Some forethought and prep can help you create a more supportive environment for sitting and help you to make the most of this opportunity.
Create Your Space
- Check the wifi signal where you plan to sit.
- If possible, arrange yourself to sit facing a bare wall with your computer set up nearby and to your side. Get your camera up at eye level, so we’re not looking up at you from below.
- Before sesshin starts, choose where you will walk for kinhin (if you have the space), and clear it of distraction or clutter.
- Having a Buddha figure or picture and/or lighting incense may reinforce your intention for sitting.
Meals and Gear
- Plan Your Meals: Before sesshin begins, reduce the number of decisions you’ll have to make during sesshin. Plan out your meals, or even have them ready to pull out of the fridge.
- Have your mat, cushions, and supports at the ready. The less arranging you have to do between rounds of sitting, the more focused you can stay.
- Turn off your phone AND leave it in a different room. Studies show that just knowing our phone is in the room with us can be distracting. Determine ahead of time if there is a reason you need to check your phone and when to do that.
- You will need to download the Zoom app onto your device. Get oriented to these functions (they show up in different places on tablets and laptops):
- Gallery/Speaker View. You can toggle back and forth between these two. Whichever you’re in, the other will be displayed in the corner of your screen so you can toggle back.
- Mute/Unmute. Be sure to unmute when you go to dokusan. Otherwise, stay muted.
- Video. This also toggles on and off.
- Before you go to dokusan, switching to “Speaker View” will minimize your own picture and put the teacher in the foreground. When you are IN Speaker View, the upper left or right corner says “Gallery View”.
- Dim your screen during rounds of sitting to prevent distraction.
- You’re also free to turn your volume up or down as you wish.
- Hover over your own video and click “…” for some options like “Hide Self View” in which others can still see you, but you won’t get distracted by looking at yourself.
- Make sure you’re correctly named (check the lower left corner of the box with your own video). If you click on “…”, you can rename yourself.
- To ensure Zoom flows smoothly for you, restart your device frequently.
Going to Dokusan
- As in live sesshin, you will be assigned to a dokusan group. Be sure you know your dokusan group number.
- Familiarize yourself with the following functions:
- Breakout Rooms
- Leave Room, Leave Meeting
- At the beginning of each block of dokusan everyone will receive an invitation to dokusan on their screen. Please accept the invitation ONLY if your group is called first and you wish to go. Otherwise click “Later.” You will be able to re-access the invitation when your group is called by clicking on Breakout Rooms on your screen. If you select “Later”, the Breakout Room will still be available (at the bottom on a laptop, in the upper right corner on a tablet).
- If you have accepted an invitation to go to dokusan, you will be moved to a Breakout Room where you’ll be sitting alone. You can continue in zazen with your screen to the side. Make sure to unmute yourself. When your turn comes, the teacher will join you and alert you with the ring of a bell. At that point, swivel around to face your screen. Make sure you have it up at eye level. Student and teacher bow to each other; then state your practice and begin. When your dokusan is over, select “Leave” and then select “Leave Room”, and you will move back to the zendo (the main meeting room).
- If you need to send a “note” to a monitor, use the Chat function. Send the note to the current monitor, who will appear first in the list of participants and be labeled as the “Host.” Be careful not the send the chat to “Everyone.”
- If your spouse or partner is also in sesshin, you will both be assigned to the same dokusan group. When your group number is called, if one or both of you wish to go, you’ll need to be in separate rooms until you’re done. The person in the other room can log onto the Center’s audio-livestream (https://www.rzc.org/library/streaming-audio/) so they won’t need to time their own rounds.
- If you have trouble signing onto the meeting, check https://www.status.zoom.us and keep trying. It’s always possible that there may be technical difficulties. The sound might drop out or the app might crash. Just roll with it. We’ll do our utmost to keep things flowing and reset things as there are issues. When in doubt, just keep sitting and mind the schedule.