A Zen retreat where practitioners meditate, eat and work together for several days. A sesshin (literally "touching the heart-mind") is a period of intensive meditation (zazen) in a Zen monastery.
While the daily routine in the monastery requires the monks to meditate several hours a day, during a sesshin they devote themselves almost exclusively to zazen practice. The numerous 30- to 50-minute-long meditation periods are interleaved with short rest breaks, meals, and sometimes short periods of work all performed with the same mindfulness; nightly sleep is kept to a minimum, at six hours or fewer. During the sesshin period, the meditation practice is occasionally interrupted by the master giving public talks (teisho) and individual direction in private meetings (which may be called dokusan, daisan, or sanzen) with a Zen Master.
In modern Buddhist practice in Japan and the West, sesshins are often attended by lay students, and are typically one, three, five, or seven days in length. Seven-day sesshins are held several times a year at many Zen centers, especially in commemoration of the Buddha's awakening to annuttara samyak sambodhi. At this Rohatsu sesshin, practitioners seek to relax and quiet the mind to the point of cessation of mental chatter and emotional impulse, samadhi, kensho, or satori.