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Shojin practice at home ORYOKI 

Updated: Dec 31, 2023


Winter is the season of slowing down, introspection, authorized pleasures and melancholy. In connection with nature, our rhythm slows down and offers a different perception, a different space. Winter is also a form of mourning, the year that's gone, a cycle that's coming to an end, and the moment to make way for the new to come. Like all seasons, it's a transition, a process and a reality in its own right.

But it's not always easy to appreciate winter in all its possibilities when the religion of productivity and efficiency invades even our subconscious. Taking a week end or if available, doing an online retreat  enable us to reconnect with deep time through the the accorded nourishment, and then better integrate it into our daily lives.


Those moments are an opportunity to practice the dynamic absorption ( zazen) in all our activities in one's daily space.

The directions suggested here  are inspired by the practice of Soto Zen monasteries at  update according to your situation and can be adjusted to a plate in the extraordinary practice of the ordinary life.


The Oryoki setting:

  • A breakdown of the menu items in 3 basics serv in 3 bowls during retreats, in plate on a daily basis.

  • Pay attention to the variety among the bowls:

  • Sobriety with stimulating savors : no liliaceae during retreats (garlic, onions, shallots) according to centered intuition  on a daily basis. 

  • Avoidance of ingredients from killed animals in oryoki (including dairy products or eggs which involve the elimination of males). Accepted outside retreats in the spirit of respect for the life of these animals (suggestion to refuse to buy animal products raised for industry and distributed in supermarkets).

The Spirit of Shojin: 

  • Practice of the situation: “doing with what you have”

  • The spirit of the beggar who receives the outstretched bowl

  • Don't waste: use what you have to cook including peels ( when you have , as with organic we don't peel most vegetables) and recycle leftovers

  • Cooking with unquestioning enthusiasm

  • Non-judgment (of oneself or one's kitchen)

  • Dynamic presence to "what is" : beingwithness

  • Dance with what comes (judgment or desires or fear of not knowing etc. …)

  • Trust in the food that cooks us rather than us cooking food to have a good meal

The (non) methodology:

  • Take winter and local vegetables (carrots, turnips, parsnips, all cabbages, including broccoli, potatoes, beets and cucurbits) at market 

  • Start by cooking the middle bowl by combining 1 or more vegetables + 1 legume (dried beans or  processed like tofu, tempeh, dried proteins)

  • Adjust: in winter prefer simmered cooking, vegetables stews, sick soups

  • Choose the cereal (in winter rather semi wholemeal or wholemeal rice / bulgur or spelt ) for the second bowl 

  • Choose raw vegetables for the third 

  • Measure the ingredients 

O ryoki measurements: ( same for plates)  

Per person and per meal (in grams) to adapt to your needs:< /span>

  •  Breakfasts


- Porridge: 150 ml of vegetable milk + 20 g of starch (+ ¼ tsp oilseed puree) or 35  g of leftover mixed unseasoned cereals

- Compote: 130 g of fruit < /span>

- Roasted seeds: 45 gr of nuts  and mixed dried fruits per person

Okayu of the temples 

- Round white rice: 25 g + Water: 200 ml (8 times the volume of rice)

- Roasted sesame salt (blonde): 2 tbsp + 1/10 of salt

- Raw vegetables with vinegar or fermented lacto: 30g

  • Lunches and dinners :


- Quinoa, bulgur, spelt, white rice : 40 g 

- couscous, brown rice: 50 g 

- Polenta: 25 g (for 5 times the volume of water) 

- Pasta: 90 g

Beans : 

- Chickpeas, lentils, red beans, white beans: 40 g 

- Soy protein: 20 g  Tofu: 35 g  Tempeh: 35 g o

Cooked vegetables: 180 g

Raw vegetables: 130 g

The directions of menus:

For breakfasts:

In winter, whether for the western version or that of the temples, the Porridge is served hot. Served in 3 bowls:

Left bowl, bowl 1: porridge or okayu:

Traditional version :

  • Okayu :

- White Okayu: white round rice + 8 vol of water

- Azuki- kayu: add 1 tbsp of dried azuki/pers ( soak them the day before and pre-cook them before adding to the rice)

- New year Porridge with 7 herbs (water celery, shepherd's purse ,   gnaphalium, chickweed, Venus teat, turnip, white radish) to add to the okayu.

As it is difficult to find them all we make do with what we have a: watercress leaves, fennel, chervil, radishes, turnips, beets, arugula.

More details about this  tradition that celebrates the birth of humans on January 7 on the temple kitchen website with the article du Nanakusa okayu or on the site just one cook book  .

  • Gomashio: take 1 volume of salt  for 10 of salt, sauté for less than 2 minutes in a pan and grind with suribashi if you have or seed blender. 

  • Tuskemono: lacto-fermented vegetables or express method: the day before, disgorge slices of turnips, or white radishes...with a mandolin. Massage them with salt and place them under a weight for one hour. Then drain the water by squeezing them and season with a little vinegar or lemon (and agave syrup if necessary).

Western version: 

  • Left bowl, bowl 1: mixed cereal or grain rice starch + vegetable milk 

  • Middle bowl, bowl 2: fruit compote in winter

  • Right bowl, bowl 3: roasted seeds and nuts

For lunches:

 Bowl 1: Cook  the cereal without salt

 Bowl 2: Mixing vegetables and legumes: some ideas: 

  • Winter stew (seasonal vegetables + White beans + bouquet garni)

  • Fried tempeh + sautéed mushrooms + soy cream

  • Lentil stew: cooked green lentils + a few diced smoked tofu + chopped carrots slices + bouquet garni + a touch of soy sauce. Simmer everything for 30 minutes.

Bowl 3: Grate the vegetables for raw vegetables, massage them in a little salt to disgorge them if necessary, squeeze and season with a little vinegar + a few seeds or berries. We can also include fruit, some ideas:

  • Apples + endive + walnuts

  • Kaki + turnip

  • Beets + parsley

  • Carrots + ginger and lemon 

For dinners:

Take the remains, complete according to the measurements and transform the bowl 2:

  • As a complete soup: mix the leftovers + complete with vegetables or legumes + a little miso + soy milk or water + tahini.

  • In gratin:  on the leftovers and complement, make a sauce with per person 120 ml of soy milk + 15 g of cornstarch + if you have ½ tsp of cashew puree or other oilseed (or otherwise non-homogenized margarine or neutral oil) + if you have 1 ½ tsp of white miso + malted yeast. Set in a béchamel sauce, pour over the remains and cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 190°. 


Retreats are an opportunity to cultivate the right measure, too, in the discernment a single bowl of soup  made from leftovers  lying down with water is often appropriate in the evening for people who need little. Otherwise complete with a cereal and raw vegetables. 


In winter and especially before or after the holidays, some might also want to practice frugality in order to relieve and regenerate  his body. Avoiding stimulants such as coffee or tea is also a form of rest for the body which will appreciate the abundance to come even more.

The practice of bowls 

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