There is no such thing as being in balance.
This is in alignment with changes I've been experiencing in my outlook on some of life's lessons.
It may sound like a total contradiction to the meditation I have been teaching in the last 24 years.
Actually, it is directly in rhythm with experience, and exposure to new information.
"KaZ, Isn’t that what you teach, BALANCE?"
"Being in balance?"
The wisest quote I have EVER read is from a character in the film Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced
To lose balance in LIFE is part of LIVING a balanced life.
Let me take that a step further and say that being out of balance is part of life and a part of appreciating the balance IN life.
None of it is perfect.
It's not perfect for world class athletes, prima ballerinas, diva opera singers, circus artists, life coaches, inspirational leaders, mental health practitioners, healing arts teachers, gurus, ascetics, monks, or nuns.
Not for ANYONE, all of the time.
Don't buy it.
The ups and downs, ins and out, and highs and lows of life are navigable.
HOW we approach them, address them or bob and weave with them is THE KEY.
Anyone who says that complete balance is attainable or that being out of balance is a negative (overall), is selling you a bill of goods.
We measure ourselves with an impossible yard stick and always find ourselves lacking.
Many "professionals" we seek for advice have marketed their technique, idea, teachings, template and guidelines into a movement that says it brings you into balance or cures your ill. It works for some, doesn't work for others, or is flat out hogwash. (Yes, I said HOGWASH!)
Many religious professionals are steeped in their religious philosophy and tenets 24/7 and can only speak from that view.
The view can be pretty stunning from the mountaintop.
But, HELLLOOO, we are down here on the ground.
If we can live within these parameters I imagine it's simpler to live a
Yet, we are living life as employees, parents, employers, tax-payers, homeowners, siblings, you know, regular human beings. Clearly living in this world presents challenges on a daily basis.
Challenges that depart from our daily routine, throw us off of our center (if we have one to begin with), appear out of the blue, or are due to our chemical makeup
When we are bombarded with the message that we have to be balanced, find balance, or stay balanced ALL THE TIME that pressure is the antithesis to the idea of being in balance.
This pressure presents us with an open door on the road to "I'm not good enough. What's wrong with me? Why can't I get it together?"
What may be balance for me, may NOT be balance for you.
Balance is not generic.
It is case by case.
If I tell you that you are out of balance, it's like telling someone to "CALM DOWN!". Does that ever work?
It opens the door to self-recrimination, self-judgment, self-flagellation and disappointment for being a "big ol' mess" because we aren't good students or our lives aren't tied up neatly with a bow."
I am by no means advocating anyone be a slacker about their life or sitting back and acquiescing to life's trials. Life doesn't' have to take you on a never-ending roller-coaster without a way to get off of it.
Just throwing up our hands and crying "Uncle" gives us permission to be victims.
We aren't victims, we are voyagers. Sometimes the voyage is rocky and sometimes it's as smooth as glass.
In my book, THAT is balance.
As always THANKS FOR READING.
See you next week.
You are about to read something extremely controversial and eye-opening for me.
This is NOT a 180° departure from my long term love affair with meditation, as a practitioner and master meditation instructor. HOWEVER, it IS a realization that has dogged me for the last few years in respect to the implicit values of meditation and mindfulness
My realization has put things into perspective where meditation and mindfulness are concerned. It’s a crystal clear understanding for me. Realistic and pragmatic.
I recently found an article from the BBC. It expresses my feelings on the impact of mindfulness and meditation. I have put a link at the end of this post. It is well worth reading.
I have been a meditation teacher for 24 years.
I taught mindfulness and meditation to veterans, seniors, those in recovery, teens, tweens, juvenile justice, LGBTQ, business professional, and many others.
Despite the claims of these techniques, and the fact that meditation and mindfulness has become a billion dollar industry, I have to, in good conscience, debunk a few myths.
First, let me say these practices are helpful. They induce calm and relaxation, and encourage feel-good hormones to be released bringing us more peace, or energizing us.
Here's the kicker:
On their own they are a panacea and a temporary respite from our ills.
They are NOT a curative.
They won’t rid anyone of PTSD, bio-polar disorder, anxiety, depression, chemical imbalance, or physical or emotional pain.
They MUST be implemented with other therapies, techniques, medical intervention and activities.
I hear some groaning out there. Hear me out.
Regardless of the hype, and the overuse of the buzz words meditation and mindfulness, they DO bring relief and release.
They help us transcend and navigate our issues in the short term.
That is why they must be practiced regularly if we desire any continual peace.
Just as those with substance abuse challenges find solace in regularly attending AA or NA meetings mindfulness only works with regular practice.
In brain scans meditators exhibit a change in their brain structure. This occurs while they are meditating and for a short period afterwards.
As that wanes you have to revisit the technique.
There are so many ways to reach a meditative state other than sitting in silence, breathing exercises, repeating a mantra, chanting, visualization and guided exercises.
I remind my students, who complain about the difficulty of maintaining a practice outside of the classroom, that a meditative state can be reached in many ways: walking, time by the ocean, a lake, river or stream, in the mountains, with animals, playing an instrument, listening to music, dancing, exercising, and so forth.
Classroom work is successful because there is structure. The benefits are palpable immediately in class via a good teacher.
Today teachers are riding the "miracle" wave of meditation and the press it receives.
Still, my students complain that their practice is hit and miss.
Short of watching a DVD or streaming a class - thank you, YouTube - maintaining a practice at home is difficult because of the distractions. Few people have their own meditation room where they can mimic class by closing out the world dedicating consistent time to mindfulness.
At best meditation gives the practitioner relief or a temporary high.
At worst it is a proverbial Bandaid for deeper issues that require more and different therapies.
Talk therapy, a change in diet, exercise, visits to a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health professional, and sometimes medication are all important components to a healthier life.
There was a wonderful Zen master teacher who in all outward appearances had it completely together. Unbeknownst to his students he suffered from some debilitating mental health challenges. He was under a doctor's care and medicated. He avidly pursued meditation and yoga for relief.
From here the story is all-too-familiar.
Once he began to feel better he stopped taking his medication. It happens frequently. Patients begin to feel better and, for whatever reason, feel medication is no longer necessary.
I’m not advocating pharmaceuticals or medication.
THAT BEING SAID, in some instances when conditions are acute nothing works like medication in conjunction with other treatments.
Once he began experiencing drastic symptoms without the medication meditation, yoga and mindfulness did not alleviate those symptoms. He turned to a facility for treatment. He was rejected. Sadly, and out of desperation, he turned to street drugs for his pain. That resulted in an overdose and his death.
Even as an educated, beloved and very adept Zen master teacher he succumbed to the belief that these techniques can cure our ills.
They are wonderful tools. Period.
I was deeply affected by this story.
It changed how I teach, what I teach, and why I teach.
It changed my outlook on how meditation and mindfulness are being presented.
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble - especially my own - but we must be informed when we pursue meditation and mindfulness practices.
It's not a magic bullet, BUT it CAN be a valuable tool, along with other lifestyle interventions and support.
I'm in NO way trying to discourage ANYONE from participating in mindfulness or meditation.
We must look at the mind and body as a whole, not individual parts.
It takes many techniques, practices and elements to live a more comprehensive life.
As always, thanks for reading.
See you next week!
Here's the link to the BBC article:
I was thinking (as I do with regularity) about HOW I want to move forward in my writing, teaching and speaking.
I am a voracious THINKER.
Sometimes to distraction.
SO HOW may I use that to my advantage instead of its driving me batty?
Meditation has been wonderful to calm the thoughts and to release the thoughts, however, I don't want to STOP the thoughts. Thoughts are important. Thoughts make us human. Thoughts can be malleable, and flexible. We can also work WITH our thoughts, not have them work against us.
As my "bio" to the right attests, I have had a VERY full, busy and
adventurous life. A life that entails A LOT of thinking.
What came to me is that I am a "THOUGHT PROVOCATEUR". Provoking thought about...whatever.
This "provocation" is not to get into a confrontation, an argument, or to incite disagreement, just to contemplate subjects, then discuss them.
Or to provoke people to think before and when they speak, act or react.
Is that possible?
I totally believe it is.
Here’s a question I received online after I posted my "Thought Provocateur" idea:
"KaZ, how can you effectively and efficiently get all those provocative thoughts into a form that can be shared with the universe??? A question I often ask myself...."
Once I realized that having a wickedly fast and active mind was NOT a detriment, I started allowing myself to USE it to my advantage.
Instead of saying I only write this genre or that, I allow myself to write many.
One of the threads is humor.
I always have to have humor in it, even if it is dramatic writing. There has to be some relief.
That is also a HUGE part of my personality, so it comes easily.
I have folders with all my projects and as something strikes me I write it down and compartmentalize it, as it were. That keeps me from having so much rattling around in my head.
I write anywhere the inspiration strikes me. I don't give myself boundaries on that.
I don't necessarily sit down and say "now it's time to THINK".
The thoughts and inspiration come to me when I am relaxed and doing other things most of the time. I am not a writer who says "I am going to sit at the computer for 5 hours and write this or that". That is too confining for me.
I do sit at the computer and write but mostly it is things I have gathered and am transposing.
I'm a free-flow thinker and writer. That works for me. It could be too unstructured for someone else.
I always have my voice recording or Pages apps ready and waiting. OR a scrap of paper. Even a restaurant napkin.
Like just now you helped me write another article about being a thought provocateur...through your question we started a meaningful dialogue and I imagine you are not the only person with a question like this!
Of course, as a caveat, it has to be something that interests me, appeals to me or I can speak to with some knowledge.
I'm not wont to go off half-cocked about things solely for the sake of conversation, just to see my words in print, or to hear myself talk. I will avoid that stuff like the plague."
So there you have it.
Self-proclaimed "Thought Provocateur" - when over-thinking is a good thing.
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
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
I’ll be back next week!
Thanks as always for reading.
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.
Thanks for reading.
If you would like me to train staff at your facility, or present my lecture on Moving Meditation for Mental Health in Juvenile Justice for your group or organization:
Contribute my writing to your publication:
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, thank you for reading.
If you are interested in me training a staff member to teach the technique in you facility or community:
If you are interested in my writing for you publication:
OR you can always call:
KaZ is a self-proclaimed "thought provocateur". SO what does that mean? She 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, KaZ has done A LOT of thinking. To utilize all that thinking in a productive way she feels the importance of addressing thinking as a huge asset. Provoking contemplation AND creativity with writing.
In addition to the above, KaZ is an award-winning vocalist, a former dancer, stunt actor, circus artist, & professional water skier. She has also 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 comedy, she originally wrote as a sit-com, but it was produced as a reality pilot. KaZ has turned it into the hilarious screenplay
“(And ) Then This Happened.” based on life, love, and everything in between in the mid- life years. It’s 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 1991. Her initial training focused on Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bhajan and his teachers. Her love of meditation led her to become a certified Master Meditation and Qigong Instructor.
She has taught meditation in-person throughout California, Florida, New York & British Columbia, Canada and online worldwide.
Her signature moving meditation technique includes a unique playing of Tibetan & Crystal Singing Bowls.
Most recently KaZ taught in a juvenile justice facility, and lectured on mental health in juvenile justice for Compassion in Action.
With writing being her first love, look for KaZ's upcoming books:
"Moving Meditation for Mental Health:"
-Active Military and Veterans
Plus, a play is in the works based on letters from her two great uncles during the Second World War.