Saturday, November 11, 2017

Becky Thompson on Teaching with Tenderness Toward an Embodied Practice

Becky Thompson talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Teaching with Tenderness: Towards an Embodied Practice.



“We need to be able to breathe with each other.” ~Becky Thompson

Becky is a poet, activist, yoga teacher, mother and grandmother as well as a professor in sociological theory in various universities for several years. As a teacher, Becky is familiar with what is presently going on in classrooms today, and she brought her academic discipline to bear on the topic of tenderness, which she defines as a capacity of humans learning and being with each other - a capacity which she remarks is being undermined by social inequality, such as racism. Becky remarked that she was in Greece when the first refugees from Syria and Afghanistan arrived, and she remarked that some of the first refugees she met were students no different from those she had dealt with in the United States, save in their experience of fleeing. Becky has returned six times to work with the refugees and the experience has enabled her to gain a deeper understanding into what tenderness is all about.

Becky notes that tenderness requires one to have an open mind which can embrace complexity, community and paradox, where rituals of inclusion are done along with habits that encourage deep listening and where memory is an antidote to alienation. Tenderness, in her opinion, is something that encourages people to realize that there is something more than oneself and where people are engaged on a deeper level. She also remarks that people need to be able to tap into the feeling at times of stressful disagreement, and notes that, at present, any kind of disagreement produces a sentiment where violence is likely to happen.

Becky wrote Teaching with Tenderness for students and teachers, and while she starts by talking about tenderness in the classroom, she goes beyond that by speaking about what it means to practice tenderness throughout one’s life. She mentioned a story of her fellow teacher who wondered about the kind of support available for teachers who could get worn out--support which is widely given at present, and where the stress teachers face is concerned, Becky gave the example of her own mother, who was a teacher, and she didn’t have time to go to lunch or have a bathroom break between classes several times. She also noted that teachers also sometimes pay for classroom improvements from their own pocket and that the teachers in college are under a great deal of stress to ensure that their students are able to apply their skills immediately after graduation.

Becky remarked that people “left their bodies” during highly stressful events in their lives and that rituals are needed to enable people to reconnect and re-enter their bodies. Becky noted that slowing-down learning is necessary as an embodied practice, where the body and spirit and intellect are all related and interconnected with each other, as being embodied is a psychological, emotional, spiritual and political practice. She gave, as an example of the kind of compartmentalization that is present in the educational system, the attacks of 9/11, when the teachers didn’t speak about the event as if it was (“business as usual,” outside the confines of the classroom), despite that several of the students were affected by the attacks. Becky also noted that there is a lot of dissociation going on, presently, amongst members of the government in the United States, which is an example of compartmentalization, and notes that this also goes on in other countries, from the stories told to her by the refugees she works with. She also noted that people she spoke to in Bali couldn’t recall a time when there had been a murder and had never seen a gun, which indicates that it is possible to live in a place where the fear of violence isn’t present.

Becky’s vision for an education where tenderness is integrated is one where students feel energized and involved with the subject matter they are investigating, noting that her yoga practice helps, since yoga enables people to become present to, and within, their bodies. She gave an example of giving her students around twenty minutes to relax, and after the students woke up from that rest, the ensuing conversation was the most vibrant one she had experienced. Becky would like to see contemplative practices be integrated into education to help students engage and become productive and points out that she doesn’t compromise the rigor where her own teaching is concerned.

To others, Becky would ask about when they felt most alive, confident and available to learn and what enabled this, so that they can teach others to reproduce these in their own lives.

Purchase from Amazon: Teaching with Tenderness: Towards an Embodied Practice by Becky Thompson


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Resmaa Menakem on Racialized Trauma as the Subject of His Book, My Grandmother's Hands

Resmaa Menakem talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies



 “Trauma is a protective measure, not a defective measure.” ~Resmaa Menakem


Resmaa was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and as he lived in a diverse neighborhood he didn’t encounter racism and violence until the 7th grade, when he got bused to a school that was then integrating kids from various races. He got through college and became involved with social justice matters with his friend, now-Congressman Keith Ellison, and after getting his Master’s in Social Work got involved with victims of addiction and violence. He then went over to Afghanistan, helping with contractors who were in war zones and who were thus getting traumatized by the conditions they were working under. Resmaa wasn’t aware, until he returned to the United States, that he was likewise getting traumatized, until he spent around a year after getting back from Afghanistan doing all the things that traumatized people did, such as pushing others away and getting depressed himself, as well as wanting to get back.

Resmaa got the title of his book from a conversation he had with his grandmother, while he was a child, where he learned why his grandmother’s hands and feet were as big as they were - and these were big from picking cotton since the age of four. It was then that Resmaa first got a glimpse of how hard life was for one of his predecessors, and it was years later, after he learned of the shooting of Tamir Rice, that he put all of what he learned about the effects of trauma on the body into My Grandmother’s Hands.

Resmaa points out that trauma is a protective measure, designed to protect someone from perceived or real overwhelm, and he remarked that trauma affects the body’s limbic, or animal, system, which means that trauma couldn’t just be talked away, in the regular psychological, cognitive-based treatment. The limbic aspect of the trauma is so intense it goes beyond cognitive treatment and ability, and those suffering from such deep trauma usually can’t articulate it, as they only have a sense of what that trauma is.

Resmaa also notes that research is presently coming out on how trauma inflicted on past generations affects the descendants of those upon whom the trauma affects by learning, when a child learns how an adult moves and reacts to the trauma that had happened to that adult, and Resmaa adds that some generations of Jews who are descended from Holocaust survivors experienced the same kind of conditions as those who had experienced the Holocaust. He also noted that such trauma can also be triggered through storytelling, like a child reacting to an intense story told to him by one of his elders.

Resmaa also noted a new idea called epigentics, which is based on the idea that the environment affects the gene expression of what gets turned on and off which aids in survival, and that such expressions are carried on in future generations. He brought up the example of the “cherry blossom experiment,” when it was noted that the offspring of mice who were exposed to trauma, mice who associated and reacted to the trauma of a painful electrical shock with the scent of cherry blossoms, would react the same way that their parents did, even if they hadn’t experienced the electric shock themselves, as a protective measure, even though the offspring never came into contact with their traumatized parent. Resmaa notes that this idea is presently coming under increasing investigation by scientists today, and this opens up the possibility that trauma is protective in nature, and not a defect in the person himself.

To those who are experiencing generational trauma, Resmaa says that what they are experiencing is protective, not defective in nature, and that, when that person is ready, he should find someone to help him get through it. Resmaa also points out that telling someone that there is nothing wrong with him helps out greatly, and that getting to the incident, be it generational, or personal, where the trauma originated helps create healing.

Purchase from Amazon: My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem


Monday, October 9, 2017

Jackson Fahnestock Talks about the Creation of Shu Wei's Revenge, His First Novel

Jackson Fahnestock talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Shu Wei’s Revenge: A Young Man’s Journey into the Depths of the Underworld.



“It’s never the end until it’s the end.” ~Jackson Fahnestock 

Jackson has been an architect and urban planner for 35 years, and his work took him around the world, including China and Taiwan, during which time he gained insights into east Asian culture, particularly since his work required him to work closely with the local communities. He also did a little writing, usually in technical and architectural journals, and Jackson also admitted that doing his thesis awakened his writing instincts. He retired when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, something which affected him deeply and which also made him think about doing things that he had always wanted to do. He started off doing artwork and audio tours of San Francisco’s historic places.

Jackson remarked that he started doing research for Shu Wei’s Revenge even while he was working as an architect, gathering information that he could base the book on. He remarked that writing the book about a culture that was different from the one he was born and raised in, was a challenge, and so he did a lot of research on Chinese culture and on the history of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco. He only really started writing in earnest in 2013, after he felt he had enough to start, and Jackson remarked that, while he can’t claim to be influenced by any single fiction writer, he has read a variety of books and styles and notes that his style might have been subconsciously influenced by the writers whose works he read.

Jackson noted that the original draft for Shu Wei’s Revenge was wordy, included enough material for three or four different stories, and that it included some stretches, such as life onboard the ship to San Francisco, because he was fascinated with that particular matter but which might have bored readers. He credits his editor with honing down the novel to what finally worked and remarked that the journey of writing a work of fiction expanded his knowledge, particularly with the terminology of writing.

Shu Wei’s Revenge is a young adult coming-of-age story which includes such elements as a free press, and enslavement of women. Jackson remarked that the tension was enhanced by what was actually happening, both in China and in San Francisco, at the time of the story, and writing out aspects of a culture which he wasn’t born and raised in was a real challenge, pointing that one could research all one wants and what would come out would be like an entry in Wikipedia. He remarked that he was fascinated by everyday life in China and remarked that, when he was working in Hong Kong, he would go to different places and observe what went on there. You'd find many of his observations in his book, which should make it a delight to read.

Purchase from Amazon: Shu Wei’s Revenge: A Young Man’s Journey into the Depths of the Underworld by Jackson Fahnestock


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Curran Galway on Her Ordinary Mystic Novel about a Woman's Spiritual Journey

Curran Galway talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Ordinary Mystic: Practicing the Presence.



“The extraordinary is everywhere in the ordinary.” ~Curran Galway

Curran was raised as a Roman Catholic and has taught for over twenty-five years. She has raised four children and gotten her Master’s degree in Divinity and is interested in the new types of spirituality that are coming out. She was inspired to write Ordinary Mystic because she felt that some of the new views on spirituality need to be brought out in story form so people can see what those spiritual principles can be seen in a daily life. Curran also remarked that Ordinary Mystic, which is the second book she wrote, is a more personal one than the first because it includes an experience that she, herself, had, and that she also included some spiritual experiences that others, whom she had spoken to, have had.

Curran’s own spirituality started when she was undergoing a dark period in her life and went on a retreat to sort things out. She mentioned that, the night before her experience, she had experienced such strange things as crosses swinging, walking up to the top of a mountain and then having a spiritual experience, feeling arms around her and being told that she is loved and that she must to tell others about how they, too, are loved. Curran emphasizes that she wasn’t looking for this experience though she starts her day with meditation, which gives her a sense of mindfulness and energy and sets the tone for the rest of the day. She also takes hikes in nature and takes time to be still, which means being being both physically and mentally still, and going inward to connect with her inner divinity.

Ordinary Mystic is the story of a woman who is at a crossroads in her life and who, when she goes on a retreat, experiences a connection with God at the top of a mountain. The experience turns her life upside-down and takes the woman years to fully incorporate it into her own life, and while it is a spiritual story, it is also a great story on its own, with Curran’s own friends telling her that the book is “a page-turner.”

Curran remarks that she wants people to awaken to the divinity that lies within themselves, and of how much the Divine loves them. She differentiates spirituality from religion, saying that religion is a home for spirituality, while the latter is all about living and being guided by Spirit. She remarks that there are so many outside distractions nowadays that people don’t turn inward to find personal transformation and finding out who one is on the inside and one’s own divinity within, which is what spirituality is all about.

Curran remarks that speaking about spirituality nowadays is “a little bit scary” and points out that the Roman Catholic Church made mystics saints, but that this was so because there weren’t that many people who were spiritually awake, which made the presence of mystics very extraordinary. She also remarked that people are hungry for spirituality because they want a more vital life, which they can get by connecting with their own spirit, and that spiritual experiences are available for everyone, regardless of background or religious beliefs or lack thereof.

Curran defines spirituality as being a direct connection to God, which is what mystics have had. Spirituality, according to her, is the heart of religion, and most religions have lost that connection over time. Curran notes that ordinary people can connect with Spirit in various ways, such as walking in nature and meditation. She remarks that just being mindful creates connections all its own and that making the connection results in a feeling of bliss and ecstasy, where everything is taken up and one is bathed in a feeling of love.

Curran notes that Christianity is moving from an indoctrinated belief system to an experiential system. She remarked that, in the past, spirituality was all about suffering, which is a central idea of Christianity, in that suffering is a part of life that had to be endured, and that what was thought of as a “simple life” corresponds to poverty. Likewise in that context, matter and spirit were separate, that one was either spiritual or materialistic and that becoming spiritual was a difficult goal to achieve because one was unworthy of it. At present, there is a great amount of turmoil where people are trying out a lot of different things, and what is coming out is the abundance of divine love and provision, which means that people don’t need to live in poverty and suffering. This, in turn, creates an attitude of abundance and trust that such abundance is available to everyone. Curran believes that, in the future, more and more people will become mystics, and in that oneness, they can move beyond the “dualistic reality” that is present into a world view of wholeness.

Where duality is concerned, Curran referenced some recent scientific findings where there is a part of the brain that lights up in an MRI whenever someone has a spiritual experience. She also remarks that children, before around the age of five, do not have a mid-line in the brain, which means that, for them, everything that goes on is a “natural contemplative experience.” It is when the brain divides, which starts around the age of seven, that duality becomes present in the brain. That said, meditation enables one to rise above such duality, which then accesses the mystical part of the brain.

To those who have had a spiritual experience but who are reluctant to speak of this to others, Curran recommends writing down such experiences as, when one reads these, there are messages to be found in these. She remarks for people to trust that we humans are moving into a new vision of spirituality and that some of the old ways will need to be dropped, and that we should not be afraid because God is with us every step of the way and wants to give all of us the kind of deep connection that saints and mystics have had.

Purchase from Amazon: Ordinary Mystic: Practicing the Presence by Curran Galway

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anna Gatmon on Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World

Anna Gatmon talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World: 4 Keys to Fulfillment and Balance.



“Living our calling and purpose is how we humans can live in spiritual and material balance.” ~Anna Gatmon

Anna lived in Paris in her twenties, where she worked as an international fashion model, and while she was fulfilled materially, she felt something missing. This feeling stayed with her when she went to the United States, where she got a doctoral degree, married, and raised a family, and she realized that she had to find a middle ground between spiritual fulfillment and material gratification.

Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World is intended for people who are looking for more purpose and meaning, be they spiritual people who feel an emptiness due to a lack of appreciation for the material or people who are gratified materially but who are spiritually empty. Anna intends for this book to be a road map that anyone can follow, whatever their culture or spiritual upbringing, or whatever their lifestyle, be one an office person or a guru, and remarked that her book provides an unusual approach to spirituality and materialism.

Anna points out that people create “amazing things,” and that there is a common misconception that spiritual people don’t lead lives of material abundance and gratification. She notes that people, as part of being spiritual, need to appreciate the material creation of others and gave the example of appreciating a chef’s work as an example of balance between a spiritual aspiration of the chef and the material gratification on the part of the diner. She notes that humans’ preference for either the material or the spiritual is due to seeing the world in duality of either/or, and that both the material and the spiritual both need to be expressed in order to create balance. Anna opines that being very spiritual in the context of balance with materialism doesn’t necessarily mean being rich, and gave an experience of hers as an example where, one morning, when she was concerned with her family’s financial situation, she became present to the abundance of what she had, with the six dollars in her account being merely one of the things she was blessed with.

The four keys that Anna notes in her book are:
  1. Expansive Presence - an expanded perception of reality
  2. Attentive Listening - becoming aware of the information present when one’s perception of reality is expanded
  3. Inspired Action - putting into action any prompting that became present during attentive listening
  4. Faith-filled Knowing - becoming aware that the Universe is a co-creator of one’s expression
The genesis of the book came about when Anna was in a meeting with the Dalai Lama and another woman asked the same thing Anna was asking herself: how does one integrate the spiritual teachings that one has learned into one’s daily life? She remarked that the four keys came to her in a flash while she was identifying spiritual experiences in her life, and that the research into these keys took three years, remarking that this is similar to the way scientists make their breakthroughs.

Anna advises people to live their highest calling, as doing so enables one to be in balance and unity with one’s spiritual aspirations and material expression.

Anna’s website is annagatmon.com, where one can download her workbook, 7 Practices for More Prosperity, Peace and Purpose for free.

Purchase from Amazon: Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World: 4 Keys to Fulfillment and Balance by Anna Gatmon

Friday, September 8, 2017

Gurutej Khalsa on The Moon She Rocks You: Revealing the Secrets of Women's Inner Emotions

Gurutej Khalsa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, The Moon She Rocks You: Revealing the Secrets of Women's Inner Emotions.



“The more that we can get our internal rhythms slowed down, the more that we can be present with each other.” ~Gurutej Khalsa

Gurutej Kaur, otherwise known as Gurutej Khalsa (“Kaur” is her middle name, so “Gurutej Kaur” and “Gurutej Khalsa” are both her.) built spiritual communities all over Canada in the 1970s and the 1980s, and some of the things she learned was that, when one has challenges in one’s life, one either practices the things that sustains one or gets involved with bad habits. She notes that, when one is in a leadership role, one can’t tell people to do things that one doesn’t do oneself, and along the way, through her life’s journey, she learned how to remain empowered and alive though the challenges that arose. The Moon She Rocks You is intended primarily for women, but men can also get something out of it as well.

Gurutej notes that women are ruled by the moon, which operates on a 28-day cycle, and that women have eleven moon centers, which alternate within that 28-day cycle. The summary of these moon centers, and some of the things that will come up in a woman’s life during that part of the cycle where a particular moon center is dominant, are:

Hairline
Positive: very connected with visions
Challenged: paranoia, self-doubt
Neutral: immovable, vast; knowingness is huge

Eyebrows - act as shields for the eyes; healing dreams; understanding
Positive: capacity to know what one is doing
Challenged: move into fantasy
Neutral: can share these dreams with others

Cheeks
Positive: promotion queen
Challenged: out-of-control flirting (get someone else to tell you that you are good)
Neutral: radiant and beautiful

Lips
Positive: excellent communication
Challenged: sharp-toned

Earlobes
Positive: sharing own values
Challenged: self-deprecating; down on oneself
Neutral: empowered by values

Nape of Neck
Positive: susceptible to sound and voices
Challenged: unable to communicate
Neutral: can speak from the heart

Nipples
Positive: over-giving
Negative: feel like a victim; exhausted
Neutral: unconditional love

Navel - power center to the world
Positive: physical energy
Challenged: unstable; have no energy
Neutral: unstoppability

Inner Thighs
Positive: organized, loving, connected
Challenged: feel disorganized
Neutral: creative strength and possibility

Clitoris
Positive: excel in social situations
Challenged: insecure; need to be around people you know and love
Neutral: charming, in control

Membranes of the Vagina
Positive: being energetic and connective
Challenged: total zero
Neutral: beginnings and endings are the same

Gurutej notes that there are more to these moon centers as described in the book, and that there are meditations and breathing exercises available for each of these moon centers, designed to bring one to the positive aspect. She notes that it takes three minutes before the breath enters the brain, and that this can change the brain’s cellular structure, and that there are lots of options available for each of the moon centers.

Gurutej notes that the moon centers don’t move in the cycle as noted above, but that charting the moon centers for three months will give an accurate feel of how these rotate. She also notes that, because the cycle revolves around the moon, even women whose periods are irregular will get something from the exercises in the book.

Purchase from Amazon: The Moon She Rocks You: Revealing the Secrets of Women's Inner Emotions by Gurutej Khalsa


Friday, September 1, 2017

Jenny Johnston on Claiming Your Past Life Inheritance and Being Free from Emotional Traumas

Jenny Johnston talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Your Past Life Inheritance: Tapping into the Wisdom Within to Create Your Future Now.



“The things that we’re struggling with in this lifetime, they wouldn’t be there if we hadn’t already stepped through them in another lifetime.” ~Jenny Johnston

Jenny was an occupational therapist working with veterans who used relaxation therapy and she became interested in spirituality and past lives after her mother’s sudden death. It was while she had “a lot of time” while recovering from a spine injury that she told her Reiki healer that she wanted to become a past life therapist, a course on which, as it turned out, the healer’s sister had already done. Jenny then took the hypnotherapy course, where she also learned about Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which is commonly called “tapping,” as it is a form of energy psychology that can be thought of as acupuncture without the needles which works to clear any blockages in one’s energy that are identified with particular memories. It was during her investigations into these that she came in contact with Kryon, which is a conglomeration of beings who speak through a channel and whose purpose is to aid humans find who they really are. Her contact introduced her to the Akash, which is essentially a library of one’s past lives, and she then combined what she learned in EFT with working with guides to work with clients on such issues as fears, self-sabotage and unfinished business in previous lives to release these and create a better life for themselves.

Jenny describes Your Past Life Inheritance as being a self-help tool that empowers its readers to be able to do the work, as it includes links to videos and other material so that people can learn and do themselves. The book includes transcriptions of sessions conducted by Jenny with clients who have given permissions to have their experiences included in the book. Jenny included these transcriptions so that readers can see, word for word, how this the session was conducted. Her technique is essentially that of what she calls “waking hypnosis,” as the brainwaves go into the subconscious range while the client is still conscious and awake, and deal with the totality of a person, including the soul and one’s Higher Self. Jenny notes that past life events sometimes come to a client - even ones who don’t believe in past lives - when she is conducting a normal EFT session, and that the realization often surprises the person concerned. During the first sessions, she asks her clients to go to their Akash and its Crystal Cave to help identify those memories in one’s past lives which are holding us back in the present, likening these to outdated background programs in a computer that are running and taking up space. Later on, she takes her client to places of higher learning for them to get why that incident was chosen by the soul and the lesson behind it, after which she takes her client back to the present with that learning, which takes away the feeling that one is a victim and enter a state of wonder and creation.

Jenny notes that, while we call previous lives “past lives,” this isn’t entirely true, as when one is in a past life, that past life is in the present and real, as the energy present in humans today enables humans to access their past lives. She takes into account information given by spirit guides such as Kryon, whose channelers are often accompanied by scientists who back up what Kryon describes with scientific evidence. Jenny notes that she creates the space for people to clear their blockages at a soul level, also noting that intention plays a big part in her work. She notes that the case studies in the book are a good representation of the regressions she does with other clients, and that a common thread in these regressions is the feeling that we humans are not alone, as well as that of connection to guides and Higher Self as well as of empowerment, particularly in the cases of people who, in their past lives, have suffered trauma for standing in their truths.

Jenny remarked that she’s training Quantum EFT practitioners to eventually do the work, as she admits that she won’t be around forever and she wants this to be available to the world at large. She notes that fear is behind people’s feelings of being judged, persecuted and humiliated, and that this affects people physically, and then gave the example of a client whose son, at the present, was blind because the client was guillotined in a previous life and the son in this lifetime was the son in that previous lifetime, who saw his father being killed. She notes that the effects of such traumas are there to protect us, and that releasing these includes acknowledging it for the protection offered and recognizing that it no longer serves us.

Purchase from Amazon: Your Past Life Inheritance: Tapping into the Wisdom Within to Create Your Future Now by Jenny Johnston