Myoken Eric Salaün: “Zen chose me. »

- through Fabrice Groult

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For ten years, meditation has occupied a central place in his life. A Zen Buddhist monk and coordinator of the Zen dojo in Paris, Eric Salaün works to train and introduce people to this practice which has changed his life.

How did you come to practice meditation?

It was during adolescence, at the end of the 1970s, that I discovered meditation, but also sophrology. My mother suffered from chronic pain, she had been recommended these practices which helped her a lot. His therapist had given him tapes that I listened to; this is how I became acquainted, very young, with meditation. Subsequently, the two trips of one year each that I made to Asia, notably to India, awakened this tropism, this attraction for inner work and spirituality.

Your first sitting in zazen posture, in 2008, would have been a revelation…

I was looking for a way, a practice to go further and to connect myself to a certain transcendence, to this dimension that I felt was very important. Chance led me to zazen, to Josy Thibaut, who had known Master Deshimaru. It was indeed a revelation! I sat down and when I got up, three quarters of an hour later, I felt a shock; I had found what I was looking for. Since then, I have worked to help others discover and pass on this practice, which has changed my life.

What has zazen changed in your way of being, of living and of apprehending the world?

I was a rather introverted and shy man, zazen allowed me to work on myself and it transformed me. These practices have opened my mind and allowed me to calm down. Fears, sufferings and forms of discomfort then disappeared. I opened up to others. The transformative power of shikantaza is amazing: it's all about sitting and watching. Regular repetition harbors extraordinary strength.

I practice every day for at least an hour and do zazen with my group twice a week. The study of mindfulness has also influenced my daily life. I now watch my surroundings with more attention and am even more present in the magic of everyday life.

Why did you choose the path of Zen Soto Buddhism?

It was Zen that chose me, I didn't try to explore other paths. I encountered Zen and understood that it was exactly what I was looking for. It is a difficult practice, without concession, which I would gladly describe as rough, but I liked it immediately.

But also and above all, it is the result of a deep human encounter with Josy Thibaut who, I discovered long after, happened to be the mother of the man who was to become my current master, Kosen Thibaut. So it was Josy who initiated me and with whom I had the chance and the privilege to practice for eight wonderful years.

Why did you wish to be ordained a Zen Buddhist monk?

It was a call that I answered, but also a form of commitment to myself. After a few years of practice, I took bodhisattva ordination. At the time of the ceremony, I felt something of the order of transmission between my master, Master Kosen, and me. I had the impression, afterwards, that my practice had changed a lot following this ordination. I thought that becoming a monk would open me to a new dimension. Since then, the practice of meditation has become central to my life.

You will be certified in December as a Mindfulness Meditation Instructor (MBSR). What benefits did you get from this training?

It is a very rich training which led me to study in depth the whole program MBSR, as well as the way to transmit it as it is composed of different practices: for example, the body scan or the movements in consciousness inspired by Yoga. This program brought me a lot on a personal level. It is a complementary practice to that of Zen.

“The study of mindfulness has also influenced my daily life. I now watch my surroundings with more attention and am even more present in the magic of everyday life. »

The choice to follow this training provided by Esprit clair is first of all the result of an encounter, that of Yasmine Liénard, cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist who created this institute integrating mindfulness, psychology, cognitive and emotional therapies, neuroscience and contemplative science. I really liked the open-mindedness that I encountered there. The team includes a former monk from Plum Village, a translator of the great Tibetan masters, who has thirty years of Tibetan practice and who builds bridges between Buddhism and quantum physics, and a former lawyer turned MBSR instructor, a Tai Chi teacher with a doctorate in philosophy and a master's degree in cognitive science.

The secular meditation programs that I lead as part of the Mediter Otherwise project attract many more people than others who are part of a Buddhist tradition. This can subsequently be a gateway to other practices, to Tibetan Buddhism or to Zen, for example.

At the same time as these trainings, you joined the association Mindfulness Solidaire…

I joined this association created two years ago. The programs are intended for people living in precarious situations. We go to meet them to introduce them to these practices: in prisons in particular, in homes welcoming the homeless, but also in integration companies, where we work alongside people with disabilities and migrants. We introduce them to meditation, to emotional intelligence, to talking circles.

You have worked in prison. What results have you obtained with the detainees?

Indeed, we have conducted several programs in the prison environment in the prison of Meaux-Chauconin first, then another, very recently, in Lille. It is about offering people a space to reconnect with themselves, to bring them to realize their value, their quality, their potential in order to be able to bring them to the best of themselves. After these sessions, prisoners sometimes come to see us and talk about the benefits they have derived from them. At Meaux-Chauconin prison, we have already run five programs for inmates. Afterwards, we would like to organize other programs for prison guards and supervisory staff who are also suffering. The head of activities and programs (like ours) in the prison, who is often in contact with the inmates, has observed significant changes in their attitudes, in their ways of behaving and communicating in particular. Meditation and talking circles prove to be invaluable tools for these people who rarely speak and are not often listened to.

photo of author

Fabrice Groult

Fabrice Groult is an adventurer, photographer and Buddhist who has traveled the world since a young age. After studying Buddhism in India, he embarked on an eighteen-month journey through Asia that took him to the Himalayas, where he discovered his passion for photography. Since then, he has traveled the world capturing images of Buddhist beauty and wisdom. He was a guide for ten years, and is now a journalist with Buddhist News.

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