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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

The Sound Of Silence

The Sound Of Silence

Silence. Solitude. These words strike fear into the post-modern heart. We forget the power of escaping for a time into sanctuary, of listening to our breath, the sound of the wind in the trees, or the heartbeat of the earth. There are too many phone calls to be made, meetings to attend, children’s noses to wipe, newspapers to read. Yet solitude has much to teach us. NEW WORLDS AWAIT It takes courage to become a learner again. It asks that you trust enough in life to drop for a time all you know (or think you know) and retreat for a day, a week, even only half an hour just to be—quietly receptive to whatever arises from within or around you: the intense blue of a tiny flower which sears your senses burning away every concern for daily life; a wild thought—and where did that come from? The fragrance of cinnamon sprinkled on a bowl of homemade yogurt. Such things go unnoticed unless we spend enough time alone to experience them. The word “alone” was once treated as two words: all one. To be all one meant to be wholly oneself—all of one piece. This is the great gift of sanctuary. Practiced daily, silence and solitude heal confusion and mend the frazzled nerves that riddle modern life. Getting away from it all to sit on a rock or at a window and gaze at the sky, or look into the dance of our own mind, helps you come home to yourself. It allows the magnificent wildness of your intrinsic being to converse with your rational side. HEAR THE CALL FROM WITHIN Take a dozen steps into the solemn silence of a rainforest or simply of your own body. As you enter this mysterious twilight, you are immersed in past and future. You become part of a primeval world where all life feeds upon itself in a perfect balance of dark accord. You can watch as the whole history of creation is being played out before you, around you, beneath you and you feel part of it. Here, the profusion of plants, insects, fungi, and the bacteria they contain is wild power in its most concentrated form. Our rainforests are the main repository of the earth's gene pool. They are a source of almost infinitely rich morphic fields which have evolved over billions of years. They are also the most important natural resource we have. Wild virgin land carries a spiritual power which makes not only the human soul but the soul of plants and animals, rocks and mountains sing. Rainforests offer the living organisms of our planet a high degree of primordial life energy necessary for the perpetuation of their life. So it is within your own body. You not only live in the universe. You are the universe—the rainforest, the stars and the moon, the seas and the rocks and the sky. They are not only outside of you; they are within each one of us. This is a secret which few have as yet discovered. For we humans have, literally for eons, been trained to think of ourselves as less than what in truth we are—holders of immense creativity and compassion—able to do whatever we long to do at the deepest levels of our being. DISCOVERY BEGINS HERE I am asking you to put aside ten minutes of every day in which you enter the sanctuary of your own being to sit or walk in silence. Let yourself to become aware of how silence acts upon you. Is this something you are comfortable with, or something you try to avoid? Can you sense that there is a richness here that you have not yet tapped? The magnificence and the wonder of the rainforest lies not only in its beauty, but in the ordered splendor of its wildness. It is a wildness which you can palpably feel as you walk beneath its dark canopy of life. Making my way amidst the tangled vines which drip with moisture in this living sea of a thousand shades of green has always filled me with wonder, and made me realize just how far we have moved away from experiencing our own wildness in our urbanized, self-centered, mechanistic 21st century world. It makes me conscious of how desperately we need to reconnect with the creativity, power and wildness in ourselves, learn to trust it and live our lives from our own unique individual truths. INTENTION AND REALIZATION Energy always follows your intention. In shamanic practices most often we use a drum or a rattle to expand consciousness. I love the sound of the drum and the rattle yet I often journey into expanded realms by way of silence alone. I love simply focusing my intention, on whatever purpose I have chosen to follow, then allowing it to unfold, without having to rely on anything external. I believe it’s important that each of us develops this skill—otherwise we can end up like Dumbo when his friend the mouse gave him a feather to hold in his trunk as a talisman to make him believe that he could fly. The little floppy-eared elephant was under the mistaken belief that it was the feather that held the power to fly, when truly it lay within himself. The feather was only a reminder of this. And it was only when he accidentally dropped it that he discovered the truth. This is what you too will be discovering as you journey into the sacred silence. It takes a little practice, but the practice itself is fascinating, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. It is all a question of living in the moment and allowing yourself to become aware of what is happening within and around you. HERE’S HOW Sit or lie comfortably, watching your breath go in and out of your body. Become aware of the way your breath moves. Is it cooler as you feel it come in through your nose? Warmer when it is exhaled? Now become conscious of your body. Allow any muscle tension simply to sink into the floor beneath you so that you feel deeply connected with the earth. Whenever you are ready, state your intention for your journey into expanded awareness. It might be to restore your energy, to discover more about the nature of reality, to awaken your creative power, connect with the world of nature, or any other desire you have just now. · You do all this silently. Now gently repeat your intention again and again, until you begin to sense a shift away from your thinking mind into your feeling heart. This can take you to a place of absolute stillness. Let yourself to go deep, deep, deeper within. Allow yourself to follow all the way back through time. Let yourself experience your connectedness with the wild evolutionary power that burst forth at the birth of the universe, if you will. This power is your power. You are the universe, just as the universe is you. What does it feel like? Exciting? Wonderful? Crazy? Wild? It is all these things as you are. Then, when you are ready, let yourself come back into ordinary reality, and record what you have experienced. When recording your journey into the sound of silence, put pen to paper and simply write about your experience, whatever it has been, for at least 15 minutes. Let the words flow without ever picking up the pen from the paper. This practice creates a flow that allows you not to edit what has arisen from the deepest layers of your being. When you are ready, give thanks to the universe for what it is, and to yourself for being everything you are. The more you practice this little exercise, the more you can come to know the truth of your own being and the richer your life can become. Do share with me your own experience entering the sound of silence practice if you’d like. I’d love to hear from you about it.

I must have flowers

I must have flowers

Whatever else happens in my life, I must have flowers. These gifts from Nature nourish the soul. We scatter their petals when we marry. We send bouquets of them to celebrate the birth of a child. We decorate our homes and our places of worship with them. We use flowers to comfort the lonely and the ill. We even honour the end of a person’s life by laying floral wreathes on a grave. Not only do flowers play a central role in the rituals of life, they bless our ordinary daily existence by blossoming in our gardens, waste ground and hedgerows – and gracing our windowsills by protruding gaily from a cracked teapot. Perhaps it is the velvet softness of their petals and their luminous colours that make these affirmations from nature so precious to us. Maybe it is the uplifting energy they carry – an energy you sense lying in a field of poppies or when you go into a florist’s shop. It could be the fragrance of flowers, or the transient nature of their coming and going. I don’t know. Ancient Wreaths Our passion for flowers and the awareness that they carry deep healing and sanctifying energies are both as old as history itself. Not long ago, archaeologists digging in the Cave of Shanidar within the Zagros Mountains of Iran unearthed nine bodies of primitive people and discovered that, at least 60,000 years ago, men and women were carrying out flower rituals similar to those we use today. The archaeologists found soil samples in which clusters of pollen from twenty-eight different species of flower lay in a circle forming a wreath which had been laid to rest with human remains. One of the interesting things about the find was that the flowers these primitive people chose to use as a sacred and healing offering to their dead were not the most beautiful, nor were they the most readily available in that area. The flowers from which these wreathes had been made were chosen from plants that are specifically known for their healing properties - hollyhock, grape hyacinth and horsetail - all of which we still use today for medicinal purposes. Precious Offerings The Ancient Greeks and the Egyptians used aromatic oils and flowers for healing too, as they did for embalming, expanding consciousness and for sanctifying space. The Bible is riddled with words of praise for flowers and what they have to teach us, both about the realms of Spirit and about the ordinary world in which we live most of our lives. It tells us “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Mathew 6:28-29). In Song of Solomon 2:12 “The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is at hand…” Soul Healers Not only does humanity have a passion for flowers. Flowers have a passion for us. They love to share with us their beauty, their healing powers – their very life force. “When I touch a flower, I am touching infinity,” said the American botanist George Washington Carver: “Through the flower I talk to the Infinite… a silent force… that still small voice.” American clairvoyant and healer Edgar Cayce celebrated the healing power of flowers again and again. He insisted that flowers bring companionship to those of us who are lonely, that they speak to the “shut in”, and that they bring Divine grace and upliftment to everyone. That is certainly my own experience of flowers. The Time Is Now Despite our longstanding love affair with flowers - despite the way for thousands of years we have used them for healing and to mark life’s passages, never in recorded history have we experienced a greater need for their healing and their blessings than right now. For we who live in the post-modern world often feel ourselves to be alienated, isolated, suspended, caught somewhere between the magnificent technology we have created and a longing to bond with the earth and with our own souls. Flowers can help bridge this gap. I think they do this better than anything else in nature. Flowers delight us, bless us and heal us. They clear the spiritual anorexia so widespread in urban life and help fill up our starving souls. They remind us of our own simple humanity as well as our essentially divine nature: They whisper to us of the splendour in the world around us—a world of which we humans are the guardians. Most important of all our relationship with flowers helps realign our ordinary day-to day lives with the authenticity of our unique soul energies. A big statement to make? Yes, but having worked with flower meditation for many years, having explored the potential flower essences have to build bridges for us between our inner truth and our outer lives I have come to believed with all my being that this is so. How Do Flowers Heal? No-one knows for sure. There are so many of their elements which carry healing potential that it would be hard to list them all: Their colours influence our mind, our energy levels, our clarity of thought. Colourful flowers and the plants they come from often carry health-enhancing nutrients within them - anti-oxidants such as flavinoids, which give plants their wonderful colours and help protect from degeneration, and other phyto-chemicals that help to strengthen immunity, improve circulation or delay ageing. Then there are the more recently discovered vibrational energies which Dr Bach called on when he fashioned flower essences and, of course, essential oil treats and treatments for person and place. Last, but by no means least, is the power of flower meditation. Here is where the soul of a human being meets the soul of a flower to bring healing, friendship and blessings to both. To Each His Own Flowers are as individual in their personalities as they are in their looks and fragrance. Some love the night. They only display their beauty and emit their fragrance once the sun goes down. Like night-owl people, at their best in the wee small hours of the morning, these blossoms have a passionate nature. They often carry exotic names like Queen of the Night, Night-Blooming Silene, and Gilliflower. Other flowers, like goatsbeard, poppy and marigold, open their petals at the crack of dawn then close down each evening and drift away into sleep. The sunflower stretches itself boldly towards heaven, while the bright blue borage flower, worshiped by Celtic warriors for its ability to bring courage in battle, bows its tiny head towards the ground. A shy soul with a great power to heal, borage prefers to go unnoticed – despite its heart-rending beauty. I have learned much about the individual personalities and soul nature of flowers not only from meditating on them and using them for healing but also from photographing them. Some, like peony, love the spotlight. Put them in front of a camera and they upstage everything else. Many have very strong likes and dislikes about where you plant them and where you place a bouquet of them in a room. On one table a particular flower becomes recalcitrant. But move it to the top of a bookcase in front of a window and suddenly it surrenders its beauty to the camera the way a woman yields to the touch of her lover. Each flower has unique healing properties and each speaks its own silent language. Learning that language, listening to flower wisdom and opening your heart to a flower’s healing energy can be a joyous and often life-changing experience. Spotlight On Flower Essences Get to know half a dozen of the most useful essences. Choose them depending on where you are in your life now and as you change explore more of these wonderful floral friends. Here is my personal selection with some information about each essence. It can open up a whole new world for you of beauty, healing and joy. Here are a few flower essences you might like Bach Original Flower Essences, Vervain Vervain is essentially a plant of ease. It eases heartache, headache, stomach-ache, concern for the future and bad luck. Dr Bach made a flower essence from vervain to ease stress and tension. Vervain is an essence for those of us who tend to ‘live on our nerves’. These people are likely to take on tasks beyond their strength then force themselves onward through will-power alone. They are the martyrs of this world who will do anything for their cause. Vervain essence is calming. It helps you to slow down long enough to listen to your own needs, and to the opinions of others as well as to let you restore your strength. In all its forms vervain brings relief. Order Bach Original Flower Essences, Vervain from iherb Flower Essence Services, Lotus The lotus is no symbol of abstract perfection never to be achieved. All true lovers of the lotus will tell you that true spirituality grows out of the depths of material form. Step by step it reaches toward the light. The unique power nestled within the lotus’ genetic structure is this: Only this flower among all water plants is born from the muck with such strength of stem that, instead of floating on the water as do others, the power of its life force raises it a foot or more above the pond. Flower essence made from lotus can help when you find yourself knee deep in an endless swamp. Meditating on the lotus flower opens you to a pride-free experience of your soul’s divinity. I find both the essence and the meditation useful in blearing illusions and dissolving spiritual pride. Lotus reminds us that all true spirituality is deeply rooted in imperfection. Order Flower Essence Services, Lotus from iherb Flower Essence Services, Sunflower Sunflower essence helps those on a spiritual path, who tend to forget their bodily needs. It brings grounding and helps us manage times of dramatic change with ease. Its wisdom is a fine example of the Australian aboriginal idea of 'keeping your head in the stars and your feet on the ground'. Sunflower essence also helps strengthen self-esteem. It can improve the way you relate to people in authority by allowing you to maintain your sense of self in the face of someone else’s demands. Order Flower Essence Services, Sunflower from iherb Flower Essence Services, Mallow, Flower Essence The mallow is a flower of the heart. Its flower essence can help you to align the demands of your head with the intuition of the heart – in effect, to hear the whispers of your soul. Mallow is of great help to those who ‘lead from the head’ rather than from the heart and who often feel that life is a struggle although they are not sure why. This essence helps you to integrate your deepest beliefs and desires with your daily thinking and, in doing so, to live out more fully your true nature. Order Flower Essence Services, Mallow, Flower Essence from iherb Bach Original Flower Essences, Honeysuckle Honeysuckle flower essence was a favorite of Dr Bach – father of all flower essences. He prescribed it “to remove from the mind the regrets and sorrows of the past.” It is an essence which can help anyone who is stuck in the past, either through regret or nostalgia. As Dr Bach insisted, the important thing about any experience is that we learn from it, not continue to relive it. Honeysuckle flower essence helps put the events of the past where they belong – behind you – so that you can go forward into the future with the enthusiasm and innocence of the child reborn. Order Bach Original Flower Essences, Honeysuckle from iherb Flower Essence Services Calendula The flower essence of calendula is both warming and calming. It can help speakers, writers, teachers and leaders use words with clarity, compassion and creativity. The flower boasts a benign energy that makes it easier to express yourself and at the same time honor the opinions of others. Marigold can be especially useful for people who find their discussions too often end in arguments. This flower essence brings warmth and patience. It encourages you to listen as well as to make your point and furthers the cause of real communication. Order Flower Essence Services Calendula from iherb

Flower Meditation Magic

Flower Meditation Magic

It’s not only easy to learn the art of flower meditation, it can be enormously powerful in your life as well as being a lot of fun. If you are lucky enough to have a fresh flower which you want to connect with, gain wisdom, friendship and perhaps healing from, then ask its permission to work with it quietly in your mind. Once you receive this, hold the flower in your hand, or sit nearby if it's growing in the ground, and begin your practice. FEAR NOT Each flower has its special gifts to offer, its beauty to celebrate and its healing to bring. We so fear our anger or grief, sorrow or longing. Instead of trying to turn off or run from any of these emotions try allowing yours—no matter how negative—to pour into a flower. You can use either a flower which is physically present or a good photograph of one. The flower in turn will gradually transmute your present state into wisdom or blessings. It can also become your teacher and your healer. Working and playing with a flower’s special energy will deepen your connections to all of nature and grace your life with unique beauty. For flowers speak the language of love. SIMPLE AND REWARDING Flower meditation is simple. It depends on three things: 1Gently focusing your intention on making a connecting with the flower you have chosen to learn from, gaining healing from it, or celebrating its beauty. Approach the process of communing with a flower with a sense of compassion both for it and – much more challenging for all of us – for yourself. Expanding your awareness and shifting into intuitive realms. This you do simply by taking a couple of gentle breaths and letting yourself enjoy with your senses the beauty of the flower or its image in front of you. EXPANDING CONSCIOUSNESS There is another important part of the flower meditation process. It takes place not during your meditation but afterwards. This entails making a record of what you have experienced. I call this process bridge-building. When you write out your experience of communion with a flower after your flower meditation is completed—whatever that experience has been—you train your ability to expand consciousness at will. You can then return with the gifts from expanded realms in a way that enables you to make practical use of them in your day-to-day life. It is all very well to enter the realms of beauty and spiritual healing and grace, but unless you can both learn to bring back to your everyday world some of the blessings of expanded awareness and make use of them, the spirituality you are connecting with tends to be ungrounded and not as potent as it can be. You will need a notebook—choose one that you especially like and use it for all your flower work. You will also need a pen or pencil, or colours, to record your experience, and either a photograph of the flower you are going to work with or the flower itself. START HERE Lay aside ten or fifteen minutes. Make sure you won’t be disturbed. If you are at home, take the phone off the hook and find a quiet place to sit or lie with your flower or flower photograph. If you are in a garden or outdoors, look for a quiet spot where you will be left alone. Decide what your intention is for your meditation. What do you want from this communion with your flower? The answer to a question? Guidance on some issue in your life? Help with a physical problem? Help in transforming a negative state such as fear or anxiety or loneliness into power and insight? Once you decide what your intention is write it down in your notebook. Now choose a flower that you feel yourself particularly drawn to—or make use of a lovely flower photograph Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to let yourself relax. When you are ready, open your eyes, read your intention three times from your book and begin your meditation. COMMUNION BEGINS Gaze gently—with soft eyes - at the flower or the flower photograph in front of you. This is the kind of gazing you might do at a sunset or the sea. It is a way of seeing that allows what is before you to come quietly into your awareness. Give thanks for its beauty and its spirit and for the unique consciousness and healing energy it carries. Take a moment to allow its beauty and its compassion to enter you and to activate a feeling of compassion for yourself. This is very important for it is the combination of clear intention coupled with compassion both for the flower with whom you are communicating and for yourself that activates the consciousness matrix and enables your awareness to expand. SECRET OF AN OPEN HEART Now, open your heart gently to the spirit of the flower. Feast on its beauty. Ask to be connected with its spirit. Repeat your intention asking silently for help from your flower friend. If you have forgotten it, glance down at your notebook and refresh your memory. Listen with all your senses as well as your intuition, your feelings and your thoughts to what the flower is offering you. Most of all listen with your heart. THE MAGIC OF ALLOWING Be patient. Don’t force anything and don’t try. It is all a matter of allowing, of receiving the gifts that are given. Now you might like to close your eyes for a few moments to let those gifts be received. Pay attention to your experience of time. Has it changed? If so how? How does it feel to have a flower for a friend? Is there anything that you would like to give the flower? You can do so just by asking that this be given in your imagination. When you are ready, in your own time, thank your flower friend for its wisdom and its healing and very gently return to your ordinary state of consciousness. Now begin recording either in words or drawings what you have experienced. TRUST YOURSELF The more you work (or play if you like) with flower meditation, the easier and more fruitful it will become. It is important to remember as you are doing any consciousness-expanding technique like this that there is no wrong way to do it. I can not stress this enough. Because of our upbringing and education, all of us have been taught to think that there is one “right answer” to any question, only one ‘right way’ to do something, only one ‘right result’ from any practice. These beliefs, which have been so deeply ingrained in us, die hard. Yet it is important to let them die and then bury them once and for all. Understand this right from the beginning. Your personal experience of flower meditation is just right for you. HONOR YOUR INSTINCTS Some people will find communicating with a flower as easy as rolling off a log. Others may at first feel a bit foolish or struggle a little with the exercise. It is my experience in working with people in this way, and many other ways of expanding consciousness, that each of us get from any exercise exactly the experience that is most appropriate and useful to us at this particular moment. Flowers have great wisdom. Occasionally you will find that what they are communicating to you is as simple as ‘struggle brings little results’. Sometimes during a flower meditation what the flower teaches us is that it is time to let go of all our struggle. Then next time we can lay it aside and just have fun with the experience—letting the communication take place gently and easily. Record whatever your experience has been of a particular flower meditation in your notebook, then later on you can go back to what you have written. It is exciting to see how rich your relationships with flowers become over time. LEARN ABOUT YOU Flower meditation can help you gain a deeper understanding of the path you are walking on this earth both on a practical and a spiritual level. It can also bring guidance, inspiration, healing and empowerment along the way. In one sense a flower holds a mirror up to your own soul enabling you to become aware of beauty and strength within you which you have perhaps not yet fully manifest. By doing this it can help you to move more gracefully and more fully into your own unique power and freedom. In another sense flowers help us become more aware of qualities that need strengthening in us. They not only reveal such things to us, they also often bring the healing energy to change things for the better. You ask your flower a question that is of genuine concern for you. Then listen for its answer. Working with its medicine can bring you insight into whatever issue you wish to know about and help light your way. REBIRTH AND RENEWAL Here is an example of a meditation I did with the lotus during a period when my life was in a state of great upheaval. Not only did I receive guidance on how to move forward and a wonderful sense of being part of the process of death and rebirth that lies at the centre of nature, I also felt I had made a new friend in the lotus flower itself. The friendship, once created, has stayed with me ever since. Sometimes I remember her beauty and give thanks that such friendship exists for me. This was how she described herself to me: Sacred they call me. Yet never forget that I blossom from rotting waste. Mine is the purity of experience not of innocence. Make a friend of me and you can not only expand your awareness but also learn the art of spiritual balance. I will help you rise from the ashes to a new birth. I am the lotus. LASTING FRIENDSHIP As you get to know these flowers and energies, they become long lasting and wonderful friends. Our friendship with flowers deepens our experience of security and gives us a clearer sense of our own place in nature. Carry their gifts with you, learn their lessons and let the power and the beauty of their balancing spirits take you one step further towards the unfolding of your own soul as you walk the earth this day. However you choose to work or play with the energies of flowers, the blessings of the living plants which they carry will enrich your life. Before long you may begin to wonder if it was you who picked the flower for meditation of if it was the spirit of this particular flower who picked you.

Stress? What Stress?

Stress? What Stress?

What goes up must come down. These words should be engraved on everyone’s brain, particularly those of us who live full and busy lives. We worry about stress, wonder why we don’t do anything about it, and wish it would go away. Seldom do we even stop to ask what it is. If stress gets out of hand it can wear you down, ruin your looks and destroy your peace of mind. Yet stress is the spice of life, the exhilaration of challenge and excitement, the ‘high’ of living with heavy demands. The big secret about stress is that it is not what appears to be causing it that does the damage. It’s how you respond to it that does that. Change your attitude to stress and you can make it work for you rather than against you. In short, chill out. Stress is hard to pin down: fatigue, overwork, loss of blood, physical injury, grief and joy can all produce stress, but none of them accurately describes what it is. The word stress comes from the language of engineering meaning ‘any force which causes an object to change’. Austrian-Canadian scientist, Hans Selye, first coined the word stress in relation to humans back in the 1930s. In human terms it refers to your body’s response to physical, chemical, emotional or spiritual forces that ask you to adapt to them. Selye discovered a typical physical reaction to stress which he called the General Adaptation Syndrome. Its function is to keep your body in a steady state, known as homeostasis. Every stressor you come into contact with threatens to destroy this steady state. The General Adaptation Syndrome has three states: alarm, where the body becomes alert; resistance, where all systems go in order to meet the challenge and protect you from harm; and exhaustion, which happens if stress lasts for too long and the body’s weakest systems begin to break down causing illness, chronic fatigue, even death. you are unique Everyone responds differently to stress. This depends to some degree on your conditioning, and on the amount of adaptive energy you were born with. This is why some people seem to breeze through stressful situations while others quickly reach exhaustion. Selye believed that once adaptive energy is used up, nothing can be done to restore it. We now know that this is not altogether true, but adaptive energy is certainly precious. This makes it imperative to examine carefully how yours is being used and if it is being burnt up unnecessarily. It also makes it important to remember that what goes up must come down. For making stress work for you means being able to switch off at will. This is something that most of us have to learn to do. Learn to move easily between stress and relaxation, and you will begin to experience your life as a satisfying and enriching challenge like the ebb and flow of the tides. Then you will never again have to worry about getting stuck in a high-stress condition which saps your energy, distorts your view of the world, and can lead to premature aging and chronic illness. Humans are natural seekers of challenge. Primitive man faced the daily challenge of survival – when in danger, the body reacted instantaneously to provide the energy needed to fight or flee, then relaxed again when the danger passed. We may no longer need to worry about meeting a saber-toothed tiger, but we still react to stress with the same physical responses – raised blood pressure and breathing, a rush of adrenaline throughout the body. The trouble is that modern life, with its noise, quick pace, social pressures, environmental poisons, and our tendency to sedentary, mental work, presents many of us with almost constant threat situations. This is particularly true in the business world where someone, instead of moving rhythmically in and out stressful situations, remains in the danger state for long periods, with all the internal physical conditions that accompany it. balance it The automatic, or involuntary, functions of your body are governed by the autonomic nervous system. It looks after the changes in the rate at which your heart beats. It regulates your blood pressure by altering the size of veins and arteries. It stimulates the flow of digestive juices and brings on muscular contractions in the digestive system to deal with the foods you take in. It makes you sweat when you are hot and is responsible for the physical changes in your body that come with sexual arousal. This autonomic system has two opposing branches: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic branch is concerned with energy expenditure - particularly the energy involved with stress and meeting challenges. It spurs the heart to beat faster, makes you breathe hard, encourages you to sweat, raises your blood pressure, and sends blood to the muscles to get you ready for action. The other branch of the autonomic nervous system - the parasympathetic - is concerned with rest and regeneration rather than action. The parasympathetic branch slows your heartbeat, reduces the flow of air to your lungs, stimulates the digestive system, and helps relax your muscles. When you are in a state of stress, the sympathetic nervous system comes into play. The parasympathetic branch is dominant when you are relaxed. A good balance between the two is the key to making stress work for you. Balance makes it possible for you to go out into the world to do, to make, to create, to fight, and to express yourself, as well as to retire into yourself for regeneration, rest, recuperation, enjoyment, and the space to discover new ideas and plant the seeds of future actions. make stress work for you The secret is getting the right balance between stress and relaxation, between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. Unfortunately, few of us get it right by accident - we have to learn. Take a look at the kind of stress you think you are under, eliminate unnecessary stressors, and discover new ways of working with stress. Second, begin to support your body physically with food, exercise and natural stress relievers to enable you to face stress with ease. Finally, learn to relax fully so that you can find the right balance between stress and relaxation and keep it. Not only will this help your body stay in balance and increase your level of overall vitality, it can bring you a sense of control over your life that is hard to come by any other way.

Take A Quantum Leap

Take A Quantum Leap

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to feel great most of the time? To awaken in the mornings looking forward to each day? To work hard but have plenty of energy to spare at the end of the day for play? To look terrific and to feel good about yourself and your life? To know you have everything you need to meet whatever challenge you may face? Sounds like a utopian dream? It's not. It is something within your grasp—something called quantum health. WHAT IS QUANTUM HEALTH? It is not the same thing as preventative medicine, nor is it medical self-care, or holistic medicine. Preventative medicine is mainly concerned with avoiding illness; holistic health is primarily aimed at treatment—although the treatment of the whole person rather than specific symptoms. Medical self-care aims to make a person able to diagnose and take care of his own minor medical problems. Although quantum health can share in some of the benefits of all three, it goes far beyond them. Quantum health does not focus primarily on disease or its prevention. Instead, its major thrust is a deliberate choice on the part of the person practising it to live at the peaks—to explore the heights—of wellbeing: physically, emotionally and spiritually. The choice for living at the peaks, and making full use of your creative potentials, is one which an increasing number of people are making. This is evident in our growing desire for strength, for high-level fitness, for improving and preserving good looks and for lasting vitality. Where once an ambitious man or woman might have wanted recognition, money and possessions, now these are not enough. Instead we want to make the most of our own potentials in every possible way. Quantum health aims at an enjoyable, challenging and sometimes amusing search for whole-person functioning. As such, it is its own goal and its own reward. The process of moving towards it can be as much fun as the achievements of its ends. THE MASTER GAME Developing quantum health is a kind of game. Like any game, it has its obstacles, its rules, its rewards, its penalties, and a goal. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines game as 'amusement, fun, sport... a diversion of the nature of a contest played according to the rules and decided by superior skill, strength, or good fortune'. The quantum health game is very much like this. In many ways, it is probably the most challenging and rewarding journey you could ever take—a real 'master game'. This is not only because playing to win can keep you looking and feeling great long after the 'losers' have been left by the wayside, but because, like all good games, the play itself can be so interesting. It can also demand considerable skill. Some find the quest for quantum health easy—they seem to have a natural flair for the challenge. Or, without realising it, they instinctively know the rules. Others have to work harder to learn them. Yet often it’s those who have to work the hardest that get the greatest satisfaction from play, and make the most dramatic improvements in their lives. WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY Information about how attitudes, techniques and practices such as optimal nutrition, relaxation skills, exercise, political responsibility, treats and treatments contribute to optimal wellness. What are you playing against? Time. Perhaps your genes too. Some people find their genetic inheritance an asset to the play. Others have to compensate for what they didn't get at birth with more effort and more awareness of how to make the best possible use of what they have been given. One of the major obstacles to quantum health is the environmental pollution we are all exposed to. To counter it, you need to increase your awareness of its dangers as well as to make good use of agents to counter its effects. These include home-grown foods, herbs, and antioxidant nutrients, which can defeat its negative effect on your body. You also need to take social and political action to ensure that your water, air and food supplies are not further denatured by environmental poisons and radiation. Another major challenge to the goals of quantum health is indifference; the tendency we all have to go along with cultural and social norms. Why not live on fast foods and chocolate bars? Everybody else does. It is easier than seeking out a fresh crisp salad. Why not indeed? Any skilled quantum health player will tell you clearly: That way of eating is part of a lifestyle that will never help you experience radiant wellbeing and peak functioning mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As such, it is better off discarded. WHAT YOU BELIEVE Who are your opponents in the play? There are many. For instance, people who are content to allow time to take its course. Those who assume that, as the years pass, your body, your vitality and your good looks inevitably deteriorate. Chronic illness, they say, is a natural part of growing older. False notions about health are also major opponents. For example, the idea that responsibility for your health rests not with yourself but with your doctor or your mother or the state. Then there’s the idea that quantum health demands too many sacrifices or is not rewarding enough; it might take too much time for too little fun. This is a fierce opponent. But the biggest challenge to overcome is a lack of faith in your ability to play the game. Lots of people just don't believe that quantum health is possible for them. 'We are', they say, 'too old', 'too fat', 'too lazy', 'too busy'. In fact, just the opposite is likely to be true. Learn to play the game, create a quantum health way of life for yourself and all those ‘toos’ vanish, leaving you much more time and energy than you had before. Quantum health is a game you need no previous experience to play. You just start wherever you are now and, step-by-step, build your knowledge and your skills—until in time you can far surpass someone who seemed infinitely better endowed than you at the beginning. Human life is never static. Either you’re getting better or you are getting worse. And, as with any game, how fast you progress and how many rewards you get from playing depends to a large extent on how much fun you find it and how hard you are willing to play. FIELD OF PLAY Most people think of health as a state in which you are not ill. You are free of pain and you show no signs or symptoms of the development of disease. They think health is characterized by the absence of something— namely sickness. So long as this is the case, they figure all is well (touch wood), and go about their business until at some later date when, if their luck runs out, they may inadvertently be struck down. Then their rather tenuous state called 'health' suddenly turns into its opposite—'illness'. Thinking of health in this way is incredibly limiting. The best anyone can hope for is 'non-sickness'. Quantum health players take a different point of view. They see reality differently. They understand that by taking responsibility for how they think and live, brings them a high level of protection from illness. They know that the wellness they are aiming for has positive attributes and brings rewards far beyond the absence of disease. It encompasses a whole new view of reality which honors the peaks as well as the depths. Not content with being 'un-sick', they want vitality, passion, confidence and a sense of freedom to be who they are. They intend to work and play hard. They value authenticity. They seek mental clarity, emotional balance, and spiritual openness which makes it possible to develop creative potentials to the limits. Their worldview includes a belief which, to many people, seems quite foreign: That we are the prime cause of what happens to our health and our life, not blind fate. Without such a commitment to autonomy, no player in the quantum health game can become a winner. With such a commitment, the sky’s the limit. There is no reason why you should not be fit at 90, look twenty years younger than your peers at 70 and feel good about being who you are, warts and all. It is all a matter of developing skills and playing with the knowledge and determination of a pro. A quantum health lifestyle has six major facets to it: nutritional action, physical fitness, stress management, self-responsibility, age control and environmental awareness. QUANTUM HEALTH—KEY TO FREEDOM One morning I went for a run, as I often did, along the cliffs in Pembrokeshire. After running for about three miles, I had a sudden impulse to plunge into the wild Irish Sea and swim back. This was something that I’d never done before. The sun was warmer than usual that morning so I did—running shoes and all. The water was freezing and rough. I had to swim against the tide. An hour later I finally arrived back on our home beach—fingers tingling with the cold and legs a wobbly, as I attempted to make the transition from the water world I'd been moving through to the thinner air-medium of land. But I felt great. I loved the feeling of freedom that this brought me—a strong sense of my own physical limits and a knowledge that they are considerably broader than they were ten years earlier, before I myself became involved in the quantum health game. Why did I do that swim? To prove I could? Not really. I had few doubts on that account. To make myself fitter and stronger? I had no such notions in my head. I did it for the sheer pleasure of it. It was the same impulse that makes children climb trees. Not to get to the top, but just because the trees are there. WHY PLAY THE GAME? The serious answer goes something like this: so you will feel better, look younger, have more energy and live longer. Indeed, all those things are true. But once you get involved in the play, you realize that something much more exciting is happening. You feel exhilarated, vibrantly alive, freer and stronger. And these experiences become a normal part of your daily life. Grasp even a little of these payoffs, realize that they are possible for you no matter what your age or condition right now and you are already half way to your goal. Make this kind of passion a part of your life, and the rules of the quantum health game, which at first needed to be tediously learned, one by one become second nature. By then just playing the game begins to feel so rich and so delightful that you are likely to forget all about its goals. After all, it’s the play itself that your come to relish.

Look Great

Look Great

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

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.

Stress Release

Stress Release

Somewhere inside you is a center of stillness - a wordless, formless space - the home of your self or your soul: There seeds of creativity are sown which later become your ideas and your accomplishments. There in the silence and the darkness, you can begin to listen to your own `inner voice'. You can come to know the difference between what you really want, feel and think, and what habits, false notions and other people's values have been programmed into you. This space - your center - is a place of safety and security. You can move out of it, as you choose, to meet the outside world, form friendships, love and learn. Yet it is a permanent sanctuary to which you can always return when you feel overburdened, tired, confused or in need of new vitality and direction. The key that opens this particular door for most of us is relaxation. By relaxation I mean learning to move at will into a state of deep stillness in which your usual concerns, your habitual thoughts, and the never-ending activity of your daily life are replaced by alert - yet totally passive - awareness. Dipping into such a state even for a few minutes allows many of the physiological changes normally experienced during sleep to take place while your body and mind are revitalized. But it is different from sleep. For, while your body is passive, your mind is highly alert. passive awareness For some people passive awareness occurs spontaneously - often between sleep and wakefulness. It is during this time that their best ideas come and that they experience a sense of harmony both within themselves and in relation to the rest of the world. Most of us, however, have a fear of letting go, thinking that if we give up control of things we won't be able to think clearly and independently or work well, or that someone is likely to put something over on us. In fact, just the opposite is true. When you are able to enter a state of deep relaxation at will, this frees you from patterns of living and thinking to which you tend to be a slave - although usually an unconscious one. It enables you to think more clearly and simply, and to act more directly when action is called for. Another interesting benefit from the daily practice of deep relaxation is a reduction of negative habits such as drug taking - of both prescription and mind-altering drugs - alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. Research carried out in the United States involving 2,000 students between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three who had practiced a form of meditation for periods of between a few months to a couple of years, showed that their dependence on alcohol, drugs and cigarettes dropped sharply. In the first six months of doing the practice, the number of smokers reduced by half . By twenty-one months it was down to one-third. And these changes were entirely spontaneous - at no time was any suggestion made that relaxation or meditation would change any of these habits. bridge your inner and outer world Harvard professor and expert in behavioral medicine, Herbert Benson MD, did the first studies into the effects of Transcendental Meditation many years ago. He has since continued to investigate this state of psychophysical relaxation and has shown that each of us has what he calls the `relaxation response' - a natural ability to experience the relaxed state with all its benefits. All we need to tap into it is a method to turn it on. The possibilities are many. They range from meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, zazen, silent repetition of a word, and autogenic training, to steady aerobic exercise and biofeedback. Each can be useful as a tool for silencing everyday thoughts and for temporarily shutting off habitual ways of seeing the world and doing things. Practice one regularly, and you build a powerful and useful bridge between your inner and outer world. All of them are different. Some will work better for you or be more enjoyable than others. That is why it is worthwhile to try a few different techniques until you discover which ones you prefer. Progressive relaxation is a technique based on the work of Edmund Jacobson; this is an excellent way to begin if you have never done any sort of relaxation or meditation technique before, because it gives most people some sense of what relaxation feels like even the first time you try it. As you repeat your technique (it is best done for fifteen minutes at least twice a day), you will find you enter a state of relaxation that is progressively deeper and deeper. Zazen is one of the simplest ways of meditating, this technique involves nothing more than just being aware of your breathing. But don't be deceived by its simplicity. It is a potent tool for stilling the mind and regenerating the body. And concentrating your awareness on the breath is not as easy as it sounds. We live in an age where discipline is often looked down upon as something which interferes with spontaneity and freedom - something old-fashioned and stifling to life. We tend to rebel against it. But the kind of discipline needed for daily practice of meditation or deep relaxation tends - far from stifling one's ability to be involved in the spontaneous business of life - actually to free it.

Immersed In Freedom

Immersed In Freedom

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. Both he and I loved to listen to music—just about any music—at full volume. This my mother could not stand—which made it something even more exciting. While my playmates roamed the hills of Hollywood skinning their knees, I would lie on my belly in the living room, listening to music at full blast. THE MAGIC BEGINS One day, combing through our vast supply of records, I came upon Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” It 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 in front of our huge speakers. Strange, mysterious, often discordant sound flooded my body, opening a secret door to somewhere deep inside me. It was a place I had never been before. I did not even know it existed. I trembled with fear and excitement as the music wound its way into me. 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 into unexplored worlds, too numerous to identify. ONE WITH STILLNESS I have no idea how long this lasted. Before long, even the “boat” carrying me along, and all the images that came with it, had dissolved like sugar in water. Then, in perfect union, the sounds and child-that-had-been-me swirled into a vortex, becoming lost in each other. We shared excitement, fear, longing, fierceness and sadness. Like lovers, we had come together—music and child—in an immediate, passionate, all encompassing union. Eventually I found myself at the centre of this whirlpool. There, even the ecstasy of the movement vanished. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I tumbled—not into Wonderland, but into that place of unspeakable stillness. Zen practitioners claim this place is available at every moment to each one of us. For me it was an indescribable event—beyond space, beyond time, outside thought. Here I knew, without the slightest possibility of ever being able to describe it, that everything was exactly as it should be. In the words of Zen Master Daisetz Suzuki, it is a place where I would eat when I am hungry, sleep when tired. I knew that “it was fine yesterday and today it is raining.” Or, in the words of Julian of Norwich, that “All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of thing 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.” MY USEFUL LIFE 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 good marks, went to work, won prizes, gave birth to four children, wrote books, gave talks and made television programmes. In effect I did what millions of men and women do—became the breadwinner, the carer, the nurturer of others’ lives. And I loved it. Yet through all the years between six and now, my passion for music, painting, books, poetry, architecture and design never left me. Far from it. During most of those years, my longing not only to experience the emptiness that listening to Stravinsky had brought me that day—an epiphany, and the experience of being fully alive for the first time in my life—but also to create things: books, films, relationships, and to explore physical places, inviting me to move beyond thoughts to a place of unity with the rest of the universe. They kept gnawing at my gut. They would not go away, just as the urge to breathe never goes away no matter how long we hold our breath. SIX YEAR OLD WISDOM That day, when I lay on the floor lost in Stravinsky, without realizing it I had decided that what interested me most was the beauty of art—whether it be music, words, film, stories, sculpture, buildings or what-have-you. Why? Certainly not because I had any idea that art was supposed to be valued since it was part of what grown-ups called culture. I knew nothing about either. I could not have cared less. After all, I was a kid who, when I was not entranced by what I was seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, spent the rest of my day learning card tricks, wrestling with my rough Collie, and trying (unsuccessfully) to sell packets of chewing gum my grandfather brought 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 I seemed to have little in common, it had always grabbed hold of me and would not let me go. It demanded of me both a submission and an active participation in the making of it. TIMELESS REALITY What I did not know, and this took me scores of years to come to understand, is that the rabbit hole into which I had accidentally tumbled at six is 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, anywhere in the world, 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 be sampled 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.” ANNIHILATION AND RENEWAL 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 expanding is its potential, such power is both purposeless and egoless. As such, it is often called truly spiritual. Why? I suspect because it is charged with an awareness that spirit is present everywhere. The universe and all that is created is never attached to place or time. In such a state, because the cosmos is present everywhere, we too are present everywhere. We have direct experience of and access to the power that continues to create the universe itself. And, like water flowing through the river, we have full access to that power of creation to use in our own lives, in whatever way we choose. DOORWAY TO BLISS The Sufis call this state fana—the annihilation of your individual selfhood. When we experience fana, our everyday personality becomes transparent, so the larger being that we are shines through. You become fully absorbed in the all-encompassing fascination of the moment—textures, nuances... Cutting edge physicists speak of a holographic universe in which we live but seldom access because we are plagued by endless mental concepts which blind us to reality. They also blind us to the experience of Samadhi—“a non-dualistic state in which the consciousness of the subject becomes one with the experienced object.” This state of selfless absorption and total surrender is characteristic of children when left alone to follow their instincts. Yet it is available to each one of us, regardless of age. Honoring whatever brings us bliss in our own lives opens the door to it.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

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

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 11th of August 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.56 lb
for women
-1.01 lb
for men
-0.56 lb
for women
-1.01 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 11th of August 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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