Practice Period at Hokyoji

Led by Joen and Michael O’Neal and Hokyoji Guiding Teacher Dokai Georgesen, this practice period offers participants an opportunity to deepen their Zen practice in a variety of forms over the course of seven days.

A sesshin (literally, “to gather or collect the mind”) is a time when formal Zen practice is the focus of what we do. Sometimes these are called “retreats,” but we’re actually going forward into the heart of our lives.

The practice will include sitting and walking meditation, Dharma talks, study time, yoga and mindful movement, deep relaxation, vegetarian meals, work practice, and Dharma discussion. There will be opportunities for individual meetings with teachers.

Hokyoji has completed two new buildings—a Practitioners' Hall and guest house. This is a wonderful practice opportunity.

Fee includes lodging, meals, and program expenses.

Seven-day practice period:
Monday, Aug. 30, 5:00 P.M.–Monday, Sept. 6, 2:00 P.M.
Weekend only:
Friday, Sept. 3, 5:00 P.M.–Monday, Sept. 6, 2:00 P.M.
Southeastern Minnesota, near New Albin, Iowa
$80/night (members $70/night)

Register online. Enter the appropriate amount under Program Fees: Retreats

Hokyoji Summer.jpg

Sesshin schedule:

5:30 am Wake up
6:00 am Zazen
6:30 am Kinhin
6:40 am Zazen
7:00 am Morning Service
7:30 am Oryoki Breakfast
8:15 am Dishes/Soji

9:30 am Dharma talk
10:30 am Break
11:00 am Zazen
11:40 am Noon Service
12:00 pm Oryoki Lunch
12:45 pm Dishes/Soji

2:15 pm Work Period
3:15 pm Tea/Showers
4:00 pm Zazen
4:35 pm Kinhin
4:45 pm Zazen
5:20 pm Evening Service
6:00 pm Oryoki Supper
6:15 pm Dishes/Soji

7:30 pm Zazen
8:05 pm Kinhin
8:15 pm Zazen
8:50 pm Closing Bows

Weekday practice period schedule is somewhat more open.

Sesshin guidelines:

This time together is an opportunity for mindful community practice in a beautiful setting. It is a precious gift. 

Please maintain a spirit of silence at all times. When you need to speak, speak in a subdued voice, honoring the silence of third parties. When working in the kitchen or on other service assignments, practice using less speech than you would ordinarily use, even though this may not be as easy. Turn off your cell phone and unplug from the internet. 

Practicing together as a sangha and letting go of personal preferences is central to retreat practice. Follow the schedule unless you have a service assignment that requires you to be elsewhere. Please be at your seat in the zendo at least 5 minutes before the scheduled start of each block of meditation. If you need to take a break from the schedule, are feeling ill, or feel you need to leave before your planned departure, please check in with the ino. In the residence, a wake-up bell will sound at 5:30 am. Avoid waking others before this time. Remember that sound travels easily between the rooms. Keep toilet flushing during the night to an absolute minimum. If you are sleeping in the workshop, please set your own alarm for the 5:30 wake up.

Meals and afternoon tea snack will be in the kitchen of the main house. Zazen, chi gong and body practice will be in the zendo.

Service Assignments
Everyone is given one or more service assignments each day. The service assignments will be posted on the refrigerator in the kitchen. If you have questions about or are unable to do an assignment, please see the ino.

Storage and Use of Facilities
Do not keep food in your tent, zendo, or bedroom, as this will draw mice or other animals. If you are sleeping in the residence, using the outhouses and shower house when possible will help prevent congestion. If you are sleeping in the zendo or a tent, store your toiletries in the cubbies found in the shower house. 

Hygiene and Attire
Please be mindful of hygiene, which affects everyone’s health. There are sinks and hand sanitizers at each of the outhouses. If you are working in the kitchen or serving food, always wash your hands thoroughly before you begin. If you are feeling ill and are scheduled to work with food, please talk to the ino. Do not use products with heavy scents. Please wear only modest clothing appropriate to a monastic setting: visually subdued, long pants or skirts, tops with sleeves.

Individual Meetings
The ino will give instructions regarding having individual meetings with Joen, Michael, or Dokai. 

Preventing Lyme's Disease
Lyme's Disease is a serious illness. It is treatable, but you can also reduce your chances of getting it by avoiding deer tick bites. Ticks can be found anywhere deer may have been, which is anywhere outdoors. Therefore, 1) wear socks treated with a tick pesticide (available in the plastic bin in the kitchen of the residence) and tuck your pants into your socks when walking outdoors, 2) Avoid standing, walking, sitting or lying down in the grass, or letting tall grass or plants brush against you, 3) If you do go in the grass or brush, wear insect repellent and afterwards shower and change clothes.

If there is a family or work crisis due to illness, injury, or death, you may use your cell phone during breaks; or, if you can't get a signal, talk to the ino about using the Hokyoji phone. The phone number at Hokyoji is 507-542-4968. Family members or others can call and leave messages at this number if there is an emergency.