Issue 24;

Hebden Bridge Altar

Retreat Report

Hebden Bridge Practice Period

By Ingen Breen

Dear Sangha and Friends,

The Practice Period here in Hebden Bridge started in February and we’re now just over a week past the half-way mark. It’s a ten-week, non-residential practice period and it’s a really wonderful time of the year to be here and practicing. Gradually the hints and accents of green are more numerous, as are the hours of daylight and bird songs. The natural world is poised for a burst of green with the next warm spell. It is delightful to notice the lengthening mornings with the attendant chorus as we sit in the Zendo of Hope House and the lengthening evenings and evening melodies as we sit in the Zendo of the Birchcliffe Centre. It’s a two Zendo practice period and each of the Zendos fit beautifully and differently. The dharma talks have been in the Birchcliffe Zendo, but the half-day sits have been in the quieter Hope House, and they’ve included a short dharma talk or class or dharma dialogue. These half-day sits have flowed beautifully, with a very quiet but significant Oryoki breakfast in the Zendo. The three half-day sits have been from 6 a.m to noon and the All Day Sit / One Day Sesshin on the 19th will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., with three Oryoki meals. The walks home from Dharma Study on Friday evenings have been magical, with the lights of Hebden on the hill and in the town below and the lights of the heavens above. Though few have been attending the Study nights we have been deriving much inspiration from The Life of the Buddha and each other. As the practice period enters its last phase we will take a brief look at the Genjo Koan.

We’ve been able to include a regular Chi / Ki practice – either on Sunday evenings or on Wednesday evenings and the Birchcliffe Zendo has been large enough to accommodate this class. We’ve also been able to include time for Doan Practice. Though this has been slow to gather momentum it does seem to be quickening.

We will end the Practice Period with an All Night Sit on the 25th/26th, four free-standing day sits (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) on the 28th, 29th, 30th and 1st, and a three-day sesshin on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The closing ceremony will be on May 5th.

My feelings of opening, growth, and abundant potential towards nature are mirrored by the same feelings towards practice here in Hebden Bridge. In this vast web of interbeing, how can we say there is nothing holy?

In order to facilitate as many people as possible the Hebden Bridge Zen group came up with an interesting schedule or programme: it repeats on a two week cycle. You can check it out at either my website ( or on the HBZ’s website (

In Gassho,


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