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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

Uncovering The Magnificent Self Part 1

Uncovering The Magnificent Self Part 1

The response to my recent blog “Your Magnificent Self” was enormous. This week’s is PART ONE of my reply to your having asked for more...PART TWO comes next week... Each one of us is ceaselessly involved in creating the quality of our own life. We do this through image-making—a universal characteristic of the human mind which even precedes thinking in the brain. We see, worry, put together ideas, dream, speak, and wonder, all through images. In fact, we experience a continuous flow of mental pictures, both conscious and unconscious, every moment of our life. This capacity to visualize—to 'image'—is one of the miracles of that comes with being human. Thanks to it, we are able to organize our reality, communicate with each other, and make sense of the limits of time and space around which our lives can be organized. THE MAGIC OF IMAGING Images have tremendous potency. When used wisely, your personal images are easy to direct for your own good. They are too often used against you when you are not conscious of them, or when you remain unaware of the amazing powers of choice you were gifted with from the moment you were born. Despite Freud’s assertions to the contrary, we human beings are most certainly not, as he believed, a collection of repressed destructive urges, only restrained by learned moral constructs from destroying ourselves and others. In truth, each of us is autonomous. And, like all beings in the universe, each of us has freedom of choice. CORE FRUSTRATIONS The destructive tendencies we all carry are most often the result of frustrations in the expression of one’s essential being—your unique and magnificent core self. Moving toward happiness and freedom from frustration, as well as freedom from the negative thought patterns and the destructive behavior they engender, develop as we learn to trust our innate self-actualizing tendency. This comes with finding out what we most desire at the deepest levels of our being—when we begin to discover the unique truths that lie within us and live out our day-to-day lives guided by them. In too many of us, self-actualizing tendencies remain undeveloped. Until we become committed to discovering them within and calling them forth, we tend to regress into fear, frustration, and confusion. When we decide to discover them inside us, we start to become stronger, in every way... physically, emotionally and spiritually. Life becomes a process of deep, often rapid growth. Potentials we did not know we had surface then start to blossom into creative projects. A whole new view of our life and self-worth is issued in. Life becomes simpler and happier even if, as is often the case, the world all around us seems to be rapidly crumbling or completely insane. RADIANT AND UNIQUE A fully functioning human being is radiant—more alive than most. He or she is someone who has access to mental and physical powers and is able to use them wisely. As such, these people carry their own unconventional view of things but they are, at the same time, spontaneously more accepting of themselves and of others. Their sense of satisfaction comes from inside, not from the 'carrots' offered through advertisements and self-proclaimed New Age gurus who are now riddling the world with “systems” purporting to bring step by step enlightenment, if only we follow to the letter what they are teaching. Such sheep-like behavior is becoming endemic because there is so much suffering and fear in the world. It is time for each man and woman to connect with their unique authentic being, and come to live life from there. Perhaps the most important question to ask then, if full functioning or self-actualization is so beneficial both physically and mentally, is: how do you go about strengthening your natural tendencies towards it? There are several ways to begin. Here are some simple tools to start with. FIRST STEPS First, entertain the possibility that your essential being—your core self—exists. You are someone quite individual, quite different from everyone else in the world. To those who have not yet experienced this awareness, it can seem a bit strange at first. Others will find it is something they have known all along without ever putting it into words. Still others will immediately accept the notion as self-evident. WHAT YOU BELIEVE Take a look at the ideas, behavior patterns, or assumptions about yourself and your life—in effect, your belief systems. So often, collections of notions which are largely unconscious can be major blocks to your free expression. They come in many forms. They can be ideas you hold about yourself such as ‘I am physically weak', or 'I can't wear my hair back because my nose is too big', or 'I will never be successful...”a good person”...someone of genuine value', or 'I am too old to change'. Some belief systems are even more deeply embedded things like 'I can never do anything right', or 'I am only a woman'. When you become aware of these notions and the power they hold over you, then write them down, you will discover that many are little more than habitual assumptions with no basis in fact. Then you will gradually find them falling away, so that you are free to be whatever you want to be. LIVE THE MOMENT Whatever you are doing, try letting yourself experience it fully. Get really involved in an event, action, or project in the way a child would—wholeheartedly. Whether you are peeling potatoes, enjoying music, scrubbing floors, planning work, making love, or eating, let yourself be absorbed in the task, forgetting everything else for the moment. While we live in the moment and surrender ourselves to it, we can discover a whole new way of relating to life. There is a real delight in this kind of involvement. It silences the usually worried thoughts and concerns that sap your energy and make every event less interesting than it should be. This ability of complete involvement is also a key to enormous vitality. At such times, little of you is wasted on anxiety about the past or future, or meaningless and unproductive worry about yourself and others. WRITE IT DOWN Another way to develop this awareness is through meditation or deep relaxation. When you are relaxed yet alert, non-productive thought patterns and habits loosen their hold, as do common interfering emotions such as anxiety and fear, so you are better able to hear your inner voice. Listen to it. Let it be your guide in matters of taste and in decisions you have to make. Most of us listen not to ourselves, but to Mummy or Daddy's interjected voice or the voice of the Establishment, of the Elders, of authority or of tradition. Begin to explore how you feel about something or what you really want. Then record it. Keep a simple little journal with you at all times. Leave it on the nightstand when you go to bed with a pen or pencil to record whatever imagery comes to you when you walk, relax, meditate or dream. This is a delightful and easy way to begin the process. I suggest that you keep this simple notebook with you wherever you go as artists and writers do. You never know when desires, visions, questions and insights are going to make an appearance. As they do, record them in words or drawings. My suggestion is that, if at all possible, keep your journal to yourself and don’t let others see it. This provides greater freedom for the powerful imaginal world within you to reveal itself to you in marvelous and unique ways. PATH TO FREEDOM STARTS HERE The more we can become aware of what we think, feel, want and don’t want—in short, of our own quite unique values, the better our health becomes and the greater we experience absence of pain, discomfort, anxiety, tension, insomnia, nightmares, indigestion, constipation; lack of fear, longevity, and pleasure, in coming to live more and more as a fully functioning human being. This experience is not so much a state as a process which leads to the discovery of your own identity, nature, and creativity, as well as your own unique brand of joy and freedom. More to come next week... Every blessing... Leslie

Celebrating Instinct

Celebrating Instinct

The sense of woman's estrangement not only from her body, but at a deeper level from herself; out of this estrangement develops a sense of powerlessness which leads you to think that what you need to be happy, complete, and fulfilled can only be found outside yourself - by accomplishment in the world, wearing the right clothes, earning a lot of money, winning the love of a man or conforming to some abstract ideal. Yet so long as you are driven by a sense of separateness from your body, whether you succeed or fail in getting what you think you want from the outside world is irrelevant. For neither success or failure brings you any closer to real satisfaction and fulfillment. Only wholeness can do that. the energy of instinct How does a woman reclaim her wholeness? By getting back in touch with the energy of instinct, and giving it as much space in her life as she does reason. For any woman who lives by reason alone is only half alive. Rediscovering the aliveness of the child and the instinctual innocence of bodily freedom can not only help heal wounds of separation between instinct and intellect, it can go a long way towards freeing you to live in the fullness of your being. Being cut off from any part of yourself squanders energy - in anxiety or in depression, in confusion, in unfulfilling relationships, or fatigue or illness. Only when you come to live in wholeness do you have access to your full power. This means rediscovering without fear of self-indulgence - how to celebrate your body. sex or sexuality? Women's magazines are jammed full of articles on sex, and they talk mostly not about the energy of instinct which fuels true sexuality, but about the mechanics of the sex act: "How To Make Oral Sex Work For You"... "A Complete Guide to Sex Toys"...and so on. Like the perfect plastic models on the covers of glossy magazines, such information does little to help a woman reconnect with her body and reclaim the energy of instinct and her deep sexuality. It actually encourages her not to trust herself. It asks instead that she stand back from her body and judge it, or that she put her trust in a lot of abstract "how-to-do-it-better" advice and commercial paraphernalia. The ecstatic, irrational, primordial power of a woman can only be experienced and expressed in the kind of sexuality that enables her to forget the rules and let go of her rational mind, trusting for a time the impulses of her body. Instinctual energy is creation energy - the stuff out of which art is made, as well as sexual ecstasy. So are joy, and the sensual pleasures - taste and smell and sight and touch and sound. As we gradually connect with our instinctual selves and learn to trust them, a kind of alchemical marriage between instinct and intellect begins to take place, and core energy from which we had been cut off becomes accessible. Such a marriage brings in its wake an experience of real personal power - the power with which each of us can create the life we want. When instinct and intellect are reunited your body thrives. It helps protect against early aging, increases vitality, and heightens your capacity for joy. There is only one problem. Like the wild fecundity of a rainforest (which is but another expression of the same life power), the instinctual energy of creation can be scary. It doesn't lend itself to rationalizations or structures. We will never understand it, neither can we comfortably put it into a little box to be dealt with when it is convenient. Yet instinct is a magnificent force. It needs to be honored just as much as the power of reason. Each of us must find her own way to honor it, live it and express it. Otherwise it can turn in on itself and insidiously destroy the very fabric of our lives.

Inspirational Quotes - Words Can Awaken

Inspirational Quotes - Words Can Awaken

Every so often I come upon some wonderful words that remind me of who I am in truth, of what life is about, and of how to turn darkness into light when necessary. I want to share some of them with you today. I hope some of them will ring bells for you. Would love to hear from you about any that seem relevant to your own life… Inspirational Quotes - For Your Body The body is a sacred garment. It’s your first and last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and it should be treated with honor. MARTHA GRAHAM If you want to find the answers to the Big Questions about your soul, you’d best begin with the Little Answers about your body. GEORGE SHEEHAN If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred. WALT WHITMAN For if our body is the matter upon which our consciousness applies itself, it is coextensive with our consciousness. It includes everything that we perceive; it extends unto the stars. HENRI BERGSON One way or another, we were made from the sacred elements that together compose the Earth. We are made from the Earth, we breathe it in with every breath we take, we drink it and eat it, we share the same spark that animates the whole planet. Our stories tell us this, and so does our science. DAVID SUZUKI As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think. JOSEPH CAMPBELL We are healed of our suffering only by experiencing it to the full. MARCEL PROUST The goal of the hero’s journey is yourself, finding yourself. JOSEPH CAMPBELL Inspirational Quotes About BEAUTY Beauty is but the spirit breaking through the flesh. A. RODIN Let the beauty we love be what we do. RUMI In the house of long life, there I wander, In the house of happiness, there I wander. Beauty before me, with it I wander. Beauty behind me, with it I wander. Beauty below me, with it I wander. Beauty all around me, with it I wander. In old age traveling, with it I wander. I am on the beautiful trail, with it I wander. DONALD SANDERS IN NAVAHO SYMBOLS OF HEALING To become human, one must make room in oneself for the wonders of the universe. SOUTH AMERICAN INDIAN SAYING Inspirational Quotes About Ageless Aging The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball—the further I am rolled the more I gain. SUSAN B. ANTHONY Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego. Perhaps one can shed at this stage in life as one sheds in beach-living; one’s pride, one’s false ambitions, one’s mask, one’s armor. Was that armor not put on to protect one from the competitive world? If one ceases to compete, does one need it? Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, be completely oneself. And what a liberation that would be! ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH The power to live a full, adult, living, breathing life in close contact with what I love—the earth and the wonders thereof, the sea the sun…. I want to enter into it, to be part of it, to live in it, to learn from it, to lose all that is superficial and acquired in me, and to become a conscious direct human being. I want, by understanding myself, to understand others. I want to be all that I am capable of becoming…. KATHERINE MANSFIELD Midlife brings with it an invitation to accept ourselves as we truly are, embracing the darker sides of ourselves as well as the good, the dark sides of our culture as well as the good. We have an instinctive fear of facing the dark mysteries. The shadow or unknown parts of us belong to an inner world that is usually suppressed in the first half of life…. But by confronting our mysterious and shadowy center, we tap into life’s revitalizing energies and gain access to our innermost self, which contains the key to a new understanding of our life’s meaning. PAULA PAYNE HARDIN Inspirational Quotes About Courage You cannot travel into yourself without exploring the infinite reaches of eternal consciousness. KEN CAREY A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. JOSEPH CAMPELL In the middle of the way of our lives, I found myself in a dark, dangerous wood. DANTE Our task is to cross the thresholds into unknown lands where our teachers may provoke our initiation and our demons summon our illumination. May the Great Spirit smile within us Making our spirits strong And our souls light. And what we learn, may we carry it back Whole or in part And share it with our village. NADU, CIRCLE OF SHAMAN Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiation (and creation)… the moment one definitely commits, the Providence comes too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred…Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin now. GOETHE Where there is dismemberment in the beginning there is remembrance at the end. ALAN WATTS Terrified, I sent out the Greatest shriek, saying: “O Mother where are you? I would Suffer pain more lightly if I Had not felt the deep pleasure Of your presence earlier…Where Is your help now?” HILDEGARD OF BINGEN Inspirational Quotes About Silence & Solitude Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness. MEISTER ECKHART The best way out is always through. ROBERT FROST A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within. EUDORA WELTY If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is—infinite. WILLIAM BLAKE Beyond words, in the silencing of thought, we are already there. ALAN WATTS The task is to go deeply as possible into the darkness…and to emerge on the other side with permission to name one’s reality from one’s own point of view. ANTHEA FRANCINE For six years now l have gone around by myself and built up my science. And now I am a master. Son, I can love anything. No longer do I have to think about it even. I see a street full of people and a beautiful light comes in me. I watch a bird in the sky. Or I meet a traveler on the road. Everything, son. And anybody. All strangers and all loved! Do you realize what a science like mine can mean? CARSON MCCULLERS LISTEN TO THE WHISPERS As we progress and awaken to the soul in us and things we shall realize that there is consciousness also in the plant, in the metal, in the atom, in electricity, in everything that belongs to physical nature. SRI AUROBINDO Only through being yourself can you give to the others in your world your greatest gifts. To do any less betrays both them and yourself...To orient your life around a structure of some other human being’s understanding is to worship a false god. It is to lock yourself into a framework of someone else’s prejudice, however well intentioned. It is to prefer the past-oriented knowledge of another to your own present-moment perception. It is to doubt both yourself and the Creator who would, if you permit it, awaken within you. KEN CAREY The seat of the soul is there, where the outer and inner worlds meet. NOVALIS Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far, it is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere—on water and on land. WALT WHITMAN If only human beings could... be more reverent toward their own fruitfulness... RAINER MARIA RILKE You’ll never be able to dance unless you hear your own music. It doesn’t matter how you say it—the words on your lips must reflect the truth of your heart. Otherwise your life’s breath is muted. THE THEFT OF THE SPIRIT CARL A HAMMERSCHLAG MD I arise today Through the strength of heaven Light of sun, Radiance of moon, Splendor of fire Speed of lightning Swiftness of wind. Depth of sea Stability of earth, Firmness of rock. ST PATRICK’S PRAYER AND FINALLY THIS It is never too late to be what you might have been. GEORGE ELIOT These are the times. We are the people. JEAN HOUSTON

Revelations From An African Sky

Revelations From An African Sky

I once spent the night lying on a platform above an animal watering hole, staring into the vastness of space beholding the great, fathomless mystery of the African sky. Aaron, my youngest son, then three years old, lay curled up next to me like a kitten lost in his dreams. Dazzled by the inconceivable expanse of the sky whose darkness was so overcome with the light from billions of stars that lived in it, I lost myself in timelessness and infinity. That night, I came not to think or to wonder but to know, with absolute certainty in every cell and molecule of my body, that this cosmic world was not something separate from myself, nor I from it. We were, in a way I will never be able to understand rationally, one being. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Like the proverbial iceberg, most of us live with the lion’s share of our potential for freedom, joy, creativity and authentic power submerged beneath a sea of unknowing. We go about our day-to-day duties and pleasures conscious only of what comes to us through our five senses. How does it taste and feel? What does it sound like? What do we see in front of our eyes? Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of consciousness that constitutes what it is to be fully human, our greater selves hibernate, waiting to be awakened. Sometimes—when we fall in love perhaps, or when we are faced with an event of life-shattering proportions like a critical illness or the death of a close friend—a submerged area of our being erupts in magic or horror, and often in surges of passion, energy and beauty. Then, for a time, the mundane quality of everyday life is replaced with a sense of expanded being. Not only do we feel more alive, we wake up to find that familiar things—the tree that stands outside a bedroom window, the cat that greets us when we come home each day, a simple shell we picked up and slipped into our pocket while walking on the beach—have taken on a luminosity which we can’t explain. Other times, without warning while listening to music or walking down a city street, we are suddenly gripped with a sense that the world is far greater than we ever imagined it to be, and a certainty that all we see around us somehow is us. While the experience lasts, everything seems right in the world. Then, like the sun at the point of setting, everything fades beneath the mundane horizon, leaving only the faintest wisp of color to remind us that we once stood in its glory, felt its rays on our bodies and knew that being at one with the universe brings a sense of meaning to our own life and to the lives of others that is simply indescribable. The greatest desire I have is to live my life conscious of the oneness to which we all belong. After all, the magnificence of that African sky not only stretches out to infinity above us, it lies within us, calling to us—asking us to discover that it is who we are.

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.

Crisis To Creativity

Crisis To Creativity

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

Look Great

Look Great

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

A New You Calling To Be Born

A New You Calling To Be Born

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

Discipline For Freedom

Discipline For Freedom

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

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 19,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 14 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 6th of December 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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for men
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Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 6th of December 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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