Entering and Leaving the Zendo

Empty Bowl with Background.gif

Before entering the zendo, remove your shoes and place them against the wall outside the door. With hands in gassho (prayer position), bow towards the altar and enter the zendo silently. Leave the Zendo in the same fashion.


Before taking a seat on your cushion (zafu) or chair, bow to the altar. At your cushion, first do a standing bow to it; turn clockwise and do a standing bow to the person opposite you. Then take your seat and assume your preferred zazen posture. When someone preparing to sit opposite you does a standing bow facing you, return their bow with a sitting bow, hands in gassho.

Don’t worry about what happens next or what you should do. We learn through experience and repetition and in this way become more familiar with all forms of this practice. Follow what you see others doing and do your best not to be self-conscious. Ask any questions you may have at the end of the evening.


If you need to leave the zendo for any reason, please do so only during walking meditation (kinhin). This is the ideal time for a restroom break if one is needed.

Beginning Meditation

Please be on your cushion or chair five (5) minutes before the first period begins. During meditation it is important to maintain stillness, so please do not fidget or move around – it is distracting to you and to others.

We use bells to communicate during zazen. The sitting period begins with three (3) bells and ends with two (2) bells. After taking a moment to be sure our feet or legs are not “asleep”, we rise for walking meditation (kinhin). Out of respect for our teachers, it is customary to wait for the teacher or jikijitsu to stand first.


Please dress respectfully. Refrain from wearing any clothing that displays logos, cartoons, sayings, etc. that may be distracting to others. Tend toward darker colors and away from brighter ones.

Turn off all cell phones, beepers, Blackberries, etc. before entering the zendo.

Please do not ring the buzzer during zazen periods, wait until kinhin is underway.