Meditation Periods

Practice Guidelines

The zendo atmosphere arises from the attitudes of the participants. We share this space not only to advance our own practice, but to support each other. We gain strength in our practice when we sit together. Common courtesy and consistent procedures promote awareness, stillness, and calm. Zen training requires flexibility, not rigid attitudes or actions. Guidelines are intended to support practice.

Sitting periods

Sitting periods are 30 minutes each. Please be seated at least five minutes before the start of the first sitting period, when the wooden clappers are sounded. The bell will sound three times for the start of the sitting period, and again to signal the end of a sitting period. Between two sitting periods there is a period of mindful walking practice, called kinhin, signaled by two bells, or a short interval for stretching or changing position signaled by a single bell.

Stillness (the most important practice principle): Please sit physically still, not moving or blowing the nose; breathe in an ordinary manner (not loudly); do not look around or talk.

Quiet and calm: Wear clean, dignified, and comfortable clothing. Please do not wear shorts or sleeveless tops in the zendo. Please also avoid perfume, flashy or noisy jewelry, distracting prints, or loud colors. Silence your phones and other electronic devices.

In the Zendo
Keep your eyes down; do not look about as this is distracting for yourself and others.

Bowing: Start with palms together, hands in front of your mouth, then bow at a 45-degree angle.
We bow to express our respect and appreciation. Bow as you:

1. Enter the zendo (not as you leave)
2. Sit down (arrange your cushion, bow to it, bow in the opposite direction; sit, turn toward the wall)
3. As a person next to you bows and sits (only before the first sitting)

There is no talking in the zendo; please signal the practice leader and leave the zendo for instructions or help that requires talking.

Please do not enter or leave the zendo during a sitting. If you arrive late during evening zazen, please use the back door and take a seat in the kitchen, then enter at the break between sitting periods.

Walking meditation (kinhin)

Kinhin is walking meditation between sittings. Make mindful transitions from sitting to walking, as a continuation of zazen. At the bell to end the period, stand with palms together; at the first clapper, bow, turn to the left, form your left hand into a fist with thumb inside and place right hand over it at chest level. Space yourself evenly in the room. On the second clapper, begin slow kinhin, and at the third, faster kinhin; on the fourth clapper, continue walking briskly until you reach your seat, bow, and be seated. You may use the restroom during kinhin; please wait until the second clapper sounds to signal the beginning of the walking meditation, unless it is an emergency.