Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Zazen Mean?

Zazen is a meditative practice that is used in Zen Buddhism in order to gain insight into the nature of existence and achieve self-realization. Its method varies between different schools, but it includes cultivating an appropriate state of mind through deep concentration.

Posture is also very important in zazen, and great attention is given to ensuring the body can rest in a stable and alert position. Zen yoga may be practiced in order to build the mobility, strength and ease in the physical body to allow for long periods of sitting in meditation.


Yogapedia Explains Zazen

There are two common approaches to zazen meditation:

  1. Using koans, which are statements, stories or questions that the zen practitioner reflects on in meditation. This is favored by the Japanese Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.
  2. Adopting an approach of shikantaza, in which the mind has no object on which to focus. This is often preferred in the Soto School of Japan.

Because posture is so important, the yogi may use a zabuton (soft mat) or a zafu, which is a cushion to help sit upright either in seiza, the Japanese kneeling position used for meditation, or in half lotus or full lotus pose with the knees grounded. It is important that the yogi is away from distractions; therefore, it is sometimes practiced facing a wall.

Zazen is a regular practice that requires commitment, discipline and patience. Practice is recommended first thing in the morning for 10 to 15 minutes, building up to 30 minutes or more.

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Zazen Meditation

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