“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
We deeply value the flexibility of the beginner’s mind in Zen practice. There is a Zen saying, “Not knowing is most intimate,” and in this spirit we welcome all beginning practitioners. If you are new to Zen and are curious about a supportive way to enter the practice, here are a few suggestions.
Sitting Meditation Instruction
Start off by attending an introductory meditation instruction on Saturday morning at 9:00am. If you would like to start sitting with us before the next instruction, that is fine—but please attend the next available instruction.
The Beginner’s Mind Experience
All new members of Brooklyn Zen Center are now eligible to take part in a 3-month Beginner’s Mind Experience that will introduce them to the various aspects of community practice at BZC.
- Join a peer practice group
- Meet teachers in private discussion
- Learn foundational teachings in introductory classes at a discount
- Engage with Zen forms in the kitchen, meditation hall, and other shared spaces
You can become a member here.
Other Beginner’s Mind Programs
We also have two programs specifically designed for people new to practice. First, on the Second Saturday of each month we offer meditation instruction, short periods of meditation, and a discussion with questions and responses. We ask for a $10 donation, but no one will be turned away if they can’t afford this.
Second, we offer introductory classes regularly. Please check our class page for more information.
Although all are welcome to join us at anytime during our weekly meditation schedule, those new to meditation and Zen practice are encouraged to come on Second Saturday. Please feel free to come to more than one of these programs so you can taste the flavor of Zen.
The Second Saturday schedule:
8:45am – Doors Open
9:00am – Meditation Instruction
10:00am – Break
10:20am – Meditation
10:40am – Open Discussion with Questions and Responses
11:00am – Talk with Questions and Responses (or another period of sitting meditation if no talk)
11:40am – Guided Service
For more information, please feel free to email us.
Reading can’t take the place of a sitting practice but can be a wonderful complement to it. There are several excellent books out there for the beginning practitioner. Here are some suggestions.
The practice of R.A.I.N.
Developing continuity of mindfulness all day long is very important. A useful tool for this practice is the acronym RAIN: Recognize, Accept/Acknowledge/Allow, Investigate, Non Identify. This tool is extremely helpful in dealing with the difficult emotions, sensations, and thoughts that bring us suffering. Here is an explanation of the practice of RAIN.