Inspiration from Zen-Based Stress Reduction Workshop

Inspiration from Zen-Based Stress Reduction Workshop              
                          Paul Kao
Regain Control and Inner Peace through Meditation
Led by Guo Gu, Chan (Zen) Teacher and senior disciple of Master Sheng Yen
December 01, Saturday: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Zen-Based Stress Reduction Workshop
December 02, Sunday: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
One-Day Meditation Retreat

The weekend includes first-hand experience of mindfulness, a complete guide to relaxation, self-massage techniques, methods of meditation, yoga, theoretical basis of Zen stress-reduction meditation, and more:

  • Establish composure.  Learn methods to develop greater balance and mindfulness during the challenges of stress, pain, illness and everyday life.  Learn the skills to avoid emotional and physical depletion.
  • Enjoy life fully.  Each moment is a new beginning.  Learn to embrace the present moment with openness and clarity.  Mindfulness Zen meditation restores a sense of well‐being and empowerment, no matter what challenges you face.
  • Restore your spirituality.  Learn to tap into your inner resources of clarity and focus to break old patterns and renew your spirituality. 
  • Regain your health.  Learn methods that promote physical and mental health.  Learn to de‐habituate negative patterns, develop positive responses to life’s stress, and take responsibility for your own health and healing.

I attended this one and half a day program combing a half day Zen-Based Stress Reduction Workshop and a one-day Meditation Retreat on December 1st & 2nd, 2012.

The program is correctly titled as “Regain Control and Inner Peace Through Meditation”, and I have enjoyed and learned many practical methods and left the program with tools I can apply to my practices. Because English is not the first language for most of the students including myself, Guo Gu Pusa explained difficult Chan concepts in both English and then Mandarin which made it much easier for students to understand.

The workshop started with the definition of stress and how body’s natural mechanism protects us. “The problem is not stressors in life but how we react to situations!” as Guo Gu Pusa explained how we can use Chan to reduce the stress as our reactions are based on perception and our perception is based on our sense of self. If you are interested in learning more about this subject, here is the link to The Effects of Chan Meditation:

I would like to highlight a couple of points I learned from this program and would like to share with you as follows:

  1. Some of the students asked how to choose the right methods to meditate. Guo Gu Pusa replied that you can select one as your major method that you feel more comfortable with and stick with it. You can also use the other one as a supporting method. For instance, if the counting breath is your major method, you can use observing breath as your supporting method and vice versa.
  2. Meditation on Loving-Kindness. I used to change objects many times within 30- minute session. Guo Gu Pusa suggested to stay with one object of meditation per session for three months. I already started with a new approach and found that it’s much easier to concentrate.
  3. One Minute Chan.  This is the first time I heard about this method.  Guo Gu Pusa suggested us to pick FIVE situations to incorporate mindfulness and loving-kindness in daily life. Only practice one minute each time.  For instance, when you wake up every morning, you are grateful that you are still alive and can go to work or do something to help others.  You can slow down the first few bites of your lunch to enjoy the food and appreciate those people who help to prepare the meal (those includes your spouse, farmers, etc.,).
  4. Direct Contemplation. As Tina also wrote her feedback about Dr. Simon Child’s weekend retreat, many students have commented that they can calm down and more concentrate by using this method. The key words are “don’t compare, don’t discriminate, and don't judge immediately”. What you see is what it is and do not inject your own ideas, pre-defined experience.  I also found it’s very useful when I applied this method during company meetings. Guo Gu Pusa said, if we continue to practice this method, we can become be a better listener.
  5. Establish regular daily sitting practice. Guo Gu Puza recommended that we need to make a vow to practice the new habits for 21 consecutive days to make it a habit. There are many programs at DDMBASF to help you. Take responsibility for your own health and healing.

Life is a journey and I am very fortunate to associate with DDMBA and am greatly appreciated for all brothers and sisters who made this program available, especially Guo Gu Pusa for all his great and kind teaching.


About our Dharma/Chan Teacher:  Guo Gu is one of Master Sheng Yen's senior and closest disciples.  He received inka in 1995 and was given permission from the Master to teach Chan independently.  Guo Gu teaches Buddhism academically as an Assistant Professor at Florida State University.  He is also the founder and teacher for the Tallahassee Chan Group ( and is the guiding instructor for the Western Dharma Teachers in the Dharma Drum Lineage.