Introductory Workshops, conducted by Roshi Graef and her students, are a practical and authentic introduction to Zen Buddhism. During the half-day schedule of talks, question periods, demonstrations and guided meditation, participants are introduced to the body-mind disciplines of Zen Buddhism.
The workshop begins with a short virtual tour of the Zen Center to help you have a context for what will follow. After introductions, Roshi Graef begins the workshop with a talk about the main principles of Zen.
- Meditation postures, methods of breathing and ways of concentrating the mind are taught.
- Break-out rooms allow participants to ask questions about postures and receive further instruction from long-time Zen practitioners.
- Following a short break, there are two periods of sitting Zen meditation with walking meditation inbetween.
- After the meditation, there is a question and answer period and a talk by Roshi Graef on how to bring Zen into daily life, finding a teacher, and how to practice on one's own.
- The workshop ends with a chance to talk informally with those members of the Zen Center who helped with the workshop.
For the demonstration of sitting postures and the meditation periods, if you do not have access to traditional sitting cushions—mat, round cushion, support cushion or bench—you can do the following:
- Sit in a straight-backed chair. (Ideally, something other than an office chair.)
- Have a variety of blankets, rolled towels, and firm pillows which we will show you how to fold.
How to Benefit From a Zoom Workshop
Zoom workshops are not ideal, but they are the best we can do for now. To get the most out of the workshop, we ask participants to imagine they were physically present at the Zen Center. Consider the atmosphere you would encounter if you were here: quietness and serenity, cleanliness and orderliness, people paying attention to what they are doing, no one multi-tasking—an atmosphere of respect, peacefulness, and formality.
During the talks, please do not eat, take notes, read, knit, play with your phone, converse with others, etc. Doing so is a distraction for yourself and for others and it will detract from the workshop. When there are breaks, you are, of course, free to do as you wish. For the talks and meditation periods, please avoid unnecessary activity. Paying attention is at the very heart of Zen.
Open to all people 18 and over. Reservations must be made in advance. Once we receive your reservation, we will send you a link to the Workshop.
What to Wear
Loose-fitting clothing is ideal. Skirts should be both long and full enough to sit with the legs crossed; pants should be quite loose. Jeans are not comfortable for meditation; sweat pants are fine. In keeping with the atmosphere of a temple, please do not wear pajamas or sleevless shirts.
Instructor, Roshi Sunyana Graef
Roshi Graef is the founder and teacher of the Vermont Zen Center. She began Zen training in 1969 at the Rochester Zen Center in New York. She was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 1986 and sanctioned as the Dharma Heir of Roshi Philip Kapleau in 1987. Roshi Graef also teaches at the Casa Zen de Costa Rica in Santo Tomas de Heredia.