Intensive Retreats - sesshin
A traditional Japanese Zen retreat, or sesshin, is a period when all non-essential work is put aside and participants engage in 9 or more hours of formal zazen each day. The silent zazen is complemented by a daily lecture (teisho) and 2 or 3 private meetings each day with the teacher (dokusan). The intensive nature of sesshin allows one to put aside all workday concerns and focus strongly on unifying the mind, with the aim of seeing into one’s true nature. Sesshin practice is for more experienced practitioners and we ask that you speak to one of the teachers if you are planning to apply.
As well as sesshin, once a year in June we hold a seven-day summer retreat with a lighter schedule. It is particularly suitable for members who are on their first Zen retreat.
Residential Zen training
Intensive Zen retreat, or sesshin, is one form of Zen practice. Between sesshins, another form of practice is offered to members: Zen training. Instead of focussing so strongly on formal zazen, we move from the base of our daily meditation practice into staying aware and present during all activities, whether working, socialising, eating or playing.
The training schedule typically includes five hours of formal sitting each day, four hours of work and several hours of unstructured time. Dokusan (a private meeting with the teacher) is offered regularly to enable students to receive individual guidance on their practice. One day a week has no formal schedule.
People usually come to Zengården once they have established a Zen practice through one of our city centers. We recognise that it can be difficult to take part in a retreat for the first time. An extended introduction, including explanations to the different parts of the full day schedule, is useful to many members who want to take part in the events at Zengården. For this reason, in the summer each year, we offer a small number of people who are genuinely interested in finding out whether this practice is for them the chance to participate in a 5-day retreat. During the retreat, participants learn everything they need to know to get started in Zen and about the practice at Zengården. If you would like more information about this, please contact us.