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Zen Buddhist meditation

A Report by Allison Ristaino '14

A calm peacefulness comes over the chapel on Wednesday nights. Ryumon Sensei, a Zen priest and the teacher in the Japanese Soto Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, leads weekly Buddhist meditation for anyone interested. According to Ryumon, "Meditation is becoming intimate with 'now' through our body, breath and mind. It is a natural, universal, and timeless process of paying gentle, precise and curious attention to what arises moment to moment. We cultivate this skillful mean of attending by training ourselves to return again and again and again to what is in front of us." Smith students and community members sit in the chapel on soft cushions as they are greeted by the welcoming voice of Ryumon Sensei. Each person introduces herself or himself and shares what brought him or her to meditation that day.

This week, many students mentioned that they were feeling anxious and stressed, so Ryumon Sensei offered some advice on how to deal with feeling overwhelmed, including her advice to remember that everything is manageable. Ryumon Sensei explained that "by listening and attending to the symptom right in the moment, we are able to simultaneously tune in to what our organism is needing and to let go of what it no longer needs." After introductions, the group sits and meditates for twenty minutes, being brought back to awareness by gentle bells. The group then stretches or walks around to respond to anything their body is asking them to do, and then sits back down to meditate once more. The experience was a great change from the cacophony and busyness of everyday life, and all left with a smile on their face.