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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

Mind Body Connection

Mind Body Connection

Your body is an incredibly complex, dynamic system. Mind and body are not separate entities as we have been led to believe. They are opposite ends of the life continuum and they need to be experienced this way. For how you think is at the core of tapping into the kind of vitality and aliveness that fuels charisma. Does this sound like some old wives' tale or one of those 'growth techniques' that urges you to 'smile in the mirror every morning and think positively'? Far from it. What I am talking about is hard core science. The latest research in one of the most exciting fields of scientific study taking place today, psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), has a lot to tell us about charisma. PNI has begun to quantify scientifically a lot of the things which we as human beings already 'know' somewhere deep inside but which, as a result of the mechanistic paradigm or world view implicit in our Western 20th century culture we have all but forgotten. PNI studies the complex bi-directional interactions between the central nervous system and the immune system. Leading researchers in the field such as Dr. G.F. Solomon at the University of California, have discovered that the human mind (which includes our conscious thoughts, unconscious impulses and our transcendent or superconsciousness as well as our emotions) is elaborately interwoven with all the functions of our bodies via nerve pathways and chemical messengers such as the endorphins, intestinal peptides and hormones. A hormonal-nerve relationship exists between endocrine glands such as the pituitary (the master gland regulating the actions of all others), the adrenals (which deal with stress) and the hypothalamus which is called the hypo-thalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It links thoughts and emotions with physical responses. This may sound complex and high faulting but what it all means is simply that how you think, feel, the way you see yourself, how you respond to the world around you powerfully influence the levels of vitality you experience, how slowly or rapidly you age, and whether or not you resist infections from colds and flu to the viruses behind such conditions as AIDS and ME. Despite a proliferation of articles, books and television programs for popular consumption which speak of the body as the 'human machine', in reality it is nothing of the sort. Use a machine a lot and it wears out. Use your body a lot with respect for its needs and it only becomes stronger. Leading edge research is also amassing evidence that through our consciousness we are linked via extremely complex energetic interfaces both with other living organisms and with planet itself. Becoming aware of these interfaces - connections which are now being mapped by brain researchers, biologists and high level physicists - can be fascinating. Coming to make use of them is another highly subtle yet tremendously potent and exciting aspect of living with charisma. Throughout history the basic unity of mind and body has formed an integral aspect of man's belief systems and healing practices - from ancient Egyptian medicine and Ayurvedic medicine (the oldest known system of healing in the world from India) to Chinese Medicine, homeopathy and spiritual healing. But, during the eighteenth century and especially from the onset of the industrial revolution this awareness was largely replaced by a dominant paradigm or world-view which sees man as a blend of mechanism and egotism. A world-view is a dominant way of looking at reality which remains unconscious in a culture but which tends to govern the judgments one makes whether large or small. Ours holds first that all phenomenon in the universe, even life itself, are nothing more than a complex yet ultimately explainable series of chemical and physical reactions, second that differences between organic and non-organic life are only in degree, and finally that the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts. This mechanistic paradigm has been useful. It has enabled us to study and organize experience scientifically and it has been responsible for our technological development. But no matter how useful, every dominant paradigm has its limitations. Ours for instance has led us to ignore the organic interrelatedness of nature in favor of the notion that it is man's task through science and technology to 'harness nature' for his own ends - the results of which we are having to wrestle with in the increasingly unstable weather conditions, the dangerous thinning of the ozone layer, and unprecedented ecological disruptions so serious that many believe they could herald the end of human life on the planet. Our mechanistic world view has also contributed to a sense of human alienation which is expressed in our art and our literature and in our destructive social behavior. Now however our dominant paradigm has begun to explode around us thanks to findings in high level physics, PNI and the new biology. Energetic links are being established between the inner and outer world of man and the complex nature of interactions between consciousness and material reality are being mapped. The scientists and the philosophers now know that a mechanistic world view is no where near big enough to explain reality. As a result, new world views are rapidly evolving all of which, strange as it may seem, can play a powerful role in the development of charisma, in no small part because they enable us to break down the barriers of the self-limiting images each of us hold. (How often does one think thoughts such as, 'Oh I could never do that' or 'I am too small... too stupid... too afraid.) Coming to terms with them may seem a long way from deciding what kind of lipstick you wear or how you look after your hair and skin yet an understanding them can lead to as great an expansion of self-expression in those areas as it can in how you think, dream, behave and choose to direct your ambitions.

Free Your Spirit And Live

Free Your Spirit And Live

I have long been fascinated by numinous realms which we humans can enter for power, joy and to discover the nature of our unique essential being and let it guide our lives. For thousands of years, artists, mystics, and shamans have known the secrets of expanding consciousness to access spiritual wisdom, creativity, and bliss. These people—which have belonged to a relatively small group in cultures throughout history—knew how to access realms of wisdom and awareness which all of us can learn to move into and out of at will if we so desire. We can all learn to do this by activating what I call the consciousness matrix. This is the interface encoded within our energy fields, our cells and our DNA, which enables us human beings to tap into vast realms of spiritual power and authentic freedom, then allow these gifts to enrich our lives. Developing the skills to do this brings not just the idea but the actual experience of being ONE with all living things including the universe itself. In fact, the ability to do this is our birthright. Learning how to go about it gives you access to genuine spiritual experience. It also connects you to the unique soul energy within, enabling bridges to be built between the core of your being and your day to day life. Finally, this allows you to access your own unique view of reality. It teaches us how to trust ourselves, and introduces us to the exhilaration that comes with living life from the core of our being. ADVENTURE BEGINS All freedom comes from within. Live free and you feel fully alive. It is like taking a deep, spontaneous breath. It is like laughter. Freedom is also full of surprises. There is a boldness to it. You dare to say what you think and feel, yet are not afraid to listen to the words and hearts of others who think differently. So many of us get caught up in a need to conform to the ideal that has been projected onto us by society, our families, our education, or our religion. We long to be free, but do not know what this really means or how to find real freedom within ourselves. We often look upon power as something external to us, so we don’t learn how to trust our own values and spiritual experiences. We become liberated from having to conform to other people’s rules or the slavery of imprisoning ideologies. It even helps us to transmute the life-draining powers of addiction and crippling influences of unconsciously-held negative feelings and traumas which strangle the fulfillment of our dreams into usable energy. The freer we get, the more self-determining our life becomes, and the more exciting. Gone are the days of out-of-control stress and following the latest fad diet or exercise craze. You begin to sense what is right for you and follow your instinct. When huge challenges do arise, instead of appearing to be crushing forces, you can turn them into worthy opponents. You learn that wrestling with them helps you break through to an even wider experience of liberation. To do this we become not only able to live gracefully as five-sensory beings in a three dimensional world. We learn to move at will into multi-sensory and multi-dimensional reality. Then we can draw on the creative and healing power we find there allowing it to infuse our day to day lives with a clearer sense of direction and meaning. TECHNOLOGIES FOR LIBERATION Developing the skills for tapping into the consciousness matrix could not be more important at this moment in history. As we do, we are able to enjoy the highest levels of creativity, discover our own unique values, and access deep levels of truth within so we come to live our life to the full. Then we become able to work with others in ways that honors all life. In the past thirty years, I have studied, taught and worked with methods for expanding consciousness for healing, creativity, and authentic freedom. My goal has been to create programs which draw on the most ancient methods for accessing realms of expanded consciousness, then to marry them with leading-edge physics, biology, systems theory and the rapidly developing science of consciousness itself. I have been determined to discover technologies for liberation which are simple, well tested, practical and which, once you begin to work with them, can be used like a ladder can be for getting us to the second floor of a building and then be thrown away. I was never interested in creating some new system, or psychology or philosophy. I wanted to make something that would help people discover their own inner truth, spiritual perceptions and pathways as the ultimate authorities and then learn to trust themselves. My work with Journey to Freedom and my deep connections with shamanism—which I have studied, worked with and taught for a quarter of a century now, has always been focused on helping myself and others expand our awareness so we can draw on energy from the deepest levels of our being and learn to listen to the whispers of our souls. As we come to do this—slowly but steadily—we discover what real freedom feels like. The membranes of fear or self-condemnation, which surround us, become thinner and thinner so that our real values and desires from the depths of our being can be gradually set free to become the living realities which guide our lives. LISTEN TO THE WHISPERS It is only by listening to what I call the “whispers of your soul” that you learn to explore the consciousness matrix. They will help you discover the magnificence of your own being so you come to experience your oneness with all life. I’d like to share with you a simple, fun and powerful little exercise that I and countless others have used for years. The more frequently you practice it, the clearer do the whispers of your soul become. Practice this simple, pleasant little technique once a day for two weeks and you will sense that a bridge has begun to be built between the deepest levels of your being and your outer life. You discover your own place of silence and natural beauty—a sanctuary into which you can enter and return, no matter where you are or in what circumstances you find yourself. It is here that you can create the space which allows your soul to speak to you from the greatest depths. ENTER YOUR SANCTUARY Turn off your cell phone or take the landline phone off the hook so you won’t be disturbed for the next ten minutes. Sit on a straight-backed chair, or on the floor if you prefer. Take three or four deep breaths through your nose, letting the air escape gently through your mouth on the out breath. Close your eyes. Let your imagination run free. Allow your mind go back to some place in nature which you have seen and especially like. This is a place in ordinary reality, not somewhere from a dream or a story. It may be a place familiar to you, say at the end of your garden. Or it can be somewhere you have visited only once. When you’ve found the place you like, sit for a moment quietly remembering as much about it as you can. Now see what happens when you activate your senses. Just let yourself be right here and right now. What do you see, smell, hear, how does the air feel, how does the earth feel under your body? Do you sense the presence of any supporting energies or helpful beings here with you? If so, listen to what they are offering. Ask your soul to speak to you. These things may surprise you. Now, ask for whatever you think you need in your life right now. Then sit in silence in your wonderful sacred space and without judgment, pay attention to what you sense, hear, and feel. When you are ready, give thanks for whatever friendship or beauty you find around you and say goodbye for the moment to your inner sanctuary, knowing that you can return to it whenever you like. The more often you do, the richer the experience becomes, and the more clearly can you come to hear the whispers. Now, very gently, in your own time, open your eyes and come back into the room. BRIDGES ILLUMINATE This is important if you are to make good use of what you have experienced. Use a notebook to record what you have found— where you went, what you saw, felt, tasted, sensed. Who, if anyone, was there? What happened there? Did you get any answers to your questions? Record both the positive and the negative without judgment. Just let the words flow. Remember, this is not an essay for school. There is no right or wrong way of doing this. I suggest that you practice this exercise for ten or fifteen minutes each day. Then, at the end of two weeks, come back to your notebook and read what you have written. You may discover certain themes that have come up time and again. Sometimes they are things that you would benefit by addressing but have been putting off. Or you may discover something that you have always wanted to do or be but have never dared contemplate acting on. Such are the whispers from your soul. The more you listen to them, the more you will be able to move into the vast consciousness matrix and connect with the oneness of all life with all the possibilities it offers you. The more you connect with the depths of your essential core, discover your own truths and live them, the richer your life will become, no matter what your current circumstances may be.

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.

Get High On Life

Get High On Life

Several years ago, as a result of an unexpected breakthrough in my own life, I came to understand something remarkable: Bliss is a natural state for human beings. When we feel blissful, it’s not only a wonderful personal experience—it connects us with our compassion for ourselves and others and with innate creative power. It shows us that we are capable of living life to the full, regardless of current circumstances. Unfortunately, in the chaotic atmosphere of the 21st century, with all its economic uncertainties, political unrest and suffering, too few of us tap into our capacity for bliss. Perhaps the greatest reward of working with participants on the on-line Cura Romana program is this: As a result of changes that take place physically, emotionally, and spiritually bliss becomes a frequent visitor in their lives. BODY OF BLISS Our capacity for bliss, as well as our need to experience it, is inscribed in our 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 it brings us the courage to go for it. So important is bliss to our discovering who in truth we already are and to our realizing our goals, 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. But addictions always disempower us. They lead us further away from the authentic freedom that is our birthright. Here’s the bottom line: Find out what brings you bliss day by day. Make space for it in your life and you forge your own unique path to authentic freedom, creativity and joy. Where do you begin? Here’s a three-stage process: Dive into stillness Immerse yourself in sound Discover your passions JOURNEY TO THE CORE At the center of your being is a place of safety and security which you can move into when you so choose then out of again to meet the outside world, form friendships and share your gifts with others. This place within is a permanent sanctuary to which you are able to return when you feel tired, confused, or in need of more vitality and new directions. The key that opens this particular door to stillness is sensuous breathing for letting go. HERE’S HOW: Lie on the floor on your back and just let go, so your arms and legs flop. Close your eyes. Feel your body against the floor. Do you notice any tension in any part of it? Shoulders? Back? Legs? Focus inside your body; notice where you sense any movement in your muscles as you breathe. Imagine you are breathing into that spot. Imagine you can exhale through that part of your body. As you do, experience the breath relaxing your sore muscles as it filters through them. As you become more and more relaxed, experiment with movements that are a natural consequence of free breathing. They are blissful movements. WHOLE BODY SENSUALITY As you breathe in, your pelvis tips back ever so gently, creating a slight arch to your back. Your abdomen and chest rise. Your ribs and back expand and your chin tilts forward just barely. Then, when you exhale, your pelvis moves down again so your spine almost touches the floor, your back contracts, and your chin and head move back again, exposing the front of your neck a bit more. This subtle, natural movement turns into a wave-like motion that gently flows without hesitation from in-breath to out-breath. The whole process of sensuous breathing is already encoded in the human body. Experiment with this kind of breathing, and before long you will discover that it happens automatically. And as this takes place, you can enter a realm of deep stillness and begin to experience a surprising bliss. It’s a bliss that revives, restores energy and helps set you free from habit patterns that no longer serve you. Try it a few times and see for yourself.  SOUND POWER Sound is another effective medium for invoking bliss. The sound of running water winding its way over stones in a stream cleanses the mind of worries and leaves us feeling calm and clear. The sound of a heartbeat played in an infant's cot reassure her and send her into blissful sleep. Take advantage of the sounds of nature even if you live a bustling city life by regularly using earphones and an MP3 audio which reproduces the breaking of waves or the calling of birds. Then there is simply listening to music. This is one of the few human activities that activates the whole brain. Intrinsic to all cultures, music brings us profound benefits—improving memory and focusing attention, as well as enhancing physical coordination and development. It opens our mind and body to experiences of deep pleasure and joy. The right kind of music clears the mind. It filters out distractions and improves focus on whatever activity we happen to be involved in. The finest classical music is generally the best choice. By now it is common knowledge that babies exposed to classical music while in the womb are likely to be born with higher intelligence. GIFTS FOR FREEDOM Music also spurs creativity. Artists and writers learn this from experience. For some, even writer’s block can be cleared by listening to music. Sound and music are processed by both sides of the brain simultaneously. This encourages a unity of perception and feeling in us. Listening to music also reduces chronic pain, including that of osteoarthritis rheumatoid arthritis, back problems and muscular aches. It also alleviates depression by as much as 25%. This is one of the reasons that music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals. It reduces the need for medication during childbirth, decreases post-operative pain, and complements the use of anesthesia during surgery. How does music do this? Music helps us feel that we have a sense of calm control over our bodies. It triggers bliss, fosters relaxation and encourages the release of endorphins. Gentle music relaxes us, slowing the rate of breathing and the heartbeat. It reduces stress all round. Music also boosts immune functions. Some kinds of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience which leads to the secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This contributes to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing decreases levels of the stress-related hormone, cortisol. CHOOSE YOUR MUSIC The most important question then becomes “What kind of music do you use for what?” This is such an individual experience. Everything from Mozart to the soul dynamism of Brazil’s Capoeira can do it for you. I believe that we humans need lots of different kinds of music if we are to gain the greatest value from it. Let me share with you some of my own favorite music and composers. Get yourself an inexpensive iPod or other MP3 player. Experiment with music from different artists and genres. Don’t be afraid to explore lots of different kinds of music in your own life. Find out what each makes you feel. The bliss awaiting you as you do is virtually unlimited. Here are a few of my personal suggestions to get you started: Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony Craig Armstrong’s film music Brazilian Capoeira Arvo Part John Martyn Al Gromer Khan  YOUR OWN BLISS TRIGGERS OK. We’ve explored a few bliss-creating experiences together, from stillness and sensuous breathing to sound. There are many more. It’s time to find out what brings you joy. Get yourself a simple notebook. Start making a list of all the things that bring pleasure to your body and mind by enlivening your senses. Continue adding to your list day-by-day and week-by-week as you become aware of more possibilities. Let your imagination run wild. At the beginning of each week, make a pact with yourself to enjoy one or more of these things within the next three days. And keep your promise. Experiment. Find out just how much enjoyment your body can take! Remember, your body thrives on bliss—feed it and it will reward you with energy, rejuvenation and joy that builds week by week into a whole new way of being for you. Here are a few of my own favorites. Making love. Running along the cliffs above the sea. Smelling lilies and freesias, roses, jasmine, and honeysuckle. Watching a good movie. Dancing with abandon to wonderful wild music. Feeling the breeze on my face on a bike ride. Swimming naked. Listening to all sorts of music. Lounging in front of an open fire. Reading a fascinating book. Spending time with a young child listening to its stories and make-believe games. Snuggling up to my cats. Eating fresh organic strawberries. Walking in the rain. What are yours? Write them down. Then create an intention to make them a part of your life, day-by-day. DIVE DEEP This experience feels like diving deep into a lake where the water is shot through with streams of light in constant motion—one moment gentle and lulling, the next wild or filled with the excitement of wind or the pounding of rain. This is what it can feel like for each of us as we delve deeper into the blissful state and develop greater aliveness. Bliss asks us to immerse ourselves in a way of being and thinking, living and dreaming that feels brand new. Try some of the activities that bring you the greatest joy, will help you rediscover ancient echoes of an endlessly rich way of living too long forgotten. Of course, at the deepest levels, we have never forgotten at all. Reconnecting with your innate capacity for bliss doesn’t happen overnight. It is a constantly developing experience, which makes it possible for us to reach levels of vitality, joy, clarity and radiant health which previously seemed beyond reach. The process begins by reconnecting with the body and developing a determination to live life your own way come hell or high water.

How I Learned That Love Is Real

How I Learned That Love Is Real

My first child was born in a huge teaching hospital in Los Angeles. The labor was long and regrettably not natural. I was given an analgesic during labor and an epidural for the delivery. It was all very cold, efficient and mechanical. The hospital I was in happened to be a Catholic one in which every other woman there seemed already to know the ropes since she was giving birth to her fifth or eighth or tenth child. Nobody bothered to tell me much about what was going on or what was expected of me. My baby was taken from me immediately after the birth and put into a nursery with all of the other babies while I was wheeled off to a private room. Soon they brought this tiny creature to me. I held him in my arms and stared at him in stark wonder. Then at three hourly intervals he would reappear for twenty minutes at a time and I'd hold him in bed beside me until the nurse would come and take him away again. The third or fourth time they brought him to me, he began to cry. I nestled him, rocked him, and spoke gently to him but he wouldn't stop so I rang for the nurse. `My baby's crying,' I said, `What should I do?' `Have you burped him?' `Burped him?' `You have fed him haven't you?' `Fed him? Am I supposed to feed him?` The nurse took him and put him to my breast. His tiny mouth opened and reached for me as if he had known forever what to do. He began to suck with such force it took my breath away. It was like being attached to a vacuum cleaner. I began to laugh. I couldn't help myself. It seemed incredible that such a tiny creature could have such power and determination. He too had a purpose. He was raw, insistent and real. With every fiber of his being, this child was drawing his life and he would not be denied. Tears of joy ran shamelessly down my cheeks while he sucked. There in the midst of all that clinical green and white, I had discovered what love was all about. It was really quite simple—a meeting of two beings. The age, the sex, the relationship didn't matter. That day two creatures - he and I — had met. We touched each other in utter honesty and simplicity. This experience was for me a true epiphany. My life was forever altered by it. There was nothing romantic or solemn about it. No obligations, no duties, no fancy games, and you didn't have to read an encyclopedia of baby care to experience it. We'd met, just that. Somewhere in spirit we were friends. I knew beyond all doubt that I had found something real and real it has remained.

The Beauty Of Being Who You Are

The Beauty Of Being Who You Are

To be beautiful, you must be who you are. Because who you are is far more creative, vital, and powerful than anything or anyone you might try to be. It’s a fundamental truth too often forgotten. Still we live in a world that teaches us, however unwittingly, that whatever we are is not as good as what we should or could be. It tells us that we need someone or something outside ourselves to give our lives meaning. All of which is utter hogwash. You’ll never fulfill the magnificence and uniqueness of who you are by following convention, bowing down to some guru or following somebody else’s rules. The truth about YOU lies within your own body—your own being. And there has never been a better time to uncover it than right now. SEDUCTION BY ILLUSION The media is full of programs, articles, advertisements, and imperatives that urge you to "be a better lover", "wear this fashion," "make more money". It is an amazing game. It keeps selling dresses, books, and automobiles because it keeps people wanting. But, in the process, it creates enormous misery and dissatisfaction as we look outside ourselves for yardsticks to measure ourselves by. This is because, no matter how well it works, the "want-need-get" game obscures one really important truth: What you need to experience wholeness, meaning and joy is not "out there," "one day," or "if I only had…” It does not need to be bought, sought, seduced, or copied. It already exists right here, right now, inside of you. It simply needs to be discovered within you and then lived out. CONQUERING CONFLICT A woman is, in reality, two women. The first, the outer woman, is a collection of physical characteristics, habits of speech and movement, and ways of thinking and of expressing her essential being. This outer part is the result of past experience, conditioning, and values—either your own or, more often, those given you by your family, educational background, and society, plus a great many preconceived ideas you have about who you are and what you can and can't do. The outer woman comes in many different forms. She may be conventionally attractive, plain, sexy, dynamic, withdrawn, aggressive, apparently assured, or terribly uncertain about herself. And for each outer woman, there is also an inner counterpart, an individual self that is utterly unique. This stable center of strength and growth, your inner core, sees the world in its own way, has its own needs, desires, and its own brand of creativity, and is a law unto itself. Your core holds the power to create, change, build, and nurture. The outer woman is little more than the vehicle for what your essential being creates. THE OUTER AND THE INNER When your essential being is allowed free expression, a woman can be truly beautiful without the need for artificiality or imitation, concealment, or excessive adornment. Her body will be strong and well, her skin clear and healthy, and her movements, speech, and actions will radiate a kind of vitality that is unmistakably charismatic, because it is real—an outward expression of who she truly is. Often, though, the inner and the outer woman have diverged so that there is conflict. The inner truth of a woman can be particularly clear and direct while her outer expression is a mass of confusion in how she dresses, speaks, acts, and looks. Usually this is because she is stifled by false ideas of how she is supposed to be, think, act, dress, and look. Where there is no free channel for expression of your essence, there is much disharmony. Eventually both your health and beauty will suffer. Perhaps even more importantly, you will probably feel you lack identity—have no firm idea of who you are or what you want. TRUTH FROM YOUR ESSENCE Discovering the power of your essential being and learning to live from it involves transformation. This process can be tremendously exciting. Sometimes this can also be challenging, for it means peeling away the superfluous mechanical façades we all collect—the ways of appearing and acting that have little to do with who we really are, but that have come to seem safe and secure. But this transformative process can be thrilling, too. You needn't look for a specific end result to justify it. In short, being beautiful is being authentic. It is all about becoming who you really are. Begin by letting yourself become aware that you are someone quite different from everyone else in the world. To some women who have never experienced this awareness before, this can seem scary at first. Others will find it is something they have known all along without ever putting it into words. Still others will accept the notion as self-evident. When you are relaxed yet alert, nonproductive 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 have been programmed to listen not to ourselves but to Mommy's interjected voice, or Daddy's voice, or the voice of the Establishment, of the Elders, of authority or of tradition. Instead, begin to explore how you feel about something or what you really want. Take a look at the ideas, behavior patterns, or assumptions about yourself and your life that might be blocking your free expression. These mechanical patterns of thinking and behaving are usually unconscious. 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 slender," or "I am too old to change"; or they can be even more deeply embedded notions such as "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, you will see that many of them are little more than habitual assumptions with no basis in fact, and you will gradually find them falling away so that you are more free to be whatever you want to be. Whatever you happen to be doing, try letting yourself experience it fully. Get 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, forgetting everything else for the moment. When you are wholly and fully human—your essential being is being set free. These are times which all of us experience, and there is a real delight in this kind of involvement. It silences the usually worried thoughts and concerns that tend to sap your energy and make every event less interesting than it should be. This ability of complete involvement is 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. Explore new ways of doing things instead of mechanically following the same old patterns. Risk being different from the rest—your own natural way of living, thinking, dressing, working may be unique 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 and dare to be different in what you say and do when you feel different. Be as honest as you can. Telling the truth has great power. Most of us lean far too much in the direction of being diplomatic and discreet. Many women tend too often to adjust their opinions and answers to fit in with the opinions of others. This leads to a sense of confusion where one is not really sure what one thinks. When you answer something honestly, when you do and say what you want instead of what you think is asked of you, it makes you aware that you are responsible for yourself. This in turn leads towards further freedom, creativity and truth. Take a look at any roles you find yourself playing. There are dozens—the "intelligent woman," the "woman to be reckoned with," the "shy violet," the "sexy lady"' and so forth. Some of them may be appropriate to what you want from other people; others are not only irrelevant but also sap energy that could otherwise be used effectively. The more you are aware of them, the freer you will become from the hold they have over you, and the more you will be able to discover who you are and what you are about. The other thing about roles in relation to beauty is that no role that any woman plays (no matter how delightful) comes anywhere near being as exciting, vital, and fulfilling as the truth of what she is at her core. And gradually beginning to peel away the roles by becoming aware of them is one way of discovering this. Pay attention to any peak experiences in which you perceive the world as a whole and everything as being right. Everyone has these occurrences, but many of us do not articulate them and so they happen and then are forgotten or ignored. The occurrence of these small moments of joy can be tremendously enriching. They temporarily set you free from habitual ways of thinking and behaving that tend to stifle your creativity. Look for peak experiences and enjoy them when they come. They can be useful as guidelines to decision making from day to day. Finally, work out what you want and then go get it. Whatever you work for, work hard and wholeheartedly. This brings a sense of self-reliance and frees a lot of otherwise frustrated energy for constructive use. These things have always been very important to living my own life. They still are. I would love to hear from you about your experience with all of this, if you would like to share it with me.

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.

The Greatest Transformation

The Greatest Transformation

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

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.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 13,000+ 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 16th of May 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.60 lb
for women
-1.00 lb
for men
-0.60 lb
for women
-1.00 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 16th of May 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

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