I am a Soto Zen priest and teacher. I worked at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School for many years, and have now retired to full-time Zen teaching and residency at Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, MA. www.worcesterzen.org, www.melissablacker.com
Dokusan is a brief opportunity for connection and dialogue between a Zen student and teacher. The word "dokusan" is Japanese for "going alone to see the teacher." There can be quite a bit of formality in the tradition -- the student enters the room, bows, takes a seat, and the meeting begins. I once heard a story about Soen Nakagawa Roshi leaving a pumpkin on his dokusan seat, and then hiding behind a screen to watch his surprised students enter, bow and react. Here is a version of this venerable tradition, taken at our recent sesshin.