Sitting Hall Procedures
The evening typically follows this pattern:
- Prior to the formal sitting period, there is a Dogen class. You are welcome to join us for both the Dogen class and the sitting period or arrive just for the sitting period that begins at 6:30 pm.
- A few minutes before the scheduled starting time, everyone will begin sitting quietly, on either a meditation cushion or bench or in a chair.
- The service begins with the practice leader lighting incense. Then everyone will join in a short period of chanting from our liturgy book. Newcomers generally just listen to the chanting until they get the sense of each chant's rhythm.
- The chanting is followed by two 25-minute periods of sitting meditation with a 5-minute period of walking meditation (kinhin) between the sitting periods.
- We follow a three-week rotation in which one of the two sitting periods includes either a Dharma talk by our teacher, private interviews with the teacher to ask questions related to your meditation practice (dokusan) or a longer chanting service.
- Individuals needing to go to the restroom or to leave before the service ends are encouraged to do so during the walking meditation period so as to minimize disturbances during the other parts of the service.
- The sitting ends with a short chant and 3 bows. These are standing bows or full bows (where one kneels and touches the forehead to the floor). Individuals uncomfortable with or unable to do full bows may do standing bows, or simply stand.
- Newcomers will notice that there seems to be numerous rules for how to do everything--don't worry about this at all! It is true; there are a lot of rules. The purpose of these rules is so that during services people don't have to think about what to do - another way to help still the mind. Of course, for newcomers, these many rules don't have the same effect. Do not worry about them for now. Everything is done slowly. Just imitate the people who seem to know what they are doing.
- If you have any questions, please contact us.