Zen Buddhism offers practitioners ways to heal their hearts and minds and connect with themselves at a fundamentally deep and honest way while learning to engage with the world with kindness and compassion for the people who live in it.
Zen is a form of Buddhism that originated in China in the thirteenth century. The practice of Zen places an emphasis on simplicity and the teachings of nonduality and nonconceptual understanding. Nonduality is sometimes described as “not one, not two,” meaning that things are neither entirely unified nor are they entirely distinct from one another. Nonconceptual understanding refers to insight into “things as they are” that cannot be expressed in words.
Of the many ways to practice Zen Buddhism, perhaps the most iconic is zazen, which literally means “sitting Zen” but is often referred to as “Zen meditation.” In zazen, practitioners sit on a cushion in a formalized posture with a straight back, eyes half open, and legs crossed onto the opposite thigh in what is called the full-lotus position. (For those who cannot sit in full-lotus, Zen Buddhists endorse several alternatives, including meditating seated in a chair.)
Zen is also widely practiced through the arts. Traditions such as the tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arrangement), and calligraphy require meditative concentration and are known for inducing a kind of calm and bridging the perceived gap between internal experience and external reality. In the tea ceremony, practitioners perform precise, ritualized movements while “giving” beauty, order, and sustenance to their guests; folding a napkin just so is for the benefit of others first and then for oneself. For this reason, tea practitioners often say that “tea and Zen are one.” For most Zen practitioners, all activities—from chanting to bathing to cooking—are considered Zen practice, with no particular activity elevated over others.
We are always happy to provide instruction in meditation, mindfulness and the Dharma (the lessons of the Buddha). Questions are absolutely welcome and invited.
Zen practice is designed to show us how to meet our lives, just-as-the-are. It opens our eyes to the wonderful world we live in, and opens our hearts to the people we live with and around. And, if practiced with dedication and effort, Zen begins to wake us up to our own true nature through direct experience.