Zen Reflection for Inner Releasing
& Inner Freedom Class
a.k.a. Radiant Heart, Radiant Mind Practice: Meditative Releasing of Inner Knots, Calming the Mind and Cultivating Insight
Zen Reflection Classes are ongoing and you can join in every other Tuesday (see out Meetup Calendar for details) - All Are Welcome! Come out and meet wonderful, warm, like minded people interested in cultivating deeper levels of inner peace.
About Zen Reflection
Zen Reflection can be done in pairs to help one start to get clear of inner “felt” turbulence, contractions and old seeming barriers. The time a session lasts will naturally vary and typically lasts from 10 to 25 minutes. Zen Reflection sessions also improve ones mind-body connection and strengthens ones capacity to inwardly harmonize and bring presence to any area in the body that needs unbinding. By practicing Zen Reflection in a safe, supportive environment, we are helping ourselves and others and building a stronger sangha (community) in a very practical way.
By joining together regularly for ‘Zen Reflection’, we are also building a creative foundation for intimate friendships which strengthen and supports us on many levels.
This Class also includes group discussions and sharing on things like **Zen Reflection practice during our week, and on the class DVD. Join the Zen Reflection Classes at any time.
(The Current Book being discussed is:
“Focusing: By Dr. Eugene T. Gendlin, P.h.D.”)
**People that attend this class will also learn the 6 easy-to-master steps that identify and change the way thoughts and emotions are held within the body.**
As pointed out in “Focusing”, it can be done virtually anywhere, at any time, and an entire session can be as short as 10 minutes. Its affects can be felt immediately - in the relief of bodily tension and psychological stress, as well as dramatic shifts in understanding and insight.
The Book and DVD shared in this class on Focusing shows additional ways to tap into greater self awareness and inner wisdom. (Focusing is technique based on the ground breaking research conducted at the University of Chicago).
As you learn to develop your natural ability to use the technique, you will find yourself becoming more in sync with both body and mind, filled with greater self assurance and better equipped to make positive changes to improve and enhance every aspect of your life.
"Focusing is a beautiful and meditative approach to psychotherapy and personal growth. It offers a deep parallel to the practice of mindfulness in a carefully developed and sensitive way." - Jack Kornfield, Author of A Path With Heart
"Focusing is a therapeutic application of Mindfulness and is a life path for healing and spiritual transformation." - Tara Brach, Author of Radical Acceptance
“There are curious similarities in how Focusing and Buddhism approach the human condition. Each invites us to attend to our experiencing. Each emphasizes the importance of trusting and learning from our own experience, rather than relying on external authority to tell us what is true. Each attempts to reduce anguish and anxiety, and move us toward greater happiness and well-being.
The language of Buddhism is existential, it deals with life as we experience it. This is compatible with the language of Focusing, which also invites us to listen closely within. Both Focusing and Buddhism offer ways to train our attention so that we remain present with the experience as it unfolds. Both may be viewed as a method of open-ended inquiry into the nature of human experience. - According to the Dzogchen teachings of Zen Master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche:"The principle is always to discover ourselves."
“Both Focusing and meditation lead to a growing sense of openness to life. Focusing is much more than a method of dealing with life issues. It can lead to a way of life where we live more and more in our felt sense. Developing the "habit of felt-sensing," a term used by Peter Campbell and Ed McMahon, allows us to be with our experience with less clinging and attachment to any particular outcome.
Meditation also helps us loosen our attachments so that we may be with experience unfolding. Our human tendency is to cling to what is pleasant and avoid what is unpleasant. According to the Buddhist view, the fact of suffering (First Noble Truth) is created by this clinging and grasping (Second Noble Truth). But there is a way out of this predicament (Third Noble Truth), which leads towards freedom, peace, compassion, acceptance, and gratitude.”
"Without awareness of our sensations, we are not fully alive. Life is unsatisfactory for most people because they are absent for their experience much of the time."
- Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special : Living Zen
“Focusing and meditation offer pathways toward release from suffering by attending closely to our inner world. They both encourage being present with how things actually are. Presence means having an intimate connection with what is living inside us. By learning how to stay present with experience as it is, we find a greater sense of freedom, aliveness, and open space. Being with what is real within us also connects us with others in authentic community.”
"Zazen is the practice of becoming intimate with oneself." - Taisen Deshimaro
“Familiarity with Focusing may refresh and deepen our understanding of Buddhist thought and vice versa. Focusing has a gentle method for approaching Buddhist notions such as emptiness and non-attachment. We tend to have many attachments or identifications that block us from experiencing peace and freedom. For example, we may cling to a self-image, shame, the inner critic, and to a self-consciousness that is separate from the life outside of ourselves. Loosening these attachments moves us beyond our limited sense of identity.
This direction may also deepen our understanding of "presence" being in direct, gentle relationship with what is. Focusing has a loving way of showing concretely how to step back and disidentify from emotional intensity, habit, and compulsion -- all the while developing greater intimacy with ourselves through presence in the deeply felt currents of our lives.
As we increase our tolerance for not knowing, ambiguity, and emptiness, we connect more intimately with our true nature, other people, and life itself. We become more present to life.” - Focusing, Feelings, and Sangha (Community)
“By practicing Focusing with ourselves and engaging in Focusing partnerships, we are building the sangha (community) in a very practical way.
Focusing can help meditators to welcome their feelings, needs, and wants. Learning to live more in our bodies and less in our ideas of how things should be, we connect more with what is authentic within us and between us. Opening more to the immediacy of felt experience, we enter a place within ourselves that simultaneously connects us with others who are also connecting with their authentic experience. This opens up fluid and creative possibilities for deeper love and connections in an non-authoritarian climate.
By contacting and sharing our authentic experience with others, we build a creative foundation for intimate relationships. This courageous opening of our hearts can nurture our connections with others building a vibrant sense of community.
There is a story about Buddha's companion, Ananda, commenting that good friends and good companions is one half of the spiritual life. Buddha responded, 'Not so, Ananda! Not so! This is the whole of the spiritual life."
Focusing and listening evoke friendship -- building community in a practical way. An increasing number of meditators are availing themselves of Focusing as a way to deepen a sense of community.”
A Great Value:
Feedback on the process and
My Experience of Zen Reflection.
By Moo Il
As a child, I had learned to 'not focus' and especially 'to not be in my body'. I had to relearn two natural experiences of being human: a) being with my feelings, 2) being in my body. I started to learn to recognize and feel my feelings, and to be in my body by bringing my attention to the different parts of my body.
For me, Zen Reflection was not natural. At first, I felt a little embarrassed when I tried to explain to someone else my thoughts, feelings, visions and experiences I was having at that moment. I felt like ‘I’ was pretty bizarre, with visions of cartoon characters entering my mind. When asked what a particular feeling felt like (i.e. the pain in my back), I responded with the first thing that entered my head…”a tightly wound bed spread”. Wow! What a bizarre answer. But I did not censor myself, or my answers, to my Zen Reflection partner.
Where did that bizarre answer come from? I wondered where my Zen Reflection Partner was taking me…then I realized, she wasn’t taking me anywhere! I was taking her on my journey. As she helped me to stay with the feeling in my body, I eventually came to “what my body was trying to tell me” and the ‘tightly wound springs’ became totally understandable.
In fact, all she did was listen, reflect back to me what I said to her, and ask questions to help me stay in my body.
It felt really good to have someone listen…just listen! Too often in this world people don’t take the time to listen to one another. Often when a person does take the time to stop to help someone in a bind, they usually want to help by ‘fixing’ the problem or the person with the problem…advising, suggesting, and out-and-out telling the other person what they ‘should’ do. With Zen Reflection we do not ‘fix’ the other person. We listen! To me ‘listening’ is an art form. Zen Reflection also gave me practice in improving my listening skills.
Some Zen Reflection sessions were light everyday types of issues. We can pick and choose what we want to work on in that session. I learned that there was no judging. As I learned to trust my partner (and myself) I learned I could go deeper. If there was anything I didn’t want to share, I didn’t have to share. I could keep the details to myself, but still stay with the feelings. If I was feeling too uncomfortable I could stop the session at any time. I was in control of my Zen Reflection session.
Basically, I see the purpose of Zen Reflection is to have a partner to help me be the witness of my own thoughts and feelings. I have been known to be in denial of reality and to quickly and easily forget. My Zen Reflection Partner reminds me of what I have said. Of course, I can change my mind and often do…feelings change, attitudes change, even where the ‘feeling’ sits in the body changes. But if I’ve allowed myself to push away a certain thought or feeling that may be crucial to some resolution for me, my partner is there just to reflect it back to me.
In order to survive I learned to stuff my feelings. I no longer need to use this tool of stuffing. As a child it was useful, as an adult it is detrimental. I cannot express how valuable Bup Gong Marie has been in helping me to sit with my feelings and experience my Truth. When I was sitting in my feelings, tears’ pouring down my face, Bup Gong has reminded me of the Buddha’s teachings. I could experience the reality of the feelings in my body at that moment, but I could also understand that ‘it’ was not ‘True’! And especially that I was not my feeling. What a revelation, to get that “aha’ moment and fully be with it and understand it! This is similar to when we sit in meditation and observe the ‘thoughts’ that arise, and watch it leave on its own. Thoughts are challenging enough to sit with and not get entangled in. But feelings have been almost impossible for me to handle on my own. Sometimes the full revelation of the “aha” moment doesn’t hit until later (a day or more), or I find I need to go through a few sessions before it’s complete. But there is a definite shift within my body as we do the Zen Reflection.
Living a Zen life is simple but not easy. To be fully present takes the formal practice of Zazen meditation while sitting on the cushion. Then, when we’re off the cushion, we practice Zen in our daily lives. Well, to me Zen Reflection with a partner is the practice we get, to learn to do this for ourselves when we are living our daily lives!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bup Gong for all she has done for me. She has been so generous with her love, her patience and willingness to share her skills in Zen Reflection with us.
The Attitude of Focusing is Similar
** The attitude of Focusing may be applied to staying with the felt sense of whatever we’ve shifted into. Can we relish that experience without holding on to it? Can we stay with the open space, perhaps being present with our breath and body and resting in the stillness?
** Focusing can teach meditators something about how to deal with feelings, needs, and wants, and allow themselves to receive love and open to intimate connections. By allowing ourselves to welcome such experiences, rather than having aversion to them, we move toward a greater sense of awakeness and aliveness.
** In the Buddhist "chain of dependent origination," there is a point where the senses lead to feeling, which leads to clinging, which leads to craving. Can Focusing help break the cycle by providing a way to work with feelings so that we’re less likely to spin off into clinging and craving? Finding a creative and intelligent way to relate to our feeling life may lead toward a greater sense of freedom and openness encouraged by Zen.
(See Zen Reflection Classes on Meetup at Unity as well).
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