Saturday, June 27, 2015

Patricia Jennings Teaches How Mindfulness Frees Teachers from Stress

Dr. Patricia Jennings talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim of AuthorStory by about her book, Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom.

"We often get depressed about the past - what happened in the past. When we focus our attention on the present, it helps reduce both anxiety and depression." ~Patricia A. Jennings 

Patricia had always wanted to work with children and enjoyed working with them, which was the reason she went into teaching. She spent her first twenty-two years as a classroom teacher, after which she taught teachers, and it was over the course of that time that she realized how emotions can interfere with teaching, for, as she pointed out, both teachers and students are essentially held captive in a single room for a particular amount of time, and if the students complain and grumble and are generally not receptive to the teacher, this has an effect on the teacher, who reacts with such emotions that result in anxiety, thus making the experience rather stressful on the teacher.

Patricia had been practicing mindfulness and meditation even before she started teaching, and she realized that her practice of meditation helped her manage the emotional demands of being a teacher in a classroom full of children. She observed that, often, the behaviors that the teachers needed to manage created a negative emotional reaction in them, such as anger and frustration, and that the beginner teachers had a difficult time reflecting on such experiences. Patricia realized that teachers could benefit from practicing mindfulness, but she didn’t do so until she had done more research on the topic, which led her to get her doctorate studying stress and coping, after which she developed programs to help teachers manage their emotions through mindfulness, and gave the example of a beginning teacher who, after undergoing training in mindfulness, was able to make a subject that her students greatly resisted, interesting.

Mindfulness for Teachers was an opportunity for Patricia to bring together several threads that she had been working on over the years and present these in a way that the average teacher could get, so that they could be more responsive and become better teachers. She mentioned that one of the reasons she was interested in writing a book was her experience dealing with intern teachers, some of which she trained. She mentioned that Daniel Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, recommended her to his publisher when the latter asked if he knew anybody who could write a book on mindfulness in education, and Patricia was up for the challenge, particularly since she had been thinking about writing a book but didn’t know how to get connected with the publishing industry.

The concept of mindfulness is based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work, which is based on stress reduction, and the definition of mindfulness is “paying attention to the present non-judgementally.” In other words, being aware of what is happening in the present moment, both within oneself and outside and oneself in a way that these are perceived very clearly. Mindfulness might be inherent in some personality traits, but it can also be practiced and can help people realize their conditioned responses to particular situations, such as being late.

While Patricia’s book is aimed primarily at teachers, she notes that the lessons within have helped readers who weren’t teachers in other aspects of their lives, such as parenting, and that the lessons within can help out anybody.

Patricia notes that research is presently ongoing on mindfulness, mostly conducted on adults, and practicing mindfulness has shown that it can reduce depression, anxiety and pain, as well as change parts of the brain that are related to regulating emotions and improving the response of the body’s immune system. She hopes that as teachers learn mindfulness skills, they would be more likely to stay in the teaching profession, particularly since teachers spend a lot of time on other activities outside of the classroom still related to teaching students - in other words, their work doesn’t end when classes do.

Patricia hopes that, at the end of the day, mindfulness can help teachers do their work in the classroom by understanding the entirety of the students they teach, particularly those who have suffered trauma and are acting out negatively due to that. She sees mindfulness as directly helping students as well. She says she wants to return to teaching students at some point in the future and use all the tools and techniques that she has learned over the years. She’s found her calling in teaching and she definitely has no desire to return to being a secretary for a real estate agent, which was where she started her working career. We should all be thankful for her choice.


Purchase on Amazon: Mindfulness for Teachers: Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lian Gouw on Being an Author and Publisher of Indonesian Literature

Lian Gouw talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim of AuthorStory by about her book, Only a Girl.

“Emotional truth is the truth that comes from the deepest part of your heart and is spontaneous, and the lines that you write down somehow are universal truth.” ~Lian Gouw

Lian Gouw was born in the Dutch East Indies, and was raised with a Dutch education and cultural values. She grew up during World War II and the Indonesian Revolution, and then emigrated to the United States in the early sixties due in part to the anti-colonial reaction that took place during the Indonesian Revolution.

Lian has always loved to read and write, and as a teenager, she won several essay competitions. She put her writing on hold for several decades, taking it up again when she was in her sixties. She had always wanted to publish a novel, and to prepare herself to fulfil that dream, she took courses on writing. Her efforts paid off when her book, Only a Girl, was published in 2009. The book tells the story of three generations of Chinese-Indonesian women, and tells the story about the intricate dynamics of the family.

Lian notes that, with the present trend of internationalization and integration, family dynamics involving peoples of different cultures tend to get somewhat complicated. Lian also notes that the book has been well-received in the Chinese-Indonesian community and has helped its younger readers understand their parents better, and is presently being used as required reading in several universities. Due to her upbringing, Lian was far more fluent in Dutch and English than she was in Bahasa Indonesia, hence her originally writing out Only a Girl in English, which would later be translated into Indonesian under the title Menantang Phoenix.

Lian mentioned that she encountered the concept of “emotional truth” while studying to be an author and mentions that this is an important element in writing fiction. She then read a passage from her book as an example of this, stating that that was her roots speaking to her, and this is the reason why she doesn’t write lighthearted books.

Lian decided to go into publishing after her first return trip to Indonesia in 2010 since her emigration to the United States. The trip opened her eyes to the dearth of good books in English, and and this was her reason behind her desire to translate Indonesian historical novels into English and release these into the English-speaking market, hence her setting up her publishing house, Dalang Publishing.

Dalang Publishing had originally accepted only previously published works, under the assumption that, because the works had already been previously published, the historical facts in these works would already have been checked and the editing had already been completed. Such an assumption wasn’t always true, so Lian and her editors still needed to check facts and editing, hence Dalang Publishing’s being open to new material. That said, Dalang Publishing books are presently available through such large distributors as Ingram and Baker & Taylor.

Where publishing and marketing is concerned, Lian has found that Americans are curious about her books. Her main challenges are economic and technical in nature, as she lives off social security and isn’t too familiar with the Internet and information technology. Her ultimate goal is to have good Indonesian stories accessible by public libraries and stores, as well as to be of such good quality that they become part of a literature course so that future generations can get in touch with their roots.

With regard to experiences, Lian reflects that she has experienced both compassion and greed, which are the extremes of experiences for her, and with regard to the time in her life that she would like to live in forever, she remarked that she would like to stay where she is in now, as these are her richest years, noting that she had lived long enough to gain insight and experience that is worth sharing. She also notes that she hopes to die with her life’s work not quite finished, because if her life’s work was finished, she said, there is no more reason to live.

Lian Gouw Website:

Purchase on Amazon, Only a Girl

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gurutej Khalsa Shows How Yoga Can Give You More Time for Work and Life

Gurutej Khalsa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, The 13th Month: How You Can Get an Extra 29 Days Each Year.

When you get in the company of the whole, you become more whole.” ~Gurutej Khalsa
Gurutej Khalsa, a pioneering Kundalini Yoga guru based in Los Angeles in the United States, presently teaches yoga, consciousness, community building and meditation throughout the world. Her book, The 13th Month: How You Can Get an Extra 29 Days Each Year, came to be because one of the things she often hears from people are statements which essentially say, “I don’t have time.” 

Her intent for writing the book, The 13th Month, is to enable its readers to shift some patterns in their lives so they can do things differently. One such aspect is breathing, and during the interview, Gurutej did a four-part, basic breathing exercise with the interviewer which made the latter somewhat lightheaded (as Gurutej commented it would) but which also made him somewhat more alert. Gurutej also mentioned that she has yoga flipcharts of eighteen different exercises, some of which could, in ninety seconds, help one clear out one’s head, like before going into a meeting to create a clearing for new thoughts or to take in something new. She also mentioned that one’s day actually starts when one goes to sleep the night before. She mentions that her book gives some possible ways to address the issue of getting a good night’s rest, and that she took in the feedback that she got so she could create exercises that could be done in the span of ninety seconds to three minutes. 

There was some problem in connectivity when Gurutej spoke on the topic of energy. She pointed out that most people don’t think about personal energy when the word “energy” is mentioned, and she pointed out that she wants people to think about this, as she believes that if people can change their energy state, they can use the energy, such as from anger, through a process of releasing and recycling and reusing, to transform and fuel themselves, rather than drain them. 

Gurutej mentioned that her name was given to her by her teacher, and that a change in name reflects a change in energy and resonance that affects the person so called in a certain way, such as, possibly, the Spirit. 

Gurutej said that she had always been spiritual, and in her former life as a Catholic, she loved the energy, if not the politics and the angst, and at a very young age she told her mother that she would start her own Order once she was old enough. What drew her to yoga was its teaching that the body can be brought into a higher state of consciousness along with the spirit, unlike the teachings she encountered in several religions that the soul is good and the body is bad. 

Gurutej pointed out that Western yoga focuses more on exercise rather than the archaic Indian version, which also focuses on meditation as well, but that yoga, as practiced in the West, is still good, as it enables people to breathe differently. She points out that, with Kundalini Yoga, the branch of yoga that she follows, meditating in the morning sets one’s day, and the challenge is how to carry that energy throughout all the challenges that crop up during the day. 

Gurutej admitted that, in the 1960s, she "took enough drugs to take out an elephant,” and when she discovered yoga, she realized that she could achieve that same high with yoga as she did with drugs, and so switched over to yoga. She opined that the atmosphere in the 1960s was the Universe creating an opening to prepare the world for the present times, and sprang from the experience of the 1950s, where women needed to find ways to manage the lives and worlds that had been created for them. Gurutej mentioned that the desire for connection, the desire for something much more, was one of the drivers for the creativity of the 1960s. 

Gurutej expressed her desire to experience dancing more, and also noted that it’s more about how we go through an experience and what one gets from it is what counts, rather than not wanting to experience something. She notes that she had gone through challenges in her life, such as the death of her daughter and being a single mother, and that there is a gift behind each experience, regardless of how “horrendous” the experience might occur to a person. She gave Nelson Mandela as an example. For her, she pointed out that being the best that one can be at a certain age is  what matters, as our needs and desires and lessons learned change from age to age, and that bringing one’s wisdom at the age of, say, fifty, to that same person at the age of twenty, wouldn’t work because of this. 

The 13th Month: How You Can Get an Extra 29 Days Each Year, is an ideal book for anyone who thinks he or she does not have the time. With the help of yoga, Gurutej Khalsa can help you create that time and you also get the benefit of having more energy and zest for life in the process. She's a living example of what she teaches in the book.


Purchase on Amazon: The 13th Month: How You Can Get an Extra 29 Days Each Year, on Amazon

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Carole Morton Guides You Towards Self Love, Inner Peace, and Happiness

Carole Morton talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim of AuthorStory by about her book, Entering Your Own Heart: A Guide to Developing Self Love, Inner Peace and Happiness.

When we fully, unconditionally love our self, then we effortlessly, unconditionally love everything and everyone else.” ~Carole Morton

Carole Morton was raised under abusive circumstances, and at the age of ten she had a vision of herself speaking in front of hundreds of people and that, after she spoke to them, they would love themselves more. The road to that vision wasn’t easy, given that she confessed to being actively suicidal at age ten. When she grew up, she got involved with the women’s movement and entered law school with the intent of helping others. She then moved to counseling and communication, hosting a TV show to help raise consciousness, and her interest in intrapersonal communication led her to becoming the psychotherapist she now is.

It was during the vision she had at the age of ten when she promised herself that she would write a book, and that she would give herself fifty years to learn how to do so. The book is intended for a general audience, and while she drew on her personal experiences, she also drew from the experiences of other people whom she dealt with for three decades of practice. She also included inspirational quotes from everyday people, as the book is intended to inspire the reader and enable the latter to listen to their own, internal wisdom.

With regard to meeting clients, Carole points out that psychotherapists are trained to meet these where they are, so that they feel they have been seen, heard and accepted for who they are at that moment She also mentioned that psychotherapists need to respect, understand and care for their clients as they are, because the latter are judging themselves and don’t accept and love themselves as they are. The work is thus more of a journey of learning, and the psychotherapist becomes more of a guide than a teacher to the client, so that the latter can recognize and overcome their blocks to loving themselves and then moving on from wherever they are stuck in. Entering Your Own Heart itself is a journey, and as Carole notes, the reader has to do some of the work, as it is not the kind of book that one just reads and then puts down.

Carole’s methodology relies upon the integration of scientific and spiritual methods because, as she says, the scientific and the spiritual are intertwined in the lives of people, rather than being separate, and understanding the interrelationship enables one to grow and to heal. For Carole, spirituality isn’t about “some man in the sky,” but as connection between and within oneself and everything else; and the biggest block to that connection is judgement.

Carole notes that love is both a feeling and a behavior, and breaks it down into four aspects: recognition of oneself and others (the opposite of which is denial), having compassionate understanding of others (the opposite of which is judgement), acceptance (the opposite of which is rejection) and having faith in others (the opposite of which is distrust).

Carole’s ultimate vision for all the work she does is that everyone loves themselves more, and with regard to what part of her life she would like to stay in forever, Carole said that where she is right now is a good place for her to stay in forever, because of all the peace she has attained to this point.

Where purchasing the book is concerned, Carole would much prefer that people purchase it from the book website itself,, as ten percent of the proceeds go to a charity that helps street children in Calcutta.

Carole Morton's Website:

Purchase on Amazon: Entering Your Own Heart: A Guide to Developing Self Love, Inner Peace, and Happiness