When Worldviews Clash – 9 Ways Dr. Deepak Chopra Found to Get Beyond the Conflict

diversity-33606_960_720Can’t we all just get along? What keeps us as a society from finding that ability to see each other as humans and resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner?

In a new course at Sofia University with co-teachers Dr. Marilyn Schlitz and Professor of Consciousness Studies Dr. Deepak Chopra, students consider the ways in which worldview literacy can be used to help people transform their behaviors, improve relationships, develop effective communication strategies, and enhance lived experience. By identifying methods for engaging in collaborative dialogues about diverse worldviews and beliefs and applying worldview literacy to transpersonal psychology, these questions and solutions are considered.

According to Dr. Chopra, in order to engage in conflict-free dialogue must begin with seeing the person or group with opposing viewpoints from a place of shared humanity. One method to do so is by using the following 9 principles:

  1. Treat the person holding a different worldview with respect.
  2. Recognize perception of injustice on both sides.
  3. Be ready to forgive because forgiveness brings you peace within.
  4. Refrain from belligerence as as you lose respect.
  5. Use principles of emotional intelligence and speak using feeling words.
  6. Avoid stereotyping based on based on verbal formulas in areas such as race and gender.
  7. Avoid words and statements that prove the other wrong.
  8. Avoid bringing ideologies like religious beliefs into the discussion.
  9. Recognize there is fear on both sides in how the world operates.

Interested in learning more about this course? Click here to read more about the course intentions and outcomes.

Want to watch Dr Chopra share his 9 principles on video? Check out his Facebook live link.

Marilyn Schlitz 2Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D. is Professor and Program Chair of the doctoral programs at Sofia University. Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D. is a social anthropologist, researcher, writer, and charismatic public speaker. She is currently the Founder and CEO of Worldview Enterprises. She also serves as President Emeritus and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Additionally, she is a Senior Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center, where she focuses on health and healing, and is a board member of Pacifica Graduate Institute.

choprahDEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, Health Sciences. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine.He is currently a professor at Sofia University in the PhD program.

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Math, Consciousness and Artificial Intelligence with Deepak Chopra

Dr. Deepak Chopra speaks on the topic of whether placing consciousness into something that is non – biological material is possible. Chopra explains his interpretation by speaking about mathematical frameworks, Einstein, and the gap of discontinuity.

To learn more about taking a course with Dr. Chopra at Sofia University, try a sample lesson from our course “Death Makes Life Possible.”

 

About Dr. Deepak Chopra

DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, Health Sciences. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine.He is currently a professor at Sofia University in the PhD program.

 

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Descartes, “Political Deals” and Inner Experience: Reconciling Science and Wisdom Traditions

Is consciousness an illusion? Dr. Marilyn Schlitz, Program Chair of the Doctoral program at Sofia University discusses her views on this fascinating topic.

Dr. Schlitz, who also serves as President Emeritus and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Senior Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center and board member of Pacifica Graduate Institute, has been a leader in the field of consciousness studies. Her research and extensive publications focus on personal and social transformation, cultural pluralism, extended human capacities, and mind body medicine.

Her most recent research has focused on how death makes life possible, of which she was lead author with Dr. Deepak Chopra.  You can view her videos on diverse perspectives to healing  here.

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Causality, Billiard Balls and Synchronicity: Tart and Reality

518bd27karl-_sx309_bo1204203200_Dr. Charles Tart is internationally known for his psychological work on the nature of consciousness (particularly, altered states of consciousness), as one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, and for his research in parapsychology. Charles studied electrical engineering at MIT before deciding to become a psychologist. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from the Universi­ty of North Carolina with research on influencing nighttime dreams by posthypnotic suggestions, and then received postdoctoral training in hypnosis research at Stanford.

He is a Professor Emeritus at Sofia University and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at University of California Davis. He consulted on the original remote viewing research at Stanford Research Institute, where some of his work was important in influencing government policy makers against the deployment of the multi-billion dollar MX missile system.

In the video below, Dr. Tart speaks on causality and physical reality.

Interested in learning more about states of consciousness, altered realities, and transpersonal psychology? Check out our online and residential doctoral concentrations in in Consciousness and Creativity Studies.

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The Mind & Life Symposium : An Intellectual Estuary of Spiritual Confederates in a Transpersonal World

by Nicholas Boeving, Ph.D. Spring 2017 Graduate

Legacy. As we use the word today, it means a kind of heritage, benefaction, or gift — an ancestral endowment, passed from generation to generation. These are modern inflections, however. Originally, the word “legacy” translated into a “body of persons sent on a mission,” from the Medieval Latin word legatia, meaning an “ambassador” or “envoy.” Put differently, a legacy was not, etymologically speaking, something you inherited, but something you embodied.

Highlightmisccampus20111217_0160As a recent graduate of Sofia’s Global Ph.D. program in psychology, however, I have become increasingly aware of just what this rich transpersonal legacy actually means, both in the sense of an academic inheritance, as well in the more ancient sense of being an ambassador or envoy.

Both of these related, yet distinct, fields of awareness were brought into sharp relief upon my having been granted a scholarship to attend November’s Mind & Life Institute’s International Symposium for Contemplative Studies. Even during the application process itself, I realized that I was, in a very real sense, an ambassador of Sofia University. The symposium, which brought together leading academics, researchers, and contemplative practitioners, who live, think, and write at the intersection of neurobiological and contemplative inquiry, was a veritable who’s-who of contemplative science.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-26-22-pmThe Mind & Life Institute, while nominally committed to exploring the interface between science and Buddhism as two distinct but not incompatible methodologies with a common basic focus, in actuality embraces a full plurality of methodologies and contemplative perspectives that are not necessarily restricted to Buddhism. The atmosphere of the event itself was, in a word, electric. Each day was inaugurated with an opening meditation, followed by a variety of brown-bag lunches and a scintillating series of lectures and discussions by people who literally line my bookshelves — Roshi Joan Halifax and Sharon Salzburg — to name just two of the luminaries involved.

This atmosphere of intellectual playfulness and exploration was the brainchild of the American entrepreneur R. Adam Engle, who, upon learning of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama’s interest in modern science, proceeded to arrange a dialogue for him with selected scientists. The Chilean neuroscientist Francisco soon joined the initiative and thus the first Mind and Life Dialogue was held in October 1987 at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala, India for seven days of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural exploration. This was to be the first of many such events.

itp-logo_largeAcademic inquiry isn’t just about the subjects of study themselves, however, it is about the community of researchers who dedicate their professional lives (and much of their personal lives as well.) The Mind & Life symposium I attended was an intellectual estuary of spiritual confederates and the ideal location to network and plug in to the thriving community of contemplative researchers. I knew when I walked through the doors, I carried with me the academic DNA of Sofia’s legacy school, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, with me – that rich, illustrious lineage of top-tier scholars in transpersonal studies who were the real reasons I applied to Sofia in the first place.

I also knew that I, as a then-graduate student, was a living legacy myself, an ambassador of the transpersonal tradition, and the name of Sofia itself. A tall order to fill, to be sure, but one which I humbly and gratefully accepted. After all, Sofia’s legacy of transpersonal scholarship and transformative personal inquiry have much to offer the world of contemplative science. Indeed, there is much each tradition can learn from the other.

About the Author

nick2Nicholas Grant Boeving is a Los Angeles based writer, independent scholar, and consultant to the non-profit sector. He completed his PhD in psychology at Sofia University, with his dissertation A Luminous Doom: Death Anxiety Along the Spectrum of Substance Abuse and Recovery written under the directorship of David Lukoff, William Parsons, and Stanley Kripper, the legendary American psychologist and internationally known pioneer in the scientific investigation of human consciousness.

Nicholas did his graduate training in the psychology of religion under Jeffrey Kripal while a doctoral student at Rice University. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow of the 12 Step Institute in Los Angeles, CA, and Director of the Single Parents and Teens Foundation of Dallas. He has published in the areas of psychology of religion, new religious movements, and addiction studies. His primary research interests focus on the Recovery Movement as a form of “existential medicine.”

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Culture Inclusive Psychology: The Perspective in Social and Personal Relationship Study in Chinese Cultural Societies

By Sin-Ping Hsu and Kwang-kuo Hwang. Psychology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

During a person’s lifetime, cultural traditions may operate psychologically through heuristic processing. Accumulated through time and life experiences, these cultural traditions gradually become thoughts or habits that can be used to handle problems by the majority of the people in a society, which forms a cultural mentality unique in comparison to other societies.

Thai_Earplug_5Such cultural mentalities affect how people adapt to their lives, and can be used as a method for self-healing. Since Chinese cultural societies are affected by relationalism, people tend to be very different from their Western counterparts, who take on individualistic ways in dealing with interpersonal problems.

According to Hwang (2011), if a person can use the habitus (Bourdieu, 1990) of normal action to smoothly handle life events under certain social conditions, it is unlikely that they will engage in deep reflection.

However, if habitus cannot be used to resolve a problem, the person will attempt to seek solutions from their personal stock of knowledge or social stock of knowledge. The former include schema, as proposed by Piaget (1977), while the latter are cultural traditions (Shils, 1981). In other words, some cultural traditions are instrumental to problem-solving, and provide the crucial origins for the creation of cognitive schemas. When a person encounters difficulties and a certain method from socCognitive_Schemata_Diagramial stock of knowledge is found to be effective, it may be incorporated into one’s personal stock of knowledge for future application.

In Chinese cultural societies of relationalism, the psychological stresses elicited by interpersonal incidents tend to arise from significant others. For instance, the marital tensions between a couple may not necessarily be caused by themselves, but due to the involvement of their natal families. Therefore, in dealing with interpersonal issues, one cannot overlook significant others and situational contexts. Based on their life experiences, people are accustomed to appeal to yuanfen to convert negative feelings, awkwardness, or setbacks caused by interpersonal incidents, into a type of belief that can be used to combat anxiety. Its true functional mechanism is in embodying the perspective of the mandate of Heaven (Wang, 1987Lee, 1995Yang, 2005Hsu and Hwang, 2013).

These beliefs become practical wisdom or mechanisms of psychological adaptation for handling interpersonal problems. People use yuanfen to interpret the problem, and in turn adopt suitable actions to achieve psychological adjustment. Yuanfen demonstrates that people who live in Chinese cultural societies are accustomed to taking a continuous rather than fragmented perspective toward various interpersonal issues. They believe that the formation and destruction of various relationships may connect the past, present, and future as causes and consequences on the same timeline. This is particularly true for expressive ties that satisfy personal, intrinsic needs for love, warmth, security, and sense of belonging, such as parent-child, romantic, marital, and intimate relationships (Hwang, 2012), and may produce different judgments based on whether such expressive ties are inherent or learned.

In the field of Eastern psychology, guan-xi, a similar concept but not the same as “relationship” in Western psychology, has long been an important issue. However, existing literature has tended to focus on the explicit “guan-xi as it ought to be” rather than on the implicit “guan-xi as it is.

According to Zhai (1993), in Chinese society, there are three localized concepts for interpersonal relationships: personal appeal (ren yuan), human sentiment (renqing), and human relations (renlun). These three concepts correspond, respectively, to psychology, values, and norms, in turn creating an overall framework fochinese-familyr the exploration of interpersonal relationships. This study postulates that human sentiment and human relations correspond to the explicit “guan-xi as it ought to be,” which can satisfy the expectations of Chinese social values and norms, but are also the sources of psychological disturbances.

Since personal appeal corresponds to psychology, and is related to the overall configuration of the model of interpersonal relationships, it should have the most direct impact on psychological adaptation as part of relational interaction. For example, when a person forced to accept a breakup and attribute the failure of the relationship to lack of yuanfen, the relationship has also been framed as something that does not have to be taken seriously. Since there is a lack of yuanfen, the relationship should not be fought for. This interpretation is actually beneficial for psychological adjustment in terms of achieving a positive outcome.

Read more from http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00282/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Psychology-w17-2016

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Finding My Research Sweet Spot with Non-symbolic States of Consciousness

By Ph.D student Lindsay Briner

The Power of Exploration and Wonder

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-4-22-40-pmI have an MA in Transpersonal Psychology and a relentless passion toward my own personal evolution. I became interested in the *industry* of transformative technology via Dr. Jeffrey Martin and the Transformative Technology Lab, and for the past year explored options within that industry. With that in mind, I spent several months at the University of Arizona with Dr. Stuart Hameroff (pictured) where I investigated Transcranial Ultrasound Therapy, worked with Deepak Chopra on the Jiyo platform and collaborated with Neurohacker Collective as a research member. I enjoyed exploring innovative technologies with fellow research associates, but I still was not able to chisel away a clear point of focus for 2017. However, these explorations did make me wonder as an industry what we are optimizing for and how do we consensually measure it?

Through my lived experiences to discover my area of focus, I have come to realize that the future of human development, education and medicine, through the exponential growth of technology, is destined for human optimization. We are at the cusp of an emergent human ontology with a new interdisciplinary epistemology of neuroscience with technology.

Finding Clarity at the Transformative Technology Lab

My coursework as a PhD student at Sofia University has been complemented with work at the Transformative Technology Lab (TTL) with Dr. Jeffery Martin. The lab is a niche space where technology intersects with transpersonal psychology. The aim of the Lab is to evolve psychology’s working axiom of wellness, from one merely transcending acute distress, to one tapping the outer reaches of human potential.I thoughtfully examined how my contribution at this intersection can be maximized and chose to look at the Finder’s Course.

The goal of Dr.Martin’sFinder’s Course is to help people obtain Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience (PNSE) which includes the states of consciousness commonly known as enlightenment, non-duality, and unitive experience. Such states are not inherently spiritual or religious, nor limited to any particular culture or population, and they can form differently according to various personal experiences.

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-4-22-24-pmIn January of 2017, Dr.Jeffery Martin launched his 10th Finder’s Course research protocol with 2,000 participants. The Finder’s Course collects data from participants on the progress of their psychological states throughout the 4-month program. Dr.Martin’s most recent study achieved strong validation, with approximately 73% of participants reaching ongoing non-symbolic experience in less than 4 months during the program. The program utilizes various methodologies to achieve this, such as positive psychology techniques, mindfulness practices, meditation, and use the transformative technologies such as the Muse neuro-feedback technology for meditation. (Pictured – Jeffery Martin in white & Lindsay Briner)

Curiosity Brings Focus

Over the last year as a research associate at the TTL, I delved into Finder’s Course data and gained an understanding of Dr. Martin’s approach and strategy. His human optimization techniques not only lead to what are often perceived as spiritual experiences, but more broadly form a framework for groundbreaking states of wellbeing. For example, PNSE is linked to significantly decreased depression and anxiety, and enhanced physical health and sense of purpose in life.

I relate to and am fascinated by this material, often reflecting on my own experiences of PNSE. Last year, I began experimenting with nootropics to assist in my levels of productivity and ability to concentrate on tasks. As I was taking these supplements, I began observing an increase in my ability to access and maintain higher states of PNSE while also increasing focus, motivation, and productivity.

I experienced a flow-state from the productivity, yet also experienced states of PNSE. This may be difficult to understand if you are not familiar with these states, but the experience of sustained, calm focus, backdropped by a general sense of wellbeing, is an experience I desire to help other people access and maintain. I want people to be able to feel so deeply connected to nature — to experience a unitive, non-dual awareness — while remaining grounded, healthy, and more productive in a meaningful way than ever before.

Because of my extraordinary results from my own use of nootropics, along with my curiosity to deepen the scholarship on this emerging field of human optimization, I felt I would be potentially well suited for the lab’s extraordinary research vision.

Finding My Research Sweet Spot

This desire caused me to approach Dr. Martin in the lab one day with an idea with which I was ready to hit the ground running. And now, I am excited to say that in January 2017, I started collecting data on cognitive performance with three experimental groups during the 10th Finder’s Course. A particular point of emphasis within my work will be investigating the effects of nootropics or “smart drugs” on Finder’s Course participants. Nootropics provide cognitive enhancements, and are intended for people who have a good physiological and psychological baseline of health.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 4.34.22 PM.pngThe work will show how increasing one’s processing capability of symbolic states may influence one’s relationship to non-symbolic states. The data collection in the Finder’s Course has great implications for engineering specific states for human optimization across various applications. I am honored to work alongside him as I move into my final stages of the PhD program.

Summary

For so long, psychology and medicine have been focused on pathology. At the Transformative Technology Lab, we are focusing on healthy individuals and asking, “How do we advance our need to be more healthy into true optimization?”

This last year has revealed to me how humankind is now at the very precipice of our next great civilizational epoch. Fifteen years ago, “social media” was a virtually unknown phrase and concept, and so too, “transformative technology” will become the next great societal wave of influence. It may end up under a slightly different name- “human optimization”, “neurotech”, “transtech”, etc.- but it is clear that there is an emerging coalescence of brilliance and technology across the world, centered around the concept of transcending previous assumed limits of individual neurophysiology. This includes any technological methods that enhance wellbeing, such as non-invasive brain stimulation (i.e. ultrasound, tDCS, tACS), virtual reality, augmented reality, brain-computer interface (i.e. microchips, Elon Musks’ brain lace), neuro-feedback, all bio-feedback devices, and much more.

 

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The Power of Presence – Mindfulness based Therapy

The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has been present in multiple practices throughout the world for millenniums. Its origin has been traced to Hinduism in 1500 BCE and was introduced to the field of psychology in the 20th century. Mindfulness is a mental state which consists of achieving a deeper awareness of one’s body and mind by focusing on the present moment. It is utilized in many therapeutic practices such as Mindfulness-based stress reduction, Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Mindfulness is more than an intervention, it is a way of life. According to an article on the benefits of mindfulness by the American Psychological Association, mindfulness has been shown to:

Reduce

  • rumination
  • stress
  • emotional reactivity

Increase

  • working memory
  • focused attention
  • cognitive flexibility
  • relationship satisfaction

Techniques used in Mindfulness based therapy

mindset-743166_960_720During sessions, therapists can use various tools in order to help their clients achieve a state of mindfulness. Some of the techniques used include breathing meditation, sitting meditation, and body sensation meditation. The techniques can be used at any time and whenever needed.

It is also recommended to practice mindfulness outside of therapy. There are various practices promoting mindfulness such as yoga, qigong, tai chi, as well as the meditations mentioned above. The goal is to focus on oneself and on the present moment.

Mindfulness Based Therapy at Sofia University

Mindfulness is one of the major educational teaching models at Sofia University that provides the foundation for deep transformational growth and enhanced personal experience of the subject matter.Faculty understand the stress and anxiety experienced daily by both students and humanity in general, and the school’s mission is to teach students how to integrate and transcend these stressors.

Almost every in-person psychology class begins and ends with meditation and centering, while other classes are entirely focused on mindfulness. Courses such as “Transpersonal Skills Labs (Yoga, Ai-kido)”, “Meditation & Mindfulness”, and “Creative Expression” are examples of such mindfully focused courses.

If you’re interested to learn more about yourself, as well as how to help others in a mindful and transpersonal environment, then Sofia University is meant for you! Have a look at our degrees to find what resonates best.

Hope you join the family 🙂
A bientôt!

Here are some external resources if you would like to learn more about mindfulness:

51rcZ8+pQfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgimages.jpgmindfulness_for_beginners_cover.gif

 

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness quote borrowed from Goodreads 

About the Author

paramanBlog writer Pierre Araman is a student in the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program. He is an international student originally from France who has lived in many different countries around the world. Serendipity brought him to Sofia University.  His goal to fuse spirituality and science in the field of psychology is based on the belief that body, mind, & soul have not been fully integrated in either domain. Promoting Sofia University is a passion as well as he believes the university is a unique and wonderful environment. You can contact Pierre at p.araman@sofia.edu

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Alumna Rosie Kuhn, Ph.D Talks Cultivating Spirituality in Children

rosiekuhn.jpgMost parents, grandparents and guardians have great hopes for their children, but they do not take seriously enough their role in creating an environment that truly empowers children to fulfill their fullest potential as human beings… We are not attending to their human needs beyond their survival. We are not attending to their needs as spiritual beings.” Rosie Kuhn, Ph.D.

Interview re-posted from Psychology Today.

Welcome to Childhood Made Crazy, an interview series that takes a critical look at the current “mental disorders of childhood” model. This series is comprised of interviews with practitioners, parents, and other children’s advocates as well as pieces that investigate fundamental questions in the mental health field. Visit the following page to learn more about the series, to see which interviews are coming, and to learn about the topics under discussion: http://ericmaisel.com/interview-series/

Rosie Kuhn, PhD, began her career over 30 years ago as a clinical therapist for addictionrecovery programs in Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1999 she founded The Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group and in 2001, she created the Transformational Coaching Training Program in Silicon Valley, where she facilitated the program for over a decade. She is currently a coach, author, and trainer.

EM: Your work as a Transpersonal and Transformational Life Coach embraces a much larger perspective of well-being than that of psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists. What contributed to you choosing such a different orientation to mental health and well-being?

RK: Initially, through my Masters degree in Marriage, Family and Child Therapist, I cultivated the foundational perspective that we are a member of many systems. An individual’s symptoms, especially a child’s symptoms, are indications of a breakdown within the family system, or any one of the primary systems within which a child interacts. This will lead to a breakdown within the individual member of the system.

Through a second Masters degree, in Social Work, I was exposed to patients within the mental health hospital system. All had been diagnosed and were being treated with medications. And from my humble experience, what contributed to their hospitalization was rarely acknowledged, nor were they given many opportunities to reveal that which triggered their mental health issues. They were learning to manage and cope with life and their diagnosis. Their identity became attached to their diagnosis, which limited their capacity to see themselves beyond the handicap and disabilities defined by their diagnosis.

I spent eight years in the field of addictions and recovery. Working with families dealing with addiction and recovery issues revealed to me the huge absence of support for spiritual crisis within the therapeutic model. And, with the incredibly positive influence that the 12-step program has on individuals who work with this programs, it made sense to me that I begin to find a program which allowed me to understand more fully the influence that spirituality has on our human experience.

Through my final degree, a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology, I specialized in the field of spiritual guidance. After three masters degrees, a Ph.D., and 30 years of experience supporting and empowering all people, including children, I see each individual child and grown-up as whole and complete, and quite brilliant in how they come to create the myriad of strategies they use to survive their circumstances. My work empowers my client to see just how empowered they are to create these strategies and to survive. If they can empower themselves in the way they have so far survived, they certainly have the capacity to choose more self-fulfilling strategies.

EM: What is the single most common trigger for children seeking professional health assessments?

RK: Childhood is filled with firsts, presenting every one of us with so many moments of testing ourselves in an unknown world. Every child experiences anxieties as they continually enter realms of human experiences that are unfamiliar and perhaps challenging to comprehend. Each child assesses their situation from their own unique youthful orientation. Depending on the temperament of each child, they all confront anxiety to one degree or another. And, depending on the degree to which a child feels safe and secure in their environment, they handle the everyday stresses and anxiety with ease or with fear.

6239670686_65fdd9e0eb_b.jpgI see the most common trigger for children potentially requiring support from a health professional is a crisis of trust. Quite often, something happens; it could be something significant or something that, for many, could seem very mundane. But, in that moment, for that individual child, their reality is shattered. In their experience, what they believed was true, and the person they believed they could trust, was taken away, and their way of being required a shift. They begin finding patterns of thinking, feeling and acting that allowed them to compensate for any restlessness, irritableness and anxiety that arose. They create survival strategies in their logical, rational mind, which they believe will keep them invulnerable from ever experiencing that kind of shattering ever again.

The more distressed a child is, the more intense their survival strategies. When parents and other guardians ignore, deny or distract themselves from the child’s symptoms, perhaps hoping the symptoms will go away, the child is most likely going to intensify their symptoms until they are acknowledged. Good parenting requires intentional focus on what’s working, and what’s not.

In my work as a life coach, it is not uncommon for my adult clients to share that specific moment when their childhood innocence was shattered. They remember specifically how they began to think and act differently to assist them in not feeling the trauma of the shattering, or hiding it from others. Again, the degree to which a child feels safe being seen and heard within their family system is the degree to which they can share and perhaps be supported through these childhood crises.

EM: What treatment do you suggest?

RK: My suggestion is that the whole family enters into family therapy. A child’s world, the systems within which he operates, contributes to his or her way of being. The family system is the number one source of support and comfort, except when it isn’t. If the family doesn’t participate in treatment a huge component of the child’s reality is left out of the healing process.

EM: You wrote a book for parents called Cultivating Spirituality in Children: 101 Ways to Make Every Child’s Spirit Soar. Why did you write this book?

RK: I wrote Cultivating Spirituality in Children because I believe that though most parents, grandparents and guardians have great hopes for our children, we do not take seriously enough our role in creating an environment that truly empowers our children to fulfill their fullest potential as human beings.

4568163813_2a9b9db088_b.jpgWe don’t take seriously our role in their development, on all levels. We are mostly concerned with making sure their survival needs are taken care of, and that they have the education required. By attending to survival needs, we teach our children to attend to their survival needs and not to the needs of their spirit-selves, that which inspires them to thrive beyond the limiting perspective of consensus reality. We are not attending to their human needs beyond their survival. We are not attending to their needs as spiritual beings.

In dysfunctional family systems (dysfunctional corporate, religious, and educational systems as well), individuals are not allowed to know what they think, feel, need or want. Given such circumstances where an individual’s creativity, imagination, and ability to express themselves fully is diminished, emotions and psychic energies build up and they have to be expressed in some way or another. Depression is caused through the process of self-deprecation. When deprived of the freedom to discover their own expression, children learn to deprive themselves of their own knowing of their own truths and natural exuberance. Again, they begin to suppress their natural exuberance, and develop strategies that will minimize the anxieties that arise. Anxiety arises when we feel unsafe.

EM: In your opinion, how does spirituality contribute to mental health and mental illness issues?

RK: I see spirituality as an essential component of mental health. We are born seeking love and expression of our whole self. We are trained to desire creative outlets, and ways to express ourselves – through language, affection, connection, activity, and our need to truly get to know who we are – as our essential self, intuitively.

woman-1264729_960_720.jpgWe feel our heart’s desires and are inspired to fulfill those desires. We are encouraged to use our imagination to create – what we want to be when we grow up. We feel what is true in our hearts. We are perhaps taken to churches, synagogues, or mosques, so we can learn to believe in those who are unseen, cultivating faith, and a capacity to surrender our will to a higher power. Creation, love, connection, inspiration, faith, and intuition are all aspects of our spiritual selves.

At the same time, the majority of our family, educational, and religious systems provide conflicting messages. Children who are spontaneously singing, laughing or playing, are told to stop making so much noise. They are told that they are wrong or bad for being themselves. They are told they can’t have their dreams or their desires. Now, as a parent or teacher, these may be necessary tactics to control a child’s behavior, but for the child, it can be very confusing. This can trigger a crisis of trust. And, again, they begin to compensate by developing ways of being that is more acceptable to authorities but may wreak havoc with their spirit-self.

Every grown-up knows this spirit self exists. And, it is so understandable that with today’s stresses, it is so challenging to attend to our children’s spiritual development, let alone our own. That’s why I wrote – Cultivating Spirituality in Children.

EM: What is the role of a parent as an advocate for their child?

RK: The role of a parent is to be an advocate for their child. Too often, parents turn their power over to those who consider themselves authorities. The child often feels helpless, and so do the parents. It makes sense that parents look to experts in the field of mental health for support, however, turning their power over to anyone means that they often relinquish responsibility for the current circumstances. That means that they let other people make decisions that may not be in their child’s best interest, even though they are experts. From a child’s perspective, if a parent relinquishes control or responsibility, the child may feel abandoned or betrayed, which only exacerbates the situation for both parent and child.

Parent as advocate requires them to participate in every aspect of decision-making. It requires them to educate themselves on symptoms, medications and treatment modalities, both standard and alternative. Parents need to talk with their child, discuss what feels right for them – what are their ideas and thoughts. Too often those who we put in powerful positions don’t always act in the best interest of their clients or patients. They utilize standard procedures, and miss important personal aspects of a person’s reality – especially related to our human-spirit.

EM: What do you suggest parents do to prevent mental health issues?

images.jpgRK: Attend to your children, give them quality time every day – even just 15 minutes a day will give your children a good sense of value and worthiness. Give them your presence – put away your iPhones, iPads, computers, and walk away from the television. A parent cannot be present to their children while on an electronic device.

Listen to your child as though what they have to say is important. Rather than tell them what to think or what to feel, ask them questions about what is happening for them. The sooner you begin cultivating a trusting open relationship with them, the sooner they will trust that they can come to you when life gets to be too much, too confusing, or when something is going on that they just don’t know how to deal with. If they learn to trust you at a younger age, you both can continue to cultivate and nurture that trusting relationship into adolescence, early adulthood and beyond.

Get to know who your child is, how they think and feel inside themselves. Ask questions that allow them to use their innate intelligence – stretching their intuition and imagination and to feel into what is true for them – not just mental constructs that are fed to them. This way of being with your child allows them to develop healthy interpretations about themselves – that they matter in your world, and in their own, no matter what.

Bottom line, when a child is having mental challenges, parents and guardians need to get therapy, education, and support for themselves.  In essence the child may need rehabilitation, but the parents need some healing, support and training so as to advocate for and empower their children’s lives, so that their spirit is able to soar.

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If this article touched you and you have a passion for teaching children, you can  learn more about Sofia University’s Master of Education in Transformational Arts  which can help you  engage with your students in a more powerful and innately mindful way.

To learn more about this series of interviews please visit http://ericmaisel.com/interview-series/

 

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A Hero’s Journey – From Resistance to Acceptance. Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Embracing diversity and imparting knowledge and skills that empower people to live together in peace within multicultural communities are core values for Sofia University. In this regard, among others, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an amazing role model. On January 15th, the nation honored his courage and vision.

This post celebrates Dr. King from the perspective of the hero’s journey. Following the hero’s journey in Sofia University’s Global Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology is a staple in the core curriculum, helping students to recognize the cyclical nature of life, and to acknowledge all stages of growth and self development.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. : Social Activist and Influential Change Maker

We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.

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1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has left such a strong legacy in this country that America has set aside a day in his honor to recognize his achievements. Many people know little about his background, but his journey toward greatness was fraught with the same internal conflicts that anyone on the Hero’s Journey must confront. Cultural, social and parental influences strongly shaped King’s early childhood.

The Home Environment

Dr. King’s father was a minister, who himself was raised in a culture of ministry. King’s father grew up in a life seeped in racism and he chose a life of social activism to fight against it. His strong belief that racism, as well as a sense of racial superiority, was against God’s will shaped King Jr.’s upbringing. King Jr was clearly academically advanced, skipping both 9th and 11th grade to enroll in Morehouse College at age 15.

A Conflicted Life – Refusing the Calling

Not everything was great in King Jr.’s life.

  • At age 12, young Martin jumped from a second story window at the family home, allegedly attempting suicide when he missed being at the bedside of his grandmother when she died.
  • Despite his father’s hopes, King Jr. spent his first two years at Morehouse College unmotivated and continued questioning religion in general as well as overt religious displays.
  • Rebelling against conservative values, King Jr. played pool (considered an unseemly activity), drank beer through most of his college years, and entered into a relationship with a white woman that was more than controversial.

The Awakening, the Mentor and Crossing Over 

In Dr. King’s junior year at Morehouse, he took a Bible class and was soon spiritually awakened (despite being baptized at an early age). Finding his life path, King Jr. began to thrive.

  • In 1948, he attended the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania and thrived. He was elected student body president, earned a graduate fellowship and was chosen valedictorian of his class in 1951.
  • Finding a spiritual mentor under the guidance of Morehouse College President Benjamin E. Mays, an outspoken advocate for racial equality, King was encouraged to view Christianity as a potential force for social change.

Moving Humanity Forward – Finding the Approach & Living the Challenge

 

Rosaparks.jpgMartin Luther King Jr.’s rise to prominence began with the arrest of Rosa Parks (pictured) in December, 1955. The head of the NAACP, E.D. Nixon, chose Dr. King to lead a citywide bus boycott. With youth and strong family connections, Dr. King had strong credibility within the black community. After 382 days of intimidation, violence and refusing to board the buses, the financial losses finally made the city of Montgomery lift the law mandating segregated public transportation.

This success led civil rights leaders to create an organization that would coordinate efforts nationwide. In 1957, Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy and over 60 activists and ministers created the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 

Gandhi and  JFK – Allies of Non Violence

sit-in.jpgInspired by Gandhi’s success with non-violence, in 1959 Dr. King organized a trip to India which encouraged him to increase his commitment to non-violent actions within the civil rights movement. When he returned, he became co-pastor with his father at the family church while continuing his civil rights efforts.

In 1960 at a lunch counter sit-in, Dr. King and others were arrested when they continued to sit at the counter after being refused service and told to leave. The mayor of the city of Atlanta where the sit-in took place, recognized that with Dr. King’s national notoriety, the city would suffer and so he released.everyone. But Dr. King would be imprisoned not long after that for a simple traffic violation. It was then when presidential nominee, John F Kennedy interceded, and political pressure soon got Dr. King’s release.

The Dream – Having a Vision

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On August 28. 1963, Dr. King gave his most recognized speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His “dream” consisted of more than a vision, but a request of a nation to honor their words.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice… But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir… Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

What did Dr. King envision? Among many of his statements, this is the most famous.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

Revising the Vision – Tests and Enemies

Although Dr. King’s movement was becoming more popular, and had now expanded to Chicago and Los Angeles, young black leaders increasingly began to challenge his methods. Dr. King, ever vigilant, decided to expand the vision of civil rights to not only the Vietnam War but to issues of poverty. His hope was to broaden his base to include all disadvantaged and unemployed people of all races.

The Dream is Questioned – Reaching the Inner Most Cave of Doubt

No matter how brave, strong or supported we may be on our journeys, as humans we all become weary. This was no different with Dr. King. After so many years of energetic and passionate dispute and confrontations, Dr. King began to get discouraged as to whether civil rights were possible.

I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” April 3, 1968 speech

The Ordeal – A Dream Never Dies – A Hero is Reborn

mlk-by-bstangland.jpgThe day after Dr. King gave his prophetic speech about never reaching the promised land, he was shot while standing on a balcony at his hotel by James Earl Ray. Dr. King’s death left a lasting impression, as seen by riots and demonstrations across the nation, but also further into history. Since that time, he has been honored, not only with streets and schools named after him,but with a national holiday.

 

References

Martin Luther King Jr. Biography http://www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-king-jr-9365086

The Hero’s Journey http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero’s_journey.htm

 

 

 

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