The Marblehead Zen Center was established in March 2012 to offer to all people the compassionate practice of meditation. Originally on Glover Square in old town Marblehead, we completed a two-year residency at St Andrew's Episcopal Church (also in Marblehead) and in September 2014 we moved to a dedicated residential practice place at 66 Lovett St in Beverly, MA. We offer Zen classes, retreats, workshops and a wide range of special events, as well as our ongoing daily schedule of sitting and walking meditation. The arts and culture have a long-standing relationship with Zen practice, and consequently we offer calligraphy workshops, writing classes and retreats, and an ongong weekly poetry/meditation gathering. Zen Center also sponsors visual artists in group shows at the Cloister Gallery in Marblehead, and music and dance events for children and families.
Our guiding teacher Myozen Joan Amaral began Zen practice in 1998 at San Francisco Zen Center, received priest ordination from Surei Darlene Cohen in 2004 and dharma transmission in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki from Zenkei Blanche Hartman in 2013. Joan's interest in zazen grew out of a background in modern dance and she continues to be interested in the ways that movement and the cultivation of energy can support the practice of stillness.
Joan trained monastically at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center (Big Sur, CA) for six years. While in residency at San Francisco Zen Center, she formed a dharma group – Dharma en Español – devoted to studying Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginners Mind in Spanish (Mente Zen, Mente de Principiante), in order to provide the opportunity for native Spanish speakers to hear the dharma in their own language. She also led weekly meditation classes at the San Francisco County Jail and provided one-on-one spiritual counseling for prisoners. She is a graduate of the chaplaincy program at the Sati Center in Redwood City, CA, where she studied with Gil Fronsdal, Paul Haller, and Jennifer Block.
On the North Shore, Joan has served as a panelist at numerous colleges and hospitals on issues ranging from end-of-life concerns to interfaith understanding and friendship. In addition to caring for the daily practice of the Zen Center in Beverly, she also lectures widely at regional Zen practice places and maintains teaching activity within incarcerated settings.
As a Zen priest living in the world, her primary focus is on bringing forth the transformational capacity of formal Zen practice to address the concerns of messy, ordinary human life. She is deeply honored to be able to offer sanctuary to anyone seeking equanimity, connection, and purpose, through the diverse offerings of the Zen Center.