How to bring Zen to the grocery store |

How to bring Zen to the grocery store

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

It can be easy, and unfortunately quite common, to leave a Zen-like state of mind on the yoga mat after a class.

But at their core, yoga, meditation and martial arts are intended to encourage enlightenment beyond the hour-long lesson.

"In any yoga class, you sort of want to end with ‘what did you learn and how can you integrate this into your life?’" says Randi Jo Taurel, a yoga instructor at The Shop Yoga Studio in Old Town. "I was taught that it was why you do yoga you do yoga so you can sit and meditate and focus. The idea is to make life a kind of meditation in motion."

Park City Aikido plans to host a Friendship Seminar this Saturday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. billing it as an afternoon "of stillness and motion" that integrates the soft arts of meditation, yoga and aikibreath (the breathing those who practice Aikido, a martial art, use to remain still) to "harmonize day-to-day life in a hectic world."

Special guest Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, founder of the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City will be an integral part of the seminar.

"My approach, which is I guess is becoming quite popular, is the ‘Big Mind’ theory," he explained. "The idea is to have a Zen experience in one workshop, rather than taking 10 or 15 years."

Merzel says he has taught many classes that integrate different Eastern martial art traditions. The concept of combining or relating the various practices dates back to their origins, he says most martial arts, including Karate and Aikido, began at the Shaolin Temple with Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk who is credited as the founder of Zen Buddhism in China around 500 A.D.

Merzel first became a Zen monk in 1973 before teaching throughout Europe in 1982. His temple in Salt Lake, which opened in 1987, is part of an international group he named Kanzeon Sangha. Literature on his Web site explains Merzel’s school of Zen Buddhist thought is the "unshakable and contagious certainty that every one of us, regardless of our socio-economic, cultural or religious background, can instantly awaken to our true nature."

"Big Mind" is the alternative to attempting to outright kill the ego, according to Merzel. Instead, "we invite the ego to cooperate, participate and step aside so that students are able to have an experience of their big mind and big heart," he explained.

Park City Aikido at the Wagokan Dojo was founded by Sensei Mark Zamarin, Sandan, a former Delta Air Lines pilot and third-degree black belt.

Rob Kidwell, also a former Delta pilot, has been practicing Aikido for six years alongside Zamarin, and has earned a second-degree black belt, and assists Zamarin at the dojo.

"Outside of the Japanese culture, there are not a lot of non-Japanese masters with Merzel’s lineage," Kidwell said. "What we’re trying to do May 5th is to offer an afternoon of discovery that integrates the soft arts to give individuals a variety of tools to be more peaceful in their daily lives."

At the Friendship Seminar, Merzel is scheduled to teach basic meditation and give a talk, and then Zamarin will lead the group through a series of unique exercises that will explore Merzel’s concepts in various situations. In conclusion, Jane DeBlieux and Lauren Lockey will lead the group in a relaxing yoga session.

Kidwell explains that Aikido offers a way "to practice conflict in a controlled environment."

"What we try to emphasize is what we can do in conflict, versus what we can’t do," he said. "And we teach that fear, anxiety and even despair are created in our mind irrespective of the whether the source is physical, verbal or the evening news."

But Kidwell readily admits that creating a life that, like Taurel says feels like "meditation in motion," can be difficult. It’s one of the main reasons why he says the seminar will present a variety of options and perspectives.

"The challenge is not in being centered and peaceful in quiet moments of solitude," he said. "Rather, it is taking our Zen with us to the grocery store."

The seminar this Saturday is for anyone who is interested, including beginners, according to Kidwell. "Just come in your comfortable clothes and bring an open mind," he says.

The Friendship Seminar will take place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Park City Racquet Club at 1200 Little Kate Drive. With a Rec Card, the seminar costs $7; without a card, the seminar costs $9. Punch passes can be used. Price for the seminar is included for Racquet Club Pass Holders. For more information, visit or contact Rob at 901-0254 or Mark at 901-0582. Salt Lake’s Kanzeon Sangha Zen Center can be reached by dialing (801) 328-8414.

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