Get Some of Your Most Common Questions Answered

What type of approach does Zen Life & Meditation Center follow in educating participants in the core curriculum classes (Primer Series and Gateway Series)? Our approach to teaching the core curriculum classes does not involve teaching traditional Zen nor do we have any interest in converting people to Buddhism. Rather, our approach is to translate key principles of Zen into a secular context for anyone, regardless of faith, belief, or prior experience, and to encourage participants to learn and practice these principles. 

For those seeking a deeper, more traditional knowledge of Zen, advanced zen training is a way to study personally and closely with a full qualified Zen teacher. This training includes private instruction with Zen Master Robert Joshin Althouse or Sensei June Ryushin Tanoue

I don't know if I have the patience to sit in a class after work. How are they taught? The classes are taught in a friendly and informal manner. All classes include some practice of meditation so you will have an opportunity to slow down and experience the benefits of meditation in the class itself. 

I don't know if I can come every week for a class. Can I skip classes and come when I can? Yes. Though we recommend you take classes in the order they are given, if you miss one you can take the next one, and make up the missed class in the following quarter.

I am a strong follower of my faith. Will Zen interfere with my practice of faith? Not at all. In fact, if anything, Zen will deepen and clarify your own faith. A Zen-inspired life is possible for anyone regardless of your faith or beliefs. 

I'm concerned about your location in Oak Park. It seems far out from the city. How difficult is it to get there? Oak Park is actually centrally located in the larger metro Chicago area. Our Zen Center is located only 2 blocks away from a green line train station and is also easily accessible by car or bus. 

How will Zen-inspired living help me improve my relationships? Our core curriculum will teach you Compassionate Communication - a way to use language based on Nonviolent Communication (NVC) that can transform not only the way you communicate with the ones you love, but those people you find difficult and disagreeable. It will do this by showing you how to remain connected with someone during a strong disagreement or argument. 

Can you explain the connection between Zen and the following health conditions – stress, anxiety, and overall wellness? How will it help me in these areas? A Zen-inspired life, rooted in mindfulness meditation will directly impact and lessen your levels of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation helps strengthen areas of the brain that modify and regulate emotions, making you more resilient in the face of life's challenges, more spacious and less reactive. There is also increasing medical evidence of lowered blood pressure and strengthened immune systems as a result of mindfulness meditation. 

If I follow a Zen-inspired life, will I have to perform rituals, such as bowing, wearing sacred garments, or having a Buddha statue in my home? No. Living a Zen-inspired life has little to do with specific rituals or collecting more religious objects. Living a Zen-inspired life has to do with the quality of the life you are living now. If you already have a deep faith in a particular religion, living a Zen-inspired life would help deepen and enrich your existing faith. Whatever religious object you have in your home is your personal choice.

I currently practice yoga. Isn't it the same as Zen meditation? No, not really. While yoga is a wonderful practice, it is not really the same as Zen meditation. Zen meditation involves sitting still in a specific way so that one can cultivate mindfulness. This awareness is then used as a foundation for a deeper inquiry into the nature of one's life and becomes the basis for living a Zen-inspired life of openness, empathy and clarity. 

I'm concerned that Zen terms will be used that are uncertain to me. Will the curriculum be easy to understand? Participants find our classes refreshing because we don't use Zen or Buddhist language that is unclear or hard to understand. All of the curriculum is presented in a way that anyone can grasp using clear, easily understood language.