Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

Sesshin  (Zen Meditation Retreat)

Sesshin is a period of time, usually ranging from 2 - 7 days, in which silence is maintained and the focus is on zazen. Sesshin is a cornerstone of Zen practice for which there is no substitute—it is essential for any practitioner who hopes to gain insight into their true nature.

Sesshin, while commonly understood as a Zen retreat, literally means to unite the mind. It is an opportunity to gather together one's energy and concentrate it in order to clarify the great matter that is our life. We do sesshin as a group as the support that each person gives to the others is vital for a strong sesshin.

At Yokoji we hold around 10 sesshin per year. There are three 7-day sesshin during each training period, both spring and fall, and then two or three weekend sesshin during the summer and winter. Sesshin is affordable (see pricing structure), but for those who would like to contribute time rather than money, check out our Volunteer program. Sesshin is pivotal for serious practitioners. It compliments a daily sitting practice and allows a period of time when each person can sink in to the silence and take the rare opportunity to look closely at their life. The shorter sesshins are ideal for beginners, and every year we hold a Beginner's Mind Sesshin, aimed specifically at new practitioners. It is best to take part in at least one of the shorter sesshin before signing up for a longer one, if possible. The schedule is full and the days are long, so it works best to experience a weekend-long sesshin first. We also encourage newcomers to attend a Day of Zen Practice first, which we hold every two months. Please check the events page to see when the next one is.

You can come for just part of the time for a sesshin if you can't make the whole thing. We ask people who don't have much experience with zen or sesshin to make sure they are there for the first night of training, however.

Sesshin participants talk about their experience at the end of a 7-day retreat.