Willow Farm is a non-profit organization dedicated to the wisdom of becoming more present and thoughtful in our lives through the practice of caring for others. We believe that quality of care is enhanced by this intention, and that societal models for the end-of-life experience can also be improved (for caregivers and receivers alike). We are committed to promoting the relationship between living an awakened life and dying with love and dignity.
In traditional Zen practice (especially in the monastic or retreat setting) sitting, bowing, working, chanting, eating, and having tea all follow very prescribed and exacting behavioral forms designed to help quiet the mind. When there is little room for opinion or preference about how things are done from moment to moment, the mind has the opportunity to be still. When there is no personal opinion or choice about how or when we sit or eat, for example, we can learn to “only sit” or “only eat.” Initially there may be resistance before we agree to drop our opinions about how we prefer to do these things. Forms provide an opportunity to bear witness to our own opinions and preferences. When we simply notice (but don’t act on) our preferential thinking, the ego dissipates and the mind clears. In essence, Zen forms are techniques for helping us experience all of the mundane details of everyday life as meditation or ceremony.