Zazen: what is Zen meditation?

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Zazen: what is Zen meditation?

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Zazen is the characteristic posture used during Zen meditation. The practice of zazen does not require any goals or intentions. This posture allows one to experience a state in which the mind is totally emptied and parasitic thoughts and ideas no longer arise. In this article, you will discover where zazen comes from, how to practice it, and what are its benefits.

The term zazen comes from the Japanese “za” which means “to be seated” and from the word “zen”, derived from the Chinese “chán”, meaning “meditation”. Zazen refers to the posture used during the practice of Zen meditation. This particular form of meditation is one of the best known around the world, it was born 2600 years ago, under the leadership of Shakyamuni Buddha who established its principles. It aims to harmonize the body, the mind and the breath through the entire focus of attention on the posture of the body in zazen. It is notably thanks to this posture that Buddha attained Awakening.

Stretching and toning the body are characteristic of zazen: the head goes towards the sky, and the body goes towards the earth. The join between heaven and earth is in the abdomen, where the thumbs meet.

The benefits of Zen meditation

The benefits of zazen are similar to those of other meditation techniques. Zazen allows in particular:

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  • Le moilliú croí and to lower blood pressure through its beneficial action on the autonomic nervous system.
  • Chun feabhas a chur ar an respiration diaphragmatique, which allows better oxygenation of the blood.
  • Chun feabhas a chur ar an scaipeadh fola in the legs, thanks to the position of the loetus.
  • Chun an cosaintí imdhíonachta.
  • Chun an strus through its relaxing action.
  • Chun feabhas a chur ar cognitive abilities and reduce age-related cognitive decline (concentration, memory, attention).
  • Chun an pian, shifting attention to another object.

How does a Zen meditation session take place?

In order to practice zazen, it is preferable to wear comfortable clothes and not too narrow.

First, the individual must sit in a lotus on a zafu, which is a small round pillow. For this he must first put his right foot on his left thigh, and then place his left foot on his right thigh. If this position is not comfortable, he can sit in a half lotus, but this is less recommended.

Second, the individual will have to dheonú the different parts of his body together, in order to be in an optimal position of meditation and to free his mind. Zazen can be practiced alone or in a group. Zen meditation sessions are not done step by step, it is an instant practice that only makes sense in the present moment.

An teicníc

The zazen posture

The spine should be straight and aligned with the head. The upper part of the body as well as the shoulders should be relaxed. It is important to keep your eyes open, at the risk of falling asleep. The right hand should be placed on the abdomen, palms up. It is the same for the left hand, which must join the right hand. The thumbs of both hands are joined together and the mouth is closed. The knees and the tailbone touch the ground.

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Once the individual is in zazen, the important thing is to ensure the stability of the seat.


In zazen, great attention is paid to the exhalation which must gain depth naturally. This allows the individual to relax and clear his mind. As for the inspiration, it is shorter and less important than the expiration. Breathing should be automatic, natural and uncontrolled.

What attitude to adopt?

Unlike other forms of meditation, the individual should not focus on his feelings and perceptions. He should focus only on maintaining the posture and not think about anything. It is common for unwanted thoughts or images to appear. When this happens, the individual has to stop them and not pay attention to them. It is also essential to remain stable, even if it is painful. Little by little, the individual will find the perfect balance which will allow him to let go completely.

Scríbhneoireacht: Guity, Baftehchian

aibreán 2017



Ospina, M. B., Bond, K., Karkhaneh, M., Tjosvold, L., Vandermeer, B., Liang, Y., … & Klassen, T. P. (2007). Meditation practices for health: state of the research. Measúnú Rep Rep Technol (Ionadaí Iomlán), 155

Pagnoni, G., & Cekic, M. (2007). Age effects on gray matter volume and attentional performance in Zen meditation. Neurobiology of aging, 28


Brosse, J. (2005). Practice of living zen: the teaching of silent awakening (p. 457). Albin Michel.


Zen Buddhist Association of Europe. (Accessed April 06, 2017).


The specificities of the zazen posture and its effects on human beings. (Accessed April 06, 2017).

Meditation, contemplation and influence. (Accessed April 06, 2017).

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