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Practical Zen

Practical Zen

Julian Daizan Skinner | Shinzan Miyamae



Zen master Julian Daizan Skinner guides the reader through a sequence of meditation techniques that can safely lead even a complete novice through to advanced levels. Based on his own long experience of the Rinzai Zen tradition, as taught by the great seventeenth-century masters, Hakuin and Bankei, Daizan highlights the key points for success and addresses the pitfalls. Structured around a traditional teaching framework called "The two wings of a bird," Daizan clearly lays-out how these methods build and combine to create a transformative and sustaining practice.

The book contains an extremely useful section describing the experiences of western practitioners who have successfully applied this framework within the pressures of modern life. The final section features key source texts in translation, making the book a complete introduction and guide to Zen meditation. The work of a master, the book speaks at a deep level, with utmost simplicity.

So far, I have found the guide to practice incredibly clear and the skills and practice itself incredibly useful. It is very difficult sometimes to quiet the mind, and other times a little easier. It is still early days but I intend to continue and ultimately find a teacher once I feel I have developed a solid basis. If you want to actually start meditating, then this is a great place to start.
Duncan McGechie, Acubody
The explanations and instructions are beautifully clear and the structure really supports the transmission of these invaluable practices. I particularly loved the sections on duality and non-duality, the unborn, the hara, the ox and all the stories, particularly the moving events around the temple fire. I wholeheartedly recommend Practical Zen.
Multi-award winning novelist Livi Michael
To those who find Zen somewhat intimidating, Daizan's relaxed approach should be appealing; Practical Zen offers something for everyone with an interest in Zen, with a plethora of ideas, possibilities, and suggestions for practice.
Stephen Addiss, author of The Art of Zen and Zen Sourcebook
A true gift to the world. From the historical context of Zen to the profound insights that lie at its core, seldom has so much wisdom been packed into a single volume. This book is a true beacon on the journey of self-growth, for all those who wish to take it.
Dr. Russell Razzaque, founder of The College of Mindful Clinicians, author of Breaking Down is Waking Up and Obama Karma
Beginning full-time monastic Zen in 1989, Julian Daizan Skinner has practiced and received Dharma transmission in the Soto and Rinzai traditions and been named successor of Zen Master Miyamae Shinzan, founder of The Zendo Kyodan Lineage. For more information, visit
An entertaining integral guide to Zen that will serve you faithfully for many years. This is a book of real quality from a teacher of the highest calibre, and the rarest gift.
J.M. Harrison - multi-award winning author of Naked Being, We Are All One, The Soul Whisperer and YOU are THIS

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Practical Zen: Meditation and Beyond by Julian Daizan Skinner 3
Foreword by Shinzan Miyamae 9
Acknowledgements 10
Introduction 13
What you need and what you don’t 17
Part 1. The First Forty-Nine Days 19
Chapter 1. The Physicality of Zen Practice 20
Aligning your body for Zen practice 22
Chapter 2. Working with the Breath 28
Breathing meditation 40
Chapter 3. Uncovering Your Fundamental Adequacy: The Unborn 44
Unborn meditation 58
Chapter 4. Your Burning Question: Meditating with a Koan 64
Meditation with the koan ‘Who am I?’ 72
Chapter 5. From Sickness to Health: Soft Ointment Meditation 82
Soft Ointment Meditation 82
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