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Live-In Intensive: April 2019, by Katrina Fineza

Katrina and other live ins trained in ceramics, Hojo, Kendo and Kado during the April 2019 Live-In Intensive.

Katrina and other live ins trained in ceramics, Hojo, Kendo and Kado during the April 2019 Live-In Intensive.

Somewhere in my two year journey into meditation, I found Chozen-Ji on Instagram. Living in New Jersey, I honestly never imagined visiting. But when this year started, I couldn’t break this persistent internal restlessness and impatience. It was suffocating me and I sought out an intense meditation experience in a different environment.

A few weeks later, Chozen-Ji posted about the Live-In Intensive in April and I felt a sense of urgency to see where it might lead. I emailed them and a week later I was forwarding my flight itinerary for Honolulu. It was like winning some cosmic lottery.

After deciding to go, I had my concerns. Am I too old for this? Am I disciplined enough? Is there coffee? I can’t remember a time I didn’t feel like this world made any sense. Everything always felt like a battle I’d often try to escape through dreaming of a simple life. In reality, though, I had let cynicism corner me into living a small life.

What I got out of Chozen-Ji was the authentic experience of living that simple life where everything makes sense and everyone actually pays attention to each other. It sustains a community of genuine joy, peace, belonging, freedom… things that many unsuccessfully strive for but naturally flourish at Chozen-Ji.

After returning to New Jersey, the dojo continues to live on for me in a constant replay of unforgettable moments. Saturday morning zazen with a full circle of people, the feeling of the Hojo kata, Tai Chi, and ringing the bell and hitting the han as jokei. Feeling so nurtured by the generous, warm and spirited dojo family. Hopelessly hunting for the elusive off-season sweet Surinam cherry. But the activity I most surprisingly appreciated was moving heavy rocks. It’s what got me to really put in my whole self and made ki’ai, hara and Zen most accessible.

If you’re considering doing an upcoming Live-In Intensive, know that you’re accountable for your time there and that everyone is invested in your training. Three weeks is not long. But I found that, by training sincerely and immersing myself in Chozen-ji’s approach no matter what, I didn’t waste a moment of my time there feeling anything other than “free.” Lastly, there's coffee.


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