Ways of Sitting

by Barton Stone
by Barton Stone of Back Porch Zendo

Zen Master Dogen Zengi said, “Zazen has nothing to do with sitting or lying down.” Zazen is a beautiful practice of opening completely and facing directly whatever arises in each moment. In Zazen we reveal the fact that we are not separate from the myriad things that come forth and experience themselves as each moment.

At Open Zen Community, we want everyone who wishes to participate in this ancient practice of still sitting to feel free to come and be part of our Sangha. Presenting alternative postures for people who don’t think they can sit because of pain is our invitation and opening.

The postures presented here originated with the late Zen teacher Darlene Cohen of the Russian River Zendo in Guerneville, California. Darlene taught that there are three essential features of Zazen posture:

1. The spine is stable and properly aligned so that stillness can be maximized.

2. The position incorporates dynamic tension to assist the practitioner in remaining awake and alert.

3. That one’s whole body and mind can participate fully.

The postures presented in our Guide to Postures are various embodiments of these essential features. Please feel free to vary them in whatever way works best for your needs.