Welcome to StoneWater Zen Sangha’s Online Zendo, a space for joining us in the practice of zazen. We are using this to support each other and maintain our Zen practice during the Covid-19 pandemic while our groups are closed.
The Online Zendo uses a video conferencing application called Zoom. You can join the Online Zendo during the scheduled periods of zazen by downloading and using the Zoom software to open a Zoom video conference. StoneWater Zen Sangha has a Zoom plan for up to 100 people, with no imposed time limit on each session. Please become acquainted with this entire page before attending for the first time.
New Online morning schedule
The weekday morning sittings have been so popular and successful during the lockdown that we have extended them to an hour. You have the choice – join us for an hour at 7.00 a.m. or half an hour at 7.30 a.m., as you wish.
Here’s the schedule which operates Monday-Friday:
6.55 a.m. Online Zendo opens with a 10 minute period to chat with others if you wish.
7.05 a.m. First sitting of 25 minutes.
7.30 a.m. Break of 5 mins – microphones remain muted – for people to stretch their legs, leave or join silently as they wish.
7.35 a.m. Second sitting of 25 minutes.
8.00 a.m. Verse of Kesa and 3 bows. Then an informal period for people to chat for a few minutes if they wish.
A message from Keizan Roshi: Your financial support is appreciated
“First, thank you to everyone who supports StoneWater Zen financially. If you have recently joined us on Zoom may we request you consider making a regular donation to StoneWater Zen?
A monthly standing order, along with a gift aid declaration, is by far the best for us but any contribution to our overheads would be happily received. Since the lockdown we have lost all our donation box money at the Liverpool Centre and more importantly the regular income from the groups to whom we sub-let the Liverpool Centre space. This may continue into the Autumn so any help to cover the losses would be much appreciated.
To access a standing order and gift aid forms the simplest way is to email Sarah Thwaites at (firstname.lastname@example.org). Sarah will then send you our bank details for you to set up a regular payment, or she will send you a standing order form. To make a one off donation please use the Paypal button at the top of this page. You can find out more about the charity behind StoneWater on the Trust page of the website here (https://www.stonewaterzen.org/stonewater/stonewater-zen-trust/).
Many thanks for whatever you can manage and of course we completely understand if times are too tough for you to help just now.
How does the Online Zendo work?
Before participating in the Online Zendo, you must first download the Zoom application to your local computer or device. To do so, simply click the links below to join a Zoom conference, and your browser will give you directions on how to install the app. Your audio will be muted by default when entering the Zoom conference. Our experience is that the Zoom app gives better audio and video than using Zoom in a browser. With the new Zoom security settings, when you join a sitting you will be placed in a Waiting Room. The host will then admit you.
Because of the need for the host to keep watching their screen in order to admit you to the meeting, it will no longer be possible to enter directly into the meeting once a period of zazen has started. If you arrive late, you will remain with your screen in “waiting mode” until the host can let you in during the next break.
When are the sittings?
The schedule of Online Zendo sessions is currently as set out below. These are all UK times BST (which is GMT + 1). The sittings will now include talks by Keizan Roshi and the three hoshi teachers, and the times of the sittings have been adjusted for this reason. Click the links below to join the Zoom sittings (if you are joining using the Zoom app, the last 9 digits are the meeting ID code)
Please keep checking this page for updated Zoom links:
Monday morning 7.00 – 8.10 a.m. https://zoom.us/j/92217983059
Tuesday morning 7.00 – 8.10 a.m.https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82043684521
Tuesday evening 7.00 – 8.45 p.m. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87105999003 (from 3 November 2020)
Wednesday morning 7.00 – 8.10 a.m. https://zoom.us/j/97463845936
Wednesday evening 7 – 9.p.m. https://zoom.us/j/130063953
Thursday morning 7.00 – 8.10 a.m. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83471133043
Thursday evening 7 – 9.p.m. https://zoom.us/j/128458684
Friday morning 7.00 – 8.10 a.m. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/97428203706
Saturday morning 9.15 – 11a.m. https://zoom.us/j/800655961
We generally hold a simplified service on the Wednesday evening sitting. The service sheet for this is available to view or download here.
Who may join?
The Online Zendo is open to all, although the programme enables only 100 people in any class. Please follow the guidelines below to maintain an online environment conducive to silent meditation. StoneWater volunteer leaders host the zazen sessions.
What Is the Structure For Online Zazen?
Please join the session a few minutes before the scheduled time, so as to be seated and settled in place before the period of zazen begins. About 30 seconds before each period of zazen is about to start the host will strike clappers together once, so that participants know to settle into their zazen postures. At the beginning of each period of zazen, the host will ring the bell three times to begin zazen. There will be two bells to end the sitting period.
Morning The morning session normally consists of two 25 minute periods of zazen, ending with the Verse of The Kesa and 3 bows.
Evening The evening sittings consist of two periods of zazen with five minutes between the periods. At the end of the evening sitting there is a signal on the bell and you may join the host in chanting the Four Vows. The host will close by chanting the evening gatha then we finish with 3 bows.
Please chant with your microphone muted because the Zoom application does not cope harmoniously with many people speaking simultaneously!
The chants can be found or downloaded here Download Gathas.
Online interviews (including dokusan or daisan)
Online interviews, are being introduced. Keizan Roshi will be assisted in this by the three hoshi teachers, and you will be contacted with details of who your support person will be. Roshi’s suggestion is that you email your support person to arrange a personal video session. If you haven’t already, please join our email list using the link on the StoneWater website to receive the latest news regarding our online offerings.
Questions and Feedback
If you have questions or feedback, please email me, David Chikan Childs, at email@example.com but please note I am not a Zoom expert! If you have technical difficulties, check out the Zoom web site, see https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us.
StoneWater Sitting Group – WhatsApp group
The StoneWater Zen Sangha has a WhatsApp sitting group. Anyone who has WhatsApp on their phone can join in and let others know via a written message when and for how long they are going to sit. If you get lucky you will get a reply from another person on the group that has time and is happy to join you for a sitting. This is a wonderful support that encourages us to sit outside the regular Sangha sitting schedule in the Centre and is especially great for Sangha members that live further away from Liverpool but like to sit with other Sangha members.
If you would like to join our WhatsApp group please get in contact with Jutta and give her your phone number and she will add you to the group. Her contact details are: firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 07549 699473.
‘A Time To Talk’
‘A Time To Talk’ is a support group which meets fortnightly and provides an opportunity to talk with other Sangha members, in confidence and in mutual support, about any issues you may be confronting. It is open to experienced sangha members with an established practice. For more information on A Time To Talk, click here to view a leaflet.
For further details contact Sarah email@example.com.
Guidelines and Online Zendo Procedures
Please be open minded about the experience of online zazen. It is different – you are both alone and connected. If you can drop any feelings of separation and remain open, the more connected you will feel.
These guidelines provide zendo procedures to facilitate a calm, harmonious and settled space for the benefit of everyone. Our aim is to follow as far as possible the familiar form of our sittings in the zendo.
Don’t be late!
Try to stay with the schedule of each session, especially the start time. The new Zoom security and Waiting Room on entry means you may have to wait to be admitted if you are late.
Please join a few minutes before the start time to familiarise yourself and settle.
If possible, do not enter or leave the session, or rise from your seat, during periods of zazen or during chanting. Try to take bathroom and rest breaks between periods of zazen.
Minimise visual distractions
If you are using a desktop computer, try to transform its setting from a workstation into a practice space, by tidying away or covering any work papers, particularly if they may be in camera shot.
Remove from the camera sight line pictures with text or light sources directly in front of it.
Part of the value of the session is that people are able to sit together, on the other hand it may be distracting if people sit close to and directly in facing the camera, particularly if they need to move. For this reason it is better to sit in profile to the camera sight line, or even facing away from the camera (or computer screen), as if facing the wall. Some people choose to sit out of the camera sightline altogether, leaving the camera focussed on their home altar, for example; that is a good solution too. The important point is to minimize visual distractions for others.
For the same reason, please face the camera away from any direct light sources, including nearby candles.
Just as in a traditional zendo, clothing should be plain and dark coloured, preferably black (even if you arrange the camera so that you are the only one who will see what you are wearing). Your garments should be comfortable and loose-fitting.
If you have a cat or a dog that wants to join you there should be no problem with that unless you think your pet might wander directly in front of the camera or over your keyboard with their paws!
You don’t have to have a Buddha statue or altar in your meditation room. However, a Buddha image or another object which represents your respect for life can be very helpful to you in creating a reflective atmosphere around your seat.
Minimise audible distractions:
Please maintain silence in the online zendo until the closing gatha.
The bell will tell you when zazen is about to start or end and when chanting is about to begin. Clappers give early warning to settle into posture.
Mute the microphone upon entering the online zendo. The host will mute everyone’s microphones during the sittings.
Before sitting down to begin zazen, please bring body and mind together by bowing towards your meditation seats, turning clockwise and bowing to the space, just as you would in the zendo.
Tips for using Zoom
The Online Zendo often opens a few minutes before zazen is scheduled to begin. When you click on the Zoom link, you will be prompted to download and install the Zoom app or you can do so here https://zoom.us/support/download.
If this is your first time using Zoom, please take 10 – 15 minutes before the first sitting to become familiar with a few of the common Zoom functions. You will settle into the Online Zendo more easily if you allow time to orientate yourself. It’s also important, of course, that you have a good Internet connection!
Here are step-by-step instructions for exploring a few common functions in Zoom, the home of the Online Zendo.
Zoom – a few helpful things to know
Zoom is, primarily, an internet-based service and will work as a web-based application in most web browsers; or you can install the Zoom application. Zoom is platform independent. This means you can use it with Windows, Mac, Linux, Apple phones, Android phones and even Blackberry phones.
By default, your audio will be muted when you join the online zendo. Please keep your microphone muted during zazen so that you do not distract others. Also keep your audio muted during chanting, because Zoom’s audio does not work well when many people are talking (or chanting) at the same time. You may follow along with the chant leader as they chant. The image of a microphone with a slash indicates mute.
To adjust the video:
The two most commonly used controls to adjust video in the online zendo are Start/Stop Video (bottom left) and Enter Full Screen Click (top right). It is best to use the Gallery view so you can see the altar used by the facilitator and small images of the other participants.
Other common controls:
Chat: connects you with the host, and enables you to message the host and other participants.
Participants: allows you to see who else is in the online zendo.
***Note: Please, do not click Share Screen.
Zoom offer a number of online resources to provide help and insights about their tools and features. Check out the searchable Zoom Help Centre if you want to learn how something works, or if you run into any trouble. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us