Monthly Archives: February 2012

Now hear this… are you tuning in or out?

When I was young, my daddy went to church exactly two times a year, once on Mother’s Day and once for the Nativity Service to see me dressed up as a manger animal. I would watch him sit down beside Mama on the church pew and nonchalantly reach up to turn off his hearing aid. He would sit through the rest of the service with a pleasant smile on his face, not hearing a god damn word the preacher said.

Sometimes, I wonder how many of us are doing the exact same thing – we listen to people speak, but don’t really hear what they say.  I hate to admit how often I catch myself just sitting there with a pleasant smile on my face, not hearing a god damn word. The other day, my kids were asking me 100 questions while I was making breakfast, packing lunches, and mentally preparing for the workshop I was about to lead on something ironic like Mindfulness.

“Mom, can you get strawberry jelly next time?”

“Mom, can I have a sleepover this weekend?’

“Mom, did you sign me up for dance?”

“Mom, did you know the dog just barfed?”

I nodded and gave them the cursory, “mmm-hmm.” Then my husband came down the stairs.

“Hon, can you get my shirts at the cleaners?”

“Are you sure they’ll be ready by 5 o’clock?”

“Is this recycling day or garbage day?”

“Did you notice the dog barf in living room?”

I was visualizing the sequence I had been working on the day before as I nodded again.

“Yep, got it. Have a great day. Love you.”
Nasty coffee mug

Later at the studio, a few students were lingering after class as I blew out candles, re-organized props, and contemplated whether the mat-cleaning spray would work on a dog barf stain. I heard snippets of their conversation and nodded my head every so often. Once they are gone, I found myself immersed in silence for the first time that day. I let myself settle into it as though it were a lazy boy recliner. I let my thoughts sink into the cushion of calm. I noticed how present I felt in that calm, quiet place. I reclined further and looked back over my day to realize that I had been absent for the majority of it. I had been physically there, but emotionally and mentally I had been deaf to all of it. I had turned off my hearing aid and put on a happy face. I hadn’t really heard a god damn word.

I didn’t hear my daughter’s doubt about asking her new friend over for a sleepover. She changed schools this year, and has been feeling lonely. I didn’t hear how nervous my husband was about his board meeting the next day, the one he needed the cleaned shirt for. I didn’t hear the need for connection beyond the mat that my students had. That realization made me feel like, well, dog barf.

I made a promise to myself to start living with my hearing aid turned on. It’s only been a few weeks, and it has already been a challenge. I frequently find myself answering an email while talking on the phone, listening to the news and my children at the same time, smiling, nodding. But like any challenge, I find the rewards worth the efforts. Yesterday, my teenage son wanted to talk to me about some of the kids in his class who are starting to get into trouble. He gave me a subtle cue to start the conversation. Had I missed it, I might have missed the opportunity to talk to him openly about the importance of staying true to your self when peer pressure kicks in.

Today, my daughter gave me some of the most important advice an 8-year old has probably ever shared with an adult. We were going to meet my web designer so I could sign off on a new project. Caroline wanted to walk to the meeting, but I was nervous that we were going to be late. Begrudgingly, I acquiesced. As we walked down the sidewalk hand in hand, I resisted the urge to check for a text from my web designer. I tried to be present as she talked to me about what color she wanted to paint her toenails. I did, however, gently remind her that we were in hurry.

“Mom, I know you do a lot of important, really awesome stuff, and I know my life is really easy cause I’m a kid and I don’t have to do that much. But sometimes, I wish you didn’t worry so much. I mean the world is not going to end if you’re a little late for a meeting.”

Had I been checking my text messages, I might have smiled and nodded, “mmm-hmm.” Thankfully, I had my hearing aid turned on and I heard her, I really heard her. I slowed my pace and asked her what color she thought I should paint my toenails.

“How about turquoise? That’d be so awesome. Not many moms can pull it off, but I think you can.”

I heard that.

Easter Toes--Daily Image 2011--April 24

How often do you go through your day smiling and nodding,  listening without really hearing? I’m here to tell you that you just might be missing something really awesome. As yogis, we are always talking about tuning in.

“Tune in to the breath.”

“Tune in to your body.”

“Tune in to your intuition.”

Sometimes, we get so tuned in to ourselves that we become tuned out to everyone else. Do you hear me?

Creative Commons License photo credit 1: faungg

Creative Commons License photo credit 2: Rochelle, just rochelle

Mother gives her life to save child in Japan earthquake

This powerful image was shared with us via Facebook. According to the post, it depicts “a true story of one mother’s sacrifice during the Japan Earthquake.”  We have no way to confirm that the details of the story are all correct, but found the image and accompanying narrative too inspiring not to share with Intent readers.

After the Earthquake had subsided, rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house. They saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was strange. She had knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supporting by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head.

With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescuer team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.

He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. But for some reason, the team leader felt compelled to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement, “A child! There is a child!”

The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3-month-old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. The woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to protect and cover the little boy, who was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.

The medical doctor came quickly to examine the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said, “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Every body that read the message wept.  “If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!!

via Info For U

4 tips to find love and keep it

For some Valentine’s Day is a reminder to be more romantic and intimate during the rest of the year. For others it is a measuring stick of where they fall short, on the outside peering into the windows of happy couples. Then for those who are doing their time together like cell mates in prison rather than soul mates, cupid laughs mockingly.

Wayne Harbert, a linguistics professor at Cornell University, states that “Venus and venom come from the same root, meaning love. In Latin, venenum from which venom comes, originally meant love potion, but over time came to mean poison.”

Are you lovesick, madly in love, blinded by love or reasonably happy?

Here are four tips for you be heart smart:

1. If you don’t love, respect and enjoy being alone with yourself, you will not find lasting love.

When you have a strong sense of self you don’t need to jump to conclusions because of insecurities, fears or doubts. You can discern a person’s motivation with a wide angle view.  Angry, stressed and critical people have a hard time loving and forgiving others, because they do a great deal of projecting their own personal faults onto the love object.

Loosen your approach. When you don’t love yourself, you tend to compete with your significant other to force them to do what you want in order to feel in control. However, when you realize that your real soul mate lives inside you, you are able to form a partnership which is true power.

2. Release your expectations.

The high of love eventually settles into boring and ordinary daily routines. While love is fueled by the imagination and novelty, having unrealistic, naïve and idealized notions of what another should be will create dissatisfaction, opening the door for a fairytale escape.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run with the Wolves explains, “The desire to force love to live only in its most positive form is what causes love ultimately to fall over dead.”  Love has low points, problems and weaknesses.  If you have too high expectations for others, they will inevitably disappoint you.

3. Accept change.

Love has to change – it simply can’t stand still. Allow for more flexibility in your relationship. Everyone changes throughout the years and so does your lover. You need to be conscious of the change in yourself and your significant other to grow together instead of apart.

4. Listen more.

Active listening and positive communication nurtures relationships. Rather than telling someone how you want or think they should be, pausing for a moment and listening to their needs. Make sure to turn off technology when engaged in dialogue, and plug into the person you’re speaking with.

Dr. Markman, a well-known marriage and family researcher, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying: “Nagging is the enemy of love.” The take home message here is that we all can learn to become better listeners and communicate their needs more kindly and without repetition. Listening is the doorway to love.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Synergy by Jasmine

Intent Video of the Day – It does get better

Everyday we spotlight one remarkable video to inspire you to fulfill your intentions and improve your life. Do you have a video you’d like to suggest? Send it to us at editor [at]

With yesterday’s news about Proposition 8, today’s video is a timely follow-up that shines a light on the real-world effects of anti-gay legislation on America’s youth. Toan Lam, founder of Go Inspire Go and regular contributor at the Intent Blog, sent us over this inspiring video about a young high-school student and psychiatrist who are working together to spread a message of compassion.

More from Toan:

The impact – or ripple – can’t always be measured in time, money or any other metrics. However, you can witness change by meeting people he’s impacted – like the noticeable confidence you can see in Emerald, who is now a part of the Wayne State Pride group.

I wonder how many Emeralds are out there — with so much life and such a valuable story to tell. I also wonder how many people are out there who have been bullied and don’t ever get to share their stories.

I hope this story inspires people not to judge and to think before you act. If you or someone you know would like to support or collaborate with Dr. Holt’s mission, visit his website at

The Law of Attraction And The Placebo Effect

Most people are aware of what is known as the placebo effect. This is a phenomenon that occurs when someone is told that a pill or a medication they are taking is a cure for a health condition even though it is just a simple sugar pill with no medicinal qualities. People that believe they are taking a “cure” actually have mild to extremely positive results from taking the placebo, leading to a partial to complete cure of the condition without any real medical intervention.

The placebo effect is, in reality, the medical proof that the Law of Attraction really works. The Law of Attraction simply says that what you focus in on in your life is what you will receive. In the medical case the patients taking the placebo focused in on becoming healthy and overcoming a medical condition, which is exactly what happened. Some people believed so strongly in the effectiveness of the placebo that they were completely cured. Some people were not “cured” but they no longer focused in on the negativity in their life and their ongoing health issues, instead they became happier and more mentally healthy. This in turn led to a better quality of life that significantly improved their environment and enjoyment of the world around them.

It is essential for us all to consider the placebo effect in our physical and mental health. If we see ourselves as healthy, happy and full of life that is exactly what we will be. If, on the other hand, we see ourselves as sick, aging and declining then we will become that person. Looking for laughter, joy and beauty in the world around us is an internal attitude that we can develop on our own. Not only will it bring us joy and pleasure but it will also impact the lives of those around us, increasing their positive experiences and making the world a brighter place for all.

Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your copy of“Manifest Holistic Health” from Sherry’s Enrich Your Life Series. Contact Sherry at for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba”on CBS Radio

Don’t Put Anyone Out Of Your Heart

The story goes that, at the time of the Buddha, a group of monks wanted to do a quiet retreat away from the crowds of followers. So the Buddha sent them to a glade in the forest where he said they would be undisturbed.

The monks found their way there and settled down to meditate. What they didn’t know at the time was that this particular glade was inhabited by a gang of tree spirits who were really upset that the monks had come. And when tree spirits get upset they can be extremely scary, ugly, very smelly and unbelievably noisy, ferociously shrieking all over the place. They did everything they could to spook the hermits and make them leave. And it worked. The monks decided they couldn’t possibly meditate with so many disturbances, so they went back to the Buddha and begged him to let them go somewhere else.

But no. Instead, the Buddha taught them a meditation practice of loving kindness, or metta in Sanskrit, which develops loving kindness towards everyone, including yourself and your enemies. Then he sent the monks back to the forest. His famous words were: This is the only protection you will need.

Thinking the Buddha must be mad, the monks reluctantly went back to the glade, sat down and began practicing metta.The tree spirits, who at first were not at all pleased to see them returning, no longer had any affect on them. For all their antics, the monks just kept sitting there, beaming out kindness. Eventually the spirits were won over by the waves of love and compassion emanating from these robed ones and, far from than chasing them away, the same nasty’s that had been so ferocious now became disciples.

The question is, who are the tree spirits? Realistically, they are everything that goes on in our own minds—all the doubts, fears, anger, insecurities, and negative thoughts—that constantly undermine our basic goodness, which is innate in all of us. The point the Buddha was making is that loving kindness — metta — has the capacity to overcome all manner of inner monsters and ghouls and lead us to a true heart opening. Metta is the act of extending our love, kindness and friendship equally towards all beings, proving that love is more powerful than any negative force. Rather than trying to deal with negativity, we cultivate the opposite; seeing and knowing pain, we bring caring and kindness.

We know this sounds so easy: just be kind and loving, how great, what a cool idea. But in practice it’s not always so simple. For example,when someone says or does something that is personally critical, derogatory or hurtful it’s not so easy to cultivate loving kindness. Can metta still flow when the ego-mind is upset? When we focus on loving kindness as a way of life, we learn all the places that are bound in ego and selfishness; it brings all our limitations and boundaries to the surface. Where do we meet our edge? Where is our capacity to step over the edge into greater kindness? How genuine is our ability to be altruistic in a difficult situation?

We remember talking with our friend Ram Dass at the time of the Clinton/Dole election. He told us how he had a picture of Bob Dole on his meditation altar as: “Dole needs the most love and compassion, as he is the one being so vilified.”

In that act, Ram Dass was practicing true metta. It was an important reminder not to cast anyone out of our hearts, for in the process we cast out ourselves. If we feel affected by someone being dismissive, critical or hurtful, it is invariably because there is a hook in us for that negativity to grab hold of, a place where it can land and trigger all our hidden feelings of unworthiness, insecurity, and self-doubt.

However, when we extend metta toward someone we are having a hard time with, an extraordinary thing happens: the landing place, or the hook within, begins to dissolve. Then the negativity has no place to go. Metta asks that we stay caring, that we keep our heart open to the situation we are struggling with and all the accompanying annoyance and anger, and hold ourselves with gentle tenderness. Then amazing change is possible.


Here is a 5-minute loving kindness meditation you can practice:

Begin by breathing into you’re the area of your heart, softening and relaxing with the in-breath, letting go of tension on the out-breath. Hold your name or an image of yourself in your heart and silently repeat: May I be well, may I be happy, may I be filled with loving kindness.

Next, wish all beings be well, wish all beings be happy. If at work you can spend a few moments repeating the names of people you work with and wishing them happiness and joy. On your way home from work reflect on your day and generate loving thoughts to those you meet. At night, think of your family and friends and wish them wellness and happiness: May they be well, may they be happy, may they be filled with loving kindness.

Finish by taking a few deep breaths and slowly opening your eyes, nad have a smile on your face!


See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byrone Katie, Jane Fonda, Marianne Williamson, and many others.

Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:

Creative Commons License photo credit: christophercarfi

Ellen Degeneres celebrates… Bye, bye Prop 8!

Yesterday, the US Federal Appeals Court declared that the controversial (and citizen-elected) ban on same-sex marriage in California is unconstitutional. Proposition 8 has officially been overturned.

via the Wall Street Journal:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down California’s voter-mandated ban on gay marriages, but stopped short of finding that other states or the federal government were required to recognize same-sex marriage. The decision sets the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on gay marriage as soon as next year, and could add fuel to the issue in the presidential campaign. In a 2-1 vote, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California’s 2008 law, popularly known as Proposition 8, violated the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause by stigmatizing a minority group without legitimate reason.

Nationally-acclaimed talk show host and gay rights advocate Ellen DeGeneres praised the court’s decision. “There was some good news for marriage equality in California yesterday,” she told viewers during her monologue this morning. “For a long time, same-sex marriage was not legal. Then, here in California, it was legal for like 25 minutes. Then it was not legal again because of something called Prop 8, which banned same-sex marriage.”

“I’m happy to say that yesterday an appeals court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional,” she continued. “It’s a step in the right direction. So I’m happy.”

While the hold on same sex marriages in California will likely continue at least temporarily (in anticipation of further appeals), this ruling sets a precedent for arguments to be made for pro-same-sex marriage legislation in other states. If you’re not registered to vote yet, now is the time. Proposition 8 was elected by the people of California, not a group of legislators from high above. Your vote matters.

Intent Video of the Day: Oh, the places you’ll go!

Everyday we spotlight one remarkable video to inspire you to fulfill your intentions and improve your life. Do you have a video you’d like to suggest? Send it to us at editor [at]

Congratulations! Today is your day! You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!

Did you ever read the Dr. Seuss book, ‘Oh, the places you will go!” as a child? I have to be honest, I didn’t stumble across the little treasure trove of lyrical wisdom until later in life. I was going through a particularly turbulent time, and a dear friend and mentor insisted I read it. I’ve been hooked ever since. I keep a copy next to my bedside to lift my spirits on down days.

Based on the last book Dr. Seuss wrote before his death, this video re-tells Seuss’ inspiring story of life’s ups and downs through the lens of the faces at Burning Man 2011. I love it.

What’s your favorite line?

Video of the Day: 29-year-old hears her own voice for the first time

Everyday we spotlight one remarkable video to inspire you to fulfill your intentions and improve your life. Do you have a video you’d like to suggest? Send it to us at editor [at]

Okay, get the tissues ready. This one just might start the tears a flowin’. In this clip, Sarah Churman, a 29-year-old deaf woman, receives a hearing implant that allows her to hear her own voice for the first time. Laughter. Tears. Inspiration.

Check out Sarah’s blog here.

The Elder Care Blues: Things Could be Worse … and they will be!

The thing about life is that life has a life of its own, and you just never know when ‘life’s life’ is going to show up and where ‘it’ is going to take you.   For the most part the unexpected twists n’ turns are a mere blip in your day, barely noticeable.

For example:  You plan on wearing your black jeans, but they’re in the wash, so you grab your blue jeans.  You plan on going to a movie, but when you get there, it’s sold out.  No biggie.
There are the happy twists n’ turns.  You go to a party and run into an old friend and marry him (not that night, but soon thereafter).  You go on a trip to Chicago and unexpectedly connect to a gaggle of long lost cousins. (Best kind of family; little to no history but still family.) You permanently remove bucket loads of excess weight, create a website to share your experience and – holy cowgirls – a publisher asks you if you’d like to write a book. (All true.)

And then, there is the other kind of twist n’ turn; the type of twist that turns you inside out and upside-down and is not particularly welcomed.  Just as my husband, Peter, and I were making our final plans to spend a few open-ended months in Tucson without concern of a return date (a mini/semi-retirement for him — my work is portable), just as I was incredulously saying, “OMG! This is incredible!  We can go and come as we please. Can you believe it??”

Just as I bellowed from the deepest part of my soul, “Freedom!” a la Mel Gibson in Braveheart (I forgive you, Mel, for your lame-brained remarks), my fully independent, still living on her own, 95-year-young mother fell, not once — but twice — and…

…The world of elder care came crashing down upon us.

Peter and I rushed to the hospital where we found my mom — whose name is, by the way, Harriet — behind the emergency room curtain, lying lonely on the hospital bed. I asked, “Are you all right?”

Harriet replied in her usual witty and wry style, “Things could be worse… and they will be.”

We laughed. “Things could be worse… and they will be” is one of my mother’s signature sayings.

When I was five, Jimmy S. tripped me. (Intentionally?)  My chin cracked open (I have the scar to prove it), and by the time I made my way home, my pretty-in-plaid kindergarten dress was bloodied up.

Mom said in a somewhat playful yet serious tone, “Ohhhh.  Things could be worse.” She followed this with a sympathetic smile and a half-chuckle. “And they will be.”

When my 6-year-old neighbor decided to practice his barber skills on my favorite doll, Patty Playpal, and cut off her long locks much to my distress, my mom once again said, “Things could be worse… and they will be.”

So mom fell, not once but twice, and “things” surely could have been worse.   Her elbow was fractured; the crown of her head was cracked open just a tad, leaving a small gash; and she was pretty much a bruised-up mess.  But she did not break her hip, no surgery was needed and she still has all her marbles, which was a very good thing.

Naively, I thought, “A few weeks of rehab and life will return to normal.” Boy-oh-boy was I wrong!  The words, “Things could be worse… and they will be” have taken on new meaning.

As the weeks passed, it became abundantly clear that we were looking at a “new and lesser normal,” and that the day had arrived. My mom, 95.5 years young, who had lived happily in her Long Beach apartment for 31 years, was not going home.

Elder care is a minefield of logistics and a roller coaster of emotions.  As I stated, our scenario is not the worst ever, but nevertheless it is madly overwhelming.

Madly is defined as wildly, fiercely.  Its synonyms include absurdly, crazily, dementedly, desperately, exceedingly, frantically, frenziedly, hastily, irrationally, passionately, psychotically, senselessly, unreasonably, violently… Eldercare is all that and more.

One way I have been channeling my emotions, processing the daily happenings and seeing the opportunity in this journey (Yes, there’s plenty of opportunity here for personal growth, including but not limited to surrender, compassion and humor) is to fast and furiously send emails to my real and “chosen” family.

These missives, which ranged from “three-tissue reads” to “side-splitting belly laughs,” have proven to be an enormously therapeutic tool (for me), and the information and entertainment factor useful and even enjoyable for the family, which brings me here — to this page, and to YOU!

I know there are plenty of “us” caretakers out there, and we are stressed! According to a recent study from the American Psychological Association, 55 percent of caretakers are just “plain” stressed, and 22 percent are “extremely” stressed.

It is my intention to share my journey on these pages and to keep it real, which means telling the entire truth, not just the more sane and happier slices of it.  I think the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me G_d, is necessary here.

This isn’t about me.  True — writing to you all is a most excellent way for me to empty my mind and vent about the happenings in my life; but I am merely one of the very many boomers who are currently navigating (or will be soon enough) the strange, alien, frustrating and frankly, insane world of elder care.  Skimping on the truth wouldn’t be helpful or fair.

So… Here “we” go.  I am reaching out to you for support and at the same time offering support.  I am hopeful that you will seize this opportunity to empty your mind, tell your truth — comment below — so that we can, together, face this bittersweet time and help prepare those who are to follow.

Keep an eye out for my next post, when “delirium” hits Harriet and these pages!  Oy Vey!

Creative Commons License photo credit: LearningLark

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