Thursday, January 15, 2009

On Harmony: In You

"I value when people do what they know they should do, what feels right in their hearts, in the face of all the noise. If my noise is harmony, great. If not, equally great. You only have one job-- listen for the harmony. That is what I want most from you. Trust yourself enough, value yourself enough, and empower yourself enough to not to let noise in, even when you feel an overwhelming desire to be kind to the noisemaker. You can be kind to others, and be true to yourself. What is noise from someone one day may be harmony the next day. I listen to all the sounds around me all the time, and love them all, but I only write "new bars into my song" for the ones that enhance the symphony of my life." - Dana Leman

I am publishing this short blog because this really uplifted me today. My newest mom, Dana Leman--mother of wunderkind and child philanthropist, Talia Leman-- wrote me this in one of her usual lovely and inspiring messages. I believe that it may be able to do the same for others.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How can one be so famous yet so lonely?

It has little to do with having 2 or 20 or 200 friends, I've learned.

Quick note, this was meant to have been published in early January.

Loneliness stems from lacking a strong sense of spirituality.

For the past 3 weeks, my mother has been in Nigeria (very far away from me). This hurt me emotionally because I am very close to my mother and .

When you hold in tears, they only pour down heavier. My eyes rained for 3 nights.

The night in which I told you that I had a long conversation with God in my previous blog is when I learned that my loneliness was of God himself. The main reason our conversation was so long was because I had ignored him for so long. I always praised him but I forgot to listen to him and talk to him.

They way I now talk with God is through habitual and informal conversations.

Next time you find yourself so lonely, please don't pick up your phone to call somebody (boyfriend, sister, mom etc.), please don't get on the computer (myspace, YouTube, Google, what have you). Instead, talk to whoever that is you believe in. Kneel, lay stand (however you feel less anxious and more relaxed). Tell him/her what is the problem and let the spirit guide you to a sense of tranquility, wholeness and harmony.

You will know when it's harmony when you no longer need to pick up the phone and dial him/her or waste precious time randomly "googling" non-sense (whatever that may deem to you).

Try it.

How to Meditate : Sleep Better

Meditation is analogous to detox for me. When I meditate, it helps cleanse my mind and renew my spirit. I find it very refreshing when I perform it before bed. It reminds of when I would take a 20 minute - warm shower after a 6 hours of tedious dance lessons from Debbie Allen's rigorous summer intensive. The water falling on my head to my nose to my lips to my belly button to my waist to my knees to my toes felt so serene and purifying. Meditation is like this bath for me.

I begin by cleaning my room, especially my bed which for some peculiar reason tends to have piles of clothes stacked on it by the end of almost everyday. (I guess I have a hard time finding something to wear EVERYDAY).

Next, I put on warm pajamas (usually a hoodie, sweats and socks). I place two pillows on each side of me (right & left); will explain the use of pillows later in the message. Then I find serene music on Youtube and play it. I sit with my legs crossed and I rest my elbows on my knees with my palms facing the top of my canopy bed.

My attempt is to keep my head balanced but for some reason it tends to fall from place. I just let it go and let to music take me...

Or should I say lead me. Sometimes, I the music leads my hands upward and downward. Sometimes it leads me to stretch out my legs and relax my head on my knees. Last night, it made me stretch a really good stretch that when I woke up I felt very light.

The stretch consisted of second position of the legs exercises. It also consisted of the splits stretches. I ended with laying down and stretching my legs to the top of the canopy bed. Usually I attempt to rest each of my legs on a pillow (as in second position) and I try to lay backwards and with my palms facing above. This one really helps me to stay focused.

When the song finishes so does my meditation.

I then grabbed by pocket bible and cross and spoke to my God. We had a very long conversation last night and he lulled me to sleep.

Waking up today, I wanted to write this post particularly to remind myself of how I meditate in the circumstance that I forget. Also, some of you may find this helpful so I invite you to try it and let me know what happens...

Monday, December 29, 2008

I think I GOT IT!

Thank you Emmanuel for the information about Subud. I think Subud is the reality of my goal with YSG, Hence, anyone interested in YSG should check or for a brief overview follow this link. In essence, Subud practices what intend for the Spiritual Group. The major distinction between YSG and Subud is that YSG will meet less often, simply because I do not want to add more tasks to folks already busy lives. Secondly, YSG will have 3 components to our sessions as mentioned in my previous blog: Relaxation/Meditation, Group Discussion/Action Planning & Worship, Praise/Fellowship. Lastly, our meeting sessions will be led by members (when they are ready) and guided by a more erudite peer (within or outside the group).

I am now more prepared to meet with folks that are interested in partaking in YSG.

YSG will meet officially as soon as I get 1 or 2 more folks to inform me of their interest. If that is you, email me or leave a comment.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Brainstorming YSG... My ideas thus far.

Hey I'm back and with more ideas. Foremost, however, I would like to tell you about my afternoon in brief.

A rarity, I meditated for 7 minutes while listening to this amazing serene music on Youtube. I put it on to help me calm down and sure enough it hit the right spot of my brain to help me relax. Shortly after, I fell into a wonderful sleep (if only I had removed the laundry bags and stuff animals from my bed I could have stayed asleep). I slept for approximately an hour and woke up not necessarily feeling rejuvenated and ready to work or dance (as usual). Instead, my mind was calm.

Let me repeat. My mind was calm. I was not thinking about what I had to do or what I should do nor what I could do. Instead, I thought about the music that put me to sleep. I could not believe it. Quite frankly, I thought I was hypnotized until I heard my grandma's voice from down the hall and then I fell out of my calm trance.

However, as I write this my mind is less rambled than before. So I was able to come up with more ideas for the Spiritual Group.

Just to share my insights in brief.

We will only meet biweekly because the purpose of YSG is not to add more stress or tasks to one's very hectic lifestyle. Instead, the group is designed to relieve stress and this is how I see it coming to fruition.
  1. Relaxation will be the key in YSG. Without a relaxed mind and body, the new knowledge cannot come in to filter out the stress. The relaxation will be exercised through meditation exercises (i.e. yoga and mind relaxing exercises). This will be done first.
  2. Group Forum Discussion - Concerns, Issues, Action Planning. Topics will be determined by group members. Each week a different member will lead the workshop and a more erudite peer will guide him/her. The advice given in the discussion will be to help improve and action plan for a problem, issue or concern. We would not gather to restate issues or concerns as that adds more stress hence combating the serenity of mind that was previously acquired.
  3. Worship & Praise - (Not sure if it should go second or third. You tell me). As a method of reconvening and celebrating our blessings, we will sing songs and hymns to worship together. No one will be obligated to sing songs that are not specific to their religion nor will any one song be advocated over another. Every member will have the opportunity to share songs from their tradition, culture, church or something aligned with spirituality wellness. After a number of worship and praise, we will close with prayer and have fellowship. Once again, this will be team effort. Everybody will take turns bringing items for the fellowship.
Thank you for reading and I hope you spend time each day relaxing through meditation exercises. It is very advantageous.

About Me. Why YSG?


My name is Deara Okonkwo and I am an eighteen years old graduate student at the University of Southern California. I am also the founder of DeDe Dance Studio, a burgeoning non-profit in South, Los Angeles that works to empower youth through multicultural performing arts, brotherhood and sisterhood clubs. Many know me based on my accomplishment of obtaining my high school diploma with my Associate's of Arts Degree at 14 or because I graduated from the University of Southern California with my BA at the age of 17 or even because I founded a community and youth based organization for youth at the age of 14 and serve as a leader for young and old in my community. That all may be what people have known me for but even with all of that I am still learning myself. I want to learn more about myself and my full potential in life. What I have accomplished is worthy to be thankful to God for; however, I know that God has many more blessings in store for me. I have innumerable goals in life and because I have been blessed with so many talents at such a young age, I would like to learn more about myself so that I can be even better at all that I do.

For some weeks now, I have been thinking about spirituality in an atypical way. I was not necessarily thinking about my religion--that is Lutheran--instead I frequently pondered my inner being: my philosophy, morals, values, in essence my heart. I tried to compare that with my outer being: my presence, actions, accomplishments. I was not fully satisfied although I wanted to be gratified. I could not pinpoint the problem neither how exactly to solve it and this really agitated me. The knowing that I had certain values and morals in life combined with not knowing what was preventing me to walk the talk of those beliefs fully provoked me to start the Youth Spiritual Group (YSG).

YSG will launch in January of 2009; very soon! The purpose of the group would be to unite teens and young adults together in harmony to worship, meditate and share advice with each other. I am still gathering and fine-tuning my ideas for YSG but I need support and feedback of youth and adults to do so. I do not envision YSG to promote one particular denomination over another. Instead, I want the group to advocate the essence of interdependent spirituality, which from my perspective means living together in peace and harmony. Furthermore, to live in peace with someone you have to be in peace with yourself which goes back to 'walking the talk' or 'living the teaching'.

In essence, I want my mind to be clearer. I want to be able to speak and not regret that my my tongue spoke faster than my brain. I yearn to practice and be a firm believer of all that I support, endorse, perform etc. I want to say "Yes," and really mean it. I want to be able to say "No," without hesistation. I aspire to learn more about myself through my work with others and their advice for me will help me to be a better person.

This is what I intend for YSG. My ideas are still in the process of drafting thus I would appreciate constructive and tangible feedback.

Thank you for reading.