SEVEN DIRECTIONS ZEN
Awakening Together for the Seven Generations into the Future
Spirit Koan Meditation Retreats
Keeping Company with Koan Spirits
We come to meditation for many reasons, but mostly to seek relief from our suffering. Indigenous Communities look to the directions for guidance and to cultivate a relationship with the tapestry of life. We are a global world and the tapestry of life is built by the threads that bind us to each other and to all life. At Seven Directions Zen we use koan practice, Indigenous wisdom, ritual, interfaith and mystic teachings to support people find peace, happiness and freedom in the life they are living, while opening up space for the inconceivable to appear.
We want to encourage you to transform your responses to what appears to make you suffer, rather than slap on a band-aid. There isn't anywhere other than right here, right now for you to be. We offer a flexible and adaptable practice that can meet your life just as it is.
Our Retreats last 2.5 hours, and are based in Zen and indigenous or traditional wisdom. We offer a looseness, insight, and inspiration that might be an expected experience for you typically in Zen or meditation practice are an essential ingredient in this practice.
Each retreat is organized around a central koan which provides the frame and the richness for the day. We sit together, engage in conversation, ritual or ceremony and discover the relationships we have with the Earth, ourselves and the life we are living.
Silence and companionship deepens your experience of the vast universe you are a strand in and the life you are living.
Fall Equinox Virtual Meditation Retreat
September 19 -- 10:30 - 4:30 PST
The Teacher addressed the assembly and said, “I am not asking you about the days before the 15th of the month, but what about after the 15th? Come, and give me a word about those days.” And the Teacher gave the answer for them. “Every day is a good day.” — Case 6, Blue Cliff Record
The Fall Equinox is a time when we experience balance. The length of the daylight and night are equal and we begin the slow movement toward darkness and winter. Fall is also the harvest time when we reap what we have sown since last winter. For all of us on this planet, that journey has been a tumultuous one, to say the least! So much has happened since the Winter of 2019/2020 that it is dazzling!
A good day, a bad day, before winter 2020 and after winter 2020 - say a word about those days. This is what the Teacher is inviting us to explore.
We are each totally responsible for the mandala of the universe that revolves around us in our lives. What does that really mean? Do you suffer? Are you afraid? Are you angry? Do you feel cheated? Are these times we are living in stealing your life force? Only we can change that experience. And we can change it instantly.
We tend to use the mind to define “good.” When you have a rigidly fixed standard that you live by, you might notice yourself constantly checking to see who’s measuring up to it? How are you going to enforce that standard for your benefit? These standards come from your egocentric mind. We say things to our self such as: “You should never have done that, or said that. Now, I’ll torture you until you behave the way you should, or the way others should be treating you, or how life should be.” Sound familiar?
Meeting the times we are in and what arises each new day can, and often is, overwhelming. Michele Obama tells us she is in a low grade depression. This might be true for all of us. Despite the crazy times we are in, there is much we can harvest from our lives these past 9 months. I'd like to invite you to spend the day together as our planet moves into balance. Perhaps each of us can find our own balance and together we can bring equanimity to the day.
Please join me for a virtual meditation retreat and Equinox ceremony of balance, and to enjoy to fruit of our lives.
Sharing the Same Moon
Meditation can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. We suggest that you just pay attention to whatever you notice (inside or outside yourself, it doesn’t matter) without judging, measuring or assessing what yourself or your life. The Earth (trees, wind, animals, insects, clouds) accompany us in this lifetime. they remind us we are simply a strand in the great web of life. Allowing yourself to just simply pay attention, notice and be curious about what arises supports you to break free in every moment.
You can start anywhere, even in the midst of a judgment and ask yourself:
what’s this like? Who feels this? Where do I feel this right now? Discover its shape, color, emotion, sensation. What images come to mind? If it could speak, what would it say? Keep company with it all. You can’t do it wrong.
When you notice you’re back to judging your experience, imprisoning your thoughts, notice that and start again.
Friday, September 18, 2020
“The more you talk about It,
the more you think about It,
the further from It you go;
And there is nothing you will not understand.” Hsin Hsin Ming
In Zen you will often hear teachers say, "turn toward what is here in your life." This Koan points to this teaching. There are so many things in our lives that we don’t like, wish were different, disapprove of or are critical and judgmental of. But in Zen, there is an invitation to not have your life be an ambitious or a self improvement project. Learning to accept our lives on life’s terms is a deep part of spiritual practice and the richness Zen practice offers.
Sitting together we bring our practice and our life together. Meditation is not about getting to a certain state of being. It is about being with the certain state you have right in this moment. Often, we reach for an enlightenment experience or an assurance that if we sit there will be a reward - we will be calm, we will be more conscious, more kind, more compassionate. But in reality, we will be just exactly who we are. Enlightenment is a moment or a day or maybe a month, but then here we are, in our lives, in our emotions, in our upsets and frustrations. We learn, over and over again, how to be right here.
Let’s join together on Friday and bask in the light of our being. Friday is the first night of the Jewish New Year. Bring with you something that bring sweetness into your life or is a sweet presence in your life and we will share that with each other. The light is always here. You need only turn toward it to find it. See you Friday at 4:00 PM.
Join me Friday and let’s meet each other in that field beyond right and wrong - rather, let’s find each other in the moment we have, shall we? We will Sit in Not Knowing and Bear Witness to the wisdom, sorrow, surprise and astonishment that arises within each of us. When we gather in this way something extraordinary happens: We feel connected, we feel safe, we feel alive and from that, loving, heart centered action becomes possible. I look forward to being with you.
On-Going Meditation Fridays
4:00 - 5:30
One on One With Illana
Take Your Practice to a New Level
I will assist you in expanding your personal awareness and consciousness. I will instruct you in how to use your awareness to cultivate compassion and kindness with yourself and the relationships you have.
You will discover you are standing on holy ground and have been your whole life. Now you get to turn your face toward your life. You will discover how your mind works, how your body communicates with you and what your soul is most longing for.
We explore how the tapestry of your life and the stories you carry influence your assumptions, your choices and your values.
I have had the great privilege to work with elders, healers and wisdom keepers from all over the world. These wonderful teachers and their teachings have deeply informed me and the work I offer to you.
My core philosophy is that healing and wholeness begins first with yourself, then extends to your family, to the larger communities that surround you and finally to the Earth herself. With a new prayer in your heart you discover yourself as a secret you have been carrying that is now ready to be revealed. Freedom