Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fall at CityZen

We have a number of happenings at the zendo this fall. Check out the calendar on the right to see what we're up to. You can also click on the tabs above to learn more about us.

Watercolor - Autumn Apples - RMH

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Great Spring Sesshin – Lydia House – St. Dorothy's Rest

Main Altar
Kitchen Clappers
End of Day Ceremony Ritual Gear
Calligraphy practice supplies
Carrot by Brian Howlett

Freesia and mums
Lydia House kitchen

Dining Hall
The hills surrounding St. Dot's

Han – Call to meditation
Kitchen Ritual Gear

Outdoor Walking Meditation Line

Lydia House
Handmade Pasta drying

Tea Strainers
Pasta al pesto
Dust Mop Pasta bliss
(Not compost)
Tea bowl

White mum

Buddha's Birthday Garden Party May 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Earth, my dearest, I will.
Oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over — one of them, ah, even one, is already too much for my blood. Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the first.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Reclaiming the Fallow of the Year

adjective: fallow
(of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production. 
uncultivated, unplowed, untilled, unplanted, unsown, unused, dormant, resting, empty, bare.

In our northern climes, before the advent of artificial sources of light, the months of winter were a long dark time. Nature too, took her rest and for our farming ancestors, there wasn’t much to do on the land. Long nights and cold days meant folks got a break from the busyness of life and entered into a more timeless time, where the stillness without, encouraged a slowing down, uncovering a stillness within. It’s the place before the formation of ideas; before an opinion or comparison arises. It's the origin of intuition, inspiration, improvisation, and creativity.

What did our ancestors do during the long winter months? Told stories, stoked the fire, made love, slept, painted, played music, cooked something hearty, and bundled up and took walks.

Modernly, the lights are always on, figuratively and literally. Some agree that we have lost something important to our well-being when we convert all of our time to the activities of the light.

Practices for the Dark of the Year

Slowing down.
Doing a single task with all of your attention gives you a needed break from the jar of constant distraction. Doing a thing, wholly, brings its own kind of joy and you can learn to rest again in the gentle peace of everyday things. When you’re sitting with a friend, give them your full attention. If you are walking, just walk. If you are sautéing onions, notice their color and smell as they cook, the rhythm of the spoon in your hand.

Give yourself time to do nothing.
This winter sit in candlelight, stare into a fire, go outside and watch the moon and stars, listen to the rain falling, sit by the ocean and watch the waves roll in and out, sit on a bench and watch birds and passersby, sit by a lake or a river and notice the insects and trees.

Put down your electronic devices.
Of course. Of course! A couple hours before bedtime, or for a period of time early in the morning as you are waking, put away your devices and the sounds they make to alert you of emails and phone calls.

Sweet sleep restores our bodies and allows the mind to rest, to dream, to let the intelligence of all things find its way into our consciousness.
Anywhere. A short nip out, or a long walkabout, it’s what our bodies are meant to do. It reminds us of the true pace of life and shows us the aliveness of the world.

Make Love.
No explanation necessary, right?
Be quiet and listen. Notice when judgments and opinions arise, when you are comparing yourself to others or complaining about unimportant things. Then, just return to the place where you are standing and keep listening.

Cook simple meals and share them together.
Find a local farm, bakery or supplier and and gather some things that look good to you. Learn to cook a few seasonal meals that you will enjoy making. The simpler, the better.

Notice what has already been given to you.

You are given this life as a human being, each of your senses, this fine body, the moon and the stars, the green leaf and watery sea, and each other.

You may notice that I didn't mention meditation once. That's because when we pay attention, all of these things are meditation.

May you truly enjoy the blessings of this season,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our home here in the northern hemisphere is tilting away from the sun, the early morning and evening light is taking on a honeyed tinge, and we can sense that the long summer is ending.
It's becoming the time of equinox, of equal days and nights. We come together to sit in silence to witness this turning and acknowledge the changes that are happening even as we speak. Though we'll have many days of Indian Summer yet to come, the changing light tells us it's time to begin to gather in, to assess what has been given, to offer gratitude. Please join us in this gathering as we sit together on Monday Nights.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Almost Spring Japanese Brush Calligraphy Practice 

with Brian Fuke Howlett 

March 22, 2014          10:00am-1:00pm 

Held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation 547 Mendocino Ave. Santa Rosa, CA
Cost: $45 Materials Provided
Registration: Gary Brandt gbrandt@sonic.net
This event will be limited to 20 persons.
Payment upon registration is appreciated.

Upcoming 2014 Half-Day Retreats
March 22  Almost Spring Calligraphy Practice
April 19   Spring Equinox
June 21    Summer Solstice
Sept. 20   Autumn Equinox

Dec. 6     Full Day Buddha's Enlightenment Retreat