quotes from veterans attending retreat june 2022

“This retreat is not a vacation, but it is an opportunity to unpack difficult memories and suffering in a safe, supportive compassionate setting.”
U.S. Army Veteran, 1990-2009

“What AnShin & KenShin are doing for veterans at the Magnolia Zen Center is highly admirable.  They sacrifice their time selflessly to share their knowledge & experience with others.  I am very humbled & grateful for the things I’ve learned & the tools I’ve acquired there.  My Sincere Gratitude.”
U.S. Army Veteran, 1985-2016

“The Veteran Retreat has continued to be beautiful opportunity for me to connect with my innermost self. Each time it also presents the gift of re-meeting old friends and learning their past and current life stories.”
U.S. Army Veteran, 2003-2012

“While it was not my first veterans' retreat with AnShin, it was my first at the Magnolia Zen Center. Everything I needed was provided for, allowing me to deepen my practice wholeheartedly with minimal distractions in a safe environment.” 
U.S. Army Veteran, 1989-2010

"The retreat was a continued journey and learning experience for me as I polish my stone, meaning to become more and more aware and awake to the consequences of my military service in my daily life."
U.S. Army Veteran, 1982-2016

quote from Claude AnShin Thomas' new book

One of the mistakes people often make when they take up the practice of meditation is that they form a false image of it. They think that being mindful means not being afraid, that it means being calm and at peace at all times. This is not living in mindfulness. Mindfulness and mental calm are related, but they are not the same. For me, living in mindfulness means that I can live peacefully in non-peace, that I can accept the reality of non-calm. In all our lives, there are moments of calm and moments of non-calm. If I live in mindfulness, I can accept that these moments come and go—like a gentle rain or like a hurricane, but they do come and go. In mindfulness I see their beauty when they are here, I can celebrate what they offer me, knowing that they will pass and also knowing that they may return. If I am living in mindfulness, if I can look deeply into the nature of myself and touch my suffering, I can learn to live with my fear, my doubts, my insecurity, my confusion, my anger. My task is to dwell in these places like still water.

From Bringing Meditation to Life: 108 Teachings on the Path of Zen Practice by Claude AnShin Thomas (Oakwood Publishing, 2021)

three students ordained as teachers

On January 4, 2022, Paulina KenKo Duarte Catalan, Felipe MuKan Rojas Walsen, and Eden MyoShin Steinberg were ordained by Claude AnShin Thomas as teachers and dharma holders in the Soto Zen lineage. The ceremony took place at the Magnolia Zen Center during Zaltho's annual ten-day-year-transition-retreat.

More than a dozen members of our international practice community attended this joyous ceremony, either in person or online. 

kenshin's solo marathon benefits veterans' pets

On May 4 the Zaltho's treasurer and administrative lead Wiebke KenShin Andersen completed a solo marathon to raise money for our new initiative: a fund for Veterans’ Pets Health Care, recognizing the importance that pets play in many veterans’ lives and healing.

Zaltho is partnering with two veterinary clinics near the Magnolia Zen Center to apply the funds.  This new fund will help veterans to cover the often high costs of veterinary care.

KenShin ran 26.2 miles beginning at the Magnolia Zen Center in Mary Esther, FL. Her route took her through several adjoining communities and ended back at the Zen Center. The veteran Claude AnShin Thomas (founder of the Zaltho Foundation) accompanied KenShin by bicycle and the veteran Keith AnGyo (Zaltho board director) drove a long by car.

KenShin ran the marathon distance in the time of 6 hours and 14 minutes which made for a 14:23 minute/mile. Considering the unusally hot weather on that day, KenShin was satified with her accomplishment.

Here you can read the newspaper article that was published.

Newspaper Article


Newspaper Article

You can still donate to Zaltho's Veterans' Pets Health Care Fund via GoFundMe or through the Zaltho Foundation website.

get to know the sangha: ramona ruzan duenk

1. When and where was your first encounter with Buddhist practice?

I recall it to be 2012, the year I moved from Hamburg to Cologne, and I went to the Shambhala Center in Cologne on an open night where they teach meditation to newcomers. This was after I watched documentaries and read articles about Buddhism and the story of Siddharta Gautama, who became Shakyamuni Buddha.  

2. What do you like best about your Zen Buddhist practice?

Am I supposed to like something “best” about it?! ;) 

I appreciate it being so practical in daily life, and it enables me to engage with everyone and everything, I like that best. 

3. What has been a challenging aspect in your Zen Buddhist practice?

Being vulnerable and receiving direct feedback for my behavior and actions, and with that I mean positive and constructive.  

4. Name one thing you changed as a result of your Zen Buddhist practice?

 I stopped taking intoxicants.

5. What would be an ordinary moment in your daily life that feels truly joyful for you? 

When my cat Bodhi falls deep asleep while purring, laying spread out on my chest, and I won’t move, because I don’t want to wake him.

6. What is something that you are deeply grateful at this time?

That I have relationships in my life that are truly nourishing and supportive, thanks to my Zen Buddhist practice. 

get to know our veterans: dave myoko edgar

1. What year/how old were you when you joined the military?

1986, I entered the military 3 months after my 18th birthday

2.  Why did you enlist in your branch of service?

My dad and uncle both served in the army (WW II and Korea) and my older brothers preceded me in the Army. It seemed like the thing to do as I was clueless about life after High School.

3.  How many years did you serve and what unit/units?

I served three years active duty, after basic training and Airborne school,  in B CO 2/75th (Ranger) Battalion

4.  Which practice forms (sitting, walking, working, eating, or Deep Listening and Mindful speech) have been important and supportive in your daily life?

All have been supportive. The most supportive has been sitting/breath awareness practice, where I’ve learned that I have access to my breath any time, especially when I’m not sitting in a formal way. The breath has given me an anchor, especially during extreme distress and discomfort!

5.  What drew you to Zen practice?

It was AnShin - his example and perspective of practice as practical.

6.  How does Zen Practice influence your daily life?

Today, I think it is around my emotional life as feeling steadier, less dramatic and a feeling of more space around my feelings, and a different awareness of my reactions and impulses. wow, that’s a lot!

7.  What does it mean to you to be a part of this practice community?

I don’t see the practice community as anything other than my close relations, and in some sense, my chosen family.

8.  Who is/was the most inspirational person in your life and why?

Mr. Bennett in High School, my math teacher who very clearly kept me from getting into trouble with the school and more importantly, my dad -  at a critical time in my life.

9.  What did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to feel safe and feel ease in my life and family. Besides that, I still want to be an astronaut.

10.  What one word would you use to describe your Zen practice?