cushion for sitting on) ・Chair
Firstly the position of sitting. Spread out a thick futon and place a zafu(a round shape cushion for zazen) to sit. Use the front half part of it. It is possible to use a chair when unable to sit on the zafu for some reasons.
How to cross legs
Let’s adjust from lower part. On how to cross legs, if possible, the one called Kekkafuza; the lotus position, with both legs are placed on the thighs may be ideal. Generally when you cross both legs, first you place the right leg on the left thigh and the left leg on the right thigh. It is the transmitted form. But on physical conditions, it might be easy to cross legs opposite, please try it. And Hankafuza; the half lotus position, the form to cross one leg is transmitted. It is written that when you place one of your legs, you place the left leg on the right thigh.
The point is the three points; the buttocks and both knees are made a shape of an isosceles tri angle, which is ideal. The angle of 120 degree is mostly stabilized. And knees are supposed not to be float. Knees and buttocks touch firmly to the ground.
When you feel pains, put your hands together and make a bow gently and change your legs to cross.
The posture of upper part of body
Next comes the posture. Let straighten your back well. The lumber spine which consists of five joints above the sacrum and the coccyx will be stretched well when you take the posture of pushing your navel forward. If this part comes down (bends), it is not good. Straighten it up. And place your body and head on it upright. Keeping the posture as it is, let the tension out as possible as you can.
If this heavy head leans forward a little, considerable straining is applied on various parts. When you put the head on it straightly, you can be at east without straining. Sometimes people say that they feel stiff in their shoulders while sitting. If they take this posture rightly and concisely pull back jaws, they don’t feel stiff in their shoulders. When they have stiff shoulders, they are taking an unjustifiable posture.
How to joint your hands
Next the form of hand. It is said Hokkai Join; the Dharma-realm meditation mudra. Hold hands palm up, then place the left hand on the right hand and touch rips of the thumbs lightly to make an ellipse. It is better to have the feeling that the placed four fingers to be in line. You are supposed to pay attention to the tips of fingers. When you leave them alone, the tension of the hands ebbs away and become dangle. That is not the way. It is important to prevent the form from being slumped.
How to shut your mouth
How to deal with mouth is to push lightly the tip of your tongue against the root of the upper teeth and shut the mouth.
The position of your line of sight
About the deal of eyes, when I look now, a half of people here are closing your eyes, but it is instructed “ your eyes should always remain open.” This strongly calls your attention to keeping eyes open. When you don’t pay attention yourself, eyes are soon closed. Zazen is not meditation. We sit with eyes open. And if I say where we direct our eyes, it becomes half-closed eyes when we drop our line of sight about 1m ahead on the floor. It is written “not strain, not squint”. With these eyes, we don’t get tired mostly. As eyes remain open, the things in front of your eyes are exactly there. That is important.
The set of three; Is Hokkai Join the Dharma-realm meditation mudra not collapsed? Is the tip of your tongue placed against the roof of your mouth? Do your eyes remain open? This is the point to maintain the awareness in the least.
How to catch your breath
Having adjusted your posture, open your mouth a little and breath out all air, which is called” Exhale one breath.” At that time, you should release the tension of your body and exhale all the breath like a balloon becomes deflated. On such way, you are supposed to breath out all along breath. Once you have breath out all, air comes in naturally. Repeat two or three times and your breathing becomes very gentle.
Swaying your body to the left and right
Next place your hand, palm up, on your knee and slowly sway your body to the left and right. Lean your body feeling as if it leans with the weight of your head gradually. Lean your body slowly on breathing out. And with the inbreath, you come back upright, then you lean the opposite on exhaling. One of the purposes of this action is to remove the straining of the various part of the body when the position was formed. So, you are supposed to do it on that purpose, it is useless only swaying your body to the left and right. The tension of your body has to be removed. You are supposed to remove the tension of your body and come to sit at ease.
The secret effect of this swaying your body to the left and right is to tighten the anal sphincter. Sitting without tightening it is likely to become piles. From ancient times, there are many people who have practice zazen long and suffered from piles. When get used to zazen, they sit immediately to continue sitting, they sit with anal opened. By swaying your body to the left and right, the anal sphincter tightens naturally and not to become piles. The Chinese character piles is written with a left radical called Yamai-dare and right radical called Tera (temple).
Then make the amplitude of swaying low gradually and stop in the center and sit with your hands Hokkai Join; the Dharma-realm meditation mudra.
When we form posture as instructed, it might be most natural, by which it turned out the strength drains out of us. Sitting like this (master shows us slumped posture) makes you tired. Being so, if you are said to sit with cross-legged for one hour, it is awful. It is hard to sit with formal seiza position; kneeling with your buttocks on your heels and your body upright. With seiza, it is inconvenient when swaying your body to the left and to the right. You soon touch your hands on the tatami floor. But with lotus posture, just like a self-righting daruma doll, you have the concrete center of gravity and do not fall. There is no other stable sitting posture. When we come to cross our legs with the lotus posture, we are at ease.
However it may be troublesome for those who have stiffness of coxae, I don’t force to cross legs bending legs. Only to make posture is not zazen. It isn’t that it will become zazen when you sit enduring pain. You can do zazen if you cannot cross legs or you don’t have legs. And a person who lead a life lying on the bed and is unable to stand up or unable to sit up can do zazen. It might be a little different from that you think of zazen.
What we cannot lack on any account is how we are when sitting. How are we going through? It cannot become zazen without it. If you are not careful. when sitting, you all along keep playing with ideas which occur to your mind and the time is out. It is you were thinking all through the time and you didn’t sit. Seen from outside, you took the posture of zazen and you looked like sitting but the content is that you were just thinking.
Even the person himself doesn’t know and he thinks it is zazen, he says he has done zazen. I fact he formed the posture and sit, but what he did is not different form that of daily life. He is doing not different from thinking. He is doing not different from the way that he spends time thinking one thing after another in the head around the clock. That is meaningless doing zazen. Concerning zazen, this sort of point is not known.