Archive for January, 2019

Michael Braunstein shares his fascinating story of how he learned #TranscendentalMeditation

January 15, 2019

Michael Braunstein wrote a great article for The Reader’s Heartland Healing Magazine in Omaha on Jan 13, 2019. It’s a fascinating story of how he learned about Transcendental Meditation when he worked as a recording engineer in a studio where famous musicians like Paul McCartney and George Harrison showed up. But more specifically from a meditating musician some of you may remember from the early days at MIU. Enjoy reading Meditate. Your Mind Wants To.

Let’s get something straight right out of the box: You do not have to sit funny in order to meditate. All that is necessary to meditate is to learn it correctly then apply it. Since learning Transcendental Meditation in 1984, I have meditated in airports, hospital waiting rooms, sitting in the stands at soccer games, in the lobby of a busy Manhattan office building, on mountain tops and in quiet, darkened spaces wafting with incense, all with unequivocal success. Meditation doesn’t require special needs. Look, meditation is a natural state of mind that the mind craves. It’s healing. It’s transformative. And it’s easy. All you have to do is learn it correctly.

All About the Bass. You can’t start a tracking session without the bass player and the bass player was late. So I was on my knees in the studio dressing cables and doing busywork as we waited. A bass guitar case plopped on the floor right in front of me. I looked up. I stammered, “You must be the…  bass… player.” The hesitations came because the “bass player” was Paul McCartney.

It was back in my LA days as a recording engineer. During the next 14-plus hours of cutting a track, McCartney’s demeanor impressed me. Accustomed to over-amped and often crazy rock ‘n’ rollers in those days, I will never forget his gentle presence and the restrained command he offered the session. The details of the recording session are unimportant but the impression he made on me as a person remained powerful. A few months later, working on a different record with George Harrison, I observed the same sense of centered-ness and clarity.

Another musician I worked with had a similar demeanor in the studio. Readers wouldn’t recognize his name but he, Harrison and McCartney share a common link. This third musician had an even deeper effect on my life. He was the ultimate catalyst that made me decide I wanted to learn how to meditate.

My Two Cents. Ron Altbach was executive producer of a major live concert album and television broadcast I engineered. It starred the Beach Boys, America, Ringo, Hank Williams, Jr., Julio Iglesias, Three Dog Night and a host of others. It was a complex project and required a lot of technical expertise both on the day of recording and in post-production. Some of the problem-solving techniques of the day included me standing around in the control room with my techie assistants mulling solutions. As we geniuses would banter about which way to proceed, on more than one occasion, from the back of the room came a quiet and unassuming comment, usually along the lines of, “What if you…? Would that work?” The speaker was Ron. And each time he was right.

After two or three of his successful suggestions, I said to him, “Ron, you’re not an engineer or tech. How are you coming up with these solutions? Where’s that coming from? You seem to see things in a clear overview.” His answer was simple: “I think because I meditate, I’m able to assess situations more clearly.”

We talked about the meditation he learned, Transcendental Meditation, and it stuck with me. Three months later I learned TM at the Beverly Hills TM Center on 3rd Street. It took four sessions over 5 days and was easy. It wasn’t free or even cheap to learn. But it may go down as the most valuable thing I ever spent money on. Extrapolated over the 34 years since, it’s worked out to about two cents a day. And it’s becoming a better deal everyday.

Read the rest of this article in Heartland Healing at The Reader.

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Mary Oliver’s poem, Sunrise, gives us a larger, wiser perspective on life

January 15, 2019

Mary Oliver is the high priestess of poetry. She translates Earth’s wisdom through her own way of looking at things. I love her insights. They sneak up on you. I smile every time I come to the end of this poem with it’s wise conclusion.

thehillsriversunrise

Sunrise

by Mary Oliver

You can
die for it–
an idea,
or the world. People

have done so,
brilliantly,
letting
their small bodies be bound

to the stake,
creating
an unforgettable
fury of light. But

this morning,
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought

of China,
and India
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun

blazes
for everyone just
so joyfully
as it rises

under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?

What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter
fire.

(From: New and Selected Poems)

Photo of The Hills in New Zealand at sunrise found on Photography Begins.

This wonderful conclusion reminds me of a poem by another great female poet: We have reasons to be sad, but happiness cannot be pinned down, explains poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

You can see more poems by Mary Oliver posted on this blog.

Mary Oliver is definitely in touch with her muse, is at one with her. It reminds me of a line in this great little poem by William Stafford—When I Met My Muse.

Thanks to Joe Riley of Panhala for sharing Mary Oliver’s poem Sunrise. To subscribe to Panhala, send a blank email to Panhala-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

David Whyte’s poem, The Journey, describes a leaving as a new beginning, as did Mary Oliver

January 15, 2019

Having read The Journey by Mary Oliver, I found a poem by David Whyte with the same title. Oliver’s poem is about leaving her suffocating home to live her own life, breaking away from other voices to discover her own.

Whyte said he secretly wrote The Journey for a friend who’s life had come undone to give her hope for renewal. She was going through another kind of leaving, from a long-term marriage. He describes it in the introduction to this poem, which you can hear him read below.

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

From House of Belonging by David Whyte

I’ve posted two other poems of his: David Whyte describes the mysterious way a poem starts inside you with the lightest touch and What To Remember When Waking by David Whyte.

Chris Hardwick in conversation with Bob Roth @meditationbob on #TranscendentalMeditation

January 13, 2019

What you are about to listen to is not necessarily an interview, but a mutually engaging and intelligent conversation between podcast host Chris Hardwick and guest Bob Roth. This 81-minute balanced discussion was recorded on Dec 21, 2018 for ID10T. You can listen to it here.

Chris chats with Transcendental Meditation teacher and head of The David Lynch Foundation Bob Roth to discuss the foundational aspects of TM, why it’s important to calm the chatter in your mind, and how his non-profit work at the Foundation is paving the way to help at-risk youth. His book is entitled, “Strength In Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation” and his radio show “Success Without Stress” on SiriusXM Indie.

A selection of press, television, radio, and podcast interviews with Bob Roth about his best-selling TM book are posted on The Uncarved Blog.

My haiku response to Billy Collins’ poem, Japan

January 3, 2019

I love the poetry of Billy Collins and have a few favorite poems, readings, and interviews posted on my blog. They’re so accessible and humorous.

His poem, Japan, is about a favorite haiku. He wrote each of the 12 stanzas to look like a 3-line haiku. The imagery in the last half of the poem unravels in the most mind-bending of ways as he interchanges perspectives! You can hear Billy Collins read Japan on YouTube.

I remember first reading it in his collection, Sailing Alone Around the Room, I bought over 15 years ago. Today, I found my two-haiku response written on a napkin among scraps of paper. It was also on the back of the receipt, bookmarking that poem! It inspired me to post both.

Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again.

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It’s the one about the one-ton
temple bell
with the moth sleeping on its surface,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it into the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

###

My humorous response to the moth and temple bell in the poem.

Haiku for Billy Collins’ poem, Japan, by Ken Chawkin

The weight of a moth
on a one-ton temple bell
excruciating

The sound of the bell
all hinges on the moth’s tongue
tapping the surface

Here’s a senior haiku, not a senior moment, yet.

January 3, 2019

I’ve been retired, yet managed to stay busy working. And it’s a new year. One of my intentions for this year was to do more creative things. I do like writing, especially poetry, and in particular, haiku and tanka.

Since I also recently moved, and I’m getting older, two things are inevitable: downsizing—getting rid of stuff, and upgrading—improving my quality of life with newer stuff. Seems to be an unending cycle.

Retirement brings more time to do stuff. Just need the motivation. This is not a senior moment. Not there yet. But here’s a senior haiku.

A Senior Haiku

Might as well Enjoy
[Downsizing and Upgrading]
The rest of my Life

Who knows how much time we have left. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not meant to sound pessimistic, just a realistic assessment of where I’m at in my life right now.

I do have a lot to be thankful for—good health, enough to get by (so far), family and friends, and a special community to live in.

Let’s see what challenges and gifts this year has in store for us. Hopefully better than the last!

A little poem about work, and getting things done

January 3, 2019

I moved last year and still have boxes of books and papers around my office. Yesterday as I was sorting through the junk I found a sheet of folded paper with Emily Dickinson’s cosmic poem about The Brain typed on it. On the other side was the playful little poem I had typed, For—Emily D— From—Kenny C—. On that same piece of paper was a short poem I had scribbled about the nature of work, and getting stuff done.

WORK

When you don’t have to work
You get the most work done.
Doing while non-doing
Transforms work into fun.

Don’t remember when I wrote it, probably last year, as I did the one for the Divine Miss D. I think I may have been working on a particular blog post. If it’s something I’m passionate about, I just lose track of time and enjoy the process. If it’s a job I have to do, then it becomes work, and can drag on. If I’m stuck, I usually start with following my passion first, and write something to express a creative urge. It’s my way of dealing with procrastination, and usually frees me up to then get down to the work at hand. After it was done, I reflected on the distinction, and wrote that little poem. I had scrawled underneath it: My little ditties for the day.

I remember something Maharishi once told us about work: “See the job; do the job; stay out of the misery.” That kept me going when I was doing blue-collar work for Vancouver Parks and Recreation. I also wrote a lot of poetry while working as a park attendant for Queen Elizabeth Park, and during visits to other Vancouver Parks, and while living in Fairfield, Iowa.

Poem: For—Emily D— From—Kenny C—

January 2, 2019

Emily Dickinson’s amazing poem of the Brain being wider than the Sky inspired me to write a playful little poem in her style. I had posted it as a Comment, and now decided to reproduce it here:

For—Emily D—
From—Kenny C—

I am Part of what I See—
An Unlimited Reality
If the Whole is contained in Each Part—
Then I End up—where I Start


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