APPLYING FOR SESSHIN
The sesshin application is available on the Center’s website. For most sesshins the deadline is 23 days before sesshin starts. The deadline for two-day sesshins is eight days before the sesshin starts. Even if the deadline has passed, however, feel free to apply late – your application will still be considered if there is room in the sesshin. If you feel you need to book a flight before the sesshin deadline, you can ask for an early acceptance decision, and we will try to accommodate you.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
Sesshins that start on a weeknight: check-in begins at Chapin Mill at 5:30 pm (opening ceremony starts around 8 pm)
Sesshins that start on Saturday: check-in begins at Chapin Mill at 4:30 pm
(opening ceremony starts around 7 pm).
Please let the Center know as far in advance as possible the details of your arrival: day, time, and mode of transportation (airline and flight number if applicable), and the day of your departure. Generally we try to pick up people at the Rochester airport, but as this is not always possible, be prepared to take a taxi to the Center – or to Chapin Mill if you are arriving less than one hour before sesshin check-in time. For example, for a seven-day sesshin, if your flight arrives after 3:30 on Saturday you will need to take a taxi to Chapin Mill.
If you are arriving a day or more before sesshin starts and want to be picked up at the airport, please arrive before 8 pm. If arriving later than 8 pm you will need to take a taxi to the Center (about $25), and be sure you know the code to get in the back door.
If you are picked up at the airport, you are asked to make a donation to cover gas costs. Ask your driver for a recommended payment amount.
If your flight has been delayed and you will be arriving late for sesshin, please call the Chapin Mill emergency contact number, 585-343-5684, and leave a message.
If you drive and arrive the day of sesshin, go directly to Chapin Mill. Directions are below, and can also be found on the Zen Center website along with a map. If you live locally and are willing to pick someone up from the airport on your way to Chapin Mill, please let the receptionist know.
See the greeters as soon as you arrive at Chapin Mill to get your room, shower time, zendo seat, and work assignments. You will need to see your work supervisor and possibly meet with the sesshin monitors, so it is important to be punctual. No meal is served on the first night of sesshin, but you are welcome to help yourself to leftovers, which are put out in the dining room around 4:30.
Sesshin ends with a closing ceremony in the early afternoon, followed by an optional lunch, usually around 2 pm. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport, especially in the winter. In good weather it takes about 30 minutes to get from Chapin Mill to the Rochester airport. Seven-day sesshins officially conclude on Saturday, but on
Sunday morning there is always a final, festive breakfast at 9:00 am in Rochester, so do stay for that if you can. On the Saturday night after sesshin, participants may stay at Chapin Mill or at Arnold Park (if there’s room). Please let us know in advance if you’ll need a bed.
The address of the Chapin Mill Retreat Center is 8570 Retreat Center Drive, Batavia, NY.
From the Rochester area: Proceed west from Rochester for 20 miles on I-490 to Exit #2 (Route 33 – Bergen and Batavia). Exit #2 is the second exit for Route 33; the first is just a few miles outside of Rochester. After exiting, turn right onto Route 33, and head west toward Batavia. Continue 11 miles (at 10 miles, you’ll cross over the New York State Thruway) to a traffic light with an ArrowMart store and gas station at the far right corner. This is Seven Springs Road. Take a left, go over the railroad tracks, then drive another half mile until you see the sign for Chapin Mill on the left.
From other locations: Take I-90 (the New York State Thruway) to Exit 48 for Batavia. Turn left onto Route 98 (Oak Street). In Batavia, turn left onto Route 5 (Main Street) and then bear left at the fork in the middle of town, staying on Route 5 until you are out of the city. You will go past two auto dealerships on opposite sides of the road. Watch on the left for a house near the road with two white brick pillars. Soon after, turn left onto Seven Springs Road. Drive a little less than a half mile and turn right into the driveway of the Retreat Center.
A cancellation shortly before sesshin may prevent another member from attending; therefore, except in cases where urgent medical, personal or business circumstances prevent you from attending sesshin, the sesshin contribution will not be returned unless a cancellation is made at least four days before sesshin begins.
WHAT TO BRING
- Brown sitting robe (please note that loaner robe sizes are limited at Chapin Mill)
- Raincoat or jacket
- Wristwatch (not to be worn for formal zazen, but handy for breaks)
- Towel and washcloth
- Any necessary toiletries including deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste (keep in mind that scented shampoos and lotions can be distracting to others in the close quarters of the zendo and dormitories)
- Old clothes for work. For kitchen work, we ask that you wear close-toed indoor shoes.
- Soft-soled footwear for the morning outdoor kinhin.
- Loose clothing for the exercise period (work and exercise clothes should not have words, pictures, or distracting patterns or artwork on them, and very short or tight shorts, and tank tops are not appropriate)
- Dark socks (white socks are not to be worn in the zendo).
You may also want to bring a pair of slip-on shoes for quick trips outside, and, in summer, insect repellent and a swimsuit for swimming after sesshin. Keep in mind that weather in the Rochester area often fluctuates wildly over the course of sesshin. For cold-weather sesshins, be sure to bring warm clothing. The zendo is heated to 60° F.
If you bring a cell phone, turn it off for the duration of sesshin. If you are taking prescription medications, you may keep a container of water in your room for taking them. Do not be tempted to change your medications or reduce dosages for sesshin unless your doctor recommends it.
To help cut down on post-sesshin laundry, if you are coming by car, please bring your own bed linen or sleeping bag (and pillow if you wish). Zen Center sheets and blankets are available for people who are flying.
Sesshin guidelines and an article about the use of the kyosaku are posted on the website. Study them thoroughly before you arrive. If you have any questions, speak to the Head Monitor.
The emergency contact number is 585-343-5684. Sesshin monitors check messages at least five times a day. The person calling needs to leave his or her name and number in the message, as the monitors may need to call back to clarify the situation. One of the treasures of sesshin is the almost total removal from daily cares, so the monitors do not lightly interrupt a participant’s concentration.
For that reason, please talk to your spouse and/or other family members who may need to contact you in an emergency. Make sure they know that they should not hesitate to call in case of a true emergency, but also that they should carefully consider the urgency of the message. If it is feasible to wait until the end of sesshin, that would be preferable. It may help to discuss different types of emergencies with them and when you would or would not like to be contacted. The time spent in sesshin is a rare opportunity for seclusion and silence, which is especially important if you can attend only one or two a year.