Down the centuries, the Zen tradition has found that concentrated periods of time, devoted exclusively to practice can effectively lead to great openings and shifts of awareness. With wholehearted practice you will experience kensho or satori – the enlightenment of Zen, in which you will “astonish the heavens and shake the earth.”
A sesshin is a formal Zen retreat, usually lasting 5 days. It includes periods of sitting meditation, walking meditation, sanzen (private Zen interviews), and sometimes working meditation.
Click here to read some experiences from past retreat participants
All our Zen retreats are suitable for beginners as well as more experienced practitioners who wish to deepen their study. They are designed for adults who are able, for the retreat period, to devote themselves solely to the activities of the retreat. If you have been suffering from severe mental health difficulties, a less intensive retreat format may be more suitable for you. Please discuss with us. Our retreats are not suitable for children.
Accomodation and food
Typical accomodation is typically in shared rooms. It may be possible at certain to venues to pay extra for a single room. For the duration of the retreat, couples are encouraged to sleep separately, and in order to facilitate the high energy states of retreat, we ask that no sexual contact goes on. Our retreat locations are all non-smoking and alcohol-free.
A Typical Sesshin Schedule
Our retreat schedules will typically begin early and carry on into the evening. You are asked to participate fully and whole-heartedly with all activities. Every activity can be adapted in the case of physical difficulties. We keep silence as much as possible during the retreat and ask you to speak only when necessary, for example when you have to clarify the scope of work or need an extra blanket or something unexpected has cropped up. This helps you to keep awareness and focus as much as possible. Be mindful and offer your help to others unobtrusively. Remember that if you chat you may destroy your own and others’ chances of deep insights.
The retreat fomat has been refined over the years and centuries to be powerfully effective in helping you to find your true nature. During the retreat time you will be asked to put any other spiritual practices to one side and concentrate wholeheartedly on the activities as given.
Dana – giving – is a precious gift. Your retreat is given in a spirit of generosity. The teachers and assistants are not paid. The opportunity for people to respond with gratitude by accessing their own quality of generosity has been a part of Buddhist teaching ever since the days of the Buddha. At the end of each retreat, please consider the profound value of the teachings and of those who offer them. You are welcome to respond with an offering of dana. This is entirely voluntary and anonymous. We deeply appreciate your offering.
Taking it Further
There will be guidance available on developing your practice and, if you wish, becoming a Zenways member.