Zen programs

Drinking tea
Noorder Poort, work practice days

Work practice days: plastering the living room

Jolinda Daishin van Hoogdalem practices Qigong

Jolinda Daishin van Hoogdalem practices Qigong

Moorland near Noorder Poort

Moorland near Noorder Poort

IZC Noorder Poort offers a broad range of Zen programs. Some are suited to all levels of practice. These include programs for those who are just starting Zen practice and programs for experienced Zen practitioners. Some programs feature considerable zazen (sitting meditation) while others emphasize practice in activity.

Here, you can also have a look at the daily schedules of all programs. Remember that these are examples and the actual schedule could be slightly different.

Go immediately to the traditional Zen retreats

Please look at our calendar for information about dates, cost and guidance.

For both new and experienced practitioners

The following programs are also suited for getting acquainted with Zen or with the center. All of these programs include meditation instruction for those who wish to receive it, but they are well-suited for experienced practitioners as well.

Daily-Life Sesshin

Geared to integrate meditation into your daily life.
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Sesshin is the traditional name for a Zen retreat. This sesshin is targeted at the integration of meditation into your daily life. In the early morning, in the afternoon and in the evening, there are meditation periods. But there are also work periods, some in silence and some not in silence. These give you the opportunity to practice listening and speaking. Once a day there is both a group meeting and dokusan (private interviews with the teacher). These sesshin are an important element of the training periods as well.

Starts 19:30 on the first evening. Ends three or five days later at 14:00 (see calendar).

Example schedule of a daily life retreat


Offer your work to the center.
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In a workweek, there are meditation periods in the early morning and in the evening. During the day, we work in and around the house, experiencing how work and meditation are supporting each other. You will be assigned jobs which are suitable for your abilities. Workweeks are a good opportunity to help the center with your labor.

From Monday 11:00 until Friday 11:00.

Example schedule of work practice days

Body & mind weekend

Bodywork for zazen
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A zen and qigong weekend in which body posture and the development of a clear mind are central. Zazen means "just sitting". But how to just sit? Does sitting still also mean that nothing really moves anymore? What is a natural way of sitting still? How does that relate to your inner attitude? In this weekend we investigate these questions with the help of qigong exercises, exercises from the Chinese and Japanese health tradition. The goal is to discover a relaxed, alert sitting position that promotes a clear mind. Starting Friday at 7:30 PM and ending Sunday at 4:00 PM.

From Friday 19:30 until Sunday 16:00.

Zen & Yoga: weekend, long weekend, week

Zen combined with yoga and other forms of practice
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This retreat uses various forms of practice: in addition to Zen meditation, there are guided meditations, dharma talks, yoga, body scan, qigong, walks and mantra chanting. We also spend a lot of time outside in nature. Everything we do invites you to still, come home to yourself and be completely here. This is how we learn to rest in our true essence; pure presence. The yoga and qigong are not heavy and suitable for beginners and experienced practitioners. Meditation experience is desired.
Starting at 18:00 hours and ending at 15:00 hours.

From variable starting days at 18:00 until Sunday 15:00.

Walking retreat

Walking in silence in our beautiful natural environment.
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Noorder Poort is situated in one of the most beautiful areas of the Netherlands, with meadows, moorland, little lakes, sand dunes and prehistoric remains. The walking retreat allows a meditative appreciation of these natural surroundings. In the early morning and evening, there is meditation in the zendo. During the day, we walk mostly in silence. Exercises are suggested to help you not to get lost in thought but rather to fully be with the nature around you. The two day walks are about 15 kilometers each. It is possible to do only part of the walk and be taken back to Noorder Poort after the lunch break.

From Thursday 19:30 until Sunday after lunch.

Example schedule of walking retreat

Zen Course

Weekly meditation group
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For those living near Noorder Poort, we also offer a weekly Zen course on Monday evening. Attending such a group can be of great help to maintain your meditation practice. On most weeks, the teacher will give a dharma talk. Once a month there is an opportunity for a private interview.

If you do live in the neighborhood, please look at zensteenwijk.nl for more details. If you are not local: there are meditation groups in all countries where IZI is active. There may be one close to you! See National Institutes.


In between retreats it is possible to take part in our daily schedule of meditation and work. We receive guests for any period from a few days to several month. If you are interested, please contact our office.

Cost 2023: €35 (double room) or €46 (single room) per full day.
Cost 2024: €37 (double room) or €48 (single room) per full day.


Zen meditation bell
The sanzen room

Space for private interviews

Walking meditation

Walking meditation

Family sesshin

Family sesshin

For those who want to practice intensively

In the following programs, zazen (sitting meditation) and kinhin (walking meditation) are the basic practices. All these programs are in silence, with the exception of informal periods at the beginning and the end of the program. There are also daily opportunities for personal interviews (dokusan or sanzen) with the teacher.

These programs are for those who wish to practice intensively. At some moments during a retreat, you may experience great inner peace and joy, while other moments may be difficult. At these moments, the fact that you are practicing together as a group can be of great help. Also, the Zen master or teacher will be there to guide you as well as (s)he can.

Zen weekend

A traditional weekend sesshin.
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A Zen weekend offers a good opportunity to become silent and deepen our meditation. We practice mindfully together in silence in order to see this present moment. The teacher will give a Dharma talk and grant an opportunity to ask questions. There are also private interviews.

From Friday 19:30 until Sunday 16:00

Example schedule of zen weekend

New year's sesshin
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Go in silence into the New Year (with a drink afterwards).
The sesshin is for those who want to experience the turn of the year in a different way. It is centered around 'leaving no traces'. We enter the New Year in zazen with 108 gong-strokes. Afterwards, we have a drink in the living room.

From December 28 at 19:30 until New Year’s Day after lunch.

Example schedule of New Year’s sesshin

Five and seven day sesshin

The longer sesshins are guided by Jiun Hogen roshi or Tetsue roshi. The sesshins offer daily Dharma talks, a question period and several opportunities each day for individual guidance in the form of dokusan or sanzen. In all these sesshin it is possible to sit with a koan. Both Jiun Hogen roshi and Tetsue roshi are Zen masters in the Linchi (Rinzai) tradition and as such are authorized to guide koan practice.


Five day Zen retreat.
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For those who already have been sitting for a day or longer, the go-sesshin is a very suitable first sesshin. In this sesshin, you can practice several breathing meditations and, with that as a starting point, learn to deal with thoughts, feelings, emotions and pain. The go-sesshin is a good opportunity to start koan practice.

Starts at 19:30 the first evening. Ends at 11:00 the last day.

Example schedule of a go-sesshin


Seven day Zen retreat.
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In the 7 days' dai-sesshin ('dai' = great) the daily practice schedule is completely directed at koan meditation and the realization of our true self. All practices, recitations and rituals come together in this sesshin. Everything is used to develop an alert and fully conscious mind. The meals are served in oryoki style with Japanese eating bowls.

Starts at 19:30 the first evening. Ends at 11:00 the last day.

Example schedule of a dai-sesshin


Seven day retreat around December 8th.
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The Rohatsu-sesshin is a very intensive dai-sesshin and is offered to experienced practitioners around December 8th, Buddha's enlightenment day.

Starts at 19:30 the first evening. Ends at 11:00 the last day.

Example schedule of a rohatsu-sesshin


Five day retreat with less sitting.
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The kokoro-sesshin ('kokoro' = heart) is meant for experienced Zen practitioners who prefer to participate in a less-structured and yet full-fledged sesshin. The breaks are longer than in a regular sesshin and there are more possibilities for personal activities. Previous participation in a dai-sesshin or go-sesshin is a prerequisite to participate in a kokoro-sesshin.

Starts at 19:30 the first evening. Ends at 11:00 the last day.

Example schedule of a kokoro-sesshin

Training period

Two to four week period with several sesshin
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Training periods offer a unique opportunity for intensive Zen practice. Of course, it is possible to participate for just a portion of a training period. However, it is strongly recommended to sometimes practice more intensively for a longer period of time.


For parents and children.
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The family sesshin is a very special Zen program for both parents and children, who can take part regardless their age. Most years there are children from babies to teenagers and all ages in between. Drawing from her many years of experience as a Zen teacher, mother, mediator and educator, Tetsue roshi guides these days. We practice, work, play and talk around a Zen Buddhist theme.

Starts Ascension Day at 12:00. Ends the next Sunday at 11:00.

Look at our Calendar to see when these programs take place, or go to Registration if you want to register immediately.