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 and and important part of Red Cedar Zen for 20 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 the center of the mandala of Practice Period is a our 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. This year's shuso is Nōgen Connie Martin.
We will also be guided this year by the theme by Kate with Tim's support: "The Dharma of Anger". We'll be explore how Zen practice supports us in being able to stay present and be skillful with this powerful and often challenging emotion.
Connie will lead us in a weekly Wednesday evening 6pm class The Dharma of Anger (Shuso's Class) Please register for this course. Like all RCZC classes there is no charge for members. The invitation to attend all seven meetings (6 Wednesday meetings from Jan. 24 to Feb 28. starting promptly at 6pm plus a Saturday Feb 17th meeting from 10:00am to Noon).
Practice Period Participants are warmly invited to have tea with Shuso Connie to discuss practice and get to know each other more deeply. Please contact her Benji (assistant) Bernadette Prinster (contact info at the Sangha Directory, members only and you must be logged in) and also look for a sign up sheet in the lobby to be available later.
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, dokusan with Andrea, and practice discussion with the other teachers.
Eight weeks go by quickly. To help stay connected to practice period we recommend that you 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 17th, 7pm - 9pm, at the Dharma Hall which includes a powerful entering ceremony for Connie and the opportunity to verbally share you practice and life intentions during Practice Period.
There is an opening 1-day sesshin Practice Period Opening Sesshin on Saturday February 3rd, which requires pre-registration to sit the day. Connie will give her first formal Dharma Talk at 10:30am that morning - the topic is her Way Seeking Mind (practice autobiography). All are warmly invited to attend her talk even if you can't sit the full day.
The practice period closes in with three events in sequence:
(1) The Three Day Sesshin with Zoketsu Norman Fischer & Nomon Tim Burnett from the evening of Thursday March 1st - afternoon of Sunday March 4th. which is almost certain to fill. Sign up early.
(2) This sesshin concludes with an important event which is also open to all in the practice period: Shuso's Dharma Inquiry Ceremony at 11am on Sunday March 4th.
(3) A final closing circle will be held Practice Period Closing Circle on Wednesday evening March 7th.
Additional events include:
Our annual Introduction to Zen Meditation class. A wonderful 4-week class on Monday evenings in February. Great for those brand new to Zen and those who've been exploring for a while.
The Mid-Practice Period Check-in & Parinirvana Ceremony on Wednesday evening February 14th - a great evening to touch in with each other on how we're doing with our Practice Periods.
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 system 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 on January 17th.
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.
And please consider renewing or expanding your commitment to our regular practice times during Winter Practice Period:
Wednesday Night Practice 7pm - 9pm - is especially important during practice period. During this time we offer three periods of zazen with walking meditation in between. A weekly opportunity for a deep immersion in silence. Dokusan with Nomon Tim Burnett and private meetings with the other teachers will be available.
Noon Practice Noon-1pm. Consider if you are able to arrange your schedule to attend our increasingly popular sit from noon to 1pm on Fridays.
Saturday Morning Practice 6am - 8:30am. Deep quiet, 3 periods of meditation, and the full morning service which is seen as a central and important ritual in Soto Zen.
To sign up for practice period:
Fill out the registration form to sign up for practice period, stating your intentions and if you are interested in distance participation. Click Register on the left to begin the process. Note that separate registration is required for the two retreats and the class.
A note on fees: there is no overall fee for joining. Classes are no-fee for Red Cedar members but require registration. There is a modest fee for retreats. Participants are always encouraged to make donations to the sangha or the teachers they work with as their means allow.
Practice Period Events, all at Red Cedar Dharma Hall unless otherwise noted (click title names for details)