Online Meditation / Teaching

Every Sunday during July and August

Starts at 8 P.M. 
Ends at 9 P.M.
Available to all, registration required 
At home

Dear Friends of Yō E An,

During the months of July and August we will restart our online meditation and teaching sessions. They will be held on Sunday, 8 pm. The teachings will be held alternatively in Dutch and English, but you are free to follow all meditations. You can find the schedule on the calendar.

For the teachings we continue to find inspiration from the works of the Chinese Tiantai-master Zhi Yi. Dutch translations by Shaku Jinsen will be posted online. English translations have been made in ‘The Essentials of Buddhist Meditation’ by Bhikshu Dharmamitra, Kalavinka Press, or in ‘Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight’ by Paul L. Swanson, University of Hawaii Press.

If you have already attended the sessions you will receive a zoomlink for all sessions through mail. If you would like to join us for the first time, please let us know by mail.

Practical instructions.
Prepare a quiet room or place. If you don’t have a separate room, a small corner of a room will do. It might be a good idea to make a physical separation, with a small screen for example. Use this space only for practice. Keep it clean and simple. It should not be too bright or dark, too hot or cold.

If you have a Buddhist altar at home, prepare traditional offerings; a candle, incense and flowers. When you make the bowing, face the altar. For sitting in meditation this is not necessary. The online meditation does not require to look at your computer screen either.

Cultivate your quiet time properly. Don’t have your phone with you, or switch it off. Make agreements with roommates.

When meditating at home the temptation to make things more comfortable is bigger. Try to practice as if you were together with your meditation group, with the same punctuality and earnest respect for the practice itself.

Basic instruction for meditation.
Don’t rush into practice. The online waiting room is open ten minutes in advance. Take your time to sit quietly, already tuning your mind to practice. When entering the room, fold your hands together and make a standing bow. Go to your meditation cushion, sit down and wait in silence. A bell announces the beginning of the session. The teacher enters and takes place. With the sound of the bell everybody stands up together and performs the three bowings. Take place again and prepare for meditation. Make sure your clothing is ok, and that everything around you (prayer book etc) is orderly put. With the sounding of the bell we recite the Heart Sutra and shingon (mantra). When reciting hold your prayer book between folded hands, in front of you. Avoid putting your prayer book on the ground, or on your legs. After reciting the bell sounds and we prepare for the inner practice.

Your hands are in the hokaijo-in posture; right hand on left hand, palms facing up, thumbs touching lightly. Keep your back straight. Relax your shoulders and neck. Breathe in and out through the mouth a few times. Eyes are slightly opened. Do not look around, and let your gaze rest naturally on the floor in front of you. Gently bring you attention to the breathing. Try to breathe through the nose. Count your breathing in silence. Count from 1 to 10, then start over again. Breathe in, breathe out and count this as one breath. It is advisable to do the counting on the breathing out. Do not force yourself to breathe slowly or deeply. Breathe as you are, focus on the counting, and your breath will slow down naturally. After a while, stop the counting. First keep your attention on the movement of the breathing, then gently open up your consciousness to all perception, feelings or thoughts. Keep your mind in an open awareness. Do not try to push away, grasp or explain any single experience. After a while, you can proceed to the moon-visualisation practice (oral instruction only).

When you here the bell ring one time, you move your attention again to the breathing, go back to the beginning of the exercise and count your breathing from one to ten. When the bell rings three times, open up your eyes completely, move your fingers, hands and wrists. Gently move the upper body. To leave meditation we move our hands over our body. (oral instruction only).

We fold our hands in gassho, and recite the concluding prayers.

While seated we bow one time, and on the sound of the bell we stand up together and do the three bowings together. This concludes the session. Leave the room quietly, bow when you leave.

Posture.
The traditional hankaza-posture is recommended. Left foot is tucked away under the right thigh, right foot is on the left thigh. Both knees rest on the floor. Using a meditation cushion, try to sit a little bit to the front, making your hips tilt slightly. Keep your back straight, but not tense. Keep head, neck and shoulders relaxed. Tuck your chin in slightly, the mouth is a little bit open, tongue is held softly against the back of your front teeth.

A alternative way of sitting is using a stool. Put your cushion on the stool. Put both feet firmly on the ground, at shoulders width, toes pointing slightly outside. Avoid pulling your feet up under the stool. Also avoid using a chair with a backrest/ armrest.

Another possibility is using a little meditation bench and sitting in a kneeled position, with you legs under the bench.

With all posture goes; once we sit we do not move about anymore.

Shaku Jinsen
Hermitage onder het Bladerdek