Winter Sesshin: Time Outside of Time

Garrison Institute - Garrison, NY
December 26 - January 1

Winter Sesshin: Time Outside of Time

Garrison Institute – Garrison, NY
December 26 – January 1

The Village Zendo’s year-end retreat is a chance to step out of ordinary life and enjoy deep silence and contemplation at the turning of the year. Our schedule is serious (with plenty of zazen meditation) but also spacious, with time to enjoy the beautiful grounds and nearby trails. Dharma talks are given daily, and there is opportunity to meet individually with teachers. Delicious vegetarian meals are offered buffet-style. If you have put off doing a residential retreat, or felt intimidated to try one, this is a wonderful retreat to attend. Come and join the Village Zendo sangha as we greet the new year with clear minds and open hearts.

We’re already in planning mode for our Year End Retreat at Garrison Dec 26 — Jan 1. If you would like to be considered for a service position and/or be part of the liturgy team, please sign up soon. If you would like to help out in other ways, please contact the Retreat Coordinator Fusho:

Full Retreat: December 26 to January 1st
Half Retreat: December 26 to December 29

Fees and registration:

To attend Winter Sesshin, registration and payment must be completed separately on both Village Zendo’s website and Garrison Institute’s website.

Registration on Garrison Institute’s website will cover room and board, and those fees are kept entirely by Garrison.

Registration on Village Zendo’s website will cover costs, overhead, and program fees for the Village Zendo, and those fees are kept entirely by Village Zendo.

Register with the Village Zendo using the form below. Upon registering, you will be emailed a link to complete registration and payment on Garrison Institute’s website.

Questions? Please contact

Village Zendo Fees Garrison Institute Fees

Full Retreat (12/26 – 01/01)

Members: $390

Non-Members: $440

Full Retreat (12/26 – 01/01)

Shared Room: $900

Single Room: $1,050

Half Retreat (12/26 – 12/29)

Members: $195

Non-Members: $225

Half Retreat (12/26 – 12/29)

Shared Room: $450

Single Room: $525

Safety Protocols for COVID-19

During Winter Sesshin, we will be following CDC guidance and Garrison Institute’s COVID-19 safety protocols. We highly recommend that all participants be up-to-date with the latest COVID, influenza, and RSV vaccines to maintain a safer environment for ourselves and others in this contained setting. As an added precaution, we suggest participants perform a home COVID test on the day of travel to the retreat.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Village Zendo Fees:

Cancelling more than 1 week ahead of the retreat: 100% refund.
Cancelling within 1 week prior to the start of the retreat: non-refundable.

For Garrison Institute’s cancellation and refund policy, please visit this link.

Retreat Guidelines


Ango means “peaceful dwelling,” and we are grateful for the opportunity to create a peaceful container together.

Sesshin means “gathering or uniting the heart-mind.” We will observe the basic intentions of maintaining silence and inward focus for the duration of the retreat.

Please read through this set of guidelines. Our aim is to make your retreat experience smoother. A silent Zen retreat may seem daunting at first, depending on your previous experience.

We’ll be getting up very early. We will have some breaks and downtime – but not a lot. This is about using the schedule as a practice, and to work together to create a space for meditation and introspection. However, please take care of yourself and adapt your schedule if you need to but please always let us know when you do. Ask for support when you need it.

Everyone will be observing what we call “noble silence.” This truly means we will not be speaking unless absolutely necessary, and this applies to time spent in your rooms and in common areas.

For newcomers the rules and rituals we follow may seem strange, but the schedule is time tested, and made to make the experience powerful and real.

Our practice leaders and teachers may look stern in their black robes, (a few shaved heads too) but they are truly kind and focused on making the retreat profound for everyone. They will answer any questions and help you to get comfortable with the whole retreat experience.

Here are some more specifics on what to do, what to expect, and what to pack.

Basic Guidelines

  • No unnecessary talking.
  • No social courtesies.
  • No unnecessary looking around (keep eyes down 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, tablets, email, music devices, 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.
  • If you have not practiced with the Village Zendo before, or are new to Zen, beginning instruction will be available. Please let the registrar or sesshin coordinators know if you would like to have beginning instruction.

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 cellphone 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 help you get 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 can get 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 non-distracting.
  • There will be a period of work practice each morning. You may be asked to do tasks in the clothes you wear to the meeting.
  • Sitting robes are encouraged but not required.
  • If you have one, bring your Rakusu.
  • Clothing should be weather-appropriate.
  • Bring slip-on shoes for inside use.
  • Bring clothes for body practice.


  • Maintain personal hygiene. Avoid perfumes or strong scents.

 Reminder – Bring

  • Your own toiletries. medications, chargers, earplugs
  • Own alarm clock and watch.
  • Masks, COVID-19 home tests

Be comfortable

  • Use a chair, stool, cushions whatever you need for sitting zazen. You may always have some discomfort but it is not an endurance test.
  • If you have a question always ask for support or clarification.
  • Roshi Enkyo O’Hara and all of the teachers are also available to discuss any concerns.
Directions & Shuttle Services

See this link for detailed directions on how to get to Garrison Institute via train, bus, car and air.

If you are taking the Metro North train to and from NYC, Garrison Institute offers complimentary shuttle services on arriving day (Dec 26) and departing day (Jan 1) for the following trains.

Metro-North Train Schedules

Please confirm train times on the MTA website to ensure that there are no service disruptions.

December 26
Leaves GCT (Grand Central Terminal) 12:49pm/Arrives Garrison Station 2:09pm
Leaves GCT 1:45/Arrives 3:03
Leaves GCT 2:48/Arrives 4:06
Leaves GCT 3:14/Arrives 4:33
Leaves GCT 3:44/Arrives 5:02
Leaves GCT 4:42/Arrives 6:00

January 1
Leaves Garrison Station 8:30am Arrives GCT (Grand Central Terminal) 9:54
Leaves 9:28/Arrives GCT 10:52
Leaves 10:31/Arrives GCT 11:55
Leaves 10:54/Arrives GCT 12:12
Leaves 11:28/Arrives GCT 12:52

Arriving Day and Orientation Schedule

3:00–5:30 Registration

4:30–5:30 Orientation Session (in the Seminar Room)
Required if you are new to a Village Zendo retreat and available for those wanting a refresher on meditation and Zen forms.

4:00–5:30 Training for Village Zendo service positions

5:30–6:30 Dinner

If you are new to a Village Zendo retreat, please arrive before 4:30 to attend the orientation session.

If you are assigned a service position, please arrive before 4:00 to participate in service position training.

Departing Day Schedule

Half-Retreat — Friday, December 29

5:30 Wake up!
6:00 Zazen (be in zendo by 5:55 am)
6:30 Kinhin
6:40 Zazen
7:20 Verse of the Kesa, Service
7:50 Breakfast

9:00 Samu Service
9:20 Samu (Work Practice)
10:25 Clean up

10:40 Dharma Talk (be in zendo by 10:35 am)
11:20 Kinhin
11:30 Open Sozan and Closing

Optional Sitting

3:15 Zazen
3:45 Kinhin
3:55 Zazen
4:25 Outside Kinhin
4:45 Zazen
5:15 Service

Full Retreat — Sunday, January 1

6:30 Wake up!
7:00 Optional Zazen
7:30 Verse of the Kesa, Informal Service (without robes), Nenju
8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Samu, Packing, & Leave-taking

Sample Daily Schedule

5:30 Wake up!
6:00 Zazen (be in zendo by 5:55 am)
6:30 Kinhin
6:40 Zazen
7:20 Verse of the Kesa, Service
7:50 Breakfast

9:00 Samu Service
9:20 Samu (Work Practice)
10:25 Clean up

10:40 Dharma Talk (be in zendo by 10:35 am)
11:20 Kinhin
11:30 Zazen
11:55 Service
12:15 Mid-day Meal
1:00 Rest Practice
2:00 Awareness through Movement with Howard or your own
body practice

3:15 Zazen
3:45 Kinhin
3:55 Zazen
4:25 Outside Kinhin
4:45 Zazen
5:15 Service
5:30 Evening Meal

7:00 Zazen
7:30 Kinhin
7:40 Zazen
8:10 Kinhin
8:20 Zazen
8:50 Four Vows

9:30 Lights Out

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