Sesshin, a Zen Retreat For Intensive Meditative Practice
A sesshin is a period of intense traditional Zen training. A typical sesshin at the Clear Water Zen Center begins on a Wednesday evening and continues until the following Sunday afternoon. Dokusan (private interview with the teacher) is typically offered three times per day.
A sesshin can be a challenge. There are roughly 10 hours of formal sitting per day, with breaks for three meals, a work period for cleaning the zendo and surrounding grounds, a formal exercise period, and several rest periods. All of these activities are as valuable as sitting meditation; Zen practice teaches us how to be always mindful. We don’t “take a break” from our practice when we leave the zendo for the breakfast table, or for any other reason.
Noble silence is maintained throughout the sesshin.
Any participant would call sesshin a remarkable experience. Many have said a sesshin changed their lives. After their first sesshin, many people start attending as many sesshins as possible. Long-time students have developed more resonant voices, fluid movements, experienced increased responsive to people, animals, and nature, and everything around them. They become more decisive, worry less, and laugh more. Sesshin is hard but worth it.