A Zen retreat is called a sesshin, means “to gather the mind.” This ancient ritual involves setting aside time from our usual concerns to contact our direct experience and often has a profound impact on practice, deepening our relationship to zazen. Sesshin helps us discover how to move with ease in the world as we encounter and let go of our habitual oppositional states of mind that cause us suffering. Zen retreats are precious opportunities to put aside our goal-oriented busy lives and rest in the retreat container, allowing us to become exquisitely present to the moment-to-moment flow of life.
Zen retreats typically involve keeping a precise daily schedule that helps the group to move in harmony with one another between concentrated periods of meditation, mindful activity, contemplation, and rest. Participants practice silence with the exception of chanting and some necessary instructions for work. In addition to listening to teachings, retreatants also have a chance to meet one-on-one with retreat leaders for guidance, encouragement and support. If you are interested in experiencing Zen sesshin, we recommend one day Beginner’s Mind Retreats which are excellent entry points to this practice.