Cloister Living in the ‘New Normal’ at ZMM

· Sangha News, Zen Training

The garden is always a refuge but especially now—the delights of the greenhouse and the fresh earth outside are intoxicating—spring has truly come. In the “new normal” at the Monastery and the Temple, life continues with adjustments great and small. Here are some highlights from our new precautions and practices as the reality of social distancing in a communal monastic cloister comes home to us.

Here are some images from this week in the greenhouse and garden:

We’re incorporating into caretaking practice a number of procedures aimed at protecting each other from any virus that may have arrived in our midst. Some of the new procedures include regular temperature taking and spreading out more widely in the zendo. We’re also distancing (to the degree possible) during meals by seating only four people per dining room table, rather than our usual cheek-by-jowl style. Another creative solution is using our own individual condiment trays.

While a few international visiting residents decided to return home rather than risk being stranded in the US, we’re currently at a comfortable crowd of 35 residents, plus Rudy the tabby cat and a whole host of mountain birds, critters and now the peepers throwing in their voices and making themselves known at Basho Pond.

This is the first of a series of updates from the Monastery, and in the meanwhile we hope you stay safe and connected to your own well-being and to the goodhearted communities which are all around us (at a 6 foot distance, or digitally!) Please also look at the resources we are offering on our website for free podcasts, livestream events, and more, at

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