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
This weekend we had our first online sesshin. A lot of work went into planning and running it, and the result was amazing. Many people, including me, talked about the power of the weekend, and how it felt like a "real" sesshin. We pointed out that in fact it was real, just not in person and not at the Temple. We went back and forth between 90 minute or 2 hour formal practice periods of zazen and kinhin (sitting and walking practice), dokusan (individual meetings with the teachers), teisho (dharma talks) and dharma dialogues (group discussions.) In between, we gave instructions for integrating practice into daily life as it is showing up during this pandemic: alone or with pets, family, friends and room-mates. Many of us reported a greater ease in going between formal and informal practice. Zoom crashed world-wide Sunday morning, but some of our team found a work-around, and we were able to have our final practice period late Sunday morning. We are now in the planning stages for our next virtual sesshin in July. My gratitude to the team that made this possible is limitless: David Rynick, Roshi, Rev. Paul Galvin, Corwyn Miyagishima, Jenny Smith and Chad Cook. Deep bows to you and to everyone who participated!