In Zen Buddhism, zazen (literally “seated meditation“) is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind, and be able to concentrate enough to experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment.

The use of chairs in the West is ubiquitous. One of the most important life style changes you could make it to give up the use of chairs. Chairs (et s’asseoir toilets) are good examples of the motto, ‘ short term pleasure attracts long term pain; short term pain attracts long term pleasure. The physical ease a chair provides gradually robs the body of an important part of its natural capability. Over time that brings long term pain. This is easy to see, for example, by comparing older Western people with older Japan people.

The photo above is of an 82 Japanese grandmother. She is more supple than many Western people half (or dare I say 1/4) her age. So, what is so good about being flexible? Oh the list is so long; I’ll spare you. Besides, I think the long term pleasurable benefits are obvious to most. I suppose people just don’t realize in their youth how the use of chairs will greatly exacerbate loss of flexibility.

The benefits of maintaining flexibility, subtle though they may be, add to the quality of life throughout life. So, become more natural and animal like, and throw out your chairs. Take the lower position.

Zazen is considered the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. The aim of zazen is just sitting, “opening the hand of thought”,[2] that is, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without getting involved in eux.

To sit seiza-style, one first kneels on the floor, folding their legs underneath their thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels . The ankles are turned outward as the tops of the feet are lowered so that, in a slight “V” shape, the tops of the feet are flat on the floor and big toes are overlapped, and the buttocks are finally lowered tout en bas . Depending on the circumstances, the hands are folded modestly in the lap, ou are placed palm down on the upper thighs with the fingers close together, or are placed on the floor next to the hips, with the knuckles rounded and touching the floor. The back is kept straight, though not unnaturally stiff. Traditionally, women sit with the knees together while men separate them slightly. Some martial arts, notably kendō, aikidō, and iaidō, may prescribe up to two fist widths of distance between the knees.

Stepping into and out of seizais mindfully performed. There are codified traditional methods of entering and exiting the sitting position depending on occasion and type of clothing worn.




… How much do we really know, are we aware of what we are thinking and doing? It’s my guess that the common answer is no, not much at all, if we are honest. Sure, we could say we did this or that for such and such a reason, but dig a little deeper and ask why that reason, and pretty quickly we’d be left with questions unanswered as to why we act the way we each do.
I would like to use this, somewhat unsettling thought, to help actually expand our awareness of why we are what we are. Unlike a ‘control freak’ the aim is not to try and tighten our grasp things but just to be aware and watch events in our daily life unfolds before us.
I guess I could call into these thoughts the idea of ‘Destiny Vs Free Will.’ How much of our lives is predetermined (genetics, upbringing..) and how much of life is subsequently down to our own free will, as such..? With greater experience comes a greater ability to fine tune and affect certain outcomes of our lives, which is very important and useful, yet life is an endless possibility of which we are more controlled by then we are able to consciously control.  However, by increasing our ability to be aware that we part of a larger organism, we can maintain an interesting way of viewing our own decisions, actions and fate.



‘Your consciousness has become too attached, associated, with thinking, so whenever thinking stops you fall into a coma.. the conscious has merged into the unconscious. If the unconscious falls into the conscious and itself becomes conscious, you become enlightened.’

The filmmaker and Turner-Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen is someone who cut a swath through the British art world with his video installations, mainly silent and in black and white, projected on to spaces within galleries; he was only five years out of art school when he won a Turner Prize. And now, with his first two feature films, Hunger and Shame, he has indisputably become one of our most distinctive, compelling film directors.

Hunger , a harrowing, assured account of the last weeks of the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, who in 1981 fasted to death in the Maze Prison near Belfast, was the breakthrough film for its lead actor Michael Fassbender, now a global starImage

The setting for his follow-up film, the controversial and sexually explicitShame , could scarcely be more different. Its central character, Brandon (Fassbender again), is a handsome, thirtysomething ad executive in New York who lives alone in a sleek, minimally furnished apartment. But he is a sex addict, and his affliction dominates his whole life. He accesses pornography on the internet and in magazines, hires prostitutes and picks up women in bars for instant sexual gratification that leaves him feeling empty and full of self-disgust. When his wayward, needy sister, a nightclub singer (Carey Mulligan), comes to stay and imposes herself on his life, Brandon’s already shaky equilibrium crumbles.

Says McQueen of his two films,  ‘In Shame, Brandon is an attractive man, he has a good job, he’s well paid, has all the freedoms and all the possibilities you could want. And in this situation he puts himself into a prison. Obviously it’s different from Bobby Sands, who’s incarcerated in a maximum-security prison. Yet within that situation he finds his own freedom. It’s the complete opposite. Both of them use their body to do that. One imprisons himself through sexual activity, while the other frees himself by abstaining from eating.’

In Shame ‘It goes back to the availability of sex. It’s like there’s more fatty food in supermarkets, so people get fat. There’s greater accessibility to alcohol, so guess what? More people get pissed. That’s how it is. Everyone wants to get lost a little bit these days – and understandably so.’

McQueen signature style as a director features long, extended scenes. In Hunger, Fassbender’s Sands and a priest, played by Liam Cunningham, engage in a long debate about the morality of Sands’s hunger strike; for 17 minutes the camera remains static, yet the scene has the ability to keep audiences spellbound.

Such audacious flourishes abound in Shame. In a nightclub, Carey Mulligan sings a slow, bluesy version of the standard New York, New York in its entirety, and the camera stays in close-up on her face for almost the whole duration. In Shame‘s very first scene. Brandon lies in bed, viewed from above, confronting the camera with a dead-eyed stare. His body sprawls horizontally across the top half of the frame; the rest is filled with an expanse of high-priced sheets in a delicate blue, artfully arranged. He is a man alone – with only his demons for company.

‘People go on about those long scenes,’ McQueen says, ‘but it’s not doing something for a trick or gimmick – it’s about doing what’s necessary. Why cut? If you have a close-up and what you’re getting is incredible, stay with it, look at it. It’s about what actually works. The fact is, it’s exciting. There’s film time, and there’s real time. These happenedin real time and that’s exciting. You’re putting an audience in a situation that feels like reality.’

the conflict of the film–we’re given Brandon’s sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), who’s everything Brandon’s not. Where Brandon is prosperous, Sissy is homeless (she asks to stay at his apartment for a few days); where Brandon is cautiously self-contained, she is recklessly expressive; where Brandon as played by Fassbender is all hard angles and chiselled muscles. McQueen for a first glimpse of Sissy gives us right off a full frontal view: childlike, with tiny breasts and a slight pudginess developing around the waist. Later Brandon is watching Sissy sing at the nightclub Brandon finds he has shed a teardrop. It’s a crucial moment, a turning point: that drop is possibly the first sign of empathy to be squeezed out of him onscreen.

To complicate matters McQueen adds a strong undercurrent of sexual tension between siblings. Sissy is naturally affectionate; Brandon holds her firmly, and not a little desperately, at arm’s length (he’s like a cokehead asked to safeguard a kilo of cocaine). The tension awakes unknown needs in him–the need, for one, to have a normal relationship with a woman as another person and not some sexual object, not some mere receptacle for his sperm (again, you have this strong sense of foreboding that matters will not end well).

McQueen directs in a series of long takes, framing his characters in a relentless medium shot that on occasion follows them as they move about, but usually sits down patiently to wait for the scene to resolve itself. He repeats shots over and over, of Brandon standing at the subway station like a warrior-knight waiting to ride into battle, or of Brandon pacing naked in his room, a tiger restlessly measuring the limits of his cage. From Mulligan he elicits a minor miracle; where in Nicholas Winding Refn’sDrive (2011) she was a rather dull young mother, here he uses her very same physical immaturity to give the film vulnerability, emotional accessibility, warmth.