Tag Archives: zendo


23 Jan


I feel like my adventure at Tassajara was a million years ago and I miss it. It was one of the first goals I crossed off my list back in September and is one of my favorite 365 til 30 memories. Ill admit it was one of the hardest goals to tackle but so worth it. SO WORTH IT.  I walked into the experience not knowing what to expect and I was surprised by what it brought into my life- a calm, a quietness with myself that I have never experienced, a kinder approach to myself and the world around me. I became my own best friend there and I liked it,

I didn’t realize how much I missed Tassajara until I had lunch with a fellow Tassajaran named Tarquin last week. I haven’t seen him since the day I left and it had been too long. He was the very first person I met when I arrived there. At the time I was feeling every emotion in the book- exhausted, scared, happy, anxious, excited and totally overwhelmed. I felt like a fish out of water and I couldn’t stop asking myself…”what did you get yourself into?”

The minute I got there I was paired with Tarquin in the kitchen to cut vegetables and he immediately made me feel calm. He is a generous spirit. We chatted about life and his time at Tassajara as we chopped carrots. He was from the LA area as well. This was his first time at Tassajara- he had been there for  3 weeks at that point and planned to be there 3 more. My first question was “why would you sign up to be at Tassajara for 6 weeks? Why not ease your way in with a week or two? What if you didn’t like it” He said “well, I thought if I am going to do it then do it.” I was pretty impressed with this.

He assured me that everything was going to be fine and in that moment I knew that I had a friend in him and I felt a sense of calm. Over the next week we enjoyed many more talks and laughs but since much of our time was spent in silence we didn’t get to know each other too much more.But luckily we got another chance.  The night before I planned to depart he asked me if I could give him a ride back to LA because something sudden came up back home that he needed to attend to. My response was…why not! All part of the adventure! Our ride home was hysterical…we talked and talked and talked and talked. Actually I don’t think we ever shut up. We were both so chatty after having to be quiet for so long!

When I dropped him off at his house we hugged and said that we would grab coffee or lunch soon and 4 months later we finally did! When I saw him I felt like I was transported back to Tassajara. I could almost smell the place and a bunch of memories flooded back. For as hard as the experience was I missed it terribly. Tarquin mentioned he was thinking about going back this spring.

NEWS FLASH: I’m thinking about trying to get back there this spring as well. We will see…so much up in the air right now.

Until then Tarquin and I have decided to get back into our meditation practice together and will be attending a meditation sitting…from 7:30-9 pm next week. Ouch. Nothing like throwing yourself back in full speed.


“All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.





8 Sep


The time has come for me to pack my bags and drive into the wilderness, to begin my buddhist adventure. I leave for Tassajara tomorrow morning at 5 and will be off the grid for a week. While there I will have no access to my cell phone or to a computer so I will not be able to blog! This will be very hard for me! But, I guess the whole point of the retreat is to be quiet so I am going to have to embrace it.  I went back and forth about having guest bloggers for the days I am absent but in the end I decided the blog should remain silent for 7 days if I am doing so.

I am very excited about going but I am not going to lie I am a little nervous as well. I simply have no idea what to expect! But, that’s part of the adventure right?! Questions in my head….Will I be able to find the place or will I get lost? Will I make it by noon like they requested? What will my work duties be? Will I be able to meditate all those hours? Will I be able to fall asleep there? Will my clothing choices be Tassajara appropriate? Will I lose my mind there? Will I have a huge epiphany about my life?

I can’t wait to share all my stories and thoughts with you guys when I return! I will be back in 7 days! Wish me luck!


“A jug fills drop by drop.”




11 Aug


When I got home last night I opened the door to find a letter from Tassajara! I ripped it open with excitement and out dropped a pamphlet titled “Pure Standards ( guidelines of Conduct ) for Zen Training”

Here are some highlights…



• Please make a commitment to completely follow the zendo (meditation hall) schedule at 5:20 am & 8:50 pm. This means attending morning and evening zazen, morning and evening service, soji (pre-breakfast temple cleaning), lectures, and all special ceremonies.

• Muffle sounds such as coughing, sneezing, blowing the nose, yawning, or clearing the throat.

• Wear clean clothes to the zendo and be sure that your face, hands and feet are clean. Appropriate zendo clothing is neutral and subdued in color, and extends beyond the shoulders and below the knees.

• If you have long hair, tie it back and wear it off the neck.

• Refrain from wearing scented lotions or perfume, jewelry, watches, or mala beads in the zendo.


• Observe silence from evening zazen through the breakfast silent period the following day.

• Observe the period of silence at breakfast and lunch after the meal chant, ending at the double hit of the clackers.

• Observe silence in and around the zendo, in the bathhouse during residents’ silent bathing time  (4:30 – 5:45 p.m.), and at the back door snack area in the kitchen.

• Refrain from singing, humming, or whistling within Tassajara; do not call to others from a distance.


• Stop and bow in gassho (with palms joined) when passing other practitioners outside (not in the courtyard, the bathhouse, on the zendo walkway, or in other enclosed spaces).

• Stop and bow to the toilet altar when entering and leaving toilets.


Sweet baby Jesus! 3 hours a day meditating! Oy is all I have to say…oy. I’m barely up to 5 minutes and it’s infrequent…like once a week and for 5 minutes, not to mention I spend a lot of time thinking about what I need at the grocery store. I think I am going to need to up my game a bit this next month to prepare. So tonight my mother and I will be going to a meditation workshop. You would move fast  too if this was a month away.

The other part of the pamphlet that stood out to me was this whole “bowing to the toilet altar” thing. I am definitely going to need more information on that one


“If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts.”

 Alan Cohen


10 Aug


So now that I have been accepted to the work program at Tassajara I am filled with emotions. Surprise, surprise right?!  I would classify this emotional cocktail mix as excitement vs anxiety. When I got the call Saturday morning that I was accepted, the woman made sure to clarify that this was work and not a vacation. She was worried I wasn’t aware of how much manual labor it involved. I assured her I was totally aware and prepared.

After the conversation ended I hung up and thought…”Oh Shit, Kate…what did you get yourself into?” It made me think back to when I was applying for the program and I read my mother the list of possible responsibilities. They include…








Cabin preparation

and general maintenance work for the  community.

To which she said…”I don’t hear anything that you can do?”

Clearly, my own mother thinks I am screwed.


“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.”
Sara Henderson



6 Aug


I got accepted to the Tassajara work program! I was starting to get a little worried because I sent my application in ages ago and still hadn’t heard anything. But, I got a call this morning that I was in! Yeah! I can’t believe I am actually doing it. I can feel a silly little joyful grin start to move across my face again…

My Tassajara schedule

5:00am Informal Zazen

5:20 Wake-up Bell

5:50 Zazen (with 5 min. interval)

6:50 Morning Service

7:15 Soji (Temple Cleaning)

7:30 Breakfast

8:30 Work meeting

11:50 Noon Service – optional

11:55 End work

12:00pm Lunch

1:00 Work meeting

4:30 End work

4:30-5:45 Silent Student Bath Time

5:00 Informal Zazen

5:50 Evening Service

6:00 Dinner

7:45 Informal Zazen

8:40 Zazen

9:20 Three Refuges

10:30 Firewatch


“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”