This is an excerpt of a much longer essay I am writing on "Imitation and Originality":
We begin our lives imitating.
We imitate our parents for motor skills, gestures, language, emotions, beliefs and ideals.
We imitate things in our surroundings.
We imitate friends, and those we admire.
We imitate what we believe others want to see.
We imitate movement.
We adopt behavior we feel is pleasing or that will elicit what we desire.
We adopt expressions, old and new.
We adopt slang and colloquialisms.
We adopt others’ style, fashion and trends.
We are raised from birth to imitate.
Is anyone TRULY unique and original?
Can we ever have an original thought, idea, or way of expressing ourselves?
We procreate and produce generation after generation and pass on our thoughts, beliefs, morés, standards, language, gesticulations and mannerisms.
We are wash, rinse and repeat.
In many ways this is a bitter pill to swallow.
A world of people doing their best to survive.
A species dedicated to "discovering" who we are as individuals.
Nonetheless, history repeats itself.
What goes around comes around.
Myriads of people asking “who am I?”.
We are millennia of mass-production.
We are the Xerox of humanity.
HOWEVER, don't lose heart.
Although each of us may PHYSICALLY look different (save the occasional dopplegänger), we still resemble and carry the traits, looks, and behavior of ages of our predecessors.
Is that necessarily a BAD thing?
Does it matter that you and I are simply expansions of our previous generations?
Why all the struggle to be unique, one-of-a-kind, original, unequaled?
Is it insecurity, rebellion, or a cry to be acknowledged and valued?
Here's your weekly "FOOD FOR THOUGHT".
Let's explore the idea in the coming weeks.
As always, thanks for reading!!
See you next week.
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.
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.