Information for Newcomers
We extend a warm welcome to all newcomers to our zendo, whether you’re already a practitioner or are new to Zen. We also welcome visitors to New York City. We hope that you find a supportive community at Still Mind to help deepen your practice of the Way. Our schedule, location, and other information can be found elsewhere on this website.
What follows are some simple guidelines that we ask you to read over before your first visit to Still Mind.
If you are new to Zen, even if you have done other forms of meditation, you will need to take our short Introduction to Zen, offered on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month, except August. This Introduction is also open to anyone who has practiced Zen but would like a refresher.
Arrival at the zendo
There is no need to call ahead before your first visit to the zendo, but we ask that you arrive 10 to 20 minutes before the scheduled sitting so that you can be shown around and made to feel comfortable. The only exception to this would be for the Wednesday to Friday 7:30 am sittings, when the door opens only at 7:15 am.
What to wear
Please wear loose, comfortable clothing. We do not use robes at Still Mind, so we ask that attire be suitably respectful. Please do not wear shorts of any length or skimpy tops in the the zendo, and please refrain from wearing clothing that contains texts, logos, designs or cartoons that may be distracting to others. There is a changing room at the zendo for your convenience if you are coming from work, or if you wish to wear shorts to the zendo.
What to expect on your arrival (if you’re not attending an Introduction)
You’ll be greeted at the door by one of our members and, after removing your coat and shoes, will be shown around. A zafu (sitting cushion) or seiza bench (sitting bench) or a chair will be provided and a place will be found for you in the zendo (meditation room). After that, you’ll be introduced to other members and you can either relax, look around, check out our library, or go to sit in the zendo prior to the formal sitting. Our rest room is wheelchair accessible and there is also a place to change clothes. Water is available in our kitchen. Five minutes before sitting begins, a gong will sound and all will assemble in the zendo for the lighting of the incense and opening bows. Cards with short chanting verses are found at the entrance to the zendo; please take one so that you can follow along with the chants. Keep the card under your mat before and after the chants.
What’s different on Tuesdays
The Remembrance Book, in which practitioners write the names of people or animals they wish to be remembered during the sitting, is brought up at the beginning of the sitting. An opening chant is followed by two periods of 25 minutes zazen, with kin-hin (walking meditation) in between. A monitor moves through the zendo in the second period. There is a dharma talk given in the third period and the evening ends with the closing chants.
Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings offer variants of the above procedure. Please see the Monthly Calendar for details.
The Wednesday – Friday morning sittings simply offer two periods of zazen with kin-hin (walking meditation) in between.