Saturday, March 12, 2011

Free Your Inner Swan

Sanskrit word for swan is hamsa or hansa, and it is the vehicle of many deities like the goddess Saraswati. In Hinduism, Saraswati (Sanskrit: सरस्वती sarasvatī) is the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. The swan is not just found in beloved fairy tales and ballet. For thousands of years, the swan has been a symbol of enlightenment and an elegant example of serenity, spiritual strength, and transformation.

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I had an idea a few days ago to mention Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer and after spontaneously seeing the psychological thriller
Black Swan, I was inspired to share the zen-like connection between the two.

Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet has both the innocent White Swan and the sensual Black Swan. In the film, one dancer, Nina (Oscar winner, Natalie Portman), is a perfect fit for the White Swan. While Lily (Mila Kunis) has a soulful personality that matches the Black Swan. When both ladies compete for the parts, Nina not only finds a dark side to herself, she was succumbed by it.

There are many issues that surfaced after watching this film with it's beautiful backdrop and scenery of the ballet world, especially my longing to wear pointe slippers again yet I don't miss the aching toes. One issue to insight though, that I'd like to address here, is the delicate balance of beauty, self image, and confidence. It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into depth regarding these issues. But I will glance at how a zen perspective gives us the confidence to see clearly and establish a beginner's mindset that changes how we look at things.

My book, Mental Fitness, provides the tools to train your instrument into the beautiful swan of transformation. Freeing your Inner Swan is accepting the people we cannot change and the self compassion and courage to change the one we can and the wisdom to know it's ourselves.

My Zen approach honors the brilliant simplicity of being part of the solution, not the problem. The solution is awakening our Inner Swan by making peace with our shadow or dark side. Acknowledging that we have a shadow or an inner monster is the beginning of taming it. Groundbreaking, bestselling author of "The Shadow Effect..." Debbie Ford, provides awesome tools that teach us to Be Authentic by embracing and eventually loving and healing the parts of us (self-punishing patterns) that we've wished to hide.

Black Swan made me appreciate my work with Tyra Bank's T-Zone, which helps to build a sisterhood movement and raises awareness about issues girls are faced with today, for example, self esteem, body image and social pressures. The FunZen perspective tool that I shared with the girls, parents, and professional counselors, and look forward to presenting to you, worked like a magic wand; restoring order from emotional chaos to inner calm.

Inspirational Recipe: Black & White Swan Cupcake:

1st Step: Zen Perspective: Close your eyes (center-up between your eyebrows) to Open your heart, by choosing to step back for a mindful moment...You will see the world in a whole new light as a non judgmental observer... I promise this will empower you to be a positive change agent. I will be adding 3 more heart steps to this blog "Free you Inner Swan."

Make the Connection: Press your zen button by Exhaling, whooosh, to mentally start over anytime, anyplace you need to free your mind from the past and future and get back on Pointe in the present moment.

Bake= Concentration Power: Sitting or Standing upright instead of uptight, Let's Inhale clear blue zenergy. Feel your tummy rising. Exhale, riding the breath wave. Tummy falling, flattening and firming up towards your spine:
Catch 3 Breath Cycles to relax from top to toe, releasing anxiety to experience serenity and spiritual strength.

Now, Breathe, at your pace of grace, with each centering long breath out. (see page 26 in
Mental Fitness)

Decorate Your Way: Congratulations. Without baking your cupcake, by staying focused with the previous ❤ steps, you cannot put the sprinkles on and zenjoy your treat. Likewise, by using your magic mood tool, Zen Perspective, you are building quiet strength to weather any dark storm.

Stay Tuned In for the next Inner Swan Lake heart step ❤: How to Detach yourself from negativity.

I must say, after seeing Black Swan, I felt immense Gratitude for my book Mental Fitness. Being a dancer in ballerina pointe slippers myself, I struggled with some beauty & self image issues. Today, I treasure cultivating a clear mind, peaceful heart & the soul of a warrriorette. What is sweeter, is sharing these Resilience Skills for life with my daughter and other kids, to help them find their center in the cyclone.

Grace says "Kid Friendly FunZen is Awesome to Celebrate Daily." Please Join us in the Soiree (celebration) of spreading these ideas that I hope are worth sharing on your part.

Mental Fitness (Foreword by Leonard Cohen) is available: Amazon, Bodhi Tree Books , or contact me for Complimentary autographed copy and free gift (up to 22 minutes) telecoaching session by mentioning you read this blog "Free your Inner Swan"

In Gratitude w/Love ❤

FunZen Girls OX
Michiko (lil mama) and Grace

r: @Zenmommi

I teach Kids FunZen and train Parents to be Mindful.


  1. Michiko, I would love to get a signed copy of your book. Your advice and inspiring words on this blog have been wonderful to read, and I look forward to each new post. Your daughter, Grace, is such a loving and "awake" girl, which shows how living these principles can lead to a more peaceful and joyful life, no matter your age or circumstance.

    Thank you for your generous wisdom.


  2. Your empowering blog message to nourish our souls inspired me to share this quote from my Yoga Teacher B.K.S. Iyengar "A soul without a body is like a bird deprived of its power to fly." Namaste <3

  3. Love this. Just a week or so, I gained a new insight about the light/shadow sides of the goddesses Demeter, Venus and Athena. I won't go into a lot of detail here so I will only address Venus and how sensuality is often portrayed as a "shadow" in our culture. In this movie, the "dark" swan is associated with sensuality, yet there is also a lot of light in sensuality, it is just too often degraded and repressed. As I'm learning/revisiting Venus, I can see how she is often distorted for this very issue of sensuality and feminine power. Venus actually has a nice blend of masculine and feminine in that she had clear boundaries on HER terms. She represented sensuality as beauty/art/culture, luxury, self-care, and self-love/acceptance. She also "knew who she was" and could not be repressed/controlled by men. From what I gather, it appears that because of her feminine power, the energy of Venus was suppressed due to a fear of her power by men...apparently she "overpowered" them with her strength, beauty and ability to take care of herself....interesting. Hence, at least in our culture, Venus energy went underground/shadow and is often view as "bad", pornographic, and separated from "good" aspects of the feminine. The problem is of course in so doing you cut off self-appreciation, sensuality that is totally natural, self-care and beauty/appreciation of art as a culture. I think it is also why women are generally not particularly in touch with true feminine power overall, including boundaries and courage. (Courage is from the heart, a feminine quality - as in "braveheart"; we don't say "bravehead"). So, something to think about....

  4. What a Beautiful discussion, Michiko! ♥ I Love the way it brings in your Love of Dance to teach us new steps as we dance with the reflection of our Earthly self! ♥ Love to you in all you do! ~ Julie