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mindfulness

126 articles in mindfulness

Progressive Relaxation

Progressive Relaxation

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

Feed On Bliss

Feed On Bliss

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

Go For Freedom

Go For Freedom

Each human being is utterly unique. Like the seed of a plant which has encoded within its genetic material the potential for everything it can become as a full blown flower, each of us comes into this world carrying a package of as yet unrealized potential for energy, health, creativity and joy. I believe our purpose on the earth is very simple - to bring as much of our unique spark of divinity - our seed power - into full blown power. Our seed power comprises our physical, psychological and spiritual potential. It is what creates our uniqueness. The fullest expression of it leads to the fullest experience of authentic freedom. It is rather like the brushstroke a zen painter uses to represent a single leaf on a shaft of bamboo. The leaf he paints is totally singular – like no other leaf that has ever existed. Yet within its uniqueness is encompassed universal beauty and life energy of the highest order. So it is with each of us. Within the individual genetic package which is you is nestled your very own brand of seedpower – an essential soul energy that encompasses far greater physical, creative and spiritual potential than you could ever hope to realise in one life time. The more fully this seedpower is allowed to unfold the richer your experience of authentic power and freedom will be. So focused is the energy of spirit within a tiny seed that it opens and reaches towards the light, regardless of what is in its way. Once I pulled up a weed growing in my garden to discover within its roots a marble that had been crushed out of all recognition by the life-force of the growing plant. The wonderful thing about any little seed is that it doesn’t take much for it to develop into the plant it is designed to be: some good rich organic soil, a little rain and a dose of sunlight. For the power and the intelligence that makes growth possible lies not outside of it but within the seed itself. People – you and me, and the woman you saw when you got on the bus this morning - are just like plants. All we need is a good healthy environment which allows our unfolding to take place. painful distortions The problem is that few of us get it. For as we are unfolding - as we are passing through the superbly orchestrated phases of our physical and spiritual development - more often than not our environment does not provide the rich soil, clean water and sunlight we need for full unfolding. More often than not it truncates our development. Then, like a little plant trying to push through depleted soil with too little water and not enough sunlight our growth becomes stunted or twisted. Or like a seedling trying to push through earth with a stone on top of it we develop ‘distortions’. All sorts of things can cause distortions: accidents, illnesses, emotional or physical abuse. Even being raised in a wonderful family if you happen to be a ‘fish’ and the rest of your family are ‘ducks’. Distortions can be physical in nature - a sunken chest or an excess of fat which our bodies create as a cushion against a harsh world around us. They can also be emotional, leaving us with a sense that there is something wrong with us, that we cannot rely on our judgement, that we are unworthy, or incompetent or guilty even though we may have no idea why or how. And they can be spiritual. When we grow up in an environment which lacks an awareness of the interconnectedness of all life, when we feel ourselves to be isolated and living in a boxed-in world of the five senses, then we can end up with a nihilistic sense of life. We feel we have nowhere to go, nothing to do and no purpose in remaining alive. powerful values That’s the bad news. The good news is that, because of the enormous capacity of a living organism to heal itself, most of these distortions can be cleared through such practices as detoxifying the body, through meditation, through shamanic work that brings you closer and closer to your soul. Of course, some distortions can’t be cleared. I recently did some shamanic healing for a young man who had spent the first six years of his life trying to stay alive while all around him the Khumer Rouge threw people into open graves and shot them. I am not sure if the distortions that come from such an experience are ever cleared. They may be like genetic defects which remain with us throughout our lives. They may not, too. For I have witnessed many so-called miracles and learned that the universe moves in wonderful and mysterious ways. But what’s exciting about distortions that can’t be corrected is that, once we come face to face with them, they often bring us a deep sense of compassion and help us define the values by which we choose to live our lives. The young man I worked with has become highly skilled in working with abused children in war zones. I myself would never have been concerned with issues of health and freedom had I not had to struggle in my early life with chronic illness, depression, and straight jackets. the real McCoy Authentic freedom brings a sense of ease in being who you are - distortions and all. It is feeling OK about yourself and being able to make use of your creative power to bring your unique visions into form. It is feeling good about what you have created too. Tap into freedom and you release energy. You feel like you are connected to life with your whole being. You are no longer trapped within what Alan Watts used to call ‘a skin-encapsulated ego’. Freedom gives you easier access to some of the submerged iceberg of your being where creative power and joy live.

Life Breaks The Rules

Life Breaks The Rules

Let me share with you some exciting stuff—all about energy. This is where life breaks all the rules. Biological science has only just begun to penetrate the mysteries of life energies and the body’s energy fields which enable us to maintain health and to heal illness. Until now, energy has remained the province of mystics, sages and visionary physicists. When it comes to establishing radiant health and maintaining it, energy is where it's at. There is a mysterious lifeforce—expressing itself through a multitude of energetic fields within and around all living things. In its positive expressions, it governs growth, nourishes us, sustains us, and deep-cleanses our bodies. It also regenerates our cells and makes us feel happy just to be alive. This ineffable lifeforce is found in abundance in all living things, from bananas and beetles to hedgehogs and flowers. Different cultures call it by different names. The Indians speak of it as Prana. In Polynesia it is known as Mana. The Chinese call it Qi. These words describe various forms of subtle energy, which, at least until the advent of quantum physics, have remained virtually unknown to Western science. Yet throughout history, all forms of traditional medicine—from Paracelsus to Chinese and Ayurvedic herbalism—have worked with it. It is important to get to become aware of your body’s energy fields and how they can be directed to enhance our experience of health and life. LIGHT IN OUR CELLS More than seventy years ago, the eminent scientist Albert Szent-Györgyi, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on oxidation and for isolating Vitamin C, asked himself a question. He then spent almost every working moment of his life in an attempt to answer it. He is often quoted as having posed the question at a dinner party: “What is the difference between a living rat and a dead one?” According to the laws of classical chemistry and physics, there should be no fundamental difference. Szent-Györgyi’s own reply was simple yet revolutionary—“Some kind of electricity.” Early in the twentieth century, quantum physics established that wave particles in living systems behave as biophotons. A biophoton is a proton in the visible and ultraviolet spectrum that biological systems, like the human body, emit as bioluminescence—electromagnetic waves in the form of light. This bioluminescence regulates and controls enzyme activities, cell reproduction and the creation of vitality. Experiments, such as those reported in the March 1995 issue of Scientific American by Brumer and Shapiro, helped to establish the importance of these energetic particle/wave behaviors in organisms. QUANTUM MAGIC Like light bulbs, all atoms and molecules give out radiant bioenergies, both harmonious—which produce health and healing in the body—and destructive. When they become scrambled, disordered and chaotic they produce illness. Sadly conventional science still tends to ignore or dismiss the way interference wave forms from negative sources—generated by cell phones, smart meters, and other electronic emissions as well as negative thoughts and feelings, internally manufactured toxins or external exposure to environmental pollutants—disrupt the body’s harmonious biophoton energies. They undermine homeostasis on which our health and protection from degenerative illnesses depend. The behavior of these light emissions reveals the functional state of the body— how healthy or unhealthy a body is. For instance, cancer cells and healthy cells of the same type show huge differences in biophotons emitted by them. There is currently a lot of investigation taking place to determine how we can use various kinds of bioenergies constructively to support health and slow degeneration. Some of this is considered “hard science”, from electromagnetic techniques now used to rejuvenate bone and tissues, to electronic devices for diagnosing disease. But a lot of it is shunned by conventional medicine, with its commitment to prescribing drugs. The use of visualization, for instance; focused intention, prayer and other forms of spiritual healing, as well as energy-based martial arts like Aikido, Tai Chi and Thought Field Therapy. Within the next few decades we are going to hear more and more about biophoton therapies. For now, we can still make practical use of the knowledge that has already emerged about how to change our emotional and mental states, and how to heal the body by altering our energy fields through consciousness alone. POWER OF CONSCIOUSNESS Like all biological organisms, we human beings are not only immersed in energy fields. Our bodies, our minds, our cells, our genes—every part of us, in a very real way, is made of pure energy. Our fields are constantly contracting and expanding as our thoughts, diets and lifestyles change. The aim of any form of natural treatment, from dietary change or detoxification to hydrotherapy, exercise and meditation, is to enhance positive bio-energies in an organism and to create greater order in your body, biochemically, psychologically, and spiritually. However, the biochemical view of health and sickness continues to be materialistic. It is based on the assumption that life can be entirely explained by an understanding of the laws of chemistry and physiology. It concerns itself about the way inorganic chemicals, like pharmaceutical drugs, act on a biological system to treat symptoms. Indeed, this is the whole point and purpose of biochemistry and molecular biology—the now-outdated scientific models that are still worshipped by conventional allopathic medicine. The only problem is that the living human body breaks all the rules. To get full benefit from what is now known about life processes, health and healing, we must go beyond the biochemical model. How? First, by asking a few provocative questions, like “What is the nature of this life force energy?” And, “How can we enhance and preserve it?” Second, we need to learn more about energetic models at the leading edge. These include models built on cutting-edge physics, biophoton data and information theory as applied to biology. These advanced paradigms encompass whole new realities. They also offer powerful tools and techniques for expanding consciousness and directing our intentions to bring effective healing and personal transformation. I love this quote by Richard Tarnas. It expresses so beautifully the conundrum that mainstream science has found itself in for scores of years, yet which it works hard to deny. “By the end of the third decade of the twentieth century, virtually every major postulate of the earlier scientific conception had been controverted: the atom as solid, indestructible, and separate building block of nature, space and time as independent absolutes, the strict mechanistic causality of all phenomena, the possibility of the objective observation of nature. Such fundamental transformation in the scientific world picture was staggering, and for no one was this more true than the physicists themselves.” ORDER FROM CHAOS In physics, the first and second laws of thermodynamics continue to rule supreme. Both laws focus on the nature of energy in the universe. They attempt to understand events in the universe by studying the kind of energy changes that accompany them. The second law of thermodynamics is particularly important in relation to health and healing. It is called the law of entropy. It states that, left to their own devices, all things in the universe become disordered: Iron rusts, buildings crumble, dead flowers decay, humans lose homeostasis, degenerate and die. In the language of physics, this is described by saying that everything tends toward maximum entropy. Entropy describes a state of maximum disorder—chaos if you prefer—in which all useful energy has been decreased. What is so remarkable about us human beings—and what has been a great puzzle to many of the world's finest minds—is this: Despite the second law of thermodynamics, we, like other living organisms, are able to remain highly ordered. In fact, so long as we are alive, our bodies are maintained in a condition of fantastic “improbability,” despite the endless destructive processes continually going on in and around us. More than that, there is every indication that a healthy body—a healthy mind as well—is continually involved in creating yet more order. This we do both individually—thanks to the repair functions of our cells and enzymic systems—and also viewed as a species, since from an evolutionary point of view, over time, all living species differentiate into ever more complex and highly structured organisms. NEGENTROPIC WONDERS Unlike the rocks and nails in the inorganic world, living organisms are both capable of becoming and of remaining superbly ordered thanks to their capacity for continuously recreating homeostasis and wholeness through energy. This is how we maintain our bodies at a high degree of health. Of course, our “ordering ability” makes no sense to dyed-in-the-wool scientists and doctors, who still worship paradigms of Newtonian physics with the passion of a religious dogma. According to mainstream science there should be little difference in the chemical and physical processes taking place in a living body and those in a corpse—since both, according to the second law of thermodynamics, follow the same scientific law which produces chaos, loss of lifeforce, degeneration and death. Yet there is every difference in the world. A living organism is able to maintain the system in quite exceptional harmony, despite the fact that events leading to maximum entropy in the universe as a whole should be destroying it. In the words of Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi: “Life is a paradox... the most basic rule of inanimate nature is that it tends toward equilibrium which is at the maximum of entropy and the minimum of free energy. The main characteristic of life is that it tends to decrease its entropy. It also tends to increase its free energy. Maximum entropy means complete randomness, disorder. Life is made possible by order, structure, a pattern which is the opposite of entropy. This pattern is our chief possession, it was developed over billions of years. The main aim of our existence is its conservation and transmission. Life is a revolt against the statistical rules of physics.” SUCK ORDER Physicist and Nobel laureate Erwin Schrodinger also took a close look at the scientific contradictions implicit in the living state. He concluded that, so long as the human body is alive, it avoids decaying into an inert state of equilibrium—death—through the processes of metabolism. In other words by eating, drinking and assimilating “information”—in effect by sucking order from the environment. As far back as 1944 Schrodinger wrote: “Every process, event, happening—call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. Thus a living organism continually increases its entropy—or as you may say, produces positive entropy—and thus tends to approach the dangerous state of maximum entropy, which is death. It can only keep aloof from it, i.e. alive, by continually drawing from its environment negative entropy... What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy... which is in itself a measure of order. Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment.” Energetically, a human being is an open system. This means we continually exchange energetic information with our environment—through the foods we eat, digest, assimilate and excrete, as well as the company we keep, the radiation and electromagnetic fields we are exposed to, the way we exercise—even the thoughts we think. As such, we are constantly processing the energetic data—information which comes into us and continues to flow in and out of our own biophoton energy fields. We need a constant supply of the right kind of information from the outside world to keep our bodies functioning optimally, and we need to be able to dissipate any disorder and chaos—entropy—that has built up within our bodies and our lives. Although most biochemists and all physicists know about Schrodinger's concept of living organisms feeding on negative entropy, and though it is covered in standard textbooks on biophysics and biochemistry, it is still largely ignored by mainstream scientists. THE OSTRICH SYNDROME Life processes which cannot be explained within conventional belief systems have a long history of being ignored, misinterpreted and even viciously attacked. It’s easier to bury one’s head in the sand. Yet the energetics of how life breaks all the rules are central to an understanding of the body’s marvelous ability to heal itself. For when control processes go awry, disorder takes over the organism and degeneration ensues. Our natural capacity to recreate order in our bodies makes mincemeat of the outdated second law of thermodynamics applied to living systems. It makes most conventional scientists squirm. Why? Because within the paradigms of Newtonian physics it is nonsense. Where should we all be looking to find life-changing answers? Towards the body’s energy fields, and what we can do to enhance the order and vitality of positive energy fields in our own bodies. It is easier than you think once you learn how. More about all this very soon…

Bliss Brings Freedom

Bliss Brings Freedom

I’d like to share with you a life-changing story. Here’s how it begins: “Follow your bliss,” the gypsy said. “Connect with your inner light. Hear the sounds of birds. Taste the ocean’s spray. Listen to the whispers of your soul. Bliss is your key to freedom. Have you forgotten?” The gypsy’s words echoed in my heart. Like most women, I had never followed my bliss. I’d tried my best to do the “right thing”. I’d listened to the voices of others and valued their opinions above my own. And I am not alone in this. Too often, we women have gone on and off diets, lost weight, gained weight, made money, spent money, found lovers, lost lovers, done assertiveness workshops and quit doing them. Every so often, we figure we’ve found an answer to something. Then it melts away from us like a forgotten dream. The gypsy woman on the road was old and wrinkled. Yet her eyes shone with a light so bright you could hardly bear to look at them. What the hell, the woman thought, let’s find out what this old lady has to say. What have we got to lose? That was the day this woman let bliss into her life. That was the beginning of a journey that transformed her body and illuminated her life. You know, most of us waste a lot of time and energy doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing. This takes us far away from connecting with our souls and experiencing bliss. I believe it’s time for each one of us to discover what we love and then follow it. When Carl Jung was searching for meaning in his own life, he asked himself a simple question. “What did I most love doing as a child?” He remembered he adored making little streets and houses out of stones and blocks. So he bought some land at the side of the lake in Zurich, and began to build a house with a tower. There was no rational sense behind his decision. After all, he already owned a fine house. But what he created for himself, by choosing to do this, was a unique, sacred space in which he could both come in touch with the core of his being, and begin to live out his deepest longings. By honoring the whispers of his soul in this way, Jung not only expanded his capacity for bliss. He set the stage for the finest writings he would ever produce during his lifetime, and he embarked on a road to fulfillment he had never imagined to be possible. Long before you were born, you were wired for bliss. You still are. Its oceanic quality brings an experience of oneness and harmony both with the essence of who you are as well as with the world around you. You probably first experienced it when you were floating in the womb: Relaxation, aliveness, security and the sense that your life has purpose and all is right with the world. If you want to live in the fullness of your being and connect with your creativity, vitality, radiance and beauty, now’s the time to invite more bliss into your life. Our capacity for bliss, as well as our need to experience it, is inscribed on the primitive brain—almost as deeply as our need for air, water and food. Bliss happens to be the medium through which mind, spirit and emotions weave a tapestry of meaning. Bliss renews. Bliss cleanses. It makes us feel whole, solid, stable and alive. When we encounter something new, bliss tells us “This is something I want to try.” Then it brings us the courage to go for it. In ancient India, they had a name for it—Satchitananda. This composite Sanskrit word is made up of three roots: Sat means being or existence. Chit translates as awareness or consciousness. Ananda means bliss. Together they describe a radiant, boundless state of being that carries a sense of infinite awareness and joy. Satchitananda brings the capacity to create worlds and forms out of itself. There was a time when such experience was reserved for saints and shamans. No longer. Sometimes we steel ourselves against bliss out of guilt or misguided self-denial. Then we become as mechanical as a sharp-nosed spinster—nitpicking and critical of everything and everyone, most of all of ourselves. Is bliss the be-all and end-all of life? Nope. Is it an essential ingredient in realizing your potentials on every level? You bet. So important is bliss to discovering who you really are, and bringing your most cherished goals into form, that when we deny our need for it, or forget how to experience it, we’re forced to look for artificial substitutes. Addictions arise: to food, drugs, alcohol, sex—even ambition. But these addictions disempower us, taking us further and further from the authentic freedom and satisfaction that is our birthright. All life is lived through your senses. The more awake they are, the more you’ll get out of the multidimensional pleasures of every moment: the aroma of freshly made coffee, the touch of silk against your skin, soulful fingers on guitar strings, waves of orgasm that swell your body and silence your mind. I believe it’s time, just like the gypsy said, to leave behind guilt and self-criticism and begin to live from moment to moment just as you are. The secret to using bliss to enrich your life lies in becoming fully aware of everything you feel, touch, taste, smell, hear and see. Play a little game with me, right here, right now. Ask yourself these questions: What is the moving power behind my life today? What matters most to me? What did I love most when I was a child? How can I begin to live what I love most right now? Explore these questions in an ongoing way. When you go for a walk, lie in a warm bath, or wake up in the night—let yourself feel bliss wherever you are. It’s the perfect antidote to the meaninglessness we feel when we have been following the wrong directives. It’s time to uncover your bliss and discover the marvelous inner freedom that comes with it.

What Myth Guides Your Life

What Myth Guides Your Life

What does it mean to live a life from your own mythology? Why does it matter? With such questions, I invite you to the experience of one quantum leap after another to expand your strength, creativity and joy. Each one of us comes into this world with a unique mythology. The more conscious you become of the myth or myths by which, long ago, you chose to live your life, the sooner you will realize who you really are, what gifts you bring, what values you cherish and how you can best turn dreams into realities as you walk this earth in a human body. The road to discovering the mythology by which you live may well be the most exciting and empowering experience you’ll ever have. WHAT IS A MYTH? First let’s be clear about what myth and mythology are NOT. In the English language, few words have been more grossly perverted than these two. In daily parlance they are wrongly taken to mean something that is untrue. In fact, mythologies and myths are stories of a very powerful kind which reveal profound truths. They put our conscious mind in touch with feeling states that lie deep within us. Like fine poetry, a mythological story can never be accessed or understood by the linear, analytical thinking that epitomizes the postmodern mechanical thinking. The worldview we have inherited contends that we we live in an arbitrary, meaningless universe devoid of spirit. I suspect this is the main reason the meaning of myth has become so corrupted. PORTAL TO NEW REALITIES In truth, a myth is a metaphor. The word comes from French métaphore, via Latin from Greek metaphora, from metapherein which means “to transfer.” A metaphor transfers meaning by pointing to an experience which, by its very nature, transcends all human categories of intellectual thought. Any metaphor acts as a portal to the awareness of an archetypal realm of experience. It is transparent to states of expanded consciousness and can be “known” only through your body and your intuitive senses. In its simplest form, a myth is a special tale that can be told ten thousand times in a thousand ways without losing its power. It is a tale which will be received differently by everyone who hears it. Yet it always carries an archetypal hook, able to grab our imagination by the throat and awaken the knowingness deep within each of us. SECRET OPENINGS Joseph Campbell, one of my personal heroes, puts it another way: "Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour. The wonder is that the characteristic efficacy to touch and inspire deep creative centers dwells in the smallest nursery fairy tale—as the flavor of the ocean is contained in a droplet, or the whole mystery of life within the egg of a flea,” he says. “For the symbols of mythology are not manufactured. They cannot be ordered, invented, or permanently suppressed. Myths are spontaneous productions of the psyche, and each bears within it undamaged the germ power of its source." Myths live forever in our hopes, dreams and relationships. Mythological images are the means by which conscious awareness is put in touch with creative energies that drive our lives from the deepest levels of our being. When we are out of touch with them in our lives, or if we choose to deny them or pay no attention to them, we become separated from the core of our being and can find ourself in a state of confusion or despair. By contrast, a mythology that we become aware of, which fires us, is one by which we can be guided to live our lives with purpose and fulfillment. So how do we discover what mythological impulses and values inhabit the deepest regions of our psyche? Childhood usually holds the key. Now is the time for you to ask the question, “By what myth have I been living my life?” CHILDHOOD HOLDS A KEY There was a moment in Carl Jung’s life when he realized what it was to live with a mythology, and what it was to live without one. When he asked himself by what mythology he was living, he found he didn’t know. Despite his much-celebrated successes, Jung had come to feel that his work until then had all been based on an intellectual understanding of the mind. As many of us do, he realized that he climbed to the top of a ladder only to discover it had been placed against the wrong wall. In his late thirties at the time, Jung asked himself a question: “What was it that fascinated me, what was it that I most loved doing as a boy whenever they left me alone and let me play?” He remembered that what he had loved most was making buildings and cities out of small stones. He decided that, having now grown up, what he would do was play with big stones. He bought a piece of land on the lake across from Zurich. Then he planned and constructed a house. As he worked with his hands, he allowed his thoughts free run in the imaginal realms. Soon he was dreaming rich dreams. He recorded them using words and images in a journal while mythic riches from deep within his soul continued to break through into conscious awareness. FASCINATION AND BLISS Before long, he understood that the dreams he had been recording resonated with great mythic themes that he had been studying while working on his book, Symbols of Transformation. He began to paint mandalas which he found acted as gateways to greater self-discovery. The connections forged by entering the mythic level of your being invariably bring us a sense of zeal, fascination and bliss. It connects us ever more deeply with our own creativity. Sooner or later it also prompts us to share our creative gifts with the world. If we are willing to look back in silence, without judgment, to our own childhood, we often discover a myth which we either are living or are meant to be living, even though we have long remained unaware of it. Often we discover that, at a young age, we sensed what we intended to do with our life in years to come. DISCOVERING MY OWN TRUTHS I remember that at the age of five I had an argument with my maternal grandmother about marriage and children. She was trying to explain to me that, when you get older, you need to find someone to love. Then you got married in a white dress, and you ate a beautiful white cake. This meant, she said, that later you would be able to have children. I was an archetypal tomboy, hated dolls, loved climbing trees and playing football. Yet even at that age I knew that I wanted children when I grew up. Her description of the white dress and the wedding cake sounded dreadful to me. “Ugh,” I said, “I hate cake. I don’t ever want to be married.” Surprised at the vehemence of my reply, she patiently explained to me that the wedding was a necessary prelude to having children. I knew there and then that she was lying. Our Siamese cat, Babette, had given birth to lots of children and she had never been married. So ended the discussion. One day, years later, having brought four children by four different men into the world and raised them all on my own, I would remember that conversation. It surprised me. How, I asked myself, could I possibly have known that I would live out the clear intention held by the five-year-old me which, in the interim, had lain sleeping in the dark, somewhere deep within my psyche? FORGOTTEN TRUTHS Like Jung, when we are children we often have a strong sense about who we will become and what we are going to do when we grow up, based on a myth or passion that fires our soul. Usually this “knowing” gets submerged beneath what “they” tell us we are supposed to do or be. Schools, advertisers, religion, well-meaning (or sometimes not so well-meaning) adults “educate” us. They tell us it is better to drive around in a shiny car than to live the life of a hobo. Personally, even as a kid, I was quite sure that given a choice between such options, I would prefer to be a hobo. As for having children and raising them on my own, this had definitely been on my agenda. Even though we may travel down many roads that lead to dead ends in our life, when we look back to childhood we often find that a particular myth or myths hidden deep within a part of us have been directing our life all along. They may even have been the power which, each time we’ve gone down a meaningless road, has drawn us back to our center asking us to reconnect with what we most love, and providing the power to create the life we want to live. YOUR UNIQUE MYTHOLOGY Discovering by what myth or myths you are living your own life leads down two parallel roads which eventually join. They take you deeper and deeper into what is the most important process of all: Forging connections with the core of your being and calling forth your own unique, creative power so that it is expressed in every area of your life both for your highest good and for the highest good of all. Coming to experience the power of mythology as a living archetype and diving in to the wondrous mythic realms fuels the creative process within you. It helps you discover, as Jung did, the mythology by which you have been living your own life. Once you begin to see this, you can ask the question, “Does this bring me delight, energy, freedom and belief in my own creative gifts? Does this story help me live out my deepest desires and purpose, or not?” IN CHALLENGING TIMES Ask yourself this: If I were faced with a situation of total disaster, if everything I held most dear to my heart and all of my loved ones disappeared, if the life I’ve been living were devastated, what would I live for? What could sustain me? How would I come to know that, despite all the challenges, I could go on living instead of throwing in the towel and letting myself fall into an abyss of impassability and fear? Now is the time to begin exploring the realms of mythology and find out. A revelatory way of looking back at your life, if you have kept a journal or a diary, is to read through some of the entries you have made into it in past years. You are likely to find that some of what you believe you have only recently come to understand. You are also likely to discover that what was important to you long ago still is. RECORD YOUR DREAMS Such revelations can help you identify some of the driving themes of your own life—the destiny that you, most likely, unwittingly chose for your life although you did not know it. So, keep a journal. Carry it with you wherever you go. Record in it your dreams, your longings, your conscious choices and the choices that life seems to make for you without any conscious choice on your part. Continue to ask yourself, “Does the myth by which I appear to be living fire me with a sense of wonder and excitement?” If so, great... just keep on going. If not, how do I begin to uncover the mythology deep within me that will? I would love to hear from you about your own experiences in answer to the question: “What mythology guides your life?”

Transfigure Your Life - Part 1

Transfigure Your Life - Part 1

Amidst all the shifting magnetic fields, galactic energies and social and economic upheaval, a life-transforming opportunity is being offered to each man and woman on the planet. I call it transfiguration. Transfiguration describes the enigmatic process by which the light of your individual spirit—which is unique to each one of us, yet at the same time universal and divine—enters into our cells, DNA, and energy fields. When the light of spirit fuses with the density of the body, a flowering of our innate being can happen with unprecedented grace—provided, of course, that we welcome the process and work with it. Transfiguration can clear away false beliefs that once held us back, enhance our health, expand our creativity and fuel our capacity to live each moment of our life in joy from the core of our being, no matter what kind of devastation may be taking place within us or around us. Throughout history, such an experience appears to have been limited to a few spiritually awakened men and women. Now, for the first time in human history, it is being offered to each one of us. THE HERO’S JOURNEY It’s up to each of us whether or not we want to take up the offer. What is being asked of us if we do? Each of us is being asked to make the journey of a lifetime—our unique Hero’s Journey. The word hero comes from a Greek root which means ‘to protect and to serve’. Like ‘poet’ or ‘teacher’, it is a word which refers equally to a man or woman. A hero is someone willing to move through and beyond narrow thinking and familiar landscapes to discover larger realms of meaning. A hero is someone willing to sacrifice or transmute his or her own fears and hesitation, anger and sorrows into creative power. From a psychological point of view, the hero archetype corresponds to what Freud called the ego—that part of each one of us which, in separating from the infantile bond to the mother, establishes our ability to function as a unique member of the human race. The hero archetype also represents a human being’s search for its true identity—the Self—and for wholeness. I’m going to examine this process primarily from a woman’s point of view, but it is equally applicable to a man’s. CALL TO ADVENTURE Each person’s hero's journey is unique. Yet every hero's journey as told throughout history and in mythological stories follows the same archetypal pattern. The story begins in the ordinary world: In the “Wizard of Oz”, in “Romancing the Stone”, and in the story of the Frog Princess, where we meet the princess doing what she always does—sitting in her favorite place playing with her golden ball. Then comes the call to adventure. Something happens to turn one’s ordinary world on its head. The hero is faced with a problem, a challenge or a difficulty to overcome. For instance, a man or woman may get sick, have a love affair, or lose a job. Other times the call can come by what would appear to be sheer chance—a blunder—for example, the way the princess' golden ball falls into the well and gets lost. Except, of course, there are no chances in the psychic realm, where the interconnectedness of all things is recognized. There are many other ways in which the adventure can begin. Frequently, the call comes in the form of a challenge. It can be physical—suddenly you wake in the middle of the night with hot sweats. It can be psychological—you find one morning that your life no longer means anything to you. You wonder where you have got to, and where you are going. Something is definitely not right. In whatever form the call to adventure arrives, it heralds the beginning of your hero’s journey. It puts you on notice that destiny has summoned you, and that your spiritual center of gravity has suddenly shifted out of the familiar world of society towards realms unknown. From now on, things are never going to be the same. REFUSING THE CALL Invariably following closely in the wake of any call to adventure, fear raises its familiar head. We want to run back into our past and hide. We want to pretend we never heard the summons in the first place. The princess wants her ball and the frog fetches it, but she is not willing to honor the bargain she has had to make with him to get him to do this for her. After all, she finds him repulsive and wants only to get away. She has now become the reluctant hero. The greatest fear that any of us ever have is fear of the unknown. And what lies ahead is completely unknown. So we try to pretend that everything is all right; we try to hold things together. Maybe we work even harder, and start to lean heavily on our emotional crutches and addictions. At the beginning of any hero's journey, the world sings sweet seductive songs and sends up countless distractions to bewitch us so we go no further. In detective novels, the private eye tries to refuse the case being offered him, only to accept it later although he would rather not. Somehow he gets a little push over the edge and the tale begins to unfold. The frog follows the princess, refusing to take no for an answer. In “Star Wars”, Luke Skywalker turns away from Obi Wan Kenobi's call to adventure to run home to his aunt and uncle—only to find that the farm has been destroyed by the Emperor's storm troopers. His hesitation is then overcome by the evil that has been perpetrated on his ordinary world. And so he begins his personal quest. Gritting our teeth and battening down the hatches is a common way of refusing to heed the call. So is being a servant to social niceties. Women, the world has taught us, are supposed to be machines for serving others. They are never supposed to interfere with anything, or need anything. Women who have forced themselves to live by such rules experience the rich relationships they long for because they cannot share their soul. This in turn creates a wasteland and loneliness—the loneliness of a soul “out to lunch” or one which has been banished to the dungeon lest it challenge the rules. HELP ARRIVES When the call comes, you are being asked to enter into the loneliness you feel and to walk forth into the wasteland with your eyes wide open. If the loneliness and the wasteland we experience cannot be brought into the ordinary world and shared with others, then probably we are spending time with the wrong people. We also may need to do something on our own. At this point in the journey a mentor usually arrives to help us out. The mentor can be a Merlin-type character, a book, or perhaps an older man or woman who knows more than we do and who can help us find out what we don't yet know. The mentor's purpose is to help make us ready to face the unknown. He or she represents the tie between mother and child, Goddess and woman, healer and the healed. The helpful crone and the fairy godmother are common mentor figures in European folklore. They provide the hero with the talisman she will need against the unknown forces she will have to meet. Glenda the good witch in Wizard of Oz gives Dorothy her wisdom and a pair of ruby slippers for her journey. Then she sends her on her way. Now the adventure has begun in earnest and the presence of a mentor helps push the hero forward. INTO THE UNKNOWN Armed with the powers of destiny bestowed by the mentor, our hero approaches her first passage. Here she meets the guardians of the threshold, whose purpose is to prevent the faint-hearted from entering the magical realms that lie beyond. Before she leaves New York, in “Romancing the Stone”, Joan Wilder has to face her publisher who scathingly warns her not to go to Colombia to rescue her sister because she is not strong enough to handle the challenge. Like a nasty old witch, she even pronounces a curse that something disastrous will happen if she goes. As women approach menopause, our lives are suddenly full of guardians of the threshold. Often they are well-meaning people who prey upon our worst fears—fears of inadequacy, of failure, of hopelessness, of illness and of death. Whatever the fears are, they need to be faced before we can go on. Face them head on and you pass through the gate. Now, at last, you are committed to finding out who you are and what your life is about. Crossing the threshold is the first step we take into the sacred realm of the Dark Goddess' world—gateway to the universal source. As Joseph Campbell says in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, "The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades." EXCITING MOVEMENT Now comes the good stuff. Your hero's journey gets into full swing. Now it is time for you to deal with the tests, allies and enemies you’ll meet along the road. Obstacles to change are always in our way—insufficient money, physical problems, fears that we have no possibility of ever fulfilling our dreams. New challenges arrive, new things need to be learned. Yet each obstacle overcome, each puzzle solved, each difficulty embraced brings us more power for what lies ahead. We meet new people, new ideas or make new relationships with nature, with animals and with the unseen world. In Star Wars, Obi Wan develops Luke's skill in using The Force by insisting that he fight blindfolded. Before long, Luke faces other minor battles which serve to hone his abilities further and help prepare him for the supreme ordeal that is to come. Joan Wilder—the timid little lady from New York—is forced to face gunfire, sinister men in black gloves, the loss of her belongings and threats to her life. Along the way she picks up an ally—Jack—who will be her companion for most of the remainder of her journey. Dorothy picks up her mentor friends—the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow—while passing her tests: She oils the tin man's joints. She coaxes the lion to face his fear. She unhooks the scarecrow, who has been unable to move. With each challenge you meet, you develop strength and collect more support from companions both in the seen and the unseen world. They will turn out to be very useful to your purpose as you approach the innermost cave. This is where the power of transformation works its wonders. And what wonders they are! Click here to read part 2 of 'Transfigure Your Life'

Energy And Consciousness Break The Rules

Energy And Consciousness Break The Rules

Complex life processes remain unexplainable within the confines of conventional science. As a result, they have a long history of being ignored, misinterpreted–even viciously attacked by the self-promoting “Richard Dawkinses” of the world. After all, it’s easier for the so-called experts to bury their heads in the sand and ignore vital cutting-edge research than to challenge themselves to learn something new. You see, the energetics of the ways in which life breaks the rules are central to an understanding of the body’s marvelous ability to heal itself and slow down degenerative changes. The body’s natural capacity to recreate order makes mincemeat of the outdated second law of thermodynamics as applied to living systems. No wonder this truth makes so many conventional scientists squirm. Here’s why: Within the paradigms of Newtonian physics, this second law has been shown not to apply to a living body. (Click here to read more about this law) For genuinely life-changing guidance on health and healing, we need to learn about the body’s energy fields, and to find out what we can do to enhance the order and vitality within and around our own bodies. This is easier than you think once you learn how. CUTTING EDGE TRUTHS In the 1960s, a Polish priest and biophysicist, Wlodzimierz Sedlac, brilliantly described biological structures in energetic ways. So powerful were Sedlac’s findings that they helped trigger an energy revolution which one day will topple the limited chemical and mechanical paradigms that are still used to define human health. Father of Polish bioelectronics and of the electromagnetic theory of life, Sedlac described our cells as diode resonators. He showed that mitochondria within our cells act as intracellular interferometers and inductance emission coils. As for our cell membranes, these behave like photon resonators communicating through light emissions. Then, in 1974, brilliant German biophysicist Fritz-Albert Popp found out that, when stimulated by a laser emission from the mitochondria, our DNA emits ultraviolet light. In fact, the body’s main communication system appears to be a complex network of light, resonance and frequency. Our cells give off light energy—biophotons. These emanations are strongest when cells are either dividing or dying in order for new cells to be born. It’s the coherence between biophoton emissions and electromagnetic communication that gives cells their ability to vibrate at frequencies that support health. Because our cells behave much like radio transmitters, this makes it possible for them to communicate within the superconductive semi-solid plasma of the body's liquid crystal matrix—the mesenchyme. LET THERE BE LIGHT For more than 150 years, European doctors and scientists trained in natural medicine have insisted that the mesenchyme is the seedbed of health and youth. They tell us to look after the state of the mesenchyme—the body's biological terrain—and, thanks to the constant exchange of coherent light and energy that takes place, our health looks after itself. Increasingly, researchers in mathematics, biophysics and wave mechanics have begun to describe the nature of all biological systems as kinetic, electrical, magnetic, light responsive entities—all of which fit into the cohesive field theory at the cutting-edge of advanced biophysics. Many of the reasons for health problems, which from the point of view of mainstream medicine continue to be diagnosed as “chemical” in nature and treated symptomatically with pharmaceuticals, have far more to do with energetic imbalances and the loss of biological coherence. They develop from poor lifestyle choices we inadvertently make. The wrong foods, excess stress, alcohol and drug taking for instance trigger incoherent biophoton energy exchanges in cells and DNA undermining the health of the whole body. NEW APPROACHES TO ANTI-AGING These new energetic paradigms have important implications when it comes to controlling the rate at which our bodies age. They make it clear that slowing down the aging process requires more than swallowing mega-doses of vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals to support our antioxidant and immune systems. It is necessary to approach the whole question of food not only from the point of view of energy (calories) and materials (specific proteins, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, etc) but energetically. And they are stimulating researchers to explore how nutrition for age-retardation is dependent on the complexity of the way all of this energy and material is woven together by nature itself. For going on 50 years, I have recommended eating a diet which consists of 50-75% fresh, live, raw foods. Why? Because naturally grown, fresh raw vegetables and fruits are themselves rich in light energy. The more light a food holds—the higher its biophoton capacity—the greater its ability to communicate health-enhancing light energy to the human body. ENERGETIC TRANSFERS FOR HEALTH The right kind of food is not the only carrier of energetic information needed to support health and slow aging. We are also dramatically influences by the quality of electromagnetic stimulation to the nervous system: environmental conditions, the water we can drink, and the air we can breathe. All of these things are forms of energy transfer. Even body movement is energetic. They act as powerful stimuli to an organism. In terms of aging, their effects will be either good or bad, depending upon the quality of the energy they transmit to us. We need to make use of everything possible to ensure they are beneficial to us. This is something which the long tradition of healing through natural medicine has been urging us to do for generations. Applying good quality energetic stimuli enhances bodily responses and increases vitality—from water therapy to infra-red saunas, and magnesium chloride baths to simple, regular exercise. The quality of light and energetic information that reaches us from our environment is vital to our wellbeing. If it is not the right kind of information—if the air you breathe is not rich in negative ion particles, for instance—this can seriously undermine our sense of harmonious well-being. If your environment is full of industrial pollutants, cell phone towers, negative electromagnetic frequencies from microwave ovens, computers, and smart meters, then your health, mental and emotional wellbeing can become seriously depleted. Such destructive energetic frequencies are inimical to human life. And, never before in history have human beings been subjected to such an overwhelming array of them. Now, more than ever before do we need to take whatever action we can to protect ourselves from the damaging effects of this kind of energetic information which our bodies are being forced to handle. The energetic order necessary to sustain health and support our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in our world of increasing chaos is not easy to come by. ENERGIES OF CONSCIOUSNESS Mechanistic science and mainstream medicine also continue to ignore the energetic and light-transmitting power that our consciousness exerts on health. Although consciousness is not something you can hold in your hand or draw a picture of, it exerts enormous influence both in preventing and treating illness, slowing aging. It is even capable of altering material reality. This is far from an empty statement. Hundreds of researchers throughout the world have carried out skillfully designed multidisciplinary, multicultural research as part of what is often called The Human Consciousness Project. Their intention has been to map the spectrum of human awareness, including those areas of consciousness that are generally categorized as either the unconscious or states of expanded consciousness. The efforts of scientists and doctors involved in consciousness research have begun to converge and produce a surprisingly coherent picture which indicates that expanded states of awareness—often referred to as transpersonal states—can not only enhance health and heal serious illness. They foster creativity and deepen our connection with multi-dimensional spiritual revelation. In transpersonal states, we have the potential to experience ourselves as part of the divine creative principle itself. Amazing as it sounds, each one of us is not only a small part of the vast Universe. In a very real sense, we are the the Universe. Within us resides the entire field of creation. YOU CAN BREAK THE MOULD Yet despite all this, most people continue to follow the values of our society. We go on absorbing what we’re fed through the media, outdated science and education—even though such information may be inaccurate and limited. We go on buying what we are told to buy, and eating what we are told to eat. Meanwhile, from somewhere deep inside, we sense that we are being limited by all this. We perceive ourselves as largely devoid of being able to be guided by personal choice. When things get really bad, some of us even come to feel that we have been living in a wasteland—a mechanical world devoid of meaning. And so we come to experience ourselves as separated from our own authentic power. The longing for freedom—our birthright which allows each of us simply to be what are—requires that we eat healthy foods and make use of the beneficial energetic fields, while protecting ourselves as much as possible from destructive energies on every level. It beckons us to reconnect with our deeper instinct. Instinct is the voice of awareness and expanded conscious, asking that we come home to ourselves. This we can do without drugs, without gurus, without becoming a disciple, or having to belong to any privileged group. We can do it regardless of our age, physical condition or religious beliefs. Freedom gradually becomes part of our day-to-day experience when we decide to: Become an explorer of the multi-dimensional universe in which we live. Come to recognize, honor and respect the beauty of your individual soul and to allow its authentic expression in your day-to-day life. Let your worldview gradually expand until it gets large enough to encompass the whole of reality. Decide to let go of the restrictions imposed on us all from childhood, religion, education, mainstream media and the powers-that-be. Develop a deep and abiding friendship with the inhabitants of the multi-dimensional universe in which we make our homes—from the moles and the stars, the grass and the trees, the rocks and the quasars, to the helpful light and electrical energetics that guide, bless and inform us, the muses who inspire us, angels who shine for us—even the maggots who eat away decaying matter so that new life may come forth from old. Begin to build powerful bridges between your rich inner world of consciousness and your day to day existence. Commit yourselves to bringing your own unique creations into being, for yourself and for the benefit of all life. Who you are is unique. There is no one else like you in the world. Live your truth and share your visions and gifts with all of life.

Zazen: Power in Simplicity

Zazen: Power in Simplicity

Zazen has been practiced for 2,500 years. It traveled from India, China and Japan to arrive in the West around the middle of the last century. The practice of zazen is neither a means of introspection nor of contemplation. It is a means by which we come to experience the unity with our selves and the Universe. As a technique, it is easy to learn and simple to practice. As with most valuable techniques, what matters is not trying to understand it, for there is nothing in it to be understood. What matters is doing it. As you do it day by day, it transforms your health and your life. A powerful technique for re-establishing life-giving balance at every level, zazen is a simple, yet almost infinitely transformative practice. Zazen deepens our connection with the innate self simply by becoming aware of our breathing. Practice it daily, and it can relieve fear, release anxieties and clear away internal monologues where the mind chases its tail like an obsessive dog, getting nowhere. Zazen also strengthens vitality, and teaches us the art of being present in the eternal NOW. STILL WATERS RUN DEEP In essence, the human mind is meant to be like the still water of a lake at dawn. But, when the rains fall or the winds blow, its natural glass-like surface, which is meant to reflect the sun and the moon, gets disturbed with eddies and waves, distorting our perception of our bodies, ourselves and the world around us. As we practice zazen, our mind returns to its mirror-like state. Then it can reflect the world around us without becoming obstructed or distorted by anything in it. Gradually we learn that we do not have to hold on to anything to be able to create the life for which we long. We become free. This experience of freedom becomes contagious—a blessing not only for ourselves but for others. Marianne Williamson said it well: ‘As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’ The word ‘spirit’ means breath—that is, life force. In Japanese they call it ki, in Chinese chi. In English we refer to it as energy or power. It is the electrical energy that fuels the living matrix of your body. Practice zazen and you learn how closely the way your breath is connected with the kind of thoughts you have and the emotions you feel. Working with the breath, you inadvertently work with body and mind. For these three are different aspects of a single reality. EXPAND CONSCIOUSNESS As we develop awareness of the breath, as it enters and leaves our body, and of all the sensations this brings, we come to touch the ‘still point’ and gradually develop a natural ability to focus the mind. We start by sitting in a comfortable but straight posture and counting the breath: inhale . . . ‘one’, exhale . . . ‘two’, and so on, up to ten. Then we begin again back at ‘one’. The point of the counting has nothing to do with trying to get to ten—it is just a simple tool for focusing attention. If you lose count and your mind begins to wander, notice this, bless your thoughts, whatever they are, then let them go by gently returning your concentration to the breath and starting again at ‘one’. Each time you choose consciously to let a thought go and bring yourself back to your breathing, you increase your ability to place your mind where you want it to be. It’s an incredibly powerful experience. After a while, you begin to break free of the limiting thoughts, worries and obsessions that rule most people’s lives. Connection with your innate being grows stronger, as does your capacity to experience bliss, pleasure and the sense that you have the right to be who you are without having to conform to other people’s imperatives. Your spiritual power grows, as do your intuitive skills. Creativity, which is closely allied to intuition, blossoms. We lose the sense of isolation which so many have, where we feel alone and alienated from the Universe. Want to try it? Let’s get started. POSITION YOUR BODY The way you hold your body—your posture—helps create your state of consciousness. There are many choices. You can sit tailor-fashion on the floor, using a small firm pillow, or zafu, which raises your bottom slightly off the floor. Sit on the front third of your zafu, tipping the body slightly forward. This creates the strongest feeling of stability. You can also use a chair. When sitting on a chair it is important also to use a cushion so that you can sit on the front third of the cushion and keep your back away from its back. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. However you choose to sit, your back needs to be straight. Imagine that your head is pressing against the ceiling. Now allow your muscles to soften so the natural curve of the back appears and the abdomen pushes slightly forward so that the diaphragm moves freely—rising and falling with each breath. POSITION YOUR HANDS Place your hands in what is known as a cosmic mudra, where your active hand (right if you are right-handed, left if you are left-handed) lies palm up in your lap. Nestle the other hand gently on to the palm of the active hand so that the knuckles overlap and your thumb tips just touch, forming a kind of oval. This connects your body’s right and left energy fields. It also acts as a symbol for the unity of the breath, your life, and the Universe. This also helps turn you inwards away from the confusion and chaos of daily life. GROW QUIET Allow your body to settle into a comfortable posture. Your back is erect but never stiff; your chin is tucked in slightly; the tip of your tongue rests easily against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper teeth, which keeps you from salivating too much. Breathe through your nose. Lower your eyes so that you are looking at the ground 2 or 3 feet in front of you. After a while you may be surprised to find that, although your eyes are open, you are no longer ‘seeing’ what you are looking at, since the focus of your attention will have shifted within. GO TO THE CENTER This is the hara—the physical and spiritual centre of the body. It is a place of power from which all the martial arts are performed. Located in the pelvis, 2½ to 3 inches below the navel, it is also the centre of gravity in the body. Allowing your focus of attention to rest at the hara creates a sense of balance for body and mind. As you breathe in, imagine your breath going down to the hara, then returning from the hara as you breathe out. Of course, on a physical level the breath is really filling the lungs, but imagining this helps centre you. BREATHE EASY Pay attention to your breath without trying to change anything. Be aware of the tactile feelings that come with breathing. Notice the cool air entering your body as you inhale through your nose and what it feels like as it travels down the back of your throat. Feel the warmth of the out-breath as you exhale. When you stay in touch with this tactile sensation of breathing, you are less likely to be distracted by thoughts. COUNT THE INS AND OUTS Inhalation is ‘one’. Exhalation is ‘two’. Inhalation is ‘three’ and so on until you get to ten. Then start all over again. The simple agreement you make with yourself is only that when the mind begins to distract you, you notice this and consciously choose to let it go, then go back to watching the breath, and begin counting again from one. Zazen is as simple as that. Practicing it for 15 minutes twice a day—preferably at the beginning of the day and the end of the day—we touch the still point within us again and again. In the process we begin to build up joriki—the power of focus and concentration so that, in time, instead of becoming caught up in the endless mental machinations that draw us away from living our lives fully whatever we are doing, we become able to choose consciously to let go and turn our mind towards whatever we wish. The connection with our innate being strengthens so that our inner world and our day-to-day life come together in harmony. The more you practice, the easier it becomes eventually, at will, to move into your still point even in highly stressful situations that once had you frantic. Practicing zazen day after day brings many other gifts from the Universe as well. The practice of zazen is highly experiential. Trying to understand or rationalize it is a waste of time. Like most transformative practices, it can never be fully understood; it is meant to be lived.

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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