Introduction to Zen Meditation

For newcomers to Zen, Introductory Workshops are held over two Saturdays five to six times a year at our Onehunga zendo in Auckland. The workshop numberss are limited (20 max, smaller if we are at Alert Level 2),  to ensure that everyone has plenty of chances to ask questions and get individual advise. Even if you have practiced elsewhere, attendance is recommended, as a way of getting a solid introduction to our style of Zen. Everyone who has completed our workshop is welcome to take part in any of our sittings and ceremonies. We recommend starting with the Tuesday evening sitting, which is our "beginner's night". Full schedule of sittings here.

Workshop dates

  • 22 and 29 February 2020
  • 6 and 13 June 2020 FULL
  • 8 and 15 August 2020 FULL
  • 26 Sept and 3 Oct 2020 FULL
  • 28 Nov and 5 Dec 2020
Both sessions of the workshops run from 1 - 4.30 p.m. and take place at our zendo, located at 52 Princes St in Onehunga. If you would like to attend the November/December workshop please register  here.  The workshops will be in-person as long as we are Alert Level 2 or lower. 

Please contact with any questions.

Donations for workshops

There is no set fee for the workshops but donations are appreciated as the Centre relies on donations to cover expenses. Donations are tax-deductible.
  • Suggested donation for the two-part workshop: $80 waged or $40 unwaged. In cases of financial hardship, please offer what you can afford.
  • Donations can be made by internet banking. Our details are: Auckland Zen Centre, Kiwibank #38 9005 035812500 (please specify "workshop" in the payment process). Information about other donation options here.

Workshop description

Part One
The workshop starts at 1:00 p.m. with a welcome and talk by Sensei Amala Wrightson on the basic principles of Zen Buddhism. Then we move to the floor for detailed instruction on the sitting postures employed in Zen meditation (zazen). Besides the traditional Lotus posture, other cross-legged positions as well as Japanese-style kneeling or seiza, and the use of a chair are shown. Mindfulness of breathing is demonstrated, as well as walking meditation (kinhin), and procedures for group sitting. 
Following afternoon tea, participants sit for two short guided periods of zazen. The day ends with a Q & A focusing on practical issues that arose during the meditation sessions and tips for sitting at home, wrapping up by 4:30 p.m.

Part Two: The second workshop, also starting at 1:00 p.m., opens with a brief Q & A / check-in, followed by a tour through the Zen Centre. This is followed by three periods of zazen (25 minutes each) with kinhin (walking meditation) and dokusan (interview with teacher, optional), then a break for tea. The workshop wraps up with some stretching exercises that are useful for meditators, a discussion of how to work with the common pitfalls faced by beginners and a general Q & A, finishing by 4:30 p.m.

Preparing for the workshop: 
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing suitable for sitting on the floor. 
  • All the mats and cushions are provided (as well as chairs for those who need them.) Meditation cushions, benches and mats are also available for sale at the Centre, along with books and incense. We do not have eftpos, but payments for purchases can be made by cash or by internet banking. 

Background reading

Finding Your Seat: A Zen Handbook

by Sensei Amala Wrightson and Kathryn Argetsinger, published 2020. 
For a couple of years Amala-sensei and Kathryn have been working on this comprehensive introduction to Zen (as it is practiced at the Auckland
 Zen Centre). The book is now out, and is on sale at the Centre ($30). The book may also be purchased from Fishpond (NZ$34, NZ shipping included). Each chapter has plenty of information for beginners as well as the transcript of a teisho for the more seasoned practitioner.

The Three Pillars of Zen 
by Roshi Philip Kapleau, first published 1965.
This remains a Western Zen classic. It is still in print and available in many libraries. It is also available for purchase at the Zen Centre.