The Zen Center provides numerous ways for you to become more deeply engaged in your Zen practice. The most important is attending sittings as regularly as you can. You will find that sitting with others at the Center, whether in-person or online, provides support that solitary practice does not, and your presence at sittings benefits others as well. Below are some of the other ways you can strengthen your practice.

Dokusan (dōk-sahn). A private encounter with a fully authorized Zen teacher, which may include koan work, dokusan is usually offered three times a week.

Private Instruction. This takes place with a senior student, and, though brief, may include emotional/interpersonal issues related to practice as well as posture and breath practice. Private Instruction is usually offered twice a week.

Jukai (jū-kī). Jukai, or taking the precepts, is a key Buddhist ceremony that serves as  a formal initiation into the Sangha. It is offered at the Center three times a year to anyone who wishes to participate.

Sesshin (seh-sheen). Literally,  “unifying the mind,” these intensive meditation seclusions at Chapin Mill, held in silence, may be 2, 4 or 7 days long.

Becoming a formal student of Roshi Kjolhede or Sensei Pulleyn. Once you have established a working relationship with Roshi or Sensei through participation in dokusan and feel an affinity with them as a teacher, you may ask them if you may become a formal student. A brief ceremony is then performed to formalize your relationship.

Volunteering. The Center depends heavily on volunteers, both at Arnold Park and at Chapin Mill. Just about any skill you have may be useful. Members help with cooking, cleaning, gardening, office work, and volunteering at special events — plus there are remote volunteer projects, such as writing. Learn more about volunteering.

Ralph Chapin Memorial Work Retreat. Every summer the Center schedules a four-day work retreat at Chapin Mill. Members are welcome to come for all or part of the work retreat; the daily schedule includes morning and evening sittings, dokusan, a half-day work period, and plenty of time for recreation. 

Training program. Any member may apply to participate in a live-in training program of one or more weeks. Trainees follow the full Center schedule, working with the resident staff. If you’re interested, please review our Resident Training Program page, which includes a link to an application form or contact the Center to speak with a staff member.

Term Intensives. Twice a year the Center conducts a Term Intensive, a three- or five-week period during which members pledge to intensify their practice. Participants in the Term Intensives write down their commitments and give them to the Head of Zendo; the commitments are then shared in the opening ceremony and reviewed each week in a meeting. Out-of-town members or those unable to attend the in-person meetings at Arnold Park may participate via Zoom.

Rakusu and Dharma name. Once you have committed yourself to the Buddha Way through taking the Precepts, you may wear that commitment during zazen with a rakusu, the bib-like vestment with an attached ring. It is traditional in Zen to sew your own rakusu and then have your teacher inscribe it with a Dharma name before formally receiving it from the teacher in a special ceremony.