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Retreat FAQ

What are the requirements for attendance? Individuals attending a sesshin should have experience meditating and be willing and physically able to sit silently for 10-12 thirty-minute meditation periods each day. (See sample schedule.) Online or mailed applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. See Retreat Calendar for application dates.

Can I stay at the Zen Center during retreats? Yes, we offer simple sleeping accommodations at Zen Center, with futons provided for sleeping on the floor. Please bring a sleeping bag or similar bedding including a pillow.

How do we eat meals and what is served? Meals at retreats consist of simply prepared vegetarian food that is eaten in a formal style from three bowls in the Zendo. This practice of eating is called Oryoki. It is based on a traditional meditative way of eating in Zen monasteries. New sesshin participants receive Oryoki instruction before sesshin begins. You may bring your own Oryoki bowls, utensils, and cloths or rent them from Zen Center.

What if I have dietary issues? We offer simple vegetarian food during retreats. Dairy is served separately. If you have any food allergies we will try to provide alternatives or you can bring your own food.

What clothing should I bring?

  1. Clean, comfortable, and modest sitting clothes (please don’t bring shorts, short skirts, or clothing with writing, logos, bright colors, or loud patterns for sitting).
  2. Include a sweater or other warmer clothing for the cool nights and mornings we experience year-round. A rain jacket is also recommended during the winter/early spring rainy months.
  3. Slip-on shoes or sandals.
  4. Work shoes and clothes for possible outside work (shorts are okay for work). Also, bring some suntan lotion and a hat if you are sensitive to sun in case you are assigned outdoor work.

Is there any talking allowed? Retreats are conducted in silence both while sitting and during other activities including meals, work practice and breaks. Some work and activity-related conversation may be necessary, but in general we try to minimize the need to talk, so if you have a question or need to share some information, we encourage you to use notepads and pens. After dharma talks there is a Q&A period where you can ask questions and there are also daily opportunities for meetings with the teachers where you will have discussions.

Do I have to attend every activity? Yes, we ask that you attend all activities during a retreat and be on time. If you feel you cannot attend a particular activity, please discuss it with a teacher or practice leader first.

Are there any breaks? Yes, there are three breaks each day, one after each meal. We encourage you to remain inwardly focused during these times in order to maximize the value of your retreat.

Can I text or take pictures on my phone? Cell phones are best left turned off in your luggage until the end of a retreat in order to take full advantage of this rare opportunity to focus inwards by minimizing external distractions.