Thursday, 21 July 2022

SWZ Northants closed for August

Hi all - just a quick note to say that the SWZ Northampton group will not be meeting in August because of various holiday and sesshin trips. 

Our last meeting will be this coming Wednesday (27 July), and we'll meet again on the first Weds in September (7 Sept).

Hope you have a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Practice is returning to the body (Quote)

So often, people mistake zazen for 'not thinking anything', and then get frustrated when they continually fail to somehow cease all mental activity, as if they could unplug their brains somehow.

Really, we find a way to truly experience each moment as it arises, including our responses to those moments. How easy, though, for our small selves get in the way, and we have a million different ways to avoid facing the truth of these responses... how can we see through these tricks we play on ourselves?

I love this advice from Joko Beck's Ordinary Wonder:

Practice is returning, always, back to the body. Feeling the original pain, anger, or whatever emotion it is that you’re trying to cover. Human beings want to cover everything, so we don’t feel it. We don’t want to go out of our way to feel something that’s unpleasant, do we? No. If you’re like me, you’ll find some way to cover it. But the longer we practice, the more quickly we see what we’re doing.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

"A mother's love": A thought for Mother's Day

In South Africa, where my mother lives, today is Mother's Day - also in many other parts of the world, including New Zealand where my mother-in-law lives! How timely, then, that my inbox had this excerpt by Karen Maezen Miller from her amazing book Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood:

In fleeting moments of deep satisfaction and insight, I saw the absolute truth of life: the unbroken line of love that had led to my existence and would lead on through my daughter. My mother’s love, her mother’s love, her mother’s love, and back and back forever ago. Love that is no mere word, love that goes beyond feeling, love that is life itself. I was filled with a rush of respect for all mothers everywhere. This was how we all got here. What miracles, what sacrifice, what love!

Homage to the lineage of mothers! We are all of us the manifestation of their love and the love that tumbles down like snowmelt through each generation.

Happy Mother's Day, Ma! 💜

My mum and me - April 1, 2022

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Spring (Poem by Sogi)

 That man's life is but a dream -
is what we now come to know.

Its house abandoned, 
the garden has become
     home to butterflies.

- Ii Sogi (1421–1502), trans. Steven Carter 


Wednesday, 20 April 2022

No zazen Weds 20 April

Apologies to all, but have to cancel this evening's sitting at short notice due to illness. We'll pick things back up next week as usual.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Plans and projects...

Well, back from a week with family in SA - struck by how easy it was to slot back into the old roles we played growing up 30, 40 years ago...! The tracks of habitual thinking cut deeper into us than we like to acknowledge. Fortunately for me, I was born to a family of wonderful people, and the week away was full of love, laughter, food & wine and togetherness. I wish you all as much joy when you're next with family!

So after Zen last night (we're back to our relentless schedule of facing down the Great Matter of Life and Death every Wednesday evening in the Friends Meeting House!) we discussed what we might do over the coming months. A couple of points to look forward to:

  1. Time for a Zazenkai! We haven't had a practice day in ages now, not since pre-Covid. I've been chatting with Xandy Sahla about using the Wellness Studio at Dexterity Dance / Musokan Dojo in Great Houghton (just south of the Bedford roundabout), so we'll hash out a date - likely to be a Sunday - and things will be announced as they're ready.
  2. Service! We'll chant the Heart Sutra, Sandokai and Enmei Jukku Kannongyo this coming week. Again, we've not done service since before Covid, about time we got our heads together on this. We will be trying to establish a monthly service routine again, depending on room availability etc.
  3. Public event/talk! For a bit further into the future, and as part of a more general push to promote the group a bit more, we've been discussing holding a public talk on the relevance and importance of Zen in regular, ordinary life... probably on a Wednesday before the summer hols.
So... back into the swing of things, in more than one way.

Join us! Come and do nothing for a while...

Friday, 25 March 2022

Two weeks off...

Hi all - a quick note to say that the SWZ Northampton group won't be meeting on either Wed 30 March or Wed 6 April as I'm going to be away on hols. 

We return for business as usual from Wed 13 April. 

Agenda for when we get back: More zazen! Also, to organise our first Zazenkai since the pandemic, possibly at Dexterity Dojo with Sensei Xandy Sahla in Great Houghton, just outside Northampton. Keep your eyes peeled for updates. Also, probably some publicity work as we could stand to have some more folks stoking the Zen fires (and keeping the kitty afloat!) for our wee sangha.

Keep well, see you soon.

Guess where I'm going...?!