If you are ready to start meditating you can join one of the weekly groups at our house shown on our Schedule page. In order to find us please get in touch via email or phone. Please come for meditation instruction before the start of the practice session. Meditation instruction takes about 20 minutes so please arrive no later than 6:20 pm on Monday evening or 8:40 am on Tuesday morning.
You can also attend one of the monthly Zen Cafe Question and Answer Meetup events hosted by Lizzie Coombs on the first Tuesday of the month 7:30pm–8:30pm at City Screen Cafe, York (click on the link or the Google Map on the right for directions & please bring your questions). This is an excellent opportunity to get answers to any questions you may have about Zen Buddhism and meditation practice. PLEASE NOTE: next meeting is on 10th September and the topic is: how can Zen help us amidst the climate emergency?
Meetup is a platform for finding and building local communities. If you happen to use Meetup you can sign up for this event here or just click on the meetup logo.
What is Zen?
The word Zen comes originally from the Sanskrit dhyana meaning “to meditate.” In Zen we learn how to focus on the present moment with an attitude of openness and lively curiosity, and to relax with things being just as they are.
We call Zen meditation “practice” because we actively and repeatedly return to being right here, right now, even as our thoughts seem to be taking us away from the present into the (already disappeared) past or the (not yet arrived) future.
By holding the question “What am I?” we become more intimate with our precious human life.
We fall in love with so many things in life: people, activities, things, but rarely are we aware of our breath and with our breathing. Have you ever thought about having a love affair with that?
By paying attention to body, breath and mind we encourage a state of being both alert and relaxed.
Chanting gives us the opportunity to connect with ourselves and others through the energy of sound. To chant is to be completely aware both of our own voice and those of others chanting with us.
This focus helps us realize that we are all connected, not separate.
Kong-ans (Ch.: kung-an, Jap.: koan, meaning “public case”) have their origin in the records of encounters between Zen practitioners in ancient China. An important part of kong-an practice is the private exchange between teacher and student wherein the teacher checks the student’s grasp of the point of the kong-an. Kong-ans are probably best known for the unusual, seemingly non-rational quality of their questions, language and dialogues, and are not meant to be studied, analyzed or approached conceptually.
The kong-an is an experiential tool that helps us cut through our thinking so that we can just perceive and function clearly. It is an essential part of Zen practice.
If you would like additional information about all our meditation forms then click here.