This is an excerpt of a talk I gave for Compassion in Action, an initiative of Compassionate St Augustine.
The talk was on “Moving Meditation for Mental Health in Juvenile Justice”.
Here is part one of three parts.
"I teach a form of moving meditation to the residents at the St. John’s Youth Academy Juvenile Justice facility.
That form includes Qigong - I am a certified Qigong instructor - Kundalini yoga, movement, breathing and energy work, readings from inspirational leaders, and the playing of Tibetan and Crystal singing bowls.
What I want to do above all else is to talk about my classes and my students at the Academy.
SJYA is not only a juvenile justice facility but it specializes in rehabilitating residents who are also challenged with mental health issues.
Imagine (for the first time) being buzzed through a front gate surrounded by 20 foot fences, and topped by barbed wire.
You enter the lobby and sign in with the front desk manager. He or she sits at a bank of video screens. They monitor every hallway, every room, except for the resident’s private room.
It is eye-opening and easy to get turned around in the facility.
Getting from hall to hall only happens via a large, round set of keys or being buzzed in and out of each hallway.
The entire facility is on video surveillance.
That being said, I never feel at risk for my safety.
I know there are residents who act out but anyone who really causes damage or harm is sent to a different facility.
This is a high security, not a maximum security facility.
When I talk about mental health in the facility I don’t look at it as just the mental health of the residents. I look at it as the mental health of the staff, too. I discuss that in part three of this series.
For several years Sequel Youth and Family Services has been the management organization for the Academy. In the past it was strictly a punitive facility like the majority of facilities in the United States.
Today it is rehabilitative.
I know for a fact that offering them rehabilitation and life skills IS making a huge difference.
What I teach is from years of experience as a meditation practitioner, training as a teacher, then exhibiting the knowledge, education, and training to be certified a “master”.
In my training, I studied the psychological, emotional, and mental ramifications of meditation work.
I am experienced in teaching former incarcerated adults, seniors, in the LGBTQ community, veterans, youth, tweens and teens, and those in recovery.
I, personally, came to meditation because of a very stressful and high pressure career in entertainment.
*Hit the “ KaZ Welcome” tab above to learn more.*
How did I get to the Academy?
My relocation from California to Florida brought me to Compassionate Saint Augustine and the Youth Academy.
CSA and its founder, Caren Goldman, introduced me to SJYA and their director, Orvando Freeman.
From the very beginning they embraced me as a healing art teacher. Luckily, I have their trust and support.
My first eight weeks were a trial by fire. I won’t kid you.
At that time it was determined that the the newest residents needed my teachings the most.
That didn’t mean they would be the most receptive.
As a matter of fact, only one or two from that group actually went on to take the class with me on a regular basis.
Most weren’t ready, especially to do something that seemed really weird. They were simply trying to adjust to being incarcerated.
Qigong? That sounds like a medical condition.
"Have any of you heard of Qigong?"
No one had.
"Have you heard of Tai Chi?" A few hands went up.
I explained that Qigong is the mother of Tai Chi. Lightbulbs went on.
“OK, did you know that Tai Chi is the mother of Kung Fu? Who has heard of Kung Fu?”
Hooray! Everyone had heard of Kung Fu. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat.
I had an IN!
I relayed to them my experience as a stunt person in film and television and that helped connect the dots.
Still, the difficulty of maintaining a class that accomplished anything was hit and miss.
A few students were into it and the rest wanted to rap, dance around, play videos, get under each other’s skin and look out the windows to see what everyone else was doing in the pod (area).
More than that, they wanted to make sure they weren’t being watched which might later lead to ridicule.
To do my best to get through to residents and find those who might be interested in the class, I came up with the idea to pick students from each pod via recommendations from the staff and management. Potential students they thought were ready to take this type of class.
Since then I have found the perfect number of students for a dynamic class.
It doesn’t get out of hand with too many students or students that really DO NOT want to be there. One person can't represent themselves as the leader the others follow to be cool.
There are the overriding principles I have discovered work beautifully in the classes:
3) Go with the flow.
This week let’s look at TRUST:
These young men can smell someone who is a fake or deceptive from a mile away.
Our energy is reflected by our emotions and our behavior.
It took months of working with the same students week after week for us to trust each other. Not because I was fake or deceptive but because they had been disappointed over and over again in their lives.
"Are you coming back next week? You're not coming back, are you? When will you be back? Can we do X, Y or Z again?"
AND I had to trust they weren't going to behave inappropriately.
New students began to request to be in the class.
Word spread about the class because residents heard I was “OG”.
WHAT does "OG" mean? Yeah, I had no idea, either.
Here’s a little story:
I have silver hair. Long, silver hair. It used to be blonde.
I stopped coloring it when I was on an extended trip to Europe.
I said “what the heck - get past your ego, take better care of your hair and don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you their opinion about silver hair making you OLD." (Even friends can be unkind! But then are they really friends or is it about them? That's another post entirely.)
As my son told me “You do you, mom.”
I had a lot of silver growing in so I decided to match the length and make it silver, too.
Some silver hair tint or dye makes the hair purple or blue for a while until the color washes out and all that is left is silver.
I think it’s pretty cool.
I was teaching one night and one of my students, being honest (sometimes brutally, but you learn to go with it) said:
“Hey Ms. KaZ, is your hair purple?”
I said, “Yes it is. I like it. What do you think?”
He said (while snapping his fingers) “It’s OG, man, OG.”
I don’t know if they could tell from my "fake it ’til you make it" expression that I wasn’t up on the slang.
Was that good? Bad? Something else?
Later that night I looked it up and the definition is:
"Original gangster or original gangsta (OG) may refer to an individual (regardless of criminal affiliation) who represents ideals the speaker sees as gangster and generally "tough" or "hood" in behavior, looks, or both as well as a connection to the past or being older: commonly used as a sign of respect.” Wikipedia
It was a thumbs up. I was my true self regardless of what others thought.
Just like my son said, I was being me: they saw that and they liked it.
Things were never the same after that.
There were times they told me they trusted me and said they hoped I knew I could trust them.
Some residents get written up for things that happen in their daily life at the facility and I would NEVER know it by their behavior in class.
If the director hasn’t told me about the write ups I only see what is in front of me in class. Well behaved, dedicated, focused students.
Students who teach me as much as I teach them.
Students who laugh and cry with me.
Students who confide in me.
Students who want to discuss what's on their minds.
I NEVER ask about their lives, or why they are incarcerated. They trust me enough to share that with me, knowing I won’t judge them.
I DO, however, let them know when I feel they're out of line.
I discuss with them how to stay out of juvenile justice or jail.
I listen to their dreams and aspirations.
I have boundaries, too. Friendly and firm when necessary.
My rules are: if they are not intending to harm themselves, someone else, or me, what they confide in me is held in the strictest of confidence.
The technique I developed combines elements that work consistently in every class with the students, and trust is one of the elements.
It works like a charm.
It is still evolving.
I’ll reveal HOW in one of the next posts in this series.
Come back next week for Part II of the three part series.
As always, thank you for reading.
If you are interested in me training a staff member to teach the technique in you facility or community:
If you are interested in my writing for you publication:
OR you can always call:
What is all the analyzing, contemplation and rumination really doing for us?
Why do we insist on holding the diamond in our hand and looking at every angle inside and out - examining every single facet?
Do we really see it at all?
Are the sleepless nights and the anxiety worth obsessing about the outcome?
Or obsessing about what was?
I’m sure you’ve heard a million times that "the past is the past".
We can’t change it or revisit it.
Look, I’m not going to be a broken record.
We’ve heard that projecting ourselves into the future is just wasted time.
We can plan for the future, and by that, I mean financial planning, vacation planning, family planning and the day to day stuff can be planned.
We drive ourselves nuts with "if this, what about this, this or that?
It’s a waste of energy. It’s a waste of our brain power.
There so many things we can address and think about in the present.
My take is that everything is revealed when it needs to be revealed.
Everything turns out one way or another.
Like it, or not.
All of our planning, the attempts to control the outcomes or control people, are for naught, to use an old English word.
It's actually a really good word.
We spend so much of our time planning and postulating, and deciding EXACTLY how something is supposed to turn out only to be disappointed when life throws us a curve ball. OR gives us another result.
How do we know that the result ISN'T better than the one we were married to in our heads?
Take, for example, our idea of the perfect person or mate.
He or she has to have a certain look, drive a particular car, be this, do that, have this...an entire laundry list of "must haves" or it's a deal breaker.
How many really wonderful people have passed us by because we were only open to someone "this tall, with this color hair, of this age, with this career and this much money..."
That is only ONE example of "figuring it out."
"BUT I have to figure this out.“
What’s to figure out?
You can figure out a mathematical equation but can you figure out your life?
What if we replace “figure out“ with:
Our minds are exploding trying to figure out our lives in both the minutiae and in the grand scheme of things.
My work in Qigong and my studies in Taoism and Buddhism have made it glaringly obvious that "go with the flow" is the best course of "action".
Who wants disappointment?
Everyone is disappointed at one time or another in his or her life.
Even when we aren't trying to "figure it out"; when we are simply living life.
That is hard enough.
Can we be more flexible?
Be like bamboo? Strong and bendable in the wind and with the elements.
Life is messy and unpredictable. Anyone who says it isn’t is living with their head in the sand.
Just ask a really good parent or someone who teaches young people.
If we can’t make adjustments on the small and the large scale we are dead in the water. We find ourselves doing a remarkable amount of troubleshooting.
We are paddling upstream with one oar most of the time.
Anxiety is based on the “what ifs” and depression is based on “what happened?”
It's exhausting to be continually living in a state of figuring out our next move, the best tactic, or how to navigate the changes of the tides.
Go with the tides instead of against them.
Granted, some things are navigable, especially when we’re going with the flow of the stream, river or ocean.
Even difficult circumstances, like working for a cause or fighting injustice, seem to be an uphill battle.
KEEP YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU.
Water effortlessly flows over and around rocks. Sometimes it makes a big splash, sometimes a tiny ripple.
Flow like water.
Do whatever you need to do, then let things evolve.
Watch the answers present themselves without the need for you to push and pull your life.
When you give the answers time to reveal themselves, imagine how much freer you will feel.
"BUT I've GOT TO figure it out!'
What if you don't?
As always - THANKS FOR READING!!
See you next week!
NOW is the time is the answer. What was the question? Read on.
Here is the secret to starting and maintaining a home meditation practice.
(Ok, it's not REALLY a secret.)
These are three questions I get asked all the time by my students:
“How do I keep my home meditation practice going?”
“How do I START a home meditation practice?”
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just falls apart?”
These questions have a common theme.
Here are some answers that work for me. I'll bet they will work for you, too. And if not, try something else. There is plenty of information out there.
The blanket answer is “you’re trying too hard”.
You’re putting so much pressure on yourself to meditate at a certain time of the day, for a certain amount of time, and in a certain way.
What I have discovered over the years, and I addressed in a previous post, is that meditation is more and easier than you may think.
If you have a place you can designate for meditation, that’s great.
If you think about it your entire home is an opportunity to meditate.
Try the sofa, the lounge chair, the chaise outside on the patio, a soft patch of grass in your yard, or anywhere you can put a blanket or cushion.
I’ve even sat on my carpeted stairs, in a dining chair, on the floor on the rug or on the porch stoop for a quick meditation.
Then there is the question and pressure of how long you need to meditate?
I say as long as you can meditate.
I am the last person to ever tell you if you don’t meditate for X amount of time, or more, that it is fruitless or you might as well not bother.
If ANYONE tells you that kindly excuse yourself.
I went to a 4-day silent meditation retreat run by a very well known organization. The silent part was wonderful. Eating outdoors in silence, staying silent in the residence, and meditating in silence was a gift.
What I couldn’t wrap my mind around was that I was instructed to meditate in one way and one way only. I was instructed that this was the only correct way to meditate.
It didn’t feel right then and it doesn’t feel right now.
I certainly don’t instruct my students, or any teachers I train, that it’s my way or the highway.
Needless to say, I enjoyed my time at the retreat but I have never returned.
Meditation looks and feels many, many different ways.
How do I know this?
Through trial and error as a practitioner and through trial and error as a teacher.
I see what works for a broad cross-section of students over and over again.
I have been meditating for 27 years and I have gotten as much out of a 5-minute meditation as a two-hour meditation.
Now to answer the first question:
“How do I keep my home practice going?”
Do you like how good you feel during a meditation, yoga or Tai Chi class?
Grab that good feeling, take what you have learned in class, or through research online, and plunk yourself down in a chair, on a mat or in the grass. Without pressuring yourself replicate what you can.
If you have a semi-regular practice at home, that's great. Find other times to do it outside of what you already are accomplishing.
Once something is a habit - and it takes about 21 days to form a habit - your mind, and body will crave it. That goes for good and not-so-good habits.
I’ll tack my meditation sessions onto the end of my workouts. I’ll meditate in between chapters of a book I am reading. If I am having my tea on the lanai, which happens to face a lake, it is SO easy to float right into a meditation - birds chirping, fish splashing, water flowing - those are focus points for a relaxing meditation.
Binge-watching a show on Netflix? Close your eyes and do deep breathing between episodes!
Of course, it would be optimum if you carved out time to sit in meditation and formally meditate.
Choose a quiet room without much noise or traffic
Pick a chair that you like, one that is comfortable enough to sit in for a while. I guarantee the next thing you know you will have been sitting for 30 minutes. It flies by.
I did a lot of chanting and mantra at the beginning of my meditation journey. It kept me really present and engaged and I couldn’t THINK while I was repeating the words.
Pop in a chanting CD, or stream one.
Do you want to light a candle? DO IT!
Incense? Why not?
Set the mood.
When you set the mood, and make yourself a space, it will have more meaning for you. It puts you in the meditation frame of mind.
Question number 2:
“How do I start a home practice?”
This is totally up to you.
But starting is 50% of doing home meditation.
TODAY IS THE DAY!
Do some research, take some classes.
Try things on and see what fits.
Bring them ALL home.
After that, experiment with different types of meditations, in different locations in your home, for different amounts of time.
You may also do one technique for a while and then try something new.
The point is TRY IT and try it long enough to see what works for you.
Don’t just meditate once for 5 minutes, say “this isn’t working, I still have thoughts and I'm not getting any more peaceful” and then quit.
That’s not meditating.
That is letting your brain dictate to you:
“What shall I make for dinner?”
“Did I mail that bill?”
…and on and on and on.
That’s the brain fighting YOU making IT more peaceful.
Your brain is used to go, go, go. It even gets used to chaos.
That means you need to retrain your brain.
When your brain and mind is more peaceful then your body will be more peaceful, too.
Meditating at the VERY least is being in the moment and focusing on something:
A mantra, a chant, a quote, a candle, water flowing, birds flying, petting your dog, music, the wind blowing, deep breathing, and YES, even silence
…it’s pretty limitless.
Let your brain get used to being relieved of the watch for a few moments. You will continue to have thoughts, but let go of the activity of THINKING for a while.
It’s a thought, BIG DEAL. It will be there when you are done. And if not, most likely it will return. OR not.
Find opportunities during your day to get into a meditative state.
Snippets of time will turn into moments and then minutes and the next thing you know you will be in that state of mind for many minutes, hours, days - for LIFE!
And last, but certainly not least, here’s my answer to question number 3:
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just stalls?”
Time, commitments, family, work, illness, vacations - YOU NAME IT - interfere with us bringing home what we do in class.
SO here is where the three questions overlap.
Take the time, make the time, schedule it, carve it out…
How badly do you need it?
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, I imagine that you need it.
It’s not that hard to sit in a class and follow what a teacher instructs.
What IS hard is to make meditation, in its many forms, a priority along with brushing your teeth, doing the laundry, preparing meals, etc.
Your mental, emotional, physical, psychological and (if it applies to you) spiritual health is just as important as anything else that you tend to.
Jump right in.
NOW is a good time.
Still doing splits at 57! (In 4 states!) Flexibility is fundamental.
I began thinking and talking about it long before Dove made it “a thing”.
Why would any of us want to ANTI age?
Be AGAINST aging?
I know there are many people who don’t want to age.
THAT is IMPOSSIBLE no matter how hard you try.
Wouldn't you rather age than the alternative?
And by the alternative, I mean death.
Or is “die young, stay pretty”, the preferred option?
I am extremely passionate about aging intelligently.
What do I mean by that?
You can age intelligently by caring for your skin, your mind, your body, your relationships, your career and your health.
We have to get out of the mindset that "aging is a curse".
Live a good life, have fun, take care of yourself, be loving, make a contribution. That is real beauty!
I'm just one of those women who can’t wrap her mind around “anti-aging”.
Believe me, after being in the entertainment industry for 35 years this was a hard mountain to scale.
This is an industry that pushes the idea that the only beauty is young beauty.
Is it Vanity?
All of the above?
We can all spot from a mile away the person who has had so much work done on their face or their body that they don’t look real.
And let’s face it (lol, pun intended), a 70-year-old woman with an extreme facelift still does NOT look 40.
Plus, no 50 year old, who has overdosed on fillers, will ever look 25.
I wholeheartedly support taking care of yourself.
Get facials, Dermabrasion, Dermaplaning, some Botox, muscle stimulation and any of the non-invasive procedures.
Exercise, eat healthy foods - be a health fanatic - but going under the knife, sometimes again and again and again, seems to me to be another addiction.
Is one ever REALLY satisfied after they get on that merry-go-round?
Have we become such an insecure society that we only care about how others see us and that influences how we see ourselves?
My grandfather, on every one of his birthdays, would always say that he would rather be having a birthday than not!
It took me a while to get there and now I feel exactly the same way.
As we age, granted, everything isn’t still in its original place.
We may not have what we had in our teens, twenties or thirties.
BUT if we really think about it most likely we have more.
Some of the most inspirational people I know and observe are not in those age categories.
That is not because I am of a certain age, either, because I have friends in their 20’s to their 80’s.
It's incredible to see beautiful people inside and out who aren’t in their teens, 20’s, 30’s.
When was it decided that only youth was beautiful?
Is it a North American or western phenomenon?
In my teens, twenties, and 30’s I didn’t give aging a second thought.
I was too busy with my career, and in my VERY late 30's having, then raising a child.
Those age groups weren’t getting bombarded with the notion that one tiny wrinkle or a grey hair is a fatality.
We also weren’t inundated with the products on the market to keep us perpetually 25.
When did that happen?
Skin care IS important. Mostly so we don’t get skin cancer, which is a hell of a lot worse than a wrinkle. I have never met anyone who died from a wrinkle.
With age comes wisdom. YES! It's CLICHÉ but it's true.
Maybe wisdom doesn't come to everyone over the age of 40 but those years are life experiences and life experiences teach us.
Then again, I am constantly marveling at the wisdom of my young friends. Natural, innate wisdom that did not come with age but just from within.
Who decided for me that my laugh lines were ugly?
That my silver hair makes me old?
OR the fact that I am not still wafer thin makes me less than?
It certainly wasn’t me.
BUT the pressures I have felt and see my friends experiencing are an uphill battle.
When did we lose our talent, creativity, abilities, and exuberance because we turned the corner of 40 or 50?
I remember I was out one evening in Vancouver, Canada with girlfriends between the ages of 40 and 60.
We were having a great time going dancing, hopping from restaurant to club, to coffee house.
We were laughing and joking and having an AMAZING time.
At one point in the evening, we were all crossing the street, and a group of 20 something women was crossing at the same time.
They started pointing at us, laughing and making jokes about us.
One of my friends turned around and shouted “What are you laughing at? We’re YOU in 20 years!”
Well, that shut them the F up.
If those ladies are LUCKY they will be anything like us in 20 years.
We were a group of attractive, accomplished, talented, vital, vibrant and SEXY woman.
We had life experience.
We were walking, talking, living, breathing, oozing experience.
If anyone needed to be laughing, it was us. At the naivety, the judgment, the arrogance, the ignorance, and stupidity…
But we didn’t because we accepted those young ladies for who they were on their journey right at that moment.
WE are still open to learning from ALL ages.
All this being said I strongly advocate for self-care and self-nurturing.
I believe in eating right, exercising, meditating, being grateful, making a contribution somewhere, going for it, going with the flow and making your mark (whatever that is) at ALL ages.
I am so thrilled to have my older women friends to learn from and to absorb THEIR wisdom.
What I am not thrilled to have is pressure to be someone else’s idea and image of perfection. AT ANY AGE.
So go ahead and use those potions and lotions (cuz soft skin feels GREAT), but don’t lose sight of your beauty inside and out.
Don’t let someone else tell you what aging and beauty is.
That is up to you.
Find your support system and nurture it.
“Smell the roses.”
‘Grab for the gusto.”
“Go for it.”
‘You do you.”
Be YOUR best self.
AND never let someone else define you - at ANY AGE!
My wish for you is long and luscious PRO-aging.
As always, thanks for reading.
If you are interested in having me write for your publication:
If you are interested in having me train members of the staff at your facility or in your community on my original moving meditation technique:
There are so many quotes I love about living an authentic life.
“You do you.” (My son laid that one on me a little while ago. It was intense. Wisdom comes at all ages.)
“Be the best you that you can be.”
Liza Minelli said:
“I would rather present a first-rate version of myself than a second-rate version of Mama.”
Quote above the Temple of Apollo at Delphi”
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
*My comment on this is: if you realize you ARE enough, you are truly rich.
And here is one by a more modern day philosopher:
“If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know your nature. If you don’t know your nature, you don’t know where to exist. By knowing your nature, knowing yourself, you know what to be and how to live. And that only comes from knowledge of self, knowing yourself.”
AND to quote The Who:
“ Who are you? Who the fuck are you?”
How long does it take to know yourself?
Which would you choose?
What DOES it take to know ourselves?
Do we really want to know?
I can only answer that question for myself.
What it has taken for me and what it may take for you may be VERY different.
We invent ourselves depending on our circumstances and the road we are traveling.
We also reinvent ourselves when we see that “persona” isn’t getting as much attention as it once did; or none at all.
We morph ourselves into what we THINK or believe is needed for our job, our relationships, and our social media.
What if everyone was BRAVE enough to drop the pretense, drop what you THINK others want and just be ourselves?
First, do we have any idea who we are?
What really makes us tick?
What are our strengths, our weaknesses?
Are we willing to even admit that we have weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, foibles, flaws (both internally and externally), shortcomings and imperfections?
We are very happy to reveal the GREAT things about ourselves and our lives, but what about the not-so-great things?
In your life and your chosen profession, career, or art there will ALWAYS be someone who is better looking, more accomplished and more talented than you; AND there will ALWAYS be someone who is not as good looking, less accomplished and less talented than you.
That is just life.
We have put ourselves under so much pressure, to look a certain way, feel a certain way, to make sure we present ourselves in a certain light to others, AND not to age.
Ok, if you aren’t a nice or good person, and you are WILLING to admit that, then there is some work that has to be done BEFORE you can be on the way to self-discovery.
It is a part of self-discovery to admit you are a flawed or a difficult person, BUT the real you and the good you IS in there. It may be covered up in pain, hurt, anger and feeling devalued.
BUT IT IS IN THERE!
PLUS, the concept that anyone can be calm, cool and collected all the time isn’t reality.
I have seen the most self-actualized, present, and focused person lose it.
We have emotions.
Many of us have A LOT of emotions.
There is nothing wrong with emotions. It’s when those emotions control you, and detour you from living a more healthy life, that we need to examine them.
Is happy all the time possible?
Is it even healthy?
I don’t believe it is.
Insisting on happy all the time is denying the ups and downs of life. It is unsustainable.
We ALL have ups and downs, ALL of us.
Look at all of our great leaders; especially the non-violent leaders.
You still see pain, frustration, and anger.
However, it is how they managed it and what they knew about themselves.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, (and still today The Dalai Lama) they all had really, REALLY horrific days when they were working for justice and equality.
They suffered and they knew they were suffering.
They didn’t wallow in it. They took action over themselves and that stood as examples for others.
We allow our external world to dictate how happy, talented, intelligent, attractive, fit or valuable we are.
As for me, I have to call Bullshit on that.
SIDEBAR: Let’s get this right out in the open.
My nearest and dearest know this about me and don’t judge me. I have been afraid to show this side of me to the general public.
This is my new dedication to me being me.
You might be saying in this day and age "SO WHAT? We all do. Everybody does in his or her writing and videos."
I'm not everybody.
I was born in a time where it was not as acceptable or common-place.
I was taught that intelligent people don't swear.
WELLLL, I hate to disagree but some of the most brilliant people I know have been known to toss around a profanity, or two...or three.
It is powerful and sometimes really important for emphasis. That is me, and I trust you are ok with that.
If not, that’s fine but that’s not going to change ME!
I don’t pepper every sentence with profanity but I use it optimally.
If it is against your religion or your beliefs to swear or read anything containing profanity, I respect that. (And don’t read on.)
It’s just not me.
That is one of the acceptances of my authenticity.
I was so concerned that I would be judged as a meditation teacher or teacher, of any kind if I used profanity when I felt it was crucial. As they say “I’m over it”. (Let me clarify: unless I am teaching youth. I know the boundaries.)
Have you seen Osho’s video on the work f#@!? Oh, forget it...fuck...there I said it! It’s hilarious and a great lesson. If you aren’t familiar with Osho, Google him. He has wonderful present-day insights on life, mindfulness and the Science of Inner Being. He is not perfect and he knows it. He makes no pretense. Like him, don’t like him, it’s your choice. Isn’t that WONDERFUL!??!! Isn’t that LIBERATING??!!!
Another topic I want to introduce is what I call PRO-AGING.
Why are we so against aging???
If we are really fortunate we will all age, because there is only one alternative to aging.
My grandfather would say every year on his birthday: “I’d rather be having a birthday, than not”. Sadly, He is no longer having them.
Embrace your age. With age does come wisdom, experience, knowledge and insight, if we allow it.
With age also comes laugh lines. I prefer those to frown lines.
Here is what my authentic self is going to talk about in my upcoming posts:
Making meditation part of your daily life. It's easier than you think and most likely you are already doing it.
My journey teaching in juvenile justice and excerpts from my book and screenplay.
My current and former creative and artistic influences.
What got us where we are today?
Watch as I learn to play new percussion instruments. Join in with me!
The hilarity and frustration - mostly hilarity - of learning new languages.
My world travels with my husband. YES, he will finally peak out his head. He’s a bit social media shy.
Our Zen Master Chihuahua service dog. Yes, he's a REAL, trained service dog. My staunch advocacy FOR real service dogs and against fake service animals and support animals.
How I got over my vanity and ego and let my hair go silver. (By the way, I LOVE IT!)
The strange and bizarre things that shape who we are.
Having a healthy marriage later in life. Living and breathing those wedding vows.
Ideas to keep your mind and body healthy at any age.
Dealing with the death of a parent.
Dealing with the death of a beloved pet.
Having friends of all ages. (My friends, I am lucky to say, are between the ages of 19 and 90!)
Lessons learned, what we are learning, and what we are looking to learn.
Excerpts from my comedy film screenplay. First, it was a sitcom, then Hollywood got their hands on it and it took a detour into a reality series (that was paddled over a cliff), and now it's a comedy film.
Let’s talk mental health. Releasing the taboo. Did you know that one in four people deal with a mental health issue? That means someone in your life is experiencing the challenge.
Feel free to write in with suggestions, questions, and ideas for posts. IF it is a part of my life, I will write about it. If it isn't, I may still write about it!
If you liked this post or any of my other posts below PLEASE SHARE.
The more, the merrier.
As always, THANKS FOR READING!
If you are interested in me writing for your publication:
If you would like me to teach my unique and original moving meditation technique to the staff in your community or facility:
The flowers still bloomed, the sun shines and the moon rose!
I left Facebook and here’s what happened:
For personal and ethical reasons I have been working my way towards leaving Facebook for quite a long time.
I got so tired of the drama, the political backbiting, the name calling, fighting, arguing and the seeming lust for 15 minutes of fame.
I also got uncomfortable with reading so many people's deepest, darkest, personal secrets. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with life challenges. I'm just not sure I want to be privy to all of that information.
But I guess they aren't so secret since they are being displayed all over the Internet.
I’m not certain that people understand when you post online to any social media that it’s accessible by anyone, even if you mark it friends only.
The fact that Facebook has over 3 billion users means it is pervasive worldwide. It also means that what you post to your “friends” is not just to your friends. Anyone can read your posts via your friends.
SO it’s to the world.
People have gotten fired from their jobs for their posts on Facebook.
People have been caught breaking the law, and cheating on their partner.
Facebook has also allowed quite graphic videos of violence, murder and in some instances videos that are quite pornographic.
There's lots of sex, sexual Innuendo, profanity, and near nudity (oh, who am I trying to kid? Nudity.)
Don’t get me wrong I love the human body. I think nudity is gorgeous, and sex is amazing, but there are some great and not so great ways to express it.
Then there is the ethical issue. The issue of media dominance, and allowing horrible atrocities to be posted. Not to mention election improprieties, bullying, lying and covering up of said lies.
Whew. Tell us how you really feel!
Look, this is ME, not anyone else. This is what works and does not work for me.
This may or may not bother or resonate with you.
AND THAT IS FINE!
OK, that’s what bothered me about Facebook.
Here is what I loved about it:
I made a couple of friends in the 9 years I was on it.
I got a couple of introductions to potential jobs.
I saw wonderful photos, reconnected with friends, classmates, colleagues, and distant family.
I experienced vicariously the adventures, trials, tribulations, successes and failures of the aforementioned people.
I shared, collaborated and commiserated.
I also wasted A LOT of time.
Ok, that may not be a plus...
Here is what happened the couple of times I posted that I was leaving:
I was asked not to go. I was told that what I posted was really appreciated. And asked how was I going to keep up with everyone? How will I know when there are events, parties, births, and reunions?The state of the country? Won't it affect my business, or work? How can I live when "everyone", and the most important things, announcements, connections, etc., are on Facebook? Aren't I afraid I will be looked at as an outcast? Or with suspiciousness? How can I be much of a teacher, writer, artist if I'm not on Facebook? Only legitimate businesses and people are on Facebook. (I can't have a business page without a personal page. "Well, I can't go for that, no oh oh, no can do." Yep, I just dated myself.)
Here is what happened when I actually left:
Of the original 3000 people who were my Facebook "friends", I whittled those down to 1800 (this was the beginning of the end), then to 1200, then to 800. I knew every one of them. Maybe we weren't pals or close but I personally knew them all.
I gathered emails and phone numbers, posted my Instagram, and LinkedIn page links. (Yes, I know Instagram is owned by Facebook, but it is just such a kinder, gentler, social media).
I downloaded my archive.
I made a commitment to connect in different ways with my Facebook friends.
Then one day I just left. No fanfare, no parting gifts, just poof.
Mind you, this was not without Facebook asking me about half a dozen times if I knew what I was doing? They posted photos of my friends telling me who would miss me. (Those who really ARE my friends actually have a life with me outside of Facebook.)
"Are you sure you want to leave? You will miss out on x, y or z..."
In the final stages I could deactivate my account and it would take two weeks for it to be deleted.
Maybe I would have second thoughts and in a moment of weakness I would log on and that would start the two week clock ticking again.
This time there was no crying wolf, and there was nothing anyone could say that would change my mind.
I had already moved on and broken the addiction.
And it was an addiction.
I wasn't on every day but I fell into the "check in with Facebook" trap when I could have been doing so many other things.
LIKE just sitting there and taking a few deep breaths.
getting on a yoga mat and stretching for a few minutes.
picking up the phone and texting, calling or SKYPING with someone.
So what REALLY happened?
NOT A DAMN THING.
People I was already in touch with outside of Facebook have stayed in touch with me.
And most people that were not in touch with me outside of Facebook have not communicated with me. AND THAT'S OK!!
There are plenty of ways to communicate with me if desired.
I haven't eradicated my presence online or through social media. I'm just selective.
It hasn't affected my teaching, writing, or musical endeavors whatsoever.
As a matter of fact, I have taken up a few more percussion instruments. I spend a lot more time writing, meditating, DANCING!!
I am learning new languages, studying online for a Philosophy course certification, a sound therapy course and deepening my relationships on a more one-on-one basis.
Sure, there are those who told me that they only used Facebook, and messaged and communicated via Facebook.
That had no effect on me.
That is their choice and this is mine.
I sent a newsletter to 161 people, including many from my Facebook days, and I heard from about 30 of them. Some told me personally, later on, that they had read my newsletter and enjoyed it.
I understand those who need the interaction of something like Facebook for whatever reason.
I don't judge. Use it as you see fit.
Facebook is happy to have as many members as they can. Members mean money, and lots of it.
It's business, just business.
For each attrition there are new users.
Facebook isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
However, for me, there IS life after Facebook.
And a damn good one.
As always thanks for reading!
If you are interested in having me write for your publication;
If you are interested in learning my original moving meditation technique to teach in your community or facility:
Meditate on this. It's THAT simple!
Moving meditation is not necessarily what you might think.
Yes, it may include Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, martial arts, or Zhan Zhang (the Chinese art of standing like a post).
It also may include sitting meditation with breath and movement exercises like in Kundalini (a yoga all to itself).
But, and here is the big BUT, it also is how you live your life. How the thoughts move around inside your head and are expressed in your emotions and actions.
It is where you find peace, quiet and a sense of balance.
That may be while walking, eating, playing with your children, your dog or cat, riding a horse, sitting in a park, being by a body of water, reading a book or perhaps just sitting alone in silence
It’s how you deal with external stimuli, irritants, confrontation and disruptions.
Moving meditation is the BIG and the small picture.
It is at the height of an argument with your parent, sibling, partner, spouse, colleague or boss and how you deal with it. It is when you are just passing time or zoning out.
That has been MY meditation for the last week on dealing with an interminably difficult family member. Someone I can’t just walk away from. Someone who won’t change and has always suffered from a personality disorder.
My conclusion? Teacher teach thyself.
Moving meditation is available in innumerable forms all the time, you just need to access it.
Taking three deep breaths (yes, you have heard about this a zillion times AND it works), staring out a window at the trees and the birds in a park, sipping a cup of tea while savoring the fragrance, the warmth and the subtle notes in taste.
You say you don’t have time?
Bull! Everyone has time for these quick and easy moments. And that is what they are — moments. Many of them simply what we do in daily life.
Daily life CAN be a meditation if you choose to make it so.
I’m not a broken record recommending that you sit quietly in a room, for 15 to 60 minutes, with your eyes closed, while focusing on your breathing and listening to some great Zen-like music.
Although that REALLY works when and if you carve out the time to do it.
I’m talking about (here comes a slightly overused phrase these days) life hacks. Make moving meditation an integral part of your day. A mind set almost as easy and effortless as breathing.
It IS a mindset just like the mind sets of “I don’t have enough time. I’m too frazzled. I just can’t focus. I’m overextended, overwhelmed, overburdened.”
Here are three simple exercises you can do, in addition to what I mentioned above.
When you take a break from your work to have your breakfast, lunch, or dinner commit to being quiet. Say nothing or as little as possible for that half an hour or hour. Just observe, listen, and hear. It can be a challenge, especially if you have a very active mind.
If you listen and observe that helps quell the internal monologue. It also can be a huge relief to spend time not speaking. I love to sit quietly and watch water reflect on a surface. The shapes are fascinating.
If you are already a quiet person who doesn’t speak very much use this time to heighten your senses.
Can you be aware of sight and smell at the same time? What about sight, smell and touch? Try sight, smell, touch and taste. Finally focus on sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.
This is a powerful exercise and not as easy as it sounds. Try one sense at a time and then when you have that mastered add another sense and so on.
I referred to Zhan Zhang earlier. What is that and how do you do it?
In Chinese philosophy, Qigong and Tai Chi, it’s typically referred to as standing like a post. It is exactly what it says it is.
You can do it while staring out of a window, standing in an elevator, standing in the park, in your yard, in your bedroom, living room, and so many other places.
I have done it while standing waiting in line, AND when I really needed to center myself, in an airplane bathroom (but not for very long, because, well, you know about airplane bathrooms!).
Here is how you do the first position called Wuji (state of emptiness):
Standing with your feet hips width distance apart, knees slightly bent, hips tucked under slightly (you don’t want to push your hips back or have a sway back), your arms are hanging at your sides and slightly away from your sides.
I imagine there is air flowing between my body and underarms and my arms. Look straight ahead and gently focus on a place on the wall, or whatever is in front of you. Let your eyes have a relaxed focus. You can also close your eyes for a deeper experience but do that ONLY after you know you have your balance. Breath naturally, gently, easily, effortlessly in and out of your nose.
AND THAT’S IT.
Do it for as long as you can.
You may feel some aches here and there, you may get restless, or your brain my protest, but stick with it.
Breathe into it. Adjust your limbs slightly to increase your comfort.
You can also sway slightly side to side or make tiny circles with your body to relieve any body tension.
Start with 5 minutes and work up from there.
You will be very surprised that this seemingly simple exercise can be very powerful physically, mentally and emotionally.
Try these many ways to meditate or to do moving meditation as part of your daily life.
I will be writing more on moving meditation so, please return!
Make your life your meditation.
As always, thanks for reading!
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