Sitting Hall Procedures
The atmosphere of the sitting hall is created by
the attitudes and behaviors of participants. Common courtesy and
unified action promote awareness, stillness and orderliness. Our
practice encourages flexibility and appropriateness rather than
rigid attitudes or actions; thus, corrections are intended to
encourage harmony in formal practice. Participants are encouraged to
learn by paying attention. Please refrain from correcting others
unless a teacher has asked you to do so to support others’ practice.
Clothing. Wear clean, neat, dignified attire, excluding undershirts, clothing with writing on it, bold prints and colors. Avoid cologne, make-up or any other attention-getting items.
Entering. Please do not enter or leave during a sitting period, except for dokusan. Keep your eyes lowered at all times. Bow as you enter the hall and when you pass in front of the altar. When you find a seat, arrange your cushion or chair on the mat, bow toward the cushion; then, turn and bow away from the cushion before sitting. When someone comes to sit next to you or opposite you, return their bow (this happens only at the beginning of the first sitting of each block of sittings.)
Seating. Be in your seat 5 minutes before scheduled sitting time in order to support the atmosphere of stillness and orderliness.
Silence. At the sound of the han (announcing the beginning of a sitting block), please discontinue any talking. Silence is maintained as soon as you enter the zendo. (Exception: If you need information or are a monitor giving assistance, please tap the person you wish to speak to and move into the kitchen.)
Stillness. Sit with as much stillness as possible, moving only if you feel ill, or if the pain is causing harm (the body knows!) This includes not moving to scratch, blow nose, shoo flies, etc. Refrain from looking around, keeping your eyes lowered. Please maintain an erect, stable sitting position during sittings, service and talks.
Walking practice (kinhin). Maintain awareness, eyes lowered.
Unison speaking and chanting. When speaking in unison for reading practice, or chanting for service and verses, please adjust your speaking or chanting to the speed and rhythm of the entire group. Hold your reading sheet with both hands and “read with your ears.”
Restrooms. Use the restroom only during walking practice, waiting until the second hit of the clappers that announce the moment to begin walking. Emergency situations, of course, must be attended to when they arise.