Monday, January 22, 2024

Pianist Senekeremian




Text and photo by Karine Armen

Talented pianist Harout Senekeramian delivered a captivating recital at The Colburn School of Music's Zipper Concert Hall in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 21.

Senekeremian's introduction to the world of piano began under the guidance of Vache Mankerian, his first piano teacher, who imparted virtuosity techniques. By the age of nine, Harout commenced piano lessons at the esteemed Colburn School of Performing Arts. Over the years, he participated in numerous master classes led by renowned pianists, cultivating his musical prowess.

Senekeremian enjoys performing challenging pieces, especially music composed by contemporary composers. He said, “I always include a few pieces by George N. Gianopoulos in my recitals.” Therefore, played Ten Selections from L’Enfant Terrible, Opus 40 by Gianopoulos.  

Beyond conventional repertoire, Senekeremian has delved into the solo piano compositions of French maestro Charles-Valentin Alkan, exploring non-traditional musical dimensions. His musical journey extends to both solo performances and chamber concerts across Southern California, showcasing his enduring dedication to the art of piano.


https://www.88keysmusicacademy.com/harout-senekeremian-piano/


https://www.youtube.com/@alkanian/videos



Friday, January 5, 2024

Inner Heaven, Foreword by Dr. G.

 


photo by Karine Armen


From the few recollections and summaries of experiences that I read, I can admiringly state that Berjik Kurkjian-Giragossian is a truly amazing person, daughter, sister, mother, and grandparent. She exemplifies, in my mind, an eternally curious learner of life who relentlessly goes after knowledge for her own genuine joy as well as for the good of society. She is furthermore a great example of an Armenian/Iranian woman with not only a strong desire for self-education but also the aptitude and persistence necessary to express all her ideas in very meticulous ways that are usually found primarily in scientific studies. Berjik has turned a catastrophic event such as the Armenian Genocide and its devastating consequences that led to the displacement of her family of origin into a fertile ground for introspection and philanthropy that is on par with Victor Frankl’s search for meaning. She, therefore, proves to be one of the few intellectuals in her society who have pursued knowledge and understanding of world matters not from an obligation following a degree but from an inner obligation sprung from love and appreciation for humankind despite the horrifying adversity affecting her past. To that extent, her insight is awe-inspiring, and her self-awareness is exquisite. She amazes me, and her work summons my appreciation for the affection she has for humanity and the efforts she has invested in her writings for the benefit of a healthy society.

Ehsan Gharadjedaghi, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical & Counseling Psychology

Founder and Chairman of the board of Norooz Clinic Foundation

Inner Heaven by Berjik Kurkjian, Articles No. 30-37

 


Art by Melody Khachikian

No 30  Anger

Last week, I talked about conflict management and how to talk to people when we feel hurt by their behavior.  We analyze the problem, see who caused the problem, and deal with it politely.

There are times when we do not handle the conflict assertively. Reacting with anger is harmful and destructive.  Later, we feel remorse for behaving angrily.  It is like a calm pool that is stirred up when somebody throws a pebble in it. The residue comes to the surface and needs time to settle.  During the process of self-awareness, we deal with stirring up old pain and bringing it up to the surface. It is healthy to do that.

It is difficult to change old habits.  We just need to practice and be committed to change.  Remind yourself, “One rainy day in summer is not a sign of winter.” Don’t give up when you feel frustrated.  

We need to continue the process of self-awareness and self-help to become better persons. If everybody tries this, we could have a better society.  We can be aware of pain but not allow it to control us.  We can feel in control, focus on the positive, and enjoy life fully. We will transfer our positive attitude to our kids, the future generation.

February 7, 1988

* Analyzing Pain is translated to Conflict Management.

No. 3  Curiosity

Curiosity is a valuable and vital feeling.  It is also known as the inner eye.  Curiosity helps us to distinguish between good and bad and have perspectives that form our personality.  

Children have a sense of curiosity before they can talk.  They touch things in their environment to learn what surrounds them.  Parents can encourage this sense of curiosity.  They can talk to their kids as they feed or bathe them.  Kids can hear the sentences even though they don’t understand every word and cannot yet talk.  The tone of voice is essential.  They can hear kindness in their parents’ voices.  Positive words will enter their psyche. Kids will learn to repeat positive words and a pleasant tone of voice.

When kids get a little older and ask many questions, parents need to answer them with kindness and child-friendly language.  If parents don’t know the answer to some of their children’s questions, they can say, “Let me find out, and I will get back to you,” or, “Let’s find out the answer together.”  Also, if the question is about a subject they don’t feel comfortable talking about, they can say, “I will talk to you about it later when you are older.”

Curiosity should be encouraged.  That leads to a sense of satisfaction, peace of mind, and happiness.  Our anxieties, restlessness, and anger are the result of a lack of knowledge about our inner world, not a lack of material goods.  We need to continue to improve ourselves by self-awareness and self-help. Then we can have a peaceful world.

February 14, 1988

No. 32  Negative Curiosity, Pessimism

Last week, I talked about the importance of curiosity.  I want to look at its negative aspects.  As I have written before, we have two inner channels, Positive and Negative.  In religion, they are known as heaven and hell, angel and devil.

We get emotional energy from the inner world of these channels.  Half of our energy comes from our emotions and thoughts, and the other half from food.  We need both to survive and live. 

Historically, we have learned to use the Negative Channels more than we know how to use the positive ones.   Some people get so tangled up with negativity and pessimism that they feel trapped.  Sometimes, it leads to depression and suicide.

When kids ask questions, many parents tell them not to be nosey.  “Mind your own business” is a typical answer to kids’ curiosity.  Their positive curiosity is suppressed, which creates negative and insecure people.  Pessimistic people see the negative in everything.  Everything is measured by its financial value rather than spiritual ones.  If they become writers or scientists, they only create destructive things.  Some create bombs and mass destruction tools. 

It is essential to distinguish between the Positive and Negative Channels.  People who compare themselves to others feel frustrated.  The inner contradiction is harmful.

 Fortunately, I was able to pull myself out of depression and despair with self-help.  I look at my difficulties as life lessons.  I wish inner peace for everybody.

February21,1988

33  Resistance and Endurance

Our emotions and talents are intertwined and create our emotional resistance, which is essential for survival.  There are two emotions that are the foundation of all others: the sense of gratitude and hope.

We need to appreciate God's blessings on our bodies and natural resources.  Only when we lose our health do we then appreciate it.  If you think about the price of losing a body part, then you realize you can put a price on your health.

We need to have healthy conversations and dialogue about our blessings and learn to appreciate them.  Don’t take them for granted.  We will feel happy and become optimistic. 

By improving our sense of appreciation and hopefulness, we learn to endure life’s difficulties with ease.  We will become healthy individuals instead of living creatures who carry bags of problems and pain.  I hope we all can accomplish our goals and live fulfilling lives.

March 6, 1988

No. 34  Spiritual and Emotional Food

We exist physically and psychologically with our outer bodies and inner selves.   Our bodies need food and water to survive.  Our emotions need food, too. They need to learn and grow.  We need to read texts that are about our inner world, psychology, self-help, and self-awareness.

Self-awareness is an essential tool for knowing ourselves better.  Financial security brings comfort but not inner peace.  We need physical and psychological peace.

In the same way that we cannot stay physically hungry and thirsty, we need to satisfy our hunger for knowledge.  If we don’t deal with our difficulties in a constructive way, the pressures will pile up and eventually cause more trouble. 

We need to take care of our bodies physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

  April 3, 1988

No. 35  Justice

Living justly and honoring the rights of others is an essential skill that we need to learn.  I start with this quotation, “Treat others as you want to be treated.”  Our lives are journeys that leave good and bad memories behind.  To leave behind beautiful memories, we need to live with good values and norms, honoring life’s principles.  Life goes on, and we need to adjust.  We come and go.  Life and existence continue.

The foundation of life’s continuation is the union between men and women, the family life.  This foundation needs to be strong. The kids growing up in healthy and robust families will be healthy adults, physically and mentally.

When a man and a woman unite to make a family, they need to honor certain principles.  They need to respect each other’s rights, and fundamental natural rights.  They need to communicate openly and honestly.  If there is a problem, they should discuss it with respect.  It is crucial to deal with the issues immediately to prevent build-up and pressure.  They need to treat each other with justice and fairness.

Some might say, “It’s too much work. Who has time for all of this?”  I would answer, “If you want a happy and fulfilling life, then you need to respect others’ rights and feelings.”

April 10, 1988

No. 36   Don’t Be Afraid of Saying No

Iranian culture has taught us cooperation and collaboration.  It is a beautiful character trait.  Cooperation is excellent, but we need to consider our situation, time, location, and conditions.

We can learn to be assertive and say no nicely.  Instead of creating excuses and coming up with all sorts of blame and questions, we can honestly express our situation. When we are not honest in refusing an invitation or request for help, we can cause pain.  Then that person might want to get back at you.  When you need them, they might refuse to help.  In turn, we would feel hurt.  These kinds of unnecessary pains will add up, create pressure, and drain our emotional energy.

Using negative sentences such as “I don’t feel like it” or “I am busy.” creates a bad habit.  We use these draining sentences; they become our reality, and we feel tired.

When we say no just because we don’t feel like doing something, we may later feel remorse and guilt.  It’s better to be assertive and learn the correct way of saying no.

We are social beings.  We feel happier and complete when we say We, not I. If we each learn how to be kind, helpful, and happy, then we can have better relationships with friends and family members.  We will have healthy social lives without conflict.

When a friend asks you for help, first, consider your abilities and time and decide if you can help.  If you cannot do it, talk to that person honestly and offer to help on another day and time.  If you need time to think about your decision, then do not answer right away.  Say, “I will get back to you. I need to check my calendar.”

We can use simple and positive sentences without coming up with justifications and excuses.  This manner of approaching helping others and saying no will save us and others time and energy.  Our mental energy is precious.

April 17, 1988

No. 37  Science Without Execution Is Worthless

During daily conversations and discussions, we express our opinions.  These dialogues are healthy and good if we can implement what we learn.  To have a healthy society, we can start by having healthy individuals, by self-help and self-improvement.

Ignore the pessimistic view. We cannot have spring with one flower; I think that one match can light several candles. It’s never too late to learn something new and improve what you already know.  It is beautiful to volunteer for good causes and help others. Small deeds go a long way.  Helping others has a moral value.

Negative people can ruin our enthusiasm.  We might get affected by their negativity, and our goals become words, not actions.  We need to be assertive and politely tell them, “I am a human being, and I enjoy working, helping others, and being a productive person.”  You can invite them to join you by showing how much you enjoy a full life.

We need to be strong to fight pessimism.  We need to fight negativity knowingly.  We can ask God to make us experienced in kindness and inexperienced in being mean.  The desire to be a good person will make us succeed.  We can accomplish being helpful with a sense of strength and self-confidence.

May 1, 1988


Inner Heaven by Berjik Kurkjian, Articles No. 26-29

 


Art by Melody Khachikian

The original articles were published in Persian at Fogholadeh Magazine.

Translated into English by Karine Armen

  No. 26  Rushing and Impatience

Rushing and patience are two opposite feelings that we deal with daily.  I start with the following quotation, “Rushing is the work of the devil, and patience is the work of the angels.

In most religions, devils are the symbol of bad behavior, and angels are the symbol of goodness.  In psychology, they are known as negative and positive forces.

Half of our energy comes from our emotions and the other half from our physical self.  These two kinds of energy are complementary and turn the wheel of our lives.

  Rushing is different than performing fast.  Doing a job fast and efficiently is due to positiveness.  Rushing is because of negativity and restlessness.

 The emotions that come from our Positive Channels are all healthy, energizing, and productive.  We can improve them to continue our lives nicely.  We can perform our daily tasks and chores with confidence, satisfaction, alertness, and quality.  We can feel satisfied and successful.

The emotions that come from the Negative Channels are destructive.  Their followers are restless, tired, and dissatisfied with life.  They do not know the root of the problem.  The function of the Negative Channel is to destroy.  These people have learned the negativity due to their circumstances.  They don’t know how to get out of their sadness and negativity.  They are unhappy with their situation.

The negative people need to learn how to get out of their situations. Their negativity is contagious and affects vulnerable people.  That creates a hostile environment and society.

The way out of this negativity trap is self-awareness and self-help.  Patience and knowledge of positive emotions can help us to reach our goals successfully. 

I hope our inner angels will win.  We will live free from pain that is due to lack of knowledge.


January 10, 1988

 27  Sleep

Sleep is a natural and pleasant feeling. There are two kinds of sleep: natural and healthy sleep and avoidance.

 Avoidance sleep is the one we choose when we want to run away from dealing with life.  We feel tired and restless after waking up.  The bed becomes our rescue shelter.  We don’t want to face our anxieties, restlessness and anger.  We spend hours in bed wasting time and energy instead of dealing with our problems.

Over the centuries, we have improved our lives.  We have more comfort because of better technology, but we don’t have peace and happiness.  Until the day we genuinely know our inner world and are able to change the bad habits, we cannot be happy.

Before electricity and lighting were invented, people went to sleep after dark.  We came up with the idea of eight hours of sleep.  But in today’s world, we need more time to take care of things.  We feel too guilty about sleeping and think we are wasting time. 

At the same time, we want to sleep enough, and we struggle between doing a lot or getting rest.  This inner struggle and contradiction causes anxiety and insomnia.

We need to accept that it is better to have a restful sleep rather than eight hours of sleep.  It is not the duration of the sleep that is important; it is the quality that matters.

Change of bad habits and fulfilling our inner talents can bring inner peace. We need to live in the present.  We can remember the good memories and have a positive outlook.  Then, we can be free from fatigue.


January 17, 1988

28    Loneliness

We are born alone, and we die alone. We die alone, but we can not live alone. It is during our social interactions, cooperation, collaborations, and friendships that we feel happy.

“When we are with people, we feel alive.” is the quotation I want to begin with today.  Family life is the foundation of society.  Society consists of families. Families consist of individuals. Each individual is valuable.  We need self-esteem, self-confidence, and peace of mind.  We can transfer our peace to our children by our good behavior and kindness.  Gradually, we can have a healthy society.

In our culture, we have learned to please others.  We honor our guests with excellent hospitality, but we could be more pleasant to our family members and ourselves.  “Brighten the street and darken the house” is a famous saying in this regard.

We need to use positive words and drop foul language.  By appreciating the little stuff of life, we grow a sense of gratitude.  We become aware of our feelings of fear, worry, sadness, and happiness.  We can learn how to use each feeling positively in different situations.  We can become a sophisticated person.  We would have the knowledge of how to speak, how to perform at work, and how to socialize and be a productive person.

By using our inner strengths and talents, we can fill our time nicely and not feel empty.  Then, we will not have a fear of loneliness.  We can distinguish between loneliness and being alone.  We will be at peace with it.

             January 24, 1988

No. 29  Language is the key.

Self-help needs listening and speaking.  Half of our being consists of emotions and the inner world.  Our thoughts are based on language.  To have inner peace, we need to learn how to speak nicely with a pleasant tone of voice.

Changing intonations and projecting smiles in our voices can help us to be positive and relaxed.  Language is the key to our hearts.  We can learn how to use this key.  By using these techniques, we contribute to our own mental peace.  We can stay away from anxiety and restlessness by changing our use of words.

Whenever we get upset with our friends, we either cut our relationship without saying anything or we get aggressive and use foul language.  Either way, the result is negative.  We may stay quiet to avoid conflict, but we still feel hurt.  We do not deal with the situation, and we carry the pain, which then changes to deep wounds.

 When we show anger, we allow the Negative Channel to be in control.  We can become a nervous person that people avoid.  We don’t know why we have lost our friendships.

The healthy way to deal with conflict is to analyze it.  What was the issue?  Who was the person who caused the pain?  We need self-reflection.  Did I cause the conflict?  If we did not create the conflict, then we need to talk to that person politely.  This way, we can prevent deeper wounds.  We can practice self-talk using nice words whenever we think.

January 31, 1988

 

 


Inner Heaven Articles No. 21-25



Art by Liam Souren Turner

 No 21  Change

 

We always go through changes, but we can not see them.  Change and growth are part of life. Dealing with the pros and cons of change is a challenge.  I start this article with these words, “Let’s get used to not getting used to.”

     Our bodies and spirits are complementary.  When we are born, we are all equal.  Later, we are affected by our different cultures.

     Growing up, we form our habits.  As adults, many of us change our habits and beliefs in different ways.  That is when the differences between the generations become apparent.  Generation gaps have been problems for centuries.  We can deal with the younger generations in a better way once we become aware of our own habits and backgrounds.  We can have inner peace by self-awareness.

       Our inner needs, desires, and talents grow and change.  If we ignore them, then we will feel the inner disturbance and dissatisfaction of life. To have inner peace, it is essential to be aware that we go through changes.  We don’t have the same needs and desires throughout our lives.

     Sometimes, we have to change our home, city, or country due to circumstances.  Any kind of change, good or bad, is a crisis and creates some level of stress. 

       We can accept our new home or country as a unique experience.  Then we can enjoy the change.  We can keep the good parts of our culture and traditions and adjust to our new culture.  That’s when we can look at each day as a new beginning with its own characteristics.  Then, we can see a sweet and fulfilling life.  

        

December 6, 1987 

         No. 22  Feeling Homesick

 In this article, I want to talk about homesickness.  This is a word that we have used in our culture throughout the centuries, in our poetry and literature.

     We have two inner forces, positive and negative. These two forces are in the struggle with each other.  Most of our opposing forces are due to our cultural background and not knowing how to control our negative thoughts. These negative thoughts create anxiety and restlessness.  With self-awareness and self-help, we can use positive thinking and empower happy emotions.  We can feel satisfaction and happiness.

 A change of location can cause a crisis and create stress.  When we move to a new location, the negative feelings use this opportunity to come to the surface.  The word homesick has a negative connotation of sick.  Allowing this kind of negative vocabulary in our thoughts creates distress.  When we become aware of this fact, then we can be in control.

We can think that we had to move or be dislocated due to life’s circumstances. Instead of fighting it and complaining, we can accept it and look at each day as a new beginning.

We can remember our good memories from the past and keep the good parts of our culture.  We need to live in the present.  We can learn and accept the local culture.  We need to have a positive outlook on the future.

There are good people in every country.  We can make friends with our new coworkers or neighbors.  We can adjust to our new environment and see the positive in everything.  Then, we will not feel homesick.  We will love our new home.

 

             December 13, 1987


 

   No. 23  Inner Peace Means Heaven


  “If we don’t have inner pain and darkness, the world would be a heaven.” 

  I want to talk about this quotation and how we can enlighten and feel in heaven.

     As we know, we have outer and inner selves, physical and mental, and spiritual bodies.  These two are not in contradiction but are complementary.

     Ever since birth, we have had different emotions, needs, and talents.  We need to fulfill these needs and talents; otherwise, we will feel distressed.

     Unfortunately, many people do not have fulfilled lives due to a lack of knowledge about their inner selves. 

     Our spiritual energy is connected to our thought process.  Positive thoughts are productive.  They give us a purpose.  It’s like knowing where we want to go.  We have the directions to our destination.  We go there with confidence and return with a sense of satisfaction. 

      The foundation of our spiritual energy is satisfaction and inner peace.  Inner peace is inner heaven.  It is a pleasant feeling.  On the contrary, negative thoughts create negative energy and worry.  It is like trying to find our destination in the dark with no directions.

   We cannot get to where we want, and we feel dissatisfied.  Dissatisfaction with life drains our energy.  That’s when we feel as if we live in hell. Living in hell is painful and difficult. 

     The answer to living in heaven instead of hell is self-awareness and self-help.  By knowing our inner world, we can create the heaven.  We can do it knowing ourselves with our culture and its values. 

 

            December 20, 1987

 

No. 24  Jealousy

 

We have several feelings, emotions, and talents that we do not use because we are not aware of their existence.  If we don’t tap into these feelings and get them stimulated, we will not know that they exist. The most famous feeling is jealousy.  We have a famous saying in Farsi, “A jealous person never can rest.” *

    Jealousy exists in both Positive and Negative Channels.  Envy is a positive feeling that can motivate us, but jealousy is a negative feeling and can be destructive.  If we recognize this feeling, then we can control it.  Many people use the word “jealousy” in their daily conversations. They tell their kids, “Don’t be jealous,” or, “Why are you so jealous?” etc.

     We use the word based on past habits.  It is a learned behavior.  We talk about jealousy but without being in control.  Jealousy drains our energy.  It creates dissatisfaction with life. Our different emotions are connected and intertwined like a chain.  We need to be aware of each emotion's function.    In order to control jealousy, we need to appreciate the little stuff in our lives.  Appreciate all the blessings that we take for granted.  When a friend or relative shows jealousy and talks about other people’s luck, we can remind them of their own blessings.  God is just, and we all have different gifts.  We can tell them, “It will not be fair if you got all the good things in life and the bad ones are for others.” During these kinds of conversations, we practice how controlling our own jealousy.

     We can change jealousy to envy and use it as motivation to progress.  We need patience and consideration of our abilities. Then, we can accomplish our goals successfully.

 

             December 27, 1987 

* Of course, it rhymes nicely in Farsi

  No. 25  Self-Confidence

Self-confidence means trusting our abilities.  It is a healthy and productive feeling.  Self-confidence is self-reliance and leads to inner peace. 

There are many things in life that we want to learn, but we can only do it some.  We need to focus on what is essential and improve the knowledge we already have.   We can progress financially and emotionally by expanding our knowledge of life skills. 

First, we can ask, “What is life?” The second question can be, “What do I want from life?”  The answer to the first question is that life is a beautiful journey.  It is a path with several turns.  We are born on a beautiful day, and we die, leaving behind good and bad memories.  This is the natural system, and we cannot change it.  We need to accept it. 

For the second question, we need to enjoy the journey.  We need to have self-awareness to enjoy our blessings and have fulfilling lives.  We can transfer this inner peace to our children.

Life is easier than we think. Especially in this century, we have many comforts and possibilities.  If we have clear goals, then we can reach them.  We need to be careful not to repeat our ancestors’ mistakes.  There is no need to be motivated by greed. Every job has its own value.

Even if we are laborers, we need to do it with joy.  We can improve our skills and be an expert in our field.  By satisfying our inner talents, we can benefit financially and emotionally. 

Happiness is not in being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.  Happiness is in self-awareness and tapping into our inner and unknown talents.  Fulfilling these desires would give us emotional energy.

I hope we can all see the world with our inner eye.  By self-awareness, we become confident and happy persons.

            January 3, 1988