Home Discussion Forum When you practice Zen Meditation do you only focus on your breathing?

When you practice Zen Meditation do you only focus on your breathing?

I read 2 books and the advise differently. What is the best way to meditate(Zen)? Counting the breathings? Or just focusing on a candle light? I would appreciate your advices. Thank you for your time.

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  1. I breathe and concentrate on how the air feels on my nose and going into my lungs. Most of the time my eyes are closed.

  2. I would recommend focusing on breathing but don’t count them or you might get distracting by trying to remember what number you are on.
    Just breathe and focus. Pick a spot on the wall but don’t look at the wall; rather, look at the spot infinitely distant beyond the wall.
    On the topic of Zen books, I always recommend reading them once, but only once. Absorb what you absorb from them, then sell them or give them away.

  3. I breath with my eyes closed, and I am only aware of breathing, I don’t count or try to influence my breathing, just let it be. gradually you’ll notice the stilness of mind and breath. all becomes peace and One

  4. There are five basic Zen meditation techniques, along with variations of each. These are:
    1. Keeping a Question
    Traditionally this is called “hwa tou” practice. In this technique, you hold a question in your mind as you sit. Typical questions are, “What am I?”, “What is this?”, etc. By keeping such questions, you can return to “don’t-know” mind. Let go of all thinking, opinions and desires and continually return to the questioning mind.
    2. Mantra Practice
    Many students use a mantra to calm the mind and strengthen the center. This has been my basic practice for 20 years. The usual technique is to recite the mantra constantly, paying attention to it and allowing all other thinking to drop away.
    3. Koan Practice
    Koan practice is an ancient form of question and answer. The actual word means “public record” – these are the public records of past Zen masters. Koan practice will give you a Great Question if you don’t have one. This practice is usually done only with the guidance of an authorized Zen master.
    4. Counting the Breath
    The breath is counted either on the exhalation (best for beginners) or the inhalation (more difficult) from 1 to 10. When you lose count or reach 10, start over.
    5. Clear Mind Meditation
    In this form of meditation, you just sit and remain aware of what is going on at just this moment. This is moment-to-moment mind. This is not a beginning technique, but is an out-growth of the other techniques.
    So the question is: What’s the best practice for you?
    Most students begin with either #2 or #4. If you’re already counting your breath, then I recommend continuing with that. If you’d like to begin with mantra practice, feel welcome to email me and I can give you some direction with this technique.
    Ultimately, all these techniques go to the same place, so don’t feel that one is better than another, or that one is more advanced than another. If you check your practice in this way, you’ll only make problems for yourself. Just settle into a practice and stay with it over the years. It will transform your life.
    Oh…Zen practice is traditionally done with the eyes open, looking down at the ground about 3 feet in front of you. And the mouth is closed, so that you breathe through the nose.
    Best wishes in your efforts!

  5. There are many different ways to meditate in the Zen sense. In terms of breathing meditation, the phrase “focus on your breathing” is somewhat misleading. You are supposed to pay attention to your breath, yes, but the “breathing” referred to is your natural, unconscious breathing. So it might actually be more accurate to say that it is “not focusing” on your breathing.

  6. I found it most helpful to focus on what I was doing at the time. So while I started with breathing, and this was always my ‘anchor’ to help me return when I became aware of my mind drifting, washing the dishes, eating a segment of orange or walking were just as good.
    In this ‘mindfulness’ meditation eventually your life becomes your practice. After all, it’s helpful to be able to sit calmly in a quiet room. How much more so when someone cuts you up in traffic, or in the noise of a crowd?

  7. I practice a Buddhist sect called Falun Gong. There is no need to focus on breathing during meditation in the Falun Gong practice. If you’re interested in trying out, visit the URL below.
    Guided meditation demonstration video, meditation music, and books about Falun Gong are free to download from the URL listed below. If you need any help, contact a local practitioner in your area for free instructions. Good luck.
    Falun Gong is a unique Buddhist School, found in 1992 by Master Li Hongzhi in China. About 100 million people practice in over 80 countries worldwide. Falun Gong is an ancient practice for the body, mind, and spirit based upon the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. Falun Gong consists of five sets of powerful exercises.
    Falun Gong, Tibetans, other Buddhists, and Christians have been persecuted in China. The most offensive human right violation is the organ harvesting from the Falun Gong practitioners in China.

  8. Outside of the institutionalized formalist methods of meditation, there are unlimited methods of meditation – far more than 5 or 105. Put your hands on your head, wear your shirt backwards, place a rock on your cushion and sit in a tree. Only just one way of thinking about this could be that every single thought you have is an entirely new mind – however ordinary and familiar it may otherwise seem. Every perception, including counts, breaths, leg cramps and so on is a new mind and it is not ‘yours’. Knowing how many methods there are and exactly which one you are doing is not in the least important. Get beyond any concept of authorized Zen as soon as possible so as to not waste your time. Knowing who is doing the meditation or who is thinking about doing or who has just finished the meditation is the most important. This meditative inquiry is possible before and after an authorized formalist meditation session as well as during. For example, walk to your car – who walks? If found that it is not “you” but there is still walking, then what is it? Quickly recognise the edge of not knowing and the company of those who also “do not know” so that life may meditate ‘you’ as you abide…just there.

  9. That is just a trick to help you achieve a state of
    no-thought. Breathing is not the real concern.
    When you can “stop” all conscious thought, you
    free up mental resources… then your subconscious
    mind uses them to clear out it’s back-log of
    “unfinished business”… this leaves you feeling
    relaxed and better able to deal with more important
    That is the essence of meditation.


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