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Maintaining Silence on a Virtual Retreat


Please observe the following to provide yourself and your fellow retreatants the best possible experience. 

Noble Silence

Retreats, whether residential or virtual, are held in complete silence, i.e., no conversation, other than in the morning teaching meetings (technique instruction sessions), the online sessions, or in any interview - with Shinzen or the Co-Teacher. Discussions with a Facilitator will also allow conversation.  

Silence will officially begin at wake up on the first full day. Although we can choose to talk during the talking circle on the last day, silence doesn’t officially end until the talking circle ends.

The Zendo ‘room’ should maintain meticulous silence to facilitate the needed environment for sitting and infuse sacredness.

To aid in Noble Silence:

  1. Although the zendo ‘room’ will usually be muted to all except a host or sit leader, please turn off any phones or watch beepers/alarms on digital watches while joining any retreat ‘room’, just in case you receive a call at that time.

  2. Please read ‘Your Environment’ for more information.


Etiquette on a Virtual Retreat

  1. Please be vigilant that when you enter any ‘virtual room’, your audio is muted. If you’re at home during a virtual retreat, other participants shouldn’t be subjected to sounds of your family or pets.

  2. You may choose to turn off your video while meditating in the zendo ‘room’; but it’s a better experience for the teachers and you if you have your video on during the Technique Instruction, especially to ask a question or give a report. It’s also respectful.

  3. All questions regarding the dharma, specific teachings, or similar are asked during the AMA portion of each morning Technique Instruction, not within the zendo ‘room’.  Questions can also be asked during Face-to-Face Interview Sessions.

  4. Do not eat in any of the virtual ‘rooms’, even snacks. If you must have a snack at a specific time, either leave the room and return after your snack or turn your video off. Although only water is usually allowed at a residential retreat, having coffee or tea are fine. 

  5. Please leave the room during any of the main meal breaks, not just turn your video off. Drinking coffee, tea or water in any of the rooms is fine.

During a Sit:

  • You may move if necessary, but this should be done slowly so as to be undetectable by other meditators - unless you have your video turned off. Some retreatants meditate with eyes open, so any quick movement can be jarring or distracting.

  • You are free to stand in place to help ward off sleepiness keeping the above in mind.

  • Please use sitting gear or a chair as you would during a residential retreat. Do not lie down in the zendo ‘room’ unless medical conditions make it necessary. This helps preserve an atmosphere of sacredness.

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