Part of the retreat experience is offering seva (service) to your fellow retreatants. There are many seva tasks that keep the retreat running smoothly. Please choose at least 2-3 time slots to volunteer in a particular task.

This may include:

  • Zendo manager
  • Bell ringer
  • Sit leader
  • Flower maintenance
  • Tea table maintenance
  • Recording group process sessions or dharma talks
  • Yoga and mindful movement instruction
  • store runs
  • Take-down and clean-up on the last day

Sign-up sheets will be on the sign-up table (usually just outside the meditation hall – zendo) and task instructions are included; however, a bell ringer/sit leader instruction will be provided during orientation.


Bell Ringing

Bells are rung:

  • For morning wake-up
  • At the end of rest periods that follow each meal
  • To remind everyone when a sit is about to begin

In traditional Buddhist symbolism, the bell stands for compassion – its pleasant reverberations reaching out, attracting sentient beings to the practice. In Vajrayana ceremonies, the bell is used together with the “Vajra Dart,” which symbolizes penetrating wisdom, the complement of compassion.

Thus, bell ringing is not simply a job, but a deep, concentrated meditation – a merging with the archetype of the compassionate bodhisattva calling beings back to the Source.

The bell is kept on a table outside the zendo.

The bell ringer calls retreatants back to the practice by walking by the bedrooms while gently, but loudly, ringing the bell. This task is done right after the previous sit ends. After a meal break, this task is done 10 minutes before retreatants are to return to the zendo, and again just before the sit.

For wake-up, the bell is rung loudly at 5 a.m. in the walkways by the bedrooms, giving retreatants 30 minutes to get to the zendo for chanting.  

There will be a written instruction sheet on the volunteer (seva) sign-up table, and more detail will be discussed at orientation and/or a seva instruction session will be announced. If you have further questions about any task, please leave a note for the retreat manager.