Bay Area Practice Period

Everyday Zen 

Fall 2018 Practice Period


Our 14th annual EDZ Bay Area Practice Period will begin on Sunday, September 16, 2018, and will run through Sunday, November 18, 2018. 

Please read on if you want to consider joining the Practice Period either as a Bay Area Participant or a Long-Distance web-based Participant


What is a Practice Period?

Practice Period is an ancient Zen Buddhist tradition. It is a special time set aside each year when practitioners make personal and collective commitments to intensify their practice. Traditionally, Zen practice periods take place in monasteries. In nonresidential Western Zen sanghas, events at the temple define the Practice Period.

The practice of our Everyday Zen group is focused not on what happens at a temple, but on everyday action in our relationships, our work, and our regular sitting, which often happens at home. And so, Everyday Zen practice periods depend on the integrity of the personal commitment each person who joins will make, as well as the strength of our shared intention and mutual support.

For those living some distance away from the San Francisco Bay Area (where Practice Period involves our coming together, person-to-person, for practice) we offer an alternative web-based option for participation, enabling you to practice more intensively wherever you are, concurrently with those in the Bay Area. Long-distance participants can access recorded talks from Practice Period seminars and other events, as well as have email or phone contact with Practice Period leaders and participants.  

A Zen Practice Period often features a senior student who serves as Shuso, or Head Student, assisting the Teacher in leading the Practice Period. The Shuso gives special talks and seminars, and concludes the Practice Period with the Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (Shuso Hosenshiki), during which he or she responds to questions from the Practice Period participants. Long-distance participants can access the Shuso’s seminars and talks online and submit a question for the ceremony.

This year our Shuso will be John Murray — Ki Rei Go Jin  (Resolute Effort Awakening to Kindness) — who has been practicing with the Everyday Zen sangha for more than 15 years. We are all very grateful to John, especially for his faithful caretaking of the Everyday Zen recording project, which makes talks by Norman and other senior teachers available on the website. A former investment banker and venture capital specialist, now retired, John has been a devoted friend to many in the sangha, especially active in helping sangha members (and others) who have needed assistance toward the end of their lives.


How do I join the Practice Period?

Simply fill out the application form and email it to Kathleen Martin at

The deadline for receipt of the Practice Period application and submitting a commitment form is Sunday, September 9. This is a firm deadline, and we appreciate your cooperation.


Is there a fee for joining the Practice Period?

Bay Area participants who attend seminars, sittings, dialogues and other events will find suggested fees when registering for these events.

Long-distance participants are asked to consider a suggested donation of $100+ to help defray costs of the more than eighteen talks and the phone outreach program. As always, this is a guideline and is not meant to deter anyone from participating in the Practice Period. Everyday Zen is entirely dependent upon the donations of students and practitioners, so if you are participating in the Practice Period and are able to make a donation, your generosity and support will be deeply appreciated.  


For Long-Distance Participants:

Please read the following Guidelines for Bay Area Participants, as well as the Long-Distance Practice Period Guidelines, below. 


Guidelines for Bay Area Participants who can attend EDZ events during the Practice Period: 

Below is a schedule of events for the Practice Period.  We ask you to make a special effort to commit to coming to as many of these events as possible. Especially important are:

  • the Shuso Entering Ceremony, which opens the Practice Period and begins the All Day Sit, on Sunday, September 16
  • the Shuso Dharma Inquiry Ceremony, which concludes the All Day Sit and the Practice Period, on Sunday, November 18 



Sept. 9   Practice Period Applications Due
Sept. 16   All Day Sit and Shuso Entering Ceremony(NatureBridge at Marin Headlands). The ceremony will be at the start of the day, about 9:30. 
Sept. 19 & 26    

Dharma Seminars, led by Norman. (Community Congregational Church, Tiburon)

Sept. 22


Women's 1-Day Retreat, led by Chris Fortin and Sue Moon. 9:00 - 4:00. (Commonweal Retreat Center, Bolinas). "Taking Refuge in This Wild World." For registration info, please email:

Sept. 30  

Dharma Talk by Norman at Green Gulch Farm. 10:00am

Afternoon Workshop with Norman - "What is Enlightenment?". 1:30pm. Register with Green Gulch for this event.

Oct. 3 - Oct. 9    

Annual Practice Period Sesshin - Wednesday late afternoon to Tuesday midday (Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael). The Shuso will give two talks during sesshin.

Oct. 10 & 17     

Dharma Seminars, led by Shuso John Murray. (Community Congregational Church, Tiburon)

Oct. 24


Dharma Seminar, led by Norman. (Community Congregational Church, Tiburon)

Oct. 27


Special All Day Sit, led by Norman and John. 9am - 5pm. (Community Congregational Church, Tiburon.) Please bring bag lunch.

Oct. 28


(Optional event for those interested) Norman will read from new poetry collections at Alleycat Books in San Francisco, with his old poetry comrades Steven Ratcliffe and Laura Moriarty.

Oct. 31 & Nov. 7


Dharma Seminars led by Norman. (Community Congregational Church, Tiburon)

Nov. 14


Dharma Seminar led by Shuso John Murray. (Community Congregational Church, Tiburon)

Nov. 10


Everyday Zen Dialog - "We're All In This Together: Community Commitment & Courage in Difficult Times", led by Chris Fortin and James Flaherty. (Deer Run Zendo, Corte Madera). 10am - 4:30pm. To register, please email

Nov. 18  

All Day Sit and Shuso Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (NatureBridge in Marin Headlands). Ceremony at 4 pm, followed by a reception. You can come for the ceremony only, if you're unable to attend the all day sitting.

The Shuso will also be offering Practice Period Teas & Discussion to Bay Area participants. The dates and locations will be announced.

Please remember to register separately for the sittings and any other events you will be attending, including sesshin and Dharma Seminars.



Our theme for this Practice Period is "What is Buddhist Enlightenment?". We will read, among other things, the book of the same title by the contemporary Buddhist scholar, Dale Wright. This theme will be the subject of our seminars during the practice period as well as our dharma talks at sittings and sesshin.

Sangha Partners

A sangha partner is another Practice Period participant with whom you speak, in person or on the phone via Skype, at least three times during the Practice Period. You can request a particular partner or one will be assigned to you at the beginning of the Practice Period. We will send suggestions about how to keep your communication focused and practice oriented.

Practice Leaders

The Practice Leaders are senior members of the Everyday Zen community who will help with the Practice Period. They are ordained Buddhist priests or lay teachers who have been studying for a number of years (usually more than ten) with our teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer. All of them work in the world and live lay lives, though they practice regularly and help to lead the Everyday Zen community in the Bay Area.

Personal Commitment

Finally, we ask each member of the Practice Period to make a personal commitment to intensify his or her practice in whatever way possible. This might include additional sitting at home, more study or reading, work on a particular practice theme in your daily life, or some appropriate personal alteration in lifestyle. The details will differ from person to person.

Commitments for local Bay Area people include:

  1. attend as many practice events as you can from September 16 to November 18
  2. meet with the Shuso for a Practice Period Tea (schedule of dates and locations to be provided)
  3. speak to and/or meet with your sangha partner at least four times
  4. intensify your personal practice


Guidelines for Long-Distance Practice Period Participants:

Long-distance participants are encouraged to follow the guidelines for the Bay Area participants and make a personal commitment to intensify your practice in whatever way possible. This might include additional sitting at home, more study or reading, work on a particular practice theme in your daily life, or some appropriate personal alteration in lifestyle. The details will differ from person to person.

In addition, we  suggest committing to some version or combination of the following:

  1. Daily sitting practice
  2. Listening each week to the dharma seminar talk posted on the website, and to other dharma talks given during this period
  3. Attending a local meditation group once a week, if possible. 
  4. Keeping in contact with an Everyday Zen Practice Leader (see below) through phone appointments and/or email at least twice during this period. Contact information will be emailed to you.
  5. If possible, coming to the Bay Area once during the Practice Period for any of the Bay Area events listed above.
  6. Emailing a formal dharma question during the last week of the practice period (November 11-18) that Shuso John will respond to via email.
  7. Working with your Everyday Zen Practice Leader to pick a dharma theme that you will pay attention to in your daily life during the Practice Period.
  8. Staying in touch with a sangha partner who is assigned to you. Your sangha partner will be another long-distance Practice Period member (if there’s someone you would like to be assigned to, you can let us know in the commitment form). We suggest four phone calls, Skype appointments, or emails during the Practice Period.  We will send suggestions about how to keep your communication focused and practice oriented.

Once the practice period begins, you will receive the name and contact information for your sangha partner, and you will also receive an email from your Practice Leader to arrange for further communication.  


Practice Period Application Form

Please copy this form and paste it into a new email, then fill in the information and send it to Kathleen Martin at by Monday, September 9. This is a firm deadline.

Important: Please remember to register separately for the events you will be attending. Your Practice Period application does not enroll you in any other events. 




Date and place of birth:


Address, Phone, Email, as well as best times to contact:


Your work and family situation:


What intention brings you to make a commitment to join this Practice Period?


What experience have you had with spiritual practice?


What has been the main focus of your current practice? Do you imagine it will change during this Practice Period? 


Is there someone in the Practice Period who you’d like as your sangha partner?  If so, who?


Events (if any) you will attend during the Practice Period:


Personal commitments to intensify your practice: 


Any other comments you'd like to add: