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11 Sep

The #1 Most Important Aspect to Master for True Inner Peace

By Radhika Vachani

Author of The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness



You experience your entire life through your mind. If your mind is not in order, if it is not a healthy place to live, nothing you do or achieve will ever make you happy nor give you the satisfaction you are looking for.

Human beings mostly operate from a very superficial layer of consciousness where the conceptual mind, driven by the ego and the senses, determines how you think, feel and act. This energy sphere is fraught with restlessness and chaos, as it is oriented in the physical world, which is volatile, impermanent and uncertain.

To live a more wholesome and meaningful life, you must learn to go beyond this layer and access deeper levels of consciousness, living in a more awakened state.

You have access to a vast amount of intelligence, creativity and wisdom within you—you just have-to learn how to access it.

The main way to do so is through training your mind to focus on your breath.

The breath is the most powerful tool for your personal transformation. It is the only aspect of you that takes place in the present, not in the past, nor the future. When you become aware of the breath multiple times throughout the day and breathe slowly, feeling each inhalation and exhalation, you start to transform your mind.

The mind is the root cause of all unhappiness, and with simple exercises practiced regularly, you can learn to relax and tame your mind, and transform yourself and your life experiences.

Here are three simple ways to become more mindful and to help train your mind to experience peace, each and every day:

  1. Start Early. Every morning, when you take a shower and/or brush your teeth, do this simple task with complete concentration. Every time your mind starts to wander off, you should be alert enough to recognize this and simply draw the mind back to the breath.
  2. Set Reminders. Download mindfulness bells onto your phone and set a timer for every hour, or less. When the bells go off, take a few moments to breathe consciously, feeling each breath. Do this about 5 times, breathing slowly. This helps move your mind away from its restless and chaotic state to become more present, mindful and alert.
  3. Just breathe. Spend 5 minutes or more every morning to sit quietly with yourself. Sit upright on a chair or in a cross-legged position in a quiet room. Close your eyes, and place your middle and index finger gently on your navel. Slowly inhale starting at the navel all the way to the upper palette of your mouth. Allow your abdomen to extend out as you do this, feeling your fingers extend out as well. Then slowly exhale as you draw your navel into the spine, feeling your fingers moving inwards towards the spine. Do this bout 5 times, and then come back to normal breathing. For the next few minutes, just feel the breath, training your mind to focus on the breath. Set a time for 5 minutes and increase the time as you get better at this.

When we are not mindful and alert, we get caught up in a mind that is constantly dreaming, distracted and chaotic. We are unable to be present to all that is occurring around us and within us, and as a result, life just passes us by. Yoga is a science of the here and now, and when we train our minds to focus on the breath, we are in fact training the mind to become more present and alert so that we can live our lives with fullness.



RADHIKA VACHANI is the author of Just Breathe: The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness. She is also a motivational speaker, yoga and holistic wellness expert, and the Founder of Yogacara Healing Arts in Mumbai, India (www.yogacara.in). Radhika also runs life-transforming retreats all over the world, in the Himalayas, Ladakh and at her Retreat Center outside of Mumbai in Alibaug. To learn more, visit www.yogacara.in  or connect with Radhika at radhika.vachani@yogacara.in and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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27 Aug

3 Common Mistakes When Providing Feedback.

In one of his recent articles, New York Times Best-Selling Author and Leadership Specialist, Dr Marshall Goldsmith spoke about feedback and feedforward.

I have considered Dr Goldsmith to be a virtual mentor for the past 6 years. His articles are always insightful. On a personal note, he has been very helpful to me whenever we have been in contact.

In that article, Dr Goldsmith mentioned that feedback is often necessary, while feedforward has to be forward-looking, positive, and non-judgmental.

In any managerial or coaching capacity, feedback is absolutely essential for growth. This is also pertinent to parents of children.

Here are 3 common feedback mistakes that can be made:

  1. Assuming that feedback has to be all negative.
  2. Telling the other party that constructive criticism will help them.
  3. Providing feedback based on the individual, not the behaviour.

Please ask yourself this question now – “Have I ever engaged in any of these while providing feedback in any capacity?”

I can put my hand on my heart, and say “Yes, I have”.

Let’s closely examine all 3 of the above so that we can create empowering, encouraging, and enlightening outcomes.

  1. Assuming that feedback has to be all negative – The simple truth is that feedback can focus on certain aspects that were not positive. That said, if the receiver has to be more receptive of change, they must be encouraged, not demotivated. One of my corporate training programs is a full day workshop called “How To Master 360 Degree Feedback”. We teach the SMS (Strength, Modification, Strength) model. This model emphasises the importance of providing encouraging feedback first, making a suggestion second, and finishing off with another piece of encouraging feedback. Let’s say that you are the coach of a junior football team. One of your players, Jenny hasn’t scored any goals in her past 6 matches. During the previous season, she was the second highest goal scorer for your team. This is how you could utilise the SMS model – “Jenny, the whole team really appreciates that you are the first to arrive and the last to leave when we have training on Wednesday night. You set up, you pack up, and you always help me with organising fruits for our players. (That was the first Strength). Jenny, the whole team would love to see your name on the scoreboard. Let’s give them what they want. From now onward, we will focus more on your shooting. Every training session, you and I will spend 15 minutes in which you will practise shooting for goal. (That was the Modification). You are attacking well, you create so many opportunities, and you are so capable of scoring more goals.  (That was the second Strength). This model leaves the receiver with something positive that can be used for improvement.
  2. Telling the other party that constructive criticism will help them – What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone criticises you? I bet it is something negative, right? Constructive criticism is an oxymoron. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “Constructive” as “Promoting improvement or development”. It defines “Criticism” as “The act of criticising usually unfavourably”. So, how can Promoting improvement or development” and “criticising unfavourably” be used simultaneously? If you are providing feedback, please realise that “constructing and criticising” at the same time does not, and will not work. Providing the receiver with something to improve on doesn’t work well if you are criticising the receiver. So, please remove “Constructive Criticism” from your vocabulary. It is not practical. It will not work. Replace it with “Productive Suggestions” or “Behaviour Reflection” or coin your own description of providing feedback and feedforward that is just constructive, not critical.
  3. Providing feedback based on the individual, not the behaviour – There is an African proverb which says “Examine what is said, and not who speaks.”  Sometimes the provider of feedback gets so caught up in examining the person that the feedback becomes about the person, and not the behaviour. Learn to separate the behaviour from the person. Remember (in most cases), we can provide support in changing the behaviour, not the person. As a coach/mentor, I can vouch for that. It is quite common for the provider of feedback to get personal with the receiver. This can lead up to bringing up negative events/instances from the past. The goal of the provider is to be feedforward focussed. Bringing up negative events/instances from the past will not be productive to the provider and to the receiver. When we analyse the behaviour, we are more likely to come up with productive suggestions for the individual. Once again, separate the behaviour from the person because the behaviour is not the holistic person. The behaviour is one aspect of the person. Help improve that aspect.

Quote: “Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” Jim Trinka

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can provide feedback and feedforward that makes a productive impact on others.

Influencing you to your excellence,

Ron Prasad (Author, Speaker, Corporate Trainer, Anti-Bullying Campaigner)

PS: Here is my Anti-Bullying Charities latest short video (3 Tips For Empathic Listening) – https://youtu.be/q2_MAdVjEk4

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27 Jun

A Powerful Consideration When Influencing Others.

During my days as a Youth Mentor, there were many young people who needed support in either getting their life back on track or in achieving something they desired.

Some of the youth were very challenging to deal with, let alone provide support to, in a professional capacity. The key was to engage with them using empathy and compassion so that they opened up.

The Youth Mentor’s role was to guide them in taking productive action. There were two types of actions that they would take:

  1. Retrospective – doing something about what has happened in the past or has been happening until the present moment eg. giving up drugs.
  2. Prospective – doing something regarding the future eg. enrolling in a new tertiary education course.

Whether the action that they were looking for was retrospective or prospective, I would ask a thought provoking question that would make them think. Here’s that question:

“What’s at stake?”

The goal of that question was to make them realise (in simple words) what they’re messing with, and what/who is affected.

That said, it wasn’t so simple.

The one thing I realised was that every young person had their own frame of focus.

Let me explain….

They all focussed on either of the two:

  1. External frame of focus – How their actions will affect things/people outside of them eg. “If I give up drugs, I will do my parents proud”.
  2. Internal frame of focus – How their actions will affect them eg. “I would feel like an achiever when I become a qualified electrician”.

Most of these young people concentrated on only one frame of focus, and some of them on both. However, there was never anyone who concentrated on both frames of focus, equally. Each had a bias toward one.

Even in my Executive/Life Coaching career, I was yet to find a person who concentrated on both frames of focus equally.

Here are two examples of two young people, using a different frame of focus each.

First, there was Emilia – a vibrant and bubbly young lady whose goal was to master the art of speaking before an audience. It was an honour to mentor her in achieving this goal. When questioned about the impetus behind her goal, she said “I want to help the less fortunate, spread awareness about social justice issues, and be the voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves”. Did you notice how all her reasons are pointing toward an external frame of focus?
On a side note, you may not be surprised to learn that today, she is a very high achieving young woman who holds a highly regarded government position in which she is being of stellar service to society!

Then, there was Jeremiah – shy young man who was very quiet at the best of times. His mission was to be more confident in himself. When questioned about the impetus behind his goal, he said “I wish to feel better about myself. I want to know that I can have confidence when I need it. I need to be comfortable in my own skin”. Did you notice how all his reasons are pointing toward an internal frame of focus?

Think about this – when you wish to do something (regardless of whether it is for something retrospective or prospective) which frame of focus do you normally tune in to?

If you are in the profession of helping others, or in management, please pay particular attention to the frame of focus that the people you deal with use more of.

Your role is to provide them with clarity on how they can take action, based on their chosen frame of focus.

Sometimes you could highlight the other frame of focus, and how actions based on that frame of focus will be beneficial. For example, you are in management, and one of your subordinates is uncertain about doing an online course. All his/her colleagues are doing this course in order to enhance their chances of career progression. He/she says “There is not enough time. My project deadlines will not be met if I do this online course. My family will not like this. They know that I am already busy”. Your subordinate has an external frame of focus when it comes to this online course. He/she is looking at things outside of them.

You could support him/her with two separate approaches:

  1. Stay with the external frame of focus, and point out the positives eg. “Your immediate manager and your HR Manager will be very proud of you for completing this online course” or “If you ever decide to leave this organisation, this course will add more weight to your credentials, and potential employers will love that, won’t they?”
  2. Provide an internal frame of focus, and see how he/she responds. For example “How would you feel and how would you see yourself when you proudly hold that Certificate Of Completion in your hands?”

My suggestion to you is to play around with this concept, even for yourself. Give yourself both internal and external frames of focus when you are making a decision or looking at completing a task. Then, you will be better positioned to serve yourself and others.

Quote: “Shift your frame of reference. Realise that all you see around you, the reality we perceive, is a small stage upon which you act, and within it is an inner spaciousness that is infinite. Let’s now explore the infinite.” Alex Bennett

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively use internal and external frames of focus to support others and to support yourself.

Influencing you to your excellence,


PS: Here is my Anti-Bullying Charities latest short video (3 Tips For Parents) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbNmLNbcJg4&t=3s

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30 May

The Four Obstacles and How to Beat Them

By Randall Bell, Ph.D.

There are two great lies. The first is that it can’t happen to us. The second is that there is no hope. The truth is that it can happen to us. And the truth is that there is hope. We can change and transform ourselves through our choices. We choose not only what we do and say, but how we perceive the world and ourselves.

Disappointments are inevitable. As much as we may try to make life perfect, disappointments affect all people. It could be any one of the difficult Ds, such as disease, death, divorce, disability, drugs, defeat, or being dumped. Sometimes people directly cause these disappointments. Other times they come unexpectedly, apparently without any reason.

But in almost every case the solution is the same. Post-traumatic thrivers fail forward. They are resilient and come out stronger than before. What makes a person a post-traumatic thriver? There are four basic transformations that define post-traumatic thrivers.

So what are the four obstacles and how do we use them to transform?

From Complexity to Simplicity. Some problems are mind-bogglingly complex. We may find ourselves in a hopeless tangle, whether in business or family life. We may look at this mess and think that the solution will be just as messy. The opposite is true. Complex problems require simple solutions. Most of the time, our troubles are foundational. For example, many relationships or jobs fall apart because of an initial, foundational dishonesty or miscommunication.

The solution is to set aside time each day, preferably in the morning, for solitude and clear thinking. Put aside the smartphone, turn off the television and the computer, and connect with your gut and your conscience. All strong buildings sit on a solid foundation. Where is your foundation? Where does your mind go? Simplify things to their essential elements and let the dust settle. There is great wisdom inside all of us, if only we are willing to listen.

From Isolation to Connection. Any one of the difficult Ds can lead to isolation. Whether in business or our personal lives, we turn inwards, thinking that if we got ourselves into the mess in the first place, then we are the only ones who can solve it. However, we are social animals. Many of those situations that drive us to isolation and seem to require only our own thinking are solved by reconnecting with those around us. It is difficult to see ourselves and our circumstances truthfully if we shut ourselves off from others.

The solution is to connect. Even when things are going great, we call a friend or family member every day and exchange a few kind words. That way, when things get tough, we will have somebody to talk to. How are our relationships? Who can we rely on? Who can rely on us? Here we reach out to people in an authentic way and open ourselves to the wisdom of those people around us.

From Inertia to Action. When disappointments hit, we may feel useless and ineffective. Our confidence drops. We start hesitating. The longer this goes on, the more inertia we build up, until taking any action seems impossible. When we want to get in shape, we go to the gym on a schedule, not just when we want to be fit. We don’t just shower once in January and expect to stay clean for the remainder of the year. Likewise, when struggling, we need to stay in action.

The simple solution to this is to make your bed every morning. The point, of course, is not to have the bed made (though you will be thankful at night!). The point is to start the day in action. You will start the day having accomplished something, however small. If you managed to make your bed this morning, then what can’t you do? Here we tap into the wisdom of small but significant actions.

From Myopia to Imagination. Disappointments can often lead to regret, but they don’t have to. Much regret stems not from something that happened to us, but from how we responded. We rarely regret a natural disaster or a disease, but we may regret how to acted in those situations. Repeated disappointment from one of the difficult Ds can lead either to increasing narrow-mindedness (myopia) or greater awareness. Post-traumatic thrivers cultivate an active imagination. They have a broad sense of what is possible. They may even seem crazy at times.

The easiest habit to counter myopia and to cultivate a sense of timelessness and imagination is to keep a journal or a diary. We think of the big picture. We connect with that part that is, not the part that does. We think of the to be list, not the to do list. By keeping a record, we use time to create the timeless. We give ourselves permission to think big and set goals.

To make things happen, we need to know who and what we are dealing with. We replace each conflict with a new, effective habit. As Thoreau once wrote, “Simplify, simplify.”


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27 May

Patience Makes Perfect.

An article in The Thrive Centre For Human Development stated that self control and patience predicted better performance and higher self-esteem.

In this day and age of technology and fast paced living, patience seems to be more and more challenging to practise.

Here’s a short story that will put patience in perspective:

On Monday and Tuesday nights, I help my mixed martial arts instructor when he teaches kids. There was one particular boy who was right handed/footed. He struggled with left kicks. The instructor asked me to hold a kick shield and let this boy practise a side kick with his left leg. After 2 rounds, I asked the instructor if the boy should switch to his right leg. The response was “Keep going with his left leg”.

Another 2 rounds went by, and the boy was getting a bit frustrated. My previous question to the instructor was repeated, and his response was the same. After another 2 rounds, the boy was losing interest in the side kick with his left leg. Instead of asking the instructor, I informed him that the boy had completed 6 rounds, practising the same kick with the same leg. The instructor replied “Keep going”. My response – “Master, he has been doing the same kick for 6 rounds. Let’s do something different”. In his usual calm demeanor, he replied “Keep going”.

At that point, I was feeling sorry for this boy. After one more round (his 7th round, practising the same kick with the same leg), the instructor asked the boy to close his eyes, and practise the side kick with his left leg. Now, this was the 8th round that the boy was doing the same kick. To my surprise, he hit the kick shield in the same spot with every kick, even with his eyes closed. At the end of that round, the instructor asked the boy to rest for one round, and slowly drink some water. He then turned to me and calmly said “Patience makes perfect”.

The one lesson that was obvious from that experience was that there are certain things that take time, regardless of how we may feel about it or how much we may wish to rush the process.

Please ask yourself this question – “Is there any area of my life in which I must exercise more patience?”

Followed by – “What will the by-product of patience be?”

Now, it is clear that for many people patience is a very challenging character trait.

A few weeks ago, I was at a road intersection while driving. Once it was clear for the driver ahead of me to go through, he looked left and right again, just to double check. The driver behind me started beeping his horn, and went into a tirade. All of this for what? Just the two seconds delay?

Here are 4 tips for you to practise more patience:

  • Take 3 deep and slow breaths – it has been said that deep breathing regulates your heart rate. It will also make you relaxed. If the person in front of you at the post office is taking too long at the counter, it can be easy to become impatient. Take 3 slow and deep breaths. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make you feel better when impatience seems to be taking over. If you feel that you are still tense, keep taking deep and slow breaths. In the previous article, it was mentioned that taking a few deep and slow breaths, followed by a smile (fake or real) will most likely put you in a more productive/positive state. Do that if you have to.
  • Switch your attention to something else and engage in productive self talk – if you are stuck in traffic and become impatient, switch your attention to something else. It could be something that is on your mind or something that will make you happy. For example, start planning your day or your night. Tell yourself what you will do that day or night –“Tonight will be a good night at the gym” or “I can’t wait to watch that movie on the weekend”. Use your physiology to express how you feel about the gym or the movie. Doing so will take your mind off the situation at hand, and you will be in a better state (mentally and emotionally).
  • Develop a “patience trigger” – when I was a Life Coach, many of my corporate clients were given an exercise – to develop a patience trigger. There was one lady who was the self-proclaimed princess of no patience. If she saw a line at the coffee shop, she would not get a coffee that morning. I asked her to develop or uncover a patience trigger – something that would keep impatience away. She thought back to when she (as a teenager) had a major argument with her younger sister because she took too long to shower. After that argument, they didn’t talk for almost a year! She regrets that argument to this day. I asked her to think about what that argument cost her, every time impatience crept in. Whenever she thought of that argument, she reminded herself to exercise more patience. The one thing that is crystal clear in my study of human behaviour is that pain is a very powerful deterrent!
  • Be outcome oriented, not process focused – if your goal (for example) is to lose weight or gain weight, become outcome oriented ie. know that the outcome is the bigger deal than the process. Yes, you will have to go through the process to get to the outcome. The process may/will test your patience. Patience will be needed to see small ongoing results, and to get you to the desired end result. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your ideal/desired physique be. This can be applied to anything medium or long term that you are working toward – learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument, working on a new project etc.

Quote: “One minute of patience, ten years of peace.” Greek proverb

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively practice patience.

Influencing you to your excellence,

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26 Apr

Negativity Always Wins. Here’s How To Change That.

Motivational speaking legend Les Brown speaks about a study conducted at M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute Of Technology). The study concluded that every time a person directs a negative statement toward you, it takes 17 positive statements just to neutralise the initial negative statement!

Think about that – one negative statement vs 17 positive statements, and then the impact on the individual becomes equal.

Please think back at a time when people complimented you and you were ecstatic. Then, just one person directed a negative remark or statement toward you. How did you feel after being on the receiving end of the negative remark?

Did it override all the compliments that you received earlier?

Were you consumed by the negative remark?

Did you feel like the negative remark was more impactful than all the compliments that you received earlier?

If the answers to the above mentioned questions is a “Yes”, then rest assured, you are not alone. Most people feel that way.

Today, I will give you four keys to being proactive when negative remarks override compliments. Here they are:

  • Remind yourself that it is only someone’s opinion – everyone has an opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Most people believe that they have a right to freedom of speech. The message that I am driving home is that someone else’s opinion is not necessarily a reflection of your reality. You can choose to do whatever you feel necessary with that person’s opinion. When I was a kid, I heard a proverb – “A barking dog will not stop a moving carriage.” What that translates to is that if a carriage is moving and a dog is running after it while barking, the carriage will not stop because that dog is barking. Now, I love dogs, and always will. The point is – why let someone else’s behaviour (that you have no control over) stop you from being at your best? They are just projecting their opinion (which you don’t have to own).
  • Ask yourself “Do I respect and value this person?” – let me share an example with you. I used to work for a major financial services organisation in the central business district of my home city, Melbourne (Australia). One morning, as I was walking to work from the nearest train station, a drunk man (who had obviously been consuming alcohol for a long period) approached me. This was at around 7:00 am. He grabbed my left arm and said “Excuse me mate. Your suit jacket looks crap”. Then he let go of my arm, and walked off. A few people on the street stopped, looked at me, and were most likely expecting a reaction from me. I replied “Good morning to you too sir”, and walked away. The people watching this unfold started laughing. About an hour later, a colleague and I went back on that street to buy some fruits. Guess what? We witnessed the police speaking to that man, and he was in hand cuffs. I looked at my friend, told him what had transpired earlier, and we both laughed.
  • Learn to respond, not react – if you have been reading my articles, you will know that I am a massive advocate of learning about responding intellectually, instead of reacting emotionally. As an anti-bullying campaigner, I suggest an exercise to kids who are being bullied at school. Please do this exercise the next time someone is pushing your buttons or getting under your skin, and you are about to react negatively. Take a deep breath, in through your nose. Exhale out of your mouth, and pretend that there is a drinking straw in your mouth so that you exhale air in a straight line. Repeat this process. After exhaling the second time, smile for three seconds. This short exercise will be calming, and should allow you to maintain your composure. When we react emotionally, we might say/do things that will lead to foreseeable guilt and shame.
  • Learn to disown other people’s behaviour – recently, a very close friend of mine was discussing an issue that he was having with a colleague of his. This colleague was always very critical of everyone in her workplace, including my friend. She only knew how to criticise, not praise. My friend said that although he knew that he should take her remarks like a grain of salt, it sometimes impacted on him negatively. We both agreed that she may have internal issues that she needs to deal with, and that is beyond our control. What is within my friend’s control is this – he can disown her behaviour. Just because she chooses to be so critical and nasty toward others, my friend cannot control that. He later emphatically told her that her criticism is not impacting on him because he is not her behaviour. From that point, she stopped being critical to him. Sometimes critical people just want a reaction. Refuse to take part in that game.

Now, I am not asking you to become imperturbable. I personally do not know anyone who is. What I am suggesting is that you learn to productively deal with other people’s negativity, and take control of your emotions and thoughts.

In an article in Psychology Today, Dr Raj Raghunathan says “The most tenable option for dealing with negative people – in a nutshell, this option involves three elements: compassion for the negative person, taking responsibility for your own happiness despite the other person’s negativity, and maturity in how you interact with the negative person..”

Quote: “The difference between ordinary people and extraordinary people is simple. Extraordinary people choose to listen to their positivity more than they listen to other people’s negativity.” Ron Prasad

I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively deal with negative remarks and not let them overpower your emotions and thoughts.

Influencing you to your excellence,

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21 Apr

Experiencing Aloneness and Its Opposite

LiveYourHappy_cvr.inddAn excerpt from Live Your Happy by Maria Felipe


Before she was an author and a minister, Reverend Maria Felipe was an actress, a model, and a TV host with a fabulous French boyfriend. She appeared in national commercials, was the first ever Latina boxing announcer, and interviewed World Wrestling Federation competitors in front of audiences of twenty thousand people. People Magazine in Espanol even referred to her as “Una Campeona Sin rival,” which means a champion without rival. But through it all, she felt insecure, unworthy, and downright miserable.


All that began to change when she began to study a book called A Course in Miracles (ACIM), and eventually went on to get her ministerial certificate from an ACIM school known as Pathways of Light.  “This self-study spiritual thought system helps students develop a relationship with the ‘internal teacher’ it calls the Holy Spirit, which in turn helps us change how we see the world on a daily basis,” writes Maria. “This ‘shift in perception’ is what ACIM calls a miracle.”


In Live Your Happy: Get Out of Your Own Way and Find the Love Within (New World Library, April 22, 2017), Maria shares more than twenty years of experience studying and living the principles from ACIM. This is not a philosophic explanation of the Course. It is a practical, hands-on guide for actually living it.   We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.


# # #


I became a host for the World Wrestling Federation after winning an audition over five hundred other young women. You would think I would feel so happy: ¡Gracias Dios mío! This is the gig of a lifetime, national TV and such a prestigious company….But I was in the middle of the depression I described above; I was a hot mess, and I still got the job! Sometimes we create experiences to feed our growth, and we don’t necessarily have to be in a happy place to manifest them. There was a reason for this job, and I was going to have to live it and learn from it.


I did learn — by suffering a lot. Because I had no sense of an inner companion to bear me through difficulties, I felt as if I was not worthy of the job, even though I won a tough audition. I was insecure about my Spanish because my accent is Cuban, and Mexican is preferred on Spanish TV. On top of that, WWF shows were filmed live, meaning that any mistake I made would be seen live by thousands. On my very first show, I remember going down the ramp in front of twenty thousand people while I listened to an earphone as the director told me, “Maria, get out there and interview the wrestlers next to the ring, then come back up the ramp with them.” It felt like mi corazón was coming out of my chest!


This was such a challenge, not because of the job itself, but because I thought I had to succeed all on my own. I went on to do fifty episodes and worked with such amazing talents as El Hijo del Santo, Negro Casas, Papi Chulo, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin — and, let’s not forget, a midget wrestler named Mini Max, who was my scripted love crush on the show. Despite all the attention and seeming success, my almost paralyzing insecurities continued throughout this amazing gig. I spent a lot of time on tour in my hotel rooms getting on my knees, praying to God, and reading the Bible.


Looking back on all that, I recognize that sometimes our deepest pains bring us closer to God so that we can learn and grow. With spiritual maturity, I have discovered that I can learn through joy, without the need for so much pain.


In early 2012 I was asked to start the Spanish ministry at Unity Burbank Center for Spiritual Awareness in California. At first I was a bit scared, thinking: I don’t know how to run a ministry, and I am not even a minister yet. I wasn’t set to be ordained until November. Even though I was anxious, I was open and willing to hear that still small voice within me that said yes! So I stepped into the position and began to create a program and find musicians. I would constantly ask the Holy Spirit for help, and my goal was always to feel joy through the process. I am not going to say I did not feel nervous when I gave my first talk — although it quickly went away when I remembered: This is not about “me,” Maria the separated self who must be perfect. No, this time the opportunity was all about us — that is, an opportunity to extend love and remember that I am not alone.


Our suffering increases whenever our mind-set is self-centered, focusing on thoughts like what can I get, how can I get them to like me, how can I keep this job, and so on. In our struggle to “make a name” for ourselves, stake our claim, and prove our individual worth, we make the separation real and condemn ourselves to loneliness and misery. By contrast, when we regard whatever we’re doing as a kind of ministry — focusing on thoughts like what can I give, how can I be of service, how will my actions benefit everyone — then we will inevitably experience joy and happiness. Another way of expressing this truth is that all that is real is love.


# # #


3009Maria Felipe is the author of Live Your Happy. After experiencing success as a model and actress, including hosting World Wrestling Federation TV shows, she felt called inward and studied to become a reverend at Pathways of Light, an accredited religious school inspired by A Course in Miracles. She leads monthly services in both Spanish and English at Unity Church in Burbank, CA. Visit her online at www.MariaFelipe.org.


Excerpted from the book Live Your Happy: Get Out of Your Own Way and Find the Love Within. Copyright © 2017 by Maria Felipe. Printed with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

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18 Apr

The Discipline of Happiness

Cover-MeditationforDailyStressExcerpt from:

 Meditation for Daily Stress: 10 Practices for Immediate Well-Being

Abrams Books, April 2017


Discovering neuroscience was a revelation to me. It taught me that we are not the slaves of our past. We have the capacity to change every day, every minute, to reproduce new neurons until our last day. We don’t have to possess bad character; we are not our traumas. We are not our past. We are not our mental habits. We can change now, immediately. This is not wishful thinking or fantasy. It is the reality of human neuroplasticity—our ability to alter our brain’s neural synapses and pathways—and it is achievable through the practice of meditation.


Our brain is a muscle, and every day is a chance to develop the brain. We can further build and enhance our character, our determination, our happiness, our intuition, and our freedom.


Yes, we really can do this! We can become more present, more intelligent, more compassionate, and much more free. Right now. The goal of meditation is to live a freer, clearer, and happier life. One day, a novice asked Saint Therese of Lisieux, “What is faith?” Therese replied, “Faith is happiness, because everything is a blessing and a grace.”


To train your mind and to meditate can become the ultimate revelation of your life. Yes, you can! Yes, it is possible! Everyday when I see my students, and when I see the people I am working with at the Amity Foundation—a community rehabilitation center in Los Angeles that is dedicated to the inclusion and habilitation of prisoners, parolees, children, and families marginalized by homelessness, poverty, addiction, crime, racism, sexism, trauma, and violence—it makes me cry. I see how simple it is, in reality, to make a difference.


What do we need to improve our lives? Determination and discipline. Why is it so difficult to meditate? There are two primary reasons:


  1. Our false perception of meditation. The cliché of the monk who meditates for many hours in his shrine or on a mountaintop has encouraged a false perception of the practice. This standard image has made meditation seem unachievable, because our daily lives are not in sync with the fantasy.

We must learn that to meditate and to train our minds is possible in just a few minutes per day, anytime, and anywhere. We must see how every situation in our life is an occasion to train our determination.


  1. Our false perception of discipline. We have been taught that the practice of discipline is like an effort against ourselves. Think about

the quest of losing weight. We know it is possible, but to make the effort and be disciplined is too difficult, especially in the midst of our daily stress. How can we find the energy to meditate when we have no energy left just to live our lives? How is discipline possible when we are very busy and overbooked every day? Why must discipline be sad, strict, and negative?


Discipline means freedom. Every day, we can take a few minutes to feel better. We develop a near chemical addiction to happiness, peace, and a quiet mind.


We need only a few minutes to meditate every day. The most important goal here is not the quantity but the quality of the practice. In just one minute, we have the ability to touch our soul and the spiritual dimension. We can be connected to the eternity of the universe in a very short amount of time. We must prioritize the quality of our meditation practice over the duration of it. Every situation is a wonderful occasion to meditate, to feel at peace immediately.


Every time we wake up in bed is an opportunity.
Every coffee we have is an opportunity.
Every moment in traffic is an opportunity.
Every moment we are in the subway, on a train, or riding

the bus is an opportunity.
Every time we arrive at our workplace is an opportunity.


Life is like a movie; there is a start and an end. After each new movie, each new moment is a new reincarnation. Life keeps going on. Most of the time, we are the actors in our life movie.


We are directed by our emotions and our mental habits. To practice meditation opens the mind to another perception of consciousness. Day after day, we become less the actor and more the director. When we practice and we train our minds, suddenly one day we will be out of the movie, out of the set, and out of the screen. We will find ourselves sitting down at the front row of our theater.


We will have a different perception of our movie. We will see our emotions as a director sees his actors. By then, we can say to an actor, “I don’t like how you act. I won’t keep you in my cast.” We can say the same thing for our emotions. For example, when we see that we are anxious and we don’t like it, we can say, “I’m sorry dear anxious emotion, dear actor, I am canceling your contract. You are no longer in my movie. Get out!”


The goal of meditation is not to become more spiritual or religious. It is to become more present, calmer, happier, and freer. These are the goals of this life, after all.


Michel-Hi-Res-PhotoMichel Pascal is a French author, meditation teacher, singer, filmmaker, and photographer. Michel’s unique brand of meditation is being practiced at Google, Harvard University, and many other major organizations. Before moving to the United States, Pascal lived in the Kopan Monastery in the Himalayas. He has spent more than 15 years adapting traditional teachings and practices for students around the world. Pascal lives in Los Angeles.


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04 Apr


84021Guest post by Rachel Harris, PhD, author of LISTENING TO AYAHUASCA


Ayahuasca is a tea composed of two plants from the Amazon rain forest. It’s considered a medicine by the growing number of Westerners who are drinking ayahuasca in sacred ceremonies in search of psychospiritual healing.


In my research, “A Study of Ayahuasca Use in North America,” published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, eighty-one people completed a sixteen-page questionnaire describing how they changed after their experience of drinking this powerful brew. In addition, I personally interviewed another fifty people, again focusing on what happened after the ceremony, asking, “How are you different? How has your life changed?”


The self-reports from the questionnaires and interviews revealed five ways that ayahuasca is helping people change their lives for the better.


1. Positive Sense of Self: Perhaps the most important change people reported was that they felt better about themselves and felt that they had a right to exist. People said things like: “I’m more accepting of myself, more loving, kind, and patient. I have more self-confidence, take better care of myself, and have greater understanding. I’m less critical.” This last statement is important therapeutically, since a harsh inner critic can be constantly demoralizing in daily life.


On a more spiritual level, individuals reported the experience of being flooded with love. This sensation ranges from the comfort of a warm bath to ecstatic heights of feeling loved as a child of the universe. Such experiences often lead to greater self-compassion and self-acceptance. One man said, “You can hear something one thousand times and still not get it. With ayahuasca, the message [of being loved] drops down into the cellular level, and all of a sudden you know it in your bones.”


2. Improved Mood: In terms of depression and anxiety, a few lucky people had what I call a spontaneous cure — “My depression is GONE,” one man wrote after a decade of antidepressant use and five years of psychotherapy. We don’t really understand such a dramatic response to the medicine; we can’t predict who will find such relief.


For most people, there’s a more gradual healing process that continues after each ceremony. Most people noted a general improvement in mood: more feelings of love and compassion, increased optimism, greater serenity, increased confidence, and more joy. As a result of drinking ayahuasca, people said they felt more easygoing, safer, and lighter; they had more fun and felt more stable. They also reported feeling less anxious, angry, agitated, or upset. One person wrote, “Less darkness, more light.”


People seemed to develop a healthy distance between themselves and their moods that allowed them to be more objective and to consider the most constructive way to handle their emotionality. A forty-seven-year-old teacher wrote, “I’m less emotional and can better deal with my moods.” Another woman, age fifty-nine and a college professor, described a distancing from her moods: “I don’t take my moods so seriously anymore.”


3. Healing of Trauma: People often report that during ceremonies they relived a traumatic childhood event, sometimes actually being in the scene and other times watching the scene from a distance as if it were a movie. In the former, the person might be recovering a lost memory, gaining access to information that they had blocked. In this case, the person might be experiencing the trauma with full body consciousness in a way they weren’t able to do at the time. They are likely to feel that they’ve regressed to the age they were when the traumatic event happened. In the latter case, the person is able to sustain an objective distance and maintain their adult perspective. Often these people report feeling great compassion for the child they were along with the ability to be more loving toward that child within.


Whether the trauma is relived or observed during the ayahuasca ceremony, I think it can be very helpful to work with a therapist who is experienced with the medicine or altered states of consciousness. A skilled therapist would know how to approach these two ways of experiencing trauma differently. I recently heard of a woman who kept reliving the same trauma in every ayahuasca ceremony. This can actually be retraumatizing, and a therapist could help her break out of that loop and move forward.


4. Improved Relationships: As people felt better about themselves and less vulnerable to negative moods, they became more available in their significant relationships. There was a trend toward increased honest, direct, and open communication with deeper connections. One college professor succinctly described his changes: “Better marriage. Better relationships with students and colleagues.”


Many of the younger respondents said their relationships with their parents had improved, partly because they were more patient and tolerant of them. One early-twenties college student, happily in his fifth year of undergraduate study, asked his mother to answer the question, “Did anyone close to you notice any changes in you (since drinking ayahuasca)?” She responded, “Now he has control over his behavior and has become very spiritual.”


A number of people reported reconciliations in ruptured relationships. One woman wrote, “I made peace with my ex-husband, and it made a huge difference for us and our two children.” Others said they ended “unhealthy relationships” with both romantic partners and friends. This news was presented as an accomplishment, something they should’ve done long ago. It seems that many reevaluate their relationships after the ayahuasca experience. For example, one woman explained that she “was better at setting limits without guilt” in her relationships. Another said, “I’ve stopped anything that was toxic.”


5. Healthier Lifestyle: Similar to the findings on depression, a few lucky people reported a miracle cure when it came to their issues with alcohol: “After doing ayahuasca, I feel that alcohol is a poison.” “No desire for alcohol.” “I have more awareness around abuse of alcohol, so I drink less.” These people spontaneously began to view alcohol in a negative light. This effortless change in perception and behavior is the unique hallmark of ayahuasca. The changes are not a result of white-knuckle self-control but of an internal shift that seems to happen organically.


The self-reports on marijuana were more complex, with some people reducing their use while others, who viewed marijuana as a plant ally of ayahuasca, maintained their habit. A few people said they were less interested in other psychedelics since their introduction to ayahuasca, but others continued to explore.


There was a pattern of change in diet with the trend clearly in the direction of less sugar, junk food, and red meat; more vegetables and fruit; and smaller portions. One woman said, “Junk food is less appealing, even chocolate,” which I consider a major breakthrough.


People also said they felt better after the ceremonies and enjoyed an increase in vitality and energy. With an increase in their activity level, many reported a weight loss. One man said, “I feel and look younger,” and two described a weight loss of forty pounds.


These changes were not the result of willpower or discipline — nobody mentioned those stalwarts of the dieting world. Rather, the desire for a healthier diet seemed to unfold spontaneously as if based on some kind of revelation. Some people reported that they heard a voice telling them to change their eating habits. Others came out of a ceremony and changed lifelong patterns with seemingly no effort, as if they simply decided, “I now just prefer kale to chocolate.”



These are remarkable changes after ayahausca ceremonies, but we must acknowledge that these self-reports are just the beginning indicators of the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca. Far more research is needed. We still don’t know who will benefit from this medicine or in what ways. And there are risks involved whether drinking ayahuasca in South America or here in the States. But for intrepid seekers of psychospiritual healing, ayahuasca is working in mysterious ways to change their lives for the better.


# # #


3001Rachel Harris, PhD, is the author of Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety. She received a National Institutes of Health New Investigator’s Award, has published more than forty scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals, and has worked as a psychological consultant to Fortune 500 companies and the United Nations. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her online at www.listeningtoayahuasca.com.


Based on the book Listening to Ayahuasca. Copyright © 2017 by Rachel Harris.

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30 Mar

The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels


New Book Provides Four Pearls of Wisdom for Finding Happiness While Avoiding Distractions

In the time-honored tradition of the fable, author Lissa Coffey has created a whimsical, meaningful book that will delight readers of all ages. The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels: A Modern Fable About Happiness and Distraction is a modern-day classic filled with wisdom. It inspires and enlightens in the same way that Jonathan Livingston Seagull has for generations.

Encouraged by their mentor Merlinda, four squirrels set out on a quest to find a treasure hidden in the forest. The four pearls they search for represent profound truths that lead to happiness and peace of mind. The squirrels also discover that these truths are the antidote to the many distractions that can keep us from achieving our goals.

· The First Pearl: Look at what you have, not at what you don’t have.

· The Second Pearl: Look at what you are doing, not at what anyone else is doing.

· The Third Pearl: Look at the opportunities, not at the obstacles.

· The Fourth Pearl: Look at what matters, not at what doesn’t matter.

These pearls of wisdom, along with their associated Happiness Principles (Gratitude, Focus, Fortitude, Faith) form the basis for a philosophy that helps readers through challenges in every aspect of life.

More info about the book at FourPearlsBook.com

The book is designed both exterior and interior with a unique lettering style created by Ray Mawst RayMawst.com 


About the Author

Lissa Coffey is the author of The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels. Her mentor, Deepak Chopra, says: “Your heart will thank you for Lissa’s helpful and heartful vision.” Lissa has written several books, including the bestselling “What’s Your Dosha, Baby?” She is a lifestyle expert who has been featured on The Today Show and many other national and local television programs. Visit Lissa online at her site: CoffeyTalk.com.


The Buzz

“The Jonathan Livingston Seagull for a new millennium. The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels is a wondrous tale that minds us of the true route to happiness and self-fulfillment.”

-Scott Stantis, Editorial Cartoonist, Chicago Times and USA Today, and creator of the comic strip Prickly City


“For those of us fortunate enough to have had mentors, we know what a difference such guidance can make in our lives. With this book, author Lissa Coffey has also taken on the role of mentor in bringing this sweet, clear, profound wisdom to her readers.”

-From the Foreword by Marilyn Schlitz, PhD


“The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels is a charming tale! I love that the story emphasizes patience, gratitude, wisdom gained along the way, and to keeping your mind open in the changes our journey through life presents to us. Lissa Coffey takes us on a whimsical journey of discovery with humor, honesty, and a few bumps along the way!”

-Cristina Ferrare, New York Times Best Selling Author, TV Talk Show Host, Philanthropist



· Do You Want to Be Happy? Pearls represent pearls of wisdom, what we need to remember when we feel unhappy in any way. Squirrels represent the distractions that often keep us from being happy. Lissa discusses the four pearls, and the four principles of happiness that we can use anytime, anywhere, to bring ourselves to that peace of mind that we crave.

· Mentorship Changes Lives! Lissa has been a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. Research shows that one-on-one mentoring programs have real-life positive outcomes in children’s lives: http://www.bbbs.org/research/ Lissa will go over some of the data, and introduce viewers to a successful Big and Little match.

· Save the Squirrels! When people learn about the hardships animals face each day, they are more willing to take a proactive approach toward protecting the natural environment and the habitats of our wild neighbors. Lissa gives tips for how we can co-exist with, and respect wild animals in our communities.



The Four Pearls and The Four Squirrels

April, 2017 – Personal Growth/Inspiration – Paperback / ebook – 102 pages

Price: $13.99 – ISBN 978-1-88321-225-4

Available on Amazon and everywhere!

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