Before You Come

When to come:

Our main practice periods are Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. We also have sittings some weekday mornings. See the schedule summary for details.

If you are new to Zen:

Please send an email to the practice leader listed on the Arrange an Orientation page to find out when the next beginner's group orientation will be taking place on the evening or Saturday morning you'd like to come. Orientations are available only by prior arrangement and take place every other week. These orientations offer brief introductions to zazen (the Zen style of meditation), to postures that will help you sit comfortably and in stillness, to meditation hall etiquette, and to Zen liturgy. If any of that is new to you, please consider coming to an orientation!

Since several people often attend these orientations and there is a good bit of material to be covered in a brief period of time, please make every effort to arrive promptly at the scheduled time, out of courtesy to your fellow attendees.

If you'd like to get a jumpstart on the orientation and to get a fuller sense of the Greater Boston Zen Center approach to Zen, please listen to one or more of these introductory talks given by founding (now former) teacher Josh Bartok:

You may also want to read this book:

If you are experienced in Zen:

If you are comfortable with stillness and are familiar with meditation in the Zen tradition and with Zen liturgy—you are welcome to just show up and dive in.  If you'd like an introduction to the sangha and our forms, please send an email to the practice leader listed on the Arrange an Orientation tab to set up a brief meeting before the formal sitting period.

What you should bring and what you should wear:

You needn't bring anything at all except, ideally, an open mind. If you wish to bring your own meditation cushion or bench, please do so. Some chairs, cushions, and benches will be available. You needn't wear anything special, though you may wish to choose somewhat loose-fitting pants.

Is it free?

All orientations and all regular daily practice sessions are offered free of charge.  We are entirely supported by donations, but if you are unable to make a donation, please come anyway.

If you are looking only for relaxation: You may find it more fruitful to explore a technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation.  Zen practice may lead to relaxation—but then again, it may not. The Zen tradition regards relaxation as a potential side-effect, and not so much as the goal of practice. But if you are looking to learn a variety of techniques that might help you relax, a fabulous book you may enjoy is Meditation & Relaxation in Plain English, by Bob Sharples.