Zen Retreats, called sesshin (“encounter of the heart”) are typically 2 – 9 days. Longer Zen retreats, called ango, may last up to 3 months. There are also one-day practice intensives, called zazenkai.

Retreats are a crucial way Zen practitioners deepen in their practice. Recommended: Try to get to a one-week sesshin, or several week-end sesshin, every year.

Upcoming Sesshins in North Florida

The Gainesville Retreat Center (GRC, GRC Facebook Events) hosts regular retreats. To find out about upcoming retreats, and to register: Call 352-213-2221 or email

Generally, there are at least two retreats each year with Zen Teacher Valerie Fortsman. These are normally intensive weekend retreats, starting Friday night and ending mid-day Sunday, with the option to attend part of all of the retreat.

Teacher and Monitor:

Valerie Forstman, a teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition, has practiced Zen under the guidance of Ruben Habito since 1994. She was named teacher in 2005 by Yamada Ryoun Roshi, presiding abbot of Sanbo Kyodan, and confirmed in this appointment by Habito Roshi, whom she assists in teaching at the Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, TX. Valerie is also a classical flutist, with degrees in music performance from Oberlin Conservatory and SUNY Stony Brook, a biblical scholar, with a PhD in Hebrew Bible from Brite Divinity School, and an ordained CC(DOC) minister.

Scott Thornton, longtime Zen practitioner and senior student at the Maria Kannon Zen Center. He is a professional psychologist and avid musician.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *