Thursday, May 26, 2011

30-Day Mental Diet Starting On June 1!

Hello friends!

Starting on June 1st, I will post one daily tip aimed at shedding unnecessary emotional weight. The tips will be of motivational and inspirational nature, and they will either gently nudge you to think of, and shed, things that no longer serve the present reality, or they will encourage you to do something that will help to increase your self-worth. I opened a Facebook page just for this, and you can join our group effort at

It is completely free to join, and there are no hidden fees. Research shows that groups can be more successful in achieving certain milestones and mental balance is certainly a goal which deserves a joint effort.

You can use the page to share with friends, post your thoughts, and offer encouragement and feedback to other people in the group.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

History Repeats Itself: The Muslim Witch-hunt

Of the four billion people who died in the 20th century from all causes combined, 185,000,000 deaths were caused by other humans. At 8.5 millions, murders exceed deaths related to natural disaster (including floods, earthquakes and volcanoes) by five millions. These are scary odds. They get even scarier when one thinks that many of the 'manmade' deaths are the product of hate crimes.

Sadly, since the September 11, 2001 incident, and again since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, anyone wearing eastern garments has been at risk of attracting unwanted attention, even though the individuals responsible for the 9/11 atrocities were disguised as normal Americans, and they boarded our planes wearing regular slacks, dress shirts and NOT donning a turban. The fact that two men wearing Muslim garb who were traveling to North Carolina on May 6, 2011 were removed from a plane because passengers felt uncomfortable, shows us that fear is still ruling over better judgment – if these guys were up to something, would they have worn clothes that were sure to attract attention? The ironic thing is that Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul were traveling to Raleigh, NC to attend a conference on prejudice against Muslims, or Islamaphobia, a meeting sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.

Ignorance has certainly played a huge part in this process, but it is intolerable that so many people have been demonized and demoted to sub-human status because of their religious affiliations or fashion trends. Religious conflicts and wars have claimed many lives throughout history, but it must be made clear that the people responsible for those deaths are not the good and honest believers; rather, they are a minority group of fanatics and radicals who have used religion to manipulate the masses and fit their personal evil purposes.

Worldwide leaders are hoping to promote understanding and peace, but it is up to individuals to comprehend that religions are paths to love, not hatred or destruction.
As children, we were taught that one bad apple does not necessarily spoil the whole basket, but as adults we conveniently choose to trash all the apples, regardless of the fact that many of them are good and perfectly healthy. Islamic extremists are the exception, not the rule, of Islam, as much as Catholic Inquisitors or Christian Crusaders were not rightful representatives of the Christian creed.

As citizens of this country and inhabitants of this world, we need to take a hard look at the atrocities we personally commit when we simply judge good people because of their beliefs or appearance.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Mother's Day Reflection: What My Mother Taught Me Is More Valuable Than Recycling

One of the mantras my mother routinely used any time I asked her for suggestions to solve certain problems in my young life was: “Assess the resources you have and create a plan.” Of course, at the time I was stuck with an issue, I didn’t think I had any resources, so I distinctly remember spending a lot of time wondering what she truly meant; as I got older I realized those words were a gift I would use many times over, and I was proud to use many of my mother’s teachings in my book Housekeeping for the Soul.

It’s amazing how much wisdom comes from our mothers – it is like a seed that is patiently and lovingly planted, only waiting to be watered by circumstances to grow to its potential. Over the years, I have come to see Mother’s Day as the perfect time to reflect upon the things my mother taught me, and to honor her presence in my life by taking steps to improve my reality.
When I stumbled into an article which discussed the innovative solution of converting methane gas produced by garbage in landfills into clean energy which is used to fuel hundreds of garbage trucks in Oakland, CA, my mother’s words instantly flashed through my mind

As I discussed in Housekeeping for the Soul, we readily assume that all bad experiences we survived in our past are enemies that forced us to become unwilling warriors in a war we didn’t choose; more than anything, we blame our past, our errors, the people who created obstacles, and circumstances, and use them to make excuses for our lack of progress in the present. Those moments, recorded in our inner filing cabinet, continue to work from the shadowy chambers of our subconscious and influence our choices. But, can you imagine how wonderful it would be if we could shift our perception of those experiences and use them as fuel for our renewal?

Imagine your subconscious as being the landfill. The garbage which has been deposited into it over the years has rotted out, and the fumes it produces are toxic and constantly rising up to ruin every new thing we attempt. As the fumes reach our consciousness, they produce more garbage which is, in turn, sent to the inner landfill, and without a plan in place, we gradually become overwhelmed and unable to deal with the load.

Now imagine that we are able to capture the fumes of the garbage we have collected, and use them to fuel a process during which we will reinvent our lives. It is important to understand that nothing happens by chance, and most people and events are brought into our lives to raise awareness over certain issues we are struggling with. In other words, we need to understand the value of the energy produced. Analyzing the patterns of past experiences allows us to do that. The following tips can be used to channel the energy produced by past hurts and recycle it to benefit our present life.

- Sift through the garbage. Some experiences are the result of poor internalization, and they serve little purpose. We sometimes hold long-lasting grudges over misunderstanding and miscommunications, and we allow relationships and project be ruined because of it.
- Own up your share. Is it really always someone else’s fault? It takes two to tango, and sometimes we are responsible for the unfolding of certain events. On the other hand, some circumstances are out of our sphere of control, and we need to understand that beating ourselves is not going to change things.
- Separate your garbage from other people’s garbage and decide which is recyclable and what, instead, needs to be released for good.
- Understand that the energy produced by the garbage has an opposite which you have the freedom to tap into if you so choose. Love is the opposite of hatred, forgiveness is the opposite of resentment.
- Try different methods of recycling energy (prayer, meditation, reaching out to others in similar situations.) If one method doesn’t work, try others. The important thing is to not give up.

The secret of success is to be able to use available resources to increase your chances to overcome and conquer. Everyone can bring garbage into your life, but only you have the key to put what was dumped to good use. Thank you Mom, for teaching me that I can use my own garbage to change and improve my life. Happy Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On Mother's Day, Give Mom A Gift That Will Make A Difference

Housekeeping for the Soul is more than a just a self help book – rather, it is a tool that facilitates the development of the reader’s own soul truth. Each chapter includes meditations and reflections, aimed at peeling off the layers of pain we have held onto over the years. Through steps that are simple for everyone to follow, the reader can shed old hurts, clean out the debris, and finally, create a different reality. When I was younger, my mother always told me that although one cannot change the world on the outside, it is possible to change the world on the inside. You too can change your life, if someone can show you how. Yes, I do agree that we can find ourselves in sticky situations at times, and some of those predicaments can be quite overwhelming, but I am also convinced that one is never truly cornered; there is always a way to improve things.

As we get closer to Mother’s Day, many of us are scrambling for ideas to honor the very special women in our lives. This year, let Mom know how much you care by giving her a gift she will treasure for a long time to come. And the best thing about Housekeeping for the Soul? For once, Mom will be able to clean AND get the rest she deserves.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead -- Should We Rejoice?

Osama Bin Laden is confirmed dead, and as news of his demise spread, videos and reports of worldwide cheer exploded across the media. Thousands of people flocked to the streets, carrying children on their shoulders and screaming victory over evil.

I first heard of Bin Laden’s death last night, when one of my sons came downstairs and informed me of the breaking news he saw reported on CNN. We turned the TV on, and after a moment of disbelief, I was actually saddened by the reactions of the people. Yes, Osama Bin Laden was an infamous figure, and he was responsible for the death of many thousands of people all over the world, but should we really rejoice over the death of a human being?

President Obama announced to the families of the victims of 9/11 that justice is done, and his sentiment was shared by several leaders who felt Bin Laden’s death marks the end of an era, but even that statement led me to think. My heart goes out to the victims of any act of terror and their families, but how does the death of a man bring upon justice? In my opinion justice would have been served if Bin Laden was captured and tried for his crimes. His death only exonerated him from facing the consequences of his actions.

Strangely enough, Adolf Hitler, whose crimes against humanity will forever be etched in the mind of the collective, was confirmed dead on April 30, 1945. The same day, sixty-six years apart. Coincidence? Maybe so, maybe not.

I remember reading once that this world has seen two teachers of compassion – the Dalai Lama and Adolf Hitler. When I first read the statement, I found it hard to accept, but as I continued reading, I understood something different: Teachers use different teaching methods to drive the same lessons home. The Dalai Lama uses unconditional love to teach compassion, Hitler used unconditional hatred, two opposite faces of the same powerful feeling. The Dalai Lama teaches us to love one another because we are all expressions of the same creation, and Hitler taught us to see oneness by default, after people were senselessly murdered because of superficial differences.

What lesson did Osama Bin Laden teach the world during his stay on Earth? Much like Hitler, he raised negative feelings in a selected few and he caused the rest of the world to stick to one cause: Humanity. Through Bin Laden’s actions, and the actions of his followers, the world understood that we are all one despite our differences, and in the greater scheme of things we are all brothers and sisters; the tragedies that befall one befall all of us as a whole.

Bin Laden is dead, and many believe human justice is served. Is divine justice also served? As the Vatican Spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, declared: “Osama bin Laden, as we all know, had the very grave responsibility of spreading division and hatred amongst the people, causing the death of countless of people, and of instrumentalizing religion for this end," he said. "In front of the death of man, a Christian never rejoices but rather reflects on the grave responsibility of each one in front of God and men, and hopes and commits himself so that every moment not be an occasion for hatred to grow but for peace."