About CityZen

CityZen is a western style Chan/Zen practice and koan center in the Pacific Zen School led by Rachel Mansfield-Howlett Roshi. We offer introductory instruction to practice as well as programs that support you all along the way. We believe that Chan practice awakens us to the joy underneath this life and shows us our connectedness to all beings. And if we're feeling alienated or alone it can help us find a bridge back into the world and a way to foster good relations with each other. 

Our form of Chan includes a mix of traditional and revitalized practices of the Mahayana Zen Buddhist tradition, as well as compatible contemplative practices. 

Senseis Michelle Brandt and Gary Brandt in Santa Rosa, CA, Deanna Hopper in Santa Rosa and Fort Bragg, CA, and Rev. Christopher Bell in Portland, OR, are authorized to teach, give individual guidance to students, and conduct Refuge in the Bodhisattva Way classes. 

Walking and seated meditation, introspection, koan work, and meetings with the teachers are each held in a container which emphasizes respect for each other and all beings. 

We welcome everyone into our meditation halls, be it in person or via Zoom – all faiths, genders, ethnicities, sexual preference, ages, and abilities. And we believe BLACK LIVES MATTER! 

The Santa Rosa, CA group meets in person or via Zoom every Monday evening at 7:00pm for: silent seated meditation, walking meditation, dharma talk, tea, and discussion. Please contact Zenappt@gmail.com to receive the link or the notices to attend these evenings. You may also contact Rachel directly at rhowlettlaw@gmail.com, Michelle at koanview@gmail.com, or Gary Brandt at gbrandt@sonic.net. 

Deanna leads the Fort Bragg, CA group, which meets every second Wednesday at Evergreen UMC at the corner of Corry and Laurel at 6:00pm and is also at the Santa Rosa location occasionally. Contact: deannarhopper@gmail.com. 

If you are in Portland, OR, Chris is holding monthly nondenominational meditation evenings through Trinity Cathedral. Contact: chrisbzen@gmail.com. 

Opportunities for individual guidance with a teacher are available by appointment. (See the Teachers’ page for details about making those arrangements.) 

Rachel Mansfield-Howlett Roshi

Rachel Mansfield-Howlett is a public interest environmental attorney, Zen Roshi, and Professor of Law with degrees in botany, environmental horticulture, and law.

Born into a family of ranchers, farmers, and schoolteachers in rural Oklahoma she moved with her family to southern California in the 1960s, attended college in Chico and settled in Sonoma County in the early 70s with her husband. Rachel traces her Chickasaw heritage through her maternal grandfather, a descendant of former Chickasaw leader Daugherty (Winchester) Colbert.

Rachel founded CityZen in 2011, which offers a style of Zen practice for contemporary American life. A 40-year practitioner of Zen, she was authorized to teach Zen and koans in 2006 and received full transmission, Inka Shomei, in 2009 in the Pacific Zen School lineage from John Tarrant Roshi. Complimentary to her environmental law practice, she teaches a western style of Zen that emphasizes environmental and community values.

She was led to Zen in the 1970s through her interest in the intersection between Art and Zen while she lived in residence for a yearlong practice period at Coyote Zen School of the Arts led by Vikki Kath and her husband. She currently is involved in developing practices that help us awaken to the joy underneath this life. 

She currently lives with her husband of over 50 years and enjoys being a grandma to her two beautiful grandchildren.