1. Zazen (seated meditation) is a type of sadhana (ascetic discipline) in spiritual concentration practiced while seated on the floor in a steady physical posture. The purpose of zazen is to gain consciousness of everything except Selfhood (atman), while attaining insight into the nature of existence and thus reaching enlightenment.
2. Zazen is gaining popularity among those with no connection to ascetic training because it calms breathing and composes the mind while refreshing the body.
3. While anyone can practice by himself or herself, some say that experiencing zazen under the observation of a monk in a temple achieves better results.
4. When a zazen practitioner becomes drowsy and loses control of sitting posture or concentration, an observer monk hits him or her with a paddle called a kensaku. This reprimand is considered the encouragement of Monju-bosatsu (Manjusri) (enlightened being). When you take a kensaku beating on your shoulder, you should be grateful.
5. A kensaku blow is extremely painful. Normally you might wish to avoid it. However, some temples allow zazen practitioners to voluntarily request the kensaku paddle. If you have a high threshold of pain endurance or simply wish to experience this feeling, try to seek the expertise of a monk.
1) When you are seated cross-legged on a zabuton (Japanese cushion), this cushion should be placed under the middle of your hips. Your upper body should be supported on three body points — your hips and two knees.
2) Place your left-hand fingers on your right-hand fingers while touching the thumbs of both hands together at the tips.
3) Straighten your spine by imagining that the top of your head touches the ceiling while relaxing both shoulders, and point your nose along a vertical line up from your navel.
4) Place your tongue tip at the base of your upper teeth and shut your mouth.
5) Keep your eyes open, relaxed, and slightly downcast while focusing approximately one meter ahead, at a 45° angle.