Weekend Silent Retreat (Sesshin)

Weekend Silent Retreat (Sesshin)

Our twice-annual Weekend Silent Retreat at the Mariandale Retreat Center in the Hudson Valley of New York is open to the public, both to those currently engaged in Zen practice and those who would like to renew their commitment.

We also welcome those who have no prior Zen experience but who wish to be introduced to the disciplines of Zen. Beginners can take part in the Introduction to Zen component, receiving instruction and ongoing support during the weekend from one of our teachers.

Due to restricted attendance required by the retreat center, the November weekend retreat is open only to members of Still Mind. Information about the February retreat will be announced later.

The weekend, which begins on Friday evening with dinner at 6 pm and ends after lunch on Sunday, consists primarily of zazen (sitting meditation) and kin-hin (walking meditation) along with two dharma talks, a chanting service, meals, and rest periods. Daisan, an optional private meeting with one of our teachers, is available for all those who attend the retreat.

Participants who are new to our sangha but who have Zen experience (and therefore do not need the Introduction to Zen instruction) receive a brief overview of our meditation forms on Friday evening.

Mariandale is easily accessible by MetroNorth trains, with 5-minute taxi service from the station. Driving directions are provided at registration.

If you have any questions about the retreat, please don't hesitate to call (212-414-3128) or email us and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Retreat Schedule

A sitting period consists of three 25-minute blocks of sitting meditation (zazen) with walking meditation (kin-hin) in between.

6 pm: Group dinner
7 pm: Welcome, followed by a sitting period
9 pm: Retire

6 am: Sitting period, followed by breakfast and a morning break
10 am: Dharma talk, then a sitting period, chanting service, lunch, rest
2 pm: Dharma talk, two sitting periods, afternoon break, rest periods, dinner
7 pm: Sitting period
9 pm: Retire

6 am: Sitting period, followed by breakfast and a morning break
9 am: Sitting period
11 am - 1 pm: Close of retreat, lunch, depart

Arrival time:
Friday, anytime after 3 pm. Dinner is usually at 6 pm.
Departure time:

Sunday between 12 and 1 pm. Van to train at 12:45 pm.

Introduction to Zen Program

(Please note that enrollment for this program is limited.)

Zen is a rigorous practice, so the schedule for those participating in the Introduction component is a lighter one. That said, the retreat is primarily made up of periods of still and silent sitting meditation (see schedule above) which can be physically challenging, particularly for those new to the practice, and we maintain silence throughout the weekend in order to better practice present-moment awareness. Newcomers to Zen practice also tend to notice the fairly formal, structured quality of the retreat, adhering as it does to a strict schedule to help support our practice.

If you have any questions about the retreat, or your own readiness to join it, please don’t hesitate to call the zendo (212-414-3128) and one of the teachers or senior students will be happy to talk with you. Or simply sign up for the Intro on the registration form below.  You also may find it beneficial to attend one of our Saturday morning Introduction to Zen workshops to experience Zen meditation in a less extended, intensive way before committing to attend a retreat. We are here to support you in any way we can.

General Information

Next dates:
Friday, Nov. 19-Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021
Friday, Feb. 11-Sunday Feb. 13, 2022
Strict registration deadline: Two weeks before / Nov. 5 or Jan. 28; we regret there can be no reimbursement of fee after these dates

Cost: (payable with registration)

  • $275 for members of SMZ
  • $295 for non-members of SMZ
  • All rooms are single rooms
  • Financial assistance is available to SMZ members; please email for details

Location: The Mariandale Retreat Center is located on the banks of the Hudson River in Ossining, N.Y., and is about one hour north of the George Washington Bridge. Metro North trains from Grand Central Station in NYC afford public transport to Ossining station, with a 5-minute taxi ride to and from the retreat center.

In addition to all rooms being single, each has its own sink; bathroom facilities are shared. The retreat center has a private entrance, separate from the rest of the facility, and has an elevator. The welcoming atmosphere and lovely grounds, along with 6 excellent meals (with a vegetarian option) make Mariandale an ideal location for our retreats.

Please print and fill out the retreat registration form once it is posted in mid-August. Mail it with your payment, or deliver it to the zendo. You can also pay with PayPal -- see registration form for instructions.

If you wish to add a donation to help cover costs incurred by Still Mind Zendo, or donate to our financial assistance fund for those who need it, we would be most grateful. Just add the amount you wish to donate to your registration check.

Registration Deadline: The deadlines to register are October 29 or January 28. After that, there will be an additional late registration fee of $20. If registering the day before sesshin (Thursday), the late fee rises to $50.

Travel directions and train schedule will be e-mailed upon receipt of registration form and check.