The Solstice has passed, and once again we move from the shortest day of the year to the longest day of the year; from quiet contemplation to energetic activity. The new year brings a flurry of activity to the Creston zendo. To begin with, we have just been granted affiliation status in the Silent Thunder Order of Soto Zen Buddhism, which is based in Atlanta, Ga., and which has 11 other affiliates all over Canada and the United States. (To learn more about the Silent Thunder Order, visit silentthunderorder.org.)
To honour this new affiliation, we are changing our name. We wanted a name that contains a traditional Zen image, and that represents the Creston Valley. We have settled on the name, Sakura-ji. “Sakura” means cherry blossom and “ji” means temple. We will be using the Japanese form of the name.
Sakura-ji is more than a Zen centre. Our mission is to offer services and courses that enhance the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of Kootenay residents. To realize that mission, we offer a variety of activities and courses. Tuesdays and Thursdays we offer yoga with Yana, a gentle form of yoga that specializes in rehabilitation; Fridays we offer hot yoga with Lori Littlejohn, a more vigourous form of yoga that is especially good for weight loss; Tuesdays at 6:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m. we offer sitting meditation, traditional Zen chanting and a dharma talk by me.
I am the practice leader at Sakura-ji, and a transmitted Zen writing practice instructor. The winter term in 2015 will focus on writing practice. Between Jan. 6 and April 30, I will be teaching writing practice at the following times: Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30 a.m. and Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. On the first, second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, I offer a writing practice class between 7 and 9 p.m. Writing and meditation are closely linked. From April 24-26, there will be a writing practice and poetry workshop.
I am also a certifying teacher of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and will be offering another eight-week MBSR course starting on April 5. These classes have been very helpful to students and fill quickly, so if you are interested, register early. I have also had success in helping individual MBSR students reduce discomfort from chronic pain through one-one instruction.
The Creston zendo opened its doors seven years ago. At that time, we were a room in the basement of our home and we offered only a sitting meditation practice. As you can see, we have grown into our own building and have expanded our services considerably.
I want to invite you to continue to participate in Sakura-ji’s activities in the coming year and to wish you a holiday season that brings true generosity of mind and body.
For more information about the activities at Sakura-ji, visit www.zenwords.net or call resident teacher Kuya Minogue at 250-428-6500.