It's essentially a state of being at peace with your own thoughts, and being self-aware of your place within the universe, inconsequential (and simultaneously essential).
The word Zen is both the acceptance of everything and nothing, the realization that Zen encompasses and is encompassed by everything. It also centers on a relationship with your own mind, and a higher, undefined entity outside of yourself.
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The most common ways are sitting meditation (Zazen) and walking meditation (Kinhin), where direct noninteractive observation of breath and mind is practiced. The ideal scenario is to clear your mind and allow thoughts to organically rise and fall, without interacting or affecting them in any way.
There are also group sessions of intense meditation, often taking up to a week of silent, disciplined focus, interrupted only by short periods of sleep. Other forms of practice include the use of koans (stories practitioners meditate on), and Zen chanting (repetition of sutras followed by silent meditation on them).
Due to the wide variety of practice methods, and the westernization of the term Zen, thanks to popular fiction and cultural figures, many people aren’t quite sure what Zen means.
Nonetheless, the continual evolution of Zen, as well as its practice and impact, is due to the vague and personal nature of the concept itself. However you choose to involve Zen teachings and beliefs in your life, the end goal is the same – enlightenment and a more self-aware existence.
There is no formal practice or set routine that people must practice to achieve the enlightenment that Zen aims for. Zen Buddhists and practitioners focus on breaking through the boundaries of traditional thought and behavior to witness the world as it truly is.
The moment of this “breakthrough” is called satori, and references when the veil of our conceived reality is stripped away, and enlightenment is achieved.
The practice of Zen meditation (Zazen), is the core of Zen Buddhism and it’s a way of vigilance and self-discovery which is practiced while sitting on a meditation cushion. It is the experience of living from moment to moment, in the here and now and also how Gautama got enlightened and became the Buddha.
Zazen is an attitude of spiritual awakening.