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Buddhism was created around 2500 years ago following the 50 years long verbal teaching of The Buddha a nick name meaning the “awakened one”.
Zen is a branch of Buddhism and started in China 500 years later. Zen is the Japanese word for meditation. Meditation has been used for more than 15,000 years as spiritual and therapeutic tool in Eastern countries and now in our Western world. Meditation is the practice of mindfulness that is paying attention and be aware of something without any analytic, judgmental or decisional mental action. To be mindful is to focus on x or y or z without letting thoughts and feelings interfering.
- Physical concentration by keeping the body still in a specific posture (sitting cross-leg, on a chair or walking)
- Mental concentration by focusing our attention on our breathing acting as our mind’s anchor.
- Paying attention to our incoming thoughts and let them go by focusing back on the breathing. In Zen we use our breathing as focusing point.
The Zen mindfulness meditation process involves 4 mindfulness stages that are repeated over and over during meditation. We are mindful to our:
- Focusing point (mind anchor) = exhale slowly.
- Incoming thought (thoughts will always appear). Don’t avoid them but be aware of them then “press the delete key” and ….
- Return to the mind anchor …and so on.
Zen meditation is simple & plain. No guidance ( a North American invention), no gimmicks.
Daily Zen meditation & weekly group practice will help you to:
- Practice a constant state of awareness of thoughts and feelings in order to control them
- Develop and maintain a clear and quiet mind.
- Discover the wonders of your inner self to achieve peace within.
- Control your ego-centered mind main source of dissatisfaction, suffering and unhappiness caused by endless desires, hatred, illusion, expectation, and by negative feelings such as anxiety, anger, greed,fear, frustration, etc.
- Become mindful of your senses and activities moment to moment.
Meditation is also a great exercise to deal with our stressors, to increase concentration, memory, analytic skills, thought management, mind & body relaxation, mental rehearsal, and self-confidence.
If you hold a bottle of muddy water with shaky hands the water will remain muddy and you will not be able to see through.
If your hands are still the water becomes clear.
In this metaphor the bottle is your mind, the mud is your thoughts and your still hands is your meditation.
For more practical information about Zen meditation click on ” Blog ” on the menu and go to the list of posts (right hand side) then scroll down to select “What is Zen meditation?” and/or Misconceptions about meditation.