We are all touched by Aversion, which includes: Anger, Ill-will and Fear. Aversion is wanting a situation or feeling to be different than it is and expending energy to push away. Ill-will can be directing unwholesome thoughts toward another or oneself. Ill-will can be subtle, such as those critical thoughts about another or oneself that run in the back of the mind. Ill-will is a form of aversion because those unwholesome thoughts are a way of pushing away and creating separation. Fear is the aversion of something that has not occurred, but is imagined might occur.
How does aversion interfere with practice? Aversion creates energy that fuels itself. We shift into habitual patterns and act without mindfulness or presence, which often creates more aversion. When acting out of habit energy, it becomes very difficult to sit and meditate. Should aversion arise while meditating, it can be difficult to keep the mind and body from responding and becoming hooked by whatever form of aversion may be arising.
How do we stop aversion from taking us over and keeping us from practicing? We come back to our breath! By re-connecting to the breath, we have the opportunity to step out of the habit energy pattern and stay present. In presence, we have access to wisdom and are able to actually know what is happening right that moment. This allows us to make better choices and cut the self-perpetuating cycle of aversion.
One way to address aversion is to practice the STOP Technique. A useful and effective way to bring you back to your breath and into presence. It can be utilized anywhere and only takes a minute or two to practice. You can read about how to put this into practice to help with aversion by reading the blog post: STOP Technique.
During my last meeting with my teacher, Ven. Wonji Dharma, I discussed my plan to engage in a modified form of the traditional Kyol Che meditation retreat. The traditional practice entails a three month intensive silent meditation, usually for nine to ten hours a day. I never was able to attend the retreat and rather than wait to see if I would ever be able to, I decided to create a version of my own. For the next three months I will spend every Tuesday in silent meditation. I will alternate sitting and walking meditation periods, engage in weaving meditation and eating meditation. It, like the traditional Kyol Che, is meant to strengthen my formal practice through discipline and focused attention.
My teacher suggested I open this up to others. He reminded me that the Providence Zen Center created what is called a Heart Kyol Che. It is meant to be for those who cannot sit the traditional Kyol Che. Pracitioners participate in the Heart Kyol Che by making a personal commitment to practice during the time period of the Kyol Che. I thought my teacher's suggestion was brilliant, so I spend the last few days putting together what I call the Lotus Heart Kyol Che.
How does it work?
Each person participating determines their level of personal commitment to practice from January 24th through April 18th. Individuals can do extra practice at home and whenever possible, practice together with other Heart Kyol Che participants. By doing the Lotus Heart Kyol Che as part of a group, practice is supported and strengthened. Anyone can participate. And those who are local who participate are encouraged to attend meditation classes, Zen practice groups, yoga classes and Kyol Che Special Service Ceremonies held at Bloom Yoga and Wellness. The ceremonies include chanting, meditation, a dharma talk and a small ceremony to help encourage and revitalize energy toward keeping Lotus Heart Kyol Che commitments. If you are not local, find equivalent groups and organizations to compensate and make commitments to.
Making a commitment to oneself is an act of courage and faith, which can result in better self esteem and overall physical and mental health. Focusing a commitment during a specified time creates good habit energy, allowing a practice to become part of a daily routine. Additionally, knowing you are part of a group of dedicated and supportive people who share the goal of bettering themselves is an added boost when the practice feels challenging or when commitment wavers.
What does the Lotus Heart Kyol Che entail?
Simply print and fill out the form below, make a copy and submit one to me (Rev. Do'an Prajna) by January 24th, 2015.
I wanted to offer a big, warm, hearted thank you for your support and interest in my classes and services. The meditation classes have been a joy to teach and the New Year’s Service was wonderful! I am touched deeply by your generosity, openness and enthusiasm. You have all made this step in my life path as a monk all the more rewarding and meaningful. Thank you!
With the new year comes some new opportunities for learning meditation and building skills for a happier and healthier life. Now is the time to strengthen our practice and learn how to let go of stress, find contentment and spread peace and joy!
And for those of you on Facebook I have a group page at: Lotus Heart Zen.
Please do join and make it an active gathering place for support when we are away from the cushion!
I have added a new Beginning Meditation class time and on January 18th I will begin offering a Zen Practice group:
New class time added:
Beginning Meditation Classes:
I have added an additional Beginning Meditation class, so now you have the opportunity to learn how to meditate on Wednesdays AND Fridays from 6:30pm to 7:45pm. You can come to one or both classes!
This year the classes will be structured in such a way that they will each build upon the other. I will be providing some guided meditation along with regular instruction to help strengthen your meditation practice and keep you motivated. Look forward in future classes a guided body scan meditation; how to overcome the various hindrances to meditation; how to work through difficult emotional or physical states, and more. The key to experiencing any benefits to meditation is in consistent practice, learning with a group can offer tremendous support!
New in 2105!
Zen Practice Group (begins on Sun, Jan. 18th)
Some of you have expressed an interest in learning more about Zen practice, which would include chanting and studying the principles of Buddhism. As a result I have created this nonsectarian Zen-focused group. The purpose is to share in the practice of chanting, meditation as well as studying the principles of Buddhism, while providing an open and affirming place where people can come together as a community that supports Zen practice in everyday life. One doesn’t have to be Buddhist to benefit from Zen practice, individuals from all backgrounds, walks of life and experience levels are welcomed.
We will meet the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month from 9-10:30am (with tea and socializing afterwards) at Bloom Yoga and Wellness.
Certificate in Mindfulness Training
I am also developing a Certificate in Mindfulness Training course that I will offer in the spring. This eight week course will explore the different ways to incorporate mindfulness into our lives, so that we can experience a richer, calmer and more healthy day to day existence. The course will include meditation practice, yoga, and offer tools for dealing with stress and difficult emotions and mind-states, while developing compassion, attention and gratitude.I plan to begin the course in March and end the eight weeks in time to celebrate Vesak (Buddha’s Birthday) in early May and offer a five precepts ceremony to those who are interested in becoming lay practitioners. More information to come soon! Please let me know if you are interested.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you and practicing with you soon!
Rev. Do’an Prajna
A blog by the Lotus Heart Zen Meditation and Study Group members