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: Love Thy Enemy

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We only have two challenges left this years, so I’m going to ramp it up.

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 will receive a Free B4Peace T-shirt.

Hurt people hurt people

This might be the toughest Peace Challenge for many of you, but I want to take us out of our comfort zones for true peace. This month, I want you to open your arms to your enemies. Think of a person, a place, a nation, a culture, a religion, a gender, or an ideology that you view as a enemy.

healed people

  • Write a letter to this enemy explaining how you want to make peace. How you want to let bygones be bygones, and start from this moment forward on a new path of peace and understanding.
  • Write a letter from the perspective of your enemy explaining how they feel about the conflict or disconnect. Why are they hurting? How have they been hurt? What makes them want to hurt you?
  • Write a story in which the main character is your enemy. What would they do in the story? Can you make this a story with a happy ending?
  • Construct a dialogue between you and your enemy. Try to express to each other how you feel and what you really want. Can this dialogue remain respectful and open-minded?
  • Post a photo, piece of art, or collage that offers a vision of peace between you and your enemy.
  • Write or sing a love story about two lovers from different sides of your conflict. Can they love each other in spite of their differences? What can we learn from these lovers? Will your story be a comedy or a tragedy?
  • Post a quotation or a group of quotations that relate to loving one’s enemies.
  • As objectively as possible, tell the story of how you became enemies. The goal here is to understand rather than blame. This prompt is for experienced peacemakers.

I know this is a very difficult challenge. I honor your intention to do whatever you can to meet this challenge. Maybe you can just post of photo or a quotation. Please know that I am here to support you in any way possible. {{{hugs}}} kozo

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.

Monthly Peace Challenge: I Have a Dream

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Peace is spreading. Last month’s peace challenge had more participants than any other peace challenge this year! (So many people posted for peace that I have not gotten to all the posts yet. Sorry, I’m a bit behind due to back to back conferences.) We are also adding new bloggers for peace everyday thanks to the Daily Post Blog Events listing. I can feel the momentum of peace shifting. Let’s keep the ball rolling.

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 will receive a Free B4Peace T-shirt.

It has been a little over 50 years since Martin Luther King gave his famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. One of my favorite parts of this speech was when Dr. King visualized what his dreams for America would look like:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Let’s visualize what a peaceful world will look like. For this month’s peace challenge, I challenge you to publish what your dream of peace looks like. Here are a few prompts. Feel free to use one or create your own.

  • With as much detail as possible, describe a day in a world full of peace.
  • What would the radio, internet, television sound/look like in a peaceful world?
  • Pick a spot in the world today that has conflict and re-vision this area as peaceful.
  • What would all the people who are in active duty to conflict do if we had world peace? How would we alter our spending, resources, and brain power if we didn’t have to worry about war?
  • Describe the world you want your children to live in. How would they feel? What would they be doing and with whom?
  • Pretend you are the only one living who remembers a world without peace. How would you describe how grateful you are to be living in a peaceful world?

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.

How Blogging Saved My Marriage and Life

A few months ago, my wife woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I had been up early getting the kids ready, so when she started criticizing me about how I was handling the morning chores, I lost it. After storming out of the house with my two sons, I almost threw my son’s lunch at a car that cut us off in the crosswalk. The whole day was full of conflict, frustration, and bad energy.

Reading my favorite bloggers later that evening, I realized that I was not a very good example of a Blogger for Peace. It hit me then that without peace in the home, we cannot have peace in the world.

Peace in Relationships

This photo is old, but it represents how I feel right now.

Continue reading

Honest Kids

Have you ever been called out by your kid when you lied?

“Sorry, we couldn’t make your daughter’s dance recital, but my son had a soccer game.”

“No I didn’t, Daddy. You said that you didn’t want to watch bad dancing and hang around with crazy dance moms.”

“Thanks, son.” Continue reading

The Invisible War

A war is raging in every country on earth. The battles of this war spill out into our churches, our schools, and our homes. This war has been going on since the beginning of history as we know it. Although I was born onto the winning side and have enjoyed the spoils of this war, I have seen too much atrocity and injustice to sit idly on the sidelines. I can’t bear to watch my foes suffer death, defeat, mutilation, abuse, and injustice any longer. Like Braveheart, Dances with Wolves, and Luke Skywalker, I am ready to fight for the losing side to bring peace to our Universe–yet even these examples are tainted with the history written by the victors. Continue reading