Retreat guidelines are read aloud by the shuso at the beginning of the first zazen period at each sesshin. The following is an example of typical guidelines for a retreat.
Retreats at Dharma Rain are silent and emphasize mindfulness. It is a powerful experience to spend time with a group of people all cultivating awareness. We remain silent inside, keeping the mind quiet for our own benefit and the benefit of others. We keep silence outside by not talking or making eye contact. Please keep this practice continuous throughout the retreat day, including meal cleanup, work periods, and breaks.
My name is ____. I am the shuso in charge of logistics for this retreat. The retreat guidelines that follow help us move together smoothly during this time of focused inquiry. Accepting these forms helps us to release habitual judging and decision-making and feel the support of the sangha.
Guidelines in the Zendo
During the sesshin there should be no cell phone, telephone, or computer use unless it is an emergency; if a need arises, please consult with the shuso.
Be on time to the zendo. Being on time to the zendo means being in place by the end of the ring-down on the densho bell. By being on time, we practice gratitude and willingness with our bodies. If you arrive to zazen late, please come in and sit as quietly as possible.
Please do not wear perfume or strong scents into the zendo.
When entering the zendo, make a standing bow at the zendo entrance. Then walk to your seat, walking in front of as few people as possible.
When you arrive at your seat, bow once toward the front of your seat. The front of your seat is the side toward the center of the zendo. Then turn around, bow once to the sangha, and sit down. When the person right beside you or directly across from you bows to their seat, a nice way to acknowledge their practice is to gassho (put palms together) in greeting.
When walking in the zendo, keep hands in shashu. For shashu, place your left hand in a fist just above your navel and tuck your thumb into your hand. Then wrap your right hand around your left hand.
Once a period of zazen has started, please try to be as still as possible.
The quiet of the mind is in part dependent on the quiet of the body. However, if needed, you may adjust your position to prevent pain or injury. Please let the shuso know if you have physical needs that would be supported by being able to assume a lying down posture during meditation periods, and arrangements will be made to accommodate this.
During kinhin, or walking meditation, keep your hands in shashu and synchronize your steps with your breath.
If you need to use the restroom, kinhin is the time to do so. After the third strike of the inkin, leave the zendo, walking in front of as few people as possible.
If you leave the zendo during kinhin, take the mind of meditation with you. Continue to move quietly and unobtrusively. Please wait until the end of kinhin to re-enter the zendo.
Sanzen is a one-on-meeting with a teacher. It will sometimes be available during zazen. The jisha will announce sanzen at the beginning of the zazen period. To go to sanzen, get up when it is announced and go out of the zendo to the gaitan area in the dining room. If you need further assistance, ask the jisha.
Please keep your zazen area neat. You may use any equipment you need, including a chair. Straighten your seat every time you leave, except when you get up for kinhin.
Meals are eaten formally in the dining room. Please take what you wish to eat and eat everything you take. An opportunity for second helpings will be offered.
I will be in charge of zendo temperature and will try to keep it at a temperature conducive for zazen. Please do not open or close windows or doors or change heat settings.
Be mindful of personal hygiene. Please wash your hands after using the toilet, after sneezing or coughing, and before working in the kitchen. If you cough or sneeze, please turn your head and direct your cough into the crook of your arm rather than your hands.
If you need to take a shower, do so during a break or rest period. Please do not shower before early morning zazen or after evening zazen. Showers are available in the dorm unit closest to the Sodo. Please keep your showers short to allow others to have an opportunity.
Please keep your personal items and sleeping area clean and neat. If you are staying in a public space, pack away your personal items during the day.
If you are coming in and out of sesshin, notice the qualities of the space here and the space elsewhere. Do your best to enter into the container here fully when you come in, and to take some of it with you as you go.
Thank you for joining us in this practice. Sit well.