Here is a previous posting on zazen technique...Bill!

> -----Original Message-----
> Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 8:11 AM
> To: ''
> Subject: RE: [Zen] Test of Character
> Jody,
> First you need to know how to breath properly.  Your posture is very
> important.  Sit in some posture with your spine upright.  Any
> variations of the lotus position are best, but you can also sit on the
> edge of a hard chair as long as you keep your back upright and do not
> lean against the back of the chair.  Use 'belly breathing', using only
> your diaphragm.  Your lower 'belly' should go in and out when you
> breath.  You should not breath by expanding your chest or raising your
> shoulders.  Breathe slowly and deeply, but effortlessly.  You'll have
> to settle in to your own rhythm to do this well.  Focus your 'mind',
> your counting, your awareness, in your belly, NOT IN YOUR HEAD!.  The
> Japanese word for this is 'hara', an area about 3-4 finger-widths below
> your belly-button.  This is VERY IMPORTANT!
> At first sit for only about 10 minutes.  Increase this time as you
> become more accustomed to sitting, both mentally and physically.  20
> minutes is a good time.  I sit 30 to 45 minutes, but I've been sitting
> for many years.  Also, sit every day if you can, even if for just 5
> minutes.
> FIRST sit counting your breaths, 1 to 10, and then start over.  Count
> each exhale and inhale separately, starting with 1 on your first
> exhale, 2 on your first inhale, etc...  (All your focus and strength is
> strongest on exhales - that's why marital artists or athletes yell
> (exhale) when striking/hitting.  JMJM would refer to this as 'chi'.)
> When you finish  your 5th inhale (count 10), start over.  Only
> think/focus on ONE, TWO, THREE, etc...  If your mind wanders and you
> lose count, start over at 1.  If you find yourself counting '12, 13,
> ...', start over.  If you find yourself thinking 'Gee, I'm really
> sitting well today!' or 'I wonder how many minutes left.', start over.
> AFTER you have mastered that, start your count (1) on your exhale and
> continue counting 1 through your inhale.  The next exhale/inhale is 2,
> etc...
> AFTER you have mastered that, start marking exhales/inhales only as OUT
> - IN.  Start with your exhale.  Out - In - Out - In.
> AFTER you have mastered that, start 'following' the breaths.  No count,
> no marks, no words.  Just your awareness flowing out and in with your
> breaths.
> AFTER you have mastered that, drop to following.  Drop everything.
> Just sit.
> That is zazen (shikantaza - clear mind).
> I follow this sequence every time I sit to transition into shikantaza.
> Sometimes I slide into shikantaza very quickly.  Sometimes my mind is
> very active (I'm thinking about something or have a problem I'm dealing
> with) and it takes longer.  Sometimes I sit an entire period (30 to 45
> minutes) without getting to shikantaza.  That's not a problem and may
> be the best sessions. That (to me) just means I need to sit more often,
> not longer periods.
> Hope this helps.
> ...Bill!


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