December 13, 2016
Taking Practice into the World – Ann Marie

“This sangha held me, accepted me, and taught and learned with me, and the dharma began to awaken in my bones.”

Anshin Rosalie Curtis with Ann Marie

Across the country and around the world, people like Ann Marie find that their meditation and Zen practice permeates their lives and goes on to benefit those who they touch.

“As an adolescent, I was searching for something. I longed for meaning and spiritual connection. I ended up seeking that relief from suffering through alcohol and drugs for many years. I continued to work in social services, always driven by a desire to help others, but there was no room for spiritual practice in my life.

“Having reached a dark night of the soul, I sought counsel from a wonderful Zen priest who used to come to the hotels where I worked to perform memorial ceremonies when clients there died. She began teaching me. I struggled with letting go of alcohol, but something carried me along this path, and it has saved my life.

“Although I felt uncomfortable at Zen Center much of the time, this sangha held me, accepted me, and taught and learned with me, and the dharma began to awaken in my bones. I kept sitting, no matter how I judged my zazen, no matter what great doubts arose, and this practice has allowed me to open, to let go, to be present and awake. No better medicine exists for me to live in this world.

“Practice has permeated my life. Professionally, I have become a compassionate witness to the suffering my clients share with me—no longer driven by a need to fix anything, I can just be with them authentically and hold a space of love and acceptance.”

San Francisco Zen Center has offered a place of refuge and nourishment for over 50 years, and has trained teachers and students who go on to practice far and wide. Will you join us in our commitment towards a world with more compassion by making a donation today? Donate at


Joshua Sandeman
Arts & Culture, Features, Zen Practice

Medicine and the Dharma

Joshua Sandeman, a former SFZC resident, is a Nurse Practitioner based in Salem, Oregon. “Medicine puts me face-to-face with all manner of human suffering and it can be a challenge to take care of feelings of burnout, detachment, and despair."