Some Suggestions on Practice
Getting Started with Zazen
Some Suggestions on Practice
The Existential Buddhist
Directions to White Plains Zen
Web Page of Robert E. Kennedy, S.J. Roshi
Inisfada Zen
Clear Mountain Zen Center
The Empty Bowl Zen Community of Morristown, NJ Website
Hudson River Zen Center

Joko Beck has written the following suggestions to help her students with their practice:

Don't begin a sitting period without considering why you meditate. Know your intention. Know that there is "nowhere to go, nothing to achieve." Be aware of ambitious thoughts.

Check your posture. No matter how you sit, the body should be erect (but not stiff), balanced, and at ease. The sitting place should be neat and pleasant. (But we can sit anywhere and in any position even lying down if ill or exhausted.)

Sit every day. Try not to miss more than one day in a week. If resistance arises (it is a normal art of practice), be aware that it consists of thinking; like all thought, it need not dominate you. Just observe it. Feel it in the body. And do not bully yourself, ever.

Once a week, sit 10-15 minutes longer than you want to sit.

Don't become obsessed by sitting. In no case should one's work or family responsibilities be neglected in order to sit.

When upset, don't avoid sitting. Hard as it may be, it is crucial to sit when difficulties arise.

Know that sitting is simply maintaining awareness of body and mind. Be aware of any desire to turn sitting into an escape from life by entering peaceful, trance-like states; such states can be seductive but they are of no use.

Be aware that "achieving something" in sitting (such as special clarity, insight, calmness of mind) is not the point. These may occur but the point is your awareness of whatever is happening, including confusion, discouragement or anxiety.

Keep your practice to yourself. Don't attempt to teach others; do not proselytize.   Leave your friends and family alone. There is an old saying, "Let them ask three times".  What you can give others is how you live.

Don't spend your sitting time in planning. Nothing is wrong with planning per se, but set up another time for it. If you hear planning thoughts when you sit, label them.

In daily life, be acutely aware of the desire to gossip or complain, to judge others or yourself, to feel superior or inferior.

All practice can be summed up as:
(1) observation of the mental process, and
(2) the experiencing of present bodily sensations.
No more and no less.

And finally, remember that real practice is not about the techniques or koans or anything else as ends in themselves; but about the transformation of your life and ours. There are no quick fixes. Our practice is about our life, and we practice forever.

Charlotte Joko Beck is a dharma heir of the late Maezumi Roshi and founder of the Ordinary Mind Zen School.

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