One of the big focal points I use in my meditation techniques is that of Zen…or specifically Shikantaza.
Many times, I hear people talk about Zen meditational techniques as being the practice of “emptying the mind of all thought” or some other piece of nonsense. That’s not true. The art of Zen practice falls into two streams of thought: focusing on the present moment, which is constantly changing and a technique of intellectual reasoning behind a puzzle that can only be solved internally – which is called Koan. I don’t spend a lot of time on Koan practice, but rather move along the precepts of Shikantaza.
The practitioner doesn’t seek a state of being empty – but focus on the moment, the “now” of being. Look at this more of being in the state of the current moment – without anticipating what is to come, and completely releasing the moment that has just passed. In this manner, the moment becomes a point of hyper-focus – seeking to experience the essence of what that moment is about. The initial steps come through the usage of breathing techniques – which is where I am at. From what I have been told, this particular area can take years to master in a practitioner’s life. I know for a fact, I am nowhere near being a master of any sort. But these breathing techniques within Shikantaza are a primary part of my daily meditations. Its these exercises that I utilize to achieve my functional meditative state.
In this manner, Zen has allowed me a technique that I can add on to my daily practice. I know there are a lot of people who get nothing out of Zen practice. Just as there are people who get nothing out of Tai Chi. From both, I achieve a feeling of personal essence that lets me achieve a balance within my own Life. Just as some people get something out of going to a church, I achieve my spiritual needs through long walks. Just as some people achieve their needs through prayer – I achieve mine through these meditational exercises. Everyone’s road may be different – some may be paved, some may be dirt, others may be nothing more than a sketchy game Path through the woods….what matters is not the consistency of one’s Path in comparison to others – but what one achieves while putting one foot in front of another…