A sesshin (literally, “to gather the mind”) is a time when formal Zen practice is the primary focus of what we do. Sometimes these are informally called “retreats,” but in actuality they involve going forward into the heart of our lives.


Participation in sesshin is open to community members and others who have had some experience with Buddhist practice and meditation. Each sesshin offers an extended opportunity to settle the mind and body and open to the deep wisdom of human life. These are excellent opportunities to strengthen and deepen the practice of presence, including benefiting from the support of others.

Sesshins at Compassionate Ocean

       Summer 2022

      Fall 2022

  • Friday, Oct. 14, 7:00 P.M.–Sunday, Oct. 16, Noon

  • Friday, Nov. 11, 7:00 P.M.–Sunday, Nov. 13, Noon

These weekend sesshins will include sitting and walking meditation, a Dharma talk, a work period, and an opportunity to meet with a teacher. Each weekend sesshin also includes three vegetarian meals on Saturday. 

Led by Michael & Joen O'Neal

Fee: by donation


Sesshin at Ryumonji

Friday, July 15–Sunday, July 17

Led by Shoken Winecoff


This sesshin will include a “Shuso” (head monk) ceremony, which is an important stage in traditional Zen training, and a “Shuso tea” the evening before.

Location: Northeastern Iowa

Fee: $175 (members $150)

Learn more about Ryumonji >>

Practice Period at Hokyoji

Monday, Aug. 29–Monday, Sept. 5

Led by Michael O’Neal, Joen O’Neal, and resident priest Dokai Georgesen

This practice period offers participants an opportunity to practice mindfulness in community for an extended period. It will include sitting and walking meditation, Dharma talks, study time, yoga, deep relaxation, vegetarian meals, work practice, and Dharma discussion. There will be opportunities for individual meetings with teachers. We will be using the new dormitory and the new practice hall, completed in July 2019.

Location: Southeastern Minnesota, near New Albin, IA
Fee: $80/night (members $70/night)

Learn more about Hokyoji >>

Day of Mindfulness Retreat 

This retreat is part of the MBSR program and is included for all current participants in the MBSR course. It is also open to graduates of past Compassionate Ocean MBSR courses on a donation basis. People not enrolled in the current course should register in advance to reserve a space.

Saturday, May 14, 9:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. 

Saturday, July 23, 9:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. 

Saturday, Nov. 5, 9:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M.