San Francisco Zen Center is a Soto Zen community where the offerings of zazen, study and work practice are available to a diverse population of students, visitors, lay people, priests, and monks. Our practice flows from the insight that all beings are Buddha, and that sitting in meditation is itself the realization of Buddha nature, or enlightenment.
Reception: Friday, May 3, 7:30 pm
In the Art Lounge at City Center/Beginners’ Mind Temple, 300 Page Street, SF
This new work explores themes of memory, symbolic and abstract language, freedom, imprisonment, embodiment. The work uses disparate mediums, yet oil painting and mixed media are kindred in the same way our bodies and minds work together. The abstract oil paintings come from the body, a language of mark making that is without much thought, a sensing and groping in the dark or a lead and follow process. The artist leads and then the painting speaks and you follow, a dialogue of sorts. I experience painting coming from sensing and feeling deeply within and giving form, out onto the canvas.
The photographic image transfers and mixed media are realistic images that engage the mind with clear references and legibility, using paint to create another layer of language to convey a feeling or mood.
The image transfers are born from photographs I’ve taken, as well as re-used images of past paintings. I draw on my work in the jails, a personal encounter with the social injustice of mass incarceration, to speak to social and political concerns. In these works, the zafu is a symbol of the need to look deeply at these issues and work towards better solutions. Through repeated symbols and icons (images of the American flag, mass incarceration, the zafu, lips, the brain), the works imagine freedom and imprisonment, both personal and collective.
Friday, May 10, through Saturday, May 18. In the main hallway at City Center/Beginner’s Mind Temple, 300 Page Street in San Francisco.
Photo by Shundo David Haye
City Center’s biannual book sale is coming up soon and we are asking for book donations. They can be brought to City Center during office hours: Monday through Friday, 9:30 am – 4 pm; Saturday 11 am – noon.
Fiction and non-fiction (on any subject); books in good repair and unmarked
Cannot accept: trade paperbacks, periodicals, textbooks, or technical books
April 1 through 30
City Center Art Lounge and main hallway
300 Page Street, SF 94102
John Muir Elementary Watercolor Paintings
Kindergarten – Third Grade
Art Teacher: Sarah Allison
For the third year in a row, the young artists of John Muir School (kindergarten through third grade) will be exhibiting their work at San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center location. The work on display will be watercolor paintings created after practicing breathing exercises as well as using music as meditation while painting. While listening to music students painted emotional responses to the rhythm and lyrics.
In the first series of watercolor paintings, students practiced their usual three deep breaths at the hit of the art basu bell before starting. Students explored the bleeding technique by wetting the entire paper then letting colors bleed as the water moved the paint.
For the second set of paintings, students practiced deep belly “balloon” breathing along with theta wave sounds. Music was the facilitator of their painting meditation. Students were completely in the moment, quiet, and letting the brush dance across the paper. The music selection started with deep theta waves by Stephen Halpern for the breathing exercises and moved into the study of African American musicians to pay tribute to their great influence on pop culture, civic action, beauty, and love. The paintings were done as a quick study emotional exploration, each only for the duration of the song. Songs included The Freedom Singers’ “Woke Up,” Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World,” Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed and Delivered (I’m Yours),” and Whitney Houston “My Love Is Your Love.”
To practice the kid-friendly deep belly balloon breathing as taught by the Chopra Center:
Think of your favorite color and picture a giant balloon of that color in your mind.
Take a slow, deep inhale through the nose, filling up your belly with air as if trying to blow up a giant [favorite color] balloon. As an option, you can also stretch your arms open and overhead to represent expansion and the big balloon.
When your balloon is totally full, hold your breath at the top, and then you can “pop the balloon” (gesture finger to belly) and you can fall down as you exhale.
Chitose Suzuki gave a flower arranging (ikebana) demonstration while she and her husband, Hoitsu, were visiting City Center in February and March to assist with the Mountain Seat Ceremony weekend. Photos by Marcia Lieberman.
Chitose Suzuki demonstrating ikebana at City Center.
Reception: March 8, 7:30 – 9 pm
In the Art Lounge at 300 Page Street
Tuvshuu grew up with her grandfather, herding sheep, helping him grow vegetables in their compound, and watching him craft Mongolian yurt, GER, in his woodshop long before she emigrated to the U.S. Her grandfather, Namdag, was not only a professional cook, but also an educator, a craftsman, and a casual art collector. By collecting pictures, candy wrappers, and newspaper cutouts of animals, especially horses, and nature, Tuvshuu’s grandfather inspired her to explore self-expression through art. Tuvshuu saw visual art as a way to transform one’s life experience.
Her professional work as an architectural designer has not only enabled her to think more spatially, it has also allowed her to treasure moments in which ideas find their form in our existence. Selected pieces exhibited at REROSE embody the creative transformation of Tuvshuu’s view of the world both before and after her studies at College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. Tuvshuu’s work celebrates the mother earth and the beauty of its beings with an emphasis on themes such as past vs. present, intentional vs. unintentional, conflict vs. harmony, and dark vs. light.
Saturday, May 11
Dharma Talk: 10:15 – 11 am
Q&A and booksigning: 11:15 am – noon
300 Page Street, SF
Mindfulness and Intimacy
Go beyond mere mindfulness—and deepen your connection to your self, the people in your life, and the world around you.
Mindfulness is an ancient and powerful practice of awareness and nonjudgmental discernment that can help us ground ourselves in the present moment, with the world and our lives just as they are. But there’s a risk: by focusing our attention on something (or someone), we might always see it as something other, as separate from ourselves. To close this distance, mindfulness has traditionally been paired with a focus on intimacy, community, and interdependence. In this book, Ben Connelly shows us how to bring these two practices together—bringing warm hearts to our clear seeing.
Helpful meditations and exercises show how mindfulness and intimacy can together enrich our empathetic engagement with ourselves and the world around us—with our values, with the environment, and with the people in our lives, in all their distinct manifestations of race and religion, sexuality and gender, culture, and class—and lead to a truly engaged, compassionate, and joy-filled life.
“Zen teaches that ‘enlightenment is Intimacy with all things.’ Ben Connelly beautifully articulates that a worthwhile spiritual practice—a worthwhile journey through all our triumphs and travails; indeed, a worthwhile human life—is cultivating an intimacy with all things.”—Larry Yang, author of Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community
“With clarity and grace, Ben Connelly affirms the deep intimacy needed for true awakening. From his conscientious and reflective work, the path into our sleepy interior worlds unfolds beautifully into the light step by step. We only need courage to stand in such radiance. Highly recommended.”—Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, author of The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender
“Our true heart’s desire is connection: intimacy. Yet our minds and hearts are often focused on what separates us from other people and the rest of creation. In this clear and helpful book Zen teacher Ben Connelly presents twenty-seven aspects of our life that, through the practice of mindfulness, can become fertile fields for dissolving our sense of alienation and deepening our experience of interdependence and intimacy.”—Jan Chozen Bays, author of How to Train a Wild Elephant
“This book is carries vital medicine for today’s world. Ben Connelly speaks from the heart of Zen and reminds of our true and innate capacity for intimacy, that we can always take one step from where we are to heal the myth of separation. Mindfulness and Intimacy offers practices and contemplations that affirm the embodiment of interconnection through everyday ordinary life. I recommend it for everyone!” —Deborah Eden Tull, author of Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connection with Ourselves, Each Other, and Our Planet
Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen teacher and Dharma heir in the Katagiri lineage. He also teaches mindfulness in a wide variety of secular contexts including police and corporate training, correctional facilities, and addiction recovery and wellness groups. Ben is based at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and travels to teach across the United States. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also the author of Inside the Grass Hut: Living Shitou’s Classic Zen Poem and Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara.