To reach the point of feeling nothing and emptiness. To practice zen meditation is to experience letting go of the self.
The other day I had the opportunity to participate in the Zen Meditation Workshop Shiro Oni Studio offers. A 10 minute bike ride away, we rode up the mountain to the Kongoji Temple in Onishi. There, we met a priest who was willing to explain the concept of zen meditation to us curious gaijin (foreigners).
This temple specifically meditates while staring at the moon. The theory behind this practice is that looking at moon is easier to concentrate on emptiness and lose thought. The round of white shape of the moon helps calm down the mind and quiet it of the constant buzzing.
Here are a couple key things to know in order to zen meditate:
Breathing is very important inhale, exhale, count to ten for each action.
Of the two, exhaling is more important. It is the function that quiets the body and mind. When we are afraid we are breathing in fast. Slow exhalation of ten seconds slows the thought process and panic.
Use your tummy, not your lungs for breath. (As a singer this concept puzzles me, but I assume it means deep and low breath)
Be aware to take time little by little.
Sit in lotus or half lotus position on your cushion. But most importantly, sit in a way you are most comfortable.
For posture, try to “push the sky” with the top of your head. Have your back straight and pull in your chin. Balance is the key concept with this part.
Eyes should be half opened, concentrating on the moon image. This is to avoid drowsiness during meditation.
Hands should be right near the belly button right over left with thumbs barely touching.
Once you are in this position meditation time endures 20 minutes.
For zen meditation, the most important concept is of the here and now. If we keep looking towards the future we cannot have peace of mind.
Thank you to the priest of Kongoji Temple for so graciously inviting our studio in to learn from him; a very rare opportunity for foreigners in Japan to get.
If you have more questions about zen meditation, this website is very helpful: