Ritual Form in the Zendo

Newcomers are not expected to know these practices,conventions we refer to as form, and should feel free to ask questions after weekly sitting and other events. On the first night of most retreats, we do a thorough orientation to zendo forms before entering silence. If this is your first time, please review some of the essential forms below.

Shoes: At the entryway of the zendo, please place your shoes neatly besides others. This ritual initiates our intention to slow down, practice mindfulness, and respect the harmony of the group.

Entering the Zendo: When we enter the zendo, we pause and make a standing bow with our palms together towards the center of the room. This is a recognition of putting aside the distraction in our minds and entering sacred space.

At your cushion: When you approach your cushion, make another standing bow, then turn and bow again to the seat across from you, even if no one is sitting there at the time.  When you are seated, and someone sits across from you and bows, you return their bow in respect and greeting. Whenever we leave our cushions after sitting, its customary to brush off the surface of the zabuton and fluff the zafu in consideration of the next practitioner who will use them.

Chant Cards or Books: Be mindful of the sutra chant cards or books during sitting. They should be handled carefully and placed under your cushion when not in use. When you leave your seat, please leave the chant card or book on top of your zafu or zabuton.

If you have any questions about zendo forms, please ask one of the teachers, a senior student or designated greeter for that evening.

Audio: Introduction to Zen Ritual