Beginners are welcome at Liverpool and at the associated Stonewater local groups. We view introducing Zen meditation as a public service, regardless of whether or not you decide to continue. Whatever your race, gender, walk of life, religious (or non religious) background, you are welcome to sit with us, practising the path of awakening.
If you have previous experience of meditation
Every sangha has its own form and style and for this reason, everyone who is new to Stonewater is asked to attend the introductory course regardless of their previous experience of meditation or Zen. The introduction we use is the result of much experience and we have found this is the best way to give the full flavour of Zen and our form of practice in a supportive way.
Meditation takes many forms; in Zen it means sitting still in silence, alone or with others – known as zazen. People meditate for many reasons and there is growing research which shows that people who meditate are more relaxed, deal better with stress and are healthier. But there is so much more to Zen than relaxation or stress management. Zen is more than just Mindfulness and, although Zen does improve mental health, that is not its aim. Zen practice addresses the very basic issues of life and death. It deals with our essential nature and cultivates appreciation of life, well being, and kindness to oneself, to others and the environment.
In Liverpool the Introduction to Zen course consists of 3 sessions.
Our aim is that you will immediately be able to do zazen comfortably at home and that if you do sit with us, you understand the form we use when sitting together.
Session 1 takes place once a month on a Saturday afternoon,1.30 to 3.30pm. This informal session includes instruction in zazen, correct posture in different sitting positions, and basic meditation techniques. Instruction is tailored to individual needs and there is opportunity for informal discussion over tea and biscuits. There is no expectation or pressure that you have to sit cross-legged on the floor if this is not comfortable for you.
Session 2 is held as part of our weekly Saturday morning zazenkai and reviews your experience of zazen and introduces the form and practices associated with sitting as part of a group. We encourage you to do this within a month of Session 1.
For session 3 we encourage you to attend one of our regular Wednesday or Thursday evening sittings which are normally led by our teacher, Keizan Sensei, and to do this soon after session 2.
(Please note that Stonewater Local Groups each have their own way of doing Introductory classes and you should make enquiries direct.)
Introduction to Zen – Dates of Saturday afternoon initial classes
16th February, 16th March, (No introductory session in April) ,
18th May, 15th June, 20th July, 21st September, 12th October, 16th November,
Cost and how to book a place
The suggested donation for the 3 session course in Liverpool is £15 paid at the first session. But we do not want money to be a barrier, if this is not possible, give what you can afford – we will understand. For further information about Introduction to Zen, or to book a place, please contact us via the web site.
After the Introduction
After you have attended the Introduction to Zen course, you will be welcome to join us at our regular morning or evening sittings, to continue to attend on a Saturday morning, or attend our retreats. But please be assured that there is no pressure on you to continue attending or join anything if that is not your wish.
People ask what it means to be a ‘member’ of Stonewater. The most important thing is to ‘show up,’ that is to attend regularly. Only in this way can you make use of the library and work with a teacher in interviews. Since Stonewater is entirely self supporting it also relies on sangha members’ monthly donations and most regulars give by standing order.
No local group near you?
The best way to learn meditation is from a teacher or experienced practitioner but if you are not able to come to the Liverpool centre or visit a local group, help is still available. See the Meditation section for details of comfortable meditation postures and suggestions on how to meditate at home. The Recommended Reading page also provides further ideas for books on Zen and meditation.