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Zazen

Helping you do Zazen

Zazen Article from Open CollegeNever ever close your eyes in Zazen. It is a Zen thing!
How to meditate and find inner calmness.

Are you tense and regularly stressed out?

Why not try meditating for a better way of life. It is taught in prisons all over the UK. Enough said!

Learning meditation is easy and the length of time it takes to sit and worry about something negative you can learn how to sit and meditate on something positive and know with daily practice you will be to control your mind including your feelings and negative traits along with the reduction in tension and stress, leaving you feeling considerably more relaxed and refreshed with vigour and energy with a spring in your step and positivity in your future life outlook.

Once meditation is understood you can become a much more peaceful and calmer person deep within.

Yes, for some people it is difficult and for others it is near impossible but for many it is easily achievable within minutes and can be life changing for those who keep at it every day.

Meditation is one of the simplest things you could possibly do in your life and for some it is one of the most difficult things to do as it requires you to simply do nothing but just sitting. It is just the actual sitting that is hard for some but what you do with your mind as regards focusing that matters most.

Within weeks of meditation practice you will certainly become deeper and calmer, more rational and slow to act and think with a heightened awareness of calmness about you.

Slower to jump to conclusions, slower to a temper or anger, less prone to backbiting and arguing including the reduction of stress or tension and related negativity.

Once meditation is understood, the possibilities are endless as you can achieve amazing things with your own mind, however such amazing feats can take many years of practice. For the purpose of this instruction it is to guide you into the seated state and show you how to do it.

It is the doing it that is the most difficult because the very thing you are about to do is to still your mind and body and to redirect your wandering thoughts to one area of concentration or focus. Upon the completion of reading this page let’s take a first step onto a life changing path of gaining a calmer and deeper you.

This instruction is in the practice of Zen meditation which is better known as zazen pronounced Za Zen.

To practice seated meditation called zazen, follow these simple instructions and you will find that within days your awareness will expand developing insight and to some extent wisdom or intuition for obtaining a greater energy about you, better health and well-being, better posture, more relaxed, deeper breathing with a heightened concentration and focus and better sleep to say the least.

The seated position or posture.

Find yourself a round cushion which is called a zafu and with your legs full or part crossed in what is called the full lotus or the half lotus position, seated on a flat floor with your spine upright and direct but not tense, relaxed but the firm, tilt your head slightly down with your chin tucked in, your lips closed and the tip of your tongue touching the top of your upper palate at the back of your top teeth, eyes cast down about a metre or two in front of you with eyelids half open but never closed.

Place your hands on your lap position just above your groin area with your left hand, palm turned upwards into your right one with your thumbs slightly touching each other in a relaxed manner but not tense, shoulders must be relaxed with no tension and allow your entire body to relax into this crossed legged seated position, upright and focused without any tension and now we can begin.

The breath

One of the most important things at this stage is your breath or your breathing.

The breathing must become natural and flowing without controlling it or forcing it. It must be slow and rhythmic but strong at the same time just simply deep in and just long out and deep in, long out and deep in etc.

Your mind is to be directed towards your breathing, towards your breath and your focus should remain there becoming deeper and more intimate with the in and out breaths, feeling the air passing into your nostrils and back out through your nostrils, feeling and hearing the air passing through your airways.

So you see, you become intimately focused with your breathing and if you can you will lose yourself into your breathing and as the saying goes, to become one with your breathing and your breathing becomes a vehicle to focus your mind with.

To become totally absorbed into your breathing, absolutely become one with it, naturally without forcing your mind there. However you won”t be able to because your mind will drift off to some rubbish or clutter and when it does wander off you then bring your mind or focus back to your breath again and keep it there but again you will find you won’t be able to because you will have drifted off again and once again you bring your focus back onto your breath and this is the process of Zen meditation Zazen for the complete beginner.

It is this bringing your wandering mind back to the breath each time and by doing so every sit, every day, every week you will develop a stronger and greater ability to take your mind off the internal clutter that you drifted off to and bring it back to where you want it.

This takes time and practice, but if you have the belief based on information such as this page then you’ll achieve it but remember, it will take time to develop.

Please bear in mind that the following description is the very thing which stops people taking mediation any further. Be aware that this could be your down fall.

And that is . . . .

A sense and a feeling that this must be one of the most boring, dullest and ungainly, unprofitable endeavour you’ve ever engaged in because you will assume that at this early stage you will achieve nothing. Don’t be negative about it.

If you enter into this practice with high expectation of achieving anything then you will fail to continue because unmet expectation will kill it stone dead.

This is why, in this instruction I am specifically focusing your attention on the negative that will happen within you as a beginner and it will be that negativity which will stop you developing and gaining the skills needed to take this further. Don’t let this happen to you.

Be aware that when you take up this practice of seated meditation you will be in a state of wanting and needing and this is one of the worst things you can enter into meditation with because you will achieve or gain nothing.

Therefore enter into the meditation position with a mind clear of any expectation or want or need or desire for anything.

Expect nothing, want nothing, need nothing and this will be your foundation and that every time you sit, expect nothing but achieve the state of calm nothing and I promise you within weeks of daily practice you will change and your mind will become alive and alert with a new creativity, a new energy and positivity to apply to the things in your life you want with less negativity and stress.

Simply sit and observe the breath and every time your mind wanders keep bringing it back to the breath and it is this exact bringing it back process that will train your mind and develop your practice deeper and stronger.

Please bear in mind the fact that millions of people around the world practice meditation and you think they would bother if it was pointless for them?

Be aware when you begin that you may start thinking negatively towards it and this is natural because for the first time in your life you’ve now started to do something which your mind does not like and that is slowing your thoughts down and quietening your mind.

As you focus on the breathing you will become aware of all sorts of wanted and unwanted thoughts which will appear along with feelings and ideas with all sorts of imagery.

Each time you just realised that you drifted off into the thoughts just bring your mind back to the breath and keep that process going.

Every time unwanted thoughts appear, let them just be, just let them be and they will pass and then disappear, then new thoughts will appear again, then just like clouds coming and going just bring yourself back to the breath and you’ll notice that after a period of time out of this practice will come deep focused concentration and a sense of high well being or even euphoria and excitement as your mind and your awareness reaches new depths of calmness and stillness.

Within the stillness and the drifting or wandering off to positive and negative thoughts you will find a gap between thoughts which will start to open up, this will start to develop into depths of calm stillness and deep insight.

Always keep your eyes open in a relaxed manner. Closed eyes are an absolute no/no in Zen meditation as it will result in quietism or drifting off and then sleep. Never ever close your eyes in zazen.

Other meditations or practices do not keep eyes open but not in zazen.

Also bear in mind this practice has nothing to do with any religion or faith or belief as it is neutral.

You are simply just focusing the mind in a seated position to achieve stillness and calmness.

At this stage just develop a seated position and focus on the breathing and allow yourself to come out of the seated meditation with an increased sense of well-being and relaxation and just enjoy the positive benefits of zazen.

Experience enjoyment, grow and develop without looking for any further complex practice or instructions and once you gain a simple and basic understanding, and enthusiasm then you will find motivation to take this further.

Sit for 20 minutes at a time only at least once or ideally twice a day which would be once in the morning and once in the evening.

Just you wait and see how good your sleep becomes.

If you have any difficulties sitting for long periods then just sit to 5 or 10 minutes once a day. Do it that way instead if you struggle and if you cannot do 5 minutes then do one minute at a time. Also do not be tempted to go to extremes and do too much. Remember full time monks only sit 40 minutes at a time and 40 minutes in a seated position is hard work and if you attempt to do that as a beginner it will only be counter-productive and result in further difficulties or burn you out.

Keep it simple, keep it brief, sit without any expectations and focus on your breath and allow yourself to relax.

Once the meditation is over, just feel and observe the relaxation and enjoy it and that motivation to experience it again will grow.

Also be aware that some people may be have troublesome thoughts or issues which may surface and if this is the case with you then slow the meditation down and allow things to go slowly and gently.

Not knowing is nearest!

If you need any further guidance or feedback or need to ask any questions about practising, just e-mail us, we will help.

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