Sunday, January 24, 2010

East Meets West And Struggles To Find Its Balance

UPDATE SPRING 2011: New Picture of us and the Schofield Kids

Grace Holding Her Pocket Person

@ZenMommie with @PocketPeople

Jani With Her Pocket People

The working definition of balance is an even distribution of weight on each side of a vertical axis; stability and harmony. Balance cannot be forced in any way. Harmony is based on relaxation, the sweet science of beingness. In Zen we have a saying "A drop of knowledge is better than a sea of force." In working with the Schofields, I attempted to bring this eastern concept of "The Law of Least Effort" into their western thinking that medication and constant engagement of doing is the only approach.

We introduced FunZen to the Schofields in early 2007. They were inspired in sharing meditation as a tool to help Jani after she was diagnosed with Childhood Schizophrenia. It became my mission to help Jani find a bit of zenergized happy-calm in the zoo of life. It was at this time that I learned that the whole family, except baby Bodhi was on some form of medication. Besides Jani's meds, both parents were also on anti-depressant and anti anxiety medication. Michael and Susan openly discussed being on meds on Oprah. I've always admired their honesty and willingness to look at the best of east meets west in treatment options.

I have respect for the western medication and in this case, the bio-chemical aspect of Jani's treatment. We saw first hand how the drugs helped stabilize her frenetic energy and curb her psychosis. With the medication, Jani appeared able to follow most of her activities of daily living. We also noted her joyful spirit vanish in a drug induced haze when she needed more meds to handle her "out of control" behavior.

But the medication is only one part of the story. We introduced Jani to FunZen meditation as a compliment to her treatment in the hope that gradually over time she would require less medication. From direct experience, I resonate with Dharma Singh Khalsa MD's book "Meditation as Medicine" in it he states that by meditating we are "activating the healing force within us." Jani was very receptive and showed great potential as a student. We noticed the benefits of the spiritual exercises right away. Her attention span increased, improving her ability to focus and we could see an overall sense of comfort and joy in her when she was in a peaceful surrounding.

I am passionate about this important mission because I witnessed mental illness and suicide in my own family growing up. And I am grateful for the power of meditation and its alchemy that under pressure we can transform a chunk of coal into a miracle diamond. I truly believe that medication, by itself, without meditation can prevent us from finding balance in the dance of life. It saddens me that the Schofield parents have discontinued the FunZen meditation. Jani's mother Susan always seemed passionate about the idea of FunZen. Currently, both parents appear to agree that the medication, by itself, is their best treatment plan.

As seen on Oprah and documented in the L.A. Times articles, Michael and Susan repeatedly express the intention to keep Jani constantly "Engaged". There is an intense fear that she will slip into hallucinations and become delusional if she isn't constantly stimulated. In turn, they appear to become overwhelmed and exhausted as they mindlessly struggle to keep Jani busy.

When I was with Jani, my pure intent was to keep her mindfully zen-gaged. In the previous blog, I mentioned how we activated FunZen mindful moments with her. One of her favorite ways to ground her spirit and feel roots is by hugging the green earth and spreading her wings to kiss the pink sky. Jani was learning to follow her Heart's Compass home to the precious present and demonstrate this zen perspective to ground her spirit and calm the buzz.

I feel that Jani's spirit of pure being is not touched by her mental illness. This became very clear to Grace and I when she listened to music like the Beatles and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and loved to sing along. The nurturing quality of FunZen helped her feel safe, protected, and loved as it does for others as well. It was only when she was constantly busy in the western approach as a human "doing" rather than the eastern human "being in balance", that she appeared to lose touch with her heart's compass of inner wisdom.

Due to sensory overload, Jani often would put up a fight and was unwilling to calm down. Getting her to come home to her senses became a game that I called "Playing Smart When Things Are Falling Apart". The tool we used is "Zengaging Stillness" which I demonstrated to help stabilize Jani in the center of the storm. In order to reach stillness there is no magic pill. It requires skill. The good news is this skill mastery called Centering can be taught to Parents, Teachers, and Kids including special needs children. All it takes is setting your intention to be zenergized calm, centered, empowered and free. Aikido Master, Tom Crum reminds us "Centering doesn't take time, it's a choice and takes intention."

A magic charm that Jani fondly repeated with apparent understanding is the mantra "It takes Teamwork for the Dreams of a Child to work." I feel that our part in this teamwork was forever altered with The Oprah Show. When it was announced that The Schofields would be on Oprah, Grace and I were asked if we could accompany the family to Chicago. The main idea was that we were there to help Jani handle flying to Chicago and to keep her happy-calm and in their words "Engaged". Beyond that, nothing else was ever mentioned or discussed. I never really thought about it until my beloved student, Al McKay aka lil Bear simply asked "are you going to be on the show?"

Grace said that she could see us on Oprah sharing a FunZen minute with Jani, A micro meditation to help her center her spinning tea cup mind. Out of the blue, Oprah was coming to interview Jani. And we were asked less than 24 hrs. earlier if they could do it at our house. We agreed, and got to cleaning in the spirit of Feng Shui. Everything from this point on began spinning madly out of control. Our teamwork became seriously challenged when I asked Susan about sharing FunZen and my work with Jani. I was informed that the segment was strictly human interest and the emphasis would focus solely on the tragedy of Jani's mental illness.

It was obvious that the Schofields wanted to focus on the problem and did not want to mention any possible solutions. Oprah arrived at our house on a Sunday, August 23, 2009 and I was basically told I would not be involved. The shoot ended on a sour note. Oprah decided to leave because of Jani's resistance and no one could deal with her not to mention I was asked to watch adorable baby Bodhi and stay out of the way.

After everyone left, my husband Ron, returned home from work and voiced his concerns that Oprah was in our house and not only did I not get a picture with her, I was not even introduced. This caused Michael Schofield to openly share his thoughts, feeling that he was betrayed by my husband. How could we even consider being mentioned or get a picture with Oprah. We were like all the others just wanting to get a piece of their media story and that we were not taking the severity of Jani's problem seriously.

This is where my compassionate spiritual muscle got stronger. I apologized profusely for even asking to share my work that it might actually help Jani and others like her. I walk in Gratitude, celebrating the spirit by activating Deepak Chopra's enlightening words, " are on a two fold path, to eliminate darkness and to bring on the light." The purity of my intention to help Jani go within rather than go without self-love, comfort and joy has remained constant. Even to this day, even after her parents decided to discontinue FunZen; and the best of east meets west, we send them love and wish them godspeed.

I am grateful that I can share my viewing point in this blog, honoring what is right in principle, not who is right in ego. We taught Jani a Hawaiin self healing heart song that she knows by heart. It is called Ho'oponopono. It goes like this... "I love you, I'm sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you." This verbal charm of light were the last words we shared together.

My closing thoughts on Team Spirit for the Dream to Work is found in my American Zen Coach, John Wooden's wise words "It's amazing how much we can accomplish when no one care's who gets the credit."

A Big Thank You to my Twitter family for helping me clarify team spirit and what it means to nurture your artist child and fly the plan like a pilot of your life. Lovely Rita @pocketpeople stood out in Deepak's @deepakchopra stream of illuminating tweets. I contacted her to meet the enchanting Pocket People at Starbucks in Santa Monica. I bought a couple of them and invited Rita to share her Ubuntu (generous spirit) and some of The Pocketopia friends with Jani. She was delighted and loved them and appeared to enjoy meeting Rita Ross. Kirs @kssrogers brought 143 (I love you) to my attention again. She remembered 143 from our previous blog where we shared Jani's FunZen spiritual exercises. Kirs tweets help me return to the light of love to nourish my roots and wings. @Marielhemingway I'm in awe of Mariel's living example of grounding her spirit in nature's playground and sharing her loving free spirit with her tweets. Thx Jodi @JRavenHawk for the purity of your intent to honor taking care of our HOME (heaven here on mother earth).

When Mariel tweeted looking for her beloved dog "Bindu" and mentioned @jenuinehealing I connected-up immediately with Jenuine. She respectfully tuned into my great grandpa's Sokei-an Sasaki's roshi spirit; and sensed my open playfulness of a child or beginner's zen mind. We were on the same music page about seeing our dogs as guardian angels of being. On New Years Eve 12/31/09 The Heal Thyself Visualization she suggested to emotionally release the residue from the Schofields helped me tremendously. Jenuine suggested "firming up my boundaries" and in my words to parent my inner child. After using her energy healing technique to activate her brilliant images I was Spellbound at how much relief I felt instantly. I've continued to apply her message of helping us heal ourselves with renewed zenergy. Mastin @TheDailyLove Thx for Everyday Aha Candy to taste the sweet surrender of finally loving yourself (FLY) which compliments @Lissarankin reminding me to drop kick my inner critic while working my mojo in the inner dojo of learning self love... @NarinderSingh Thx for your humble spirit and making me LOL =)

Last few shoutouts to Love Out Loud to twitter family of friends and non followers who have been Cheerleaders for my soul. Bestselling Author, Dan Millman @pwDan has always been there for me as a peaceful warrior mentor. Once he quoted Barbara Rasp who said ''The lessons are simple; the student is complicated." to guide me by the side. Dan graciously shared the inspired idea "Cheerleader for the soul". Ageless Al Denney has been my Head Coach for the Soul; I honor his timeless message of "Become one with the Force of Nature." I love asking him questions about his unique meeting with Albert Einstein when he was in pre med school. @AnneMerrem Anne in Germany Thx ox for being my original cheerleader for the soul. Agape (Love), Blessings & Gratitude to Terry Crowe Miller my gorgeous sorority sister at the Dr. Seuss-Preuss House and Gratitude to happily married Jim Lynch to Debbie who received the first Black Belt for the Soul. Waterlily (Kristen) and Sunflower (Terri) my Black Belt for the Soul girls (inner dojo circle) helped me ground the spirit of zen mommies learning to be cheerleaders for one another, no matter what... @Lisa_FM Thx for sharing Zen Mommie and Me talk radio FunZen minutes and for empowering me to join twitter. Noelle @velvetpony original zenmommie let peace begin with me in mommie with kokoro,@ZenMommy Thx for helping us treasure Om in Mommy and then some Muah OX @micknsk Thx for your ubuntu spirit of One Love, Ti amo xo
@stressfreekids my Shark Tank Zentrepreneur Lori Lite Thx for sending us awesome books like "Angry Octopus" and CDs Thx Dr.Marcia Sirota @rcinstitute for Compassionate-clarity Warriorette tweets Ben @drbenlo Thx for sharing Mental Fitness and your solid i.e. of empowerment; Playing to win from within...@spoilednattyyah Thx Natalie for Goethe's quote; Love does not dominate; it cultivates...@CharmsOfLight Thx Caryl for sharing your healing gemstones of light and beauty. Your gems remind me of my celebrity jewelry designer days; where I cultivated in each design "everybody has star magic". @Marcome Thx for Musical Kisses OX to feel embraced by the moment and uplifted. Author, Mentor, Helen Fleder my Ballerina Muse, I could listen for hours about your stories dancing with George Balanchine & Martha Graham. Thx profusely for sharing The Miracle Diamond a secret dancers posture tool to stay upright on pointe no matter who you are or where you are.

Dion & Mel Jackson A big Thank you for being there and believing in me from the root source, I love you.
My Head Cheerleader, Grace (daughter), @MelonRolek hi-tech angel support who rocks my world with her 143 floetry ARTitude. When you called our spiritual martial arts "FunZen" you opened the door for others to brighten their inner light and become confident; quietly brilliant...Thank you 143 4 (I love you more) Thx so much (sister) I love you Yuriko Robinson ox
Much Love and Thx to my pal Bill Braunstein for helping flesh out "FunZen" storyboard for Playhouse Disney "The best is yet to come." Loon (Kiki) my Yin Yang girl Thx for sharing I believe I can fly; Pie in the sky moments...Celebrated Author Gary Quinn, Thx profusely for your coaching expertise and Life Coach Certification for Living In The Spiritual Zone. Mahalo, Kathee Lee Kitami my Aloha sister-friend; Keep singing and seeing "Thru the Eyes Of Love." Aloha, Celebrated Author Joe Vitale, Mahalo for sharing "Zero Limits" and Ho' oponopono divine alchemy.
Ron Rolek (husband), Thank you for being my diamond polisher, I love you no matter what...

In the spirit of Ohana is Family where no one is forgotten or left behind; sending a Gratitude Wave of Aloha and Blessings to all those seen and unseen drawing the bigger circle of Compassion to Love, Live and Laugh Out Loud.


  1. Darling Michiko,

    a wonderful an enlightening blog. I think most of
    us have a fixed idea about what love is. You come along
    and demonstrate with ease the importance of
    letting go with love intact. Without bitterness or
    ego. It is clear your intent was to help Jani.

    I beleive that intention will not be forgotten. In the
    mind of sweet Jani, you and Grace were a breath
    of fresh air. There is nothing to fix. Your presence
    with this family and your dedication to being part
    of the solution is a lesson to us all.

    Thank you for blessing my life and the lives
    of all blessed to know you.

    You are a shining example of what care and
    commitment means.

    I feel sad about your experience with Oprah show.

    I know that must have hurt after all the time spent, hard work and
    loving Funzen you brought to Jani. Your heart is an ocean
    of compassion and understanding.

    Love love and more love coming your way.

    Always, Rita Ross and the PocketPeople

  2. Michiko,

    Thank you for sharing your heart... your spiritual journey with us in this post. Wise words you are living out in this story:

    "A drop of knowledge is better than a sea of force."

    In challenging relationship interactions, where we find ourselves in pain, it takes a strong person to say "what is there for me to learn and grow from here in this experience?" You have and are clealy in this beautiful place of healing and growth. Hold tight to all the love you so beautifully describe feeling for Jani and her family as you breathe into and let go of the pain.

    I have no doubt great things are a-foot for FunZen and the light you bring to parents and their children. I am soooo grateful to twitter for bringing us together... you @ZenMomie and me, @ZenMommy... my twitter sister you could say.

    BLESSINGS sweet soul,
    Suzanne aka ZenMommy

  3. Wonderful story with an ending we did not expect. I love your eternally optimistic spirit of creating Zen moments with your integration of East meets West! Your Zen energy is present in each and every word . I know all too well how these shows work. My books and CDs helped a family find moments of peace while trying to get their 3 year old away from horrific abuse by her father. They were featured on the Dr. Phil show, but the positive solutions for healing were ignored. I would like to see more of these shows use their power to get the solution to so many that are looking for answers. Thankfully people like you and Grace are here to elevate all of us. One breath at a time. One person at a time.

  4. Hi Michiko, thanks for sharing your story and journey with Jani. Lots to navigate with the many people involved and a popular show to boot...and yet throughout the experience,yours and Grace's joyful energy and love shine through. As you continue to connect, trust, and share your gifts, joy, love, and light, key intersections will continue to occur, and lives be touched, and we may never see the full extent to which each ripple touches a life. Thank you both for sharing FunZen with us!

  5. Dear Michiko, this is an amazing story. We are often defined by our struggle. Where there’s no struggle, there’s no life. Thank you for reminding us that connecting with each other, our inner selves, and the universe is worth fighting for. I also love your tweets. They ‘re deeply inspiring, funny, and thought provoking. Thanks for being the light and sharing the light. Narinder =)

  6. i would like to comment on the support you are giving me. Michiko has been instrumental in my starting up practicing transendental meditation again after 25 or so years. i used tm to help quit drinking and using drugs and it worked. i haven't used since i started meditating. now i am struggling with hep-c, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. after talking to Michiko, i decided to start meditating again. i think the increased stress relief that tm will give me will help my body heal and fight off these problems. thank-you Michiko for your support.

  7. Thank you for sharing this incredibly personal story. It is wonderful for you to be the teacher and share that when the Ego gets assault, 'gets knocked us off it's feet. the True Self, or Spirit, is free to Dance.