Thursday, August 4, 2016

Managing Peace In this time of craziness, when the world seems to erupt with emotion and anger, it is most important that we turn inward to the peace that passes understanding. It appears that there is poison being expelled from our collective system. The ego regurgitates chaos and noise. And so we move to the stillness of nature to grasp more firmly the rhythm and flow of gentleness, kindness, nurturing. It is time to seek with fortitude and discipline a higher Spirit than the world (news) portrays. We are reminded, there are folks who give in heartfelt ways. There are people who continue to smile in the midst of dissolution and the smoke and dust of anger filled rooms, who reach out and help strangers, who share their gifts and offer words of support and encouragement. Where shall we focus our attention? There is a quiet place within. It is as beautiful as a tree in full bloom and the sun setting in the west. It is as sweet as a baby's innocent giggle. We go there and embrace Spirit. We remove our attention from the distractions that would convince us the world is a dangerous place and remind ourselves that God is good and that people are expressions of divine love. Stay in this space and breath each holy breath. Be still and know the truth of Spirit. Be still. Be still.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Be Outrageous - Do the Impossible!!! Ideas that were once considered outrageous have become everyday events. The rule is that once a precedent has been set, strange though it may be, you have established a new norm. Helen Keller couldn’t see, hear and talk, yet she was one of the most fulfilled positive people of the 20th century. Steven Spielberg was a skinny, shy, unknown, mediocre student in high school and went on to become involved with five of the top ten grossing movies of all time. Oprah Winfrey grew up poor in an area where being African-American posed tremendous odds for achievement. Yet she became a popular talk-show host and a billionaire to boot. The same principle is true for each of us. Look back 10 years and consider the changes you have made in your life. Things you once considered outrageous are now part of your everyday existence. Big screen TVs, computers, electronic messaging, cell telephones, global positioning systems watching our “enemies” as well as tracking stolen cars, and a couple of years ago the stock market hit highs (and probably will again) that many thought to be incomprehensible. It is true, you can’t think too big. What was once considered a disabling flaw or handicap is navigated with innovation and imagination. Take this principle to heart. What is it that you want that once you considered a pure fantasy. In 1994 George Rickles lost both hands and most of his forearms in an accident that brought his carpentry career to a dramatic end. Rickles’ determination to return to carpentry led him to be fitted with prosthetic hooks. Then Volunteers for Medical Engineering designed tools and a special toolbox just for him. With patience Rickles’ proficiency with his beloved power tools proves to be promising. There is a process involved in manifesting dreams. It involves taking one step at a time and accomplishing each with an air of optimism and determination. The first step you take is the one facing you right now. That one will lead you to the next one and so on. What is your dream? Are you ready to take the first step? Enjoy! Much love! Jean

Monday, July 18, 2016

Blog: Creating a Global Family On a visit to St. Louis, author, Dr. Deepak Chopra commented on the recent terrorists attacks. To simply say we ought to punish and kill the perpetrators of terrorist attacks is not sufficient. We must go beyond that idea and recognize that we can’t be tribal anymore. If we cannot feel the suffering of humanity, but only our immediate family, then we will never get to the root cause of what is happening. There is no ‘us’, there is no ‘them’. There’s just ‘we’. If we don’t come to terms with this truth, we risk the extinction of our species and this planet. Chopra said any thoughts of violence contribute to the wounding of our collective soul. His suggestion is that each person cleanse himself of thoughts of hatred and contribute positive thoughts (energy) to the world. To end the imbalance in the world, let’s each make ripples in the vast ocean of consciousness. Along those same lines, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decreed hate is always tragic. It is as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. It distorts the personality and scars the soul. As we seek answers to recent tragic events, let us reach beyond blame and hatred to create solutions. When people remove their attention from their own small needs, they reveal a tremendous desire - a need, perhaps- to give assistance. This desire is part of the answer that everyone seeks. It is truly a desire to love and it goes beyond human boundaries. In love we can create a global family and that is how we can achieve unity and peace. There is no other way. In the brief moments, when the world changed, people altered the way they thought about each other. When those huge buildings collapsed in New York on 9/11, everyone’s attention shifted to the people inside of them. At that moment, race, color, or conviction ceased to exist. We cared about the people and what they might be suffering. The Buddhists say that compassion is recognizing that everyone has suffered. In developing compassion let us turn from fear, which fosters hate and to love, which creates unity. This time is not about how to fear, but how to love. When Mother Theresa was asked if she would attend a rally against war, she said NO. I will not attend a rally against anything. I will attend when it is for peace. Enjoy! Much love! Jean
Blog: The Boy who saved a village Here is a great story about a child in a challenging situation, who applies his creativity and enthusiasm for invention to engineer a smart solution to overcome a big problem. Like most 13-year-old boys in Kenya, Richard Turere is responsible for safeguarding his family’s livestock. We are enemies, he says about the large-cat predators who come out of the nearby Nairobi National Park to prey on cows, goals and sheep. The villagers’ traditional solution to fend off the raiding lions has always been to stab or poison them. But Turere observed something that made it possible to stop killing the African lions. He noticed that the only time the lions did not perform their nocturnal livestock raids was when someone was walking around with a flashlight. The lions were afraid of people and probably equated the torch light with humans. His observation led to his invention of Lion Lights and his subsequent status as a village, and indeed the world’s wildlife heroes. Turere used LED bulbs from broken flashlights and wired them to a box with switches. Then he rigged an automated lighting system powered from solar panels and an old car battery the family used to operate their TV. His final step was to attach the Lion Lights to poles around the livestock boma and set them to flash in sequence, giving the impression that someone was walking around the enclosure with a torch. So it turned out that Turere’s invention of Lion Lights became an elegant way to protect his family’s cattle from lion attacks. His invention kept the lions away, and neighbors asked for similar set-ups to protect their livestock and the Kenyan government, who have paid millions of shillings to communities for livestock loss, was supportive of this hero’s invention that has stopped the lion predators 100%. Richard Turere story was discovered during a worldwide talent search last year in Kenya. He currently attends Brookhouse School where he won a scholarship as a result of his invention. Turere is an amazing example of what a kids with enthusiasm and creativity to solve a problem can achieve. This is what he says: One year ago, I was just a boy in the savanna grassland herding my father’s cows, and I used to see planes flying over, and I told myself that one day, I’ll be there inside. And here I am today. I got a chance to come by plane for my first time for my TED presentation. And Richard hasn’t seen anything yet, as his journey is just getting started. Enjoy! Much love! Jean
The secret The secret to living a life of connection and joy is to keep your mind clear and clean of garbage. What is garbage you ask? It is criticism, guilt, shame, worry, gossip – all things negative. How does one do that you ask? By monitoring your thoughts. A thought is a wave of energy that flows through your mind. Most of them have been triggered by the news, television, your conversations and interactions through the day and programming from family, teachers, and various groups. Sounds like a lot – well, maybe. The point is that a thought is an energy impulse that you can listen to and respond to or not. Observe your thoughts without reacting to them. You will begin to notice the trend and patterns. Are you a worry wart – you are living in the future. Are you guilt ridden, you are livingin the past. Do you run conversations over and over in your mind, you are creating anxiety and second guessing. Now, the good part. When you notice a negative thought, step back from it. Do not engage. It is just an energy impulse, let it flow by. The reason people get into trouble is that they take their thoughts seriously and act on compulsions and impulses without considering their source or consequences. To an alcoholic, I want a drink. Observe it and let it go. Same with drug addicts, sex addicts, shopping addicts, any addict. Essentially we are all addict in some way. Notice what your addiction is. Maybe it is the need for attention, or wanting others to approve of you. Again, notice these thoughts as they arise and let them go. Now that is hard if you don’t replace the space the thought takes up with something else. So I suggest you be ready with a new thought – no that will clear space and create openness. That would be gratitude. Thank yourself for noticing the thought and letting it go. Be grateful for a beautiful day or for sunshine. Be grateful for having legs to walk and speech to share ideas. There are a million things to be grateful for. Why do we want this? Because gratitude lifts your mind. Endeavor for clear space when you are allowing the light of the Universe to shine through your mind. Practice being quiet. Even with yourself. When more thoughts arise – shhhh! I am quiet now. This is all about self discipline -- to take control of YOUR mind. Like driving a car, you get to decide where your vehicle is headed and with thinking, you decide what thoughts are allowed and which ones are not. Where do you want to take your mind. You can drive it DOWN in negativity, which will create restriction, upset, and chaos. Or you can navigate it UP to uplifting thoughts and possibilities. Just keeping it clear of negativity is transformative. So the exercise is: observe your thoughts. Let them flow. Then disengage from the uninspiring one and go to peace. Equating a beautiful image to peace – like a serene forest or park, the ocean, sitting on the porch on a sunny day, watching the sun rise or set – will help. Have it ready so you can go there. Gratitude always ascends the energy of the mind. Forgiveness does too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blog: The Power of Non-Resistance Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. taught and modeled non-violent resistance to the world. Consider that this principle is more than a powerful political tool; it is also a practical technique for living life. The rebel within tells us we must fight that which we don’t like so that it will cease to exist. But the opposite is true. By resisting an annoyance, we maintain attention on it, thus giving it power. Attention is the key. If you are sitting in traffic, worried about being late for an appointment, your tendency is to become anxious. By concentrating on the problem (tardiness), it doesn’t desist, but rather builds anxiety. To act non-resistantly, you let the annoyance be itself and place your attention elsewhere, hopefully on something you can control. (You can’t control traffic or the fact that you are late.) By not resisting the irritant, you release yourself to be yourself, thus you are free in the moment. While experiencing traffic, plan the fastest route to your destination, then relax, turn up the radio and sing. You can control your mood, attitude, and activity. You can’t control the light, flow of traffic or blockages up ahead. As you contemplate the principle of non-resistance, you can see that its point is profoundly placed in controlling what you can and releasing what you can’t control. The more you occupy your mind with irritating, external factors, the less you remember to be yourself. Apply these ideas to life – a disgruntled boss, emotional spouse, high prices, taxes, mechanical failures, illness – and you begin to unfold the meaning of non-resistance. These elements are a part of life. Respond to them as you must, but don’t uproot your peace. Handle situations with ability and imagination. Then move on. Gandhi and King used non-violent resistance to make powerful political and social statements. You can incorporate this principle to maintain peace and build self expression. And talk about, I received this information from Shambhala Publications. In 2000, the Hopi Elders issued a prophecy for the challenging times that are now upon us. “There is a river flowing now very fast,” they said. “It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.” The modern world is very good at showing us vividly how we’re hooked, stuck in fixed mind, habitually riding the wheel of suffering. These times are making the option of clinging to the shore more and more unpalatable. Therefore, the Hopi Elders advise us to “push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.” Once there, we’ll be able to see our companions in the river and “celebrate.” The Elders don’t lament what is happening. On the contrary, they say, “This could be a good time!” 

Blog: Simplicity - the path to peace Multitasking is “big” these days. What with computers, internet, e-mail, cell phones, voice mail, and scheduled lives for every family member, it would seem the only way to make it through the day is to multitask. Because we live in an age information explosion, we feel a great loss in quality if we attempt to divide our attention in dozens of ways. It seems that the number of tasks to be completed, and the design of the human brain, doesn’t quite match. Thus we must become protective of where we place our attention, and what we ask of ourselves as human beings stuck in a 24 hour, 7 day a week world. Writer, Martha Beck, offers some wonderful pointers for those who crave a simpler life without losing a sense of purpose. Her first point is to accept that you will not be able to read every bit of mail, respond to every offer, attend every event, and complete every project. Simplification boils down to managing your time by managing your attention. Secondly, she suggests starting your day with a clear plan about where you will be placing your attention. Otherwise, it will get wasted. Prioritizing must be done before the day begins as if you wait, demands that spontaneously sprout up take over leaving you overwhelmed and mentally fuzzy. Plan according to your big picture, or manage your priorities with “eagle vision”. This means that you consider today’s goals in terms of what you want to achieve in the long run. In other words, what experiences do you want to have and how do you want to have affected the world during your time here? While planning from a big picture, work with “mouse vision”. Focus directly and completely on the task in front of you. This means to cutout distractions. Not only will mouse vision eliminate feeling scattered and the accompanying exhaustion, you will discover that your concentration improves over time. So while you are giving up talking on the cell phone, driving, reading a map, and planning your next meal, what you are gaining is sanity, being present, peace and purpose. Leonardo da Vinci said it this way, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”