In the beginning of my newfound meditation practice, it was very useful and liberating to use the contemplative meditations in my book. Quite frankly, they saved my life. However, as weeks went by I wondered if maybe there were others practicing the same meditations as me. I felt the need to be a part of something bigger. With another Google search, I found Green Tara Sangha (now Green Bay Zen Center). It was Buddhism, which is what I was looking for! But, Zen? I didn’t know what that meant and the idea of leaving my ideas outside the doors of the Zendo actually made me nervous.
After my first meditation experience at the Zen Center I was pretty convinced that Zen was not the way to go. Focusing on my breath? That’s it? I was absolutely sure that there must be more. I continued to practice the contemplative meditations consistently. I even went as far as emailing Vimala (teacher at Green Bay Zen Center) and asking where else in Green Bay I could practice? His response was frustrating to me. He didn’t answer the question directly; he just asked if there was anything else he could do for me. At that time I felt that I got nothing from that email. And it is funny to me now that the concept of no-thing is prominent in Dharma texts and talks, even in relation to Zen.
However, I slowly changed my practice at home. Sometimes I would do the contemplative meditations with the guide of my meditation book and other times I would just focus on my breath as I had been instructed at the Green Bay Zen Center (GBZC). I was starting to become intrigued and I wanted to learn more about mindfulness and Zazen (seated meditation). So I started reading books on Zen and mindfulness. (Books…they are our friend…)
Sharon Salzberg encompasses the concept of Zen well by saying “Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it.”
A few weeks ago we had a visitor at the Zen Center, the executive director of Hollow Bones. He has been practicing for over 20 years. When I questioned him on how to incorporate mindfulness into my life, his first word in response was “remember”. How simple and beautiful is that?
I ask you my dear friends, can you remember to be mindful?
~On Ji, Becky Kuczer