Orientation Guide

Orientation for people new to this center

Insight Santa Cruz is envisioned as a place of refuge, providing an environment that is welcoming and peaceful for all who come to practice. ISC offers many programs and opportunities. You are welcome to participate at any level of involvement.

Creating and participating in a culture of mindfulness is an important part of meditation practice and of being in community together. This document is intended to provide orientation to the way of doing things at ISC.

About ISC

Insight Santa Cruz is a Buddhist community-based in the Theravada tradition, also called insight meditation. It is led by the Guiding Teacher in association with community teachers and facilitators. Events are taught by these teachers and visiting guest teachers, as indicated on the schedule. There is a Board of Directors and a robust volunteer organization that manages the center. We are all volunteers.

No-cost & no registration

There is no fee or required donation for our programs. At the same time, we are grateful for any donations. Two kinds of donations can be offered, using the labeled baskets in the meditation hall or online:

  • “For the Teacher”: This is for the person teaching the program.
  • “For the Community”: This is for the center’s operational expenses.

Most of our programs do not require registration. When registration is required, it will be clearly marked on our website.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

Today, most events at ISC are available online. Some are also open to onsite attendance. If you plan to attend onsite, we highly recommend that you are fully vaccinated, including boosters, per CDC guidelines. We also recommend that everyone wear N95/KN95 masks but we are hosting some events that require masks and others in which masking is optional. For more information, please refer to the Resources Meditation Center page.

Opening and closing manager available for questions

These volunteers usually set up the hall for a sitting meditation or class. They would be happy to answer questions you may have about ISC or about participating in our programs.


Parking is available at the Trader Joe’s parking lot for two hours. They will tow your car if it is over two hours.
You can also park for an extended time at the River and Front Street Garage.
Please allow extra time to find parking, so that you will not be late for the sit.


  • Please leave your shoes in the shoe rack outside the entrance.
  • Please keep your valuables with you.
  • Please only bring water – in a secure container – into the meditation hall. No tea or other drinks.
  • When you come in, you are welcome to find a seat on the meditation cushions on the floor or in a chair. Additional cushions, pillows, and blankets are found in racks at the back of the meditation hall.
  • Please see the Meditation Center page for more information.

Arriving Late: While we prefer that people not come late to our events, we recognize that people have many responsibilities. If coming late for meditation enter quietly and settle in without adjusting (getting extra pillows, etc.) until the end of the meditation session.

There are bathrooms located inside the center.

There are flyers about events and programs on the table just inside the entrance.


Please silence all cell phones, pagers, and other such devices while at ISC. These communication activities can be disturbing in a quiet atmosphere. If you need to use your device, please go outside to do so.


Please do not wear scented products at the center, including lotions, perfumes, and aftershave. This is out of respect for those with sensitivities and allergies.


Many people who participate at ISC bow at the end of meditation and at the end of a talk. This is an expression of appreciation and gratitude. Bowing is not required.


Since we have no custodial staff, we rely on each person in our community to keep ISC clean and orderly. Please leave the center at least as neat as you found it. This may mean:

  • Brushing off your mat and plumping your cushion after a sitting
  • Picking up any litter from the common spaces
  • Washing your cup

Online programs

Insight Santa Cruz uses Zoom to provide online access to the programs. We have some hints on how to use zoom here. To get a basic familiarity with zoom click here. Online access for programs can be found in the calendar entry for the program. Look for the Online section and click the link next to Join Zoom Meeting. Please be mindful of having your microphone enabled by only enabling it when you wish to speak.


ISC has a library. You are welcome to sign out books. The library is open while sits are in progress.

The Five Precepts

A significant aspect of Buddhist practice is sila, the Pali word for ethical conduct. We practice choosing actions that are not harmful to oneself or others. The Five Precepts address different areas where we can practice avoiding harmful actions and engaging in compassionate actions.

We encourage observing the Five Precepts while at ISC to support a safe and harmonious environment:

  1. To refrain from killing living creatures. (Some people also add: to practice compassionate action),
  2. To refrain from taking that which is not given (and to practice generosity),
  3. To refrain from using sexual energies unwisely or uncaringly (and to practice responsibility in all relationships),
  4. To refrain from harmful speech (and to practice kind speech)
  5. To refrain from the misuse of alcohol and drugs (and to practice caring for the body and mind).

Further information

You can find information about programs and teachers, sign up for email reminders, and learn more about our organization on our website.

Recordings of some talks given at ISC can be found on this page.

Instructions for Sitting Practice by Joseph Goldstein can be found here.

Volunteering: Once you are familiar with ISC, you may be interested in volunteering, or you may speak with someone who is already volunteering. Volunteer opportunities are shown on our website.