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Couple teaches meditation practices in Pocatello

February 3, 2017 GMT

POCATELLO — Rein Konpo Sensei and Terry Chowan Kerler have both studied and benefited from meditation practices over the years, and now they are using their knowledge and skills to help others at the White Cloud Meditation Center in Pocatello.

The Zen-inspired meditation center, which is supported by donations, is located at 524 S. Sixth Ave. in Pocatello.

Konpo, a Zen master in the White Plum lineage started by Maezumi Roshi, teaches at the White Cloud Meditation Center, and Kerler is a mindfulness instructor there.

The couple believes many people can benefit from meditation practices.

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“Zen Buddhism and other Eastern traditions offer alternative perspectives on the joys and difficulties of life,” Konpo and Kerler wrote in an email response to the Journal. “You do not have to give up your religion to benefit from Buddhist practices.”

The couple says Zen and sitting meditation is a practice that has been passed on through a long lineage of masters, beginning with Buddha. The tradition began when Buddhist practitioners traveled from India to China, and then from China to Japan and the U.S.

“Each step of the way Zen Buddhism has taken on an additional flavor of the local culture. Here in Idaho we sometimes call our tradition Cowboy Zen because many of our practices are reminiscent of cultural memes not only originating in China and Japan but also in Idaho,” they wrote in their email response.

Konpo and Kerler say the White Cloud Meditation Center caters to both beginner and advanced students, and offers caretaking practice, group meditation, dharma talks, private interviews, koan study and retreats.

The group meditations take place Sundays at 4 p.m. and begin with a caretaking or work practice, which gives people a chance to use the spiritual practices they learn, like keeping a relaxed body and clear mind, while performing the actions of daily life, according to the center’s website, www.whitecloudzen.org. During that time, students may sweep the walkway, make coffee, arrange flowers or perform other tasks.

“Once the Center is ready we settle in for group meditation where we skillfully place our awareness on what goes on within and around us,” the couple wrote in their email response. “Buddhist practice teaches us how we create unnecessary suffering and how we might avoid doing so. There are many teachings on this topic. It is our view that we learn best through experiential learning, studying in real time how we experience ourselves and our lives.”

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The couple says not everything is solemn and serious at the center. Following the group meditation, Konpo talks more about the practices, which often leads to lively discussions and laughter.

“While we do feel it is important to remain calm and composed in the face of adversity we also cultivate our ability to appreciate and enjoy life to its fullest,” Konpo and Kerler wrote.

The couple says meditation has helped them to focus less on themselves and more on what’s happening around them.

They have both been studying such practices for many years.

Konpo says he first became interested in Eastern traditions while studying karate, judo and Tai Chi — martial arts that emphasize awareness practices.

He went on to study both Tibetan Buddhist and Zen traditions under masters before emigrating from the Netherlands to the U.S. in 1990. At that point, he entered monastic training with Genpo Roshi in Salt Lake City.

After moving to Pocatello in 2000, Konpo opened the White Cloud Meditation Center. He later received his dharma transmission from Doen Roshi, becoming a sensei in the fall of 2014, according to the email.

Kerler began studying Vipassana meditation, Tibetan Buddhism and yoga in the mid 1990s when she started to feel like something was missing in her life. In 2000, she discovered Zen Buddhism and felt that that was the spiritual path she should follow, according to the email, which adds that the couple later met at the monastery in Salt Lake City.

Kerler went on to study contemplative psychotherapy, a counseling approach that blends Eastern and Western psychological traditions, at Naropa University. Her training emphasized Tibetan Buddhist principles.

Today, Kerler has a private counseling practice, Great Eastern Sun Counseling, which is affiliated with the White Cloud Meditation Center.

The couple says the center is open to everyone who is interested in learning more about their practices.

“We are an open-minded, socially aware group,” they wrote in their email response. “Everyone is welcome.”