Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Fascinating, imaginative way to Serve! When it comes to interesting ways to solve a problem, Lynn Zwerling might win the prize. In late 2009, Zwerling stood in front of 600 male prisoners at the Pre-Release Prison Unit in Jessup, Maryland. Her opening line was "Who wants to knit?" The burly men were taken back with the idea. But Lynn Zwerling assured them that men had invented the craft. Nearly two years later, Zwerling and her associates have instructed more than 100 prisoners to knit, while dozens more wait to take her weekly class. "I have guys that have never missed one time in two years," comments Zwerling. "Some have reported that they miss dinner to come to class." Even though the men were reluctant at first, complaining that knitting was too girly or difficult, they yielded to a five-minute knitting lesson and, as Zwerling puts it, "the men found zen and became hooked." The Warden worried about freely handing out knitting needles to prisoners who had been convicted of violent crimes so it took five years before her idea was accepted. Assistant Warden, Margaret Chippendale, is on record that the men involved with knitting get into trouble less often. "It's very positive because you can see when you go into the room, the dynamics of their conversation; very calm, very soothing," Chippendale says. "It radiates even when they leave the room and go out into the institution." Richy Horton, 38, served almost four years at the Pre-Release Prison Unit and reluctantly joined the knitting class six months prior to release. Horton’s reaction was "I’m not going to that thing. And then I went to class and you were actually speaking to real people. People can’t really understand that in prison you’re completely separated from anything normal or real in the world. You’re always told what to do and when to do it, so to have people come in and treat you like a human being means so much. They came in and they were like my mom." The men started by knitting comfort dolls, which they gave to children removed from their homes because of domestic issues. Then they moved on to hats for kids at the inner-city elementary school. Each week the men eagerly await the women's arrival, then promptly get to work. "It takes you away a little," Horton says. "You have to watch what you’re doing, otherwise your stitches will become loose or tight or you’ll skip stitches. It almost makes you feel like you don't have to be anything. You’re all sitting there knitting. You can just be yourself." Kudos to Lynn Zwerling for coming up with a great way to offer service. She gets to share her passion and the men get to relax and be themselves and offer service to the community. Win, win, win! To reach Jean Walters, Transformational Coach, Author and teacher, call 314 991 8439 or jean@spiritualtransformation. Author of: Set Yourself Free: Live the Life YOU were meant to live! and Be Outrageous: Do the Impossible - Others have and you can too! (Believe in yourself and rekindle your spirit)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Simple Practice: Bring more Love into your Life Babies radiate love. People are draw to these beautiful, little packages that know only love. We connect with them and want to experience the simple joy of a baby. Puppies have the same effect. They automatically love you. You don’t have to do anything to earn their love. It is unconditional and holds no bounds. This is our true state – radiant love without bounds. But what happens to reduce and diminish us to a consciousness of fear and restriction, of distrust and anger. Somehow we forget who we are. Instead of expanding our love to include everything and everyone, we start to retract and become selective. You love your ethnic group, family, tribe, your religious sect and close out those who seem different. We are afraid of those we look, dress, or speak in dissimilar dialects. Soon we are retracted into balls of opinions, delusions, judgments, and preferences where before there was radiance. As thinking, rational beings we have the ability to make choices. We can look at the outer shell and project our own insecurities, fear, and unknowing or we can see the light in each person and recognize that the outer form is just a defense or definition. Inside there is light (love) beaning its boundlessness and desire to share. Holding in love when it needs expression is painful. Why? Because we are going against who we are – our natural state. We are still babies ready to grin, giggle, and share our inner essence. Let’s return to that state of innocence and purity by making it a practice to smile at people. That is what babies do. Tell them (mentally, if you wish) how much you love them. You love their light. You love the purity of their essence, even if they have lost sight of it themselves. See it for them. This can be your practice with each person you encounter. See their inner essence of radiant light and love. Bless them with a smile. And, guess what, through the law of cause and effect, what cycles back to you will be love! Take the restraints off your life and guess what – fear and restriction disappear. It is a choice. Order Set Yourself Free: Live the Life YOU were meant to Live! http://rdrpublishers.com/products/set-yourself-free-life-the-life-you-were-meant-to-live

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Supremacy of Love One way we demonstrate love is through friendship. Buddhists have a term, metta, for the quality of boundless friendship toward oneself or others. Metta refers to being loving and kind. Practicing this principle, particularly toward people you don’t know, expands your innate capacity for connecting. Through the quality of loving-kindness, you are able to break the habits of apathy and judgment that generate a feeling of separation from others. Separation fosters fear and prejudice. Every person has the potential for friendship and kindness. It exists within everyone, no matter what dire experiences each have endured. This capacity cannot be destroyed, although it can be ignored or neglected. The way you can rediscover your metta capability is to take a positive interest in people. We’re often running through life so fast that we overlook or discount people. They don’t even register. Yet relationships make up the fiber of our lives and constitute our greatest challenge and opportunity. Practice being attentive. Start with someone you don’t really know. As you pay attention, you will learn things about the person and yourself. Next, hold that person in your heart with a feeling of genuine warmth. At the same time, mentally wish that person well. In short order, you will no longer feel like a stranger. Your world will begin to change. Your life will suddenly feel freer. The next step is to practice with someone you feel ambivalent toward. Aha! It gets easier. With success, you get bolder, which ultimately leads you to people with whom you’re in conflict. Choose someone you have injured or who has harmed you. With tenacity, you will get past the lightning bolts of anger. Your rage will dissipate over time and you will discover increased energy and deeper love, deeper than you had ever imagined. As your attention opens to the people you formerly dismissed, your world expands, along with your connection to yourself. Work on your ability to be kind and loving, and you will discover how truly unlimited and safe you are. Why does this work? Because God is Love and we are individual sparks of God. Love is our inner essence, our core. When you remove the blocks of fear, shame, guilt, anger, and unforgiveness, which obstruct your true nature, love radiates from your center, illuminating the mind, body, and situations. At that point, practicing metta becomes a way of life. All things appear new in the light of love. Jesus, our prototype, not only centered his teaching on love, he emanated it. His teaching demonstrates love’s supremacy and overriding power. This blog is excerpted from Set Yourself Free: Live the Life YOU were Meant to Live. To order Set Yourself Free go to: http://rdrpublishers.com/products/set-yourself-free-life-the-life-you-were-meant-to-live

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