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 Zen Practice (cont'd)

Zazen Meditation Breathing

Now pay attention to the breath. Steadily breathe in through the nose, down to the diaphragm, and out through the nose without any tension. Do this several times, and then let the breath breathe itself.

Experience briefly the body and breath just as they are without descriptions, opinions, or commentary.

At first you may find that counting your breaths helps to focus attention while meditating. Silently count one as you first inhale, and with each subsequent breath add one to your silent counting until you reach ten. Then begin again at one. The purpose of your counting is to begin focusing your attention on breathing rather than your other thoughts. If you loose count, simply return to one and begin again.

You may also wish to try other means of focusing on your breathing by concentrating on the sensation of inhaling and exhaling upon your nostrils. Or you may focusing on the sensation of your lungs filling and emptying as you breathe.

Over time, as your mind learns to quiet down and become more receptive, focusing your attention on the breath and developing a detached awareness of the various sensations, feelings and imagery that arise in the mind will naturally involve less conscious effort. If tools such as breath counting impede practice, they should be discontinued. We suggest that you discuss this issue at the appropriate time with an instructor.

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