The Zen Meditation Posture and Making Life a Joy

In all Zen monasteries and temples in history one could find a Dharma Hall, also known as a Zendo.

And all of the Zen Masters in all of Zen history did Zazen, sitting meditation, probably just about every day or night.

Even the Masters who said that "Bodhi," as such, is not a result of Zazen and can't be attained by means of it, because there is no such "thing" to be attained, did Zazen nonetheless.

Look at a photo of the mummified body of the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-Neng. Is it not sitting upright in a perfect meditation posture?

So, let's discuss the Zen meditation posture and how it can help people in their lives.

Of special interest to me, due to my own "yogic" explorations, is how the "right" meditation posture all by itself can resolve emotional stress (for example, the stress that comes from interpersonal conflict of any kind) and help to free the mind from getting "captivated" by various robotic, obsessive types of thinking.

Of particular importance in Zazen is how the shoulders are held. They should be relaxed and sloping down, as if you were dropping a heavy robe from them.

Emotional stress tends to make the upper body rigid (shoulders raised and tight, jaw clenched, mouth drawn in grimace -- just observe how people look when they are arguing, when they are upset and angry, or when they are being sarcastic). By dropping the shoulders in the simple Zen way, one allows energy to flow in a relaxed way back down to the lower body, the belly in particular. This revitalizes the whole body.

The Zazen posture is perfect training for "letting go" of emotional stress and stopping the mind from "sticking" to thoughts. Once you learn this posture, you can carry yourself that way in all of life, and your life will become a joy. This, I believe, is why Zazen was taught in all the great monasteries of China and Japan, and in all the Five Schools.

Take a look at your posture right now, as you read this. Are you off balance, leaning in toward the screen, with your jaw tight, trying to think of an argument or dismissive comment, or are you sitting with your back straight, natural and relaxed, at ease, fully aware, taking it in without holding onto it and letting yourself laugh? One may fool others, but there is no fooling oneself.

Every day is a good day for doing some Zen.

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