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Virtual reality as a window into our multidimensional nature? Dr. Marilyn Schlitz thinks it’s possible.

Marilyn-SchlitzDr. Marilyn Schlitz, program chair of the doctoral program at ITP/Sofia U is a social anthropologist, consciousness researcher, and co-author of the books Consciousness & Healing and Living Deeply.

Reality Bubbles? Paradox? Multiple Worldviews? How can we move into this new world? Well Dr. Marilyn Schlitz believes virtual reality technology may help us. Dr. Schlitz’s anthropological research has focused on indigenous practices and mind-body interaction in healing. Taking this a step further, she is wondering how virtual reality technology can catalyze collective shifts in consciousness. Intrigued?

She says that we’re each living within our own reality bubbles, and that some of the most important skills in the 21st Century will focus on coming to an awareness of our filters and to cultivate the capacity to understand, empathize, and interact with people who are living in completely different models of reality.

The following podcast features an interview with Dr. Schlitz as she talks about some of the game design work that she’s doing in order to achieve this, as well as how virtual reality might provide a window into our multidimensional nature and help us become more aware of our own aspects of inattentional blindness.

LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST


About The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia UniversityITP-logo_small

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

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Remembering Unity, Remembering God. Understanding Sufi Practice by Dr. Robert Frager

Robert Frager, Ph.D., founded the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, now Sofia University, where he directs the Master of Education program in Transformative Education. Ordained a Sufi sheikh in 1985, he is president of the Jerrahi Order of California. His books include Sufi Talks: Teachings of an American Sufi Sheikh (Quest Books, 2012), Love Is the Wine (editor), and Essential Sufism (coeditor).

Sufi Practicebob-frager-222x196

The goal of Sufism is to make us into real dervishes, real Muslims, and real human beings. These three are essentially the same. Our goal is to come closer to God, and that is the same in all religions and all mysticism. The major difference between our practice and the practices of other spiritual traditions is we follow the shariat, the rules and the ways of worship of Islam.

Every tradition has an outer form and an inner meaning. But the outer form means nothing without the inner. Jalaleddin Rumi has become the best-known mystical poet in the West. His Western readers often don’t realize that he was a devout Muslim and also a professor of Islamic law and Qur’anic studies. Rumi wrote that the outer form of Islamic prayer is of no value without inner understanding. Those who follow only the outer form of prayer, which includes frequent kneeling and touching one’s forehead to the ground, are like chickens pecking grain. And the chicken is smarter, because at least it gets something from its efforts.

Remember, these are the words of a deeply devout Muslim. He understood that the outer must be accompanied by the inner. This is our tradition. We follow the outer because we hope it guides us to greater understanding, and we keep working to understand and practice the inner as well.

Remembering God

One of the central practices of Sufism is zikrullah. Zikrullah means remembrance of God. It is remembering what our souls knew before we were born. Zikrullah also means repetition. Much of our practice involves repeating God’s Names, or Attributes. In the Holy Qur’an ninety-nine Names are mentioned, but God cannot be limited to any finite number of Attributes.

The first Attribute we repeat is la ilahe ilallah. This phrase literally means “There are no gods; there is God.” A common mistranslation is “There is no god but Allah.” This came from Christian missionaries, who believed there is no way to salvation except through their own version of religion. They thought that Muslims believed the same way and that we denied the truth of other religions, which is not true at all. In Islam there is acceptance of other prophets and scriptures. In fact we believe God sent down 124,000 prophets, one to every people.

La ilahe ilallah means Unity. Multiplicity is a delusion. There is one God, and God is Unity. This holy phrase means there are no truths, there is Truth; there are different realities, but only one Reality. There is nothing worthy of worship, except for the One who is worthy of worship. ThSudan_sufisese are only a few of the different layers of meaning of la ilahe ilallah.

The first half, la ilahe, “There are no gods,” asserts that all our conceptions of God are limited and distorted. Whatever we can imagine or say of God, God is far more than that. The second half, ilallah, tells us “There is God.” It reminds us God exists and God is beyond our experience and understanding.

In Islam we think of Allah as the most important Name of God. It is considered the “proper name” of God and, more than any other Name, it captures the essential nature of God. It is an essential part of our zikrullah.

We also repeat in zikrullah the Attribute “Hu.” This refers to God without attributes, pointing toward the essential, unnamable nature of God. It is considered by some Sufis to be a universal spiritual sound, similar to Om in the Hindu tradition.

We also chant “Hai,” which means “Life.” God is the essence of Life, and everything in creation vibrates with this Name. If anything ceased chanting “Hai,” it would immediately cease to exist. Every cell in our bodies is constantly chanting Hai. Our breath chants “Hai.” Tugrul Efendi, our head sheikh, commented that although we are all constantly chanting Hai with each breath, we are not aware of what we are doing, and so it is not worth much.

When we pray and when we practice zikrullah, we attempt to experience at least a taste of who we are meant to be. Rumi wrote that God formed human beings by putting an angel’s wings on a donkey’s tail, in hopes that the angelic part will lift the animal nature to something that is beyond both. It is an image that stays with me as a description of who we are. If we could remember the image, it would probably keep us from becoming too egotistical.

The Role of a Teacher

People often ask if we really need a spiritual teacher. Can’t we do it all ourselves? One answer is that it is very difficult to see ourselves clearly. We can see our trivial faults, for example our tendency to be a little short-tempered or the fact that we eat too much and do not exercise enough. But the deeper problems in our personalities are harder to see. Why don’t I trust more? Why can’t I keep my mind on my prayers?

There is an old Turkish Sufi saying, “You can bandage your own cut, but you can’t take out your own appendix.” The sheikh is there to help you with your appendix, with the major changes you are seeking to make in your life.

You need a spiritual teacher who has the wisdom and ability to guide others through their spiritual challenges. And the greatest challenges generally involve issues that we don’t understand clearly, so we need to trust someone to guide us through them.

Of course trust and authority can be misused. There are power-hungry teachers and naïve, passive followers. That happens in every spiritual tradition. In fact another old Sufi saying refers to this: “Counterfeit coins prove that real coins exist.”

One of the advantages of Sufism is the silsilah, or chain of teachers, of each Sufi order. This is an unbroken chain. Each teacher has been the student of a teacher of the previous generation. Good teachers do not allow their students to become teachers in turn unless the students have developed a certain degree of wisdom, self-control, and ability to guide others. Also, if a teacher begins making serious mistakes, word is likely to get back to other teachers in their order. So there are people who can try and correct that kind of problem. In other traditions, self-proclaimed gurus have done tremendous damage to their students. From our point of view, that is very dangerous.

Authority and power are always potentially dangerous. All spiritual communities are filled with imperfect members. No one here is perfect. Hari Dass Baba, a wonYanbaghi_LiKulli_Nafsinderful yoga teacher once wrote, “The ashram is designed to save you from the world. What will save you from the ashram?”

In our tradition it is much more demanding to be a dervish than to be a sheikh. At one level, a sheikh is only a position, although it is a position with serious responsibilities, and hopefully the sheikh receives divine help in fulfilling these responsibilities. A dervish, by contrast, is someone who always seeks to serve and to remember God. Those are major challenges.

There is a wonderful story about Rumi and his teacher, Shems of Tabriz. The two men are sitting outside having tea. Rumi’s wonderful writings have spread throughout the Islamic world and the number of his followers has increased tremendously. A man comes galloping in on horseback. He jumps off his horse and runs to Rumi. The man bows deeply and says, “The teacher you sent to us has died. Please send us another sheikh.” Rumi laughs and says to Shems, “Aren’t you glad he asked for a sheikh? If he asked me to send them a dervish, either you or I would have had to go.”

As I mentioned earlier, a Sufi order is traditionally referred to as a silsilah, or chain. I prefer the metaphor of a pipeline. Each sheikh is a section of pipe connected to the section before it. What flows through the pipeline is the blessing and the wisdom that flow from the great saints throughout the generations of Sufi teachers, all the way back to the Prophet Muhammad. What flows through the pipeline is not the sheikh’s. It is something that flows through each sheikh. My old Sufi master, Muzaffer Efendi, used to say, “If it comes from me, don’t take what I say too seriously. What comes from me personally is not worth that much. But if it doesn’t come from me but comes through me, then you should listen.”

Mysticism

Mysticism goes back to the dawn of human history. We forget that for thousands of years human beings have experienced and been inspired by the unseen world. The unseen world is not merely what people experience after death. It is here. We get too rational about religion and spirituality. Mysticism is not rational. It is arational, actually outside or beyond reason. Rationality can only take you so far. Years ago Huston Smith wrote that the rational approach is similar to the old anti-aircraft searchlights of World War II. The beam of light could only illuminate a tiny portion of the night sky. It is a very small part of the total. The vast majority of the sky is not illuminated, no matter how bright the beam is. Similarly, Western scientists think that the only reality is what they are illuminating in their rational searchlights, and that all the rest doesn’t exist.

We forget. Most of us have far too much education, and of the wrong kind. Modern education focuses almost completely on the head. It ignores the body, the heart, and the soul. We forget that there is a whole other world filled with different energies, blessings, and wisdom. These things are real.

One of the great blessings of hajj — pilgrimage to Mecca — is seeing other people from different parts of the wTurkish_whirling_dervishes_of_Mevlevi_Order,_bowing_in_unison_during_the_Sema_ceremonyorld, from very different cultures. Many of them had minimal formal education, and when they circle the Kaaba, which is also called “the house of God,” they don’t think that is a metaphor. They are circling the actual house of God. For them God’s presence is real. They are in a powerful spiritual state. Many spend their working days on their feet, herding, hunting, etc. They cut right through the crowds of people around the Kaaba. When I was on hajj, I was a little annoyed at first. I felt they were knocking everyone out of their way, but then I realized they didn’t care. It was not personal. They were in an inspired state, and if others weren’t, they couldn’t keep up. I felt tempted to give up my degrees and fancy education if only I could have the same kind of pure, concrete faith.

It is a balancing act. On the spiritual path we should never throw our rational minds away. God gave us intelligence, and we are supposed to use it on this path. It is an absolute mistake to fail to use discrimination and good judgment. But we should not use a certain kind of limited rationality to dismiss everything that is beyond rationality.

Ram Dass once said we are the closest to God when we are the most confused, because when we are confused, our opinions and theories do not stand between us and divine reality. 

Self-Control

We do have an animal nature, and there is nothing wrong with it. There is nothing wrong with a donkey. It is a wonderful creature, as are all animals. But we are not meant to be donkeys. We were born with other capacities.

We are meant to develop as human beings, especially to come to understand and control our egos. Some Sufi teachers have recommended we train our egos the way the Arab horses were trained. In the West we have a cruel and primitive tradition of “breaking” horses, breaking their spirit to make them docile. The old Western approach to child rearing was similar, symbolized by the phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child.”

The intelligent and compassionate way to train an animal or raise a child is through love, patience, and understanding — not through brutality and domination. Modern horse whisperers are highly effective because they understand horses. They guide horses rather than beating them. They shape a horse’s behavior by understanding how horses think and by understanding the basic patterns of equine behavior. The problem is usually the owner, not the horse. A well-known “dog whisperer” said, “I’ve never met a problem dog. I work with problem owners.”

We can work with our egos in a similarly patient and compassionate way. We can start by seeking to understand our egos. We were all self-centered as young children. It is a natural phase of human development, and ideally we grow out of it. But sometimes we don’t. Maturity and growth don’t happen automatically. It takes real effort to mature out of our basic narcissism. And, with so many things, we inevitably revert back to old patterns from time to time. Freud was absolutely right when he wrote about regression. At times we do revert to childhood patterns under pressure.

In working with our egos, we can tell ourselves it is OK to let go of some old patterns, patterns that made perfect sense when we were younger. Often we don’t need those patterns when we are older. Educating our egos is an art, and it requires consciousness and compassion.

I don’t believe in hair shirts or other kinds of extreme asceticism. Years ago one of my colleagues was the Jesuit director of novices for Silicon Valley. When he moved into the director’s office, he found several boxes in the closet. One had hair shirts, and another had whips and chains. So we arSyariah-thariqah-hakikah2e not that far from the medieval notion that we grow spiritually by physically torturing ourselves. I am convinced that this kind of asceticism is a gross distortion of healthy self-discipline, and does far more harm than good. In fact I doubt it does any good at all.

One reason to avoid asceticism is that the ego is so clever that we are likely to become proud. We say to ourselves, “I torture myself more than anybody else I know. I’m certainly the most spiritual and the most worthy person here.” Our egos will always appeal to our pride. We can’t educate our egos by this kind of immature behavior.

Gratitude

The great scholar and Sufi teacher Imam al Ghazzali writes about eating as an example of practicing gratitude. We take eating for granted. First of all, we have a hand with five fingers, including an opposable thumb that allows us to use utensils to bring food to our mouths easily. Do we ever reflect on what a blessing this is?

When we put a piece of food in our mouths, we grind it up with our teeth so we can digest it easily. Just as a farmer grinds grain, we grind our food. But grinding alone is not enough. If the food remained dry, we couldn’t swallow it. We would choke. God has also given us saliva, which moistens our food and begins to break it down in our mouths. We are also blessed with a working stomach, an extraordinary organ that digests all kinds of different foods.

Then the circulatory system carries the nourishment that comes from digestion to every cell of our bodies. Our circulatory system is truly extraordinary. It comes within a fraction of a millimeter of every single cell in our bodies. If it did not, those cells would die from lack of nourishment. We can also be grateful that we are healthy enough to digest our food, that we don’t have to take it in intravenously.

Al-Ghazzali also wrote that we should consider how our food gets to us. For example, the farmer plants wheat. The farmer’s work rests on hundreds of thousands of years of human agriculture. For how many centuries have farmers experimented with ways of effective farming? Agriculture does not happen automatically. Our agriculture is based on centuries of trial and error and the work of untold numbers of farmers. Unsung geniuses have figured out effective ways to plant, harvest, and prepare food. Human cultures have kept that wisdom and passed it from generation to generation. Without culture great ideas and inventions would have been forgotten. We take our culture for granted, but it is priceless. It brings us the wisdom of thousands of years and keeps the wisdom of the geniuses who are born every generation.

If the farmer puts the seed into hard clay, it will not germinate. Something has to break up the earth. We have learned to till the soil, preparing the earth to grow seed. This brings us to a whole set of other human achievements, such as the invention of metallurgy and the development of plows. Before that, early farmers learned to use digging sticks to break up the earth so seeds could germinate. Farmers today rely on sophisticated machinery, which developed as a result of the development of whole industries, from mining to electricity to the automotive industry. Then there is harvesting, grinding, and knowing how to prepare the wheat so we can digest it. We can’t eat raw wheat!

These are examples of human effort. Consider also the rain that God brings down. Without water the earth would be an arid desert. We also need the sun. Seeds will not grow in frozen earth.

When we consider what it takes for a seed of wheat to turn into a wheat plant, we see it is not a small thing at all.

Think about how grateful we should be for a piece of bread or a bowl of rice. God’s blessings are in everything we eat, and so are thousands of years of human history. Think of how many people are working today to manufacture the thousands of elements that go into the production of any kind of food.

We don’t worry about our food. We are blessed with abundance of all kinds. We take for granted the security we feel from having so much food in our homes. How many meals do we have at home? Think Roof_hafez_tombof all the food in our refrigerators and freezers, the canned foods and dry foods we have at home. Do we ever think to be grateful for the security this brings?

Most of us have never been truly hungry, except for the little bit of hunger we experience during Ramadan. We think that is a big deal, but during Ramadan we have a big breakfast before dawn and a bigger fast break after sundown. How about those who go days without eating, who worry about how they will get food for their next meal? This was the situation of many people for thousands of years. Even today many are starving, many are constantly worried about obtaining food for their next meal. Imagine the pain of parents who cannot feed their children.

We should also be grateful for our Sufi community. We have many others we care about and who care about us. Recently the dervishes in New York experienced days without power because of a major storm. Some of those without electricity moved in with those with power. Everyone gathered at their center for meals in the evenings, because the center has a gas-powered generator. The New York dervishes fed their neighbors as well, because most of the neighbors had no power. It is a tremendous blessing to be part of a generous and loving community, to have so many others we care about and who care about us. That is real wealth.

Let’s reflect in this way about how much we have to be grateful for. Some Sufi teachers have recommended that we feel gratitude with every breath. Muzaffer Efendi (God rest his soul) used to say that we can practice feeling gratitude three times with every breath — when we breathe in, between the in-breath and out-breath, and when we breathe out. With each breath we have three opportunities for feeling grateful, three opportunities for remembering God.

There are some who actually do that. It is helpful for us to know that this is possible, that a human being can attain that level of spiritual practice. We get lost in the world. We can counter that tendency through remembering la ilahe ilallah, which is to look at all that engages and attracts our attention and realize it is temporary, is not eternal. It goes in the blink of an eye. And then we can remember ilallah, there is that which is eternal, which is truly valuable, that which is beyond price, that which our hearts are all yearning for. We could use this formula to keep reminding ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with the world. Muzaffer Efendi used to comment that many Sufi teachers have said the world is bad, the world is our spiritual enemy and it distracts us from God. My Efendi would laugh and say, “That is not true . . . the world is our spiritual enemy if we put it between ourselves and God. The world does not insert itself in there. We put it in there. The world is our spiritual ally if we use it to remind ourselves of God, and if we use the world as an opportunity to serve. Then the world is an extraordinary spiritual gift.”

We are in the world to serve others and to serve all of God’s creation. Service is the practice of spirituality throughout our daily lives. Every time we speak with someone is an opportunity for service. That includes not o
nly interacting with people but with animals as well, and not only with living beings but with the earth, the air, and the water. It is part of our practice to serve all of creation. Our practice is to remember God as much as possible, in all circumstances, and to serve others, remembering God is in them. God is in everything in creation.

That is our goal — to be in the world and remember God. We are not monastics, and we don’t treat living in the world a s a second-rate spiritual choice. To us being in the world is a wonderfully rich, rewarding, and demanding spiritual practice.

We are different from the angels in that we have the capacity for failure. Angels are structured so that they are always in a state of remembrance; they are always seeking to carry out God’s will. We, on the other hand, can fail. And this makes our successes much more valuable. My teachers have said that a human being who is self-centered and narcissistic is lower than the animals. The animals do love in their own way.

A human being who learns to love God and serve God’s creation is said to rise higher than the angels, because that achievement is done through human effort and choice, as well as through God’s blessing. When we pray and perform zikr (remembrance) we are experiencing ourselves as the people we are meant to be.

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Growing Our Human Potential in the Workplace

By George Zimmer, ITP Honorary Doctorate Recipient and Chairman, CEO & Founder at Generation Tux and zTailors

To succeed in business and maximize innovation in the 21st century, we need to unleash the energy and potentials that lie within meaningful relationships and inspired human connectedness. While the 20th century was about products and feeding the supply chain, today’s work world is about relationships. To build productive human relationships, the essential ingredients are trust and fairness – supported by competence, authenticity, caring, compassion and kindness. We must inspire creativity, encourage risk-taking, and boost the cultivation of reciprocity in order to develop leadership for a truly conscious capitalism.

How do we create an environment of trust and fairness that fosters these qualities? In my experience, it involves several dimensions. To thrive, conscious businesses need to focus on developing our organization’s social and emotional intelligence. While skills are important to success, we must also recognize the importance of personality and attitude in a healthy work environment.

Leadership is about two things: character and competence. Creating a learning culture where people can develop their human capacities is a key to the kind of success in which innovation and creativity can flourish. Pixar is a great example of how this key leads to winning outcomes for all stakeholders.

What about when our employees mess up? Of course, we must respond to employee mistakes appropriately, especially mistakes affecting customers. At the same time, we need to be forgiving and even encouraging of missteps. Mistakes can be the fodder on which new behaviors are born.

Placing value on experimentation and the generation of new ideas can lead to breakthroughs. We need to embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and teach within our organizations. As noted by Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios, in his book, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration: “Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.” John Lassiter’s remake of Toy Story is just one example of risk taking that paid off.

Giving our employees the benefit of the doubt can foster trust and develop loyalty and commitment for the long haul. Our companies will thrive when our employees are met with challenge. They must also be greeted with the support and encouragement that comes when they don’t have to hide their mistakes.

Encouraging transparency makes for a work environment characterized by honesty and integrity. Enhancing personal relationships within the corporate environment enhances reciprocity and good will among employees. It also leads, according to the latest science, employees to be happier and healthier. This makes good business sense.

Developing a culture of conscious business is about supporting creativity and removing the blockade of fear. One of the myths of leadership is that the leader is certain of his or her decisions. This is a fallacy from everything I’ve observed.

The first thing to understand about decision-making is that we’re rarely certain. Most of the time we’re just making our best guess. Any leader, when they are honest, will freely admit that we reach many decisions, sometimes very important decisions, by simply making a probability call based on our experience.  We’re not certain.  But yet as the leader, we need to project confidence about the decision.

Bringing the fullness of our human potential into business and our world may serve to invite a kind of positive workplace culture that creates authentic meaning, purpose, and a better experience. Ultimately, it serves the bottom line.  While there’s ample research about the role of reciprocity and productivity in the workplace, there is less research to show the interconnectedness of the employee’s experience and the way they transmit those positive feelings into each transaction.  This benefits all of our stakeholders. Some things are just intuitive.

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American entrepreneur and founder of Men’s Wearhouse, George Zimmer’s experience caring for his mother, who died of cancer, led him to support research into the therapeutic use of MDMA.

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True Forgiveness-Can you accept your portion of pain?

The long, wooden conference table was surrounded by 12 women, including me. We giggled a bit: Where were the men?

fred-luskin-222x196“All over the world, it’s almost always women,” said the first and only man to enter the room, Fred Luskin, PhD, the instructor of a four-week “Forgive for Good” class (presented by the Stanford Health Improvement Program) and founder of a movement to forgive – for your own health. He looked every bit the professor — gangly, with disheveled hair and a shirt sporting an equation.

“Even in northern Ireland?,” one woman asked.51d-ptDQCAL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

“Even in northern Ireland,” Luskin responded.

I came to watch, to record as an observer, just as I have covered hundreds of events in the past. But in Luskin’s class, everyone must forgive. Even journalists.

It hurt to darken my laptop and separate my fingers from its well-worn keys. I bristled during the initial relaxation session, where we were directed to focus on our breathing. He’s saying things and I’m missing them! Grrrrrr. My heart raced.

“You can’t forgive if you don’t relax,” Luskin said. “You have to quiet down and open.”

I tried to pretend I was in yoga class. I took in a breath. Open. Breathe. Then, the relaxation session was over and I relaxed, once again reunited with my trusty Mac.

But then, as Luskin was mentioning that many women had taken his classes to forgive their ex-husbands – “There’s lots of terrible ex-husbands running around,” he joked – I looked around the table. Here were 11 women, driven to spend four evenings letting go of a hurt that was tearing them up inside. Instantly, my aggravation slipped away. My teensy anger was nothing compared to the real wrongs of the world.

“It’s quick and difficult to be a human being,” Luskin said. “You don’t get a do-over.”

14639703609_f04d1582c7_b.jpgGrieving and suffering are normal, he said. Yet make sure the harm doesn’t dampen the rest of your life. A jerk cuts you off on the freeway? Fume for a second, but one exit later it should be forgotten, Luskin said. A drunk driver leaves you crippled? That takes a bit longer, maybe five years. Dreadful childhood? No one in their 50s should still be stewing about their harsh lot.

“Life is very challenging,” Luskin said. “Do you want to spend years holding on to your part of that challenge? Or can you accept your portion of portion of pain?”

Once the grieving is done, stop talking about the hurt, Luskin said. “We used to call this shut-up therapy…  Just shut up and stop driving yourself nuts.”

Then, he said, you can love again, without hiding your heart. That’s a message worth parting from my computer.

-This blog post originally appeared on Scopeblog, the link is http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2014/10/03/learning-to-forgive-with-fred-luskin-phd/              By Becky Bach on Oct. 3, 2014

Biography

Frederic Luskin is a professor in the Psy.D. program in clinical psychology at Sofia University. He teaches the clinical assessment sequence, as well as quantitative research methods. He also chairs the research ethics committee and has an extensive background in assessment and research, as well as teaching positive psychology.
Frederic is a senior consultant in wellness and health promotion at Stanford University, where he teaches the positive psychology class. He also teaches forgiveness and stress management to groups around the United States. He is one of the most recognized researchers and teachers of forgiveness in the United States. He has clinical licenses as a marriage and family counselor, educational psychologist and clinical psychologist. He also holds credentials in counseling and school psychology.

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Sofia University Grads Showcase Entrepreneurial Toolbox Project

December 09, 2014

Dalai Lama endorses Toolbox as a source of great optimism. Toolbox Project is named Communities of Promise partner program by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation.

Sofia University launches their 40-year anniversary as the premier transpersonal school in the heart of the Silicon Valley with its technology and humanist values-based Founders Series. On January 9 from 7 – 9 p.m., two graduates from Sofia (Mark A. Collin, MA, MFT, class of ’76; and Chuck Fisher, PhD, class of 86’) will showcase their entrepreneurial mission “The Toolbox Project” at the university campus.

Toolbox is a K-6 curriculum that supports children in understanding and managing their own emotional, social and academic success. Since Toolbox launched in 2006, this seminal work in translating the great wisdom traditions into a secular “common language” for children, their families and communities has been requested from over 20 countries and half the states. It is now in over 100 schools, including Berkeley, Boston, Montreal, and S. Africa.

“Together we’re building children’s capacity for learning and world citizenship through a common language based on personal and social awareness, self-mastery, non-violence, kindness & empathy for others,” said Founder and Executive Director Mark A. Collin, MA, MFT.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has endorsed Toolbox as a source of great optimism for the twenty-first century, and “The Toolbox Project” has been named a Communities of Promise partner program by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation to promote social and emotional learning to help protect children from gun violence.

Mark and Chuck will each give a snapshot of the influence Sofia University had on their personal and professional lives. They will then share together about the nature of their transpersonal relationship, the work of Toolbox and its extraordinary effects in children, classrooms, and families.

“Toolbox is a beautiful example of the best that we hope for our graduates,” said Sofia University Founder Robert Frager, Ph.D. “Mark and Chuck’s work is going out into the world and touching thousands of people. For me as a professor, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

According to Frager, he’s in dialogue with the two Sofia graduates about using Toolbox as a core element of the new Sofia University’s M.A.in Transformative Education that is awaiting accreditation. “We’ll do for teachers what we’ve done for psychologists for the past 40 years.”

Visit the Toolbox Project website to learn more: http://www.dovetaillearning.org

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Sofia University Graduate Laura Bakosh to Speak at Wisdom 2.0 Conference

January 27, 2014

Laura Bakosh will share the stage with some of the world’s leading entrepreneurslaura_bakosh

Palo Alto, CA– Sofia University alumni Laura Bakosh will speak at the 2014 Wisdom 2.0 Conference taking place February 14th -17th at the San Francisco Marriot Marquis. Earlier this year, Bakosh won the Wisdom 2.0 Award Challenge and received a 25,000 cash prize on behalf of her company Inner Explorer. Inner Explorer is a daily audio-guide that delivers mindfulness-based social emotional learning (MBSEL) content to students in K-12 classrooms.

Laura is scheduled to speak on Saturday, Feb 15th on the main stage at 9:10am. She will present a summary of research, as well as share ways attendees can use grassroots efforts to help implement the Inner Explorer program into more schools.

As a Ph.D. graduate of Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology), her research focused on the efficacy of mindfulness training, specifically the Inner Explorer Elementary Program, for children in school. Her dissertation research, along with 2 pilot studies, included nearly 1000 first through fifth grade students in ethnically, geographically and economically diverse schools. The results showed the program has a significant cumulative effect on academic achievement.

“My time at Sofia University–the course work, the opportunity to collaborate so closely with the faculty, and the commitment to whole person education– allowed me to refine my vision for the Inner Explorer program, develop and pilot it in various iterations and finally to rigorously study the effects,” said Bakosh. ““These have all proven critical steps in my ability to co-found this nonprofit company, launch several programs, and most importantly, help children succeed in school and ultimately in life.”

Sofia University admissions representatives will be in attendance all four days. They will be located in the main hallway of the conference center.

For more information about Inner Explorer please visit: http://innerexplorer.org/.

About Inner Explorer
The Inner Explorer programs use an audio-guided format to deliver Mindfulness Based Social Emotional Learning (MBSEL) content to students in PreK-12 classrooms. They follow the widely studied Mindfulness Base Stress Reduction (MBSR) protocol with age appropriate modifications in language and length. Each program consists of an 18 week series of 90 MP3 recordings (50 recordings for Pre K-K) for use every day in every classroom. Each 10-minute track facilitates the development of self-awareness, self-control, resilience and compassion, all critical skills for success in school and success in life.

About Sofia University
Founded in 1975, Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) is a private, non-sectarian university accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. For over 35 years, within the context of scholarship and research, the school has offered transformative education for the whole person, probing the mind, body, spirit connection. As Sofia University, the school is broadening its mission, reaching into multiple disciplines and adding undergraduate study. For more information, visit www.sofia.edu.

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Sofia University Gives Thanks to Arthur Hastings

November 21, 2013

Heartfelt Tribute Held for Beloved Colleague and Friend Arthur Hastings

arthur-hastings

On Wednesday, November 20, 2013 the room was filled with faculty, staff and friends whose lives had been touched by beloved colleague, mentor and friend Arthur Hastings.

Paul Roy facilitated what was to be the last time some would be able to pay respects to Arthur in person. Arthur arrived and was welcomed with a standing ovation from all of his peers; his face truly reflected his sincere appreciation for everyone in the room. Nearly every seat was filled as folks piled in to recall their greatest memories of how Arthur deeply affected their lives. As a mentor Arthur helped many students through dissertations and deciding what next educational paths to take. As a friend and colleague he recorded tapes of well wishes for many who had to undergo surgery.Over 30 people tuned in from all over the world via live stream, to send in their well wishes and kind words. It was amazing to see that Arthur had touched the lives of people from as far as Europe and Japan.

Paul Roy recalled over 20 years ago when he first met Arthur and how he was taken aback by his dedication to his research and his devotion to his family. “Arthur has been the best friend, mentor, teacher and guide I’ve ever had,” said Roy. “He feels how much people love him. I feel privileged to let him know in person how much I love him.”

Arthur’s sense of humor still seemed to be in tact as he laughed and joked throughout the celebration. “One of the things I learned while having this illness is that it has allowed me to expand my interests,” said Arthur as he reached into his bag and pulled out a harmonica. “I rediscovered my American Ace harmonica from childhood.” Arthur then proceeded to play old McDonald and the crowd clapped in unison to his mini performance.

“In addition to teaching you hold the school together,” said University Founder Bob Frager. “He visited every integral piece and cleaned up whatever needed to be done. He has been the caring nurturer of the school and we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for all he contributed.”

Arthur has served in several different capacities here at Sofia University, including standing in as Interim President and Dean. Beloved by many students, faculty and staff, everyone loves his infectious personality and sweet nature. As he is approaching his final days we encourage you to leave a message on Arthur’s Caring Bridge site: www.caringbridge.org/visit/arthurhastings.

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Filed under Faculty at Sofia U