What is Zen?

Zen is form of a meticulous meditation technique that relies on inner focus and concentration and upon a person's intuition. The real objective of Zen is to awake one's self in the present moment. It is a common experience that mind either dwells in the past or the future, both of which are imaginary and hypothetical. The objective of Zen is to make the person aware of the present moment, discover one's true nature and bring one's self in harmony with the universe in order to bring peace and clarity to the thoughts.

The word "Zen" is actually a Japanese word and is derived from Chinese Chan which has the same meaning and connotation as the word "dhyan" in Sanskrit. Literally they mean to become alive and conscious in the existing moment. It leads to inner spiritual activation from which flows all the activities of daily life like eating, sleeping, talking, walking, breathing, thinking and so on.

Zen is considered to be very easy although transferring the mind to the present moment can be one of the most difficult tasks. A simple Zen process involves sitting in the lotus, semi-lotus, Burmesian or Sieza postures. However, people who have sitting problems may also sit on chairs with thighs slightly down and legs hip-wide open. Zen meditation is mainly practiced in Japan, China, Korea and Vietnam, although it is now increasingly being adopted by the people in the Western Countries.

Practicing Zen

Zen Clothing

Zen being essentially a meditative and spiritual exercise, it is imperative for one to remain as freer from any kind of stress as possible, both internally and externally. External stress here is implied in the form of tight and body-hugging clothes that may produce obstruction in making the mind the calm and tranquilized. Thus, the importance of wearing loose, relaxed clothing cannot be undermined. Moreover, the person should try to wear darker tones while avoiding putting on socks or stockings.

Zen Posture

Zen is best practiced while sitting in a comfortable posture. There are several postures into which one can perform Zen. Some of these postures are described below:

  • Full Lotus: This is so far the best and most stable position for Zen. In this position the each foot is placed on the respective opposite thigh.
  • Half Lotus: In this position, left foot is placed on the right thigh and the right foot is tucked under the legs.
  • Burmese: In this position, the legs the crossed and placed in front of you on cushion or floor.  
  • Sieza: Seiza positions are of two types. In the Sieza position with a bench, the rear of the body is placed on a bench with legs being folded under it. While in Seiza position with a cushion (zofu), all the weight of the body is supported by a tailor-made cushion.      
  • Hands Position: Hands position are very important and are called mudras. For a person who is right-handed, the left hand is placed over the right hand, while the thumbs touch lightly. For a left-handed, the positions are just reversed.


Breathing is a central concern in Zen and plays a vital role in calming and concentrating the mind. For an initiator, focusing on breathing lets you clear the mind of useless and random thoughts and makes one more "aware" of the surroundings. When starting to practice Zen meditation, it helps to rely on counting, to better prevent the mind from wandering away from the activity at hand. For example, the person can count one when inhaling and count two while exhaling, then count three while inhaling again and so on. This should be done up to counting ten and then the process should be repeated. Slowly, by practicing this activity again and again, dependence on counting can be done away with altogether and a person can achieve stable, peaceful and vigilant mind.

State of Mind

In Hindu philosophy, the mind is compared to a horse without a bridle. The restless nature of mind makes fixating it to a task or an object extremely difficult. However, it can be slowly achieved by practicing Zen meditation over a period of time. Initially, allow the images, pictures, thoughts, shapes etc. that appear in your mind to pass like some clouds in the sky without resisting them. In due course a deep consciousness awakens that severs the connection of mind with past and future and brings it in the present state of being. This happens because of an increased blood flow to deeper regions of the brain, making them rise from a somewhat mild slumber.

Finishing Zen

Once you finish practicing Zen, remain calm and composed and do not talk for some time. Begin by slowly moving your legs and gradually stand up. Make sure not to entertain distraction for about 15-20 min. and keep your mind focused and cool.

Benefits of Zen Meditation

A large number of studies were conducted to observe and establish the effects of Zen on human body. Many of these studies revealed that Zen can help treat afflictions such as hyperactivity disorder, attention deficit, anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and other maladies of mind. Besides Zen has been shown to produce many other psychological effects such as increased calmness and patience, strengthening the will power, enhancing the efficiency as well as attainment of enlightenment.

Who can perform Zen Meditation?

Zen is for all people who are willing to seek and attain. It lets the individual enjoy freedom, peace and liberation. Zen is a wonderful way for the seekers for happiness and enlightenment. Moreover one does not need to belong to a particular religion or cult to practice Zen. Anyone and everyone with their own personal needs can get benefit from Zen.

Zen Centers in India

There are few prominent Zen centers in India where one can avail the benefits of the practice. Guided by the experts, the center plays an important role in helping the visitors get rid of their daily worries and tensions and to rejuvenate and refresh themselves.