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Thread: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

  1. #1
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    As online practice emerges, it seems to naturally evolve its own etiquette. For example, even when sitting on Google+ alone, I bow to the webcam at the start and end of a sit. It is bowing to the Sangha. And even when sitting alone you experience the support of the Sangha: any of whom may enter the Zendo at any time as you sit. This means you tend to sit for 30 mins if that's what you set out to do. It supports your intention to sit.

    Does anyone else have etiquette practices they have developed for their online practice?

    Gassho
    Myozan

  2. #2
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Funny you should say that. I just joined your hangout - the first time I've done one - and I asked myself the same questions. I bowed to my iPhone when I set it in position to show me, than did a one-handed bow when I finished and picked up the iPhone and left the hangout.

    As for supporting intention, that's exactly what I felt. The idea that I was sitting with others helped me to sit longer than I usually do (30 min or so, instead of 20).

    I guess it's just natural to bow to the device that connects one to the sangha, but I think that should be part of the routine.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I agree if you are on Google +, bowing before and after whether you are alone or not is good practice. We bow if we are sitting without Google + so we should bow the same if on Google.

    Google + definitely helps supports my practice. I have been wanting to get up earlier for a long time now to sit for 30 min but that snooze button was just too good to resist. Now that I have Sangha members to sit with, the alarm goes off and I get right up to sit and support each others practice. Thanks so much!

    Gassho,
    Ekai

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    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I agree with all that's been said. As well, years ago when i first sat zazen in a zendo, the group would assemble in an outer room and at the appointed time, line up at the door and enter individually, each performing prostrations and taking their place at a zafu and proceeding to sit. After the initial group was seated, there may be stragglers entering before the bells. As each straggler took their seat one would gassho to welcome them. You may notice, this is still a habit of mine in the hang outs; as I receive a signal that a new person is is joining the hangout, it is a natural distraction and the action of a welcoming gassho helps to get back into zazen.

  5. #5

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    ... as I receive a signal that a new person is is joining the hangout, it is a natural distraction and the action of a welcoming gassho helps to get back into zazen.
    Oh I like that so much. Especially in this virtual world it lets those joining they are truly welcome.

  6. #6

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    One thing I'm never sure about is if the other(s) want/expect to have a short chat after. I usually mute my mic to avoid background noise being sent, and when finished sitting just gassho and then disconnect. I guess we could just put a comment on G+ after starting the hangout, such as "Silent Zazen", or "Zazen - free to chat after" to signal our intentions?

  7. #7

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    One thing I'm never sure about is if the other(s) want/expect to have a short chat after. I usually mute my mic to avoid background noise being sent, and when finished sitting just gassho and then disconnect. I guess we could just put a comment on G+ after starting the hangout, such as "Silent Zazen", or "Zazen - free to chat after" to signal our intentions?
    I haven't been doing it long, but I think about the same thing, I don't currently have a camera or a mic, so all my sessions are "silent Zazen" for now, and usually I am off to work right after my morning Zazen. I like the idea of just posting as silent though if that's what you intend on doing.

    Gassho,

    Jeff

  8. #8
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I normally have my mic muted too. The wife and kids are very respectful of my zazen time, Rogers the Pitbull mix, not so much. There have been a couple of instances when I had planned on chatting at the end, otherwise I usually just bow and leave.

    I also make it part of my practice to bow to the cushion and then to the webcam. I felt silly at first, but now it's just part of my practice.

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    One thing I'm never sure about is if the other(s) want/expect to have a short chat after. I usually mute my mic to avoid background noise being sent, and when finished sitting just gassho and then disconnect. I guess we could just put a comment on G+ after starting the hangout, such as "Silent Zazen", or "Zazen - free to chat after" to signal our intentions?
    Good idea Kaishin!

    My routine for G+ is to bow as I enter my sitting space, turn on my computer, bow to my alter, do my rakusu chant etc. while the computer is booting up, go to G+, bow to my bench/cushion then bow to the camera and start my sit.
    When my timer goes off, I bow and repeat the 4 vows 3 times, stand up and bow to my alter and then bow to the camera again.

    Ron

  10. #10

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    When in doubt I bow bow bow and I try to remember to smile smile smile. It's all good.
    Gassho
    Gary

  11. #11

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by mrsedwards
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    ... as I receive a signal that a new person is is joining the hangout, it is a natural distraction and the action of a welcoming gassho helps to get back into zazen.
    Oh I like that so much. Especially in this virtual world it lets those joining they are truly welcome.
    I see where you two come from, and it makes much sense to me. I have a different behaviour, that is, after the bell rung and I started sitting, I not move in reponce to anyone entering, leaving, coughing or wistling (ok, the last is a joke). However, I much appreciate everyone who joins and try to express that in my comment after zazen. Not moving anymore is intended to signal "you didnt disturb me, its all fine".

    Gassho
    Myoku

  12. #12
    Senior Member Marek's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Everytime when I push ,,hangout" button is like enter to zendo. So, like for all of you, bowing is a natural thing to do.

    Usually I sit 30 min with muted microphone because I' m not sure that someone will not interrupt this moment. My family respect my time for zazen, and they now that time because a zen circle hanging on my door .... but my dog doesn' t know that rule... and he can be a very noisy beast :twisted: :wink:

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I've observed many of you turn your microphones off and I believe that's the kind thing to do if you have many distractions coming over the wire, but if you are in a moderately quiet space, I enjoy the audible presence of those I sit with. Whether it's the sound of a car driving by, or of a deep exhale, the momentary focus I give that sound bolsters my presence in the moment as well as giving me appreciation for Sangha. It's only a moment before the breath and clarity return.

    Thank you to everyone for making an effort to sit more online. Google+ has been much busier these past few weeks and it's always wonderful to sit with you.

    Deep gassho,
    Chris

  14. #14
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Hey y'all. I enjoyed reading the different perspectives. One habit of mine, which isn't really a matter of etiquette, is to sit facing away from my webcam. This stems from the old mebeam/ooVoo days, in which you would never know who joined in if you didn't see them. At that point, I found that my curiosity would always get the best of me, and I would turn my head to peek.
    Anyhow, if you see me facing away I'm not trying to be rude. Happy to sit with y'all -- I'm amazed at the growth of the online sits after the switch to G+

    gassho,
    Shujin

  15. #15

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by christhatischris
    ... if you are in a moderately quiet space, I enjoy the audible presence of those I sit with.
    +1

    Gassho
    Myoku

  16. #16

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I enjoy that too . Like others I bow to my laptop/ipod. Then I prepare my zafu, bow and face the wall and bow. After zazen I fix up my zafu bow bow to my laptop/ipod and then bow to my altar.

    I have a question. If I join a hangout thats in progress I typically mute it so current sitters dont hear my bells (read ipod timer zazaen bells). Should I just leave it off mute or is it distracting and better left on mute.. Yes I know nothing interrupts Shikantaza but I dont want to be rude. Now if Im starting the hangout i leave it off mute and it wouldnt bother me to hear others environmental noises or bells because thats what is happening with us at that moment. So mute or no mute if joining someone elses hangout?

    Gassho

    Risho

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I like the fact that even if the person joining in on a sit already in progress is on mute, Google Plus makes a little noise to let the person sitting know. I can't count the number of times my mind has been wandering, and that little Google Plus noise has brought me back.

    I mute my microphone but keep my speakers on.

    Ron


    Shugen

  18. #18
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    I mute my microphone but keep my speakers on.
    Ditto. When I was sitting publicly I would mute my speakers as well but that was because I'd have people join that were just curious what I was doing and so didn't always maintain silence. But with just Treeleafers I normally leave speakers on and mic muted as well.

    Gassho,

    Dokan

  19. #19

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Cool deal. But if I'm on mute u all wont get to enjoy my karaoke. Hahaha

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I normally bow to the G+ zendo and to all in there. I also bow to anyone who is around me here in the house. Sometimes it's my girlfriend and sometimes it's the kitty.

    About the mic, I normally turn my mic off because I live in a VERY noisy street.

    It's been a while since I did my morning zazen on G+ due to my noise PC, but I think I'll just log in from the laptop. I kinda miss sitting with you guys.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo
    As online practice emerges, it seems to naturally evolve its own etiquette. For example, even when sitting on Google+ alone, I bow to the webcam at the start and end of a sit. It is bowing to the Sangha. And even when sitting alone you experience the support of the Sangha: any of whom may enter the Zendo at any time as you sit. This means you tend to sit for 30 mins if that's what you set out to do. It supports your intention to sit.

    Does anyone else have etiquette practices they have developed for their online practice?

    Gassho
    Myozan

  21. #21
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Really interesting reading about all your practice.

    It seems people come to a Zendo expecting a relatively quiet place to sit. So, I agree that should be respected (mute mic in a noisy environment). However, they also come to sit with others: and that means human presence (those ruffles of cloths, odd coughs, ambient noise, etc). Here there is a Middle Way.

    That might be: when noisy, mute. When not, then leave the sound up.

    The gassho at the beginning and end makes sense. It also makes sense to gassho when entering late, although I think the gassho by those already sitting when the latecomers enter should be optional.

    What about facing the wall or webcam? Entering a bricks and mortar Zendo one sees the backs of everyone sitting, as they face the wall. And when you sit beside someone you can see them side-on. Does that mean back or side on is fine, but sitting facing the webcam is less preferable?

    Also, who should ring bells and when?

    Gassho,
    Myozan

  22. #22

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo
    What about facing the wall or webcam? Entering a bricks and mortar Zendo one sees the backs of everyone sitting, as they face the wall. And when you sit beside someone you can see them side-on. Does that mean back or side on is fine, but sitting facing the webcam is less preferable?

    Also, who should ring bells and when?
    Basically I believe we face the wall in our tradition, so this is no question for my sitting. As I face the wall, those who face the camera surely not disturb me :lol: ...however, from my experience one might not be free on where to place the camera (I use a notebook and the camera is built in, furthermore I only have sufficient WLAN signal on one side of the room), so I think we might be flexible with this one.

    About the bell I think who opens the hangout (who is first) might ring a bell at start and end, IF (!) not otherwise agreed, in example the Shokai/Myoku hangout you see in the calendar is always Shokai ringing the bell, no matter who opens the hangout. If so agreed I think thats pretty perfect.

    Myozan, I much appreciate your efforts to put a certain frame on this important part of our practice in this place "G+", thank you so much!

    _()_
    Myoku

  23. #23
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin
    I kinda miss sitting with you guys.
    You still sit with me every morning! Roky too!

    Gassho,

    Dokan

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I sit within 1 meter from a wall with a low cabinet at my knees on which my netbook sits. So, I end up facing the screen. Upon entering "my zendo" before seating myself (non-self) I gassho to the wall, turn counterclockwise and gassho to the universe(all sentient beings), sit down and turn counterclockwise to face the wall, put on the rakusu, adjust sitting position and start or join a hangout. As Myoku mentioned, since the beginning of ango last year, since I use Insight Timer as a timer we just waited for each other to start and I controlled the bells. Since then, as people joined in at the same time, they adapted to that pattern. We are open to change if some one would like to suggest it as change is an inevitable in life. :shock: 8)

  25. #25
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I wonder does this need regulation at all. It seems to self-regulate. It has it's own natural dynamic. What does everyone think? Do some basic guidelines help a smooth group sitting online? What do you think Fugen? I know you're interested in this question.
    Gassho
    Myozan

  26. #26
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I don't think it needs "regulation," but just as we have guidelines of how to sit - bow, rock side to side, etc. - it's probably a good idea to have guidelines for online sitting. My guess is that any zendo has such guidelines for when people join a sit in progress...

  27. #27
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Myozan wrote;
    The gassho at the beginning and end makes sense. It also makes sense to gassho when entering late, although I think the gassho by those already sitting when the latecomers enter should be optional.
    Kirk weote;
    My guess is that any zendo has such guidelines for when people join a sit in progress...
    Personally, I just know if you had been caught up in traffic and arrived late, how (warm/friendly) it felt to be silently welcomed. Didn't happen often but, It also felt as if you were doing something good to support a late comer. Actually, when you think about it, perhaps it encouraged people to be on-time so as not to be centered out :roll: :lol: Whichever, I should point out, there were no written rules and Ian's suggestion of 'optional' seems fair and good.

  28. #28

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo
    I wonder does this need regulation at all. It seems to self-regulate. It has it's own natural dynamic. What does everyone think? Do some basic guidelines help a smooth group sitting online? What do you think Fugen? I know you're interested in this question.
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Hi.

    I think that it would be good to have some sort of "guidelines" on how we in Treeleaf Sangha behave while sitting online, and that it might be appropriate to start looking into what they might look like, and even though they might be selfregulating it would be good to have them written down somewhere so that anyone interested can view them. And i don't mean that we have to have an wordfeud over the exact wording of every phrase, but to have some sort of "simple guidelines" on this.
    I would also encourage everyone to join in on the discussion around these "guidelines".

    As for me, i think that an gassho when joining is appropriate manner, although if you're not facing the screen, or otherwise not being able to view the screen, you shouldn't have to gassho back.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    I agree. It would help a lot to have some guidelines, but as I can see, we all have developed our own personal system.

    Which is not bad at all, but if there was some official Treeleaf suggestions, that would help people starting up with zazen.

    I don't know. Just thinking.

  30. #30

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Hi,

    I would suggest that folks not sit Zazen facing directly toward the computer screen or camera. I suggest that you turn your back to the computer, or at least show a side profile, and face the wall instead. We are traditionally wall facers in Soto (although that is changing somewhat in the West).

    I face the camera and computer screen for a couple of reasons when recording a sit-a-long, such as that the Teacher in Soto usually faces into the room while all others face the wall in order to monitor things (and also I face the computer in case of a technical glitch arising). However, although I do so ... I do not suggest it for most folks.

    We do not care really about disturbance during sitting, nor direction, nor noise, nor what we are staring at or is staring at us. HOWEVER, simultaneously, we usually seek to sit in a place with minimum distraction, noise, visual stimulation and the like. Once again, we are seeking to do seemingly contradictory things at once!

    So, I would not be staring directly into the camera and computer, and show one's back or side instead.

    Gassho, J

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Thank you Jundo, good reasoning; have already instituted the change. 8)

  32. #32

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    This may sound like an odd question but I have it anyway... should everyone sit until the hangout creator has finished hers/his zazen or is it ok to keep your own time and bow out gracefully when your desired time has finished?

    Or maybe a better question is... If you are not planning to sit for the whole time should you mute your mic so that your timer doesn't disrupt others?

  33. #33

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by threethirty
    This may sound like an odd question but I have it anyway... should everyone sit until the hangout creator has finished hers/his zazen or is it ok to keep your own time and bow out gracefully when your desired time has finished?

    Or maybe a better question is... If you are not planning to sit for the whole time should you mute your mic so that your timer doesn't disrupt others?
    I would say that ... when we sit the formal, weekly Zazenkai, we all sit together, rise together,walk Kinhin together, chant together.

    However, for the hangout sittings ... sit you own sit, come and go freely on your own time. Yes, mute the sound so as not to be heard by others. Best to be seen but not heard.

    Gassho, J

  34. #34

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Hi.

    ok so far we have these ”guidelines”

    Mute the sound so as not to be heard by others unless agreed upon otherwise by all participants.

    Sit you own sit, come and go freely on your own time.

    Do not sit Zazen facing directly toward the computer screen or camera, turn your back to the computer, or at least show a side profile, and face the wall instead.

    Gassho when joining or leaving. If you're not facing the screen, or otherwise not being able to view the screen, it's optional to gassho back. ##Or is it always optional to gassho back?##

    The person who opens the hangout (who is first) might ring a bell at start and end of the sit, IF (!) not otherwise agreed

    So what do you think so far?

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  35. #35
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Sounds good to me!

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  36. #36
    Senior Member Marek's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    So far, so good :wink:

  37. #37
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Seems to be what is happening....so all is good. Thanks to those sitting in G+ it really does something to my practice...not sure what yet but it does!

  38. #38
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Great Fugen. Do we need to post these somewhere stable?
    Gassho
    Myozan

  39. #39

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Hi.

    Maybe we should have an post on "Netiquette" or something, and include this...

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  40. #40

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Hello,

    Mute the sound so as not to be heard by others unless agreed upon otherwise by all participants.
    This is a tricky think in practice. In example: Since Ango Richard an I set daily and we have Mic on (if the childs in my house not just have a party), however, as we always sit at the same time meanwhile its quite a steady group with sometimes 4, 5 or more people sitting. But not all agreed formally and some new people might be astonished to hear my son shoutimg suddenly or Richards dog making some noise :-D

    Maybe one can add some comment to the hangout, like:

    "Zazen, please Mic muted"

    if we want not be disturbed by someone else entering; personally I _not_ give much on the video BUT prefer the audio, as I dont watch the screen anyway and if you sit in the zendo you dont have your ears stuffed with something, you hear. Actually I feel a hangout witj everyone mute is pretty crippled and not much different from sitting without hangout ?
    _()_
    Myoku

  41. #41
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Hi Myoku -- you've made some good points in your post. For me, sometimes folks will join an evening sit with their mic on. It's not a big deal, until something starts going on in their landscape. I wind up hearing sounds out of their proper context; sometimes they're distorted, sometimes amplified to an extremely distracting level. I enjoy sitting with you & Shokai on the mornings that I drag myself out of bed. For y'all, I think the microphone arrangement works well. In other instances, it's not so great however. :?

    gassho,
    Shujin

  42. #42

    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Thank you Shujin,

    this is an important facet, and I fully agree that some noises can be pretty disturbing and we should keep
    them out of the zendo (g+ hangout). Its no problem to have that rarely, but usually its should be quite quiet
    Due to a technical issue I once had a constant ringtone from a fellow sitter for 20 minutes :-D My way of
    dealin with that is to inform the sitter (if I can figure who it is), that there might come some noises from
    his system, because often people are not aware that what they broadcast is noisy or loud. A technical issue
    is, that for me g+ always adjusts mic sensitivity to maximum (as it probably assumes I speak very gentle, while
    in fact I dont speak at all). In any case, we shall always try to keep volume low and avoid disturbances.

    I guess it boils down to the question: To allow everyone its preferred sitting, shall we go with Mic Off or shall
    people who prefer silence adjust their computers volume ? I think the latter offers more flexibility.

    _()_
    Myoku

  43. #43
    Senior Member Marek's Avatar
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    Re: Online practice: Zendo etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Myoku
    I guess it boils down to the question: To allow everyone its preferred sitting, shall we go with Mic Off or shall
    people who prefer silence adjust their computers volume ? I think the latter offers more flexibility.
    Sounds reasonable Myoku. It is all about common sense.

    BTW, I looove so much sitting with you and Shokai and hear sounds from your sides (actually I even miss Richard' s clock ).


    _/_

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