Bay Area Practice Period

Our tenth annual Bay Area Practice Period is set to begin on Sunday, September 21, 2014, and will run until Sunday, November 23, 2014. Please read on if you want to consider joining the Practice Period either as a Bay Area or a long-distance, web-based member.


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 of you living some distance away from the San Francisco Bay Area (where Practice Period involves our coming together, person to person, for practice) we offer a web-based option for participation.  This option enables you to practice more intensively wherever you are, in solidarity with the Bay Area group, using website-based recorded talks of Practice Period seminars and other events, as well as 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 Monastic, who assists the Practice Period Teacher and gives special talks and seminars. This year our Shuso will be Andrea Jacoby (Stonehead, Ancestors' Way) — who has been practicing since the mid 1990s with SF Zen Center and Everyday Zen. 

Zen Practice Periods include two important ceremonies for the Shuso: the opening of the Practice Period includes a ceremony to install the Shuso into the position; and the closing features a Dharma Inquiry (Shuso Hosenshiki) ceremony during which the Shuso responds to questions from Practice Period participants and invited guests. These ceremonies are usually quite powerful, and cap the Practice Period in a beautiful way. Long Distance Practice Period participants will be able to submit a question for the Ceremony.

Our theme for this Practice Period is “Suchness” or “Just This.” Shuso Andrea will be leading our seminars on October 8, October 22, and November 12. Long-distance participants will be able to hear the Shuso’s talks online.

How do I join?

Simply fill out the commitment form  below and email it to Barbara Byrum at <> and to Andrea Jacoby at <>.

The deadline for joining the Practice Period and submitting a commitment form is Wednesday, September 10. This is a firm deadline.

The form asks you to make a special practice commitment during this time frame. 

If you are a long-distance participant, please see the long-distance practice period guidelines, below. 

Is there a fee for joining the Practice Period?

There is no Practice Period fee, though there are suggested donations for each of the events you will attend.  Please remember to register separately for the sittings and any other events you will be attending, including sesshin and seminars. In addition, it would be appropriate to make a separate donation for the practice period according to what you can afford, whether or not you are able to attend events.  Everyday Zen is supported entirely by donations, and everything we receive is much appreciated.  Thank you in advance!


For Bay Area participants who can attend EDZ events during the practice period:

Below you will find a brief 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 following ceremonies:

  • the Shuso Entering Ceremony (that will begin the All Day Sit on Sunday, September 21) 
  • the Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (that will conclude the All Day Sit on Sunday, November 23). 

You can attend just those ceremonies if you are unable to come for the whole day of sitting, but attendance at the sittings is encouraged.


Bay Area Practice Period Events

If you can come to the Dharma seminars on Wednesday evenings 7-9 PM in Tiburon, this would be very good. During our seminars this Practice Period we’ll study some traditional Zen materials, and have conversations to share support and encouragement for each other as we navigate our way in practice and our lives in the world.

Attendance at sesshin – this year at Angela Center in Santa Rosa (Monday evening October 27 through midday Sunday November 2) would be important if it is possible for you. (Dharma seminar will not meet during that week, because many of us will be at sesshin.)

In addition to scheduled events, we include the practice of sangha partners: a sangha partner is a person in the Practice Period with whom you speak on the phone or in person at least 3 times during the Practice Period. Your partner could be someone you request on your commitment form, and is assigned at the beginning of the Practice Period. Partners will be established for both Bay Area and Long Distance participants. We will send suggestions about how to keep your communication focused and practice oriented.

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, enhanced study or reading, work on a particular practice theme in your daily life, or some appropriate personal alteration in lifestyle or routines.


Sept. 10  

Practice Period Commitment Forms Due (See instructions, below)

Sept. 21      

All Day Sitting and Shuso Entering Ceremony (Marin Headlands) Ceremony at beginning of the day, about 9:30.



Seminar with Norman (Community Congregational Church, Tiburon)

Oct. 1    

Seminar (Norman)

Oct. 8     

Seminar (Andrea)

Oct. 12    

Norman's talk at Green Gulch, plus a meeting afterwards at 1:30pm. You are encouraged to attend the meeting even if you can't attend the talk, and vice versa.

Oct. 15  

Seminar (Norman)

Oct. 22  

Seminar (Andrea)

Oct. 27 - Nov. 2  

SESSHIN (Angela Center, Santa Rosa) Andrea will be giving some talks during sesshin

   (no Seminar October 29 during Sesshin)

Nov. 5


Seminar (Norman)

Nov. 8


EDZ Dialog with Chris and Brice Fortin (Deer Run, Corte Madera)

Nov. 12


Seminar (Andrea)

To be scheduled



Practice Period Discussions/Teas with the Shuso (dates and locations around the Bay Area to be announced)

Nov. 23  

All Day Sitting and Shuso Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (Marin Headlands) Ceremony at 4 pm, followed by a reception. 

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

So, in summary, these are the elements of the Practice Period for local Bay Area people:

1)    a commitment to attend as many practice events as you can from September 22 to November 17

2)    a commitment to meet with the Shuso for a practice period tea

3)    a commitment to speak to your sangha partner at least three times.

4)    a commitment to intensify your personal practice


For Long-Distance Practice Period members:

We would suggest some version of 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. Going to a local meditation group once a week if possible. 
  4. Keeping contact with an Everyday Zen Practice Leader through phone appointment and/or email at least twice a month (about four times) during this period.  Contact information for this will be emailed to you.
  5. If possible, coming to the Bay Area once during the time for any of the events listed below.
  6. Emailing a formal dharma question during the last week of the practice period (November 10-17) that Shuso Andrea, will respond to via email.
  7. Working with your Everyday Zen Practice Leader to pick a dharma theme that you will be paying attention to in your daily life during the Practice Period.
  8. Saying in touch with a sangha partner who will be 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 or emails during the course of the Period.  We will send suggestions about how to keep your communication focused and practice oriented.

Long distance participants are urged to attend any of the Bay Area Practice Period Events that are possible for them. Registration details can be found on the individual event listings on the Schedule page of the website.

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


Who are the Everyday Zen Practice Leaders for this Practice Period and what are their qualifications?

The Practice Leaders are senior members of the Everyday Zen community who have been studying for a number of years (usually more than ten) with our teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer.  They are ordained Buddhist priests or lay teachers. 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. 

For this Practice Period the Leaders are: Jay Simoneaux, Martha de Barros, ARobin Orden, Meg Alexander, Alan Block, Chris Fortin, Florence Caplow, James Flaherty, Peter van der Sterre, and Jeff Bickner.


Practice Period Commitment Form

(please copy this form and paste into a new email; send that email to <> and <>




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 to work with as your sangha partner?  Who?


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


Personal commitments to intensify your practice: