Introducing Nicole St. John Hamborsky

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My name is Nicole St. John Hamborsky. I’m a photographer and artist currently living in Grosse Pointe Park, MI, in a house that I purchased with my parents. I graduated from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit last year and am currently working for a well known computer company as a mobile technician. This past year has been a big one for me; I bought my first house, I started my first committed relationship, I got my first job out of college, and I finally quit smoking. I like to think of myself as healthy both mentally and physically and I am continuously working to improve myself daily.

When I met Molly Beauregard I had no idea what joy and pleasure I would experience by being a part of her class and her world. I remember everyone talking about the “cool meditation class” and how it’s definitely worth taking. Transcendental meditation and Molly Beauregard changed my life for the better the moment I first entered her classroom. Learning to meditate in the Consciousness, Creativity & Identity class reawakened my soul and allowed me to blossom into the woman I am today. As I sit now, I can confidently say that I am happy; I am full of self love and contentment and life is a beautiful thing to be a part of. After a period of self doubt, meditation helped me grow to love myself again and accept the things around me for what they are.

As a guest writer for the Tuning the Student Mind blog I aim to share my stories, my experiences and my life! I am currently riding the wonderful love train with my partner, Stuart and we live with my cat, Jynx and our newly added puppy, Frankie. This summer I have successfully grown and maintained an organic garden in my backyard. I am currently in the middle of a tea detox and recently did an organic juice cleanse. I believe the body is a machine that constantly needs work and care and with the right amount of nourishment, a healthy and happy life can easily be attained. I hope to offer insight into healthy practices by way of recipes, how-to’s, and even verbal advice.

 

First up! My easy Fish Stick Taco Dinner:

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8 fish sticks, I use gluten free fish sticks from my local health food store
6 corn, soft tortillas
4 table spoons of American Spoon Pumpkin Seed Salsa, or your favorite salsa
1/4 cup American Farm Cheese or sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 organic Cucumber, diced small
2 organic radishes, cut into small strips
 
Preheat a frying pan to warm the tortillas on low/ medium heat. Turn on the oven to whatever your purchased fish sticks desire and cook as directed. Since my fish sticks typically take 20 minutes, I use that time for prep! Dice the cucumber into small cubes about 1/4″ big. I like the radishes cut into small strips about 1/16″ big, but cut them to your preference. Mix the cucumber and radishes in a bowl and set aside. While the fish sticks are still cooking, place tortillas in the preheated pan for about 30 seconds on each side. This will warm them up and give them a bit of a crunch.

Once everything is prepared it’s time to assemble the tacos! Start with the cheese on the bottom and then layer the fish sticks on top. I like to angle my fish sticks like a teepee lengthwise to make room for the cheese underneath. Then scoop your desired amount of the radish cucumber mix on top of the fish sticks and top with salsa. It’s a perfect blend of soft and crunch, spicy and sweet.

 

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Cheers!

Nicole St. John Hamborsky
nstjohn.com

 

Figuring It Out

Colleen Arce

When I first read the following quote, it really stuck with me. Mahatma Gandhi said, “A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else.” I think why this impacted me is because of how relatable it is to the way people’s lives are looked at sometimes: a series of actions or experiences and expectations. Interestingly, through Molly Beauregards Consciousness, Creativity and Identity class and making sense of my own feelings about it, I feel Gandhi might have been wrong.

I have been told for a long time that people are who they are because of the situations they have gone through in their lives. I heard over and over variations of Gandhi’s words. And I believed this too. It made enough sense. I could rationalize certain situations and boil them down to find the answers I was looking for, whether I was analyzing someone else’s actions or my own. I didn’t really look too closely until after I had graduated high school and began to see those experiences from a different vantage point. I had a typical Catholic, stable, loving, and carefree upbringing. If I really was a product of everything I had done up to that point, then why was I still feeling like I didn’t have a strong footing or really know who I was?

I thought in order to figure it out I would be doing the same thing I had always been doing. But looking back on my life didn’t really do anything for me—and still really hasn’t. It turns out, taking all the pieces and trying to put them back together doesn’t really form a whole me. Thinking about the idea of being the “sum of experiences” now, I get a feeling of being a stranger at a funeral. My life would be equivalent to hundreds of photographs pasted to boards, stored in scrapbooks and looped on a powerpoint projected on a wall. This is supposed to provide a summary of life? Yet, a glimpse is all the photos can be. Just as analyzing the snapshots of experiences someone has had in their lives is only a glimpse into what it means to know that person’s true self. Humans are not simply equations: bad experience plus good experience plus confusing experience equals a whole person.

According to C. Mills, many people become falsely conscious of their social positions. They don’t know they are greater than their experiences, and they live their lives thinking that the things they’ve done and seen make up their whole person—even when they might have not had much control over what was going on. People aren’t just reflections of the things they’ve gone through, and shouldn’t be reduced to that. What is bigger than what happens to us in our lifetimes is the connections between those experiences, and the connections we make with people along the way. No matter what you do to figure anyone else out, you can really never know how they’ve made their connections.

This is why I feel that humans have failed to come up with a solid definition of what it means to be conscious, or to have a soul, or to love someone so deeply that you would sacrifice your well being for theirs, even though it isn’t rational. No matter how hard we try, the human experience cannot be boiled down to an equation able to be repeated. I know humans will continue to try to “figure it out”. There is something about cracking a code that is satisfying. But if in the process of solving this equation, you are reducing people to narrow parts, then you are only getting a glimpse into what makes up a whole person. There will ultimately always be something missing from the equation.

Colleen Arce | Interior Design student at the College for Creative Studies
http://www.behance.net/ccarce

 

How do we escape it?

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How do we escape it? Bad things keep happening to us. An automatic payment went through and our checking account was overdrawn, allowing the bank to dole out any number of fees. Someone cut us off in traffic, so we slammed on the brakes and spilled our coffee. The babysitter cancelled, so we’re stuck at home with the kids. We took on a huge project and it blew up in our face. We were bullied when we were little. We didn’t get enough attention growing up. Men are only interested in having sex with us. Women are only interested in controlling us. Our boss is only interested in paying us the least, while demanding the most. And so on, and so on. There are so many situations in which we are the victim. And no matter how trivial or immense these situations are, we beat ourselves up just the same. We relive them over and over again, as we tell every person we see that day about how unfair our lives are. Most times forgetting that everyone experiences unfairness.

It’s okay to talk about the things that happen to us. It’s a way of dealing with them; a way of working through them. Sometimes we can’t understand why these things happen, and talking about them with someone else can help us make sense of them—even if it’s only to come to the conclusion that bad things just happen. But good things happen too. Have you ever parked and gone to pay the meter, only to realize there’s still time left on it? Have you ever won a contest or scholarship of some sort?

Despite many of the unpleasant experiences we’ve had and will continue to have, don’t you think we’d be happier if we focused on the good things that happened to us, rather than the bad? Think about it. Your friend, the one who always complains… you can only listen to them so much before you stop asking them to go out to lunch. Now ask yourself, “Am I that friend?” Granted, the braggers have something to learn too. But there’s a balance — a happy medium, if you will. If you’re interested in progressing beyond self-victimization, treasuring the good times and accepting the bad times is all you can really do. If we focus on the bad, we continue the vicious cycle of negative feelings. If we accept it and only remember it to inform future decisions, we’ll start to free ourselves from the shackles of negativity and the perpetuation of self-victimization. If we focus on the good, we open ourselves up to positivity. This is something we have to accept and move beyond as well, because living with our head in the clouds helps no one.

Life keeps moving forward, and sometimes moving forward with it is one of the most difficult things to do. Sometimes victimization is comforting, because of the attention we get. Whether we share our story with someone and receive sympathy, a hug, attention, a gift, whatever… we get something out of it. Even if it’s someone’s lack of sympathy, it’s something to us, because we use it to fuel our victimization. We also get attention from ourselves. We think, “Man, it’s been a really rough day, I deserve this drink/manicure/new hand bag.” We use our self-victimization almost as a way to reward ourselves, but we don’t think of it like that. We think that the world is unfair and we’re the only ones left that will do something for ourselves, like we’re the only ones we can count on. Rather than just taking life as it comes and indulging when the moment is most opportune, we remain victims of these situations and moreover allow ourselves to become victims of the society that claims to have the fill for our void — a tangible, over-priced, service or item that has nothing to do with the experience.

So, how do we escape it? Something we’ve never really lived without? I’m not sure we can. I haven’t talked to anyone that hasn’t let bad things get to them. The only solution I can come up with, isn’t really a solution at all. It’s more of a way of thinking; a way of interpreting it all in such a way that we slightly remove ourselves from it. If you’ve spilled your coffee on yourself after being cut off in traffic, think about how comical the situation might be if it were in a sitcom. All of a sudden, it doesn’t feel so daunting. It becomes something that happens to everyone, and when you show up to work with coffee all over the front of you, you might get a few chuckles, along with a couple of, “Oh! I hate it when that happens!” If your experience is incredibly more complex and intense, it can be much harder to move past. If you were abused as a child, that is something that never leaves you. It’s something that is ingrained in your being. But it’s over now. It hasn’t happened for a very long time. If you think about it as a movie you saw when you were younger, and remove yourself from it, you’re given a sense of displacement. It’s easier to understand in the context of a movie. It becomes something that happened to someone else. You still understand that it’s your burden, but now you see that you share that burden with many others. You can embrace it, and move past it.

Don’t let the abusers, the traffic cutters, the banks, or the babysitters affect your happiness. They exist with their own problems and focusing on the experiences that they took part in will never fix the way you feel. You were a victim once, but every time after the initial experience that you allow it to hurt you, you’re a volunteer. I say volunteer for happiness and change, because that is what matters. Turn the ill-fate into a powerhouse of positivity, and see how much happier you become. I promise.

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Natasha Guimond | College for Creative Studies | www.natashaguimond.com

photo credits: Natasha Guimond

 

Ceremony for Self

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My “ceremony for self” is a daily practice that evolves and changes over time but, at its core, is exactly what I need in the morning to get grounded in my day.

I find that if I have a consistent ceremony for self, I have more capacity to give myself fully to what is “outside”, to other people, to the environment. My days are full and productive.

I’ll be sharing my morning ritual here but invite your own practice to present itself to you. You may want to spin around in your desk chair 3 times before you open your computer. Your morning ritual could be staring into your dogs eyes for 10 minutes. Whatever works for you! But whatever it may be, invite change. 

I like to meditate for 20-30 minutes right when I wake up. This is the single most important aspect of my morning ritual. Inviting thought, mantra, breath and my physical body to just be without reacting. This feeling spills into my day ahead and fills more of me up the more consistently I am with it. 

Next, I oil pull with sesame oil. I really love oil pulling for a few practical reasons like clearer skin and fresh breath but I also just love being soaked in sesame oil first thing in the morning. Which is why I rub it all over my body while I oil pull. Really, try it.

Also during oil pulling, I boil water for coffee and a cup of warm lemon water. Warm lemon water is nice to get your system going in the morning. Coffee is an addiction that I’m owning.

Now I rinse my mouth and brush my teeth. Mindfully finish my warm lemon water… coffee.

*Note: When it comes to adventure I can be totally spontaneous but when it comes to daily routine, I am a planner. I have reminders set in gmail for everything from conference calls to meditating to yoga classes and dinner parties that are sometimes months ahead of time. Being organized feeds my meditation practice just as much as my meditation practice feeds my being organized.

I spend about an hour total on my morning ritual. But sometimes I only do half of it and sometimes I don’t do it all. Sometimes I do it at the same time every morning for weeks (never fails, I love those weeks). Sometimes when I am out and about, I say a mantra twice in my head and feel a little more settled in my space. Sometimes I feel nothing for months. And all of this is fine. What is close to me in this practice is noticing what is happening, knowing it will change and seeing myself in everyone.

 

Chelsea Richer

p.s. If you ever feel compelled to share an aspect of your ceremony with the world use #ceremonyforself @tuningthestudentmind

 

 

Becomming the 2014 Auto Show Poster Winner

Emily Auto Show Poster

As a metro Detroiter, I’ve been going to the auto show for some years now. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to illustrate the auto show poster. The theme is celebrating 25 years so I decided to capture something that has been constant with this event all of the years it has been in existence: the logo. I captured the logo as a woman, using the modern colors of the logo to create a piece that wasn’t necessarily about one specific car, but the event as a whole.  I used the techniques I’ve learned from my fashion illustration courses that have shaped my own love for illustrating models and haute couture. With this in mind, I created this piece as a symbol to show the glamour and beauty of the North American Auto Show.

Emily’s Tuning the Student Mind statement:

“I took Conscious, Creativity, and Identity because I read the description and it said we’d be meditating and I said, “Sweet! Basically sleeping, definitely taking that.” I was so wrong. Not only was the course content so completely informative on the topic of sociology, but the opportunity to learn Transcendental Meditation from a professional practitioner was so amazing. TM completely changed my life and provided me with a deep calmness and confidence I had never experienced. I am a deeply religious person and even my prayer time was strengthened as I felt I could connect on a much stronger level with my Creator because of the descending meditation techniques I was taught. The point is, once you learn and if you allow it, TM can completely transform your life for the better. I dare you to try.”

Emily Daugherty

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TTSM in “Mantra Yoga + Health” Magazine

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Tuning the Student Mind is featured in the February issue of Mantra Yoga + Health magazine!!

Check out the article on their website –
http://mantramag.com/tuning-student-mind-chelsea-richer/

Here is where you can find your copy of Mantra magazine –
http://mantramag.com/find-mantra/

Here is the page spread (oooolala!)

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The Spiritual Regeneration Movement

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It was in Madras, Tamil Nadu in 1958 that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. It was his goal to bring transcendental meditation (TM) to the masses in an effort to redirect the course of humanity. Maharishi was a man of peace dedicated to teaching individuals a direct way to reach the silence that lies within all men and women. 

There is no doubt that individuals come to meditation through a multitude of doors. In fact, I have a friend who insists she came in the “cocktail party door”. Seriously, she felt inspired by the social conversation surrounding the “cool” factor of meditation. I learned TM because my mother told me to. It’s true. I had no great reason, no great calling and certainly no expectations. I innocently found myself learning TM at a time when no one was even talking about meditation. Unlike David Lynch, my first meditation did not include the elevator floor dropping from beneath me. I did not fall into a blissful state that immediately transformed my understanding of the world around me. I simply sat and meditated. It was nice. It was quiet.

Over time my meditation practice naturally became stabilized. Like brushing my teeth, sleeping, eating, walking and talking, the routine became a pattern and the pattern became a habit. I am not sure if I became “it” or “it” became me but meditation was an integral aspect of my being. It informed my daily life in rich and nuanced ways.

In the fall of 2012, I had the opportunity to go to Amherst College to speak at the Annual Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education Conference. I had planned to discuss the specifics of my class integrating TM into the core curriculum. At the last minute, I changed strategies. I discussed learning to speak the institutional language in order to successfully bring a meditation program into a college classroom. It went well by my estimation. I was happy with the positive feedback. People need ideas on how to connect with administrators. Fortunately, the research on mindfulness, vipassana and TM offers evidence of significant benefits for students: everything from increased creativity, lowered blood pressure, increased intelligence, better focusing skills and stress reduction, etc. Administrators like stuff like that. They think in terms of retention.

Since then I have thought a lot about why I feel so passionate about bringing meditation programs to college students across the country. There is no doubt that a focused student is a more successful student. I also happen to like the idea of unleashing the creative spirit in an organic way. Meditating students tend to be happier, too. I like happy kids. So, it’s all good.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught transcendental meditation to individuals in an effort to share a direct path by which to find inner peace. Maharishi knew that a man or woman who has discovered this path and who walks it will radiate serenity. This calm presence  will ultimately fill the atmosphere around him and communicate itself to all who come in contact with him. This peace is infectious. It is pure. Expanding this inner bliss on the individual level is what will ultimately transform the world from a place of darkness to a sanctuary of light.

This is why I love transcendental meditation. Happy Birthday, Maharishi. May my every effort to bring your wisdom out into the world be blessed by your radiance.

Molly Beauregard

New Kickstarter Backer Reward: TTSM Tote Bag Illustrated by Former Student

“Consciousness, Creativity and Bliss” was the name of the course that first integrated meditation into the core curriculum at the College for Creative Studies. Later, due to administrative wrangling, “identity” substituted “bliss”. Sometimes, we miss the bliss. Fortunately, we think bliss remains the basis of pretty much everything we do and feel. Just cause we are practical people here at Tuning the Student Mind, we thought it might be fun to offer you some evidence of bliss with our newest Kickstarter backer reward:

 

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We are pleased to introduce a Tuning the Student Mind tote bag!! Designed by a student enrolled in our first experimental semester (when bliss took center stage), this 100% organic tote bag (produced by Port Authority) is perfect for bringing home the groceries. Ellen Coons offered her vision on how students feel after taking a class where mediation is a part of the routine. For a donation of $60 bucks you can take these two “blissed” out kids with you to the market every day. Thanks Ellen for sharing your happiness with us!! To see more of Ellen’s AMAZING work check out her website. Thought we’d share a favorite piece of hers here too. This is the stop motion project Ellen completed while enrolled in “Consciousness, Creativity and Bliss”, Winter 2011.

Here is a close up of the tote bag design. Get yours over at our Kickstarter campaign!

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The Middle Gear

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As an avid yogi and meditator, I am endlessly reminded- by my practice, my mantra, and my soul- to favor mindfulness. As someone with an unmistakable “A-type” personality, I am persistently intense. And as most of us know, intensity doesn’t always yield good balance.

I have known the power of appropriately balancing “personal” versus “public” energy for quite some time now. Public energy, I am told, is for my day-to-day life: my job, my social calendar, and my relationships. Personal energy is for me.

The difference between personal and public energy was first described to me as a lake. On the surface, the lake looks still. It feels as if it does not move. Yet, at one end, there is a waterfall. The movement of the waterfall requires the stillness of the lake. Without one, you cannot have the other.

What I have recently come to know is the power of “the middle gear.” The middle gear represents an energy level at which one operates at equilibrium. With a middle gear, personal and public energy complement each other rather than compensate for each other. Sounds easy enough, right? Don’t push yourself too hard, but remember to stay away from laziness. Well, to someone like me, explaining the middle gear is one thing; living it is another.

I don’t always realize I’m pushing myself too hard until after I crash. And it isn’t always enough to think about the middle gear because for me, just thinking about balance quickly escalates into strictly mandating, regulating, and even, forcing balance. Sternly and unforgivingly practicing “effort and ease” is not only exhausting but also contradictory. A relaxing yoga class doesn’t really serve an appropriate purpose if all it does is satisfy a self-imposed need to adhere to a strict yoga schedule.

Adding a “middle-gear” to one’s life creates the option to move at 50mph, not just zero or 100. It makes living with effort and ease easier.

Maddy Beauregard | Boston, MA

Entities

Chris and Jen

Every now and again, I am blessed with a student whose joyful energy infuses my whole classroom with sense of happiness. It is lovely when this happens as I have always believed emotions are contagious. Last semester, one Mr. Christopher Fry entered my classroom and my heart in one fell swoop. It was impossible not to be charmed. Fortunately for me, Chris a gift that keeps on giving. Despite his entry into “adult world”, we are able to keep in touch through his lovely girlfriend. Jen is enrolled in class this semester. She shares Chris’s ability to influence every space with her sweet sensibility and kind heart.

Last week, Chris came to visit. He shared this picture with me (above). I immediately asked if I could share it with the Tuning the Student Mind family of friends.

This is an experimental self-portrait of Chris and Jen on their front porch. Chris explained the photographic process of capturing such an image. Frankly, he seemed surprised with the magnitude of his technical success. I’m not. This photo may just be the most honest self portrait I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. He has truly captured his and Jen’s true essence in this picture. Chris and Jen are bodies of light – lit up on the inside with so much goodness it aches to be seen by others.

Molly Beauregard

(Photo by Chris Fry – www.chrisfryphoto.com
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