Weekend Silent Retreat (Sesshin)

Weekend Silent Retreat (Sesshin)

Our twice-annual Weekend Silent Retreat at the Garrison Institute 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 COVID-19, the retreats are canceled until further notice. Please check this page in September 2021 to see if our Fall Retreat will take place.

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.

The Garrison Institute is easily accessible by MetroNorth trains, with complimentary van service. 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, and 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:
The retreats are usually held in November and March; no retreats are currently scheduled due to Covid-19

Cost: (payable with registration)

  • Single room: $350 (members); $400 (non-members)
    ~ If paying by PayPal, $360 members / $410 non-members)
  • Double room: $300 (members); $350 (non-members)
    ~ If paying by PayPal, $310 members / $360 non-members)
  • Triple/quad room: $260 (members); $300 (non-members)
    ~ If paying by PayPal, $265 members / $310 non-members
  • Financial assistance is available to SMZ members; please email for details

Location: The retreat is held at thee Garrison Institute, located on the banks of the Hudson River in Garrison, N.Y., one hour north of the George Washington Bridge. Metro North trains from Grand Central Station in NYC afford public transport to Garrison Landing, with complimentary van service to and from the retreat house.

The rooms are singles, doubles, or triples/quads with varying rates. The gracious atmosphere and lovely grounds, along with 6 excellent vegetarian meals that are often made with local ingredients, make the Garrison Institute an ideal location for our retreats. The Institute website has further information along with a photo guide to the facility.

Please print and fill out this Weekend-Retreat-form-2019-2020. 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.