To gain insight into how Zen practice impacts daily life, we asked eight Zen Temple practitioners, each in different stages of his or her meditation practice, the following questions: 1) How long have you been practicing Zen Meditation? 2) How does your involvement or meditation practice at the Zen Temple show up in your daily life?
Tongsan Catherine Brown
- Since 1996
- Daily meditation practice reminds me that a place of quiet happiness is always available to me. All I have to do is remember to go there. Daily meditation practice helps me tell the difference between the stories I tell myself and things as they really are. Daily meditation practice, by making me aware of my own stories, plants the seeds of compassion for others — who are, like me, trying to make sense of the world.
Hayeon Kelli Conlin
- I have been practicing meditation for two years, since I enrolled in an introduction to meditation course at the Zen Buddhist Temple. Before that, the closest I came to meditation was sitting in the middle seat on a crowded airplane.
- I have come to understand that the value of our practice to our lives increases as we try to immerse our practice into everything we do, not just when we’re sitting in meditation. I own and run Fluffy Bottom Farm and Upaya Creamery, located just west of Ann Arbor, where we raise dairy sheep and Jersey cows, and produce limited-supply, artisan yogurt and cheeses. My practice, along with all that I have learned from Haju at the Temple, has helped me to produce yogurts and cheeses in a mindful way. It brings together the contentment of our animals, the skillful means of those of us who milk the animals and make our products, and the health and joy of our clients who, we hope, experience that mindfulness themselves when they taste our cheeses and yogurts.
Maum Gloria Cox
- 10 years
- Meditation practice has a greater range of benefits that I initially envisioned. Living a more mindful life means becoming a better person … being more focused at work, being more available to those who need my help, appreciating opportunities and challenges as they arise, and continuing to grow a little more every day.
Omyo Emily Howard
- Two and a half years
- The people at the temple and the practices I’ve learned there have really changed my life from inside out. I’m more stable and no longer need to act on the first thing that pops into my mind. This means I can better dedicate myself to my work, even when it’s emotionally difficult, be more attentive to other people, and be more careful about how I use natural resources.
Haru Sarah Juster
- Three years
- The Dalai Lama said, “The most important thing is practice in our daily lives. Then you can know gradually the true value of religion.” I can feel the effects of daily meditation, study, work, chanting, and prostration practice in my life. Sometimes I am working on a project in the Temple, like winterizing the windows, and suddenly I remember to stop and feel my meditation practice in my body. It brings warmth and joy and a sense of deep contentment. When I take a walk each day I feel sheer joy of the outdoors in seeing the bark on trees, the cool air in my face and staying connected to my own breath and my feet touching the earth. I notice changes in myself and others within our community as we learn to harmonize and become more loving and aware towards one another. I feel that in myself anxiety, tension, and worry are lessening as gratitude and contentment grow, but not without the hard work of daily practice and patience.
Amoha Steve Marenghi
- I took the Lay Buddhist precepts in 1987 here at the Zen Buddhist Temple, and I practiced where I could while living in California and North Carolina, but it has only been one year and five months that I’ve been practicing formally while living at the Temple.
- The intensity of meditation practice and chanting here at the Temple has given me a stronger focus, a feeling of inner peace and outer awareness to process selflessly the positive and negative areas in my life.
- I have been practicing Zen Meditation for around three months now.
- There is a certain “calmness” and “stillness” that thrives throughout my day due to my practice.
Kogi Jennifer Ratliff-Moss
- I have been practicing Zen Meditation for 21 years.
- I am happier as a person. As I become more aware of the present moment and attuned to details, I enjoy more individual moments in my life. We also practice as a family. The other day my 12-year-old son noticed that I was feeling stressed about trying to get out the door when we were already late. Rather than reacting to my stress, he responded by presenting me with a flower that he had made from his two hands separating in a very gentle way. This gift, formed by his attentive presence, allowed me to immediately calm down and we both laughed, thus transforming the situation. We were still late, but no longer stressed about it. It was so quick. Zen practice has taught us how to do this.
Ann Arbor Zen Buddhist Temple is located at 1214 Packard Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104. For more information about the temple, meditation courses, yoga, retreats, and residencies, visit http://zenbuddhisttemple.org/locations/annarbor/index.html.