Overcoming Obstacles Series

Learn how to use Mindfulness to Overcome Worry, Stress, Anxiety and Anger

American society today is facing serious and chronic problems on many levels. As political, social and economic institutions becoming increasingly dysfunctional, problems such as stress, burnout, cynicism, blue and white collar crime, overcrowded prisons, job insecurity, loss of homes and retirement savings heighten and intensify the feelings of fear, stress and worry.

Stress, for example, is a pervasive and chronic problem in America today. In 2007, an American Psychological Association study found that three-quarters of Americans experience symptoms of stress in a given month and that one-third of Americans feel they are living with extreme stress.

It is  a major contributing factor directly or indirectly to coronary artery disease, cancer, respiratory disorder, accidental injuries, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide, the six leading causes of death in the United States.

Stress can aggravate other existing conditions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, herpes, mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, and family conflict and violence. At work, stress often can lead to loss of productivity and low morale. 

Simply put, stress is a state of tension that arises from both external and internal sources. It is both additive and cumulative. It adds up over time until a crisis is reached and physical and psychological symptoms begin to appear. Common physical symptoms of stress include: muscle tension, headaches, low back pain, insomnia and high blood pressure. 

Overcoming Obstacles Series

Because of these widespread problems in our society today, the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago has developed a set of offerings called the Overcoming Obstacle Series (OOS).

Each series of 4 classes has a theme. They are not sequential; each class is designed to stand on its own which means you can choose to take just one or two or all of them. Of course, we still strongly recommend that you consider taking all of the classes to get the maximum benefit of learning, but it's solely your decision.

Class 1: Taking Care of the Self
Thursday, July 11th, 2019, 7:00—8:30 pm

Do you find that your life seems to be out-of-balance? Do you lose track of taking care of yourself when you are under pressure or feel overwhelmed? Do you lose sleep and find yourself exhausted and irritable the next day?

If so, this class can offer you a way to restore the balance you need to sustain your life energies. It will help you learn how to regulate and discern what you need to do to maintain good health and well-being in the face of change and uncertainty. By teaching you how to be more mindful of the signals your own body is giving you, you'll learn ways to monitor your stress levels and how to take charge of your happiness.

The class will include some gentle explorations of how we go out of balance and how we can use mindfulness to pay attention to the signal our bodies give us to slow down, eat better, exercise and be more disciplined about getting a good nights sleep. Mindfulness can help you acquire this balance so that you can face the next day with renewed energy, focus and clarity.

Class 2: Disarming Negative Thoughts and Emotions
Thursday, July 18th, 2019, 7:00—8:30 pm

When difficulties arise do you habitually stress, worry and obsess over them? Are you plagued by a busy and self-defeating mind that won't stop? Do you struggle with strong emotions such as anger? Does your inner critic tire you out and wear you down?

If so, this class will help you begin approaching your thoughts and negative emotions more mindfully. You'll learn how to acknowledge and approach these experiences without getting trapped by them.

The class will include a loving-kindness and a guided meditation that teaches you how to calm your overactive mind and transform your toxic emotions into a wiser, healthier and happier outlook for yourself.

Class 3: Resolving Differences with Others Mindfully
Thursday, July 25th, 2019, 7:00—8:30 pm

Are you terrified of conflict? Do you avoid it at all costs? Do conflicts and disagreements with others create stress and anxiety in your life? Unfortunately, avoiding conflict can cause as much stress as facing it.

This class will offer you a way to approach conflict with more confidence that lessens stress in you and with others. The class will train you to use speech wisely and to listen deeply and mindfully to others.

The class will include powerful Compassionate Communication exercises and techniques for disarming anger in yourself and others, thereby facilitating clearer and more empathic communication that lessens stress for yourself and others.

Class 4: Conquering Fear of the Unknown
Thursday, August 1st, 2019, 7:00—8:30 pm

Have you recently passed a major milestone in your life? Perhaps you've lost a loved one or have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Are you facing the loss of a job or home or living alone after years of family life?

Life can throw you some unpleasant curves. Given the natural tendency of imagining the worst case scenario, the fear of the unknown looms its head and paralyzes you with anxiety.

This class will show you how to approach your fear and remain present with those experiences in your life that are uncertain and ambiguous. A Big Mind process will help you put your life back into perspective and begin facing the unknown with more fearlessness, humor, confidence and flexibility.


Classes will be taught by Zen Master Robert Althouse. Althouse has been practicing Zen for over 40 years and teaching for 20 years. Sensei June Ryushin Tanoue will help teach the first class of this series, "Taking Care of the Self" since she has a wealth of experience and wisdom in this area.

While there are no prerequisites for the Overcoming Obstacle Series, its highly recommended that you take Foundations of Mindfulness 1 - 3.


$35/class, $130/series for nonmembers and $120 for members.

Register for a class or the Series Today

Cost: $35/class, series costs $130 for nonmembers, $120 for members

Equity Policy: The Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago is committed to providing dharma teachings to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. We have set up a Dharma Fund which our members contribute to in order to support this policy. As a result, partial scholarships are always available for any of our programs or offerings.