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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

what gives you Charisma?

what gives you Charisma?

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

Sacred Creativity

Sacred Creativity

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

Crisis To Creativity

Crisis To Creativity

Christmas had been full of laughter. But on Boxing Day when the children left, Emma began to cry. Grief racked her body. It was as though she had been taken over by a power beyond herself. There was no apparent reason for this, yet it went on for three hours. That was the beginning. Within three weeks, each time she went out to walk in the woods near her house, the trees, the grass, the rocks - all came alive. They seemed to vibrate with energy and to glisten with light, almost to breathe. Their colors had become overwhelming - too intense to bear. Panic set in. This healthy and competent woman in her early fifties feared that she was losing her mind. The doctor suggested tranquilizers, sleeping pills and psychotherapy. "Don't worry," he assured her. "We will soon have it all under control." For Rebecca, 32, the crunch came at work after neglecting her relationship with her lover and ignoring a mounting biological urge to have a child, then passing up two intriguing job offers and working 18 hours a day for seven months on a marketing plan for a new toothpaste. She knew it was just what she needed for a promotion which would make her the first woman on the board. Then the managing director announced the take over. The launch had to be scrapped. The product would have been in direct competition with the new company's own product already on the market. Two days later, her boyfriend announced he had fallen in love with someone else and was leaving. Then one morning while doing her morning run in the park, Rebecca sprained her left ankle so badly that she could not walk at all for two weeks. This meant that now, when it was absolutely crucial that she be at work to secure her future, she found herself completely bedridden. She felt her life collapsing around her and knew she was helpless to do anything about it. the signs of molting Two women in crisis - that moment in life when the foundations of personal safety, beliefs, security or values are challenged, overwhelmed by either internal forces or external events. When any one of us experiences such a crisis it is a sign that a molting is about to take place. We are being asked to walk a passage which, if made with awareness and trust, can expand our experience of life and our sense of ourselves enormously. This demand for personal metamorphosis may be triggered by a death, the ending of a love affair, the recognition that one is addicted to alcohol, drugs or work, a dawning awareness that what you have always worked for and what you have achieved no longer holds meaning for you, the loss of a job or reputation, or even the detoxification process of a cleansing regime. Although each person's metamorphosis is unique, experiences of profound change have much in common. The advice to people in the midst of crisis is pretty standard too. It goes something like this: "Pull yourself together," or "Don't worry," or "Go see the doctor" (who most often supplies a long-standing prescription for potent antidepressants, barbiturates, or tranquilizers). In the case of women - particularly women of menopausal age - the men in their lives (whether they be husbands, lovers or bosses) are frequently made so uncomfortable by the unexpected changes in a woman's feelings and behavior (changes that they themselves feel unable to handle) that they insist she must be mentally or biologically ill. For they, like most of us, just want things to return to normal. We are all afraid of crisis, and fair enough. Change that is truly transformative seldom comes easily. mid-life transition Emma's background was simple. After many years as a successful wife and mother, she approached the time in her life when all of the structures on which her life had been built were becoming redundant. Her children had left home for university and work. Her husband, the managing director of a large engineering firm traveled a lot and she, who had given up a job in publishing twenty five years before to look after her young family, felt she had little to look forward to. Before crisis struck, Emma had become vaguely aware of these things and told herself she should take up a hobby or go back to work, but nothing grabbed her interest. Thanks to the success of her husband's business, she did not need to earn money. When, unable to cope with the strange states of consciousness into which she found herself plunged, and on the advice of friends and family, she sought help from the doctor, he told her she was menopausal and wrote out a prescription for tranquilizers and hormone replacement. Something prevented her from having the prescription filled. "I feared I was losing my mind and I was absolutely terrified that these intense visual experiences together with sensations of powerful energies flowing through my body in waves day after day were a sign that I was actually going to die," she says, "But a small voice somewhere deep inside me kept saying `see it through - don't run away from it.' I didn't know where to turn. Everyone, including my husband, thought I was irresponsible not to do as the doctor advised. The irony of it all was that the one thing on which I had always prided myself was my sense of responsibility." The healing power of friendship As it turned out, Emma was lucky. Despite her embarrassment and shame about what had been happening to her, she frequently spoke about it to people whom she did not know very well. "It was as if I had to tell someone" she says "and I couldn't speak to my family and closest friends since they were convinced I was crazy." One of the people she told was a woman who had herself been through a similar experience five years earlier. Emma, relieved to find anybody who "understood" and didn't brand her psychotic, began spending time with this woman. On the advice of her husband who thought a change of scene would be good for her, she decided to spend a fortnight with her new friend in a small holiday cottage in the Lowlands of Scotland. There the two women lived together, ate together and walked in the wilderness. Emma's symptoms continued, but the woman she was with was not in the least afraid of them, neither did she worry about Emma's intense emotions - feelings of grief at the loss of her children, of uncertainty about her future, of abandonment much like a baby must feel when taken from its mother - nor about her strange bodily sensations which were particularly severe at night. She simply stayed with her friend and allowed it all to happen. In Emma's own words, "The experience of her simply letting me be in the state I was in and her complete sense of trust that what was happening to me was all right was incredible for me. I learnt from it that the death I feared was not physical death as I had thought, but the death of everything in myself that was meant to die - the end of the life I had lived as a mother, always sacrificing myself for the sake of my children and my husband, and the death of my image of myself as a responsible but limited person with no real sense of identity apart from the way I could serve others." After about ten days, her symptoms peaked and then began to subside. By the time she got home she was still experiencing strange energy flows in her body and the colors still seemed extraordinarily bright (it took about three months for all that to change) but now she no longer feared what was happening because, she says, "I could feel for the first time in my life that there really was something inside me - something very alive and real. I am determined to get to know it and to find out what it is all about. Where it will lead I don't know. I have begun to paint - to try to get some of that vibrancy of color on paper. Incidentally, a lot of people don't like the `new me'. They prefer the `good old reliable Emma'. But I feel, far from my life being over, that I am beginning a new adventure and that wherever it takes me, it is uniquely mine." harbingers of change This sense of impending death which Emma experienced is common in the experience of molting. It is something I have experienced again and again before a major change takes place in my life. As American expert in transformative psychology, John Wier Perry MD says, "Whenever a profound experience of change is about to take place, its harbinger is the motif of death. This is not particularly mysterious, since it is the limited view and appraisal of oneself that must be outgrown or transformed, and to accomplish transformation the self-image must be dissolved... one is forced to let go of old expectations... let oneself be tossed about by the winds of change...cultivating a more capacious consciousness, open to new dimensions of experience." Perry, a Jungian analyst, encourages people to work through their experiences - even when they are very extreme - without the mitigating effect of drugs. Instead they are given the support of a safe place to be while their particular molting is taking place, and a lot of loving support from people who have, from experience in their own lives, learned to turn the experience of crisis into a passage to power. Perry insists that, like the crab in need of a new shell, what precipitates such a crisis is the surfacing of energy from deep within the psyche, which has been bound up in the structures of a self-image or a worldview that has become obsolete - too limited to suit a person's needs. where inner and outer meet One of the most common objections amongst conventional "batten-down-the-hatches" psychologists to viewing crisis as part of a transformational process is that, while a crisis such as Emma's appears largely to have arisen from within, that of Rebecca was triggered entirely by outside events - the company take over, the decision of the man in her life to leave her, the accident to her ankle which put her to bed - all things over which she had no control. Or did she? According to British transpersonal psychologist Barbara Sommers, the outer and the inner world are not as separate as we might imagine. A woman like Rebecca may be far more responsible for precipitating the outer events that triggered her crisis than she thinks. Each of us has an inner and an outer world. When these two get out of balance, say, by emphasizing external or material values to the detriment of more personal deeper values, then a person invites disruption. The more someone like Rebecca pushes on with her ambitions and neglects her inner voice, the closer she brings herself to situations that precipitate crisis. Then crisis becomes a way of rebalancing things by forcing her to turn and look within. Things fail: She loses the man she loves because she has, by her actions, undervalued and neglected the relationship, and she damages her body so she is quite literally forced to go to bed, to be alone and to listen to her inner voice. In Sommers' words, "The real woman inside her doesn't like the way she has been living so she starts to cry out, `What about me?' The more she drives her energy into her conscious external life, the more power from her unconscious is generated to redress the balance. The `feeling' side of her (as opposed to the `doing' side) actually magnetizes a field around her so things start to happen." According to Sommers the important thing about Rebecca's crisis is that out of its forcing her to be with herself, instead of constantly being caught up in doing, comes the opportunity to ask questions such as "Who am I?" and "What do I want? - is my goal really to have a seat on the board? Or is that something I think I want because my father, my society, my friends think it is important?" All crises big or small are opportunities to get in touch with the wholeness of ourselves, not just to live lopsidedly or as partial people pushed into the way we are living by our culture, by education or by other people's views or values. rehearsal for change All crisis offers transformation provided, as the poet Rilke says, we have the courage to embrace it: "...this very abyss is full of the darkness of God, and where one experiences it, let him climb down and howl in it (that is more necessary than to cross over it)." Let yourself become aware of any structures of your own life - emotional, physical, environmental, intellectual - which no longer serve you and the choices you are making. See if there are any passages that are appropriate for you to make consciously. Making simple changes willingly can be useful practice for developing the skill of transforming crises, when they appear, into passages to power. You might like to experience the passage to new energy and clarity that a detoxification diet followed for a few days can bring. Or you might try doing without some addictive substance or activity which you feel is draining your energies. If you choose to do either, notice any changes that come about and pay attention to any messages that you get from within in the process.

Come Join Me In The Sacred

Come Join Me In The Sacred

The journey of a lifetime begins when you make friends with the sacred. And the sacred is everywhere. You don’t have to travel to Stonehenge or Machu Pichu to find it. Neither do you need to swallow a consciousness-altering drug. Sacred energy continually pours forth from the center of our universe, which according to religious traditions as well as leading edge science is both right here and now yet everywhere, at any time too. The problem is that most of us have become blinded by the mechanically-orientated worldview we inherited. We have forgotten how to experience the sacred. TAKE THE QUANTUM LEAP Rediscovering this is the simplest thing in the world. It happens through a shift of consciousness—a break in time and space through which each of us can witness the sacred realms come into being. Sometimes this takes place spontaneously. It is given by grace. You can also create structures in your life which invite it to happen. Organise the space you live and work in, for instance, to make a place in your life for rituals which honor the radiance of the world around you and within you. Doing this can be a lot of fun. Think of it as adventures, a game, a childlike exploration of new worlds. CRACK IN THE COSMOS Can I share with you my own life-changing call to sacred reality? It happened when I was 18 years old—just finishing my second year at Stanford University. Five months earlier I had fallen in love for the first time with a man three years older than I. I found myself in the unenviable position of having to leave him to go to live in New York. I knew it would be a long time before we met again—maybe never. We had only one day to spend together in San Francisco before my plane left. So we went for a walk in Golden Gate Park. I had been in the park many times before, visiting the Japanese garden or the museum. But I’d paid little attention to what was around me, except in the rather vague way we all “appreciate” being amidst trees, grass and flowers. That morning, the sacred realm cracked wide open for me. As he and I wandered across grass, through trees, knowing that in a few hours we would no longer be together, I felt as though death was sitting at my shoulder. I had no idea why. I loved this man with an intensity I would never have dreamed possible. I could hardly bear the fire that burned in my flesh when he touched me, let alone the surges of power that flooded my body and psyche when he held me in his arms or whispered in my ear. Right from the moment we had met, the love between us had arisen. Both of us sensed that this love between us had somehow always existed and would forever. SPLENDOR IN THE NOW That morning, we crossed a road and stepped up on to the curb. In front of us a group of old men were bowling on the green. They were dressed in the shabby clothes the old sometimes wear—garments which, like long trusted friends, they had lived in for so many years they did not want to be parted from. None of these men paid the least attention to us, absorbed as they were in their game. All at once, the scene before me shifted from that of a pleasant ordinary morning spent in nature—nice trees, green grass, a small knoll behind the old men rising to a copse above—to something at once ecstatic and at the same time terrifying. Space expanded in all directions. A million tiny holes appeared in reality—each emitting light. The air and grass, the pavement we had just crossed, the bodies of the men in their shabby clothes, the clouds above us, and the trees around us, trembled in radiance. Time burst wide open, breaking in great waves over the lawn. My heart seemed to grow to immense proportions. I did not understand what was happening. I knew that I had never experienced any of this before. In some way that seemed totally crazy, I was all—at the same time—being wiped out and brought back into being in a brand new form. LISTEN TO THE WHISPERS When an experience of the sacred arises spontaneously—frequently at times of great emotional joy or loss—it can be both blissful and awe-filled as well as mind-blowing. In whatever guise it shows itself, the sacred is a far cry from some “orchestrated” experience of pink-flowers-and-soft-music that the false purveyors of control with their glib proclamations offer us. It’s an experience full of beauty and terror, fascination and majesty. In the presence of an overwhelming power you find yourself standing before a mystery that is wholly other. I had no understanding about what was happening that morning in Golden Gate Park. The only thing I was sure of was this: I had experienced an epiphany in my life and that I wanted to live more and more in close connection with this new reality. GREAT MYSTERY In 1917, Rudolf Otto published one of the most important books on spirituality ever written, Das Heilige—The Sacred. In it he describes the awe-inspiring mystery—mysterium tremendum he calls it—that we feel in the presence of sacred energy. He characterises it as “a perfect fullness of being, a flowering which dissolves away our conditioned thinking and breaks down all the barriers to our being fully present in the moment.” Every time we are touched by the sacred, it urges us to live a little more from the deepest levels of our own being. Experience of the sacred opens the door to a whole new way of living and perceiving reality. Create time and space in your own life for the sacred and you automatically take the first step towards discovering the truth about who you are at the very core of your being. This is always a magnificent truth. And it is just waiting for you to uncover it. Otto characterises the qualities of the sacred as numinous (from the Latin numen, i.e. god), for they are brought about by the sudden revelation of some aspect of divine power within the paraphernalia of day-to-day living. Such is the nature of the sacred when it appears in your life. One minute you are waiting for a bus, standing under a tree you have stood under a hundred times before. The next, this tree has become suddenly something else as well. It has been transmuted in some mysterious way into a “supernatural reality”. Of course it is still a tree to you and everybody else standing there. In fact, nothing in particular may distinguish this particular tree from all the other trees on the street. Yet because it has, at that moment, chosen to reveal itself to you in its sacred form, your immediate experience of it is transmuted into something wild and free, great and wonderful. It’s as though the tree has opened its secret nature to you and become a repository of all that is awesome. So much is this the case that experiencing the sacred can make it hard to catch your breath. It can even, for a time, make you wonder who you are and what on earth you are doing there. FEAR OF THE SACRED Our modern world feels profoundly uneasy before such experiences. We are the only age in all history to be living in a desacralized culture. Limited worldviews impose themselves on our lives, forcing us to live in an almost totally profane world. Today, a tree is nothing but a tree. The wind is only the movement of air caused by nothing more than mechanical shifts in currents. As far as rocks are concerned, what could possibly be more mundane or less sacred? So we make fun of “primitive” people and their “quaint” superstitions. At the same time we exploit their land and force the deadening mechanistic values of our materialistic world on them. Whats the real truth? Rocks too have consciousness, as does everything in the universe. What we forget is that cultures for whom the sacred speaks to them through ordinary objects know very well that a rock is a rock. They don’t venerate the rock itself, or the wind. They worship the aliveness of all things and the spirit of each—something totally other and infinitely vast in its beauty. They know that whenever and wherever the sacred erupts in our lives, no matter what form it takes, a deeper, wider, richer, dimension of reality is asking us to dance with its power and celebrate its splendor. SAY YES TO THE SACRED Most of us have to relearn how. Once we do, we find ourselves continually renewed, energised, and ecstatic in the presence of sacred energies. It’s as though a wild blessing has been given us—a blessing that both nourishes and heals us. We humans have a profound need to plunge periodically into these sacred and indestructible realms which are the eternal present. It’s a need so deeply ingrained in our very being that when we are unable to fulfil it from time to time we end up living in a nihilistic wasteland. Then our lives become narrow, no matter how many fast cars we buy, how many drugs we take, how many lovers we have. Eating, sex, and getting up in the morning become nothing more than physiological events in a mechanical existence. Reawakening an awareness of the sacred in your life and making room for it turns these things into much more than mundane functions. Each one can evolve into a sacrament—the meaning of which is a communion with the sacred. As it does, our vitality, joy and creativity go on and on expanding. WILL YOU JOIN ME? Sacred truths have long guided my life and work. Each year they become more and more important to me. I’m keen to hear from each one of you about your own thoughts and experiences about and in relation to the sacred. I’d like to if, when and how you have found the sacred permeating your own life. Shall we share with each other beliefs and events that may awaken us to the experience of the mysterium tremendum? Do let me hear from you.

Walk Through New Worlds

Walk Through New Worlds

Who would have thought that taking the right kind of walk can not only clear stress, and energize mind and body but even bring you face to face with satori? Satori brings a sense of living in the fullness of your being, moment by moment. So often, we think we need to make decisions about what we are going to do in the next hour, the next day, the next year. We worry about how to discipline our bodies, get the work done and pay the bills, as well as a thousand other things.You can find yourself walking in new ways, with different rhythms. Aches and pains diminish. You sense a new relationships developing—to yourself, your surroundings and the world as a whole. I am passionate about taking two quite different kinds of walks which I’m keen to share with you because they have brought me much pleasure as well as so many other benefits. They are, each in their own way a lot of fun to. FREE FLOW Once a day, regardless of the weather outside, and whenever it suits you, go out walking for the sheer pleasure of doing it. It can be fun to walk in sunshine, but just as wonderful to walk in rain—unhurried and unburdened by the need to ‘look good’. Look around, smell the air, notice the way your body has begun to move. The next step is likely to sound weird, but try it: When you see a tree, say silently to yourself, ‘Tree.’ When you see a flower—‘Flower.’ This simple naming practice helps you become aware of where you are in space and time. And it does this in a wonderful, spontaneous, improvizing way. As you walk, life takes on an unexpected, exciting feel. Meanwhile, futile internal monologues begin to fade away. One of my favorite books was written by a musician named Stephen Nachmanovitch. It is called Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. It’s a superb book. If you are interested in creativity on any level—and I don’t mean just being an artist, but any and all kinds of creativity—I highly recommend it. In a chapter called ‘Inspiration and Time Flow’, Nachmanovitch describes this first way of walking I want to pass on to you. (Of course, you are probably unlikely to be walking down a street in a foreign city as he describes, but much of what he writes about this way of walking is relevant no matter where you are.) It reminds us all that it is not impossible to live our lives moment to moment, fully present with real awareness and joy. Here is what Nachmanovitch writes: A walk, following your intuitive promptings down the streets of a foreign city, holds rewards far beyond a planned tour of the tried and tested. Such a walk is totally different from random drifting. Leaving your eyes and ears wide open, you allow your likes and dislikes, your conscious and unconscious desires and irritations, your irrational hunches to guide you whenever there is a choice of turning right or left. You cut a path through a city that’s yours alone. This brings you face to face with surprises that are destined for you alone. You might discover conversations and friendships, meetings with remarkable people. When you travel in this way, when you walk in this way, you are free. There are no ‘have tos’ and ‘shoulds’. You are structured at first only by the date of the plane departure. As the pattern of people and places unfolds, the trip, like an improvised piece of music, reveals its own inner structure and rhythm. Thus do you set the stage for fateful encounters. I’ve got to add here that some of the most important ‘fateful encounters’ he speaks of are likely to be brand new encounters with yourself, in ways you may never have dreamed of. INSTANT ENERGY IS YOURS This is the second of my favorite walks. It’s a way not only of relieving stress, but of energizing yourself, learning to be present in the moment and, like Nachmanovitch’s walk, releasing your mind from the habitual chatter that prevents our feeling fully alive. I learned this technique from a Belleruth Naparstek’s “Meditations to Relieve Stress” audio. Here’s how it goes: Choose a place where you will be able to walk without meeting a lot of people, so you allow yourself to connect with your surroundings the way a child might. You don’t have to smile or relate to anyone. Instead, you will be drawing in energy from your surroundings. What will amaze you is just how much vitality you can absorb from your environment when you are not wasting your own energy with meaningless social contact. So, just for 10 to 15 minutes, let yourself retreat inwards and see what amazing things happen. GETTING EARTHED Begin your walk by shaking out your body a little. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Take a deep breath and let it out with no effort. Now look around you, at the sky, the earth, the trees, grass, rocks or flowers—whatever you find around you. Take another slow, even breath deep down into your abdomen. Now, aware of your breath going steadily in and out, start walking at a comfortable pace, opening all your senses to your environment as if it were part of you. Let yourself enjoy the light, the mist, the colors, the rocks and sand; whatever is there. Let yourself become aware of the way things move in light and shade, so you are in effect feeding on the richness of your surroundings. Let your body move easily and gently, so it feels as though it is dancing with your surroundings. Allow yourself to experience everything you see and feel, smell and touch, as though you are doing it for the first time, with the curious mind of a child. Feel the air on your skin, smell the fragrance around you in all its layers and textures as you walk. Continue to be aware of the ground beneath your feet, and how your breath going in and out feels. Notice how well the earth supports you. Enjoy the feel of your body in motion. See how heightened your senses become to the colors and the fragrances. Notice how clear your vision has become. This simple focus, this increased awareness of the sound of your own feet on the ground, the feel of your breath, the movement of your legs and torso will become more acute, more intense, more nourishing and more satisfying. LIKE MAGIC Colors become more and more intense, richer, clearer. You can find your senses opening as you become ever more aware of everything around you. You may even sense that you are immersed in a wonderful new ocean of reality. That the trees and the rocks, the air you breathe, and the sky have become part of you and you of them. Indulge yourself. Smell the air, feel the ground, immerse yourself in the sea of life and generosity in which you find yourself. Now, simply draw the energy of the earth into you. Let it fill you up. Breathe in the beauty of the sky. Take in every sight and sound, deep into your heart, as you become aware that you are attuned to everything around you. This energy is available to you whenever you want it. All it depends on is your own willingness to connect with the sea of life of which you are a part. Whenever you do, the whole world feeds you, belongs to you, nourishes you at every level. Continue to walk as long as you like, easily and blissfully, aware of your feet on the ground, your breath moving in and out, and the part you play in this wonderful sea of reality which belongs to you, and you to it. BACK TO SOURCE Both of these walking techniques are wonderful. Don’t just read about them—print up these descriptions and carry them with you. Then have a go. See what happens to you. Even better, take a look at where I learned about them. Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book is the best book on creativity I have ever read. I have read it at least 12 times. (As a present for Aaron who loves listening to audio books, I even made a recording of most of the chapters and gave it to him.) When it comes to Belleruth Naparstek’s work, her recordings are unparalleled in the world for their transformative power. You can purchase the one below on CD. Better still, just download it and put it on an MP3 player so you can begin using it today. You can find them below: Free Play - Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Improvisation In Life And Art - Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book is the best book on creativity I have ever read. I have read it at least 12 times. To find out more click on the links below. Order Free Play - Stephen Nachmanovitch’s from Amazon MEDITATIONS TO RELIEVE STRESS imagery for mastering anxiety; guided imagery to pump up feelings of love, safety and protection; a soothing, walking meditation for the fidgeters among us who can’t sit still; and affirmations for use anytime. (72 min.) Order Meditations To Relieve Stress at iTunes Order Meditations To Relieve Stress at Amazon

Celebrating Instinct

Celebrating Instinct

The sense of woman's estrangement not only from her body, but at a deeper level from herself; out of this estrangement develops a sense of powerlessness which leads you to think that what you need to be happy, complete, and fulfilled can only be found outside yourself - by accomplishment in the world, wearing the right clothes, earning a lot of money, winning the love of a man or conforming to some abstract ideal. Yet so long as you are driven by a sense of separateness from your body, whether you succeed or fail in getting what you think you want from the outside world is irrelevant. For neither success or failure brings you any closer to real satisfaction and fulfillment. Only wholeness can do that. the energy of instinct How does a woman reclaim her wholeness? By getting back in touch with the energy of instinct, and giving it as much space in her life as she does reason. For any woman who lives by reason alone is only half alive. Rediscovering the aliveness of the child and the instinctual innocence of bodily freedom can not only help heal wounds of separation between instinct and intellect, it can go a long way towards freeing you to live in the fullness of your being. Being cut off from any part of yourself squanders energy - in anxiety or in depression, in confusion, in unfulfilling relationships, or fatigue or illness. Only when you come to live in wholeness do you have access to your full power. This means rediscovering without fear of self-indulgence - how to celebrate your body. sex or sexuality? Women's magazines are jammed full of articles on sex, and they talk mostly not about the energy of instinct which fuels true sexuality, but about the mechanics of the sex act: "How To Make Oral Sex Work For You"... "A Complete Guide to Sex Toys"...and so on. Like the perfect plastic models on the covers of glossy magazines, such information does little to help a woman reconnect with her body and reclaim the energy of instinct and her deep sexuality. It actually encourages her not to trust herself. It asks instead that she stand back from her body and judge it, or that she put her trust in a lot of abstract "how-to-do-it-better" advice and commercial paraphernalia. The ecstatic, irrational, primordial power of a woman can only be experienced and expressed in the kind of sexuality that enables her to forget the rules and let go of her rational mind, trusting for a time the impulses of her body. Instinctual energy is creation energy - the stuff out of which art is made, as well as sexual ecstasy. So are joy, and the sensual pleasures - taste and smell and sight and touch and sound. As we gradually connect with our instinctual selves and learn to trust them, a kind of alchemical marriage between instinct and intellect begins to take place, and core energy from which we had been cut off becomes accessible. Such a marriage brings in its wake an experience of real personal power - the power with which each of us can create the life we want. When instinct and intellect are reunited your body thrives. It helps protect against early aging, increases vitality, and heightens your capacity for joy. There is only one problem. Like the wild fecundity of a rainforest (which is but another expression of the same life power), the instinctual energy of creation can be scary. It doesn't lend itself to rationalizations or structures. We will never understand it, neither can we comfortably put it into a little box to be dealt with when it is convenient. Yet instinct is a magnificent force. It needs to be honored just as much as the power of reason. Each of us must find her own way to honor it, live it and express it. Otherwise it can turn in on itself and insidiously destroy the very fabric of our lives.

Revelations From An African Sky

Revelations From An African Sky

I once spent the night lying on a platform above an animal watering hole, staring into the vastness of space beholding the great, fathomless mystery of the African sky. Aaron, my youngest son, then three years old, lay curled up next to me like a kitten lost in his dreams. Dazzled by the inconceivable expanse of the sky whose darkness was so overcome with the light from billions of stars that lived in it, I lost myself in timelessness and infinity. That night, I came not to think or to wonder but to know, with absolute certainty in every cell and molecule of my body, that this cosmic world was not something separate from myself, nor I from it. We were, in a way I will never be able to understand rationally, one being. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Like the proverbial iceberg, most of us live with the lion’s share of our potential for freedom, joy, creativity and authentic 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? Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of consciousness that constitutes what it is to be fully human, our greater selves hibernate, waiting to be awakened. Sometimes—when we fall in love perhaps, or when we are faced with an event of life-shattering proportions like a critical illness or the death of a close friend—a submerged area of our being erupts in magic or horror, and often in surges of passion, energy and beauty. Then, for a time, the mundane quality of everyday life is replaced with a sense of expanded being. Not only do we feel more alive, we wake up to find that familiar things—the tree that stands outside a bedroom window, the cat that greets us when we come home each day, a simple shell we picked up and slipped into our pocket while walking on the beach—have taken on a luminosity which we can’t explain. Other times, without warning while listening to music or walking down a city street, we are suddenly gripped with a sense that the world is far greater than we ever imagined it to be, and a certainty that all we see around us somehow is us. While the experience lasts, everything seems right in the world. Then, like the sun at the point of setting, everything fades beneath the mundane horizon, leaving only the faintest wisp of color to remind us that we once stood in its glory, felt its rays on our bodies and knew that being at one with the universe brings a sense of meaning to our own life and to the lives of others that is simply indescribable. The greatest desire I have is to live my life conscious of the oneness to which we all belong. After all, the magnificence of that African sky not only stretches out to infinity above us, it lies within us, calling to us—asking us to discover that it is who we are.

Beware The Sneaky Inner Drainers

Beware The Sneaky Inner Drainers

With the best will in the world to live from your core, and the most conscientious attitude towards living a high-energy lifestyle, you may have no idea just how many factors can still drain your energy. Some, such as the way you eat or how much exercise you get, are fairly self-evident. Others, such as the invisible electromagnetic fields that surround you, are more tricky to fathom. The most elusive of all are the silent attitudes and beliefs you hold within. These inner drainers can affect your energy at any moment of the day without your even being conscious of it. When they do, the smallest challenge or inconvenience becomes a tremendous burden, your stress levels soar and your energy levels plummet. Use the following exercise to help identify your inner energy-draining attitudes. 1. How do you usually feel when you wake up in the morning? I just want to go back to sleep I am excited about the day ahead 2. When you look in the mirror do you... Fret over my wrinkles/grey hairs/ blemishes and feel down about myself? Feel pleased about myself and good about the way I look - imperfections and all? 3. When confronted with a difficult task at home or at work do you think... What a pain, perhaps if I avoid it someone else will do it? Here's a good challenge - a way to really stretch myself? 4. Looking forward to a romantic evening do you... Create a scenario of doom in case things work out badly - that way I won't be disappointed? Enjoy imagining how wonderful the evening is going to be? 5. When you have an argument with your partner do you say to yourself... This is typical, he doesn't understand my needs. I'll never have a decent relationship? Maybe getting things out in the open can help us understand one another better and feel closer than before? 6. When you get a cold do you think... Just my luck! I always catch a cold at the worst possible moment? My body is obviously run down. Let me see how I can change my diet or my lifestyle in order to better support my needs? 7. When someone pays you a compliment do you... Dismiss it as untrue and then try to work out what their ulterior motive is? Accept the compliment graciously and thank them for their kindness? 8. What is your attitude towards your job? I hate it. I'm overworked and underpaid, but I have to stick it - there's so much unemployment about I can't expect to find another one? I enjoy my work. It gives me a chance to use my talents in a fulfilling way and I feel personally and financially rewarded? 9. You are tired and decide to spend a restful evening alone. A friend calls feeling down and asks you to go out with her. Do you... Go out with her even though I don't want to because I feel I should - this is the second time she has wanted to get together? Tell her I'm too tired, but I would be happy go out another night and enjoy my evening alone? 10. You are invited to a family christening which you don't want to go to. Do you... Go because I'm expected to. My family make such a fuss if I don't - I hate family gatherings? Either excuse myself because there is something else I want to do or go because I would enjoy making my family happy? 11. When you look back on your past do you Feel resentful about the opportunities I didn't have and regret many of the things I have and haven't done? Feel grateful for the circumstances that have made me who I am and feel that if I could go back I wouldn't change a thing? 12. Do you feel your future happiness depends upon... Finding the right relationship, the right job, earning lots of money and hoping that not too many things go wrong? Continuing to live from my core and allowing my life to unfold with optimistic anticipation? If you identified mostly with the attitudes in the left hand column it is likely that you suffer considerably from the Inner Energy Drainers. Make a note of your beliefs and assumptions - write them down - with regard to some of the key issues in your life: 1. Your physical appearance - Do you believe that you can look the way you'd like to? If not, why not? 2. Your health - Do you believe that you can enjoy good health? If not, why not? 3. Your relationships - Do you believe that you can have good relationships with your friends? Your family? Your lover? If not, why not? 4. Your Home - Do you believe you can live in your ideal home? If not, why not? 5. Your work - Do you believe that you can have a satisfying, enjoyable and well paid job? If not, why not? 6. Your purpose - Do you believe you have a purpose in life? If so, what is it? Do you believe you can fulfil it? If not, why not? It is important to realise just how much the negative beliefs you hold about yourself and your life can limit not only the amount of energy you have, but also your potential for happiness and personal fulfilment. By becoming aware of any limiting belief you secretly carry inside, you can begin the process of melting it away. Then your inner draining attitudes can become inner strengthening ones instead. HANDLING THE EMOTIONAL DRAINERS Just as it is common to hold negative beliefs, so many of us harbor negative feelings which deplete us of energy. A common one is anger. Anger in itself does not drain energy. It can be the driving force to achieving a goal. When anger is held in, however, it can turn into depression or resentment - both significant drainers. Another common energy drainer is fear or anxiety. Here are three techniques useful for clearing negative emotional drainers. The first - The Forgiveness Letter - is especially good for anger or resentment. The second, Give Away, is good for dealing with fear and anxiety when they arise. The last one, Rewrite Your Past, helps you to reorientate the way you see yourself and your life in order to release any chronic negative feelings you may carry. THE FORGIVENESS LETTER Harbored negative feelings corrupt your perspective on life, and lead you to attract negativity from others. They also make you feel bad about yourself. Getting rid of this energy drainer means recognizing your negative feelings and actively choosing to let go of them. Here's how: Write to any person towards whom you feel particularly resentful or angry (or even to "life" itself). List all the offenses you can think of. Don't hold back from telling the person exactly how you feel. At the bottom of the letter write: "I (your name) hereby forgive you (the person's name) entirely for the above grievances. In so doing I bless you and wish you well, I release my ill feelings and honor my right to be whole, to be free and to trust in myself and my life." When you have finished, read the letter out loud to yourself. Then burn it, letting the flames dissolve any remaining negative feelings. GIVE AWAY Beginning to live from your core can be daunting. As you access deeper parts of your being it is not uncommon to experience feelings of fear or anxiety. Although it can be disconcerting to find yourself in a state of anxiety, once you recognise it you can use this simple technique to disperse your fearfulness. The Give-Away exercise is based on the American Indian tradition of offering gifts to Mother Earth. It can help you release negative emotional energy and gain comfort by reconnecting with the earth. Here's how: Stand or sit cross-legged on the floor. Notice your feelings of fear or anxiety, and try to locate the area in your body where you experience them most strongly. Breathe into this place, and each time you breathe out, imagine your feelings flowing down your body and into the ground beneath you. Make an offering of your fear to Mother Earth. As you do, you will feel calmer and more clear. REWRITE YOUR PAST Feeling unhappy about your past can be a real block to living the fullness of the present and the future. When you feel hard done by because of something that did or didn't happen to you, much of your energy gets tied up in feeling resentful or victimized. Just remember, your past belongs to you. Although the events in your past may be fixed in your memory, how you feel towards those events can change. For instance, let's say that you always had a dream to travel the world, but because you got married and began a family early your dream was sacrificed. Either you can feel sour about never getting to do what you wanted to, or you can look at all the richness the pathway you did take has brought you. Think of something in your past that makes you feel victimized. It may be the way you were treated by a parent or lover, some career advice you were/weren't given, an accident or "misfortune" that befell you. Write about your grievance as fully as possible, remembering the details as well as you can. When you have finished, look at the grievance again. This time ask yourself the questions, "Why did I choose this circumstance? How has it served me? What has it taught me? What strengths or qualities has it helped me develop?" Record your answers in your journal. See if you feel any different about your past (or your present and future) at the end of the exercise.

Pivots For Change

Pivots For Change

Handled positively, crisis frequently portends the unleashing of powerful creative energies. Instead of taking tranquilizers and battening down the hatches when your life seems to be falling apart, it can be useful to begin looking at crisis as a pivot for change - a door to the kind of transformation the caterpillar undergoes. Deeply woven into the silk threads of his cocoon, the creature's body dissolves into white jelly, only to be reformed again in a completely different shape and set free as a butterfly. A growing number of biologists, psychologists and philosophers believe that our attitude to crisis needs reexamining. They insist (as I, in my own struggle for individual freedom, continually discover) that crisis need not be a negative event. Of course old attitudes die hard. Most psychologists and physicians still see things as Freud did. They still believe that the unconscious mind is full of dangerous repressed impulses and material that, if you are to remain balanced and healthy, you need to keep the lid on. Freud's assertions, brilliant though they were, were a product of the nineteenth century mechanistic thinking on which he was raised. Freud completely ignored the spiritual dimension of consciousness, believing that such phenomena as visions of angels and devils were always an indication of pathology. For half a century, other psychiatrists and psychologists - from Carl Jung, who formulated the concept of the Self (the archetypal unchanging center which has both universal and individual characteristics) to Abraham Maslow, who first coined the phrase "peak experience", and Roberto Assigioli, who is responsible for the concept of the higher self, have all insisted that Freud's model of the mind, like the worldview out of which it developed, is too limited. These men have been instrumental in the formation of new paradigms of consciousness which take in the spiritual dimension of human life. They no longer view the human mind as a static entity, the balance of which must be maintained at all costs. They see each of us involved in a constant process of spiritual growth, and a movement towards wholeness. The twists and turns through which we pass in life, they say, are part of this movement, and each crisis - each molting - is an attempt to bring us closer and closer to being able to live from our own center and experience our own wholeness. Metamorphosis should not be viewed as something to be avoided, they say. It is as common and as natural as birth, growth and death - an essential part of human existence. transpersonal perspectives Such a notion has long existed in religious spheres, and is echoed in Biblical phrases such as the process of "becoming what thou art", but was completely new to psychology. This new view of consciousness not only recognizes the conscious mind, of which we are aware in our day to day life, and the unconscious mind, which directs the basic psychological activities and instinctual urges and which encompasses archetypal energies, but also what is often referred to as the super-conscious or transpersonal mind. The transpersonal realm is described as the domain of higher feelings and capacities, including intuition and inspiration. It is called transpersonal because it is more than personal in its nature. It also taps universal consciousness, crossing over barriers of culture to connect us with the universal energies. The acknowledgment of the transpersonal realm by psychologists closely parallels findings in the new physics, which emphasize both the interconnectedness of all life and the all pervasive universal stuff of consciousness. Frequently a woman undergoing a major crisis finds she has tapped into this universal consciousness and is experiencing other dimensions of being or even other times and places. When this happens, it can bring about quantum leaps in personal growth and creativity. It is then that crisis becomes transformational.

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