The Power of Sitting Zen
Guided Meditation, Self-Hypnosis and Sitting Zen are different enough to be considered in different contexts. But they also have much in common. The main thing they have in common is the achievement of a state of consciousness of uncommon relaxation. But it is worthwhile to consider where one technique ends and the other begins, and when can they all be used interchangeably.
This is a very effective technique that helps calm the body, one muscle at a time. It starts with a soothing voice that guides you through a series of steps. It can be your yoga instructor's, one in a CD or of some other coach. Candles and incense are commonly used while non-intrusive music can play in the background. The guide helps focus consciousness on each inch of the body, beginning from the top of the head and moving all the way down to the toes. The point is to shake off the chatterbox nature of the rational mind.
The use of imagery is common during sessions of guided meditation. An example is strolling through a lush, green forest or imagining water washing over you in gentle, undulating rhythms. The point is to bring you to a place of well-being and natural peace.
If your goal is to stop an addiction or other unwanted tendency then self hypnosis is a good technique. Hypnotism is surrounded by misconceptions. Often they arise from theatrical plays in which a mentalist mesmerises a victim and takes over their will. No one can blame us from wanting to keep away from such possibilities.
But in reality, hypnosis is a discipline of the mind used to access the subconscious in order to heal it. The goal is therapeutic. According to G.V. Sunnen (M.D.), medical hypnosis is increasingly recognized as a powerful healing modality. Through the instillation of healing imagery, it can neutralize anxiety and prepare a patient for surgery, childbirth and other procedures.
Guided hypnosis continues from where guided meditation stops. By engaging the autonomic nervous system, the highest realms of the psyche can be accessed. Sports psychologists consider it as the most potent non-pharmacological relaxant known to science.
Once a state of complete relaxation of the body has been achieved, that is when one can let go of any and all objectives. In sitting Zen there are no goals and there is no thought process.
Once the legs are folded on the cushion into whatever position feels comfortable, the work has been done with sitting Zen. No instructor's voice is necessary, no incense, no candles, no background music, no form.
Meditation is a state of consciousness that cannot be coerced. It is the condition where on becomes available to find out what happens next, as Andrew Cohen puts it. It is not a time for achievement. It is the time to clear the voice of the mind and see what comes next, if anything. This is the state in which the most amazing whispering magic is known to occur. The voice that the static of everyday life suppresses.
As we have seen, all methods involve deep relaxation. Self-hypnoses and Sitting Zen begin where guided meditation stops. Said differently, guided meditation is the preliminary step of the other two. Hypnosis is ideal for developing new competencies or accomplishing behavioral change. But Zen meditation is the only environment where profound truth is known to emerge, without predetermined agenda. It takes you back to self. For this reason, Sitting Zen is unique and unlike all other techniques.