Retreat Descriptions


This is an extended, silent retreat usually lasting from 3 to 9 days. Literally meaning “to unify the mind,” sesshin is when we set aside the regular Center schedule and devote ourselves to continuous samadhi practice. Each day, several blocks of meditation are integrated with walking meditation, face-to-face meetings with a teacher, mindful work practice, chanting, oryoki meals, dharma talks and rest periods. Here is a sample sesshin schedule.

Beginners Sesshin

This introductory sesshin is designed to introduce you to sesshin practice by providing more opportunities for instruction, questions, and explanation than would ordinarily be possible in the silence of sesshin. In addition, the sitting periods are shorter and the zazen schedule lighter.


Zazenkai is a daylong retreat devoted to samadhi practice, with Great Silence observed throughout the day. This is an opportunity to intensify and deepen your practice through the experience of periods of uninterrupted meditation (zazen), walking meditation (kinhin), a dharma talk or seminar, service, mindful work practice, meals, and face-to-face meetings with a teacher. Open to everyone. The schedule is similar to a day of sesshin. While this is a one-day retreat, preparations usually begin the night before with registration and zazen. For sample schedule, click here.


Traditionally, Tangaryo is an all-day sitting done by members upon entering the temple. At ZCLA, while Tangaryo is required of new members, it is open to all, and group Tangaryo days are frequently attended by long-time zen students. You may sit on your own, under the guidance of an experienced practitioner, or at a date agreed upon by you and the coordinator. Contact our office to arrange a time for individual Tangaryo. Group Tangaryos take place twice a year, usually in March and September. During this day, practice is unstructured: no bells, no teacher. Typically the sitting lasts from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with an hour off for lunch and a tea/discussion to end the day. Silent, informal lunch is provided. The day starts at 8:00 a.m. with orientation and ends around 4:30 p.m. with tea and cookies.

Garden Zazen

Bare-bones zazen in the ZCLA Garden. This is a once a year event that everyone is encouraged to attend! Please bring a beach towel or blanket on which to place a zabuton on the grass if you intend to sit outside. And don’t forget sunscreen and a hat. You may participate for all or part of it and may join or return to your seat up to 8 minutes past the hour.