Sesshin schedules can vary somewhat, but the following schedule is typical. This is the schedule usually followed by the Clear Water Zen Center, Clearwater, Florida, for a short sesshin under the direction of Sensei Lawson Sachter and senior student Ken Rosen.
Arrive at the Zendo between 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for sesshin orientation on a Wednesday evening for a Thursday to Sunday sesshin. Light snacks are available after 9:30 p.m.
• 7:30 p.m. Sesshin formally opens with a tea ceremony, opening remarks by Sensei, and an incense ceremony
8:30 p.m. Zazen
9:30 p.m. Formal sitting ends
9:40 p.m. Yaza (Night sitting optional. We may sit anywhere anytime throughout the night or we may sleep)
Thursday – Saturday: • 5:00 a.m. Wake-up bell
5:15 a.m. fast kinhin (a relatively fast-paced outdoors walk that follows a path through the Zendo grounds. The walk lasts about ten minutes. Wear comfortable shoes).
5:30 a.m. Daily Zendo opening ceremony and first sitting (facing the center of the Zendo)
5:55 a.m. Chanting service. The chants may include Affirming Faith In Mind, Sho Sai Myo Kichijo Dharani, Kanzeon, and Return Of Merit.
6:20 a.m. Zazen and Dokusan
7:30 a.m. Formal breakfast. See the meal chants
8:00 a.m. Work period. We receive a work assignment. Jobs include sweeping uncarpeted areas, vacuuming carpets, washing dishes, cleaning toilets, washing windows, emptying trash cans, replacing towels, arranging zabutons (sitting cushions) and so on.
8:45 a.m. Rest period. Everyone is assigned a place to lie down and sleep or rest.
9:35 a.m. Ten minute bell (small hand bell) indicating that the rest period ends in 10 minutes
9:40 a.m. Five minute bell (large, hanging bell) indicating that zazen resumes in 5 minutes.
9:45 a.m. Zazen and Teisho. This includes three rounds of sitting. A Teisho (lecture) is delivered by Sensei during the second sitting. We may sit more casually during the Teisho as listening is the primary goal. Strong sitters may sit in a formal posture during Teisho if desired.
12:30 p.m. Lunch. This is an informal meal with no Meal Chants and no assigned seating at the table. People are free to lunch in any suitable location of their choice.
1:00 p.m. Rest period
1:25 p.m. Ten minute bell
1:30 p.m. Five minute bell
1:35 p.m. Zazen and Dokusan
3:30 p.m. This is a yoga and Tai Chi style, low impact exercise period that helps us stretch and relax for the rest of the day. A lengthy kinhin concludes the exercise period.
4:40 p.m. Zazen
5:30 p.m. Formal dinner. See the Meal Chants
5:45 p.m. Rest period
7:05 p.m. Ten minute bell ending rest period
7:10 p.m. Five minute bell
7:15 p.m. Zazen and Dokusan
9:30 p.m. Formal sitting ends
9:40 p.m. Yaza begins
Sunday: 5:00-8:00 a.m. Same as Thursday-Saturday
8:00 a.m. Work period
8:25 a.m. Rest period
9:20 a.m. Ten minute bell ending rest period
9:25 a.m. Five minute bell
9:30 a.m. Zazen and Dokusan
11:30 a.m. Light lunch (informal)
12:00 p.m. Zazen and Dokusan
2:30 p.m. Closing ceremony