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Frequently Asked Questions

What if I can’t sit on the floor or on a cushion?

Many meditators sit in chairs and can sit very well in this position. There are also several floor postures practitioners may use and we guide newcomers to choose the best one considering age, flexibility, health, etc.The important thing is to find the posture that is most comfortable for you while contributing to steady alertness.

Can I come by to observe or join in?

We ask that newcomers first explore our website to get a sense of Zen and our Zen Center. We are available to answer questions by phone or email.  We offer the Introduction to Zen Meditation Workshop because we have found that this format provides an overview to Zen practice and an orientation to ZCOC in a comprehensive, organized way, as well as offering an initial guided experience of Zen Meditation and its applications.  The workshop is an unhurried, small group setting, with opportunity for questions and discussion. During our regular programs, it does not work well to have newcomers observe or attempt to join in without basic instruction in Zen. We are a small Center and we are not able to provide instruction on an individualized “drop in” basis.

Is age a factor?

No, adults or teens of any age may participate in Zen meditation programs. Our community has ranged from 14 to 87. For children, we offer individualized sessions with parents included.

Is there a regular meditation schedule open to the public or only fee-based workshops and courses?

There is a regular schedule of Zazen, talks, readings, discussions, films, work practice, and individual instruction available twice weekly for those registered in the Regular Practitioners Program. Newcomers may attend for one month during the month of their Introductory Workshop or Zen Meditation & Mindfulness Course (ZMMC) at no extra cost.

Why aren’t your programs free of charge?

We wish we could offer our programs free of charge.  The Zen Center’s rent, teachers’ stipends, meditation equipment, internet, etc. are all paid for entirely by those who use the Zen Center.  Some Zen Centers and meditation groups provide free services, so you may wish to find one of these. We hope to offer more scholarships and free programs in the future.  Thank you for your understanding.

Do I have to be Buddhist or religious to practice Zen?

No, ZCOC is a secular Zen center, focusing on awareness meditation, which involves practices such as observation of thought, following the breath, attention to posture, body sensations, silence and stillness.  Some practitioners are Buddhist, but many are Christian, Jewish, unaffiliated, etc.   Zen awareness may be used in medical, health, educational and other public, non-religious settings.

What if I already practice meditation?

We would ask that you come to an Introductory Workshop, since this also serves as an orientation to our Center.  You will then be able to evaluate how this relates to your current or past meditation practice.

How is Zen different from Yoga?

While there are a number of similarities and differences, what is most important is that in Zen, we use a seated posture to remain still while meditating.  There is no stretching or moving into a variety of postures as is usually the case in yoga.  Many people practice both Zen and Yoga, as well as Tai Chi or Chi Gong.