Denise’s story

Denise Flora

Denise is a former energy conservation engineer, current music teacher and parent of three young adults. The secular approach of The 16 Guidelines immediately attracted her when she first saw them in 2006. Since then, Denise has participated in several 16G workshops and trained as a facilitator, as well as the methodology of The Seven Steps and Transformative Mindfulness Methods.

She has developed a host of Universal Education resources for adults and children. In 2008, together with her youngest son Denise created the first 16G children's resource Ready Set Happy and most recently an iPhone app inspired by the 16G.

Her varied and creative activities based on Universal Education programmes and principles include weekly lessons for music students, monthly groups for adults to improve both physical and mental health, and quarterly trainings for Sunday school teachers at Kadampa Center, North Carolina, USA.

Denise’s own initiative is called Florasabi, and she is writing several new resources about her personal experiences applying Universal Education principles in her life to share the tools she used - to successfully lose and keep off that extra third of her body weight she was carrying around, to bring Universal Education principles to teaching music, and specific ways to deepen personal 16G practice every day.

What prompted you to become involved with Universal Education?

Our family has many different faiths. We did not have a shared spiritual experience. Through Universal Education it's been nice to have a common language. We know the vocabulary of Universal Education and it brings us together. At the beginning I became involved simply because I wanted to create a set of posters of the 16 Guidelines for the children's room at Kadampa Center. But that was just the beginning of a rich journey to a broader Universal Education understanding and a continuously expanding set of new traveling partners.

What is the most important outcome for you personally?

The Universal Education principles I have learned have helped me to better understand my own mind, to parent better, to be healthier physically and emotionally, and to provide a higher level of service both in my work teaching music students and as a volunteer in my community developing resources for others.

It brings a deep smile to me to hear when Universal Education ideas have flowed through me to others such as when a message on my phone begins, “Denise, this is Don Brown. I have a little success story to share with you about the 16 Guidelines...” and he tells how his five year-old spontaneously used a tool we developed to focus on generosity, concluding, “That was brilliant. To me it was amazing!” Or when one of my music students gains an awareness to manage her fear of storms, or a person I've never met on the other side of the world takes the time to review the app we made to say, “Thank you for the Three Wishes app, I am enjoying it so much each day! “ Or when an adult wrote to say an exercise we did magically improved a difficult relationship he had with a parent. Those moments of realization for others have been some of the most rewarding moments of my life.

How are you planning to apply what you have learnt from Universal Education in your life, work or community?

As an individual, the personal work I did around contentment and the first of the Seven Steps “What do I want?” helped me lose 80 pounds and keep it off. In my family life developing Universal Education resources has given me the gift of talking with each of my children in detail about these important ideas. It is heart-warming to see an integrated attitude of not grasping for material things, or to hear them ask really meaningful questions with great self-awareness, or even at times to have them point out my own wrong thinking.

Most recently I have developed more resources for adults. Through an initiative I called Florasabi I have developed verses, calendars, and other practice tools. Some of these tools found their way into a training we did in London called Peace of Mind in Daily life and others evolved into a book and training and then a free iPhone app called Three Wishes for a Meaningful Life. That training was once attended by three generations of the same family! The app has been downloaded to 54 countries in its first year. In a satisfying full circle, adults, teachers, and families are using this app to deepen the 16 Guidelines.

Related projects

If you are inspired by Denise’s work you can read more about it here:

www.16guidelines.org/publications/29-ready-set-happy

www.florasabi.org

www.kadampa-center.org/curriculum

www.kadampa-center.org/food-thought