Graham Parkes has been sitting zazen with a changing group of students, colleagues and friends for the past two years, in the spirit of the practice as developed by the Sōtō School of Zen, which regards Dōgen as its founder. This group has now been brought under the activities of the Institute of Japanese Studies.
For the first teaching period we’ll be sitting on Tuesday afternoons from 5:00 to 6:30, beginning on 16 October 2012, in the Drama Lab, on the first floor of the Connolly Building (Western Road side). Anyone is welcome to join.
If you haven’t had experience with sitting zazen before, please make sure to wear lower garments that allow you to sit comfortably with your legs crossed. If you’re not used to sitting cross-legged, it will be a good thing to practice simply doing that as much as you can between sessions.
It’s also very important to get a cushion (zafu) that suits your skeletal structure. If you don’t have a cushion you’ll need something (either a very firm cushion or a pile of blankets or towels) to raise your posterior some 10 to 15 centimetres off the ground (depending on the length of your legs). Previous new sitters have found the ‘British Meditation Cushions’ to be the best option. We can arrange a bulk order to save on shipping costs, if there is sufficient interest.
For more expensive (and perhaps slightly more comfortable) cushions: http://www.bluebanyan.co.uk/
Some helpful links:
Downloadable booklet (€3 donation, optional) on the practice of zazen:
‘Zazen Posture’, by Taitaku Pat Phelan:
Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen: Love and Work
Nothing Special: Living Zen
Dōgen: Texts on Zazen Practice
Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Zazen Instructions MP3