While the daily training schedule is maintained year-round by the resident monastics, there are different ways to join short-term. Newcomers are recommended to first attend a regular five day Gyoji (continuous practice) week, or a sesshin (silent retreat of two to seven days). Many experienced Zen River members attend on a regular base and the community style program enables senior and junior practitioners to inspire each other. Those who wish to deepen their Zen experience are welcome to sign up for a longer period of time (up to three months to begin with).

Sesshins (silent retreats)

Sesshins are held once a month, and generally attract the maximum number of people Zen River can host. They are popular because of their strong focus on zazen (up to eight hours a day) which is highly conducive for a spiritual breakthrough. Newcomers receive introductory classes on the first day of sesshin. For those who enjoy the intense sesshin atmosphere, each Summer Ango (three-month training period) concludes with a month-long sesshin (divided in three five-day and one seven-day sesshin).

Gyoji (continuous practice) weeks

Although, compared to sesshins, the regular Gyoji weeks feature a gentler schedule, they often generate a stronger long-term effect—with more opportunities for individual practice, and social interaction with other participants. The general program consists of zazen (meditation), dokusan (private instruction), ritual services, Dharma talks, study classes, samu (work practice) and special events. It also includes classes that are not part of sesshin, such as the Sutra Reading Class and the Right Speech Class.

Please consult the calendar for more information about upcoming sesshins and Gyoji weeks.

Public service

A public service is held every Sunday night at 7:30 pm, and is open to anyone interested. Guests are requested to make an appointment and to arrive at 7:00 pm. After the service, there is an opportunity to join the evening meditation with residents and members (8:00–9:00 pm). These evenings are free of any contribution.

Gyoji week schedule

05:25 Wake up
06:00 Zazen
07:30 Morning Service
08:00 Breakfast (oryoki)
09:30 Samu
12:50 Noon service
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Rest
16:30-17:50 Individual practice;
zazen, study, yoga, bowing, exercise, sweeping, raking leaves, cleaning, etc.
18:00 Supper
19:30 Zazen
21:15 Four Vows
21:45 Lights out

Sunday: 11:30 Study class / 19:00 Public Service
Monday: 19:30 Zazen; River of Zen continuation class
Tuesday: 19:30 Introductory class
Wednesday: 19:30 Zazen; Right Speech Class

Sesshin Schedule

04:55 Wake up
05:00 Tea & Coffee
05:30 Zazen (3 periods)
07:30 Morning Service
08:00 Breakfast
09:15 Samu / work
10:45 Yoga/exercise
11:00 Tea & Coffee
11:30 Zazen & Dharma talk
12:40 Zazen
13:10 Noon Service
13:20 Lunch
15:30 Tea & Coffee
16:00 Zazen (3 periods)
17:50 Evening Service
18:00 Supper
19:30 Zazen (3 periods)
21:15 Four Vows
21:20 Tea
21:45 Lights out