Soto Zen, as it moved from China to Japan to the United States, took on various attributes of those cultures in order to not just survive, but to maintain some form of relevance to its actual practitioners. The Zen Center is interested in making contact with people who are drawn to traditional Zen practice, as well as those agnostics, atheists, nonconformists, and people of other faiths who have been part of the dynamic of “Zen” over the millennia. Here are some activities already in place:
Youth Groups, High Schools, Colleges and Universities
The Zen Center partners with groups working with young people (kindergartners on through to college students) in order to offer safe, supportive space for self-reflection and connection, and to encourage wholesome, engaging practices for the body and mind. We enjoy going out to the community or welcoming young people into our meditation hall. We have offered a weekly sitting group on campus at Salem State, an afternoon Zen Immersion workshop at Masconomet High School, and we have hosted field trips from Montserrat College of Art and Endicott College. We also offer 'Mental Toughness' trainings for teens through North Shore Community Development Coalition, and internships for high school and college students. If you are interested in more information on these programs, please contact us.
Meditation/Relaxation Programs for TEACHERS AND OTHERS in the Helping Professions
Zen Center offers workshops and classes to support teachers, caregivers and social service providers. We have been partnering with Masconomet High School to offer monthly relaxation sessions for teachers, and we have recently been certified by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide professional development points for our Meditation for Teachers training. We also have partnered with Children's Friend and Family Services, a non-profit with offices in Salem and Lynn, to offer relaxation sessions to their staff members. Please contact us for more information.
Work with Incarcerated People
While in San Francisco, Joan led meditation classes at the SF County Jail where she also provided one-on-one spiritual counseling for prisoners. She continues to interact with incarcerated practitioners regularly by mail. If you are interested in joining her in this practice, please contact her.
Work Practice Days
An ancient said “The Buddha Way is actualized when you roll up your sleeves and get to work!” Work is the way we bring practice out of the meditation hall and into the world. It is one of the most important ways in which practitioners come together and begin to know one another intimately, forging the Sangha (community), which is one of Buddhism’s Three Treasures. On occasion the Zen Center will sponsor Work Days – usually Saturday afternoons – where we work side by side on an outdoor project, such as yard maintenance for anyone in need. If you are interested in helping us to organize a Work Day, please contact us.
These hikes are intended to get us outside to enjoy the beautiful seasons together, get some exercise and fresh air, and reconnect with our breath and natural upright posture. No meditation experience is necessary and children and pets are welcome.
June 30 - Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, MA
July 22 - Forest River Park, Salem, MA