Friday, 14 July 2017

August closure

Just a quick note to say that we will be closed for the first four Wednesdays in August while I am away on retreat at the StoneWater Zendo in the Lake District.

The the first meeting after that will be on Weds 30 August. Sure I'll have some tales to tell...!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Thanks for supporting our Zazenkai

Thanks to all who made it to our most recent Zazenkai, which was held again in the Collingtree Village Hall, just outside of Northampton. It was great to have people from as far afield as Cambridge and even Birmingham... though of course most of us were from Northampton!

What a contrast from the February day: it was as hot this time as it was cold back then. I've a crystal clear reflection of sitting in the afternoon while a bead of sweat gathered on my brow, then traced its way down the side of my face, tickling and prickling until it got lost in my beard.

Thanks to everyone not just for coming but for your sincere zazen, for your excellent samu (I'm pretty sure we get preferential hire rates because of our samu!), to those who contributed lunch, to those who had to travel a distance... and also to those who bought a round in the pub at the end of the day!

The next Zazenkai will be in October - I'll get the word about in September (I'm away in August).

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Email list

I sent out a message on the Northampton email list this evening. If you didn't receive it but would like to receive these, you'll either need to sign up on the national website or amend your existing subscription. For either of those, just scroll to the bottom of the page at

Note this will also subscribe you to the national email list as well - but neither are very high-frequency lists.

If you're having any issues with that, please don't hesitate to drop me a line and I'll check it out.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

No zazen on 24 May

Hi all - apologies, but I'm away for work next week, so there will be no zazen on Weds 24th May. Normal service resumes the following week!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Zazenkai: Saturday 17 June

Our next Zazenkai - or Zen practice day - will be on Saturday 17 June, from 9.30-4.00pm (quite possibly with a quick one at the pub afterwards...). The venue is unchanged from previous days: Collingtree Village Hall on the High Street, Collingtree Village, NN4 0NQ (just outside Northampton, near to J15 on the M1).

We'll have plenty of zazen, service, samu (a mindful communal work period), lunch, a talk on Zen practice and (optional) one-on-one interviews about your practice.

Zazenkai (trans: "coming together for zazen") is an opportunity to deepen our meditation practice in a way that's not always possible in our daily routine. For some, it's also a welcome opportunity to sit with a group of people - a sangha, or community - that isn't normally available. Please consider joining the Northampton group for this wonderful opportunity to firmly stand in our own shoes!

Our Zazenkai are suitable for both beginners and seasoned practitioners - introductory instruction will be given if you've not sat before, or perhaps just not sat with a StoneWater group. Wear dark-ish (i.e. non-distracting), comfortable clothing, rakusu if you have one.

Suggested donation: £20 (£15 concessions) - all proceeds go to meet costs and to support the Northampton group.

To book, or for any queries, call me (Alasdair) on 07807 753 781, or email me on

Friday, 5 May 2017

August training period

An email went out today on the national mailing list, giving details of the August training period.

(If you're not on the national or Northampton mailing lists, it's very easy to add yourself - go to the main website at and scroll right to the bottom of the page. You'll see a small form there, and you can add yourself to one or more of the mailing lists we maintain.)

This year will be the fourth year that we've had one of the StoneWater monks in residence for the training month, in the position of 'shuso' or 'head monk / trainee', and Keizan Sensei has previously asked John Suigen Kenworthy, Andy Tanzan Scott and Tony Shinro Doubleday to take on the Shuso role, and each has done a fantastic job of that, and by doing so be confirmed as senior students at the heart of our sangha. John and Andy have been named as Assistant Teachers and support Sensei in Liverpool, and Tony has been named as a Dharma Holder and leads the group in London, as well as co-leading some of our sangha's retreats.

This year, Sensei has invited me to step up and take on the role, and I've agreed. More importantly, perhaps, my boss and my wife have also agreed, freeing me to leave home and work for the whole of August!

In the run-up to the training period, I will post some reflections on what being Shuso means to me, but for now I'll stick to some practicalities.

The training period is held at the StoneWater Zendo in the Lakes (nr Penrith), and consists of four separate one-week sesshins that people can attend (usually with a maximum of two sesshins per individual). The third week is slightly different, with less formal practice and a lot more samu (labour) to improve the facilities and generally fix up the place. The final week is slightly shorter, as we leave the Lakes and head back to Liverpool to prepare for the Shuso Hossen ceremony which will be on Sat 26th August in the afternoon... more on this at a later date.

The responsibility for arranging all of this is down to the Shuso (i.e. me), who takes bookings, organises who will be doing what, handles all queries - basically everything bar the cooking.

Of course, this is all in vain if the Shuso doesn't have the support of the community! I was really quite relieved and grateful that there were quite a few people who expressed interest in the Training Period when I asked at the recent sesshin in Crosby, but there are still places available every week, and I'm really keen to encourage people to join me in the Lakes for this time.

If you want to come along, or simply have any questions about it, please email me at, or call me on my mobile on 07807 753 781.

Keizan Sensei & Alasdair Taisen GF at Crosby, April 2017

Thursday, 23 March 2017

No zazen Weds 12 April

Just a quick note to say that there will be no zazen on Wednesday 12th April, due to a clash with the spring sesshin in Crosby which Alasdair & Simon are both attending.

Regular zazen recommences the following Weds.