Zen Meditation: A Fundamental Method

For practicing sitting meditation, anywhere you can sit comfortably will suffice. A lighted place that is clean, dry, quiet, and maintained at a comfortable temperature is best.

Before sitting, be moderate in food and drink. It is also good to be well rested. Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing, and if sitting in a group, dark, solid colors are preferred, in order to lessen the distraction to others. It is best to sit on a zafu, a round cushion that is placed on a zabutan, a larger, square cushion. If such cushions are not available, a meditation bench or a chair is adequate, the aim being a comfortable and stable, upright sitting posture.

Sit with the two sit-bones of your buttocks on the zafu, and your legs folded on the zabutan. Sit in either the full or half lotus posture. For the full lotus posture, place your right foot on your left thigh and your left foot on your right thigh. For the half lotus, place your left foot on your right thigh and simply keep your right foot on the zabutan with your right leg folded in close to your left leg.

Sit upright in a stable, symmetrical position. Place the left hand on the right hand, aligning the middle joints of the middle fingers, both palms upward, and allow the tips of your thumbs to lightly touch forming an oval shape, as if cradling an egg. With your hands in this position, allow them to rest in your lap, holding them close to your body just below your belt line.

Hold your head up so that your ears are aligned with your shoulders and your nose is aligned with your navel. Place the tip of your tongue gently against the roof of your mouth just behind your upper teeth, with your teeth and lips together.

Breathe through your nose. Allow your eyelids to relax so they are comfortable, neither wide open nor closed. Let your gaze fall several feet in front of you or if facing a wall, about the level of your chest. Relax your vision, neither trying to focus it nor allowing it to wander. Once you are comfortable and stable, take several deep breaths then allow your breathing to become quiet and natural.

Allow your mind to completely relax. Disregard intentional thinking; make no effort to suppress thoughts. Mentally step back and rest in the source of your own fundamental awareness. Trust the inherent wisdom of your own mind and let go of all intention. With total, nonjudgmental acceptance, allow thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, and mental formulations to arise from, abide in, and return to the source of your fundamental awareness without interference.

For beginners that find difficulty settling their minds and bodies, the method of breath counting is often helpful. To apply this method, simply count out each breath until you reach the count of ten. If you lose track of your count or find that you have gone beyond the number ten, simply return to one and begin your count over. When you can consistently reach ten, without losing count or going over ten, for fifteen minutes or so, you can let go of your counting and simply rest comfortably in your own awareness.

Good friends, for sitting in meditation, this is the method recommended by all the Zen ancestors.

The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing by Ted Biringer