From My Mama’s Kitchen
by Johnny Tan is about the power of unconditional love, offered to him along with a heavy dose of wisdom, by both his adopted mother in Malaysia, and the 8 other women with whom he bonded in America where he came to attend college. Through their motherly love and recipes for living, they made a positive difference in his life. They also offer a model of how mothers can be effective teachers, coaches and counselors for their children.
The book offers a wealth of wisdom for good parenting skills and effective communication. Some of the motivational words of wisdom from his moms which helped Johnny overcome the challenges of everyday living include:
- Have faith that the right things will come along at the right time and in the right way;
- You can accomplish anything if you focus mind, body and spirit on it;
- Be present in the moment for what we do today will determine what happens tomorrow;
- Trust that all things will work out for the greatest good;
- Be a good listener;
- Never stop learning; and
- Successful people always visualize their successes before they actually attain them.
I found this wisdom to be very close to my own philosophy and I am a big fan of guided visualizations, which is why I offer a free chakra balancing meditation
The book pays tribute to all moms, using the kitchen as a wonderful backdrop where Johnny and his moms enjoyed their many conversations. At the end of the book, Johnny incorporates nine of his favorite recipes made by his moms. Give this book to your mom for Mother's Day or any day - it includes a blank dedication page for readers to inscribe their own loved one's name, and a space where readers can record their own recipes for living.About Johnny TanJohnny Tan’s journey began when he started college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Adopted at birth by his Malaysian mom, he realized the rich spiritual connections that resulted from meeting his foster mom in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and 7 other women who would play important roles in his life. Guided by his business achievements and his 9 moms, Johnny experienced the passion to compose
From My Mamaʼs Kitchen to honor his moms and mothers everywhere. Released with the endorsement of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, the book has won five awards and made the Amazon Best Seller List in several categories.The bookʼs success led Johnny to launch his consulting and speaking career to teach strategies on how to use the power of unconditional love to attain harmony. Here, he answers my questions:What inspired you to write the book?Johnny:
First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day to you and thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and celebrate Mother’s Day with your followers.
In late 1999, I decided to write a book to preserve food recipes from my moms. I wanted to create a keepsake for myself. However, seven years went by without inspiration. For one reason or another I could not launch it. I felt there was something missing. In retrospect, I knew that the timing of its undertaking was not right.
Finally, in January of 2007, my then 90-year old Italian foster mom called me, and asked, “Johnny, when are you planning to start on the book? I hope you will finish it before I die.” That turned out to be the wake up call I needed. That April, I started scheduling a couple of hours each evening to write. I would meditate and write whatever came to mind. As the project developed, a theme emerged from the drafts. I realized that Unconditional Motherly Love
was the common thread that connected these wonderful women to me.
Over the years, my mom, in her many trips to visit me from Malaysia, had met these ladies and was glad and thankful that they were in my life to take care of her son. She offered to take care of their children if they were ever in Malaysia.
Everything was coming to me crystal clear, and I started writing about the timeless recipes for living rather than food recipes. I was spiritually guided, and I finished the book in 9 months. I used this title because the kitchen is the heart of every home, and it was where my moms and I enjoyed our many conversations. I remember the late evening telephone conversations I had with my moms while cooking dinner, asking for advice about what I was cooking and discussing the latest developments in my life. The timing was especially perfect from my Malaysian mom because we were 13 hours apart. I was home cooking at 8 pm and she was just beginning her day at 9 am.What "one special idea" do you hope readers will take away from your book?Johnny:
The book gives the readers a chance to recall those magical loving moments they shared with their mothers. It is this unconditional motherly love that makes us who we are. The book speaks from the heart with solutions, skills and wisdom to assist the readers to become better teachers, coaches and counselors to their loved ones. It will inspire and motivate them. It is my hope that readers realize when love is given without regard to conditions it provides us with the empowerment that drives our ambition to succeed.Where do you find your inspiration to write? Johnny:
The inspiration to write comes from my life’s journey, The experiences I have encountered, good or bad form the basis of my understanding and appreciation for the power of relationships, the nature of love and the meaning of life.Many of the "recipes for living" from your Moms are akin to the principles of the world's great philosophies. How would you advise others to meet and recognize such wise women?Johnny:
The secret to meeting and recognizing such wise women starts from a sincere desire to build lasting relationships. Engaging those kind of special people and building relationships demands a thorough understanding of the mechanics involved in establishing such a connection. These three ingredients: authenticity, humility and speaking from the heart, are vital in the building process. A relationship built on mutual respect and admiration results in harmony.
You can get more info on From My Mama’s Kitchen
Namaste and Happy Mother's Day!
Last night I watched the documentary, Kumare, on Netflix downstreaming. Vikram Gandhi, a 2nd-generation Indian man living in New Jersey wondered about religion, gurus and their authenticity. He searched America and then traveled to his ancestral homeland of India only to find what he felt were "false prophets," espousing what he already knew.
So, he decided to pose as a guru himself, learn yoga, meditation, and see if he could find a following in Arizona. Well, he did.What he espoused was that he, Kumare, was an illusion, and that the guru was within each one of his disciples. While it almost made a joke of all things new age and spiritual, such as the psychic who saw him as a guru in many past lives, Kumare made a positive impact on everyone he met. He used age-old methods that all Indian gurus have used - yoga, meditation, visualization. And a powerful practice was having his disciples tell him what 5 things he needed to do (as if talking to themselves). Well, they all took their own advice and did what they told him to do.
When he did his unveiling 40 days after leaving the group, a few were shocked and upset, while the rest embraced him as just another fellow traveler sharing his wisdom and knowledge.The message: We all have the power within us. We are all our best gurus.
But, watching the documentary, it also became clear that we as humans benefit from helping each other, energize each other when doing group practices, and feel happiest when in community. Vikram said he was his best self as Kumare. I think we are all our best selves when helping each other, sharing our inspiration, our knowledge, our wisdom. Because we are all on a search for meaning, for happiness and love.
Read my memoir of finding my own power, Chakra Secrets, at http://amzn.to/129rO5I
Have you ever tried the Emotional Freedom Technique? While I found it helpful, I'm impatient and not apt to sit and tap the large number of points needed to affect a change in my feelings or wellbeing. So, I was very excited to learn the easy and quick Dynamind technique from Serge Kahili King, PhD. The Hawaiian shaman and psychologist helped me adapt it specifically to chakra balancing... it's like a faster version of EFT.
All chakra imbalances manifest in uncomfortable physical and emotional problems that you can describe as a “feeling.” Dr. King advises asking yourself what emotion is a problem, where you feel that emotion in the body, and then work on changing that physical sensation to let the healing energy of the body once again flow freely.
Chakra energy centers hold a vibration and color, like a human rainbow, and are affected by every experience, thought, and emotion we have ever had. You can use that vibration and color to enhance the Dynamind Process... here’s how to use it to balance the Sacral Chakra.BALANCE THE SACRAL CHAKRA
Located at the lower abdomen, the second chakra, the Sacral Chakra, is the focal point of your emotions, sexuality and creativity. This chakra governs how you relate to others and the flow of your feelings and creative expression. It vibrates with the energy of the color deep orange.
You may recognize some of these emotional or mental health issues commonly associated with the Sacral Chakra – sexual frigidity, promiscuity, confusion or addiction, co-dependency, being overly emotional or stoic, feeling guilty.
Physical health issues include gynecological problems, urinary tract problems, and stiffness or pain in the lower back.
When the Sacral Chakra is balanced, you feel more confident in your relationships, free to process your emotions, feel creative, and able to enjoy sex and other pleasurable activities without guilt.HOW TO USE DYNAMIND:
1) FOCUS - Hold your hands out in a loose prayer-like position.
2) DECLARE - Say aloud the condition you’re feeling that you would like to change, for example:“I’m doubled over with cramps and that can change. I want that feeling to go away.”
or“I’m feeling anger in my lower back and that can change. I want that feeling to go away.”
3) RELEASE - Tap 7 times on the center of your chest, then at the point between the thumb and forefinger of each hand, and on the top bone of your spine (the 7th cervical vertebra).
4) BREATHE - Direct your breath, inhaling with your attention on the crown of your head, exhaling with your attention below your feet. Repeat until you feel or notice a change. THE DYNAMIND TONER FOR THE SACRAL CHAKRA:
Use this quick toner whenever you want to strengthen the Sacral Chakra.
1) FOCUS - Hold your hands out in a loose prayer-like position.
2) DECLARE - Say aloud how you’d like to feel, e.g.,“I’m not as easy-going as I want to be. I want to go with the flow, like a mountain stream.”
Imagine your Sacral Chakra spinning clockwise, a wheel of bright ORANGE
energy in your abdomen.
3) RELEASE - Tap 7 times on the center of your chest, then at the point between the thumb and forefinger of each hand, and on the top bone of your spine. You can hum instead of tap, toning the sound “VAM” as you place your fingers over each spot.
4) BREATHE - Direct your breath, inhaling with your attention on the crown of your head, exhaling with your attention below your feet. Repeat as needed.
You can follow along with me doing Dynamind Toners for all 7 chakras in my book, Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life
and the accompanying DVD, Balance & Tone Your Chakras
, both available on Amazon.com. Let me know how it works for you....All those who leave a comment below or email me at Becca@thechakras.org with feedback on using Dynamind by May 3rd will be entered to win a copy of my DVD.
Sacred Sexuality - Reclaiming the Divine Feminine
by A’ra Blair is a memoir/self-help book for any and all women (and men who want to know more about the heart and soul of women too). A’ra is brutally honest in recounting her own journey into embracing the Divine Feminine within herself, and she offers thoughtful journaling suggestions and exercises at the end of each chapter to help the reader do the same. Whether you need to overcome abuse, trauma, depression, or are just feeling less than "Divine," this book will spring you forward into new realms of possibility in loving yourself, your partner and your life.A’ra Blair is an accomplished Spiritual Life Coach and Counselor. Her 25 years of study and transformative work in spirituality, meditation, energy work, yoga, trauma resolution, quantum physics, relationship enhancement, and personal growth have prepared A’ra to live the qualities of the Divine Feminine in service to Humanity’s Wholeness.1) What is the underlying message of your book?A'ra:
If I had to narrow it down to one sentence, I'd say it's to find that deep self-love and self-acceptance that allows the full expression of who we are. Reclaiming the Divine Feminine is really about reclaiming who we are in our fullness, a union of our masculine and feminine essence. Both are needed to bring balance and connection into our lives at a deep level. Many of us have struggled with our sexuality in one sense or another and often shun, deny, or push into the shadows those parts of us with whom we feel ashamed or confused.
We have a hard time facing what it means to be sexual beings with Divine urges. We really haven't had a model that holds our sexuality sacred. Yet Sacred Sexuality is our most intimate communion with the Divine. It's a state that takes us beyond the physical realm of sex and orgasm to a connection with the deepest part of our being, our creative Source and life sustaining energy. In this depth lies a wholeness and love that transcends any transgression, doubt, or absurdity that exists in our human experience. This sacred union with Source heals and transforms our mind, body, and emotions. It releases the past and opens us to a supreme understanding of oneness, truth, and beauty.
Through intimacy with this inner Presence, transcendence occurs and life becomes a vehicle for the soul's growth. When we reach this depth of understanding, everything in our experience becomes part of the sacred path of enlightenment. Everything! I guess you could say that's the biggest message. Every part of our lives and our experiences are part of our sacred path, and we need to reclaim it all as holy.2) What inspired you to write the book?A'ra:
I've been on a spiritual path for many years and have studied many traditions. I had a rich, deep spiritual sense of my place in the world and the universe, but so much had happened to me around my sexuality, that even with that deep spiritual connection, I struggled facing parts of my experiences that weren't so pleasant. When I started including the feminine in my exploration of the Divine I had a difficult time because I was raised with God as a man. I tried rephrasing all the masculine names and pronouns in order to really grasp that God was both masculine and feminine. However, it wasn't until I actually called on the Goddess aspect of the Divine to show me what it means to know Spirit as both feminine and masculine that I got it. Something moved within me. It was like I was in the womb of the Goddess being birthed anew.
As I emerged, I felt this incredible sense of courage and commitment to do what it takes to live
the qualities of the Divine Feminine in service to humanity's wholeness. Right around that time I was invited to give a talk for Sacred Sisters, a woman's support group. I'd been toying with the idea of creating a workshop around the Divine Feminine as an aspect of our Sacred Sexuality, so I threw it out to the Minister who ran the group. She loved it. The development and presentation of the workshop flowed. When I presented the first time, I felt like I was in the zone. I watched as women healed on so many different levels in so many different arenas. After I presented the workshop, these women wanted more. Longer, more in-depth workshops. While developing those, the book started writing itself through me. I went with the flow. When I Reclaimed the Divine Feminine, I fell madly and passionately in love with me. 3) What do you hope readers will take away from your book?A'ra:
I have three goals for what readers will take away:
First, The courage and confidence to fully express your beauty, your sensuality, your poise, your gifts and talents, and your power.
Second, The ability to embrace all of who you are as an authentic and unique expression of the Divine, even the not-so-pleasant choices, experiences, and traumas you may have had.
Third, That you fall so deeply in unconditional love with yourself that no matter what anybody says to you or about you, no matter what anyone does to you, no matter how anyone shows up in relationship with you, you come so fully from self-love that you’re able to transform every experience into a loving experience. 4) Where do you find your inspiration to write?A'ra:
The practical sense is that it's all around me. I read books and take classes on the topics I want to write about. I've been an avid journaler since my teen years. I love the feel of a pen in my hand, so writing is like walking to me. A song could inspire me or a life event, something in a speaker’s message, or an observation of someone having an extraordinary breakthrough. Most of my weekly blogs are on life events or circumstances, especially if it's something that affects the collective. I also take classes on writing and use the tools that I've learned in my trade to do little writing assignments to get the juices running. That's the practical side.
The metaphysical answer is that most of my inspiration comes from that still small voice. It's not uncommon for the Divine to wake me up in the middle of the night with ideas that have to be written down or I'm not going to sleep or function. Since writing the book, my connection is even deeper, so the ideas and inspiration are constant. It's hard to keep up. But I don't have to. When I'm ready to write, I sit down and simply say on the page, "Okay, what do you want to write about?" I might pose some ideas to "wake inspiration up" so to speak, but then it flows. Oh and what a joy to watch this process unfold through me.5) Was it hard or helpful to remember and recount the hardships you faced in your life?A'ra:
Both to the umpteenth degree. But, well worth it. It was difficult to face many of those experiences, knowing I was getting ready to put them out into the world. But if my story helps one person face her life and love it fully into wholeness, it was worth it. The best part of it is the catharsis it is. I feel so free and open to receive. I see now what a blessing every aspect of my life has been. What a wild and crazy ride, this thing called life. Even the most painful parts have now had an opportunity to leave my mind and body. To sit with me like a wounded friend, and I've been able to heal it all. This is my wish, hope, and dream for my readers. This type of cathartic experience into deep self-love. 6) Any advice for others who feel they have inspiration to share?A'ra:
Just start writing without any expectation that it has to become something. Write for you first. You are your best audience. Don't be concerned with getting it perfect the first time. There are no great writers, only great re-writers. If you have a story to tell, with over seven billion people on the planet, I guarantee you that you have an audience that needs and wants to hear it. Writing is a gift and a curse. It's an incredible experience to write a piece of inspiration and have that sense of "Wow, I wrote that!" But in the same breath, we writerly types tend to put our writing at the bottom of the priority list. We have so many other things we need to do and then it's time for bed. We're filled with ways to procrastinate. It's part of being a writer. You have to step up your game and commit to writing on a weekly basis. And you can't beat yourself up when you miss the mark. And don't kid yourself. It's not easy. But it is worth it! In a nutshell, never give up!
You can purchase A’ra Blair’s book at http://sacredsexualitybooks.com/
and read her blog at http://pureawarenesspathways.com/blog/
Becca, I’m unhappy with my job, both in my paycheck and the drudgery of the work. Any advice on which chakra I need to balance?BECCA:
I’m often asked how to tell which chakra is out of balance, and there are many ways that can give you an answer. I like using a crystal pendulum over the chakra centers, using a bag of chakra stones*, or muscle testing – all ways to measure the strength of the energy field. Of course, you can also determine which chakra you may need to balance based on your feelings and experiences.
BUT, and this is a big but, I always recommend starting at the Root Chakra and working your way up to balance all seven major chakras, because it’s rare to have just one chakra blocked or too open. Each energy center affects the others. In your case, it seems you may have an imbalance in both your Root Chakra – not feeling secure with your finances, and in your Crown Chakra – not finding meaning and purpose in your work.IMBALANCED CHAKRAS EQUAL FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY
Let’s look at how each chakra center could be affecting your job and life’s work.
First, the Root Chakra gives you a sense of security and belonging. If your first chakra is out of balance, you may have a hard time fitting into a corporate culture if you’re working for someone else, and you may have a hard time finding your niche of customers if you start your own business.
The Sacral Chakra is not only associated with the flow of creativity and sexuality, but the flow of money. So if your second chakra is out of balance, you may experience a problem with cash flow and have a hard time stretching your paycheck to cover the rent. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may have a lack of creative ideas to propel your own business forward.
The Solar Plexus Chakra is the center of your personal power. If your third chakra is out of balance, you may find it difficult to assert your leadership skills. You’ll find it hard to ask for a promotion or raise if working for a company, or to grow a strong, successful business of your own.
The Heart Chakra is associated with love and caring. If your fourth chakra is out of balance, you won’t get along as well as you could with your coworkers or clients. You’ll find it hard to relate to their needs, and therefore, your efforts will bot be sufficient or they will miss the mark.
The Throat Chakra governs whether you are able to speak your truth. Are you able to convince your potential clients or boss of the effectiveness of what you’re offering? Strengthening your fifth chakra will enable you to believe in your own message and be much more effective at selling yourself and your products.
The Third Eye Chakra is where we receive information and ideas. Do you feel inspired at work? If you have your own business, do you feel guided in how to grow your company? Strengthening your sixth chakra will open you up to new channels of abundance.
The Crown Chakra is our direct connection to Spirit. If your seventh chakra is balanced, you’ll feel that you’ve found your meaning and purpose in life and express it in your work or other activities. When you work for the greater good, success will be yours.So, how should you balance the seven chakras?
Guided visualization may be the easiest way for most people to get in touch with their chakras, and sense where there needs to be more attention paid. I offer a Chakra Meditation
from my book, The Chakra Diaries
, for free download on my website. When you balance a chakra, you will notice an improvement in all areas connected to that chakra – from physical symptoms to your finances.
If you know a specific chakra needs special attention, I recommend crystal healing, or mind-body healing using Dynamind, described in my books, Chakra Secrets
and Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life
. To balance your chakras along with me, try my DVD, Balance & Tone Your Chakras
Please feel free to ask any additional questions. Either comment below or email me at Becca@thechakras.org
are available on our Chakra Crystals page.
A Beautiful Medicine
by David Mercier illuminates how our individual minds and bodies are profoundly linked to the Whole, essential for understanding health, healing, and medicine. Of course, you would think that all holistic medicine would look at the whole, but Dr. Mercier takes us one step further, to see that creating the best life possible for ourselves is creating the best world possible. The author draws on great philosophers and poets to help him show us the beauty of life, that which we are all seeking. And he takes us on a journey through the book that is transformational… from the biological puzzle of painful symptoms to health portrayed not only as a vibrant body, but also a life full of meaning and purpose, and at harmony with one’s spiritual nature.
If the reader gets nothing else from this book, I hope it is the appreciation and gratitude for the symptom’s role in our lives, as a roadmap from the problem to the cure. Never again will I see a back pain as simply a back pain, but maybe an expression of tension caused by anger, boredom or fear, an amplifier for the voice of prisoners in the subconscious self, as Mercier so beautiful puts it.
“The impulse of unresolved emotions takes advantage of perforations in the armor of our anatomy and physiology, seeking the spots that then become physical speaker systems for blaring the message,” he explains…”for the benevolent purpose of helping us heal and integrate.” This becomes transformational as we overcome the obstacles in our path, like on the hero’s journey, and transcend them with courage.
Mercier is so eloquent, I would do best by quoting him over and over. I am a huge proponent of whole foods, but am now even more so having read that “When we eat whole foods, we ingest the fertility of the universe and reinforce our primordial bond with the earth’s imagination and dreams.” The author explains how carrots and cauliflower are not objects, but information that our cells can understand and utilize. Whereas, if we ingest processed food like chips or candy bars, we might as well be chewing plastic because it will offer our bodies similarly garbled data. The idea that food is a message is another profound insight in this book, one of many.
Whether or not you’re facing illness, look to this book for motivation to cultivate a lush, fertile, healthy terrain in your body with diet, exercise, relaxation, and a soul at peace.
Reading this book, Mercier’s optimism about the potential of medicine is contagious. I hope every health practitioner reads this book to see the possibility of a beautiful medicine that is aligned with the patient’s grandest hopes and welcomes the human soul into the practice of hard science. And I hope every person who picks up this book (I sincerely recommend that you do) uses what they learn about the healing journey to help them along on the search for actualization, wholeness, and love. David Mercier, M.S., L.Ac., is a speaker, seminar leader, coach and acupuncturist. Download a bonus Discovery Guide at www.DavidMercier.com. Here, he answers my questions: 1) What is the underlying message of your book?
The key message is that our bodies are instruments expressing the wisdom of a conscious, evolving universe. By listening to the messages hidden in our discomfort and pain, whether physical or psychological, we get excellent guidance for our physical, emotional, and spiritual development. 2) What inspired you to write the book?
I realized that for years, I had been giving guidance to my patients in bits and pieces during their sessions with me—there was just too much information to give all at once. So I thought that consolidating all that guidance in one place would be a contribution to my patients and anyone else who might read it. I also feel that conventional medicine and even a good part of integrative medicine these days have lost sight of the soul behind the human experience. I wanted to express the need to remember that what lies behind health, healing, and medicine is the soul of humanity. 3) What do you hope readers will take away from your book? What changes do you hope they’ll make?
I hope they will see that any discomfort or pain they experience is not a “problem,” but encouragement from the wisdom of the world, the anima mundi
, to keep evolving. Whether the need is for more calcium or more forgiveness, our discomfort is only here to help. This wisdom is fierce in its demands that we lead a life, just as our spiritual traditions have always insisted, of love, compassion, and connectedness with others. 4) Where do you find your inspiration to write?
While I was writing the book, I found inspiration from a variety of sources. One was to go to museums to stand before the work of the great artists. It was a non-verbal but potent reminder of the greatness that humanity is capable of, and always inspired me. But I also found inspiration from my memories of the poor that I encountered in developing countries. Thinking of the enormous suffering I saw first-hand informs many of the major decisions in my life, and encourages me to do what I can to make a difference. And the third source was knowing that I wanted to leave something behind that will continue to help people long after I’m gone.
5) Any advice for others who feel they have inspiration to share?
Just do it, and do it now. Drop all excuses, and get started tonight. It might be easy, or it might be incredibly hard, but always let yourself be called by the world’s deep hunger to make the difference you long to make. You’ll change, you’ll grow, and you’ll always feel a sense of satisfaction from having made a contribution to the world. Check out all the Recommended books here on my website.
Before I run out to swim and frolic with the dolphins, I wanted to ask you to help celebrate my birthday. Please download a Kindle copy of my memoir/self help book, Chakra Secrets
. It will be FREE on March 7 & 8… tell your friends about it too!
More and more, I find the Dynamind mind-body healing technique I learned from Serge Kahili King in Hawaii, and share in Part II of Chakra Secrets
, to be so effective to relieve painful symptoms – because it releases the painful emotions that have been stored up and are screaming out for attention. I’ve learned to be grateful for symptoms as our body’s way of telling us we need to “pay attention” and get back in balance. Here’s what Jenny from NYC wrote about Chakra Secrets:
“Becca Chopra’s scintillating memoir centers on a love lost that mysteriously reappears. Her story not only offers drama, sex, past-life connections, betrayals, how-to info on Kundalini rising and Tantric Sex, but all the lessons she’s learned as she adopts the path of yoga. Her insights into chakra healing are deep and profound, and if you’re too caught up in the action to take notice of them, she outlines her most important new chakra balancing secret in Part II of this book. Whether you want to be intrigued or inspired, learn Becca’s secrets in this sensational tome.”
If you also like Chakra Secrets
, please leave a review on Amazon.com
‘s Chakra Secrets
page. It helps authors so much!
Wishing you all balance and health.
Last night I watch a documentary, The Dhamma Brothers, a compelling story that follows a group of prisoners at a maximum-security Alabama penitentiary as they embark on a transformative odyssey – immersing themselves in a grueling, 10-day Vipassana meditative retreat. It was based on a model of treatment used in an Indian prison.
Despite opposition from prison chaplains, the first Vipassana retreat occurs, led by two brave teachers who have never been locked up (at least not in the walls of a prison) before. Following an introduction, the group of prisoners are guided in 9 days of Noble Silence, then a final day of discussion on how they tapped into the truth within their minds. And as they worked through the tragedies that had put them in life imprisonment, they were actually espousing love, compassion and truth. Brutal murderers were now speaking like the Dalai Lama!
We’re taken into the stories of several murderers, who for the first time in their lives, sit in silence and feel the sensations in their bodies, experience “mindful awareness” and learn how not to react uncontrollably. As one inmate expressed, “I’ve been taught to train my body, but never before did I know I could train my mind.”
Even after the success of the program in 2002, Christian groups forced the prison to stop this “Buddhist practice.” But the men continued meditating on their own, even in secret, at night when the cell blocks were finally quiet. Guards continued to notice a profound change in the prisoners who had been in the program.
In 2006, the program was allowed to begin again, and has been introduced in a second Alabama prison as well. One inmate summed up the benefits of the Vipassana meditation, saying, “It gives me freedom.” Those of us on the outside of prison walls are also locked up in our own ways. This gift of meditation is open to us all. I’m glad the movie ended early last night, so I was able to spend an hour in meditation myself.
Definitely recommended… available on Netflix streaming.
"Through love, all pain will turn to medicine."
~ Rumi"Sex is the seed, love is the flower, compassion is the fragrance." ~ Osho
As we approach Valentine's Day, love is on all our minds. Comment with your own expression, favorite quote or photo on our Facebook
page and you'll receive a FREE streaming video of Becca Chopra's new DVD, Balance & Tone Your Chakras
, on Thursday, Valentine's Day.
Becca Chopra, author of Chakra Secrets, The Chakra Diaries
, and Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life
In The Skills of Pleasure
, Stewart Blackburn reminds us that life is a Great Adventure and teaches us how to fully jump on board. He helps us explore who we are by exploring our greatest pleasures: what makes us excited, happy and joyful. First, the author helps us “Lay the Foundation for Pleasure” by explaining what may be holding us back. Then, he teaches us seven skills, from Awareness, Permission and Savoring, to Developing a Pleasure Strategy.
In each chapter, Stewart offers wonderful exercises and meditations that help lead you to who you are, and show you what brings you joy and what doesn't. For instance, he takes you on a guided visualization into your inner garden, a meditation you can use over and over again whenever you want your outer life to match your inner desires.
The result? You learn to keep the focus on where the pleasure is, an unerring way to lead you to what you really want in life, and the recipe for bliss.Stewart Blackburn is currently finishing up a Doctoral Degree in Consciousness Studies, and uses pleasure as his primary healing tool, having helped hundreds of people with his teachings. He credits three primary influences on his practice: Tantra, Shamanism, and Chocolate. He teaches classes in Huna, a form of Hawaiian shamanism, and other courses related to pleasure and self-empowerment. The Pleasure Journal is a free monthly newsletter he offers at www.stewartblackburn.com
.Here, Stewart answers my questions about his writing...1) What is the underlying message of your book?
A) that our own happiness is not something to be found, but something that we can create, b) that by paying attention to our pleasures, of all kinds, and practicing the skills involved with pleasure, we can develop increasing levels of life mastery, and c) that it really isn't that hard to become gloriously happy if we understand the nature and power of pleasure.2) What inspired you to write the book?
Once I started to become aware of the incredible power of the mind, I kept noticing that most of the people I encountered were not only not happy, but they were unhappy primarily because they didn't understand how they were making themselves
miserable. I was motivated to dig deeper and see what I could possibly do to change that. Developing and teaching The Skills of Pleasure
is my way of contributing to the well-being of the world.3) What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A profound sense of empowerment, that they now have effective tools and skills to use for increasing their own levels of joy and pleasure.4) Where do you find your inspiration?
I play in my garden because it brings me great joy. I connect with people, both friends and strangers, because it's fun. I meditate for the sheer pleasure of it. And I cook and eat great food because the sensuous creativity is both delicious and sacred.5) Any advice for others who feel they have inspiration to share?
I am reminded of one of the things that Sir Francis Chichester said after becoming the first person to sail single-handedly around the world along the Clipper Route when asked why he did it."One does these things because one has a certain nature. One cannot get away from fate. If a person does not fulfill his nature, he will lead a frustrated life and be unhappy. If it involves him in fear, he will just have to put up with it."
I feel that writing inspirational works is an important expression of who I am, and that for all of us just by being who we are, without reservation or timidity, is the real inspiration we have to offer.
Namaste!Becca ChopraFor more great reads, see Becca's Inspirational Book Blog.