Weekend Silent Retreat (Sesshin)


Due to COVID-19, the November retreat is canceled. Please check this page in the Fall of 2020 to see if our Spring Weekend Retreat will be able to take place as usual.

Our twice-annual Weekend Silent Retreat at the Garrison Institute in the Hudson Valley 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 people who have no prior experience but who wish to be introduced to the disciplines of Zen.

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, or dokusan -- a private meeting with one of our teachers -- is available for all those who attend the retreat.

Participants who have Zen experience but are new to our sangha receive a brief introduction to our forms on Friday evening A general outline of the schedule follows as does information on our Introduction to Zen Program.

A sitting period consists of three 25-minute blocks of  sitting meditation with walking meditation in between.

6 pm     Dinner
7 pm     Welcome, followed by a sitting period
9 pm     Retire
6 am     Sitting period, followed by breakfast and a break
10 am    Dharma talk, then a sitting period, chanting service, lunch, rest
2 pm     Dharma talk, two sitting periods, break, rest periods, dinner
7 pm     Sitting period
6 am    
Sitting period, followed by breakfast and a break
9 am     Sitting period
11-1 pm  Close of retreat, lunch, depart

Introduction to Zen Program

Please note that enrollment for this program is limited.

Participants with no Zen experience take part in the Introduction to Zen component, receiving instruction and ongoing support during the weekend from one of our teachers. 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 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, and 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.  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:
November 8-10, 2019 & February 7-9, 2020

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.

The retreat is held at the 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.

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

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.

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.

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