Dissolve your stress and come alive…

 

Welcome to Entering the Stream!

We’re an online school and community for inner peace in the modern world, available everywhere.

As practitioners have known for centuries, inner practice can open, heal, and transform your mind, body, and energy, freeing you to reduce stress and suffering, come alive, and come into alignment with your most genuine and peaceful life (which is by its nature of the greatest service to others).

My name is Mary Hartley Platt (she/her/they).

(It’s actually a double first name! I go by “Mary Hartley,” “MH,” or “Hart,” or by my Zen name, “Daikan.”)

I’m a Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher, in the tradition of my primary teacher, Zen master Julian Daizan Skinner, founder of Zenways in London.

In his words (and thanks to his life-changing example), I’ve had “a remarkable experience of [my] own life having been transformed by Zen practice,” and by the other techniques I’ve found and developed, and now teach. I incorporate modern approaches to compassion, trauma healing, energy psychology, the sacred feminine and masculine, social justice, and neuroscience into my work, alongside our Zen approach. I have been able to heal from decades of depression, anxiety, anorexia, complex trauma (C-PTSD), existential doubt, disconnection from my authentic self and purpose, and more, through daily practice over time.

It’s honestly been beyond my wildest dreams of what I realized was even possible in life (and continues to develop more every day).

So, sharing this unique style of transformational practice with you now is my greatest honor and pleasure.

Life can get better and deeper, more peaceful, free, and real. The key is starting an effective inner practice, that washes away stress in your mind, body, and energy system, heals past pain and limiting beliefs at the roots, connects you strongly to the present moment, and reveals who you really are, so you can embody that truth fully and freely in the world off the meditation cushion, and rest into the ultimate peace and mystery of being alive.

It’s natural to get stuck in stress and suffering. The structure of the human mind and the painful ways our societies have developed make this essentially a universal experience (and not your fault!). However, it does not have to be a life sentence. It is fully possible to grow and heal beyond this state, and learn techniques to open up your deepest peace, happiness, wisdom, freedom, and fulfillment (and become of genuine service to others). You can be the person you’re most meant to be (the person you already are in essence inside, underneath whatever blocks you may be experiencing).

My co-teachers and I can help you discover and enter this reality, through simple, inner techniques and supportive, accessible community.

Click through to learn more about our 2-week e-book course (“Learn to Meditate”), 6-week skills course (“Finding Inner Peace”), online practice community (“Stream Circle”), and one-to-one sessions — all available online from wherever you are — so you can get started in your own transformational inner practice.

We can’t wait to meet you and practice together!

A more peaceful and satisfying experience of life is waiting for you…

I’ll answer some frequently asked questions below, so keep reading if you’d like to learn more.

Frequently asked questions

Who is this for? Who can benefit?

Entering the Stream is for those facing the stresses and suffering of the modern world who are ready for relief and meaningful change. Our style of inner practice may be helpful if you’re struggling with stress, chronic pain or illness, emotional pain, depression, anxiety, trauma or PTSD, limiting beliefs, confusion, existential doubt, and/or feeling disconnected from your real self, your purpose, your body, your emotions, others, a sense of peace and safety, or the world around you. We have created this for sensitive, open-minded folx who sense there’s something more to life. If you feel open and intrigued reading our website, this would likely be a great fit for you!

(Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to participate in our programs. Our work is not specialized enough for those experiencing paranoia or schizophrenia, in which cases we suggest consulting with your doctor to find the best meditation and inner practice courses and approaches for you. Thank you so much!)

By practicing simple, daily skills, distilled from Zen meditation and mindfulness, modern somatic therapy, and energy psychology, we can train our minds and unlock more fulfilling experiences of life, where stress, suffering, and pain wash away and realities of greater peace, flow, meaning, ease, and connection can emerge — our genuine lives. Inner practice is one efficient way in to “entering the stream” of the universe (as the Buddha called these deeper, more consciously connected ways of living), right here in the places where we find ourselves. There’s no need to move to a monastery or undertake a long retreat. You can start right now, today. Whether you’d like to dip your toes in or dive in deeply, our methods can work for you, as they’ve been doing for generations. Discovering and embodying peace is relatively easy once you have the right tools. A more satisfying life awaits! (You can download our {free} “Zen Body Scan” guided meditation right here, and start exploring our approach to practice now.)

How can I get started?

One ideal entry point is our highly concentrated new e-book course, “Learn to Meditate: A 2-week jump-start to finding inner peace, life purpose, and deep joy.” You can also get started by taking our 6-week course (“Finding Inner Peace“); joining our online practice community (“Stream Circle“); or scheduling a one-to-one session or program. All of these options are available online, from wherever you are.

What are meditation and mindfulness?

Meditation is usually a formal practice, and mindfulness is bringing your full attention to whatever is happening in the present moment.

Meditation and mindfulness are both methods for training and healing your mind (and your whole system). They work because of the property of neuroplasticity (the ability of your brain and nervous system to change based on new signals from the environment). Our Zen practices have been developed over thousands of years to heal your mind, body, and energy, restoring them to their most natural, free, and empowered state of presence, flow, balance, and connection, which is where you’ll find your genuine happiness (even bliss!), peace of mind, service to others, and life fulfillment. The modern tools and perspectives I’ve added alongside our Zen approach (including trauma awareness and compassion skills) can make your path even more rapid, safe, holistic, and effortless. It’s a beautiful process and reality. A small amount of practice every day can unlock this for you.

What are the benefits?

There are innumerable benefits to our holistic, trauma-informed, compassion-based style of inner practice. Bringing your mind, body, and energy into balance and expanded awareness through these powerful tools can create a life of joy, peace, and freedom far beyond what you may have realized is possible. (Most of us aren’t taught about this in school — although I hope that will change for future generations!) Here are some of the many positive effects that can potentially emerge through your ongoing practice:

  • Relief from stress, fear, and pressure
  • Deep inner calm and contentment
  • Peace, joy, and clarity (even bliss!) about your life
  • Release, resolution, freedom from the past
  • Unlocked creativity and creative flow
  • Stronger focus, mental clarity, vision, and problem-solving
  • Heightened senses and awareness
  • Greater energy, presence, and grounding
  • Enjoying and seeing the present moment in its remarkable abundance and completeness
  • Deeper connection to and appreciation for others
  • Deeper connection to and appreciation for your whole, real self
  • A natural blossoming of self-compassion, and compassion for others
  • Softness, gentleness, humor, and empathy
  • Ease of creating new habits and effective self-care
  • Clarity and ease in seeing and respecting boundaries for yourself and others
  • Greater peace, meaning, depth, and safe attachment in relationships
  • Letting go of addictions, unhealthy coping habits, denial, internalized biases, and unconsciousness
  • Deep healing of stress, chronic pain & illness, anxiety, panic, ADHD, painful & chronic emotions, eating disorders, depression, confusion, limiting beliefs, and more, at the root levels
  • Safe and deep release of tension and trauma energy stored in the body, and easing of PTSD and other related symptoms (including complex or developmental PTSD)
  • Discovering directly who you really are, in relation to the universe — awakening, genuine insight, or enlightenment (which the Buddha called “entering the stream”!) — and learning to live, to let your life flow, from this deepest, most healing, most holistic source. This may sound esoteric or impractical, but, in fact, it’s fully possible for you, right here in the modern world, and much easier and nearer at hand than you might imagine…
  • Discovering more about who you are as a unique person, your authentic life, identities, expressions, and fulfillments
  • Letting go, just being, and coming into genuine alignment and flow — letting life move through you
  • Natural emerging of purpose, direction, and confidence — and at the same time simplicity, faith in life, and peace with not knowing
  • Deepening integration, vitality, strength, emotional regulation, and energy balance
  • Appreciating and living life fully — present, awake, and alive in each moment — as your experience unfolds

What is Zen? How is it unique? What is our tradition?

Zen is a school of Buddhism, with roots in India, that took shape in China and then migrated to Japan. Its priority is personal discovery through meditation and mindfulness practice.

Rinzai Zen (which is our tradition) is one of the main branches of Japanese Zen. The Rinzai branch historically developed to support samurai warriors in accessing genuine insight, fearlessness, and grounding in a dangerous and demanding life. (They had no time to lose, and in a way, neither do we!) It emphasizes achieving an early and direct personal experience of awakening (kensho or satori in Japanese, “seeing your true nature” and the nature of reality — traditionally known as enlightenment, and referred to by the Buddha as “entering the stream”), and then practicing further to “digest” or transform suffering at the roots within, and deepen and embody your insight so that it extends into every moment of life. In the modern world, we might call this deep trauma healing (“reprocessing”) and authentic life alignment.

Our direct lineage in Rinzai Zen is represented by our teacher in Japan, Zen master Shinzan Miyamae (1935-2021), of Gyokuryuji temple in Gifu prefecture, and his successor in London (my primary teacher), Zen master Julian Daizan Skinner, who founded Zenways and certifies our Zen teaching and practice here at Entering the Stream. (In the photo below, Zen masters Daizan and Shinzan are shown at the Zenways dojo in Camberwell, UK. Photo credit: Gerry McCulloch)

Our tradition of Zen is unique because of how swiftly and thoroughly it liberates and balances mind, body, and energy, (re)acquainting us in unusually short order with our real selves and most genuine lives, and reprocessing inner knots and constructs through the specific methods of practice, so that we become free to express ourselves fully and live at peace. I have seen Rinzai Zen transform and save lives (including mine!) more deeply and completely than any other method I’ve found or witnessed (so far). Daily Zen practice both unlocks a perspective of unbroken peace and compassion (“awakening”), and also rewires our nervous system, body, and energy from the inside out to rest into the flow of this deeper dimension (“inner alchemy”). From my perspective, it’s one of the most beautiful and powerful paths to inner peace, healing, and embodiment of reality that exist in human history and knowledge, and we are so lucky to engage with it.

The Zen techniques we’ve inherited are a gift, distilled over generations and passed down to support us in relieving suffering at its roots and coming to live our most authentic and beneficial lives. It’s my honor to pass these methods on to you.

My personal style of Zen meditation and mindfulness teaching (developed over the past decade) we could call integrative Zen, which aims to give the “feminine” principle equal place alongside the “masculine” in life and practice, to benefit and liberate everyone. I emphasize compassion and lovingkindness, joy, ease, trauma-sensitive approaches, marginalized experiences, anti-bias work and social justice, inner alchemy (doing the long-term inner practices to dissolve suffering at the root levels in mind, body, and energy and create lasting freedom and transformation, and finding the most gentle, fun, safe, and painless ways to accomplish this), sustainability, embracing being human (honoring “form” with the same reverence and gratitude as we do “consciousness” — since, in truth, it’s all one), deeply accepting and embodying the true self and path (despite societal and egoic conditions seeking to limit us), and restoring equal respect for and full expression of the healthy “feminine” and “masculine” energies in all of us and the universe. I also incorporate skills chosen with care from modern traditions (including somatic therapy and energy psychology) alongside the Zen practices, to make your healing journey even more rapid, easy, and holistic.

Is it religious? Will it conflict with my beliefs?

It’s not religious, and can complement whatever beliefs, religions, cultures, perspectives, questions, doubts, or more you bring to your practice. For me, “spirituality” or inner practice is simply about exploring and understanding life’s nature — similar to physics, medicine, math, art, psychology, and more. It’s one (very practical and powerful) route for looking more deeply at who we are, and how to live well and at peace. Our approach at Entering the Stream will likely feel essentially secular to you, and accessible and useful for modern life. (Our Zen tradition has actually been teaching meditation and mindfulness practices specifically for health and well-being, not just for spiritual insight and development, since at least the 18th century.)

The beloved modern Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh likens Buddhist meditation and mindfulness practice to a fruit: “Eating a mango does not require you to abandon your habit of eating oranges. Why not try it? You may like it a lot. Buddhism is a kind of mango, you see – a way of life, an experience that is worth trying. It is open for everyone.” I hope you’ll come try the unique toolkit of ancient and modern methods that we practice and offer here.

 

Here’s my “official” bio:

Mary Hartley Platt, PhD (Oxford University), is a practical spiritual teacher and founder of Entering the Stream. She is certified to teach Zen meditation and mindfulness by Zenways in London. She has been training with her primary teacher, Zen master Julian Daizan Skinner, founder of Zenways, since 2011. Meeting him felt like a lightning strike, and radically transformed the course of her life and work. Mary Hartley has over 20 years of meditation experience (since she was 16), and over 10 years (and ongoing) of dynamic Zen training. She is certified to teach modern trauma healing skills by Deirdre Fay, international trauma expert and founder of Becoming Safely Embodied in Boston and France. She is trained in energy psychology (including energy meridian “tapping,” for rapid and painless neuroplastic change), on the course created by clinical psychologist David Feinstein in Oregon. She also has a PhD and MPhil in Classics from Oxford University (Balliol College), and a BA from Bowdoin College. She loves people, nature, learning, teaching, writing, poetry, movement, cultural and community healing, social justice, trauma healing, compassion approaches, the sacred feminine and masculine, neuroscience and physics, swimming and sailing, music, and Zen and other awakening and embodiment traditions. Her goal is to help make expanded consciousness and liberation from suffering accessible, fun, and widespread in modern life. Her Zen name, Daikan, means “Great Insight.” She is based in Washington, DC, where she grew up.

 

Was your question not answered here? Please feel free to get in touch.

“Rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said, ‘Yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human,’ and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride?” –Pema Chödrön
“As we let go of the stuckness, the tightness, we slip into a new reality. We ‘enter the stream,’ as the Buddha put it. In doing this we join the lineage or family of the [awakened] ones. […] Will you let go into this sparkling stream, and take your place in the lineage? […] You, too, if you keep going, will enter the stream and enjoy it fully.” –Julian Daizan Skinner