Zen Practice Forms

We engage these forms as a way to support each other in our practice. We cultivate quiet, within and without, in our practice to help us most deeply encounter and embrace our lives in each moment. Please do not worry about getting them “right.” We have a gentle, accommodating approach.

Please plan to arrive a few minutes early.
Please make sure cell phones are set on silent, or leave them in your car.
Please be on time. If zazen has already started, please enter quietly.
Currently masks are optional for in-person events.


Zazen is sitting meditation, wholeheartedly engaging this moment, dropping off thoughts and views and returning to life here and now, over and over.
The beginning of zazen is signaled by three bells. During zazen, you may shift your position quietly as needed.
Sit upright on cushions or a chair, eyes open, hands folded in the zazen mudra.

The end of zazen is signaled by two bells if kinhin (walking meditation) follows, or by one bell otherwise. When the bell rings, gassho-bow before moving, and then turn, stretch your legs, and rise.
Fluff your zafu, straighten cushions or chair, gassho-bow to your place, and turn around.

Please follow along with the chanting and bows. Standing bows are fine if full bows pose some difficulty (see below).

Please “chant with your ears,” listening for the pitch and pace set by the chant leader, and then continuing to adjust your tone to harmonize with the assembly.
Chanting is a body practice. Please chant with your whole being. Chanting is a manifestation of our collective energy and harmony. Please chant with vigor, presence and intention.


GASSHO is a gesture of respect, with hands together palm to palm, fingers pointing up.

Joko, Jo-E, Jisho Roshi, and Toan
SHASHU is a gesture of mindfulness, with your hands held in front of your chest, the right hand wrapped around your left fist.

BOWING is done standing, with your hands in gassho or shashu; and it is done as a full bow, kneeling and touching your forehead to the floor or mat, hands palms up raised above your head.

FULL PROSTRATION is done from a standing position, bringing the forehead down to the floor, and lifting the palms, facing upward. This is an expression of reverence for, and aspiration to, awakening.

Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions.

Traditional Zen for the modern world