Meeting in the Clear Lake area, Texas

Attending an Empty Field Sesshin

Empty Field is glad you’ve chosen to join us on a silent retreat. Sesshin is an opportunity to deepen your meditation practice in a calm, supportive environment. While every participant’s spiritual experience will differ in some way, for many of us, sesshin allows us to open more fully to ourselves and others.

Just as the structure of our regular group sittings brings us to mindfulness, so the structure of the sesshin encourages us to release our ego-mind and become part of the sangha — the community. Our collective silence and awareness support the entire sangha during our time together.

Arrival Time

Check-in is from 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM on Thursday, November 1.

When you arrive at the Christian Renewal Center, proceed to Marian Hall where a zendo member will check you in.

Dinner on Thursday evening will begin promptly at 5:30 PM.

What to bring

Clothing. Comfortable attire is recommended. As the retreat is intended to promote mindfulness, please avoid revealing clothing. We recommend clothing that is subdued in style and color.

Shoes. Shoes that can easily be slipped on and off are recommended. We don’t wear shoes in the zendo (meditation hall), and walking meditation is done outdoors.

Cushions. If you have a zafu and zabuton, you are welcome to bring them. If you don’t have a cushion or prefer to sit in a chair, chairs are provided at the retreat center.

Food. Christian Renewal Center provides our meals, and can accommodate some dietary restrictions. Our building has a refrigerator you can use to store perishable food.

Dana. Zen teachers traditionally neither charge nor accept payment. Teachings are freely given because they are considered priceless. However, should you wish to express your generosity, you are welcome to do so.

What not to bring

Because sesshin is an opportunity to be present and awake to ourselves and the world around us, we ask that you leave music players, books, tablets, and other such distractions at home.

If you must keep a phone available, please be sure to use it well away from the zendo, dining hall, and participant bedrooms in order to help the group maintain the mindfulness cultivated by the sesshin. Please do not bring phones into the zendo.

What to expect

Accommodations. Christian Renewal Center provides single-person en-suite accommodations. Linens, towels, and soap are provided. Please bring shampoo and other personal care products as desired.

Schedule. Empty Field follows a retreat schedule that allows time for sitting and walking meditation, rest breaks, meals, and sleep.

We begin our time together at dinner (5:30 PM) on Thursday evening at the retreat center. This social time is a good opportunity to meet and enjoy fellow participants.

When we gather in the zendo for the first sitting Thursday evening, we begin sesshin. Printed schedules will be provided and participants are expected to be on time for all activities.

The retreat ends late Sunday morning, and everyone is welcome to stay for noon lunch in the dining hall.

Silence. The retreat is held in silence, which helps each participant to focus attention on his or her practice. If you need to convey information regarding your accommodations or other practical matters, please see the Head Monk.

Working with the teacher. Everyone will have an opportunity (if desired) to speak one-on-one with Sensei Ray Ruzan Cicetti during daisan. Sign-up sheets for these short interviews will be made available as the retreat progresses.

Daisan is an excellent opportunity to ask Sensei questions about your practice. Please note that it is not a social activity, but is intended to expand or deepen your practice.

Once the retreat begins, please do not approach Sensei directly for conversation; instead, speak with the Head Monk, who will coordinate a meeting at Sensei’s discretion.

Zendo. The zendo (meditation hall) is our place of work. Please do not wear shoes or bring food or drinks into the zendo. More instruction will be provided at the retreat.

Departure Time

The retreat will end late Sunday morning.