Sesshin is an opportunity to deepen your practice of zazen over a period of time; sometimes a couple of days, sometimes a week or more.

“Sesshin: ses, to touch, and shin, the true mind. Quite simply turning the gaze inwards. You could also say for sesshin: decreasing the desires. Master Deshimaru used to say “collecting the mind.” He would also say, “Reining in…”[1]

During this period of time all the participants live as one community. The habits of everyday life are set aside and everyone follows the same timetable, sharing periods of zazen practice, the meals and the work needed to facilitate the sesshin.

Going to sesshin is an opportunity to experience the three treasures of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, but particularly Sangha. Letting go of your personal needs and wishes and experiencing life as part of a Sangha (community of practitioners) is best discovered through sesshin. This act of discovery enables us to concentrate the mind so that we can follow and participate in an act of both giving and receiving.

“In ordinary life we are all playing a social game. Here (at sesshin) that is not necessary. Abandon your usual game, abandon the face that you show to others, find your authentic face. Becoming authentic is the meaning of sesshin. To be authentic is the most restful thing. Forget ties, forget complications, forget all that leads you by the nose, whether external or internal; there is no difference. Become simple, become light, become free. That is sesshin.”[2]

IZAUK usually invites a senior teacher to direct a sesshin, so for those taking part, it is also an opportunity to make contact with and learn from monks and nuns who have a deep experience of Zen practice.

It is essential to book your place in advance

[1] Rei Ryu Philippe Coupey
[2] Laure Scemema.

Zen Days

A Zen Day is a whole day dedicated to Zen practice. It usually takes place in a hired venue and begins quite early in the morning, most frequently at a weekend. Both beginners and experienced practitioners are welcome.

Like Sesshin, a Zen Day provides an opportunity to deepen your experience of the practice. Practitioners may come from all dojos and the responsibilities for the way the day progresses will be shared amongst those taking part. It is an opportunity to experience Sangha, working and practising together as a Zen community.

There will be several sessions of zazen throughout the day, interspersed with ceremony, eating meals together and samu (working for the sangha) which could involve helping in the kitchen, serving meals, or cleaning and preparing the venue, and finally returning the venue to its original state.

During a Zen Day the practice unfolds like everyday life, but rather than being guided by your own personal needs, it enables you to put aside those things and simply follow the unfolding in an open and mentally uncluttered way.

IZAUK Zen Days are usually directed by a senior teacher in the practice, enabling everyone to participate through the guidance of a monk or nun with a long and sincere experience in the practice.

It is essential to book your place in advance.