Buddhist principles to meet psychotherapy at Port Townsend seminar

By Charlie Bermant, Peninsula Daily News, March 24, 2014

PORT TOWNSEND, WA (USA) -- Psychotherapy traditionally requires analysis of the past in order to solve current problems and shape the future, but a local Buddhist teacher feels such problems can be solved by focusing on the present.

<< Buddhist teacher Joanne Kumekawa, left, and psychotherapist Sue Dennison discuss the effect of Buddhist teachings on the therapeutic process. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

“Many therapists tell their patients that something is their diagnosis and they aren’t likely to get better,” said Joanne Kumekawa, who teaches ­Buddhism under the name Padma Yong Chedtso.

“Buddhism teaches that you can change your way of thinking you can become more positive, if you believe you are going to get better it will happen.”

Kumekawa said that several local psychotherapists have signed up for classes, which prompted her to prepare a special curriculum for those students.

The first such class, titled Mindfulness Matters: Buddhism 101 for Psychotherapists, takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, with a one-hour lunch break at noon, in the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St.

The seminar offers an overview of Buddhist fundamentals and meditation that can be practically applied in psychotherapy practice, Kumekawa said.

In the morning session she will teach basic ­Buddhist principles as well as a simple meditation practice.

In the afternoon,Sue Dennison, a licensed mental health practitioner, will lead the discussion on how to incorporate Buddhist practices into a psychotherapy practice.

One of the most important Buddhist tenets that applies to therapy is present moment thinking, which requires the student to not consider an unhappy past or an uncertain future.

Kumekawa feels that Buddhist philosophy can be used to treat mental illness but the path is indirect, teaching present moment thinking to a therapists allow them to pass the process on to their patients.

“It’s similar to the idea that the doctor should heal themselves first,” she said.

“Usually depression comes from looking at the past, if you can learn to stay in the present moment it can help to eradicate that depression.”

“Some people who are in a bad state of mind have a hard time feeling grateful,” Dennison said.

“If they can live in the present moment and find things they can be grateful for it can help them remember there is a another part to their life that is positive.”

Dennison said she has been a practicing Buddhist for about six years and has incorporated the philosophy into her practice, when she had a web site she listed it as a way to attract like-minded clients.

“A lot of therapists require their patients to live through a trauma repeatedly in order to understand it,” Kumekawa said.

“A Buddhist therapist will encourage them to let the trauma go.”

Dennison said that as a Buddhist, she understands that positive thinking is a way to stop suffering, she seeks to pass that on to clients who are in a negative state,

Positive thinking isn’t something that can be faked, so anyone who seeks to apply Buddhist tenets into a therapy practice cannot use the techniques without understanding them, Kumekawa said.

She’s not sure what the future of the connection between Buddhism and psychotherapy holds.

“I think this is a great idea that can really work for a lot of people,” she said.

“Right now, I’m going to see how it works in Port Townsend. If it succeeds then people from other areas will seek us out.”

The class fee is a $45 suggested donation, with materials included.

For more information write jkkumekawa@gmail.com.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv