Introduction to Zen Class

Introduction To Zen

Please note: Due to our annual Ango intensive practice period and an up-coming move, our next Introduction to Zen class will be held on Thursday, March 7th, 2023.

If you are new to Zen, we ask that you please attend our class, even if you have done other forms of meditation. The class is also open to anyone who has practiced Zen in the past but would like a refresher. We offer simple, accessible instruction, as well as continuing support and a solid structure once your practice begins.

Advance registration for the Intro class is required (at least 24 hours before the start of the class), but proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is no longer required. Masks are optional within our space.

We also offer free audio dharma talks by our teachers.

Details:

When:  Offered on two Thursdays a month (choose one) except in August; see our calendar for specific dates.
Time: 6 pm–8:15 pm
Arrival:  Doors open at 5:45 pm. Please arrive no later than 5:55 pm. The class begins at 6 pm sharp and we regret there will be nobody available to let you in after that time.

Advance registration required (no walk in's): Please fill out this form to register. We require registration at least 24 hours before the start of the class.  Our zendo is wheelchair accessible.
Cost: $20 [cash/check/Zelle (treasurer@stillmindzendo.org)] or $23 [PayPal (use "Donate" option)] to cover fees. Your registration will be confirmed once we receive payment or you indicate on your registration that you will be bringing cash or a check. Unfortunately, we cannot offer refunds, but are happy to work with you to reschedule your registration should the need arise.
What to wear: Please wear loose, comfortable clothing. We do not use robes at Still Mind, so we ask that you refrain from wearing shorts, skirts, or tank tops, or clothing with any text or logos, which could be distracting to others. There is a changing room at the zendo for your convenience.

What to expect:

Each class is led by one of our teachers.

6 pm–6:45 pm: You will be introduced to basic Zen meditation practice such as posture, focus on breath, need for stillness, etc., as well as the forms used at our zendo regarding zendo entry, walking meditation, and so forth. Time for questions.
6:45 pm–7 pm: Short break—opportunity to meet sangha members
7 pm–7:25 pm: Meditation (zazen) for 25 minutes with the sangha in the zendo followed by a few minutes of walking meditation (kin-hin.)
7:35 pm–8:15 pm:  While the sangha continues with a 2nd periods of zazen in the zendo, the class moves to another area in our space and continues, focusing on how the meditation was for you, further teaching, plenty of time for questions and information about the next steps you can take, along with a supportive handout. 
8:15 pm:  The evening closes with opportunity to once again meet members of the sangha.

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Why Zen? Our minds--almost always engaged in creating concepts, identities, judgments, assessments, and narratives about self, others, and the world--can be the source of a great deal of our (and others') dissatisfaction and suffering. Zen training offers a way to practice not attaching so much--not clinging so much--to these concepts, thoughts, assessments, and narratives, and thereby living with greater freedom, ease, and joy.

But how? Zen training is direct, physical, and experiential--not a philopsophy or intellectual position. It includes meditation practice, both on one's own and in the context of a larger, supportive community (sangha), as well as one-on-one work with a teacher. Our Introduction to Zen will give you direct experience with some of these fundamental and powerful practices.

You'll learn the heart of Zen practice: zazen, or sitting meditation. This includes right posture, focus on the breath in the body, dealing with thoughts that distract and pull you away from the present moment, and how to return to the breath once pulled away. There will also be teaching on kin-hin (walking meditation) and on the necessary structure and forms on which Zen is built. Short meditation periods will be included. Information will be given on various aspects of Zen practice, and there will be plenty of time for questions.

A brief background on Zen

(Please read before attending our Introduction)

ZEN is the word for MEDITATION in Japanese.

Meditation is a practice that dates back to ancient India. About 2,500 years ago, a man named Siddhartha Gautama, who came to be known as the Buddha, or the Awakened One, based his primary teaching -- called the Four Noble Truths, with its possibility of transcending the dissatisfactions of our life -- on the practice of meditation.

In the 5th century, this practice moved from India to China, where it developed over the next few hundred years into what we know today as ZEN ("Chan" in Chinese). In the 13th century, Zen moved into Korea and Japan, and came to the United States and Europe in the last century.

Meditation, in any tradition and in any form, implies "no words, thoughts or concepts." It is, therefore, not a rational process but an experiential one. This means that, in order to realize what meditation is, one has to practice it, just as one has to actually eat an orange to know what an orange tastes like. So for us to know what meditation really is, we just have to "do" it. Only when we actually practice it can we know what the experience of "no words, concepts, or thoughts" is like because it is not what we think it is.

At Still Mind Zendo, you can receive the instruction, the training, the encouragement, the ongoing support, the challenge, and the strong structure necessary to fully undertake this meaningful practice.

We hope you can join us to try it.