What Is a Zen-Inspired Life Plan Community After All?

You may wonder how a Zen-inspired way of aging consciously differs from the world of traditional senior living.

Traditional retirement communities are beneficial and help people maximize their health and well-being by celebrating fellowship and community, emphasizing giving back and working toward a better world. Zen-inspired senior living includes those advantages plus adds the ideals of mindful living and being fully present in each day. There is an awareness of how the staff and the residents are all in this process together, with the addition of training in mindfulness and compassion.

Once you understand Zen-inspired living, what you may wonder is why more retirement communities aren’t designed around it.

If you’re an older adult who has long sought this type of retirement community, you’ll want to learn more about the remarkable possibilities at Ensō Verde. If this is your first introduction to Life Plan Communities and Zen living, consider this the ideal primer for both topics.

What Are the Qualities of Zen-Inspired Community Life?

It is a life where we are encouraged to live each moment to the fullest because the present moment is all we truly have. That’s what it is to practice mindfulness.

We are encouraged and supported to engage with all the aspects of our lives; whether difficult or easy situations, we strive to meet each moment with a mind that clearly observes.

We are encouraged to develop an awareness of ourselves and to respect ourselves in mind, body, and spirit.

We are encouraged to act in ways that benefit others — because once we are aware of how we are all connected, caring for others is no different than caring for ourselves.

Finally, we are encouraged to find calm and serenity within ourselves and to recognize things for what they are. This frees us to live every moment.

Now that you understand what Zen-inspired community life is like, you may discover that it’s a life you want.

What Is Ensō Verde?

There are two ways to understand what Ensō Verde will become. One way is to learn about its tangible makeup and structure, such as the type of community and its development partners. The other is to learn about the intangible benefits, such as security and peace of mind. We begin with the tangible details.

When it is scheduled to open in beautiful Simi Valley, California, in 2027, Ensō Verde will be California’s second Zen-inspired Life Plan Community. Ensō Verde’s sister community, Ensō Village in Healdsburg, California, blazed the trail for Zen-inspired living that Ensō Verde will follow. Yet Ensō Verde will also have its own highly distinct character.

The 21-acre campus will focus on mindful aging, environmental stewardship, and healthy life choices for people 60 and older. Those choices include private Zen-inspired independent living apartments, enrichment programs, wellness opportunities, dining that adheres to farm-to-table principles, and much more. The community will also offer 24 Assisted Living and 24 Memory Care apartments.

The community is a collaboration between two not-for-profit organizations. The first, the San Francisco Zen Center, opened in 1962 and is one of the largest residential Sōtō Zen Buddhist communities outside of Asia. The second Kendal, brings over 50 years of senior living experience.

What Is a Life Plan Community?

A Life Plan Community is a type of senior living community where older adults actively choose to pursue a different type of future for themselves.

They’re opting to let go of the many burdens commonly associated with homeownership — including maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and upkeep — as well as some accompanying chores such as housekeeping, laundry, cooking and grocery shopping, paying utility bills, and the like.

They’re also actively choosing to experience aging differently. Residents live in their private residences, yet they’re also part of a community of people whose life experiences resemble their own. Residents to enjoy the Life Plan Community’s many services, common spaces, opportunities, and amenities as much as they wish, yet they pay just one predictable monthly fee for it all.

Residents of a Life Plan Community have access to additional levels of on-site care as their health needs evolve, making any future moves for care unnecessary.

What Are the Levels of Care at a Life Plan Community?

In addition to independent living, residents at a Life Plan Community like Ensō Verde also have access to assisted living and memory support.

Assisted living — These private residences are designed to offer care for those who need support with their activities of daily living, such as help taking medications, preparing meals, or getting dressed. Caring, empathetic healthcare professionals deliver care.

Memory support — These specially designed residences provide a safe and secure setting for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Services are provided by compassionate, highly trained team members who know how to care for those with memory loss.

Ensō Verde residents will benefit from a practice known as Mindful Community Training, a person-focused approach to caregiving that incorporates mindfulness, compassionate action, and moment-to-moment awareness in relationship with the individual being cared for. At every step of the way, health and wellness advocates support and navigate the ecosystem of care to conform to the desires and objectives of the care receiver.

The result is a level of security and peace of mind that sets a Life Plan Community apart from all other types of community models you may come across.

What Are The Fees at a Life Plan Community?

A Life Plan Community typically charges two fees: an entrance fee and a monthly service fee.

The entrance fee, which may be partially or fully repayable, is a one-time up-front fee every resident pays when they first move in. The amount is based on the size of the independent living residence. It helps to ensure that residents have access to additional levels of on-site care if they need it.

The monthly service fee is a predictable fee residents pay each month to cover the costs of services at the community, including maintenance and upkeep of residences, common spaces, and community grounds. It also pays for things like utilities, meals, housekeeping, transportation, professional staff, and additional care if and when residents need it, and more.

What Is a Life Plan Community Like Ensō Verde Like?

Earlier, we covered the tangible features of a Life Plan Community and explored the meaning of a Zen-inspired lifestyle. Now, let’s take a closer look at the intangible benefits a Zen-inspired Life Plan Community like Ensō Verde will offer residents.

Like its sister community, Ensō Verde will offer independent living with an impressive list of comprehensive services and amenities along with the continuum of care — independent living, assisted living, memory support, and in-home care.

Yet it may be more informative to understand how Ensō Verde will fundamentally differ from what most of us imagine senior living to be.

As a collaboration of the San Francisco Zen Center, a landmark of American Zen practice, and Kendal, a visionary provider of communities, programs, and services founded on Quaker principles, Ensō Verde will offer a radical departure from the conventions of senior living as we know them.

  • Daily meditation and regularly scheduled Dharma talks will be offered, and community members will be free to organize all aspects of their social, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual lives.
  • Ensō Verde will be rooted in the fundamental values of kindness and compassion, and staff will be trained in Mindful Caregiving.
  • We are committed to “living lightly on the land.”
  • We will incorporate the beauty of the natural environment to create a contemplative, exciting and engaging community.
  • Spiritual practice at Ensō Verde will be facilitated by the presence of resident teachers from a variety of traditions.
  • Ensō Verde will feature farm-to-table healthy dining, a community garden, mindfulness and meditation spaces, and other healthy living, learning, and entertainment activities.

Ensō Verde is also committed to meaningfully impacting the larger community beyond its walls.

  • We will help meet the need for more housing for older adults in Ventura County.
  • We will provide members of the local community with access to memory care and assisted living when available.
  • We will provide community meeting spaces.
  • Our team members and residents will be available as resources to older adults on a volunteer basis.
  • We plan to collaborate with local groups to offer the greater Ventura County community educational programs.
  • We will bring employment, as well as internships, training programs, and intergenerational activities, to the local community.

Is Ensō Verde Right for You?

This is an important question to ask yourself; no one can answer that but you; consider this additionally: Ensō Verde will not be anything remotely resembling a templated senior living community. Instead, it will completely depart from the conventions of senior living as older adults may think of them today. It may be what you have been looking for the whole time, but that did not exist until now.

If you seek a community where life’s next chapter is waiting in all its still-unformed glory, perhaps it’s time to boldly embrace the moment and call us at 805.750.4461.


Take the next step to learn more about Ensō Verde by requesting our digital brochure. It takes only minutes and arrives in your inbox immediately. If you’re ready to go a step further and start a conversation, we invite you to contact us today.