Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just As Then...

Today - 29 years ago - we became parents. It was the happiest day of our lives. I was only 21, but it seemed I had waited for this day for an eternity.

The rest of the family claimed him with their joyful Welcome-s of poems, songs, gift baskets and newly opened bank accounts. The medical system claimed him with their backstage exams, shots and circumcisions. The country claimed him for its own - he was a little American with a blue passport before I got a chance to raised my right hand in court 10 years later, abdicating my German nationality in trade for my new American one. Later-on the schools claimed him, the friends, and finally the girlfriend who became his wife. Now his own son claims him, as will his future children, and every day - his work claims him, too. How many days I tried to hold the world at bay to help him keep his heart and soul. There were many days that were his own he will remember. Today he is grown and strong, and the world is his for the taking.

I remember looking at his little face for hours as he was propped up against my raised knees, sunk deeply into the white hospital duvet cover. I remember watching his Dad "talking" to him - happier than I had ever seen him. How much love and sunshine a little one brings.

These intimate memories parents bring up on their children's birthdays are embarrassing, and an annoyance to their children 29 years later. They have little to do with today. Today he is taller than both of us, and more mature than we were then. He has his own baby-son to raise, his own wife to tend to, and his own bills to pay. Just as then, though, we love to see him happy, smile and laugh. Just as then, we are thrilled when he eats his vegetables and gets some sleep.

Happy Birthday! - Old Friend.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

SFSU Study

Last year a clinical psychologist asked me to be a presenter at one of her workshops in order to educate participants about meditation, and introduce simple, but effective ways to slow down the mind long enough for body, mind and spirit integration to take place. The meditation segment had a large, measurable impact and we agreed to make it a permanent part of the workshop. A few weeks later I was invited to join the board of her organization as she was getting ready to launch a pilot study researching the benefits of the various elements of the workshops.

The workshops are residential three day seminars where the participants learn about the latest scientific research in healthy nutrition, exercise, self-expression, creativity, community, friendship, and finally - meditation. Participants are from all walks of life, cultures, age groups and social backgrounds. Police officers learn alongside Hurricane Katrina survivors, Methamphetamine addicted high-school super achievers, women going through tough divorces or menopause, and Muslim medical students who would like to date.

The pilot study showed such encouraging results, that starting this month, we are conducting a much larger study over the next five years. In collaboration with San Francisco State University we are offering our preventive, educational approach to their students in order to address the many pressures faced by today's young people who find themselves in campus environments where violence and suicide are unfortunately far too common.

This education is offered at a time in life in which we all make some of our most important life choices. As such, it often intervenes at just the right time, before unwise decisions would otherwise be made. Tools like meditation, that give inner strength and sound judgement abilities are often new to the students and easy to incorporate into their lives. It is very exciting to be working together with a large University in this endeavor.

Volcanos and Floods

Beth, a PhD student who is doing field research in Ecuador took Here You Are to the elementary school children in Banos this March, in spite of volcano eruptions and floods washing out roads and access to this area since 2006, and more eruptions just recently. Beth had found the book on Amazon and had responded to my offer to make Here You Are available to teachers and people in the professions of helping children.

She sent this picture of the teacher who she works with, and her son, holding Here You Are - somewhere high in the Ecuadorian mountains. She said they were " thrilled, to say the least" and I can say the same about the way I feel seeing this photograph.

Thank You, Beth, for your efforts on behalf of the children in remote Ecuador, and for sending this sweet picture.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Seven Chakras

Here are three You Tube videos - very new age - but very interesting and beautifully done, about the seven chakras of human consciousness.

The Human Body Energy Centers (part 1)
The Human Body Energy Centers (part 2)
The Human Body Energy Centers (part 3)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Moby Dick

This weekend I had to prepare 360 copies of Here You Are for mailing. I felt for the presidential candidates. So many states in these United States! All I had to do was sort the envelopes by postal zones, while they have to "cover" all those states with their visits and speeches.

It took me two days. I did the final envelopes last night watching Moby Dick - a very, very long movie! I thought of my oldest son who read MobyDick in Eighth Grade. Such a long time ago. He is the oldest of five, and last year he became a Dad himself.

The life of parents is exhausting, yet, if it is for you, there is nothing like it. It used to take me until 10:30pm every night to get them all to bed with their homework, projects, baths, stories, glasses of water, and discussions about life. For so many nights I found him upstairs in his bed with that heavy, gigantic book, patiently waiting for his turn to get tucked in.

Last night his littlest brother, now eight, insisted on watching Moby Dick after finding the movie on the movie play list. He even knew the Captain's name. Long before Captain Ahab (Patrick Stewart) was dead, and long before I had sealed my last envelope, my youngest sailor had fallen asleep all by himself.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Waiting For Enlightenment

Waiting for anything is wasting the present, so is looking forward to, and to remember, to reminisce, and even worse - to regret, to ruminate and hold a grudge. Yet we all do it for some reason. Maybe to our brains the present is just not entirely interesting enough. Otherwise we would not have 500 24/7 TV channels in addition to our subscriptions to magazines, texting phones, newspapers, books on tape and the Internet - to name a few.

In other words, our brains are addicted to stimulation the way our stomachs are addicted to food. We are getting more and more sophisticated in all our food choices, as well as our food-for-thought choices, but we are overfed and overstimulated. Yet, somehow this is what makes life interesting and is a sign that we have moved from mere survival, to culture and art, and even the pursuit of enlightenment. If you want to read a sophisticated magazine on Enlightenment, check out "What is Enlightenment" a magazine that has been around for about ten years and has grown into a highly regarded, intelligent and informative publication. Not just Enlightenment, but related subjects like the Universe, Psychology, Art and Technology are discussed with some of the leaders in all of these fields. "What is Enlightenment" makes a genuine effort to connect the dots and to find the patterns, the truths, and the various ways to describe them.

While we're waiting for Enlightenment, we might as well think and write about it. Kind of like being pregnant and reading all the baby magazines.