6 Steps to Zazen Mindfulness Meditation

Zazen, a Buddhist style of meditation, is the practice of returning to the present moment. The breath is often used as an anchor while we let thoughts, memories, and sensations arise and pass. Zazen is known as mindfulness meditation in the west and offers us an invitation to experience our reality as it is by examining our expectations, fears, and preconceived notions.

This practice asks us to be awake and allow ourselves to be vulnerable without attachment. The style of meditation suggests that we drop the stories, release the need to identify with others, and actually feel our emotions. Here are the six qualities to cultivate when practicing mindfulness meditation…

1 | Neutrality —

Zazen is the practice of sitting with our thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgement. With the quality of neutrality, we break the illusion of black and white thinking. It’s the nature of the ego to criticize and analyze. See if you can begin to see past right and wrong and develop an acceptance to everything that surfaces during meditation. 

2 | Loyalty —

In practicing meditation, we are bound to feel triggered. Old memories, feelings, and stories will emerge for acknowledgement and transformation. We’re presented with the choice to either honor our healing or walk away from the difficult work. We can continue in denial of our wounds or tend to it. Faithfulness and unconditional support is required for this work. Rather than suppress it, Zen Buddhist meditation challenges us to lean into any experience with loyalty and devotion to the self.

3 | Inquiry —

Zazen presents us with choices to introspect and question the conditioning that we once bought into. It asks us to go within, see what we believe, and know our True Nature. We can dig to see the root of our emotions and patterns if we approach mindfulness meditation with curiosity. Next time you sit down for meditation, see if you can sit without the aim of relaxation but rather to get to know yourself at a deeper level. Question your belief systems, cultural and societal norms, and media influences. Begin to see the projections of the ego and subconscious reactions. Self-imposed blocks and limitations will be brought to the surface for healing. Without this internal discovery, we miss the gift of mindfulness meditation.

4 | Forgiveness —

Zen Masters acknowledges our imperfection and invites us to do the same. This is not another opportunity to achieve perfection, but rather a journey of forgiving ourselves when we’re distracted and intentionally choosing to return to our own journey. Release guilt, criticism, and judgement around your practice, and allow yourself to practice without expectations. Thoughts will arise as thinking is the intrinsic nature of our mind. However, we can let go of the need to go down the rabbit hole with each crossing thought. We may be distracted or discouraged from our practice for months or years but we always have the power to disengage with the ego and come back to our practice. Exercise new muscles in your brain by forgiving the distractions.

5 | Compassion —

This work is not for the faint of heart but it’s also not another opportunity to achieve the next peak, to fix, or perfect yourself. It’s an invitation to see yourself through the eyes of kindness. Thank yourself for practicing on good days and bad. Witness the miracle that you are. Offer understanding to your inner child who may be asking to be witnessed. See if you can approach your mind, body, and spirit with loving tenderness in a world that is increasingly operating from the head rather than the heart. Zen mindfulness meditation calls upon us to lead from the heart.

6 | Curiosity —

The goal of this style of meditation is to learn — it’s not to relax or empty the mind. Zen Masters guides us to approach it with curiosity to know our True Nature. When we witness the ego, mind, body, and Divinity that is within us, ask yourself, “Where in my body am I holding onto stress? What does my ego want me to believe? Is there a spark of Divinity within myself?” Through this process, we awaken and self-realize. 

The qualities that we practice with are even more important than the length of time we sit for or how we feel at the end of our session. When we bring neutrality, loyalty, forgiveness, compassion, inquiry, and curiosity to our Zen mindfulness meditation, we allow ourselves to experience the present moment as it is, while also leaning into the splendor of it. The qualities transform our way of being and thinking, creating true wellness. 

Parita Shah incorporates Reiki, Integrated Energy Therapy, and Chakra Balancing to help clients balance their mind, body, and soul. Parita became interested in Reiki and Meditation when she realized that the stress of her health issues were causing more health issues. She was determined to break the cycle and find her center in the midst of health flares and life transitions. Her energy healing sessions help clients clear unresolved thoughts and emotions and connect to their true essence. Parita is available for healings in Long Island, New York and remotely.

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