Sesshin Guidelines

 

This information is designed to familiarize you with important aspects of our silent retreats to ensure a harmonious retreat environment.

Sesshin Precautions

Silence is maintained throughout the retreat, except for essential communication or questions.

Eyes are kept lowered to keep an inner focus.

When walking in the zendo or anywhere inside the building, hands are placed in shashu (folded with your right hand held over your left fist, at waist level) to help maintain concentration and inner focus.

Zazen (Meditation)

Please wear Zen robes or dark, loose-fitting clothing.

Be on your cushion or chair 5 minutes before the start of the zazen period.

If you need to change your position during zazen, make a small seated bow and quietly assume another posture. Try to keep the body still so that the mind may also find stillness.

When you enter the zendo for zazen, make a small standing bow to your cushion first, then bow to the assembly.

Kinhin (Walking Meditation)

Make sure you have feeling in your feet before standing for kinhin. If your foot has gone to sleep, stay seated until feeling returns, then join the kinhin line.

Kinhin is no less important than zazen in our practice. Please engage it whole-heartedly to help achieve continuity in your practice; do not use this time as a “break”.

During kinhin, walk with your hands in shashu (folded at the waist) and your gaze lowered.

Kinhin lasts 10 minutes. The first few minutes are slow; then, at the sound of the wooden clappers, we walk at a faster pace. If you need to use the rest room, exit the line during fast kinhin. Try to remember the person directly ahead of you so you can rejoin the line in the correct place.

Starting the Day during Sesshin

There will be jundo each morning of the retreat, prior to the start of the first zazen period. This is the silent “morning greeting” from the abbot and the shuso (practice leader). Place your hands in gassho (prayer position) as each of them, in turn, approaches your cushion; they will be greeting you with their hands in gassho as well. It is important to be on time and alert for this.

As we are up early and do not eat breakfast until 8 am, you may wish to have a snack prior to the first zazen period so as not to feel light-headed. Fruit, snacks and tea are available in the dining room.

Questions or Assistance

If you have questions during the retreat or need assistance, ask one of the monitors (in the row at the back of the zendo) or the registrar. It is important that you notify the monitors if for some reason you are not able to attend a zazen period.

Interview with Teachers

Each person will have an opportunity for private interview with Village Zendo teachers. This is a valuable opportunity to discuss your practice and address any questions. Interview is optional but highly encouraged.

There is no need to make bows when you are departing the zendo for interview or when you return after your interview.

Health and Hygiene

Please maintain good hygiene during the retreat. Do not wear scents or fragrance in the zendo.

If you sneeze or cough, please do so into your elbow, not your hands. Our hands are frequently in contact with various surfaces and doors, and we spread and pick up germs this way. Using your elbow to cover your sneeze or cough is one of the best ways to take care of your own health as well as the health of the community. Frequent hand-washing is also beneficial.

Departures

There will be ride coordination sheets at the registration table. If you need a ride, please put your name on the list; if you can offer a ride, even to the Beacon train station, it is helpful.