Change Yourself. Change the World.

Many of you know that a lot of my blog posts this past year were inspired by the year-long training I completed at Interchange Counseling Institute. Although I am a professional counselor, I would like to encourage “anyone with a face” to enroll in this program.

In essence we are all counselors. If you have a friend, a lover, a family, or co-workers, then you are often in the role of a counselor.

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image by Don Courage

Last year I took a day-long introductory class at Interchange and a spunky Asian woman who had completed the year-long program told me, “Kozo, I’m not a counselor, but Interchange is the best thing I have ever done for my life. My whole life is better because of Interchange.”

I signed up immediately, and after finishing the program, I have to agree. The wisdom, healing, growth, and experience gained at Interchange have and will significantly change every interaction I have with others for the rest of my life.

Here are my top five reasons to sign up for Interchange Counseling Institute Now:

 

 

1)     Learn to love

Have you ever been taught to love? Most of us have had to figure it out the hard way. Many of us still struggle to love and receive love in our lives. This is something that we are never taught in school, work, or the family—at least, not explicitly.

Interchange explicitly teaches you how to love:

  • How to love your loved ones
  • How to love yourself
  • How to love others, even strangers
  • How to receive love and know when you have received it
  • How to express love beyond the socially conditioned roles we are trapped in

In my opinion, everyone needs to take a course on love. Some get it at church, others through couple’s counseling, but only Interchange covers all aspects of love and how to do it.

2)     You will see magic before your very eyes

The leader of Interchange is a man named Steve Bearman. He is a teacher, healer, wise man, and shaman. I know this sounds odd, but Steve works magic. Every Interchange weekend, he calls people up on stage and within minutes they are sobbing, healing, or exposing themselves.

This would be almost cultish, except then Steve teaches everyone in the audience how to do what he just did. We then pair up and make deep connections that heal painful wounds and open us to a whole new world of love and acceptance.

People think magic only happens in special places with magical people, but magic can happen every day with anyone you come in contact with. You can offer someone a safe space to be themselves by your smile and lack of judgment. You can change the life of your child or your parent with a consistent dose of hugs.

Interchange will make you not only believe in magic, but learn to wield it.

 

3)     You might never get the chance to do this in the future

There is a story about an old sadhu who met the Buddha in a marketplace. “Teach me,” said the old sadhu.

“This is not the time or place. Come to my dwelling later in the afternoon, and I will teach you,” replied the Buddha.

“No. Teach me now. What if I die before this afternoon? What if you die? What if the confidence I have in you right now disappears? Teach me now,” insisted the old man.

The Buddha sat him by the side of the road and within minutes the old sadhu became enlightened.

I’m not saying that Steve Bearman is the Buddha, but he is an amazing teacher. This might be the last year he decides to do Interchange. Or he might get so big that you might have to do Interchange online in the future.

I met a woman who hugged the guru Amma 21 years ago in a small room in Palo Alto with just 70 other people. Last month, I “donated” my chance to hug Amma because 2000 people had come to see her at Stanford University.

Right now, you have the chance to spend some quality time with Steve Bearman at Interchange. In the past few years, Interchange has grown, mainly by word of mouth, from 20 people to 150. Who knows what it will be like in the future.

Steve got to know all 150 of us this year. We had opportunities to counsel with him, hug him, dance with him, and cry with him. I’m not sure if this will be possible in the future.

4)     World Peace

The motto of Interchange is “Change Yourself. Change the World.” I couldn’t agree more. You know that I am a strong advocate for peace. Bloggers for Peace is my attempt to bring world peace into reality.

I can honestly say that I am a more peaceful person after Interchange. I spread more peace. I live more peacefully. Something about the teaching, community, and support one gets at Interchange transforms us into agents of peace.

As many bloggers for peace have attested, if we really want world peace, we have to create peace in ourselves. Interchange cultivates that inner peace.

5)     Free stuff

Books: When you sign up for Interchange, you get a lot of bang for your buck. On the first weekend, you will be handed a bag full of books that will change your life.

Some of the books you may have never heard of, like Radical Honesty, Unconditional Parenting, or Riding the Horse Backward. Other authors might be more familiar like Krishnamurti, Marshall Rosenberg, or Martin Seligman. Either way, these books will change who you are and how you think.

Counseling: You will also be required to do 50 hours of either counseling or clienting. This is powerful. Going rates for psychotherapy are $125-$175/hour. I have to say that the counseling I received at Interchange had much deeper, long lasting effects than any other counseling I’ve had in the past. You might also be chosen to be counseled by Steve on stage which is priceless.

Touch: At every Interchange weekend, you will be encouraged and gifted with free massages, hugs, hand holding, or cuddling. Some of you may be resistant to this, which is exactly why you need to go.

Humans are social animals who need nurturing touch. Our society prohibits much of this touch due to fear of inappropriate touch, homosexuality, and neediness. Thus, in our touch deprived society, many of us don’t get to be fully human.

Interchange will help you get in contact with all aspects of your humanity and feel good about doing it.

Obviously, I’m one satisfied customer, but I’m more than that. I’m an advocate of change and peace. I truly believe that Interchange will transform you and our world in positive ways. Sign up now.

In full disclosure, if you sign up for the Interchange Year-long Program and mention my name, I will receive a finder’s fee. If you feel uncomfortable about this, don’t mention my name, but by all means, SIGN UP NOW.

Monthly Peace Challenge: (Wo)man in the Mirror

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To help inspire the Bloggers for Peace (B4Peace), we will have a Monthly Peace Challenge. To participate, tag your post with B4Peace and make sure you copy your URL to the Linkz collection. Anyone who completes all twelve Monthly Peace Challenges in 2014 will receive a Free B4Peace T-shirt. Yes, I’ve decided to offer the second annual Bloggers for Peace T-shirt as a prize. I envision a day when we will all gather for a Bloggers for Peace Conference donning our various Bloggers for Peace T-shirts.

As cheesy as it sounds, one of my favorite songs is Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” For this month’s challenge, I want to combine this idea of changing ourselves to change the world with the Power of Intention. I challenge you to post a portrait of your ideal self–something that can remind you of the peaceful being you were born to be. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Post a photo, piece of art, video, song, poem, or story that expresses your true self. It doesn’t have to be on, by, or about you. It could be something like a scene from Gandhi that inspires you to be more peaceful and loving.
  • At Interchange Counseling Institute this weekend, we wrote “self-defining declarations” that consisted of declarative statements that were either true or optimistic (what we wished to be). This statement serves to define and remind us of who we truly want to be. I’ve posted mine below. Feel free to create your own.
  • Post a photo, story, or description of you when you were your best. This might be when you felt the most love and peace in your life, when you acted in a way that made you connect with others, when you felt awe or a connection with nature, God, the Universe, or humanity.
  • Post a photo, drawing, description of who you wish to become. This might be a future self or a role model. Make sure you give us the characteristics that you are trying to emulate.
  • Post anything that expresses you in your grandest form.

Don’t forget to link to at least one other B4Peace post and add your post to the Linkz collection. Here is how:

  • Copy your URL to the Linkz collection. You’ll find the link below. It’s the drunk blue frog smiling for peace. Click on it and follow directions.
  • Go visit this site to read and comment on other posts related to this Monthly Peace Challenge.

 

Kozo Hattori Self-Defining Statement:

Whenever possible I error on the side of love, especially when “disciplining” children.

I treat myself and others kindly even when we make mistakes.

I continue to embody, tend to, and live from the unconditional love, universal consciousness, and godliness that is my true nature.

I release all clinging to “I, Me, and Mine” that appears in the needs to be athletic, attractive, noticed, wanted, and special.

I continue to heal, so that I can heal others.

I follow my heart/direction in the present moment releasing all worries about outcomes, financial security, and what others will think.

I see God, Jesus, and Buddha in the eyes of everyone I meet and treat them accordingly.

I understand that everything that happens in my life is overflowing with the opportunity to awaken if I can embrace the moment without aversion or desire.

I reach out and touch others and myself as much as possible in the form of hugs, tenderness, and presence.

I act, serve, and love like the enlightened being that I was born to be.

 

T-SHIRTS:

The 2013 Bloggers for Peace T-shirts are being printed and due to arrive any day now. If you live in the USA, I will mail shirt to you. If you live overseas, I will contact you about shipping charges. You are going to love these shirts–the woman who took the order said, “Everyone is going to want one of these,” and she didn’t even know what Bloggers for Peace was. 🙂