Affiliate of the
Silent Thunder Order

STOmokuraiLogo transp 100


Retreat Calendar

January 2017 



February 2017


STO Sewing Retreat 2017
February 11, 2017 thru
February 12, 2017

Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link

Knowing your Heart (Sutra)
February 11, 2017
9AM to 3:00 PM
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link

Just Sit Saturday
February 18, 2017
9AM to 3:25 PM
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link

March 2017


Just Sit Saturday
March 11, 2017
9AM to 3:25 PM
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link

April 2017


Just Sit Saturday
April 8, 2017
9AM to 3:25 PM
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link

Spring Retreat: "The Evolution of Buddha's Teaching from the First Sermon to the Lotus Sutra"
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 4:00 PM thru
Sunday, April 30, 2017 1:00 PM (Eastern Time)
Watershed Retreat Center Hayesville, NC 28904

May 2017


June 2017


Just Sit Saturday
June 10, 2017
9AM to 3:25 PM
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link


July 2017


2017 Annual Silent Thunder Order Precepts Retreat and Conference
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 6:30 PM thru
Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:00 PM (Eastern Time)
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link

August 2017


September 2017


October 2017


Winter Retreat: "ZEN & CREATIVITY"
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 5:00 PM thru
Sunday, October 22, 2017 1:00 PM (Eastern Time)
Watershed Retreat Center Hayesville, NC 28904

November 2017


Just Sit Saturday
November 11, 2017
9AM to 3:25 PM
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link

December 2017

 Rohatsu: "Buddha's Enlightenment Sesshin"

Sunday, December 3, 2017 7:00 PM thru 
Sunday, December 10, 2017 11:00 AM (Eastern Time)
Atlanta Soto Zen Center
Registration Link







To register for any of these events, please follow the link above for the respective retreat. 



Retreat fees go to support the overhead of the Zen Center and to fund necessary investments in future program and infrastructure. While these are collected on the honor system, they are not considered optional. There are limited discount and sponsorship opportunities available for staff, full time students or those in need of financial assistance. Please inquire at time of registration. The fees covers the cost of meals and overnight accommodations as specified.

Many people choose to attend only a portion of each retreat. Attendees should inquire about how to prorate the cost based on their planned attendance schedule.

Hardship scholarships and work tuition are available upon request and will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. On-staff Disciples, Priests, and residents are not required to pay fees.

In addition, Dana (the perfection of giving) should be added in for the support of the teachers.

Partial Attendance

As a lay practice center, we rejoice in all participation that our members can arrange and recognize that most have responsibilities which prevent full attendance. For those unable to participate for the full retreat, please consult the schedule to arrive and leave during appropriate break times and please be mindful of the increased intensity of those attending full-time. Please be especially attentive to whether a cushion is occupied before sitting on it!

Overnight space is limited and so many choose to commute. Full-attendance commuters may choose to wait until 8:30am to arrive (but are welcome at 6:00am).

All attendees who are new to retreats at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center are required to attend the orientation session.


Overnight Accommodations

The Atlanta Soto Zen Center has very spartan facilities for overnight accommodations (think summer camp). Multiple occupancy room spaces are available on a first-come first-served basis.

Please bring a sleeping bag and linens if possible.

We do not have full-time staff and so you should plan your arrival for the beginning of the event.



Please see our location page for driving directions and public transportation (Marta) options to the center.

Airport transportation is available through public transportation (there is a station in the airport). For bus transfer, see our location page. The closest station to the ASZC is the Lindberg station for taxi service (approx. $15). Airport Metro Shuttle and Atlanta Superior Shuttle also service our location (1167D Zonolite Place, Atlanta, 30306).



Multiple day retreats include meals, but participation in the kitchen is expected. Meals are vegetarian and dairy - those with special needs should notify upon registration.


Cancellation Policy

Extended retreats may be canceled or moved due to insufficient registrations. All registrants will be notified at least one week prior to the start of the retreat. Weekend sesshins will be canceled only due to extreme circumstances.The Atlanta Soto Zen Center offers a regular schedule of sesshin and zazenkai (longer and shorter zazen retreats).

Sesshin, literally "to unify the mind", is an intensive meditation retreat offered periodically to deepen our practice.  Characterized by deep introspection and silence, sesshin is a wonderful opportunity to receive personal guidance in private interviews with the teachers, to draw from the strength of the sangha practicing together, and to experience the deep stillness that lies within each one of us.  All are encouraged to attend sesshin whenever possible.

Weekend or one-day zazenkai is offered every month at the in-town center, the second weekend of the month. Longer sesshin retreats are offered periodically both at the in-town center and at nearby retreat locations with overnight accommodations and the ability to completely immerse your self in the sesshin practice.

Our sesshin and zazenkai follow three basic types of schedule (click title for example schedule):

  • Buddha - is an opportunity for you to deepen your practice through intensive immersion in zazen. The only interruptions to the daily sitting schedule are for meals and services and to wrap around the regular morning, evening and weekend schedules. This will give you a clear perspective on your daily practice. Those who have experienced this “no frills” kind of extended retreat testify to its effect on the meaning of zazen, and a resultant clarification of the meaning of Buddha’s enlightenment, which we celebrate by sitting all night near Dec. 8th.
  • Dharma - is an opportunity for you to deepen your understanding of the teachings of Buddhism in the context of intensive zazen. Text materials will be provided and the sesshin leader will deliver a series of talks on the subject, and facilitate study periods and dialog. During sesshin you will be discouraged from reading any material other than that provided for study hall. In this way you will be able to focus on the content offered and through zazen more fully integrate your understanding of it into your immediate experience.
  • Sangha - is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the practice community by learning the traditional chants and protocols of Soto Zen liturgy and practices in a context of intensive zazen practice. While providing ample zazen time, sangha sesshin also provides more opportunity for personal interaction through chanting, work practice, training and discussion.

The primary teacher for each retreat is our Abbot, Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston. In addition, Sensei will invite either guest teachers or senior students to assist in the teaching of these retreats. The retreats are staffed by the members of the Silent Thunder Order, which comprises Sensei's students. At the longer retreats, the staff will include an Ino (overall retreat and zendo coordinator), Tenzo (food service coordinator) and Work Captain (task coordinator). For the weekend retreats, these functions may be condensed.

When you register for a retreat, you will be contacted by the Ino or Work Captain to confirm your plans and schedule participation. While full retreat is recommended, we do allow partial participation for those with other duties.

If you have any questions or would like to apply for a staff position, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..