What is Chan or Zen Meditation?
Shifu meditating by the river
Shifu's Grandson, Michael Erickson meditating at the Shaolin Temple in California
Chan is the Mandarin or Chinese word used for meditation, and Zen is the Japanese term. They both relate to the exact meaning of 'seated meditation' or 'peaceful contemplation.'
Meditation is a practice that needs to be experienced and not to be intellectualized by our brain, just like having honey for the first time. We can look at it and see what it is, but we don't know what it will taste like until we taste it. Seated mediation is a way of vigilance and self-discovering. We do this by clearing our minds of useless negative thoughts that can only bring about stress, depression, confusion, pain, or anger. When we can allow ourselves to concentrate on our breathing while seated in a chair or sitting on a pillow, we can, with practice, just let go of these negative thoughts and this chaotic world. We can experience living in the moment, in the very here and now, being present, but at the same time being apart while we discover our deeper inner selves. With continued practice, we can knock down the damaging doors and walls to reveal a more lasting 'inner peace' that we never knew existed or was possible.
Through solid persistence and time, we will be able to gain more control over our thoughts, emotions, and lives through the practice of prayer and stillness. And, in our doing so, we can become more peaceful, proactive, and compassionate individuals that are better able to help our families, communities, and even our world because of it!