Introduction to Zen Meditation

For newcomers to Zen, our Introductory Workshops offered five to six times a year at our Onehunga zendo in Auckland. The workshop numbers 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 advice.   Please register by filling out the online registration form

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 (either the two-part format, or the one-day format) 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 for 2021

Two-part format:
  • 6 and 13 March 2021
  • 10 and 17 July 2021
  • 13 and 20 November 2021
Both sessions of the workshops will run from 1 - 4.30 p.m. and will take place at our zendo, located at 52 Princes St in Onehunga. 

One-day format:
  • 8 May 2021
  • 18 September 2021
The one-day workshops will run from 9 - 4.30 p.m. (approximately). They will take place at our zendo, located at 52 Princes St in Onehunga. 

Numbers are limited at each workshop, so registration is necessary
Please contact info@aucklandzen.org.nz 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 workshops (either format): $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

Two-part format:

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. 
Breath meditation is introduced
, 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. 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. We then provide some more information about how the formal sittings work at the Centre, so that you will be ready to join us for sittings if you choose. The workshop wraps up with some stretching exercises that are useful for meditators (optional), a discussion of how to work with the common pitfalls faced by beginners and a general Q & A, finishing by 4:30 p.m.

One-day format:

The day will start at 9 a.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. Breath meditation is introduced, and procedures for group sitting. 
Following morning tea, you will be introduced to walking meditation and then do two short periods of guided sitting meditation (zazen) and have a chance to ask questions. After lunch, there will be three periods of zazen (25 minutes each) with kinhin (walking meditation) and dokusan (interview with teacher, optional), as well as a tour of the Centre. 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.

Preparing for the workshops (either format)
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing suitable for sitting on the floor. 
  • All the mats and cushions needed for the day 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.