faq

Frequently Asked Questions

I am new to BZC. What do I do when I get there? 

Take off your shoes and place them on the entryway shoe racket. Feel free to ask any questions you may have to the greeter, who is usually sitting in the entryway. During zazen (sitting meditation) you are invited to sit facing the wall and maintain silence, as practiced in the Soto Zen tradition. If you are able and feel compelled to do so, please make a donation to BZC by placing your contribution in the entryway basket, in an envelope in either or both of the donation boxes or online (Paypal paypal@brooklynzen.org and Venmo @brooklynzen accepted).

I have a disability/chronic health issue and I require special accommodations. Can I still come to BZC? 

The Brooklyn Zen Center is committed to ensuring that our offerings are accessible to all, including those requiring wheelchair access and specific meditation accommodations. Please see the BZC accessibility page here and don’t hesitate to contact us at info@brooklynzen.org if you need any additional information or support.

I have no experience meditating. Can I still come? 

Yes, come as you are! Your presence and practice at BZC is a deeply appreciated form of giving practice (generosity). As a starting point, we recommend:

  • Meditation instruction that takes place every Saturday at 9 a.m. (please check the BZC Calendar for exceptions).
  • The Second Saturday program, which is geared towards beginners. There is a Question & Response period that takes place after the 10:20 a.m. meditation period where you can get additional information on any practice questions. The program ends around noon.

Most of our offerings, including our weekly meditation schedule, monthly programs and affiliate sanghas are open to the public, regardless of experience with meditation. You may also want to explore the information and resources in our New to Zen page. 

I have practiced meditation in / at [somewhere else/different tradition]. Can I still come? 

Yes, come as you are! Sharing space and practice at BZC nourishes the continuity in our community and dharma offerings, and is a deeply appreciated form of giving practice (generosity). Most BZC offerings are open to the public, regardless of experience. Please refer to the previous answer to learn more about our offerings to those new to BZC.

What is the meditation schedule? 

BZC’s weekly meditation schedule is available here. Please check the BZC Calendar for exceptions beforehand.

Do you serve community meals every Saturday? 

No, not every Saturday.  Our mostly-volunteer staff is unable to provide meals every Saturday. The kitchen provides meals for most one-day retreats and for all retreats three days or longer. Please see the specific retreat schedule for details.

How does kitchen practice work? 

Please contact one of the tenzos (heads of the kitchen) to inquire about kitchen practice opportunities at tenzo[at]brooklynzen[dot]org. Find more information on kitchen practice here.

Can I come and stay at BZC? 

No. BZC is NOT a residential Zen center.

Can I come to BZC during the day? 

Our mostly-volunteer staff is unable to provide open access to BZC outside of our program offerings. Therefore, BZC is not an open-door center. Please see the BZC Calendar and join us for one of our programs, classes or dharma offerings.

Can my group come and visit BZC? 

Groups are welcome at any of our programs. For special inquiries, please email info@brooklynzen.org.

Should I become a member or should I just pay for [whatever event I am interested in]? 

BZC welcomes everyone, regardless of their practice commitment or involvement in our community, to join the circle of supporters who ensure the continuity of our offerings, through a recurring monthly contribution (i.e. BZC membership). We invite you to explore the different offerings available at BZC and to learn about the practice of dana.

How does one go about signing up for a retreat?

You may register for events/retreats via our website. The easiest way to do so is to browse our calendar and then select the event you are interested in attending. From the calendar, you can select the program of interest and you will be directed to an event page which contains a registration link. Once on the registration page, you may select either the base or sustaining rate depending on which suits your financial position and online payments will be processed through PayPal. The member rate is reserved for those that have been active members for over three months.

Do I need to bring anything with me when attending an event? 

It’s always a good idea to wear loose/comfortable clothes. We provide mats (zabutons), cushions (zafus), chairs, and blankets. In order to support the modesty and simplicity of our shared practice container (space) during retreats, neutral-colors are suggested (but not mandatory). 

Do I need to bring anything with me when attending a sound bath?

For sound baths, please bring a yoga mat, blanket, and eye mask (if you choose to cover your eyes during the session). BZC has a limited supply of blankets.

How to I get to BZC?

BZC is located at 505 Carroll Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. Please see our location page here for information on how to get to BZC, including public transportation options.

Is parking available around BZC?

On evenings and weekends street parking is in general easily found. Parking may be difficult on weekdays. Please note also there is often roadwork on Carroll Street, which makes parking more challenging.