Zentimental, that's how she describes her feelings. She laughs, pours herself more coffee and continues on with her meal. Me, I am seated across the breakfast table from her, with seven other people joining her at the morning table.

Prior to this meal, I completed my first formal zazen meditation at Plum Blossom Zendo. I have been attracted to Zen for well over a decade, but never made the jump to start a formal practice.

Zentimental: that is the perfect word to describe my feelings. I have read books, lots of them on Zen. I have practiced home meditation for ten years but never had I made the journey to expand this passion.

I have roots in Christianity and a strong connection to the works of Zen practitioners. At this period of my life it's time to grow both lineages in a blending journey. Let's see what happens.

Sunday morning I park my car on a normal street right down the road from Carnegie Mellon University. This does not look like a Zendo to me. I walk up a couple of steps and knock on the front door of a townhouse. There is nothing Zen about this experience. Where is the Buddha statue? Where are the prayer flags? Where is the Zen garden? This is just a townhouse in a row of other townhouses.

The door is answered by a woman with a smile and a please come in. People greet me politely, I shake hands and exchange niceties. Next I am taken to the third floor of the house , this is the Zendo. An empty room with a Buddha statue and eight meditation cushions on the floor. Ok, this is starting to look Zen to me. I am given a Zen 101 intro class of what to expect and how to act in the Zendo. Bow to the Buddha first then bow to the group then bow to your mat then sit. I was given a list of the chants and prayers and then I walk through the proper technique of walking meditation.

Bell rings three times, all becomes silent. The group from downstairs walks quietly to the zendo. We sit for 25 minutes of zazen followed up with 15 minutes of walking meditation, then one last period of 25 minutes of zazen.

The first zazen session went great, all those books and home practice was paying off. "I am a meditator", I think to myself. Bring on the ten day retreats. Three bells ring again ending the first period of zazen. Next, the group stands up and starts walking clockwise. At this point I am not meditating, I am just trying not to walk into the person in front of me. My mind is full of noise and I think the guy two people in front of me looks like George Carlin, I try not to giggle, please God do not let me giggle now. (good to have roots in Christianity for such an emergency) My prayers were answered. More bells ring out, more bows and we sit for the last 25 minutes of zazen. This is not going well; my back has a sharp pain in between my shoulder blades, the right side of my face is itchy all I want is that damn bell to ring. Ok, so a ten day retreat is out, for now.

The bells ring, I did it. We rise and the practice leader give out orders for morning chores. I have to help clean the zendo. I knew this part was going to happen, all those books prepared me for this. I clean all the mats in silence while another man vacuums the floor. This is nice I think to myself. The movement feels good and silence makes the work mindful. OK this is good, I am feeling something. My heart beats slow, my mind is focused at the job at hand, I will come back to this zendo. The bells ring three times and we go down to the breakfast table.

I feel Zentimental.......