Sunday, August 16, 2015


I attended about four Art of Silence Courses in the first year I joined the Art of Living Foundation. I  dreaded each one, yet I kept signing up because it was clear at the end of every course, something profoundly good was happening within me.

My first silent meditation course was particularly difficult. It was in the mountains of Woodland Park, Colorado. I was surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains with a clear view of Pikes Peak. It seemed like a peaceful setting, but I was squirming with restlessness from the start. After the first day, there was no talking, no tv, radio, reading and we were only supposed to pass notes to the teacher if it was urgent. 

The course organizers provided light vegetarian food - super- lite to be exact. I'd heard about the  menu in advance, and had sneaked in bagels, cookies and chocolate, which I shared with my fellow course participants. 
I was an instant friend to all, or so it seemed. I quickly realized that this kind of food brought about sleep, not meditation. 

Every evening, I was awake for hours, alone in the silence of my cabin. The only sound was the ticking of a clock and the crackling of the fire in the wood stove. This is when I made all kinds of plans to escape the course.

Somehow, when the sun was rising, my plans moved to the back of my mind and I managed to show for morning yoga. At the end of it, I was always glad I'd made the effort. 

One afternoon, a fellow seeker on the course, sent me a note. Like me,
Hope was also a corporate executive, with a 
demanding job and a busy life. She wrote that she jealous out how deep I was meditating.  The third day she slipped me another note, letting me know she was no longer jealous. She had realized I wasn't in deep meditation every afternoon - I was asleep!   

Every evening after dinner, we had something called, Satsang, which means,  "in the company of truth." During this time everyone sang and played instruments. The songs were called, Bhajans, which are songs in Sanskrit in praise of the Divine. I wasn't very comfortable with Satsang. It reminded me of the Christian youth events I'd attended, sitting around the fire singing.  I wasn't into the dogma of religion, so this pushed an old button.

As soon as people brought out the tambourines and started singing, my cynical American mind took over;  I started wondering what I was being asked to sing. I didn't know what the words meant - was I praising the Devil? 

I finally wrote a letter to our teacher, Philip about my experience so far.
I let him know that this course was THE most BORING thing I’d ever done in the Art of Living and I wanted to understand the point of all the silence.

 Philip, (who eventually became a life-long friend) read my letter aloud to the class.  At the end of it, he laughed and said, it was just my own resistance.  

I felt my Italian/Irish temper starting to rise with his response.
Boredom was good? The fact I'd paid money to sit in silence and was unhappy with the experience was good? What about the singing?

A cloud came over my face. Philip noticed, and thankfully, he explained a little more.  He said that the boredom signified I was evolving, and to just be with that boredom.  The resistance I was experiencing, was my own resistance to being with myself. The restlessness I felt, was the restlessness within myself. Normally we're just too busy to notice what is actually happening within ourselves, and rather than feel it - we distract it.  

He went on to explain that when we sit and observe what is happening, without judging, the impressions of the past dissolve.  He also taught us that Bhajans are songs in the Sanskrit language, which is the oldest language we know of.  These are songs of praise to the Divine, to God, our higher power (however you want to term the unseen power that moves us.)

The beauty of Sanskrit is that every word is scientifically designed to
 expand consciousness. Someone translated, one of the Bhajans for me,
 and I was absolutely moved by its poetry and how skillfully the composer was able to express their devotion to God.

Philip suggested I sing whatever I wanted, and to observe whatever emotions came up whenever my buttons were pushed. I was just to observe what was happening within me, to watch the physical sensations, as though I was watching a movie. 

It was the last night of the course, and I was starting to trust Philip who came across quite gentle, authentic and sincere.  Since there was no hope of being able to pronounce any Sanksrit that night,I shrugged my shoulders and followed his instructions. I listened to the music and closed my eyes, allowing it to wash over me. Eventually my toe started tapping to the rhythm and a smile began to slowly emerge. 

The next day we sat for more meditations, one after another for hours.  
Today, this is referred to as an "intense meditation course" in the Art of Living Foundation  but when I started, it was the norm.  

After a few hours, Philip asked if we wanted another meditation, or a break. My hand immediacy shot up as I thought "BREAK! BREAK!"
I  was an outdoor person which is why I moved to Colorado from Texas; I was desperate for mountain air instead of sitting inside for another hour. 

That’s when the course's stereotypical California, long-legged, blonde devotee (who never wore shoes)  jumped up and down enthusiastically for,

 I “silently” looked around for the tambourine she banged every night, imagining hitting her over the head with it; then I remembered I was on a path of non-violence. 

Sensing my frustration, Jane flashed her non-stop, ear to ear smile,
(which I was starting to find annoying)  and said, “hang in there, it gets better. You'll looooove it when the bliss shows up." 

Sneering at Jane yet at the time, feeling her sincerity, I closed my eyes for one…more…silent…meditation.  But there was no silence in my head. I was thinking about my backache, what I would eat when I got out of here, the coolness of the glass door I was leaning against, starting my car and taking off, along with Philip’s instruction to look at my own resistance.

That's when it happened. I don't know how, it just happened.

Meditation started taking over; all my resistance was just slipping away.
It was the same feeling as holding your fist super tight, and then just letting your hand open up.  This was the letting go that Philip had told me about.

I don’t remember what happened next, but I will never forget the feeling of free-floating bliss -  it was the ultimate freedom.

I didn't want to open my eyes when Gurudev's melodic voice began singing an ancient chant, indicating the meditation was over. 

I realized that THIS was what these old time meditators were talking about! 
This was fantastic! I was floating, freely, blissfully, in my own Self. 

The restlessness and agitation within myself was completely gone.
I just felt...peace. I was so happy, so free- I wanted it to last forever.

When the course was over, someone shared information about another Silence course coming up.  I registered for it, on the spot. Before I left to return to Denver, I made plans to drive with someone else to the next Silence Course. I didn't trust myself. I knew I’d run away from being with my own emotions and thoughts, if I had my own car, and then I'd miss the bliss. 

Driving home, I reflected on how I'd become totally caught up in the material world of life, with all its distractions. I was so rajasic (an ayurvedic term that means our energy is not settled) that it was a struggle just to sit still for an hour at a time, with my own Self.  I had a newfound respect for the breathing techniques I'd learned in the Art of Living. The breath work really helped me to settle down and realize the peace and bliss deep within myself.

Just a glimpse of the bliss Gurudev spoke about, and I was more committed than ever before to find out how to have it as a way of life, in the same way that he exuded peace and bliss in his very being. 

I didn't fully understand what I'd experienced, but one thing I did know - it was something worth delving deeper into.


What was your first silence course like?
How has meditation changed your life?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Frogs are back!

Many years ago at the Art of Living Canadian Ashram, we had a "frog situation."

There were an incredible amount of noisy frogs in the pond outside of Gurudev's kutir (cottage). The croaking was so loud and so constant, Gurudev (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) couldn't even sleep at night.

As soon as it became dusk, and into  the early morning, you could hear the loud and steady drone from virtually every corner of the Ashram.


One day, making a game of it, we tasked the children with catching the frogs and shifting them
to another lake, away from the kutir.  We never thought about the fact that they could jump and in a short amount of time, the frogs eventually returned o their original home! Years later we're still laughing over the absurdity of the situation, with Gurudev laughing the hardest!

Eventually we built a new home for Gurudev, farther up the hill and away from
the croaking frogs. Every now and then as I walk past the pond at night, I hear some light croaking.
I smile to myself with a comforting sense of nostalgia. As long as it's just a few, we're all happy.

I moved to the Boone Ashram last October. One of the things I like most about the Art of Living Center here is the nature and the profound silence. Since Springtime, the most I hear in a day is the wind in the trees or the melodic sound of chirping birds.

Until a few week ago.
That's when it started. Right outside my window. At dusk.
And they're singing the same, loud tune - over and over and over again.


Trying to find solace in yet another, "frog situation"  I researched the Native American symbolism for the frog and learned that the frog represents:
  • Cleansing
  • Renewal, rebirth
  • Fertility, abundance
  • Transformation, metamorphosis
  • Life mysteries and ancient wisdom
Well, I can take a shower to cleanse.
I have no use for fertility.
Transformation through the Grace of the Guru has been happening for years.
I already teach the ancient wisdom and the mysteries of life are to be lived, not shown.

Right now, there is one lone frog.

I'm sorry to say, I hope he doesn't find a mate in this pond.  Otherwise, you'll find me spending time with the youth teachers at our Summer Camp, convincing them to play a whole new game of
"Leap Frog" and "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride,"  using live frogs!!

Meanwhile, I'm going to take a walk over to the pond to let this lonely guy know, we've got it covered and to hop on over to the lake....the dating scene is better over there!

The Art of Living Canadian devotees will have more funny anecdotes. Please do share!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


April 30th, 2015, I had the honor to attend an intimate gathering of Baltimore, Maryland, community leaders and youth activists in the presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It was a powerful,
open-hearted conversation regarding the civil unrest and violence in the city, following Freddie Gray's death. The intention was to understand all perspectives on what was contributing to the escalation in violence, and identify peaceful and sustainable solutions going forward.

The event, organized by the International Association for Human Values ( with the Art of Living Foundation(, was held at the International Center for Peace in Washington, D.C., founded by Sri Sri.

Freddie Gray Jr. had been arrested for what Baltimore police alleged, was an illegal switchblade. He had fallen into a coma from spinal cord injuries proven to be sustained during transportation in a police van. The 25 year old eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away, April 19th, 2015.

Chaos, violence, looting and the burning of businesses had escalated to a fever pitch the night before Sri Sri arrived in Washington, D.C.  The Governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency, calling in the National Guard and invoking a night curfew to protect the citizens.

The meeting was short yet impactful. Sri Sri listened intently, giving each person in the room an opportunity to share his/her perspective on the current situation.

"The distribution of government resources to start a business is unfair. We need to create equality in how the funds are handled so that young people have a chance as entrepreneurs," said one young social activist and small business owner. 

Patti Montella & Youth Activists
" The anger and violence in Baltimore today isn't because of one person's death; it's the result of 400 years of oppression toward the African American community. We were never taken into account when this country was formed, " said another young social activist and leader.

" The media is sensationalizing the situation. They're  filming in areas that have been abandoned for years to create fear around the curfew.  Yesterday I watched the police harass people who were just trying to walk their kids safely home, " said a young woman, active in the community.

An older woman echoed the same. She implored Sri Sri to help the children overcome the trauma of the civil unrest and violence by sharing the meditation and breathing techniques his foundations teach worldwide.

The dialogue ensued with an honest and practical sharing that focused on how to proceed, in peace, in order to bring about sustainable happiness and peace for everyone in Baltimore, including the police department.

It seemed as though the meeting ended too quickly as the topic was deep and the need great. Sri Sri had yet another flight to catch with thousands in North Carolina awaiting his arrival along with never-ending list of global concerns to manage. He's become quite a magician when it comes to time management on a global scale.
He has a special ability to maximize the time he has with people to clearly see all sides of a situation, identify peaceful solutions and inspire leaders to take skillful action.

As good fortune would have it, I was joining Sri Sri on the flight to North Carolina. I hurried to grab my suitcase, pausing halfway down the stairs to soak up the scene in front of me. Huddled together at a small dining table, the event attendees and organizers were chatting animately about how to bring the Art of Living and IAHV programs to the Baltimore community.

Today, I received the good news, that programs are happening already in tandem with community leadership training.

May 1, 2015 the Baltimore City State Attorney Office filed criminal charges against the six police officers believed to be involved in Mr. Gray's death. May 3rd the night curfew was lifted and protests continued peacefully. The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a full-scale civil rights investigation into Baltimore's police department.

The New York times reported the  Gray family saying that they were satisfied with the charges. “We must seize this opportunity to reform police departments throughout this country,” said the family’s lawyer, William H. Murphy Jr.

Non-violent conflict resolution among people of different backgrounds, cultures and religions is possible in affecting positive social change.  It works.

Ghandi led the way in the past, along with historical figures in the United States including: leaders of the women's movement, Martin Luther King Jr. , Harriet Tubman and the U.S. Labor movement.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is leading the way today.

In the past, I've felt like a tiny drop in the ocean when it comes to making a difference in the world. Now it's clear ; all it takes is one person willing to inspire and lead the change we all want to see.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baltimore Community Leaders,Filiz Odabas-Geldiay



Ø  As an educator, youth or parent, support programs in school, to provide education on how to safely release stress and nurture human values such as kindness, compassion, sincerity and a sense of belonging.

Ø  As a veteran, family member or concerned citizen, support programs proven tO alleviate stress and trauma, without the use drugs.

Ø  As a global citizen, learn how to meditate and take responsibility for your own mind and emotions in order to foster greater peace and happiness in your self, your family and community.

Ø  As a business leader, get engaged and partner with like-minded organizations to facilitate global dialogue and skillful action, to build wider public trust in business through corporate ethics based in human values and social responsibility.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Ashtavakra Gita is an ancient spiritual text that has become one my greatest treasures in life.

It's the story of King Janaka, a benevolent and evolved King who seeks to know the path of liberation. He is guided to seek out Sage Ashtavakra, the Sage with 8 bends/deformities, in his body.

At the time that this conversation took place (Sri Sri calls it the most profound conversation to ever take place on the planet), Sage Ashtavakra was the one living person who knew the secrets to living a life free of all bondage from craving and aversion, likes and dislikes, and the disease known as "i-ness", the greatest misery.

King Janaka invites Sage Ashtavakra to the Royal Court. He wants to know how to be free.
He says he understands knowledge intellectually, but he wants to know how to do it practically!
He seems to know that this is the essential skill for a happy life.

Sage Ashtavkara leads King Janaka, step by step to knowing how to recognize when there is a thorn in the rose garden of his mind. Day by day in the royal court, he counsels him on how to skillfully remove that thorn without tearing the cloth (so to speak) so he is will be unstuck from habits, patterns, concepts that create even a shred of unhappiness.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that once you take the Ashtavakra Gita course, you are transformed forever.  This is my personal experience and that of thousands of students I've taught worldwide.

Even today, after watching the 33-tape discourse multiple times, reading the book regularly and now teaching the course online (, the application of Ashtavakra Gita is a daily constant in my life.  I often wonder, without it - where would I be in life?

Expert from Chapter 1 (Discourse with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)

"If you are against something, know that you have no freedom from it. If you are against someone, you have no freedom from them. If you find fault in someone and your mind is set against them, know that you are stuck with them. Glued with super-glue!  So when somebody is wrong, don't take their wrong, don't be against wrong.  This is a revolutionary idea. I'm not advocating wrong. I'm not saying don't be wrong against wrong. Do you see this? Don't be against wrong.

But what is your nature? Your nature moves toward something that is life-supporting. The nature of life is to evolve more and more.
Whatever is not conducive to evolution, is poison.  

I look forward to sharing the wisdom of Ashtavakra Gita with you starting next month (March)
through Sri Sri e-Learning (

You can purchase the book today at Through Sri Sri e-Learning we'll enjoy delving deeper into this precious knowledge, together.

Jai Guru Dev (Victory! to the BIG Mind)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Power of Wisdom to Heal

Sri Sri & Patti, Boone Ashram 2014
Happy New Year 2015! 

It's been awhile, so I thought it is time share a little update, as we begin the New Year together.

The end of 2014 I found myself quite ill after moving to the Boone, North Carolina Ashram in October.  The move was intense:  1,700 miles across the USA, leaving the majestic mountains of Colorado, the dynamism of Denver, the love of a vast community of friends - to the hills of rural North Carolina and starting over, again, in my 50's.

The severe change of weather pattern quickly and negatively, impacted my system.  Not understanding how ill I was becoming, I  kept working and traveling. I eventually became very ill, and by early December, I was in a true health crisis.

Whenever one moves to an Ashram, big karmas come your way to move through and be rid of, and this move was no exception. On the flip side, by virtue of just being at an Ashram, if any health situation arises - it's a minimized karma, it's very good. You are being protected from something worse than what is happening right now.

As my good fortune would have it, Sri Sri arrived on Christmas Day, right in the middle of the worst of the illness.  I met with him the next day, informed him of the situation and while handing me prasad (blessed food), he reassured me I'd be just fine and I could expect to teach again in a few weeks. He also cautioned me to "stay positive." The intention and blessings of a Sat Guru can never be underestimated.

Years ago when one of our full-time teachers was very ill, Gurudev (being his amazingly compassionate self) flew to where she was in Arizona.  I found it interesting that he advised her to read the Yoga Vashishta every day during her recovery.  Another time a woman broke her leg at the Canadian Ashram. Gurudev told her to watch Ashtavakra Gita daily while recovering.

Recalling these incidents, when I was at a real low in this illness,  I started listening to the audio of Yoga Vashishta, reading Ashtavarka Gita. Immediately my prana (life energy) visibly improved and I felt like something was doing it for me - lifting my state of mind and prana (life energy.)

I stayed with it until Gurudev arrived replacing this routine with morning darshan (blessings of the Guru's physical presence), afternoon meditations (led by Sri Sri) and evening Satsang (meditation, wisdom and celebration in the company of truth.) I rested in between each session, to conserve enough energy to be at the next session with Sri Sri.

This is the third health crisis in my life where I wasn't sure what the outcome would be.

Each time Gurudev has been there fully with me, and the Grace provided doctors full of karma yoga (one who practices to be of service, expecting nothing in return) and a supportive community to help me heal.  Always, my family, prayers and so much community support is present.

During one of these times, I asked Gurudev about the karma that had brought the health crisis about. He immediately stopped me from asking anything more, so as not to bring about any more karma. He then quietly told me to look at how blessed I was, to have so much support during this time, pointing out that very few people in the world have this level of support. Without saying another word he invited me to help him go through his emails. Every letter he gave me to read was about a health crisis with cancer, in a family. By the third letter I looked up, and meeting his eyes, I silently reaffirmed to him, that I got the point. I was so incredibly blessed.

I clearly remember Gurudev's words to me during the 2nd health crisis in my life. I had endured 3 operations in 3 months, and my prana was taking a downward spiral.  After the 2nd operation he called and said, " I just want you to be Badda Bing Badda Boom (nickname), be cheerful. You will heal faster, better." It wasn't easy at all, but I did it. I knew I wasn't alone, and I healed.

 Unlike one of my grandmothers, who was never ill a day of her life, until she fell in her 90's and passed away, I've had a few scary health situations in an otherwise, very healthy life.  Gurudev once told me that each time it happened to me, I'd find that I was stronger as a result of moving through the health crisis, and I have found this to be true. Every one of us takes on the karma of the physical body we take on, it's just the way it is. I'm grateful that I get to learn through these situations; it helps to know that it makes me stronger spiritually.

One can really sink low when the health is poor, both physically, mentally and emotionally.
This is where listening to knowledge, sanskrit chants and keeping positive and loving company will make all the difference. When our prana is going down, illness can set in - when the prana is going up, the healing begins.  Listening to guided meditations, reading ancient wisdom (sanskrit is a language scientifically designed to lift consciousness), chanting (scientifically proven along with meditation to improve health) all work to uplift prana and improve your state of mind, for you.

2015 Recommendations

Resolve to treat one another with greater compassion, be of greater service to others, just drop the "I, me, what do i get, what do i lose" mind stuff. It keeps us small an our nature is to expand.

Read knowledge daily. Meditate daily. Work in teams.
Challenge yourself to express the beauty of human values such as: compassion, love, non-violence, integrity & enthusiasm for life - in the face of ignorance.

Do things to uplift your prana every day: Pranayamas, Meditation, Sudarshan Kriya, Service to Others, application of knowledge, chanting, expressing gratitude - there are so many options!

When we lift our own prana, keeping faith that a Divine power is taking care of us and loves us so dearly, we're able to experience the Grace of the Divine and life becomes...magical for us & others.

I am so grateful my life brought me my family AD, MM, MC, SP the Boone Ashramites and B along with all my friends and soul sisters and of course...SSRS.

I look forward to seeing you at an Art of Living event somewhere in the world, in 2015!

You can check my schedule or request an event at:


To enjoy an online course of Ashtavakra  Gita go to:

To enjoy a guided meditation or wisdom talk visit:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


A dear friend of mine, who has been teaching the Art of Living for years, started asking his students this one question.  It's a question of enormous depth.

How Spiritual Are You; in the face of utter ignorance directed at you like two rockets intended to destroy, when things do not go as you expected, or as you would like? 

This was the challenge nature presented me with, not once, but twice this week.
The first time, I did not handle the situation skillfully or with equanimity.
Sri Sri was his usual loving and patient self, as  I applied the wisdom and eventually came out of it.
Or so I thought....

A few days later, he sat me down and gave me a life-changing lesson on the value of compassion, the true depth of compassion. He lifted my karma and I was happy and excited to apply the wisdom, especially as it was unlocking a place I'd felt stuck in for years.

Little did I know how quickly the opportunity would present itself.

Within days of returning home, I found myself in the exact same situation.
Nature has a way of turning up the volume, once you are given the knowledge!

In 48 hours, another powerful person was personally attacking me and slandering my good name.
They had taken a position and wanted to prove to others I was wrong.
How many times had I done the same thing to another - without awareness?
Since I also would have been in ignorance in the past, I do not remember.

Just as I had done for years when an injustice is happening, whether it's toward me or another, the warrior in me rose up.  I wanted to right the wrong and put this person in their place.

For 24 hours I tripped a little, as I struggled to let go of past conditioning and live the new gem of knowledge Sri Sri had gifted me with.  His words to me, on what true compassion is, and how to move with equanimity were reverbarating in my head. At the same time,  I was burning with frustration at the injustice unfolding. It was like riding a horse (mind) that has completely gone off course, while the rider (higher level of consciousness) is trying to reign in the wild stallion.

Since the understanding was not coming right away, I began meditating.
Still, the restlessness persisted, so I began reading the ancient spiritual text, the Yoga Vashishta.

Eventually, the wild stallion  mind) stilled itself and I realized...

It was up to me to stretch my hand to bring peace to the situation, to maintain belonging. It didn't matter who said what or did what to me. What mattered was how still was I from within, in the face of adversity? Can I keep my  equanimity, even when fireballs are aimed my way? This is the skill in life, and it is priceless.


Years ago Sri Sri told me the story of Buddha and the  man who spat in his face.

When we take the first step to communicate from our heart, regardless of how someone is/or isn't treating us - then we are approaching the ups and downs in life from a place of strength and centeredness. This is when the door opens for real communication, for education in human values, and for the Grace, to enter for all.

I better understand the profound lesson on Compassion from Sri Sri at a such a depth, that words can not do justice  One has to experience it, to go through the process fully.

Rishikesh, India 2004
I cannot stay I will not trip up again on the path.
But one day, for sure, I will walk on this planet, as my Guru walks.

This is what a Guru comes into our life for.
He is a living example, of how we can move through in life with total peace and equanimity, and to uplift others on the way.
It is the blessing of lifetimes.

It is not up to us to add to the negativity in the world.
We are here to bring forth a stress-free, violence-free world.

Be free from your side and leave the rest to the unseen hand. It knows what it is doing.
It will take care and you will be free.  In fact, you are free, right now.

True Compassion is forgiving someone, without them knowing it 
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Friday, September 19, 2014


What does it take to create a Divine Society?
A society where we treat ourselves, one another and all people regardless of age, race, culture or religion with human values?

My experience is that it takes cultivating inner peace in order to share that peace with one another.

Sunday, September 21st is the United Nations Day of Peace.

Join me along with millions of people worldwide on Sunday, September 21st for a #World Peace Meditation at 10am ET. 
Click here to learn more & find a time in your country to join.

Society begins with an individual, extends to the family and then to community.
We are a reflection of what is negative in society, and society is a reflection of what is negative within  each of us.  When each of us reflects human values such as: compassion, kindness, non-violence (in thought, word and action), love, enthusiasm, sincerity, honesty and an attitude of service with others - then we will all enjoy a Divine Society.

Peace in society - really does begin with each of us.