Guidelines for Members and Students

Written by Henry Shukman, includes tips and best practices.

1. Maintain a daily sitting practice at home or work – whatever you can manage. Try and make it regular and consistent, both in time and duration. Many people find it easiest to sit first thing in the morning, and perhaps in the evening too if possible.

2. Our intention is to sit “mountain still” in the zendo. As far as possible, we try to support one another in this endeavour.

3. Zen is a lively and dynamic practice. Joy, grief, turmoil, confusion, surpassing stillness and profound insights may all arise in the big cauldron of our sitting, as may boredom too at times. Try to welcome all these states with equal openness.

4. During a talk, feel free to change position as necessary, and feel free either to look at the teacher or not. Some people prefer to maintain their meditation posture, which is also fine, as long as we face into the room. The traditional advice is not to think about the talk, but just practice listening.

5. In the zendo, wear loose, comfortable clothing that is not too eye-catching – preferably no logos or distracting images – and that covers shoulders and knees.

6. It’s fine to arrive late and leave early during weekly sits. You can enter the zendo during a sitting period as long as you do so quietly and mindfully.

7. Within the community the traditional advice is that it’s best not to discuss our practice in detail – save that for meetings with the teacher or instructors.

8. Interviews (dokusan) are confidential. 

9. The center is your resource. Come and join as many sits as you like. If you’re a member of Mountain Cloud, you’re free to sit here any time, as long as the zendo is free.

10. It can be helpful to keep a journal of your practice. You can write in it as often or as little as you choose, but it’s a good idea to make some notes after each dokusan. (If you are working on koans other than Mu, this is required.) Writing things down helps us to let go of them. It can also provide a road map to look back over later.

11. If meditation is about anything it’s about letting go. It’s very radical, in that there is no end to our letting go. Ultimately, it can help us let go of everything, including our self – and then we have to let go of having let it all go. For this reason, it’s important to be kind and compassionate with ourselves. It can be a challenging practice and training. Patience and deep sympathy for our human nature are essential. Please be kind to yourself at all times. From this, kindness towards others will naturally follow.

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