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Experiencing Chan (Zen) at WESTWOOD MONTESSORI

It was a great honor to invite the residing Director of Dharma Drum Vancouver Center, Venerable Chang Wu Fashi to teach the Eight-form Moving Meditation to teachers of Westwood Montessori.

Before I had the chance of introducing her, Venerable Chang Wu went ahead and introduced herself right after she entered the classroom, she shortly asked everyone to sit down and then started to explain to them the meaning of “Chan” in a very casual, interesting, and engaging way. What Chan means in everyday life and the benefit and influence of Chan meditation can bring about for individuals, humanity and our world.

All of the teachers attending the workshop had their first encounter with Chan at that time. To them, Chan is probably a brand new idea that they may or may not truly comprehend, or possibly their understandings were different. But after the lecture, everyone there seemed to have a little more understanding of Chan.

Before her teaching of the moving meditation, the Venerable reminded everyone to relax, to be mindful, and to minimize their effort to carry out each movement. We began our practice of the first movement, waist twisting and swinging arms. It is a movement best done when the whole body is relaxed. However, those people who have never practiced Chan meditation before, relaxation could be of great difficulty to achieve. Watching the Venerable’s movement, relaxation seemed so easy, yet achieving it was another story. We realized that relaxation is difficult to achieve! Just the simple movement of twisting waist from left to right was like a test. We were so stiff that arms do not swing softly or without tension. We could only “put” the hand on the shoulder, instead of swinging our arms naturally and in a relaxed manner. Just like what the Venerable said in her opening talk, nowadays people are not aware of how stressed out they are or how much pressure and anxiety they live their everyday life with. Relaxation exercise is a great solution to combat stress and anxiety.

After the moving meditation practice, Venerable asked everyone to sit down and had a discussion about the class: Leah, whom had tried yoga previously, liked the pace of the class and she was able to practice relaxation and enjoyed it very much. Susan liked the calm style of the Venerable’s teaching so much that she wished she could tape the session so afterwards she could use the recording to follow along to help relax her neck, shoulders and whole body. Christine felt dizzy while doing the neck exercise, but the fifth movement of stretching the whole body was her favorite of all 8 movements. Henryk was concerned that she couldn’t have one hour per day to practice.

After Venerable explained that doing all 8 movements at once is not required and that sitting down to do the neck exercise alone will be helpful also, then the teachers felt relived and expressed the possibilities of practicing everyday.

The 2 hours class quickly came to an end, Fashi gave everyone the dvd of the 8 moving meditation as gifts to help them with practicing at home. Fashi also instruct me on how to arrange time to for everyone to practice together. I would like to thank Fashi and Ru-Juang Shije to come all the way to Coquitlam to teach the moving meditations to the teachers. And most of all, I was very happy to bring “Zen” that I had benefit greatly from to the school teachers, and were taught to them so clearly and systematic by Fashi and Shije. I believed that this “new experience of Zen practice” will benefit the teacher greatly, both physically and mentally. And hope that in the near future there will be “Zen practice experience again”!

(Shared by DDM Vancouver Center)

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