Thursday, December 27, 2012

The New Song (originally posted 8/1/12)

The Empty Stance is considered to be one of the most difficult of the Kung Fu forms to master. It is the essence of both the martial art and the Ch'an Buddhism that is associated with it. In the Empty Stance, you are neither in a defensive position or preparing to attack, you are simply centered and calm, poised for any motion or to continue holding the form. To be considered even halfway decent at the form, one should be able to rest in this pose for 5 to 10 minutes.

It is an oddly fitting title for this blog. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Cassandra Tribe and I am many things. I am an artist, poet, writer, teacher, hospice worker, chaplain, human rights activist and Reiki practitioner. One of the things I have also been is the author of the Love and Words blog which existed for 5 years, had over 3,675 posts, won several awards and kept me rather busy. Now...I am here. The same day that this blog opens, I am closing the other.

Empty Stance is not a continuation of the Love and Words blog, which was primarily fueled by my insight and experiences, but it is the result of that blog. It is connected to the Zen Studies Program, of which I am the Master Instructor. There are many things you will find here over the course of the next few years, some of them may be of interest to you, some may challenge you and some may bore you to tears. But it is my hope that nothing - whether I have put it forth or have invited someone to guest blog, will leave you without some way in which to clarify who you are and who you want to be.

My current expectation is to post a written or video blog once a week. I encourage you to read more about the Zen Studies Program, to come in to the Morning Practice or for tea on Wednesday night and see what is beginning to take root on North Main Street.  If you are reading this from any other part of the world, I encourage you to help support us in keeping our doors open by subscribing to the Program.

The program I teach is guided by the Ch'an tradition of Buddhism, of which I am a practitioner but the program is secular in nature. The focus is on teaching people meditation and compassion practices to relieve suffering using whatever tradition or teacher speaks to that person. The core of the program lies in the Morning Practice which is done 7 days a week at 6 am. It is from this core of commitment to practice that the program reaches.  In addition to what we do in the program, all of our participants help to take care of the Main Street Martial Arts dojo (where we are located) and everyone who comes there - we teach the importance of details, not just to the people who come to study in the Program, but by the example of how we live our lives and what we show what we value by the attention we give to the details of our lives and the lives of others.

The Zen Studies Program is part of the Main Street Martial Arts dojo; a Providence based family community center and non-profit children's program.  Together the dojo and the Program are bringing together a broad range of people from the homeless to the housed, the 99% to the 1%, families, children, competitive martial artists - you will never know who you will meet here and I am proud to be part of this family.

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