Check out bizHUMM for all things small business

January 24, 2015

New Free Business Resource Website to Help Small Companies Grow

I’d like to introduce you to a brand new business resource website — bizHUMM.com — for all things small business. A lot of care, thought, creativity, valuable knowledge, and pure fun went into producing this website. It was created and directed by my brother-in-law, Laurie Sluser, with help from the Integrated Internet Marketing team at Galaxy Ninja.

I’ve known Laurie for a long time. We taught TM together in Montreal over 40 years ago and he married one of my sisters. So we’ve been together as a family for a long time. Laurie started this website with another longtime mutual friend, Ruby Finkelstein. We all live in Fairfield, Iowa. I asked Laurie about his new company, where the idea came from, and what he hopes to accomplish with it.

bizHUMM homepage

Click image to enlarge details.

Ken Chawkin: What exactly is bizHUMM?

Laurie Sluser: bizHUMM is a content rich website that offers excellent and practical resources for entrepreneurs, owners and managers to help them grow their small businesses. When you visit our site you will see that we are starting with useful written content and in the coming year we’ll be adding engaging video content, webinars and online training programs — all for small businesses.

KC: How did you come up with the idea?

LS: Well, I’ve worked in business most of my life. Most recently, for the past 16 years, I ran a national software engineering staffing company. I have had the joy of working with smart people, close friends and family and we all wore many hats. And one experience repeated itself over and over again. A problem would arise and we wanted a solution now. Google is great but the searches for our needs were often unsatisfactory. It was obvious that there was a gap in the market.

When I went out on my own last summer I got together with Ruby, a lifelong friend of mine, and we were determined to come up with a solution to this market need. There should be one site with practical answers and useful information for every phase and type of small business — software companies and florists, restaurants and online businesses, consultants and manufacturers. You get the idea — one site that helps all types of small businesses to grow. And from that inspiration bizHUMM emerged.

KC: I see you are in Beta (test) mode now. When do you officially launch, and does it cost anything to join?

LS: It’s taken us the better part of one year but we are finally there and ready to launch our small business resource website. We just launched our Beta version for about a 5-week period and are limiting ourselves to 1000 founding members. It’s free and very easy to sign up. Please go to http://bizhumm.com and set up your own account. It would mean a great deal to me for you to join our Beta group. Kindly share bizHUMM.com with your friends who you think would benefit, and we really look forward to any feedback you may have. Thanks so much, I appreciate your support!

KC: How did you come up with the name, bizHUMM? And who or what is Hummy?

bizHUMM beta logo

LS: Ruby asked me what I wanted to call the business, and the name just burst out of me. It just came right out of the clear blue. Biz, because it had something to do with small business, and humm just came before I could even think about it. So I thought bizHUMM. As soon as I said it, Ruby loved it. He asked me, “How do you spell it?” I answered, “b-i-z-h-u-m-m.” He said, “Shouldn’t it be one m?” And I replied, “No, it’s got to be two m’s.” The whole thing happened in two minutes without thinking. We were laughing, we knew we had a name people would relate to. When I mention it to friends, they love the name.

KC: Why do you spell it the way you do?

LS: It’s for small businesses wanting to create a big HUMM. :-)

HUMM of the DAYAs for Hummy, we wanted a smart, lovable spokesperson with a name that played off of bizHUMM. We came up with the name Henry Hummingbird, or Hummy for short. He’s a tiny hummingbird with big dreams. You can read more about Hummy on his bio page.

KC: I notice your website has a HUMM of the day. What is that?

LS: The featured post of the day or Humm of the Day is found at the top of the home page each day. But there is a good deal of useful content in every area of business activity.

KC: What can anyone running their own business, or working in one, gain from your website?

LS: We have a free content website that organizes its posts into 5 main categories of Startups, Sales, Marketing, Technology and Finance. These 5 areas are then broken down into almost 50 subcategories such as Sales Training, SEO, Finance Software and so on. The idea is to have one resource that can introduce you to practical content in any area your small business may need to promote its growth.

KC: How can people get more out of your website? Are there any added fees for these services?

LS: The site is and will always be free. Later this year, we will introduce a Premium membership program. However, we will be adding free webinars and video content for our regular members as well.

KC: Thank you for your time. I wish you a lot of success with this new venture, and success to those fortunate enough to take advantage of your generous time and energy.

LS: Thanks Ken. I appreciate you sharing this. Here’s wishing success to all your readers.

Editor’s note: GETTING STARTED: Discover the 12 most popular bizHUMM features: http://bizhumm.com/getting-started.

Greg Reitman’s film, ROOTED in PEACE, inspires us to change from within to transform the world

January 22, 2015

Rooted in Peace PosterThis Saturday, January 24, 2015, PublicVine will host a private screening of Sundance award-winning director/producer Greg Reitman’s latest film, ROOTED in PEACE. The event will be held at the I-Heart Radio Lounge located in the heart of Sundance on Main Street in Park City, Utah. The film will be presented using PublicVine’s innovative social media platform. There will be a live question and answer after the screening with filmmaker Greg Reitman, PublicVine CEO Nam Mokwunye, and writer/producer Scott Zarakin, followed by an after party for all in attendance.

Greg Reitman says one of the most important issues for filmmakers wanting to get their films out into the marketplace is being able “to reach the widest available audience while retaining as much financial control as possible.” He feels PublicVine’s platform will provide “a perfect balance for releasing our new film, ROOTED in PEACE.” And when it comes to reaching consumers for digital transactions on a world-wide level Reitman adds, “PublicVine’s platform is going to be a game-changer for filmmakers.”

PublicVine CEO Nam Mokwunye points out that Reitman’s screening of ROOTED in PEACE “from his channel on PublicVine could be a first in film history.” He says it will only “give us a glimpse of what is possible with PublicVine and what opportunities lie ahead.”

Read the press release to find out more details about this innovative social video marketplace and how it can benefit filmmakers.

About ROOTED in PEACE

Greg_ReitmanROOTED in PEACE challenges viewers to examine their values as Americans and human beings. Today we are at war within ourselves, with our environment, and with the world. Director and award-winning filmmaker Greg Reitman invites viewers on a film journey to take notice of the world we live in, proactively seek ways to find personal and ecological peace, and stop the cycle of violence.

The film relies not only on memoir, but also interviews with such luminaries and activists as Deepak Chopra, music legends Donovan, Mike Love, and Pete Seeger, film director David Lynch, Noble Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, media mogul Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, green architect William McDonough, physician and best-selling author Mark Hyman, neuroscientists Dan Siegel and Fred Travis, sustainability and nutritional experts, and many more.

Reitman learns from all of them, and heeds Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s words, that if the forest is to be green, every tree must be green; if there’s going to be Peace on earth, then everybody needs to experience that quality of Peace within themselves. And so in asking viewers to do the same, Reitman poses the basic question: How do we want to live?

Reitman’s journey is an example of transformation — how one person can learn to make the necessary changes to enjoy a better life — and in so doing inspire others to want to improve their own lives, and society as a whole.

Greg Reitman is the founder of Blue Water Entertainment, Inc., an independent production company focusing on environmentally conscious entertainment. Widely regarded as Hollywood’s “Green Producer,” Greg produced the 2008 SUNDANCE Audience Award-winning feature documentary “FUEL.” He wrote, produced, and directed the feature documentary “HOLLYWOOD’S MAGICAL ISLAND- CATALINA” (PBS) and returns back on the festival circuit with his latest revolutionary feature documentary film, “ROOTED in PEACE.” He’s currently in development on the motion picture film: “The Roni Levi Story.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Scott Cawelti: It’s about time for “Quiet Time”

January 12, 2015

This Quiet Time article appeared in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. It is published here with permission from the columnist, Scott Cawelti, a retired professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, freelance writer and musician. Contact him at cawelti@forbin.net. Click here to see Scott Cawelti BIO. Photo by Doug Hines.

It’s about time for “Quiet Time”

January 11, 2015 6:00 am  • 

Nothing succeeds like success, as they say, and I’m here to report two genuine successes. One is small, the other large, a possible game-changer.

The small success involves my own daily meditation practice. It began over 30 years ago and continues to this day.

As a young assistant professor teaching anywhere from 90 to 250 students in three classes, struggling with writing conference papers, grading piles of student essays, meeting with students, attending multiple faculty committees, facing constant pressure to do more and do better, I was stressed. I mean, stressed out, exhausted, short-tempered and chronically anxious. I was staying afloat, but barely.

In those days, Cedar Falls had a Transcendental Meditation Center down on Third and Main streets, and a couple of friends each recommended I try TM.

Scott Cawelti

Scott Cawelti

I did, and it worked. Within a few days of twice-daily meditation, I began feeling relaxed, then peaceful, then downright blissed out. Well, not quite, but close.

And it continued. No one was more surprised than I.

Over the years I’ve attended meditation workshops, modified my practice slightly, and still continue meditating twenty minutes, twice a day. It has made all the difference in my stress level, and I’m still alive, well and pushing 72.

I’m convinced regular brain-quieting has given me more, and better, years. That’s what meditation does, by the way: quiets our always-buzzing brains.

I recommend some form of meditation for anyone who feels overwhelmed with pushes and pulls beyond their control. If it worked for me, it will work for you.

Beyond my own small life, there’s a much larger meditation success story that recently made national news.

At Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, they began a program in 2007 of twice-daily “quiet time” breaks for the entire school. This particular school sits in a rough, even violent, neighborhood. Attendance, academic scores and teacher and student retention were dismal.

Teachers and students alike hated the chaos of school days. In other words, the school made no progress toward anything but failure.

Now, after over seven years, they can judge Quiet Time’s success. It’s been dramatic, schoolwide and heartening. This is how David Kirp, a professor of public policy at Berkeley, describes the results:

“In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly. About 20 percent of graduates are admitted to Lowell High School – before Quiet Time, getting any students into this elite high school was a rarity. Remarkably, in the annual California Healthy Kids Survey, these middle school youngsters recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco.”

Amazing but true. Kirp continues:

“On the California Achievement Test, twice as many students in Quiet Time schools have become proficient in English, compared with students in similar schools where the program doesn’t exist, and the gap is even bigger in math. Teachers report they’re less emotionally exhausted and more resilient.”

Incidentally, students are not forced to practice TM. They can simply close their eyes, daydream, nap — as long as they’re quiet during those two 15-minute periods.

Parents must give permission if they want their child to learn the meditation technique.

I can hear objections: wasting valuable school time, returning to hippie-dom, imposing a religious practice in a state school. All of these seem to be satisfactorily answered, since the program’s success with the parents’ permission for seven years speaks for itself.

Best of all, Quiet Time costs virtually nothing, and it affects whole schools so positively (based on real data) it’s at least worth a look.

My own small success story offers unqualified support.

Much more power to them.

# # #

Quiet Time at Visitacion Valley Middle School

Principal James Dierke first implemented the Quiet Time Program at Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco. As a result of his school’s dramatic turnaround he was selected NASSP National Middle School Principal of the Year in 2008. Principal Dierke wrote an article about it (a Quiet Transformation) for Leadership, a publication of the Association of California School Administrators. He concluded, “I retire with the lowest blood pressure I have had in 10 years and a great optimism about our ability to realize this vision for education.”

NBC Nightly News reports on the Quiet Time Program

NEW VIDEO: With the successful transformation of Visitacion Valley Middle School several schools in the San Francisco Unified School District also incorporated the meditation-based Quiet Time Program with amazing results. Cynthia McFadden visited both Visitacion Valley Middle School and Burton High School and filed a report on December 30, 2014 for NBC Nightly News: San Francisco Schools Transformed by the Power of Meditation. Visit the David Lynch Foundation for more on the Quiet Time program in schools.

Edutopia reported on Quiet Time at Visitacion Valley Middle School

David Markus, former Editorial Director of Edutopia, had visited the school and produced this report: Risking Peace at a Troubled School. Below is the video: How Daily Meditation Improves Behavior. Here is another video on the school’s program: Meditation in San Francisco School Improves Learning

World-famous classical guitarist @SharonIsbin says #TranscendentalMeditation “helped make me the person that I am.”

January 7, 2015

Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin has been a trailblazer for both female musicians, and the guitar’s place in the world of classical music. A winner of two Grammys, she is the director of guitar programs at the Juilliard School and at the Aspen Music Festival. Liz Robbins interviewed Ms. Isbin for The New York Times and wrote this fascinating article on the world’s greatest classical guitarist: Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity. The Jan 2, 2015 Sunday Routine featured photos, other aspects of her life, and a short video of Sharon playing guitar. The article was well-written and richly put together. This part took me by surprise:

I have done Transcendental Meditation since I was 17 years old. I do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. I really believe it has helped make me the person that I am. Because it is an extraordinary way to release stress and allow it to dissolve, so that you can focus on what you want to focus on, and have your energy towards very positive things.

Sharon Isbin: Cosmic Performer

An earlier insightful article written by Linda Egenes for Enlightenment, The Transcendental Meditation Magazine (Issue 7) sheds more light on this topic: An Interview with Sharon Isbin: The Monet of Classical Guitar. Knowing that Sharon had been practicing TM since she was 17 years old, Linda asked how it had benefited her life, especially performing in front of live audiences. Her amazing reply reveals an enlightened performer.

As a musician, TM enhances my mental stamina, memory, concentration, and ability to learn. It puts me in touch with my innermost creative core and enables its expression through music. Most importantly, it facilitates instant access to a state of “cosmic immersion,” that feeling of being in the flow, or in “the zone.”

Sharon IsbinWhen I perform onstage, I enter a state of being very similar to the one I enter daily when practicing TM. It’s a sense of communion with the energy of the universe, the audience, the composer, and the music—without ego or interference. It’s a feeling of unity between me and the listeners, a sense of “oneness” in which we are all experiencing the beauty of the music together. That sensation is one of the reasons live performances can be so powerful—everyone is focused and transported, and the experience is unique and in the moment, never to be replicated.

Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends

Linda also asked Sharon questions about her musical influences and her work as a performer, teacher and collaborator, in particular about her new CD at the time, (August 30, 2011) Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends. This promotional video shares music and interviews with Sharon and Steve Vai; in studio with Nancy Wilson (Heart) and Stanley Jordan; previews with Steve Morse, Paul Winter, Rosa Passos, Romero Lubambo, and Thiago de Mello.

Documentary Film: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour

Sharon Isbin is also featured in a new documentary film that came out towards the end of last year, and is still being aired on public television: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour. The one-hour documentary produced by Susan Dangel (2014), includes guests Martina Navratilova, Michelle Obama, Joan Baez, Steve Vai, Stanley Jordan, Garrison Keillor, David Hyde Pierce, Janis Ian, Lesley Gore, Mark O’Connor, Tan Dun, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, Joan Tower, Leonard Slatkin, Thiago de Mello, Paul Winter, and more, with Isbin’s performances showcased from international concert stages to the GRAMMYs and White House.

American Public Television presents the national broadcast on nearly 200 public television stations in the US Nov 2014 – March 2015. Video Artists International will release it on DVD/Blu-ray with added performances. See http://www.sharonisbintroubadour.com for screenings, broadcast, and release information.

Sharon Isbin on The Leonard Lopate Show

Today, Wed, January 7, 2015, WNYC’s Leonard Lopate interviewed Sharon Isbin about the program: A New Documentary On The Acclaimed Classical Guitarist, Sharon Isbin (16:33). Leonard asks Sharon about her Transcendental Meditation practice at the 10:50 mark. She answers at 11:08–12:20. Leonard mentions Julliard School inviting Sharon to head up a guitar department in their Music division and asks if Transcendental Meditation is part of the program. At the request of the David Lynch Foundation, Sharon did invite teachers to introduce the TM technique to Julliard faculty, staff, and students, offering to make it available for free. Listen to the interview here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/sharon-isbin.

Visit Sharon Isbin’s website, www.sharonisbin.com, for more information: biography, press, music, videos, tours, and more.

A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are

January 2, 2015

I recently enjoyed watching Words and Pictures, a 2013 film about a male English teacher and a female art instructor who form a rivalry that ends up galvanizing students in a competition to decide the most effective way to communicate, using words or pictures. This battle between mind and heart, ideas and feelings, is also about self-discovery, expressing one’s creativity, and the blocks that get in the way. Cleverly written by Gerald Di Pego, a one-time English teacher, and faithfully directed by Fred Schepisi, it stars Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, and Bruce Davison. Visit the film’s website for more info: http://wordsandpicturesthemovie.com.

I especially liked the quotes about writing and art, the word vs. the image. A poem by Mary Oliver was supposed to be featured in the film. They never said which one, but kept waiting for permission to use it. By the time the answer came in, no, it was too late, and they had to come up with a replacement. The pressure was on screenwriter Gerald Di Pego. Being a poet himself, and seeing how this was his screenplay, the muse inspired him and he wrote this very vivid and appropriate poem, just in time. Juliette Binoche liked it, which came as a relief to him and the director. I found it online and wanted to share it with you. The poem plays a central role, but you’ll have to see the film to find out who wrote it and how it’s used.

WHO ARE YOU?

I am a small poem
On a page with room
For another.

Share with me
This white field,
Wide as an acre
Of snow, clear
But for these tiny
Markings like the
Steps of a bird.
Come. Now.

This is the trough
Of the wave, the
Seconds after
Lightning, thin
Slice of silence
As music ends,
The freeze before
The melting. Hurry.

Lie down beside me.
Make angels. Make devils.
Make who you are.

As you can see, the poem invites you to create and become who you are, from that gap, the transitional point of possibility, and to share in the experience with another. Here’s a poem I wrote after a special painting class that seems relevant: ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening.

Interestingly, the Special Features part of the DVD revealed that Juliette Binoche, an artist in her own right, offered to do all of the paintings herself, which thrilled both writer and director. Because her character is dealing with physical challenges due to her medical condition, she had to paint in different styles, from portraiture to more abstract. Binoche enjoyed the added challenge and it possibly influenced her own future work.

Here is the official Words and Pictures – International Trailer (2014) HD.

The featurette also confirmed for me where they had made the film. The story is set in a New England prep school, but was actually shot at St. George’s School, an independent boarding and day university-preparatory school for boys in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a.k.a., Hollywood North.

I recognized the location, and it reminded me of a story I had heard on a local CBC radio talk show during my stay there. The guest was an English teacher who taught at St. George’s School. One of the topics being discussed was meeting famous people. Listeners called in to share their stories and the teacher related an unusual event that had recently happened to him.

He had gone shopping at a well-known store for comfortable walking shoes. He settled on a particular pair and the sales clerk told him it was a popular item. She said someone famous had been in that morning and purchased a similar pair. She left to find out the name of the celebrity, but got sidetracked, so he left.

He put on his new shoes and, as was his routine everyday after lunch, he went for a walk in the forest next to the school property. While walking along the path, looking downwards, ahead of him he saw a pair of shoes just like his coming toward him. He looked up and saw someone he never would have expected walking in the woods. He pointed at him in surprise trying to say his name, but it came out as gibberish. The person mimicked him sputtering his name. It was Robin Williams! I think he was in town at that time filming Jumanji.

They had a wonderful walk and talk together. Robin had asked him what he did for a living and where he worked, something he could identify with having played an English teacher at an elite boys prep school in Dead Poets Society. When they reached the edge of the forest, there was Robin’s stretch limousine parked on the street waiting for him. He invited him into the car saying they would drop him off at the school.

Now this man was not the most popular teacher at the school. When they pulled up, he got out of the limo, and all heads turned to look at him. Then Robin lowered the darkly tinted window, stuck his head out, and thanked the teacher for a wonderful time. All the kids’ jaws dropped! And from that day on he was the coolest person at school. Thank you, Robin! You knew what you were doing. God Bless you, wherever you are.

Winding up the year with inspiration from Hafiz

December 29, 2014

We are coming to the end of the year 2014. It seemed like a rough one for many, personally, and collectively for the world. I’ve finished reading A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations, translated by Daniel Ladinsky. There is usually one poem a day per page. It was a gift from friend and author Steven Verney. Here are 3 poems towards the end of the book, end of the year, that talk about endings, and, in a way, new beginnings. May they inspire you as we transition into the new year, and for some, into a new life in 2015.

A Prayer I Sometimes Say

It is the Beloved who is revealed in every
face, sought in every sign,

gazed upon by every eye, worshipped in
every object that is adored, pursued in the
visible and in the unseen.

Not a single one of His creatures, not a
single one, my dears, will

fail to someday find the divine Source
in all of its primordial and glorious nature.

And be forever united with the Infinite,
because that—God—is really you.

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, look what your
words have become—the restoration of
Truth, the regeneration of Life itself.

December 23, page 391

* * * * *

The Tender Mouth Of The Earth

What will the burial of my body be? The
pouring of a sacred cup of wine into the earth’s

tender mouth and making my dear sweet lover
laugh one more time.

What is the passing of a body? The glorious
lifting of the spirit into the sacred arms of the

Sky, and making existence smile, one more, one
more time.

December 28, page 396

* * * * *

A River Understands

I used to know my name. Now I don’t. I
think a river understands me.

For what does it call itself in that blessed
moment when it starts emptying into the
Infinite Luminous Sea,

and opening every aspect of self wider than
it ever thought possible?

Each drop of itself now running to embrace
and unite with a million new friends.

And you were there, in my union with All,
everyone who will ever see this page.

December 29, page 397

* * * * *

One poem about a river is beautifully told by William Stafford in his poem, Ask Me, where he looks to the stillness in the river to inform him, and the person asking him about his life, and, in a way, the creative process in the moment. Another poem of his, Something That Happens Right Now, also leaves you with a similar unbounded feeling as this last Hafiz poem does.

See other inspiring poems by Hafiz, translated by Ladinsky, posted here.

From Jerry Seinfeld to the US Army, regular TM energizes, clarifies, and heals mind and body

December 21, 2014

You don’t have to be a wounded warrior returning home traumatized and depressed to benefit from Transcendental Meditation. Even comedian Jerry Seinfeld says his regular TM practice gives him a rested body and a clear mind, and the energy to do almost anything. For Jerry, it’s his ultimate work tool for success! Here are two articles about TM’s value.

TM is the ultimate work tool for Jerry Seinfeld

New York Magazine’s Dan Hyman interviewed Jerry Seinfeld, again, for Vulture: Jerry Seinfeld on the Comedians in Cars Season Finale and Late-Night TV. It’s excellent and revealing! At the end, Dan asks Jerry how he stops obsessing about creating his comedy bits and web series, and mentions his longtime TM practice. Jerry’s reply beautifully sums up the value of regular Transcendental Meditation practice!

How do you relax when not obsessing over your bits or working on your web series? I know you’re a longtime practitioner of Transcendental Meditation.

I’m obsessed about that, too. In fact, that’s what I’m going to do as soon as we hang up. I started doing TM in ’72, and that’s kind of how I recover from doing things that are tiring. It keeps my energy really high. I don’t know if it clears your mind. What it really does is it helps your body and mind to rest. They don’t really get a good rest in sleep. And this has been studied by virtually every medical school in America these past 40 years or whatever that this stuff has gotten popular here. And if you just look at the medical research of what goes on in the brain and the body in this process, it’s totally different from sleep. So forget about relaxation or anything like that: It’s the ultimate work tool to me. It’s like you have a phone and someone hands you the charger and you go, “Just try plugging this in and watch what your phone will do now.”

It’s the ultimate work tool to me. It’s like you have a phone and someone hands you the charger and you go, “Just try plugging this in and watch what your phone will do now.”

Listen to Jerry Seinfeld talk about TM in other venues posted here.

US Army uses TM to help heal wounded warriors

This article, Transcendental meditation: A path to healing, is archived on WWW.ARMY.MIL, The Official Homepage of the United States Army. Written by Wesley Elliott, DDEAMC Public Affairs Officer, it first appeared on the front page of The Fort Gordon Signal: Soldiers meditate as alternative therapy.

After nine months of combat in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Todd Knauber was wounded. Upon his return home he was told things would get better, but instead they got worse. He was in pain, depressed, taking a cocktail of medications, and didn’t know where to turn for help. Then someone gave him an opportunity to participate in Transcendental Meditation as part of his treatment at the Eisenhower Army Medical Center. TM was being offered as an alternative way to help heal his wounds, both physical and mental. It turned his life around. Here is an excerpt from the article.

“I got to a tipping point. Things were bad, but then I was given the greatest gift I have ever received from a stranger.”

Knauber was offered an opportunity to participate in Transcendental Meditation as part of his treatment at Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

Transcendental Meditation was something he had never heard of but it offered him the possibility of dealing with the medications, the nightmares, and the physical and emotional pain.

“It was not a branch for me to grab hold of but rather a taproot under my feet. A stable platform which gives me a moment’s respite so I can put my pain into perspective enough that I can reattempt the climb.”

Since he began meditating, there has been a change in his life. He meditates twice a day for 20 minutes and over the course of four months, he has been able to entirely discontinue two medications, Prazosin and Trazadone, and has reduced his Zoloft by half.

In addition to the calm he says he experiences through Transcendental Meditation, Knauber says it has made it easier to manage his physical pain from his injuries.

“I typically have a regimen of several pain medications to manage my physical injuries. Rather than taking a handful of pills seven days a week, I can manage my pain regularly with a few tablets, two to three times a week.”

Others have even told him that he looks like an entirely different person after starting to meditate.

“I am vibrant, I smile, and I look much more grounded. The truth is you can’t practice Transcendental Meditation without it positively affecting you.”

The truth is you can’t practice Transcendental Meditation without it positively affecting you.” — Staff Sgt. Todd Knauber

Doctors promised him through medication and hard work he could potentially heal over the course of years, but since Transcendental Meditation he has moved much closer to achieving his recovery in months.

“At times the troubling thoughts and nightmares come back, but as a whole, the progress is palatable.”

“I feel more in control of my life now, and I’m becoming hopeful about rebuilding and getting better.”

See many more articles on the value of TM for Veterans posted on this blog, here, here, and here. Check out this website to find out more about TM for Veterans.

The David Lynch Foundation brings support and programs to Veterans and their families. Visit their website: Operation Warrior Wellness.

Who was Dear Prudence the Beatles sang to in India? What happened to her? Here is her story.

December 21, 2014

See the full article with more photos and quotes featured in the 21st issue of Enlightenment: The Transcendental Meditation® Magazine: The “Dear Prudence” Story by Rolf Erickson. Reprinted here with permission including the video: Dear Prudence: A Portrait Of Prudence Farrow Bruns.

The “Dear Prudence” Story

BY ROLF ERICKSON

photo_prudence01Prudence Farrow Bruns, PhD, is the daughter of actress Maureen O’Sullivan and award-winning writer/director, John Farrow. She has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique for 48 years, and has been a teacher of the TM program for 46 years.

It all started so simply. It was 1966, and 18-year-old Prudence Farrow was sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at her brother’s home in Los Angeles. She was reading a book on meditation when she heard a voice say, “If you’re interested in meditation, I know just the meditation for you.”

The voice was that of Peter Wallace, a friend of her brother. Peter had spent six months traveling through India, where he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and began the Transcendental Meditation technique. He told her how simple and effortless the technique was, and yet how profound the experience and benefits could be.

“It was the simplicity of the practice that struck me most,” Prudence said. “I’d been trying different methods of meditation for some time, but they had all been complicated and difficult. When Peter described a simple, natural practice of diving deep within, I knew he was truly onto something.”

So Prudence learned the TM technique at UCLA. After experiencing the positive effects of TM for herself, Prudence wanted more. She wanted to meet Maharishi and to study with him. “At that time Maharishi had courses in India,” says Prudence. “He brought people there, and they studied for three or four months with him. You meditated for long periods under his guidance.”

On January 23, 1968, three days after her 20th birthday, Prudence traveled with Maharishi from New York to Rishikesh, India to attend her TM teacher training course. And that’s when the “Dear Prudence” story really began.

The Beatles Make the Scene

One month after Prudence arrived in Rishikesh, The Beatles showed up to study with Maharishi. While they all spent some time there, John Lennon and George Harrison stayed the longest.

“The Beatles were all very nice, humble, modest, kind, and down-to-earth people,” Prudence remembers. “I was closest to John and George, since they were my ‘course buddies’ during our studies with Maharishi. We were supposed to look out for each other during the course.”

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Prudence (left) sat next to Ringo in course photo.

Prudence soon became known for her tendency to keep to herself in her room, focused on her meditation practice. “I was deeply immersed in my studies and meditation, locked away in my quarters. John, as my course buddy, was concerned and wanted to bring me out of my room to enjoy the experience more.”

John and George would come over to her room and play their guitars, encouraging her to come out and sing with them. It was this experience that became the inspiration for their song “Dear Prudence” in which John sings, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?”

Before he left Rishikesh, George mentioned to Prudence that they had written a song about her, but she had no idea what it was. She didn’t hear the song until it came out on their 1968 album The Beatles, commonly known as the “White Album.”

Prudence’s dedication to her meditation practice did pay off. After four months, she graduated from the course and became one of the first and youngest teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique at that time.

But that was just the beginning of the “Dear Prudence” story.

Prudence Comes out to Play

Once she completed her teacher training course in India, Prudence definitely did come out to play. Over the past 46 years, she’s instructed thousands of people in the TM technique throughout the United States and Canada. She married TM teacher Al Bruns in 1969, and they have three children and four grandchildren.

She’s produced Hollywood feature films and a play in Manhattan. She was an assistant to the curator of the “Theatre Collection” of the Museum of the City of New York. She has been a magazine writer. She’s written two books.

Prudence earned a BA, an MA, and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her doctoral degree in 2007, with a major in South Asian Studies and Sanskrit. She has made presentations to conferences at numerous universities, including Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Hawaii. She’s taught courses at UC Berkeley and Rutgers University.

TM and Yoga

Prudence continues to teach the TM program in Florida. In fact, she’s the most successful teacher in the U.S. at setting up Affiliate Programs in yoga studios. Maybe that’s not so surprising, considering that she’s a lifelong yoga practitioner, and she opened a yoga institute in Boston back in 1967.

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Prudence attended India’s Kumbh Mela last year.

Maharishi Foundation created the Affiliate Program to bring TM to yoga studios and fitness centers. When a studio becomes an Affiliate, their members can learn TM at a reduced course fee, and the studio receives a share of the income. Everyone benefits—the new TM student, the yoga studio, and the local TM teachers.

Today most people think of yoga as a series of physical postures. But Maharishi has explained that in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali identifies eight limbs of yoga, and the eighth limb is Samadhi or transcendental consciousness. Maharishi said that with the practice of TM, Samadhi is actually the easiest limb of yoga to achieve, since no effort is required. We simply tap into the natural tendency of the mind to go within, to transcend, and that transcendence nourishes and supports all the other limbs.

“I do think that Transcendental Meditation is—of the meditations that are available to us—the most direct, and the simplest,” says Prudence. “When you meditate, when you transcend, it allows your heart and mind to balance. And when they’re balanced, that’s when you are really healthy. You are happy. You’re happy mentally, happy emotionally, and happy spiritually. Those three are all components of what make a human being, so that connection to transcendence is absolutely necessary for health.”

Creating a Better World

Fortunately for us all, Prudence did come out to play.

“The years of meditating have enriched my life so much,” Prudence says. “And that’s why at this point in my life, I’m giving back. We need a better world. We need people to be more conscious, to be more evolved. And expanding the mind, like TM does, is absolutely vital to bring about stronger people. If you can strengthen people inside, you’ve changed the world.”

So even today, 48 years later, the “Dear Prudence” story continues.

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Last year, Prudence Farrow Bruns participated in a series of Consciousness Talks at Maharishi University of Management, called Our Conscious Future. Here is a clip from her talk where she discusses a conversation she had with George Harrison about his spiritual awakening. Prudence, George and John Lennon said they felt it was happening to many in their generation, and that it would continue long after they were gone. To listen to Prudence describe The “Dear Prudence” Story, and other fascinating presentations, visit ConsciousnessTalks.org.

Here is a video with lyrics to The Beatles – Dear Prudence.

Another beautiful song that John Lennon wrote about his experience with Transcendental Meditation was, Across the Universe. Here is a video with the lyrics to the song. 

This article was also published in GGN: World Peace News. Here are some related videos and interviews with Prudence Farrow Bruns: The Beatles “Dear Prudence”: A Portrait of Prudence Farrow Bruns, Maharishi and TM and Ted Henry interviews “Dear Prudence” Farrow Bruns about her life with TM and Maharishi and Prudence Farrow — subject of the Beatles song Dear Prudence — visits India’s Kumbh Mela.

Watch the A&E biographical film, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on History International Channel (November 2007) and the earlier CBC documentary of Maharishi at Lake Louise.

Hafiz, via Ladinsky, reminds us when we love those in our care we are brought closer to God

December 21, 2014

Another small but profound poem by Hafiz is titled Riches Everywhere. Published in A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations, and translated by Daniel Ladinsky, each poem is read for a specific day of the year. This poem, found on page 389, is dated for today, December 21.

Riches Everywhere

Don’t envy my talents, or seek them.
For few could bear the suffering it took
to mine the jewels I have brought to town.

There are divine riches everywhere. The
most natural way for most to find them
is by caring for those who are close to
you as if they were our Beloved.

This poem reminds us to not covet other people’s wealth, but to find riches everywhere, most naturally within our own hearts.  By loving those close to us as we would love God, our hearts come to know the divine within them, and ourselves, the only true and lasting riches. In loving, we come to be loved; we come to the Beloved.

Other beautiful poems by Hafiz selected for posting on The Uncarved Blog are: Winding up the year with inspiration from Hafiz | 3 beautiful and profound short poems by Hafiz about the nature of God within us | Hafiz via Ladinsky describes the spiritual transformation of loving deeply within himself | For Hafiz the role of an enlightened poet is to connect humanity with the joy of the divine | Hafiz said to leave something in the marketplace, and Jesse Winchester sure did before he left us.

Poetry helps us imagine what it’s like to be human. ~ Mark Strand (1934–2014)

December 5, 2014

Mark Strand, former U.S. poet laureate (1990-1991) and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1999), felt strongly that writing and reading poetry could make us better human beings. “Poetry helps us imagine what it’s like to be human,” he said in an Inscape interview last year.

Percy Bysshe Shelley had famously said, “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” When Mark Strand was asked what he thought the function of poetry was in today’s society, he replied: “It’s not going to change the world, but I believe if every head of state and every government official spent an hour a day reading poetry we’d live in a much more humane and decent world. Poetry has a humanizing influence. Poetry delivers an inner life that is articulated to the reader.”

Indeed, especially if they were as transformed by poetry as Mark Strand, who wanted to feel himself “suddenly larger . . . in touch with—or at least close to—what I deem magical, astonishing. I want to experience a kind of wonderment.”

Last week, one of my poet friends, Roger Pelizzari, emailed me about the passing of Mark Strand, and included a favorite poem of his, My Name. Roger included a link to an earlier Paris Review interview: Mark Strand, The Art of Poetry No. 77, with his friend Wallace Shawn, from which I’ve included interesting excerpts.

I was surprised and sorry to hear the news of Strand’s passing and checked the Paris Review for an update. I found Memoriam Mark Strand, 1934–2014, under The Daily by Dan Piepenbring, and sent it to Roger.

Media from around the world published Obituaries reviewing the Canadian-born, American poet’s accomplished literary career. The LA Times described Mark Strand as “a revelatory poet who addressed love and death in his poems, but in radically lyrical, revelatory ways.”

This poem is filled with the wonderment he sought, and seems a fitting memorial, prophetically written in the poet’s own magical words.

My Name

Once when the lawn was a golden green
and the marbled moonlit trees rose like fresh memorials
in the scented air, and the whole countryside pulsed
with the chirr and murmur of insects, I lay in the grass,
feeling the great distances open above me, and wondered
what I would become and where I would find myself,
and though I barely existed, I felt for an instant
that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard
my name as if for the first time, heard it the way
one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off
as though it belonged not to me but to the silence
from which it had come and to which it would go.

Read the rest of this entry »


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