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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

Retreat Secrets

Retreat Secrets

I smile when the word “retreat” comes up and people get all “starry eyed” and “new age” about the idea. In my experience, a retreat—an enormously valuable event in one’s life which needs periodically to be repeated—has little to do with sitting beneath jasmine scented trees, communing peacefully with God. I have done many retreats of different lengths and kinds, including one in a Tibetan monastery, in which I spent some six weeks learning more about fleas than I would ever want to know. I believe each retreat is meant to be an experience of profound inner transformation, carried out with both feet planted firmly on the ground. PLUMBING THE DEPTHS Like any experience of real change, it asks that we plumb the depths of our being to come closer to what is real, as well as to access creativity, power, and energy we may never have touched before. In many ways, the process is like that of detoxifying your body by shifting from a low-carbohydrate diet to a way of eating that brings clarity to the mind and strength to the body. Retreats often bring to the surface a lot of the toxic “junk” from emotional damage and wrong thinking that all of us carry on a psychological and mental level, so it can be cleared. This is not always a comfortable process. DISCOVERING YOUR POTENTIALS Like the proverbial iceberg, most of us live with the lion’s share of our potential for freedom, joy, creativity, and 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? And most of the time—because of the stress that we live under in our urban lives —we are not even fully aware of our senses. Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of consciousness that constitutes what it is to be fully human, our greater selves hibernate, waiting to be awakened. It is this awakening that a retreat can help bring about. For like exceptional events in our lives which break through comfort zones—when we fall in love perhaps, or when we’re faced with an event of life-shattering proportions like a critical illness or the death of a close friend—a retreat in silence and solitude can cause submerged areas of our being to erupt in magic, in surges of passion, in vitality, in anxiety, in stunning beauty. EXPANDED AWARENESS For a time, the mundane quality of everyday life is replaced with a sense of expanded being. We not only feel more alive; we wake up to find that familiar things—the tree that stands outside the bedroom window, the cat that greets us when we come home each day, the simple shell we picked up and slipped into our pocket while walking on the beach—has taken on a luminosity we cannot explain. On retreat sometimes, without warning, while listening to music or walking down a street, we can be hit with a feeling that the world is far greater than we ever imagined it to be, or a sense that all we see around us somehow is us. We are all part of the same stuff. While the experience lasts, everything seems right in the world. Then, as our retreat ends, like the sun at the point of setting, it can all fade beneath the mundane horizon—leaving only the faintest wisp of colour to remind us that we once stood in glory, felt the rays of the sun upon our bodies, and knew that sense of being at one with the universe which gives every struggle meaning. A retreat, whether or not it is simply 2 hours set aside a week for you to do something that you absolutely love doing so that you are following your passion; whether you go into a monastery or a retreat centre for a long weekend; or into the wilderness on a vision quest, helps connect us with what is real, and remind us of who we really are. In the silence, when we are removed from the day-to-day structures of our lives which both support us and imprison us, we can begin to plunge the depths of our being and make a better connection with our inner visions, longings, passions, and creative power. DETOX FOR THE SOUL One of the most important gifts of a retreat is to help make us aware that the life we are living may not be entirely our own, or that it is not as authentic as we would like it to be, or that we are not getting as much out of our lives as we feel we should be. Such discoveries are never easy. Yet they often herald exciting changes for the better and help clear away much of the toxic “junk” we have been carrying. The process of reclaiming power and rebalancing energy, by walking away for a time from the ordinary structures of your life, is very much like the process of detoxifying the body. When you stop putting convenience foods into your body and begin eating in a way that supports life-long health, something remarkable happens. Not only do our physical distortions rise to the surface; you might experience fatigue, perhaps a headache as a result of giving up coffee, a deep cleansing of the body. In many ways a retreat acts as a detox for the soul. On a spiritual level, the distortions that we have picked up in our lives also tend to rise to the surface to be cleared away. We may find ourselves temporarily riddled with depression or a sense of meaninglessness, fear, the feeling that the life we are living in no way satisfies our inner need. WRITE IT DOWN On any retreat, it is essential to keep a journal of what you are thinking and how you are feeling, both physically and spiritually. We often forget that mind and body are one, not two separate entities. Nothing brings this truth more to consciousness than the process of retreating from our day-to-day life. For when you let go of the structures of your life for a time, the ideas, feelings, memories, and concerns that have been floating beneath the surface rise up into awareness. This is where it is important not to identify with them, but rather to just remark that they are there, record them, and learn to look at them objectively knowing that the fact they have risen to the surface means that they are probably ready to be got rid of, often leaving us lighter and freer than ever before. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE Simultaneously, probably because the psyche is so rich and complex and when you are on retreat you hear the whispers of your soul better than any other time, we tend to get tiny messages from the soul. We often get a sense of things that we want to do or be, learn, or try. Some of these things may be insignificant, while others seem to be very large indeed. Record these “whispers” in a journal, right alongside any negative or confusing feelings which surface. At the end of a retreat, you can then go back to these whispers which you have recorded. Make a decision to act upon one or two of the things you want, whether they be apparently insignificant things such as I want to change the way my hair is cut, or large issues such as I want to go back to university and learn new skills. DISCOVER YOUR PASSIONS A retreat can help us come in touch with passions of the soul. Passion, I believe, holds the key to everything, and more than anything else, the stressful demanding lives that we live, where we are living mostly by other people’s rules (being the good employee, the good mother, the good wife etc.) tend to make us deaf to the whispers of our soul. A retreat can awaken again our ability to hear these passions. A NEW LIFE BEGINS The real trick to making retreats work for you comes after the retreat is over. It’s at that point, when you look back into your journal and find out what it is, and are reminded of the things that you most want. These are not just things that you think might be possible, but what you really want in your life. Decide to bring into being only one or two of the things that you want most to do. This is how we ground our spiritual insights in our day-to-day lives and then gradually, bit by bit, day by day, we not only find that the “distortions” we have carried so long have lessened, loosening their hold on us. With each action we take, following one or two or more of what one hears from within, it becomes easier and easier to connect with our soul’s whispers and therefore easier and easier to live an infinitely rewarding, authentic life. And, as often as not, all this can begin with a simple intention to retreat.

How To Die Young Late In Life

How To Die Young Late In Life

“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 dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” T.E. Lawrence I love this quotation. It reminds me of the imaginative power each of us has to create our own life. It also tells me there is no need to fear growing older. Each one of us can live a rich and fulfilling life, no matter what our age. Yet too few of us make use of our powerful abilities to envision and create what we long for. If, like me, you would prefer to die young late in life, you need to do two things: First, get savvy about how to care for yourself naturally. Second, start practicing Lawrence of Arabia’s dictate to become a “dreamer of the day”. Then “act with open eyes” to make it happen. AGELESSNESS Our growing understanding of natural medicine, together with research in high-tech biochemistry, has made all things possible. Once little more than a pipe-dream, the notion that we can choose to die young late in life is now a genuine possibility. Savvy gerontologists challenge the maximum lifespans of human beings. Now, men and women in the know make intelligent use of antioxidant nutrients, electromagnetic treatments, and a myriad of other anti-aging tools—including an organic, high-raw diet—to prevent physical degeneration and restore healthy balance to their bodies and their lives. Instead of prescribing dangerous drugs, a new wave of visionary psychiatrists and natural therapists have come to understand that the food we eat we eat exerts a powerful effect on our brain’s control centers. These loci direct the metabolic processes on which our health depends—from hormonal behavior, weight and appetite, to emotional and mental states and even what we perceive to be the nature of reality. What few people as yet know—and what I have been studying and teaching in the past five years—is that these control centers are also the filters through which we receive genuine spiritual revelations. Live on a diet of convenience foods, sugars, and carbohydrates, as more than 90 percent of people now do, and your brain’s control centers become crippled. Unable to do their job properly, we begin to experience not only ill health and rapid aging, but unbalanced emotions, mental fog, and a strong sense that, in ways we cannot even articulate, we have lost trust in ourselves and lost connections with ourselves although we may have no idea how this has happened. Few men and women as yet realize that changing the way they eat and care for their bodies can, often within a few weeks, not only transform their health but expand their consciousness and change their lives on virtually every level. FALSE NOTIONS For generations, society has imprinted us with a lot of negative thoughts and descriptions about what it means to grow older. In the book—for which he won a Pulitzer Prize—Why Survive? Being Old in America, Dr Robert Buffer writes astutely about how damaging false beliefs about aging continue to be. Negative ideas about what it means to get older include the belief that older people are inflexible, senile, and unproductive—in effect, that they are just waiting for the inevitable arrival of the grim reaper. Such nonsense grossly distorts the truth. TRUE PERSPECTIVES Your chronological age is a very limited indication of your biological and functional age. These two measurements are what matter. Old people can be capable of far more than society allows them to express or contribute. At any age, people who discover how to live by the principles of natural wellbeing become remarkable human beings. Highly resistant to the ravages of degeneration and to chronic illness, they know their bodies. They face each day in fresh anticipation about what it will bring. They’ve learned to dismiss the negative brainwashing which continues to bombard us from the mainstream media, the medical profession and government directives. They know that, as George M. Mann MD writes, “The diet-heart hypothesis that suggests that high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol causes heart disease has been repeatedly shown to be wrong. The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century.” Knowledgeable, independent people have every right to boast of their increased longevity and high resistance to degeneration. They’ve earned it. They have sought truths and they continue to uncover them. They’ve chosen to shun unnecessary drugs, to banish convenience foods, and to make from 50 to 75% of the foods they eat raw and organic. Having transcended all those beliefs about growing older, they have become not old people but long-lived people. TIME TO CREATE It is commonly said that we are allotted about a quarter of a century in which to grow to adulthood. The next forty years, we’re told, are to be directed towards accomplishment in the outside world, realizing the goals of adulthood, procreation and raising a family. After that, most of the world expects us to slide headlong downhill until we die. Within the confines of this three-score-years-and-ten paradigm, and under the pressures of contemporary social values, too many of us can become obsessed with accomplishment. Since the time for worldly success is supposed to be limited to the middle period of our life, we push ourselves forward at health-breaking and heart-breaking speed. The concerns with fulfilling ourselves in our career, paying the rent, or buying the baby a new pair of shoes—during what are supposed to be the best years of our lives—force us to postpone the pleasures of a time to rest, a time to think, and a time to dream about what we long to create. I believe it is essential that each of us deliberately make a place for us to explore a time-expanded universe within us. 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. 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 those who practice with authenticity such disciplines such as mathematics, physics, philosophy, biology, medicine, psychology, anthropology, art, literature, politics, theology and law—in fact, the whole gamut of human concerns—into a kind of connectedness which is urgently needed in the excessively fragmented post-industrial society in which we now live. THE POWER OF AGE Healthy, creative longevity can make available to us the steadily maturing wisdom that is one of the greatest blessings of growing older: People whose experience and awareness has not been distorted by ill-functioning minds and rapidly waning energies have so much to give. I believe that such wisdom is exactly what we need to help guide our species towards further evolution. Moreover, such time expansion takes hold of our personal sense of the present and, in a powerful, real, and positive way, draws it into the future. And when we are able to project ourselves into the future, that future becomes not an abstract consideration, but something of active concern to all of us. The future of the earth is our future. We are responsible for it. If we so choose, we can live to see it as caretakers instead of irresponsible tenants in a rented property. The principles of natural aging help us become its owners, and, like all owners, we are far more likely to look after our property. LIVING A LIMITLESS LIFE 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.” For me, this magnetic awe-inspiring force of which Shaw speaks is nothing less than man's potential to become the creator of his destiny on earth. The situation in which we now live, with all the global dangers to which we are exposed—from nuclear radiation to the possibility of mass nuclear extinction and economic collapse—are not accidents of nature. They have been created by us. No act of god can suddenly remove their potential destructiveness from our future. Only we ourselves have the potential to do this. And, if we are to succeed, we will need to call forth every resource which we have—intelligence, wisdom, strength, courage, patience, wit, compassion—then work with them. Freedom from mental and physical degeneration which ageless aging brings is no longer an empty dream. It is happening to many. Who cares if, at the age of 85, we are all still capable of running a marathon, or if we look 20 years older or younger than we are chronologically? Such things matter little by themselves. But the high-level health, mental clarity and well-being which are the rewards of natural living—no matter how old one is chronologically—are of urgent concern to all of us as residents of the earth. They build form the foundation on which we human beings can build if we are to make use of our full creative potential. In the full use of such creativity lies the future of humankind, our children and our planet. 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!” Is this no more than an idealistic plea in the midst of the profound anxiety, fear and disillusionment of early 21st century life? Maybe. Maybe not. Have I, at 72, become one of Lawrence’s “dreamers of the day”? Perhaps. It’s dreams that create the mythologies by which we live. I believe we urgently need new dreams to give our lives direction—dreams which, tempered by the wisdom of age, are large enough and rich enough to carry us forward. Such dreams not only have power. They have the ability to bring forth exciting new realities.

End Fear Of Aging

End Fear Of Aging

We have inherited an albatross. It hangs about our necks in the form of a widely accepted, negative, highly destructive view of aging. It’s ugly and simply untrue. Now is the time to explode any false beliefs you may carry about aging—time to reveal amazing truths which lie buried beneath them. NATURE’S RULES Like a beautifully designed engine, your body has been created to live a long and healthy life fueled by nature’s own molecules, not by “drug therapy.” Driven by powerful corporate entities, for more than a century, mainstream medicine has been doling out artificial chemical drugs to suppress symptoms while making little progress towards improving health or slowing age degeneration. Prescribing potentially dangerous drugs in the belief that they can improve the long-term wellbeing of your body year-by year has turned out to be a fruitless task. Back in 377 BC, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote “Natural forces are the healers of disease.” Nothing has changed since then. It’s time to take a whole new view of the aging process, to discard false beliefs and learn the art of ageless aging. It’s also time to celebrate the process together. QUESTION EVERYTHING In the 1970s and 80s, when interest in gerontology—the study of aging—began to be supported by government funding, age researchers fell into a mire of confusion, primarily because they lacked any conceptual foundation for understanding the nature of aging in its many facets—biological, psychological, and spiritual. They became obsessed with disability, disease, and chronological age instead of seeing the experience of aging as a whole, in all of its positive as well as its negative aspects. Since then, the media has come to focus on the weakness and pathos of the elderly. Scientific literature on gerontology is still obsessed with the issues of nursing home admissions, frailty, and the economic costs of looking after our impaired elders. It is all part of the negative obsession that we as a society seem to have developed with aging. As a result, very little accurate information has become available to bring us a positive understanding of how human beings can function effectively in later life. IGNORE THE LIES How long you live rests largely in your own hands. So does how well you live, how much vitality you have and how good you will look in 20 years’ time. Ageless aging is not an accident of fate. Neither is it heavily dependent on the kind of medical care you get, nor on your genetic inheritance, although certainly both have a part to play. It depends upon how you choose, right here, right now, to live your life from here on out. And this is regardless of how much self-neglect you have poured on yourself in the past. Almost everybody has heard of death curses. Psychological literature is laced with accounts of how Aboriginal witch doctors have brought about the death of the young and healthy by cursing them. No sooner do these people learn of the fate which has been cast for them than they begin inexplicably to sicken and eventually to die. It appears that through complex biological processes, their simple belief in the curse brings about destruction of their organism. LAY THE GHOST In so-called civilized society, we look upon such phenomena as anthropological curiosities—products of primitive superstition which simply don't touch us in our more enlightened age. What we are not aware of, however, is that most of us in the civilized world live under our own brand of “death curses”. They may be subtler than those issued by witch doctors, but they can be every bit as potent in bringing about the physical and mental decline which we have come to associate with aging. Common, unconscious notions such as “retirement”, “middle-age”, “It's all downhill after 40” and “At your age you must start taking things more easily”, are widely held. They can exert a powerful effect on the process of aging by creating destructive self-fulfilling expectations about age decline. Instead of facing the future full of confidence and excitement about what lies ahead, optimism is replaced by anxiety as we are warned to “Be careful”, or “Don't take chances on a new career at your age.” Most of us hold a lot of false notions about aging and life expectancy. These ghosts need to be laid before we can make ageless aging a workable part of our lives, for they are truly legends of the fall, and like many false legends, they carry the warning that if you believe in them, the belief itself goes a long way to making them true. So deeply entrenched are these negative legends in the worldview of our culture that each one needs to be examined quite carefully before we can begin to transform them. TO HELL WITH LIES To most people in the West, old age brings ghastly images of decrepitude—not pictures of vigorous and sexually active old men and women intensively involved in work and looking forward to what comes next. The potential for creativity and enjoyment which is wasted in age-degeneration in the developed countries of the world is shocking. So is the cost to the state in providing medical treatment, hospitalization, food and care for people for whom aging has become a nightmare of physical pain and emotional isolation. Few of us even come close to fulfilling our psychobiological potentials. Instead we look forward to a steady and inexorable increase in morbidity and mortality from one disease to another. Applying the principles of ageless aging, however, will give you a very different view. For the same principles which help keep your skin smooth, your muscles firm and your vitality and creativity high can also reduce the incidence of chronic disease and postpone degenerative illnesses so that if they occur at all, they come only very late in life. BASIC PRINCIPLES So much for the myths of aging. The next time you find yourself grunting when you get out of a chair, or refusing to play run-around after a young niece or nephew on the grounds that you are too old, think again. Forget the myths and remember three important facts: FACT ONE: It is biological—not chronological—age that matters. FACT TWO: by improving your ability to adapt to stressors and maintain physiological balance and function, you can effectively prevent accelerated aging and the degenerative diseases associated with it. FACT THREE: There is even better news. Even when negative changes in your body have already taken place, by making alterations to the way you live and eat, many —in most people even all—of these changes can be reversed. This means that in medically measurable terms—the hard-core parameters doctors use to register health and degeneration such as cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, triglycerides, blood pressure and all the rest—aging can now be reversed, rejuvenating your body and de-aging your life. What was once a pipe-dream, followed by rich eccentrics who had themselves injected with monkey glands or drank snake blood in an effort to grow younger, has become a real possibility. It can be done right here, right now. For me, these three facts add up to the most exciting information to come out of 20th century science related to establishing and maintaining high level health. For the first time in history, ageless aging is possible for each of us—a journey into wholeness, authenticity and fulfilment. What could be better than that? SACRED TRUTHS Your body is a multi-dimensional organism, not a machine: We are body, mind and spirit—so interrelated that they cannot be separated. Each of us is an utterly unique being. Health at its most profound level is a full expression of that uniqueness in everything we are and do. By improving our ability to adapt to stressors and maintain physiological balance and function, we can effectively prevent accelerated aging as well as most degenerative diseases associated with it. Where negative changes in the body have already taken place, most can be reversed. This is measured by hard-core parameters doctors use such as cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, triglycerides, blood pressure and all the rest. Natural methods work best for regeneration and rejuvenation. It’s time to learn to live and think in ways that encourage the best possible expression of our genes. Regeneration is a process by which the body and psyche rid themselves of whatever does not support the highest levels of gene expression, strengthen physical vitality, and empower greater expression of your authentic nature. By living out our unique biological, spiritual and creative potentials, we not only fulfil ourselves, we also bring the greatest gifts we have to offer our family, our community and the world as a whole. Of all the subjects that you asked me most often to write about, how to age beautifully tops the bill. I’m glad. Since I am now 74, I have learned a lot about all of this. So I plan in the weeks and months that lay ahead to send you a number of weekly newsletters and release a number of Sacred Truth videos on how to make practical use of ageless aging principles in your own life, regardless of your age. Be sure to sign up so you can receive them. I look forward to sharing all of this and more with you in the future.

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

Secrets Of The Moon Goddess

Secrets Of The Moon Goddess

A woman's average menstrual cycle is 29 1/2 days—exactly the length of the moon's passage from new to full and back to new again. In tribal cultures, where women live in close physical proximity to each other and their natural menstrual cycles are not disrupted by such things as alterations in exposure to natural light, electromagnetic fields, drugs and hormones, not only do they menstruate at the same time, ovulation tends to occur when light is brightest at the full moon, and menstruation begins during the moon's dark phase—at new moon. There is by no means anything pathological in any woman in the modern world not cycling in this particular natural rhythm. However, it has also been demonstrated that the menstrual cycle can be regulated according to the exposure to varying degrees of light, which mimic the waxing and waning of the moon's phases. Under such circumstances the three phases of the moon—waxing, full and waning—correlate exactly with the monthly cycle of ebb and flow of female hormones—the oestrogen dominated proliferative phase, ovulation, the secretory luteal phase, and menstruation itself. SPLENDID PASSAGES In the realm of myth and symbols, these phases are superbly mirrored in the three phases of every woman's life—childhood, before the sex hormones begin to flow, the childbearing years, which begin at the menarche, and the postmenopausal years of the Moon Goddess in her Crone guise. In ancient cultures, the moon was considered the source of fertility and birth. She ruled destiny and time, the secrets of the unseen world, transformation, death and regeneration. It was the moon's power that quickened all of life. Sowing and harvesting were done in harmony with her ebbs and flows. It was the moon which grew bright then darkened and disappeared altogether each month that taught people that nothing in life is constant. The only thing on which you can rely is change. The moon became a symbol of the cycle of transformation that makes its home in a woman's body, while woman came to rule all things that involved change. Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, professor Emerita at UCLA, is the acknowledged world expert on Neolithic goddess-centered cultures in pre-patriarchal Europe. Author of more than twenty books, she paints a richly detailed picture of their social structure, agriculture, customs, rituals, religion and art. Much has been learned in recent years about the nature of the goddess-centered cultures, which existed for literally tens of thousands of years in Europe and Asia. The miniature sculptures that have been unearthed in the past twenty years give insight into the great variety of female manifestation of the divine which appeared as long ago as 27,000 to 25,000 years BC. Three thousand of these have been found in Siberia alone. In The Civilization of the Goddess, a monumental encyclopedic book which has already changed history, Gimbutas writes, "According to myriad images that have survived from the great span of human prehistory on the Eurasian continents, it was the sovereign mystery and creative power of the female as the source of life that developed into the earliest religious experiences. The Great Mother Goddess who gives birth to all creation out of the holy darkness of her womb became a metaphor for Nature herself, the cosmic giver and taker of life, ever able to renew Herself within the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth." WOMAN’S MANY FACES We learn from ancient sources that, like woman herself, the Moon Goddess has many faces. At the new moon, she is the Virgin Goddess, wrapped in enthusiasm for new beginnings as seeds sprout and first shoots appear. When her second phase begins, so does puberty. Buds turn into flowers and flowers to fruits as virgin becomes transformed into Divine Mother in charge of procreation and sexuality. She is the pregnant goddess, mistress of animals, bringer of life, the Madonna. As the moon begins to wane, woman passes through her next initiation to a time of harvest and a time of death, during which all that is old becomes compost for her new life. It is the Dark Goddess who rules the darkness of the moon, death and rebirth. Ancient statues of the Dark Goddess carved in bone, marble, alabaster or clay are often white—for white is the color of death. Bones are turned white by the elements. The big breasts and hips you find on statues of the Divine Mother become replaced by stiff nudes. The Dark Goddess is often depicted without breasts, her hands either on her chest or extended along her sides. She is shown with an enlarged pubic triangle, for the Dark Goddess of the waning moon is not only goddess of death but of regeneration. She rules the time in a woman's life when everything that has run its course, everything which has become outmoded or no longer has meaning in a woman’s life, must be destroyed to make way for a more authentic life. THE GIFTS OF MENOPAUSE Menopause is the initiation of the Dark Goddess. It is the passage during which a woman is asked to confront the possibility of her own death and probe the mysteries of decay, dismemberment, and regeneration. For only through the death of the old can the exciting new birth that awaits us take place. As menopause approaches, often a woman wants to spend more time in nature and to feel her spirit fed by the earth. The fear of menopause and the fear of the Crone, so widespread in our society, are nothing more than a reflection of our misguided fear of death itself. For, in today’s world, we have forgotten the great cyclic flow of birth, flowering, death and regeneration that is hidden within the circle of the moon—as it is within all life—and reflected in the circle of our own souls. Little wonder, since our patriarchal culture denies cyclical time and views events as linear. In linear time, the end is not connected with the beginning. Birth and death are not viewed as two vital passages in a continuing cycle of life, but as opposites—the one to be celebrated the other to be resisted at all costs until the bitter end. It is no wonder our society wants to black out menopause and to reject the older female. In the fearful fragmented world we live in, this appears to be the only way that human beings can deny for a time their own mortality. This is why the Dark Goddess remains a focus of fear and loathing in stereotypical male-dominated linear thinking. BANISH FEAR AND CELEBRATE Any woman who does not break through the limitations of such thinking and move beyond it risks becoming so paralyzed by fear that she looks upon The Dark Goddess (and menopause itself) as an enemy to be resisted. In truth, she is the archetype-medium by which the internal split that took place thousands of years ago between woman and her feminine nature can be healed forever. She is death's priestess. It is she that wipes out outmoded patterns of thinking and living. Then, acting the role of the midwife, she brings new forms of living to birth. The Dark Goddess—often called the Crone— can seem a terrifying figure to the uninformed women approaching menopause. She has so long remained repressed within our psyches that, when at last her energy rises and she makes her presence known, it can sometimes feel like an earthquake, a volcano, or some eruption of Nature that occurs to us as when pressures held too long within the earth are released. Yet the Crone has always been present in our lives: She has appeared each month as the moon grows dark and menstrual blood—the source of all creation—flows. Now, as menopause approaches, the Dark Goddess comes at last to rest within a woman's being. For instead of being released each month, the dark blood of creative power is retained within a woman's body and made available for her use. MONUMENTAL TRANSFORMATIONS The presence of the Dark Goddess in a woman's life is easy to spot. She arises whenever we experience dramatic changes—the death of a loved one, loss of a job, disfiguration. She is our teacher who guides us through the transformation that is being asked of us onto a new level of being. She is there in our deepest despair and at times when we connect most powerfully with our own creative fire. She is the hand-maiden that nurtures us through dark nights once we are willing to make the descent into our own psyche, and connect with whatever forms are sleeping there, so we can begin to live our own power. When these connections are made she is present too. She teaches us by her presence alone to become deeply and spontaneously sexual, assertive, straight, incorruptible, prophetic, intuitive and free. All of these qualities arise at menopause. These are the most precious gifts of the Crone. They herald the beginning of what is potentially the most creative part of any woman’s life... This time in which her biological creativity is let go of to be replaced by creativity of the highest order in any woman’s life. It must be said—it is these powerful gifts of the Dark Goddess which are still the most terrifying threats to the linear patriarchal culture of control in which most of us still live. More to come next week...

My Life In Beauty

My Life In Beauty

I had a beautiful mother. She was a cross between a golden-haired fairy godmother and a Hitchcock blonde. Always impeccably dressed, my mother could walk through a barnyard in a white suit and emerge without a speck. Not me. I am a walking advertisement for what I ate for lunch, since most of it ends up down my shirt. COOL BEAUTY My mother never shared with me her clothes, her jewelry, or her cosmetics. Even to walk through her dressing room and touch them was a crime punishable by banishment. She did share some important advice though: She taught me that beautiful skin matters. To maintain it, she insisted, you need just the right amount of sunlight –half an hour early or late in the day–and no more ever. She was also adamant I needed to eat natural foods and to supplement my diet with some judiciously chosen vitamins and minerals as well. Stay away from sugar and breads and pizzas, she insisted. Never go to bed without cleansing your face first, and nourish your skin to keep it soft and smooth with something really active—be it fresh papaya or an absurdly expensive but irresistible French night cream—to help repair cell damage that occurs during the day. It was she who taught me to fall in love with the ritual of nurturing my skin. At first I balked at the idea. Then, in my mid-twenties, I decided she was right. I began to make a little time each day to look after myself. I came to realize that the time a woman spends at her dressing table (this can be as simple an affair as a cardboard box covered with cloth at which you sit on a cushion) is a time of silence, solitude, and renewal. It is even better than meditation. And it’s a lot more fun. Fifty years later, I still believe this with all my heart. CAUGHT IN THE NET My professional involvement with beauty began when I became Health and Beauty Editor for Harpers & Queen magazine in London. For that matter, I was the first ‘health and beauty editor’ anywhere. Why health and beauty? Because I insisted that these two aspects of a woman’s life are so dependent on each other that they cannot be separated. At Harpers & Queen, I was blessed with a remarkable Editor for my boss: Willie Landels, a man of vision, humor, intelligence and the best possible kind of genuine sophistication. Willie gazed benignly upon my naïve American enthusiasm and my obsession with getting to the bottom of whatever I was investigating and he decided to place his trust in me. We worked together for almost fifteen years. From the very first month, he provided me with the freedom to write whatever I thought was important, and to say whatever I found to be true about it. In the decade and a half I worked with Harpers & Queen, only once did Willie question anything I wanted to write. It was a piece on Outward Bound for women. He thought it was “too downmarket”. Nobody ever changed anything in my copy— except to correct my abysmall [sic] spelling. Nor, after the first few weeks, did anyone attempt to influence or control what I alone decided I wanted to write about. AIN’T NOTHIN’ SO NICE AS FREEDOM Such freedom is a great blessing. It set me free to delve deep into whatever fascinated me—from writing about how Lancôme formulated their first liposome, to exposing the way plutonium, with its radioactive half life of 2,300 years, was being irresponsibly dumped into the Irish Sea from Britain’s nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Cumberland. It still is by the way. (That was kind of scary. After the article appeared my telephones were tapped for more than a year and my London home broken into twice, although nothing was stolen.) TO HELL WITH PRESSURE In the magazine world, a beauty editor (most nowadays hold the far grander title of “Beauty Director”) is continually bombarded by the publisher and advertising director at the magazine to write about products from cosmetic companies who have bought advertising. Harpers & Queen was no exception. Within the first fortnight, I was approached by its Advertising Director, Terry Mansfield—who later became Managing Director and Chairman of the National Magazine Group in Britain. Terry told me that one of the cosmetic giants had just bought an expensive double paged spread to promote some new skin cream. Would I please make sure I wrote glowing words of praise about the product in our next issue, he requested. With puritanical American blood surging through my veins, I was shocked. (More than a wee bit self-righteous as well.) “But Terry,” I whined, “I can’t do that. I can only write about what I believe in. If I wrote that kind of stuff, our readers would never come to trust me. After all, your advertisers wouldn’t want to buy space in a magazine its readers can’t trust. Would they?” I think Terry was so stunned by my naiveté that he didn’t quite know what to say. When Willie, the editor, learned about my response to Terry’s request, he smiled a secret smile. A year later, Harper’s beauty advertising had doubled. Before long, it tripled. Terry never brought up the subject again. Gradually my articles on health and beauty—some of which, I suspect, were too technical for anybody to fathom—attracted a wide audience. An ‘inside joke’ began to circulate. It was said that the reason why Leslie Kenton’s stuff was so widely was that although, few people understood a word of it, nobody wanted to admit to this. So they just kept on buying the magazine while Willie kept on smiling…

Charisma

Charisma

What gives any woman charisma? The Chanel suit she wears? The car she drives? The way she has been taught to use her body or speaks her words? Not really. For stylish or charming as these things may be they are ultimately externals - things put on from the outside. As such they offer a 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 to you get it? And what is living with it all about? Charisma - the real McCoy - has certain characteristics: expansiveness for instance and energy, joy and creativity. It is not only a way of being which calls forth all the powers of a woman - from the pragmatic to the inspirational, the intellectual to the intuitional. It is also a way of relating to yourself, to those you work with and play with - even to the planet itself - through all of these modes. That is why at its core, 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 own individuality - the spirit which is unique to you. This unique nature, which each woman has but most are still trying to discover, can be expressed in a myriad of ways from the most simple and playful to the most profound - in the colors you like best for instance, in the way you choose to have your hair cut, the kind of make-up you wear (or prefer not to wear). It is also explicit in the way you think and talk, and in the kind of deep values you embody, the dreams you dream and the things you create whether they be works of art, intellectual or physical feats, or simple day-to-day ways of being. Charisma is also evident in the rhythms and fluctuations of this energy. How different you are for instance on the tennis court, than when you hold a child in your arms, produce a piece of work, get involved in an intellectual discussion, or embrace a lover. Yet in each of these circumstances provided you are true to yourself you will have charisma - the originality of your spirit will shine through. Contacting that unique spirit, coming to respect it and having the courage to live from it is what gaining charisma is all about. Sometimes challenging, frequently exciting, this process can be a lot of fun too. As it takes place the externals - the clothes and make up you wear, the way you move and how you relate to your world cease to be arbitrary, like things you pick up with uncertainty to carry around with you. Instead they seem to unfold and develop beautifully and mysteriously - almost organically - from within as ever more honest and potent expressions of who you are. Whatever forms or shapes your individuality takes, one quality tends to permeate every facet of charisma as it unfolds: aliveness. That is where health comes in. Health is right at the core of charisma. Being healthy is a lot more than not being sick. It means having access to all of your energies from the physical stamina you need on the tennis court through the depths of your sexuality and creativity to an expanding awareness of how your mind works via the complex interface of your body's endocrine and nervous system. Such an awareness which can not only help keep you healthy and free from the ravages of premature aging but, according to advanced research may even give you the ability to alter your external reality by choice. The more fully and honestly your unique nature shows itself, the more charisma you will have. Simple? Nothing could be simpler. Yet in our society in this last decade of the 20th century, it would seem that our every encounter with the world around us - from breathing increasingly polluted air to interacting with a media intent upon selling us things we don't need or don't want at prices we can often ill afford - contrives in one way or another to interfere with the process. That is why another aspect of developing charisma is the process of gaining a strong awareness of ones own values and of finding ways of separating them from those which we are all constantly being sold by the exploitive 20th century urban world in which we live. (This by the way is every bit as important a part of health and beauty as the kind of food you eat for breakfast and the kind of creams you spread on your face.) Health, like charisma, also comes from within. Yet health needs a lot of support from the outside too - in the way you eat, exercise, deal with stress, look after your body and learn to listen to its prompting so that your potential for energy and aliveness can be maximized. For most of us this doesn't happen automatically. We have to learn how to create a high level of aliveness and to become wary of all the things which can impede it. Take toxicity in your body for instance. The build up of waste products in the cells restricts metabolic processes and depletes energy. It can also result in a great variety of unwanted conditions - from cellulite to poor skin, and anxiety and depression to degenerative conditions such as arthritis, obesity and cancer. Yet in an urbanized polluted environment all of our bodies tend to build up more waste than they are able to eliminate efficiently. Such a build up impedes aliveness. So part of developing charisma means sorting out a lifestyle for yourself which encourages continual detoxification. It can also mean learning about specific techniques from daily skin brushing, to special breathing methods, or hydrotherapy tricks which you can call on for periodic spring cleaning. To live with charisma in the fullness of ones being, to live with charisma, each of us needs continually to break down barriers, to bring to consciousness the self-imposed limitations we have been living with and to open oneself to new possibilities whether they come in the form of physical beauty - hair, body, skin, nails and all the rest - or new passions and ideals. It is a funny thing about self-expression. We in the Anglo Saxon world tend to think of it as something rather self-indulgent or self-obsessive. We have been brought up in a culture that affirms the value of altruism and insists that one should forget oneself in constant service and self-sacrifice to others. This is particularly true of women, many of whom spend their whole lives in one way or another denying their own needs and worrying about others or following a career path which society's values (not ones own) have imposed upon them only to wake up at the age of 45 to find that they feel lost, empty, and that life appears without meaning. The truth is that at the heart of serving others, as well as at the core of nurturing life lies charisma - an ability to express the totality of one's being. For only then can you bring to whatever else you are doing the full impact of your aliveness through beauty, intellect, enthusiasm, compassion, creativity, fun and joy. The pathway towards fullness of being often lies through a tremendously exciting exploration of such very personal and supposedly self-indulgent things as the kind of eyeshadow you wear or how best to look after your skin or make yourself look more beautiful. It is only when the pursuit of beauty becomes a thing apart from the expression of one's individual nature (like the notion so many women have that they will not be acceptable unless they wear designer clothes or paint their faces perfectly in order to be 'acceptable') that it goes all wrong. This is because beauty treated only as an external has sad repercussions for your own sense of self-worth. Like the old mechanistic world view which has blinded us to what we have been doing to our planet, it can imprison you within false images and limitations which make it impossible to live creatively or bring the joy of your own unique energy to those around you. So forget fears of narcissism and self indulgence. Each woman is unique and the charisma which celebrates that uniqueness can not only lift her to new levels of joy and energy and accomplishment but also enrich the lives of all who know her. Perhaps most important of all, through the expression of that uniqueness in her feelings, thoughts and actions, it can enable her to play the unique part she has to play in the future of her society and of the planet itself. Sounds revolutionary? It is. But this last decade of the twentieth century the astounding is becoming commonplace and the impossible a daily occurrence. Who would have thought the Berlin wall would fall? Exercise Let's get down to the nuts and bolts of charisma - the seemingly superficial trimmings such as make up, hairstyle and fashion which can help you explore who you are and feel good about yourself. As you will discover, when you select these trimmings and trappings from core impulses and desires the results are anything but superficial. The first step in developing your own brand of charisma is to get to know and make friends with the many facets of yourself. Each facet is like a character just itching for the chance to play a role in your life. When you encourage your characters to find expression, your reward is not only a great deal of pleasure and fun, but an abundance of core energy. THE CHARISMA DETECTIVE EXERCISE The following steps can reveal clues to characters inside you which carry energy for you. Answer each question as fully as you can in your journal. Also make a note of any feelings (good or bad) that come up as you do the exercise. You might like to work with a friend, one of you asking the questions and noting down the answers while the other allows her fantasies to run free. Whether you work with a friend or on your own, let yourself play at it. Although the issues that arise are important ones, exploring charisma above all means having fun. Choose a Photograph Find a photograph of yourself that you like. (For some this may not be easy, but you can at least find a photo that you prefer to others). Ask yourself why you have chosen this picture. What do you like about the person you see? What qualities does she have? How is the person in the photo the same as, and how is she different from, the person you feel yourself to be now? Scan Your Wardrobe Make a note of any item or items of your wardrobe that you really love - things you feel good in, for example a dress, a pair of shoes. (It could be something from your past or even something that you once borrowed.) Now ask yourself what it is you like about the thing. What qualities does it express? How does it make you feel? What image/character does it suggest? Pick Your Accessories Make a note of accessories, past, present or future, that you particularly like. Include jewellery, scarves, belts, hats, gloves, glasses, the lot. What is it about the accessory that you like? What does it remind you of? What part of you does it express? How About Your Hair? Ask yourself what was your favourite haircut or hairstyle/hair colour ever? Why did you like it? How did it make you feel? What aspect of you did it express? What Is Your Make-Up Look? Ask yourself is there an item of make up that you particularly like? Or more than one? What do you like about the way they make you feel? What part of you do they help to express? WHO ARE YOUR CORE CHARACTERS? By the end of this exercise you should have an idea of the types of images that are inspiring and hold power for you. See if you can group the images under a character or several characters that can serve as reference points for you. For instance, if you are inspired by a pair of bright red shoes because they make you feel bold and daring and suggest the sort of woman who dances on table tops, your character reference point might be "The Flamenco Dancer." Here are a few examples of characters which may help you to find labels for your own: The Romantic The Shaman The Seductress The Amazon The Athlete The Artist The English Rose The Witch The Gypsy The Glitzy Power-Broker The Princess The Anarchist The Nature Spirit The Earth Goddess The Clown The Gamine The Executive The Sophisticated Lady The Country Lady The Medieval Maiden WRITE YOUR CHARACTERS TO LIFE If one or more of your characters is particularly exciting, get to know her by writing her into existence. Describe her as fully as you can. What does she wear? What is her hair like? Her make up? Her nails? How does she move? Where does she go? What does she do? How does she speak? What does she say? What does she like and hate? Although simple, this exercise is powerful and can evoke a lot of different feelings, thoughts and memories. Whatever comes up for you, acknowledge it by writing it down, no matter how insignificant or stupid it may seem. Anything can be a clue to helping your charisma unfold from the core. Commonly women feel a sense of hopelessness and longing. They may have an image of a character who seems to be everything they feel they are not. Then, instead of inspiring them, the image overwhelms them. If this is the case remember that your character carries energy for you because she reflects an important part of you. No matter how far away from the you which you know she may seem, you can begin to live her right now. Obviously if your character is a waif-like wood nymph and you are 3 stone overweight it will take time to adjust this difference. Nevertheless it may be that by rearranging your hair or wearing a colour that the wood nymph would wear you can begin to draw upon her as an inspiration and start to tap into her quality of energy. Let these images inspire, not discourage, you. The best way to deal with a sense of discouragement in the face of anything that seems impossible is to begin by making a tiny step in the direction you want to go. We have learnt over and over that the way to climb a mountain (either physical or metaphorical) is just to put one foot in front of the other. Crack the Codes of Convention In exploring charisma it can be very freeing to break the rules and try something completely new. For instance, if you always wear make up to work, dare one day to go completely bare faced. One of us (Leslie) used to frequently go to work as the health and beauty editor of a magazine with a naked face. She found it immensely freeing to break the rules and discovered it gave her a fresh sense of herself.

Progressive Relaxation

Progressive Relaxation

A technique based on the work of Edmund Jacobson, this is an excellent way to begin if you have never done any sort of relaxation or meditation technique before, because it gives most people some sense of what relaxation feels like even the first time you try it. As you repeat your technique (it is best done for fifteen minutes at least twice a day), you will find you enter a state of relaxation that is progressively deeper and deeper. The first few times you try the technique, you may find you have trouble picturing all the images as they come, or preventing your mind from wandering. It doesn't matter if you don't `see' anything - some people are more visual in their imagery, others more feeling; both work superbly well - just approach the exercise from your own point of view. become aware When you find your mind wandering (this is a common occurrence because your concentration is not used to focusing so intensely, or because you are experiencing something new to you, which naturally enough causes a little anxiety) ask yourself, `Why is my mind wandering?' Pursue that thought for a couple of minutes, then go back to the exercise and continue to go through it as best you can. All difficulties will iron themselves out automatically after you have practiced the technique long enough - so persevere to overcome any initial difficulties. Find a quiet room, preferably one without too much light, and sit in a comfortable chair that gives support to your back. Place both feet flat on the floor and close your eyes. Become aware of your breathing and just let the air come in and out of your body without doing anything. Take a few deep breaths. Each time you breathe out, slowly repeat the word `relax' silently to yourself. focus Focus on your face, and let yourself feel any tension in your face or eyes, your jaw or tongue. Make a mental picture of tension - you could picture a clenched fist, a knotted rope, or a hard ball of steel - then mentally picture the tension going and everything becoming relaxed, like a limp rubber band. Feel your face and your eyes, your jaw and your tongue becoming relaxed, and as they relax, experience a wave of relaxation spreading through your whole body. (Each step takes about ten seconds.) Tighten up all the muscles in your face and eyes, squeezing them as hard as you can. Then let go and feel the relaxation spread throughout your body again. Now apply the same instruction to other parts of your body, moving slowly downwards from your head to your neck, shoulders, and upper back, arms, hands, chest, mid- and lower back, your abdomen, thighs and calves, ankles, feet and toes, going through each area until every part of your body is relaxed. With each part, picture the tension in it mentally and then picture it going away; each time, tense the muscles in that area and then let them go and feel the relaxation spreading. When you've relaxed every part of your body, sit quietly in this comfortable state for up to five minutes. Now let the muscles in your eyelids become lighter; get ready to open your eyes and come back to an awareness of the room. Open your eyes. Now you are ready to go about whatever you want to do.

Setting Free Your Magnificent Self Part 2

Setting Free Your Magnificent Self Part 2

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

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 18,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 13 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 19th of October 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.92 lb
for women
-0.98 lb
for men
-0.92 lb
for women
-0.98 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 19th of October 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

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