Online Zendo Guidelines

Please be open minded about the experience of online zazen. It is different – you are both alone and connected. If you can drop any feelings of separation and remain open, the more connected you will feel.

These guidelines provide zendo procedures to facilitate a calm, harmonious and settled space for the benefit of everyone.Our aim is to follow as far as possible the familiar form of our sittings in the zendo.

Don’t be late!

Try to stay with the schedule of each session, especially the start time. The new Zoom security and Waiting Room on entry means you may have to wait to be admitted if you are late.

Please join a few minutes before the start time to familiarise yourself and settle, and please join with your video on..

If possible, do not enter or leave the session, or rise from your seat, during periods of zazen or during chanting. Try to take bathroom and rest breaks between periods of zazen.

Minimise visual distractions

If you are using a desktop computer, try to transform its setting from a workstation into a practice space, by tidying away or covering any work papers, particularly if they may be in camera shot.

Remove from the camera sight line pictures with text or light sources directly in front of it.

Part of the value of the session is that people are able to sit together, on the other hand it may be distracting if people sit close to and directly in facing the camera, particularly if they need to move. For this reason it is better to sit in profile to the camera sight line, or even facing away from the camera (or computer screen), as if facing the wall. Some people choose to sit out of the camera sightline altogether, leaving the camera focussed on their home altar, for example; that is a good solution too. The important point is to minimize visual distractions for others.

For the same reason, please face the camera away from any direct light sources, including nearby candles.

Just as in a traditional zendo, clothing should be plain and dark coloured, preferably black (even if you arrange the camera so that you are the only one who will see what you are wearing). Your garments should be comfortable and loose-fitting.

If you have a cat or a dog that wants to join you there should be no problem with that unless you think your pet might wander directly in front of the camera or over your keyboard with their paws!

You don’t have to have a Buddha statue or altar in your meditation room. However, a Buddha image or another object which represents your respect for life can be very helpful to you in creating a reflective atmosphere around your seat.

Minimise audible distractions:

Please maintain silence in the online zendo until the closing gatha.

The bell will tell you when zazen is about to start or end and when chanting is about to begin. Clappers give early warning to settle into posture.

Mute the microphone upon entering the online zendo. The host will mute everyone’s microphones during the sittings.

Before sitting down to begin zazen, please bring body and mind together by bowing towards your meditation seats, turning clockwise and bowing to the space, just as you would in the zendo.

Tips for using Zoom

The Online Zendo often opens a few minutes before zazen is scheduled to begin. When you click on the Zoom link, you will be prompted to download and install the Zoom app or you can do so here

If this is your first time using Zoom, please take 10 – 15 minutes before the first sitting to become familiar with a few of the common Zoom functions. You will settle into the Online Zendo more easily if you allow time to orientate yourself. It’s also important, of course, that you have a good Internet connection!

Here are step-by-step instructions for exploring a few common functions in Zoom, the home of the Online Zendo.

Zoom – a few helpful things to know

Zoom is, primarily, an internet-based service and will work as a web-based application in most web browsers; or you can install the Zoom application. Zoom is platform independent. This means you can use it with Windows, Mac, Linux, Apple phones, Android phones and even Blackberry phones.


By default, your audio will be muted when you join the online zendo. Please keep your microphone muted during zazen so that you do not distract others. Also keep your audio muted during chanting, because Zoom’s audio does not work well when many people are talking (or chanting) at the same time. You may follow along with the chant leader as they chant. The image of a microphone with a slash indicates mute.

To adjust the video:

The two most commonly used controls to adjust video in the online zendo are Start/Stop Video (bottom left) and Enter Full Screen Click (top right). It is best to use the Gallery view so you can see the altar used by the facilitator and small images of the other participants.

Other common controls:

Chat: connects you with the host, and enables you to message the host and other participants.

Participants: allows you to see who else is in the online zendo.

***Note: Please, do not click Share Screen.

Zoom offer a number of online resources to provide help and insights about their tools and features. Check out the searchable Zoom Help Centre if you want to learn how something works, or if you run into any trouble.