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Teach peace, Teach strength


In order to get something different you have to do something different.  In order to create peace we need to act in  a peaceful way toward each other.

We teach by what we say and by what we do.  If there is not a congruence between these two things then we teach the incongruence.

Acting in a discriminatory fashion toward some groups while saying to not discriminate toward other groups teaches that discrimination is okay under specific circumstances.

From a sociological perspective, it  creates a sense of an in-group/out-group in relationships.

This is the basis of discrimination.  First, the discriminated group needs to be identified, labeled, and separated out.  Next, the in-group leaders need to belittle, and make-fun of the identified out-group.  Next, the in-group needs to have some level of power with which other societal members want to connect or identify; and finally, the in-group followers have to identify they are not part of the out-group by either belittling, or negatively labeling the out-group or silently allowing the negative behavior.

All these actions together teach hate.  To teach peace we have to catch ourselves when we are participating in this structure and stop.

There is a beautiful song by Rabbi Joe Black about how hate is taught.

If a child acts in a mean or hateful way toward another group it is something that came from his family or environmental system; I am not addressing psychotic or psychopathic behavior here.

The song is encouraging us to be mindful about what we teach our children because they internalize it into a value and belief.  These are difficult to change as we age.

Many times individuals act in a discriminatory or biased way without consciously knowing or meaning to do this.  This is because the way we embrace these biases is through our personal family environments.  It is subtle how it gets embedded in our basic belief system and how we pass it on.  It spreads like a virus.

Sometimes it’s a matter of letting our frustration speak for us instead of letting our own compassion organize our speech patterns.  In our family we try to not use what we call mean words – stupid, idiot, jerk – instead we try to be descriptive – that person was mean, not thinking, not being fair, cut me off…etc.

I find that being descriptive helps to keep me out of a labeling mode.  It’s like using an anti-oxidant to combat a virus.

This increases my opportunity for understanding the other person as well as myself.  But I also have to be aware of what biases I swallowed whole from my family system and have to change in myself.

The best way to get there is through responding in the present moment.  Try to focus on description rather than labeling.  And think about how it would feel if someone treated you that way.  In other words, changing your perspective by applying the same label to yourself – if it feels demeaning it probably is a stereotypical label that may even be based in a bias.

Some things are obvious:  we know not to use certain words; they are obviously negative to us.  But, new words or accepted biases are not readily seen by the individual who uses them.

A friend of mine is 1/4 Cherokee and once she heard another friend say – stop running around like a bunch a wild Indians.  She was appalled that our friend was unaware of how she was discriminating and negatively labeling Native Americans.  Another time I heard a different friend say to a colleague when they were discussing the cost of something, can’t I jew you down on that?   The colleague was Jewish and felt it was a derogatory statement.

Both of these friends, who used these colloquialisms were highly educated individuals.  They were focused on social justice and interested in equality for  all people – yet both were promoting discrimination through socially condoned colloquialisms  – which were in actuality a stereotypical put down.

Recently, I have seen in a number of posts on Facebook, a social networking site, a reference to tea baggers.  Again, by highly educated, and by their own account, very enlightened people who are focused on social justice and in some cases, the energetic up-leveling of our society.

This is an example of a way to diminish and put down that group.  It is not enlightened or peacemaking.

It’s important to act in a way that is congruent with your speech, and value systems.  In order to teach strength, we need to be strong, and stand up for what is right, not with discrimination and power trips, but with authentically peaceful and compassionate action.

This is especially true when you are in a parenting or role-modeling position.  Those who are listening and watching you are picking up on these subtle incongruences.

The more we can be mindful, and really interact with each other in a compassionate way the more we can truly Teach peace which will Teach strength.

See you tomorrow.


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The Dalai Lama


Here is a quote from the Dalai Lama that I just read today – it speaks to what I have been writing about in the blogs about mindfulness and focusing on what is healing and positive rather than that which pulls you away from your true self.

With the realization of ones own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. According to my own experience, self-confidence is very important. That sort of confidence is not a blind one; it is an awareness of ones own potential. On that basis, human beings can transform themselves by increasing the good qualities and reducing the negative qualities.

the Dalai Lama

So if self-confidence is of the utmost importance than it seems we need to do a better job of identifying what we’re doing right, not just identifying what we are doing wrong, or what we need to decrease in ourselves or change.

It is through the balanced eye that we can best assess ourselves to increase or maintain self-confidence.

Just as Bravery doesn’t mean not being afraid, self-confidence is not hubris or narcissism.

Bravery is acknowledging danger or fear or concern and pushing through that to have the courage to act in a way that is ethical, or right or needed.  My daughter says I was brave I faced my fear and didn’t let my fear stop me.

Self-confidence is knowing one’s strengths and limitations and knowing how to utilize them positively.  It has to do with believing in yourself because of your knowledge about yourself.  This knowledge includes what you don’t like about yourself or feel is limiting about who you are, too.  That information is used to help you be the best self you can be so it doesn’t have a debilitating effect on your self-confidence.

Having limitations offers opportunities for innovation and change; thinking outside the box comes from this concept.  The idea isn’t to be perfect but to be your best self and then interact with others in their best selves.  This allows for real connection and productive enterprises that allow for transforming resolutions to difficult problems.

We can practice developing clearer pictures of ourselves through our interactions with others as well as our mistakes and successes in our activities.

When learning a new skill if we can evaluate what aspects of the skill we already have a sense of competence around that increases our sense of self-confidence.

For example for children beginning a new school, parents can remind them about what it was like when they started the school that they are leaving.  Point out that the child had the skills to get connected make friends and learn the specific subjects – and that the new experience has components of the same things so they have competence at them.

The parent can help the child evaluate what worked in those situations and how the new situation might be similar or different and what changes it may require.  This is the same for adults beginning new jobs or starting in new communities to make friends and connections.

Often what interferes with our self-confidence is how we interpret situations and expectations.  It also has to do with whether we can deconstruct the components of what is required or what is to be faced.  If we can properly deconstruct these then we have a better ability to negotiate the process and see where we have previous experience or competence.

Finally having a picture about how something should be or an attachment to things being a certain way will decrease self-confidence and ultimately success because it takes one out of a mindful state.

It’s important to be able to respond to the situation at hand in a flexible, open-minded way taking in new information and integrating it into what is already known trusting in yourself.

You can practice these skills in everyday life.  Notice how your self-knowledge and self-confidence grow.

See you tomorrow.


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8 habits to maintain a healthy life


One of my favorite Professors in my Chinese medical school, Dr. Lyndsey Tunnell, was an innovative thinker.  He taught me that Chinese medicine addresses everyday habits and how to maintain balance through these.

You can focus on your eating, sleeping, drinking, exercise, and stress reduction habits and make adjustments to these various systems to allow for a return to balance in the spirit, mind, body system resulting in health.

From a Chinese medicine point of view you would be treating yin and yang and shen, Qi and Xue and bring these as well as the organ systems into balance allowing for each to flow easily and without stagnation during their proper times, allowing for balance within the system.

Using information from Chinese medicine, Buddhist philosophy, and Judeo-Christian spirituality I have identified a strategy for health.

Eight Habits to Change your Life and return to balance

First,  Meditation, Prayer, Focused Breathing, daily or twice daily, to redirect and refocus your energy.

Connecting spirit, mind and body; Calming Shen and building Qi

Second, eat the rainbow, look for the colors of the rainbow on your plate every day to increase your access to anti-oxidant strength; and eat foods that are primarily prepared by you or someone you love.

Body, Mind, and Spirit; building Qi and Xue

Third, drink 3-4 liters of water each day.  Most people are chronically dehydrated and use beverages that further dehydrate them throughout the day.  Water is the best cleanser and most health promoting agent.  It flushes out toxins from the cellular to larger physical level.  Some common indications of dehydration include migraine headaches, dizziness; Dry mouth, skin and joints resulting in painful joints.

Body, mind, and spirit; balancing yin and yang

Fourth, Exercise 5 – 7 hours a week.  In March 2010 a new Harvard, 13 year study was released that showed that woman need an hour a day of exercise to maintain their healthy body-mass-index weight.  This is especially true for women over 50.  For anyone who has been following the old guidelines 20 minutes 3-4 times a week or even daily, and getting few results, this is no surprise.

Body, mind, and spirit; balancing qi, xue, yin and yang

Fifth, sleep 7-8 hours each night and get to sleep by 11pm.  Children need 10 hours.  Sleep deprivation increases stress on your body and interferes with clear, quick, thinking; many people become irritable and have less capacity to deal with stress when sleep deprived.  Sleep deprivation is one of the major reasons for lack of productivity in the workforce.

Body mind and spirit; allows for yin, Qi and xue to rebalance

Sixth, address anger and frustration early to extinguish them from your daily routine.  This is a major focus of many of the earlier blogs.  Mindfulness and paradigm shifting are difficult to do when in an angry defensive communication and angry , frustrated or fearful, internal sensing position.  Release of these stagnating  patterns via mindfulness and present moment interaction is paramount for health.

Mind spirit, and body; smooths Qi, moves stagnant Qi and xue, balances yin and yang

Seventh, Focus on how to flow positively in your life to reduce stress and create success.  Focus on what you want rather than what you fear.  Remove obstacles in your thinking and relationships so that you are living congruently with your values and belief systems.

Mind, spirit, and body; balances shen, Qi, Yin and yang

Eighth, apply mindful, present moment energy to your relationships and negotiations.  Figure/ground perception and responseability in the world is most beneficial, and presents opportunity for connection and growth.  This is a great place to practice Compassion and understanding.

Spirit and mind, and body; balances shen, Qi, and xue

So there’s a Sneak peak into my new book about Instinctive Health Medicine to integrate Spirit, Mind, and Body and return to balance.

Look and feel more alive and more youthful in just 8 weeks.

Add a new habit each week, in the order presented,  and you will find yourself happier, more vital and less stressed at the end of 8 weeks.

Start today and watch what happens.

See you tomorrow.


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Compassion is a powerful word.  It is active.  It is a way of being in the world.

It can bring others together to create peace.  Peace in relationships.  Peace in families, betweeen children and parents.  Peace between countries.  Peace in the world.

In order for compassion’s healing power to work those engaged in relationship and dialogue have to be in  a mindful state.

A mindful state, not a righteous state.  A mindful state is a listening state not a teaching state.  It’s having your senses on receive and integrate, not send and conquer.

Compassion requires the ability to see figure and ground simultaneously and to shift paradigms with flexibility; it requires congruency between one’s words and one’s actions.

Peace isn’t going to present itself between parties that are each sending their righteous verbiage toward each other, or through proving your point.

Peace comes from fully understanding the other person’s point, and fully understanding your own, and then mindfully looking for connection points, where those two points connect. 

It requires an earnest communcation, asking questions, delving further, all the while with a suspended sense of belief, and a focus on understanding. 

To get to understanding one must make efforts to explain meaning and not assume that a word has the same meaning for both parties.  Inflection, and non-verbal statements too, must be fully evaluated and understood.

It requires the listening and understanding part happen first, then the focus on connecting. 

Denying the other person’s perspective and jumping to let’s just see where we agree is not peacemaking; it doesn’t result from understanding.  It’s a false form of looking for agreement, and an actual form of ignoring another person’s position, concerns.

Compassion is a two-way street, it’s a way of being in the world – an attention that you put to every thing in your life – yourself, your child, your partner, your teacher, your guide, your leader – all need compassion.

Apply a compassionate attention to interactions and relationships and see if you have a clearer, fuller understanding of them and yourself. 

It may allow for more of what you want to happen, not less.  The energy of all working together, unified as one, is powerful. 

Compassion, mindfulness, and seeking understanding increase connecting points so there can be unification, not as clones but as a transformed, thoughtful, mindful, responseable group.

See you tomorrow.


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Mindfulness in everyday life


How you do One thing is how you do Everything.

In Buddhist philosophy, chop wood and carry water refers to finding enlightenment in everyday mundane tasks.

Additionally it has been interpreted as How you do one thing is how you do everything. Personally this has profound meaning due to my affinity for congruency.

If you live everyday life being mindful in the moment. Then there is much to be gained through quiet, solitary tasks.

My personal favorites are doing the dishes, sweeping, and working in the garden.  I find myself in a meditative state, with the water running and the steam coming off the soapy water, or methodically moving the dirt across my floor in neatly lined sweeps.  I learned this early in my life that being fully in the moment with these mundane tasks seemed to create a sense of peace and connection to my inner being.

I love standing in the middle of the river with the water rushing by me on either side, casting my fly rod into the water.  The rushing water, in the center of the river, looks like white birds flying off the water toward me, and has a sound-deafening quality; the sound so loud it is silent.  It is the most peaceful and meditative experience.

Last week my family took a walk in the falling snow; big, fresh, snowflakes attaching to our hats and clothes.  The air was heavy and there was a hush.  It was magnificent, just walking among the trees in the foothills, feeling the true beauty of our sweet life.

For Japanese zen meditation these actions are like the state of za-zen.  It’s a concept of complete mindfulness and attention in the moment that offers a sense of oneness with the act, or the environment, that allows for enlightenment.

You can find inner peace through the most mundane tasks. Your life doesn’t change once you become enlightened, only your perception of life changes. You will still need to chop wood and carry water but these chores will take on deeper purpose, and eventually you will find even the mundane tasks as spiritual in nature.

In Judaism one of the most sacred holidays is the Sabbath, Shabbat.  It is the most mundane and the most sacred.

Being mindful is not relegated to situations that are of significance but also those mundane, repetitive tasks that make up our everyday life.

Rather than rushing through the monotonous chores, mindfully focus on the action, meditatively being one with it.

If you can bring mindfulness to these everyday acts and chores then you will be able to bring mindfulness to the more penetrating concerns in your life and relationships.  Your state of being in the current moment is composed of whatever you do, big or small. Think about congruence; try to give the same degree of attention and mindfulness to all your activities.

You may find it increases your connection to enlightenment.

See you tomorrow.


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The Path to Grace


In the early nineties I began to write about something I call The Path to Grace.

The components of this had to do with survivor scenarios and ways to return to balance or Grace.  I remember talking with a renowned author and lecturer in the counseling field about my ideas and him saying that the word grace was too religious and would not be greeted positively by the general public.

Recently I have noticed that the word Grace has found it’s way into our everyday dialogue.  Especially, as the concept of spirit, mind, and body being interconnected is more consistently identified when discussing health.

Ken Wilber, in 1991, called his book about his wife’s battle with cancer, Grace and Grit:  Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber; so I guess I was on the right track.

I have studied the I Ching for over twenty years.  This is a profound, philosophical book.  Both Confucianism and Taoism have their common roots in it.  I prefer the translation by Richard Wilhelm, with a foreword by Carl Jung.  The Book of Changes identifies hexagrams that indicate the ebb and flow of energy, and power.

The I Ching hexagram 22 called Pi / Grace states the following:

The most perfect grace consists not in external ornamentation but in allowing the original material to stand forth, beautified by being given form.  …The inner structure of the hexagram shows harmonious equalization of the movement, giving no excess of energies to the one side or the other. … This is the form of heaven.  Having form, clear and still:  this is the form of men.  If the form of heaven is contemplated, the changes of time can be discovered.  If the forms of men are contemplated, one can shape the world. …The  form of human life results from the clearly defined (Li) and firmly established (Ken) rules of conduct, within which love (light principle) and justice (dark principle) build up the combinations of content and form.  Here too Love is the content and justice the form.  …. Here we have a standstill (Ken) outside and a clarity (Li) inside….  p494-496 Wilhelm’s  I Ching

Grace is the form where Light, shows the authentic truth of an individual.

The state of Grace allows for the opportunity for one to let go of their habit reaction patterns, survival strategies or scenarios and let their true, authentic self show through.

It’s through compassion, mindfulness, and paradigm shifting that you can reveal your authenticity and thrive in the present moment.  This, to me, is the path to Grace.

Think about how you can  be still, with clarity, and respond in the moment to your situation mindfully.  The path to grace is mindful interaction with compassion and responsibility.

See you tomorrow.


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I call myself a solutions focused therapist – but I think I’m really a Soulutions focused therapist, because I think that spirit is the critical component of health.

Spirit, Mind, and Body are inter-related, the leader is the most insubstantial component, spirit.  Shifts in spirit spin out the relationship and result in disordered thinking and ultimately, physical disorders.

Grief and loss are perfect examples of this.  When someone you love dies it is as if the invisible tethers that connect you are ripped from you.

The individual remaining on the planet feels as if they are walking around with a big hole in their energy field.  You begin to see depression, anxiety, and fatigue set in and in some cases the individual can not seem to direct their lives with any sense of strength or focus.  The emotional pain is so great that some take many years to recover and some would say that they were forever changed by the experience.

Sometimes the lack of will results in a cessation of doing things that one loves or for which one has real passion because the person is disconnected from themselves – the loss can be very destabilizing.  Sometimes there is an increase in self-medication through alcohol or drugs or food.  Sometimes there is a perseveration on the loss – an inability to move from the position of loss

I have had this experience a number of times and can feel the shift in energy.  Recently my dear girlfriend died of cancer.  I knew she was leaving so I could prepare myself, and yet even with that I could feel the cords being ripped from me when it was her actual death time.  I fell to the ground it was so destabilizing.  Perhaps because I was more prepared for this event I was able to recover more quickly than in earlier events of loss, but it still took time to reintegrate the loss into my field of energy.

My college boyfriend died 28 years ago today – and still, every year, no matter how beautiful the day, no matter how perfectly fulfilled I feel in my life, no matter how much love I feel from my husband and children, I feel it and remember that it is the day, March 21, on the day.

We have an energetic memory of intense, positive, loving, connections.  The ripping experience can heal, but there is always scar tissue of a sort and that reminds us on the day of the tragedy of our loss.

We are spirit, matter, energy beings;  not just flesh and blood also spirit and energy make up our beings, and that which affects our spirit is powerful both positively and negatively.

This is also the reason that drugs, even the most benign recreational drugs and alcohol, are so debilitating.  I know it isn’t popular to say this but these substances really do muck up our energy and physical fields.

Other intense, emotional experiences also leave their mark on our energy fields.  This is what we see with the habit reaction patterns and triggering experiences of post traumatic stress reactions.

These are soul, or spirit, traumas as well as physical and emotional.  Healing the spirit is paramount for actual healing to take place.

The most healing action is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a difficult concept for many because they connect to it cognitively, or from a logic perspective; as such they feel forgiving means allowing others to act badly, or in the event of the loss – denying the importance of the lost one.

Forgiveness means letting go of the pain of the act or pain of the loss; it’s an un-linking of the effects on your spirit so that you are again free to be wholly in the world.

Forgiveness allows you to return to balance of spirit, mind and body; return to what I call neutral, so that the injury is not spinning you out into dis-ease.

Review your stance and being in the world, is there something to which you are giving energy that is a soul loss that is spinning you out of balance in your focus and actions in your life?

If it is a loss of a loved one, all you can do is to gently try to reconnect with yourself, while bringing your relationship with that person forward in your life simultaneously trying to forgive the loss.

If it is a traumatic action then using some of the mindful techniques previously discussed to un-link the action and who you are, will allow for a letting go of the negative effects and a reconnection to your full self.

See you tomorrow.