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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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Affirmations

Affirmations

Every one of us has more potential for health, happiness, self expression, energy and good looks than we ever make use of. Although there are many tools to help you towards self fulfillment - good food, exercise, stress control, beauty techniques, etc. - by far the most important of all is learning to use the power of your mind. you are what you think Because we create our lives from thoughts, it is important that we think constructively. Unfortunately most of us, without being aware of it, limit our possibilities for fulfillment because we continually bombard ourselves with negative thoughts. We all carry on some sort of internal conversation throughout the day. Usually if we tune in and listen, we find that it is full of negative thoughts and self doubts. Most often we are hearing the voices of our parents, or of people in authority telling us that we can't expect to be happy, that we are bound to fail, that life is suffering and that we should face the stark realities. Out of these negative thoughts arise our self-image and our sense of purpose and direction. It is clear to see, with so much criticism and so little sense of possibility, why we never dare dream of better things. The first step in changing your attitude towards yourself and your life is to stand back and listen to the voices in your head objectively and realize just how ill founded they are. Once you detach yourself from the rubbish going on in your head, you can begin on the path to self-fulfillment. love thyself Whether you feel you are too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too selfish, too sensitive etc., in order to change, you must begin by accepting yourself right now for what you are. Try this exercise: Look at yourself in a mirror and repeat the words, "I love and accept myself completely, as I am" in your head over and over. And as you do write down any blocks that seem to keep you from accepting yourself. You may feel stupid or ridiculous or embarrassed, but stick with the exercise and you will find that it begins to ring true. positive affirmations You can learn to program your mind to bring about success and fulfillment in all areas of your life through positive affirmations. An affirmation is a phrase which can be silently thought, spoken aloud, written down or all three. The great thing is that affirmations can be done anytime and anywhere in one form or another. There are a few basic guidelines for contacting the appropriate part of your brain and evoking results. Once you understand them, you can create your own affirmations to help you become all that you can be. present tense The subconscious part of the brain only understands now - the present tense - so it is important to phrase your affirmation in the present tense. If you try the future tense, e.g. "I will be happy." your goal will remain constantly out of your reach. It may take a bit of getting used to to write or speak your dreams in the present tense, but remember that is just a formality. first person The most powerful suggestions are those made in the first person. Remember when you say "I" you are including all of you and so helping to integrate and employ your entire being in your goals. It is always better to make affirmations positive rather than negative. In other words in stead of saying, "I no longer overeat" say "Everything I eat returns me to my ideal weight of...." specific and realistic Set yourself specific goals at first, which are within your capabilities to achieve. Once you have accomplished them you will be encouraged and can set more challenging goals. If you are trying to give up smoking, for instance, begin with the affirmation that you will cut down the amount you smoke by half. Then you can cut by half again until you finally stop altogether. short and simple Keep affirmations as short and direct as possible. A concise brief affirmation will have more impact than a long wordy one. suspend disbelief Try while doing affirmations to cast aside doubts and believe in the possibility of what you are saying. If you keep experiencing negative thoughts, get them down on paper, then get rid of them and reassert your positive affirmation. personally phrased Make sure that you are happy with the wording of your affirmation. For each person, the word choice may need to be slightly different. Feel free to change any of the affirmations we suggest to suit your own requirements. all encompassing Remember that the affirmation can be used to transform any area of your life, from career and self image to your relationships with others. The Bible says: 'Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find.' Know that you have every right to be successful and happy and that your life is yours to create. Here are some favorite affirmations. Find one or two that you particularly like and repeat them to yourself often. My daughter and I both like the written affirmations, because for us they seem to solidify things. Other people prefer to repeat them silently in meditation, or even sing them. If you do write them down keep a special affirmation journal and write in it any thoughts that arise as you write. Also make a note of things that change for you for the better, and be sure to give thanks for what is given to you. We find seven a useful number to work with. Repeat the affirmations in multiples of seven at a time. some affirmations Every day in every way I am getting better and better. I have everything I need to enjoy life here and now. I create my life and it is good. I love and appreciate myself just I am. Each day my life unfolds in beautiful perfection. I enjoy to love and be loved. The more I give to others the more I have to give. My relationship with ....... is getting better and better. It is good and right for me to have everything I want. Everything I eat makes me strong and healthy. I eliminate wastes easily and completely from my system. I have an exciting, rewarding and well paid job. I have plenty of energy and I enjoy work. I communicate freely and easily with others. I have all the time I need to accomplish all I want to do. It's okay for me to enjoy myself and have fun. God's energy within me produces perfect results in everything I do. Everything that happens is working for the good in my life. I can do ........ and nothing can stop me. ....... or something better now comes to me for the total good of all concerned. I give thanks for all that I am blessed with.

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.

What Myth Guides Your Life

What Myth Guides Your Life

What does it mean to live a life from your own mythology? Why does it matter? With such questions, I invite you to the experience of one quantum leap after another to expand your strength, creativity and joy. Each one of us comes into this world with a unique mythology. The more conscious you become of the myth or myths by which, long ago, you chose to live your life, the sooner you will realize who you really are, what gifts you bring, what values you cherish and how you can best turn dreams into realities as you walk this earth in a human body. The road to discovering the mythology by which you live may well be the most exciting and empowering experience you’ll ever have. WHAT IS A MYTH? First let’s be clear about what myth and mythology are NOT. In the English language, few words have been more grossly perverted than these two. In daily parlance they are wrongly taken to mean something that is untrue. In fact, mythologies and myths are stories of a very powerful kind which reveal profound truths. They put our conscious mind in touch with feeling states that lie deep within us. Like fine poetry, a mythological story can never be accessed or understood by the linear, analytical thinking that epitomizes the postmodern mechanical thinking. The worldview we have inherited contends that we we live in an arbitrary, meaningless universe devoid of spirit. I suspect this is the main reason the meaning of myth has become so corrupted. PORTAL TO NEW REALITIES In truth, a myth is a metaphor. The word comes from French métaphore, via Latin from Greek metaphora, from metapherein which means “to transfer.” A metaphor transfers meaning by pointing to an experience which, by its very nature, transcends all human categories of intellectual thought. Any metaphor acts as a portal to the awareness of an archetypal realm of experience. It is transparent to states of expanded consciousness and can be “known” only through your body and your intuitive senses. In its simplest form, a myth is a special tale that can be told ten thousand times in a thousand ways without losing its power. It is a tale which will be received differently by everyone who hears it. Yet it always carries an archetypal hook, able to grab our imagination by the throat and awaken the knowingness deep within each of us. SECRET OPENINGS Joseph Campbell, one of my personal heroes, puts it another way: "Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour. The wonder is that the characteristic efficacy to touch and inspire deep creative centers dwells in the smallest nursery fairy tale—as the flavor of the ocean is contained in a droplet, or the whole mystery of life within the egg of a flea,” he says. “For the symbols of mythology are not manufactured. They cannot be ordered, invented, or permanently suppressed. Myths are spontaneous productions of the psyche, and each bears within it undamaged the germ power of its source." Myths live forever in our hopes, dreams and relationships. Mythological images are the means by which conscious awareness is put in touch with creative energies that drive our lives from the deepest levels of our being. When we are out of touch with them in our lives, or if we choose to deny them or pay no attention to them, we become separated from the core of our being and can find ourself in a state of confusion or despair. By contrast, a mythology that we become aware of, which fires us, is one by which we can be guided to live our lives with purpose and fulfillment. So how do we discover what mythological impulses and values inhabit the deepest regions of our psyche? Childhood usually holds the key. Now is the time for you to ask the question, “By what myth have I been living my life?” CHILDHOOD HOLDS A KEY There was a moment in Carl Jung’s life when he realized what it was to live with a mythology, and what it was to live without one. When he asked himself by what mythology he was living, he found he didn’t know. Despite his much-celebrated successes, Jung had come to feel that his work until then had all been based on an intellectual understanding of the mind. As many of us do, he realized that he climbed to the top of a ladder only to discover it had been placed against the wrong wall. In his late thirties at the time, Jung asked himself a question: “What was it that fascinated me, what was it that I most loved doing as a boy whenever they left me alone and let me play?” He remembered that what he had loved most was making buildings and cities out of small stones. He decided that, having now grown up, what he would do was play with big stones. He bought a piece of land on the lake across from Zurich. Then he planned and constructed a house. As he worked with his hands, he allowed his thoughts free run in the imaginal realms. Soon he was dreaming rich dreams. He recorded them using words and images in a journal while mythic riches from deep within his soul continued to break through into conscious awareness. FASCINATION AND BLISS Before long, he understood that the dreams he had been recording resonated with great mythic themes that he had been studying while working on his book, Symbols of Transformation. He began to paint mandalas which he found acted as gateways to greater self-discovery. The connections forged by entering the mythic level of your being invariably bring us a sense of zeal, fascination and bliss. It connects us ever more deeply with our own creativity. Sooner or later it also prompts us to share our creative gifts with the world. If we are willing to look back in silence, without judgment, to our own childhood, we often discover a myth which we either are living or are meant to be living, even though we have long remained unaware of it. Often we discover that, at a young age, we sensed what we intended to do with our life in years to come. DISCOVERING MY OWN TRUTHS I remember that at the age of five I had an argument with my maternal grandmother about marriage and children. She was trying to explain to me that, when you get older, you need to find someone to love. Then you got married in a white dress, and you ate a beautiful white cake. This meant, she said, that later you would be able to have children. I was an archetypal tomboy, hated dolls, loved climbing trees and playing football. Yet even at that age I knew that I wanted children when I grew up. Her description of the white dress and the wedding cake sounded dreadful to me. “Ugh,” I said, “I hate cake. I don’t ever want to be married.” Surprised at the vehemence of my reply, she patiently explained to me that the wedding was a necessary prelude to having children. I knew there and then that she was lying. Our Siamese cat, Babette, had given birth to lots of children and she had never been married. So ended the discussion. One day, years later, having brought four children by four different men into the world and raised them all on my own, I would remember that conversation. It surprised me. How, I asked myself, could I possibly have known that I would live out the clear intention held by the five-year-old me which, in the interim, had lain sleeping in the dark, somewhere deep within my psyche? FORGOTTEN TRUTHS Like Jung, when we are children we often have a strong sense about who we will become and what we are going to do when we grow up, based on a myth or passion that fires our soul. Usually this “knowing” gets submerged beneath what “they” tell us we are supposed to do or be. Schools, advertisers, religion, well-meaning (or sometimes not so well-meaning) adults “educate” us. They tell us it is better to drive around in a shiny car than to live the life of a hobo. Personally, even as a kid, I was quite sure that given a choice between such options, I would prefer to be a hobo. As for having children and raising them on my own, this had definitely been on my agenda. Even though we may travel down many roads that lead to dead ends in our life, when we look back to childhood we often find that a particular myth or myths hidden deep within a part of us have been directing our life all along. They may even have been the power which, each time we’ve gone down a meaningless road, has drawn us back to our center asking us to reconnect with what we most love, and providing the power to create the life we want to live. YOUR UNIQUE MYTHOLOGY Discovering by what myth or myths you are living your own life leads down two parallel roads which eventually join. They take you deeper and deeper into what is the most important process of all: Forging connections with the core of your being and calling forth your own unique, creative power so that it is expressed in every area of your life both for your highest good and for the highest good of all. Coming to experience the power of mythology as a living archetype and diving in to the wondrous mythic realms fuels the creative process within you. It helps you discover, as Jung did, the mythology by which you have been living your own life. Once you begin to see this, you can ask the question, “Does this bring me delight, energy, freedom and belief in my own creative gifts? Does this story help me live out my deepest desires and purpose, or not?” IN CHALLENGING TIMES Ask yourself this: If I were faced with a situation of total disaster, if everything I held most dear to my heart and all of my loved ones disappeared, if the life I’ve been living were devastated, what would I live for? What could sustain me? How would I come to know that, despite all the challenges, I could go on living instead of throwing in the towel and letting myself fall into an abyss of impassability and fear? Now is the time to begin exploring the realms of mythology and find out. A revelatory way of looking back at your life, if you have kept a journal or a diary, is to read through some of the entries you have made into it in past years. You are likely to find that some of what you believe you have only recently come to understand. You are also likely to discover that what was important to you long ago still is. RECORD YOUR DREAMS Such revelations can help you identify some of the driving themes of your own life—the destiny that you, most likely, unwittingly chose for your life although you did not know it. So, keep a journal. Carry it with you wherever you go. Record in it your dreams, your longings, your conscious choices and the choices that life seems to make for you without any conscious choice on your part. Continue to ask yourself, “Does the myth by which I appear to be living fire me with a sense of wonder and excitement?” If so, great... just keep on going. If not, how do I begin to uncover the mythology deep within me that will? I would love to hear from you about your own experiences in answer to the question: “What mythology guides your life?”

Live Life

Live Life

Thanks to our growing understanding of the natural laws of health and advanced research into high-tech biochemistry, what was once little more than a pipe dream - the notion that the length of human life can be extended - is becoming a reality. Gerontologists have now challenged the maximum lifespans of many species of animals. Man is next. Already physicians are using antioxidant nutrients, electromagnetic techniques and other anti-aging tools to prevent physical degeneration and to restore health and balance to ailing bodies. Meanwhile psychiatrists and psychologists trained in biochemistry and in the orthomolecular treatment of the brain are not only beginning to cure mental and emotional problems associated with age, they are even using the tools of their trade to expand consciousness. It becomes important to ask the question, `With what consequences?' The first worry about life extension for most people is usually, `What will we do with these old people we are creating?' `Won't they be yet a further burden to society?' Naturally they want to know about the effect that longevity will have on housing, medical costs and the rest. Such questions are valid. But it is also important to penetrate the point of view from which they come - the assumptions and paradigms which underlie them. Our society has imprinted its members with negative concepts about being old. In the book for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, Why Survive? Being Old in America, Dr Robert Buffer outlined the enormous practical problems of dealing with the aged: housing, pensions, personal security, need for meaningful occupations and the rest, and the horrific conditions in which many old people in modern Western society live. He also pointed out that we hold many unconscious assumptions about the aged which continue to create these conditions. They are always with us and they greatly distort our view of aging, old people and their place in society. These assumptions include a belief that the aged are inflexible, senile, unproductive people waiting for the inevitable arrival of the grim reaper. Basically not interesting, of little value, they are people worthy of being assigned to a foreclosed existence. Alex Comfort refers to these common views of age and the elderly as `ageism' which he defines as `the notion that people cease to be people, to be the same people or become people of a distinct and inferior kind, by virtue of having lived a specified number of years'. The assumptions of `ageism' lie behind many of the most often asked questions about the social and political consequences of ageless aging. They make such questions impossible to answer adequately from our current perspective and with our current views of reality. They also force us to ignore a number of important realities. We forget for instance that chronological age at its very best is only a limited indication of biological and functional age. Even our present old people are capable of far more than society allows them to express or contribute - indeed more than they themselves allow. We also forget that every major disease is age-dependent and all of the major causes of death and disability are secondary to the progressive degeneration of aging. Little wonder, for until now, after the age of 30 we have been witnessing a steady and inexorable increase in the probability of morbidity and mortality from one disease or another. But people living by the principles of ageless aging will be different. Highly resistant to the ravages of degeneration which manifest themselves in our major destructive chronic diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease, arthritis and the rest, they will be less rather than more of a burden to the state in terms of medical, social and psychiatric care. Application of these life-lengthening and life-enhancing principles to health on a wide scale should lead to an increase in the ratio of productive to nonproductive men and women with prolonged life spans. This has been the conclusion of Yale's Professor Larry Kotlikoff, one of the few academics to look seriously at the issue. Kotlikoff initiated an inquiry into the economic effects of increased lifespan. He also concluded that this increase in the ratio of productive to nonproductive people would result in an increased per capita output whether or not the working period increased year for year with life expectancy. With the increased longevity and the improved resistance to degeneration which are the natural outcome of applying the findings of age-researchers to our everyday lives, the population of our old people will also change. So will our attitudes to them. No longer a burden, like the Vilcabamba Indians or the Abkhazians of the Soviet Caucasus they will become not `old people' but `long lived people'. Such a simple shift in attitude could revolutionize us as human beings not only in terms of politics and economics but by shifting us towards a more value orientated society. At that point the question of `What will we do with all these old people?' begins to take on quite a different meaning. For the challenge now becomes not how we house, feed, and care for a growing sector of the nonproductive population but rather how we can best use the energy and wisdom of the older members of our society.

Let’s Explode Reality

Let’s Explode Reality

Each one of us is brimming with creative power. Creativity lies at the core of what it is to be fully alive and free, so each of us can express our unique visions as gifts to all life. I believe it’s time to set free our indestructible passion to create from the core of our being. Each of us is being called to do this; not only for our own sake, but for the sake of all beings and the earth itself. I am excited about answering the call. Are you? HOLISTIC POWER Creativity is a mind-body-soul experience. It demands that we have access not only to our intelligence and to the layers of our psyche of which we are consciously aware, but to the whole of our being including what is commonly called the unconscious mind. Most of us have come to ignore the unconscious parts of us, in no small part as a result of Freud’s insistence that they are a repository of repressed desires which need to be codified, pathologized and treated. It is this belief that has propelled tens of millions of men and women into psychotherapy in the past hundred years. As a result, most of us still live with the lion’s share of our potential for creativity and freedom unavailable to us. Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of what it is to be fully human, our creative power slumbers, waiting for us to awaken it. PLUMBING THE DEPTHS Then, when the founder of depth psychology, C. G. Jung, came along. Jung announced what every creative artist discovers for himself, that Freud’s “fearful unconscious” is also a realm replete with visions, archetypes, insight and soul—all of these are fuels which feed our creative fires. Once we embrace the depths of our psyche and learn to work with them, we can access the gifts they hold, and live our lives from a foundation of authentic freedom and power. A person’s interior life, insisted Jung, not only merits attention; it calls for dedicated exploration which is exactly what he, himself, did and then recorded in his posthumously published Red Book. Thanks to more than half a century of exploration, Jung came to see the human psyche—both conscious and unconscious—as an inherently spiritual and fluid medium, a magnificent ocean which we humans can fish for enlightenment, creativity, healing and personal transformation. Jung then went on to discover that the dreams, myths and archetypes which reside in our unconscious are highly personal to each of us. Yet we are also connected with what he called the collective unconsciousness, which connects us with archetypal realities that are not only personal but universal. WAKE UP TO RAGING FREEDOM Now this is revolutionary stuff. It speaks of truths few of us even consider, unless we happen to be one of the visionary artists, thinkers or scientists who discover this for themselves in the course of their work. Such men and women are seldom willing to buy into the general consensus of what is taken to be reality. They prefer to strike out on their own, determined to enter uncharted territories and find out for themselves what treasures can be found there to bring back, fuel their work and transform their own lives and the lives of others. Invariably, when someone is courageous enough to question the stuff that the rest of us take to be true, they discover whole new realities. I have a passion to explore the nature and power of creativity from every angle possible in this blog. I hope you will join me in my journey.

Feed On Bliss

Feed On Bliss

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

Zazen: Power in Simplicity

Zazen: Power in Simplicity

Zazen has been practiced for 2,500 years. It traveled from India, China and Japan to arrive in the West around the middle of the last century. The practice of zazen is neither a means of introspection nor of contemplation. It is a means by which we come to experience the unity with our selves and the Universe. As a technique, it is easy to learn and simple to practice. As with most valuable techniques, what matters is not trying to understand it, for there is nothing in it to be understood. What matters is doing it. As you do it day by day, it transforms your health and your life. A powerful technique for re-establishing life-giving balance at every level, zazen is a simple, yet almost infinitely transformative practice. Zazen deepens our connection with the innate self simply by becoming aware of our breathing. Practice it daily, and it can relieve fear, release anxieties and clear away internal monologues where the mind chases its tail like an obsessive dog, getting nowhere. Zazen also strengthens vitality, and teaches us the art of being present in the eternal NOW. STILL WATERS RUN DEEP In essence, the human mind is meant to be like the still water of a lake at dawn. But, when the rains fall or the winds blow, its natural glass-like surface, which is meant to reflect the sun and the moon, gets disturbed with eddies and waves, distorting our perception of our bodies, ourselves and the world around us. As we practice zazen, our mind returns to its mirror-like state. Then it can reflect the world around us without becoming obstructed or distorted by anything in it. Gradually we learn that we do not have to hold on to anything to be able to create the life for which we long. We become free. This experience of freedom becomes contagious—a blessing not only for ourselves but for others. Marianne Williamson said it well: ‘As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’ The word ‘spirit’ means breath—that is, life force. In Japanese they call it ki, in Chinese chi. In English we refer to it as energy or power. It is the electrical energy that fuels the living matrix of your body. Practice zazen and you learn how closely the way your breath is connected with the kind of thoughts you have and the emotions you feel. Working with the breath, you inadvertently work with body and mind. For these three are different aspects of a single reality. EXPAND CONSCIOUSNESS As we develop awareness of the breath, as it enters and leaves our body, and of all the sensations this brings, we come to touch the ‘still point’ and gradually develop a natural ability to focus the mind. We start by sitting in a comfortable but straight posture and counting the breath: inhale . . . ‘one’, exhale . . . ‘two’, and so on, up to ten. Then we begin again back at ‘one’. The point of the counting has nothing to do with trying to get to ten—it is just a simple tool for focusing attention. If you lose count and your mind begins to wander, notice this, bless your thoughts, whatever they are, then let them go by gently returning your concentration to the breath and starting again at ‘one’. Each time you choose consciously to let a thought go and bring yourself back to your breathing, you increase your ability to place your mind where you want it to be. It’s an incredibly powerful experience. After a while, you begin to break free of the limiting thoughts, worries and obsessions that rule most people’s lives. Connection with your innate being grows stronger, as does your capacity to experience bliss, pleasure and the sense that you have the right to be who you are without having to conform to other people’s imperatives. Your spiritual power grows, as do your intuitive skills. Creativity, which is closely allied to intuition, blossoms. We lose the sense of isolation which so many have, where we feel alone and alienated from the Universe. Want to try it? Let’s get started. POSITION YOUR BODY The way you hold your body—your posture—helps create your state of consciousness. There are many choices. You can sit tailor-fashion on the floor, using a small firm pillow, or zafu, which raises your bottom slightly off the floor. Sit on the front third of your zafu, tipping the body slightly forward. This creates the strongest feeling of stability. You can also use a chair. When sitting on a chair it is important also to use a cushion so that you can sit on the front third of the cushion and keep your back away from its back. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. However you choose to sit, your back needs to be straight. Imagine that your head is pressing against the ceiling. Now allow your muscles to soften so the natural curve of the back appears and the abdomen pushes slightly forward so that the diaphragm moves freely—rising and falling with each breath. POSITION YOUR HANDS Place your hands in what is known as a cosmic mudra, where your active hand (right if you are right-handed, left if you are left-handed) lies palm up in your lap. Nestle the other hand gently on to the palm of the active hand so that the knuckles overlap and your thumb tips just touch, forming a kind of oval. This connects your body’s right and left energy fields. It also acts as a symbol for the unity of the breath, your life, and the Universe. This also helps turn you inwards away from the confusion and chaos of daily life. GROW QUIET Allow your body to settle into a comfortable posture. Your back is erect but never stiff; your chin is tucked in slightly; the tip of your tongue rests easily against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper teeth, which keeps you from salivating too much. Breathe through your nose. Lower your eyes so that you are looking at the ground 2 or 3 feet in front of you. After a while you may be surprised to find that, although your eyes are open, you are no longer ‘seeing’ what you are looking at, since the focus of your attention will have shifted within. GO TO THE CENTER This is the hara—the physical and spiritual centre of the body. It is a place of power from which all the martial arts are performed. Located in the pelvis, 2½ to 3 inches below the navel, it is also the centre of gravity in the body. Allowing your focus of attention to rest at the hara creates a sense of balance for body and mind. As you breathe in, imagine your breath going down to the hara, then returning from the hara as you breathe out. Of course, on a physical level the breath is really filling the lungs, but imagining this helps centre you. BREATHE EASY Pay attention to your breath without trying to change anything. Be aware of the tactile feelings that come with breathing. Notice the cool air entering your body as you inhale through your nose and what it feels like as it travels down the back of your throat. Feel the warmth of the out-breath as you exhale. When you stay in touch with this tactile sensation of breathing, you are less likely to be distracted by thoughts. COUNT THE INS AND OUTS Inhalation is ‘one’. Exhalation is ‘two’. Inhalation is ‘three’ and so on until you get to ten. Then start all over again. The simple agreement you make with yourself is only that when the mind begins to distract you, you notice this and consciously choose to let it go, then go back to watching the breath, and begin counting again from one. Zazen is as simple as that. Practicing it for 15 minutes twice a day—preferably at the beginning of the day and the end of the day—we touch the still point within us again and again. In the process we begin to build up joriki—the power of focus and concentration so that, in time, instead of becoming caught up in the endless mental machinations that draw us away from living our lives fully whatever we are doing, we become able to choose consciously to let go and turn our mind towards whatever we wish. The connection with our innate being strengthens so that our inner world and our day-to-day life come together in harmony. The more you practice, the easier it becomes eventually, at will, to move into your still point even in highly stressful situations that once had you frantic. Practicing zazen day after day brings many other gifts from the Universe as well. The practice of zazen is highly experiential. Trying to understand or rationalize it is a waste of time. Like most transformative practices, it can never be fully understood; it is meant to be lived.

Progressive Relaxation

Progressive Relaxation

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. The first few times you try the technique, you may find you have trouble picturing all the images as they come, or preventing your mind from wandering. It doesn't matter if you don't `see' anything - some people are more visual in their imagery, others more feeling; both work superbly well - just approach the exercise from your own point of view. become aware When you find your mind wandering (this is a common occurrence because your concentration is not used to focusing so intensely, or because you are experiencing something new to you, which naturally enough causes a little anxiety) ask yourself, `Why is my mind wandering?' Pursue that thought for a couple of minutes, then go back to the exercise and continue to go through it as best you can. All difficulties will iron themselves out automatically after you have practiced the technique long enough - so persevere to overcome any initial difficulties. Find a quiet room, preferably one without too much light, and sit in a comfortable chair that gives support to your back. Place both feet flat on the floor and close your eyes. Become aware of your breathing and just let the air come in and out of your body without doing anything. Take a few deep breaths. Each time you breathe out, slowly repeat the word `relax' silently to yourself. focus Focus on your face, and let yourself feel any tension in your face or eyes, your jaw or tongue. Make a mental picture of tension - you could picture a clenched fist, a knotted rope, or a hard ball of steel - then mentally picture the tension going and everything becoming relaxed, like a limp rubber band. Feel your face and your eyes, your jaw and your tongue becoming relaxed, and as they relax, experience a wave of relaxation spreading through your whole body. (Each step takes about ten seconds.) Tighten up all the muscles in your face and eyes, squeezing them as hard as you can. Then let go and feel the relaxation spread throughout your body again. Now apply the same instruction to other parts of your body, moving slowly downwards from your head to your neck, shoulders, and upper back, arms, hands, chest, mid- and lower back, your abdomen, thighs and calves, ankles, feet and toes, going through each area until every part of your body is relaxed. With each part, picture the tension in it mentally and then picture it going away; each time, tense the muscles in that area and then let them go and feel the relaxation spreading. When you've relaxed every part of your body, sit quietly in this comfortable state for up to five minutes. Now let the muscles in your eyelids become lighter; get ready to open your eyes and come back to an awareness of the room. Open your eyes. Now you are ready to go about whatever you want to do.

zazen

zazen

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. You need to find yourself a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. You can sit cross-legged on the floor with a small cushion underneath you, or you can sit in a chair if you prefer, but your back should be straight. This straight-back position is a requirement for many meditation techniques, since it creates a physical equilibrium which makes calm mental focus possible. Let your hands rest quietly in your lap. count your breaths Close your eyes. Take several long, slow breaths, breathing from your abdomen so it swells out with each in-breath and sinks in again when you breathe out. Now rock your body from side to side and then around in large, gentle circles from your hips to the top of your head. Rock in increasingly smaller circles until you gradually come to rest in the center. Now breathe in and out through your nose quietly without doing anything to your breathing - that is, don't try to breathe deeper or slower or faster, just breathe normally. With each out-breath count silently to yourself. So it goes: in-breath, out-breath `one'...in-breath, out-breath `two'... and so on up to ten, counting only on the out-breath. When you get to ten, go back and begin again at one. If you lose count halfway, it doesn't matter. Go back and start the count at one again. Counting isn't the point. It is a way of focusing your mind on your breath. After fifteen minutes - sneak a look at your wristwatch if you must - stop. Sit still for a moment, then open your eyes and slowly begin to go about your everyday activities again. If you are like most people, the first few times you do the exercise you will find you lose count often and you are frequently distracted by thoughts or noises. It makes no difference. It works just as well anyway. Each time some random thought distracts you, simply turn your mind gently back again to counting the breaths. Distractions don't change the effectiveness of the meditation. The exercise, like most techniques, is best done twice a day, morning and evening. A beginner will usually notice positive results by the end of a week, but they become increasingly apparent the longer you go on doing it. Some Buddhist monks do this exercise for two or three years before beginning any other form of meditation. beyond relaxation Once you are familiar with the practice of deep relaxation or meditation and with all the benefits it can bring you, you might be interested to go on to investigate other, more complex forms of meditation. There are many, for meditation is not a word that is easy to define. It takes in such different practices. Some forms such as zazen or vispassana (sometimes called insight meditation) demand complete immobility. You sit watching the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe, and whenever your mind wanders you gently turn it back to this observation. This simply concentrated attention, which can be likened to the `continuum of awareness' in Gestalt theory, is capable of bringing up many repressed feelings and thoughts that have been stifling your full expression and of liberating them. The Siddha Yoga of Muktananda and the chaotic meditation of Rajneesh, where the body is let go to move as it will, are examples of this sort. They often involve spontaneous changes in muscle tension and relaxation and in breathing, and they demand a sense of surrender to the physical body for the release of the mental, emotional and bodily tensions. These kinds of meditation can be particularly good for someone with a tendency to be physically rigid. Then there are the visualization meditations such as those used in Tibetan Buddhism in which you focus your mind on a particular image, fine-tuning it to the specific beneficial energies or influences this symbol carries (the creative imagery techniques in the next section are also an example of this kind of meditation). They have been used recently to cure serious illness and also in the sports world to improve athletic performance. Another form of meditation is that of "mindfulness," where you go about your daily activities simply being aware of each thing that you do, as in Gurdjieff's "self-remembering," shikantaza or mahamudra. These are just a few of the possibilities worth investigating if you want to go further. Each has something worthwhile to offer, and the mere act of learning a new method and the set of ideas and attitudes that go with it can be an exciting experience as well as tremendously beneficial.

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