About Our Group
Flowing Bridge Sangha traces its beginning to 2006 when Theresa Redmond realized how beneficial yoga practice might be to prison inmates. Research led Theresa to the Catholic nun and Zen roshi Sister Elaine MacInnis, founder of a Toronto Zendo of the Sanbo Zen. Sister Elaine also founded ‘Freeing the Human Spirit’, an organization bringing hope and healing to inmates through yoga and meditation.
Sister Elaine told Theresa that, in order to have something truly useful to offer, she should begin her own Zen practice; teaching yoga alone would not be enough. Theresa began sitting by herself. At Sister Elaine's urging, she invited others to join her. Once a month, a teacher from the Toronto sangha would come to teach the fledgling Ottawa group; thus was born Flowing Bridge Sangha.
Patrick Gallagher, our teacher, was a student of Sister Elaine. You can catch a glimpse of his younger self leading a chant in the video ‘Still Sister: Sister Elaine MacInnes, Zen Nun’ at https://youtu.be/ugsuQVCGS-U. Patrick travels regularly to Ottawa to lead the sangha in zazenkai and sesshin retreats. Flowing Bridge also continues to have connections with ‘Freeing the Human Spirit’: freeingthehumanspirit.com.
Useful Terms to Know
Bodhisattva: someone who forgoes complete awakening until all beings are saved. A bodhisattva is guided by compassion and offers active help to others.
Dana: a voluntary offering or gift. Dana, understood as generosity, is one of the perfections of a bodhisattva
Dokusan: a private meeting with the teacher
Gassho: the gesture of joining hands before the face (in respect, gratitude, reverence)
Jikijitsu: the room monitor and timer at the zendo (sometimes shortened to jiki)
Joriki: the strength of the concentrated mind
Kensho: "seeing one's true nature"; an awakening experience (also satori)
Kinhin: walking meditation
Koan: usually a saying or story involving Zen exchanges between Zen masters and students or other Zen masters. Koans are tools to help practitioners cut through conceptual thinking and break through to or deepen another way of understanding.
Sangha: a community of Zen practitioners
Sesshin: a meditation retreat that lasts for several days
Teisho: a talk by the teacher, usually related to some aspect of the practice and often focusing on a koan
Zabuton: the sitting mat
Zafu: the sitting cushion
Zazen: sitting meditation
Zazenkai: a day-long meditation retreat
Zendo: the room or space set aside for zazen