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What is Chair Zazen, and How Can Anyone Do It?: This is Authentic Zen Experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Updated: 5 days ago

Authentic Zen Experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo

What is Chair Zazen?

Chair Zazen involves practicing Zen meditation while seated on a chair, eliminating the need to cross your legs. In other words, Chair Zazen can be done anytime, anywhere, by anyone. In recent years, there's been an increase in people finding it challenging to cross their legs, and Chair Zazen offers them the opportunity to experience the harmony of body and mind.

The most important aspects of Zazen are adjusting your posture, regulating your breath, and calming your mind. If you can achieve these, you're practicing Zazen effectively. Therefore, it's not necessary to insist on crossing your legs. As long as you can adjust your posture, regulate your breath, and calm your mind while sitting on a chair, it's still genuine Zazen.

Authentic Zen Experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo

At Denchuji Temple, you can experience Chair Zazen too, as our Zazen experiences are private sessions tailored to participants. Why not experience this private Zazen session with direct guidance from a monk in English? Especially for beginners and families, Chair Zazen, which doesn't require crossing legs, is an ideal Zazen experience.

Moreover, Chair Zazen, which is accessible and universal, is suitable for those with mobility challenges. Wheelchair users can participate in Zazen without leaving their chairs. However, wheelchair users may need some preparations, so please consult with us beforehand.

Authentic Zen Experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Let's Try Chair Zazen and Authentic Zen Experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo

During your trip to Japan, why not make your Zazen debut with instruction from a genuine monk at Denchuji temple, practicing Chair Zazen, and having an authentic Zen experience in Shinjuku, Tokyo? It's sure to be a profoundly fulfilling experience that could change your life.

Preparation for Chair Zazen:

a. Chair Preparation:

Choose a chair with a slightly firm seat where your thighs are parallel to the floor. Adjust with cushions or towels as needed. A backrest is optional.

b. Create a Quiet Environment to Avoid Sensory Distractions:

It's crucial to create a quiet environment. Once you've chosen the chair's placement, tidy up the surroundings to minimize distractions.

c. Loosen Up Your Body:

Keeping your upper body flexible makes it easier to maintain the Zazen posture.

Lift your shoulders while inhaling, then exhale and lower them slowly.

Rotate your arms and neck gently.

How to Start Chair Zazen:

Step 1: Sit comfortably and relax your upper body.

a. Align your pelvis:

Sit with awareness of the two protrusions (ischial tuberosities) at the bottom of your pelvis, ensuring not to forcefully arch your lower back forward.

b. Angle and Position Your Feet:

Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor, ensuring your knees don't come above the chair seat. Alternatively, you can pull your feet back under the chair, even lifting your heels if necessary.

c. Stack Your Spine from the Pelvis:

Imagine stacking your spine one vertebra at a time, gently placing your head on top.

Step 2: Once relaxed, make final adjustments.

a. Check the shape of your eyes and mouth:

Keep your eyes open, gazing at a spot about 1.5 meters ahead on the floor to maintain a natural gaze. Close your mouth, placing your tongue against the roof to avoid creating space inside.

b. Interlace Your Hands:

Place your palms facing upward, with your right hand beneath your belly button.

Stack your left hand on top.

Touch your thumbs together. This hand position is called Hokkaijo-in (cosmic mudra).

c. Swaying the Body:

Take slow deep breaths while releasing tension in your upper body. Rock your body left and right, gradually reducing the movement until you find your center.

Step 3: Start Zazen with gentle breathing.

Allow various thoughts to flow through your mind while feeling your breath gently. Initially, focus on exhaling slowly and smoothly, with inhales following naturally. As you become accustomed, there's no need to force awareness.

Step 4: Conclude Zazen with slow body rocking.

Finish Zazen while savoring the harmony of body and mind.

a. Place both palms facing upward on your thighs.

b. Rock your body gently from side to side.

c. Enjoy the lingering feeling of relaxed Chair Zazen, settle the sway, and take a quiet breath.

d. When standing up, do so slowly.

e. Afterward, return to your daily activities while cherishing the relaxed state of mind.

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