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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

Sacred Truth Ep. 61: Unleash Creative Power

Sacred Truth Ep. 61: Unleash Creative Power

Every human being is brimming with creative power. Creativity lies at the core of what it is to be fully alive and vital, 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. I believe that we are all being called to do this, not only for our own sake but also for the sake of all beings and the Earth itself. I am excited about answering the call. Are you? Creativity is a mind-body-soul experience. It demands that you have access not only to your intelligence and to the layers of your psyche of which you are consciously aware, but also to the whole of your being, including what is commonly called the unconscious mind. Most of us have been taught to ignore the unconscious parts of us. To some degree this may be a result of Freud’s insistence that the deepest layers of a human being are a repository of repressed desires that need to be codified, pathologized, and treated. It is this belief that, for better or for worse, 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 powers slumber is crying out for us to awaken it. Then, when the founder of depth psychology, Carl Jung, came along, he announced what every creative artist discovers for himself or herself: Freud’s “fearful unconscious” is in truth a realm replete with visions, archetypes, insight, and soul—all of which are fuels for 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. Jung insisted that a person’s interior life not only merits attention but also calls for dedicated exploration, which is exactly what he himself did and then recorded in his fascinating and 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 in which we humans can fish for enlightenment, creativity, healing, and personal transformation. Jung then went on to discover that the dreams, myths, and archetypes that reside in our unconscious are highly personal to each of us. We are also given access to what Jung called the collective unconsciousness; that is, to archetypal realities that are not only personal but also universal. Now this is revolutionary stuff. It speaks of truths few people ever consider, unless they happen to be one of the visionary artists, thinkers, or scientists who discover this for themselves in the course of their work. The men and women who do discover all this for themselves are never 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 discover for themselves what treasures can be found there. Then they tend to bring these discoveries back, using them to fuel their work and transform their own lives as well as 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 through your own journeys.

what gives you Charisma?

what gives you Charisma?

What gives you charisma? The Chanel suit you wear? The car you drive? The way you've been taught to use your body or speak your words? Not really. Stylish or intoxicating as these things may be, they are ultimately externals—stuff put on from the outside. As such, they offer any man or woman little more than the appearance of charisma. And, like pastiche, appearances never deceive a discerning eye. What are the characteristics of real charisma? Where does it come from? How do you get it? And what is living with it all about? Charisma—the real McCoy—has unique qualities: Expansiveness, energy, joy, creativity. It is not only a way of being which calls forth all the powers at your disposal— from pragmatic to inspirational, from intellectual to intuitional. It's a natural way of relating to yourself, those you work with and play with—even to the planet itself. At its core, charisma is disarmingly simple yet immeasurably complex. Living your life with charisma is nothing more than living from a full and honest outpouring of individuality—that spirit that is unique to you. This unique nature, which every one of us has, most of us have to discover within us. And discovering it can be a lot of fun. How? In a myriad of ways—from the simple and playful, to the infinitely profound. Stop for a moment and think of the colors you like best, for instance. Think of how you choose to have your hair cut, or maybe the kind of make-up you wear (or choose NOT to wear). Charisma is explicit in the way you think and talk, in the deep values you embody, the dreams you dream and the things you create—whether they be works of art, intellectual or physical feats, or just your day-to-day ways of being. Charisma is also evident in the rhythms and fluctuations of your energies. How different are you on the tennis court, to when you hold a child in your arms, produce a piece of work, get involved in an intellectual discussion, or embrace a lover? In each of these circumstances, so long as you are true to yourself, you will have charisma—the originality of your essential being shines through. Connecting with that essence—your soul—coming to respect it and courageously choosing to live from it, brings charisma to birth naturally. Sometimes this can feel challenging; frequently it's exciting. It can even be amazing. As your innate charisma emerges, the externals of your life—the clothes, the cars, your preferences, the way you move, how you relate to your world around you—cease to be anything you have to think about or try to make happen. They unfold and develop naturally, beautifully, mysteriously—even organically—from within. And they become ever more honest and potent expressions of who, at the very core of your being, you are. Whatever forms or shapes your natural charisma takes, one quality permeates every facet of it: Aliveness. Radiant well-being develops, together with a sense of profound respect for yourself, just as you are. The more you dare to allow your unique nature to shine through, the more charisma you will have. And the simpler everything in your life becomes. In the 21st century crazy world we live in, we are bombarded by a litany of challenges. These include breathing polluted air, to interacting with the corrupt mainstream media trying to sell us things we don't need or want at prices we can ill afford as well as publishing false reports about events occurring in the world. All of this can feel as though it's contriving to interfere with our process of unfolding. I suggest that you take a decision now not to let any of this get in the way of discovering the essence of who YOU are. I believe that each of designed to become a creator in a new world—for ourselves as well as for the planet as a whole. I hope you will join me in the process of charisma unfolding and in discovering who, in essence, you are at the deepest levels of your being. For along with all the chaos and horror, suffering and loss that surrounds us, there is also great promise for a new way of living. Has there ever been a more perfect moment for your charisma to come into its own—both for yourself and those you care for? Join me in exploring the power of charisma . Set yourself free.

Sacred Creativity

Sacred Creativity

Deep within you lies a font of endless creativity. The most powerful force for freedom and fulfillment in any life, every human being has literally been made in the image of creation. How freely we are able to allow this sacred creativity to pour forth determines how rich our lives can become. It may even decide the future of our planet. This most sacred creative force can provide us with whatever we need to meet the challenges facing us in a world which increasingly appears to be edging towards chaos. And, just in case you think that when the gifts of creativity were being passed out, they bypassed you, think again. Sacred creative power is by no means only available to those who can write a book or paint a picture. It shows itself in how you think and function, in how you relate to others, as well as how we are able tocreate for ourselves the lives we long to live. Why is creativity sacred? Because, set free, it permeates every aspect of your life, lighting it up with wonder and possibility. Discovering and releasing your unique creative power enables you to turn difficulties you face on their head, transforming them into opportunities. YOUR BIRTHRIGHT Few of us come anywhere near to tapping our creative potential. Too often it is burnt out of us by education, or parental and religious training which teaches us to trust outside authority, undermining our abilities to trust in ourselves. It is time to reclaim our creative birthright. When we do, we discover a sense of purpose. Then we can call forth the support of the Universe to fulfill it. Health improves. We come to look upon our life as a great adventure which goes on expanding, year after year, towards greater fulfillment and satisfaction. Let’s now take a short journey through the mysterious labyrinth of sacred creativity. Hopefully it will inspire you to discover some truths about your own creative potential in all its magnificence. Doing so can carry us out of a life of dry responsibility and duty—sometimes tinged with disappointment, addiction and compromise—towards a pathway to authenticity, personal power, and freedom. SACRED CREATIVITY REVEALED Fifty years ago I first became fascinated by the creative process. I spent 4 years writing my first novel, Ludwig: A Spiritual Thriller. In the middle of the night, I would sit for hours on the floor in a corner of my little study listening to every piece of music Beethoven ever wrote, over and over again, always asking the question, “Where was his consciousness when he created this?” During that period I read a dozen books a week. In the beginning, they were biographies of Beethoven. I took a course in harmony and counterpoint since I knew little about either, and I felt I needed to understand more about how music is constructed. Then, for reasons I could not figure out, I found myself immersed in researching shadow governments and what was really going on in the world behind the façade of mainstream media. I kept saying to myself, “Why on earth are you learning about all this stuff when it has nothing to do with Beethoven?” What I did not realize then was just how incredibly complex and multidimensional every human being’s creative processes are nor how they work to expand and inspire our lives and our goals. For, by the time I finished the last page of my novel, every scrap of information I had amassed from my research, including what I had learned about the shadow world of political control and deceit, had all come together in ways I could never have imagined within the book to make it whole. The experience of all this brought new meaning and purpose into my own life. The bottom line is this: Once you decide to commit yourself to what you long to do or be or make in your life, and then follow it through thick and thin, this not only releases creative energies from within; it transforms your life in wonderful ways you could never have imagined. CREATIVITY: LESLIE’S PRINCIPLES Here is a short list of what I’ve discovered about the creativity within each of us: Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative vitality. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from the very core of our being. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity. There is an underlying in-dwelling creative force seated in the body which infuses all of life— including ourselves. When we seek the creative core within allowing its energy to permeate our body, we call forth sacred gifts and bring their transformative power into our lives. Creativity is the Divine’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to the Divine. The refusal to be creative is counter to our true nature and the greatest impediment to a fulfilling life. When we open ourselves to exploring creativity, we open ourselves to the unending support of universal energy. For creativity is always aligned to universal creative power so we can receive its endless gifts. As we open the sacredness of our creativity, many gentle but powerful changes start to take place in us and in those around we love. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity. Cross the threshold into your creative world, and you enter the realm of the imagination—the place in which intention can create reality. In this magical place, most of the day-to-day rules and reassurances that help us feel safe and comfortable fall away to reveal life of a different order—wilder, deeper, more authentic and unpredictable. Here’s how the adventure begins. DOORS OF PERCEPTION Human beings are, first and foremost, creators of their own lives. We do this either consciously or unconsciously. When we create consciously, we envision something close to our soul and then dance with it until out of the union—more like a love affair than anything else—our creations are born. When we create unconsciously, our creations come from a view of life that has been distorted and polluted by conditioning. The secret is to cleanse the doors of perception so that you are able to envision clearly and create what, from the deepest levels of your being, you want in your life. It is the simplest, the most challenging, and the most satisfying thing any human being ever does. What do you want to create? MEET THE DAEMON Take one part vision, mix it with methods for shifting consciousness, and a willingness to meet your Daemon and dance with it. Enter this dance of fire in a state of rapture, sometimes ecstatic and others daunting, but always exciting. In ancient times, the daemon—indispensable to creation—was considered to be a spirit of genius. Like the muse, he or she acted as an interface between you and the divine. Like nature herself, the daemon is neither good nor bad. The Greeks believed each of us was given a daemon at birth as a guardian spirit, useful in connecting earth with heaven. Through your daemon, the transcendent becomes the commonplace. A vision is tempered, honed and shaped. You are asked to fall in love with whatever you want to bring into being. Artistic visions take form. Relationships find new birth. So does everyday life. What do you love enough to want to bring into being? DANCE WITH YOUR DAEMON A willingness to do this, initiates a delicate, all encompassing, erotic process of transformation. It asks that you surrender to the dance, and at the same time maintain awareness of your separateness. This is not a loss of self, it’s a kind of cellular metamorphosis—a remembering through your subtle body who you really are. It touches your bones, your flesh, your muscles and your heart. Out of the depths of this union, destructive energies can be transformed into sheer power for creation. It’s a fascinating process—one to carry you back and forth from the very depths of your soul to the lofty heights of invention. Living it transforms an ordinary existence into a life of passion. WASTE DISPOSAL OK. So each of us comes into this life with the natural capacity to create. Indeed, that is what we are here for and what makes us unique. But our educational system, our parental and religious training—the very hierarchical structures of work and society—too often pollute our consciousness with destructive notions, lack of self-belief and an imprisoning sense of limitation. These things teach us not to be creative, not to listen to our inner voice, not to trust our visions. It is authority we are taught to bow down to. All these false notions distort our natural creative powers and truncate them, leaving us frustrated and often not knowing what is wrong. So we collect more money or lovers, crave more status and long for more holidays—none of which can fulfill the deep longing in every human being to exercise his or her birthright: To create one’s own destiny and realize our deepest dreams. HONOR THE WHISPERS Uncovering and making use of your own creative energies brings a willingness to witness what is happening to you and around you, without passing judgment and without negating whispers from your soul. Each thing you create exists in some form in consciousness before it is ever made—within your own mind to be sure, but also in the collective unconscious. This is what Plato described with his forms, and what Michelangelo knew when he chiseled a hunk of marble to allow the form he insisted was hidden within it to emerge. Creativity demands an abundance of life energy, clarity of mind and emotion, and the stamina to see something you really want to happen right through to the final moment when it does. This energy depends not on age but on aliveness. EMBRACING CHAOS All creativity demands that we enter the realm of chaos. Here the creative intention coupled with a sense of compassion for yourself and for all life, can be used to harnesses chaos and bring to birth what we you dream of creating. Good science (and, these days, little that is called “science” can claim to be valid) has much to teach about the process: Bohm’s explicate implicate order, the quantum leaps of physics, Prigogine’s bifurcation points, open systems, and dissipative structures. These visionaries have themselves made new maps of the mysterious creative process, and can help you make quantum leaps to higher orders of being, greater power, creativity and authenticity. PATH TO WHOLENESS Creativity at the highest order bursts forth from that part of your being in which you are most whole—aware simultaneously on an intellectual, instinctual and physical level. It embraces the presence of the rational thought, but it insists that reason not overstep its boundaries. With active intuition and a feeling of wonder, you enter the passionate creative dance that can become fruitful beyond your wildest dreams. Every time you choose to do this, you gain greater skills in making this fecund state of consciousness a familiar and bounteous part of everyday life. Such is the splendor of the mysterious and sacred power of your own creativity.  

Time For Reaping

Time For Reaping

At the moment we have about a quarter of a century allotted to us in which to grow to adulthood. The next forty years are generally directed towards accomplishment in the outside world, realizing the goals of adulthood, procreation and raising a family. Then we tend to slide headlong downhill until we die. The character Vitek in Karel Capek's celebrated play The Makropoulos Secret describes the plight of modern man: . . he hasn't had time for gladness, and he hasn't had time to think, and he hasn't had time for anything except a desire for bread. He hasn't done anything. No, not even himself... What else is immortality of the soul but a protest against the shortness of life? A human being is something more than a turtle or a raven; a man needs more time to life. Sixty years - it is not right. It's weakness, it's innocence, and it's animal-like. Within the confines of our three score and ten years and under the pressures of contemporary social values, modern man and modern woman have become quite extraordinarily obsessed with accomplishment. Since for most of us the time for worldly accomplishment is limited to this middle period we push ourselves forward, often at health-breaking and heartbreaking speed. To many of us the concern with fulfilling ourselves in our career, paying the rent, buying the baby a new pair of shoes, during what are supposed to be the best years of our lives, forces us to postpone the pleasures of a time to dream, a time to think and a time to play - in the very highest sense of the word. If we are to find a means of coping with the problems of our society-problems of poor statesmanship, overpopulation, Third World famine, pollution and economic inequities - we desperately need this time to dream. We need this time to recreate our own world and to take our destiny responsibly into our own hands, aside from the demands of adult life. connectedness - a priority Nobel laureate novelist Hermann Hesse wrote about such a time-expanded world in his Glass Bead Game. There, time's limits become the rules of the game of life and each human being is freed to order his existential choices. Such a time-expanded world could help us draw together our learning and re-synthesize our knowledge. It might enable the coming together of disciplines such as mathematics, physics, philosophy, biology, medicine, psychology, anthropology, art, literature, politics, theology and law - in fact the whole gamut of human concerns and disciplines - into a kind of connectedness which is urgently needed in the excessively fragmented postindustrial society that has become our home. Healthy longevity - ageless aging - would make available to us the steadily maturing wisdom of our old people - people whose experience and awareness have not become distorted by ill-functioning minds and rapidly waning energies. Such wisdom is, I believe, exactly what we need to help guide our species into its further evolution. Moreover, such time expansion takes hold of our personal sense of the present and in a very real way draws it into the future. For when we are able to project ourselves into the future, that future becomes not an abstract consideration but of active concern to all of us. The future of the earth is our future. We become responsible for it and we will live to see it as caretakers instead of irresponsible tenants of a rented property. Ageless aging will help us become its owners and like all owners we are far more likely to look after our property. In George Bernard Shaw's preface to Back to Methuselah - the play in which his character Dr Conrad Barnabas promotes an extended lifespan of 300 years - he writes: `Men do not live long enough; they are, for the purposes of high civilization, mere children when they die.' He then goes on to consider some of the creative possibilities of our being able to lengthen life: This possibility came to me when history and experience had convinced me that the social problems raised by millionfold national populations are far beyond the political capacity attainable in three score and ten years of life by slow growing mankind. On all hands as I write the cry is that our statesmen are too old, and that Leagues of Youth must be formed everywhere to save civilization from them. But despairing ancient pioneers tell me that the statesmen are not old enough for their jobs . . . We have no sages old enough and wise enough to make a synthesis of these reactions, and to develop the magnetic awe-inspiring force which must replace the policeman's baton as the instrument of authority. creators of destiny For me this magnetic awe-inspiring force of which he speaks is nothing less than man's potential to become the creator of his destiny on earth. The situation in which we live with all the global dangers to which we are exposed from the possibility of mass nuclear extinction to world economic collapse - are not accidents of nature. We have created them. And no act of God can suddenly remove their potential destructiveness from our future. Only we ourselves have the possibility of doing that. If we are to succeed, we will need to call forth every resource that we have - intelligence, wisdom, strength, courage, and patience, wit, compassion - and work with them. Ageless aging can help us do that. Life extension, the freedom from mental and physical degeneration, is no curious artifact of twentieth-century science. Who cares if, at the age of 85, we are all capable of running a marathon or if we look 30 years younger? Such things matter little on their own. But the high-level health, mental clarity and wellbeing, which are rewards of ageless aging, are of urgent concern to our future as residents of the earth. They form the foundation on which we as human beings can build if we are to make use of our full potential for creativity. In the full use of such creativity lies the future of our children our planet and ourselves. Again in the words of Capek's Vitek: Let's give everyone a three-hundred-year life. It will be the biggest event since the creation of man; it will be the liberating and creating anew of man! God, what man will be able to do in three hundred years! To be a child and pupil for fifty years; fifty years to understand the world and its ways and to see everything there is; and a hundred years to work in; and then a hundred years, when we have understood everything, to live in wisdom, to teach, and to give example. How valuable human life would be if it lasted for three hundred years! There would be no fear, no selfishness. Everything would be wise and dignified. Give people life! Give them full human life! Capek's Vitek An idealistic plea in the midst of the profound disillusionment with man that is so much a part of modern life? A dream? Perhaps. Yet our dreams become the myths by which we live. And right now we urgently need new myths to give our life direction - dreams which, having been tempered by the wisdom of age and experience, are large enough and rich enough to take us forward. Such dreams have power. They also have a remarkable way of becoming reality: All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. T.E. Lawrence

Celebrating Your Body

Celebrating Your Body

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

Come Alive

Come Alive

There is no greater joy than becoming fully alive – experiencing day to day life as a child does, being protected from the ravages of premature aging and degeneration, able to call on high levels of energy, and live out your creativity and natural capacity for joy. This is what true health is all about. It is far more than simply being well. It is more a process than a state – a process by which you become more and more with each passing year who you really are. Within each of us lies an essence, a truth, a core of self, with one and only one intention - that it may be fully expressed, wholly manifested in material form while we live on this earth. Each year I become more aware that illness, lack of energy, a sense of confusion or lack of meaning in one’s life stems from a basic frustration of the expression of this essence. These things are often calls from the soul, asking you to become more aware of who you are at the deepest level, and live out your unique soul nature in your day to day life. True healing is a transformation. Energy, power and authentic freedom grow as we engage in the process of connecting with our true essence and soul’s purposes, and express them in our lives. To do this we need to call on all sorts of tools and techniques – from detoxifying body and mind, to herbs and natural treatments, to exercises for expanding awareness. each person is totally unique Take energy, for instance. Being able to live out your energy potential depends on how well you nourish yourself - physically, emotionally and spiritually - day by day. This means developing a lifestyle which incorporates exercise, good food, restorative sleep, and the myriad of other possible factors - from hydrotherapy to super nutrients - that help support your own brand of vitality at peak efficiency. But energy too depends on living from your core – not by other people’s rules. It depends on living what you love most in some way, what feeds you most at the deepest levels. In discovering this, and living more and more in this way, you not only fulfill your own life more richly than is possible in any other ways (after all we can only collect so many PhDs, BMWs and lovers). You also bring the very highest gifts that you have to give to your family, your community, and the earth as a whole. Live your soul’s passion and you call on virtually endless energy. For health not only depends on how you eat and what exercise you get. Ultimately, health is nothing less than the process of unfolding which each one of us goes through to become more fully who we really are. Once you begin to align your life with your own truth, the universe supports you in a way most people seldom dream possible. Working with people through their own health process, helping them discover whatever is most appropriate to their needs on both a physical and spiritual level, and teaching them how to work with these things, is the most exciting thing in my life. To do this I call on leading edge biochemistry - how natural substances can be used to shift anxiety or depression, to enhance hormonal balance in the body, to help you tap into high levels of vitality. I work with detoxification, not only of the body through foods and juices, but also of the psyche, using ancient tools and techniques based on shamanic principles that work to help connect people with their inner power for healing, vitality and authentic power. I explore what herbs and plant factors can do to support aliveness at the highest level. There is nothing I love more than sharing experience and knowledge abut these things. For each person is totally unique. Each of us carries a divine spark of soul which we are here to live out to the full – bringing our own individual brand of spirit into material form as we walk the earth. The beauty of watching this happen in those I work with is, for me, like walking in a garden and seeing flowers and plants, trees and rocks that I have never seen before. I continue to be dazzled by their beauty. That, to me, is what coming alive is all about.

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.

What Every Women Wants

What Every Women Wants

Great stories carry hidden secrets that can transform a life. They bring us face-to-face with hidden truths that help free us from false beliefs and attitudes, self-criticism and negativity that crush us. Cultural conditioning has taught us to undervalue the wild creativity that lies within—that part of us which is instinctual, irrational, and full of passion. Conventional society is so frightened of these things that we have been taught to fear ourselves and to judge ourselves harshly. We swallow our anger even when it is righteous. We crush our wild nature and we see ourselves as ugly. Yet locked within what we most hate and fear lies the greatest power for true freedom. Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite mythologies of self-discovery—as delightful and important for men as it is for women. Here’s how it goes: THE LOATHLY LADY One Christmastide Arthur rode out with his knights to hunt. By chance he became separated from his companions and found himself at the edge of a great brackish pond. There, a knight in black armour emerged from the shadows and challenged him to a fight. Arthur reached to draw his sword Excalibur and call on its power to protect him from all harm. Alas, he had come away from court without it. He could feel every ounce of strength drain away from his body in the presence of the dark and evil stranger who raised his sword and threatened to kill him. Being a responsible king, of course, Arthur told the dark knight he didn't think that killing him was such a great idea—he had a country to rule, after all, and knights to look after. Where would they be without him? The stranger, bored at the thought of such an easy kill, relented and replied, "OK, I won't kill you so long as you return to this place in three days with the answer to a riddle I shall give you. If you fail I shall remove your head in one fwll swoop." WHAT DOES SHE WANT Arthur agreed. He figured that given half a chance and a mug or two of fancy mead, his pals back at the castle would be sure to come up with something. The riddle the stranger posed was this: "What does every woman want?" So Arthur headed home to ask all of his knights and wise men to give him the answer. Everyone from Merlin to a goose girl he met along the road had a go. Each gave him a different answer: "A woman wants beauty," said one. "A woman wants power," said another, or fame, or jewels, or sanctity. None could agree. Time was running out. Finally, although he had done his best to hide from his beloved Guinevere the seriousness of the situation, the third morning arrived. Bound by his word of honor to the Black Knight, Arthur had to face the music. Along the road to the meeting at the brackish waters, Arthur came upon an old woman. She sat on a tree stump by the side of the road calling his name. Arthur dismounted and approached her with all the courtesy he could muster. For the closer he came, the more ghastly this old hag appeared. Although she was dressed in fine silk and wore magnificent jewels on her gnarled and twisted hands, she was unquestionably the most hideous thing he had ever seen—or dreamed of, for that matter. Her nose was like a pig's, her mouth was huge, toothless and dribbling. What hair remained on her head was greasy, and the skin all over her misshapen and bloated body was covered in oozing sores. COURTESY CHALLENGED Arthur swallowed hard, forcing himself not to have to look away. "My Lord," she said in a surprisingly gentle voice, "Why look you so dismayed?" Summoning up all his chivalrous training, Arthur apologized for his manner, trying to explain it away by telling her he was most unsettled at the prospect of returning to meet his death at the hand of an evil knight because he could not tell him the answer to the riddle, "What does every woman want?" "Ah," said the hag. "I can tell you that. But such knowledge cannot be given without payment." Arthur, hoping once again for a reprieve from death, replied, "Of course Madam, anything you desire shall be yours for the answer—even half my kingdom." IMPOSSIBLE REQUEST The Loathly Lady made Arthur bend down while she whispered a few words in his ear." The moment Arthur heard them, he knew his life and his kingdom had been saved. He was about to leap on his horse again and ride off to meet the stranger when she tugged on his cloak and said, "Now I want my reward." "Of course Madam, what is it that you want?" he asked. "I want to be the wife of your bravest knight and live at your court." Arthur, who only a moment before had felt his spirits soar, was plunged into the deepest despair. How could he possibly expect any knight to consent to marry such a hideous hag? And what would it be like to have to endure such ugliness every day at court? "But Madam, that is impossible!" he said. The words slipped through his lips before he could catch them. Aghast at his own lack of courtesy and agonized by having to ask any of his knights, Arthur said, "I beg your pardon, Madam. You are quite right. Come to court tomorrow. There waiting for you will be your future husband." So saying, he mounted his horse and rode off to meet the Black Knight to convey to him the answer to the riddle. When he got back to the castle, Arthur was distraught. The knights questioned him. He confessed that he had won his life from the Black Knight but then told them at what cost and reported his promise to the Loathly Lady. "My very honor is at stake," said Arthur, wringing his hands, "unless one of you will agree to wed her." His knights were horrified at the prospect and tried to avoid his gaze. But one—the youngest knight of all—Sir Gawain, the most courageous and purest of heart stood up. "Worry, not my liege," Gawain said, "I shall save you, I will marry the woman no matter what her mien." SELF-PROFESSED HERO Gawain did not have long before he rued his offer. The marriage was planned for the following morning and the hag arrived at court. When he looked upon her, even Gawain with all his chivalry did not know how he could go through with the ceremony. It demanded every ounce of his courage. Somehow he managed it. But things got worse. When the festivities were over, the couple were obliged to retire to their chamber for the night. Gawain, unable to face the hideousness of his wife, sat for long hours in their bedchamber with his back to the lady, writing at his desk and praying she would go to sleep without him. Was he to spend the rest of his life shackled to such a hideous monster? ENCHANTED WOMAN Long past midnight, as the candle burnt low, he felt a hand come to rest upon his shoulder. "Will you not come to bed now, my Lord?" a voice whispered from behind him. Shuddering with horror, Gawain mustered his courage to look at her. To his astonishment there stood not the ugly hag he had married but the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had golden hair and ivory skin. "Why do you seem so surprised, My Lord?" she said to him. "I am indeed your wife. I was enchanted by a wicked magician. But now the enchantment is half broken by your having consented to marry me and so you see I stand before you now in my true form." Gawain could not believe his luck. "Half broken?" he asked. "Yes, my lord" was the reply. "Sadly I am only allowed to spend half the time in my true form. For the rest I must return to the shape of the same hag which this afternoon you married. And now you must choose, my Lord. Would you have me be my true self at night when we are alone together and the hag during daylight hours?" Gawain, whose mind was flooded with passion at the thought of her beauty filling his bed each night replied eagerly, "Yes, that is certainly how it must be." TEARS FOR FREEDOM In the eye of his beautiful lady appeared a tear. "But sir," she said, "Would you then have me suffer the humiliation of the court who cannot conceal their horror at my ugliness?" Now Gawain, if he was nothing else, was compassionate. He could not bear to bring this beautiful woman a tear of sorrow. "No, of course not," he replied. "It shall be the other way round, of course. You shall be my beautiful wife for the court during daylight hours and the hag at night." But this only made the lady weep the more. "Oh sir, would you then deny me forever the joy and pleasure of your embrace?" She asked. Poor Gawain, who after all was but a man (and man has never found it easy to deal with woman's grief) did not know what to do. After much thought he replied, "My lady, whatever choice I make will be the wrong one. It is therefore for you to choose which you prefer." At the sound of his words the Lady threw herself into his arms in glorious laughter. "In so saying, my Lord, you have given the right answer. You have bestowed upon me what every woman wants—her own way. The spell at last is broken. You will never have to look upon the hideous hag again. I am my true self and it belongs to you forever." Such is the power of accepting that which to ourselves is most loathsome. And such is the power of myth in reminding us of it.

A Benevolent Bath

A Benevolent Bath

Allow an hour for the whole process of taking a delicious treat of a bath from beginning to end. Make sure you have everything you need - towel, loofa or hemp glove, and another towel to use as a headrest. Add essential oils to the water as the bath is filling, using about ten to fifteen drops total of either a single essence or of a mixture for a large bath. Each essence has a different effect on the mind and body (see below).  When you get into the bath, gently scrub yourself all over with a hemp glove or a loofa. Then just relax and soak for a few minutes, letting the heat penetrate your muscles.  Keep a cool cloth nearby to smooth over your face when needed. Let the essential oils work their wonders while you carry out a relaxing and waste-eliminating self-massage.  Water is the perfect medium for self-massage. The heat (remember not to have your bath too hot and stimulating) of the water works silent wonders, and it supports your body so that you have easy access to feet, legs, arms and torso while still remaining relaxed. When your bath is finished, lie down for ten minutes with an eye mask or a piece of dark fabric across your eyes and keep warm. the massage message Self-massage is nothing more than stroking, kneading, pushing and pressing your skin and muscles. Start with your feet. Grasp one foot between thumb and fingers and press in between the tendons, gently at first, then harder and harder, moving from the toes up towards the ankle. Then, using your fingertips and knuckles, go over the soles of your feet. Wherever you find a sore spot, work harder until you feel the discomfort melt beneath your hand. Now do your heel, grasping it between thumb and fingers and working around the area of the Achilles tendon. This is also a good time to make circles with your foot to loosen the ankle joint. Repeat this with the other foot, and then go on to your legs. Lift each leg in turn and deeply stroke the flesh on the back, from the ankle up to the knee. Then go back to the ankle again and repeat the same motions on the side and front of the calf. Keep working and, as you massage a little deeper with each stroke, you will gradually find that any tautness softens. Now go over your thighs with the same movement, and afterwards knead and squeeze around the knee area wherever there are trouble spots, just as you did on the feet. Now knead each thigh and hip. Then go on to your arms. Knead and squeeze every spot you can reach on your shoulders and neck, looking for sore spots and focusing on the areas between joints and muscles. Pay particular attention to the tops of shoulders, where most of us lock away our tension. Grasp this area in your thumb and fingers and insistently ease away any hardness you find there. Finally, go over your ribs, doing each side with its opposite hand. essence alchemy As part of the benevolent bath, choose essential oils not so much for what they can do for your skin as what they can do to expand your consciousness and lift your spirit. Whatever your mental state may be, it has an enchanting antidote from the world of flowers: Negative State Essential Oil Remedy anger: ylang ylang, rose, chamomile resentment: rose sadness: hyssop, marjoram, sandalwood mental fatigue: basil, peppermint, cypress, patchouli worry: lavender feeling jaded: neroli, melissa, camphor feelings of weakness: chamomile, jasmine, melissa irritability: frankincense, marjoram, lavender, chamomile physical exhaustion: jasmine, rosemary, juniper, patchouli anxiety: sage, juniper, basil, jasmine

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 27th of June 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.98 lb
for women
-1.04 lb
for men
-0.98 lb
for women
-1.04 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 27th of June 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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