Those who stumble into ZanZilla yoga studio Tuesday night might think a punk rock concert’s about to start. But instead of head-banging to music, the tattooed will sit and quietly meditate.
They’re dharma punx, and they’re making meditation hip for Generation X.
“Unlike most Buddhist groups, where you’re likely to see gray hair and some kind of Indian costume, at these meditations you’re much more likely to see tattoos, piercings, shaved heads and dyed hair,” said Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx: A Memoir. “It’s definitely a modern American youth movement.”
Levine, who started the movement when his book was published in 2003, will speak at the Ventura yoga studio’s Mindfulness Meditation event on Tuesday. He’ll talk about some of the themes in his most recent book, The Heart of the Revolution: The Buddha’s Radical Teachings on Forgiveness, Compassion and Kindness.
“I teach on a level that’s a good introductory for people who don’t know much about it, but I also connect with people who have been practicing and going deeper,” Levine said.
“Our emphasis is more on practice rather than philosophy. Buddhism is something to be processed and lived, not just read about and spoken about.”
To that aim, attendees will sit and meditate during part of the event. Practicing mindfulness meditation means being conscious of the present by focusing on breathing and bodily sensations. Meditation offers the immediate benefit of reducing stress, and it also can help people find peace, Levine said.
“What it ultimately does is transform our relationship to our own mind and body and gives us the opportunity to actually be at peace, whether an experience is pleasant or unpleasant,” he said. Levine, who lives in Los Angeles, discovered meditation in juvenile hall, where he was incarcerated at age 17 for drug- and alcohol-related crimes. He began to study under Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, and 10 years later began writing Dharma Punx. Now, Levine is the founding teacher of the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, which has campuses in Santa Monica and Los Angeles.Ventura resident Eric Rodriguez, who runs the weekly mediation at ZanZilla, was Levine’s housemate in San Francisco when Levine was writing his first book.
“We both grew up in the punk rock scene, and it was very important for Noah to bring this to his people in a language and with an attitude that would appeal to the punk generation rather than the hippie generation,” Rodriguez said. The new approach began with a handful of punk 20- and 30-somethings, but it’s grown to include people from all walks of life, Rodriguez said.
“When he was writing this book, he started an urban dharma group in San Francisco, and we had a small group,” he said. “Now there are dharma punx all over the world.”
Mindfulness Meditation with Noah Levine will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at ZanZilla, 2750 E. Main St. Donations will be accepted, but everyone is welcome, regardless of ability to pay. For more information, visit www.zanzillasyoga.com.