For Beginners

Audio: Empty Field Zen West Welcome – 8 min.

Audio: Zazen 101 – 16 min.

Audio: Zen Ritual 101 – 14 min.

Audio: Teacher & Community – 9 min.

Audio: Starting a Home Practice – 12 min. 

If you are a beginner to Zen practice – welcome! Beginner’s mind is celebrated in our Zen tradition for its openness and attention to the present moment, unlimited by preconceived expectations. Regardless of one’s years in practice, to be a zendo entrywaystudent of Zen means to be constantly letting go of conceptual ideas of ourselves and others to meet the world afresh — a state of mind full of vitality, with access to our inherent wisdom and compassion. It is not necessary to have special mediation skills or adopt any particular belief to take up Zen practice — the only thing required is a curious mind, and willingness to explore Buddhist teachings and how they relate to your own life.

The Buddha taught his disciples to be a lamp unto themselves. Zen emphasizes this teaching by creating a space we call zazen to find out about the truth of your mind and experience. Zazen, or Zen meditation, means “just sitting” and is considered both a means to, and expression of, awakening.  It is a path of investigation into our everyday lives of work, relationships, community and nature.  Through the day-to-day practice of Zen, we have a chance to discover new responses to the deepest questions of life, and meet our struggles with wisdom, love, and compassion.

If you are beginning — you may wish to review the instructions for zazen on this web site and to start practicing, even for 5 or 10 minutes a day. You might also choose some basic reading material from our resources section to help orient you to Buddhist teachings, and come sit with our group for peer support. Meeting with the teacher in sanzen can also provide useful guidance to help you on your way.