How to "Zazen" 座禅の仕方(英語版)

トップ  >  How to "Zazen" 座禅の仕方(英語版)

How to do“Zazen”meditation.

Download PDF Version

“What is “Zazen” 座禅は、調息(呼吸をととのえる)、調身(座相をととのえる)、調心(心をととのえる)、の三つを基本とします。はじめての方は、慣れない姿勢のため窮屈に感じ、腰や足が痛みます。慣れると、もっとも安定して長く座れ、三昧に入りやすい姿勢であることが、おわかりになるでしょう。

There are 3 basics in Zazen as follows.
(調息): settling of your breath
(調身):settling of your sitting posture
(調心): settling of your mind
At first you may feel uncomfortable and experience pain in your waist or legs due to the unfamiliar posture. But you will find that the posture of Zazen is the most stable to sit for a long time and the best to concentrate to achieve a stage of deep concentration flow (so-called “Zan-Mai” or samadhi).

Sitting place:
適度な明るさで、静かな室内がよいです。 A silent room with moderate brightness is appropriate.

Sitting length:
線香一本が燃えつきる時間(線香一本分、約45分)を基本とします。 20分位から始め、少しずつ長く座るようにするとよいです。
In principle about 45 min, during which a stick of incense is burned down.
You can start from 20 minutes intervals and gradually increase your sitting time.

It is preferable to wear loose clothing, such as Kimono with Hakama. Slightly loose pants or jersey, a long flared skirt for females, may also be used for sitting. Hard fabric, such as jeans, may cause your legs to tighten and worsen blood circulation.

Place a sheet of cushion on the floor and add one or two folded cushions on it to adjust to a comfortable sitting height. The height has significant influence on the pain you experience in your legs and the effects of Zazen. Try to find the best fitting height of cushions for your individual needs.

Crossing your legs:
Put your right leg on the left thigh, then your left leg on the right thigh. This is the formal sitting way called “Kekka Huza” (full lotus position). If it is difficult for you, you can put your leg on one thigh only. This is called “Hanka Huza” (half lotus position). It is important to have both knees touch the floor. If you are female, “Seiza”, to kneel with your buttocks on your heels, is accepted as an alternative sitting position as well. Those who have difficulty sitting on the floor can use a chair.

Posture of head, jaw and mouth
Position your face up straight and pull your chin in. Align your ears at the level of your shoulders and your nose vertically above the navel. Close your mouth slightly and have your tongue touch on the roof of the mouth.

Folding your arms
Turn both your palms upwards and put your left hand on the right hand. Touch both tips of your thumbs slightly and shape an oval as large as an egg with both thumbs. This shape is called “Hokkai Jouin”. Draw your hands toward your body without having your elbows touch your sides.

Eye focus
At first look straightforward. Then naturally cast your eyes down to a spot around 1 meters ahead of you. Don’t gaze at the point intensively; just direct your view to this spot. We call this “ to half-open your eyes”. Don’t close your eyes, or you will feel sleepy. If you open them too wide, you will be likely to have random thoughts.

Breathing technique
Breathe naturally and silently through your nose. It is not necessary to use neither deep breathing nor diaphragm breathing. Just let your breathing take its own course. As long as you practice Zazen continuously, your breathing will deepen naturally.

Proper posture to sit
座具の上に五輪の塔を据えたような気持ちで、ドッシリと腰を落とします。背すじはピンと伸ばし、肩やひじの力をぬきます。無理に下腹に力を入れる必要はありません。座禅を続けていると、自然と下腹に「気」が充実していきます。 つぎに体を前後、左右に揺らします。はじめは大きく、しだいに小さく揺り動かします。これを「揺振」といいます。そして、尾てい骨と両ひざで作った正三角形の中心に体の重心が落ちるようにします。そこが安定した位置になります。
Firstly find a stable position for your waist, as if building a five-storied pagoda on the cushions. Straighten your back up and relax your shoulders and elbows. Do not strain your stomach. As long as you practice Zazen continuously, you will naturally expand your relaxation towards the bottom of your abdomen.
Secondly swing your body back and forth, and right and left. Move widely at first and gradually less and less. This is called “You Shin”. Then put the center of gravity of your body into the center of the equilateral triangle constructed by the coccyx and both knees. This creates a stable position.

呼吸も座相も「自然にまかせ」安定感を保つことが大切です。「座相正しければ、心これに従う」といわれています。ぜひ、正しい座相を身につけてください。 座相を整え呼吸を整えた後に心を整えます。そのために、「数息観(すうそくかん)」を実修します。
It is important that both breathing and sitting posture are naturally kept stable. It is said that “a proper sitting posture leads to proper spirit”. Therefore by all means, you should strive to master a proper sitting posture.
Settle your mind after settling the posture and breathing. The practice for this purpose is “Su Soku Kan”.

What is “Su Soku Kan”?
“Su Soku Kan” is the practice of composing yourself and nurturing the power of Samadhi, by calmly counting your breathings during “Zazen”. “Su Soku Kan” seems simple at first sight, but is not easy at all. It is said that “Su Soku Kan” is the first step of Zazen, and the ultimate.”


Count in your head your natural breaths. Count slowly “one” during the first breath in and out. Count the next breathing in and out as “Two” then continue “Three” for the next breathing in and out. Continue counting until “One hundred”. Return to one for the next batch after reaching one hundred. During a session of “one stick of incense (45 minutes)”, you could count about 330 in total though the number might differ between individuals.

数息観は、以下の条件を守って実修してください。 Practice “Su Soku Kan”, keeping the following rules.


Count the numbers in order

Put all other thoughts out of your mind

Count back to “One” whenever you fail to obey rules i) or ii)

この条件を無視したら、それはただ数を数えているだけで数息観ではありません。 はじめは、ある程度条件をゆるやかにして実修してください。この条件を厳格に守ると、なかなか百まで数えられず、途中で嫌になってしまいます。
If you don’t follow the rules, this is not “Su Soku Kan”, just counting numbers.
You can start practicing with gentle rules to a certain degree. If you keep the rules strictly, you may feel unpleasant midway as you can rarely reach 100.

数息観をはじめる前に、肺の中にたまっている空気を全部吐き出し、吐き出しきったところで、大きく吸い込む。これを「欠気一息(かんきいっそく)」といいます。これを2~3回繰り返すのも、数息観の実修に効果があります。 数息観は、習熟してくると素晴らしい効果があります。数息観は、非常に奥の深い修行法で、「安楽の法門」といわれるゆえんです。 ここまで、数息観を身につけたいものです。
Before starting “Su Soku Kan”, breathe out all the air in your lung completely, then breathe in deeply. This is called “Kan Ki Issoku”. Try to repeat it several times, and it will help you practice “Su Soku Kan” effectively.
Mastering “Su Soku Kan” has great effects. “Su Soku Kan” is such a profound practice that it is called “the gate towards comfort (Anraku no Houmon)”. So there is definitely benefit in mastering it.

Don’t follow second thoughts
The key for practicing “Su Soku Kan” is not following second thoughts. It means not to get caught up with idle thoughts. For example, something may make a sound during Zazen. You could hear it even you are in deep meditation. Don’t wonder what made the sound or where the sound occurred. You should not follow this thought. You just continue “Su Soku Kan”, hearing the sound as it happened. Then the idle thoughts will disappear slowly.

二念を継ぐと、三念、四念と雑念がつぎつぎに起きてきます。三念、四念が起きそうな場合には、数回呼吸をやや深く、大きめにすると効果があります。根気よく数息観を継続していくと、雑念はしだいに前ほどには起こらなくなります。 せっかく忙しい時間をさいて道場に来たのです。座禅中は、世間一般のことは棚上げにしてください。数息観をはじめる前に「最後まで数える」と決意して、真剣に実修してください。半信半疑では効果はありません。
If you follow your second thoughts, the third and the fourth will emerge one after another. When you feel the next thoughts emerging, try to make several slightly deep breaths. Continue “Su Soku Kan” patiently and idle thoughts will be emerging less and less.
You managed to visit Takuboku-Dojo making time during your busy life. During Zazen, forget about worldly affairs for some time. Make up your mind to count up to 100 before starting “Su Soku Kan” and practice it seriously. You will not achieve results if you are too doubtful.

Zan Mai (Samadhi)
“Zan Mai” means to achieve a deep level of mindful concentration without having your thoughts interfere. This means focusing your mind on one thing, which you experience now. You can acquire “Zan Mai” from its basis by “Su Soku Kan”. When you are happy, you enjoy it in “Zan Mai”. When you are sad, you feel it in “Zan Mai”. You can enjoy your life most comfortably whenever and wherever you can live with “Zan Mai”. If you can manage “Zan Mai”, you will successfully accomplish studies, business or martial arts.

Zendo (the hall for Zazen) manners

入堂: “Nyu Do”(entering the Zendo)
The practice starts just after you enter Zendo. Maintain the “Sasyu Tokyo” when you walk in the Zendo. Put your left hand on your chest and your right hand on the left hand. The tip of each thumb should be touching and separated from other fingers. Walk quietly, pulling your chin in. Pick up 2 or 3 cushions and hold them while keeping the shape of “Sasyu Tokyo”. Enter Zendo from the entrance at the back, then walk up to the front of the space you are supposed to sit. Stand still and face Kakejiku (the hanging scroll) hanged at the front of Zendo, then bow with the palms of your hands together (Mon-Jin). After that, you can set your cushions to sit.

Entering the Zendo in the middle of a Zazen session
Enter the Zendo quietly during a Zazen session. Get permission to enter Zendo by kneeling down in front of the “Syo Ji”, who sits at the entrance of Zendo, with the palms of your hands together (“Gassyo”). At that time, you should sit counter corner to Syo-Ji, in order to avoid showing your back to the Buddhist alter. You can enter Zendo after the Syo-ji replies with the Gassyo greeting. Set your place to sit, then show Gassyo before you start Su-Soku-Kan.

Leaving the Zendo
You can leave Zendo following the opposite way as entering the Zendo. Get up quietly, then bring your cushions on your chest after Gassyo. Pay Mon-Jin to Kakejiku (bow towards the altar) and leave the Zendo from the back.

Leaving during a Zazen session
In the middle of Zazen session you can leave for personal reasons, such as feeling sick etc., following the opposite way as explained above (for entering the Zendo during the Zazen session). Tell the Syo-Ji your reason for leaving in a low voice to get permission.

During Zazen
周りの人に迷惑がかからないよう、あまり体を動かさず数息観に集中してください。足の痛さに我慢ができなくなった場合は、合掌してから組み足を1~2回変えても結構です。 それでも足が痛く我慢ができないときは、合掌してから静かに立ち、叉手当胸して立ったままの姿勢で数息観をしてください。「5分位」過ぎたら静かに座り、ふたたび座禅に戻ります。
Be careful not to bother other participants. Don’t move too much and concentrate on your Su-Soku-Kan. If you can’t endure the pain in your legs, you can change the way you cross your legs during Zazen after you show Gassyo as a matter of courtesy to other participants.
If you have difficulty to continue sitting, stand still in front of the cushion in the shape of “Sasyu-To-Kyo”, then continue your Su-Soku-Kan. After about 5 minutes, sit down quietly and return to Zazen.

助警が座相の悪いのを直したり、居眠りを注意するため「警策」を捧げて堂内を回ります。座相が悪ければ正します。座相を正されたら「互いに合掌」します。 肩が凝ったり、眠気をもよおしたとき警策を受けるとスッキリします。警策を受けるときは、助警が目の前に来たとき合掌します。互いに合掌した後、畳に両手をつき警策を受けます。警策を受けたら、互いに合掌して座禅に戻ります。
The Jo-Kei will walk around the hall with Kei-Saku, a wooden pole, in order to correct the posture of a participant and to prevent participants from sleeping. If the Jo-Kei corrects your posture, show Gassyo to each other. If you feel pain in your shoulders or might fall asleep, try to receive the Kei-Saku. You will feel refreshed afterwards. If you would like to receive the Kei-Saku, show Gassyo when the Jo-Kei comes in front of you. After showing Gassyo to each other, put your hands on the floor and get Kei-Saku. Then return to Zazen after showing Gassyo again to each other.

<座禅の開始と終了> Zazen session program










1.Two hits of Taku (wood): the signal to start. Stand up in front of your cushion with Sasyu-Tokyo

2.One hit of Taku: Sit down after Gassyo and fold your legs quietly

3.Three hits of In-Kin (bell): Start Su-Soku-Kan after Gassyo

4.One In-Kin and one Taku: End of the first session

5.Interval ( 5 minutes): Relax yourself after Gassyo. You can go to the rest room.

6.End of interval: fold your legs quietly

7.One Taku and three In-Kin: Start Su-Soku-Kan after Gassyo

8.One In-Kin and two Taku: End of the second session. After Gassyo, unfold your legs and leave the Zendo

Points of attention in the Zendo

Zendo is called “the silent hall” and is an important place for Zazen. Private talks are strictly prohibited. Prior permission is needed for any activities.
Please switch off your mobile phone and the alarm of your watch.
Save utilities such as electricity and water.
Smoke only at the designated area.
Keep your belongings at your own risk.
Obey the etiquettes in Zendo, by following your colleagues


坐禅の仕方・作法・禅用語 etc