditating. The flow of energy can manifest itself, for example, through a slight, pleasant tingling sensation on the back. If you feel this, it is an unmistakable sign that your body and mind have connected and are now one.

Step 5: Gently emerge

To ensure that the relaxing effect lasts for a long time, it is important not to end the Zen meditation abruptly. Rather, you should slowly return from your inner self to the outer reality. Please do not set a shrill alarm clock! A good alternative are meditation apps with gentle alarm sounds. These are designed to help you wake up slowly.

The harmonious melody flows through your body and slowly vitalizes you. Breath, pulse and blood pressure gradually return to normal. Finally, you stretch your limbs and can return to everyday life strengthened.

Advantages of Zen Meditation

The benefits of Zen meditation

As mentioned at the beginning, all types of meditation serve the purpose of inner relaxation and thus the reduction of stress. Chronic stress can have serious health effects. The risk of developing burn-out or depression increases. In addition, stress has a negative effect on blood pressure and fat metabolism. Zen meditation can help to regain inner balance.

The benefits of Zen Meditation at a glance:

  • The release of stress hormones is reduced.
  • High blood pressure is relieved.
  • Pulse is slowing.
  • Stress-related chronic pain (e.g. tension headaches) subsides.
  • Anxieties are alleviated.
  • The immune system is strengthened.
  • Physical self-healing processes are stimulated.
  • Tensions are released.
  • Positive thinking is encouraged.
  • The general risk of illness is reduced (physically and mentally).
  • The body is optimally supplied with oxygen through calm, deep breathing.

Zen meditation is suitable for the prevention as well as for the alleviation of physical and psychological complaints. Of course, Zen meditation has a positive effect on your well-being even if you are completely healthy and free of complaints. Meditating helps you to maintain this state.

The positive effects of meditation listed above are scientifically proven. There are numerous significant studies that support the health-promoting effect of meditation. We would like to list a few of them as examples:

Zen Meditation: 5 Tips for Beginners

Basically, for Zen meditation you need nothing more than yourself and your will to engage in meditation. Nevertheless, there are some tips that will help you get started in the world of Zen meditation.

1. wear comfortable clothes

Pressing jeans buttons and uncomfortable jackets are out of place in Zen meditation. In order for your mind to unfold, you must not restrict your body. It's best to wear loose and comfortable sportswear that doesn't pinch or constrict.

2. use tools

To get you in the right meditation mood, you can use little helpers like a singing bowl, a gong or a meditation clock. For many meditation followers, (incense) candles are simply part of the meditation practice.

3. do not be discouraged

It is perfectly normal that you will be haunted by disturbing thoughts during your first attempts at meditation. Practice makes perfect. Do not put yourself under pressure. This will rob you of any relaxation. In addition to mental disturbances, it can also happen that your leg falls asleep, your back itches or that you have to sneeze. All this is no problem! Be aware of it, but do not interrupt the meditation.

4. rather several short units than one long one

Especially for beginners: Less is more. Start with short meditation sessions of about ten to a maximum of 15 minutes. If possible, you should meditate at least three times a week, even daily. Your body and mind need time to get used to this new form of relaxation. Don't overload yourself with too long sessions. Keep it short and sweet.

Advanced practitioners, on the other hand, can meditate for 20 to 25 minutes. Over time, you can gradually lengthen your meditation sessions. However, you will find that as a beginner, even ten minutes of quiet sitting (zazen) will seem quite long.

5. make an appointment with yourself

Determine fixed times when you will devote yourself to Zen meditation. Put them in your diary and take the appointment with yourself seriously. Fixed appointments help you to create the necessary space. Otherwise, there is a danger that the desire to meditate will be lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Zen meditation only something for Buddhists

Is Zen meditation only for Buddhists?

To get the answer right away: Zen meditation is suitable for everyone. In general, meditation is now firmly established and popular among us. To get started, we would like to recommend our free meditation challenge.

For five days you will receive a daily guided meditation each on a different thematic focus. All meditations have a length of six to a maximum of 20 minutes - the ideal length for beginners. Once registered, you get unlimited access to the content of the Meditation Challenge. So you can be inspired again and again.

Have you become curious? Then inform yourself in detail about the contents our meditation challenge and sign up today!

Greator Meditation Challenge

We take you on an exciting journey:
Five days, five meditations. Are you with us?
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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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