Bay Area Practice Period


Our eleventh annual Bay Area Practice Period is set to begin on Sunday, September 13, 2015, and will run until Sunday, November 22, 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. 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 Student, assisting the Practice Period Teacher in leading the practice period. The Shuso gives special talks and seminars, and the Practice Period usually concludes with a Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (Shuso Hosenshiki), during which participants ask questions and receive answers from the Shuso. Long-distance participants will be able to submit a question for the ceremony, and also will be able to hear the Shuso’s seminars and talks online.

This year our Shuso will be Zen priest Jeff Goldfien — On-gai Jo-shin  (Gentle Cliff, Pure Heart) — who has been practicing with Norman since the 1990s, first at Green Gulch and later with Everyday Zen. He was a resident at Green Gulch and Tassajara for the better part of five years.

How do I join?

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

The deadline for joining the Practice Period and submitting a commitment form is Monday, August 31. In consideration of the time required and available to our teacher, the Shuso, and limited volunteer resources, we are asking that everybody submit their application no later than August 31, 2015. Thank you in advance for observing this deadline.

Is there a fee for joining the Practice Period?

No, but if would be appropriate for anyone who joins to send a donation, according to what you can afford.

For long-distance participants:

Please see the long-distance practice period guidelines, below. 

For Bay Area participants: 

For participants who are able to attend EDZ events in the Bay area, below is a brief schedule 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 (that will begin the All Day Sit on Sunday, September 13) 
  • the Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (that will conclude the All Day Sit on Sunday, November 22). 


Sept. 13   All Day Sit and Shuso Entering Ceremony (NatureBridge at Marin Headlands). Ceremony will start about 9:30.
Sept. 16    

Dharma Seminar (All Dharma Seminars held at the Community Congregational Church, Tiburon)

Sept. 23


Dharma Seminar led by Shuso Jeff Goldfien

Sept. 30    

Dharma Seminar

Oct. 7     

Dharma Seminar

Oct. 14    

Dharma Seminar let by Shuso

Oct. 25  

Norman gives Dharma Talk at Green Gulch Farm at 10:00am, followed by a practice period meeting at 1:30pm. All practice period members are invited to either or both events.

Oct. 26 to

Nov. 2


Annual Practice Period Sesshin (from Monday, late afternoon - Sunday morning, at the Angela Center, Santa Rosa).

The Shuso will be giving some of the talks during sesshin.

   (no Dharma Seminar on October 28 because of Sesshin)

Nov. 4


Dharma Seminar

Nov. 7

10:00 - 4:30


"Fear and Fearlessness: Embracing What Is" - EDZ Dialog with Chris Fortin and Alan Block.

Empty Gate Zen Center, Berkeley. To register, please email:

Nov. 11


Dharma Seminar led by Shuso

Nov. 18



Final Dharma Seminar of Practice Period

Nov. 22  

All Day Sit and Shuso Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (Marin Headlands). Ceremony at 4 pm, followed by a reception. You can come for the ceremony only, if you're unable to attend the 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 "The Six Paramitas: Living a Life of Active Compassion." This theme will be the subject of our seminars and dharma talks during the practice period. Jeff has for many years combined his Zen practice with a profound study of conflict, mediation and peacemaking—he currently serves as the Healthcare Ombudsman/Mediator for Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center—so we can expect to hear of his experiences. He will be leading our Dharma Seminars on September 23, October 14, and November 11. 

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 or someone assigned at the beginning of the Practice Period, and we will send suggestions about how to keep your communication focused and practice oriented.

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

So 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 13 to November 22

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 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 in 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 your Practice Period Leader will be emailed to you.
  5. If possible, coming to the Bay Area once during the time for any of the Bay Area events listed above.
  6. Emailing a formal dharma question during the last week of the practice period (November 16-21) that Shuso Jeff, 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 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.


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, Alan Block, Chris Fortin, James Flaherty, Peter van der Sterre, Andrea Jacoby, Sue Moon, Jeff Bickner, and Shuso Jeff Godlfien.


Practice Period Commitment Form

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




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: