Sesshin & Sitting Information

At least once a month, Berkeley Zen Center provides the opportunity to participatein extended sittings. In our tradition,these are referred to as sesshins. There areseveral types of sittings scheduled on a regular basis:

The following information applies to the Saturday and Sunday 1-day Sittings and the Multi-day Sittings. They share these common elements:

  • Alternating periods of
    zazen and kinhin
  • Meals served in the zendo,
    oryoki style
  • Lecture
  • Work Period
  • Short services consisting
    of bowing and chanting

See the sample schedule below. Actual schedules may vary, so please check the bulletin board, the Newsletter or the website for up to date information.

Sample Schedule
A sample schedule for a Saturday sitting is:

  • 5:00 Zazen
  • 5:40 Kinhin
  • 5:50 Zazen
  • 6:30 Service
  • 7:00 Breakfast
  • 7:45 Rest
  • 8:30 Zazen
  • 9:10 Kinhin
  • 9:20 Zazen
  • 10:00 Kinhin
  • 10:10 Lecture
  • 11:00 Kinhin
  • 11:10 Zazen
  • 11:50 Service
  • 12:00 Lunch
  • 12:45 Rest
  • 1:45 Work Meeting
  • 3:30 Cleanup
  • 3:45 Tea in the Zendo
  • 4:00 Kinhin
  • 4:10 Open Period
  • 5:30 Kinhin
  • 5:40 Zazen
  • 6:20 Service
  • 6:30 Supper
  • 7:10 Rest
  • 7:40 Zazen
  • 8:20 Kinhin
  • 8:30 Zazen
  • 9:10 Departing Refuges

Basic Information
Plan to attend the entire sesshin.The intention for sesshin is to participate fully in an extended sitting. If you cannot make the commitment to participate in the entire sitting, please consider a different sitting. For multi-day sesshins, there is a minimum number of days required.

If this is your first sesshin at Berkeley
Zen Center.Please contact the Sesshin Director before signing up. It is strongly recommended that you participate in a
full Saturday schedule (6 a..m to 11 a.m.) and that have experience in eating
oryoki style.

Meals served during sesshin are vegetarian,
but not necessarily vegan. The menu is posted in the kitchen prior to sesshin and on the bulletin board during sesshin. BZC is not able to provide special diets. However, if you have food allergies or special requirements, speak to the Sesshin Director to determine what accommodations
may be made.

What to bring
Do bring clothes to work in. Most sesshins include a period of work after lunch. This work can be in the garden or doing repair and maintenance. We recommend that you bring clothes that are suitable for work and for outdoor wear.
Bring items that you need for your personal comfort, for example an eye pillow for rest period.

What not to bring
We ask that people do not wear jewelry, watches or scents in the zendo. Do not bring valuables. Berkeley Zen Center is not responsible for items that are lost or stolen. It is best to leave valuables at home. Please do not wear scented body products or clothes washed with scented products.

Staying at Berkeley
Zen Center

Berkeley Zen Center has limited space
for overnight guests. However, we do accommodate people as much as we
are able. If you need overnight accommodations, contact the Shika.
The Shika takes care of guests. The Shika's name and number are posted on
the sign up sheet. Messages left at Berkeley Zen Center regarding staying overnight will be passed on the Shika

The fee for sesshin is $35 per day. With recognition that some people will not be able to pay the full amount, accommodations are readily made by contacting the sesshin director. We ask that participants pay in advance.

Signing Up
You must sign up ahead of time for all sittings. The usual method of signing up
is to write your name and phone number
on a sign up sheet thatis posted on the bulletin board at Berkeley Zen Center.
The sign up sheet is posted at least two weeks before the sesshin. The sign up deadline is usually three days before the sesshin, on the Wednesday morning before weekend sesshins. If you live out of town and cannot come to sign-up, you may contact BZC by phone but make sure to
do so at least 10 days before sesshin date. (Please note that it is not possible to sign up for Sesshin by e-mail.

Half-Day Sittings
Berkeley Zen Center offers several half-day sittings each year, which are great opportunities to focus on just zazen and are appropriate for beginning as well as experienced sitters. The Half-Days are held on Sunday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to noon. They include five periods of zazen ranging from 30 to 40 minutes, interspersed with walking meditation or kinhin. At 10:10 a.m., we have a 20-minute tea break outside or, in case of rain, in the community room. The co-directors are Peter Overton and Greg Denny. A sign-up sheet will be posted on the patio bulletin board approximately two and a half weeks before the sitting date. If you have questions about a particular sitting, contact the Half-Day directors at the Berkeley Zen Center email address: