Overview and main sign up for participating in the 2019 Winter Practice Period.
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 an important part of Red Cedar Zen for over 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 Shin-yu Scott Allen.
Practice Period Theme: We will also be guided this year by the theme: "Continuing Our Maturity". We'll be exploring how Zen practice supports us in the gradual and often surprising process of truly growing up.
Practice Period Class: Scott will lead us in a weekly Wednesday evening 6pm class. Please register for this course. Like all RCZC classes there is no charge for members. 5 Wednesday meetings from Jan. 23 to Feb 20 starting promptly at 6pm.
Tea with the Shuso: Practice Period Participants are warmly invited to have tea with Shuso Scott to discuss practice and get to know each other more deeply. Please contact his Benji (assistant) Desiree Webster (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.
Wednesday evening practice: 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.
Buddies and Mentors: The weeks of Practice Period 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.
Remote Participation: Do you live at a distance from Bellingham? We do our best to make the practice period accessible by posting recorded classes and Dharma Talks promptly but the best bet it to be in touch with a local member or teacher. You may request this in the sign up form.
Opening Ceremony: We start with an opening ceremony on Wednesday January 16th, 7pm - 9pm, at the Dharma Hall which includes a powerful entering ceremony for Scott and the opportunity to verbally share your practice and life intentions during Practice Period.
Opening Sesshin: There is an opening 1-day sesshin Practice Period Opening Sesshin on Saturday February 2nd, which requires pre-registration to sit the day. Scott will give his first formal Dharma Talk at 10:30am that morning - the topic is his Way Seeking Mind (practice autobiography). All are warmly invited to attend his talk even if you can't sit the full day. Details here: Shuso's Way Seeking Mind Talk.
The practice period closes with three events in sequence:
(1) The 4-day Practice Period Closing Sesshin from the evening of Wednesday February 27th - afternoon of Sunday March 3rd. Part time (whole days only please) attendance is allowed. Signing up early is helpful.
(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 3rd.
(3) A final closing circle will be held Practice Period Closing Circle on Wednesday evening March 6th.
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 Parinirvana Ceremony on Wednesday evening February 13th gives us a deep opportunity to consider the passing away of the Buddha and marks the mid-point of our Practice Period (note: no circle check-in this year).
Our all-morning dip into deep zazen Zazenkai: a morning of silent practice in January is being offered on Sunday January 20th. A great event to include in practice period.
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 16th. Or if you are practicing at a distance you can ask your intentions to be read to the circle.
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.REGISTER FOR PRACTICE PERIOD
Note that separate registrations are additionally required for Practice Period Sesshin and classes: