Everything You Need To Know About Zen Meditation

The art of Zen meditation is a simple one. You don’t need any prior experience. The meditation is the experience. You don’t need to have read any books about it. The wisdom you receive from a Zen practice is original. It comes from the quiet space in your soul.

You don’t even need to know what Zen means. It’s not mystical or rare or even necessarily spiritual. It’s the simplest and most natural thing in the world.

Zen meditation is not a religious thing. Atheists practice and benefit from it in the same way Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims do.

Zen meditation has nothing to do with where you live or where you’re from. You can be anywhere in the world and benefit from it. Peace of mind is not geographically specific.

I believe even animals practice Zen. I have seen cats, monkeys, lizards, dogs, and many other animals behaving as though they were meditating. Not just staring intently at food bowls, but genuinely looking like they were actively seeking the quiet spaces within themselves.

I urge you to give it a try. Sit comfortably in a chair. Gently close your eyes. Bring your attention to the breath moving effortlessly in and out of your body. Feel how it ebbs and flows, like water lapping at the shore of the ocean.

If other thoughts come into your mind, simply acknowledge them and bring your attention back to your breath and how your body feels. Pain, pleasure, comfort, discomfort; just feel them. Experience these sensations without judgement about whether the sensations are good or bad.

Zen allows you to be aware of how your actions affect the world around you. This allows you to be more productive. A cluttered mind is like a cluttered desk. Makes it hard to be fully productive. Meditation clears clutter from your mind. It stops that endless wheel of worrisome thoughts and allows you instead to focus on how to move forward from where you are.

After practicing Zen and mindfulness meditation for over 20 years, I can honestly say I have benefited more from meditation than from any other single thing I have ever done. Seriously.

Give zen meditation a try. The worst thing that can happen is you feel like you wasted a few minutes of otherwise productive time. The best thing that can happen is that you’ll find a simple, free, and effortless way to make your entire life better.

Did you ever wish you could just achieve that peace of mind you keep requesting?

The art of just sitting in the mind, focusing on the breath, can bring awareness and enlightenment. This is the goal in the focus of the ancient Zen Buddhist practice of Zen or Zazen Meditation.a deep meditation The Japanese word for meditation, Zen, is a state of consciousness realized through the focus of sitting in a strong posture and focusing on breath to relax the body and open the mind. Breath is very important in Zen meditation as it becomes the focal point for you to allow the thoughts and stresses in your body to release their hold with each and every breath you take.

How to Practice Zen Meditation

Begin Zen Meditation in a quiet place, free from distractions. Place a small cushion or pillow on the floor. Sitting cross-legged on your cushion, place your feet on top of the opposite thighs (left on right and right on left) – this is called Lotus Position. If you are unable to maintain this position in the beginning, that is fine. You are welcome to sit with your feet tucked under you instead. Over time you will become more flexible and be able to reach the full potential of the position.
Once you are seated place your hands in your lap or on either knee in a restful way. Now you will begin to focus on the key ingredient to Zen Meditation – breath.

Allow you breathing to flow in deeply and do not judge how ‘well’ you are doing it. Just be in the moment and focus on the inhalations and the exhalations. Naturally these breaths will become more abdominally centered and natural. As thoughts and distractions flow into your mind, just accept them and refocus your mind on your breathing. It is okay if this feels difficult – as you practice it will become easier and easier to center your mind on the breath and nothing else. The goal is to reach a heightened level of awareness without judgment.

Once you feel balanced and sure that you have received enough from your session, you may slowly take in one final breath. For some this meditation is ten minutes, for others this could be much longer. Slowly release your position and praise yourself for giving you the time necessary to become a higher self.

Zen or Zazen Meditation practiced daily can create a calm and peace in your life – creating a happier more complete you.

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5 Ways to Develop Independent Thought

A classroom full of 10-year-old students is asked to solve a problem with children crossing the street on the way to school. The children come up with ideas that have been used successfully in other places: traffic calming devices, overpasses, fluorescent jackets and speed limits. All these ideas are conventional, exactly what the teacher wants to hear.

Except for one. A student recommends that the school board sell the property and move the classroom online. This is not what the teacher was expecting.

This idea may not be practical, popular, or even possible, but when it’s ridiculed by the class it might be the last independent thought that the student dares to express — the death of another independent thinker.

Independent thought is not popular — it is absolutely rare. Nothing you read about in the papers or see on the television is independent. Whatever we take in from the popular media is regurgitated conventional knowledge. There is nothing independent about most of the world.

This is a tragedy — independent thought is essential for progress. Conventional thinking moves us forward gradually at best (at worst it pushes us backwards). Independent thinking is required to achieve any substantial jump in performance.

Logically, when we think like everyone else is thinking, the best we can expect is to achieve what they’re already achieving. If our aim is to over-achieve, we need to avoid the same banal influences and think impossibly. We need to become independent from conventional wisdom.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be particularly intelligent or well educated to think independently. Consider small children. Conventional wisdom says that shoes are for wearing and bananas are for eating. Independent thinking allows children try eating the shoes and wearing the bananas on their feet. Their lack of conventional wisdom and utter disregard for how others view their decisions allows children to experiment without anxiety. In this case they may be wrong, but in other cases they can be shockingly right.

Using these 5 strategies you can develop your independent thinking ability.

1. Disconnect from sources of conventional thinking

Instead of plugging into your TV, PC, or library for answers, think for yourself first. Without cutting yourself off from the world, you can increase your capacity for independent thought by limiting the conventional opinion you absorb. This means reducing the media you consume and the level of devotion you give to it. Independent thinkers aren’t necessarily contrarian, but they don’t agree with the status quo by default. They devise new criteria for perceiving the world rather than seeing everything through the screen of their computer.

2. Immerse yourself in experiences that conflict with your current perspective

Instead of substituting a new conventional thought for the old one, deliberately seek out experiences that challenge your views. These experiences may exist in foreign cultures, unusual subcultures, or between the pages of a book you disagree with. The point is not to adopt a new train of thought, but to disrupt the conventional railroad.

3. Watch the process from a distance

Leaving your normal life behind can give you the freedom to see issues from another perspective. Watching the world instead of eating it up gives you the peace of mind to think for yourself. Standing still from time to time gives you the opportunity to ridicule your own beliefs and explore new angles.

4. Randomize your sensory inputs

Instead of visiting the same places, eating the same foods, and talking to the same people, you can actively pursue new experiences. Many people cling to the familiar to simplify decisions and create a sense of security. If you truly want to think independently, you need to get outside your comfort zone.

5. Practice disbelief

Without becoming a cynic, you can develop the habit of instinctively distrusting thoughts that rely on conventional wisdom. Instead of assuming that these “truths” are self evident, suspend judgement until you’ve have confirmed that there is reality behind the logic.

If all of this sounds too difficult, consider what can be gained from independent thought. Even microscopic steps towards thinking independently will increase your contribution to the world. You will see opportunities and solutions that others overlook. You will obtain a competitive advantage over less creative thinkers. Most importantly, your thoughts will be your own and not just recycled media.

Think independently and you create a world of limitless opportunity. But don’t take my word for it…find out for yourself.

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