Kyosaku : The Zen Stick

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Zen is the Japanese word of the Chinese character “chan,” which is in turn the Chinese pronunciation from the Indian Sanskrit term “dhyana,” which means meditation. In Japan, Zen is interpreted as either a state of silent thoughtless mind, where an individual has already achieved “enlightenment”, or a state of Satori , where a meditation practitioner had glimpses of enlightenment.

Like many things in life, Zen is grasped only by doing , not by hearing, talking or thinking about it. Zen is a religion of non religion, Zen can also be explained as ” living in the present and experiencing reality fully”, or as the old zen saying says” Zen is nothing and yet everything ” .

As Bhodi a Zen master puts it, “Unfortunately no one can be told what Zen is, you have to experience it for yourself.”

So is the case with Meditation. In Japan, the meditation sessions are facilitated by what they call “Jikijitsu”, the directing monk or meditation facilitator in charge of every movement of the meditation practitioner coming to sit in Zazen.

Zazen is japanese word for Zen meditation or silent sitting meditation. The jikijitsu ensures that the monks get to sleep and wake up on time according to a strict protocol.

Jikijitsu often carries with them a Keisaku or Kyosaku. These Keisaku / Kyosaku is what we call in English a “Zen Stick”, also known as ‘blow of compasion’ or ‘warning stick’. The kyosaku or The Zen Stick is a light blow given to shoulders with the light wooden stick carried by a Zen monk during Zazen meditation.

Commonly made out of wood or bamboo, a Zen Stick is used by a Jikijitsu to alleviate drowsiness and sleepiness while meditating. It is also very stimulating that it allows one struck by it to overcome fatigue thus getting its nickname: “wake-up stick”.

Getting a hit by Zen Stick while meditating is not a punishment, or an act of violence, it is simply an aid to meditation practitioner by a very light feather like touch of a stick on body. While in Zazen or Silent seated meditation, it is common for that practitioner to feel drowsy or get lost in thoughts. The meditation facilitator in charge will then strike them lightly with a Zen Stick to make them aware about their sleepiness nature and bring them back to a more alert state.

The Zen Stick is commonly used on the backs, shoulders, muscles and spine.The practice of zen stick also has a science to it. Zen Stick will allow you to have the sense of being more awake since your brain interprets a touch on body more accurately.

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