A Zen Buddhist Community in Shelburne, Vermont

Getting Started

First Step—Attending a Workshop

Introductory Workshops, conducted by Roshi Graef and her students, are a practical and authentic introduction to Zen Buddhism. During the half-day schedule of talks, question periods, demonstrations and guided meditation, participants are introduced to the body-mind disciplines of Zen Buddhism.

In addition to providing an introduction to Zen, workshops are an ideal time to see how spiritual training is carried on at the Center. Members are happy to answer questions about the Zen Center and its programs. People who wish to discuss their own spiritual practice can talk with Roshi Graef at the question-and-answer periods or during breaks.

Workshop Features

  • If you are curious about Buddhism—Workshops give an overview of the life of the Buddha and the development of the Buddhist Path.
  • If you want to learn how to meditate—Workshops have in-depth instruction in the postures, practices, and forms of Zen meditation (zazen).
  • If you are new to Zen and looking for support—Workshops introduce you to the teacher and community of the Vermont Zen Center
  • If you are experienced in Zen and looking for a place to practice—Workshops are our most thorough point of entry. By coming to a Workshop you have taken the first step to membership in the Vermont Zen Center.

After Attending a Workshop

After attending an Introductory Workshop, you are eligible to participate in a complementary, month-long program called trial membership. During this period, you may attend as many formal sittings & scheduled events as you wish. Weekly events include things like chanting services, ceremonies, work periods, and private instruction with the teacher. After this trial period, if you wish to continue to come to formal sittings and events, you may apply for full membership.

Making an Orientation Appointment: Please let us know at least 48 hours in advance of the first formal sitting you wish to attend so that arrangements can be made for a senior member to provide you with instruction and orientation to formal sittings. On occasion, the Center is closed for holidays or sesshin retreats, so it's important to contact the office (weekdays only) before arriving. Please see our contact page.

After orientation and instruction, you will then join others in the zendo (meditation room) before the sitting begins. Once you have received an orientation, you may attend the regular weekly sittings and formal events as often as you wish for the duration of your trial membership. The person in charge of the sitting—called the monitor—can help you with any questions you might have before or after a formal sitting.

Finding Your Seat: The Finding Your Seat program helps newcomers feel more comfortable at the Center. It can be intimidating to start a spiritual practice in an established community. We hope you will feel free to ask questions and let us know your needs.


Newcomers are always welcome to attend morning sittings. However, please call first during business hours, 8-5, to let us know you are coming. Occasionally the Center is closed due to sesshin retreats or holidays.
Loose, comfortable clothes are recommended. Please do not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts. Jeans are usually too tight for comfortable sitting.
Yes, it is. Zen practice does not require believing in specific doctrines. There are Zen Center members who also attend church or synagogue.
Absolutely. The practices of Zen are both similar to and enhance Twelve Step Programs.
No, it is not. Zen practice is not about learning or knowing in an intellectual, conceptual sense. Rather, it is the direct, concrete experience of life just as it is.
The best way to learn about Zen is to practice Zen. If, however, you would like to do some reading, we have a short recommended reading list.
Yes. Many people sit on chairs rather than cushions. There are always chairs in the meditation room.
If you wish to attend morning sittings only, it is not necessary to join the Center. If you wish to attend the occasional evening or Sunday sitting you can become a friend of the Center. Membership is for those who wish to support the Center. Members may attend all sittings, participate in ceremonies and retreats and receive private instruction from Roshi Graef.
Many of our members do not live in Vermont. Out-of-town members come to sit at the Center when they are able, attend retreats as their situations permit, and maintain their sitting practice with groups in their area or on their own.

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