Sesshin and Retreats

Traditional seven day sesshin are held in autumn and spring at Kodoji. There is also a Winter sesshin held at our wilderness retreat centre.  Rohatsu sesshin takes place in early December at our city-based temple at Annandale. A range of other retreats are held at Kodoji, including a Women’s retreat in March.

Breath Counting

Breath counting – becoming intimate with each inhalation and counting from ‘one’ to ‘ten’ on the exhalation – reveals how jumpy and restless our minds are, hence the term ‘monkey mind’. Whenever we lose the count, having drifted off on a thought, and more significantly, when we notice we have lost the count, we just return to ‘one’ without recrimination or judgement.

Over time, as a firm practise base is established – with regular daily zazen, sittiing with the group on a weeknight, and attending sesshin, students may find that in the midst of this busy world, there is peace and ease. They may choose to investigate one of the primary koans with the teacher, and/or take up the practise of shikantaza.

Shikantaza

Although shikantaza means ‘just sitting’, it is far from meaning ‘just to sit’. Having established a firm practise base with breath-counting, we let go our focus on the breath, and sit with moment-to-moment awareness, as though we were in a jungle clearing, aware that a tiger is somewhere nearby. With this alert practise, in the immenseness of all that is, the individual self inevitably finds itself reduced until it disappears altogether. Inside and outside become one.

Kinhin

Between each sitting period of 25 minutes, there is kinhin, or walking meditation, a practise where we continue to count the breaths, keying our breath to the steps. We are present with our footsteps as we walk slowly round the dojo clasping our left hand over our right at waist level. Kinhin is halfway between the quality of attention demanded by sitting and the quality of attention demanded in the everyday world. Kinhin can be practised in our everyday lives as well, for example, as we walk along the street, with thumb and forefinger lightly touching.