Some forethought and prep can help you create a more supportive environment for sesshin 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.

Using Zoom

  • Download the Zoom app onto your device, and get oriented with these functions (they show up in different places on tablets and laptops):
      • Mute/Unmute: Whenever you enter the zendo (main session) you’ll automatically be muted. Don’t unmute yourself in the zendo.  Do unmute in the dokusan room.
      • Stop/Start Video: Keep video on when sitting except if you’re having internet problems.  Stop video if you’re interrupted during sitting or when you’re not at your seat during breaks.
      • Rename:  Each time you enter the zendo, make sure your screen name is YOUR name. One way to change it is to click “Participants”, hover over your name, click “More” and “Rename”.
      • Chat: If you need to send a note to the monitor, one way to do this is to click  “Chat”, click on the list to select the “host” (which will be at the top of the list), then type and send your message.  The default is to send the chat to “Everyone”.  Be careful not to the send the chat to everyone.
      • Gallery/Speaker View: We suggest using gallery view for sitting, speaker view for dokusan, if you wish.
  • Hover over your own video and click “…” for additional options like “Hide Self View” in which others can still see you, but you won’t get distracted by looking at yourself.
  • Dim your screen during rounds of sitting to prevent distraction.
  • You’re also free to turn your volume up or down as you wish, but do make sure your volume and microphone are turned up for dokusan.
  • 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 to know your dokusan group number. Go only once during the block and only go when your group is called.
  • At the beginning of each block of dokusan everyone will receive an invitation to dokusan on their screen. 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 later by clicking “Breakout Rooms” on your screen (at the bottom on a laptop, in the upper right corner on a tablet).
  • When you accept the invitation to join a Breakout Room, you’ll go to your own dokusan room and be there alone. The teacher will join you there. When you arrive, immediately unmute to prepare for dokusan, then continue facing the wall in zazen.
  • When you hear the teacher’s hand bell, swivel around to face your device.  You and the teacher will bow to each other, then state what practice you’re working on and begin.
  • When dokusan is over, bow to each other again then return to the zendo (main session) by clicking the blue “Leave” button. Choose “Leave Breakout Room”.

Dokusan for couples using the same device

  • Both people will be in the same dokusan group and will use the same breakout room.
  • If only one person wants to go, the process is the same as “Going to Dokusan” above.
  • If both want to go to dokusan:
    • One of them accepts the invitation, does dokusan, but does NOT click the blue “Leave” button to exit the breakout room when the teacher does.
    • Instead, the two switch places while the teacher is away.
    • The teacher will see the breakout room is still occupied and will return to do dokusan with the second person.
    • The second person clicks “Leave” when their dokusan is finished.

Technical Difficulties

  • If you have trouble signing onto the meeting, check 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.