With the flurry of activity in modern society, it has become more important than ever to intermittently calm one's mind and realign oneself. Visit Chokokuji Temple in Nishi-Azabu to practice zazen (seated meditation with the eyes naturally kept open) with Buddhist monks. You'll walk away with newfound realizations, having learned a meditative technique that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.
With the constant modern day feeling of being chased by time and information, zazen is attracting the attention of businessmen and entrepreneurs around the world. Going beyond the boundaries of religion, zazen is said to offer insight for maintaining both physical and mental health. Zazen - it is said that Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, "reached a state of enlightenment, in which he was able to objectively look at himself and control his mind by forming zazen."
One of the main reasons zazen is accepted in modern society is that this spirit of enlightenment is only meaningful if it is useful in everyday life. While meditation is done by closing the eyes and lifting consciousness away from reality, with zazen one sits with eyes open and keeps focus on the people and things that need to be attended to. Zazen in Tokyo is at temple you visit before work, at the end of your day, or in between important work obligations, just to breathe, calm the mind and concentrate. It is realistically incorporated into people's everyday lives.
Located in central Tokyo's Azabu area is Chokokuji, a venerable Zen temple dating back to the 16th century. It is where approximately 30 monks sleep and train, and zazen practice is taught to the general public. Monks first teach about zazen, and then the ideal posture. When a firm cushion is used to sit on, the spine naturally elongates. The teaching begins with an explanation. "Reflecting on your past or trying to get something out of the practice is not zazen. It is important to have a neutral state of mind that is neither negative nor positive." The monks usually use the same space to practice zazen. The most important part of zazen is the 'breathing'. There are similarities to yoga in that it is based on nasal breathing, and you exhale gently and slowly while focusing on the point just below the navel. Repeating this calms the mind and increases concentration. "When we see ourselves objectively, we are able to make better choices. Some people realize that the alcohol they love to drink is their way of escaping and decide to stop drinking altogether. Others may realize that the job they find hard and painful is actually something that is important to them. Without forcing yourself to switch mindsets, you will be able to lead yourself in a comfortable routine of stopping for a moment and then moving on." Why not try it as a tool to enrich your life?