I completely agree with Bills! explaination of zazen, but I would also add one
more piece of advice. Don't let counting your breath become a mantra where you
concentrate on the count more than the feeling of air travelling up and down
your nose. Counting tends to separate us from our body just like a mantra.
Feeling the subtle touch of the breath helps keep us in touch with the body,
ie, body/mind. Of course, they are both techniques which ultimately need to be
dropped in favour of shikentaza where nothing occupies our mind.
From: "[EMAIL PROTECTED]" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Tuesday, 28 October, 2008 9:53:34
Subject: FW: [Zen] Test of Character
Here is a previous posting on zazen technique... Bill!
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] org [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] org]
> Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 8:11 AM
> To: '[EMAIL PROTECTED] ups.com'
> Subject: RE: [Zen] Test of Character
> 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
> 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,
> 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
> 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.