Guidelines for the Year-End Retreat
Sesshin means “gathering the mind.” The Year-End Sesshin is an intense, completely silent meditation retreat. We observe the basic sesshin precautions of silence and inward focus for the duration of the retreat.
- No unnecessary talking.
- No social courtesies.
- No unnecessary looking around (keep eyes at a 45° angle).
- No unassigned reading.
- Walk mindfully with hands in shashu (folded with your right hand enveloping your left fist, held at waist level).
- No cellphones, email, singing, radios, headphones, or other distractions.
- 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. They will be very nice and helpful.
Be On Time For All Activities
- Be very aware of time. There will be posted schedules, and they’re important to follow. You’ll need a watch—you won’t have your cell phone to tell you the time!
- Speaking of time, you’ll be getting up very early, usually around 5 a.m. The good news is you’ll be going to bed early after a long day of practice. Bring your own alarm clock. Earplugs are also good to have, to guarantee a night’s sleep despite snoring roommates and such.
- Be at your seat 10 minutes before dawn zazen, and 5 minutes before other sitting periods begin. Because zazen is a silent and orderly practice, you will be much happier if you’re settled in your seat early. It gets really awkward if you’re late!
- Be seated in the zendo by the end of the second round of the han (the click-clacking device used to signal the time for zazen).
- When work leader begins hitting the moktok (another clacking device) it means you have 15 minutes before work period begins each morning; come to the work meeting at least 5 minutes before it starts.
- Clothes should be in good condition; in dark, subdued tones; with minimal patterns, logos, etc. Clothes should also be modest and undistracting; no sleeveless shirts or shorts in the Zendo. There will be a period of work practice each morning, so be prepared to do heavy cleaning in the clothes you wear to the work meeting.
- Sitting robes are encouraged but not required.
- Clothing should be weather-appropriate – you’ll need a warm coat, hat, gloves, and boots for outside walking meditation.
- Bring slip-on shoes for inside use.
- Bring clothes for yoga.
- Maintain personal hygiene.
- Do not wear perfumes or strong scents.
Other Items To Bring
- Own toiletries, including soap.
- Own alarm clock and watch.