Zen is all about focus. Meditation or ‘Zazen,’ is an exercise in creating a one-pointedness of mind. The comparison with muddy water is often made. In calm water the mud sinks to the bottom and the water becomes clear.
Types of meditation
Meditation on the Buddhist Path
Most Buddhist traditions recognize that the path to Enlightenment entails three types of training: virtue (sīla); meditation (samadhi); and, wisdom (paññā).[f] Thus, meditative prowess alone is not sufficient; it is but one part of the path. In other words, in Buddhism, in tandem with mental cultivation, ethical development and wise understanding are also necessary for the attainment of the highest goal.
In terms of early traditions as found in the vast Pāli Canon and the Āgamas, meditation can be contextualized as part of the Noble Eightfold Path, explicitly in regard to:
Right Mindfulness (samma sati) – exemplified by the Buddha's Four Foundations of Mindfulness (see Satipatthana Sutta).
Right Concentration (samma samadhi) – culminating in jhanic absorptions through the meditative development of samatha.
And implicitly in regard to :
Right View (samma ditthi) – embodying wisdom traditionally attained through the meditative development of vipassana founded on samatha.[g]
Classic texts in the Pali literature enumerating meditative subjects include the Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) and the Visuddhimagga's Part II, "Concentration" (Samadhi).
Four foundations for mindfulness
Main article: Satipatthana Sutta
Lord Buddha meditating
In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha identifies four foundations for mindfulness: the body, feelings, mind states and mental objects. He further enumerates the following objects as bases for the meditative development of mindfulness:
Body (kāyā): Breathing (see Ānāpānasati Sutta), Postures, Clear Comprehending, Reflections on Repulsiveness of the Body, Reflections on Material Elements, Cemetery Contemplations
Feelings (vedanā), whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral
Mental Contents (dhammā): Hindrances, Aggregates, Sense-Bases, Factors of Enlightenment, and the Four Noble Truths.
Meditation on these subjects develops insight.
Place and Time
Find a time of the day and a place in the house where you won’t be disturbed. Just before or after your daily activities is best. In the morning it will prepare you for the rest of the day. In the evening it will help you relax before going to bed. It’s best to do both but if you just have time (ask yourself why ?) to meditate only once per day choose between the one or the other. Alternating will bring unrest. Set an alarm of some sort so you don’t have to watch the clock to know if ‘meditation-time’ is over.
Find a position to meditate that’s comfortable to you. The full-lotus posture (with legs intertwined, left foot over right thigh, and right foot over left thigh.) is not necessary. You can just cross your legs or sit on a chair. I sit in the half-lotus posture myself because it is a special posture I only use while meditating. This way I am physically reminded that I’m doing Zazen and nothing else. You can use a small cushion or a small foam exercise mat if you want. Using a good meditation cushion helps a lot, you should get a ‘Zafu’ (upper cushion) and a ‘Zabuton’ (lower cushion).