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People Interested in deepening their practice can live and train at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center as a resident. The Zen Center is a lay practice temple that creates an environment for infusing Zen practice into all daily activities. Our schedule is structured to support focused and selfless training and the subtlety of everyday practice.

Hundreds of residents, from across the country and abroad, have lived and practiced at the Zen Center over the years. A wider sangha joins in practice on weekends and during events. We regularly host guests, especially members from our Poland and Iceland sanghas as well as nuns and monks visiting from Japan. The temple is on quiet, forested grounds near the top of Sonoma Mountain and overlooks the Valley of the Moon.

We have four programs that individually support a different container of practice at the Zen Center.


Immerse yourself in Everyday Zen by living and practicing with Zen Center residents for a limited stay of up to three months and enjoy the quiet and natural rural atmosphere of Sonoma Mountain. The daily schedule includes: morning and evening zazen (meditation) and services (bowing and chanting), samu (temple work practice), informal communal meals, and private interviews with SMZC’s Abbot Jakusho Kwong-roshi. Afternoon rest breaks and private time (2.5hrs) are free for studying, hiking, walks or attending to personal things.

Accommodations varies from a shared dormitory-style room with no restroom to a simple rustic room with restroom. Not all meals are prepared. Upon arrival, SMZC’s guest person will review practice schedule and detailed information about the center. General review of meditation instructions and zendo etiquette may be requested at the beginning of a guest stay.

Staying at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center is an adventure, to be engaged in wholehearted practice in the midst of profound stillness.

$70 per day (shared room no restroom) to
$175 per day (single room with restroom) plus 5% processing fee

Discounted monthly rate or student rate available

Students with a serious interest in Zen training can apply to live as a resident at the center under the guidance of Jakusho Kwong-roshi. This program is for practitioners willing to commit at least one year to intensive practice, though two years are strongly recommended. We advise applicants to practice Zen at least one year before considering this commitment.


Residents are fully incorporated into our community and as such, participate fully with mandatory attendance in our daily zazen schedule, work practice, retreats, and all other activities that support the maintenance of the zen center. Every month there is a 1-, 3-, 5-, or 7-day sesshin intensive. Every February and August, we hold a 1-month Ango Practice Period. Our schedule is highly structured as our effort to support focused and selfless training. 


This is an intimate residency situated in a quiet countryside. There are usually around ten residents, and we often host guest residents staying anywhere from three days to three months. Our larger Sangha includes about one hundred members from nearby cities, out of states and European countries. While our practice emphasizes Zazen meditation, our community provides ample opportunity to connect with others who support our spiritual endeavor.

$787.50 covers room and board, and participation in all our programs, study groups, workshops and sesshins. Scholarships are available for students with particular skills and work experience. Qualifying students receive room and board, meals and Zen training programs free of charge plus a small monthly stipend after six months. The center closes the last two weeks in December; and after one year, residents receive an additional week of vacation.


Contact us to request a resident application form to apply. 

Sangha life is just like a pearl: there’s much rubbing, and the more agitation there is, the more pearl-like our lives become.

—Jakusho Kwong-roshi

Resident Practice Sonoma Mountain Zen Center

Student Program

Full-time students can experience the center life in a dormitory room for a minimum of one month during summer/winter breaks or gap years for $950/month. Come experience the temple life on the mountain!

Volunteer Work Program

On-Site Carpentry, Facility Maintenance or Landscaping

People can also give to the center through a work residency. This is a work exchange program where residents receive room and board for $550/month while supporting the Zen Center through selfless action. This short-term work residents can both explore Zen and cultivate a work practice in the environment of a Buddhist temple. Short-term residents (1, 3, or 6 months) work four days a week (32hr/week). Volunteer work residents attend at least six meditation periods a week. Participating in more Zazen meditation periods and Zen Center programs are optional.

Resident Work Program

Off-Site Work

We also invite people to live and train part time at the center while continuing to work outside. This is a lighter transition for people with a heart for zen, who are  seeking to incorporate it into their everyday life. Residents commuting to work follow the same practice guidelines and participate in center life on a part-time basis. They stay integrated in the residency by attending at least six meditation periods a week, weekly resident meetings, Soji (temple cleaning) and dinner preparation assignments twice a month. They participate in retreats, sesshins and other center events. All of this will be flexible with the off-site work schedule. Rates vary depending on the accommodation (room and board).

Contact us for more details on the student or work practice residency.