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What is Zen?

The word “Zen” simply means meditation. Zen is a type of Buddhism that places special emphasis on the practice of meditation (zazen). Mid City Zen has its roots in the Soto school of Zen as taught by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.

Soto Zen is particularly characterized by its patient and tender-hearted approach to practice. When the mind of zazen is lovingly extended to everyday life, our awareness of each moment increases and deep wisdom and compassion are born.

In a nutshell, our style of Zen is a celebration and exploration of the inherent dignity and perfection of human nature; we strive to see this in every aspect of our lives.

On Practicing at Home

Many people practice Zen at home regularly. Decide what days and at what time you will sit, and stick to it.

  • Set aside a space in your home for meditation. Consider setting up a small altar.

  • Make space in your schedule for involvement with the Center, such as attending weekly Dharma talks, or coming to zazen once a week.

  • Read a good book on Zen practice when you can.

  • Know that there is no “right” way to balance your daily life and formal practice. The way that works for you is the right way.

New to Zen Practice?

If you’d like to begin Zen practice, MCZ is here as a resource for you. You’re welcome to be as involved here as you would like. Some people attend zazen once or twice a week. Others attend the weekly events. And then others are very involved, sitting daily and helping to run the temple.

To get started:

  • Attend Beginner's Instruction at least once. Instruction starts at 8:40am every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.

  • Come to a few Dharma talks.

  • Meet the sangha for the Sunday morning study group.

  • Attend some of our daily meditation periods.

  • Try a Half day sit on the first Sunday of the month.

  • Join us for our communal work days.

  • Attend a precept recitation ceremony.

  • Schedule a practice discussion with a practice leader.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I deal with pain in my legs/knees/back/shoulders when meditating?

Some discomfort is a normal part of meditation. As you practice more, you will come to know your posture better and you will be able to make appropriate adjustments. Until then, just do the best you can, and ask for some help.

Can I move during zazen in the zendo?

Yes. Please do so quietly and return to stillness.

What are those things that look like bibs that a lot of folks at MCZ are wearing?

That’s called a rakusu, and it means that they have received the Bodhisattva Precepts from a Zen teacher.

What’s with all the bowing and chanting?

They come from thousands of years of Buddhist practice. Ceremonies at MCZ express our gratitude to the people who have handed down the practice to us, and help us to extend the mind of zazen to our more active life. If you come to a ceremony, just follow along as best you can, and enjoy it.

I can’t meditate; my mind bounces around like a monkey.

All you need to meditate is a mind, a body, and the desire to do it. It’s fine if your mind jumps around. Just keep bringing your attention back to the present moment, your body and your breath.

Can I skip the Sunday instruction just come during a scheduled zazen time?

We strongly prefer that people have proper instruction in the posture and the method before coming to a regularly scheduled zazen period. If you’ve practiced elsewhere and want to join us that is great. If you’ve never sat still and upright for 30+ minutes, please consider coming to the Sunday morning instruction. If Sundays don’t work for you, contact us and we can schedule an alternative time for you.

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