Haiku: Writing to Liberate the Soul!

Haiku Poetry is the basis of much of my work including workshops with youth, training for mentors/teachers and my newest addition has been teaching as part of the Options for Living and Learning Program offered for inmates in the DeKalb County Jail (DeKalb County, GA).   Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry that uses 17 syllables to tell a big story with few words usually configured as 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the second line and 5 on the third line.

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(The above picture depics HHW training with mentors in Georgia)

I named it Healthy Haiku to symbolize the organic flow between health and wellness, poetry and other creative arts.  I started this work with children in 2006 and over time realized that adults can benefit from the same information and process – especially parents, teachers and mentors. Three publications and 11 years later,  I find myself loving the work with the inmates – many of whom are parents and others that want to become parents and mentors.  The time spent with them has me at my creative best, helping them to see the infinite possibilities for their lives created anew! The Healthy Haiku process guides them through lessons about nutrition, self-esteem, forgiveness, creations of vision boards and so much more.   A typical lesson (not that any of them are typical per se!) starts with meditation, power cards, followed by the main lesson which always involves some type of creativity on their parts, and we close with evaluations and Namaste (the Divine in Me – Greets the Divine in You!).

I am there to challenge them to “Step into their Power” to stop being mediocre (which it way overrated anyway) and to be about the business of being on their Divine soul journey. Enough with the distractions and playing small. Marianne Williamson reminded us in her famous poem Our Deepest Fear – that ” Your playing small doesn’t serve the world!” Sometimes they get mad at me and it is during those times that I know that I am pushing some buttons and taking them to the edge – heading to a breakthrough. It is uncomfortable there – and there is nowhere to hide and nowhere to go but up!

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(Random picture of female inmates in class – Not taken at Dekalb Jail)

Recently I asked them read a play that I co-created with my teen theater group (Y.E.S. 4 Health, Inc.) some years ago entitled Drive-Thru Justice.  The play highlights health disparities regarding diabetes in the African-American and Hispanic communities. Some of them didn’t quite get the play which the youth loved. Based on science, facts, very dramatic – filled with humor and excitement.  One woman said it was racist. Not – it was based on facts and was meant to educate primarily African-American and Hispanic audiences about diabetes – how you get it, how it is prevented and one community’s struggle to make a difference in health outcomes in their community by highlighting the negative consequences of fast food consumption. One woman who refused to read any of the characters for two weeks straight, was singing under her breath as we wrapped up the class.  I told her that I forgot that she was a singer and asked if she knew “His Eye is on the Sparrow?” and if she would sing it next week in the funeral scene.  Her face lit up with a smile as she proudly proclaimed that she knew it and would be happy to sing it next week! It’s so on!!!Yes! I accept the challenge of making this work relevant to their lives!

Several classes focused on Powerful Words and Thoughts v. Words and Thoughts that Zap your Power!  The writing and reciting of poetry is the last phase of the exercise that starts with brainstorming about the issues for each class. Both Men and Women’s classes this week produced phenomenal poetry summing up their thoughts. Again, haiku is brief but some of them are so powerful that they can leave you breathless. Here they are.  You be the judge.  I am already biased…(in a good sort of way!)

I am so open

To strive for a better life.

Only I can change!

I have the power 

To Encourage the young Kids

Don’t do what I did!

We will go home soon.

They can’t hold me here forever.

God has forgiven Us.

Life is not my Enemy.

Turn negativity into

Positive Energy!

(Not haiku but great words) 

I am a Spiritual Being.

I control my own destiny in Life.

Love is the Greatest Power of All!

(Not haiku but great words)

I am somebody

Who’s talented and gifted.

There is always Hope!

We can do good work

Help a community [thrive]

And see kids achieve!

I am a Black Queen

Who will prosper and Succeed-

Accomplish and Live!

Worthy on this day

Smiles became joyful women

Survivors old Souls!

Seven children born.

Six boys and 1 girl are mine.

Throughout this life time!

Women of soul gets

Tired, mean, weak sometimes.

But as one we all Survive!

I have a big heart.

Anything can be Wonderful!

Always positive!

I am very gifted ~

Blessed by the one who strengthens

With love and giving!

I’m my obstacle.

I’ll rise like dirty birds.

Keep your faith alive!

Stepped up and took control.

No one else will ever know

The road I took here. 

I’m just somebody

Who will let everybody

see I’m no Victim

of my circumstances

in the world!

(Not haiku but great words)

I can do anything

Through God who strengthens me.

A woman I am proud to be,

Gifted and talented, 

No limit on my Destiny!

(Not haiku but great words)

Grew up in Brooklyn

Had to fight my wrongs.

Loved money, women and cars.

Then my eyes opened to the universe

My God and the stars!

(Not haiku but great words)

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Dr. Imani Ma’at is a Health Educator and Behavioral Scientist, Author and Speaker with 22 years of service at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Her education includes a Master in Education from Harvard and a Doctorate in Health Education from Teacher’s College of Columbia University. Her most recent book in the Healthy Haiku Series is Healthy Haiku 3: How to Fight Childhood Obesity One Poem at a Time. This book is a great resource for teachers, parents, mentors and others. It includes science, fun and creative strategies to address  nutrition and lifestyle to prevent obesity in youth and all family members. For more information and to book her for speaking engagements and workshops please fill out the information below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberating Incarcerated Minds with Healthy Haiku

When I first approached the County Jail system it was a good will gesture to offer to conduct one Healthy Haiku workshop for women in lock up. As a result of our first meeting they quickly learned the value of my workshops and officials offered me the opportunity to participate in a new program for inmates by conducting two workshops a week for 8 weeks at a time.  Upon learning  approximately 83% of the women in lock up at this facility were there pre-hearing and pre-sentencing because they did not have the money to make bail, I was even more motivated to share these empowering workshops with the women.  Hence the poverty connection to who sits in jail and who does not.  Most, but not all are young and African American. They have children and families. They have dreams and ambitions – many of which have been subdued and subjugated to another space and time “maybe in my next life.” My mission – and I do choose to accept it – is to wake up those dreams – re-ignite their passions and goals and reasons for being! Encouraging them to be the best that they can be! No easy task for this population. Haiku – an ancient 17th Century Japanese form of poetry that uses 17 syllables to tell a huge story with few words – becomes the gateway for giving them everything I’ve got for building self-esteem, self-love, trust, radical forgiveness, creativity and the return of their voices. Healthy Haiku workshops, originally created for children – I soon learned that parents in general, and women in particular needed to learn this information as they are the primary nurturers – builders or destroyers of self-esteem and the ones that shop for the household (more often than not!)

I waited until after the second set of workshops before sharing on this Blog.  My waiting pales in comparison with the waiting of these women. Most are very young – waiting: waiting in jail for their hearings,  waiting to be united with their children, husbands, other family and friends. Some are awaiting sentencing.   My goal is to help to build them up – mind, body and spirit – to help them to find their voices through discussions and poetry writing about health and wellness. Imagine women who can’t wait to start taking wheat-grass juice and alkaline water on a regular basis!  Just eating healthy food on a daily basis is something to look forward to upon their release.  I  remind them that this “station” in life is temporary and that better life, better days filled by better mindsets, self-esteem and passion for making their lives better – is in their future!

During the workshops we do individual and group exercises, brainstorming and writing. Each participant presents her original poetry to the group, once encouraged to stand straight, speak up, articulate and clearly enunciate.  Communication skills are key to  their effectiveness in negotiating a system that has very low expectations of them based on past interactions. Fueling their new skills and attitudes are Dr. Marianne Williamson’s “Our Deepest Fear (is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure!”) and other positive words and works.

I write this blog because they asked and because it becomes a link between them and the outside world. It is a way to share their words and their hearts. I feel breakthroughs!  Some tears -which I remind them is part of the releasing and healing process – and lots of laughter.  I celebrate their little steps.  When they recite their poetry with the group, I introduce them as ” the Fabulous (and their name). I want for this Blog to be about them – not about me. Their poetry speaks volumes of who they are and of their potential!

I’m in Love with Self

No…I’m not conceited,

Just not going to be Defeated!

 

Now Eye love myself

Before that was a hard task

Where did my love go?

 

If you love your kids

Tell them as much as you can

Let them know you care!

 

Don’t neglect yourself.

Fall in love with who you are.

Fall in love with you!

 

Flying high above the sky

Looking over my life that I’ve deprived

Flopping wings seeking my dreams!

 

Us against the world, My baby

I’ll never abandon you.I’ll always love you

God is within us, Never against us!

 

Happiness you are…

My breath, my life, my shinning star

My dream com true…You~

 

A Grandfather’s Love (my Title) next 3 poems by some person

I loved you when you were here

I missed you now that you’re gone

I wish you could be near to guide me!

 

I have a son that

Needs me more than ever

He’s a ton but I am a proud mother!

I wish he could have met you

So tiny and fragile~

I know you would have loved him too.

I even gave him your middle name, Michael!

 

Whom am I? – Some say I am just a Lady

Some say  I’m a daughter.

And others say I’m a Child of God.

But I tell you I’m all of the above!

Beautiful Black Woman!

 

Why try to hurt me?

That disrespectful tongue of yours.

You would know, or would you?

 

What’s a second chance?

If you’re leaving with no plan?

Time to prove to the man

That we’re worth a second chance!

 

Many  positive comments from the participants:

This class was very pleasant. It made me step out of the negative…if only for a moment!

I always enjoy this class. It lets me realize how much joy is in me!

Love this class!

Lots more to share……next time!  Namaste! The Divine in me Greets the Divine in You! (My greetings as they leave the class!)

(Please check out my most recent book: Healthy Haiku 3: How to Fight Childhood Obesity One Poem at a Time!   a resource for the entire family…On Amazon.)

Howling at the Sirens: Reducing the Noise and Increasing Happiness During the Holidays

What a strange title for a Blog about how to reduce the incidence of heart attacks during the holidays.  Prior to having Rottweilers as pets, as a health scientist formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I researched and often contributed to the body of knowledge concerning high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, heart attacks and how to prevent all of the above. A lot of people go on line for updates about health and wellness including how to prevent heart attacks. A popular resource, WebMD recently posted that ”

“We certainly know that there are certain risk factors for coronary artery disease. There’s obviously smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia [high cholesterol], diabetes, lack of exercise, and age,” says Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, a researcher at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and a professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Since having our dogs we have noticed a strange occurrence.  They, like the coyotes in the woods adjacent to our home in Stone Mountain, GA – howl when they hear sirens.  Well at first (12 years ago) it would happen once in a while – perhaps several times a week.  Now it happens about 12 times a day and that concerns me. Other than the loud noise of our three dogs and sometimes their cousins in the woods howling and disturbing my peace, it now, for me signals emergencies in my neighborhood – many of them possibly heart attacks due to poor diets and lifestyles of residents in my area. I see what people are buying in the local stores and I am all too familiar with the local health stats. So the scientist in me is curious about the correlation between dogs and coyotes howling with an increase in heart health risk factors in my community. They are actually howling as I type……

With the coming holiday season – Thanksgiving through New Years- there is a noticeable increase in the “noise” from our dogs.  Over consumption of processed foods rich in fats, sugars, salts and devoid of nutrients – in addition to alcohol consumption place people at risk for increases in high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and heart attacks during the holidays. People also tend to reduce physical activity while sitting around and sharing quality time with friends and family.

Here are some quick and fun tips that families can do to stay healthy over the holidays (and always!):

  • Fresh fruit and veggie challenge: have a contest (everyone can put $5  -or more in a bowl) each time someone eats a fresh fruit, vegetable including fresh juice – they get a point. Some one must be designated to keep the spread sheet or everyone gets their own. At the end of the the holidays (or designated time period) the one with the most points receives the funds!
  • Family walks: Every evening after dinner, the family can take a nice walk through the community or somewhere safe and with proper lighting. Family can be comprised of family units, neighbors, relatives etc to ensure safety and numbers.
  • Learn new recipes that ensure nutrient rich food intake and reduced calories. Can also be structured as a contest. Be creative!
  • Drink at least 8 glasses Alkaline or clean purified water daily. Make sure everyone in family has their own glass or BPA-free plastic bottle (glass is better though). Encourage water consumption throughout the day. Keep refilling throughout the day!
  • Jumping jacks begin!  If you are physically able, do group jumping jacks, jump-rope or bike-riding.  Make family exercise a routine this holiday season and continue it as a tradition every day!
  • Limit animal products and fats which have been proven to increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
  • Turn off the television.  In some homes it runs non-stop. If it is not on it forces you to get creative about how you spend your time. Being active burns calories. Just do something instead of sitting for hours!
  • Get a copy of Healthy Haiku 3: How to Fight Childhood Obesity One Poem at a Time for lots of additional health tips good for the entire family.

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Dr. Imani Ma’at is a Health Scientist (formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 22 year) Author, Speaker, Radio Talk Show Host, Wellness Coach, and Creator of the Health Haiku Workshops Series.

Click here for more information and booking options.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe any sickness or disease. It is recommended that you consult with your physician or other health care practitioner before starting any new health regiment or routine.

Puppy Litter Reminds Me of the Keys to Natural Health and Wellness

Have you ever watched a dog deliver puppies? What an amazing experience! One of our soon-to-be 3 year old dogs had 7 beautiful puppies last night. Assisting and providing for her through the process was truly a privilege and a gift that I have never experienced in all of my years of raising dogs. I do mean privilege because I remember going through all-natural child birth 27 years ago as though it happened yesterday, Even though members of my family gathered around me, I kept feeling as though I wanted to be left alone and away from any on-lookers.

We have always received our dogs long after they have been weaned from their mothers. In preparation, she vomited prior to the delivery, but that signaled to me that she was almost ready deliver the puppies. She had labor contractions just like a woman and of course I recognized them right away. Her sides expanded and her body shook! She looked a little scarred and I could tell that she was in significant pain. However watching her dive in head first into pure instinct mode was simply amazing! After searching for a few minutes for a birthing location, she quickly decided upon the big dog house on the deck which provided sheltered space – a place where she could protect her puppies and deliver in semi-privacy. She delivered 7 healthy, beautiful puppies in the space of about 2 hours. Instinctively she released each from the birth sac and licked them clean for sanitation and to make sure that they were breathing and strong. After being cleaned, they latched on to her nipples immediately (or as soon as they could find their way to the spot). So yes, I was all engaged in wonder and amazement! What a beautiful natural process.

How close are you to being fit, healthy, and at your optimal weight? What if you are at the age of and ready to reproduce? Can you handle it? What would you need to do to prepare? I am not speaking of the obvious – suitable mate, husband, father, donor – no judgement – that part is on you. But what about your physical body? Have you been eating healthy, natural, organic foods rich with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs? Or have you been eating whatever your palate is yearning for at any given moment? Are you drinking a high quality of alkaline water to make sure that you are properly hydrated? We make life choices on a daily basis. Some support our highest good in terms of health and wellness and many do not.

In ancient cultures the term natural childbirth would have been considered an oxymoron! How else does one have a baby but through the natural process? Duh?? We are gradually getting back to a simple definition of natural health and wellness. One that includes a healthy diet, limited processed foods, limited dairy, limited wheat, limited meats, limited sugars. In fact the increased presence of these foods in our diets over the past 100 years, not to mention larger portion sizes, is directly correlated to present day trends of obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney failure. A good rule of thumb with eating prepared food is to ask if it looked like that when it was growing? The further it looks from how it grew, the greater the chances are that it will not serve you well and may actually harm you.

During the labor, delivery and now nursing stage for the puppies, our dog ate very little and when she did take in nutrients she opted for water, our smoothie recipe loaded with nutrients and minerals and meat (no processed dog cereal).

In our community outside of Atlanta, Georgia, our neighbors are  95% African American. It is a predominantly middle-class area however the unsettling sound of blaring sirens – usually about 15-20 daily (I track them because our dogs howl at the sirens) continues to increase. As a Health Scientist who worked for many years to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I know that the leading cause of death of all Americans (including African Americans)  is hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart disease. We are talking about thick sluggish blood and clogged arteries. How did we get so sick? How did we get so far away from nature in how we eat and live?

We could take notes from the animals – who, no mater how domesticated we attempt to make them – they are guided by instinct. Instinctively We also know what to eat, how much exercise to get, how much water to drink.

The message here is simple, tap into your inner wisdom in terms of what is healthy for you. Tap in to discover the diet and lifestyle that will deliver you to optimal health and wellness and change your quality of life. Read and search for the information on line too. There is very little that is new under the sun! Get quiet and just think about it. Every time you take in something that is harmful to your health and well-being an internal alarm goes off. My challenge to you is to start taking notice – acknowledge the alarms – and make little adjustments by what you hear! It is not magic, but rather instinct and science all wrapped up in one.

Please come back and read some more.  I will be sharing free tips on how to achieve optimal health and wellness through diet, juicing, alkalizing, and so much more.  Also tune in on Wednesdays 10-11:00pm EST to the Stepping Into My Power Blog Talk Radio Show. Are you Stepping Into Your Power by being the healthiest you that you can be? Let’s continue the discussion.

Visit my web site to learn more about my health and wellness offerings and programs. Invite me to speak at your next event!

 

Love & Light!

Dr. Imani Ma’at

 

Global Pain Experience is No Joke… Natural Relief is On the Way!

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Roughly 1.5 billion people around the globe are in pain and experience symptoms of inflammation on a regular basis. Pain is the number one reason why people seek medical attention. —More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain at a cost of around $600 billion a year in medical treatments and lost productivity, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) ( —http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20110629/100-million-americans-have-chronic-pain).

—Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. Pain is cited as the most common reason Americans access the health care system. Now that is Major!!! —It is a leading cause of disability and it is a major contributor to health care costs. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (2006), approximately 76.2 million, one in every four Americans, have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours and millions more suffer from acute pain —(http://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=57.

We (FGXpress) are building a global network of people ~ doctors, chiropractors, naturopaths, physical therapists and lay people that want to assist people in addressing their pain naturally.  FGXpress is a new Division of Forevergreen International – a publicly traded company that has been in existence for 11 years. With a dual listing from the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) as a Class 1 Medical Device for Pain (and the look and feel of skin) and an Over the Counter (OTC) product, FGXpress PowerStrips are a patented fusion of modern energy and ancient herbs. PowerStrips when worn daily deliver  energy to  the parts of the body that need it. The ingredients include: a proprietary blend of Fermented Korean Red Ginseng, Silver Ion, Germanium and a base of minerals ( Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium) and Marine Phytoplankton alpha 3 CMP.

The the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new Forever Green building was just held in Orem Utah. The energy and excitement were amazing. People were there from around the world. We are so excited to be a part of this global movement to relieve pain naturally and are inviting others to join us if you see the vision. You can share this product locally, nationally, globally or all three!

Learn more about the global magnitude of pain as well as the importance of natural approaches such as the FGX PowerStrip for pain by listening to the  BlogTalk Radio Show: Stepping Into My Power which aired on April 2, 2014. Provide your contact information below for a Free Sample of the PowerStrip.

Until next Time,

Peace, Love & Light!

Dr. Imani Ma’at: 800-773-9314, imanimaat@gmail.com,

For more info and orders: Click Here

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New Ebook Fuses Haiku and Public Health to Address Childhood Obesity!

Our third book in the Healthy Haiku Series entitled:

Haiku for Healthy Children & Teens (Vol. 1): Healthy Eating to Prevent Obesity. A Resource for Mentors, Teachers and Parents

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is dedicated to children and teens. Childhood obesity has been the subject of a major health campaign (Let’s Move!)  by First Lady Michelle Obama. It has been a powerful and effective campaign in so many ways – for so many communities.  However, even though it has gained a lot of visibility and support as a public health issue, obesity among children and teens is approaching epidemic proportions.

Once again blending art and public health, this book is packed with scientifically sound information, poems and activities that can be used by families, teachers and mentors.

Haiku for Healthy Children and Teens provides information and strategies for Mentors, teachers, parents and others concerned about the health of young people; and  offers the spark to turn on the “health light”  or power source prompt” in youth who are brilliant by design – from birth. The Haiku and other poetry are meant to serve as platforms for discussion, dialogue and creativity leading ultimately to informed choices that reduce risks associated with unhealthy and uninformed dietary choices.

If there are young people in your life that are important to you, you definitely want to share this book/workbook with them!  Included are lots of activities and places to create your own poetry about food choices and nutrition!

Coming Soon! Expected Release Date: March 1st! Please take our poll and let us know if you would like updates on this book, related programs and services as well as other books in the Healthy Haiku series! Thank you for your continued interest and support!

Dr. Imani Ma’at

“Reinventing Wellness”

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Haiku Tribute to Trayvon Martin…and Change!

  “Them against us and

Us against us ~ Something’s got

To Change or we’re doomed!”

This Haiku speaks about White on Black crimes (or systemic injustices) as well as Black on Black crime (homicides committed daily in the streets of major US cities). Yes, we have to address the systemic injustices by making it illegal to to kill a young Black boy for walking “while Black.” That goes without saying. And, we also have to look internally and do what we can to stop killing ourselves. More young black males die from murder than suicides, accidents and diseases combined. Since the murder of Trayvon Martin, there have been hundreds of young Black males killed at the hands of other Black males.   Do we care more when the aggressor does not look like us? Both types of crimes are wrong, senseless and have to be addressed and halted.

Healthy Haiku Productions is dedicated to making a change in the lives of youth and families.

     Vision: To raise self-esteem and the understanding of important health issues by youth and adults dedicated to improving individuals and communities across the globe.


Mission:​  To offer health-focused workshops, training programs and motivational speeches to teens and adults across the globe.


​     Values: ​ We each have unique gifts to share with the world and a specific path –proper training and skills building help individuals to discover their gifts and paths in life.

Here is a piece that I wrote about Change several years ago and can be found in both Healthy Haiku Publications

CHANGE

Change

     Of the heart, the mind

     The openness to love

     To challenges, risk, failures.

Change

     Of the opoprtunities

     To learn and to experience Life

     Through another lens.

Change

     Of our attitudes about change

     Stepping out of the box

     That is just an illusion anyway!

Change

     Of our Perceptions of time

     Knowing that tomorrow is a

     Day away from when we

     Must start activating our dreams.

Change

     From being victimized to

     Being Energized!

     Ghetto-ized to En-Grandized.

Change

     That makes us stop to breathe

     And be he embodiment of God

     That we were created to be

     In the First Place.

Change

     That makes us tap into our

     Brilliance in a way that

     Sends us whirling through space

     Igniting new stars

     And geniuses along the way!

Change

     So powerful that it makes

     Us realize that the place

     That had us stuck no longer exists

     So we are now freed up and fired up

     To achieve in ways that only mirrors

     The magnificence of our

     Creation on this earth!

Copyright @ Dr. Imani Ma’at

Contact Healthy Haiku Productions to schedule workshops for teens, training for mentors/teachers to learn the Healthy Haiku Approach and Motivational Speaking engagements for High School and College Orientation Programs. Call today! 404-702-4382

or email: drimani@healthyhaikuproductions.com