An interview with bestselling author John O'Leary: Thirty years ago, nine-year-old John O’Leary was rushed to the emergency room, while his family’s home continue to be ablaze. As he lay in a hospital bed, he frantically wondered if he was about to die. He had suffered burns covering 100 percent of his body and was given less than one percent chance of survival. Today, he is an in-demand speaker who shares his gift of perspective and passion with thousands worldwide and whose book “On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life” became a national #1 bestseller.Read More
A deeply personal encounter with David Kaczynski and Linda Patrik, family members of the man who was once the most sought after terrorist in the USRead More
The Ghetto Swinger: The amazing story of jazz star Coco Schumann who played in Auschwitz for his life - Huffington Post
For more than 40 years, Coco Schumann did not speak about what he went through in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. Then an encounter with a group of young Holocaust-deniers forced him to tell his story.Read More
What Cheryl Strayed Would Do If She Were President of the US (Hint: It Involves Pajamas, the F-word, and Guns)
An interview with the bestselling author of Wild about her new book Brave Enough, posttraumatic growth, and running for presidentRead More
An interview with internationally renowned grief coach and bestselling author Dr. Ken Druck
Three years ago, on December 14, 2012, 20 children and 6 adult staff members were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut ─ the deadliest shooting at a grade school in US history. On December 2, 2015, we witnessed the worst mass shooting since Sandy Hook in San Bernardino, California. The question how we can find healing after witnessing senseless violence and experiencing loss, is all the more pertinent. I spoke with Ken Druck who has worked on the front lines with families in the aftermath of 9-11, Columbine, and Sandy Hook. Dr. Druck, author of The Real Rules of Life, is an internationally recognized authority on traumatic loss, building resilience, and turning adversity into opportunity.Read More
When I asked the incomparable Maya Angelou the question that has gripped me for years, "How do we manage to triumph over adversities?", Angelou’s advice to me was clear-cut: Develop an attitude of gratitude. "I think we have to be grateful,” she told me in her deep, raspy voice. “You could have died last night, you know.” She laughed.
Rather than reveling in the injustice and brutality that stamped her life, she chose to focus on the achievements. “If I live my life with self-confidence and kindness and don’t get anything back from that, I’m not overcome.”
Here`s how this gratitude practice actually works: My new blog on mindbodygreenRead More
An interview with internationally renowned Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, PhDRead More
"We need to actively work towards positive change, and we need the right tools and support in order to transform a bad break into a breakthrough."
For Veterans Day, I write about my encounter with Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum and how she used her experience of being captured in the Iraq war to help other soldiers transcend trauma.Read More
There is a difference between happiness — temporarily having our needs and goals satisfied — and meaning — finding and fulfilling our life’s purpose.
Check out my latest blog on Psych CentralRead More
Myth 1. Trauma is a life sentence
Myth 2. You only experience trauma after a life-threatening event
Myth 3. Posttraumatic stress is a disorder
Myth 4. If you’re strong, you can make it through the trauma by yourself
Myth 5. Nothing good ever comes from a traumatic event
The truth?Read More
When suffering strikes, running the opposite direction as fast as we can seems to make so much sense, doesn’t it?
After all, nobody wants suffering in their life. So we avoid it at all costs. We dodge and duck and bargain. But does pushing pain away cut it?
As Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says, “No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear. We are very rarely told to move closer, to just be there, to become familiar with fear.”
When I once asked Pema how she dealt with her own debilitating chronic fatigue, she said she tried to apply the advice her teacher had given her. “Lean into it. Stay present. Stay curious. Go through it paying meticulous attention as if you wanted to describe it in great detail to someone who’s never heard of it.”
What would happen if we stayed to pay attention?Read More
Don't know what to say when a friend or family member is struggling with a setback? Here are ten ways to help your friend.Read More
Even as an award-winning reporter, Sheila Hamilton missed the signs when her husband David's mental illness unfolded. By the time she had pieced together the puzzle, it was too late. Her once brilliant, intense, and passionate partner was dead within six weeks of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, leaving his wife and 9-year-old daughter without so much as a note to explain his actions, a plan to help them recover from their profound grief, or a solution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that they would inherit from him.
"I was broken by David's death. But I've healed those places by allowing myself to love again, fully and unconditionally. It's a powerful thing to have endured an unimaginable tragedy. We never got "closure." But, we moved forward. And forward is a thing of grace."Read More
"We call dandelions weed when they pop up in our lawn, but the spring greens can make a tasty salad if we nourish them." Similarly, the apparent shortcomings of autistic people (for instance, their attention to detail, and their directness) can become sought-after strengths.Read More
A deeply personal interview with author Toni BernhardRead More
One winter day I got stuck with Richard Gere in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was traveling with friends of mine, and a snowstorm grounded their plane to Bhutan. We spent a delightful day in Kathmandu, exploring the local art shops. While he gracefully accepted the wishes of enthusiastic fans to give autographs, he talked about his hope that maybe Bhutan would be the one place on earth where he could travel incognito. Television was still a novelty in the tiny Himalayan kingdom, so he hoped the Bhutanese would not yet know him. When I met him again after the trip, I learned that he had had no such luck: Bhutan had videos, and just about every Bhutanese had seen Pretty Woman.
Fifteen years later, though, Richard Gere did indeed stumble upon the secret how to be invisible, even in the midst of New York. In his new film Time Out of Mind (out this month), he plays an elderly alcoholic who ends up on the streets. Gere wanted to shoot the film documentary-style, and he was worried his A-list status would attract too much attention.
No need to worry. Disappearing in plain sight is easy: instead of crossing the Himalayas, all Gere had to do was not to shave for a few days, don a dirty cloak, and ask people for spare change. Nobody recognized him, because nobody looked him in the face. "I could see how quickly we can all descend into territory when we're totally cut loose from all of our connections to people," Gere, a long-term supporter of the homeless, realized.
Read the full article here
What do Malala Yousafzai's book I am Malala, Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, and Cheryl Strayed's Wild have in common? Yes, they have all been on The New York Times bestseller list forever, have been written by fabulous female writers, and are favorite books of mine and probably yours, but they are also all inspiring testimonies of posttraumatic growth.
Read my new blog in The Huffington Post.
Please share, comment, and pass it on to people who might benefit.
Image "Hope" by Pol Sifter - Flickr - CC
An interview with Venerable Pannavati about her Christian-Buddhist path, why there are not more Blacks in Buddhism, and her push for girls, women, and "Untouchables."
Ven. Dr. Pannavati, a former Christian pastor, is co-founder of Embracing-Simplicity Hermitage in Hendersonville, NC. A black, female Buddhist monk ordained in the Theravada and Mahayana traditions with Vajrayana empowerments and transmission from Roshi Bernie Glassman of Zen Peacemakers, she is both contemplative and empowered for compassionate service. She just returned from South India where she established the first nunnery for "Untouchables," and she told me about the urgent need for support for girls and women.
Michaela Haas: I regret that I didn't include any women of color in Dakini Power. One obvious reason is that there are so few, but there are some! Do you have an explanation why are there so few African-American women in the Buddhist communities?
Ven. Pannavati: I do. First of all, most communities (sanghas) aren't that inviting to African-Americans. It's not deliberate, just conditioning. This is a reflection of our broader society. Western meditation was really a sort of white, elite pastime. We people of color weren't there in the beginning. I remember when I first started going to centers -- one in particular. I came by myself at first. They were happy. I was a novelty. We call it being a "token." I began to bring friends. By our fourth or fifth visit, they gave me a cassette, saying, "You know, y'all don't have to come all this way. We made a tape so you can listen in the comfort of your own home!" True story! We were quiet, clean, on time -- just black. And, of course I don't need to tell you about the problems we are having with communities all across the country. Trouble in paradise. How can it be different? The people that show up in here come from out there. They are looking for something but their mindset is not transformed. We don't want to admit some things are just plain wrong or face the fact that without justice, there will be no peace.
Read the full post on the Huffington Post
To condense more energy in five feet, two inches is unimaginable. Like a high-powered, nimble, compact car, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche zoomed through the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. at top speed. With the resolute gestures of a seasoned choirmaster, she directed 175 volunteers, shepherding them into a smiling army of ushers. During the multiple day visit of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama to the Capital in 2011, she and her team worked around the clock behind the scenes to make his rare Kalachakra event in the West a success. Lack of sleep never slows Khandro Rinpoche down. “Being available; helping whenever, wherever, whomever” is how she defines Buddhism in action.
The Verizon Center provided a fitting snapshot of what Khandro Rinpoche is all about: making a difference without making a fuss; being of service while escaping the limelight. “Service” might be the word she uses most, and rather than just preaching, she lives it.Read the full article in the Washington Post
The Supreme Court decision on marriage equality has ignited a renewed debate among religious leaders. Predictably, some conservative religious leaders have protested against the decision to recognize same-sex marriages. As a Buddhist author, I often get asked by colleagues and students: What did the Buddha say about homosexuality? The short answer is simple: nothing. As far as we know, he never mentioned it, and some scholars regard this as a quiet acceptance on his part. But many of his followers in the centuries afterwards voiced strong opinions.
Read the full article in the Washington Post
Buddhist women are celebrating a landmark victory: For the first time in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, 27 nuns have gathered in North India at Jamyang Choling Nunnery near Dharamsala and have begun their exams for the Tibetan equivalent of a Ph.D., the so-called Geshe-title. To understand the impact and range of this decision, take a moment to imagine what it would be like if until now only men had been allowed to pass their doctorate exams. As many American students are preparing for their final exams and graduation celebration during these weeks, picture what this would look like if girls were excluded. This was the situation for women in the Himalayas—and it is about to change!
So, why is this such a big deal and why did it take so long? Read the full article in the Washington Post
This International Women's Day, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will honor ten courageous women, some of which have risked their lives to expose abuse and injustice. Among these women is one fearless Tibetan poet, Tsering Woeser. Read the full blog here.
At their international Sakyadhita conference, the 'Daughters of the Buddha' Discuss How Buddhist Women Can Achieve Equality
"They're telling the nuns, 'Oh, you're so humble, you're not interested in gaining prestige and power like these Westerners,'" Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo says with a calm voice but a quizzical look. "Well, I just wonder why they are not telling the monks that. If women are perpetually disadvantaged, this is what you end up with. Surveys show that the nuns' health is by far the worst of any group. Their educational standards are by far the worst too. There is a lot of work to be done, and awareness raising, especially among women." Read the whole post on Huffington Post
Read Michaela's most recent posts directly on the Huffington Post
A Rebel Nun? Rather, an Angel in a Rough Patch of Hollywood!
Posted December 7, 2012 | 12:12 PM
A visit with Sister Margaret Farrell at the Covenant House in Los Angeles.
On a bright sunny afternoon at two o'clock, a half-naked young man breaks through the electronically secured doors of the Covenant House in North Hollywood. Blood gushes from wounds on his shaved head and neck....Read Post
'Pissed Off' in Rural India
(29) Comments | Posted July 3, 2012 | 1:34 PM
Recently The New York Times highlighted a subject that, though considered taboo in the West, represents a critical human rights issue in the East: lack of access to toilets. The article, written by Jim Yardley, showcased the novel "Right to Pee" campaign in Mumbai which is working to...Read Post
Why Giving Matters: How 15 Dollars Can Educate a Girl for a Year
Posted December 8, 2011 | 3:26 PM
Now it is scientifically proven: Money doesn't buy happiness. Giving does. This is one conclusion to draw from a number of recent studies and surveys. The World Giving Index shows a greater correlation between a person's degree of happiness and giving than happiness and wealth.
Similarly, the University...Read Post
Unleashing The Power of The "Girl Effect"
(2) Comments | Posted October 13, 2011 | 2:38 PM
Many of us in the charitable community have already heard about the Girl Effect, a ground-breaking campaign launched by the Nike Foundation to bring attention to the unique role adolescent girls play in facilitating the development of third world economics. Read Post
Turning the Tables on Domestic Violence in Asia
(2) Comments | Posted September 7, 2011 | 6:52 PM
In America, every 15 seconds a woman is beaten by her husband or domestic partner. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 -- more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. I always thought these figures were shocking, especially since...Read Post
Pedaling Back to School: How Bicycles Bridge the Gap in Education Access For Girls in Rural Asia
Posted August 26, 2011 | 12:26 PM
Every morning, a small yellow school bus stops in front of my house to pick up the neighbors' kids. Grabbing their new book bags, they lament the end of the summer break, while showing off this year's school clothes to their friends.At the same time but on the...Read Post
Oh, Boy! The Anti-Girl Bias Is in Fashion
(828) Comments | Posted June 26, 2011 | 4:27 PM
If you could only have one child, would you prefer it to be a boy or a girl? Honestly? Here it is: 40 percent of Americans prefer to have a son and only 26 percent a daughter. This is the result of the Gallup poll of 1947 and...Read Post
World Day Against Child Labor: From Brick Kiln to ABC
(54) Comments | Posted June 12, 2011 | 3:04 PM
On World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, the international nonprofit Lotus Outreach will celebrate 400 child workers in India who enrolled in school for the first time in their lives. While Lotus Outreach has many projects designed to keep children in school and out of work, the brick...Read Post
Khandro Tsering Chodron, Female Tibetan Buddhist Master, Dies
Posted June 7, 2011 | 12:25 PM
Wherever she went, whether it be in a small park in India, or a hospital in Europe, inadvertently people would feel drawn to her. Not knowing anything about her, people would inquire as to who the petite Asian lady in the wheelchair was, noting they felt a special presence. Read Post
Human Rights Meet Rites of Passage: How Education Helped Sima Escape the Sex Trade
Posted June 3, 2011 | 10:18 AM
Commitment, sacrifice and personal growth are universal virtues celebrated every spring at graduation time. The significance of these words could not be greater for 65 of rural Cambodia's poorest teenage girls, who will receive their high school diplomas this August, thanks to the Girls' Access To Education (GATE)...Read Post
2,500 Years After the Buddha, Tibetan Buddhists Acknowledge Women
(96) Comments | Posted May 18, 2011 | 10:18 PM
Buddhist women are celebrating a landmark victory: In April, the renowned Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies (IBD) in Dharamsala, India, conferred the degree of "Geshe" -- the Tibetan equivalent of Ph.D. -- to Venerable Kelsang Wangmo, a German nun. This is a historical first in so many ways: Traditionally, Geshe...Read Post
Every Mother's Greatest Wish: A Better Future for Their Kids
Posted May 9, 2011 | 1:05 PM
Mother's Day is a chance for children to acknowledge their mother's love and sacrifices. In the developing world, this acknowledgment might not come in the form of flowers and cake. In too many countries, children must help substitute the family income, share the burden of heavy-duty chores and work in...Read Post
Why Demi Moore's and Ashton Kutcher's Funny Ads Fall Short
(14) Comments | Posted April 19, 2011 | 1:57 PM
I was thrilled that Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher joined the battle against sex slavery with their own nonprofit, "DNA." Sex slavery is a widespread affliction and has been one of my main causes ever since (as an international reporter) I interviewed dozens of teenage girls who had been sold...Read Post
'Dining for Women' and Engaged Giving: Thinking Beyond Checkbook Philanthropy
(1) Comments | Posted April 10, 2011 | 1:31 PM
Supporting a charitable cause seems to almost always demand a sacrifice from the donor. We have all seen heart-wrenching appeals telling us how many children we could help if we could just cut out our morning lattes. But more and more, nonprofit organizations are embracing what could be called "engaged...Read Post
How to Prevent Child Marriage Through Education
Posted March 14, 2011 | 8:40 PM
Imagine: in your hometown, only three in 100 girls ever learn to read. Female students in high school are a rarity, and a girl's reputation is so fragile that she is rarely permitted to venture beyond her village unescorted -- not even to go to school. It may sound unfathomable,...Read Post
Self-Help Groups: A Powerful Alternative to Traditional Microfinance
Posted March 9, 2011 | 4:25 PM
Few emerging models for international development have offered as much promise and peril as microfinance. Pioneered by Grameen Bank, founder Muhammad Yunus in 1976, microfinance promised to fill a major gap in economic development: extending capital to the world's poorest citizens so they could lift themselves, their families, and their...Read Post