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A newcomer is anyone who has never completed a retreat with Shinzen, including one-day workshops, home practice program or the life program, regardless of their meditation background. All newcomers need to attend the 'Newcomer Session' on the first day.
Occasionally, current students and coaches are permitted to audit the Newcomer Meeting in order to learn how to explain meditation to others by observing.
Technique Instruction Sessions
Technique Instruction sessions are when Shinzen or the Co-Teacher gives instructions in meditation techniques. During this time, Shinzen and the Co-Teacher explain concepts and techniques, lead guided meditation, and answer questions. These are open to any retreatant who has theoretical or practical questions about meditation. Shinzen facilitates the sessions for experienced students, while the Co-Teacher facilitates a session with newcomers. Following working with the Co-Teacher, newcomers then join everyone and Shinzen for the daily AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
It is important, however, to remember that the purpose of coming to any retreat is to develop a momentum of continuous silent practice. Before coming to a technique instruction session, one should carefully consider if one has a strong need for encouragement and clarification and not use the session as a diversion from practice.
Please join the virtual room on time and leave at the appropriate breaks. Do not just wander in and out of the room.
Support Interviews (formerly referred to as Onlines), are designed to use the teacher's time efficiently by providing personal and confidential guidance for three students at a time, but each is private. At a virtual retreat, this is done via telephone calls over a 90 minute period.
Online sessions are three times a day and are usually scheduled at:
7-8:30 am / 3-4:30 pm / 9-10:30 pm
Interview Sign-Ups with Shinzen
You will be directed to a folder in Google Docs where signup sheets will allow you to choose a day and time and provide a phone number where Shinzen will reach you at that designated time. If you don’t have a computer to access the sign up sheets during the retreat, please call the Retreat Manager who will access the sign up sheets while on the telephone with you to choose a day and time.
If you sign up for more than 1 interview, please add a ‘#2, or #3, etc. after your name to indicate how many online sessions you have had. If you have not had an online and all spaces are full, you may delete a name with a higher number after it and add your own name.
How does the Interview Work?
At the designated time you’ve been assigned or you signed up; please have the telephone with the call number you provided beside you. Have it ‘ON and UNMUTED’. Begin meditating as you would in the zendo and wait for the phone to ring. Shinzen will telephone each online participant in turn. You will periodically report what is occurring in your meditation and Shinzen will provide you with individualized instruction, as he toggles between 3 participants.
Private Interviews & 'Office Hours'
If Shinzen decides to offer private interviews during a virtual retreat, you will be given this information and how to connect.
The Co-Teacher will offer 'Office Hours' 2-3 times per day for all retreatants. A sign up sheet will be provided via Google Docs, and YOU WILL CALL the Co-Teacher at the designated day and time you chose. Please keep the time in mind so the next appointment can start on time. You will have a choice to sign up for a 15 or 30 minute slot.
At this time, Chanting is not offered at a virtual retreat due to not being able to sync voices. If this changes, we’ll let you know.
The first two links below give you information on chanting. If chanting is something you like to do to start your retreat day as it’s a good way to get energized in the morning, check out the last two links here on the Expand/Contract YouTube channel for Shinzen’s chanting teaching and a 10 minute chant you can do on your own.
This mantra is dedicated to the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Chinese – Kwan-Yin; Japanese – Kannon; Tibetan – Chenresi). It is sometimes loosely translated as “Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus” and consists of six syllables (Om-Ma-Ni-Pad-Me-Hum) symbolizing the bodhisattva vow to save all beings in the six realms of existence.
Coaches are experienced meditators who have been trained by Shinzen to support fellow meditators in their practice. Interviews with coaches may be available during the virtual retreat. If so, sign ups will be via Google Docs and you’ll choose a day/time and CALL the facilitator at your chosen day/time. You are encouraged to sign up for an interview to strengthen your practice, or if you encounter any difficulties or have questions about your meditation practice during the retreat. Value is guaranteed.
It is strongly encouraged that you make an appointment with one of the coaches, especially if you’ve been unable to schedule an online or interview with Shinzen.
Walking meditation times will be listed on the daily schedule and it’s your choice where you’d like to do walking using a meditation technique (your home, backyard, patio or in your neighborhood). If you leave the zendo ‘room’ to walk instead of sitting, either leave the meeting or turn your video off. Even if you point your camera towards art, etc., we don’t want a location cam!
Try to make the meal a meditation from beginning to end. Meditate as you walk to where you’ll prepare your meal, during preparation, and of course while you eat. After the last bite, you may want to sit for a while and savor the delicate after-energies that infuse the body following a satisfying meal. If a guided eating meditation is offered during a virtual retreat, an announcement will be made.
Yoga, Qi Gong or Mindful Movement
Times designated for movement (not walking time) are also considered meditation periods during which you should maintain a formal technique of body awareness using techniques learned in this retreat or others you may have used for movement meditations.
All-night sitting, known as yaza, is often scheduled for the Thursday night of a weeklong retreat. If this is offered in the virtual zendo, details will be announced during the retreat. This is an optional activity, but it does offer extraordinary opportunities to deepen your practice that are not available with daytime meditation.
There is a long rest period following lunch and somewhat shorter ones after breakfast and dinner. Although you may take walks, do exercise, continue formal practice, etc., during these periods, many retreatants find it helpful to take a “siesta” so as to be well rested for the work of meditation.
If you’d like to listen to any of Shinzen’s recordings during the retreat, they are reasonably priced and available at the store on Shinzen’s website HERE for purchase and download throughout the retreat.
Recordings can be a great way to reinforce the deep and sometimes subtle ideas presented in the dharma talks and technique instruction sessions, as these need time and repetition to sink in. Some recordings deal with the basic principles of the practice, others describe how to use the practice for specific life issues, and others are guided meditations. Also, when you pass through the inevitable periods of low energy and resistance in your daily practice, you can use guided recordings as a “skillful means” to maintain quality meditation.
That said, please ensure you are not using listening to recordings as a distraction from the work of meditation, just like talking and reading can be.
Join the Friends of TCMC Program
TCMC needs your support! TCMC is a mostly volunteer organization that is funded by the generosity of its member's donations. TCMC needs approximately $2,200 per month to cover our mortgage, building maintenance, utilities, insurance and other operating costs.
The Friends of TCMC Program helps support our new building. These donations will go towards building maintenance, repairs, improvements, mortgage, and any other building related expenses.
Without the Friends program we would not have been able to purchase our new home.
Please consider joining the Friends of TCMC program by making a monthly or annual donation to TCMC at one of the suggested giving levels below:
Desert Marigold (for students or low income) - $5 per month/ $60 a year
Sweet Acacia - $10 per month/ $120 a year
Desert Willow - $20 per month/ $240 a year
Velvet Mesquite - $40 per month / $480 a year
Sahuaro - $50 per month or more
You may contribute to the Friends of TCMC program in following ways:
1. Drop a check (Payable to TCMC) or cash in the drop box at the center.
2. Mail a check (Payable to TCMC) to TCMC 1147 N Howard Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85716
3. Use the bill pay service at your bank to send a recurring monthly payment to TCMC at the address above
4. Setup a monthly or annual donation below
TCMC is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and donations may be tax deductible. Please see your tax adviser for details.
Please use the Paypal Subscribe button below to become a Friend of TCMC and set up a monthly payment to TCMC (the payment can be easily terminated at any time). If you prefer, you may also make an annual or one time payment by clicking the Donate button below.
If you would like to make a one-time donation to the TCMC Friends program, for any amount, use the button below.