Lay practitioners can experience a taste of monastic life during Buddhist retreats called sesshins. The Floating Zendo offers at least one 7-day retreat a year, usually at Jikoji Zen Center on Skyline Blvd., near Los Gatos. During this time we practice silence, extended meditation periods, and participate in the chores which keep the zendo functioni
ng. Our meals become a service, with chanting and our meals are served oryoki style. In the afternoon, tea is served in the zendo and Angie offers a Dharma talk. Often there are special services performed during sesshin, such as Shuso or Lay Ordination.
Participation in a sesshin is a wonderful way to drop the concerns of our regular lives and see what comes up as we slow down and relax. Sitting with the Sangha keeps you upright on your cushion. The routine of the day gives you a framework to sink into. Our teacher offers comfort and encouragement. Our sesshins are open, so that those who cannot attend the whole week can come for a day or two. This is also a time when Angie’s remote students migrate to the Bay Area to be in her presence and participate in the Sangha.
“The meaning of sesshin is gathering the mind and the body…Sometimes it feels like our zazen practice is only about our mind, we think of it as taming our mind. First and foremost it’s a physical practice, it’s a body practice. Coming home to our body is the only way of zazen; there’s no zazen without it. Once we allow the body of us to be conscious, we become aware of the mystery, the deep mystery of it.” Angie Boissevain, Nehane-e Sesshin 2-2006