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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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Charisma

Charisma

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 speaks 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 to 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. This unique nature, which each woman has but most are still trying 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. 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. Being healthy is a lot more than not being sick. It means having access to all of your energies from the physical stamina you need on the tennis court through the depths of your sexuality and creativity to an expanding awareness of how your mind works via the complex interface of your body's endocrine and nervous system. Such an awareness which can not only help keep you healthy and free from the ravages of premature aging but, according to advanced research may even give you the ability to alter your external reality by choice. The more fully and honestly your unique nature shows itself, the more charisma you will have. Simple? Nothing could be simpler. Yet in our society in this last decade of the 20th century, 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. That is why another aspect of developing charisma is the process of gaining a strong awareness of ones own values and of finding ways of separating them from those which we are all constantly being sold by the exploitive 20th century urban world in which we live. (This by the way is every bit as important a part of health and beauty as the kind of food you eat for breakfast and the kind of creams you spread on your face.) Health, like charisma, also comes from within. Yet health needs a lot of support from the outside too - in the way you eat, exercise, deal with stress, look after your body and learn to listen to its prompting so that your potential for energy and aliveness can be maximized. For most of us this doesn't happen automatically. We have to learn how to create a high level of aliveness and to become wary of all the things which can impede it. Take toxicity in your body for instance. The build up of waste products in the cells restricts metabolic processes and depletes energy. It can also result in a great variety of unwanted conditions - from cellulite to poor skin, and anxiety and depression to degenerative conditions such as arthritis, obesity and cancer. Yet in an urbanized polluted environment all of our bodies tend to build up more waste than they are able to eliminate efficiently. Such a build up impedes aliveness. So part of developing charisma means sorting out a lifestyle for yourself which encourages continual detoxification. It can also mean learning about specific techniques from daily skin brushing, to special breathing methods, or hydrotherapy tricks which you can call on for periodic spring cleaning. To live with charisma in the fullness of ones being, to live with charisma, each of us needs continually to break down barriers, to bring to consciousness the self-imposed limitations we have been living with and to open oneself to new possibilities whether they come in the form of physical beauty - hair, body, skin, nails and all the rest - or new passions and ideals. It is a funny thing about self-expression. We in the Anglo Saxon world tend to think of it as something rather self-indulgent or self-obsessive. We have been brought up in a culture that affirms the value of altruism and insists that one should forget oneself in constant service and self-sacrifice to others. This is particularly true of women, many of whom spend their whole lives in one way or another denying their own needs and worrying about others or following a career path which society's values (not ones own) have imposed upon them only to wake up at the age of 45 to find that they feel lost, empty, and that life appears without meaning. The truth is that at the heart of serving others, as well as at the core of nurturing life lies charisma - an ability to express the totality of one's being. For only then can you bring to whatever else you are doing the full impact of your aliveness through beauty, intellect, enthusiasm, compassion, creativity, fun and joy. The pathway towards fullness of being often lies through a tremendously exciting exploration of such very personal and supposedly self-indulgent things as the kind of eyeshadow you wear or how best to look after your skin or make yourself look more beautiful. It is only when the pursuit of beauty becomes a thing apart from the expression of one's individual nature (like the notion so many women have that they will not be acceptable unless they wear designer clothes or paint their faces perfectly in order to be 'acceptable') that it goes all wrong. This is because beauty treated only as an external has sad repercussions for your own sense of self-worth. Like the old mechanistic world view which has blinded us to what we have been doing to our planet, it can imprison you within false images and limitations which make it impossible to live creatively or bring the joy of your own unique energy to those around you. So forget fears of narcissism and self indulgence. Each woman is unique and the charisma which celebrates that uniqueness can not only lift her to new levels of joy and energy and accomplishment but also enrich the lives of all who know her. Perhaps most important of all, through the expression of that uniqueness in her feelings, thoughts and actions, it can enable her to play the unique part she has to play in the future of her society and of the planet itself. Sounds revolutionary? It is. But this last decade of the twentieth century the astounding is becoming commonplace and the impossible a daily occurrence. Who would have thought the Berlin wall would fall? Exercise Let's get down to the nuts and bolts of charisma - the seemingly superficial trimmings such as make up, hairstyle and fashion which can help you explore who you are and feel good about yourself. As you will discover, when you select these trimmings and trappings from core impulses and desires the results are anything but superficial. The first step in developing your own brand of charisma is to get to know and make friends with the many facets of yourself. Each facet is like a character just itching for the chance to play a role in your life. When you encourage your characters to find expression, your reward is not only a great deal of pleasure and fun, but an abundance of core energy. THE CHARISMA DETECTIVE EXERCISE The following steps can reveal clues to characters inside you which carry energy for you. Answer each question as fully as you can in your journal. Also make a note of any feelings (good or bad) that come up as you do the exercise. You might like to work with a friend, one of you asking the questions and noting down the answers while the other allows her fantasies to run free. Whether you work with a friend or on your own, let yourself play at it. Although the issues that arise are important ones, exploring charisma above all means having fun. Choose a Photograph Find a photograph of yourself that you like. (For some this may not be easy, but you can at least find a photo that you prefer to others). Ask yourself why you have chosen this picture. What do you like about the person you see? What qualities does she have? How is the person in the photo the same as, and how is she different from, the person you feel yourself to be now? Scan Your Wardrobe Make a note of any item or items of your wardrobe that you really love - things you feel good in, for example a dress, a pair of shoes. (It could be something from your past or even something that you once borrowed.) Now ask yourself what it is you like about the thing. What qualities does it express? How does it make you feel? What image/character does it suggest? Pick Your Accessories Make a note of accessories, past, present or future, that you particularly like. Include jewellery, scarves, belts, hats, gloves, glasses, the lot. What is it about the accessory that you like? What does it remind you of? What part of you does it express? How About Your Hair? Ask yourself what was your favourite haircut or hairstyle/hair colour ever? Why did you like it? How did it make you feel? What aspect of you did it express? What Is Your Make-Up Look? Ask yourself is there an item of make up that you particularly like? Or more than one? What do you like about the way they make you feel? What part of you do they help to express? WHO ARE YOUR CORE CHARACTERS? By the end of this exercise you should have an idea of the types of images that are inspiring and hold power for you. See if you can group the images under a character or several characters that can serve as reference points for you. For instance, if you are inspired by a pair of bright red shoes because they make you feel bold and daring and suggest the sort of woman who dances on table tops, your character reference point might be "The Flamenco Dancer." Here are a few examples of characters which may help you to find labels for your own: The Romantic The Shaman The Seductress The Amazon The Athlete The Artist The English Rose The Witch The Gypsy The Glitzy Power-Broker The Princess The Anarchist The Nature Spirit The Earth Goddess The Clown The Gamine The Executive The Sophisticated Lady The Country Lady The Medieval Maiden WRITE YOUR CHARACTERS TO LIFE If one or more of your characters is particularly exciting, get to know her by writing her into existence. Describe her as fully as you can. What does she wear? What is her hair like? Her make up? Her nails? How does she move? Where does she go? What does she do? How does she speak? What does she say? What does she like and hate? Although simple, this exercise is powerful and can evoke a lot of different feelings, thoughts and memories. Whatever comes up for you, acknowledge it by writing it down, no matter how insignificant or stupid it may seem. Anything can be a clue to helping your charisma unfold from the core. Commonly women feel a sense of hopelessness and longing. They may have an image of a character who seems to be everything they feel they are not. Then, instead of inspiring them, the image overwhelms them. If this is the case remember that your character carries energy for you because she reflects an important part of you. No matter how far away from the you which you know she may seem, you can begin to live her right now. Obviously if your character is a waif-like wood nymph and you are 3 stone overweight it will take time to adjust this difference. Nevertheless it may be that by rearranging your hair or wearing a colour that the wood nymph would wear you can begin to draw upon her as an inspiration and start to tap into her quality of energy. Let these images inspire, not discourage, you. The best way to deal with a sense of discouragement in the face of anything that seems impossible is to begin by making a tiny step in the direction you want to go. We have learnt over and over that the way to climb a mountain (either physical or metaphorical) is just to put one foot in front of the other. Crack the Codes of Convention In exploring charisma it can be very freeing to break the rules and try something completely new. For instance, if you always wear make up to work, dare one day to go completely bare faced. One of us (Leslie) used to frequently go to work as the health and beauty editor of a magazine with a naked face. She found it immensely freeing to break the rules and discovered it gave her a fresh sense of herself.

The Electric Universe: Thunderbolts Of The Gods

The Electric Universe: Thunderbolts Of The Gods

This Documentary is a remarkable eye opener to the nature of our universe and the power of electricity. This is a must see for everyone but particularly for anyone who is interested in learning about the nature of the magical universe we live in. Details of the Electric Universe Thunderbolts of the Gods by David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduces the reader to a former age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events. The 108-page full-color monograph, based on the life’s work of the two authors, offers a revolutionary synthesis of historical investigation and the newly discovered “Electric Universe.” Talbott and Thornhill claim that cosmic upheaval occurred so recently as to have profoundly affected early human cultures, provoking “incomprehensible” myths, symbols, and commemorative practices. Through a synthesis of ancient testimony, high-energy plasma experiments, and space age discoveries, the authors bring the ancient world to life. If their hypothesis is correct, it will surely alter many paths of scientific investigation as well. The little-known study of powerful electrical discharges in plasma is a new and exciting development in plasma cosmology, with profound implication for space age astronomy. Talbott and Thornhill have followed these developments because they see plasma science as a bridge between the ancient and modern worlds. To advance their case, they present side-by-side comparisons of laboratory plasma experiments and globally recurring symbols of the ancient sky. The evidence, they report, shows an ancient obsession with extremely violent electrical discharge formations in the heavens. At the core of this reconstruction lies the unique behavior of plasma. Plasma, often called the “fourth state of matter,” has been studied for less than a hundred years, and only in the recent decades of the space age have some physicists begun to realize its importance to the understanding of structure in space produced by electric currents. All stars and astronomical objects ranging from supernovae to beautiful filamentary nebulae are now known to be constituted of plasma—a conductive medium that permeates the near-vacuum of space. Charged celestial objects move within insulating cells of plasma that may discharge spectacularly upon close encounters. The plasma discharge currents take complex filamentary forms resulting in the panoply of astonishing structures seen by Hubble and other new telescopes. From these discoveries, a new approach to the understanding of the physical universe is emerging. This approach is called plasma cosmology. Through unimaginable labors, our ancestors carved unexplained pictures on stone, numbering in the tens of millions. But what inspired this massive endeavor around the world? The laboratory experiments make clear that the ancient artists were copying spectacular electrical phenomena in the heavens. Indeed, the global correspondence between laboratory discharge forms and the pictographs on stone is so detailed that same-scale images.

Psychic Scrub

Psychic Scrub

When it comes to rejuvenation on an emotional and spiritual level, the most powerful way there is to liberate life energy is simply to tell the truth. This means nothing more than allowing yourself to be what you are, without the pretensions or self-limiting assumptions that can unconsciously block the experience of being fully alive and able to make full use of your potentials. Far too much vitality lies stillborn beneath patterns of addictive behavior, fear, and heavy psychological baggage - the kind of stuff we all carry around with us to thwart our energy and make simply being who we are hard work. life energy thwarted The physical, emotional, spiritual and social environment in which most of us grow up rarely supports the full unfolding of our individual nature. As a result, like a plant trying to develop in depleted soil with too little rain and too little sun, each of us develops our own brand of disharmony and distortion. We may try to change ourselves to be what we think others want us to be, or we bury deep inside us all our fears, disappointments and frustrations lest they rock the boat of our day-to-day lives. Every past experience, all thoughts, perceptions and fears, can become encoded within the molecular structures of the body in the form of layer after layer of old "stress". Later on in life such `encoding' can manifest as muscle tension, metabolic processes that don't function as well as they should, negative thought patterns and recurring emotions such as fear, anxiety or depression. This happens to all of us to some degree. When we carry around a lot of old stress we can also gradually develop a lack of trust in ourselves, a lack of confidence, or a feeling of being unworthy or guilty. We can even end up burdened by a sense of meaninglessness which leads to addiction, or greed for material things, so that no matter how much we acquire we never fill up our emptiness. polishing the lens of perception At the core - at the very center of our being - beneath whatever physical, emotional or mental rubbish we have accumulated, is where true freedom is to be found. Rediscovering this freedom is essential for rejuvenation. It asks that we let go of distorted habit patterns, fears and frustrations which have developed over the years, and gradually reassert our trust in our essential self. The false ideas, notions and habit patterns that suppress and squander our life energy make us highly susceptible to early aging. They represent psychic and spiritual rubbish which is not only a big energy drainer but can cause as much free radical damage as living on junk food or taking drugs. The wonderful thing about the psyche is that, like the body, given half the chance it will detoxify itself so that life-changing psychic and spiritual energy is released. Psychic detoxification brings a spiritual rejuvenation in its wake that can echo throughout your whole life, adding the freshness of a child's vision to the wisdom you have developed over the years. There are many ways to go about it. Good psychotherapy can help. So can meditation, certain energy approaches to exercise such as Chi Chung, Tai Chi, Yoga and martial arts practices - provided they are taught with a real understanding of the spiritual power that underlies them. But one of the simplest to learn, yet most effective ways of doing this is by autogenic training. It costs nothing but a little time to learn the technique. Once learned, a daily practice of five or ten minutes a day over time can clear away psychological blocks and lift off stresses that have been locked deep within for a lifetime.

In The Psychiatrist Chair

In The Psychiatrist Chair

BBC Radio 4 recently contacted me for my permission to re-broadcast an interview I did with Professor Anthony Clare on “In the Psychiatrist’s Chair”. Born in Dublin in 1942, Dr Clare’s broadcasts were fascinating to listen to. He became the voice of psychiatry to millions in the British Isles for more than two decades. His goal with his interviews was always simple: To uncover and reveal the inner life of the famous and successful. I was honored when he asked me if he could do an in-depth interview about me and my life. His questions are candid, probing and sometimes unsettling. You who send me so many wonderful comments on my blogs and weekly newsletters on lesliekenton.com and curaromana.com often ask me to share more of my personal life with you. To know more about me, a great place to start is listening to Anthony’s “Leslie Kenton In the Psychiatrist’s Chair”. I’d love to know from you if you think he got me right. Hope you enjoy it.

Relaxation Response Meditation

Relaxation Response Meditation

Harvard professor and expert in cardiology and behavioral medicine, Herbert Benson MD, began the first scientific studies into the effects of meditation almost 40 years ago. Ever since, Benson and his colleagues at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital have continued to conduct clinical research and to map the benefits of regularly practicing the relaxation response: In Benson’s own words, "a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress.” The relaxation response can enhance brain function, slow age-related changes, stabilize heart beat, alleviate anxiety and dissipate stress. What is even more remarkable is this: When ordinary people with no training of any kind practice the relaxation response once or twice a day, it brings about cognitive restructuring and rapidly alters the expression of their genes. When it comes to rejuvenating, regenerating and healing the body, these findings are nothing short of revolutionary. LIVING STRESS-FREE Herbert Benson first described the relaxation response as the physiological opposite of the stressed fight-or-flight response. Working with his team, he then went on to pioneer the application of mind/body techniques to a wide range of health issues and meditative practices. They charted the measurable physical benefits which accrue from practicing any form of meditation, including those that rely on the silent repetition of a mantra—a word-sound. Meditation using a mantra has a long tradition. Some mantras are considered “sacred words” that hold particular sound vibrations to transmit particular powers. Each spiritual tradition has its own mantras, such as Guru Om, Om mani padme hum, La ilaha illa 'lla or, in the Catholic religion, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Whether their magic aspects are true or not, these techniques work beautifully to replace the habitual chatter that runs through one's mind, worries about things past and things yet to come. BENSON’S QUANTUM LEAP To learn a relaxation response meditative practice (which I have recorded on video so you can do it with me), Benson suggests you choose a word that is pleasing to you. It could be anything, say, “flower”, “peace”, or “love”. He likes the word “one”, as it is simple and has the connotation of unity about it. Here's how to do it: Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed for fifteen to twenty minutes and a comfortable chair that supports your back. Sit down and close your eyes. Give yourself a moment to settle in and you are ready to begin. Simply sit there, feet on the floor and eyes closed, quietly repeating your word over and over to yourself: “one...one...one...” Whenever your mind wanders or you are disturbed by a sound or thought, simply turn your mind gently back to repeating the word again. That is all there is to it. After fifteen to twenty minutes, stop repeating the mantra and get ready to open your eyes. Open your eyes, stretch, and go about your everyday activities. This is a particularly useful technique once you have practiced it a few times because you can do it in so many different places, such as in a waiting room or on a commuter train or bus. Herbert Benson Interview: Enhancing Health Through Mind Body Healing [video type=youtube src=v=KZ7JfC3_Zgc poster=http://d3oy45cyct8ffi.cloudfront.net/health/video/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/02/hgerbert-benson-INTERVIEW.jpg ]

Transfigure Your Life - Part 2

Transfigure Your Life - Part 2

The reward of each and every hero’s journey is life-transformation on every level—caterpillar into butterfly, base metal into gold.  Gifts from experiencing this process are legion.  They range from radiant wellbeing, creativity and joy, to becoming free so you can live your life authentically from the core of your being. If you have not yet read “Transfigure Your Life Part One”, I suggest you do this now before reading further... SPIRITUAL SANCTUARY As we move into the second part of every hero’s journey, we enter an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous realm.  Yet it is here, within your own dark inner cave, that you begin to discover your unique life purpose and values. In Arthurian legends, this Innermost Cave is the Chapel Perilous—a dangerous room wherein the Grail is hidden.  As each hero enters his or her dark cave, they need to be prepared for a new reality.  To a woman, this is the place where the mythological Dark Goddess dwells. To a man, the cave is often the arena in which he will need to fight his unique dragon so he can win his treasure. In stories of male heroes, the central image for what is sought is often a gem or a radiant jewel.  For a woman, it is frequently the image of a child—an offspring of her own spiritual rebirth. Instead of having to slay a dragon, a woman often has to remain in this place, enduring what can seem like unendurable silence.  She needs to listen and learn before she unearths her own treasure. Sometimes, as a woman makes her descent into the innermost cave, she tumbles headlong into an experience of the dark night of the soul. Often the hero’s journey a woman makes takes place around the time of menopause. It can be fraught with confusion and grief, or filled with loneliness and anger.  Meanwhile, in this place of bone-chilling darkness within her own being, she may feel turned inside out, naked and exposed.  For all the things she thought she knew about herself and her life no longer apply here. WOMAN’S WAY Far away from comfort and companionship—which she may, at this point, only vaguely remember—silence pervades.  Endless tears without name she may shed.  Occasionally, when a woman enters the innermost cave, she may not even have the strength to get dressed—let alone cook or clean or buy food.  To friends and family, she may seem like a lost creature.  She may forget things. She may dig in her garden or wander in the woods.  Yet all these tasks are wise woman’s work. The route that can eventually lead her out of the underworld and then return her home in a transfigured state is not the same as that of a man.  He often needs to move up, away from himself, to locate his path.  For a woman to find the treasure, she must lay aside any interest in culture or games of the mind and turn within. As she does this, she becomes more and more connected with her body, her sexuality, her dreams, images and desires.  And, as she moves even further into the depths, she begins to reclaim those parts of her that have been lost.  Here, in the ground of her being, she will come face to face with her greatest yet most rewarding challenges.  Here she will confront her fears and touch the pivotal crux of her hero's journey.  Here she tastes “death” by facing her own shadow.  And, when at last it is all over, the Dark Goddess waits ready to bless her and bestow upon her the greatest treasure of all—her body and soul.  But this is not the end of any man or woman’s hero's journey.  These heroes are soon faced with the task of bringing this treasure back home. It’s a job easier said than done. THE ROAD HOME The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy escapes from the castle of the wicked witch. Luke rescues Princess Leia and gets the plans of the Death Star. The Princess throws her frog against the wall and he turns into the beautiful prince.  Yet the game is far from over.  Having survived the ordeal, withstood the pressure, slain the monster and taken possession of the treasure, every hero now has to make his or her way home. Further challenges invariably appear.  Dorothy discovers that the hot air balloon which the Wizard has provided to take her back to Kansas is not the sure form of transport she had hoped.  Toto runs off after a cat.  In trying to bring him back, the balloon takes off without her and we fear she may be trapped forever in the underworld.  Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are pursued by Darth Vader as they make their escape from the Death Star.  Joan Wilder—having defeated the evil men who wanted to kill her and steal the stone—returns to New York, where she faces the arduous task of turning what has happened into her next romantic novel.  It is never an easy task for any hero to pass back and forth between ordinary and non-ordinary reality.  For much energy is spent during the supreme ordeal, and he or she may not have banished their enemy completely. Sometimes, on the road home, the hero experiences a sudden reversal of fortune just when he or she thought that the worst was over.  Should this take place, he or she is being given a chance to test out those newfound powers by overcoming adversity. There may still be a few shadows lurking—old ideas, old ways of doing things. But the game has changed now.  While within the innermost cave, an alchemical process has been completed.  We are no longer the men or women that we once were.  Now we need to learn new ways of living, and new methods of returning to the surface, because most of the rules we once lived by may no longer apply. DEEP CLEANSING In primitive societies, after a woman had entered the traditional moon lodge for a few days during her menstrual period, or when a man returned from a hunt, they were required to be washed and purified before being allowed back into the community. After all, they too had visited an underworld of non-ordinary reality while away. They had walked in the land of the dead.  Any blood that had stained their hands during this experience, or any soil that remained on their bodies, needed to be washed away.  At the end of a hero’s journey, the newly born offspring is now returning home in its transfigured form. This, too, is a time for spring-cleaning the body and mind, for doing whatever is most comforting and rewarding so the returning hero regenerates him or herself—perhaps by listening to music for hours on end, awakening at dawn to take a long walk, or carrying out some ritual  or meditation to help refocus life while getting used to being home again. Finally, he or she arrives back home with the elixirs, treasures, wisdom and knowledge.  The mysterious world of non-ordinary reality has been entered. Trials have been faced and overcome.  In the process, they have made a deeper connection with their own essential being. Dorothy gets back to Kansas having learned that she is loved and finds that, after all is said and done, "there's no place like home." Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star so peace and order can return to the galaxy.  Joan Wilder writes her book, keeps the faith and gets her Jack, complete with alligator boots and a boat in which she can sail around the world.  Their hero's journey has come full circle.  They have returned to the place from which it started.  Yet for neither is this place as it was before their journey began. For, having brought back home the power and the blessing they earned while in the numinous realms they visited, they have been reborn.  In truth, even the world itself has been renewed. ENDS AND NEW BEGINNINGS A woman who completes her passage into the underworld and returns discovers that, within her darkness, confusion and loneliness, she has discovered a new joy, a new sense of meaning.  She now knows that the world which once seemed fragmented now all fits together.  She has tasted—often for the first time—her own authentic power and freedom.  She knows that she no longer has to live by other people's rules.  Indeed, she is likely to find it is no longer possible for her to do so.  She is no longer ‘seducible' by those who once made her feel inadequate so they could sell her another body, another BMW, another love affair to fill up the emptiness that used to be there.  Having been released from all of this, she has become set free to learn the new art of living as mistress of her own life. And so a hero's tale ends. Yet one big question remains for each man and woman who has chosen to make the journey.  What will they do with the treasure they brought back?  In most of the male myths, there are said to be two choices.  Either he takes his treasure into his castle and lives happily ever after or, like Percival, having found the Grail, he decides to share it with the world, so that the Fisher King's wounding is healed and the land that had become barren and devastated by his wound becomes fertile again. MY OWN EXPERIENCE It is my observation that, having completed her hero’s journey, a woman has no such choice.  By her nature, woman is more connected with the energies of life and the powers of the earth than her male counterpart.  She is therefore more aware of the interrelatedness of all things than most men. Sooner or later, most women heroes have no choice but to share with others the wisdom they bring back.  The female hero has by now incorporated the essence of the Dark Goddess—the most essential, generous, wise and healing of female energy—into her heart.  The mysterious goddess has communed with her wordlessly.  Now she too has become a keeper of the wisdom by which battles are won and lost.  She has  also tasted the power and the joy of transfiguration.  Now, like the Dark Goddess, she often develops a passion to share all this with the world by nurturing her own life as well as the lives of all living things. BOUNDLESS ENTHUSIASM Doing what somebody else wants you to do is living by a slave mentality. It is a perfect way to encourage physical degeneration and lose touch with your own unique truth and creativity. Now, however, you begin to live in freedom.  Whatever you do or say as you learn more and more to trust yourself flows forth with enthusiasm from the core of your being.  Little wonder, since the word entheos means ‘god-filled.”

Inhale

Inhale

Like music and meditation, aromatics can be used to alter your consciousness and deepen your awareness. Using environmental fragrances is also a delightful way of lifting your mood and sharpening your mind. A cool whiff of neroli sets your brain racing. Sniffing white rose can nestle you down into the most enjoyable indolence. Immerse yourself in the rich warmth of the ambergris and, even if you are the most timid of creatures, you can begin to feel bold and daring. Tibetan lamas mix an extraordinary combination of herbs and flowers to produce an incense which heightens concentration and centers the mind for meditation. In ancient times, temple prostitutes knew every secret of blending aromatics to create a heady aphrodisiac which was completely irresistible to their worshippers. And astrologers advised their clients which balm to use when a specific planet made particular transits in their chart. The special substances that make all this possible are the plant essences - the light, fine, almost etheric essential oils taken from roots, leaves, barks and flowers of plants in their prime of life. A plant essence plays an important role in the plant's growth to maturity, is forever changing its chemical composition in the plant, and is present in greater quantities in young plants. Many experts in the use of plant essences believe that, in some way that no one has been able to identify, these substances contain much of the life force of the plant, including the basic characteristics of its leaves and flowers that give it a unique character, smell and ability to affect human beings in specific ways. Some plants, such as jasmine and rose, require hundreds of pounds of live flowers to produce even a tiny bottle of the essence. They are very expensive. Other oils, such as cinnamon and basil, are easily extracted and inexpensive. But you should know that the 'synthetic' version of a plant essence (in spite of the fact that its main constituents have been chemically reproduced) does not have the same effect on a person. This is probably because the terpene alcohols, phenols and esters that make up these natural substances have a synergistic quality - they work together to produce an effect greater than the sum of each working on its own. Some natural therapists rely on many plant essences for their restorative and stimulating actions in treatments for skin and hair, as well as for combating cellulite. They are also important constituents in many expensive face creams and lotions. But the way in which aromatic vibrations from essential oils can be used in your environment to alter mood and mind is something quite different from their therapeutic uses, when mixed with carrier oils and spread on the skin in aromatherapy treatments. Oil of geranium, for instance, is a mild diuretic useful in aromatherapy for treating fluid retention, eczema and anxiety. But burn it as incense, or let it diffuse into your environment as a fragrance, and it can make you act with uncharacteristic rashness - an effect quite separate from its therapeutic properties. Aromatherapy is a tool for healing. Aromatics belong to the realm of magic. The best way to discover what its magic can do for you is to experiment with a few of the real essences. Start with six, and then enlarge your repertoire as you get to know the quality and characteristics of each, and as you discover those you particularly like. Because they are natural substances, and highly volatile, they rapidly diffuse into the environment. They just as rapidly disappear or can be replaced by other fragrances. When you choose essences and oils for burning, make absolutely sure that those you buy are natural. The current fascination with aromatherapy has led to the appearance of a myriad of poor quality so-called essential oils, which are nothing of the kind. They are cheap chemical analogues and are currently being sold in chemists, department stores and specialty shops all over. Trying to use them for mind-bending is a grave mistake. They can actually make you feel quite sick, not to mention the unpleasant fact that they tend to infuse into a room and then imbed themselves in the carpets, curtains and furniture with the tenacity of a cheap perfume. Only real essential oils have mind-bending magic. But what a wonderful magic that can be. Cedar heightens creativity Chamomile soothes panic and hysteria Marjoram calms irritability, soothes panic Cinnamon is a natural stimulant Frankincense calms irritability and impatience Neroli is an anti shock aid, and heightens mental functions Basil banishes fear and indecision, and is antidepressant Clary sage clears the head after mental activity Juniper improves concentration, and banishes fear Sage dispels anxiety Lily restores energy Geranium is anti-anxiety Ylang Ylang is aphrodisiac and antidepressant Lavender calms irritability, and soothes impatience Patchouli is an antidote to apathy, and is good against exhaustion Peppermint uplifts the spirit, is good against apathy, and is a mental stimulant Jasmine is an antidote to shyness Sandalwood helps new ways of thinking Rosewood calms an aggressive mind Vanilla heightens nostalgia - especially for childhood USING AROMATICS FOR MINDBENDING * Put 30 to 50 drops of essential oil or oils into a half pint size spray bottle filled with water. (The kind you use to spray plants is ideal.) Use this mixture as a room spray. * Put 8 to 10 drops of essential oils on a small piece of cardboard and place it on a warm radiator. * Put 5-10 drops of an essence on a small plate and put it on top of an aga or wood stove. * Place a few drops of essential oils on a cotton or linen handkerchief and sniff it periodically. (This is a particularly good method if you are in a public place where the air is full of cigarette smoke or the room is stuffy.) * Place 10-15 drops in water which is simmering on a hob. This will humidify the environment as well as scenting it.

The Bliss Of Ageing

The Bliss Of Ageing

whatever brings you bliss Growing older can be wonderful, unless you are full of foreboding about the process. Like most women, in my late thirties, I spent time worrying about my looks. Would they last? What could I do to hang on to youth? On dear! Oh dear! Then, by the time I reached 50, I had become so deeply involved in a fascination with living in the moment that my angst over the aging process had dissipated. Each morning I would run along the cliffs above the crashing Irish Sea in Pembrokeshire, followed by a 6 a.m. swim—not because it was good for me, but because I loved the joy and feelings of exhilaration this brought me. I had learned a secret: When it comes to aging, nothing is more important than filling your life with whatever brings you bliss. living in my body I had long been intrigued by weight training. So at the age of 51, I talked a Welsh champion weightlifter into teaching me the ins and outs of using weights properly. Rhodri, 26, lived and breathed weights. There are few things more wonderful than learning any skill from someone who is impassioned by what he teaches. We started training together for 21 hours each week—I kid you not. We did weights, tennis, running, swimming—the lot. It was hard for me, but I was determined to keep up. Gradually I could feel my body becoming stronger. It changed shape and became more fluid. My vitality increased. I noticed that, for the first time, I was actually living in my body instead of my mind. Rhodri taught me something else equally valuable: how important it is to make downtime for recovery. Dynamism is great, but it needs to be balanced by stillness and rest—another source of bliss. This lesson has served me well—one I had desperately needed to learn. Until this day, I take a nap every afternoon. Discover this for yourself Weight training may not interest you. Why should it? But what does fascinate you? Think of one or two things that might bring you your own experience of bliss. Learning to dance or sing? Writing a story, weaving, caring for children in need, creating a new home or a new business? What do you long to learn or to do? Try it, learn it, practice it wholeheartedly while living in the moment. It can not only bring you bliss. Believe it or not, pursuing this can also make you healthier. When all is said and done, the most important advice to anyone who wishes to age well is simple: Make a commitment to honor yourself. Decide that, as each month passes, you will choose to live your life more and more from your essential being—the unique, authentic core of spirit and energy that is you at your best. Doing this can bring the greatest fulfillment, satisfaction and freedom you will ever experience—not just for yourself, but for those you love and the world all around you as well. Have a go. Discover this for yourself.

Secrets Of The Moon Goddess

Secrets Of The Moon Goddess

A woman's average menstrual cycle is 29 1/2 days—exactly the length of the moon's passage from new to full and back to new again. In tribal cultures, where women live in close physical proximity to each other and their natural menstrual cycles are not disrupted by such things as alterations in exposure to natural light, electromagnetic fields, drugs and hormones, not only do they menstruate at the same time, ovulation tends to occur when light is brightest at the full moon, and menstruation begins during the moon's dark phase—at new moon. There is by no means anything pathological in any woman in the modern world not cycling in this particular natural rhythm. However, it has also been demonstrated that the menstrual cycle can be regulated according to the exposure to varying degrees of light, which mimic the waxing and waning of the moon's phases. Under such circumstances the three phases of the moon—waxing, full and waning—correlate exactly with the monthly cycle of ebb and flow of female hormones—the oestrogen dominated proliferative phase, ovulation, the secretory luteal phase, and menstruation itself. SPLENDID PASSAGES In the realm of myth and symbols, these phases are superbly mirrored in the three phases of every woman's life—childhood, before the sex hormones begin to flow, the childbearing years, which begin at the menarche, and the postmenopausal years of the Moon Goddess in her Crone guise. In ancient cultures, the moon was considered the source of fertility and birth. She ruled destiny and time, the secrets of the unseen world, transformation, death and regeneration. It was the moon's power that quickened all of life. Sowing and harvesting were done in harmony with her ebbs and flows. It was the moon which grew bright then darkened and disappeared altogether each month that taught people that nothing in life is constant. The only thing on which you can rely is change. The moon became a symbol of the cycle of transformation that makes its home in a woman's body, while woman came to rule all things that involved change. Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, professor Emerita at UCLA, is the acknowledged world expert on Neolithic goddess-centered cultures in pre-patriarchal Europe. Author of more than twenty books, she paints a richly detailed picture of their social structure, agriculture, customs, rituals, religion and art. Much has been learned in recent years about the nature of the goddess-centered cultures, which existed for literally tens of thousands of years in Europe and Asia. The miniature sculptures that have been unearthed in the past twenty years give insight into the great variety of female manifestation of the divine which appeared as long ago as 27,000 to 25,000 years BC. Three thousand of these have been found in Siberia alone. In The Civilization of the Goddess, a monumental encyclopedic book which has already changed history, Gimbutas writes, "According to myriad images that have survived from the great span of human prehistory on the Eurasian continents, it was the sovereign mystery and creative power of the female as the source of life that developed into the earliest religious experiences. The Great Mother Goddess who gives birth to all creation out of the holy darkness of her womb became a metaphor for Nature herself, the cosmic giver and taker of life, ever able to renew Herself within the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth." WOMAN’S MANY FACES We learn from ancient sources that, like woman herself, the Moon Goddess has many faces. At the new moon, she is the Virgin Goddess, wrapped in enthusiasm for new beginnings as seeds sprout and first shoots appear. When her second phase begins, so does puberty. Buds turn into flowers and flowers to fruits as virgin becomes transformed into Divine Mother in charge of procreation and sexuality. She is the pregnant goddess, mistress of animals, bringer of life, the Madonna. As the moon begins to wane, woman passes through her next initiation to a time of harvest and a time of death, during which all that is old becomes compost for her new life. It is the Dark Goddess who rules the darkness of the moon, death and rebirth. Ancient statues of the Dark Goddess carved in bone, marble, alabaster or clay are often white—for white is the color of death. Bones are turned white by the elements. The big breasts and hips you find on statues of the Divine Mother become replaced by stiff nudes. The Dark Goddess is often depicted without breasts, her hands either on her chest or extended along her sides. She is shown with an enlarged pubic triangle, for the Dark Goddess of the waning moon is not only goddess of death but of regeneration. She rules the time in a woman's life when everything that has run its course, everything which has become outmoded or no longer has meaning in a woman’s life, must be destroyed to make way for a more authentic life. THE GIFTS OF MENOPAUSE Menopause is the initiation of the Dark Goddess. It is the passage during which a woman is asked to confront the possibility of her own death and probe the mysteries of decay, dismemberment, and regeneration. For only through the death of the old can the exciting new birth that awaits us take place. As menopause approaches, often a woman wants to spend more time in nature and to feel her spirit fed by the earth. The fear of menopause and the fear of the Crone, so widespread in our society, are nothing more than a reflection of our misguided fear of death itself. For, in today’s world, we have forgotten the great cyclic flow of birth, flowering, death and regeneration that is hidden within the circle of the moon—as it is within all life—and reflected in the circle of our own souls. Little wonder, since our patriarchal culture denies cyclical time and views events as linear. In linear time, the end is not connected with the beginning. Birth and death are not viewed as two vital passages in a continuing cycle of life, but as opposites—the one to be celebrated the other to be resisted at all costs until the bitter end. It is no wonder our society wants to black out menopause and to reject the older female. In the fearful fragmented world we live in, this appears to be the only way that human beings can deny for a time their own mortality. This is why the Dark Goddess remains a focus of fear and loathing in stereotypical male-dominated linear thinking. BANISH FEAR AND CELEBRATE Any woman who does not break through the limitations of such thinking and move beyond it risks becoming so paralyzed by fear that she looks upon The Dark Goddess (and menopause itself) as an enemy to be resisted. In truth, she is the archetype-medium by which the internal split that took place thousands of years ago between woman and her feminine nature can be healed forever. She is death's priestess. It is she that wipes out outmoded patterns of thinking and living. Then, acting the role of the midwife, she brings new forms of living to birth. The Dark Goddess—often called the Crone— can seem a terrifying figure to the uninformed women approaching menopause. She has so long remained repressed within our psyches that, when at last her energy rises and she makes her presence known, it can sometimes feel like an earthquake, a volcano, or some eruption of Nature that occurs to us as when pressures held too long within the earth are released. Yet the Crone has always been present in our lives: She has appeared each month as the moon grows dark and menstrual blood—the source of all creation—flows. Now, as menopause approaches, the Dark Goddess comes at last to rest within a woman's being. For instead of being released each month, the dark blood of creative power is retained within a woman's body and made available for her use. MONUMENTAL TRANSFORMATIONS The presence of the Dark Goddess in a woman's life is easy to spot. She arises whenever we experience dramatic changes—the death of a loved one, loss of a job, disfiguration. She is our teacher who guides us through the transformation that is being asked of us onto a new level of being. She is there in our deepest despair and at times when we connect most powerfully with our own creative fire. She is the hand-maiden that nurtures us through dark nights once we are willing to make the descent into our own psyche, and connect with whatever forms are sleeping there, so we can begin to live our own power. When these connections are made she is present too. She teaches us by her presence alone to become deeply and spontaneously sexual, assertive, straight, incorruptible, prophetic, intuitive and free. All of these qualities arise at menopause. These are the most precious gifts of the Crone. They herald the beginning of what is potentially the most creative part of any woman’s life... This time in which her biological creativity is let go of to be replaced by creativity of the highest order in any woman’s life. It must be said—it is these powerful gifts of the Dark Goddess which are still the most terrifying threats to the linear patriarchal culture of control in which most of us still live. More to come next week...

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