Meditation Hall Guidelines
All of the sitting hall guidelines are helpful in reminding us to pay attention and to experience what we are doing when in motion, while not formally meditating on the cushion. When entering the sitting hall, put your hands at nose level, palms together and enter with left foot first. Make a standing bow. When walking in the sitting hall hold your hands in walking position, left hand in fist around the thumb at stomach level, right hand over the top. To take a seat in the sitting hall, walk to any seat except the timekeeper’s. Once at your chosen seat, make a standing bow first to the cushion (actually to the folks on either side of cushion) then turn around to the right, and bow to the people on the opposite side of the room. To take a seat, sit down on the cushion still facing toward the center of the room then turn toward the right on the cushion until you are facing the wall unless we are all facing toward the center. In that case just sit down on the cushion and don’t turn.
The sitting periods are usually 30 or 35 minutes long. On Wednesday evenings there are two 35-minute periods with 10 minutes of walking meditation in the middle. Participants are welcome to sit for only one period if they need or want to leave. Try to stay as still as possible during the sitting period. Keep bringing your attention back to the bodily experiences of sitting, to the breath and to the sounds. People are available to help with your posture or sitting suggestions if you would like. It is ok to move or switch positions during the sitting time if you are too uncomfortable. Do it quietly and quickly. At the end of the 35-minute sitting there will be two bells. After the second bell bow and then gradually get up for walking meditation. Make sure your feet are not asleep. If they are asleep please, take your time in standing up. Wait until they are awake to stand up. No one minds if you take your time, we are used to it and we have a lot of folks whose feet fall asleep. You might hurt yourself if you start to stand up and your foot is asleep.
Please arrive a few minutes early prior to beginning of sitting period.
Walking Meditation Instruction
After the second bell, straighten your cushion and stand with your palms together in front of the cushion facing toward the center of the room. When the clappers sound for the first time bow and turn to the left, still “palms-together,” and then when the clappers sound for the second time, put your hands in the walking position at mid abdomen with the left hand in a fist over the thumb and the right hand over the top. Begin walking right away starting with your left foot taking one step per full breath. You may take a bathroom break during the slow or fast walking period. Please wait to leave the sitting hall until the second clapper has sounded to begin the slow walking period.
Slow Walking Period
The slow walking practice is for 4-6 minutes. Start walking with your left foot first at the sound of the second clapper. Take one step per full cycle of breath paying attention to the sensations of your feet as they touch the ground, and also to the sounds you hear. Say to yourself “lifting, lifting, lifting” to help you focus on the sensations of the various experiences of lifting your foot. Then say “moving, moving, moving” then “placing, placing, placing.” Keep these labels in the background of your awareness, the foreground is focused on the actual experience of the sensations in your foot as it is lifted, moved, and placed.
Fast Walking Period
There will be another clapper to signal the faster walking period, which will last about 3-4 minutes. At the sound of the clapper, bring your feet together and make a bow at the waist, then immediately begin walking starting with your left foot. Walk at a fast rate, keeping up with the person in front of you and letting the timekeeper set the pace for the entire group. In the faster walking, try and pay attention to the sensations of your feet on the floor, as well as the sounds. Say to yourself “walking, walking, walking.” At the last clappers, put your palms together and return to your cushion, make a bow toward the cushion and then turn around facing into the center. Stay standing with your palms together until there is a final bell. At that time take you seat for the next sitting period.
At the end of the second sitting period there will be a bell to indicate the reading of the Practice Principles. The practice principles are available on a small card to read if you don’t know them. We recite them three times.
After the Practice Principles stand up (take your time) and wait for the chime to indicate the time to bow. With each chime, do a full bow (head down to the floor with arms on the mat, palms facing up, then raise just the hands to about ear level). You will do a total of three full bows. After the third bow stand with hands in walking position, at the sound of the next bell bow to the altar with hands in palms-together position. Return to facing toward the center of the room with your hands in walking position, then when the final bell is struck,
bow with your hands in the walking position. Straighten your mat and then leave. No need to turn at the entrance and bow to the altar when you leave the sitting hall, just walk out.
Schedules, Donations, Membership
The ZCP sitting schedule is available at: Calendar. Tapes and books may also be checked out. ZCP accepts donations to help support the center and membership is available ($30 a month “suggested” donation but any amount is ok). There is usually a donation jar on the coffee table located in the waiting area. If you are making a donation toward your membership dues, make sure your name is attached to your cash donations. Anyone making a regular membership contribution (of any amount) is considered a member of ZCP. You can become a voting member if you make a regular donation for 6 months or longer and attend regularly. Voting members can become Board members and can also help to elect the Board members. Copies of the By-laws for ZCP and Board minutes (as well as financial information) are available to members.