Blind Obedience

The other day I spoke of two influential TED talks.  Here is just one more to add to the list.  I wanted to write about it separately because it has a slightly different message, because I wanted to add in Elizabeth Gilbert’s comments, and because this is the story of a teenage girl who has already lived an extraordinary life.

Do you remember Malala Yousafzai?  In 2009, Malala was writing under a pseudonym for the BBC as she described her life in the Swat Valley of Pakistan under Taliban rule.  At the time she was 11 or 12 years old.  She was later in a New York Times documentary and her advocacy for girls education continued to garner attention. In 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban member on her way home from school.  The international outcry thrust her immediately into the spotlight.  She was nominated and awarded several prizes for her bravery and advocacy.  She wrote a book, spoke at the United Nations, met with presidents and heads of states and has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.  This year, she will be just 17 years old.

Credit goes to Malala’s parents and her father in particular. The way she was raised defies many strong Pakastani and Muslim traditions regarding girls.  Her father Ziauddin Yousafzai spoke March 17th in Vancouver at TED2014.  I am copying Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook post directly because she writes so beautifully about what he said.  (Elizabeth Gilbert is best known as the author of Eat, Pray, Love and had her own TED talk this year.)

From Elizabeth Gilbert:


Last night at the TED conference, I wept while listening to Ziauddin Yousafzai speak about his daughter, Malala.

You have have heard of Malala Yousafzai. She is the brave young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for speaking up on behalf of education for girls.

Her father began his extraordinary speech by saying that in tribal and patriarchal societies, a man is known by his sons. “But I am one of the few fathers who is known by my daughter,” he said. “And I am proud of that.”

He spoke about how, in rural Pakistan, when a girl is born, it is never cause for celebration, but rather shame. As she grows up, she is taught only one virtue: Obedience.

Yousafzai refused to follow suit. He celebrated his daughter from the day she was born, and wrote her name in the family tree — a 300 year-old document that had never mentioned a female. He put Malala in school — not only so that she could know her own potential through education, but also for the mere political defiance of writing his daughter’s name on an enrollment form, thus signaling her very existence as a human being. (He had never seen the names of any of his 5 sisters on any document whatsoever; they simply did not exist within their own country.)

And most of all he said, “I taught her to unlearn the lesson of obedience.”

Which was such a shocking transgression that a Taliban gunman shot her for it. (I always think it’s particularly telling that she was shot in the head — shot in the MIND. Anything to shut down that female brain.)

She survived, famously, and still fights for education for girls. (She spoke last night to us from a video feed — she couldn’t come to the conference because she’s in SCHOOL — and she dazzled.)

This girl is extraordinary; this father is extraordinary.

He finished his speech by saying that people always ask him what he did to make Malala into such a strong warrior. He says it’s not what he did; it’s what he DIDN’T do: “I didn’t clip her wings.”

I was so honored and emotional to be there last night to hear this, and wanted to share it with you all.

Unlearn your obedience, women.

Teach your girls to unlearn their obedience.

And let a star shine in the crown of this father, and all parents, who guide their daughters to grow strong.


Unlearn Obedience.  My goodness!  How many times do we blindly follow the herd without even thinking?  Certainly, rules have their place and keep our society safe and sound.  I have always been a rule follower in order to be the “good girl.”  However, after reading Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss and after seeing this particular story, I can’t help but think that many times, in order to experience soul growth, it is necessary to break away from our “tribe” and the strong hold it has on our being.  Consciously being aware of our cultural background and upbringing is important, but being able to stand up for our own true Selves is more empowering spiritually.  I am not saying that you should blatantly disobey all rules or disrespect your family.  What I am saying is that when you consciously know, deep in your heart, who you are and what is important to you and what you stand for, then you are not afraid to stand up for your Self, despite what may be going on around you.

Are there any rules or cultural norms that you believe are holding you back?  Can you acknowledge them and still be true to your Self?  It’s not easy.  Many times, it may take all of your inner strength to stand up for yourself.  Maybe not Malala-get-shot-in-the-head-international-spotlight courage, but courage none-the-less.


inspiration, meditation, Uncategorized

Make Sure Your Thoughts Are Your Own

Are you familiar with Abraham Hicks?  I love receiving their daily inspirational emails.  I don’t necessarily always understand the Law of Attraction and these emails give me insights and keep me thinking.  Today’s was perfect because it’s about KNOWING what YOU are thinking and not what others are telling you.  This is why daily quiet time/meditation is important so you can access YOUR thoughts.

It is of great value for you to give your conscious attention to what you specifically want, otherwise you can be swept up by the influence of that which surrounds you. You are bombarded by the stimulation of thought. And so, unless you are setting forth the thought that is important to you, you can be stimulated by another’s thought that may or may not be important to you.


Excerpted from the workshop: The Law of Attraction, The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham on July 01, 2006

Our Love,
Esther (and Abraham and Jerry


inspiration, Uncategorized

Are You Limiting Yourself?

Yesterday I came across two wonderful TED talks which were very similar in nature even though they came to me through different sources.  Are you familiar with TED?  “TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).”  The videos are thought provoking and the perfect length for today’s short attention span.

The two videos that I came across yesterday had the same theme: do not set limitations for yourself.

The first video features Maysoon Zayid and it’s entitled “I got 99 problems…and palsy is just one.”  I don’t want to even tell you what it’s about because she is so HYSTERICAL in her delivery.  Let’s just say that Zayid’s cerebral palsy, her Pakistani background, and her Muslim upbringing ain’t holdin’ this lady back from pursuing her acting dreams or any of her other ambitious endeavors.  Please watch to the very end when she dedicates her speech, because I just found it so heartwarming.

The second TED talk I came across is written in blog form (for some reason I could not find the video link).  It’s called “Misdeeds Do Not Define You”  about Shaka Senghor.  This is a man who spent 20 years behind bars for murder, 7 of those years in solitary confinement.  He is now an MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, a BMe award recipient, an author, a speaker, an influential force in Detroit.  How did a murderer go from being so angry to being so positively influential?  He stopped blaming others.  He took a look deep down inside and he KNEW in his heart that this was not who he was at his core.  I give him so much credit for turning his life around.  He is not letting his history define who he is today.  He could so easily be angry.  He could so easily blame his upbringing and circumstances.  He could so easily go back to his old ways.  But, he doesn’t.  He consciously chooses a different path every day.

Are you setting limitations for yourself without even realizing it?  If you are not happy in your current situation, are you able to change your story?  I believe the answer is always yes.  We always have choices.  BUT, it takes a conscious effort.  Hopefully these videos provide a little inspiration.


angels, meditation

Asking for Directions

This morning, Elvis Duran (100.3FM NYC) was promoting ABC News anchor Dan Harris’s new book.  I had to laugh because Elvis said he really had no interest in Harris, a white, suit-wearing, straight guy.  What did he have to say in a book?  I felt the same way.  Really?  What’s so interesting about this Harris guy that he’s already writing his autobiography.  After listening a few more minutes, it turns out I may have to buy Harris’s book 10% Happier after all.

The short story is this: Harris was a hard hitting war reporter.  When he returned from a particularly rough time in Baghdad, he fell into a deep depression and started using cocaine and ecstasy to self-medicate.  In 2004, he had a panic attack live on Good Morning America.   Now here’s the part that really got to me.   In Harris’ own words:

“At around the same time, I was assigned to do a series on religion for ABC that sent me into a journey of self-help. This eventually led to Buddhism and meditation and a series of brain exercises that changed my life, and, as the title of the book says, made me 10 percent happier.”

Let me repeat what I feel is the most important part of what he has to say (in capital letters for big emphasis) AT AROUND THE SAME TIME, I WAS ASSIGNED TO DO A SERIES ON RELIGION.  That, my friends, is no coincidence.  This man, a “lifelong nonbeliever”, wasn’t just guided to find help; he was pushed there!  He probably didn’t know it then and he probably isn’t admitting it now, but he has guardian angels.  Harris was able to get help for himself because God (or whatever higher power you choose to insert here) was watching over him and set him in a different direction.  Harris did the work.  He had to say yes to the assignment and did whatever was required of him.  And to his credit, he is still here 10 years later promoting meditation as a way of taming our egotistical, logical mind.

Please know that you don’t need a major breakdown on national television in order for God or his angels to step in and help you.  What you can do is ask for help from above, KNOW in your heart that you DESERVE divine assistance, and then be open to the signs all around you, especially coincidences.  Tune in and follow your gut instincts.  You are always on the right path in life, but sometimes the direction signs just need to be a little bit more clear.  Don’t be afraid to ask for directions.

reiki, stress relief

It’s Not Sleep Deprivation Afterall

I have been wanting to write this post for a long time.  It seems that every time I Reiki a client, they fall asleep.  It does not matter what time of day it is or even if the client is new, a little nervous, and reluctant to close their eyes.  At first I thought that there must be a huge percentage of people with sleep deprivation.   Countless studies have shown that stress and our TV and internet use has played a huge role in depriving us of our needed zzz’s.  It would be perfectly understandable if people fell asleep on the table.

However, despite all the facts, I have come to the conclusion that Reiki is what is sending my clients into another zone, whether it be sleep or some other level of consciousness.  I do have certain clients who go into deep meditative states or into what can only be described as an out of body experience.  Given the amount of people who drift off (100%), given that it can happen at any time during the day (even 9 o’clock in the morning), given that the room can be full of sunlight or dark as night, and given that even stress-filled clients who have trouble calming down can go into a relaxing state of consciousness,  I can only conclude that Reiki is at work here and not sleep deprivation.

This is what I love about Reiki.  It’s an intelligent, soothing, calming, relaxing energy.  It goes to work immediately.  It even works for people who walk in telling me that they are never relaxed.  Unlike massage (which I adore by the way and I’m not knocking massage here!), a Reiki practitioner is not manipulating the physical body in any way. We are working on the energy of the body.  In this respect, Reiki allows a person to relax into a deeper state of consciousness because they are not awakened by the massaging of muscles and the pushing/pulling of limbs.

So if you are feeling maxed out, stressed to the limit, hyped up, unable to calm down, having trouble sleeping, wanting to press pause on your life, come in for a Reiki session.  I can guarantee you will relax.