Upcoming Monday Night Program via Zoom

Spring/Summer 2023 Speakers:

May 08 - Rachel Mansfield-Howlett Roshi
May 15 - Deanna Rose Hopper Sensei
May 22 - Christopher Bell Sensei
May 29 - Closed for Holiday

Jun 05 - Rachel Mansfield-Howlett Roshi
Jun 12 - Deanna Rose Hopper Sensei
Jun 19 - Michelle Brandt Sensei
Jun 26 - Christopher Bell Sensei

Jul 03 - Closed for Fireworks
Jul 10 - Rachel Mansfield-Howlett Roshi
Jul 17 - Christopher Bell Sensei
Jul 24 - Deanna Rose. Hopper Sensei
Jul 31 - Michelle Brandt Sensei or Gary Brandt, Head of Practice

Everyone is welcome to join us for meditation, dharma, talk, and discussion every Monday night at 6:50pm. Please email zenappt@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link for the Monday evening program.

 Sesshin January 2023

JANUARY 20-27 2023
Full or part time attendance 
Scholarships available

St. Dorothy’s Rest
Occidental, Sonoma County

Sesshin is an ancient Zen tradition; it’s a special environment built to help you discover your own awakening. Often in your daily life, the light of your attention goes out from you into the world; during sesshin you turn the light back inward into your own heart/mind. 

We are so looking forward to meeting in person for the first time in a long while at our Great Winter SesshinCityZen’s senior teacher, Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, Roshi will be giving dharma transmission to Deanna Hopper and Rev. Chris Bell on Sunday afternoon.

We practice in a relaxed traditional form of sesshin, with lots of dharma talks and opportunity for meeting individually with the teachers. Our silent retreat is held at St. Dorothy’s Rest in Camp Meeker, with stunning views of the redwoods and rolling hills and featuring exquisitely made hearty vegetarian meals.

We wholeheartedly invite you to join us for this precious week.

Contact Zenappt@gmail.com for questions and registration. 

Rachel Mansfield-Howlett Roshi is a koan master in the Pacific Zen School lineage and the Founder and senior teacher at CityZen in Santa Rosa CA. With degrees in botany and law she is also a public benefit environmental attorney and professor of law. She is a contributor to The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen's Most Important Koan and The Hidden Lamp, Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women
Nothing has ever been hidden. 

In W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, there's an interview with an English farmer who at one point says:

“I have always kept ducks, even as a child, and the colours of their plumage, in particular the dark green and snow white, seemed to me the only possible answer to the questions that are on my mind.”

Your right place is always just beneath your feet.
Fish don’t run out of ocean,
And birds enjoy the endless sky.
How will you be any less fortunate?

Rachel Mansfield-Howlett

Reclaiming the Fallow of the Year

adjective: fallow (of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility.
Synonyms: uncultivated, unplowed, untilled, unplanted, unsown; unused, dormant, resting, empty, bare.

In our northern climes, before the advent of artificial sources of light, the months of winter were a long dark time. Nature too, took her rest and there wasn’t much to do on the land for our farming ancestors. Long nights and cold days meant folks got a break from the busyness of life and entered into a more timeless place. The stillness without encouraged a slowing down, uncovering a stillness within. It’s the place before the formation of ideas; before an opinion or comparison arises. It’s the place of intuition, inspiration, improvisation and creativity.

What did our ancestors do during the long dark winter months? Told stories, stoked the fire, made love, slept, painted, played music, made something simple and hearty to eat, bundled up and took walks.

Modernly, the lights are always on, figuratively and literally. We have lost something important to our well being in converting all of our time to the activities of the light.

This familiar story shows the value of emptying or losing track of the known, to restore the fertile ground.

A man went to visit a teacher to find out about Zen. While the teacher served tea, the professor talked about what he knew about Zen. The master poured the man’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring.
The man watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s full! No more will go in!”
The teacher replied, “How can I show you anything unless you first empty your cup?”

Knowing is a kind of filter that limits our vision and closes off possibility. In other words, we only see what our knowing will allow us to see. Allowing ourselves a period of fallow both empties and widens the field. Laying down the realm of the known and unknown, relinquishing our usual tendencies to form opinions and judgments, we enter the vast and wide of the Great Way itself and allow ourselves to be reshaped by this undoing.

An old master said: “The way is vast and wide, how could it ever be a matter of knowing or not knowing? Knowing is arrogant; not knowing is stupidity; the way is far beyond both of these.”

Practices for the Dark of the Year

Slowing down.

Doing a single task with all your attention gives you a needed break from the jar of constant distraction. Doing a thing, wholly, brings its own kind of joy and you can learn to rest again in the gentle peace of everyday things. When you’re sitting with a friend, give them your full attention. If you are walking, just walk. If you are sautéing onions, notice their color and smell as they cook, the rhythm of the spoon in your hand.

Give yourself time to do nothing.

This winter sit in candlelight, stare into a fire, go outside and watch the moon and stars, listen to the rain fall, sit by the ocean and watch the waves roll in and out, rest on a bench and watch birds and passersby, rest by a lake or a river and notice the insects and trees and the sound of water over pebbles.

Put down your electronic devices.

Of course. Of course! A couple hours before bedtime, or for a time early in the morning as you are waking, put away your devices and the sounds they make to alert you of emails and phone calls.


Sweet sleep restores our bodies and allows the mind to rest, to dream, to let the intelligence of all things find its way into our consciousness.          


Anywhere. A short stroll or a long walk about, it’s what our bodies are meant to do. It reminds us of the true pace of life and shows us the aliveness of the world.

Read aloud to each other.

A forgotten art, we can take it up again. Like walking instead of riding, we slow down to take in more. Resting in the cantor of the human voice, we savor what we may otherwise have missed.

Make love.

No explanation necessary, right?                       


Be quiet and listen. Notice when judgments and opinions arise, when you are comparing yourself to others or complaining about unimportant things. Then, just return to the place where you are.

Cook simple meals and share them together.

Find a local farm, bakery or supplier and gather some things that look good to you. Learn to cook a few seasonal meals that you will enjoy making. The simpler, the better.

Notice what has already been given to you.

You are given this life as a human being, each of your senses, this fine body, the moon and the stars, the green leaf, and watery sea, a home, food to eat, and each other.

May you truly enjoy the blessings of this season.

Summer Calendar 2018

St. Dorothy's Rest Spring Sesshin morning
June 4  Rev. Chris Bell
June 11 Deanna Hopper
June 18  Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, Roshi
June 25 Linda Proulx

July 2 Gary Brandt
July 9  Michelle Brandt, Sensei
July 16 Deanna Hopper
July 23 Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, Roshi
July 30 Rev. Chris Bell

Aug 6   Deanna Hopper
Aug 13  Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, Roshi
Aug 20  Rev. Chris Bell
Aug 27  Michelle Brandt, Sensei
Chris Bell, Vikki Kath, Bill Krumbein
St. Dot's forest morning light
Spring Sesshin altar