April 16, 2013

Spring mud and snow

The 2013 construction year at Korinji kicked off this past weekend.  Winter has been slow to depart the land there; snow, hail and sleet accompanied our work of opening up the site for the year and laying the foundations of a new tool shed.

A small, hardy crew braved the cold and wet:  Greg Dekker, Ian Poulos, Miguel Muzzio and Meido Roshi.  After zazen on Saturday morning around the wood stove, the shed site was chosen, laid out and cleared.  Railroad ties set into the earth will form the base.

Also accomplished this weekend:  on-site meetings with our electrical, insulation and drywall contractors, and with the local firm that provided the crushed stone for our drives.  We'll shortly be ready to move forward with interior build out as well as a final layer of finish gravel on our access drives and parking areas.

All of that and much more to do this year.  To volunteer, please take a look at the scheduled work weekends on Korinji's calendar, here.  Then just email Korinji through the website.  You're very welcome to pitch in and become one of Korinji's founders. 

April 9, 2013

Michigan Zazenkai Recap

[Submitted by David Mata, Kyoseikan Dojo in Grand Rapids]

On March 9th and 10th we conducted a zazenkai, a short Zen retreat, at our dojo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Meido Roshi came from Chicago to sit with us.

Zazenkai is a time to meditate as a group for a night and morning.  I experienced it something like this:  you sit for what seems like hours, counting your breaths in unison with everyone in the circle of meditation. You sit with your eyes open but not distracted by the activity around you. You are not asleep but present. Then suddenly the wood clappers sound as the timekeeper (jikijitsu) leads the group in walking meditation. You walk quickly behind the timekeeper and walk as they walk, slow down when they slow down, speed up when they speed up. And when they return to the circle, you find your place and sit to return to that place of counting.

My experience with zazenkai was extraordinary. I came into direct conflict with my own mind, fighting off the thoughts of the past and future. I was uncomfortable and unaccustomed to such rigorous discipline of the mind and body, not being able to think about whatever I wanted and not moving until the time was up. Meido Roshi reminded us that what is most important is not the traditional forms, not the bells and the style and the clothing or the schedule. It is the reason behind all that: to be with and become one with our existence, moment-by-moment. So often we get caught up in what has happened to us or what will happen in the future that we forget to life for today. When you walk, you are walking. When you read, you are reading. When you work, you work. Our life becomes so much less if we let the days pass by in anticipation or dread of what is to come. One purpose of meditation is to help us refocus and find that value in "now".

But meditation is also not limited to this. Another important aspect is the recognition of others. We are not in this world alone. There are many others, equally caught up in their own selves and sharing a need to recognize the life around them. Not only are we to live in the now, but live with others. At zazenkai I learned that, in sitting with others in a circle and counting my breaths, I was in sync with these people. Life is not about me; it is about everyone.

Through the practice of meditation you can begin to take this mindset to every part of your life. It will help release those tensions that build up inside from things like guilt, anger, sadness, or anxiety, allowing you to live more at peace and joyfully.

In this short experience of practice I did not solve all my own internal problems. However, in this overnight meditation I was given a path to live by that I seek to follow and it has been very helpful emotionally, physically and spiritually. If you apply yourself and commit to becoming more one with others and more conscious of the present, you will reap the benefits.

April 4, 2013

A Zen Approach to Body Therapy: Introductory Weekend, May 4-5

Ko'gen (Tom) Nagel, a Zen priest and advanced practitioner of Zen Bodytherapy®, will lead this training seminar at Daiyuzenji in Chicago.  It is the first of the trainings required for practitioner certification in this powerful bodywork method, the origins of which are closely linked to our Zen line.  Training is 8am - 5pm both days.

What is Zentherapy®?

Zentherapy® recognizes that from birth to death, life is a flow of energy. This energy takes shape by our attitudes, our emotions and our bodies. Zentherapy® releases the natural form of the body from the aberrations caused by physical, chemical, psychological and spiritual traumas. These aberrations misalign the body and block the free flow of energy within the body and between the person and the universe. The blocks and misalignment prevent a person from realizing their full potential and experiencing the oneness of all life.

Zentherapy® was developed by William "Dub" Leigh - a student of Ida Rolf (founder of Rolfing), Moshe Feldenkrais (founder of the Feldenkrais method) and finally of Tanouye Tenshin Roshi (the late kancho of Chozen-ji).  Dub's training with Tanouye Roshi, which centered on the use of ki (energy) and which he described as "a post-graduate course in reality and the meaning of life and death", led to the mature system which is today promulgated through the International Zen Therapy Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii.

What will we learn at the weekend training?

* To use the principles and methods of Zen Bodytherapy® to release tension, trauma & toxins from connective tissue.
* To transform old, hard, short, nonresilient tissue into soft, lengthy, bouncy tissue.
* To circulate vital energy in a changed, newly aligned body.

Whether you are interested in this training to deepen your Zen practice as a whole, or also wish to become certified to help others using this method, you are welcome to attend.

Registration Deadline:  April 22:  Full information and registration flyer here.