Zazen refers to “seated meditation”. Especially in the Western world, this is usually referred to simply as Zen meditation. This is a form of Buddhist meditation where the focus is on your breathing and awareness. You don’t openly partake in thoughts or experiences. You simply observe and recognize them as they pass through your mind or your environment.
This is much like Vipassana meditation. One main difference is that Zen meditation emphasizes on breathing at your stomach, instead of through the nose. Zen meditation also is much stricter about performing the perfect posture than in Vipassana. To achieve the best is in meditation benefits, you must keep a straight spine with your chin tucked. This allows for the proper breathing techniques which accompany a Zen meditation practice.
The Zen form of meditating also requires a special hand placement over your stomach. While some meditation practices don’t require you to close your eyes, Zen meditation is strict about keeping your eyes open all of the time. You should practice a downward gaze, unlike Vipassana and some other forms of meditation, where there are no strict rules for where your gaze focuses.
Some well-known Zen teachers include Adyashanti, Thich Nhat Hanh and Joan Halifax Roshi. If you are thinking about taking up Zen meditation, you should be past the beginning stages of meditating. This is because the rigid rules for Zen practice require a teacher almost all of the time. If your Zen meditation teacher has to spend most of his or her time focusing on the basics of meditation, your experience suffers.