December 2018 Newsletter

WInter serenity is settling over the Zen Center as the month of December begins.  We are grateful for all who come through our doors and share this precious opportunity to practice together.

We know that it is not easy to get started in this practice.  We recommend that everyone begin with an Introduction to Zen Practice Workshop offered monthly in Palatine and Monroe.  You can then follow up with  Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC, a series of four monthly classes  reviewing the basics and exploring in more depth what the various aspects of practice are.  Regardless of how long it's been since you took the Introductory Workshop, you are welcome to sign up for the Aspects classes and you can take them in any order.  We'd love to see you!  Please call 608-325-6248 if you have questions.  Learn more here   

Join us for our final Fusatsu (Renewal of our Vows) on Sunday December 30 at 7 PM at CCUU in Palatine.   We will ring the bell 108 times to release all of our errors, obstacles, shortcomings and misdeeds, and start the New Year full of hope and renewal.  Please bring a treat to share afterwards.   

Save the Date:  Great Plains Zen Center is pleased to present Writing and Zen: Creativity and Obstacles, a Zen Writing Workshop with acclaimed author Bonnie Myosen Nadzam on Sunday, May 19 2019.  Learn more here.

Please note that our schedule at GPZC in Monroe has changed.  The new schedule is as follows:

Friday mornings at 5:30 AM:  Zazen followed by service (continues as before)

Friday evenings at 7 PM:  Two periods of zazen (continues as before)

Saturday mornings:  Introduction to Zen Practice workshops, Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC classes and other events take place on Saturdays.  The regular service and sitting that occurred on Saturday mornings will now take place on Sunday mornings.  Community members are welcome to attend Saturday morning sitting during retreats (starts at 9:15 as before). 

Sunday mornings:  Service at 8:30 and two periods of sitting beginning at 9 AM with informal conversation following. 

Beloit Zen Community will be closed for WInter Break from December 17 though January 14, resuming 4:15 PM sitting on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 21.

We are happy that you have chosen to receive our monthly newsletter with periodic announcements.  You can change your preferences or contact information at any time by clicking on the update preferences link at the bottom of this email and following the instructions.  

View or download our Nov. 2018 - Jan. 2019 Calendar

In this Newsletter:



Rohatsu Sesshin December 4-9 2018

This five day sesshin commemorates the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha.  The retreat begins Tuesday evening with informal dinner at 5:30 PM, followed by procedures instruction for those new to retreats.  The formal silent retreat starts at 8 PM.  We will have a special Bodhi Day Service on Saturday morning at 7 AM.  The retreat concludes Sunday morning with the Gate of Sweet Nectar Ceremony at 7 AM followed by informal breakfast.  

We recognize that not everyone's schedule permits full time attendance.  Therefore, we allow part time participation.  You may come for a few hours, a day or the weekend or whatever time frame suits your schedule.   Cost of the full retreat is $250 for members, $300 for non-members and includes all meals and overnight accommodations. 


Dates for Upcoming Retreats and registration links:

  • Rohatsu 5-Day Sesshin – December 4-9 
  • January Three-Day Sesshin - January 24-27
  • Nirvana Day Zazenkai - February 22-24
  • Beginner's Mind Sesshin - March 22-24
  • Honoring the Way of Zazen Sesshin - April 11-14
  • Maezumi Roshi Memorial Zazenkai - May 17-19
  • June Three Day Sesshin - June 27-30




Aspects of Zen Practice at GPZC  This series of four classes helps those who have taken an Introductory Workshop review the basics and continue to learn about the various elements of practice and ways to participate at Great Plains Zen Center.  Classes are held once per month in Monroe and in Palatine and may be taken in any order.  The class series repeats throughout the year, so you can take a class you missed the next time it is offered. These classes provide a great way to continue learning after the Introductory Workshop.  All classes are 1 hour with optional zazen following. Saturdays at 9 AM in Monroe and Sundays at 5:30 PM in Palatine.  The cost of each class is $5. 

Forms of Practice Review the basics of zazen (body, breath and mind), zendo procedures, and the teacher-student relationship. 11/11 (Palatine), 11/17 (Monroe) 

Next series:
  3/10 (Palatine), 3/16 (Monroe)

Liturgy and Lineage:  The role of ceremony and ritual in Zen, our teaching lineage, an overview of services (including prayer list, memorials, baby blessings and weddings) and the Gate of Sweet Nectar.  12/9 (Palatine), 12/15 (Monroe)

Next series:  4/7 (Palatine), 4/20 (Monroe)

Everyday Life Practice: 
Practicing the precepts at home, at work, in the community and throughout our lives.  Sharing practice with our children and families.  1/13 (Palatine),1/19 (Monroe)   

Next series
: 5/5 (Palatine), 5/11 (Monroe)

Being a Part of the GPZC CommunityShared stewardship circles and opportunities for volunteering and leadership, Council Practice and GPZC Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles and Practices.  2/10 (Palatine), 2/16 (Monroe)

Next series: 6/23 (Palatine), 6/15 (Monroe)




Writing and Zen: Creativity and Obstacles

a workshop with
 author Bonnie Myosen Nadzam

Sunday May 19 2019 9:00 - 4:00

You and your life are fundamentally creative—arising spontaneously, intelligently, and wondrously. The writing process can lend itself quite well to revealing some of the obstacles that can freeze up, block, and derail this life force. Personal preferences, good ideas, value judgments, hurt feelings, our celebrity culture, a desire to be respected, admired, feared, loved...perhaps even a desire to publish…the endless whisperings of self-protection…there are a lot of obstacles to making art. In so far as we bring awareness to these obstacles on the page, we bring them to our lives, and insofar as we bring awareness of them in our lives, we bring them to the page. In this 1 day workshop, writing assignments, discussion and Zen meditation will present us with opportunities to investigate each of our own obstacles with, hopefully, a little urgency and honesty. Where within you is the ground upon which you first felt compelled to make art, or write, in the first place? How well do you know that ground? Can you find it? Do you trust it?

Participants can expect to finish with workshop with several short pieces that might be lengthened or revised independently, and with new tools and strategies for navigating and working with the obstacles that arise during the writing/creative process. 


Bonnie Nadzam is an American writer. Her fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in Harper’sOrion MagazineGranta, the Kenyon ReviewAlaska Quartery Review, and many other journals. Her first novel, Lamb, was recipient of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, long-listed for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in the UK, and was translated into several languages. The book was made into an award-winning independent film, Lamb, starring Ross Partridge and Oona Laurence and produced by Orchard.

Nadzam is co-author of Love in the Anthropocene with environmental ethicist Dale Jamieson. Her second novel, Lions, was released by Grove Atlantic in 2016 and was a Finalist for the PEN USA Literary Award in Fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Environmental Studies from Carleton College, a Master of Fine Arts from (2004) and an MA and PhD from the University of Southern California (2010). Her third novel, 31, is forthcoming. 

The workshop takes places at Great Plains Zen Center, W7762 Falk Rd., Monroe.  Cost is $75 for members, $90 for all others. Student or senior scholarships available. 


Introduction to Zen Practice Workshops:

Great Plains Zen Center offers monthly Introductory Workshops especially for those new to practice.  The workshops provide basic, practical information including how to do zazen (Zen meditation), how to establish a home practice, how to make everyday activities practice, the aims of practice, and what programs are available for practice through GPZC. 

Upcoming Introductory Workshops at GPZC, W7762 Falk Rd, Monroe, WI 53566:

 All workshops take place  8:30-11:30. Register here:

Upcoming Introductory Workshops at Countryside UU Church, 1025 N. Smith St., Palatine, IL:

All workshops take place 8:30 – 11:30 followed by vegetarian lunch. Register here:

Fusatsu (Renewal of Vows)

All are welcome to join us for monthly Renewal of Vows ceremonies.  We begin with a short meditation followed by a council circle.  Council is a practice that teaches us to speak and listen from the heart. Fusatsu ends with a chanting ceremony. Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • December 30 7PM (Palatine) special end of year event
  • January 24 7PM (Monroe - at start of sesshin but open to all) 

Gate of Sweet Nectar

In this ceremony, the main liturgy of Zen Peacemakers, we offer nourishment to those who are forgotton, marginalized and not cared for.  The ceremony includes raising the Bodhi Mind and inviting all those who hunger to partake in a meal to ease their distress and includes singing, chanting and musical instruments.  Participants are asked to bring non-perishable food items which will be taken to the local food pantry after the ceremony.  Upcoming dates are as follows:

  • December 9 7 AM (Monroe - following December Sesshin but open to all)
  • January 27 7AM (Monroe - following January Sesshin but open to all)

Teisho (Public Talks by Myoyu Roshi)

  • December 8 10:30 AM Bodhi Day Teisho (during Sesshin but open to all)
  • January 26 10:30 AM (during Sesshin but onpen to all)


No registration or fee is required to attend weekly sitting at any location.  

Great Plains Zen Center, Monroe, WI

  • Zazen at 5:30 AM and 7 PM on Fridays
  • See calendar for classes scheduled on Saturdays
  • Chanting service at 8:30 AM followed by Zazen at 9 on Sundays
  • For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period.

Palatine, IL at CCUU

  • Zazen at 7 PM on Sunday nights. Periodic special events (see calendar). For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period. 

Beloit Zen Community (on Beloit College campus)

  • Beloit Zen Community meets every Monday from 4:15 -5:30 PM.  Schedule as follows: 

                4:15 zazen (sitting)

                4:45 kinhin (walking meditation)

                4:55 short talk/discussion

                5:10 zazen (optional)

All are welcome to come and participate, not only those affiliated with the college.  Whatever your religious affiliation (or if you have none), experience or interest in meditation, we'd love to have you.  Instruction provided for those who are new to meditation.  Held in the Spirituality Room in the basement of Pearsons Hall.  For more information, please contact Bill NewBZC will be closed for Winter Break 12/17 though 1/14/2019 and reopen on 1/21.

Logan Square Zendo, Chicago

  • Zazen every Tuesday night at 8 PM.  For those new to practice, a brief orientation is offered during the first sitting period.  
  • For further information, please visit the Logan Square Zendo website here.




Several types of membership are available.  More information about membership can be found here.

Support our community by making a donation here.

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You can also ask to join the Facebook Group, Great Plains Zen Center Sangha


Phone:  (608) 325-6248


Our postal mailing addresses:

W77962 Falk Rd • Monroe, WI  53566




Recognizing that systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories,  Great Plains Zen Center strives to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all people. We pledge to do all we can to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be a Sangha that truly welcomes all persons and commits to structuring our community in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.