Windhorse News & Events

Zentensive Spring 2018 *April 30 – May 5

Windhorse Zentensive

The Spring 2018 Zentensive will begin on Monday, April 30th and end the following Saturday, May 5th.

The cost will be $500 for applications received on or before Monday, May 26th and $575 after that date. Registration fees include room and board for the week. (After the 26th the cost will be $825 for those wishing to receive CEs.)

Also, please note that Windhorse has a long-standing policy of not excluding anyone who has a sincere wish to practice for financial reasons. If you would like to request reduced fees, please contact the Trustees by sending an email to with some appropriate explanation. In addition, those willing and able to make a tax-deductible donation to help support this program may do so by directing contributions to our Benefactor’s Fund.

Zentensive Workshop and Retreat offers advanced levels of trainingfor mental health professionals interested in accessing the deeper unconscious patterns of their lives, as well as for Dharma practitioners who have the wish to reach a greater understanding of the unconscious dimensions of dharma practice. Because these retreats specifically combine such significant and complementary levels of both personal and professional work, these 5-day workshops have been approved for 30 CEs of credit (including 2 for ethics) for physicians, psychologists, social workers, and others.

Zentensives take advantage of the natural deepening that occurs as the mind quiets down. Intensive periods of meditation, especially when working with non-dual practices, effectively mobilize both conscious and unconscious realms of awareness. This mobilization works broadly, and not only touches into repressed issues related to intimacy, grief, and anger, but also may allow us to see into those recurring patterns, and early emotional templates, that can be so influential in our lives and relationships. For psychotherapists, openings on this level can have particular value with regard to their work with clients and patients.

A recognition of the rich potential inherent in the mobilized unconscious is also beginning to emerge in terms of western dharma practice. Practitioners in every tradition have gotten stuck, or become immersed in all kinds of remorseful and self-critical states, without having any real understanding of the underlying dynamics. In the past, many have no doubt given up in frustration; and unfortunately, what we’re beginning to understand is that at least some traditional forms of dharma work can actually make these disruptive conditions worse. Zentensives offer another way of moving ahead.

To be clear, the experiences that arise during a Zentensive can sometimes be unexpectedly powerful – the more deeply we see into the repressive mechanisms, the more directly the underlying feelings will be experienced. More characterologically-based defenses may also echo back to those very early years when the sense of self is in its formative stages, and these experiences can be powerful, but unsettling. This is working on the edge, and it calls for some delicacy.

Much of the ongoing process of working-through these issues is naturally guided by what might be called a person’s own informed intuition – we are undoubtedly our own best guides and teachers. This healing energy, along with the collective support that arises out of the group effort, can facilitate profound transformations. Whatever arises in the course of meditation can also be dealt with in dokusan, which are the private, somewhat structured meetings with the teacher.

Dokusan is not intended to be an alternative form of psychotherapy, though clearly, therapeutic benefits may arise. What happens in dokusan is always guided by how each person wants to use the time, and at what level they wish to work. This is not to say that spontaneous unlockings, and even awakening experiences aren’t possible there, they may come about at any time, but the primary function of dokusan is to help facilitate the clarification and deepening of a person’s practice.

With Zen training the intent is to experience this moment-to-moment fluidity as richly and profoundly as possible. This is as true for feelings as for any other direct experience, but because intensive practices mobilize the unconscious, and the focus during a Zentensive includes a disciplined awareness of the workings of the psyche, the whole dynamic system of feelings and defenses is often very present. Drawing a line between spirituality and psychotherapy is not always easy, but clearly the ultimate goal of each discipline is to awaken the heart of compassion – an experiential truth that transcends all such distinctions.

Continuing Education Credits for these Zentensives have been approved by the Washington School of Psychiatry. For those interested in CEs, please read the following:

The Washington School of Psychiatry is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  The Washington School maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The School is approved by the Social Work Board of the State of Maryland as a provider of continuing education for social workers in DC, MD, VA and WV.

The School is accredited by MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The School designates the program for a maximum of 30 AMA PRA Category I Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product.

The Washington School of Psychiatry is an independent non-profit organization. It is not affiliated with the government of the District of Columbia or the government of the United States.

Backyard Banner

About Lawson Sachter

Lawson Sachter is a Zen teacher, sanctioned and ordained by Roshi Philip Kapleau, and a licensed psychotherapist. Lawson is also the president and co-director of Windhorse Zen Community, and the spiritual director of the Clear Water Zen Center. His Zen practice began in 1969, and since then he has participated in, or conducted, over 200 meditation retreats. His training in ISTDP began in the late 1980’s, and for the past 20 years has attended numerous workshops lead by Dr. Habib Davanloo in Montreal. Because he has worked closely with numerous participants in both intensive retreat and psychodynamic settings he has a unique understanding of the complex conscious and unconscious dynamics that can arise in the course of extended meditation practice.

Zentensive Advisory Board

Course Director:
Lawson David Sachter, LCSW

Committee Members:
Esther Rosen, PhD
Jeffrey M. George, Psy.D.
Jeffrey Goldsmith, M.D., D.L.F.A.P.A.
Raina Bays, RN BSN
Simon Goldberg, PhD