The Dharma of Embodiment

Oct 17, Nov 21, Dec 19
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Zen is an embodied practice, beginning in zazen with its emphasis on the breath, the hara, the position of the hands in a mudra, the open chest and the straight spine supporting head and neck. This flows into kinhin (walking meditation) which teaches us how to move in the world while maintaining a connection to our center. But Zen doesn’t stop there. In the past, monks engaged in full body physical labor whether cleaning the floor, chopping vegetables, or gardening. They walked for miles doing takahatsu (begging rounds). They conducted services sounding various instruments with the officiant and monks moving in concert with the signals of the instruments.

Our lives are more sedentary, and with Zoom, a daily invitation to disembodiment.

This Fall, the Village Zendo would like to reawaken our attention to the practice of embodiment in all aspects of our life. To that end, we will have a 90-min workshop each month given by Howard, Rakushin and Jo-An Hoshi — all virtuoso instructors — to give us pointers, exercises, tips on how to bring our attention to this mysterious happening of each moment: our body.

Each workshop will include active movement and a zen text or koan for contemplation, and discussion. No movement training or experience is expected or required!

October 17

Howard Thoresen will begin with the theme of attention, offering short Awareness Through Movement (Feldenkrais) lessons designed to help people experience their bodies new ways through easy but unfamiliar actions. How well do we know our bodies? What do we mean when we say, “My body”? Howard is a Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and is the Executive Director of the Village Zendo.


November 21

Keely Rakushin Garfield will lead us in an exploration embodiment through dance and improvisation. The workshop is open to all bodies and abilities—no previous dancing or movement experience required. Wear comfortable clothing, and have pen and paper on hand. Keely’s wide-ranging work in the field of arts and wellness engages dance, yoga, and chaplaincy.

December 19

Allan Jo An Tibbets will explore the theme of the changing body. “Everything changes” is a common summation of Buddhist teaching, but how do we meet the challenge of aging, when the body doesn’t respond to our expectations and past experience. Jo An has been a professional dancer and is a Hoshi (Dharma Holder) at the Village Zendo. He is the founder and leader of the New Paltz Zen Center, and is a registered nurse serving the Marist College community.

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