The tradition of the intensive practice period dates back to the time of the Buddha when, during the rainy season, the Buddha and his disciples gathered in one place to meditate and study together. As our own rainy season approaches here in the Pacific Northwest, we will hold our 16th annual Mountain Rain practice period.
In Zen monasteries intensive practice periods traditionally last for three months, but ours is shorter, designed to support participants to intensify and strengthen their practice while living in the midst of family and work responsibilities. This year's practice period will be led by resident teachers Myoshin Kate McCandless. and Shinmon Michael Newton and our theme will be the Lotus Sutra. They will lead the opening weekend retreat and a Wednesday evening and Sunday morning dharma study series. Practice period culminates in our annual Loon Lake six-day residential sesshin led by Zoketsu Norman Fischer, which follows the ancient rhythms of the monastic daily schedule, including meals with oryoki, the traditional three bowls used by monks.
This year we will not have a shuso or "head monk", but three of our former shusos, Ninen Susan Elbe, Joko Claire Talbot and Dai-i Flo Rublee, will each give a dharma talk and lead a Sunday or Wednesday dharma study session. They will also serve as practice mentors for long distance participants, (see below) and offer practice discussion for local participants.
How to Participate
There are no specific requirements for participation, though we encourage you to register (see below). It helps to give your practice period some structure, in terms of beginning, ending and weekly practice. Various possible components are listed below as suggestions. Please take into consideration your family and work commitments and decide what will best nourish your practice.
- Home sitting practice
- Practice at the zendo
- Dokusan (individual meetings) with resident teachers and practice discussion with sangha leaders. (See below.)
- Participation in a practice period dyad/triad. (See below.)
- Participation in practice period retreats
- Participation in practice period classes
- "Zen Arts" practice (This can be broadly defined as any art/craft practiced with mindful awareness.)
- Family and/or work as practice
- Engaged Buddhist practice (service/activism)
- Commitment to simplify or restrict personal lifestyle
- Specific personal mindfulness practices
Download PDF: 2015 Practice Period Schedule of Events
Practice Period Dyads/Triads
This year we'd like to encourage local participants, or long distance participants who live in the same area, to join a Practice Period Dyad/Triad. This is a small group of two or three people who ideally will meet at the beginning, mid-point and end of the practice period for discussion and support, in person or by phone. If you would like to join a dyad/triad please sign up on the registration form below. You can form a group with someone you know, or we'd be happy to match you up with a group.
For those who live at a distance, dharma talks will be made available on the website soon after they have been given. Dokusan (discussion about your practice) with resident teachers Shinmon Michael and Myoshin Kate is available by phone. Our practice leaders, Susan, Flo or Claire will also serve as a practice mentors by phone or e-mail for long-distance participants. Specific guidelines will be given. Please indicate on the registration form below if you would like any of these options. Availability may be limited, depending on how many requests we receive.
This registration form below will help you plan your practice period and clarify your intentions in advance. Anyone is welcome to participate in the events during practice period, but if you register as a participant, it will affirm your commitment, and you will receive weekly email updates, resources and suggestions for discussion. Participants are invited to send in reflections, questions, photos, or poems to share with other participants, and we’ll post them in the weekly newsletter, but not publically on the website.
Practice period is a wonderful way to strengthen and nourish your practice, supported by the sangha. We hope you’ll be able to participate in whatever way is best for you.
Please click the link below to open the registration form: