Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

This stunningly beautiful scene of “A Fjord” was painted by Norwegian artist Adelsteen Normann

April 15, 2019
A Fjord painted by Norwegian artist Adelsteen Normann

I discovered this beautiful painting on Twitter. Don’t know whether this scene represents a sunrise or a sunset between the mountains. Either way, the vivid colors on the horizon and in the sky, and their reflection on the water are spectacular! I did some research to learn more about this impressive artist and found some of his paintings at artnet and in videos 1 & 2. Click on the video description to read more about this master painter. Here’s an excerpt from this Wikipedia biograhy.

Eilert Adelsteen Normann (May 1, 1848 – December 26, 1918) was a Norwegian painter who worked in Berlin. He was a noted painter of landscapes of Norway. Normann was the artist who invited Edvard Munch to Berlin, where he painted The Scream. Normann’s fjord paintings are credited with making the Norwegian fjords a more popular tourist destination.

The perils of praise or blame for young writers. New ways to help students find their own voice.

April 13, 2019

The teaching of writing has evolved over the decades. Teachers used to praise students for duplicating what they were instructed to write, or criticized and graded poorly for not meeting established norms. This practice of praise or blame created consequences that were detrimental to the writer. They doubted their own natural ability to express themselves in writing, wondering whether it was good or not.

W.S. Merwin, in his poem, Berryman,* about his college professor John Berryman, asks him “how can you ever be sure that what you write is really any good at all?” He gives him an unexpected honest answer.

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can’t

you can’t you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don’t write

Nearly three decades after he mentored Merwin, Berryman would encapsulate his advice to young writers in this Paris Review interview, on the perils of praise and blame.

I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.

It’s interesting to see this explanation—how praise (fame) or blame (criticism) might influence a young writer’s psychology, and therefore his or her creative output and development as a writer. Advising them to stay true to themselves, remain unswayed by public opinion, would allow them to maintain their own integrity as artists.

David Lynch is another artist who always follows his own muse and tells young filmmakers to do the same. Answering a student’s question about his creative process, he says we’re nothing without an idea. Using a fishing analogy, he explains that a desire for an idea is like a bait on a hook. He gives a detailed account of how he falls in love with ideas, turns them into a script, and transforms them into a film, or other works of art. To catch bigger fish, you have to dive deeper. David describes daydreaming and TM as ways to get there. He tells students to stay true to their vision, to meditate, and most importantly, to always have the final cut.

In this interview, he answers the same question, but from a different perspective: In the other room, the puzzle is all together, but they keep flipping in just one piece at a time.

Learning by doing: writing and teaching

When writers and poets were asked to teach creative writing, some conveyed the enterprise as a process to be explored and unfolded, not as a specific product to be reproduced. What they said made sense. I practiced their suggestions and discovered my own process of becoming a writer and a poet.

I also shared their strategies with my students facilitating them as writers. The most important takeaway was this: If you took care of the writer, the writing would take care of itself.

I enjoyed asking younger students questions to find out what they were passionate about, to help them uncover their own voice. If they said something interesting, I had them write it down, then asked them to combine their thoughts into a rough draft. I had them listen to what they had written by reading it aloud to me, to use their skills as a reader. Once involved in the process they naturally wanted to clarify their writing, to include relevant details, to edit their work. They had become intrinsically motivated writers!

Here are a few favorite writers who inspired me along the way.

What some favorite poets, writers and teachers say about writing

(more…)

MUM @maharishiuni professors explore secrets of world-class performers in World-Class Brain book

March 26, 2019

What Do the Brains of World-Class Performers have in Common?

The brains of world-class performers are different from the brains of average performers. No surprise there. But what is surprising is that regardless of whether these top performers are athletes, musicians, or CEOs, their brains share one feature that makes them stand out: More integrated functioning. A world-class brain works in a more coherent, relaxed, wakeful, and efficient way.

A new book tells the story of these top performers and offers an easy-to-read introduction to the research showing that their brain function is different. This short book also describes other features that these top performers have in common, such as intensely happy and fulfilling peak experiences and a greater moral sense. Readers also learn how they, too, can effortlessly develop greater brain integration.

New Book Explores Secret of World-Class Performers

World-Class BrainA new book coauthored by former MUM professor Harald Harung of Oslo Metropolitan University and professor Fred Travis offers an easy-to-read account of the defining characteristic of world-class performers – an integrated brain – and how one can develop it.

Titled, World-Class Brain, the 130-page book begins by outlining the results of three studies: on Olympic athletes, top managers, and symphony orchestra musicians. These top performers were found to have high levels of brain integration according to EEG measurements.

The book then explains in simple terms what brain integration means and presents various ways to increase it, such as playing a musical instrument, exercising, and meditation.

The authors then discuss the research on the Transcendental Meditation technique showing that it is the most effective way to develop high levels of brain integration.

The book goes into detail about peak experiences associated with brain integration in the several groups of subjects. It then discusses research on long-term practitioners of Transcendental Meditation who are experiencing higher states of consciousness and describes the defining characteristics of these higher states.

The final two chapters explain the research showing that brain integration can affect organizations and all of society.

World-Class Brain: A Textbook Teaching Tool

Co-author Harald S. Harung described editor Jim Karpen‘s great contribution to the book, “which mainly had two components: The smooth progression of chapters and ideas, and making the language very easy, enjoyable, and readable.”

Co-author Fred Travis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition, and dean of the Graduate School at Maharishi University of Management, said they used the structure of the book’s chapters to structure how the knowledge was taught to MBA students in China.

Dennis Heaton, professor and dean of the College of Business Administration at Maharishi University of Management, said, “I’m using World-Class Brain with my MBA and PhD students, and they really appreciate how readable it is. The authors have written about the key to top performance in a way that’s interesting and easy to understand. In addition, in the later chapters the book does an excellent job of distilling decades of research and theory, including higher states of consciousness.”

The book is available on Amazon.

Visit Dr. Harung’s website for a list of English articles and YouTube videos of their research on top performers: www.harvest.no.

Visit Dr. Travis’ website for the mission of the Brain Center, presentations, books and videos, and more: drfredtravis.com.

Related articles: Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances | What do world-class athletes, top-level managers, musicians, and TM meditators have in common? | New study highlights unique state of “restful alertness” during Transcendental Meditation | Dr. Fred Travis at GIBS: Mind-Brain Development for Excellence and TM Develops Brain Coherence

this snow buddha photo inspired a winter haiku

March 22, 2019

My daughter Shara and her husband Toby live on Lopez Island, WA. On Feb 12, Toby took this photograph of their buddha statue covered in snow. About a foot tall, it’s located in their back yard near the clifftop seats overlooking the ocean. It’s quite the view! I visited them in June 2017. Toby said: “We had quite a bit of snow here, it was really lovely just for that week.” He recently added the photo to his impressive collection on Instagram. I was inspired to write him a winter haiku on this first day of spring!

snowbuddha-web

a winter haiku

wrapped in white silence
contemplating nothingness
the buddha ascends

©Ken Chawkin
March 21, 2019
Fairfield, Iowa

Mary Oliver advises us to open up to joy and not hesitate if we suddenly and unexpectedly feel it

March 13, 2019

                    DON’T HESITATE

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

— Mary Oliver, Evidence (2009), Devotions (2017)

See this remembrance of Mary Oliver with links to more of her poems.

The nurturing effect of rainwater in Mary Oliver’s poems Lingering In Happiness At Blackwater Pond

March 13, 2019

These two poems by Mary Oliver describe the nurturing effect of rainwater in nature deep within the body of the earth and inside her own.

LINGERING IN HAPPINESS

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear—but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

— Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early (2004), Devotions (2017)

AT BLACKWATER POND

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

— Mary Oliver, At Blackwater Pond (2006), Devotions (2017)

See this remembrance of Mary Oliver with links to more of her poems.

A keen, patient observer of nature, Mary Oliver’s poetry shone a light on the creatures around her

March 13, 2019

I long to be the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.

From a young age, Mary Oliver loved the great poets—Wordsworth, Whitman, Emerson and Thoreau. They were her companions. She was destined to become a great poet herself.

To commune with the muse is every poet’s wish, and she succeeded. A keen, patient observer of nature, Oliver honored the creatures around her through her poetry. To do them justice she always strove to be an “empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.”

Go easy, be filled with light, and shine.

Nature was her teacher. When she was among the trees, she felt uplifted by them. “I would almost say that they save me, and daily.” Sometimes sensing her low self-esteem, they would tell her to “Stay awhile.” She would see the light flowing from their branches.

They would remind her, “It’s simple,” and encourage her, “and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.” And she did! These two poems track part of her journey.

BLUE IRIS

Now that I’m free to be myself, who am I?
Can’t fly, can’t run, and see how slowly I walk.
Well, I think, I can read books.

……………“What’s that you’re doing?”
the green-headed fly shouts as it buzzes past.

I close the book.

Well, I can write down words, like these, softly.

“What’s that you’re doing?” whispers the wind, pausing
in a heap just outside the window.

Give me a little time, I say back to its staring, silver face.
It doesn’t happen all of a sudden, you know.

“Doesn’t it?” says the wind, and breaks open, releasing
distillation of blue iris.

And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,
the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.

— Mary Oliver, Blue Iris: Poems and Essays (2006), Devotions (2017)

WHEN I AM AMONG THE TREES

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
…..but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

— Mary Oliver, Thirst (2006), Devotions (2017)

See this remembrance of Mary Oliver with links to more of her poems.

#TranscendentalMeditation teacher Bob Roth @meditationbob profiled on @50PlusPrime

March 10, 2019

50PlusPrime with Tony Fama is the national TV News Magazine for Baby Boomers celebrating the lives of the 108-million Americans age 50+. Tune in this weekend for a 30-minute special on Bob Roth @meditationbob and the David Lynch Foundation (DLF) with Tony Fama on @50plusprime. They talk about Transcendental Meditation (TM) and how it can bring more creativity, peace, and equanimity to your day.

The Teacher Helping 50+ Celebrities Find Success in Peace

This episode airs on AXS TV, Saturday, March 9, at 8:30am ET, and Sunday, March 10 at 11:30am ET, and in New York City on Sunday at 1:30pm on WABC 7. It was published on the 50PlusPrime TV News Magazine for Baby Boomers YouTube channel Thursday, March 7, 2019.

Tony Fama interviews Bob Roth about his trajectory since he was a young person to today as co-founder of the David Lynch Foundation teaching TM in 35 countries around the world. The show shares excerpts of DLF interviews with students, veterans, and celebrities, like Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld.

In his enthusiastic introduction to the show, Tony says, “This guy’s a product of the sixties, and he’s just a cool cat!” He asks Bob why he’s the go-to-guru for the rich and famous. Bob tells him no one is immune from stress, even the wealthy and famous. They talk among themselves. TM, he tells him, is not a luxury. “It’s a medical intervention, it’s a medicine. It’s a way to reduce stress and wake up the brain.” It makes sense. It cuts healthcare costs, makes you and your employees happier. It’s “a gift of rejuvenation; it’s a gift of awakening; it’s a gift to yourself.”

Tony covers a New York City gala where celebrities like Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Orin Synder discuss how Roth, having taught them TM, has enhanced their lives. The show includes clips from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr talking with David Lynch on why they support the work of the Foundation in benefiting at-risk kids and US military veterans.

Bob Roth on 50PlusPrime TV News Magazine for Baby Boomers

At the end, as the credits roll, Bob Roth sums up the main point of what TM can do for us in a stressful world.

At the same time, stress is real, and if we have headaches, or if we can’t sleep, or if we’re depressed we can’t get out of bed, that stops us from being able to fulfill our desires, to grow. And so, in one simple process of just accessing this field of calm that lies within, we eliminate the buildup of stress, and we unlock that full creative potential of the brain, so we can be more creative and more resilient, and do the things we want to do.

Mary Oliver’s poem, The Loon, may leave you suspended, like the poet in the early morning

March 8, 2019

To get a feeling for what Mary Oliver heard and how it affected her, listen to this video, Voices: Common Loon, before reading her poem, The Loon.

                                   THE LOON

Not quite four a.m., when the rapture of being alive
strikes me from sleep, and I rise
from the comfortable bed and go
to another room, where my books are lined up
in their neat and colorful rows. How

magical they are! I choose one
and open it. Soon
I have wandered in over the waves of the words
to the temple of thought.

…………………………………And then I hear
outside, over the actual waves, the small,
perfect voice of the loon. He is also awake,
and with his heavy head uplifted he calls out
to the fading moon, to the pink flush
swelling in the east that, soon,
will become the long, reasonable day.

……………………………………………….Inside the house
it is still dark, except for the pool of lamplight
in which I am sitting.

……………………………I do not close the book.

Neither, for a long while, do I read on.

 

— Mary Oliver, What Do We Know (2002), Devotions (2017)

See this remembrance of Mary Oliver with links to more of her poems.

Bob Roth interviewed for Starts at 60 during Strength in Stillness book launch in Australia

March 6, 2019

Starts at 60 Writers is an Australian-New Zealand-based group of writers over sixty. Bob Roth did many interviews during his book tour there last year to promote his #1 best-selling Strength In Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation.

Starts at 60 did an excellent interview that resulted in two great articles published in their Mental Health section on Friday and Saturday, March 16 & 17, 2018: Transcendental Meditation saved Hugh Jackman’s family from anxiety and Transcendental Meditation takes off with over-60s.

Bob Roth effectively explains the differences between the two popular meditation approaches—mindfulness and transcendental. He described it as deep meditation, what Maharishi ​used to call it, which became Transcendental Deep Meditation, then Transcendental Meditation, or TM.

I also found it ironic that this was written by writers over 60 for their demographic—the generation that took to Maharishi and his teachings in droves in the 1960s. Obviously many have forgotten about that and may now be discovering TM for the first time, but from a more scientific perspective. So glad the pragmatic Bob Roth presents TM to the world in the down-to-earth way that he does! I corrected a few typos and capitalized Transcendental Meditation, as it should be. Here they are.

Transcendental Meditation takes off with over-60s

Mindfulness and meditation have hit the zeitgeist in recent years, with everyone from Oprah to businessman and housewives singing their praises and crediting the practice with reducing stress levels and anxiety.

While meditation is a term most people are familiar with these days, it’s a particular branch of the calming technique, called Transcendental Meditation (TM), that’s really piqued the interest of the world’s elite.

TM focuses on a deep parts of the mind and is said to be so effective that actor Hugh Jackman enlisted the teachings of TM expert Bob Roth to ease his stress and help his young son cope with anxiety.

Roth, one of the world’s leading experts in TM, recently spoke to Starts at 60 about the many health benefits of the practice and the thousands of people he has taught, including Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Paul McCartney and Gwyneth Paltrow, to embrace the calming technique throughout his 45-year career.

While there are many different types of meditation around, transcendental focuses on the deep parts of the mind, Roth explains.

“There are mindfulness approaches to meditation which are more on the surface, how to think, how to walk, how to talk, how to act, how to breathe, many different things like that,” he said. “Transcendental is deep meditation, it means it accesses a level of the mind, a quiet, calm level of the mind’s stillness that already exists within everyone.”

TM focuses on thinking inwards rather than outwards and through practice, people have the ability to overcome stress, tension and fatigue and anxiety.

While Roth admits that like many people he was sceptical at first when he first discovered TM in his youth, but quickly changed his mind when he began to see “immediate results”. He also cites “20 peer-reviewed studies that show that TM reduces high blood pressure better than anti-hypertensive medications, without the side effects of anti-hypertensive medications”.

“And that’s research that was published by the US National Institute of Health and research done at Harvard Medical School and published in the American Medical Association’s top journal. It’s very real, when we’re talking about TM, we’re not talking about something on the fringe. It may be an unusual word, but the reality is it’s an established medical tool,” he added.

While he has a black book filled with clients, most of Roth’s clients are ‘everyday’ people, many of them over 6o.

“So an older person who is either in retirement or moving towards retirement or can’t retire but is under a lot of pressure, it’s a wonderful tool to get rid of stress and wake up the brain so we have more energy to do the things we need to do,” he said.

He added that it’s important for people to work TM into their lives and not to use it as a replacement for medication.

“In the toolbox of an older person, there should be many tools that we can draw upon to help us deal with the very real, very deadly epidemic of stress, that we’re all living in,” he said.

“Let’s say you have high blood pressure, you wouldn’t just go online and say, ‘here’s some magic potion online and some recipe and I’m going to take it because it’s going to help my blood pressure’,” he said. “No, you look at stuff that works. Same as meditation, you should look at the research that shows that it works.”

To help the most sceptical, Bob recently released a book called Strength in Stillness. He said that he wanted the book to help people with questions and to make sense of something that people may not be familiar with. “I’m not pushing this on anybody. People should decide for themselves. I wrote the book so people could make an informed decision,” he said.

“The beautiful thing about Transcendental Meditation is you can be 100 per cent sceptical and it works just as well. You can be sceptical about electricity, but when you turn on a light switch, the light goes on.”

Strength in Stillness is currently available in book stores and as an eBook online.

Transcendental Meditation saved Hugh Jackman’s family from anxiety

In an age when mindfulness and practising the art of stillness has become more popular than a bowl full of kale, one particular form of meditation seems to stand out from the crowd: Transcendental Meditation.

The unique form of meditation, which goes beyond mindfulness to produce a deeper and long-lasting sense of peace, has been around for more than 40 years, but has recently shot to the top of the popularity heap thanks to a host of celebrity clients and a rock star teacher.

Bob Roth has taught the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Paul McCartney and Gwyneth Paltrow, but his favourite client thus far is The Greatest Showman himself, Hugh Jackman.

“Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness are just wonderful,” Roth told Starts at 60. “Down to earth, they have two children, I know the family well. I consider them my friends.”

Roth has been working with the Jackman clan for years and his teachings have been particularly useful for Hugh and Deborra-Lee’s son, Oscar, who suffered from anxiety.

“I taught Oscar to meditate,” Bob revealed. “He’s now 17 and I taught him when he was 12. They have a daughter, Ava, who I think I’m going to teach next year.”

Jackman has praised Roth’s work in the past and said his teachings on how to calm the mind did wonders for Oscar’s mental health.

Bob Roth pictured with Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness
Bob Roth pictured with Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness. (Getty)

Bob’s really helped us and our son, who was a stressed, anxious kid,” the actor said.

Slightly different to regular forms of meditation, TM focuses on the deep parts of the mind and accesses the quiet, calm and still parts of the brain that exist inside everyone. While it’s a hit with celebrities, Roth’s main clients are ‘everyday’ people, many of them over 60, who are looking for a way to ease stresses and invigorate the mind.

“They run out of energy and they just feel like they don’t have the energy they once had,” he said of his older students. “They’re more vulnerable to aches and pains and illnesses because the immune system is compromised, memory maybe isn’t as clear, and from a long life.”

He said there’s a strong correlation between the kinds of issues his regular students and more high-profile students face.

“Being known by a lot of people does not make you immune from worrying about a sick child or stopping you from staying awake at night because you’re worried about things in your career or your partner,” he said. “They have the same feelings, just like us. They have more money, to what? Buy more sleeping pills?”

Despite his popularity amongst some of Hollywood’s favourite stars, he said he owes his credibility to word-of-mouth. “You can’t seek out a celebrity. You can’t go, ‘I want to teach Tom Hanks’. They live in their own world and it’s almost like a bubble. And they talk to each other a lot,” he said.

More recently, Roth worked with Jackman’s The Greatest Showman co-star Zac Efron who was experiencing some personal issues on set. “So I’ve sort of become the go-to guy for meditation,” he explained. “But I should make a point – I’ve taught maybe 30 or 40 well-known actors. I’ve taught thousands of regular people.

“It’s not, ‘oh this is a 20-year-old veteran’ or ‘this is Hugh Jackman’, really and truly, I see in their eyes, they’re looking for something to help them navigate through life.”

Roth’s book Strength in Stillness is currently available in book stores and online.

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You can see Bob Roth’s global book launch with Hugh and Deboora-Lee introducing Bob about 26 minutes into the second video posted here. Bob also interviews comedian Jerry Seinfeld who has been meditating since he was a college student. The video starts with quotes from celebrity meditators, followed by Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos interviewing Bob about his book.


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