Patrons & Partnerships

Ep 40: Ghetto Sutras with Dr. K. A. Shakoor

February 09, 2023 Library Partnership Branch, Alachua County Library District Season 1 Episode 40
Patrons & Partnerships
Ep 40: Ghetto Sutras with Dr. K. A. Shakoor
Show Notes Transcript

Thanks for joining us for another episode of Patrons & Partnerships, presented by the Library Partnership Branch of the Alachua County Library District.

In honor of Black History Month, our guest today is Dr. K. A. Shakoor, the director of Gainesville KTC Tibetan Meditation Center and president of  the Mental Health Coalition of North Central Florida. Join us for a conversation about his background, his views on how to foster better mental health, and his book, Ghetto Sutras: Remaining in The Light - The Consciousness of Transcending Suffering and Racism.

Dr. Shakoor: https://www.drkashakoor.com/
Ghetto Sutras: https://www.drkashakoor.com/ghetto-sutras
Gainesville KTC Tibetan Medication Center: https://www.ktcgainesville.org/
Mental Health Coalition of North Central Florida: https://mentalhealthncf.org/

Visit the Alachua County Library District website to browse our collection and to find other resources and services offered at your favorite, local library!

You can view a transcript of this podcast on ACLD's YouTube Channel.

[music]

Tina:

Hello, welcome to an episode of Patrons & Partnerships, the Library Partnership podcast. Today our guest is Dr. K. A. Shakoor. Shakoor, welcome, and could you please introduce yourself?

Shakoor:

Oh, thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here. My name is Dr. K. A. Shakoor, and I'm an energetic life coach and I'm an instructor and facilitator of Energetic Mind Body practices, as well as the president of the Mental Health Coalition of North Central Florida.

Tina:

So can you tell us how you were first introduced to Buddhism?

Shakoor:

I was introduced to Buddhism when I first started with Mind Body practices at eight years old. I started with the art of Aikido; my teachers were Japanese, and they taught Zen Buddhist meditation, as well as I did Hatha Yoga. So that was the beginning. My mother encouraged me to read different philosophies, spiritual philosophies, and I became attracted to

two things:

One was, was Sufism, Islamic Sufism, and the other was Buddhism. And so those two practices stayed with me for a long time. My external practice was Islamic Sufism, my internal practice that I kept in the house when I lived in the Midwest was Buddhism. When I moved here, or even maybe a little before I moved here, I became more external in my Buddhist practice. Buddhism had been with me, I've taken many empowerments and teachings from various Lamas and Buddhist priests, probably since the early 80s. So that's some of what I can say about that. I'm also at the current time, when I came to Gainesville, I became a student of Lama Losang, Dr. David Bole, over at the Karma Thegsum Choling Buddhist, Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center, which I'm - at this point, I'm the director there, now. I started off studying Shamatan, Vipassana, and everything dealing with the Kagyu system of Tibetan Buddhism, that's really helped enhance and perfect and more perfection of the Buddhist philosophy. I'm also, I study Tibetan Medicine under the direction of Dr. Nida at the Sora Rigpa Institute, which is again based on a Tibetan Buddhist form of medicine, even though Sora Rigba is not just a Buddhist medicine, but there's a lot of Buddhist influence there. So I'm currently a student there. I'm in my second year of studying at the institute.

Tina:

So you also work in the mental health profession in the field.

Shakoor:

Yeah - Tina: How were you introduce to that? Well, I've been involved in mental health in one form or another since I was 20 years old, and that's 47 years. So now it's more as being a public servant. I'm a director of the Mental Health Coalition, which is a volunteer position, but it enables me to work with the various partners, the sheriff's department, GPD, North Florida, Shands Hospital, Meridian, the Alachua County Health Department, the VA, among other clinics, and private practitioners that are in the area. We try to work on ways to better promote mental health, to educate the public so that the stigma of mental health is eradicated out of the minds of the people. And that people began to seek mental health solutions because it is a major problem in our society. In the last year, we've been focusing on the east side of Gainesville in particular, to try to build up that side of town because of the amount of crime and other issues that exist on that side of town. So we want to try to even the playing field there. And so that's what I can say about the mental health. At the Sora Rigba Institute I'm studying, right now I'm in the counselor program. I'm studying Western psychiatry, as well as Tibetan psychiatry there. So Dr. Caroline Van Damme is a psychiatrist is teaching us the Western form. And then Dr. Nida is teaching us the Tibetan form. The DMS 5 is a refresher for me, because I started with DSM 3 many years ago. So it's a good refresher. And too do the correlation between that and Tibetan psychiatry, as I would call it in TCM, traditional Chinese medicine is also a mental health component. I wrote a book on treatment of the mind, which is an actual word Shin in Chinese. And I did a comparison between TCM approach, traditional Chinese medicine approach, versus the Tibetan medical approach. So I've always had an interested in, an interest in the mental health aspect all my life, and being involved in Asian medicine, dealing with the treatment of the mind and focusing on the mind has been my main focus, my main concern. And again, PTSD is a major issue so much trauma, nationally the amount of veterans that we have in this county, but all over the country, and then the amount of molestation, which is not talked about a lot, but sexual trauma is just massive. And so I would classify that as a lot of people with PTSD as being victims of that also, even though they might be other classifications you can add on to that. And then depression with the amount of suicide and the massive amount of very dangerous drugs, especially with the fentanyl epidemic and mollies and ecstasy and other kinds that naturally arise of heroin, codeine use, opioid use in our society. And to me, a lot of this has to do with serious depression.

Tina:

And you see a natural integration between the Oriental, or Asian medicine, as it's been changing -

Shakoor:

That integration is happening more and more on a global Tina: Integration - scale, and as we are doing everything we can here in Alachua County to bring that about and practitioners in various cities and townships and counties around the country are beginning to do the same thing. The Veterans Administration or the VA, which is a very large medical network in this country, they have a program called the Passport to Health so there, that's a national program where nearly all their practitioners there - nurses, doctors, therapists - are studying and they have to take courses in yoga and mindfulness. They began to hire acupuncturists there. And so the change is coming about more and more, and other hospital systems are doing the same thing. Many hospitals now hire an acupuncturist. Yoga and meditation is becoming more and more accepted as a medical modality. And they are also doing studies to show the positive results of these things. So again, it takes that whole village of all the practitioners to come together and for the practitioners themselves to understand the protocols of other practitioners so that people are more educated and have healthy respect for one another. Once that can happen, then we'll be able to do more great work in healing people.

Tina:

So I introduced us Dr. K. A. Shakoor. Can you explain what the doctor - Shakoor: I'm, uh - I have a clinical doctorate in Oriental medicine and acupuncture. Okay. Shakoor: Yeah, from the Atlantic Institute of Oriental

Shakoor:

Medicine, which is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Tina: Okay. And that

Tina:

was before you moved to Gainesville, or did you - Shakoor: No, that's once I, I acquired that once I got here. When I first came here I went to the Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine, received two master's degrees in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Asian medicine, which is correct term today, and a Bachelor's in health science. Then I went to the Atlantic Institute of Asian medicine, and that's in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I received a clinical doctorate in the same thing, acupuncture and Asian medicine. Okay. So it sounds like you have interest in both the spiritual and the physical. How does it all interconnect for you?

Shakoor:

Well, I mean, everything integrates, we live in the world, we have our mind and we have our physical body, we have our spirit and energy. So all those things are going on all the time for everybody. Whether we consciously think about it or not. I've been involved with our energetic Mind Body practices since I was eight years old. Starting with Aikido and which is a mind body practice that started in Japan. It's a worldwide practice today, as well as in that class we did hatha yoga, and we also did meditation. So at eight years old, I became introduced to this type of philosophy. But the philosophy was all always suddenly there. Being a sickly child up until that point with serious asthma and bronchitis, those practices definitely served as a, actually served to me recovering and developing physically a strong body to where I participate in sports, and so became more assertive in my personality.

Tina:

It's so interesting to me, I received acupuncture treatments before, I've done - practice mindfulness before, I have some awareness of those things. When I mention acupuncture to other people who have never received any treatment or don't have a lot of knowledge of it, there's still a lot of misconception about it. There's a bit of a stigma, a bit of lack of knowledge about the practice. How do you - what do you do to overcome and inform the public?

Shakoor:

Well, first of all, I became introduced to acupuncture and Asian medicine, A, through martial practice or mind body practices that I started at eight. So many of my instructors were also acupuncturists, or they did Asian medicine of various types, be it TCM, traditional Chinese medicine or they might have done Ayurvedic medicine, depending on what area of Asia they came from. Okay, so that's A; B, also during that period, which was in the 60s, that was a time of serious social change in this country on many different levels. And, naturally, one was dealing with the civil rights movement and situation dealing with minority populations in this country. So the Black Panthers were a very popular group at that time that did a lot as far as social change in the community as far as food programs, very well known for breakfast programs, also setting up reading libraries in the community and they also had medical facilities and this is how the acupuncture started, actually, with the Black Panthers, not with Richard Nixon. A lot of people say, a lot of history say that when Richard Nixon went to China, this made acupuncture popular in United States; actually, the Black Panthers were the ones to do that. They had clinics in various urban areas to definitely address the addiction problem that was prevalent in the community, and one of those persons, who is in prison today, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who was Tupac's step-father, Tupac Shakur, famous rapper, his stepfather was a famous acupuncturist at that time, along with many others. So this is how I became familiar, not being a member of the Black Panthers, many other blacks and whites at that time, because the Panther movement was power to the people. So you had panthers from all the different races. So it wasn't just Black Panthers, a lot of people are not aware of that. So between my martial background, and then playing music, most of the jazz musicians and musicians at that time were into Asian philosophies, at least the popular musicians that I listened to and most of the people I know listened to. So between that and what the Panthers were bringing forth, as far as the Asian medicine, all those things together, influenced me in that way. And then I saw that it worked. And so that's probably the most important thing.

Tina:

And so you just spread that message wherever you can and wherever you're able - ? Shakoor: Well, no; I'm just telling you how I got started as far as

Shakoor:

today, especially going to Dragon Rises, which was founded by Dr. Leon Hammer, who's a psychiatrist who integrated Asian medical concepts with Western psychiatry. His dream was to be able to bridge the gap and integrate Asian concepts with Western concepts because the human body is the human body; it just deals with approaches. So what do I do today? One, I'm the president of Mental Health Coalition in North Central Florida. I'm the first non-western practitioner on that board. I'm actually, as I said, the President of it. So I've tried to do everything I can to educate and bring together the Western practitioners with what we consider non-western practitioner. So it's not just Asian medicine, but besides therapists, Reiki practitioners, and others that are qualified and certified practitioners. That's one thing. Secondly, when we do health fairs in the community, different workshops, we want to educate people on taking more responsibility - mental responsibility for their own health, and looking at all the possibilities that exist. So my philosophy is, and I'm using the cliche that most people use, it takes a village of medical practitioners to heal a person. So not one modality. But many times many modalities are necessary to help a person reach wellness.

Tina:

That leads into this, the question of what do you think are the most prominent mental health issues today?

Shakoor:

Well, definitely PTSD. The amount of veterans that we have, especially here in the Alachua County area, but probably in the country, from Desert Storm up to our present situations in Iraq and other parts of the globe, there are many veterans that are coming back and because of the horrors and atrocities that they witnessed and experience - the PTSD, I would say that, that's just in one area. Then you also have trauma, I would list in the same category because of the amount of child abuse - and it's very prevalent in our society - is still not talked about a lot. But definitely many of the persons I talked with, definitely have been victims of these things. So it especially when a child experienced this, I would consider that a form of serious trauma. In our Asian medicine, we would call it a heart shock. But Western, we would say PTSD. That's just one, so I would say that; definitely serious forms of depression that in many cases on lead to suicide and the suicide rates in all the communities are very high, especially among young folks. So I will say those are two mental health classifications that are very prominent in our society. We have other ones but those would just be two out with mentioned offhand.

Tina::

Why do you think it is that our mental health is not treated in the same way as our physical health? Like there's somewhat of an opposition in the general population to treating mental health as an illness, you know, like mental illness as a health issue, rather than a personal issue with an individual?

Shakoor:

If in fact it's like that, it's because of differences in philosophy. And it depends on how a person looks at things. You know, a lot of people are influenced through their religious upbringing. And so therefore the clergy, a lot of times looks at mental health as more of a spiritual issue. And that really there is no mental health issues - it's a spiritual issue. Then you have those schools of thoughts of medicine that look at the human being as just an animal and we are not spiritual beings at all. So therefore the approach is different. And that's why we have those practitioners, which is becoming more vogue, that looks at the mind, body, and spirit as being one thing. So I think it's the - if there is a problem, it has to do with the difference in philosophy in this. I tend to look at, and we're pushing more and more that it's all integrated, so if the mind is affected many, especially in Asian medicine, many physical internal illnesses, the source of it, is the mind, so we'll say is mind, then we say it's energy - and energy's like a wind, you can't see it, but you feel the effects. And then there's what we call the most evidence based, which is the physical body. So normally, Western medicine addresses, even though there are changes in their viewpoint, they only address the physical ailment, and not looking at the energetic and mental aspect. But more and more this is changing. So I can say that the VA, which I've done a lot of workshops and presentations there, which is one of our largest medical networks in America, has something called the Passport to Health, where they have whole health. And so many of the doctors, nurses and other mental health practitioners are being trained in yoga, mindfulness, meditation, find acupuncture is there, massage therapy, Reiki, and so forth. So this is slowly becoming a part of the landscape of the general medical paradigm.

Tina:

Something that - and this is totally not on there. But something you just said made me think of it. People who make disparaging comments, like, Oh, she's crazy, or he's crazy. Oh, they just need to get over it, things like that. It's so not helpful to people that are actually experiencing mental health issues or illness. How do we get past that?

Shakoor:

Well, that has to do with our culture, and the changing of what the mass media projects and just the re-education, and the changing in our culture, like I say, the media, and how they term things in our music, and our movies, TV shows that highly influence the mind. In time, this type of attitude will change.

Tina:

I hope so. I find and I've heard this before. It's almost dismissive. Even if someone does have mental illness, being called crazy, it's very dismissive of an actual problem that they may have. We don't treat the physical manifestation of an illness the same way - we don't, oh, you know, they just have cancer. What's their problem? You know, it's not?

Shakoor:

Well, let me say this, I will say like - let's take sports media in the last few years that's basically been promoting the fact where many athletes now are coming out saying that they had mental health conditions. And the media is doing a lot to educate the public in the fact that a mental health condition is an illness. And it's something to takes seriously. Naturally, we live in a culture where sports figures are looked upon almost as idols on a certain level, just like in the entertainment field. But I can say, because I listen to a lot of sports radio stations, that's one place where they have a large platform where they're educating people that mental health concerns are something to be taken seriously. And we should respect that. And it's just as serious as a physical condition, because there have been many athletes that had to stop playing, or in some cases have committed suicide, because they had mental health conditions. So more and more this is being talked about.

Tina:

There's more widespread support for the people that are open about the issues that they're having.

Shakoor:

That's right. Yeah, there have been some cases. I can't remember the lady's name. I think Simone was her name? Tina: Simone Biles? Yes. Yeah, where she had stopped practicing and competing because of mental health concerns. So that was a lot of discussion on various radio stations. And naturally, there's some pushback on that, but in most cases, there was support for that. So I think those types of things will change the general public's mind and the terminology to use and what's acceptable and what's not acceptable.

Tina:

So, as far as public awareness, we're so inundated with media, with streaming and instant news and entertainment, sometimes taking the place of, not - I don't want to say "real news" or... information that has more depth, let's say. What would you recommend? How would should people navigate that constant barrage of information and the negative effects that it may have on them?

Shakoor:

Well, first of all, there's no one solution but these are the solutions, are some solutions that I would offer. Number one, at the stage of dealing with children and caretakers and parents should, in my opinion, limit the amount of time that a child is on social media. Maybe allow a few hours a week or something in that manner, and promote more reading of books and other organic type of activities where they're actually using their bodies by participating in sports, going outside, exercising, and like I say, actually reading a book rather than reading it through the computer, because there's already a lot of work they're doing through the computer. So. So that's one level that begins to change future generations, if parents begin to do this. And then as far as adults, they have to monitor themselves and begin to see the need to not necessarily stay on social media and actually follow the same method that I just gave for

the children:

limit the amount of time that they're on social media. I've talked to people to say that they have disassembled or shut off their Facebook accounts and Instagrams and what have you. So I'm not saying you have to go to that extent, but if a person feels they need to, because they become addicted to it, that's the method that's necessary. And so be it. And encourage people to - you know, I'm right here at the library - for people to read books. I carry a sack around with me all the time. And I actually have books in there. So I still read books, not saying I don't look at information through the computer, but I would say over - at least 50 to 70% of my reading is actually a piece of paper or a book. And maybe that's because of my age and what have you also, but I do see the value, there's a difference in reading a book than there's reading everything through a computer.

Tina:

I agree. I - working here, I have read a lot. I mean, I have read a lot my entire life. But I was kind of off of it for a little while. And just, I started back with nonfiction, I love nonfiction, but then have started recently reading fiction again. And just the amount of concentration involved in actually holding a book and reading a book and not being distracted by what might else be on, on another page or on another website. Or it's, it's such a satisfying and relaxing practice that...

Shakoor:

It's almost like a form of mindfulness. Tina: Right. And I mean, it's our

Tina:

mission to try and encourage children to read. And I mean everyone to read, but I feel like we're in this struggle between the electronic digital and the actual physical - Shakoor: Again, like I'm here. And there's a lot of young folks, I see from middle school and elementary school children here, some high school children. For that age, the parents and caretakers have to set a standard there. So that's one way in which this can begin to turn around. One thing about reading, when you start talking about fiction, you do have to - it's almost like a form of concentration and mindfulness. Because you're reading fiction, and it's expanding the imagination. And the mind has to picture whatever one is reading, versus the computer, which is giving you the images that it wants you to see. So therefore it begins to retard the imagination and the creativity in a person, you know, so I 100 percent agree with you that reading, reading, there is something to reading, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, but definitely the creativity is involved in reading a book, and also doing other creative activities such as drawing and painting, or playing music, and also forms of dance. Well, one of the things that we talk about in our Youth Services Training is how the introduction to reading, music, talking, conversation, language... you're introduced to two words that you may not know. Whereas and that may not be the case, and they may be out of context if you're on a digital site, or it's just, you know, you're just playing a game or... Anyways. Yeah. Shakoor: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the thesaurus is not there. Wherein as you saying, when you reading a text, and a word is there that you don't understand, it forces you to get the dictionary or the thesaurus to learn that word. And so it naturally expands the consciousness, expand the vocabulary, as well as the consciousness. So yes. The computer, even though there's a thesaurus, if you Google it, you can Google a word, but most people

Shakoor:

don't do that. So... Yeah. Tina: Right. [laughs]

Tina:

So can you tell us about the work - you've mentioned it already in different parts of the interview - but the work that you are doing in mental health at the Mental Health Coalition?

Shakoor:

Basically, I'm just serving as a facilitator, bringing the various agencies that are part of the coalition, the sheriff's department, GPD, the first responders and fire department as well as Alachua County Health Department, Meridian, Shands, North Florida Hospital, just to name a few of the agents, our partners. And we have other partners also - the VA. To work on projects, to educate the public more on mental health, as we spoke about earlier, that there shouldn't be a mystery behind it, it shouldn't be no shame behind it, it's just like no more than having a cold, you know, it's an illness. And it's nothing for a person to look down or feel bad about. So we're trying to take the mystery out of mental health, A; B, we want to inform people and educate people on the various options and places that they can go if they have mental health concerns, and the various services that are offered. C, we've been focusing here on the east side of Gainesville in particular in the last year, because nationally has been a lot of uprise of crime. On the side of town, a lot of it is mental health motivated, a lot of drug addiction, a lot of crime, a lot of poverty. And we were trying to address all those issues to try to even the playing field in the city of Gainesville. And actually, there's a literacy problem on the side of town also. So we're sort of like trying to focus on all those things. So that's our current agenda.

Tina:

Do you think that Alachua County has a healthy network of resources available to the population?

Shakoor:

I will say as far as what's available, I will say there's a lot of things available. Now, how it's dispensed in the community and the effectiveness in how it's being used might be a different question. But as far as resources are available, I think there are a lot of resources out there available and it's just a matter of people knowing about it, and it's a matter of people taking advantage of it. And it's also a matter of the various agencies making more of an effort to be present in the community, in all the communities, so that people know about it, because a lot of it, we are conditioned, as you spoke about earlier about the media. And we're conditioned to - it's like radio, hearing the same thing over, the repetitiveness of something over and over again. So in the same context, the mental health issues and health issues in general, have to almost be in people's faces so that they can see it over and over again, so that it sticks. It can't be just like a one time thing or something that comes up when there's an emergency or a reaction to something that happens in national news where some tragedy takes place where a shooter goes in and does devastation in a school or something, and it becomes national news. So everybody responds to that particular situation, then it goes away, we have to have that same level of concern, in my opinion all the time.

Tina:

It's almost like the same level of compassion and

Shakoor:

Yes, yes. Tina: empathy. So what is your opinion of the victimhood mentality and how it, how it affects the mental health of people in marginalized communities. I mean, that's like a two edged sword, in my opinion. Individuals have to realize they have to take responsibility for their own self on one end. But you said something earlier about compassion. All of us, especially those people that have money in positions of power, have to realize that the community is like the body. And so if you asked me what I learned as far as medicine, in relationship to social issues, that the society is just like the body. So you know that you can take your toe and you can damage that toe. And if you don't address that, it can turn to gangrene, eventually, you lose your toe, your ankle, all the way up to your knee, up to your thigh. And eventually, it could cause you to die. So in the same respects, people have to realize that you can't turn your head to a certain part of town because you don't have to see it. Because eventually, like that toe, or like any part of our body that we don't address, it can eventually poison the whole, the whole community becomes at some point destroyed. For years, there was serious shootings in the black communities, going back to the 80s. And basically, the media never talked about it. It was never addressed. Once shooting started taking place in white communities, that whole march on Washington almost shut the nation down. But for 20 years, these types of shootings were going on, and still going on. So I'm saying we all have to develop compassion for everybody, for every single person, regardless of what color they are, regardless of what their religion is, what their race is, what their sexual orientation is, or any of that - we are all human beings. And to we in our heart, especially is all of us, but especially those people that can make a difference, can see that we will continue to have this issue.

Tina:

I mean, it is all interconnected, because we all function in society to make it work. So I have a couple of other questions. So you've written a book. Can you tell us about your book, The Ghetto Sutras?

Shakoor:

Yeah, I wrote a book, Ghetto Sutras. And it took me a few years. It's a very thin pamphlet. I wanted to write a book where people can understand about Buddhism, the everyday person could understand about Buddhism in a way which would be a easy read, not a long read, not whole, highly intellectual. And it would be effective, not so much as a way to convince people to be Buddhist. But to understand how - Buddhist principle, because first, we have to understand that Buddhism is not a theistic religion, it's a philosophy of understanding the mind. So anyone can take Buddhist principles and hold whatever philosophy they want to hold. One of the same, one of the main things I've seen in my life is the mind, we're so influenced, as you spoke about earlier with media, there's so much information that's being bombarded on individuals, a lot of times people don't even know what they think. And the mind is constantly going constantly, and people are more so reacting, rather than making a positive response. Because the clarity of mind and mind stabilization is not there. If a person is able to calm and stabilize the mind, a lot of self destructive behaviors would lessen. So it's a matter of understanding people becoming familiar with their mind. And that's free, everybody has a mind. Everybody I feel is responsible for the whole, their own self. So this is basically the purpose of the book. In the book, I have a lot of resources of other materials that people can go to, of various types, depending on their orientation. And then I had a glossary, with a lot of terminology to break down certain words and what they mean. So that was part of it, then another part of it was to help people in the black community understand that Buddhism and yoga and these types of things, were in ancient African civilizations, also, that it's not necessarily an Asian philosophy, it was also - actually, it was all over the world, but definitely I was focusing on Africa. So they would understand their cultural link to it. If people don't understand a cultural link to something, a lot of time, they're not motivated to do things. So they have to see how they can see themselves in it. And so that's true for everybody. So everybody needs, needs, that culturally based on race, culturally, based on gender, people need to see that people that look like you, or the same gender or philosophy of you in the past did something, so this motivates you in that way. And I feel that. So that has to do with having what I call more expansive education that's inclusive of all people. Because all people have contributed to this world that we have today in art, in science, in building just about everything we have, they've been people of all types that have contributed to that. But I don't, I feel that our history books in particularly don't reflect that. So therefore, masses of people don't feel part of the world, the world structure, that I haven't done anything. So that's not just the case of black folks, it's case of a lot of different folks and a case of women also. And the case of people of various sexual orientations that are not mentioned,

Tina:

Did you enjoy the process of writing the book and exploring - Shakoor: When it over I enjoyed it,[laughs] Shakoor: [laughs] When I was doing it, I enjoyed it, but it, it was difficult because of trying to, when you try to minimize information, because what I find in the world today, there's so much going on, people are not necessarily still, as we talked about. So people are not going to take a lot of time reading something, and they're not going to take a lot of time listening to something. So therefore you have to have to condensed and right and to the point. And so that is in that format. And it's effective, so that you can affect the person the way they think about it, or it affects their thought process. Did you get better at it as you progressed? Shakoor: More and more. Every day is about - I was thinking today, it's about minimizing and reduction. You know, it's about getting the point over. And so a lot of times, as doctors as educators, we have to learn how to reduce the amount of academic information and knowledge we have, and break it down to the point to where you can effectively convey it to another person. To me, I feel that's the challenge. And what happens is it becomes a separate, a separation between the intellectual versus the practical, which is the masses of people. Well, I feel even just saying doctor and an educator that sort of encompasses that and that idea of like, You're the doctor, that's the sort of intellectual, the clinical - but then the educator is where you actually take that and you give it out to the people.

Shakoor:

And it has to do with how you view yourself. See, I view myself as just, I'm just another person. I might have these titles and stuff, but I don't think of myself in those, in that context. When I'm talking to somebody, I'm just talking to them, trying to get the information over so I don't necessarily have to use all kinds of big words and technical information because I'm not attached to any of that.

Tina:

So I have one more question for you. What is Maahaah-Rooh and can you explain it to us?

Shakoor:

Yeah, Maahaah-Rooh is nothing but my system of Mind Body energetic practices; I came up with my own system. I came up with this system, but my teachers acknowledged what I was doing and support what I was doing. So Maahaah, Maah means mother, my translation of it means great mother of the light. So mother has a lot of different meanings. In one sense, we all come from a mother. And so in my personal opinion, and what I've seen in life has been a great imbalance in the world between what we call male knowledge and female knowledge, or mother knowledge and father knowledge; and the mother knowledge is intuitive knowledge, self knowledge, and having confidence in yourself, and trusting your internal feelings, you know, and that comes from being still and having clarity. So trusting oneself and looking at the whole environment. Our body is 70%, water, the Earth is 70%, water, maybe a 69 point something, okay, and the rest is solid. And so the water is more like the mother element. And so getting back to more of a balance, we have, in my personal opinion, more of an imbalance, more balance of a, what we call the divine feminine, if I can put it like that. So having more of that attitude to balance things out. So right now, anytime there's an imbalance, then you have disease, so there's an earthly disease, because in my opinion, because there's an imbalance. So that's what Maahaah-Rooh is, to bring - so a person can come back to their natural balance.

Tina:=:

Is this something that you just came to over a short period of time or something that you've sort of recognized over

Tina:

a longer period - Shakoor: I mean, the name came spontaneous. Techniques come about, you know, you teach so many classes, you know, I've taught 1000s of people in my life. I mean, I was sometime teaching at one point 28 to 38 classes a week, at one point. And so as you began to teach, and you're doing movements, you began to - natural modifications take place, because you're working with people of different heights, different ages, different body structures, different health challenges. So therefore, you began to see what works and what doesn't work. So you learn classical movements. And then you begin to see, hmm, some of these movements don't quite work, people can't retain the information. They're not going to practice it at home, because it's too difficult, or it's too hard to remember. So as a result, I created a formula of what worked because people began to feed back to me saying, this is working for me. So when when people say this is working for me, and I hear from a number of people, then that's how I formulate it, because I'm concerned about what works. Mhmm. Well, I've really enjoyed listening to you. I actually would like to explore more, but we're nearing the end. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Shakoor:

Well, I feel that we covered a lot. And I appreciate you inviting me to speak and I hope that anything that was said here would be helpful for who's listening.

Tina:

Well, thank you.[music]

Eleanore:

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