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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

Everything You Need Is Inside Of You

Everything You Need Is Inside Of You

This is an extract from our Cura Romana Journey Program. An important part of reconnecting with the core, and coming to live your life from your essential being, is a willingness to leave behind the notion that what you need or long for can only come from outside yourself. In truth, everything we need for our own freedom and fulfillment we already have inside. It simply needs to be discovered, called forth, and set free. As Edward in Canada, who shed 32.7 pounds on the program, discovered: “For the first time ever, I feel that the next phase of my life will be really exciting and full of growth and more new experiences. Now I know I have the power to make it that way.” When I personally came to terms with just how profound the emotional and spiritual changes are for many men and women on Cura Romana, I started gathering together tools, techniques and information which I – and others I have worked with – find helpful in reconnecting with our core. I began to show them to those I am mentoring as a way of supporting spiritual processes which they told me had been initiated and/or intensified by the Cura Romana Journey. Here in the Cura Romana Sanctuary, I will be sharing some of these simple processes with you. They are interesting, consciousness expanding and fun. Try them out. Use those that appeal to you and forget the rest. You might be surprised what a powerful role practicing some of them regularly can play in rebuilding and strengthening that bridge between your inner and your outer life.

Your Gift Of Health

Your Gift Of Health

Within each one of us lies an essence, a core of self, with one and only one intention—that it may be fully expressed while we live on this earth. With each passing year, I become more and more aware that illness, lack of energy, a sense of confusion or lack of meaning in someone’s life stems from a basic frustration of the expression of their unique essential being. These experiences are calls from your soul. They ask you to become more aware of who you are at the deepest level of your being. They want to awaken you to your unique nature. Energy, power and authentic freedom All healing is a process of transformation. Energy, power and authentic freedom grow as you engage in the process of connecting with your essence and discovering what your values and your soul’s purposes are, then expressing them in how you choose to live your life. To do this, you can call on all sorts of tools and techniques, from detoxifying body and mind, to herbs and natural treatments, to exercises for expanding awareness. Take energy. Being able to live out your energy potential depends on how well you nourish yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually—day by day. It helps to develop a lifestyle that incorporates pleasurable exercise, good food, restorative sleep and other helpful practices—from hydrotherapy to taking super nutrients—that support vitality. But more than anything else, the energy you have depends on how much you are living your day-to-day life from your core and not by trying to follow conventions and other people’s rules. It depends on expressing what you love in the way you choose, and discovering what feeds you most at the deepest levels of your being. soul’s passion Here’s the secret to experiencing it: Begin to live out your soul’s passion day by day. Soon you will be able to call on virtually endless energy. You see, health not only depends on how you eat and what exercise you get or how well you deal with stress. Yes, all of these things are important. But real health doesn’t stop here. Why? Because, ultimately, health is nothing less than the process of unfolding that each one of us has to go through to become more fully aware of who we really are. Once you begin to align your life with your own sense of truth, you will find out that the universe supports you in ways you may never have dreamed possible. unique health I‘ve worked with people for many years, helping them discover their own unique health processes, helping them find out what matters most to them, to discover their needs and longings on both a physical and spiritual level. It has been the most rewarding and exciting thing in my life. Every one of us carries a divine spark which we are here to live out to the full, bringing our own unique spirit into material form as we walk the earth. For me, the beauty of watching this happen to men and women I work with is like walking in a garden and coming face to face with unique flowers, plants, trees and rocks that I have never seen before. There is nothing more wondrous to behold.

Change It

Change It

In the universe, in your own life, only one thing is constant: change. Change is the very essence of life itself. The tides change, the moon changes, the seasons change in cyclic patterns. Day becomes night, and night day again. A seed opens, grows, becomes a plant, then flowers and produces fruit. Like you, to unfold in all its magnificence it must survive. And the only way a living thing can defy that famous law of entropy and survive is by changing. There are two kinds of change: Simple change, where whatever has changed can always change back again, and transformation, where the change that takes place is one-way and there is no going back. It is through transformation that a seed (or a woman) at a lower level of life order is changed into the same seed or woman at a higher one. By making such transformative changes in our lives, the potentials embodied in our own seedpower are set free to unfold in all their splendor. And it is in learning to work with the transformative energies in our lives that we allow change to empower us. Working with transformation is seldom easy. The one-way nature of transformational change demands that you pass through a period of confusion where old structures disintegrate in order to make reorganization at a higher order possible. Such change can be very unsettling. This is true not only in human terms, but throughout the universe. Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine has shown that for any system in the universe to evolve from one level of order to a higher level, it has to pass through a period of chaos. Evidence of this kind of transformational change can be seen all around us - in the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and in the growth of a fertilized egg into a baby. We hear of it in our myths: It is told in the Christian story of crucifixion followed by resurrection, and in the tale of the phoenix who, consumed by flames, rises out of the fire to soar again in greater splendor. We see it in our own bodies when a healing crisis takes place, and wastes we have carried for years rise to the surface, creating temporary symptoms and discomfort - only to be lifted off to make way for healing. the fires of change With transformation as leitmotif of all life, you would think we would all know how to cope with it. Yet, getting through periods of disorganization and the dissolving of limitations in our lives in order to grow is the most difficult task any of us ever faces. It asks that a woman commit to the flames anything which, no matter how useful in earlier times, has become outmoded. This means everything that no longer serves her - ideas, habits, old thought patterns, emotions from the past and, most important of all, any of her living patterns which have their roots in fear. Her metamorphosis demands that these things be laid upon an altar and sacrificed so that life can then re-create itself out of the ashes in a higher form. The word sacrifice means to make sacred. It does not mean, as so often in our culture it is taken to mean, ripping oneself apart, or denying oneself. The idea of sacrificing something which has outstayed its welcome or is no longer useful sounds as though it should be easy - rather like cleaning out a cupboard. But when it is happening it can be terrifying. It can feel as though it is we who are being sacrificed. This is why we fight so hard against change, and find it so terrifying. The key to riding the waves of transformation, which we as women are being asked to ride throughout our lives, is learning to make such sacrifices willingly - to go with the transformational energies when they come. When you can, then the process of transformation, instead of making you feel like the very flesh of your body is being stripped away, becomes an exciting voyage of discovery - a voyage which, although it has its perils and its pleasures - you know is taking you to a richer land. One thing keeps us from being able to do this: fear. fear of wholeness Fear is an essential emotion. It registers any situation in which the integrity of mind/body is threatened. Without it we would not survive. If an elephant stampedes towards you and you don't feel afraid, you might not get out of its way and you'll be trampled to death. This kind of fear is appropriate. You identify yourself as the thing in the way of the elephant and the elephant as a threat to yourself and you take action to avoid disaster. The immune system which protects your body from illness and degeneration works in very much the same way. It recognizes self as opposed to non-self, and makes sure that the integrity of self is not breached by anything that could cause it harm. But fear has a negative side too. This same tendency to identify self from non-self for the protection of life gets turned inside out and becomes distorted. Then instead of serving the essential, but limited, purpose of preserving life, for which fear is intended, it becomes a fear of life, a fear of change, the kind of fear which makes you hold on desperately to things and people and ideas and images of yourself which your life would be better without. This kind of fear is the biggest toxin that ever needs to be eliminated from your life if you want to let your life unfold in all its richness and meaning. when fear grows toxic Toxic fear has many different faces: a fear of illness, of death, of losing a relationship, of injury, even of freedom - the very thing you want most. When toxic fear is present, it pollutes your thoughts and feelings. It can produce depression, anxiety, hate, resentment and hopelessness. It also deadens relationships and makes life seem meaningless. The reason we try so hard to hang on to everything is that we identify ourselves with these things - ideas, people, images of ourselves, money, a house, a job. If any of these things should be dissolved or threatened or lost in the process of change in which we are involved, we fear that we ourselves will be lost. Every form of toxic fear is a fear of losing your self. And the irony of it all is that the self which you so greatly fear losing is always some outmoded self - which in the process of transformation needs to be sacrificed to make way for a new, expanded, more creative self to take in its place. One needs to learn to go with the process of one's own unfolding - the process of becoming who you are. You need to go beyond fear. You need to move into the realm of trust - a trust in your core, in that greater Self - the individual brand of energy from which every aspect of your life is nurtured and regenerated. at the core of you This Self which lies at your core is unlimited, all-inclusive and infinitely capable of transformation. Like the leaf painted with one brush stroke by the Zen master - it is a unique microcosmic expression of the universe. So long as your sense of who you are is identified with the smaller self and all its mental and physical baggage, transformation remains an agony. However, when you begin to see that this day-to-day self is only a minute expression of your larger Self from which your core energy comes, and you can begin to identify with that instead, then the whole game changes. Instead of being plagued by fear and the other negative emotions which accompany it (emotions which play a large part in the development of disease, incidentally) you start to act from trust and to experience yourself as an integral and harmonious part of the all that is. All of this takes patience and time. It also requires a conscious effort to identify and weed out outdated thought and behavior patterns, energetic imbalance or internal pollution in the body and to replace reactions rooted in fear with trust. This in turn calls for an internal revolution in consciousness as well as learning skills in managing change. Your journey will be different from every path that has ever been walked. Each of us has to find her own way. That is the hero's journey in every mythology in the world.

Feed On Bliss

Feed On Bliss

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

Charisma—What It Is & How To Get It

Charisma—What It Is & How To Get It

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 speak 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 do 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. CHARISMA—YOUR UNIQUE ENERGY This unique nature, which each woman has but most of us have yet 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. IT COMES FROM WITHIN 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. The more fully and honestly your unique nature shows itself, the more charisma you will have. Simple? Nothing could be simpler. Yet in our 21st century crazy world, 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. Decide not to let it interfere with your discovery of who at the very core YOU are. I firmly believe that each of us is being called to become a creator of a new world—for ourselves then for the planet as a whole. I hope you will join me in your own process of becoming, in essence, who you are at the deepest levels of your being. For along with all the horror in our world there is such great promise. Has there ever been a more perfect moment for your charisma to come into its own?

How Desire Becomes Reality

How Desire Becomes Reality

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

The Bliss Of Ageing

The Bliss Of Ageing

whatever brings you bliss Growing older can be wonderful, unless you are full of foreboding about the process. Like most women, in my late thirties, I spent time worrying about my looks. Would they last? What could I do to hang on to youth? On dear! Oh dear! Then, by the time I reached 50, I had become so deeply involved in a fascination with living in the moment that my angst over the aging process had dissipated. Each morning I would run along the cliffs above the crashing Irish Sea in Pembrokeshire, followed by a 6 a.m. swim—not because it was good for me, but because I loved the joy and feelings of exhilaration this brought me. I had learned a secret: When it comes to aging, nothing is more important than filling your life with whatever brings you bliss. living in my body I had long been intrigued by weight training. So at the age of 51, I talked a Welsh champion weightlifter into teaching me the ins and outs of using weights properly. Rhodri, 26, lived and breathed weights. There are few things more wonderful than learning any skill from someone who is impassioned by what he teaches. We started training together for 21 hours each week—I kid you not. We did weights, tennis, running, swimming—the lot. It was hard for me, but I was determined to keep up. Gradually I could feel my body becoming stronger. It changed shape and became more fluid. My vitality increased. I noticed that, for the first time, I was actually living in my body instead of my mind. Rhodri taught me something else equally valuable: how important it is to make downtime for recovery. Dynamism is great, but it needs to be balanced by stillness and rest—another source of bliss. This lesson has served me well—one I had desperately needed to learn. Until this day, I take a nap every afternoon. Discover this for yourself Weight training may not interest you. Why should it? But what does fascinate you? Think of one or two things that might bring you your own experience of bliss. Learning to dance or sing? Writing a story, weaving, caring for children in need, creating a new home or a new business? What do you long to learn or to do? Try it, learn it, practice it wholeheartedly while living in the moment. It can not only bring you bliss. Believe it or not, pursuing this can also make you healthier. When all is said and done, the most important advice to anyone who wishes to age well is simple: Make a commitment to honor yourself. Decide that, as each month passes, you will choose to live your life more and more from your essential being—the unique, authentic core of spirit and energy that is you at your best. Doing this can bring the greatest fulfillment, satisfaction and freedom you will ever experience—not just for yourself, but for those you love and the world all around you as well. Have a go. Discover this for yourself.

The Zen Of Infinite Reality

The Zen Of Infinite Reality

When I was six years old, I had my first love affair. Yes, really. Of course, not until years later did I recognize the experience for what it was. But like every first love, it changed my life forever. My father was a jazz musician, so our house was equipped with the best possible sound equipment. He and I loved to listen to music—just about any music available—at full volume, of course. This, my mother, could not stand—which made it, even more, exciting. While my playmates roamed the hills of Hollywood skinning their knees, I would lie on my belly in our living room, listening to music as loud as I could make it. One day, combing through our vast supply of records, I came upon Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." The name meant nothing to me. But I liked the colors on the cover, so I put it on the record player, turned up the volume and flopped down in front of our huge speakers. Strange, mysterious, discordant sound flooded my body, opening a secret door to somewhere deep inside me—a mysterious inner world I had never entered. I didn't know such a place even existed. I trembled with fear and excitement while Stravinsky's music continued to wind its way through my body. I flushed hot and then cold. My heart raced, then calmed. I lost all sense of place and time as I rode the waves of an imaginal sea of sound into unexplored worlds, too numerous to name. I have no idea how long all this lasted. Eventually, even the "boat" carrying me along on vivid images began to dissolve like sugar in water. In a perfect union, the sounds and the child-that-had-been-me swirled into a vortex and became lost in each other. We shared the excitement, fear, longing, fierceness, and sadness. As lovers, we had come together—music and child—in an immediate, passionate, all-encompassing union. Eventually, I found myself at the center of this whirlpool. Then, even the ecstasy of the movement vanished. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I tumbled—not into Wonderland, but into an experience of unspeakable stillness. Zen practitioners claim this experience is available at any moment to each one of us. For me, it was an indescribable event—beyond space, beyond time, outside thought. Without the slightest possibility of ever being able to describe it, I knew that everything was as perfect as it was meant to be. In the words of Zen Master Daisetz Suzuki, in this place, I would eat when I am hungry, sleep when tired. I knew that "it was fine yesterday and today it is raining." In the words of Julian of Norwich, I was sure that "All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." My affair with Stravinsky lasted more than four hours. At least, that's what my mother said. "Don't tell me you are still listening to that awful music." She had to raise her voice to be heard above the sounds. "For God's sake, turn it off. Do something useful." So I did something useful. I went to school, then to university where I learned, at least, some of what you are supposed to learn. I earned praises for top marks, went to work, won prizes, gave birth to four children by four different men, raised them on my own, wrote books, made films, gave talks, led workshops, created products for companies, made television programs and so on and so on. In effect, I did what millions of men and women do—I became the breadwinner, the caretaker, the nurturer of people's lives. Through all the years between six and now, my passion for music, painting, books, poetry, architecture and movies has never left me. Far from it. During all of these years, the epiphany of emptiness that Stravinsky brought to me that day and the sense of absolute stillness has never faded. It has made it possible for me to create so many things as well as to explore new places and ideas. It's invited me to move beyond thought towards a place of unity with the rest of the universe. All this continues gnawing at me. I suspect it will never go away, just as the urge to breathe never goes away, no matter how long we try to hold our breath. What I did not know—and this took me scores of years to find out—is that the rabbit hole into which I had unexpectedly tumbled has for millennia, been, described by every culture and religion in the world in one form or another. Nor had I any idea that, at any moment in time, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, it is available to each of us. To Zen Buddhists, this wordless, timeless space represents ultimate reality: That which can only come through immediate experience. In Suzuki's words, "For the sake of those crucial experiences Zen Buddhism has struck out on its own paths which, through methodical immersion in oneself, lead to one's becoming aware, in the deepest ground of the soul, of the unnameable Groundlessness and Qualitylessness—nay more, to one's becoming one with it." It is a state in which nothing is thought or contrived, longed for or expected. It reaches out in no particular direction, yet it knows itself able to handle the possible as well as the impossible. Concentrated, yet so expanded too, such power is both purposeless and egoless. As such, it can be called truly spiritual. Why? I believe because it is charged with an awareness that spirit is present everywhere. Because the cosmos is present everywhere, we too are present everywhere. We can have direct experience of this, and access the power that continues to create the universe itself. And we have full access to that power of creation to use in our lives, in whatever way we choose. The Sufis call this state fana—the annihilation of your individual selfhood. When you experience fana, your everyday personality becomes transparent, so the larger being that you are shines through. You soon become absorbed in an all-encompassing fascination for the moment. Life is lived in the NOW. Cutting-edge physicists speak of a holographic universe in which we live but seldom access because we are plagued by endless mental concepts that blind us to so-called reality. This blinds us to the experience of Samadhi—"a non-dualistic state in which the consciousness of the subject becomes one with an experience of the object." This selfless absorption and total surrender of Samadhi is characteristic of children when left alone to follow their instincts. It is available to each one of us, regardless of age or condition. Honoring whatever brings you bliss in your life opens the door to it. That day, when I lay on the floor lost in Stravinsky, without recognizing, I became conscious of it what would inspire me most: The beauty of art—whether it be music, words, stories, sculpture, buildings or what-have-you. Why? Certainly not because I had any idea that art was supposed to be valued as part of what grown-ups refer to as culture. I couldn't have cared less. After all, I was a kid who, when not entranced by what I was seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, spent the rest of my day learning card tricks, wrestling with my huge dog Tuffy, and trying—unsuccessfully—to sell packets of chewing gum which my grandfather gave me to neighbors' kids. Nope—I loved the beauty and wonder of art in all its many forms because, unlike the world around me, with which had little in common, it had grabbed hold of me and would never let me go. It demanded of me both a submission as well as active participation in the making of it. I now believe that my first love affair at the age of six became the harbinger for how I have lived my life. At any moment in time, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, fana is available to all of us regardless of age. Honoring whatever brings you bliss opens the door to it for you.

In The Psychiatrist Chair

In The Psychiatrist Chair

BBC Radio 4 recently contacted me for my permission to re-broadcast an interview I did with Professor Anthony Clare on “In the Psychiatrist’s Chair”. Born in Dublin in 1942, Dr Clare’s broadcasts were fascinating to listen to. He became the voice of psychiatry to millions in the British Isles for more than two decades. His goal with his interviews was always simple: To uncover and reveal the inner life of the famous and successful. I was honored when he asked me if he could do an in-depth interview about me and my life. His questions are candid, probing and sometimes unsettling. You who send me so many wonderful comments on my blogs and weekly newsletters on lesliekenton.com and curaromana.com often ask me to share more of my personal life with you. To know more about me, a great place to start is listening to Anthony’s “Leslie Kenton In the Psychiatrist’s Chair”. I’d love to know from you if you think he got me right. Hope you enjoy it.

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Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 28th of November 2020 (updated every 12 hours)

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