Guidelines for the Year-End Retreat

Sesshin means “gathering the mind.” We observe the basic sesshin precautions of silence and inward focus for the duration of the retreat.

Basic Guidelines

  • No unnecessary talking or social courtesies.
  • No unassigned reading.
  • Walk mindfully with hands in shashu (folded with your right hand enveloping your left fist, held at waist level).
  • Keep eyes lowered.
  • No cellphones, email or computer use.
  • If you have specific needs or concerns, or if this is your first sesshin, please let the registrar or sesshin coordinators know before the beginning of the sesshin.

Be On Time For All Activities

  • Schedules will be posted and they are important to follow.  You may wish to have a watch to help you be on time.
  • There are wake-up bells in the morning, but you may also wish to bring your own alarm clock.
  • Be at your seat in the zendo 10 minutes before the start of the first period of zazen in the morning and 5 minutes before other sitting periods during the day.


  • Clothes should be in good condition; in black or dark, subdued tones; with minimal patterns or logos.  Clothes should be modest and loose-fitting.
  • Zen sitting robes are encouraged but not required.
  • There will be a one-hour period of work practice each morning, so be prepared to do cleaning or kitchen activities.
  • You’ll want a warm coat, hat, gloves, and boots for possible outside walking meditation.
  • Bring slip-on shoes for inside use.
  • Bring clothes for yoga or other mindful body practice.


  • Maintain personal hygiene.
  • Do not wear perfumes or strong scents.  The Garrison Institute is a fragrance-free facility.

Other Items To Bring

  • Personal toiletries.
  • Alarm clock and watch
  • Earplugs
  • Optional:  your personal black zafu (sitting cushion.)  The Garrison Institute provides meditation cushions, but please note they are all buckwheat and fairly thin.  The Village Zendo will be bringing a limited number of our kapok cushions.  For your own comfort you may wish to bring your own black zafu to use.  Be sure to label or mark it clearly so we know it is yours.


Contact On-Site at the Retreat:  Robert Kaku Gunn, 646-391-6120 or