February retreat with Bernd Bender


Our dear dharma friend Bernd Bender will offer a retreat in Belfast the weekend of February 15-17. The retreat has three modules: Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday, and you are welcome to come to one, two or all three parts of the retreat. This offering is now fully booked but there may be cancellations, so please email us here to sign up for the waiting list.

Introduction to Zen Meditation:
How to find ease and joy in your everyday life

Zen meditation is a very simple practice which helps us to cope with the stress and increasing complexity of our daily lives.

By just sitting upright in the middle of our thoughts and emotions we can train our mind to be present, flexible and joyful, experience these qualities and integrate them into our daily activities.

This retreat is open to beginners as well as people who already have a meditation practice.

Friday evening will start with an introduction to meditation, followed by a talk on Zen practice. Saturday and Sunday we will sit meditation together, listen to a talk and take time to share and reflect about our own experience.

Please bring lunch to share, and we will eat together in silence.

“I think the 2,500-year-old teachings of Zen are very compatible with our modern forms of living and thinking. Not only has science proven that meditation is a beneficial practice for our well-being, but science is very close to what can be called the ‘world view’ of Zen. So I try to find a contemporary language to express these practices and views in order to make them available to all people.”

—Bernd Bender

Bernd Bender has practised Zen since 1987. He went to California in 1994 to continue his studies at San Francisco Zen Center. Bernd received Dharma transmission (authorization to teach), and in 2012 he moved to Berlin to open Akazienzendo, a place for a contemporary expression of Zen.

In order to make this practice available to anyone who is interested, it is offered on a donation basis. If you can, please give in order to support Zen practice in Belfast. The suggested donation to cover Bernd’s flights and travel costs is £25 for the whole weekend, or £10 for each module. If your funds are limited, please feel free to come and give your interest and effort. 

Friday, 15 February 2019
Friday evening will start with an introduction to meditation, followed by a talk on Zen practice.
Saturday, 16 February 2019
Saturday we will sit meditation together, listen to a talk and take time to share and reflect on our own experience
Sunday, 17 February 2019
Sunday we will sit meditation together, listen to a talk and take time to share and reflect on our own experience

The Heart of the Zen Way with Paul Haller

paul video

The Heart of the Zen Way

Online Practice Period with Paul Haller
January 23 to March 23, 2019

We have been given a wonderful opportunity to take part in the practice period that our teacher, Ryushin Paul Haller, is leading at San Francisco Zen Center’s urban temple. There is a special reduced rate for Black Mountain Zen Centre members.
Paul will offer an online meeting with Black Mountain Zen Centre on Thursday evenings from 7 pm to 8:15 pm for seven weeks during the practice period, beginning January 31. In addition, our Saturday morning reading group and Sunday morning talks will focus on the practice period teachings of the Heart Sutra.
We’ll also have access to:

  • The Livestream feed of Paul’s practice period class, The Heart of the Way of Zen
  • Downloads of handouts, readings, and exercises
  • Livestream Dharma talks on Saturdays which will be available to watch at any time.
  • Audio recordings of additional Dharma talks given on Wednesday evenings and during sesshin
  • An online zendo to sit with others each morning Monday through Friday (this will happen at 2:30 pm Belfast time so may suit those of us who can take time off during the day)
  • Interactive meetings with the practice leaders and other participants via video conference calls
  • Opportunity to have an online sangha relationship with other students via the practice period website

The theme of the Winter Practice Period is “The Heart of the Zen Way.” The heart, both the essence and the source of wholeheartedness, is enlivened by our sincere effort. Moment by moment sincere heartfelt effort creates the Way.

This Online Winter Practice Period is a chance to develop and deepen your practice together with others in a supportive environment and through activities including daily sitting, study, discussion with the teachers, and weekly sangha discussions. At Black Mountain Zen Centre, we will make a sincere effort together to cultivate a spirit of openness and gentleness within the sangha.

The special reduced price for BMZC students will be $79 (approx £64).
Click here to register. 

An Introduction to Zen, March 24

shundo 6

Photo: Shundo David Haye

Sunday, March 24, 1 pm – 4 pm

Find out how to use the teachings of Zen Buddhism to transform your life. During this introductory afternoon, you will:

  • Learn some simple techniques to help settle your mind
  • Find a sitting posture to maintain a quiet steadiness while you meditate
  • Design a meditation space to support a regular practice
  • Discover the path that can lead to an easing of anxiety and depression
  • Explore the practical aspects of the 11th step (for those in recovery)

We recommend loose comfortable clothing. The suggested donation is £10, but please donate whatever you can afford.

Settling the body and the breath cultivates a settled state of mind. Sitting in a balanced posture creates a quiet steadiness that can, with training, become our default state, a way to meet whatever happens with upright and calm awareness. When we regularly meditate in a space that is free from distraction and interruption, we can begin to discover a deeper level of stillness that stretches outwards from our limited self-absorbed world view. The preoccupations of our daily lives take up less space for a while as we give our active cognitive brains a rest and take the backwards step that turns the light inward.