Zuo Chan (sitting meditation) was practiced in China long before the appearance of Chan. The earlier masters practiced according to methods in the Hinayana sutras, which emphasized the techniques collectively known as samatha-vipasyana. Generally speaking, these were methods for achieving samadhi through three aspects: regulating one's body, regulating one's breathing, and regulating one's mind. Regulating the Body   Regulating the Body by Sitting To regulate the body by sitting, one should observe the Vairocana Seven-Points of Sitting. This refers to the seven rules of correct sitting posture. Each of these criteria has been used unchanged since ancient days. Point One: The Legs Sit on the floor with legs crossed either in the Full Lotus or Half Lotus position. To make the Full Lotus, put the right foot on the left thigh, then put the left foot crossed over the right leg onto the right thigh. To reverse the direction of the feet is also acceptable. To take the Half Lotus position requires that one foot be crossed over onto the thigh of the other. The other foot will be placed underneath the raised leg. The Full or Half Lotus are the correct seated meditation postures according to the seven-point method. However, we will describe some alternative postures since for various reasons, people may not always be able to sit in the Full or Half Lotus. A position, called the Burmese position, is similar to the Half Lotus, except that one foot is crossed over onto the calf, rather than the thigh, of the other leg. Another position consists in kneeling. In this position, kneel with the legs together. The upper part of the body can be erect from knee to head, or the buttocks can be resting on the heels. If physical problems prevent sitting in any of the above positions, then sitting on a chair is possible, but as a last resort to the above postures. The positions above are given in the preferred order, the Full Lotus being

Relaxing Body and Mind Although the methods of tso-ch'an (sitting meditation) given above are simple and straightforward, it is best to practice them under the guidance of a teacher. Without a teacher, a meditator will not be able to correct beginner's mistakes, which if uncorrected, could lead to problems or lack of useful results. In practicing tso-ch'an, it is important that body and mind be relaxed. If one is physically or mentally tense, trying to do tso-ch'an can be counter-productive. Sometimes certain feelings or phenomena arise while meditating. If you are relaxed, whatever symptoms arise are usually good. It can be pain, soreness, itchiness, warmth or coolness, these can all be beneficial. But in the context of tenseness, these same symptoms may indicate obstacles.   How to Deal with the Feeling of Pain? For example, despite being relaxed when doing tso-ch'an, you may sense pain in some parts of the body. Frequently, this may mean that tensions you were not aware of are benefitting from the circulation of blood and energy induced by meditation. A problem originally existing may be alleviated. On the other hand, if you are very tense while doing tso-ch'an and feel pain, the reason may be that the tension is causing the pain. So the same symptom of pain can indicate two different causes: an original problem getting better, or a new problem being created. A safe and recommended approach is to initially limit sitting to half an hour, or two half-hour segments, in as relaxed a manner as possible. This refers not only to your inner, but also your outer environment. For beginners, if the mind is burdened with outside concerns, it may be better to relieve some of these burdens before sitting. For this reason, it is best to sit early in the morning, before dealing with the problems of the day. Sitting times may be increased with experience. But people who do tso-ch'an for extended periods may become so engr