Hello, and welcome to this blog/website, which is essentially a place for me to share some basic resources about Zen Buddhism, including practice advice for people experiencing physical illness and disability. I am myself an ambulatory wheelchair user (you might be able to see a wheel on the right side of the photo, just under my elbow) and have a number of issues relating to muscle pain and stamina).
I have been practicing Buddhist meditation and various forms of Buddhism since 1997 after becoming ill with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). With the key focus of the Buddhadharma (teachings of the Buddha) being the understanding of suffering and the way out of suffering, this has become a central part of both dealing with the ongoing struggles of having chronic illness and understanding the nature of life itself and what it means to live meaningfully.
Prior to becoming ill, I worked as a plant ecologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and I retain a strong connection to the natural world and concern over the climate crisis and ongoing loss of biodiversity.
a friend joins in prostrations!
In my 50s now with three children in their teens and early 20s, I live in rural Kent near Canterbury and am currently confined to my house due to the state of my health. I took Shukke Tokudo (‘home leaving’ ordination) with Jundo Cohen in 2017, in the Sōtō Zen lineage of Gudō Wafu Nishijima (1919-2014) and Niwa Zuigaku Rempō (1905-1993; the seventy-seventh abbot of Eiheji monastery). I received Shiho (dharma transmission) on 29 November 2022.
(Jundo Cohen (left), Rempō Niwa (centre) and Gudō Nishijima (right))
This is a piece I wrote for Tricycle Buddhist magazine about living with illness.
I have taken ethical training with the Faith Trust Institute (previously known as the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence) and training in Mental Health First Aid (including suicide awareness and prevention) with MHFA England. Certification for both can be found below.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gassho (hands in prayer position)