I have stopped doing some things.
Some of my teaching has started to feel like white noise.
I think I will save that for another post.
So I decided to dedicate myself to my first true love, which was even over and above being a performer or a meditation master.
I have made a real commitment to write again.
Just to write.
I absolutely, unashamedly, unabashedly, love to write.
When you write the world is at your feet.
You can literally write about ANYTHING.
You may be better at some writing than others.
I have discovered that with time.
What works for me to write and for others to read WORKS!
Not JUST because writing, for as long as it has existed, is still an incredibly impactful mode of communication.
OR that no film, no play, no book, no article, no advertising, no teaching, no learning, no communication for that matter, exists without writing.
Even if you cannot read, someone can read TO you what has been written.
But because writing is every emotion.
It is every genre, culture, race, religion, and lack thereof.
Writing is every age and stage of life.
Writing is dictation, or eye movement, as in the case of Stephen Hawking.
It is innumerable mediums.
It touches the deepest recesses of our being in minute, small, medium and large ways.
It makes us laugh, cry, angry, motivated and all the other reactions in between.
Writing is the email, the letter, the check, the note, the greeting card, the postcard, and the order in a restaurant.
It is the business card, the brochure, the flyer, the website, the thesis, the suicide note, the eulogy, and the tombstone.
Writing is controversial, painful, hurtful, and bullying.
AND it is inspirational, elucidating, nurturing, testimony, praise, and positive feedback or review.
One can get relief from pain, stress, or tension.
The profound “Ah ha” moment can be brought to us via writing.
I can write ANYWHERE and on ANYTHING.
ANYTIME of the day or night.
One of the best things to do when you have something on your mind is to WRITE IT DOWN. Keep a notepad by your bed and put down your thoughts, concerns or ideas. It will be there when you wake up.
With the advent of the cellphone I record my writing to transpose it later.
I jot an idea in “Notes’ or on “Pages.
I even take a napkin, full sized or cocktail, when the inspiration strikes, and scribble away.
Whether it is an obsession, a pull, a need, a desire, a calling or simply expression, writing has remarkable diversity.
If you are drawn to write, like I have been professionally since the age of 15 , DO IT.
You don’t need to have the agenda to be a famous author, screenwriter, playwright, journalist or poet.
Sometimes writing is the ultimate therapy.
And sometimes it is where you return again and again.
It stays with you.
It's easy, hard, frustrating, scary, thrilling, cathartic, and pervasive.
You can’t shake it and you don’t want to shake it.
It becomes clear that your raison d’être is writing.
Get it write.
You’ve got the write stuff
Write up my alley.
Write this way.
Whatever CLICHÉ you can think of, it fits.
I’ll be write back!
As always, thanks for reading.
See you again next week
I love dogs.
I love most animals.
I have had a menagerie all my life.
BUT there is nothing worse than an ill-mannered, misbehaved, aggressive dog.
AND there is NO excuse for one.
An untrained dog is a danger to your neighbors, friends and, most importantly, to your family.
I was sitting in my office when I heard a lot of barking and growling.
Our little 7 pound chihuahua, who was sitting with me, started getting in a lather and made a b-line for the garage.
I ran into the garage to see my husband wielding a machete and yelling “Get your dog on a leash! Keep your dog on your property!”
The dog had apparently run into our yard, (my husband was working with the garage door open) and began to snarl and growl at him.
Then the dog lunged into the garage at him, baring his teeth..
The owner of the wayward dog lives about 5 houses away and just laughed saying “Yea, yea.”
Other neighbors said they have had similar experiences.
Loose, snarling dog.
What comes after "loose, snarling dog?
Yep, dog bite!
Do you know how many dog attacks and dog bites there are every year from dogs allowed to wander or be off leash?
Approximately 4.5 million dog bites A YEAR!
MILLION!! (I just said that in my head like Dr. Evil.)
That just isn’t the vilified Pit Bull, or Rottweiller.
It's also Labs, Standard Poodles, Miniature Poodles, Jack Russells, Spaniels, Collies, Chihuahuas, Llaso Apsos, Bull Terriers, Pekingese, and more.
The dog bite instances are not just the big dogs, they are the small dogs, too.
That his evidenced by a nickel-sized scar on the inside of my left calf.
A dog may bite because of stress, feeling threatened, protecting their owners, puppies or companions, being ill, startled, or even during play.
A friend was bitten the other day by a playful puppy who jumped up on him while on a leash attached to the owner! No harm was intended by the owner or the dog but things happen.
It's important to keep your wits about you around unknown dogs.
BUT a dog running loose is no excuse.
If a dog isn’t trained young OR if when rescued it's not put into some training, the possibilities are VERY real they will attack or bite someone.
No matter how sweet, mellow or docile they may appear.
If a dog is only used to you, your family and it’s housemates, that is a recipe for trouble.
A dog not desensitized to others becomes VERY protective of its pack.
PLUS, if a dog, no matter how well trained, is allowed to be off-leash, there are going to be incidents.
I was a former veterinary technician. (Yes, one of my many jobs to support my arts habits.) I saw it all.
Our veterinarian would not go into the examining room without at least 3 vet techs when she had to examine a particular breed of dog.
In general, as a breed, It is known to be aggressive. I saw this for myself several times.
I've had 12 dogs in my lifetime. My dog is my responsibility, and it gets training.
Anyone can learn how to train a dog to be obedient, even if they don’t have the money to send them to PetsMart training or to a school.
It only takes a little bit of time every day.
Crate train it, leash train it, command train it.
There is NO excuse for an unruly dog.
This is the responsibility of the pet owner. Not the pet.
You are their pack leader.
BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE if you don’t train them, they will train you.
That is the reason our shelters and rescues are filled to overflowing with abandoned or relinquished dogs.
People don’t want to take the time to train them, they give up when it gets tough, they say they have no time, or claim the dog is untrainable.
Virtually no dog is untrainable.
Even dogs who have gotten off to a bad or abusive start are trainable.
The only time I have seen a dog be untrainable was because it was so mercilessly abused that the loyalty and love had been beaten out of it
Its ONLY recourse was aggression.
There is no reason that a dog should leave its property, run down the street to another home and become aggressive towards a neighbor going about their business.
If necessary, you can call 911 and report the dog and the owner.
Also, report them to your HOA, if you live in one.
Neighbors with trained dogs make good neighbors.
Accidents happen all the time.
Dogs also attack other dogs.
A friend had her small dog attacked and killed by a larger dog.
At a dog park, the bigger dog grabbed the smaller dog - out of the blue and from nowhere - and shook it to death.
Then the owner just put the killer dog in the car and drove off while my friend sat in shock on the ground with her dying dog in her lap.
Dog and animal lovers - CAN YOU IMAGINE?
You may or may not be surprised that this is a pretty common occurrence.
For me the jury is still out about dog parks.
Even when the dogs are separated by size.
Many times I have seen large dog owners insist their dog would be just fine in the small dog park.
AND I saw the small dog owners refuse to allow it to protect their little dog.
You don’t have time to train your dog with even the simplest of commands?
No matter how badly we may want one of these loyal family members we may need to rethink that until we have more time to make it a positive member of our family and our community.
As always, THANKS FOR READING!
See you next week.
Welcome to my NEW site!
Actually, it's not new, it's just renamed.
I had a colleague ask me why I had taken myself out of the equation when I renamed my site two years ago?
Previously, my website was under my name.
She said "YOU are this work...make your writing and your teaching easier to find! BE YOU!"
SO, "HELLO, IT'S ME." (that may date me because that is an OLD song. BUT who cares?)
Here's my post for this week!
I know, I said I was putting publishing this post on hold.
But life takes twists and turns and it turned towards me blogging about this today!
I couldn't wait to put it in the book. Actually, I decided not to put it in the book at all. It revealed itself to be more for the blog.
I changed my mind.
Isn't it GREAT that we can change our minds!
It's OK to change your mind.
I have more to say about that in a future post. So, stayed tuned!!).
Without further ado:
"This week we are going to look at the third of my overriding principles for teaching in juvenile justice and for my life.
3). Go with the Flow
The central tenet in Taoism and Buddhism.
For me, it has become the central tenet of life, regardless of any philosophy.
You don't need a philosophy to sign up for this one!
What I have learned teaching in juvenile justice and, fortunately, what being a Buddhist, studying Taoism and Confucianism have taught me is:
Every day, every class is GO WITH THE FLOW. (Bold, underlined!!!)
You can spend hours preparing a lesson plan to throw it right out of the window when you get to class.
You never know what kind of week any of the residents have experienced.
This applies to any justice facility.
If you teach or coach in a jail or prison this lesson is also for YOU!
You have to go into it every class with the attitude that I will just let it evolve.
You have to know the material inside and out to go through your databanks and fly by the seat of your pants sometimes.
More times than not.
Within the framework of my technique, I can move elements around.
Some of it only works on an A, B, C basis and some can be interchanged with different exercises added or removed.
Why is this necessary?
Predominately, the young men have some mental health challenges.
Many are on medication.
Many deal with bipolarism, ADD or ADHD, depression, anxiety or anger management issues.
Some are fathers or deal with substance abuse.
One thing that REALLY works is to read an anecdote from an inspirational leader every week.
They particularly like Thich Nhat Hanh.
They love the “HOW TO” series.
How to Walk.
How to Sit.
How to Eat.
Simple ideologies, but very effective.
Plus, simple WORKS!
One of their favorites is about an incarcerated and persecuted Vietnamese Nun.
She says her persecutors would prevent her from meditating. They would beat her or withhold food.
She then chose to meditate at night.
She taught other inmates to meditate at night.
She said she felt freer in prison than some people feel outside the walls because she found a way to maintain her practice and help others.
You can see how that would resonate with the residents.
I also wanted the staff to be included.
The staff is with the residents full time.
The residents trust and like them, for the most part.
There are incidents of rebellion, but that is expected, given the circumstances.
The staff is their reminder of what is expected of them in the facility.
I was convinced that introducing what I teach my students to them would help reinforce the teachings.
And in the meantime, give the staff tools to release stress.
I was asked to go to a staff meeting and give them a sampling of what I teach to the students.
Allow them to look at juvenile justice as more than punitive.
Introducing the staff to my moving meditation was met with enthusiasm, support, doubt, and resistance.
This did not surprise me one bit.
But imagine standing in front of the staff and at least one-third of them have their hands crossed across their chests and are looking down.
Well, I love a challenge. And I am one of those who feels if anyone in the group gets anything I say, it's successful.
Let’s fast forward about 5 months.
The staff got used to seeing me "float" around.
They all say hello.
They ask me about particular residents and recommend residents for the class. They also talk to my students about class and the students share exercises with them.
They are the “boots on the ground”, so to speak. Who better to reinforce the work than someone who knows these residents?
This is not just those who were receptive to my teachings in the beginning, it's nearly all the staff I encountered.
I’m writing a supplemental book to my teachings, about my technique and the exercises. My desire is to pass the technique on so others can teach it from the inside, or after a resident leaves the facility, and goes back into the world, they can have a guide.
It's a tool.
They have to take the initiative, and have the motivation.
Let me share with you a few things that the students have said about my program:
“Helped me to control my anger. I started being calm."
"I'm spending time with myself more."
"It helps me control my impulses.
"I got so mad one time, I couldn't go to sleep so I just tried to breathe, and then I fell asleep."
"I'm more mature."
"My thought processes have changed."
"I learned breathing can do something if you pay attention to your breathing."
"It made me wiser, more mature, more mindful.”
"I know I have to do the work. Things aren't just going to come to me."
“Ms. KaZ is a big-hearted person she loves all of us. She takes the time out of her life to do it. She has hope for all of us.”
As for the volunteer teachers (did I mention that those who teach classes are, for the most part, volunteers? You may clap now.)
“If nobody cares, they care. They love doing what they do.”
If that isn’t a positive mental attitude, and growth, I don’t know what is.
As always, THANKS FOR READING!
See you next week.
I call this a slice of life post.
It's very personal BUT if I can address this, YOU CAN TOO!
After 25 years of a really difficult relationship I decided to release my fears of retribution, abandonment, and judgment and be completely honest and transparent.
By expressing myself genuinely, and with integrity (for the betterment of the relationship) it took letting go of my fears.
When I addressed the pain in this relationship, and took responsibility for my actions, emotions and behavior, a magical thing happened.
Don't get me wrong, the person was definitely resistant in the beginning.
Typically there would be escalated yelling, walking away, slamming down the phone or non-communication for months on end.
I refused to allow this to happen.
I was very frank:
"It’s because I love you that I’m saying this and we are going to get to the bottom of it. I want you to be healthier, and our relationship to be healthier. I also want to be healthier. Your behavior has been detrimental to both of us and we need to get it out in the open. No more avoidance, sweeping it under the rug, or gossiping to anyone who will listen."
I wasn't the only person experiencing their behavior. I WAS the only person willing put myself OUT THERE to deal with it.
I understand this person has narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies. The behavior stems from an early childhood of emotional and sometimes physical abuse. I understand that completely and do my best to make allowances for it.
HOW can I stand around for one more minute without at least trying to make the situation better for us?
HOW can I turn my back on all of my meditation and healing arts training without being a complete charlatan? A fraud? Do as I say, not as I do?
In the end things are changing.
This person is making an effort.
Being honest and transparent, in a loving way, has had an overarching affect on my ENTIRE existence.
Releasing the fear of confrontation and accepting that confrontation happens released fear in many areas of my life.
Hey, better late than never. CLICHÉ but true.
How has it manifested in other areas of my life?
I’m not fearful of speaking up when I get bad service.
I WILL send food back with a pleasant tone in my voice, a smile and a please and thank you.
I’m not fearful of speaking up when someone is rude, unkind, discriminatory or out right nasty.
I express myself firmly and kindly.
In general, this has been greeted with little or no pushback and has surprised me on many levels.
Without a doubt it is a freeing feeling not to be afraid of others' reactions to being truthful and standing up for myself.
Believe me, I have asked myself numerous times: "How did I go for so long being a people-pleaser and FEARING the ramifications and repercussions of standing up for myself and expressing myself?"
I liked to use the excuse that I was in entertainment for so many years and was trained to give people what they wanted in terms of my behavior.
It is an industry of insecurity. An industry of desperation.
An industry where you may be flying high one moment and road kill the next.
Remarkable highs and soul-killing lows.
Yea, so what? So are most big industries.
It's an excuse.
Here's a non-sequitar:
The incredible thing is my lifelong fear of spiders has disappeared.
I love all of Mother Nature’s creatures, even the creepy ones.
I have no problem with snakes and lizards, but I really struggled with spiders or centipedes.
....or any bugs from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Yesterday, I was standing in my driveway and a spider crawled across the driveway in front of my toes. Instead of stepping on it or running away I knelt down and watched it.
Have you ever watched a spider build a web? It’s nothing short of mesmerizing.
I’ve started watching spiders build webs on my lanai.
Now I gently wrangle them in the house and take them outside.
It makes me think of Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.
They are fascinating creatures.
Granted, we seem to recoil from anything with a myriad of appendages. It's just, well, alien.
NOW I’m excited and thinking "What’s next?"
What other lurking fears - conscious, subconscious or unconscious - can I acknowledge as unfounded when they bubble up?
Of course, I don’t plan on being reckless.
I still listen to my fight or flight responses... the dangerous ones.
I live near alligators and sharks. I have a healthy respect and admiration for them AND I keep a respectable distance.
Even in my travels abroad a healthy fear includes staying safe amongst exotic creatures and unfamiliar peoples.
Maybe it’s the climate we're in today.
Maybe it’s because I’m watching the youth of our country stand up for their own safety, protection, and freedom of expression to live healthy, happy and productive lives.
If they can do it, why can't I?
That being said, I STILL deal with claustrophobia.
I know EXACTLY where that manifested...
...from a mean little girl, who was the child of my parent's friends when I was young.
She used to lock me in the basement laundry room of our apartment building and turn out the lights.
OR hold me under water in the swimming pool.
I get it.
She had her own family issues.
Luckily, I still love to swim.
AND I'm not afraid of the dark.
I made peace with those pesky little demons years ago.
Nevertheless, forget about getting me into one of those dark, haunted houses.
Or an MRI machine...
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week!
I know I promised a part trois (or three) from my last post, but alas, that will have to wait.
How long, you ask?
Well, now it’s a book. My lecture on Moving Meditation for Mental Health in Juvenile Justice is now a part of my book by the same name.
As soon as the book is finished, I will let you know and you can grab a copy. Most likely, I will blog part three and you can read it here.
But don’t fret, it won’t be that long of a wait.
What’s the saying? “Good things come to those who wait”?
What I really, really want to talk about is an experience I had two days ago at the Marine Corps Exchange Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia.
It’s not very often that I get political.
If I do get political I typically write it, sit on it for a little while, and delete it.
Sometimes I just feel it’s not worth it. I don’t want to get in an argument with anyone.
I believe in agree to disagree, dialogue and discussion.
I don’t think everyone has to see exactly eye to eye.
That’s what makes life interesting.
I teach you, you teach me, and every once in a while, when we don’t gel, we come to the conclusion that it’s not worth getting our knickers in a twist.
However, there are some folks who want to fight to the death and be right at all costs.
I don’t have that need. I really prefer not to engage if a situation comes to that.
I am content to wish you love and happiness, and exeunt. (That’s a stage direction where a group exits. That group is me, myself and I.)
I’m not saying that I am going to get particularly political here. I just have a little story to tell:
As I mentioned, I was in the Marine Corps Exchange Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia.
None other than White House Chief of Staff John Kelly happened to be in the same department as I. I saw him
and his gargantuan Secret Service escort a few aisles away.
Kelly is unmistakable. Quite tall, impeccably dressed and stiff.
Yes, I said stiff.
Eyes forward, determined and purposeful gait, and not interacting with anyone.
Would you expect any less of a retired four-star general and a presidential appointee?
My only question is “How long is this one going to last?”
When my husband saw him, he saw red, but then again he is much more into politics and political personalities.
What I DO know is that I am not in alignment with his hardline policies on certain important civil rights.
But, I digress.
I was walking down a main aisle, and texting my son about the sighting.
He had a few choice words that I will avoid at this juncture.
My husband was in a different aisle.
While I was texting my son Kelly and his imposing Secret Service escort whisked right by me.
Kelly and I were shoulder to shoulder.
My husband said from his vantage point it appeared I hadn’t seen him.
However, he said the moment right after Kelly and his escort passed by me I nonchalantly lifted my head and rolled my eyes.
He said he wished he had gotten it on video.
Mind you, I knew he was there all the time.
I chose not to look up.
A friend told me that by doing that I threw “shade” at him.
Well, I guess since I can’t say that I’m a fan, maybe I did.
The interesting thing is that the air was electric with his presence.
He did not go unnoticed by anyone.
Being a sensory driven person, I could hear the creak of his expensive, polished, black leather shoes as he breezed by me. (My head was down, remember, so I got a glimpse of them.)
I could smell a faint whiff of cologne or aftershave (or maybe it was his deodorant. We didn’t get THAT close).
He walked like someone who knew he was important.
You can’t say that he didn’t have purpose.
If I had half a mind I would have stopped him and asked him a few pointed questions.
But, I have more than half a mind and I decided it wasn’t worth it.
that I didn’t want to end up on the 6 o’clock news.
#johnkelly #chiefofstaff #notafangirl #shade #hendersonhall #marineexchange #justanotherday #secretservice #weneedtotalk
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week.
OR Sometimes You Gotta Fart.
This is the continuation of last week's post on my lecture:
"Moving Meditation for Mental Health in Juvenile Justice."
"Let's look at the second overriding principle for teaching in the Academy.
Regardless of where they are and what they have done, they deserve respect.
Respect is a two-way street.
You cannot demand respect, nor can they demand respect.
If you talk down to the students, aren’t your most genuine self or dismiss them, things will NOT go well.
BUT if you give them the opportunity to feel they are heard, cared about, that their lives have meaning, and show you have faith in them…you see miraculous things happen.
I start and end every class with a circle of respect.
Here is how the circle works:
We gather into a circle in the center of the room.
We put our hands in prayer position, namaste, or what I like to call balance position, at our hearts.
We bow to the center of the circle in respect for the space in which we practice.
We bow to each other.
We bow to the teacher and the teachings.
We bow to ourselves.
At the end of each class we do the same circle of respect but the last bow is:
We place the left hand over the right fist and we step back.
In the words of Lao Tze " do your work, then step back."
They remind me if I forget the circle.
They like the ritual and the opportunity to show respect and be respected.
This is how respectful one of my students was in class one day:
I do a couple of one-on-one classes for students who really, for whatever reason, cannot handle being in a group class. It could be peer pressure, intimidation, or insecurity. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter.
I was in a one-on-one session with a student. We were sitting across from each other working on a breathing technique.
Our eyes were closed, but at one point I could feel that he was no longer sitting across from me.
I opened my eyes and he was standing across the room in a corner. (He had gotten up SO quietly that I had not heard him. I just sensed him.)
I asked him if he was all right.
He said "I gotta fart."
For a little reference: My class takes place in the evenings, after recreation, dinner and showers. So things will happen after a meal.
After I quickly composed myself, I told him that was ok.
He said "It's a biological function, right? Better than holding it in."
That reminded me of the scene in the movie Shrek where he farts and then Fiona farts.
"Better out than in I always say, right Fiona?"
He was waving his hands behind him. He said he didn't want it to smell.
I told him not to worry about it and when he was ready just to come back to his seat.
He did and we carried on as usual,
It happened again at the end of the class.
We both handled it like it was nothing.
AND IT WASN'T!
He had respect for me, more than he was embarrassed to fart.
It's normal biology.
Just perfect...and classic.
Some teachers at the Academy work together. We nurture and support one another and exchange invaluable information.
The work can be stressful and demanding and rarely, if ever, the same from one class to the next.
Anyone can have a challenging class, or more than one, and it helps to be able to bounce things off of each other.
I have collaborated with the mindfulness, manners and civility and the rhythm and drumming teachers.
It takes a village.
And in that village no one cares if you fart."
Come back next week for Part III of this 3 part series.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week.
This is an excerpt of a talk I gave for Compassion in Action, an initiative of Compassionate St Augustine.
The talk was on “Moving Meditation for Mental Health in Juvenile Justice”.
Here is part one of three parts.
"I teach a form of moving meditation to the residents at the St. John’s Youth Academy Juvenile Justice facility.
That form includes Qigong - I am a certified Qigong instructor - Kundalini yoga, movement, breathing and energy work, readings from inspirational leaders, and the playing of Tibetan and Crystal singing bowls.
What I want to do above all else is to talk about my classes and my students at the Academy.
SJYA is not only a juvenile justice facility but it specializes in rehabilitating residents who are also challenged with mental health issues.
Imagine (for the first time) being buzzed through a front gate surrounded by 20 foot fences, and topped by barbed wire.
You enter the lobby and sign in with the front desk manager. He or she sits at a bank of video screens. They monitor every hallway, every room, except for the resident’s private room.
It is eye-opening and easy to get turned around in the facility.
Getting from hall to hall only happens via a large, round set of keys or being buzzed in and out of each hallway.
The entire facility is on video surveillance.
That being said, I never feel at risk for my safety.
I know there are residents who act out but anyone who really causes damage or harm is sent to a different facility.
This is a high security, not a maximum security facility.
When I talk about mental health in the facility I don’t look at it as just the mental health of the residents. I look at it as the mental health of the staff, too. I discuss that in part three of this series.
For several years Sequel Youth and Family Services has been the management organization for the Academy. In the past it was strictly a punitive facility like the majority of facilities in the United States.
Today it is rehabilitative.
I know for a fact that offering them rehabilitation and life skills IS making a huge difference.
What I teach is from years of experience as a meditation practitioner, training as a teacher, then exhibiting the knowledge, education, and training to be certified a “master”.
In my training, I studied the psychological, emotional, and mental ramifications of meditation work.
I am experienced in teaching former incarcerated adults, seniors, in the LGBTQ community, veterans, youth, tweens and teens, and those in recovery.
I, personally, came to meditation because of a very stressful and high pressure career in entertainment.
*Hit the “ KaZ Welcome” tab above to learn more.*
How did I get to the Academy?
My relocation from California to Florida brought me to Compassionate Saint Augustine and the Youth Academy.
CSA and its founder, Caren Goldman, introduced me to SJYA and their director, Orvando Freeman.
From the very beginning they embraced me as a healing art teacher. Luckily, I have their trust and support.
My first eight weeks were a trial by fire. I won’t kid you.
At that time it was determined that the the newest residents needed my teachings the most.
That didn’t mean they would be the most receptive.
As a matter of fact, only one or two from that group actually went on to take the class with me on a regular basis.
Most weren’t ready, especially to do something that seemed really weird. They were simply trying to adjust to being incarcerated.
Qigong? That sounds like a medical condition.
"Have any of you heard of Qigong?"
No one had.
"Have you heard of Tai Chi?" A few hands went up.
I explained that Qigong is the mother of Tai Chi. Lightbulbs went on.
“OK, did you know that Tai Chi is the mother of Kung Fu? Who has heard of Kung Fu?”
Hooray! Everyone had heard of Kung Fu. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat.
I had an IN!
I relayed to them my experience as a stunt person in film and television and that helped connect the dots.
Still, the difficulty of maintaining a class that accomplished anything was hit and miss.
A few students were into it and the rest wanted to rap, dance around, play videos, get under each other’s skin and look out the windows to see what everyone else was doing in the pod (area).
More than that, they wanted to make sure they weren’t being watched which might later lead to ridicule.
To do my best to get through to residents and find those who might be interested in the class, I came up with the idea to pick students from each pod via recommendations from the staff and management. Potential students they thought were ready to take this type of class.
Since then I have found the perfect number of students for a dynamic class.
It doesn’t get out of hand with too many students or students that really DO NOT want to be there. One person can't represent themselves as the leader the others follow to be cool.
There are the overriding principles I have discovered work beautifully in the classes:
3) Go with the flow.
This week let’s look at TRUST:
These young men can smell someone who is a fake or deceptive from a mile away.
Our energy is reflected by our emotions and our behavior.
It took months of working with the same students week after week for us to trust each other. Not because I was fake or deceptive but because they had been disappointed over and over again in their lives.
"Are you coming back next week? You're not coming back, are you? When will you be back? Can we do X, Y or Z again?"
AND I had to trust they weren't going to behave inappropriately.
New students began to request to be in the class.
Word spread about the class because residents heard I was “OG”.
WHAT does "OG" mean? Yeah, I had no idea, either.
Here’s a little story:
I have silver hair. Long, silver hair. It used to be blonde.
I stopped coloring it when I was on an extended trip to Europe.
I said “what the heck - get past your ego, take better care of your hair and don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you their opinion about silver hair making you OLD." (Even friends can be unkind! But then are they really friends or is it about them? That's another post entirely.)
As my son told me “You do you, mom.”
I had a lot of silver growing in so I decided to match the length and make it silver, too.
Some silver hair tint or dye makes the hair purple or blue for a while until the color washes out and all that is left is silver.
I think it’s pretty cool.
I was teaching one night and one of my students, being honest (sometimes brutally, but you learn to go with it) said:
“Hey Ms. KaZ, is your hair purple?”
I said, “Yes it is. I like it. What do you think?”
He said (while snapping his fingers) “It’s OG, man, OG.”
I don’t know if they could tell from my "fake it ’til you make it" expression that I wasn’t up on the slang.
Was that good? Bad? Something else?
Later that night I looked it up and the definition is:
"Original gangster or original gangsta (OG) may refer to an individual (regardless of criminal affiliation) who represents ideals the speaker sees as gangster and generally "tough" or "hood" in behavior, looks, or both as well as a connection to the past or being older: commonly used as a sign of respect.” Wikipedia
It was a thumbs up. I was my true self regardless of what others thought.
Just like my son said, I was being me: they saw that and they liked it.
Things were never the same after that.
There were times they told me they trusted me and said they hoped I knew I could trust them.
Some residents get written up for things that happen in their daily life at the facility and I would NEVER know it by their behavior in class.
If the director hasn’t told me about the write ups I only see what is in front of me in class. Well behaved, dedicated, focused students.
Students who teach me as much as I teach them.
Students who laugh and cry with me.
Students who confide in me.
Students who want to discuss what's on their minds.
I NEVER ask about their lives, or why they are incarcerated. They trust me enough to share that with me, knowing I won’t judge them.
I DO, however, let them know when I feel they're out of line.
I discuss with them how to stay out of juvenile justice or jail.
I listen to their dreams and aspirations.
I have boundaries, too. Friendly and firm when necessary.
My rules are: if they are not intending to harm themselves, someone else, or me, what they confide in me is held in the strictest of confidence.
The technique I developed combines elements that work consistently in every class with the students, and trust is one of the elements.
It works like a charm.
It is still evolving.
I’ll reveal HOW in one of the next posts in this series.
Come back next week for Part II of the three part series.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week.
What is all the analyzing, contemplation and rumination really doing for us?
Why do we insist on holding the diamond in our hand and looking at every angle inside and out - examining every single facet?
Do we really see it at all?
Are the sleepless nights and the anxiety worth obsessing about the outcome?
Or obsessing about what was?
I’m sure you’ve heard a million times that "the past is the past".
We can’t change it or revisit it.
Look, I’m not going to be a broken record.
We’ve heard that projecting ourselves into the future is just wasted time.
We can plan for the future, and by that, I mean financial planning, vacation planning, family planning and the day to day stuff can be planned.
We drive ourselves nuts with "if this, what about this, this or that?
It’s a waste of energy. It’s a waste of our brain power.
There so many things we can address and think about in the present.
My take is that everything is revealed when it needs to be revealed.
Everything turns out one way or another.
Like it, or not.
All of our planning, the attempts to control the outcomes or control people, are for naught, to use an old English word.
It's actually a really good word.
We spend so much of our time planning and postulating, and deciding EXACTLY how something is supposed to turn out only to be disappointed when life throws us a curve ball. OR gives us another result.
How do we know that the result ISN'T better than the one we were married to in our heads?
Take, for example, our idea of the perfect person or mate.
He or she has to have a certain look, drive a particular car, be this, do that, have this...an entire laundry list of "must haves" or it's a deal breaker.
How many really wonderful people have passed us by because we were only open to someone "this tall, with this color hair, of this age, with this career and this much money..."
That is only ONE example of "figuring it out."
"BUT I have to figure this out.“
What’s to figure out?
You can figure out a mathematical equation but can you figure out your life?
What if we replace “figure out“ with:
Our minds are exploding trying to figure out our lives in both the minutiae and in the grand scheme of things.
My work in Qigong and my studies in Taoism and Buddhism have made it glaringly obvious that "go with the flow" is the best course of "action".
Who wants disappointment?
Everyone is disappointed at one time or another in his or her life.
Even when we aren't trying to "figure it out"; when we are simply living life.
That is hard enough.
Can we be more flexible?
Be like bamboo? Strong and bendable in the wind and with the elements.
Life is messy and unpredictable. Anyone who says it isn’t is living with their head in the sand.
Just ask a really good parent or someone who teaches young people.
If we can’t make adjustments on the small and the large scale we are dead in the water. We find ourselves doing a remarkable amount of troubleshooting.
We are paddling upstream with one oar most of the time.
Anxiety is based on the “what ifs” and depression is based on “what happened?”
It's exhausting to be continually living in a state of figuring out our next move, the best tactic, or how to navigate the changes of the tides.
Go with the tides instead of against them.
Granted, some things are navigable, especially when we’re going with the flow of the stream, river or ocean.
Even difficult circumstances, like working for a cause or fighting injustice, seem to be an uphill battle.
KEEP YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU.
Water effortlessly flows over and around rocks. Sometimes it makes a big splash, sometimes a tiny ripple.
Flow like water.
Do whatever you need to do, then let things evolve.
Watch the answers present themselves without the need for you to push and pull your life.
When you give the answers time to reveal themselves, imagine how much freer you will feel.
"BUT I've GOT TO figure it out!'
What if you don't?
As always - THANKS FOR READING!!
See you next week!
NOW is the time is the answer. What was the question? Read on.
Here is the secret to starting and maintaining a home meditation practice.
(Ok, it's not REALLY a secret.)
These are three questions I get asked all the time by my students:
“How do I keep my home meditation practice going?”
“How do I START a home meditation practice?”
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just falls apart?”
These questions have a common theme.
Here are some answers that work for me. I'll bet they will work for you, too. And if not, try something else. There is plenty of information out there.
The blanket answer is “you’re trying too hard”.
You’re putting so much pressure on yourself to meditate at a certain time of the day, for a certain amount of time, and in a certain way.
What I have discovered over the years, and I addressed in a previous post, is that meditation is more and easier than you may think.
If you have a place you can designate for meditation, that’s great.
If you think about it your entire home is an opportunity to meditate.
Try the sofa, the lounge chair, the chaise outside on the patio, a soft patch of grass in your yard, or anywhere you can put a blanket or cushion.
I’ve even sat on my carpeted stairs, in a dining chair, on the floor on the rug or on the porch stoop for a quick meditation.
Then there is the question and pressure of how long you need to meditate?
I say as long as you can meditate.
I am the last person to ever tell you if you don’t meditate for X amount of time, or more, that it is fruitless or you might as well not bother.
If ANYONE tells you that kindly excuse yourself.
I went to a 4-day silent meditation retreat run by a very well known organization. The silent part was wonderful. Eating outdoors in silence, staying silent in the residence, and meditating in silence was a gift.
What I couldn’t wrap my mind around was that I was instructed to meditate in one way and one way only. I was instructed that this was the only correct way to meditate.
It didn’t feel right then and it doesn’t feel right now.
I certainly don’t instruct my students, or any teachers I train, that it’s my way or the highway.
Needless to say, I enjoyed my time at the retreat but I have never returned.
Meditation looks and feels many, many different ways.
How do I know this?
Through trial and error as a practitioner and through trial and error as a teacher.
I see what works for a broad cross-section of students over and over again.
I have been meditating for 27 years and I have gotten as much out of a 5-minute meditation as a two-hour meditation.
Now to answer the first question:
“How do I keep my home practice going?”
Do you like how good you feel during a meditation, yoga or Tai Chi class?
Grab that good feeling, take what you have learned in class, or through research online, and plunk yourself down in a chair, on a mat or in the grass. Without pressuring yourself replicate what you can.
If you have a semi-regular practice at home, that's great. Find other times to do it outside of what you already are accomplishing.
Once something is a habit - and it takes about 21 days to form a habit - your mind, and body will crave it. That goes for good and not-so-good habits.
I’ll tack my meditation sessions onto the end of my workouts. I’ll meditate in between chapters of a book I am reading. If I am having my tea on the lanai, which happens to face a lake, it is SO easy to float right into a meditation - birds chirping, fish splashing, water flowing - those are focus points for a relaxing meditation.
Binge-watching a show on Netflix? Close your eyes and do deep breathing between episodes!
Of course, it would be optimum if you carved out time to sit in meditation and formally meditate.
Choose a quiet room without much noise or traffic
Pick a chair that you like, one that is comfortable enough to sit in for a while. I guarantee the next thing you know you will have been sitting for 30 minutes. It flies by.
I did a lot of chanting and mantra at the beginning of my meditation journey. It kept me really present and engaged and I couldn’t THINK while I was repeating the words.
Pop in a chanting CD, or stream one.
Do you want to light a candle? DO IT!
Incense? Why not?
Set the mood.
When you set the mood, and make yourself a space, it will have more meaning for you. It puts you in the meditation frame of mind.
Question number 2:
“How do I start a home practice?”
This is totally up to you.
But starting is 50% of doing home meditation.
TODAY IS THE DAY!
Do some research, take some classes.
Try things on and see what fits.
Bring them ALL home.
After that, experiment with different types of meditations, in different locations in your home, for different amounts of time.
You may also do one technique for a while and then try something new.
The point is TRY IT and try it long enough to see what works for you.
Don’t just meditate once for 5 minutes, say “this isn’t working, I still have thoughts and I'm not getting any more peaceful” and then quit.
That’s not meditating.
That is letting your brain dictate to you:
“What shall I make for dinner?”
“Did I mail that bill?”
…and on and on and on.
That’s the brain fighting YOU making IT more peaceful.
Your brain is used to go, go, go. It even gets used to chaos.
That means you need to retrain your brain.
When your brain and mind is more peaceful then your body will be more peaceful, too.
Meditating at the VERY least is being in the moment and focusing on something:
A mantra, a chant, a quote, a candle, water flowing, birds flying, petting your dog, music, the wind blowing, deep breathing, and YES, even silence
…it’s pretty limitless.
Let your brain get used to being relieved of the watch for a few moments. You will continue to have thoughts, but let go of the activity of THINKING for a while.
It’s a thought, BIG DEAL. It will be there when you are done. And if not, most likely it will return. OR not.
Find opportunities during your day to get into a meditative state.
Snippets of time will turn into moments and then minutes and the next thing you know you will be in that state of mind for many minutes, hours, days - for LIFE!
And last, but certainly not least, here’s my answer to question number 3:
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just stalls?”
Time, commitments, family, work, illness, vacations - YOU NAME IT - interfere with us bringing home what we do in class.
SO here is where the three questions overlap.
Take the time, make the time, schedule it, carve it out…
How badly do you need it?
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, I imagine that you need it.
It’s not that hard to sit in a class and follow what a teacher instructs.
What IS hard is to make meditation, in its many forms, a priority along with brushing your teeth, doing the laundry, preparing meals, etc.
Your mental, emotional, physical, psychological and (if it applies to you) spiritual health is just as important as anything else that you tend to.
Jump right in.
NOW is a good time.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week.
KaZ has been in many facets of entertainment, plus the co-owner of two restaurants, a fitness center, a television production company and the owner of a cinema. She did a stint in politics, and in veterinary medicine, She now focuses on writing.
In addition to the above, KaZ is an award-winning vocalist, a former dancer, stunt actor, circus artist, & professional water skier. She has worked as a theater artistic director & writer.
KaZ has been a published writer in magazines & books since the age of 15. She has written plays that have been produced in New York, Florida & New Orleans. She has a featured chapter in the book How To Survive A Move. (Up-to-date she has moved 45 times!) She wrote an article for Organic Wine Journal, and also wrote an article featured at the Ground Zero Memorial.
KaZ co-wrote 2 television informational series & 3 television pilots. One of the pilots, a sit-com, was produced as a reality pilot. KaZ has revisited it and it's now a one season cable series.
“(And ) Then This Happened.” based on life, love, and everything in between in the mid-life years. Loosely based on her life and the life of two of her best girlfriends.
KaZ's many high pressure pursuits led her to meditation.
She began studying meditation in '91. Her initial training focused on Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bhajan and his teachers. She is a certified Master Meditation and Qigong Instructor, having taught
throughout California, Florida, New York & British Columbia, Canada and online worldwide.
Most recently KaZ taught in a juvenile justice facility, and lectured on mental health in juvenile justice.
With writing being her first love, look for KaZ's upcoming children's books:
from the tales of two grandmothers.
Plus, a play based on letters from her two great uncles during the Second World War.