True Nature Refuge is hidden in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, five minutes outside Nevada City. The surroundings are nourishing – flower gardens, water, rolling hills, and a gentle grazing mare. Mostly it’s women who gather here to explore meditation practice with koans every Monday evening, but with the new addition of Circling practice and Authentic Relating Games increasingly men also have a chance to join. We share our experience in silence, in conversation, laughter and sometimes tears, and feel the depth of who and what we are. All our forms of practice are relaxed and informal. We get to know ourselves and each other outside of our usual roles and stories.
Zen meditation and Circling are both the practice of coming back to the actual right-now-in-this-moment self, coming back to the naturalness, the intimacy and simplicity of our true nature. Zen and Circling are not about getting away from our life as it is; they are about getting into our life as it is, with all of its vividness, beauty, hardship, joy and sorrow. Zen and Circling are a path of awakening: awakening to who we really are.
Zen is a practice that dates back to ancient China; Circling was invented in the 1990s at Burning Man and continues to be developed in Berkeley, California.
Zen starts out as deeply meeting oneself in stillness and silence, with or without a koan. Students of zen often have wonderful experiences during retreats and then have difficulty bringing it back home. Solitary meditation experience doesn’t always translate directly into intimacy and freedom with others — with friends and family.
Circling jumps right into this gap. It is similar to meditation in that it rests in present-moment awareness but, instead of sitting still, it is meeting and speaking with the others in the room. It is learning to give voice to the actual experience we’re having right now – true nature—instead of our usual stories about ourselves. Circling can give us close and meaningful connections with others, and it can build community that truly supports us.
Koans are not mysterious puzzles or problems to be solved, as depicted in popular culture. Meditation with koans has longMore…
Koan meditation and conversation, Being Danced, Circling, and Authentic Relating GamesMore…