Practice Period is a time in which Zen students practice intensively together. Historically, practice period started with the rains retreats of the early Buddhist monks and nuns when they could not travel due to heavy rains. During that time they settled down for more intensive practice. Annual practice periods have been an essential part of Zen practice for a thousand years.
Although we don't live in monasteries, each winter in the spirit of those in monastic practice, we settle our busy lives in order to intensify our practice. We bring our mindfulness and Dharma practice to the foreground of our lives more than usual.
In some years we have at the center of our practice period a head student, or shuso, who serves as the center of the sangha wheel giving classes, Dharma talks, and meets privately with practice period students over tea. Happily this is such a year.
We are delighted to announce that this year's shuso is Ryushin Kate McKenna. Kate has been a student at Red Cedar Zen for over 10 years. She received jukai from Norman and Tim in 2010 receiving the name Ryushin Sei-e ("Dragon Heart, Pure Wisdom"). Kate was our Ino (head of meditation hall) for 3 years and is now a Sangha Steward. Fittingly Kate is offering her shuso class on conflict resolution with a Wednesday 6pm class entitled Intimacy at the Heart of Conflict.
Note that during Practice Period the 7pm-9pm schedule will include three periods of zazen meditation and more opportunities than usual for dokusan with Tim and practice discussion with the other teachers.
Eight weeks go by quickly. To help stay connected to practice period you may choose to work with a practice period partner. We can help you find one. Someone you get together with or call regularly during practice period to discuss how it's going with your intentions and practice. When you sign up please let us know if you'd like help finding a practice partner.
We start with an opening ceremony on Wednesday January 11th, 7pm - 9pm, at the Dharma Hall and a Saturday retreat on January 22nd, and concluding with a three day sesshin March 3-5 with Guiding Teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer, our local Spiritual Director Nomon Tim Burnett, and Shuso Ryushin Kate McKenna. Kate will be a part of the important Shuso's Dharma Inquiry Ceremony on Sunday March 5th at 11am (all come!) and then a final closing circle on Wednesday March 8th completes the practice period.
Practice Period often includes classes and extra zazen meetings. See the full list of events below. We especially recommend the Introduction to Zen class even if you've been coming for a while. And for most participants it's also a time to practice more at home, to study, or to take on a special focus in their practice lives.
Please use the registration form online to state your intentions in writing. There will also be an opportunity to say something about your intentions for practice period at the opening ceremony. Please tell us in the form if you are participating at a distance and would like to be assigned a practice leader who will check in with you during practice period. Also let us know if you would like help finding a practice partner to stay in touch with.
Practice Period Events, all at Red Cedar Dharma Hall unless otherwise noted (click title names for details)