Posts Tagged ‘Ken Chawkin’

Remembering 9–11, The Merciful Nature of Time

September 11, 2014

Remembering 9–11

When it comes to dealing with adversity, accepting it is not always easy, especially when it involves a devastating sudden loss, like what happened on 9-11, (September 11, 2001), 13 years ago today. Many had to accept it, live with it, and over time, hopefully distance themselves from the painful memories of the loss of their loved ones.

Same thing if it’s an ongoing situation, where you see someone you love disappearing before your eyes due to some incurable disease. Maybe it’s not as devastating. I don’t know. Grief is grief; it’s not easy. But our perspective could change over time. And that can be the merciful nature of time. Here is a haiku about it.

The Merciful Nature of Time

Time is kind to us
It lets us get used to change
Then we can move on

© Ken Chawkin
September 11, 2014

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

They say, Time heals all wounds. But does it? Not according to , a counselor who specializes in end-of-life and bereavement matters. He says it’s what you do with the time that heals. Read his article published  in Psychology Today’s The Journey Ahead.

The David Lynch Foundation

One organization helping people deal with adversity and various forms of traumatic stress and grief is the David Lynch Foundation. Visit their website and see how they are Healing Traumatic Stress and Raising Performance in At-Risk Populations http://davidlynchfoundation.org. See DLF executive director Bob Roth speak at Google Zeitgeist 2014.

 

A wonderful birthday poem from John Burns — The Truly Great — by Stephen Spender

April 27, 2014

Thanks to John Burns for sending me this truly wonderful birthday poem! With reference to I turned 70 today!

The Truly Great
by Stephen Spender

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Stephen Spender, “The Truly Great” from Collected Poems 1928-1953.
Copyright © 1955 by Stephen Spender.
Reprinted by permission of Ed Victor Ltd.

John Burns is the Communications Director for TM Ireland.

2013 Annual Report for The Uncarved Blog

January 5, 2014

Here’s a review of my year in blogging. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for The Uncarved Blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 40,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Maharishi University Computer Science Students Continue to Solve Problems and Win Competitions

May 2, 2013
Maharishi University of Management students Khongor Enkhbold, left, and Khasan Bold, right, talk to M.U.M. Public Relations Officer Ken Chawkin, back, about their online computer programming competitions. Enkhbold and Bold claimed fifth and seventh place, respectively, in a nationwide competition earlier this year, which earned them an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley.

Maharishi University of Management students Khongor Enkhbold, left, and Khasan Bold, right, talk to M.U.M. Public Relations Officer Ken Chawkin, back, about their online computer programming competitions. Enkhbold and Bold claimed fifth and seventh place, respectively, in a nationwide competition earlier this year, which earned them an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley.

Programmers always find more puzzles to solve
Fairfield Ledger article and photo by News Editor ANDY HALLMAN
This article appeared on the bottom half of the front page May 01, 2013.

Khongor Enkhbold and Khasan Bold are masters at solving riddles.

The kind of riddles Enkhbold and Bold like to solve are those that require an intimate knowledge of mathematics and computer programming. Enkhbold and Bold are students at Maharishi University of Management, where they both are seeking a master’s degree in computer science. The two regularly compete in online contests with people around the world where they have to write an algorithm to solve a vexing problem.

Bold said the reason he competes is not to win prizes but to learn more about computer science. Oftentimes, the only prize for winning these competitions is pride. Not all are like that, though.

Enkhbold and Bold performed so well in an online contest earlier this year they won an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley in California. They met with professionals from 14 technology companies, including social media sites Twitter and Facebook.

Enkhbold said the problems in these competitions tend to be related to mathematics and formulas. Some are abstract while others deal with everyday topics. In fact, Twitter came up in one of the students’ recent competitions.

The contestants were given tweets from Twitter users such as president Barack Obama, singer Justin Bieber, basketball player LeBron James and the corporation Google, among others. Based on the tweets the contestants receive from each Twitter user, they write an algorithm that can predict who wrote a tweet when the author’s identity is unknown.

The algorithm the contestants write must parse the sentence in search of clues that give away the author. For instance, Google is an institution and not an individual person. Enkhbold said he noticed Google would not include the word “I” in its tweets, so he knew that any tweet that included that word could not have come from Google.

Bold said the contestants learn Twitter users often write about the same subject in tweet after tweet. This allows the contestants to write their code in a way that if that subject appears in a tweet, they have a good idea which Twitter user it came from.

“If the person is talking about Selena Gomez, the user should be Justin Bieber,” Bold said, referring to Bieber and Gomez’s courtship.

In the Twitter-user contest, there is no single correct algorithm that is sure to yield a perfect result every time. The object of the contest is to write a code that works better than any other contestant’s code. However, some of the competitions have a single, optimal solution the contestants must find.

Enkhbold and Bold are both from Mongolia, where they fostered a thirst for online competitive puzzles. They were both interested in computers at a young age. The two met at the National University of Mongolia six years ago and have been friends ever since. They spend a considerable portion of their time away from school competing against other programmers around the world.

“If I have free time and there’s a competition going on, I participate,” Enkhbold said. “I compete three to four times a month. Some competitions last two hours while others last one or two days.”

Enkhbold and Bold won several computer-programming competitions even before enrolling at M.U.M. In 2010, they were on a three-person team that won the championship cup for all of Mongolia. In 2009, they won bronze medals in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition in Shanghai, China.

Published with permission from The Fairfield Ledger.

Related story: Maharishi University Students Win National Collegiate Hackathon Competition, Visit Silicon Valley High Tech Companies.

Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing

March 14, 2013

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Thirst)

An inspiration for a poem came to me from such receptivity to a tree. The first words entered my mind while admiring it. I wrote them down, and the next morning, I rewrote them as a stanza, and then the sequential stanzas naturally followed, reiterating what Mary Oliver describes. It was as if I was given a creative seed and it sprouted. This gift from the tree was much appreciated. I later called it Being in Nature. Its sequel, trees, was about the nature of trees, and what we can learn from them. Another poem once came to me from a rock with a sense of humor. You can read RIVER ROCK SPEAKS in my Vancouver Park Poems.

“Sanctifying Morning” is a poem by Ken Chawkin on one way to be “spiritual but not religious”

February 17, 2013

Sanctifying Morning is a poem I wrote four years and one month ago today. It may remind you of the phrase, “spiritual but not religious,” how millions of Americans now identify themselves, a trend I was not aware of until I learned about it from Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda. TM* is my way of being spiritual but not religious.

Sanctifying Morning

Charcoal in a church,
Incense-filled smoke,
Knees on the ground,
Wafer on a tongue —
Prayers ascend the sky.

It’s Sunday morning,
And I have my own rituals.
The smell of burnt toast sanctifies the morning air.
Orange rinds round out the debris of breakfast.
Fumes float upwards from a hot coffee cup.

Having pacified the body’s urges,
With no work to be done today,
Though the senses focus outward,
It’s time to bring them within,
And prepare for this peaceful morning.

I retire to my meditation room,
Sit comfortably, and close the eyes.
Thinking my mantra, effortlessly,
I descend to the depths of my mind,
And transcend.

My body follows —
Breath slows, and suspends,
Heart beats quieter,
Brain cells speak softly, in unison —
I’m at peace with myself.

This is the true communion of the spirit
Within the church of the Self.
No pews are required here
As one prepares to meet the maker
Of one’s life.

© Ken Chawkin
January 17, 2009
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

*TM stands for Transcendental Meditation. It’s not a religion. To me, it’s a spiritual practice that is compatible with any or no religion. Today millions of Americans admit to practicing some form of meditation. Members of different faiths practice Transcendental Meditation, including monks, nuns, priests and rabbis. Even atheists and agnostics meditate. You may too, some day, if you haven’t, already.

Here’s the WordPress.Com Annual Report for The Uncarved Blog. See 2012′s most popular posts.

December 30, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 62,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

INSPIRATION, a poem by Nathanael Chawkin

January 25, 2012

“Be patient, listen quietly, the writing will come. The voice of the writing will tell you what to do.” — Donald M. Murray, America’s writing teacher.

I came across a poem my son Nathanael wrote 20 years ago, a month after he turned eleven. A few weeks into the school year, his Grade Six teacher at Maharishi School gave the students a writing assignment. Their homework was to write a poem for class the next day. The pressure was on. I don’t recall much of the details, but I do remember Nathanael saying he had a problem with this. We discussed it. He felt strongly that you couldn’t force a poem into existence; it had to come naturally, from inspiration. I agreed and suggested he express that idea somehow in his poem. He was determined to send his teacher a message. What he wrote blew me away. He was inspired!

INSPIRATION

A poem comes naturally,
Not forced, not assigned, not sought for.
A poem should be inspired,
Not under pressure, surely not, for,
A poem is spontaneous, creative. How?
It is the nature of the poem to slip out.
That’s what you must allow.
So sit back and relax
For you must be patient,
And of course, do not rush.
A poem comes naturally,
Here it comes,
Hush.

© Nathanael Chawkin
September 24, 1991

This idea of allowing, even encouraging writing to come spontaneously reminds me of a poem written by William Stafford—A Course in Creative Writing, in response to educators at a conference expecting writing instructors to clearly spell out how and what their students should write, and by implication, to praise or blame them accordingly. This left no room for students, or their teachers, to express their own creativity, and no guidance to help them find their own voice, something that was not part of their methodology.

Stafford was about process, not necessarily product, and acted more as a facilitator than an instructor. He tried hard to not offer any praise or blame, fearing students would then write to please him and not themselves. He also avoided giving students any grades in his classes. I think they would grade themselves or each other based on their evaluation of their work. You can imagine the frustration this must have caused the administration. He was considered an odd ball, a heretic to the status quo at that time. But that would change. His approach would start a revolution in the teaching of creative writing.

This poem, William Stafford—You and Art, speaks volumes about the writer who is open to “making mistakes” and following his own voice down new paths of expression. It’s a beautiful description of the maturation of an artist and the source of inspiration. You can read more William Stafford poems on my blog.

Another great exponent of teaching writing was Donald M. Murray.  A journalist, Murray was invited to teach journalism at the University of New Hampshire. He admittedly knew nothing about teaching, but was obviously an accomplished writer, having won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1954 at the age of 29. So he looked to his own process as a writer and broke it down into the different stages he would go through to end up with a polished piece of writing.

One of Murray’s earliest books, Learning By Teaching, is a selection of articles on writing and teaching. It’s filled with examples of the steps he would go through as a writer, writing and rewriting to gain clarity; the stages of teaching he evolved through, from lecturer, to modeler, to facilitator, to getting out of the way; and quotes about writing by other writers. We used it as our textbook in a workshop to become writing facilitators. We learned how to conduct writing conferences to help students with their writing. The course taught me a lot about the craft of writing, the different stages, from pre-writing, to draft, to rewriting, editing, to final draft, and the teaching of it.

A comprehensive book on Murray and his work was published October 2009 by Heinemann: The Essential Don Murray: Lessons From America’s Greatest Writing Teacher. I love the opening quote from the book’s press release: New book offers lessons from writing teacher Don Murray. It affirms my son’s sentiment: “Be patient, listen quietly, the writing will come. The voice of the writing will tell you what to do.” — Don Murray.

Murray helped Donald Graves with his writing. Graves started a revolution by watching how young children wrote in school. He brought what he had learned from Murray into the classroom and taught teachers how to become writers themselves, then how to apply this approach with their students. Read this excellent article by Kimberly Swick Slover about Graves called The Write Way. It also mentions how Murray turned him into a writer. Same thing in this excellent video interview with Donald H. Graves and Penny Kittle.

Now creative writing classes are student-centered and process-oriented, with teachers openly modeling their own process as writers, and facilitating students to do the same, allowing and enabling them to become genuine writers, from draft to publication.

Although I never had the opportunity to meet or study with either Murray or Stafford, both were seminal influences. They acted as a guide from the side, not a sage from the stage. They taught about writing as writers and poets in classes, workshops, and through their articles, interviews, books and poems. I thank them for helping me, and thousands of other writers and teachers, to better understand the writing process.

Here is one of my first poems on the subject, Writing—a poem on the writing process. After the poem, I add a short piece about Murray and Stafford. I would share these poems and thoughts with Nathanael. It seemed to have gone deeply into him. Like father, like son.

Other inspiring posts about writing are: Writers on Writing–What Writing Means To Writers, Elizabeth Gilbert—Some Thoughts On Writing, and Words of Wisdom on Writing from Literary Lights. You may also enjoy Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say.

Also see A Tanka about my son’s Aikido teacher.

Russell Brand Does Stand-Up for Transcendental Meditation

November 29, 2011

Medical Unit

By Susan Donaldson James

Nov 29, 2011 2:39pm

Russell Brand Does Stand-Up for Transcendental Meditation

Comic actor Russell Brand credits his sobriety with practicing Transcendental Meditation.

Russell Brand, who credits Transcendental Meditation for helping him stay off addictions to alcohol, drugs and sex, will do a stand-up comedy show tonight at the Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco to benefit the David Lynch Foundation.

Brand has said publicly that meditation had helped him find a “deeper state of happiness.”  Other celebrities — including Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres — are devotees of TM.

“What it felt like to me was the dissolution of the idea of myself,” he said at a press conference last year. “Like, I felt separateness evaporated, this tremendous sense of oneness. I’m quite a neurotic thinker, quite an adrenalized person. But after meditation, I felt this beautiful serenity and selfless connection. My tendency towards selfishness, I felt that exposed as a superficial and pointless perspective to have.”

Brand, who is best known for his films, “Get Him to the Greek” and “Arthur” –  and for being the husband of pop start Katy Perry – gave up alcohol nearly a decade ago. He has said,  ”I was really, really committed to that drug addiction.”

The David Lynch Foundation, the brainchild of the filmmaker of the same name, has been committed to helping those who suffer from trauma since 2005. The often dark and abstract director credits his creativity with 37 years of meditation.

Their meditation programs have helped those in the military, who are at higher risk for post-traumatic stress and in schools where students grow up in a climate of fear with bullying, violence and substance abuse. They also work with other at-risk populations like Native Americans and the homeless.

The Lynch foundation now teaches 150,000 students for free in 350 schools around the world; 15 of them are in the United States.

Click here for video of David Lynch discussing His First Meditation.

“It’s not a religion,” Lynch told ABC last year. “It’s not against any religion, it’s not mumbo-jumbo. It truly does transform life. Kids come to school and they meditate together for 15 minutes in the morning. And before they go home they meditate for 15 minutes. A lot of them come from, you know, bad situations, and so this gives them this thing you know, at the beginning and the end of the day, the rest of the time you just watch the violence stop. Watch relationships improve. Watch happiness in the hallways, in the classroom, watch creativity flow more and more, watch that heavy weight that we are living under gently lift away.”

Brand learned TM at the foundation headquarters in Fairfield, Iowa, during a time when he was making a  documentary on happiness with directors Oliver Stone and Albert Maysles.

David Lynch Foundation Executive Director Bob Roth asked Brand if he wanted to learn TM. “I have all the time in the world,” Brand responded, according to foundation spokesman Ken Chawkin. “He taught him and he loved it and came back a second time.”

Brand went to India, where he was married to Perry last year, to research the film. The comedian is a vegetarian and devotee of Buddhism and Hari Krishna. He also practices yoga.

Oprah also meditated with 500 other women at the “dome” in Iowa, according to Chawkin. ”Her companies are now instructed as part of their daily routine,” he said. “It’s awesome. She really got it.”

On Dec. 3, Brand will join actress Ellen DeGeneres and Def Jam’s Russell Simmons in Los Angeles for another benefit performance. The foundation will webcast from their website  a live global news conference on Dec. 2 on its gift of $1 million to teach veterans to meditate. The celebrity event will be replayed online Sunday, Dec 4.

Various studies funded by the David Lynch Foundation have shown that those under stress, particularly ethnic and racial minorities, can reduce their stress levels by 36 percent by practicing TM. Students in “quiet programs” that include meditation have also shown higher rates of achievement.

 ”It allows the thinking process to naturally settle down,” said Chawkin. “And just automatically and quietly you transcend beyond to the source of thought within. You are twice as deep as the deepest point of sleep, while awake inside.”

Brand has said that his stress was rooted in his celebrity. “I used to be poor, now I’m not,” he said last year at a conference with young people. “I didn’t used to be famous, now I am. And I thought that both of these significant transitions would bring a certain amount of satisfaction.

“They did a bit, initially as being famous gives you enormous access to– given there are some young people here– partners in physical nocturnal activities.”

SHOWS:

User Comments

Brand is FUNNY but when he talks about profound stuff like how TM helps him he is REALLY good. I wish I could be there tonight!

Posted by: quirkysquirrel | November 29, 2011 November 29, 2011, 3:15 pm

I’m really impressed with David Lynch’s work as well as Russell Brand speaking up and stepping up to help promote David’s foundation. TM has been a remarkably helpful and profound practice for me, in all areas of my life. Whether you are a vet, a student, a down and out artist to be or a person who could use more chill, more health, more creativity in your life – it’s a fantastic tool.

Posted by: Tlccabin | November 29, 2011 November 29, 2011, 6:42 pm

——–

The David Lynch Foundation will host two events: a live global news conference, webcast from the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, Friday, December 2, 11 AM (PT), 2 PM (ET); and the Third Annual David Lynch Foundation Benefit Gala, Saturday, December 3, 5 PM (PT), 8 PM (ET) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which will replay online Sunday, December 4, at 5 PM (PT), 8 PM (ET). Click here for more information: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/emailing/2011_11_29.html.

Also see: An Evening of Stand-Up With Russell Brand — a Benefit for the David Lynch Foundation Tuesday, November 29th at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco | The SF Examiner: Russell Brand makes it to the Palace | The Times of India: Russell Brand to headline comedy show for charity | Examiner.com: Russell Brand makes San Francisco laugh for The David Lynch Foundation | What do Stephen Collins, Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, David Lynch and Oprah have in common?

Egrets Painting and Poem

October 10, 2009

Egrets in Morning Light by Australian artist Gareth Jones–Roberts

Translated

on the edge of space
two egrets in morning light
woken from a dream

—haiku by Ken Chawkin


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