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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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Stress? What Stress?

Stress? What Stress?

What goes up must come down. These words should be engraved on everyone’s brain, particularly those of us who live full and busy lives. We worry about stress, wonder why we don’t do anything about it, and wish it would go away. Seldom do we even stop to ask what it is. If stress gets out of hand it can wear you down, ruin your looks and destroy your peace of mind. Yet stress is the spice of life, the exhilaration of challenge and excitement, the ‘high’ of living with heavy demands. The big secret about stress is that it is not what appears to be causing it that does the damage. It’s how you respond to it that does that. Change your attitude to stress and you can make it work for you rather than against you. In short, chill out. Stress is hard to pin down: fatigue, overwork, loss of blood, physical injury, grief and joy can all produce stress, but none of them accurately describes what it is. The word stress comes from the language of engineering meaning ‘any force which causes an object to change’. Austrian-Canadian scientist, Hans Selye, first coined the word stress in relation to humans back in the 1930s. In human terms it refers to your body’s response to physical, chemical, emotional or spiritual forces that ask you to adapt to them. Selye discovered a typical physical reaction to stress which he called the General Adaptation Syndrome. Its function is to keep your body in a steady state, known as homeostasis. Every stressor you come into contact with threatens to destroy this steady state. The General Adaptation Syndrome has three states: alarm, where the body becomes alert; resistance, where all systems go in order to meet the challenge and protect you from harm; and exhaustion, which happens if stress lasts for too long and the body’s weakest systems begin to break down causing illness, chronic fatigue, even death. you are unique Everyone responds differently to stress. This depends to some degree on your conditioning, and on the amount of adaptive energy you were born with. This is why some people seem to breeze through stressful situations while others quickly reach exhaustion. Selye believed that once adaptive energy is used up, nothing can be done to restore it. We now know that this is not altogether true, but adaptive energy is certainly precious. This makes it imperative to examine carefully how yours is being used and if it is being burnt up unnecessarily. It also makes it important to remember that what goes up must come down. For making stress work for you means being able to switch off at will. This is something that most of us have to learn to do. Learn to move easily between stress and relaxation, and you will begin to experience your life as a satisfying and enriching challenge like the ebb and flow of the tides. Then you will never again have to worry about getting stuck in a high-stress condition which saps your energy, distorts your view of the world, and can lead to premature aging and chronic illness. Humans are natural seekers of challenge. Primitive man faced the daily challenge of survival – when in danger, the body reacted instantaneously to provide the energy needed to fight or flee, then relaxed again when the danger passed. We may no longer need to worry about meeting a saber-toothed tiger, but we still react to stress with the same physical responses – raised blood pressure and breathing, a rush of adrenaline throughout the body. The trouble is that modern life, with its noise, quick pace, social pressures, environmental poisons, and our tendency to sedentary, mental work, presents many of us with almost constant threat situations. This is particularly true in the business world where someone, instead of moving rhythmically in and out stressful situations, remains in the danger state for long periods, with all the internal physical conditions that accompany it. balance it The automatic, or involuntary, functions of your body are governed by the autonomic nervous system. It looks after the changes in the rate at which your heart beats. It regulates your blood pressure by altering the size of veins and arteries. It stimulates the flow of digestive juices and brings on muscular contractions in the digestive system to deal with the foods you take in. It makes you sweat when you are hot and is responsible for the physical changes in your body that come with sexual arousal. This autonomic system has two opposing branches: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic branch is concerned with energy expenditure - particularly the energy involved with stress and meeting challenges. It spurs the heart to beat faster, makes you breathe hard, encourages you to sweat, raises your blood pressure, and sends blood to the muscles to get you ready for action. The other branch of the autonomic nervous system - the parasympathetic - is concerned with rest and regeneration rather than action. The parasympathetic branch slows your heartbeat, reduces the flow of air to your lungs, stimulates the digestive system, and helps relax your muscles. When you are in a state of stress, the sympathetic nervous system comes into play. The parasympathetic branch is dominant when you are relaxed. A good balance between the two is the key to making stress work for you. Balance makes it possible for you to go out into the world to do, to make, to create, to fight, and to express yourself, as well as to retire into yourself for regeneration, rest, recuperation, enjoyment, and the space to discover new ideas and plant the seeds of future actions. make stress work for you The secret is getting the right balance between stress and relaxation, between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. Unfortunately, few of us get it right by accident - we have to learn. Take a look at the kind of stress you think you are under, eliminate unnecessary stressors, and discover new ways of working with stress. Second, begin to support your body physically with food, exercise and natural stress relievers to enable you to face stress with ease. Finally, learn to relax fully so that you can find the right balance between stress and relaxation and keep it. Not only will this help your body stay in balance and increase your level of overall vitality, it can bring you a sense of control over your life that is hard to come by any other way.

How I Learned That Love Is Real

How I Learned That Love Is Real

My first child was born in a huge teaching hospital in Los Angeles. The labor was long and regrettably not natural. I was given an analgesic during labor and an epidural for the delivery. It was all very cold, efficient and mechanical. The hospital I was in happened to be a Catholic one in which every other woman there seemed already to know the ropes since she was giving birth to her fifth or eighth or tenth child. Nobody bothered to tell me much about what was going on or what was expected of me. My baby was taken from me immediately after the birth and put into a nursery with all of the other babies while I was wheeled off to a private room. Soon they brought this tiny creature to me. I held him in my arms and stared at him in stark wonder. Then at three hourly intervals he would reappear for twenty minutes at a time and I'd hold him in bed beside me until the nurse would come and take him away again. The third or fourth time they brought him to me, he began to cry. I nestled him, rocked him, and spoke gently to him but he wouldn't stop so I rang for the nurse. `My baby's crying,' I said, `What should I do?' `Have you burped him?' `Burped him?' `You have fed him haven't you?' `Fed him? Am I supposed to feed him?` The nurse took him and put him to my breast. His tiny mouth opened and reached for me as if he had known forever what to do. He began to suck with such force it took my breath away. It was like being attached to a vacuum cleaner. I began to laugh. I couldn't help myself. It seemed incredible that such a tiny creature could have such power and determination. He too had a purpose. He was raw, insistent and real. With every fiber of his being, this child was drawing his life and he would not be denied. Tears of joy ran shamelessly down my cheeks while he sucked. There in the midst of all that clinical green and white, I had discovered what love was all about. It was really quite simple—a meeting of two beings. The age, the sex, the relationship didn't matter. That day two creatures - he and I — had met. We touched each other in utter honesty and simplicity. This experience was for me a true epiphany. My life was forever altered by it. There was nothing romantic or solemn about it. No obligations, no duties, no fancy games, and you didn't have to read an encyclopedia of baby care to experience it. We'd met, just that. Somewhere in spirit we were friends. I knew beyond all doubt that I had found something real and real it has remained.

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?

Wild Power Set Free

Wild Power Set Free

The power of the Dark Goddess or Crone which I wrote about last week, at its most profound, represents the irrational power of nature which causes all things to decay and be changed—as well as true human freedom to be liberated. The experience of change at such deep levels can be a terrifying one both to men and women. Why? Because, these days, most try to live their lives believing that material reality is all there is, and that the great god reason is the ultimate means by which all their problems will be solved. Whatever else she may be, the Dark Goddess is most certainly not reasonable. No more reasonable than the forces which cause leaves to decay in autumn, transforming them into leaf mold that will eventually bring new life to the forest. No more reasonable than the hurricane which, irrespective of man's wishes or longings, blows its course through city and countryside. No more reasonable than the earth herself, as she quakes and trembles with shifts taking place in the continental plates of her body. INSTRUMENT OF TRANSFORMATION It is little wonder that male-centered religions have diabolized the Crone. For she is the ultimate destroyer, the emasculator of male reason. Nature and the Crone aspect of the Dark Goddess become, in the male mind, the castrator—so much so that, during the inquisition, witches were accused of collecting severed penises in boxes or birds' nests. Yet even the male penis itself represented—and still represents—an instinctive power to the male which most Western men feel uncomfortable with. For the penis seems to have a life of its own, quite separate from the man to which it is attached. Like the Dark Goddess it defies man's sterile reason. As Barbara Walker says in The Crone, Woman of Age, Wisdom and Power: "The conviction peculiar to males that sex organs have an uncontrollable, independent life of their own is expressed in the churchman's belief that the stolen penises moved about and ate food in their captivity like animals." The penis, too, is an instrument of the Dark Goddess. The Dark Goddess lives at every woman's core. She guards the Self. She is the friend of the soul whose purpose in our life is to fiercely protect and further the whole process of our learning to live authentically from our essential beings. She never trades in deceit, she never lies, nor does she veil her power. She refuses to uphold any relationship that doesn't work and she tears away with clawed hands or severs with her sword anything within us that is greedy, grasping or infantile. Throughout the lives of both men and women, she urges us to reclaim our own power—the power to set limits and to shout "no", and the power to say "this is what I will do and this is what I won't do" when we are faced with any sort of abuse, or anyone trying to steal our power or dominate us. WILD ENERGY LIBERATED But she is far more than even this. The Dark Goddess is the female power so long rejected and repressed by Western civilization that, when it rises to the surface, it often breaks forth in fury to devastate our ordinary view of reality. Sometimes when she forces her presence to be felt at menopause, she can well up inside, making us hysterical. Her frenzies—which in the rational world of linear thinking, are looked upon as something for which a human being should be tranquilized and kept under control—in the lives of both men and women were once treated with the deepest respect, as visitations from the gods. It was in such a state that the pythia or sibyl at Delphi prophesied the future, and told secrets capable of turning those who sought her help into conquerors of nations. When we forget the power of the Dark Goddess—when we separate ourselves from her essential nature—then we begin to look upon her as a destroyer who arrives like a great snake to break up the structures of our lives, devour our relationships and make mince-meat of our most precious self-deceptions. DESTROY TO RENEW In the lives of both women and men, she can quickly cut through the patriarchal image of being ‘pleasing’, ‘submissive’, ‘gentle’ and ‘nice’. If anyone has so much control of her own behavior that the Dark Goddess is unable to arise when it is time for her appearance to be made, if she remains deeply suppressed, then man or woman can experience her energies in the form of a life-threatening disease, depression, hopelessness, or seemingly endless despair. They can find themselves living in a wasteland, and feel their life to be meaningless and without direction. It is only by finding ways to reconnect with her energy within that the powers of transformation can be set free to work their magic and lead each of us on our own individual path towards freedom. As Demetra George says in Mysteries of the Dark Moon, “Whether we see the Dark Goddess as dancing ecstatically in a swirl of red flames, or enveloped in mist gazing into the inner pools of her psychic awareness, or throbbing with her orgasmic, magical creative energy, or embracing us in our grief, or furiously raging, screaming, crying, or desperately withdrawing into a stupor of denial or numbness, her ultimate purpose in each one of these guises is the same. She destroys in order to renew. The Dark Goddess of the dark moon is the mistress of transformation, and she exists everywhere there is change.” AN ACT OF LOVE The Dark Goddess demands that each one of us clear out of our lives what is no longer essential to our authentic being, whether this be possessions, relationships, jobs—anything that does not help us grow and fulfil our deepest needs. If we try to ignore her demands, like the wild and unruly creature she becomes when thwarted, she ruthlessly tears apart whatever in our own lives is restricting the full expression of our soul. Her rise can threaten everything which in ordinary life we try desperately to hold on to—our self confidence, our self-image, our sense of accomplishment, our material possessions—all of the things which for many years may have supported us now come under the scrutiny of her gaze and the ruthlessness of her sword. What can be hard to realize, while all this is happening, is that everything she does is done with love. We see such things as the breakdown of a marriage, the loss of a job, physical illness that can come at times of enormous change, as evil and negative. For we spend most of our lives trying to avoid a crisis at all cost. Yet crises are often the only means by which we can be thrust forward to a new life. Were the energies of the Dark Goddess not to rise, we would remain stagnated. We might continue living out an artificial existence, all the while trying to fill up the emptiness within with whatever we can lay our hands on, from drugs and sex to success and power in the world—yet never succeed. It is the Dark Goddess that gives us the motivation to change, and brings us the power to be able to carry it out. INNER SILENCE She also pulls us away from the external world, asking us to withdraw inside to a place of stillness and power in which we can begin to hear the echoes of our own souls—sounds which for years may have been ignored or forgotten. She stirs our being at the deepest level. She asks us to enter our own personal darkness, calling us to make a vision quest, presenting us with pain over any issues of our lives that we have been denying. She asks us to face our fears and taboos, whether they are addictions, dependencies, inadequacies—that we bring them into the open, where they can be looked at and healed. Like the Crone who is her messenger, the Dark Goddess has no adornments. She is naked and raw in her confrontations. She arrives to lead us into the labyrinthine recesses of our own being. If we consent, she offers us the courage and the strength to face our own personal demons—demons who for generations have been feeding on our inadequacies, fears, and dependencies and undermining our potential for joy. Either we acknowledge her call, retreat from the outer world and begin to make our descent voluntarily, or she grabs us by the throat and drags us under. And just in case we might be tempted to think that when menopause arrives, sexuality is dead, she makes us think again. It has not died but rather been transformed. INSTINCTUAL SEXUALITY The sexuality of the postmenopausal woman is the sexuality of the Crone. It is the sexuality of sheer instinct—wildness set free. It is she that calls a woman into the secret places of the woods and provokes her to dance naked in wild abandon. Hers is a sexuality to be used in any way a woman chooses—in union with another or alone to generate the alchemical meeting of male and female within her own body. The sexuality of the Crone belongs to herself alone. She will be what she is, she will have what she wants. She is neither passive nor submissive, and her sexuality also has nothing whatever to do with bringing physical children into being. The Crone's eroticism is sheer ecstasy, lived for its own sake, and sheer creativity. She creates in an uninhibited, animated, fiery way, which emanates from the soul of a woman. Such sexuality is the fuel for all creative powers in the world. It carries with it the energy of regeneration and of healing, not only for a woman herself but for the world. It is the kundalini power—the rejuvenating cosmic illumination, the power of the serpent, the sacred fire which heals. As the Crone gains entrance into the body and psyche of the menopausal woman, she illuminates one dark corner of her psyche after another, lifting away all that is old and dead and without meaning—the way kundalini energy rises up within a woman's body to illuminate each of the chakras. Her power becomes the power of the menopausal woman. It lies in her dark blood—the blood of creation. It is the indomitable creative power that has lain sleeping in the consciousness of both men and women. It is asking for us to honor it and set it free. Never in human history has it been more urgent that we do so for our own sake, and the benefit of all beings.

Setting Free Your Magnificent Self Part 2

Setting Free Your Magnificent Self Part 2

The response to my recent blog “Your Magnificent Self” was enormous. Last week I published PART ONE of my reply to your having asked for more. Here is PART TWO . I hope you enjoy it... One of the most important keys to connecting with your essential self lies in learning to pay attention to your peak experiences. These are times when you perceive reality through fresh eyes, experience the world as a whole and everything in it as being right. All of us have peak experiences yet too many of us don’t even stop to notice they are happening to us. EPIPHANIES The occurrence of these small moments of awakening can be tremendously enriching, for you are temporarily set free from habitual ways of thinking and behaving that tend to stifle your creativity. Look for peak experiences, surrender to what is happening to you, enjoy them when they come. Then record them in your notebook. The occurrences of both small and large moments of awakening can be tremendously valuable. You are temporarily set free from habitual ways of thinking and behaving that may be stifling your creativity and joy. Stay open to epiphanies. Sometimes they can be life-changing. Let me share with you how I discovered the power of peak experiences which many times have completely changed what, at the time, I believed to be true. AWAKENINGS When I was 18 years old, in my second year at Stanford University, I fell in love for the first time in my life. It was not long before I had to leave California to live in New York. His name was Dick Givens. He and I had never spent a night together. Now we would have twenty-four hours together in San Francisco before I had to catch a plane. We walked through Golden Gate Park. I had been there many times before on my own—visiting the Japanese garden, lying on the grass in the sun, looking at the paintings in the museum. But I'd never paid much attention to what was around me except in the vague way I had always appreciated being amidst the trees, grass and flowers. Today was different. He and I wandered aimlessly, aware that, in a few hours, we would probably never see each other again. REALITY SHIFTS I could feel death sitting at my shoulder. I loved this man with such intensity that I could hardly bear the fire that burned in my flesh when he touched my face, nor the surges of bliss which flooded my heart and body when we made love. Then, without warning, my whole world shifted. For reasons I will never understand, my consciousness – my awareness of the ordinary world – became transfigured, luminous. I had never experienced anything like it. As I walk with him, the structures of ordinary reality crack wide open. We come out of a wood, cross a road and step onto the curb. Old men are bowling on the green. Absorbed in their game, they pay no attention to us. Without warning the trees, the grass, the small knoll behind the men rising to a copse above, turn into a wondrous but terrifying universe. Space expands in all directions as though a million tiny holes are piercing the fabric of reality. Each one emits brilliant light. The air, the grass, the pavement, the bodies of the men, the clouds above us, the trees around us – everything trembles with a radiance. It breaks over me in great waves, simultaneously wiping me out as though it is even bringing me to birth in a new form. I understand nothing of what’s happening. DEEP MYSTERY In the presence of this overwhelming beauty, I sensed I’d tumbled into a deep mystery. Discovering love with my son, Branton who was born several months before. had been my first epiphany—my first peak experience. That day in Golden Gate Park brought my second. I am quite sure that the intensity of the love I felt for this man had triggered it. But the experience itself was far greater than either of us. I knew for the first time that by own essential being was urging me to live a different kind of life than I had lived until then – deeper, richer, larger and more connected to all living things. This was my first experience of something overwhelming which, instead of being terrifying, it carried with it a sense of exhilaration and excitement. It brought me incredible hope. That was the day I became certain that the universe is a place far greater than I had ever imagined. TELL YOUR TRUTH What are your own peak experiences? Think back and record them. Stay alert to when they arrive and enter into them. Epiphanies come in all shapes and kinds. Some overflow with bliss, others are brimming with sorrow, still others can be funny revealing to you something important about yourself that you were not aware of. Write them down whatever they are. Be as honest as you possibly can. Telling the truth first to ourselves and then, when appropriate, to some others, has enormous power. Too many of us lean in the direction of being diplomatic and discreet—adjusting our opinions and answers to fit with what we think others want to hear. This leads to a sense of confusion where instead of bringing you closer to your essential being and allowing it to guide you, you become confused—not sure what you genuinely think about anything. LOST TEENAGER That was very much the state I found myself in when at the ago of 13 an embarrassing epiphany forced me to turn away from what I had been taught and decide for myself what mattered to me. Here’s how it happened: I was sent away to a school called Castilleja and thrown in to a clique of privileged girls with whom I was quite sure I didn’t belong, I was terrified. I hoped being at this boarding school would give me the time I needed to work out the kind of human being I was supposed to be so I could survive. I was desperate. It was do or die. Once a month, as part of our ‘cultural development’ we girls were packaged in best dresses, shoes and crinolines and ushered off to view paintings, hear opera, or take part in something else which the school considered an essential part of our ‘intellectual, artistic and social development’. I learned that the trip this month was going to be to the San Francisco Opera House where we would be forced to listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, conducted by some Englishman called Sir Thomas Beecham. LESLIE THE PARROT Having been brainwashed by my opinionated musician father to believe that any music written before the twentieth century was ‘irrelevant to now and therefore a total waste of time’, I had taken on his beliefs as though they were my own. All the way to San Francisco I blabbered on about what a stupid idea it was for us to be spending time listening to ‘that old stuff’. When we arrived at the opera house, I was still seething with disapproval at having been press ganged into being there at all. In short I made an ass of myself at everyone else’s expense. THE CURTAIN RISES Then the music begins. No more than three minutes pass before my mouth drops open. I am scared to breathe, afraid that the sound of my breath will prevent my immersing myself in this wonderful sound. Incredible. Magnificent. Beethoven. In the presence of this music something occurs that has never happened to me before. His music cuts through my fear, my rage and my confusion. It fills the hollowness inside me with something so stark, so real, so vital, I can’t begin to describe it. The music and I become one. So long as it is playing, I am no longer alone. For the first time in my life, words come to me – words which will return again and again in the years that follow: ‘If such things exist, I want to go on living.’ Thanks to that experience I would come away from that night with a great gift. It opened up a world of music that had been hidden from me until then. It gave me spiritual nourishment and encouraged me to seek my own values in the world. Decades later it would also lead me to spend four and a half years writing my first novel Ludwig... A Spiritual Thriller. TAKE RISKS To free the Magnificent Self which is who you really are, consider new ways of doing things instead of mechanically following the same old patterns. Never be afraid of making a fool of yourself. When you do, as I did then (and have done many times since it must be said) you can learn some wonderful things about yourself while shaking off a lot of old baggage. Risk standing out from the rest—your own natural way of living, thinking, dressing, working may be quite different from the way you have been trained to do these things. Your opinions may differ greatly from those of people around you. Be courageous about seeing things your own way. Dare to be different in what you say and do if you feel different. The sense of freedom this can being is exhilarating. Listen to the whispers from within you. Find out what you want and then go about getting it. Whatever you work at, work hard and wholeheartedly. This brings a sense of self-reliance and also frees a lot of otherwise frustrated energy for constructive use. DISCARDING ROLES Take a look at the roles you play. There are dozens. We all play them—the 'intelligent woman', the 'man to be reckoned with', the 'expert’ the 'sexy lady', whatever. Some may be useful in getting what you think you want Most are irrelevant. They do nothing but sap your energy. As you become conscious of your own ‘roles’ you discover that have free choice to decide if you want to go on playing them or let them go. The more you leave roll playing behind, the freer you become from the hold they have exerted over you. This lets you come closer and closer to living your own authentic life with self respect, celebration, creativity and freedom. Your unique Magnificent Self is calling to you. Set it free. Discovering who you really are becomes be the most exciting thing you can do The time is now. Just do it.

Rites Of Passage

Rites Of Passage

Like the moon's waxing and waning, or the snake which sheds its skin to be born anew, woman is a cycling creature. Both the fecundity of the moon and the snake's bondage to the changes of life through time are endemic to her nature. They are, in fact, so much a part of our make up that seldom do we stop to think about them. Yet both depend upon the almost infinitely complex multiple interactions of hormones within our bodies. In short, hormones matter a lot. An awareness of the profound influence they exert on a woman's health and emotions - even her view of reality - is crucial. So complicated are the interactions between hormones in the human body, many are still not understood by science. spiritual interface So complex are the hormonal events within the female body, and so central is their relationship to how we think and feel, that it would be no exaggeration to say the female endocrine system is an interface between body and spirit. Even our hopes and dreams are echoed in surges of hormones and in their shifting patterns - much as chords and rhythms develop into the themes and movements of a symphony. Changes in hormonal balance from day to day - even from moment to moment - can not only alter the way you feel emotionally; they can even affect your view of reality. Whether you see life as a challenge to be met, or a source of constant misery and disappointment, can also be reflected in hormone shifts. This is why hormonal imbalances create such emotional and spiritual agonies in women, such as those associated with PMS or menopausal symptoms. The psychic and spiritual aspects of a woman's hormonal interactions are all too often forgotten living within the confines of the mechanistic thinking that rules our society. Instead of recognizing the changes in mood and personality as natural to any cycling creature, we tend to think we should always be the same - always rational, reliable, reasonable and steady. Meanwhile, synthetic hormones - drugs with potentially devastating side-effects - continue to be doled out to us from puberty onwards, with no respect for a woman's cycling nature, and little concern for the long term consequences these chemicals can have on our health and emotions. There is, I believe, far too little awareness of the way in which the use of one or two artificial hormones year after year may not only undermine our long term health, but can also affect a woman's ability to fulfill her potentials for wholeness and may even impede her spiritual development. i excite The word hormone comes from the a Greek word, hormao, which means "I excite", and this is exactly what hormones do. They are messenger chemicals, made in minute quantities in the brain or in special endocrine glands such as the thyroid, adrenals, pancreas and ovaries - sometimes even in fat cells - and then carried by the blood stream to distant parts of the body where they control, activate and direct the ever-changing systems and organ functions, urges and feelings which are you. Your body is continually creating new hormones out of amino acids, peptides and cholesterol in the presence of certain vitamins and minerals - all in response to its specific needs. Hormones are also continually being destroyed - that is, metabolized and removed from your system - as your need for one or another of them changes. All this happens in much the same way a theme or cadence in a piece of music gives way to the next. So rapidly can hormonal shifts take place, and so closely interwoven is the endocrine system with your thoughts, feelings and external events, that measurements of oestrogen or progesterone levels can differ drastically when taken only an hour apart. Hormones perform many tasks. Some help produce or store energy; some trigger growth, or balance blood sugar; some affect your water balance; others your metabolic rate. Still others regulate respiration, cell metabolism or neural activity. Classified by their chemical structure, hormones can be either polypeptides or proteins, phenol derivatives or steroids. The steroid hormones - from the oestrogens and progesterone to DHEA, cortisol, aldosterone and others - that are nature's servants for regulating sex and reproduction, as well as for balancing brain chemistry and helping the body handle stress without succumbing to illness. Although they are only produced in small doses, steroids pack a big wallop. Each is highly specific in its actions. Each hormone will only excite the particular cells it is designed to affect. How this happens is one of nature's most clever tricks. A molecule of a certain hormone - take progesterone or DHEA - has a unique shape. It will be ignored by all receptor molecules - key-holes on the cells - as it travels through your body, until it is at last recognized by the particular receptor molecule with which it is meant to connect. Into this receptor site in cells, and into it alone, the hormone molecule fits perfectly - just the way a key does in its lock. So powerful are a hormone's actions that your body only needs to make minute quantities of each as they are required. For instance, at any moment there may be as little as one molecule of a particular hormone to every fifty thousand million other molecules in your bloodstream. The body's production of hormones, and the way in which the relationship between them is continuously adjusted, relies on complex interactions involving your pituitary (a tiny gland at the base of your brain) and your hypothalamus, often called the master gland, as well as other glands such as the adrenals. In addition to producing sex related hormones such as the oestrogens, the adrenals manufacture other important steroids including cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol's main function is looking after blood sugar levels on which energy depends, while aldosterone oversees potassium and magnesium excretion as well as sodium retention, and influences both blood pressure and fluid retention. It is how you live during the menstrual years - the way you eat, how you use your body, and the decisions you make about what medications you take or don't take - that the stage is set for a trouble-free life, and when the time arrives, for a natural menopause.

Immersed In Freedom

Immersed In Freedom

When I was six years old I had my first love affair. Yes, really. Of course, not until years later did I recognize the experience for what it was. But like every first love, it changed my life forever. My father was a jazz musician so our house was equipped with the best possible sound equipment. Both he and I loved to listen to music—just about any music—at full volume. This my mother could not stand—which made it something even more exciting. While my playmates roamed the hills of Hollywood skinning their knees, I would lie on my belly in the living room, listening to music at full blast. THE MAGIC BEGINS One day, combing through our vast supply of records, I came upon Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” It meant nothing to me, but I liked the colors on the cover, so I put it on the record player, turned up the volume and flopped in front of our huge speakers. Strange, mysterious, often discordant sound flooded my body, opening a secret door to somewhere deep inside me. It was a place I had never been before. I did not even know it existed. I trembled with fear and excitement as the music wound its way into me. I flushed hot and then cold; my heart raced then calmed. I lost all sense of place and time as I rode the waves of an imaginal sea into unexplored worlds, too numerous to identify. ONE WITH STILLNESS I have no idea how long this lasted. Before long, even the “boat” carrying me along, and all the images that came with it, had dissolved like sugar in water. Then, in perfect union, the sounds and child-that-had-been-me swirled into a vortex, becoming lost in each other. We shared excitement, fear, longing, fierceness and sadness. Like lovers, we had come together—music and child—in an immediate, passionate, all encompassing union. Eventually I found myself at the centre of this whirlpool. There, even the ecstasy of the movement vanished. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I tumbled—not into Wonderland, but into that place of unspeakable stillness. Zen practitioners claim this place is available at every moment to each one of us. For me it was an indescribable event—beyond space, beyond time, outside thought. Here I knew, without the slightest possibility of ever being able to describe it, that everything was exactly as it should be. In the words of Zen Master Daisetz Suzuki, it is a place where I would eat when I am hungry, sleep when tired. I knew that “it was fine yesterday and today it is raining.” Or, in the words of Julian of Norwich, that “All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” My affair with Stravinsky lasted more than four hours. At least that’s what my mother said. “Don’t tell me you are still listening to that awful music.” She had to raise her voice to be heard above the sounds. “For God’s sake, turn it off. Do something useful.” MY USEFUL LIFE So I did something useful. I went to school, then to university where I learned at least some of what you are supposed to learn. I earned praises for good marks, went to work, won prizes, gave birth to four children, wrote books, gave talks and made television programmes. In effect I did what millions of men and women do—became the breadwinner, the carer, the nurturer of others’ lives. And I loved it. Yet through all the years between six and now, my passion for music, painting, books, poetry, architecture and design never left me. Far from it. During most of those years, my longing not only to experience the emptiness that listening to Stravinsky had brought me that day—an epiphany, and the experience of being fully alive for the first time in my life—but also to create things: books, films, relationships, and to explore physical places, inviting me to move beyond thoughts to a place of unity with the rest of the universe. They kept gnawing at my gut. They would not go away, just as the urge to breathe never goes away no matter how long we hold our breath. SIX YEAR OLD WISDOM That day, when I lay on the floor lost in Stravinsky, without realizing it I had decided that what interested me most was the beauty of art—whether it be music, words, film, stories, sculpture, buildings or what-have-you. Why? Certainly not because I had any idea that art was supposed to be valued since it was part of what grown-ups called culture. I knew nothing about either. I could not have cared less. After all, I was a kid who, when I was not entranced by what I was seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, spent the rest of my day learning card tricks, wrestling with my rough Collie, and trying (unsuccessfully) to sell packets of chewing gum my grandfather brought me to neighbors’ kids. Nope—I loved the beauty and wonder of art in all its many forms because, unlike the world around me, with which I seemed to have little in common, it had always grabbed hold of me and would not let me go. It demanded of me both a submission and an active participation in the making of it. TIMELESS REALITY What I did not know, and this took me scores of years to come to understand, is that the rabbit hole into which I had accidentally tumbled at six is described by every culture and religion in the world in one form or another. Nor had I any idea that, at any moment in time, anywhere in the world, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, it is available to each of us. To Zen Buddhists, this wordless, timeless space represents ultimate reality—that which can only be sampled through immediate experience. In Suzuki’s words, “For the sake of those crucial experiences Zen Buddhism has struck out on its own paths which, through methodical immersion in oneself, lead to one’s becoming aware, in the deepest ground of the soul, of the unnameable Groundlessness and Qualitylessness—nay more, to one’s becoming one with it.” ANNIHILATION AND RENEWAL It is a state in which nothing is thought or contrived, longed for or expected. It reaches out in no particular direction, yet it knows itself able to handle the possible as well as the impossible. Concentrated, yet so expanding is its potential, such power is both purposeless and egoless. As such, it is often called truly spiritual. Why? I suspect because it is charged with an awareness that spirit is present everywhere. The universe and all that is created is never attached to place or time. In such a state, because the cosmos is present everywhere, we too are present everywhere. We have direct experience of and access to the power that continues to create the universe itself. And, like water flowing through the river, we have full access to that power of creation to use in our own lives, in whatever way we choose. DOORWAY TO BLISS The Sufis call this state fana—the annihilation of your individual selfhood. When we experience fana, our everyday personality becomes transparent, so the larger being that we are shines through. You become fully absorbed in the all-encompassing fascination of the moment—textures, nuances... Cutting edge physicists speak of a holographic universe in which we live but seldom access because we are plagued by endless mental concepts which blind us to reality. They also blind us to the experience of Samadhi—“a non-dualistic state in which the consciousness of the subject becomes one with the experienced object.” This state of selfless absorption and total surrender is characteristic of children when left alone to follow their instincts. Yet it is available to each one of us, regardless of age. Honoring whatever brings us bliss in our own lives opens the door to it.

Stress Release

Stress Release

Somewhere inside you is a center of stillness - a wordless, formless space - the home of your self or your soul: There seeds of creativity are sown which later become your ideas and your accomplishments. There in the silence and the darkness, you can begin to listen to your own `inner voice'. You can come to know the difference between what you really want, feel and think, and what habits, false notions and other people's values have been programmed into you. This space - your center - is a place of safety and security. You can move out of it, as you choose, to meet the outside world, form friendships, love and learn. Yet it is a permanent sanctuary to which you can always return when you feel overburdened, tired, confused or in need of new vitality and direction. The key that opens this particular door for most of us is relaxation. By relaxation I mean learning to move at will into a state of deep stillness in which your usual concerns, your habitual thoughts, and the never-ending activity of your daily life are replaced by alert - yet totally passive - awareness. Dipping into such a state even for a few minutes allows many of the physiological changes normally experienced during sleep to take place while your body and mind are revitalized. But it is different from sleep. For, while your body is passive, your mind is highly alert. passive awareness For some people passive awareness occurs spontaneously - often between sleep and wakefulness. It is during this time that their best ideas come and that they experience a sense of harmony both within themselves and in relation to the rest of the world. Most of us, however, have a fear of letting go, thinking that if we give up control of things we won't be able to think clearly and independently or work well, or that someone is likely to put something over on us. In fact, just the opposite is true. When you are able to enter a state of deep relaxation at will, this frees you from patterns of living and thinking to which you tend to be a slave - although usually an unconscious one. It enables you to think more clearly and simply, and to act more directly when action is called for. Another interesting benefit from the daily practice of deep relaxation is a reduction of negative habits such as drug taking - of both prescription and mind-altering drugs - alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. Research carried out in the United States involving 2,000 students between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three who had practiced a form of meditation for periods of between a few months to a couple of years, showed that their dependence on alcohol, drugs and cigarettes dropped sharply. In the first six months of doing the practice, the number of smokers reduced by half . By twenty-one months it was down to one-third. And these changes were entirely spontaneous - at no time was any suggestion made that relaxation or meditation would change any of these habits. bridge your inner and outer world Harvard professor and expert in behavioral medicine, Herbert Benson MD, did the first studies into the effects of Transcendental Meditation many years ago. He has since continued to investigate this state of psychophysical relaxation and has shown that each of us has what he calls the `relaxation response' - a natural ability to experience the relaxed state with all its benefits. All we need to tap into it is a method to turn it on. The possibilities are many. They range from meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, zazen, silent repetition of a word, and autogenic training, to steady aerobic exercise and biofeedback. Each can be useful as a tool for silencing everyday thoughts and for temporarily shutting off habitual ways of seeing the world and doing things. Practice one regularly, and you build a powerful and useful bridge between your inner and outer world. All of them are different. Some will work better for you or be more enjoyable than others. That is why it is worthwhile to try a few different techniques until you discover which ones you prefer. Progressive relaxation is a technique based on the work of Edmund Jacobson; this is an excellent way to begin if you have never done any sort of relaxation or meditation technique before, because it gives most people some sense of what relaxation feels like even the first time you try it. As you repeat your technique (it is best done for fifteen minutes at least twice a day), you will find you enter a state of relaxation that is progressively deeper and deeper. Zazen is one of the simplest ways of meditating, this technique involves nothing more than just being aware of your breathing. But don't be deceived by its simplicity. It is a potent tool for stilling the mind and regenerating the body. And concentrating your awareness on the breath is not as easy as it sounds. 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.

Radiant Health Restored - part 3

Radiant Health Restored - part 3

Freedom from food cravings, addictions and uncontrollable urges to feed on junk cannot be accomplished unless your body is clear from any overgrowth of Candida albicans that may be present. Standard medical prescriptions for treating this are notoriously unsuccessful. Why? Because anti-candida medication can only alleviate symptoms temporarily. To clear this powerful, primitive organism permanently, it is necessary to transform the terrain of the whole body to a state of health. Let me explain. “Bernard was right, the pathogen is nothing, the terrain is everything.”—French chemist Louis Pasteur on his deathbed. UNRECOGNIZED IRONY There is a dreadful irony about the way modern medicine has developed since Louis Pasteur devised the germ theory of disease. This is something that, as yet, most doctors remain totally unaware of. For many years, Pasteur and another great French scientist, Claude Bernard, carried on a heated debate about whether or not disease was caused by an invasion of a pathogen (as Pasteur claimed) or by a disruption in the body’s biological terrain and metabolic processes that allowed microbes to grow. As far as modern allopathic medical science is concerned, Pasteur was right. And out of this widespread belief has grown the development of multinational pharmaceutical companies, which make everything from antibiotics to psychotropic drugs. Yet on his deathbed, Louis Pasteur, the great scientist, repudiated everything that he had ever written by insisting that Bernard was right. The pathogen is nothing, terrain is everything. An overgrowth of Candida albicans is a superb example of how accurate Claude Bernard’s findings were. The irony is that Louis Pasteur’s mistake is what has formed the basis of contemporary orthodox medicine, which primarily addresses the symptomatic treatment of an illness instead of seeking to restore a healthy biological terrain so that any pathogens cannot take hold. Missing this point is a major reason why so many orthodox treatments for degenerative diseases fail. Despite all of our high tech methods, we still have a lot to learn. SUPERB SHAPE SHIFTER Candida albicans has six switching mechanisms and seven viable forms, thanks to the amazing ability of yeast and fungi to metamorphose. They can and do change shape and function depending on the environment they find themselves in within the body. There is even a form of Candida which is cell-wall-deficient. In this form, it is not recognized by the immune system so it floats around freely in the bloodstream. When it finds a suitable place to reproduce, it then changes into one of its other six forms, providing a constant locus of infection. The problem with only treating the intestinal tract or the vagina for Candida—which most doctors still do—is this: Because of Candida’s ability to migrate around the body unnoticed, people get a constant return of the organisms even after the “cure” is supposed to have taken place. WHOLE NINE YARDS Someone systemically affected by candidiasis often has the organism spread throughout the body in any of its possible forms. And each different form tends to grow in specific tissues and systems, further undermining its terrain. Gus J Prosch, an American physician and expert on Candida’s behavior, wrote a fascinating paper called System Candidiasis—The Fungus Amongus. He says, “Every human being from the day of birth lives in a sea of bacteria. Infectious germs known as microbes swim throughout our bodies at all times. These microbes can live in our throat, mouth, nose, gums, gastrointestinal tract, blood, bladder, vagina, and numerous other body tissues. These micro-organisms which may be bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, are as much a part of every human being as foods and chemicals. Figuratively speaking, they are constantly trying to ‘eat us alive’. In some people they succeed and death follows. Even if we die of causes other than infection, they eventually eat our physical remains. Only healthy cells and tissues within our bodies can effectively defend against infectious microbes.” It all goes back to restoring the body’s healthy terrain. And because candidiasis syndrome produces so many symptoms involving multiple organs and systems, it is now being labeled “Polysystemic Chronic Candidiasis. The point that Prosch makes in relation to the dangers of microorganism infestation is important. He is pointing out that, in the world in which we live, infectious illness attacks our bodies not just because germs are around, but because the biological terrain within us is nutritionally deficient and debilitated in ways that allow microbes to set up residence. To put it simply: An opportunistic germ only produces disease when the circumstances in our bodies are favorable to its growth. HOW TO RESTORE TERRAIN So it is with Candida albicans. Make radical changes in what you choose to eat and not to eat, to drink and not to drink. Cereals, grains, and sugars are foods that Candida’s yeasts and fungi continually urge you to eat. The pastas, breads, pizzas, crackers, and even wholegrain items turn into sugar virtually as soon as we eat them, making us crave more. Such foods taken in quantity—the way most people eat them—seriously undermine the body’s terrain. They distort hormonal regulation. They screw up blood sugar and destroy insulin sensitivity. Starchy vegetables, sugars and grains are all addictive.  The fewer we eat, the more easily we can restore a healthy terrain, and the faster we can clear—and then remain free of—candidiasis. What most people—even those who believe they are eating a ‘healthy diet’—are amazed to learn is this: These foods are also major culprits in the development of diabetes, coronary heart disease and a myriad of other degenerative conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, mental and emotional disorders. STOP EATING THESE: Don’t eat any form of sugar or any foods containing it, including fructose, glucose, maltose and lactose. This means avoiding almost all luncheon meats, smoked salmon and salamis, which these days are full of sugar—as are most packaged convenience foods. So read labels carefully. Don’t eat grains and cereals or starchy vegetables, which turn into sugars in the body. Yeasty beasties create our food addictions and cravings by urging us to eat these foods. You do not need such carbohydrates, despite what the media keep telling us. Steer clear of rice, potatoes, buckwheat, beans and pulses as well, until your body is completely free of any overgrowth. Stay away from milk and milk products including cheeses. Butter is OK, as is plain unsweetened natural yogurt. (The best yogurt for clearing Candida is made from sheep’s, goat’s or buffalo’s milk.) Eat nothing with yeast in it. This includes bread, pastries, cakes, rolls, hamburger buns, crackers and biscuits. Avoid all foods which have been fermented, smoked, cured, or contain yeast. This includes smoked fish, proprietary mayonnaise, most ready-made salad dressings, tomato sauce, pickles and other condiments. Never drink fruit juices or colas—even so-called sugar-free drinks. Use a top quality food-state vitamin and mineral supplement (see below). Stay away from melon, including cantaloupe, rock melon and watermelon as their skins accumulate mold during growth. Don’t eat chocolate, honey, maple syrup or nuts—they also tend to accumulate mold. Eat no mushrooms or fungal products of any kind. Black tea is notoriously loaded with yeast— drink herbal teas instead. Avoid high-sugar fruits like figs, mangos, dates, pineapple and bananas. Instead, choose berries, an apple, a pear or an orange, but eat fruit only in small amounts until the overgrowth is cleared. Don’t drink alcohol. Use a good omega-3 supplement, which yeasts and fungi hate. This kind of anti-Candida eating slowly restores the body’s terrain to a high level of well-being. It keeps blood sugar and insulin low, and is carb and sugar free. EAT MORE OF THESE Eat garlic and onions (yeasts and molds don’t like these either). Eat plenty of top quality proteins—high quality meats (preferably organic) and wild fish, as well as game and eggs. If you are a vegetarian and want to eat tofu, make sure the tofu you choose is organic. 95% of all soybeans and the products made from them have been genetically modified. GMO foods are incompatible with the human body. GMO soy also contains dangerous quantities of glyphosate—the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup—as well high levels of manganese and aluminum, both of which are known to reduce brain functioning. For salads and vegetables, don’t use ordinary vinegars. Instead, go for homemade dressings—lemon juice with extra-virgin olive oil as a basis. Eat only real butter. Steer clear of all margarines and butter substitutes. EAT GREAT VEGETABLES These vegetables are great on any anti-Candida program. Eat as much of them as you can: Artichokes Endive Asparagus Fennel Aubergine Green beans (fresh) Bamboo Shoots Green herbs (fresh) Bok choy Kelp and seaweeds Broccoli Mung bean sprouts Broccoli sprouts Parsley Brussels sprouts Peppers Cabbage Rocket Cauliflower Silverbeet Celery Snowpea sprouts Chicory Spinach Dandelion YEASTS AND FUNGI BE GONE The goal of this way of eating is to make your body into an intolerably unfriendly home for Candida. Like the beer-bellied TV sports enthusiast, these primordial beasties love crisps and colas, but green vegetables are anathema to them. So are the omega-3 fish oils DHA & EPA. It is useful to take note of the following advice. Not only does it not contradict the general guidelines for good eating, it can make an enormous difference to the lives of many who, unbeknownst to them, are being made miserable by even a minor overgrowth of Candida. Don’t take drugs including antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, or standard drug-based HRT unless there is an absolute medical necessity for them. Eat plenty of high quality animal based proteins as often as you like, of fish and game, lamb, turkey and chicken (all preferably organic). Check for food sensitivities. These are common with Candida. The things you crave are frequently what the yeast itself craves. Try to identify any possible sensitivities and weed them out. This can help a lot. Drink Pau d’Arco tea. From a South American tree, it has a long folk use in the treatment of infections probably thanks to its lapachol content. Lapachol and other compounds in Pau d’Arco exert anti-Candida effects. You can drink several cups a day. If you like sweet things, sweeten it with a few drops of stevia. (See below.) Use a good probiotic. They are not always easy to come by. (See below.) Use a gentle but effective natural anti-Candida nutritional supplement. Having helped hundreds of men and women with candida overgrowths on Cura Romana, I have explored dozens of brands. Most of them fall into two categories: Either they are too aggressive (which you don’t want) or they are ineffective. There is one I’ve found that seems to work better than the rest. (See below.) Use a good digestive enzyme supplement. This is important to break down the foods you eat into usable nutrients. For when candidiasis is present, this can deplete both hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in the stomach. (See below.) TAKE HEART During the period of Candida clearance, it is essential to avoid the foods that don’t support clearing. You also need to be religious about taking a natural anti-Candida supplement each and every day for several months. Three to six months or more down the road, once the overgrowth has cleared, you can begin to experiment by introducing new foods to see how you get on with them. Everyone is unique. You have to play this by ear and feel your way. Once the Candida is under control you are likely to be able to eat most foods you like, so long as you continue to steer clear of sugars, unnecessary drugs, grain-and-cereal-based carbs and highly processed convenience foods. But be patient. It takes time for nature to rebalance your body from inside out. GOOD VALUE-FOR MONEY FOOD-STATE MULTIPLE VITAMIN Rainbow Light, Complete Nutritional System, Food-Based Multivitamin Buy Rainbow Light Multivitamin BEST AND CLEANEST OMEGA 3 PRODUCT Carlson Labs, MedOmega Fish Oil 2800, Norwegian, Lemon-Lime Flavor, 3.3 fl oz (100 ml) Buy MedOmega Fish Oil Pau D'Arco Tea Alvita Teas, Pau D'Arco, Caffeine Free, 24 Tea Bags Buy Alvita Teas, Pau D'Arco Candida Support Now Foods, Candida Support, Intestinal Health, 180 Veggie Caps Buy Candida Support BEST LIQUID STEVIA Wisdom Natural, SweetLeaf, Liquid Stevia, English Toffee Sweet Leaf liquid stevia with all natural flavors is convenient and easy to use. As a supplement, add this nutritious stevia to water, tea, coffee, milk, sparkling water, protein shakes, plain yogurt or anything else you can imagine. It comes in many different flavors including lemon but English Toffee flavor is the best by far. Buy Liquid Stevia BEST GRANULATED STEVIA Spoonable Stevia by Stevita uses only stevia extract with at least 95% pure glycosides (extremely sweet tasting ingredients of the Stevia herb leaves), and a little erythritol, a crystal granulated naturally produced filler found in fruits, vegetables and grains. It is best for baking and sprinkling Buy Stevita GOOD DIGESTIVE ENZYMES Now Foods, Optimal Digestive System Buy Good Digestive Enzymes GOOD PROBIOTIC Complete Probiotics Buy Complete Probiotics

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Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 13,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 13 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 8th of May 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.75 lb
for women
-1.27 lb
for men
-0.75 lb
for women
-1.27 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 8th of May 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

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