Monday, June 24, 2019

Reflect on yourself through an hour of Zen meditation in the morning

Temple gate of Gokokuji
Going through the temple gates
   In this edition, CIR Naomi and KIA staff visited Gokokuji Temple in Iguchicho, Kochi City. It was still dark at 5:50 am, and a dim light was coming from within the temple gates. We went through, and the wooden building and plants, still wet with dew, looked beautiful. We could see the figure of the abbott through a small window, and with the scent of incense wafting from the entrance, it felt like we had entered a scene from a Ghibli movie!
   The inside of the temple gave one a feeling of traditional Japan; the interior was simple and the moss-covered garden emanated an atmosphere of calmness. The abbott told us that he gets up at 2:30 am every morning and cleans the building, as well as incorporating Zen meditation into his daily practices—an ideology passed down from previous generations.

CIR Naomi sitting in the Zen meditation
How to do Zen meditation
   Zen meditation is a fundamental practice of Zen, and in Buddhism involves sitting with an upright posture, and breathing evenly. Like at Gokokuji Temple where we visited, there is a space available for anyone to experience Zen meditation, regardless of religion.
1. Cross your legs on top of a zabuton (large cushion). Sit up straight, and gently fold your hands in your lap, slightly lowering your chin.
2. You can close your eyes or keep your gaze lowered and look at the floor in front of you.
3. Breathe through your nose, and be aware of your breathing. In particular, take care as you breathe out to try and maintain a pattern of breathing in for three counts and out for seven. You should aim to
clear your mind as you focus on your breathing.
Corridor overlooking the garden
The abbott, who kindly told us about
the temple
Our Experience
   Despite not having any experience, the abbott welcomed us, and carefully explained how to sit and breathe.
   “It was surprisingly difficult to maintain the correct posture, and I started to get pins and needles after 10 minutes or so. To sit like that for an hour is certainly a challenge! If I moved my body at all it made a noise, and so to not disturb the silence I tried to only move my legs when I could no longer hold the position comfortably. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on my breathing, but my focus slipped multiple times. It certainly requires practice! A highpitched sound went off to signal the end of the meditation, and at that moment it felt like the atmosphere was broken, and the morning returned to normal”.
   Although it’s early in the morning, if you would like to forget about the outside world for an hour and refresh your mind before starting the day, we highly recommend you try it!
The characers "Seishin" (correct the heart) in the tatami room
Gokokuji Temple
Address: Iguchicho 124, Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture
TEL: 088-873-7539
Zen meditation times: (Morning) 6:00~8:00 (Evening) 18:00~21:00
・ Please be careful to keep your voices low, and not bother anyone else coming to meditate.
・ We recommend ringing to confirm your participation beforehand, and wearing clothes that are loose-fitting and easy to move in.

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