Eastern religions and philosophies have always fascinated the West and, in recent decades, the cultural exchange fostered by globalization has made them much more accessible than in the past. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of traditional Japanese Buddhism is Zen meditation, which, in addition to having a religious background, has also been shown to have specific physical health benefits. If you want to know what is zen meditation and its benefits, keep reading Green Ecologist and we will tell you.
Zen is the name by which it is known one of the most important Buddhist schools of all the world. For us Westerners to understand, within Buddhism, there are different schools. They all have as their main basis the thought of Buddha. However, each one of them shows its own characteristics that differentiate it from the rest, which means that, being all Buddhists, there are differences both in the theory and in the practice of each of the Buddhisms. Specific, zen buddhist school, is characterized by being one of the most popular in Japan and, his main interest, focuses on the meditation, which is considered as the main way to achieve enlightenment.
Making a simile with the Christian religion, one can speak of different aspects (Catholic, Reformed, Orthodox, etc.). However, all of them are Christian, although there are differences in the interpretations of the sacred texts and in some of their practices. This is the same thing that happens with Buddhism and its various schools, where we would place in Zen.
Keep in mind that, in any Buddhist school, meditation is one of the main tools and practices, since it is the main way to achieve enlightenment. That is to say, the state of full consciousness in which ignorance disappears and, consequently, one can achieve nirvana, a state of absence of desire and, therefore, also absence of suffering. However, and this is where the differences between one Buddhist school and another come in again, zen meditation it has its own characteristics.
Zen meditation, like all Zen thought, is characterized by wanting to suppress everything that is unnecessary or superfluous. This is done because, by eliminating the noise that surrounds us (be it acoustic, visual, emotional noise, etc.), the mind calms down and focuses with greater capacity in the meditative process. That is, distractions are eliminated. This is what makes Zen aesthetics so similar to minimalism, as both philosophies understand the need to eliminate the superfluous in order to focus on what is truly important, albeit with different approaches and goals.
One of the most characteristic elements of Zen meditation, beyond the suppression of elements that may constitute distractions, is the search for satori. Satori is a Japanese word that can be translated by illumination. However, the conception of satori is deeper than the way of understanding enlightenment in other Buddhist schools. Satori is a true spiritual experience that is difficult to define in words. Those who have reached it describe it as a state of full consciousness and enlightenment, in which ignorance and the divisions of the physical world disappear completely. Reaching this state of mindfulness can be very costly. In fact, there are Zen monks who must spend a lifetime in its achievement and, even, there are people who do not succeed despite dedicating themselves fully to its search.
But nevertheless, Zen meditation has positive effects from the beginning of its practiceTherefore, it is not necessary to start a monastic life to benefit from this type of meditation.
It has been shown that zen meditation has many health benefits that go beyond the spiritual plane of the human being. For this, experiments of various kinds have been carried out but, for the most part, these experiments consisted of analyzing what happens in the brain when these meditative states are accessed. The results of these studies have concluded that practicing Zen meditation regularly contributes to a better overall health.
This is seen in psychological elements such as a greater ability to concentrate, better ability to manage human relationships and stress situations, good results when it comes to treat illnesses such as depression or, for example, a significant improvement in self-control and emotion management skills.
However, the regular practice of Zen meditation also has physical benefits, such as a significant improvement in the cardiovascular health, a increased energy, or a significant improvement in digestive processes. This should not surprise us excessively, since the human being, despite its differentiated parts, functions as a united whole and in relation to itself. In this way, the improvement of the psychological state acts directly on the physical state, so that the benefits of Zen meditation are appreciated from a holistic dimension in which all the parts are interconnected with each other.
If you are thinking of starting the practice of Zen meditation, although it is true that it is a practice that can be done alone, it is best to do it at the beginning with a teacher or teacher. In this sense, a person who can teach and direct the first steps will help the most basic knowledge to settle and, in this way, if later you want to practice it alone, you will have the necessary tools to do it effectively.
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