Someone asked Zhaozhou, “What is meditation?”
Zhaozhou replied, “It’s not meditation.”
The student was puzzled. “Why is it not meditation?”
“It’s alive! It’s alive!”

Graypal meditation squaredIt’s Alive! is not your granddaddy’s Zen.  You will not find many of the traditional forms here and there are no complicated rituals or foreign words to learn.  What you will find is a community that values awakening and Zen practice as it shows up in your life—yes!, the life you have right now.

Zen isn’t about improving yourself or becoming more kind or calm or productive at work, although these common side effects may occur.  Zen is not a religion and it offers nothing to believe in. It’s not about bullying yourself into being someone you’re not, but rather the vibrant process of discovering and appreciating who you already are.

We are a branch of Pacific Zen Institute, and as such our primary modes of practice are meditation with koans and conversation with each other. Koans are stories that erode our ideas about how things are.  They often get the reputation of being difficult or scary, but really koans just invite us to be friends with the whole of life. You won’t find anything in a koan that isn’t already in your own heart.  Conversation is itself a practice and a way of entering deeper into the mystery of who we are.  Enlightenment is a team sport.

We currently offer individual work with a teacher and a weekly meditation and discussion group. We hope to offer additional programs soon. If you’re interested in reading more about how koans might show up in your life, check out our blog.

You can also follow us on Facebook.

Let us know if you have any questions!




It’s Alive! values the inherent worth and dignity of all creatures. We welcome anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, politics, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, size, shape, ability, socioeconomic status, past experience, and any other descriptors you can think of.


1 thought on “About

  1. Hi Jesse
    It was a pleasure meeting and practicing with you this evening. I really enjoyed this way of practicing koans and felt quite moved by the experience. I hope to make it to your group again while I am in Charlottesville. Even if I don’t I would love to keep in touch.
    Be well

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