The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Playing For Change Day

I initially heard about Playing For Change a few years ago, when, with delight, I listened to the Bob Marley song “One Love” and Ben E. King’s classic, “Stand By Me”,  that were performed, patchwork quilt style by gifted musicians world wide. Multi-lingual, multi-cultural, the idea of people enjoying singing and listening to songs with style, really tickled me. It began with the idea that music is a universal communicator and connector between people, regardless of their language.  Peaceful coexistence is a goal of the changing cast of talented musicians, who break down barriers with soulful singing and playing of their particular instruments. Cameras film their performances and editors piece them together.


Much in the same way that diversity and uniqueness are honored in the music, so too can they be amongst people. Enter Playing For Change Day on September 17; the first annual event.  The purpose for this worldwide sonic serenade is to introduce youth to the beauty and power of music and to raise money for music education. In cooperation with Theater Within and Yoko Ono, it puts legs under its idealism.  It is based on the theme of  Power To The People that honors John Lennon. The 31st Annual John Lennon Tribute occurs on Friday, November 18, 2011 at Town Hall in New York.

Go to the website to see how you may want to be involved in this world-wide love fest.

Stand By Me

One Love




The Five Tibetans


In case you are wondering, ‘The Five Tibetans’ are not a musical quintent from the Himalayas, but rather a series of life changing, and according to those who utilize them; ‘youthing’ yogic exercises. I initially encountered  them a year or so ago, as taught by my friend Gael Chiarella Alba.  I found them to be a bit challenging, but afterward felt energized. 

In his classic book, now re-released, Christopher S. Kilham, who has been a yoga teacher for more than three decades, shares the history, benefits and philosophy of  these simple to learn repetitive motions. The book has illustrations of the author demonstrating each rite. He shares early on in the book that the images are of the much younger man he was, when he began the process and that while he is still aging, it is at a slower pace than he would have otherwise.  Kilham explains that the original name for the process is actually the ‘Five Rites of Rejuvenation’ and may not have orginated in Tibet, but perhaps India or Nepal. 


One of the things I found intriguing about the book is the way in which he expresses the importance of honoring both body and spirit in the practice of life itself; neither more sacred than the other, but rather equal in worth. His personal experiences are highlighted as well, which leaves the reader feeling as if they are getting an intimate glimpse, rather than being held at arm’s length with explanation of esoteric principles.

As a yogic scholar, covering the topics of chakra psychology and kundalini energy; Kilham makes it simple for the Western mind to grasp.  He highlights the importance of breathwork as well, to enhance vitality. 

Kilham is also a ‘medicine hunter’ who traverses the globe, working with native healers and shamans, seeking botanical remedies.


As a sealing- sign- off to the book, Kilham shares “All the contortions of yoga-all the breathing, the concentration, the exercises, the dilligent practice-brings us eventually to the point where there is nothing at all to be done, nothing to grasp at, nothing to pursue, no goal to attain, just the sheer immensity of being right here, right now, the only time there is.” Powerful life lesson, both on and off the mat.




A Complaint Free World

                                                          A Complaint Free World


What would your day, your life, the world be like if you had no complaints?  As we can only be responsible for our own thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions, it really does start with each of us. I have heard people blame ‘society’ for their woes. The truth is ‘we are society too’.  

Take a moment to consider all of the things you kvetch and moan and complain about in your life.

Then, clear your mind and contemplate what it is that you feel grateful for.


Breathe…..  which state feels more fulfilling and empowering?

In 2006, a visionary named Will Bowen came up with a revolutionary concept that has already touched millions of lives and is having a positive impact on the planet.





How do you live your bliss?

Bliss is found in doing what brings you joy and satisfaction without regard as to how it will be seen by others.  For me, I love to learn and to write.  Nothing is more gratifying than to tame the blank screen.  That is, to sit down to write with no idea as to what will pour forth only to discover something wonderful.
What inspired you to share the concept of A Complaint Free World? 
 I was teaching a series on prosperity based on Edwene Gaine’s book, “The 4 Spiritual Laws of Prosperity.”  In it, Gaines states that people want to be more prosperous but complain incessantly about what they already have.
She suggests that people should attempt to eradicate complaining by going 21 consecutive days without a single complaint.  The twist I added was the bracelet which monitors a person’s success. People are invited to put the Complaint Free bracelet on either wrist and with every complaint switch it to the other wrist.  This makes a person aware of how often they complain and keeps track of his or her progress toward going 21 consecutive days without complaining.
 How can a simple paradigm shift alter the state of the planet?
Everything we are is a result of what we believe both individually and collectively.  There is a long list of things we have believed in the past which later were been found to be erroneous.  A shift in belief creates a paradigm shift.  As we begin to see the world as good, whole, loving and abundant this belief becomes pervasive, it will be so.
Seems to me that we are talking about attitudes being contagious.

Have you ever noticed a flock of birds flitting through the sky?  Scientists have found that the flock has no leader.  A flock of birds is moved by individual decisions made by each bird and how they react to the birds around them.


Human beings are the same.  We act and react based on those about us.  Our ideal is to improve our attitude rather than being impacted by others.  Our positive attitude will spread in time.
Why do you think people complain so much?
Scientists have found the people complain for five reasons.  Here’s an acronym to remember the: G.R.I.P.E.
Get attention –  People have an innate need to be recognized by others and will complain to get noticed.
Remove responsibility – People complain about the difficulty of a task or situation to pardon themselves from taking action to improve it
Inspire envy – complaining is often done to inspire those about us to envy.  That is, a peson will complain about someone else as a way of saying, “I don’t have the character flaws she has–I am superior to her.”  In short, complaining is often bragging.
Power- People complain at work, in families, in churches and in most other groups as a means of having power over others.  The implicit meaning behind such complaints is, “If it ever comes down to me against him, I want you on my side.”
Excuse poor performance – “You didn’t wake me up!”  “Shipping messed up the order.”  Etc.  These are all examples of someone complaining to excuse why they did not perform up to the requisite standard.
Is awareness of just how much we tend to complain, a key factor in changing?
The average person complains 15 – 30 times a day and has no idea they are doing so. I like to say, “Complaining is like bad breath.  We notice it when it comes out of someone else’s mouth but not when it comes out of our own.”   We must first become aware of a negative habit to change it.
Ok, so what’s the next step to co-creating a complaint free world?
There is an old Russian proverb: “To clean the world, begin with your own doorstep.”  The next step is for individuals to accept this challenge.  It is not easy to reformat your mental hard drive by not complaining but it is possible and we have received hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls from people who have credited this process with leading to greater happiness, improved health, saved marriages, better paying jobs, happy home lives and much, much more. 
Please talk about your books on becoming complaint free.
My first book, “A Complaint Free World” explains the reasons people complain, why complaining is harmful and how to overcome complaining.  It is filled with touching and inspiring stories of people who have transformed their lives by becoming Complaint Free. It has sold more than a million copies worldwide.
My second book “Complaint Free Relationships” helps us understand why we see people in certain ways and how, when we change the way we view them, they will change and become more what we desire.  It provides practical principals of how to shift the one constant in our relationships–ourselves, and in so doing improve our lives.  This book is also an international bestseller. 



Emotional Ground Zero



September 11th, 2001 began like any other day for me, as a Social Worker in a nursing home in Philadelphia. I had walked into the dining room on my floor where some of the Residents were finishing their breakfast. The tv was on and what I saw, felt very much like an action movie. A plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers. I shook my head in utter disbelief when I realized that this was no movie….it was a real life horror production. And then the plumes of smoke rose from the second impact. Reports began coming in from DC and then Shanksville, PA. As for most people, in surrealistic shock, the events fell into all too vividly clear reality. My next thought was that I wasn’t going to give the terrorists my fear, since I know that collective emotions  feed destruction or creation. I chose love over fear in that moment.  One of the mixed blessings of dementia; as was the diagnosis of some of my Residents, is that they had no clue what was swirling about in the world at that moment.  Some of them were Holocaust survivors, so they knew the horror of hatred. The staff members comforted each other as well as those of the Residents who had the cognitive ability to know what had transpired, as we rode the emotional roller coaster.


I had another pressing reason to remain calm. My sister in law and brother in law lived in Hoboken and worked in the financial district; she in the fitness center at American Express, he at one of the companies that printed stock certificates.  I was unable to reach her by phone, and so, like everyone else, needed to wait and pray.  Later in the day, I did hear from her. She had taken the ferry in and had arrived in time to see the second plane hit and was able to turn back around and head home. He had been late getting to work and never made it to the city, blessedly. In the months that followed, I heard so many stories like that…delays that would have frustrated people,  now were hailed as lifesaving. Would that we remember that in times that are not crisis laden.


September 11th was a huge mixing pot of the  soup of the human experience:

anger, fear, rage, compassion, love, relief, denial, mobilizing, retaliation, reconciliation, determination,  heroism, healing, cooperation and co-existence.

In the wake of it, came two things that for me, were reinforcements of what I know is so…that even in the face of darkness, a light radiates brightly. The first was what I saw written in white paint on the back window of a co-worker’s car that has since become a bumper sticker that I have gratefully had on my car.  “God Bless The Whole World, No Exceptions”.  The second was a song by Philly area singer songwriter John Flynn called “I Will Not Fear” that echoed one of those initial thoughts I had on that day 10 years ago. People began working together worlwide as a paradigm shift took place. We became a gobal community, not so much polarized by nationality, borders and boundaries, but instead, joined at the heart, in order to survive and thrive.


My friend, Sherri Rosen sent me this story about her experience and asked that I offer it to you; from the perspective of a New Yorker.


“I didn’t think too much about 9/ll coming up this year, 2011, until a mutual connection of a friend asked me to speak on a panel regarding 9/ll. The panel would speak after a performance of this play called Orange Alert: people’s experiences before, during and after 9/ll.

 It begins today in NYC and runs through until Sept l8th.  I said to the man interviewing me about being on the panel, “oh my story is different, you probably won’t be interesed. I went to live at Ground Zero after the event.  There was silence.
He said “most people were running away and you went their to live. That’s amazing”  

My oldest son, along with his girlfriend and her young son at the time survived 9/ll.  They were headed into the direction of the World Trade Center at around 8:40AM  when they realized that a crowd of people were running towards them away from the buildings.  My son later said to me “mom, we saw things that no one should see in their lifetime.” I didn’t hear from him until l2 noon that day. I had no idea whether he was alive or dead.  The next day, I took a train into the City from NJ, where I was living at the time.  I was the only one on the train and when I got out into the streets of NYC there was no one.  But I headed straight to where my son and his girlfriend worked. I just wanted to hold them, touch them, and know they were really alive.

It got me thinking about the 7 years I lived there. 9/ll changed the course of my entire life.  I had no plans of living there, I was going to move back to NYC from central NJ in 2002 to Gramercy Park. That’s where I belonged, but then the real estate broker, who was a friend of mine, told me about the apartments in Ground Zero and would I take a look at some of them.  I did and then to my surprise I received what I can only refer to as a “calling” to move down there and help heal the community and the neighborhoods.  And that is what I did.  I became friends with the gardner, Richard, of City Hall Park. Richard takes care of 8 acres around City Hall Park and I learned so much from him about what was in the garden from 9/ll and about The Memorial Grove at City Hall Park, where 6 or 7 trees that survived the attack at the WTC were replanted in this Memorial Garden alongside trees that survived the Oklahoma bombing.  I call this place the Green Cathedral.

While living downtown I became an interfaith minister and part of a vibrant community called Tribeca Spiritual Center, headed by my dear friend, Rev. William Grant. My other dear friend, Rev. Salima, was the other interfaith minister that was part of this dynamic trio.  We would give services to the community every other Sunday within the doors of The Hallmark Senior Residence located in Battery Park.  TSC was originally located in Manhattan Community College, but after the event, TSC lost its space, because the school was so badly damaged, so they met on street corners, helped their neighbors organize, met in the Bubble Lounge and eventually were asked to be in The Hallmark Senior Residence.

One year I gave a service in The Memorial Grove a/k/a The Green Cathedral.  I wanted to give a memorial service around things that survived and thrived after 9/ll and I wanted to be around those trees that were replanted there.  Many of us cried and hugged those trees in gratefulness that something like that had survived such an ugly and evil event.  

I also began working with the seniors who lived on the 2nd floor of The Hallmark.  These people had Dementia and Alzheimers. I had never worked with this segment of the population before, but I jumped right in. I managed to connect with a music therapist at The Jewish Hospital for The Aging on W. l06th Street, and was invited to participate in a music session with folks who had dementia and Alzheimers. I will never forget seeing a man humped over in his wheelchair appearing lifeless and when he heard the music he began humming the tune and he came alive.  I learned that to work with this segment of the population we would sing songs together, see photographs of people, places and things, and have visitors come in from all over NYC and even Scotland to sing to these people about their lives.  This was a part of their brain that worked and they came alive.

I also did healing work while I was there. I have many skills and one of which is being a publicist. So I took my publicity skills and booked my healing teacher, Dr. Peter Levine, the creator  of Somatic Experiencing, and began booking him on radio and tv interviews so he could help people deal with the trauma.  He would give them first aid for trauma such as telling them not to watch too much tv, stay away from the radio, be around people you love.  Simple things, but things we need to be told when we are suffering from trauma.  A group of us also setup a trauma hotline right after the event.  It was for anyone that was in trouble and needed help.

So the gentlemen that asked me to be part of the panel really opened up for me how my life changed when I went to live at Ground Zero.  I will never forget.”
Ten years later, we are more resilient than ever, a global family that sometimes is dysfunctional but sticking by each other nonetheless.   Like it or not, we need each other. Honoring the memory of those who died on that day, whether by happenstance or choice, in the line of duty as rescuers, I challenge us as a planet, to heal through the power of love.  I Will Not Fear by John Flynn  (I was there for this performance and it still brings tears to my eyes)

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