Entering and Meditation

Entering the Meditation Space

  • Please leave your shoes in the hallway.
  • If so inclined, you are invited to make a short bow to the altar area at the end of the room. Bows in our group represent gratitude for the opportunity to learn the teachings, practice in community, and recognize our own as well as others’ awakened nature.
  • When possible, please help with setting up the room. If you are unsure of what to do, ask for help.

Preparation for Sitting Meditation

  • You may sit on the couch, a chair, or on the floor. We provide cushions for seated meditation but you are welcome to bring your own.
  • If so inclined, bow once to the cushion, and upon sitting, to the person across from you. Again, bows are embodied recognitions of gratitude for the opportunity to practice. If someone bows at you after sitting down, it is customary to return the bow.
  • Please minimize conversation before meditation. If you arrive early, settle into your body and breath and begin the process of setting an appropriate intention for practice.
  • During the pre-meditation period, please refrain from offering advice on Zen, meditation practice, or any other question unless you are asked directly by another person. If asked, please be brief and speak from your own experience. You can always invite the person to have a conversation with you after practice is over or during another time.

Seated Meditation- Zazen

  • Formal meditation begins after three strikes of the gong. The gong is struck by either the teacher or a designated group leader.
  • During meditation, assume a dignified yet flexible posture. You may use a traditional Zen hand position or rest your hands, palms up or down, on either your knees or thighs. Examples of these hand positions will be modeled for you during orientation. If possible, keep your eyes half open and rest your gaze on an area two to three feet in front of you.
  • Instructions for basic mindfulness meditation, as well as more formal Zen practice, will be provided for you during orientation.
  • Two strikes of the gong signifies the end of the first period of sitting meditation and the beginning of walking meditation. Please stretch your legs before standing.
  • One strike of the gong signifies the end of the last period of meditation. This will be followed by either a talk, announcements, or the end of the meeting period.

Walking Meditation – Kinhin

  • We will line up either outside (weather permitting) or inside for walking meditation. The teacher or a designated member of the group will lead the line.
  • One clack of the wooden sticks initiates movement. The first clack initiates slow walking meditation, and each clack thereafter signifies a change in pace from slow to fast, fast to slow, etc.
  • When walking, rest your gaze on the back or neck of the person in front of you, place your hands in the walking mudra (Sashu), and be mindful of each step. Remain aware of the sensations of your legs and feet as you plant, lift, and shift between steps. If the Sashu hand position is uncomfortable, you may use a hand position that works for you.
  • Upon returning to the meditation space, stand behind your cushion or in front of your chair and hold your hands in Gassho. Wait silently for the rest of the group to do the same. Once everyone has arrived at their chair or cushion, the teacher or facilitator will bow, signifying the end of walking meditation and the transition to a second period sitting meditation. You may bow if so inclined.