Whether you are a meditation master or just sitting for the first time, we invite you to explore and discover what lies within. The Zen Central sangha (meditation group) is available to all Central Aikido members, the greater UCM student body, and the surrounding community. We invite you to let go of your reservations about meditation and come join us. The benefits of a meditation practice, as repeatedly found in scientific studies, are so numerous it would take too long to list them here. We welcome you to experience the benefits of a calmer mind and clarity, better health, and reduced stress that meditation offers.
In early 2014 Burden Sensei unofficially formed Zen Central to help provide meditation guidance to a few of Central Aikido’s members. It was later moved from his living room to the UCM campus and opened to anyone wishing to share in a daily practice. Both the Intro to Meditation class and sangha meet in room 304 of the Elliot Student Union. Members do not have to practice aikido to join the sangha, and aikido members do not have to join sangha to practice aikido.
Aikido is a martial art, how can you reconcile that with the path of war?
Setting aside, for the moment, the core concepts of aikido, this connection between the Martial Way and the Zen Way was made centuries ago by the Japanese. Today there are numerous books that espouse this way of training, but the reality is very few actually DO it. And few do it right. Certainly there are very few today that have walked the very hard path of martial zen, following both the martial art and the zen way fully.
One is hard enough!
That is, except for in aikido. The ranks of the masters in aikido are littered with actual zen monks. Many of these shihan promote this way of training very aggressively, and a large number of their followers are both excellent aikidoka as well as devout zen monks.
Aikido, when practiced properly, leads to the way of zen. It is the Art of Peace, after all. Training in zen, being mindfully present in the now, has enormous advantages in aikido training. Training in aikido, using the physical to tame the mental and spiritual energies, has enormous advantages in zen training. In aikido, we train to better our selves, to bring about a higher self. In zen, we train to better ourselves, to bring about a higher self.
As many great aikidoka have found, martial zen is the way. Zen Central takes it one step further, bringing the two together without the requirement to convert religions – or shave your head…