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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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Health From Your Core

Health From Your Core

Within each human lies an essence, a truth, a core of self, with one and only one intention - that it may be fully expressed, wholly manifested in material form while we live on this earth. Each year I become more aware that illness, lack of energy, a sense of confusion or lack of meaning in one’s life stems from a basic frustration of the expression of this essence. These things are often calls from the soul, asking you to become more aware of who you are at the deepest level and live out your unique soul nature in your day to day life. True healing is a transformation. Energy, power and authentic freedom grow as we engage in the process of connecting with our true essence and soul’s purposes and express them in our lives. To do this we need to call on all sorts of tools and techniques, from detoxifying body and mind, to herbs and natural treatments, to exercises for expanding awareness. Take energy for instance. Being able to live out your energy potential depends on how well you nourish yourself - physically, emotionally and spiritually - day by day. This means developing a lifestyle which incorporates exercise, good food, restorative sleep and the myriad of other possible factors - from hydrotherapy to super nutrients - that help support your own brand of vitality at peak efficiency. But energy too depends on living from your core, not by other people’s rules. It depends on living what you love most in some way, what feeds you most at the deepest levels. In discovering this and living more and more in this way, you not only fulfill your own life more richly than is possible in any other ways (after all we can only collect so many PhDs, BMWs and lovers). You also bring the very highest gifts that you have to give to your family, your community and the earth as a whole. Live your soul’s passion and you call on virtually endless energy. For health not only depends on how you eat and what exercise you get, and how you deal with the stress. All of these things are important. Each of us needs to develop a way of living unique to our needs and that calls for our body and psyche. But real health doesn't stop here. For ultimately, health is nothing less than the process of unfolding which each one of us goes through to become more fully who we really are. To empower this process we need consciousness expanding techniques such as meditation, autogenic training and prayer, for instance. All these things can be useful. But so far, the most useful spiritual tool of all I have ever found is the most ancient practice in the world: shamanism. These 30,000-years-old simple practices can not only be useful for healing, divination and creativity. Shamanism can also play a major part in your unfolding. Practical, simple to learn and easy to use, shamanic techniques can enrich your creativity, heighten your energy, and bring your outer life progressively in line with your soul’s purpose, enhancing your own and others' in the process. I created my Journey to Freedom books, tapes and other workshops to help people learn shamanic skills and reestablish a sense of connection with their own authenticity as well as the universe as a whole. This invariably brings great joy in its wake. It can bring you face to face with the only true guru for health, healing and spiritual guidance that exists: the guru within you. That is where the greatest power lies. Once you begin to align your life with your own truth, the universe supports you in a way you may never have dreamed possible. Working with people through their own health process, helping them discover whatever is most appropriate to their needs on both a physical and spiritual level, and teaching them how to work with these things, is the most exciting thing in my life. For each person is totally unique. Each of us carries a divine spark of soul which we are here to live out to the full, bringing our own individual brand of spirit into material form as we walk the earth. The beauty of watching this happen in those I work with is for me like walking in a garden and seeing flowers and plants, trees and rocks that I have never seen before. I am dazzled by their beauty.

Walk Your Authentic Path

Walk Your Authentic Path

As women, our roles are traditionally nurturing ones. We tend to put the needs of others—children and partners mostly—before our own. This role is shaped both by society and our genetics. Sadly, though, this position is a limiting one when it comes to expressing our divine spark of individuality. All too often, we begin to neglect our own needs. Then we wonder why our lives are so empty. Fortunately, the time has come to break away from convention and become the free, radiant woman hidden within you. It’s time to walk your authentic path… LOSE THE GUILT Often we feel guilty if we aren’t constantly sacrificing our own desires in order to tend to other people, our homes or jobs. But it’s vitally important that we release this guilt. Remind yourself that you are more than just a mother, wife, housekeeper, or employee. You are first and foremost your own person, and your needs are just as important as everyone else’s. Learning to apply the following ideas and actions to your own life will also enable you to give more abundantly. So if you have others depending on you, all the more reason to stop the self-sacrifice and start responding to your heart’s desires with love and respect. Everyone benefits as a result. LOVE THYSELF The next step on this thrilling journey is to start learning how to nurture yourself. In doing so, you can begin to create the life you really want. Think about all the things you do for others. Then, begin to redirect some of those giving acts towards yourself. For example, you might take your children for regular pleasant outings to the park, the beach, the movies and so on. But how often do you go out, on your own, to pursue leisure activities? These could be active: Going for a run, playing a game of tennis—or relaxing: a massage or an art exhibition. You can even practice self-nurturing at home, as long as you won’t be disturbed. Try a long hot bath with essential oils, or listen to an audio book. The more time you can spend in your own company, the better. This will allow you to more deeply connect with—and learn about—your essential self. DARE TO GET REAL Another key to unlocking your authentic woman is to become brutally honest in your relationships: especially how you relate to all other people. This means learning to stop censoring yourself. Doing so requires a good amount of self-acceptance. It also requires that you allow the expressions of how you feel and what you think to come to the surface. To face someone else just as you are, without trying to behave in the way you think they are expecting, can seem a bit daunting at first. However, the more you practice it, the easier it will become—and the more rewards it will bring you. DIVE INTO BLISS The phrase “follow your bliss” is often bandied around, but what does it really mean? There are limitless answers to this question since it is 100 percent specific to you. What do you love doing most? Swimming, dancing, bird-watching, taxidermy? Perhaps it has been a long time since you were able to do any of things you adore, as you simply “don’t have the time”. Try, with all your might, to make the time on a regular basis. CALL TO ACTION Here are a few simple ways to heighten the bliss experience in your daily life. Enjoy discovering how doing this helps you more deeply to become aware of the desires of your soul and live your life more and more fully from your authentic core. If you don’t already have a journal, start one now. Write down and answer questions such as “What matters most to me?” “What did I love most as a child?” “How can I begin to live what I love most, right now?” Answering these questions over time will be an ongoing process. Just keep listing the things that bring you bliss in your journal. Then, come back to what you’ve written whenever you feel in need of guidance or direction. Delight your senses every day. Indulge in a cup of amazing coffee, a glass of red wine, or a piece of the very best dark chocolate you can find. Moderation is key, along with using the very best quality of everything. Get into the joy of movement: for its own sake, not out of fear or a sense of duty. Do what fulfills you—be it dancing, walking, horse riding. If you haven’t yet found out which physical activity you love, start exploring the multitude of possibilities… Bliss is not a luxury...it’s a necessity when it comes living your truth, creating the life you want, and connecting with the deepest levels of your being...go for it the rewards are endless both for yourself and for what you bring to the lives of those you love.

Celebrating Your Body

Celebrating Your Body

How often do you rejoice your body? How often do you feel absolutely at ease in your skin, at peace in yourself and in harmony with your world? For many the answer is seldom. Instead we tend to us put up with the body rather like some slightly cumbersome baggage we carry with us as we go about. Yet all thought, all feeling, every response to beauty and to horror is mediated through the body. In fact your body is the medium for experiencing everything in life. As any healthy two year old knows, when it is fully alive you are fully alive. This aliveness is something we often have to rediscover. Television, films and advertising are replete with photographs of long legged pencil-thin females who are meant to be paragons of womanhood against whom we measure ourselves. Magazines and newspapers spend a large part of their time giving us advice about diets, clothes, exercise which supposedly will help the bodies of their readers more closely approach whatever shape, size and texture body the general consensus at any moment in time considers ideal. Meanwhile millions of women who, because of the way they are built, their personalities, and their own values (whether or not these values operate consciously or unconsciously) have not a hope in hell of ever looking like that ideal. And they suffer. This suffering goes deep - far beyond the simple (yet often painful) feelings of inadequacy which come with having been built with broad shoulders, big feet or a flat chest when the world you live in tells you you are supposed to be different. (Some of us alas have the misfortune of being blessed with all three). For implicit in the whole way in which the body is presented in almost everything we do and think are two far more crippling assumptions: That the body is separate from the spirit or person and that it is ultimately inferior. These assumptions are anchored deep into the belief systems from the Greco-Roman and Christian traditions in which our society has developed. They have led us to view the body either as something not to be trusted - like a wild animal that needs taming lest it gets out of hand or like a physical object outside ourselves to be watched, studied and manipulated. For most Western women their bodies are things separate from themselves, either to be prodded, criticized, and hidden or narcissistically exposed as a sexual object - something useful in gaining attention or drawing to oneself what one needs (or think she needs). In either case there is a sense of estrangement not only from the body but at a deeper level from ones self. Out of this estrangement comes a sense of powerlessness so that one begins to think that what one needs to be happy, to be complete, to be fulfilled can only be found outside oneself - by accomplishment in the world, or wearing the right clothes, by earning the love of a man or by conforming to some abstract ideal. So long as one is driven by a sense of separateness from ones body whether you succeed or fail in getting what you want from the outside world is irrelevant. For neither success nor failure bring you any closer to living freely with real health and beauty. Rediscovering the aliveness of the child and the innocence of bodily freedom can. It helps heal the wounds of separation and free a woman to live in the fullness of her own being.

The Power Of Myth

The Power Of Myth

While giving a Shamanic Workshop I was reminded of a charming story about a guy who questioned a shaman about the aliveness of trees and plants. “That sounds like a pretty weird idea,” he said to the shaman, “How can you say these things are alive? If rocks and trees are alive then tell me what do the rocks think of the trees?” The shaman paused and looked out across the cliffs at the sea for a few moments, letting the question sink in. Then he turned back and began to speak. “To tell you the truth, I don’t think they worry much about them. After all the rock people know that the tree people are just passing through.” EXPAND YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS It was—and still is —the shamans who worked magic, the shamans who journey into numinous realms and bring back descriptions of reality that the rest of us miss. It was the shamans who returned from their travels to weave a mythology that inspired the tribe, one that made it possible for its members to make sense of their lives and their dreams, their aspirations and their suffering. Later the ‘shamans’ became ‘prophets’, and ‘seers’ but the sacred technology used to work their magic remained the same. As Joseph Campbell says in volume I of his Historical Atlas of World Mythologies, “It has always been the business of the great seer, known in India as ‘rishis,’ in biblical terms as ‘prophets,’ to primitive folk as ‘shamans,’ and in our own day as ‘poets’ and ‘artists’, to perform the work of the first and second functions of a mythology by recognising through the veil of nature, as viewed in the science of their times, the radiance, terrible yet gentle, of the dark, unspeakable light beyond, and through their words and images to reveal the sense of the vast silence that is the ground of us all and of all beings.” WHAT IS MYTHOLOGY In our own time the word ‘myth’ has been corrupted. You read the word in tabloid newspapers or hear it on television used in a totally different way to its real meaning. We hear a spokesman from some government when asked if he can confirm the story that his country will soon be testing a nuclear device respond by insisting, “Nonsense. That is nothing more than a myth perpetrated by our enemies.” The word myth in its true meaning does not mean something false. A myth is a story which has emerged out of encounters in numinous realms of expanded consciousness and which carries the unmistakable fragrance of what is true in the widest sense. It is a tale that resonates at the level of our soul, one which cannot be reduced to meaning by analytical probing, and one which, in the hearing, transports us to a place of knowing within ourselves that is undeniable. A culture’s cohesiveness is constructed around its myths. Our myths form the very foundations of our world views, values and sense of meaning - or the lack of it. If a culture’s mythology does not nourish its people, bring them joy and meaning, then it becomes destructive. Campbell, who was the greatest mythologist of the 20th century – probably of all time - describes the first two functions of mythology: The first is to awaken and maintain in an individual a sense of wonder and participation in the great mystery—mysterium tremendum et fascinans—which sits at the very ground of our being. The second is to create a cosmology for a people replete with mystical import that is directly related to the environment within which a people live so that a people’s lives have a sense of purpose and meaning. From the earliest of times the shaman has been the instrument by which mythologies, cosmologies and religions have been brought into being. This is because he knows how to travel beyond the limited realms of time and space and move at will between ordinary reality and quantum realms. AWAKEN YOUR GIANT The consciousness matrix embedded within us - the means by which such wisdom and healing and power has been accessed since the beginnings of human history remains intact. A gift once given human kind, it has never been revoked. In most of us it sleeps like a great giant beneath the earth just waiting to be called. In some it has already stirred as we explore the powers of healing and self-help through active imagination, meditation, yoga or prayer in our search for truth and beauty, joy and freedom. Now of course we no longer live in tribal cultures. The borders between peoples, between countries and between ritual practices have become blurred, and broken down. In some cases they have been obliterated altogether. Where our ancestors gathered around the fire of an evening to be dazzled by the mythic tales of the shaman and sink into the safety of a shared cosmology that brought meaning, television has become the ‘hearth’ around which we now sit. Our children are raised on the mythology of advertisers. They tell their tales with great skill and persuasion. Yet their stories, instead of nourishing us from numinous realms and empowering our lives, undermine our power and encourage us instead to place it in the hands of the commercial world that would have us believe that the only way we can be free is to consume what they are selling us. RECOVER YOUR POWER Yes we live in different times. Yes we have different challenges. Our concerns are no longer those of locating an animal on the hunt or performing rituals that honour the gods and goddesses asking them to protect our people through winter. Today’s challenges are far greater. How for instance do we move forward as a global community faced with progressive extinction of animals and plant species on a massive scale. How do we live in a world burdened by massive debts? How do we recover our own power and experience our own freedom when the very political and economic systems we have created are structured in a way that makes us feel powerless? And finally how do we come face to face with earthshaking discoveries and dramatic shifts in worldview taking place as a result of findings filtering down from physics, astronomy, biology and consciousness research? These discoveries are not only wiping out our trust in every religious, moral and political philosophy we once clung to, they are quite literally turning our sense of reality upside down while providing us with nothing new in which to trust. LEAP TO AUTONOMY For me the answer is simple. Yet it has only come from over 25 years spent searching, experimenting, learning, yearning, suffering and discovering: It is no longer appropriate for us to rely on outside ‘experts’ whether they be doctors, priests or politicians. We can listen to their words of course. But we can no longer follow them blindly as human beings have so often done in the past, fearful that if we did not behave like good children some misfortune might befall us. It is time we embraced our journey into individual maturity by learning to activate our own consciousness matrix. Doing so enables us to expand our limited three dimensional, five sensory minds into those of the multi-dimensional beings that we are meant to be. It is time we made the leap - each one of us - into our own power and our own freedom, to learn to build powerful bridges between the truth of our own soul and the expression of our personality. It is time we expanded our vision, helped to heal the wounds in ourselves, in others and our planet, that each of us explored the simple yet profound practices once known only by the great artists, scientists, and shamans and use them to become everything that each of us is destined to be. In the process, I believe, we will recover our power, experience our freedom and gain access to healing wisdom and vision of the highest order. Then, and only then will we be prepared together to meet the challenges that face us and take part in the communal process of reshaping our global future. FIND YOUR TRUTH It’s just that so far not many of us have discovered this. Ancient shamanic skills are surfacing in new forms. They are no longer the province of a few gifted people. They belong to us all. So let us pay respects to tribal cultures from the Inuit of the Arctic and Tamang of Nepal to the Sumatran Kubu and Native Americans giving thanks to them for having preserved living shamanic skills. Then let us then turn these skills - which belong not just to tribal groups but to all people – into power for life. We stand poised at a moment of death and rebirth. These are challenging times worldwide, of terrible suffering, corruption and pain. These are also times of personal transformation of the highest level during which we can choose, if we will, to expand our consciousness exponentially, discard self-recrimination and false notions and discover who each of us really is at the deepest level of our being. It is high time we restored the power of mythology in our lives, demystified the realm of shamanism and made use of its marvellous techniques to help us move forward into a new way of living and being. BEGIN HERE How do you start? Try this: Get yourself a notebook and write these questions then record whatever comes to you without stopping to think much. Just let whatever comes flow onto the page: By what mythology have I been living my life? Has it been my own myth or something I’ve learned from others about how I’m supposed to live? If so, what is my own mythology? Do get back to me about what you discover. I am keen to hear from you.

Mind Body Spirit - Living Your Truth

Mind Body Spirit - Living Your Truth

Authentic freedom develops when you life from the the core of your being. It is all about discovering what you chose to incarnate on this earth to do or to be. Why? Because this brings each of us the greatest joy and satisfaction possible. After all, we can only collect so many BMWs, university degrees, and new lovers. All of these things are nice, but none of them leads to true freedom. Freedom is the birthright of every human being. Deciding you deserve your own is the first step in claiming yours. For many of us this is also the most difficult step to take, for it means deciding to respect and honor yourself enough that you allow freedom into your life. Doing this enables you to bring the very best of yourself to your day to day life—in your family, your community, the earth as a whole. Mind Body and Spirit ARE ONE When people begin Cura Romana, they experience their body as something separate from themselves. Their minds are filled with the false idea that changing their weight and their lives can never be more than a dream. Then they learn otherwise. They discover just how connected it’s possible to become at every level, and how exciting it can be to live one’s life in wholeness. As the program brings together body, mind and spirit in a harmonious way, you begin to experience a natural lifting off and clearing away of limiting beliefs and false notions that have dogged you, bringing a new sense of self-respect and authentic freedom to your life. This process greatly clarifies and expands our experience of the world around us too. For every blinkered view of reality blocks freedom, entraps creativity, limits bliss and disconnects us—not only from our essential nature, but from the Universe as a whole, in all its beauty, wonderment and the power it can bring for growth and transformation of our lives and our world. AUTHENTIC POWER IS YOURS Connecting with who you really are, accessing authentic power, and living your freedom requires that you expand your consciousness in a major way. In this chapter we explore the way that, as human beings, we have a natural capacity to move beyond our limited experience of five-sensory three-dimensional reality—how we can learn at will and with total control to enter the expanded realms of consciousness. In doing so, you begin to learn about your own seedpower—those divine, highly individual soul qualities which are unique to you. WORLD VIEW REVOLUTION The new expanding worldview is called holism. It looks upon the nature of the Universe as holographic. It was named after the work of scientists who demonstrated that living organisms are integrated energetic systems within an integrated Universe. They showed that our brain and body are holographic. Each small part of us, like each part of the Universe, is not only connected to the rest, it actually embodies the nature of the whole within it. The tension between the new holism and the old mechanism—which depended on a belief in separation between spirit and matter, form and substance—is important to resolve if we are to break out of whatever self-imposed prisons still limit our lives. Each of us is being asked to let go of our preconceived notions about what’s real, in order to explore the further reaches of a wider, more exciting and transformative Universe. And for reasons I still don’t fully understand, Cura Romana has become the perfect opportunity for most people to let this happen. DANCE YOUR FREEDOM To experience real freedom you need only allow more and more of your essential soul nature into your everyday experience of life— through dance, through ritual, through prayer, through your work and your relationships, and in your interactions with the world around you—in ever more direct and fearless ways. Such freedom not only brings an immense sense of joy and satisfaction, it’s also self-perpetuating. The more you do of this, the easier and more satisfying it becomes. There is nothing more fun than being who you really are. Learn to dance with freedom, and the Universe dances with you. A true expression of living your mind body spirit truth.

Sacred Truth Ep. 54: Live Your Truth

Sacred Truth Ep. 54: Live Your Truth

We are poised at a moment in history where one age is dying and the next is about to be born. Each of us is being faced with a choice. As we sense the foundations of our world shaking, do we withdraw in anxiety and try to hang on to what we once believed to be “the way things should be?” Do we become paralyzed, and attempt to cover our fear with apathy? Or do we embrace the courage being offered to us by a Universe in flux, and, step-by-step, commit ourselves to discovering who in essence we are at the deepest levels of our being and decide to live our lives from there? How do you feel about this? Can you to honor your instincts? Will you choose to face the challenge of entering into the realms of your innate creative power and forging a new life for yourself in the midst of all the chaos, confusion, and deception with which this crazy world surrounds us? I believe we can. The choice we are being asked to make is either joining the “sheep” and conforming to established belief systems, even though they no longer offer a sense of safety that we once believed could be counted on, or taking a chance on discovering our own truth. Of course this means leaping into the unknown for which there is no precedent. What are the rewards of choosing the second possibility? They are immense. This makes it possible for each of us to tap into the immense joy and power of our own creativity and begin to live our lives from it—for our own the benefit, and the benefit of those we love as well as the world we live in. Authenticity—being true to yourself at the deepest level of your being—is the greatest gift you’ll ever experience. It’s all about discovering how unique you really are. This brings the greatest joy and satisfaction possible. After all, we can only collect so many BMWs, university degrees, and new lovers. All of these things are great, but none of them lead to a sense of self-worth, simple joy, and genuine freedom. I believe that freedom is the birthright of every human being. Realizing you deserve it is the first step in claiming it as your own. For some people this can seem the most difficult step to take, because it means coming to respect and honor yourself enough that you allow your unique truths to arise from deep within. In the past seven years I have personally worked with men and women all over the world. When many begin their Cura protocol, more often than not their minds are filled with the false notion that changing their weight and expanding their health and their lives with joy could never be more than a pipe dream. They soon learn otherwise. When they follow their protocol to the letter, they discover for themselves how exciting it can be to live one’s life in wholeness. The program brings body, mind, and spirit together in a harmonious way, and they experience a natural clearing away of limiting beliefs and false notions that they may have carried for years. This process clarifies and expands their experience of the world around them. This is because every blinkered view of reality blocks freedom, entraps our creativity, limits bliss, and disconnects us—not only from our essential beauty but also from the Universe as a whole, in all its wonderment and the power it can bring for growth and transformation for our own lives and for the world. Connecting with who you really are, accessing authentic power, and living your freedom require that you expand your consciousness in a major way. As human beings, we have a natural capacity to move beyond our limited experience of five-sensory three-dimensional reality. We can learn to enter expanded realms of consciousness. This new expanding worldview is called holism. It looks upon the Universe as holographic. Holism was named after the work of scientists who demonstrated that living organisms are integrated energetic systems within an integrated whole. Even your brain and body are holographic. Each small part of us, like each part of the Universe, is not only connected to the rest, it but actually embodies the nature of the whole within it. The tension between the new holism and the old mechanism—which depended on a belief in a separation of Spirit from matter, form, and substance—must be urgently resolved if we are to break out of the self-imposed prisons that have been forced upon us by restrictive rules and conventions. I believe that every one of us is now being called upon to let go of our preconceived notions about what’s real, in order to explore the further reaches of a wider, more exciting, and transformative reality. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, Cura’s Inner Circle has been an ideal opportunity for most people to discover this. To experience real freedom you only need to welcome more and more of your essential soul nature into your everyday experience of life—through dance, through ritual, through prayer, through your work, your relationships, and in your interactions with the world around you—in ever more direct and fearless ways. I have long loved a saying that I first heard when I was twelve years old. It goes like this: “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” In regard to how it relates here, what I’ve been describing is nothing more or less that discovering your own truth and choosing to live your life from it at every level, whether or not it fits with what you have been taught you are “supposed” to do. The more you dare to do this not only brings you an immense sense of joy and natural confidence; it becomes easier and easier to trust yourself. There is nothing more fun than being who you truly are. Dance your unique truth, and the Universe dances with you. The rewards of living this way can be virtually infinite.

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.

How Desire Becomes Reality

How Desire Becomes Reality

In my last post, we looked at unconscious image-making which prevents us from experiencing authentic freedom and undermines our sense of self. Now let’s flip destructive image making-on its head. It’s time to learn the art of conscious image-making It can improve health, heighten self esteem, and even forge the person whom you long to become in the future. All you need is a simple notebook in which to record your intentions, goals and experience plus 15 to 20 minutes a day to practice the art. This can be a lot of fun. POWERS OF THE MIND Creative imagery is the deliberate, repeated use of specific mental images, while in a deeply relaxed state or meditative state, to bring about change for the better. Just how creative imagery works has never been fully defined. It does, however, appear that the images one chooses to focus on when repeatedly held in the mind are able to affect one's body, emotions, and mind through the autonomic nervous system. Some of the process, at least, is explainable in biological and energetic terms. When a thought or image is kept in the mind of someone in a state of deep relaxation, his or her brain shows neuronal activity in both right and left hemispheres. Nerve fibres leading from the cerebral hemisphere through the hypothalamus can directly affect the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland as well as the adrenal cortex. Everyone has had experience of this image-making to some extent in day-to-day life. For instance, if you keep a frightening image in your mind's eye—say of a ghost, a fantastic monster, or a situation you want at all costs to avoid—your body will respond via the autonomic nervous system with a racing heartbeat, perspiration, dryness in the mouth, or gooseflesh. How strong your reactions are to the fearful thought depends entirely on how clear the image is. Similarly, when you hold a clear, relaxing image of perhaps a spring meadow or a person you love, your body responds with relaxed muscles, lowered heartbeat and blood pressure, and generally pleasant and passive bodily sensations. Researchers have found that through this mind-body connection we can exercise a great deal of control over our bodies and our behaviour simply by choosing images to focus on and using them regularly. In fact, this kind of deliberate visualization is the technique behind the ability yogis demonstrate in raising and lowering their bodily temperature or heartbeat at will, going for long periods of time without food, and performing extrasensory tasks. TRUST THE GAME Although the mechanism of creative imagery is highly complex, putting it to use is simple. For just as it is unnecessary for you to know how the nervous system, in conjunction with the brain and muscles, makes it possible for you to pick up an apple and take a bite out of it in order to perform the action, so it is not necessary to understand biological theories about creative imagery in order to practice it to your benefit. The imaging mechanism of your brain works automatically; all you have to do is provide it with images that are useful to you and let it do its job. Nor do you have to worry about whether or not you believe in creative imagery or whether or not you can do it well enough for it to work for you. If there is a goal that you want to achieve, you need simply to visualize it—again and again, at least twice a day; the rest is automatic, so long as your goal is something you consciously consider to be feasible. It would be absurd, for instance, to lie down for ten minutes each morning and afternoon and visualize yourself as an eagle. You might improve your imagination no end, you might also develop a great empathy for eagles, but it unlikely that you would develop wings or a beak. Nor need you worry about success or failure. As Maxwell Maltz says in his book Psycho-Cybernetics, "You must learn to trust your creative mechanism to do its work and not `jam it' by becoming too concerned or too anxious as to whether it will work or not, or by attempting to force it too much by conscious effort. You must let it work, rather than make it work. This trust is necessary because your creative mechanism operates below the level of consciousness." The only real "trust" needed for it to work is that which makes it possible for you to spend time repeatedly practising creative imagery. You do this by letting yourself go into a state of deep relaxation or meditation and then repeating your chosen image again and again over a sufficient length of time for it to take hold in your unconscious and begin producing results. You certainly don't have to trust it in the sense of believing in it for it to work. It will work whether you believe it or not. Just be consistent in using the technique regularly. PREPARE THE WAY Begin by learning to just let go. Creative imagery is an inner state of mind. To visualize effectively you need to put yourself into a calm, relaxed state in which mental images flow easily. Generally the more relaxed you are, the more successful your visualizations will be. This kind of relaxation is something that is learned gradually by practice. Even if you feel in the beginning that you are hardly relaxed at all, you will get benefits from your imaging and this will become progressively more true as you repeatedly practice visualization. Begin by lying down, or sitting in a comfortable chair, with your back well supported. Use a simple practice such as zazen or gentle, quiet deep breathing to let go of daily concerns and enter your private world. When you feel yourself quietly calm resting in your own inner space, there are several things you can do: In this space, you can examine in a new light any question that has been bothering you. You have access to the deeper layers of your mind where many answers can be found, provided you are willing to ask the questions simply and then just wait in stillness for the answer to come. This place is also where you can become aware of your belief systems and bring them to consciousness so that you can examine them in a detached, objective way and see whether they are working for you or not. You can then decide what you want to keep and what your want to leave behind. It is a place where you can learn to listen to the sound of your inner voice. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. This inner voice can guide you to where you are going next and tell you what you are about. It is a place where you can come to know yourself for who you really are, quite apart from roles and habitual assumptions you have always had about yourself. Most important of all in bringing about change, you can use this inner space to practise creative imagery. Go through your relaxation technique until you enter your inner space. Now you are ready to begin visualizing. You can do this in two ways: verbally, by simply repeating over and over a few words that describe the image, or visually, by simply seeing yourself as already having become what you want to be. For some, who at first experience difficulty in visualizing, the verbal method works better; for others, the visual method is more successful. Try them both and see which you prefer. Later on, after you are familiar with the use of creative imagery, you will probably want to use both. FOCUS YOUR DESIRE Let's say you pick as your goal the desire "I want to have more energy." Using the verbal method, turn the wish into a positive statement. It becomes "Every day I am more and more energetic and well." It is important that your goal be phrased in this way. It has to be in the present tense—not "One day I will be better" or "I hope that I will be more energetic," but Every day I am more and more energetic and well. It is happening now. Your subconscious mind, which holds the power to bring about change, does not function in terms of time and space as your conscious mind does. It understands only the simplest and most direct instructions, and when they are given it works as if they had already occurred or are occurring now. The words you have chosen become your image. You put them to work by simply repeating the words over and over again silently to yourself while you are in the deeply relaxed state in your inner space. It is the constant replaying of the message day after day twice a day that works best, not how long you do it each time you relax. One convenient way of doing it is to repeat the directions ten times in each session, moving one of your fingers with each repetition until you have been through all ten. Then you simply say to yourself the same, "I am now going to come out of my inner space...(by counting backwards from three, etc.) and open your eyes. The best time for most women to practice creative visualization is in bed at night just before they fall asleep, and then again in the morning just before they get up. But really you can do it anytime—whenever you can find ten minutes to yourself in the middle of the day, or in the middle of the night if you awaken, or during meditation. The important thing is to do it regularly twice a day every day. You needn't worry about doing it wrong, either. Because, in truth, there is no wrong way, and every supposed wrong in the way you are doing the technique will gradually put itself right with practice. WATCH IT HAPPEN If you prefer, you can use a visual way instead, or you can use a combination of both. Picking the same goal, I want to have more energy, go through your relaxation technique. When you are at the inner space, instead of repeating words let your mind play with the image of your goal as if it had actually come about already, almost like a daydream. In other words, see yourself moving through your day, relating to people, doing your work, playing games, all the while full of vitality and bounce. Watch yourself in your imagination and enjoy the ease with which you do things that once seemed difficult or tiring. Notice the glow of your skin, how well you look; see the vivacity in the way you speak and move. Watch yourself and enjoy it. The more of it you let yourself imagine and the more you enjoy your imaginings, the stronger will be the images you are creating and the more quickly they will become reality. But as with the verbal instructions, always keep your images in the present as if they are actually happening now and not as if they might happen in the future or are something you would like to see happen. You may find at some point that something or someone is interfering with your image. For instance, you might find that as you watch yourself moving about energetically through the day in your mind's eye, another figure appears—say an old woman—who speaks to you. Perhaps she says something like, "You silly girl, if you don't slow down you know you will exhaust yourself or make yourself ill." Or, "Why are you pretending to be full of energy when you know that you are really tired?" and so on. Pause for a moment and take a look at the figure. Who is she? Your mother? A friend who tends to be negative about everything you try? The voice of a belief system from inside you which, without your being aware of it, has been telling you for years that you are tired? Answer the figure back. Tell her quietly but firmly in your mind, "No, you are wrong. I am well and I have lots of energy. I also know how to use it wisely. I will rest and look after myself when I need to, I will eat well, I will enjoy what I do. I will be happy with my vitality." Then go on with your visualization. Unexpected intrusions like this while you are visualizing are often very useful, for they help make you aware of belief systems and notions that may have been unconsciously impeding your progress towards a goal. Then, when you have practised your visualization for, say, five or ten minutes, tell yourself you are going to count backwards from three and open your eyes. A FEW TRICKS TO HELP In the beginning, when you are just starting to explore the power of creative imagery, it is a good idea to pick only one goal at a time and work on it for several weeks or months until it is being progressively realized before taking on another thing you would like to change. The technique of keeping a journal is very useful in recording your progress, but even more important is keeping a record of insights and experiences you come upon while practising the deep relaxation and visualisation techniques. The information and insights they turn up for everyone are invariably rich. Many times something you record today which seems not particularly useful now will have a message of immediate importance to you three months from now. Finally, there is one very simple goal that I find particularly useful because it covers all areas of one's life and you can use it over and over again, year after year, with benefit. It is, "Every day I am more and more myself. My life grows richer and richer." “Practice makes perfect,” the saying goes. It most certainly does but never treat your practice as a chore. Let it be fun. When you do everything happens faster and with greater ease.

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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