March 15, 2012

Zen in Brooklyn

[Submitted by Enmei Hunter, Chicago]

The weekend of March 9th and 10th I traveled with Moore Roshi to Brooklyn Aikikai, a non-profit center where Zen, Misogi, Aikido and Iaido are taught, for an Introduction to Zen seminar.  I have developed several friendships with Brooklyn Aikikai's members due to my practice of Aikido and have always been impressed by their dedication and commitment, led by their chief instructor Robert (Ryugan) Savoca Sensei.  In many ways, Savoca Sensei and Moore Roshi remind me of one another with their focus on intense training and development.  Visiting Brooklyn Aikikai always leaves me with a lesson on how I want to practice and live my life.

The seminar began with a traditional lunch of miso soup and rice, eaten in silence with full attention being given to the activity at hand.  Afterwards, Moore Roshi provided the 25 participants basic instruction in zazen with an emphasis on posture, breathing and method.  After the first period of zazen, he provided more in-depth instruction on tanden kokyuho, the hara-centered breathing which is the foundation of our practice.  Participants learned a practical, 5-step method for developing and refining this way of breathing.  Roshi also provided instruction on how to receive the keisaku and for reinvigorating one's meditation.  More zazen practice then allowed the participants to put all these things into practice.  The seminar ended with okyo (chanting) and the spirit of the group came through very clearly in the tone and energy during the chants.

The evening closed with a potluck that gave everyone a chance to meet and develop new friendships.  After this, participants showed that training never stops as they pitched in to clean and return the dojo to its proper form.

I am grateful for every opportunity I have to train with others interested in Zen and thank everyone at Brooklyn Aikikai for hosting this event.  If you are interested in Zen practice or other traditional ways of mind-body development in the Brooklyn, NY area, please see Brooklyn Aikikai's site here.

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