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How do I pay?
How much do retreats cost?
Will I have internet access and phone service?
Do I need to stay for the whole schedule?
What is a typical SMZC day like?
What is a sesshin (meditation intensive) day like?
Why are sesshin (meditation intensives) retreats in silence?
How do I get to SMZC?

How do I pay?

Guests prepay online by credit card or PayPal to reserve a guest practice, solo practice, sesshin, or ango stay. Rates vary depending on the chosen accommodation (room and restroom options).


How much do retreats cost?

Starting at $85 per night (shared room with no restroom) up to $160 (private room with private restroom) for non-members. Members receive 10-20% discount depending on the membership level. Please email for the accommodation fee.


Will I have internet access and phone service?

Most people do not have trouble receiving phone service on the mountain, and we have free wifi available by request. Overall, we encourage visitors to unplug from electronic devices and fully retreat into the stillness within themselves. 


Do I need to stay for the whole schedule?

Participants are strongly encouraged to follow the entire retreat schedules from beginning to end to deepen their experience. We follow a precise schedule and ask all participants to arrive on time to all events. Accommodations can be made for work and other obligations.


What is a typical SMZC day like?

SMZC’s daily schedule starts at 5:00 am and ends at 9:00 pm with two meditation periods. Days include sutra chanting, temple cleaning, two periods of samu (work practice) in the morning and afternoons and three informal communal meals. In the afternoons there is a 2.5 hour break for personal time and rest.


What is a sesshin (meditation intensive) day like?

A typical sesshin schedule at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center begins at 4:45 am and ends at 9:00 pm. Days are spent in silence with 10 periods of sitting and walking meditation. 

  • Meals: Three oryoki (formal eating practice) meals are served. Talks about Buddhist teachings are given for 3–7 day meditation intensive and dokusan (personal interviews) to see a teacher are scheduled as well.

  • Samu: A period of morning samu (work practice) is scheduled to bring mindfulness into the activity in your life. Work practice at SMZC may be kitchen, housekeeping, gardening, or land work.


Why are sesshin (meditation intensives) retreats in silence?

Once a retreat begins we ask that you honor the “great silence” – returning to the quieting of body, mind and voice as it will help you return to the deep silence within your Self. Also, not only does this create a container for your practice but will create a larger container to harmonize with the larger group of practitioners as well.

  • Technology Fasting: On retreats we encourage you to turn off your cell phones for the time you are here and unplug your laptops, iPods, iPads and other communication devices so you can fully commit to your stay and deepen your experience.

  • Closing Circle: At the end of our meditation intensives, silence is broken with a closing ceremony in which there is time to share your personal experiences and gratitude.


How do I get to SMZC?

We are easily accessible by car. It takes 20–30 minutes to drive from Santa Rosa, Petaluma or Sonoma and around an hour from San Francisco:

  • Airport Bus: Visitors traveling by plane can fly into San Francisco, Oakland, or Santa Rosa airports. If you are flying into San Francisco or Oakland airports, take Groome Transportation to the DoubleTree Hotel in Rohnert Park, about a twenty minute drive from our center.  

  • Shuttle Service for Domestic Guests: Our center is accessible by most taxi services. Please arrange your own transportation (such as taxi, Uber or Lyft) from DoubleTree Hotel in Rohnert Park, Golden Gate Transit bus stop in Santa Rosa, or Sonoma County Airport.

  • Shuttle Service for International Guests: Available for $30/one way or $60/round trip to and from Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. Please let us know your flight numbers so that we can track your arrival/departure time. If arriving or departing before 9:00 am or after 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, please arrange your own transportation in advance with one of the following taxi services:


When do I arrive and depart SMZC?

  • We encourage participants to arrive at SMZC between 5:00pm – 6:00pm on the beginning day of your sesshin (meditation intensive). Sesshins begin at 7:30pm.

  • For one day sittings, we ask that people attend the entire day. For 3–7 day meditation intensives, it is encouraged to attend as many days as possible to deepen your experience. However, if you cannot attend all the days, please schedule your days so that you can end and participate in the closing ceremony with the entire group.

  • Most sesshins end mid-afternoon on the last day. We end with a closing ceremony to share our experiences, insights and gratitude with others.


What should I bring?

Be prepared and be comfortable. We provide bedding and towels (you are welcome to bring your own).

  • Toiletries

  • A flashlight

  • An alarm clock

  • Layered clothes for work practice (it can be chilly on the Sonoma Mountain in the mornings and evenings)

  • Layered, muted colored comfortable clothing for meditation periods

  • Shoes for outside work practice

  • A shade hat for working outdoors

  • Shoes that easily slip on and off (shoes off in all temple buildings)

What extra items may I bring with me?

  • Extra blankets and pillows for winter warmth and extra comfort

  • For solo retreats or longer guest practice stays, you are welcome to bring your own meditation cushion or bench. SMZC provides zafus and zabutons (sitting cushions) for you in the meditation hall. Chairs are available upon request for those who cannot sit on a cushion.

  • If you wish to practice privately in your own room, please bring your own meditation supplies and cushions. 

  • An umbrella for rainy seasons


What food I can bring for solo retreats?

Sonoma Mountain Zen Center’s kitchen is small and a busy place, so we do not have the resources to respond to individual dietary needs. If you have special dietary requirements beyond what SMZC meals can offer, please plan ahead and bring any necessary foods or supplements with you to your retreat. These can be stored in our kitchen refrigerator area, either on shelves or in our refrigerator labeled with your name. Space is limited, so please bring only those food items that are necessary. Please provide your own sealed plastic containers, and mark them with your name and the date. Please take any items that you have stored in the kitchen with you when you depart.


My accomodations at SMZC?

  • A welcome note with a map to your room will be emailed to you or posted at the porch of the Sangha House.

  • SMZC’s retreat facility includes three main buildings surrounded by shared or individual retreat rooms. All are connected by intimate graveled walking paths.

  • We have several shared or single bedrooms, simply yet comfortably furnished for each retreatant with a twin bed, dresser and lamp. Each sleeping space is heated by an electric heater. A pillow, sheets, blankets and bath towels are provided.

  • Bathroom cabinets and towel rods are available for use in the restroom building. When you depart, please take your towels to the restroom laundry room to be washed.


Can I light candles or incense?

Due to fire regulations, lighting candles or burning incense, or lighting fires of any kind on SMZC property is absolutely not allowed.


Who do I contact if I have more questions?

If you have any further questions about your stay Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, please email or call 707-545-8105. We hope you will have a rich and wonderful experience practicing with us at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. We look forward to meeting and practicing with you.

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