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mindfulness

Do you believe in magic? Despite what you might have heard, it’s real, and it resides within you: Specifically, within your mind. This is because your thoughts and emotions can directly alter your reality.

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Feed On Bliss

Feed On Bliss

The emotional and spiritual transformations that take place on Cura Romana begin as simple, physiological and functional shifts in the body. Essential Spray – coupled with the Food Plan influence the autonomic nervous system via the diencephalon bringing participants greater access to bliss. The program encourages the body to let go of toxic wastes which may have been held in its tissues for some time This decreases the body’s toxic burden. As toxicity diminishes, our living matrix—our body’s fluid, dynamic. continuous webwork of energy, physical substances and light— is enlivened. Our senses are heightened. Cura Romana exerts a calming, centering effect to the body as well, gradually quieting habitual thought patterns so that many internal conflicts and confusions are quelled. INSTINCTUAL POWER Too often, physical illness develops out of unresolved conflicts between our instinctual nature—centered in the diencephalon and primitive parts of the brain, and the intellectual cerebral cortex, with which we are urged to govern our lives. Simeons writes about this at length in his book Man's Presumptuous Brain. He says, and I quote: "An instinct is a very old impulse which is generated in the diencephalon by a combination of hormonal and sensory stimuli. In this process the cortex is involved only to the extent that it censors the raw incoming messages from the senses. An emotion on the other hand, is the conscious or subconscious elaboration of a diencephalic instinct by the cortical processes of memory, association and reasoning. Emotions are thus generated in the cortex out of crude instincts. In primitive man many raw instincts were still consciously acceptable but in urban man this is no longer so. When a raw instinct . . . breaks through all cortical barriers, it is usually interpreted as insanity . . . raw instincts threaten the cortical authority with which man runs his artificial world." Simeons then goes on to describe the cortex as a censor of instinctual expression and action. Once the cortex changes instincts into emotion, it usually censors any expression of that emotion. And, because our culture is built on cortical control and it demeans instinct, illness occurs. As a result of these and other restrictions – both conscious and unconscious – directing our lives, we begin to lose touch with our bodies, our instincts and our bliss, and with our essential self at the core. BLISS FOR FREEDOM Meanwhile, our capacity for bliss, as well as our need to experience it, is inscribed on the primitive brain – almost as deeply as our need for air, water and food. Bliss is the medium through which mind, spirit and emotions weave a tapestry of meaning. Bliss renews. Bliss cleanses. It makes us feel whole, solid, stable and alive. Bliss tells us: 'This is something I want to try', then brings us the courage to go for it. So important is bliss to becoming who we really are and to helping us realize our goals – whatever they may be – that when we deny our need for it, we are forced to look for artificial substitutes. Addictions arise: to food, drugs, alcohol, sex – even ambition. These addictions disempower us, leading us further from the authentic freedom that is our birthright. WAY TO GO The more you become aware of what brings you bliss in your own life and the more you commit yourself to allowing it, the more creative your life becomes and the more support you automatically bring to your overall health and sense of freedom. How do you do this? Begin by keeping a journal which nobody but you sees in which you allow yourself to explore the things in your own life that bring you bliss. Trust what comes to you when you ask yourself “What brings me bliss?” Keep asking the question each day and write down what you get. Then, put your discoveries into action. Commit yourself each week to making time to do three of the things no matter what else is going on in your life. Week by week your capacity for bliss as well as the benefits it brings to you will expand exponentially.

Look Great

Look Great

The word charisma literally means "talent, grace, a favor specially vouchsafed by God". The charisma approach to good looks focuses not so much on specifics as on the over-all impression you create - an expression of your personal and idiosyncratic feeling for who you are and what looks best on you. The charisma approach to good looks is bold, assertive and often witty. And, contrary to popular opinion, it is not the exclusive province of the special elect - women with perfect size 10 bodies and not a wrinkle on their faces. Far from it. Charisma is ageless. It exists in every culture. It is the icing on the cake - the external expression of your unique authenticity which gives you panache, boldness and humor, and transforms physical limitations like wide hips or giraffe necks into assets. It can make a wonderful statement out of a nose that by conventional standards is too big. Charisma makes you stand out in a crowd. Developing charisma of your own can not only be a lot of fun and have a dazzling effect on your outside world, it can even empower you to live more and more from your core. Charisma is something of far greater value than a docile conformity to conventional notions about fashion and beauty. affirming what's authentic What gives you charisma? The Chanel suit you wear? The car you drive? The way you have been taught to use your body or speak your words? Not really. For, stylish or charming as these things may be, they are more often than not chosen without any consideration of whether or not they have a connection with the individuality of the woman who wears them. It is rather like hanging Christmas baubles on a willow tree. As such, they offer little more than the appearance of charisma. And like pastiche, appearances never deceive a discerning eye. Developing your own charisma is first a question of acknowledging that how you look matters. Second, you need to make time to care for yourself and to explore who you are. Finally you have to rediscover the art of play. Your unique nature can be expressed in a myriad of ways, from the most simple and playful to the most profound: In the colors you like best, in the way you choose to wear your hair, the kind of make-up you wear, as well as how you think and talk, and in the deep values you embody; even in the dreams you dream and in the things you do and make - whether they be creations of art, intellectual or physical feats, or your simple day-to-day ways of being. That is why at its essence, charisma is both disarmingly simple and immeasurably complex - neither more nor less than living day by day from a full and honest outpouring of your individuality - that spirit which is unique to you.

End Fear Of Aging

End Fear Of Aging

We have inherited an albatross. It hangs about our necks in the form of a widely accepted, negative, highly destructive view of aging. It’s ugly and simply untrue. Now is the time to explode any false beliefs you may carry about aging—time to reveal amazing truths which lie buried beneath them. NATURE’S RULES Like a beautifully designed engine, your body has been created to live a long and healthy life fueled by nature’s own molecules, not by “drug therapy.” Driven by powerful corporate entities, for more than a century, mainstream medicine has been doling out artificial chemical drugs to suppress symptoms while making little progress towards improving health or slowing age degeneration. Prescribing potentially dangerous drugs in the belief that they can improve the long-term wellbeing of your body year-by year has turned out to be a fruitless task. Back in 377 BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote “Natural forces are the healers of disease.” Nothing has changed since then. It’s time to take a whole new view of the aging process, to discard false beliefs and learn the art of ageless aging. It’s also time to celebrate the process together. QUESTION EVERYTHING In the 1970s and 80s, when interest in gerontology—the study of aging—began to be supported by government funding, age researchers fell into a mire of confusion, primarily because they lacked any conceptual foundation for understanding the nature of aging in its many facets—biological, psychological, and spiritual. They became obsessed with disability, disease, and chronological age instead of seeing the experience of aging as a whole, in all of its positive as well as its negative aspects. Since then, the media has come to focus on the weakness and pathos of the elderly. Scientific literature on gerontology is still obsessed with the issues of nursing home admissions, frailty, and the economic costs of looking after our impaired elders. It is all part of the negative obsession that we as a society seem to have developed with aging. As a result, very little accurate information has become available to bring us a positive understanding of how human beings can function effectively in later life. IGNORE THE LIES How long you live rests largely in your own hands. So does how well you live, how much vitality you have and how good you will look in 20 years’ time. Ageless aging is not an accident of fate. Neither is it heavily dependent on the kind of medical care you get, nor on your genetic inheritance, although certainly both have a part to play. It depends upon how you choose, right here, right now, to live your life from here on out. And this is regardless of how much self-neglect you have poured on yourself in the past. Almost everybody has heard of death curses. Psychological literature is laced with accounts of how Aboriginal witch doctors have brought about the death of the young and healthy by cursing them. No sooner do these people learn of the fate which has been cast for them than they begin inexplicably to sicken and eventually to die. It appears that through complex biological processes, their simple belief in the curse brings about destruction of their organism. LAY THE GHOST In so-called civilized society, we look upon such phenomena as anthropological curiosities—products of primitive superstition which simply don't touch us in our more enlightened age. What we are not aware of, however, is that most of us in the civilized world live under our own brand of “death curses”. They may be subtler than those issued by witch doctors, but they can be every bit as potent in bringing about the physical and mental decline which we have come to associate with aging. Common, unconscious notions such as “retirement”, “middle-age”, “It's all downhill after 40” and “At your age you must start taking things more easily”, are widely held. They can exert a powerful effect on the process of aging by creating destructive self-fulfilling expectations about age decline. Instead of facing the future full of confidence and excitement about what lies ahead, optimism is replaced by anxiety as we are warned to “Be careful”, or “Don't take chances on a new career at your age.” Most of us hold a lot of false notions about aging and life expectancy. These ghosts need to be laid before we can make ageless aging a workable part of our lives, for they are truly legends of the fall, and like many false legends, they carry the warning that if you believe in them, the belief itself goes a long way to making them true. So deeply entrenched are these negative legends in the worldview of our culture that each one needs to be examined quite carefully before we can begin to transform them. TO HELL WITH LIES To most people in the West, old age brings ghastly images of decrepitude—not pictures of vigorous and sexually active old men and women intensively involved in work and looking forward to what comes next. The potential for creativity and enjoyment which is wasted in age-degeneration in the developed countries of the world is shocking. So is the cost to the state in providing medical treatment, hospitalization, food and care for people for whom aging has become a nightmare of physical pain and emotional isolation. Few of us even come close to fulfilling our psychobiological potentials. Instead we look forward to a steady and inexorable increase in morbidity and mortality from one disease to another. Applying the principles of ageless aging, however, will give you a very different view. For the same principles which help keep your skin smooth, your muscles firm and your vitality and creativity high can also reduce the incidence of chronic disease and postpone degenerative illnesses so that if they occur at all, they come only very late in life. BASIC PRINCIPLES So much for the myths of aging. The next time you find yourself grunting when you get out of a chair, or refusing to play run-around after a young niece or nephew on the grounds that you are too old, think again. Forget the myths and remember three important facts: FACT ONE: It is biological—not chronological—age that matters. FACT TWO: by improving your ability to adapt to stressors and maintain physiological balance and function, you can effectively prevent accelerated aging and the degenerative diseases associated with it. FACT THREE: There is even better news. Even when negative changes in your body have already taken place, by making alterations to the way you live and eat, many —in most people even all—of these changes can be reversed. This means that in medically measurable terms—the hard-core parameters doctors use to register health and degeneration such as cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, triglycerides, blood pressure and all the rest—aging can now be reversed, rejuvenating your body and de-aging your life. What was once a pipe-dream, followed by rich eccentrics who had themselves injected with monkey glands or drank snake blood in an effort to grow younger, has become a real possibility. It can be done right here, right now. For me, these three facts add up to the most exciting information to come out of 20th century science related to establishing and maintaining high level health. For the first time in history, ageless aging is possible for each of us—a journey into wholeness, authenticity and fulfilment. What could be better than that? SACRED TRUTHS Your body is a multi-dimensional organism, not a machine: We are body, mind and spirit—so interrelated that they cannot be separated. Each of us is an utterly unique being. Health at its most profound level is a full expression of that uniqueness in everything we are and do. By improving our ability to adapt to stressors and maintain physiological balance and function, we can effectively prevent accelerated aging as well as most degenerative diseases associated with it. Where negative changes in the body have already taken place, most can be reversed. This is measured by hard-core parameters doctors use such as cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, triglycerides, blood pressure and all the rest. Natural methods work best for regeneration and rejuvenation. It’s time to learn to live and think in ways that encourage the best possible expression of our genes. Regeneration is a process by which the body and psyche rid themselves of whatever does not support the highest levels of gene expression, strengthen physical vitality, and empower greater expression of your authentic nature. By living out our unique biological, spiritual and creative potentials, we not only fulfil ourselves, we also bring the greatest gifts we have to offer our family, our community and the world as a whole. Of all the subjects that you asked me most often to write about, how to age beautifully tops the bill. I’m glad. Since I am now 74, I have learned a lot about all of this. So I plan in the weeks and months that lay ahead to send you a number of weekly newsletters and release a number of Sacred Truth videos on how to make practical use of ageless aging principles in your own life, regardless of your age. Be sure to sign up so you can receive them. I look forward to sharing all of this and more with you in the future.

Discipline For Freedom

Discipline For Freedom

We live in an age where discipline is often looked down upon as something which interferes with spontaneity and freedom - something old-fashioned and stifling to life. We tend to rebel against it. But the kind of discipline needed for daily practice of meditation or deep relaxation tends - far from stifling one's ability to be involved in the spontaneous business of life - actually to free it. At first it may take a little effort to get up fifteen or twenty minutes earlier each morning and afternoon to practice a technique, but you will find it is well worth it. The most common excuse is that you don't have time, but the reality is that practicing twice a day for fifteen to twenty minutes will give you time, not take it from you; for you will find that you do everything with greater efficiency and enjoyment, and that far less of your energy is wasted on fruitless activity. Studies show that every minute you spend in a deeply relaxed state yields a fourfold return in the energy you have in your outer life. connect at the core A daily meditation practice gives access to energy resources from deep within through the process of allowing. Regular meditation helps improve your concentration and focus so that you are able to pour all of yourself into whatever activity you undertake. Anyone who has erratic energy ups and downs and mood swings can benefit considerably from meditating for 15-30 minutes a day. The traditional way to meditate is sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor. (Raising your bottom a few inches off the ground helps align the spine and is more comfortable.) You may find it helpful to adopt the Buddhist practice of placing the back of the left hand in the palm of the right one, and it is often helpful to meditate in the same place each time.

Woman Power

Woman Power

I have always found the Biblical expression `Become what thou art' full of meaning. Becoming beautiful is like that. But it is not a static state of perfection, as the glossy magazines would have us believe - one fleeting moment on a well-made-up, well-lit face, captured for eternity by the camera. It is a living process, an unfolding of your uniqueness, no matter what your age or where you start from - a kind of journey which, for me, is one of the two most exciting things in life. The other, I believe, is creativity itself, whether it is expressed in painting a picture, cooking a meal, running a business, loving a man or caring for a child. And the wonderful thing about the whole process of becoming what you really are is that it inevitably leads to greater creativity and satisfaction in what you do. What could be better than that?

Laugh Hard

Laugh Hard

Laughter and humor are much needed in the over-serious world of health and beauty, a world which tends to measure health not as joyous energy and creativity but in terms of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and sedimentation rates. The irony is, that according to the latest research into the mind body relationship, a life which sparkles with laughter is not only good for you because it feels good, it can also help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels. Some researchers believe laughter can help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels far better than high powered medical care and drugs. Drugs, after all, have deeply worrying side effects. The worst of laughter's side effects is joy. When we laugh we shed feelings of judgment, self pity and blame. Our perception shifts and we come to know another level of consciousness. Laughter deepens your breathing, expands blood vessels, heightens circulation bringing more oxygen to your cells, increases the secretion of hormones beneficial to your body, speeds tissue healing and helps stabilize bodily functions. A new philosophy is emerging from studies carried out in France and Canada by philosopher Andre Moreau on the notion that one should seek in all philosophical teachings the keys for releasing innate human tendencies towards humor, laughter and positive energies. It is known as "Jovialiste" which advocates the practice of smiling as a free expression of human vitality and creativity. Meanwhile, hospitals both in the United States and Europe are even prescribing laughter in the form of Jerry Lewis and Marks Brother's films, humorous books and any other simple triggers to put patients into a blissful state of spontaneous giggles. life on the flip side The way that emotions and health are closely related has been investigated for many years. The scientific press is full of papers which show the way that negative emotions such as anger, resentment, fear and despair are major factors in the development of serious illness from cancer to coronary heart disease. Scientists have charted direct pathways between mind and immunity via anatomical connections that link the brain directly to organs such as the spleen and the thymus gland. They have also shown that hormonal secretions induced by emotions and thought patterns create a second pathway between mind and body which is carried on the blood, and there is strong evidence that excess adrenaline from high levels of stress can significantly depress the body's immune system. But until recently most of the focus of mind-body research has been on the negative. Now, thanks to the new fascination with laughter, many scientists are beginning to investigate the biochemical changes brought about by positive emotions and encouraging their use as tools for health and healing. Researchers now find that laughter, relaxation, meditation and hope not only produce beneficial changes such as lowered heart rate and breathing, they can even improve the way your body responds to stress hormones, and bring about a shift in your perception of potentially stressful situations so you can look on them as challenges rather than as insurmountable problems - a vital attitude in preserving and enhancing the health of your mind and body. One of the very best things of all about laughter is that it breaks through the tendency each of us has to take our self and our values too seriously. It breaks down the roles we play and liberates the self locked within. It is our tendency to identify with our own self-created image, fears, beliefs and assumptions that takes us away from the joy which we believe is normal for each of us to feel. Give yourself a chance to laugh, and it will make you feel more alive, healthier and more beautiful. learn to laugh Seek out and spend time with people who make you laugh - often. Look for books that make you laugh, and keep a file of cartoons and magazine articles which you can share with your friends. Learn to be silly sometimes - like a child. Maybe join a drama class where they do improvisation, or make friends with children who still remember how to laugh and play and let them be your teachers.

Charisma—What It Is & How To Get It

Charisma—What It Is & How To Get It

What gives any woman charisma? The Chanel suit she wears? The car she drives? The way she has been taught to use her body or speak her words? Not really. For stylish or charming as these things may be, they are ultimately externals—things put on from the outside. As such they offer a woman little more than the appearance of charisma. And, like pastiche, appearances never deceive a discerning eye. What are the characteristics of real charisma? Where does it come from? How do you get it? And what is living with it all about? Charisma—the real McCoy—has certain characteristics: expansiveness for instance, and energy, joy and creativity. It is not only a way of being which calls forth all the powers of a woman— from the pragmatic to the inspirational, the intellectual to the intuitional. It is also a way of relating to yourself, to those you work with and play with—even to the planet itself—through all of these modes. That is why at its core, charisma is both disarmingly simple and immeasurably complex—neither more nor less than living day by day from a full and honest outpouring of your own individuality—the spirit which is unique to you. CHARISMA—YOUR UNIQUE ENERGY This unique nature, which each woman has but most of us have yet to discover, can be expressed in a myriad of ways from the most simple and playful to the most profound—in the colors you like best for instance, in the way you choose to have your hair cut, the kind of make-up you wear (or prefer NOT to wear). It is also explicit in the way you think and talk, and in the kind of deep values you embody, the dreams you dream and the things you create, whether they be works of art, intellectual or physical feats, or simple day-to-day ways of being. Charisma is also evident in the rhythms and fluctuations of this energy. How different you are, for instance on the tennis court, than when you hold a child in your arms, produce a piece of work, get involved in an intellectual discussion, or embrace a lover. Yet in each of these circumstances, provided you are true to yourself, you will have charisma—the originality of your spirit will shine through. IT COMES FROM WITHIN Contacting that unique spirit, coming to respect it and having the courage to live from it, is what gaining charisma is all about. Sometimes challenging, frequently exciting, this process can be a lot of fun too. As it takes place, the externals—the clothes and make up you wear, the way you move and how you relate to your world, cease to be arbitrary, like things you pick up with uncertainty to carry around with you. Instead they seem to unfold and develop beautifully and mysteriously—almost organically—from within, as ever more honest and potent expressions of who you are. Whatever forms or shapes your individuality takes, one quality tends to permeate every facet of charisma as it unfolds: aliveness. That is where health comes in. Health is right at the core of charisma. The more fully and honestly your unique nature shows itself, the more charisma you will have. Simple? Nothing could be simpler. Yet in our 21st century crazy world, it would seem that our every encounter with the world around us—from breathing increasingly polluted air, to interacting with a media intent upon selling us things we don't need or don't want at prices we can often ill afford—contrives in one way or another to interfere with the process. Decide not to let it interfere with your discovery of who at the very core YOU are. I firmly believe that each of us is being called to become a creator of a new world—for ourselves then for the planet as a whole. I hope you will join me in your own process of becoming, in essence, who you are at the deepest levels of your being. For along with all the horror in our world there is such great promise. Has there ever been a more perfect moment for your charisma to come into its own?

Your Gift Of Health

Your Gift Of Health

Within each one of us lies an essence, a core of self, with one and only one intention—that it may be fully expressed while we live on this earth. With each passing year, I become more and more aware that illness, lack of energy, a sense of confusion or lack of meaning in someone’s life stems from a basic frustration of the expression of their unique essential being. These experiences are calls from your soul. They ask you to become more aware of who you are at the deepest level of your being. They want to awaken you to your unique nature. Energy, power and authentic freedom All healing is a process of transformation. Energy, power and authentic freedom grow as you engage in the process of connecting with your essence and discovering what your values and your soul’s purposes are, then expressing them in how you choose to live your life. To do this, you can call on all sorts of tools and techniques, from detoxifying body and mind, to herbs and natural treatments, to exercises for expanding awareness. Take energy. Being able to live out your energy potential depends on how well you nourish yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually—day by day. It helps to develop a lifestyle that incorporates pleasurable exercise, good food, restorative sleep and other helpful practices—from hydrotherapy to taking super nutrients—that support vitality. But more than anything else, the energy you have depends on how much you are living your day-to-day life from your core and not by trying to follow conventions and other people’s rules. It depends on expressing what you love in the way you choose, and discovering what feeds you most at the deepest levels of your being. soul’s passion Here’s the secret to experiencing it: Begin to live out your soul’s passion day by day. Soon you will be able to call on virtually endless energy. You see, health not only depends on how you eat and what exercise you get or how well you deal with stress. Yes, all of these things are important. But real health doesn’t stop here. Why? Because, ultimately, health is nothing less than the process of unfolding that each one of us has to go through to become more fully aware of who we really are. Once you begin to align your life with your own sense of truth, you will find out that the universe supports you in ways you may never have dreamed possible. unique health I‘ve worked with people for many years, helping them discover their own unique health processes, helping them find out what matters most to them, to discover their needs and longings on both a physical and spiritual level. It has been the most rewarding and exciting thing in my life. Every one of us carries a divine spark which we are here to live out to the full, bringing our own unique spirit into material form as we walk the earth. For me, the beauty of watching this happen to men and women I work with is like walking in a garden and coming face to face with unique flowers, plants, trees and rocks that I have never seen before. There is nothing more wondrous to behold.

Crisis To Creativity

Crisis To Creativity

Christmas had been full of laughter. But on Boxing Day when the children left, Emma began to cry. Grief racked her body. It was as though she had been taken over by a power beyond herself. There was no apparent reason for this, yet it went on for three hours. That was the beginning. Within three weeks, each time she went out to walk in the woods near her house, the trees, the grass, the rocks - all came alive. They seemed to vibrate with energy and to glisten with light, almost to breathe. Their colors had become overwhelming - too intense to bear. Panic set in. This healthy and competent woman in her early fifties feared that she was losing her mind. The doctor suggested tranquilizers, sleeping pills and psychotherapy. "Don't worry," he assured her. "We will soon have it all under control." For Rebecca, 32, the crunch came at work after neglecting her relationship with her lover and ignoring a mounting biological urge to have a child, then passing up two intriguing job offers and working 18 hours a day for seven months on a marketing plan for a new toothpaste. She knew it was just what she needed for a promotion which would make her the first woman on the board. Then the managing director announced the take over. The launch had to be scrapped. The product would have been in direct competition with the new company's own product already on the market. Two days later, her boyfriend announced he had fallen in love with someone else and was leaving. Then one morning while doing her morning run in the park, Rebecca sprained her left ankle so badly that she could not walk at all for two weeks. This meant that now, when it was absolutely crucial that she be at work to secure her future, she found herself completely bedridden. She felt her life collapsing around her and knew she was helpless to do anything about it. the signs of molting Two women in crisis - that moment in life when the foundations of personal safety, beliefs, security or values are challenged, overwhelmed by either internal forces or external events. When any one of us experiences such a crisis it is a sign that a molting is about to take place. We are being asked to walk a passage which, if made with awareness and trust, can expand our experience of life and our sense of ourselves enormously. This demand for personal metamorphosis may be triggered by a death, the ending of a love affair, the recognition that one is addicted to alcohol, drugs or work, a dawning awareness that what you have always worked for and what you have achieved no longer holds meaning for you, the loss of a job or reputation, or even the detoxification process of a cleansing regime. Although each person's metamorphosis is unique, experiences of profound change have much in common. The advice to people in the midst of crisis is pretty standard too. It goes something like this: "Pull yourself together," or "Don't worry," or "Go see the doctor" (who most often supplies a long-standing prescription for potent antidepressants, barbiturates, or tranquilizers). In the case of women - particularly women of menopausal age - the men in their lives (whether they be husbands, lovers or bosses) are frequently made so uncomfortable by the unexpected changes in a woman's feelings and behavior (changes that they themselves feel unable to handle) that they insist she must be mentally or biologically ill. For they, like most of us, just want things to return to normal. We are all afraid of crisis, and fair enough. Change that is truly transformative seldom comes easily. mid-life transition Emma's background was simple. After many years as a successful wife and mother, she approached the time in her life when all of the structures on which her life had been built were becoming redundant. Her children had left home for university and work. Her husband, the managing director of a large engineering firm traveled a lot and she, who had given up a job in publishing twenty five years before to look after her young family, felt she had little to look forward to. Before crisis struck, Emma had become vaguely aware of these things and told herself she should take up a hobby or go back to work, but nothing grabbed her interest. Thanks to the success of her husband's business, she did not need to earn money. When, unable to cope with the strange states of consciousness into which she found herself plunged, and on the advice of friends and family, she sought help from the doctor, he told her she was menopausal and wrote out a prescription for tranquilizers and hormone replacement. Something prevented her from having the prescription filled. "I feared I was losing my mind and I was absolutely terrified that these intense visual experiences together with sensations of powerful energies flowing through my body in waves day after day were a sign that I was actually going to die," she says, "But a small voice somewhere deep inside me kept saying `see it through - don't run away from it.' I didn't know where to turn. Everyone, including my husband, thought I was irresponsible not to do as the doctor advised. The irony of it all was that the one thing on which I had always prided myself was my sense of responsibility." The healing power of friendship As it turned out, Emma was lucky. Despite her embarrassment and shame about what had been happening to her, she frequently spoke about it to people whom she did not know very well. "It was as if I had to tell someone" she says "and I couldn't speak to my family and closest friends since they were convinced I was crazy." One of the people she told was a woman who had herself been through a similar experience five years earlier. Emma, relieved to find anybody who "understood" and didn't brand her psychotic, began spending time with this woman. On the advice of her husband who thought a change of scene would be good for her, she decided to spend a fortnight with her new friend in a small holiday cottage in the Lowlands of Scotland. There the two women lived together, ate together and walked in the wilderness. Emma's symptoms continued, but the woman she was with was not in the least afraid of them, neither did she worry about Emma's intense emotions - feelings of grief at the loss of her children, of uncertainty about her future, of abandonment much like a baby must feel when taken from its mother - nor about her strange bodily sensations which were particularly severe at night. She simply stayed with her friend and allowed it all to happen. In Emma's own words, "The experience of her simply letting me be in the state I was in and her complete sense of trust that what was happening to me was all right was incredible for me. I learnt from it that the death I feared was not physical death as I had thought, but the death of everything in myself that was meant to die - the end of the life I had lived as a mother, always sacrificing myself for the sake of my children and my husband, and the death of my image of myself as a responsible but limited person with no real sense of identity apart from the way I could serve others." After about ten days, her symptoms peaked and then began to subside. By the time she got home she was still experiencing strange energy flows in her body and the colors still seemed extraordinarily bright (it took about three months for all that to change) but now she no longer feared what was happening because, she says, "I could feel for the first time in my life that there really was something inside me - something very alive and real. I am determined to get to know it and to find out what it is all about. Where it will lead I don't know. I have begun to paint - to try to get some of that vibrancy of color on paper. Incidentally, a lot of people don't like the `new me'. They prefer the `good old reliable Emma'. But I feel, far from my life being over, that I am beginning a new adventure and that wherever it takes me, it is uniquely mine." harbingers of change This sense of impending death which Emma experienced is common in the experience of molting. It is something I have experienced again and again before a major change takes place in my life. As American expert in transformative psychology, John Wier Perry MD says, "Whenever a profound experience of change is about to take place, its harbinger is the motif of death. This is not particularly mysterious, since it is the limited view and appraisal of oneself that must be outgrown or transformed, and to accomplish transformation the self-image must be dissolved... one is forced to let go of old expectations... let oneself be tossed about by the winds of change...cultivating a more capacious consciousness, open to new dimensions of experience." Perry, a Jungian analyst, encourages people to work through their experiences - even when they are very extreme - without the mitigating effect of drugs. Instead they are given the support of a safe place to be while their particular molting is taking place, and a lot of loving support from people who have, from experience in their own lives, learned to turn the experience of crisis into a passage to power. Perry insists that, like the crab in need of a new shell, what precipitates such a crisis is the surfacing of energy from deep within the psyche, which has been bound up in the structures of a self-image or a worldview that has become obsolete - too limited to suit a person's needs. where inner and outer meet One of the most common objections amongst conventional "batten-down-the-hatches" psychologists to viewing crisis as part of a transformational process is that, while a crisis such as Emma's appears largely to have arisen from within, that of Rebecca was triggered entirely by outside events - the company take over, the decision of the man in her life to leave her, the accident to her ankle which put her to bed - all things over which she had no control. Or did she? According to British transpersonal psychologist Barbara Sommers, the outer and the inner world are not as separate as we might imagine. A woman like Rebecca may be far more responsible for precipitating the outer events that triggered her crisis than she thinks. Each of us has an inner and an outer world. When these two get out of balance, say, by emphasizing external or material values to the detriment of more personal deeper values, then a person invites disruption. The more someone like Rebecca pushes on with her ambitions and neglects her inner voice, the closer she brings herself to situations that precipitate crisis. Then crisis becomes a way of rebalancing things by forcing her to turn and look within. Things fail: She loses the man she loves because she has, by her actions, undervalued and neglected the relationship, and she damages her body so she is quite literally forced to go to bed, to be alone and to listen to her inner voice. In Sommers' words, "The real woman inside her doesn't like the way she has been living so she starts to cry out, `What about me?' The more she drives her energy into her conscious external life, the more power from her unconscious is generated to redress the balance. The `feeling' side of her (as opposed to the `doing' side) actually magnetizes a field around her so things start to happen." According to Sommers the important thing about Rebecca's crisis is that out of its forcing her to be with herself, instead of constantly being caught up in doing, comes the opportunity to ask questions such as "Who am I?" and "What do I want? - is my goal really to have a seat on the board? Or is that something I think I want because my father, my society, my friends think it is important?" All crises big or small are opportunities to get in touch with the wholeness of ourselves, not just to live lopsidedly or as partial people pushed into the way we are living by our culture, by education or by other people's views or values. rehearsal for change All crisis offers transformation provided, as the poet Rilke says, we have the courage to embrace it: "...this very abyss is full of the darkness of God, and where one experiences it, let him climb down and howl in it (that is more necessary than to cross over it)." Let yourself become aware of any structures of your own life - emotional, physical, environmental, intellectual - which no longer serve you and the choices you are making. See if there are any passages that are appropriate for you to make consciously. Making simple changes willingly can be useful practice for developing the skill of transforming crises, when they appear, into passages to power. You might like to experience the passage to new energy and clarity that a detoxification diet followed for a few days can bring. Or you might try doing without some addictive substance or activity which you feel is draining your energies. If you choose to do either, notice any changes that come about and pay attention to any messages that you get from within in the process.

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