Come home to the universe in the modern world…

 

Welcome! You’ve discovered Entering the Stream.

We’re a space for Rinzai Zen meditation and mindfulness in modern life.

As Zen practitioners have known for centuries, meditation and mindfulness can heal your mind, body, and energy on very deep levels, through simple, daily methods, freeing you to come into balance with your most genuine and meaningful life.

My name is Mary Hartley. (It’s a double first name. I go by “Mary Hartley”! Or by my Zen name, “Daikan.”)

I’m a Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher and student, apprenticed to 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.”

It’s been far beyond anything I ever imagined was possible in life.

So, sharing our style of Zen practice with you now is my greatest honor and pleasure.

Life can get better and deeper, more peaceful, free, and real, day by day, moment by moment. The key is starting a truly effective inner practice, that powerfully heals stress, washes away past pain and energy knots, and reveals who you really are, ever-deeper, so you can live that truth fully and freely in each moment, in the world off the meditation cushion.

I can help you discover and enter this reality, through a simple, daily Zen practice.

Click through to learn more about our 8-week Zen meditation and mindfulness courses, ongoing “Zen Circle” (both online, and in Washington, DC, at the Washington National Cathedral), and one-to-one mentoring process, so that you can get started in your own Zen meditation and mindfulness practice.

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

Life is about to get really good :)

(To schedule a course or workshop at your organization or event, please get in touch here. Thanks so much!)

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?

Entering the Stream is for everyone facing the stresses and suffering of modern life. Everyone is welcome here.

By practicing a simple, daily method of Zen meditation and mindfulness, refined by generations of teachers and practitioners, we can discover a deeper perspective on life, where stress, suffering, and fear wash away, and a reality of greater peace, stability, meaning, and connection can emerge — our genuine life. Daily practice is the way in, “into the stream,” 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, exactly where you are — the ideal place to begin. (If you haven’t signed up yet to receive our free PDF guide, “How to Create a Life-Changing Home Meditation Practice,” you can scroll down and do so right here.)

How can I get started?

The best introduction is to take one of our 8-week Zen meditation and mindfulness courses. They’re offered online a few times a year, and in person at various locations in Washington, DC, and beyond.

Our beginner’s course focuses on Zen practices for health and well-being, and our advanced course shares our methods for grounding and genuine insight. (The advanced course is also appropriate for beginners with strong interest, and for anyone with at least four months of daily meditation experience.)

If you’d like to host a Zen course or workshop at your organization or event, please get in touch. Thank you!

How much time will it take?

You can learn your Zen meditation and mindfulness practice in one of our 8-week courses, and then practice for 25 minutes a day (or twice a day, for the advanced program). That’s it!

The methods are highly concentrated and effective, so just this small input will ripple out and improve your life across innumerable levels. Many people can hardly believe the extent and depth of the positive changes. (You can see testimonials by scrolling down here.)

If you want to learn more after that, connect with others, and keep deepening your practice over time, you can join our ongoing practice community (“Zen Circle”), and/or explore our one-to-one mentoring process.

What are meditation and mindfulness?

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

Meditation and mindfulness are both methods for training your mind (and your whole system). Our Zen practices specifically have been developed over thousands of years to restore your mind, body, and energy to their authentic and natural state of presence, flow, and balance, which is where you’ll find your genuine happiness, peace of mind, service to others, and life fulfillment. It’s a beautiful process and reality! A small amount of practice every day will unlock this for you.

What are the benefits?

There are nearly countless benefits to daily Zen meditation and mindfulness practice, almost too many to try to list! Here are some of the many positive effects that can emerge through your ongoing Zen habit:

  • Relief from stress and pressure
  • Deep inner calm and contentment
  • Peace, joy, and clarity about your life
  • Release and freedom from the past
  • Unlocked creativity and creative flow
  • Heightened focus, mental clarity, vision, and problem-solving
  • Heightened senses, presence, and awareness
  • 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 real self
  • Self-compassion, and compassion for others
  • Softness, gentleness, humor, and empathy
  • Ease of creating new habits and effective self-care
  • Clarity and ease in honoring and respecting boundaries for yourself and others
  • Greater ease, fulfillment, authenticity, and balance in relationships
  • Letting go of addictions, coping habits, denial, and unconsciousness
  • Deep healing and unwinding of stress, chronic pain and illness, anxiety, panic, painful and chronic emotions, eating disorders, depression, confusion, and more at the roots
  • Safe and deep release of tension and trauma stored in the body, and easing of PTSD symptoms (including developmental)
  • Discovering who you really are, in relation to the universe — awakening, genuine insight, or enlightenment (which the Buddha called “entering the stream”!)
  • Discovering who you are as a unique person, your distinctive life and expression
  • Just being, letting go, and coming into genuine alignment and flow
  • Natural emerging of confidence, simplicity, joy of being, peace with not knowing, and trusted purpose and direction
  • Deeper grounding, strength, vitality, integration, and energy balance
  • Appreciating and living life fully — present, awake, and alive in each moment — as your path unfolds

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

Zen is a school of Buddhism, with roots in India, that took shape in China and then migrated to Japan.

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 within 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 suffering at the roots, and deepen and embody your insight so that it extends into every moment of life.

Our direct lineage within Rinzai Zen is represented for us by our teacher in Japan, Zen master Shinzan Miyamae, 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 teaching and practice here at Entering the Stream.

Our style of Zen is unique because of how deeply, swiftly, and holistically it liberates and restores balance to mind, body, and energy, reacquainting us in unusually short order with our true selves and most genuine lives, and unwinding inner knots and constructs through the specific method of practice, so that we become free to express ourselves fully and live at peace. I have seen Rinzai Zen liberate and save lives (including mine!) more deeply and completely than any other method I’ve found or witnessed so far. It unlocks a perspective of unbroken peace and compassion (“awakening”), and also transforms our experience from the inside out (“inner alchemy”). From my perspective, it’s one of the deepest, swiftest, and most beautiful paths to inner peace, healing, and embodiment of reality that exist in human history and knowledge, and we are so fortunate 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 an honor to pass these methods on to you.

My personal style of Zen teaching at Entering the Stream emphasizes compassion, trauma-safety, deep and lasting inner healing to reduce suffering, diversity, inclusion, social justice, doing the important work of unwinding bias and unconscious prejudice within ourselves, creating peace through living in grounded, genuine alignment (letting go of cultural expectations, and taking our cues from within), the return to awareness of and respect for the feminine energies in the universe, and respect for nature, our planet, and building a more sustainable civilization, to safeguard a long and healthy future for all beings.

Is it religious? Will it conflict with my beliefs?

It’s not religious, and will complement whatever beliefs, religion, culture, perspectives, and more you bring to your practice. It can be fully secular and effective for modern life. (Our lineage has actually been teaching Zen meditation and mindfulness practices simply 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 Zen 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. [Zen] is a kind of mango, you see – a way of life, an experience that is worth trying. It is open for everyone.”

 

Here’s my “official” bio:

Mary Hartley Platt, PhD, is a Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher, certified by Zenways in London. She has been training with 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 18 years of meditation experience (since she was 16), and 8 years (and ongoing) of rigorous Rinzai Zen training. She is certified to teach modern trauma healing skills by Deirdre Fay of Becoming Safely Embodied. She also has a PhD in Classics from Oxford University (Balliol College). She loves connecting with people, nature, learning, writing, poetry, movement, cultural and collective healing, social justice, trauma-safe methods, and Zen and other awakening and embodiment traditions. Her Zen name, Daikan, means “Great Insight.” She is based in Washington, DC, where she grew up.

 

Was your question not answered here? Please don’t hesitate 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
“There is a way out of suffering and into peace.” –Eckhart Tolle
“Training attention through meditation opens our eyes.” –Sharon Salzberg
“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.” –Zen master Julian Daizan Skinner