“First Saturday” Contemplative Sitting

First Saturday

All First Saturday events are now hybrid and open to the public. You do not need to be signed into the website membership account to use this Zoom link.

July 13th*, 2024: Sr. Kathleen Pruitt (guest teacher)
August 3rd, 2024: Leonard Marcel
September 7th, 2024: Leonard Marcel
October 5th, 2024: Sr. Kathleen Pruitt (guest teacher)
November 2nd, 2024: Leonard Marcel
December 7th, 2024: Sr. Kathleen Pruitt (guest teacher)
(* = July 13th is the second Saturday)

9 am to 12 pm
9 am to 10 am — Contemplative Sitting
10 am — Conference / Talk
~10:30 am – 12 pm — Contemplative Sitting

Click here to print/view the liturgy booklet.

If you would like an interview, please confirm who will be the teacher for the date you are attending.

If Leonard Marcel is scheduled to be the teacher, please send an email with your phone number to him at [email protected] and you will be notified of the approximate he will call you.

Please read the guidelines for online participation below:

Practice Guidelines

  • The online contemplation room often opens 20 minutes before the retreat is scheduled to begin. Follow the link at least 10 minutes before start time.
  • Please bow in by bowing towards the camera once you enter the virtual contemplation room, then to your cushion/chair. You should automatically be muted for the duration (even while reading liturgy aloud), but please check to ensure that you are muted. 
  • Bow along with the clappers, before sitting and before walking meditation, just as you would in the physical contemplation room.
  • Every sitting period will begin with a single clap of the clappers, followed by three rings of the bell. The sitting will be ended by two bell rings when it is to be followed by walking meditation. One clap will start the walking meditation. Please walk on your own until the clappers sound again. Return to your place for the next sitting period.
  • When there is no walking meditation to follow a period of contemplation, the bell will be struck only once and will be followed by closing words. 
  • If you wish to be seen for interview, please send an email to [email protected] with your phone number. If you wish dokusan via Skype or FaceTime, also include your Skype or FaceTime contact information and indicate the medium via which you wish to be contacted. You will be notified of an approximate time when you will be called.

Guidelines for Online Contemplation:

To help facilitate a calm and settled space so that practitioners can attend to the moment-to-moment unfolding of experience during meditation, there are forms practiced with harmony in mind:

  • The Seven Thunders Virtual Contemplation Room at Stones & Clouds is accessible via Zoom. If you have not done so already, please download the Zoom app onto a computer, tablet or smart phone simply by selecting the link. Zoom will then ask to be installed. This is a simple process that requires no computer skill. Be sure to choose your preferred audio access form and allow camera access.
  • Zoom offers two options for screen views: either focusing on the speaker (speaker view) or on those attending (gallery view). Since no one will be speaking other than the teacher, it is best to set your interface for speaker mode (the contemplation room will be in main picture, with all attending showing at top or side of your screen). 
  • It is best to meditate while not directly in front of your screen but with the screen still showing your body and posture somehow, such as by sitting sideways to your screen. This allows participants not to be distracted by the movement of other retreat attendees . If you would rather not be seen on screen at all, just point the screen to your altar or use a blank screen.
  • Please turn the camera toward your face for any talks (teisho) or any discussions.
  • The timekeeper will unmute the group for any interaction that may be necessary.
  • In order to minimize visual distractions, if using a desktop computer, shift the space from a workstation to a practice space by clearing or covering work papers.  Please be sure not to have pictures with text or light sources directly in front of the camera, including candles. Many members position the camera to face an altar or incense.
  • To cultivate the harmony of practicing together, please join on time. Care well for silence in the online contemplation room until the closing.

Tips for using Zoom:

The Seven Thunders virtual contemplation room at Stones and Clouds opens 20 minutes before the retreat is scheduled to begin. New attendees, please take some time before the first sitting to become familiar with a few of the common functions so that you are settled by the time mediation begins. Practitioners tend to settle into the online contemplation room more easily after having oriented themselves.

Here are step-by-step instructions for exploring a few common functions in Zoom, the home of the online contemplation room.

  • Mute Your Audio: Please mute your microphone during zazen if it is not already muted (to limit the background sounds that are heard by others). To do this, click on the microphone icon (conveniently labelled Mute/Unmute) found in the lower left corner of the Zoom screen. The image of a microphone with a slash indicates mute.
  • Adjust Your Video: The two most commonly used controls to adjust video in the online contemplation room are Start/Stop Video (bottom left) and Enter Full Screen Click (top right).
  • Chat: connects listeners with the moderator and shows the closing recitation. Click the “Chat” button on your control bar at the bottom of your zoom window to launch the Chat box. This is not to be used during any online Seven Thunders silent event.
  • Participants: allows attendees to see who else is in the online contemplation room. Click the “Participants” button on your control bar at the bottom of your zoom window to open the Participants box.

*** Important Note:

Please, do not click the Share Screen button in the middle of your control bar.