What Do You Wear To Zen Meditation?

What Do You Wear To Zen Meditation?

zen meditation

If you are a newbie to zen meditation, it can be a super exciting time. You will likely be eager to attend your first zazen meditation class but one of the things that can feel intimidating is whether there is a dress code.

We know that zen meditation or zazen, comes from the Buddhist tradition and when we see practitioners, they are often wearing very specific and distinct clothes. Someone who is new to this way of meditating will want the most authentic experience possible and speaking about the clothing is a great place to start.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the most appropriate types of meditation clothing to wear for your zen practice.

What Should I Wear To My Zen Meditation Class?

When you attend a meditation center, you could be forgiven for thinking that you need to wear traditional meditation robes rather than just turning up in your work clothes. But the good news is that you are free to wear anything you like.

The zendo is a welcoming place where no one thing is required. Although you will find that people recommend wearing clothes that are not distracting. This means not wearing clothing with bold prints or in loud colors. This is purely so as not to take away from the meditation programs that are taking place.

Many beginners are also advised to avoid clothing that is not comfortable. Since you are going to be spending time in meditation, you will want maximum comfort so that your clothing does not serve as a distraction. You might also be asked to dress in a modest fashion.

The folks at the zendo will also advise you to choose a style of clothing that allows for the best meditation experience meaning that you should remove your shoes and avoid wearing a hat. This allows practitioners to open up all of their senses during the meditation practice.

If you are ever in any doubt as to the correct type of clothing or any rules that apply at the meditation center, you can speak to one of the people working there. In general, they will be wearing a rakusu (a type of bib-like garment; we will look at this is a little more detail later on) and will be able to offer you the best advice for that particular center.

Types of Meditation Robes

When you meditate alone, you are free to wear whatever clothing you prefer; we all come from different walks of life and all of our styles will differ. However, when you attend a group meditation practice, you may notice that some people wear robes and other types of zen clothing which derive from Buddhist practices. These are things that you will see at your meditation center and it can be useful to know more about them.

The Samue

The samue is a traditional Japanese style of work clothes which can be worn by everyone and is a frequent choice for meditation clothing. Whether you are a monk or someone who is totally new to meditation, everyone is welcome to wear a samue.

The samue comes in muted colors such as black and samue comes in two parts; the samue pants and the samue jacket. What is great about the samue is that the jacket can be worn with your regular clothing.

Other Types Of Zen Meditation Clothing

Aside from the samue, there are several other types of meditation clothing that you may see at a zen practice centre.

A common example of this is the lay robes which have longer sleeves than the robe that would be worn by someone higher up. These are comfortable and come in subdued colors. However, these are normally worn in a longer zen practice as opposed to the type of robe that would be worn in a day to day zen session.

You might also decide to wear jubon which is one of the types of undergarment often worn underneath the samue.

Clothing That Shows Status

Much like in other traditions, Buddhist practices have certain items of clothing that are worn by those with a status; this separates them from others in order to demonstrate their vows, commitments and other parts of the Buddhist belief system.

One such example of this is the wages which is a strip of thin cloth worn around the neck. This cloth would be worn with a rakusu and symbolises the vows made in a ceremony known as Jukai.

The rakusu us a garment that looks similar to a bib and is worn by those who have received certain precepts as well as having committed to the Dharma cloud lineage. The rakusu comes in different colors, as follows;

  • Green rakusu are worn by students.
  • Black rakusu are often worn by lay people whereas lay teachers may wear blue.
  • Gold and brown rakusu are worn by priests.
  • If you receive precepts during your life, you would receive a white rakusu upon your death.

You may also see people wearing a kesa which is a Buddhist robe. This robe is worn by teachers and comes down to the floor. This is similar to the orange kesa that we see a Buddhist monk wearing.


it can be exciting to get started in your zen meditating practice but one of the first things that a lot of people wonder is what they should wear. We are all used to seeing serious Buddhist meditation practitioners wearing sacred robes and outfits that many of us do not own.

However, everyone is welcome at the kendo and what you wear isn’t too much of a concern. Although there are some suggestions. Modesty is preferred, so wearing short shorts of revealing clothing is not ideal. Similarly, your clothing should not serve as a distraction; it should not make noise or be too bright so as to take away from the practice; even when you are taking a short break from meditation, the mind must remain focused.

Finally, you should be comfortable. For this reason, you may be better wearing yoga pants rather than jeans. However, if you prefer, there are a variety of traditional meditation robes that anyone can wear even if they have not received precepts.

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