In Zen Buddhism, zazen literally means seated meditation. The precise method of zazen varies depending on the school teaching it but in essence it is a seated form of meditation where your goal is to clear your mind of all thought. The posture while practicing zazen is a seated lotus (both legs folded into each other) but variations are acceptable depending on how flexible you are including even sitting on a chair. Your spine is erect but not stiff and you make an effort to breathe from the center of your being or what is known as hara. The hara is believed to be the center of qi or life. Your eyes can be shut or even partially shut depending on your level of comfort.

What ever the position you adopt, the goal is to clear your mind of all thought. You do this by aligning your body, mind and breadth all of which seem separate at first but with practice fuse to become one. Practitioners believe that the simple act of sitting in zazen and breathing leads to a study of the self with the goal to transcend the self. It is important to try and breathe from deep within your belly which means slow long breaths.

As you begin meditation, it is normal for you to be flooded with thoughts. Depending on how sensitive you are to the world around you and your current state of affairs, these thoughts can be a flood of emotions, feelings and recollection of events. The goal is to allow these thoughts to flow and not make an effort to regulate or control these thoughts. The act of allowing these thoughts to flow is part of the healing process. It is not unnatural for your mind to wonder and for your thoughts to speed up or even to find yourself talking to yourself. Patience helps at these points in your journey as eventually with practice, your thoughts will slow down till you reach a point of thoughtlessness.

Zazen masters have been tested and shown to be in an alpha and theta states though they are still awake. With time and practice you will find your self centered and in control of your self and your thoughts. Don’t hesitate to find a master if that helps you in your journey.

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