Friday, 15 June 2018

July Zazenkai

We have a date for the next zazenkai (practice day) - Saturday 21st July. It will be held in the Collingtree Village Room, the same venue as previous zazenkai.

Zazenkai gives us a chance to focus on our practice for a longer period than is usually possible in our day-to-day lives, and to deepen our practice together. During the day, we will have service, a samu (mindful labour) period, we'll share a meal, have a talk, practice interviews will be offered... and of course we'll do lots of zazen.

Full details will be posted later - I look forward to practising together with you.

Talk: Kindness and an open heart

Weekly zazen continues - remember, we meet every Wednesday come rain or shine (unless there's a notice here that it's cancelled!). Please make a commitment to your practice and, when the circumstances of your life permit it, join us!

This week, rather than reading from a book or listening to me waffle on, we played an audio recording of a dharma talk by Keizan Sensei that he gave last month at the end of the Retreat to the City held in Liverpool. It was a nice change of pace, and we'll probably do it again, maybe once a month or so.

For those who missed it, here it is...

If you come across other talks that you think would be good to share in the group, let me know (email me the link at - doesn't have to be a StoneWater or White Plum teacher, but definitely Zen rather than other traditions (and preferably a max of 20 mins or so to allow a bit of discussion afterwards without going too late into the night!

Monday, 26 March 2018

No zazen Weds 4 April

Just a quick note to say that there will be no zazen on the evening of Wednesday 4 April as I'm away on sesshin (retreat) that week. Zazen this week (28/3) and the following week (11/4) as usual.

For those curious about sesshin, here's a link to a piece by Andy Tanzan Scott from a few years back which gives some of the basics. There are a few blog posts about sesshin on the main StoneWater site actually - worth a browse, some great reflections there from experienced sitters and those newer to the practice. Sesshin isn't just for those who've been practising for years, we do occasionally have people join us who have never sat before! (Heck of a way to start...!)

For those of you considering going on sesshin, I'd very much encourage it - it's an integral part of Zen practice. Being able to spend 4, 5 or 6 days focusing on your practice is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your experience of zazen, to meet many other people in our fantastic sangha, and to have "proper" interviews with an actual Zen teacher!

All the folk attending the Spring sesshin 2017 with Tenshin Roshi (grey kesa)
and Keizan Sensei (blue kesa). Muggins is in the back row! 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Back to campus...!

Thanks again to Chetak, Joey and the rest of the committee and members of the University of Northampton Meditation Society for their invitation to run an introductory session on Zen meditation last Thursday. This was part of a series of sessions for "Meditation March", a chance to commit to practising regularly for the month of March.

Rather than delving into too much of the arcane and theatrical, this time we just did some "plain" zazen - OK, perhaps a bit of kin-hin and the Four Vows thrown in, but otherwise just plain old zazen.

It was a dark and stormy night... really! With the snow building up around the county, I was very impressed that we had fourteen people turn up to give it a go, and we had a chance for an interesting chat at the end.

Once again, I really enjoyed my visit, the MedSoc aways gives a warm and attentive welcome (as you'd hope!), and I'm already looking forward to the next one.

Chetak took some photos of the day - a brief selection below...

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Zazenkai Sat 24 February

I'm pleased to announce that we'll be holding a day of Zen practice in Collingtree village (just outside of Northampton and just off J15 on the M1) on Saturday 24 February 2018.

The day will start at 10.00am and run until 4.00pm, and will follow a schedule of meditation, Zen teaching and one-on-one interviews about your practice (optional), with a communal lunch and work period.

Zazenkai (trans: "coming together for zazen") is an opportunity to deepen our meditation practice in a way that's not always possible in our daily routine. For some, it's also a welcome opportunity to sit with a group of people - a sangha, or community - that isn't normally available. Please consider joining the Northampton group for this wonderful opportunity to firmly stand in our own shoes!

Our Zazenkai are suitable for both beginners and seasoned practitioners - introductory instruction will be given if you've not sat before, or perhaps just not sat with a StoneWater group. Wear dark-ish (i.e. non-distracting), comfortable clothing, rakusu if you have one.

Suggested donation: £20 (£15 concessions) - all proceeds go to meet costs and to support the Northampton group (and we're a bit skint right now!)
Venue: Collingtree Village Rooms, High Street, Collingtree, NN4 0NQ
Bookings: Not required, but it would help if you could give us notice so that we can make sure there's enough food for everyone!
Contact: Call Alasdair on 07807 753 781, or email me on

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Zazen cancelled tonight

Apologies to all - afraid I've stuffed my back up and won't be able to host our regular zazen this evening.

Sure that things will be back to normal next week!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Cancellation & Xmas closure

Apologies, but the regular zazen on the evening of Weds 13th December is unfortunately cancelled as I'll be in West Sussex attending the funeral of a family member.

We will also not be meeting on the 27th (the week between Xmas and the New Year), but we will meet as usual on the 20th, and will start up again in the New Year on the 4th January.