Conscious Stress Reduction

This course is offered several times a year. Eight evening classes consist of training, practice, and discussion. Additionally, one-hour individual sessions may be scheduled to set specific goals and respond to individual needs. 

The fee is $200, and includes 4 CDs and a workbook. The fee for optional individual sessions is: sliding scale ($50-$90) for non-members, $50 for members. Please register by contacting the instructor by phone or email. Arrangements for payment may be made with Dr. Cross directly.

About the Course

Learn to develop resilience in the face of the demands and traumas of everyday life through meditation and mindfulness training, yoga and stretching and body awareness .The training helps with daily stress of many types- from high blood pressure, chronic pain and interpersonal conflict to major life-changing situations.

Instructor

The course is taught by Ishin Bill Cross, Ph.D., who has taught the course for seventeen years. A graduate of West Point and Syracuse University, an emeritus  professor of psychology at Onondaga Community College, and a marriage and family therapist of more than 30 years experience, Cross brings significant credentials and enthusiasm to this course.

With questions, please contact the instructor, who can be reached by email at bcross@twcny.rr.com, or by phone at 315-474-3762. Dr. Cross's mailing address is: Bill Cross 4673 Whetstone Rd. Manlius, NY 13104

Booster courses are offered every Wednesday when regular courses are not in session (sliding scale; $20 per class suggested)

See "Upcoming Events" section on the Programs and Events page for dates of the next offering of the regular course.

A Note From Ishin Bill Cross:

Conscious Stress Reduction was started in 1996 after I heard of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. When I first read about MBSR, it reminded me of a weeklong retreat I attended in 1991 with the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh called “Healing the Wounds of War.”

Sixty of us – forty-six Vietnam veterans; six war widows; several Vietnamese followers of Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay, as we called him; and several anti-war activists and former Students for a Democratic Society members – gathered at the Omega Institute for this silent retreat. All except one vet silently pitched our tents in a circle on the open field adjacent to a lake. The other vet, Claude, arrived on a black Harley, dressed in black leathers and sunglasses and camped by himself in the nearby woods. It was a week of meditation; yoga; body scans; lullabies sung in Vietnamese by Sister Chan Khong, a Vietnamese Buddhist nun; and small group tea ceremonies where ten or twelve of us brought traditional gifts to our host in the form of our stories.

It was very moving and ended with a Buddhist funeral service, which Thay conducted in a room hung with newsprint on which were written the names of buddies who had not survived, the widows’ husbands and unnamed people we remembered from the war. At the end, we placed the newsprint on a raft, set it afire and pushed it onto the lake.

Claude (now Anshin) later became an ordained Buddhist monk in Tetsugen Bernard Glassman Roshi's order. He visited Hoen-ji just after the fire that heavily damaged the Carriage House Zendo, where he conducted a cleansing ceremony.

After that transforming retreat, the remarkably similar MBSR was a natural to bring to Conscious Stress Reduction at Hoen-Ji. The classes also include elements of the Trauma Resiliency Model, which teaches skills to help control the sometimes overwhelming emotions that can accompany the daily lives of veterans, their family members and others who have experienced trauma. The basic idea is that pain or trauma pushes us to dissociate or leave or ignore our bodily experience. The TRM/CSR skills help us reconnect with our bodies in loving, accepting ways. Since our bodies can only be present, paying attention to our bodies brings us to the present. In Thay’s words, “Healing takes place in the present.”

CSR participants, like Sangha members, come from all walks of life, bring varied concerns and traumas to the cushion and learn a number of ways to become more present and awake. Some find skills to recover from chronic illness or surgery, lower their blood pressure, reduce anxiety or pull out of depression. Some learn to be with themselves in a more peaceful way. Some can only sit and listen; others find the simple yoga and other movement helpful. Some are experienced meditators, some novices. Some stay for the eight-week class and leave; some continue to attend booster classes throughout the year. All are welcome. If people cannot pay the nominal fee, they are asked to donate some service. No one is turned away.

I am grateful to have found these practices after a long career as a psychotherapist and psychology professor and feel blessed to be able to share them at Hoen-ji.