Frequently Asked Questions


How do I meet a program’s prerequisites?

Prerequisites are designed to help you:

  • To be aware of Shinzen's very particular terminology and labels used during that particular focus technique.

  • To know and honor that people in the program will have already practiced that focus technique and the program pace will reflect that.

That said, prerequisites are self-monitored by you the student. 

You can “meet” a prerequisite by reading about the technique in the manual and trying the basic instructions for that focus technique on your own for a couple of your sit sessions.

Others might feel more prepared by taking a “Foundations” session or two before practicing it on their own or advancing to Drill, Sharpening, or Applications emphases

Back to Top  ↑

How do I call in? Do I need video capability?

At this time, we run audio-only conference calls, and you do not need a video connection. 

The current “Free Conference Call HD” number that we use begins with a USA-Iowa area code: (712) 770-4160. You will be sent an email with this phone number and an "access code" after registration ends (at the end of the day each Thursday before each weekend).

You can call in to the conference call in a variety of ways, depending on what is best for your particular situation.  The program fee does not include any long distance charges you may incur. 

Here are some popular ways to dial in:

We recommend that you test the call-in number ahead of time using the phone or computer set up that you intend to use during the retreat.

Some phone cards or call-in methods may not work with the conference call service we currently use or with a particular number (or area code). See below for some by-pass numbers that may help.

Typically, the fee to participate in a live Home Practice Program is $10 for 2-hour programs and $20 for 4-hour programs. This fee does not include charges, if any, by your internet or long distance provider. Please see popular ways to dial in for more information. 

Back to Top  ↑

How much does it cost to participate?

Typically, the fee to participate in a live Home Practice Program is $10 for each 2-hour program and $20 for each 4-hour program. You can take programs a la carte, or, if you meet all the prerequisites, you can register for all five programs, typically totaling $90 for the entire weekend. 

This fee does not include charges, if any, by your internet or long distance provider. Please see popular ways to dial in for more information on dial-in options. 

Back to Top  ↑

I can't get on the call. What do I do?

If you have trouble connecting to the call:

  • Double check that you're using the correct number and access code.

  • KEEP TRYING, making sure to dial the number and access code slowly and accurately. This most often is the solution, specifically in recognizing the '#' key. Sometimes it may take several tries to get through or hitting the '#' twice (advice from

  • Unfortunately some phone service providers (i.e. Bell Canada) block calls or access codes into conference call centers every so often. If you are having difficulty accessing the call-in number or recognition of your access code, please try using one of these "by-pass numbers":

    • 716-293-9628

    • 716-293-9622

    • 951- 262-7373

    • 781-838-3446 .

  • Once connected (there will be a short pause first), you will then be prompted to follow the instructions we provided in your call-in email and don't forget the '#', then the access code we provide, again with #.

  • Or try using an alternative call-in method.


If none of these options work, report the problem you’re experiencing to  We monitor email during the retreats and we will respond to you. 

Please do not call Shinzen, VSI or other facilitators about technical difficulties. They will not be able to return your call or help you during the retreat. We will do our best to help you with any issues you have.

In the RARE case of any global technical problem, you will be contacted about new call-in numbers by email, so please make sure that you have access to email during this retreat. If you don’t have access to your email during the retreat, please email us ahead of time with a phone number where we can reach you if necessary so that we can create a To Call list. 

Back to Top  ↑

What can I expect when I dial into a typical 4-hour program?

Here’s the basic format of a 4-hour retreat, but be sure to check the schedule provided with your call-in details. Also be aware that a facilitator may change the schedule during the call. Listen carefully during the call to stay on schedule.

CHECK-IN - Dial in to the call between 5 to 10 minutes before the call is scheduled to begin.

  • After you dial the call-in number, an automated voice will give you instructions to enter your access code.

  • Enter the correct access code for this program, followed by the ‘#’ key.

  • A voice will inform you that you have entered the conference "room" and tell you how many people are already in the room.

  • The conference call will be in "Conversation Mode." You can announce yourself to the group and feel free to talk with others as they join in.

  • Speakerphones: We sometimes experience echoing during this check-in period. This is most likely due to speakerphones/computers. To help reduce this echoing, we request that people MUTE their speakerphones/computers unless they want to speak.

  • If it is getting close to start time and you are the only person on the call, there's likely a problem or you are in the wrong "room." Hang up and dial in again.

PART 1 - Instruction / Guided Meditation / Possible Q & A (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes)

  • When the facilitator is ready to begin his/her presentation, the conference call will be put into "Presentation Mode." Your line will automatically be muted, and the facilitator will begin giving instruction and/or guiding meditation.

  • If you call in after the scheduled presentation start time, you might enter the conference "room" during a silent period between the facilitator's guidance. Just wait until he speaks again.

  • Rarely, it might happen that you are bumped from the call and suddenly hear a dial tone. If this happens, hang up and dial in again.

  • If the facilitator elects to have a Questions & Answer period, the call will be put in "Q & A Mode."

    • You'll be able to un-mute your line by pressing *6. When you are finished with your question, press *6 again to re-mute your line.

    • If you press *6 to ask a question and are unable to un-mute yourself, press *6 again. Sometimes it works after the second or third time you press *6. If that doesn’t work, hang up and try re-connecting to the conference call again.

SELF PRACTICE - Bio Break / Practice in Motion / Interview with the Facilitator (approx. 1 hour)

  • When instructed by the facilitator, please hang up your phone so that Part 1 of the conference call can end properly.

  • Follow instructions from the facilitator for your Self-Practice or Practice in Motion.

  • Often you will have the option to interview or check-in with the facilitator. Please keep in mind that he/she may not have very long to spend with each caller.

PART 2 - Group Q & A and Final instruction (approx 1 hour 30 minutes)

  • Five minutes before Part 2 is scheduled to begin, dial in using the second access code.

  • Continue your self-practice until the facilitator resumes with Part 2.

  • Typically the facilitator will launch right into Group Q & A. The call will be put in Q & A mode, and you will be able to press *6 to un-mute and re-mute your line.

  • The facilitator will then put the call back into Presentation Mode for his/her Final Instruction and Final Guided Meditation.

Back to Top  ↑

Do you offer recordings of the calls?

Home Practice Program retreats are designed to be live and interactive. They are offered on a rotating schedule to support your practice. If you participated in a retreat and enjoyed it, look for it to be offered again every few months or so.

That said, when possible, we give access to streamable recordings as a “bonus” review feature for participants (for a 3-week period). But officially, the Home Practice Program fee only covers the cost of the live program led by Shinzen or a facilitator.  We can’t guarantee the recordings or their quality.  They cannot be downloaded nor do we sell them separately from registering for a 'live/interactive' session at this time.

Also please note that the recordings do not work on mobile devices that do not support the Adobe Flash technology that the conference call company uses. Students have had success using apps such as Photon or Puffin to remedy that deficiency.

Back to Top  ↑

Do you offer scholarships?

Yes, partial or full scholarships are available at this time. To request a scholarship, fill out the form below. Please allow 1-3 business days for a response.


* indicates required fields.