Join us for one of our services at the Zendo: 18005 Vashon Highway SW, Vashon, WA 98070, (previously Island Funeral Services.) Feel free to come 10 minutes early for instruction, or just jump right in.

  • Sunday Service: 10:00am-12pm
    Early Sunday Sit: 8:30-9:30am
  • Monday – Friday: 6:30-7:30am
  • Monday Evening: 7:00-8:45pm
  • Wednesday Evening: 7:00-8:30pm
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12:30pm – Annual Intensive Practice Period Kickoff

March 24 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

a stack of poetry books, one of which is open to a poem

The 2024 Intensive Practice Period begins on 24 March, and culminates with the sesshin at Camp Sealth, 21-28 April.

As always, the core emphasis for an Intensive Practice Period is just that, leaning into zazen, and increasing our time in zazen as much as possible.   We will be providing many opportunities for sitting together in the zendo:  early mornings, evenings, noon sits, half day sits every Sunday, plus a full day-sit on Saturday 30 March, as well as the seven days of sesshin at Camp Sealth.

Our focus for this year’s Intensive Practice Period is Poetry As Practice.

Jane Hirshfield, poet and Zen practitioner, says “all you’re doing in meditation is learning how to wash the dishes well… If you cannot take what happens on the cushion and have it be present in all the rest of your life, what is it worth to you of to anyone else?”  The promise of poetry– reading it, memorizing it, writing it– is that it helps us see the extraordinary in the ordinary. The practice of poetry, like zazen, hones our consciousness, our close attention to the sensory, and habituates us to seeing the world through our original minds, that awareness that exists before it is populated with the objects of thought.

Our Intensive Practice guidelines for this year have been much revised and simplified.  Here are the elements of the Practice Period and how we can participate:

  • Participation in the IPP is now open to all the sangha. In the past, participation was for PSZC members only

  • Participation may be at several levels of intensity. Everyone may participate in the poetry focused Sunday talks, Wednesday evening talks/workshops, and activities in the zendo (see descriptions below)

  • PLUS there is still an opportunity for those who wish to deepen your practice by writing your own personal plans for intensified practice and committing to that plan in the form of a “contract” between the teachers and yourself (see guidelines below).

Teachers and Leaders:
Sundays during service:  dharma talks focussed on Poetry As Practice.
24 March.  Koshin.  “Poetry as Practice”
31 March.  Anita Feng.   “Poetry and Koans”
7 April.     Eko Jeff Kelley. “Standing on Common Ground: Universal Themes from Rumi to Dylan.”
14 April..   TBA
21 April.    TBA

Wednesday evenings 7-8:30pm: discussion/workshop on poetry as practice.   (in the zendo and on Zoom)
27 March. Koshin.  “Poetry and the Re-framing of Imperfection and Difficulty”
3 April.    Chris Robinson.  “ Writing Capping Phrases: Wabi, Sabi, Aware, and Yugen”
10 April.  Chris Robinson.  “Your Poem and the The Six Energies of Poetry”
17 April –  Eko Jeff Kelley. “Liberating Language: From Free Writing to Structured Verse.”

Zazen opportunities in the zendo and on Zoom:
Every weekday morning 6:30-7:30am
Evening sits in the zendo Mondays (7-8:30), Wednesdays (7-8:30), Thursdays (7-8) and Fridays (7-8). Zoom only Tuesday and Saturday evenings 7-8pm. Wednesday evenings will be poetry discussion/workshops. Monday evenings are three zazen periods.
Every mid-day on week days: 12-1:00
Every Sunday morning 7am- 12:00 (includes the 10:00 service)
Full day-sit Saturday 30 March:  8:30-5:00 (SIGN UP NOW)
7-day sesshin, Camp Sealth (evening of Sunday April 21 through Sunday afternoon April 28)

If you wish to deepen your practice by creating your own practice plan to commit to during the five weeks, here are the guidelines. (Unlike previous years, there are only two subjects to consider: zazen and poetry.)

Look over the guidelines and take some time to see what feels right and possible. Make it realistic, taking into account other commitments etc., but do lean into practice.

Create your practice plan around two activities: Zazen and Poetry.

Please consider carefully the intensified zazen you will commit to for the five weeks.  Please write down the details of what additional zazen you commit to: for example:
–I will sit 4 weekday mornings a week in the zendo
–I will attend Monday night zazen, Wednesday night zazen and discussion, and the Sunday sits starting at 7am each week in the zendo
–I will sit at home for 20 minutes every evening before bed.
–I will sign up for and attend the all-day sit on 30 March
–I will sign up for and attend half-time the April sesshin at Camp Sealth

There are many ideas for your practice plan around poetry.  It may depend on your comfort levels (but lean in a little) around reading or writing poetry. Consider how Zen Practice and poetry may support each other. We will have dharma talks each Sunday during service on the topic of poetry and practice, as well as discussion/workshops on Wednesday evenings—these may inspire you.  Here are some examples you may want to choose from, or invent your own, but be specific in your practice plan:
–Pick a poem, either from a suggested list, or one that speaks to you, and memorize it. Treat memorization as meditation. Say it out loud. Memorize at least one poem a week.
–Daily haiku challenge: take inspiration from Genko’s book of 100-day haiku, and write one haiku a day. Or every other day.
–Keep a small journal with you whereever you go. Commit to writing a certain number of close observations each day.
–Note a topic or observation or feeling or sensation that comes up strongly for you in zazen. Write a poem about it—breathe and feel gently for the words that evoke that sensation. Write one poem a week.
–Write a haiku immediately after zazen. Don’t judge it. Don’t think about it during zazen.
–Exchange renga poems with your partner. Renga is a form of collaborative poetry in which alternate stanzas are linked in succession by multiple poets.
–Participate in Sangha Renga. We will have a poetry corner set up in our library. One feature will be a sangha renga scroll. The rules of renga will be posted, and members are invited to contribute.
–Post your own or favorite poems on the cork board that will also be up in the poetry corner.

Opening the Intensive Practice Period—Sunday 24 March.
After the regular service on Sunday March 24th, those interested in participating in the IPP will break for soup and bread, and then gather in the zendo at 12:30. Koshin will introduce the IPP, and we will have a short ceremony in which those who have prepared practice plans in “contract” form and wish to commit, ceremoniously place their “contracts” on the altar. You are welcome to join in even if you have not written a practice plan “contract”.

Those who submit “contracts” will put their names in a hat, and we will draw partners for the duration of the IPP. The partners may, for example, have tea together, talk over their practice, write poems together, discuss their experiences with zazen—in short, support each other throughout the five weeks.


March 24
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


Puget Sound Zen Center
18005 Vashon Hwy SW
Vashon, WA 98070 United States


Puget Sound Zen Center

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