When to come:
Additionally, all of our regular practice groups offer newcomer orientations by request. These usually begin approximately 30 minutes before any practice period. Please make every effort to arrive promptly at the scheduled time! An email to use to contact to request an orientation is listed in the description of each practice group.
Both kinds of orientation cover the same material: a brief introduction to zazen (the Zen style of meditation), postures that will help you sit comfortably and in stillness, meditation hall (or zoom zendo) etiquette, and Zen liturgy.
If you would like to get a head start on learning Zen meditation you might read the book Zen Meditation in Plain English by John Buksbazen or review these brief instructions (borrowed from Zen Mountain Monastery).
If you are already comfortable with stillness and are familiar with meditation in the Zen tradition and with Zen liturgy, then you are welcome to just show up and dive in, if you so chose.
What you should bring and what you should wear:
For in-person practice:
You needn’t bring anything at all except, ideally, an open mind. Chairs, cushions, and benches will be available. Although you needn’t wear anything special, clothing that is loose-fitting (for your comfort while sitting) and not visually distracting (e.g., not brightly-colored) is better than clothing that is constricting or attention-getting. Visit GBZC’s Cambridge Zendo Covid Status and Guidelines for details about Covid protocols.
For zoom practice:
Have a recent version of the zoom app installed on your internet-connected device, or enter the zoom meeting in your browser. Our style is to sit facing the camera. You may sit on a cushion and perhaps create a home altar, or simply sit in a desk chair. Zoom links are included in the Instructions Document for each individual practice group.
Is it free?
All orientations and all regular practice group sessions are offered free of charge. We are entirely supported by donations, but if you are unable to make a donation, please come anyway.
If you are looking only for relaxation, You may find it more fruitful to explore a technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation or you may want to read Meditation & Relaxation in Plain English, by Bob Sharples. The Zen tradition regards relaxation as a potential side-effect, and not so much as the goal of practice.
What is the goal, if not relaxation? You might find this podcast helpful.