Apr 6, 2013
My most influential mentor is my grandmother, Marilyn Cecelia Hewitt. Growing up in Detroit during the Great Depression, she learned to live frugally but was still able to enjoy life. She has always encouraged me in my pursuit of knowledge and supported my interest in the arts, including glassblowing, music, and dancing. She has inspired me to develop my spirituality, refine my talents and skills, and take advantage of every opportunity, especially while I am single.
Even while I was young I appreciated how she conducted herself as a woman with class and style. I have always been impressed by her impeccable care in dress– for instance, how she carefully matched her white blouse with white shoes, accessorizing with a white handbag (only between Memorial Day and Labor Day, of course). She made me want to follow in her footsteps with her conscious care of body, mind, and soul.
By example she taught me patience, humility, generosity, and positivity. Ever since I can remember, she would come over to my parent’s house to selflessly help my mom. I would look forward to that day, arranging my schedule so I could spend time catching up and hear the latest news while drinking tea. Under my grandma’s tutelage, we began cooking together. I enjoyed learning about different herbs and spices, listening to her patiently describe when and how to use them. She also taught me how to sew, both by hand and machine, even helping me alter a dress for an upcoming dance. While we worked I loved hearing her tell me of the exquisite balls and dinner parties from days gone by. The stories she shared caused in me a desire to learn how to dance with grace and assurance. I still remember the warm summer evening at my parent’s cottage when she taught us how to dance the dance of the 1930‘s, the Charleston. We quickly lost interest in our campfire, laughing and dancing under the stars.
My grandmother has always been willing to lend a listening ear and give thoughtful, wise counsel. When thanked, she will humbly reply “Sure, I’m always full of ideas for the other guy!” As someone I respect and look up to, I cherish my time with her and hope to be like her one day. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, my sweet “Gramsie” has had a significant impact upon the lives of many others as well as my own.
Leah Waldo | College for Creative Studies
To see all posts under Let’s Celebrate Your Favorite Teacher click here!
Charleston photo by Charles Phelps Cushing
Apr 1, 2013
Spring is in the air! I woke this morning to daffodils open to face the sun. When you live in Michigan this may be one of the happiest sights of the year.
Which brings me to my book pick for the month of April: A Sacred Place to Dwell: Living with Reverence Upon the Earth. Written by Henryk Skolimowski, A Sacred Place to Dwell is a profoundly beautiful book that introduces the reader to a new branch of philosophy called eco-philosophy. Skolimowski passionately argues for a re-articulation of spirituality that recognizes how our individual lives affect other human beings and natural habitats. He asks the question: How do we infuse reverence into a world which is conceived of as a mere machine? He answers by stating that we should all view the world as a sanctuary.
Skolimowski believes that by walking with reverence upon the earth, we immediately commit to a life and a living philosophy that works to sustain and encourage all life forms to organically evolve and flourish. If you conceive of the universe as a sanctuary, you have the comfort of knowing that you live in a caring, spiritual place. The world becomes alive with meaning and your role in the world becomes infused with purpose. Skolimowski argues that to act in the world as if it were a sanctuary is to make it reverential and sacred. As a result, your own experience is elevated by understanding, compassion and meaning.
Reverence, according to Skolimowski, also implies a principle of appropriate behavior. Living in a sanctuary helps one to grow a connection to the world around them and, as a result, act with responsibility for the world and society. It gives individuals motivation for altruism and morality and infuses life with a sweet delicacy, gentleness and beauty.
Spring has been slow to come to Michigan this year. In fact, it snowed this afternoon. There was something so magical about watching my beautiful daffodils huddle together with their faces open to a very very distant sun. Somehow their sweet commitment to this world reminded me to re-commit to my own reverential vision of the great planet earth.
Here’s a quirky theatrical video of Dr. Skolimowski having some fun on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8ooJAvVMAg
Molly Beauregard | Director/Educational Consultant
Mar 1, 2013
I have always been a quiet person. I have been told that even when I was born I didn’t make a sound; I just looked around the room as if I was studying my new surroundings. I was given the name Samantha, which actually means listener, and listening is what I am good at.
In eighth grade I wanted to join the drama club. This would seem out of character if you know me, but I didn’t want a part I just wanted to work backstage. In order to be any part of the club though, I still had to try out. On the day of the auditions I was the last person to read. I went into the room telling Mrs. Parker, the teacher in charge who had taught me social studies for the past three years, that I did not want a part and just wanted to work backstage. She looked at me and frowned, but then smiled; telling me that she would still like me to read a part. So I did, not expecting anything to come of it.
The next day the results of the auditions were posted and to my horror my name was listed next to Margaret LaRue, a character in the play. I went to see my teacher, who informed me that this was not a mistake but that if I wanted to be in the drama club I had to take this part. She told me that she knew I could do it and when I began refusing again she showed me that the part only had three lines. I looked at the three short lines and saw that they didn’t come until the end of the play. So I decided maybe I could do this.
I went to the first practice the next week. I knew my lines weren’t until the end so I expected to sit and watch as the rest of my peers read their parts, until it was my turn. To my surprise I was called to the stage at the beginning. I hurriedly looked through the script for my characters’ name and lines in the first act, but didn’t see any. So why was I needed on stage?
The play was a murder mystery, based off of the game Clue, and my character was the person who was thought to be murdered. In the play, my body was found and the other characters, thinking me dead, hid me on the stage. The stage was decorated as a living room, and I was placed next to the couch with a lampshade over my head, comically hidden from the other oblivious characters. After looking at the script a second time, I realized that I was on stage the whole time! I didn’t want a part in the first place and now I had to sit on stage for the duration of the play? When we had a break I went to talk to Mrs. Parker again, planning on quitting.
I think she knew right away what I was going to say because she took me into another classroom and had me sit down at one of the desks. She sat down next to me and took my hand. She then said, “Samantha, I know you can do this play. In the time that I have taught you, you have been so quiet, which is okay. But I have noticed that when you do decide to say something, people lean in to listen. They want to hear what you have to say… it is a privilege to hear what you have to say”.
I was so surprised, and still am, by what she said to me. I just stared at her. I had never thought of myself as having anything of importance to say, and hearing someone tell you that they believe in your voice and your thoughts is shocking. She told me to think about it some more and left me to decide what to do.
I decided to stay in the play. It was scary and stressful and there were other times when I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. It was, and will probably always be, the only play that I have ever been in, but I am glad that I stuck with it. I accomplished something that I never thought I would be able to do, and while it didn’t help me get over the fear of public speaking completely I think that it helped me to better cope with the idea of it. Having someone believe in you is a powerful thing, and Mrs. Parker helped me to believe in my own voice. I will always be a quiet person, and a listener, but I know that when I have something to say I should say it. She has helped me to be able to express myself and believe in myself, which has helped shape who I am today.
Samantha Lada | College for Creative Studies
Mar 1, 2013
Last winter, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda, speak to an audience at the University of Michigan. Sponsored by the Michigan Creativity and Consciousness Studies Faculty Committee, Goldberg told the mesmerizing story of India’s impact on Western religion and spirituality.
Goldberg was invited to U of M by his friend Ed Sarath. Professor Sarath, a well known musician, is the founder of the first program at a mainstream institution to significantly integrate meditation practice and related studies into an academic curriculum. There is no doubt that Sarath’s work has been profoundly impacted by the very themes explored in Goldberg’s book.
American Veda chronicles the story of the slow “Vedicization” of American spirituality. Ever since the first translations of Hindu text found their way into the libraries of prominent Americans, the science of consciousness studies has informed our poetry, literature, music and language. Goldberg outlines – in great detail – the impact this knowledge has had on broader cultural themes. For example, the massive shift in the collective understanding of the mind/body connection, the health benefits of meditation and yoga and the science behind “we are all one” statements.
Goldberg introduces the reader to every great saint, sage, philosopher and poet to take the stage in this conversation. His follows this east-west transmission of thought from the pages of Thoreau to the lyrics of the Beatles. American Veda shares the stories of the great leaders – from Swami Vivekananda to Ram Dass and every great yogi in between. As I listened to Goldberg speak, I could not help but feel the distance of how far we have come. Given my own experience of integrating transcendental meditation into the curriculum of a college course, I know that I am but one player in an on- going revolution of sorts. Consciousness studies, integral spirituality, contemplative practices are the “hot” topics on campuses around the country. There is no doubt this transformation of American thought has come in large part through the influence of eastern spirituality. I, for one, would argue that we are all better off as a result.
Molly Beauregard | Director/Educational Consultant
Feb 23, 2013
When College for Creative Studies film student Kaylee Johnson posted this on her Facebook, we just had to know more about it. Turns out, she actually plays a significant role in the making of this film. She became an intern after pre-production was completed. Her job is to organize footage and have it ready for the editor. She is also making an ibook that contains the used and un-used interviews from the film. Her main role is to help complete the final stages of the film by meeting deadlines, having a smooth distribution process and helping to bring revenue to complete the film.
This trailer features three of the profiles from the film, including Youngstown, Ohio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Detroit, Michigan.
Click here to see Kaylee’s guest blog post, The Effortless Ease of True Creativity.
Feb 18, 2013
Last month’s assignment “Through the Eyes of Your Child Self” brought us several new voices and highlighted great new perspectives. As a result, we thought we’d toss out a second assignment to our ever expanding TTSM family. We LOVE hearing your stories!
Molly’s recent blog on the impact of mentorship got us thinking about our own favorite teachers. We thought it might be fun to celebrate teachers and teaching on TTSM. As stated in our own mission we are committed to growing a more sustainable teaching model for students everywhere. We’d love to hear about the people who have touched your life or some memorable teaching moments you have shared with others.
Here’s the assignment: – Using the Impact of Mentorship blog post as an example, write about your favorite teacher/mentor or a time when you have acted as a teacher. For example:
• [Being a Teacher] Teaching someone else how to do something can be rewarding. Think of a skill that you’ve taught someone else how to do. Perhaps you taught someone else how to swim, showed someone how to bake a soufflé, or helped someone learn how to study more effectively. Think about the events that made up the process of teaching the skill, and narrate the story for your readers.
• [My favorite mentor] Write about an important lesson you learned from a specific teacher. Think about the way your life might have been different had you not met this person. Your mentor can be a school teacher, a priest, a parent, a friend – anyone who has meaningfully influenced your life or changed the way you see the world.
We can’t wait to hear from you. Send completed blogs (and images if desired) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Feb 4, 2013
“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” ― Galileo
My mentor died last month. It was unexpected. When I heard the news, my breath caught in my throat and a simple “no” escaped my lips.
Imre Molnar was the Provost of College for Creative Studies. A former corporate designer, Imre choose a career in education because he believed in students and was inspired by the kind of innovation one only sees in the freedom of an experimental incubator like a student studio.
When the President of our college organized a meeting for faculty and staff impacted by Imre’s death dozens showed up – including professors, maintenance men, department chairs and administrative staff. It says a lot about a person when his impact extends far beyond the boundaries of his authority. There were over 800 people at his memorial.
I remember the first conversation I ever had with Imre about bringing transcendental meditation to College for Creative Studies students. He listened to me with rapt attention. The intensity of his gaze suggested the sincerity of his interest. His pointed questions helped me to narrow my focus and strengthen my arguments. As our meeting finished, he smiled at me. Spreading his arms wide and gesturing to the stacks of papers strewn around his office he said, “Molly, you have an outstanding idea. As you can see, I am mired in my own mess of papers and projects. This will have to be a grass roots effort but I want you to know – I believe in you. And, I promise not to get in your way.” His silent support served as an enormous motivator. His belief in my ability to be successful empowered my efforts by helping me to see myself through his eyes. I knew he expected the best from me.
The art of teaching is the ability to help others see things in new ways. It doesn’t always take a lot of words but it does require a sustained attention on your pupil. Listening may be the most powerful tool a good teacher develops. It is in the act of listening that we allow students to rise to expectation, shift perspective and feel their own internal knowingness. Active listening engages student’s attention and helps them to expand their own knowingness. It also creates an atmosphere of warmth and love which motivates students to strive to do their best.
Many years ago a dear friend of mine lost her mother. After the funeral, she and her four siblings were sitting around the table laughing and crying and telling stories about their beloved mother. Eventually, her eldest sister confessed, “I know this is hard on all of you but ultimately this is the most difficult for me. You see, I was always mom’s favorite.” A pregnant pause ensued while everyone gathered their thoughts. Eventually they all said, “No, no, no!!! I was mom’s favorite!” Could there be anything more powerful than a mother whose children all believe they are the most cherished?
Human nature is to please. We all work extra hard to please the loving mother, the doting father and the high minded teacher. Imre was an inspirational leader because he knew how to make everyone feel respected, valued and appreciated. We all believed we were his personal favorite. In my mind, his death has opened the heart of CCS – with each of his “favorites” hungry to share Imre reflections, there is more talking and reaching out on campus. Ironically, the lasting impact of Imre’s personal touch style of teaching may be a renewed commitment to collaboration.
Imre’s life inspired a great and empowering legacy – a true commitment to creativity, innovation and thinking outside the box. I am proud to be one favorite in a crowd of many – it insures my ability to tap into the great resources left behind in the collective memory of my many new friends.
Molly Beauregard | Program Director/Educational Consultant
Feb 3, 2013
My childhood neighborhood; was one of those where everybody knew everybody and I knew these streets like the back of my hand. I knew which families lived in which houses, what time Mr. Konsol would pull in the driveway from work, what time Bob and Virginia would water their yard, these details became so known as if I would be tested on this information. Maybe that was what made it so special; it was small enough for us all to grow into a family. Our days were filled with new games, invented activities, neighborhood sports, but never boredom. It was these days that were relatively care free. The only worries were when the street lights were turning on and it was time to head home. The greatest attribute of that vicinity; had to be the woods surrounding us. We considered these trees the essence of what is was to be young. It was our get-a-way, and retreat just feet away from our homes. The majority of my memories took place within these trees. It was the place that we knew we were free to express ourselves and be whatever we wanted to be. No one was judged; no one argued here, it was just ideal. Within these trees I received my first compliment from a boy, it was the first place I attempted to smoke a cigarette, it was where many secrets were shared and stories were told. What made it so great was how we took something so simple and refined it to be so unique, attaching experiences and memories. Now imagine the devastation when they tore down a section of the infamous woods to build condominiums. This new complex took away our trees and eliminated the safety that we found within them. Since I was too naive to respect economic growth, I handled it quite selfishly. It seemed to be that the reality of all of it sucked the imagination out of us.
Looking back now, I appreciate how we were able to take something so basic and formulate it into euphoria. Nature so effortlessly inspired us to be ourselves and taught us to appreciate the most simplistic things in life. I did not think it was possible to find that simplicity again until this semester. I have recently discovered that…“Everything worth knowing can be known within.”
Erica Kimber | Interior Design Student, College for Creative Studies
Feb 1, 2013
Last week at the end of class a student handed me a slim book saying, “I think you might really like this!! I keep it next to my bed and reread it whenever I have a chance.” Ah, sweet music to any teachers’ ears – a book that inspires in an age when the visual typically trumps the written word.
First published in 1957, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, offers the reader a collection of accessible, primary Zen stories. I have spent all week reading one short story a night and must admit I understand my students feeling. The Zen tradition is partly practical, partly meditative and is traditionally learned under the guidance of a master. This lovely little book offers newcomers to Zen philosophy an inspirational collection of stories that illuminate the meaning behind the Buddhist philosophy of Zen.
Zen Flesh, Zen Bones includes 101 Zen Stories, a collection of tales that recount actual experiences of Chinese and Japanese Zen teachers over a period of more than five centuries; The Gateless Gate, the famous thirteenth century collection of Zen koans; Ten Bulls, a twelfth century commentary on the stages of awareness leading to enlightenment; and Centering, a 4,000 year-old teaching from India that some consider to be the roots of Zen.
The great accomplishment of this book is that it brings spirituality into the realm of the everyday. The stories shared in the book use very simple language and relatable metaphors that cause the student of Zen to think about profound and powerful truths. Zen is often described as a spirit of peace, understanding, compassion and contentment. As short bedtime stories this book infuses just a bit of sweetness into a night of good sleep.
Thanks for the recommendation, Chris! It was a good one.
Molly Beauregard | Program Director/Educational Consultant
Jan 29, 2013
A certain professor once told me that I needed to start finding intellectual pursuits that furthered my growth as a human being and kept my mind off of others. She also said that people were a matter of the heart, and all I needed to worry about was how to love them better. Three months later and I am just now starting to really understand what she meant by that.
This past year has presented some personal life challenges that forced me to look at people in a different light, and it wasn’t positive. I became discouraged and sour, introverted and detached, and very not my usual self. And as a naturally self-aware person, I could only let the charades continue for so long. So, I decided to make some changes.
The coming new year seemed like a perfect time to flip my world upside down and refuse to take any more bullshit from myself. So that’s exactly what I did. I got up, de-cluttered my house, and organized my studio. Oh, and I started practicing yoga. This ladies and gentlemen, is a monumental feat. As I have not only challenged myself to do it every day for 365 days, but I have also began to blog about it.
My intellectual pursuits are now becoming very satisfied, as well as my desire to get into shape and meditate. I’m excited to get back into writing too, another resolution of mine. (The number of birds I’m killing here with this one stone is really starting to add up) As a once anti-blogging, out of practice with journaling, glassblower revs up to write something every day for a year about her experiences with moving meditation.
Whoa, ok. Now that I’ve announced my big challenge, I can move on to the real point of this post. When going to set up my tumblr, I had completely forgotten that two years ago, when I was not so determined, I opened a tumblr account and posted a hidden gem. It was all about moving from the past and coming to terms with my situation. If I’m not mistaken, I was doing a lot of journaling around that time, and also had some family/relationship hardships that I was going through. So it’s very appropriate that I would write something like this.
It’s a very stream of conscious entry, so much so, that I completely forgot and denied that I wrote it for the first ten minutes upon discovering it. But lo and behold, it’s mine (I even goggled it). Oddly enough, it’s still extremely relevant in my life today, just in a completely different way. But this time around it’s so much better, because I’m finally moving and becoming present in my own life.
I hope you can find some meaning or truth in my thoughts. After all they’re not really mine, but more so a collective of thoughts, my words just merely an interpretation.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out my blog @ www.spiritgangster.tumblr.com, and follow it if you’d like. I’d really appreciate it!
What are we, where are we going, and where are we from? Thy do not tell me in thine stories of fact and foe. For the love of thy soul rests not. I dreamt of a day when the true tale of thus far was no longer real. My days possessed in the soul are those that I cherish deeply and wish to let go, and move on from. They are true inner workings that will always be there. They are the ghosts of my eternal soul.
I live within, there fore I am. I am within; there fore I am not within. I am, but I am not. Nothing is for certain, and that we can coin with it. We are what we set out to believe and be. What do you want, and how can you get it. Do you know how to get it, and to get it yourself. For you have to be sly and cunning, but not deceiving, honest action and movement. Vivace. Movement. The constant action of the body and mind, which stimulates the senses and keeps the soul sane.
Different types of work, all creative, all approached from a different angle. What a life. We must strive to be more everyday, every single fucking day. We must strive to be better people, we must adore the earth that we walk on, and we must know what is good for us in our heart. We are the people. We are the life that we want to be.
I am no more a truer being than what I was yesterday. I am what I am. I am that which lives on and on and on. And I am what will always be in the person next to me. And within me, and around me, and all over me. I am the power. I am the true being. I am the strength. I am. Me. Love me. Love you. Love all.
Brit Hamlin | Glassblowing major at College for Creative Studies
Jan 25, 2013
Mom, Dad, and I walk into St. Dennis Church on a Sunday morning, a time I always dread. I always have to be quiet and sit still. Not to mention the constant rise and fall from everyone in their pews, saying (and singing) things that I don’t understand. My mom has told me, along with my Catechism classes, about the story of Jesus, and what it means to be a good Christian. I’ve read stories and done exercises, but I never really think about what I’m reading or learning.
I always go along with the flow, knowing my parents and the authorities know what’s best for me. We sit down in our pew, and mass begins. Songs ensue, which I either do not sing at all or sing very quietly. I am constantly frustrated in mass because there are so many times when I don’t know what to say and when to say it; “and also with you”, and “Lord hear our prayer” and even that weird thing that everyone does with the crosses over their foreheads, mouths, and hearts. I just try to follow this the best that I can but I don’t really know or care what it means. All I know is that I can’t wait for communion! I’m excited that I can participate in that now because I feel responsible like the grown-ups. And also, what little boy doesn’t like food, even if it’s a tasteless, dry piece of bread? I usually choose not tot drink the blood of Christ because I’m always afraid I’m going to take too much or spill it (plus, there’s the sharing of everyone’s germs in the whole church). I go back to my seat from communion and meet my dad, who chooses not to participate. It’s just something he has never done.
As mass goes on, my eyes usually wander to the beautiful painting of Jesus behind the altar. It is painted in a very colorful style. I love the inlaid gold halos over the characters’ heads. Old men come by each of our rows and stretch out baskets on long sticks for us all to put money in. My mom puts money in an envelope, representing our family. I don’t think much of it, its’ just charity. I do my best to sit through more songs and stories, and by now I’m tired of standing up. This feels like a waste of time and I just want to go home. Every time I come to mass, I search for the meaning but I leave feeling the same. I hear the final song that is usually played at the end of mass. I get so excited that it is finally time to go home. We get up and walk out, saying goodbye to the priest. As I leave the church I dip my hand in that weird water bowl at the entrance. I don’t’ know what it does . . . magic, I guess. I get in the car, relieved that this ritual is over, somewhat confused about what just happened.
Michael McGee | College for Creative Studies
In January of 2013, Tuning the Student Mind asked students to write about an experience as though it were through the eyes of a seven year old. Click here to see all of the guest blog posts in the Through the Eyes of Your Child Self category. Please feel free to submit your own to, email@example.com!
Jan 21, 2013
It’s the things you can’t see that mean the most or are the most important- from this I take, it’s the things you feel that mean the most.
Driving down the highway on my way to school I feel this build up and eruption of excitement and joy, simply because I’m driving, alone, in a car, on the highway, on my way to college! What?! How can anyone ever be bored? I’m sitting at home, watching something uninteresting to me on the television, in walks this man, he bends down and kisses my forehead and I say “have a good night at work, I love you” as he replies with “I love you too babe!” What? I have this handsome man, living with me, loving me, how could I ever complain? I’m laughing with my sister, I love spending time with her. Where is this place were in? She owns a home now, such a grown up! We’re laughing about something silly in our past, I hear a baby cry and then another! She returns holding two beautiful baby girls. My sister just had twins! What?! How could I ever feel ungrateful, how could I ever feel lonely? Sometimes I find myself getting excited because I can stay up as late as I want, or that every night is like a sleepover with my best friend.
If you look at your life as though you were just seven years old, you would be amazed at how much the stress doesn’t matter. You would feel overwhelmed with how much love and how many wondrous things surround you. Through the eyes of a seven year old, everything is curious, everything is new, everything is exciting, and everything has yet to become routine, normal, usual, boring. Through the eyes of a seven year old there is still magic in the air. Who’s to say we can’t all see like children see?
Megan Marsac | College for Creative Studies
In January of 2013, Tuning the Student Mind asked students to write about an experience as though it were through the eyes of a seven year old. Click here to see all of the guest blog posts in the Through the Eyes of Your Child Self category. Please feel free to submit your own to, firstname.lastname@example.org!
Jan 10, 2013
How does one learn to listen to that inner voice in a society that values alert problem solving and devalues silence? Learning transcendental meditation this past semester has helped me to understand that it was a mistake to believe that what was happening outside of me was creating my life. When in reality my internal self has been creating my life experience all along. Through the practice of meditation I have learned to stop and listen. Listen to what my body and mind were asking for and, more importantly, not allow the troubles in my head to steal too much of my time. Over time I have begun to see that positive thinking will see me through, positive actions will pave the path I seek. The moment I start doubting myself, I will see that doubt reflected in others. Making sure my truest desires influence my actions pushes doubt to the faintest level of my mind. I have learned who I am by recognizing who I am not and by rubbing up against that which I don’t want to be.
When you know who you are, then nothing that happens when exposing yourself to opposing parties is able to penetrate you. You see your pain in all people; you see your struggle in all people because you know you’ve been there before and felt it. You learn not to force your beliefs on others or hold on to feelings that do not belong to you. As William Shakespeare says, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” We all play many roles throughout our life. Our success lies in not losing sight of our inner Self. Commitment to that most silent self is what will ultimately allow one to stay on track.
We can choose what role we want to play in society. We can also choose what it is that we want to give and receive. Though there is no denying that our environment influences how we feel, I now realize that I am the creator of my own cage. The door to my cage is always open. I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations other than my own. Each step I take can be a step toward building that cage or ripping the door open. Being a part of the planning, construction and demolishment of your own story is what makes you alive.
Jennifer Bueso | College for Creative Studies | Interior Design
Jan 9, 2013
In light of Molly’s recent post on the diminishing value of childhood, we are asking students everywhere to blog about what it feels like to be a child. Many refer to the age of seven as the Age of Reason – the age at which a person is considered capable of making reasoned judgments. Turned another way, perhaps seven is simply the age when our sweet selves begin to feel muddied by our immersion in culture. It is our hope that getting back in touch with the most innocent aspect of yourself will inspire you to see the world through the sweetness of those clear eyes.
Here’s the assignment: Blog about a vivid childhood memory. What did it feel like to look at the world through your child eyes? You might write about the first time you rode a school bus, met a new sibling, played a new game, got sent to the principal’s office, etc. Narrate the events as your child self so that the reader is transported in time and space to feel what it felt like, see what it looked like and experience the emotionality of the inner landscape of your child self.
Let’s remind the world of the sweetness of childhood and do our part to resurrect childhood as a time of meaning and importance! Happy Blogging!
Submit blog entries to — email@example.com
Jan 6, 2013
It is my belief that reaching enlightenment will not happen over night or come with force but with ease and great passion towards unlocking the inner core of the mindless self. Fulfillment of this goal comes with perseverance in bettering the current state of living and reflecting on the past, present and future to move forward to a greater state of being. My goal is to continue living with the knowledge and great guidance of those who have come before me and to view life as a weightless journey filled with everyday opportunities that arise from hard work and positivity.
Life has a funny way of throwing you into hard situations that require decision-making and tough choices. There will always be rough points in life which may be difficult to overcome. Not handling a crisis well creates a crooked path into the future. The best way to avoid this is to limit the obstacles that could arise in your life through reflection and the practice of meditation. Preparing for the future isn’t an innate skill set but one that can be learned with knowledge of living accurately.
According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the transcendental meditation movement, “every thought springs from the deepest layer of the mind but is only appreciated consciously when it reaches the superficial level of ordinary awareness. Re organization of mental material goes on in the depths at the subtle levels. Creativity consists in the ability to appreciate and make use of these subtle levels, and this ability in turn depends on the capacity of the individual to allow his mind to become still. One cannot see into the depths of a pool unless the surface is perfectly calm (Anthony Campbell, Seven States of Consciousness: A Vision of Possibilities Suggested by the Teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 137). Reaching those deeper levels of pure tranquility through the practice of meditation helps to release your mind and strengthen your inner creativity. The fact is that creativity is already in existence within you but buried behind the barriers of everyday life. This is the life I want to live and grow from, to be aware of my surroundings and take in the world around me and not be clouded by fear or worry. I want to help others and be the person who spreads the light of guidance to those before me.
Imagine all of the possibilities to cherish life during every moment without having to understand why it is that you are doing what it is you are doing but to simply embrace every moment of existence. This is the path I want to run down – not the crooked un-easy path laid with uneven stones which complicate the surface. The surface of my path should be made smooth by my own reflection and habitual practice of meditation. I want to embrace my inner creativity and relish every aspect of life while inspiring others to feel the same.
Kaylee Johnson | College for Creative Studies
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Jan 5, 2013
Let’s ring in the New Year with a commitment to children everywhere!
In his seminal book,, Neil Postman argues that the invention of the printing press had a profound impact on society and the concept of childhood. Literacy reformed the adult world by creating a required skill set for entry into adulthood. Prior to the development of moveable type, few people in society could read well and the history of knowledge was oral. After the development of the printing press, reading became an adult skill. With literacy came adult “secrets,” information available only to adults who could read. In addition, literacy required schools to teach children how to read.
According to Postman the slow disappearance of childhood began with the advent of electronic communication. Rapid transmission of knowledge and a reliance on visual imagery verses thewritten word replaced the need for literacy. Watching TV requires no skill base. In fact it does not even require a decent attention span. A child watching TV can know everything about the world that an adult knows–sex, violence, commercialism, dirty words. Published in 1982 it is easy to see how prophetic Postman’s original hypothesis has turned out to be.
Here’s to fruitful, evidence based reading! Let’s put our heads together in 2013 and think about how to create a world capable of supporting both ourselves and generations to come.
Dec 25, 2012
Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim, “Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish it all?” — Socrates
A few years ago while shopping in the children’s department at an unnamed location (think Big box retailer), I came across a size 6x “Hello Kitty” thong. I am still haunted by the sighting. For me, the sight of those teeny tiny panties confirmed my worst fears about the diminishing value of childhood in our culture.
Throughout history, the concept of childhood has remained malleable. Numerous scholars have confirmed that as a society experiences shifts in predominate values or norms, concepts of childhood are routinely affected. Despite the popular perception that childhood is a natural state of existence, science has confirmed that childhood is not biologically defined or distinctly uniform. In fact, it is a byproduct of culture. In reality, childhood functions as a manifestation of one’s social world and as such it is uniquely experienced by individual children.
As Max Weber wrote “culture is a finite segment of the meaningless infinity of the world process, a segment on which human beings confer meaning and significance.” The child of history serves not only as a mirror of our cultural values but also a creator of culture in his own right. Children behave to the expectations of our collective mind – acting out with precision our hopes, our fears and our beliefs about the nature of childhood itself.
We know that the role of the child in society has been reinterpreted continually throughout history. The behavior of children changes naturally as a result of these evolving ideologies. There is a natural intersection between what the people believe to be true and the outgrowth of finite behavior. Thus, we understand the example of a “Hello Kitty” thong for a six year old as representing both the growing trend toward the sexualization of children and giving the kids
what they want.
I had a very insightful student write the following lines in a paper this fall: “. . . . .I shouldn’t have worried about fitting in so much. There was no point to rushing into a personality that wasn’t natural. At that point, I was only learning how to play the many roles of personality that I subconsciously play today. I needed much more practice back then.” As the great sage Winnie the Pooh once said, “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.”
All too often we push ourselves and our children to develop in a way that is not aligned with our natural selves. I believe that it is of utmost importance for parents, educators and the elders of community to ensure that children are brought up with both love and discipline. It is the collective responsibility of all of us to teach our children right from wrong, to keep them safe and to remind them daily of their own internal goodness.
Is childhood a social artifact worth saving? If we believe that it is then we must act responsibly to create a world worth living in. We must behave decently to one another. We must work to establish a language of values that supports and protects our children. We must create images that reflect our truest desires rather than our deepest fears. We must see the world as a beautiful sanctuary and our children as our most fragile flowers. Finally, we must feel our own inner goodness, innocence and fragility in a way that reconnects us with the most vulnerable in our midst.
All of my experience as an educator and parent leads me to conclude that a sense of reverence is necessary for the health of our children. If a culture is devoid of reverence, we deny ourselves inspiration. The entire experience of childhood should be about the art of awakening the natural curiosity of innocence. The preciousness of childhood should be savored. It would be a tragedy of untold consequence to allow the slow disappearance of this most human social artifact.
Molly Beauregard | Director/Educational Consultant
Dec 6, 2012
One gorgeous, sunny day in Austin, Texas, I found myself contemplating my career of thirteen years. Actually, I’d begun thinking about leaving three years prior, but this time I was serious and full of courage, determination, and willingness, no longer thinking “what else could I possibly do?!?” You see, I’d worked in public safety since I was twenty-two, working as an EMT and Paramedic in various capacities throughout those years, fighting stress, burn-out and fatigue. Now…I knew it was time to move on! Change was on its way.
I’d been living the high-paced city life for way too long. Often I would rationalize that my pay rate of $12 to $30 per hour, depending on my job assignment, made everything worth it. Being disconnected from emotion as part of my job created an emptiness that is beyond words. The pure stress of my work was almost unbearable at times. I’d frequently eat in the car in order to be able to make my next appointment and I’d always purchase pre-made meals from Whole Foods. I kept a very precise calendar and planned at least one month in advance. On my days off I would deal with severe traffic, often times taking me over an hour to get across town to visit a friend. Occasionally, I didn’t even leave my apartment due to exhaustion. It all took a toll on me, one that came with a high cost to my mind and body – it just wasn’t worth it anymore. I wanted something more fulfilling. I wanted to rediscover myself and find a life that brought me joy.
It’s funny how The Universe works. I’d thought about “going back to school” during those three final contemplative and peace-seeking years. Once, I returned to the community college where I’d taken classes before, attempting to fit my credits into something I wanted to do now. No. That wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I considered various other things I believed I was interested in learning or doing. Those doors closed, too. It was as if The Universe had a plan and if I could get out of the way long enough, It would lead me to the best-suited place I could imagine.
I arrived in Fairfield, Iowa on August 17th, 2011 after selling the majority of my stuff and a two-day drive, pulling the remainder of what I owned in the smallest U-Haul available. Big changes occurred in a very short period of time! Let me recap them for you: I quit the only job I’ve ever really known, got rid of a bunch of material attachments, left my friends and family, and moved to a small town in another state that happens to be in the middle of nowhere. Doubts occasionally filled my mind. “What was I thinking?!? I don’t like cold weather! And the landscape around here isn’t the most enticing.” Yet, somehow, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Fairfield instantly felt like home.
The first few months was a roller-coaster ride! I was met with so much kindness, compassion, and support. I simply didn’t know how to handle it. These concepts were mere concepts before I got here to Fairfield, so my emotions were up and down while I was adjusting to the idea of receiving and trusting. Meditation helped. I was happy I could sit with myself in silence more than two minutes at a time, which is all I could stand when I initially learned basic meditation from a book.
Here at M.U.M. we practice Transcendental Meditation, also known as TM. We meditate in our classroom for ten minutes before lunch, then another twenty minutes prior to the end of the class day. A third meditation is highly encouraged, which I normally did in the mornings before school. TM is a natural stress-releaser, and it helped me purify all the stress I’d built up.
But my purification process took quite a while – it felt like forever! I was enjoying my classes, but my first semester was a bit brutal; at least it was in my head. The community and other students really made the ride easier. They comforted me with their loving arms, which is what I’d been yearning for. It was then I began to understand why all of these people were so compassionate and supportive of one another, because after I’d purged the majority of my own personal stress, I became more like that, more like the person I desired to be. The second semester started off a bit rocky, but once I got past that part I felt re-strengthened, vibrant and confident I could get through anything. I now trusted myself and The Universe, wholeheartedly.
Today, I have truly learned to slow down and trust in the process we call “life.” I enjoy almost everything about living here and going to school at M.U.M. The 1.5 hour work-study shifts are pleasant, even if I only make $7.50 per hour. The cold weather is even bearable. And making plans? HA! I love not having to keep a calendar! I have really learned how to “take it as it comes” and live in the moment. I rarely drive my car these days, often walking or riding my bike around town. I even cook my own meals, frequently sharing time with friends. Most importantly, I’m reconnected to my emotions, body, heart, and mind.
I finally got out of the way. I gave my keys to Divine Order, and The Universe took the wheel. I’m continuing this trip I like to call Transformation and Transcendence. Slowing down and simplicity are now my motto. My meditation mantra is what I use to gain access to The Super-Highway where I’ve found joy! Here…there are no tolls.
Keli Dean | Maharishi University of Management
Dec 6, 2012
“Sometimes you can’t let go of the past without facing it again.”
― Gail Tsukiyama, The Samurai’s Garden
December is a traditionally busy time of year. With finals on the horizon and the rush of finishing up the semester, we at TTSM thought everyone would enjoy escaping for a few hours with a cup of tea and a good read. The Samurai’s Garden, written by American author Gail Tsukiyama, is a beautiful book about love, loneliness, reverence and inner strength.
The book tells the story of a young Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family’s summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. While there he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of one remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu’s secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. The Samurai’s Garden offers the reader a lovely example of the grounding effect of devoting oneself to seeing the beauty in the everyday experience of being alive. It is a soulful book – quiet and tranquil, devoted to the exploration of beauty and love.
This book will offer students a strong contrast to the rushing current of finals season. It is one of those books that literally transport’s the reader to a more gentle, life sustaining space. Sink in and enjoy – Happy Reading!!
Dec 2, 2012
My friend Ali and I were talking this morning about sustainable holiday crafts. No later than when “scented pine cones” came out of her mouth were we outside on a perfect pine cone hunt. Would you believe folks are selling these online for up to $35 for a pack of 14?
Let’s decorate for the holidays from our backyard shall we?
What you’ll need:
About 7 nice looking Pine Cones (add some fallen bark, tree clippings and/or twigs if you wish)
Bowl of Water with about 1 tsp Environmentally Friendly Soap
3 Cinnamon Sticks
A tiny dish of about 30 drops of Essential Oil (Try Pine, Spruce…whatever your heart desires! I used Lavender with a touch of Eucalyptus)
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Large Mason Jar (I had a recycled large freezer bag)
Wash each Pine Cone by splashing them around in the soapy water. Place your Pine Cones on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or until dry.
Let Pine Cones cool. Paint a strip of Essential Oil on each one before placing them in your mason jar or bag. Place the Cinnamon Sticks, Cloves and Nutmeg and the rest of the Essential Oil in the container with the Pine Cones and mix carefully. Don’t open it! OK, TRY not to open it for fear of letting too much scent escape.
Without opening, mix carefully once a day for 10 days and then place your potpourri in a bowl for display. I had an organic candle on a plate I arranged them on.
Your space shall be smelling like December before you know it!
Chelsea Richer | Founder/Creative Director
To see all of our Sustainable DIY projects click here!
Nov 24, 2012
I’m a dreamer. I have a huge imagination and a tendency to idealize the way things should be. But sometimes these high ideals cause me to become impatient because I’m not always able to get to where I want to be fast enough. ‘Start small, think big’ is an aphorism I’ve found comfort in reminding myself over the years, and one I’ve largely benefited from.
I’ve been blogging continuously for about 14 months now, and around the time of my initial blog launch anniversary in October, I realized it was time for a serious blog makeover. I took the best parts of my old blog and transformed it into something bigger and better—Sustainalizer. This transformation made me realize just how far I’d come in a relatively short period of time; that I started on a small scale and now my work is undoubtedly expanding in a positive way.
Sustainalizer is a grassroots hub for socially and environmentally conscious information. It is dedicated to creating a sustainable, just and peaceful world for all beings, by educating people on the most important issues today given humanity’s fragile economic, ecological, and social state. Sustainalizer advocates and shares information on taking action for change, progressive news, healthy recipes and restaurant reviews, self-help and alternative healing.
Start small, think big has been a wonderful affirmation for me; always reminding me that starting on a small scale is not a bad thing. After all, that is what sustainability is all about—building a strong, sustainable foundation so that the future is not compromised by a faulty infrastructure. With enough hard work and persistence, we will all end up where we want to be!
You can subscribe by email to Sustainalizer, here :)
With love and light,
Samantha | (Normally) Your Food Fanatic
Nov 15, 2012
Recently, I read an article about how Facebook improves communication skills. It suggests that social networks are practice for gaining “21st century skills needed to be successful in today’s society”. This pushed my buttons just a little bit. I’m all for Facebook just as much as the next person. It is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. But, there is just something so extremely impersonal about the whole thing.
Facebook offers individuals a way to express themselves freely, which is fine, but it also may indirectly call them to be inconsiderate. I’ve found out things about people that I didn’t want or need to know just by browsing through my news feed. It goes from extreme comments, to mundane information, to something that should be said in person. On the same page I can find out that one friend just made a sandwich or another is dying of cancer. Looking at my own personal experiences of how my friends have communicated with me through Facebook — purposely or not — has left me feeling very unimportant and disconnected.
For one example, my boyfriend of three years broke up with me publicly, via Facebook, by simply changing his relationship status. Not only was it completely insulting that this was not said in person but it was open for everyone to view. Recently a good friend of mine was in a tragic accident. She died shortly thereafter. Instead of having someone track me down or give me a phone call, I found out because of R.I.P. messages being left on her wall. This literally began to happen a scant 15 minutes after her death. Finding out something so heart breaking from starring at a computer screen, made the whole situation even worse.
In the article it says young people use Facebook to build new connections with people from all over the world. But what’s the point of building new ones if you don’t know how to sustain your current ones properly. I grew up with the internet and for a long time I had terrible people skills due to not knowing how to communicate face to face. Facebook is a way of communicating without taking responsibility for what is being said. It makes it seem like the words are not real and do not matter, which in cyberland, I suppose they aren’t. Unfortunately, in real life, casual Facebook messaging can leave a lasting impression on one’s heart.
Christinn Najjar | Photography Student
College for Creative Studies
Nov 14, 2012
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”
Every semester I have my students read a short article written by Harry L. Gracey called “Kindergarten as Academic Boot Camp”. The basic thesis of the article is that the most successful student is typically the child who embodies the rules and routines of the classroom. Gracey offers numerous classroom anecdotes to show how noisy children are quieted, routine is implemented and how school in general exerts a strong “normalizing” influence on children. For some reason, this article outrages my students.
Initially my students’ reaction to the Gracey article surprised and humored me. I couldn’t quite believe that it had never occurred to them that a large part of the learning experience was tied to understanding behavioral expectations. Over time, however, I began to see that my students were not outraged by the imposition of rules and routines in the kindergarten classroom. In fact, they acknowledge the necessity of creating structure. Their frustration lay in the method of communication used by the teacher in the article and, more importantly, the teachers of their collective memories.
It seems that many students “hear” behavioral reprimands as personal critique. Rather than understanding teacher’s words as an attempt to engage them in the routine of the classroom, students interpret reprimands as personal assaults. Thus, severely impacting their developing self esteem and, more importantly, pushing them to the outside edge of the communal classroom. Overtime children who interpret behavioral reprimands as personal assaults begin to feel isolated, misunderstood and alienated from the larger classroom experience.
I have thought a lot about why some children “hear” behavioral reprimands as personal assaults. I can only seem to come up with one hypothesis. Children are generally much better at reading the undercurrent of emotionality than adults realize. A teacher may simply be saying, “Sit still, Johnny”, but Johnny is feeling “Johnny, you are making me nuts.” Johnny is ultimately experiencing rejection from the very person attempting to engage him in the learning process.
We know that classroom success leads to self confidence. How does a young child grow his self confidence when he experiences feelings of rejection in the classroom? It doesn’t matter if the rejection is real or imagined, the perception is what impacts the child. Teaching is an interactional process. Every thought, word and action produces an influence in the classroom atmosphere. The feeling of that atmosphere is dependent on the quality of the vibrations flowing through the teacher. As a result a teacher with love in his/her heart will establish a more loving and nurturing classroom experience. As Jim Henson, the creative genius behind the Muppets once said, “[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
Being a teacher carries with it great potential and great obligation. The current education landscape has as yet no socially based accountability for classroom etiquette. According to my students, teachers would do well to monitor their own stress levels in the classroom, communicate with love in their hearts and understand that children can feel the vibrations beneath your words.
Molly Beauregard | Program Director/Educational Consultant
Click here to read “Kindergarten as Academic Boot Camp” by Harry L. Gracey.
To see all of the “Notes from the Professor” series click here!
Nov 13, 2012
I wanted to make chicken tacos the other night (mexican-style) but then realized I didn’t have any mexican seasoning left. I decided to improvise and use curry instead. I thought I might possibly be the first person to ever make curry chicken tacos, but definitely not. There are plenty of curry chicken taco recipes on the internet, and now mine is just one amongst them all! I made these for my family the other night and they absolutely loved them! The combination is amazing. Enjoy! :)
What you’ll need:
2 organic chicken breasts
1 handful of chives
1 clove fresh garlic
1.5 tablespoons curry powder
Rinse and cut chicken breasts into bite size pieces.
Chop onions, chives, garlic.
Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and then add chicken and onions.
Stir chicken and onions. Once chicken is no longer pink on the outside, add chives and garlic.
Stir together, add 1.5 tablespoons of curry powder and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Stir and let chicken simmer until fully cooked.
Rinse lettuce. Dress taco with lettuce, salsa, sour cream and guacamole! Yum! :)
Samantha | Food Fanatic
Nov 11, 2012
Today, I am graduating from Yoga Teacher Training. The last two months have included well over 200 hours of yoga practice. So instead of giving you a specific project, idea, ritual or practice for living sustainably on this Sunday, I am going to share with you my final paper, which I feel is an approachable anecdote to sustainability through the practice of meditation and yoga.
In Yoga Beyond Belief Ganga White states, “Your entire life is meditation, all other specific forms of meditation are secondary.” In order to lead a fulfilled life, we have ideals for how we must interact with the world. We have life partners, we maintain relationships, we raise children, we work. According to Ganga White, these day-to-day activities are all “entire life” meditations.
What is the difference then, between entire life meditation and specific practice meditation? I have always felt that the benefits of my specific meditation practice come not in the act of sitting, but instead reveal themselves later in ordinary everyday interactions. When I fall out of my specific meditation practice, although I am still “meditating” in everyday life encounters, I am not reaping the benefits from sitting quietly with myself. As White says, “…all other specific forms of meditation are secondary.” However, in my opinion, bringing in a specific meditation practice will transform your entire life.
Because I sometimes choose to fall slightly away from my meditation practice, I am able to more closely examine my body physically, mentally as well as physiologically to process the differences when I am regularly meditating and when I am not. The most specific example I can give for the benefits of regularly meditating is having a language. When I am practicing twice a day for twenty minutes everyday, I reach access to a library of words I cannot find easily when I am out of practice. I am able to hear words flow out of my mouth without thinking about how I want to say them or what order to say them in. It’s as if I am one step ahead of myself, saying exactly what it is I meant to say, yet being amazed by what comes out.
White says in reference to a seated meditation practice, “How can we escape mental pressure through yet another form of effort and control?” I respectfully disagree. Yes, It does take effort and control to have a regular specific meditation practice. For me, it’s a few half sun salutations before sitting and sometimes fighting the urge to burst up and get on with my day. Effort. Control. As I often say, the hardest part about meditating is actually sitting down to do it. Effort. Control. But my specific meditation practice greatly increases my chance to “escape mental pressure.” My regular practice is actually my tool for escaping mental pressure. It has become an organization mechanism in my mind. Seated Meditation allows me to categorize my actions, thoughts, my reactions and my emotions without thinking about each one of them independently.
Where is that space we are going to? What great plethora of “stuff” am I accessing and bathing in when I dive deep? This “stuff” reveals itself in multiple areas of my life, one example is my yoga practice. I have been practicing yoga for less than half the time I have been meditating. My meditation has deeply informed my yoga practice. Additionally I would say that my yoga practice has deeply informed my “entire life meditation”. It has created a space for desire to live a healthy life. It engages me with my community. It makes me want to live in a more sustainable way so that I may be actively involved in helping reduce the damage we consistently do to mother earth. Combining my meditation practice with my yoga practice allows me to resurface from inside my mind with fresh, creative, healthy ideas. These ideas, present themselves to me as if they are separate from me. Ideas that may resonate with other people. Ideas I’d like to share.
I have always been a teacher. When I was seven, living in Oregon as an only child, I remember educating the neighborhood kids on the different trees and bushes and bugs in my backyard. When I was fourteen I would collect a list of all the animals we would see on the way to the bus stop. I would read encyclopedias with intent to teach my friends about the calls of the species we would hear. I would talk about why they are native to our area, what they eat, when they mate. Similarly, as a twenty five year old, I adhere to the practice of yoga. Attaching myself to a lineage right away, knowing what I need from this experience early in the game. The seven and fourteen year old me emerge in my approach to diving deep into the subject, in order to bring the knowledge to others.
Starting Tuning the Student Mind was my attempt to invoke this spirit in others who are my age. As cliché as it sounds, we ARE the future. It is our duty to lead grounded, healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Because yoga and meditation create the space for desire to do those things, we need to bring yoga and meditation to students. Creating academic classes structured around practices that invoke spiritual awakening is no easier than moving a graveyard down the street. But this organization is one of my “entire life meditations”, an idea sparked by the act of meditating itself. And it has transformed in infinite, undeniable ways through of the act of practicing yoga.
It must be then, that your entire life is yoga. Every other specific yoga practice is secondary. I don’t know if Ganga White would agree but this, to me, is the meaning of bringing yoga off your mat. Be it yoga or meditation, both have been deeply seeded in my being for my entire life. Off my mat, in everyday life, on my mat, seated…all of these reach the “stuff” in some way or another. They just all access it and process it differently.
Our entire lives are one full meditation from start to finish. By practicing seated meditation and living our yoga on and off the mat, we learn about our mind, how it works, what it prefers, what it distastes. By bringing the “stuff” out and into our everyday lives, we learn about our full self, how to interact with others, what they prefer, what they distaste. When we are able to analyze both perspectives of meditation – “entire life” meditation and specific practice meditation – and unite them with one another, we are ready to progress, work together, be compassionate, learn, adjust, center and continuously advance.
Chelsea Richer | Founder
Nov 8, 2012
I believe that modern American society has alienated individuals. By creating endless options to everyday life, we are creating a totally personalized separate experience from the rest. Advertisements sell the idea that the product was made special for you – Each time one buys into a product, a company, a social trend, they are also buying into the beliefs that are backed by those things. For instance L’OREAL reminds us, “Because your worth it” but it doesn’t give us any real understanding of what that means.
We use products as comfort mechanisms, their branding views and beliefs slowly becoming our ideas. And those ideals are backed by so many justifications. This overwhelming rational of the modern person requires a customized life. The truth is that the products and their beliefs we accept into our custom lives, are acting as comfort mechanisms, cheat tools and crutches. Customized decision making allows us to believe we are moving into new spaces – Each time the individual makes a choice of what they want to do different from the rest, they make a cut into what is possible, entertaining only the ideal and not the reality of what could be.
There is an overwhelming disconnect hidden by the promotion of the American ideal. Stitched together, for maximum personalization, we believe that combining particular pieces of our social culture will insure custom-fitting individuation. The truth is we are limiting ourselves more now than ever, and our perceptions are choices that obscure the reality of our limitations. By consistently focusing on how our consumer driven choices can be bonded together to create a happy ideal we are missing out on the opportunity to really develop a sense of true self.
I dislike this phenomenon of separation. After all, America was founded on a democratic core belief that the people could work together to make something more than the individual by his/herself was capable of creating. Yes, the individual is responsible for creating the change they wish to see. However real, meaningful change will only come when individuals begin to work together honestly and openly to create a society really worth living in. Instead of focusing so much of our attention on how we can put up walls to separate from each other in our perceived “uniqueness”, we should be focusing on how much we have in common and how we might break down the walls between us to come back together.
Chelsea Depner | College for Creative Studies
Note from the Professor:
Chelsea’s blog discusses the personal impact of living in a consumer culture. While this topic has inspired significant discussions in academic circles, we very rarely read an honest assessment of what it “what it feels like” to be raised in this kind of culture. I suppose a parallel discussion would be chatting about water with a fish.
How do we develop an expansive enough perspective to objectively understand the influence of consumerism on our everyday life experience? Just like our imaginary fish is soaked in water, we are soaked in a culture hijacked by the demands of consumerism. Our identity is tied to purchasing decision in very real ways. (If you are objecting to my statements because you do not own a TV, listen to the BBC for your news and never shop the mall – think again — your rejection of consumerism may just represent the flip side of the same coin. More on that later!).
For those of you who are interested, I am posting two reader friendly references on this very complicated and heady subject. Hopefully, this will jump start further conversation.
Read the chapter entitled “The Magic System” in Problems in Materialism and Culture by Raymond Williams (London, Verso, 1980).
Read the chapter entitled “Running It Up a Flagpole to See if Anyone Salutes” in Ads, Fads and Consumer Culture: Advertising’s Impact on American Character and Society by Arthur Asa Berger (New York, Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).
Molly Beauregard | Program Director/Educational Consultant
Nov 5, 2012
Bill McKibben is one of America’s leading environmentalists. As such, he is a whistle-blower, grassroots activist, and is uncompromising in his efforts to convince Americans that the environment is our greatest resource. The bad news? Mother Nature is hurting. Badly.
Bill makes this point all too clearly in the first half of Eaarth. Mother Nature is so different than it was even 50 years ago that he has come up with a new name for our “new planet”, calling it Eaarth rather than Earth. This book is about all the ways that our oil-dependent culture is raising carbon levels and causing massive catastrophes. Bill’s litany of examples and evidence for human’s hand in global warming is, in my mind, irrefutable. And it is sickening. Thankfully, Bill dwells on the negative only so long to drive our hope into the ground with the weight of a sledgehammer before bringing the reader up for air.
There is hope, Bill says. But action is necessary. And NOW. We’ve already exceeded the threshold for what Mother Nature can handle in terms of carbon in the atmosphere. Do we really need more evidence of this than the most recent Superstorm Sandy in New York City?
So, gather your neighbors, build your garden plots, and put a halt to our notions of “growth” that got us in this predicament in the first place. Growth is not about more cars, bigger houses, and more lavish vacations for a few in an insulated resort. This stuff is nonsense when our greatest resource is gulping for clean air. Growth in today’s world, Bill’s Eaarth, will come in the way of community gardens, smarter travel, teamwork and utilizing the information available on the internet to help us get it all done.
I was devastated while reading this book. And then I was inspired. Now I’m acting.
Rob Jackson | Filmmaker
Nov 4, 2012
It’s that time of year. Mid-terms, and the inevitable feeling of being completely drained. I used to always get sick the week of midterms…until I started this ritual.
One time I called in sick to work, and I really was sick. My boss told me to put a few tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water and mix it with honey. She told me to drink this concoction a couple times a day. IT WORKED! I felt great! Except I had to go to work.
Something I learned recently from my roommate was to put a clove of garlic on a spoon and top it with local honey. This is traditionally used as an allergy snap but I have been using it for the common cold. I add a little slice of Ginger for an extra kick.
Also, I highly recommend taking Echinacea.
Since I too have been fighting off illness lately, I have been doing this ritual daily, right after my morning meditation, which by the way will also aid in fighting a cold!
Don’t go purchasing little plastic pill bottles and filling your body with chemicals…everything you need came right from nature!
p.s. I also found this recipe for Honey Lemon Throat Drops. I’m dying to try them.
Nov 3, 2012
This is a fav of mine! It’s a super protein rich panini you can make anytime of day – I usually have it for breakfast or lunch.
What you’ll need:
- 4 slices organic cold cut salami
- 1 slice cheddar cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 pieces of your favorite bread
- Olive oil OR butter
- Make 1 egg over easy and set it aside.
- Drizzle frying pan with a generous amount of olive oil – warm oil on medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, place one piece of your bread in the pan with salami and cheese on top of it.
- Put the flame on low heat and cover sandwich for about 30 seconds with a lid so cheese melts a bit.
- Remove lid, place egg on top of the open faced sandwich.
- Cover panini with second piece of bread, flip it over with a spatula and allow the other piece of bread to brown (make sure there is enough oil in the pan – you don’t want a dry panini!)
- Cover panini with lid for another 30 seconds – remove lid - remove your panini from the pan, place it on a serving plate. Lightly compress (push down on) top of panini with spatula, then cut in half and enjoy!
Samantha | Food Fanatic
Oct 26, 2012
I love having something warm and nourishing for breakfast, especially with the change of season
and colder weather rolling around! This morning I made a super yummy brown rice almond butter porridge. If you already have left over brown rice, it should only take about 5 minutes to make.
What you’ll need:
- Cooked brown rice
- Almond milk (homemade preferred)
- Roasted almond butter
- Optional: Honey or maple syrup
- Take desired amount of rice (I used about 1 1/2 cups) and put it in a small pot.
- Put about half a cup or a little more of almond milk in with your rice.
- Put the lid on the pot and let the rice and almond milk simmer for about 2-3 mins, or until soft.
- Add 1 tablespoon almond butter to the rice. You can also add a little honey or maple syrup for a sweeter porridge. Mix it up until porridge becomes creamy. Let simmer for another 2 minutes.
- Add a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon, and serve.
Samantha | Food Fanatic