Indeed, during zazen, we can fall into two harmful states for physical and mental health; being totally opposite to the state of wakefulness of a Buddha.
On the one hand, we can fall into a state of physical and mental relaxation characterised by a great unconscious activity, closed to the sleep, and a lack of muscle tone. This state is called konchin in Zen. It is a state of somnolence, lack of clarity. Watchfulness gets obscured and conscience stupefies. Our body loses tone, the head falls forward, thumbs collapse and the hands lie motionless. The action of breathing becomes completely unconscious and it is let to its own rhythm. This state should be avoided. The best method for this is to go back to a proper body posture: to stretch our spine, to strengthen muscle tone and, especially, not to let our eyes to close.
On the other hand, we can fall into a state of distraction, of mental dispersion. This state is called sanran in Zen. It is charactised by tense muscle tone and very excited mental activity. A lot of thoughts, feelings, memories, wishes, etc. appear. This is the typical attitude of those who think during zazen. Regarding body level, the chin slips upwards, thumbs also become irritated and tense. In order to avoid this state, we should concentrate especially on a long and soft way of breathing out. We should put our attention in the hollow of of the left palm and redo a proper body posture in general: to tuck the chin downward and maintain the horizontal position of the thumbs.
By balancing our body, we can balance our mind.
Dôgen Zenji taught:
‘ The Zazen I am talking about is not the learning of a meditation technique. It is the Dharma of Peace and Happiness, the Practice-Realization of a Perfect Awakening. Zazen is the manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. The traps and networks of the intellect cannot catch it. Once you have understood its essence, you will be similar to the tiger when enters the jungle and the dragon entering the ocean.’
Text taken from the book “¿Qué es el Zen? Introducción práctica a la meditación Zen”, by Dokushô Villalba. Ediciones Miraguano, ISBN: 978-84-7813-286-4. All rights reserved.
no, ISBN: 978-84-7813-286-4. Todos los derechos reservados.