“Zen” (jap.) or “Chan” (chin.) meditation is the central practice of Zen or Chan Buddhism.

Zen (Chan) Buddhism is a sect within Buddhism that emerged in China during the Tang dynasty (7th century). It’s central teaching reintroduced sitting meditation as a central and necessary tenet of Buddhist practice.

Sitting meditation (zazen) is practiced by assuming certain postures that stabilize the physical body, and bringing one’s mind to a single point of concentration. This single point could be a sound, a sight, a sensation or the breath, for example.

Zen meditation carries this further.  Once a posture is realized – once a point of concentration focuses the mind – then it is all “let go” to completely embody the present moment.

Sitting meditation (zazen) can provide insight into how the mind works.  It may provide tools for some people to help cope with depression and anxiety issues by training the mind to achieve calmness.

Practically, studies have shown people who practice zazen report lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and stress, better immune systems, more restorative sleep, and other improvements.

Nonetheless, it is a practice that discourages goal-setting, so the individual may experience continuing expansiveness and possibility.

For many people, the deepest purpose is spiritual, as the practice of Zen meditation uncovers the innate clarity of the mind and the truth of our existence. In Zen, experiencing this “original nature” is experiencing awakening.