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personal growth

The way you look and feel, how satisfying your life is depends primarily on you. Unless you are aware of this, unless you have an active sense of participating in and being responsible for your own well-being, you are unlikely to develop the motivation you need. Self-responsibility holds the key.

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Sacred Truth Ep. 61: Unleash Creative Power

Sacred Truth Ep. 61: Unleash Creative Power

Every human being is brimming with creative power. Creativity lies at the core of what it is to be fully alive and vital, so each of us can express our unique visions as gifts to all life. I believe it’s time to set free our indestructible passion to create from the core of our being. I believe that we are all being called to do this, not only for our own sake but also for the sake of all beings and the Earth itself. I am excited about answering the call. Are you? Creativity is a mind-body-soul experience. It demands that you have access not only to your intelligence and to the layers of your psyche of which you are consciously aware, but also to the whole of your being, including what is commonly called the unconscious mind. Most of us have been taught to ignore the unconscious parts of us. To some degree this may be a result of Freud’s insistence that the deepest layers of a human being are a repository of repressed desires that need to be codified, pathologized, and treated. It is this belief that, for better or for worse, has propelled tens of millions of men and women into psychotherapy in the past hundred years. As a result, most of us still live with the lion’s share of our potential for creativity and freedom unavailable to us. Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of what it is to be fully human, our creative powers slumber is crying out for us to awaken it. Then, when the founder of depth psychology, Carl Jung, came along, he announced what every creative artist discovers for himself or herself: Freud’s “fearful unconscious” is in truth a realm replete with visions, archetypes, insight, and soul—all of which are fuels for our creative fires. Once we embrace the depths of our psyche and learn to work with them, we can access the gifts they hold and live our lives from a foundation of authentic freedom and power. Jung insisted that a person’s interior life not only merits attention but also calls for dedicated exploration, which is exactly what he himself did and then recorded in his fascinating and posthumously published Red Book. Thanks to more than half a century of exploration, Jung came to see the human psyche—both conscious and unconscious—as an inherently spiritual and fluid medium—a magnificent ocean in which we humans can fish for enlightenment, creativity, healing, and personal transformation. Jung then went on to discover that the dreams, myths, and archetypes that reside in our unconscious are highly personal to each of us. We are also given access to what Jung called the collective unconsciousness; that is, to archetypal realities that are not only personal but also universal. Now this is revolutionary stuff. It speaks of truths few people ever consider, unless they happen to be one of the visionary artists, thinkers, or scientists who discover this for themselves in the course of their work. The men and women who do discover all this for themselves are never willing to buy into the general consensus of what is taken to be reality. They prefer to strike out on their own, determined to enter uncharted territories and discover for themselves what treasures can be found there. Then they tend to bring these discoveries back, using them to fuel their work and transform their own lives as well as the lives of others. Invariably, when someone is courageous enough to question the stuff that the rest of us take to be true, they discover whole new realities. I have a passion to explore the nature and power of creativity from every angle possible in this blog. I hope you will join me through your own journeys.

Creativity Is Yours

Creativity Is Yours

In Sanskrit they call it lîla. The word means play. Yet not in the limited sense of our word. Lîla is free play, deep play, wild play carried out in a timeless NOW. It speaks of divine play. It’s the kind of play that sets us free to be who, in essence, we already are, even though we may not yet know it. Lîla is also the kind of creative play that brings new worlds into existence. FROM CHILDLIKE TO GENIUS In its simplest form, lîla describes the spontaneous activity of children so absorbed in what they do that they don’t even hear you when you speak to them. One morning my three-year-old friend Marina came to visit. Scrambling onto the four-poster bed where I was writing in a state of intense concentration, she told me the story of how she had climbed to the very top of a pirate’s ship as high as the stars. Like all still-innocent children, Marina entered into her imaginal world with ease—a magical realm in which creative sparks can be seeded then begin to grow. The imaginal world is a place most of us adults have lost touch with—a powerful realm in which the joys and fruits of lîla reign supreme. At a deeper level, lîla speaks of the all-encompassing absorption out of which Beethoven, then dangerously ill and nearing the end of his life, nonetheless created the most remarkable music of the 19th century: The Late Quartets. Or the obsession of Van Gogh, which led to his having painted 900 pictures and turned out 1100 drawings pictures during a lifetime. This kind of lîla is far more complex and committed than child’s play. It can produce achievements that enrich the way we look at life, that connect us to the deepest levels of our own being. Some fruits of mature lîla even transform the world. A big deal? You bet. This is play of the highest order—nothing less than an outpouring of the most intimate and essential nature of each unique human being. Living your creativity as fully as you can while you walk the earth, in whatever way most satisfies your unique nature, is the most exciting and enriching process any individual human being can experience. It brings a sense of meaning and purpose to your own life that nothing else can. CREATIVE PASSION Creativity is not a problem to be solved or a subject to be picked apart in psychologists’ laboratories. Those who try end up wandering in an endless maze of moribund words and phrases which miss the point. Meanwhile, the wrinkled fiddler on the city street plays on—smiling. He is lost in the excitement of improvisation, magically blending movement, feeling and sound—making music never heard before, that touches his heart and awakens the senses of all with ears to hear. We have grown up with some weird ideas about creative power. We’ve been taught that creativity belongs to a few select human beings whom history labels as genius. Nothing could be further from the truth. Creating is not a rare privilege—it is a right, even a necessity for all of us, if we are to live a fulfilling life. Creating anything, from cooking a healthful meal to writing poetry or playing games with children reminds us all what life is about. From this place we learn to live and work, to imagine, invent, and finally give birth—not only to things that have never been seen, heard, felt or touched before, but to a way of living more wondrous and exciting than most of us would ever have imagined. A passion to be lived, a lîla to be danced, the wild creative power within us urges us to tell the truth and shame the devil. It demands that we express our love, our obsessions, and the fascinations which pursue us. It asks that we live out life from the very core of our being. “Genius,” as late American writer John Gardner used to remind his students, “is as common as old shoes. Everybody has it.” CREATIVE RELEASE A few years ago, I began to explore not only the power and dimensions of creativity in you, me, and all of us. I wanted to discover how each of us can gain greater access to it, and how best we can live out our own creative power in our day to day lives as scientists, professional artists, musicians, writers, dancers, actors or as businesspeople, parents, teachers, lovers, gardeners, healers, craftsmen and thinkers. I was sure that on a larger scale, the way we as a group choose to use our collective creativity determines whether or not we will be able—in the wake of having laid waste to so much of our planet—to emerge as a sustainable species in a sustainable world. A lîla of enormous proportions; what could feel more powerful or more daunting? Yet the creative power on which it depends springs from the same source within each person as Marina’s imaginative play. PRIMORDIAL POWER Mysterious, enigmatic, spontaneous, occasionally even frightening, in essence creative power is the power of life itself. It is the force that gave us birth which continues to give birth to universes. It is what created us and brought each of us our own lives. It originates from a place within each one of us where we can touch and tap into the numinous energy of the Cosmos: God, Being—call it what you will. No words can adequately describe it. In truth, it is far more an experience of aliveness than a place at all. And, although we may never describe it adequately, we are perfectly equipped to enter this locus of creative power within us and find out how to live ever more of our lives from it. For the majority of artists, creativity pours forth most easily when they have intimate support for it. Shakespeare had his actors and a Globe Theatre eager for his plays, Virginia Woolf entered a room of her own and there wove tapestries of words. Emily Dickinson wrote out of the intimate community of a family who adored her, admired her and made sure she was given the space and time to carry out her imaginative work. For others who are highly creative, there is no such intimate support. Many have suffered childhood abuse, loss, illness or intense suffering. The creativity of such people can be monumental. Each man or woman is brought to the exploration and expressions of their creative power through suffering in just the same way that, so often, we discover what is most important to us by having what we believe to be of greatest value—a loved one, a job, a title—taken from us. Painful as such experiences are, often they turn out to be great gifts when it comes to freeing our creative power. Caught up in our lives of work, children, and householder duties, few of us live in such fortunate circumstances as Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson. But that does not matter. What has not been given us we can make for ourselves. Art is not the province of the privileged few. It belongs to all people—those of us who spend our days in front of computers, cooking, sweeping streets, running errands, caring for children, handling the stupidities of bureaucracy, and living our constantly changing lives in a world that is ever less secure. THE WAY AHEAD We are alive at a moment in history where one age is dying, yet another has not yet been born. We are, each one of us, faced with a choice: As we sense the foundations of our world shaking, do we withdraw in anxiety, trying in desperation to hang on to what we once believed to be “true”? Do we become paralyzed, and try to cover our fear with apathy? Or do we summon the courage offered us by a Universe in flux, honor our personal sensitivity and consciousness, then choose to face the challenge of entering the realm of creative power within? Then, trusting our individual capacity for lîla, do we begin to play in ways that may help bring forth a new world for all? Regardless or age, background, or limiting notions about what’s possible, each one of us has a choice to make. It’s a choice between continuing to conform to established belief systems that stifle the human spirit, or trusting in ourselves. Are you willing courageously to explore your intrinsic creative gifts and make use of them? “That which we give birth to from our depths is that which lives on after us. That which is inborn in us constitutes our most intimate moments—intimate with self,” says Theologian Mathew Fox, “intimate with God the Creative Spirit, and intimate with others. To speak of creativity is to speak of profound intimacy. It is also to speak of our connecting to the Divine in us and of our bringing the Divine back to the community.” Personally, I urge you to begin connecting ever more deeply with your own brand of creativity. Discover new ways of living. Leave automatic assumptions about who you think you are and learn to respond to each moment and each day of your life with new eyes and an open heart. The more you do, the richer your life can become. Such is the joy of lîla. Such is the power of lîla. If you have not yet explored it, you have an exhilarating, wondrous adventure ahead of you. Take it. Trust it. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

Quantum Healing Via Consciousness

Quantum Healing Via Consciousness

Harvard professor and expert in cardiology and behavioral medicine, Herbert Benson MD, began the first scientific studies into the effects of meditation almost 40 years ago. Ever since, Benson and his colleagues at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital have continued to conduct clinical research and to map the benefits of regularly practicing the relaxation response: In Benson’s own words, "a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress.” The relaxation response can enhance brain function, slow age-related changes, stabilize heart beat, alleviate anxiety and dissipate stress. What is even more remarkable is this: When ordinary people with no training of any kind practice the relaxation response once or twice a day, it brings about cognitive restructuring and rapidly alters the expression of their genes. When it comes to rejuvenating, regenerating and healing the body, these findings are nothing short of revolutionary. WHAT IS GENE EXPRESSION? Uninformed people as well as many mainstream scientists believe that our health, biological age and death are written into the genes we inherit at birth. They view genetic inheritance as something akin to a dour clairvoyant prediction of our future—something which we remain powerless to alter. It is true that the genes we inherit may indeed define our “risk” of early aging, degeneration and disease. But whether or not this “risk” becomes fact, so negative events actually happen to us, has far less to do with our genetic inheritance than it does with how we choose to live our lives—in effect, on how our genes are expressed. Gene expression is the scientific term for how well or poorly we manage our genetic inheritance. For instance, how do your own genes express themselves? Do your genes provide you with great vitality? Clarity of mind? Creativity? Freedom from illness? Or are they expressing themselves in negative ways, like creating obesity, sagging skin and spirit, early aging and degeneration? HOW’S YOUR OWN GENE EXPRESSION? You see, there are many possible versions of you tucked within your genes and chromosomes. Which versions become expressed—which potentials become “facts”—depends almost entirely on the way care for and use your body, handle stress, and orient yourself spiritually and creatively. Here’s where the food you eat, the exercise you get, and practicing Benson’s relaxation response really come into their own by helping to prevent degenerative conditions: Alzheimer’s disease, many forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity—even overt signs of skin aging, to mention only a few. And there is even better news: Once signs of degeneration have already appeared, practicing the relaxation response daily can reverse them while rejuvenating mind and body, halting stress damage and setting your spirit free. All you need to tap into it to use a method to turn it on. The possibilities are many. They range from relaxation response meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, zazen, silent repetition of a word and autogenic training to steady aerobic exercise and even biofeedback. Some will work better for you or be more enjoyable than others. It is worthwhile trying a couple of different techniques so you discover which you like best. My own favorite method is “relaxation response meditation.” I am happy to be able to share with you a simple and fun video so you can do the exercise along with me. Click here to watch the video FREEDOM’S DISCIPLINE We live in an age where discipline is looked down on as something which interferes with our spontaneity and freedom. So we tend to rebel against it. But the kind of discipline needed for a daily relaxation response practice—far from stifling your ability to be involved in the spontaneous business of life—actually frees it. At first it may take a little effort to get up fifteen minutes early each morning to practice the technique and (if you can manage the time) take fifteen minutes out of your afternoon or early evening to practice again. You will find it is well worth it. The most common objection most people make is that they don't have time. The reality of the situation is this: Even if you practice this technique once a day for fifteen minutes, it will expand time for you. You’ll find you can do everything with greater efficiency and enjoyment, and far less of your energy is wasted on fruitless activity. Every minute you spend in this deeply relaxed meditative state will bring you a fourfold return in the energy you have to use in the rest of your life. LIVING STRESS-FREE Herbert Benson first described the relaxation response as the physiological opposite of the stressed fight-or-flight response. Working with his team, he then went on to pioneer the application of mind/body techniques to a wide range of health issues and meditative practices. They charted the measurable physical benefits which accrue from practicing any form of meditation, including those that rely on the silent repetition of a mantra—a word-sound. Meditation using a mantra has a long tradition. Some mantras are considered “sacred words” that hold particular sound vibrations to transmit particular powers. Each spiritual tradition has its own mantras, such as Guru Om, Om mani padme hum, La ilaha illa 'lla or, in the Catholic religion, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Whether their magic aspects are true or not, these techniques work beautifully to replace the habitual chatter that runs through one's mind, worries about things past and things yet to come. BENSON’S QUANTUM LEAP To learn a relaxation response meditative practice (which I have recorded on video so you can do it with me), Benson suggests you choose a word that is pleasing to you. It could be anything, say, “flower”, “peace”, or “love”. He likes the word “one”, as it is simple and has the connotation of unity about it. Here's how to do it: Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed for fifteen to twenty minutes and a comfortable chair that supports your back. Sit down and close your eyes. Give yourself a moment to settle in and you are ready to begin. Simply sit there, feet on the floor and eyes closed, quietly repeating your word over and over to yourself: “one...one...one...” Whenever your mind wanders or you are disturbed by a sound or thought, simply turn your mind gently back to repeating the word again. That is all there is to it. After fifteen to twenty minutes, stop repeating the mantra and get ready to open your eyes. Open your eyes, stretch, and go about your everyday activities. This is a particularly useful technique once you have practiced it a few times because you can do it in so many different places, such as in a waiting room or on a commuter train or bus. THE RACE IS ON We live in exciting times—times when the breach between science and spirituality originally ushered in 400 years ago by the Copernican Revolution is rapidly narrowing. We need to make use of the gifts that the closing of this gap brings us. Even if you have neglected yourself over the years—most of us have, by the way—it is never too late to change. Making simple alterations in the way you live can regenerate your health and rejuvenate your body and mind. In my opinion, practicing the relaxation response once or twice a day is a powerful way to begin. Collectively, we are involved in a race against time. It has no precedent in human history. The stakes are high—ultimately the future of our planet. Scientific discoveries about the relationships between mind and body, and about life changes which can alter our genetic expression, are here to be understood and used. Experiential methods of self-exploration, healing and personal transformation emerging from humanistic and transpersonal psychologies offer enormous potential for taking control of our lives and creating the future we want. Making good use of what is already tried and tested can transform the whole way you experience life. Living can become a process of growth and joy, instead of one of degeneration and disillusion. If a sufficient number of us undergo a process of deep physical and spiritual transformation, we may in time reach a critical mass that enables us, working together, to envisage another finer and more just way of living together on the planet. Two things are certain: Now is the time. We are the people. May your own life be blessed.

Change It

Change It

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

What Every Women Wants

What Every Women Wants

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

Addicted To Beauty

Addicted To Beauty

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I am a sucker for beauty. I always have been. It’s no accident that I’ve spent years of my life working with beauty, writing about it, researching it, exploring it in every form. Here’s the news: I have recently become totally addicted to the marvelous new (only a year old) ‘Pinterest’. It’s a unique social network which I stumbled into almost by accident, and I’ve become completely besotted with. So much is this the case that I find myself awakening in the night to look at what is new on the site—and it is truly wonderful. It is also a very far cry from Facebook, Twitter and the rest. I predict that, if you explore it, you too will become trapped in this web of beauty. Pinterest covers everything from ancient artifacts to street fashion, health, and just about everything else that makes up our lives. PINTEREST—WHAT IS IT? How do I begin to describe it? It’s a pinboard-style photo sharing website that lets you create and manage all sorts of theme-based collections of images and events which interest, dazzle and delight you, plus lots more. Once you join Pinterest—and you can only become a member by invitation—you have access to pinboards belonging to other people all over the world. You can re-pin images in your own collections (called your “boards”), or you can “like” the photos that they present. You can save, sort, delete and resort all of your images—these are known as “pins”—enabling you to post all sorts of media content in your boards. Your boards usually follow a theme so that your pins can be easily organized, found and enjoyed by other users. There are all sorts of quick links to Pinterest, as well as “Pin It” buttons to go on the top of your browser—so that whenever you find an image or piece of information that fascinates you, you can press the Pin It button. This will immediately take you to your Pinterest account, and let you put it on one of your boards then and there. I love Pinterest’s mission statement, which is “to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”. Surprisingly enough, you will find no advertisements on Pinterest, and—though it’s only been around for just over a year—it is the fastest growing social service in the world. FEED YOUR SOUL In the world we live in, with all of its chaos and concerns about economic and political disorder, Pinterest for me—and many others—has become a place where one can nourish one’s soul with whatever fascinates, brings you joy or a sense of spiritual uplifting, or all of the above. I love boards that inspire me. My own Pinterest pages are filled with information about health, the sea, animals, spiritual renewal, healing herbs, ancient cultures, and of course beauty of every kind. The only way to appreciate Pinterest is to take a look at it for yourself and see what you feel. As you’ve probably figured out, I am over the moon about the magnificent life-enhancing beauty that you can find here. I strongly suggest that you check it out. I predict that it will inspire you too. This year, Pinterest won the “best social media app” and the “people’s voice award” for their best-functioning visual design at the Webby awards. It would be impossible for me to sing the praises of Pinterest too highly. Happy pinning!

Caterpillars To Butterflies

Caterpillars To Butterflies

Quite apart from all the mind-boggling new research into how the right kind of exercise can rejuvenate your body,  I have discovered for myself that exercise is a great deal more than something you do to counteract aging or protect yourself from heart disease. It can be used to fan the flames of creativity and help make you more true to yourself. It can also foster personal metamorphosis of the deepest order - physical, emotional and spiritual. Not only is such transformation possible, it is virtually guaranteed - provided you are patient, and provided you are willing to put real muscle behind it. I have always been fascinated by the idea of transformation - you know the kind of thing: Frogs into princes, Cinderella becomes belle of the ball. Most people believe that in real life, transformation is not possible. They have obviously never learned to work with muscle. Some time ago I made a decision to explore just what kind of transformation was possible for me by working intensively with muscle.  I had come to understand the enormous importance of enhancing Lean Body Mass (LBM). I knew that skillful weight training (not the slap-about kind you see carried out in most gyms) is the fastest and most efficient way to do this. So I searched out someone who could work intensively with me as a trainer to shift the LBM to fat ratio in my own body. I found a Welsh champion weight lifter, Rhodri Thomas, who said he would take me on. When we began to work together I was scared to death that after the first two hours I would collapse in a heap. After all I am no athlete. However, I was keen to find out for myself just how change happens through muscle, so we trained six days a week. Every day we would work with weights backed up by aerobic exercise such as running, swimming and cycling interspersed with other activities like squash and tennis - just for relaxation. I found to my amazement that I did not collapse. Instead I watched as all sorts of deep changes began to take place. Muscles I didn't know existed slowly and quietly began to surface through my flesh. I discovered that the psycho-physiologists are right - feelings, thoughts and past experience is indeed held within our own flesh. All sorts of old memories, feelings, fears, I discovered seemed to be encoded in some mysterious way in my muscles. As you work muscle intensively, sometimes these rise to the surface to be lifted off - much as the body is detoxified of physical toxins on a fast. Frequently I found myself pushed to my absolute limits. Then the gym floor would be covered equally with my sweat and my tears. Still, thanks to Rhod's presence and a will that came out of somewhere deep inside me, I kept working. I was glad that I did. I discovered that working with muscle in this way transforms the body in an outer way by changing LBM to fat ratio and reshaping your body, which has all sorts of wonderful rewards including more energy, freedom from aches and pains, and a lean, firm body, as well as better hormonal balance. In many ways even more wonderful, it helps develop from within you a slow but steadily growing sense of self confidence, clarity and independence. For many - myself included - this was a deep change which had been virtually impossible to come by any other way. It now seems to me that working with muscle slowly and steadily day after day builds a powerful bridge between one's inner and outer world, so that with each passing week you become freer to live the truth of who you are. So now when I think back to all those fairy tales about transformation, about frogs and princes, for the first time in my life I feel I am beginning to understand them and to understand what real transformation through the body is about. It is not all glitzy, like they say in the movies. It is slow and inexorable. Yet it brings in its wake gifts far beyond our wildest dreams. Now I wonder, would Cinderella have been prepared for union with her Prince Charming had she not for many years before strengthened her body and purified her spirit through hard work?

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.

Inner Enemies

Inner Enemies

Heavy emotional stress from anxiety, resentment or depression can drain us of energy. Such delinquent influences also lower your immunity, make you vulnerable to catching colds and flu, and susceptible to premature aging and the development of degenerative conditions. For lasting high energy the energy thieves in your life need to be cornered, collared and dealt a fatal blow. the energy drainer scenario A woman is in a job which she hates. She feels unmotivated and resentful (inner energy-drainers). After work she goes out to drink (alcohol-addiction drainer). Sometimes she drinks too much and this creates friction with her husband (relationship energy-drainer). She feels bad about herself as a result of arguing (emotional energy-drainer). Her poor self-image leads her not to care for herself (poor self-esteem energy-drainer). She eats badly (biochemical energy-drainer). She feels worse and suffers depression. Nothing in her life seems to work and she has nothing to look forward to... You see the pattern. She is stuck in a rut. The energy-drainers have stolen her personal power and she can only see everything in the worst light. Now let's look at the flip side. Energy-enhancers tend to attract other energy-enhancers, creating positive feedback loops and making you feel empowered and in control of your life. Compare the following situation with the previous sketch. the energy enhancer scenario A woman is in a job which she hates. She discovers an inspiring exercise class (physical energy-booster). The class makes her feel good about herself and inspires her to eat better. (biochemical booster). She loses a few pounds, feels better in her body and begins to dress in a more flattering way (self-esteem booster). She meets some new friends whose company she really enjoys (relationship booster). As her self-esteem increases, the people she works with begin to appreciate her more. Her job becomes more enjoyable (work booster). She feels excited about her life and confident about looking for a new job, something she will really love. Identifying your own blockers and drainers, and making the choice to let go of even one or two, sows the seed for more positive feedback loops in your life. It is an important step to take in accessing more core energy and developing your personal power. Sometimes even awareness itself is enough to get the ball rolling. wasting anxiety On an internal level few emotions drain energy like anxiety. While you dash about (either physically or in your consciousness) feeling unsafe and unstable and trying like mad to make everything all right, you deplete your body and your creativity. Where there is anxiety there is a high level of electrical, electropositive magnetic activity and chemical acidity which affect the sympathetic nervous system and encourage feelings of fear, irritability, nausea and headache, as well as an inability to concentrate, muscle pain and insomnia. Even minor attacks of nervousness can dramatically undermine your work performance and make it almost impossible for you to enjoy yourself. Anxiety is frequently related to food allergies. Realigning your diet can help. So can physical exercise which calms electrical and chemical overactivity, replacing it with a more balanced energy, which you can call on, and a feeling of mental and physical well-being. Depression can be a big energy-drainer as well. Sometimes depression develops as a result of blocked emotions which you may not even be aware you are feeling - like grief. Often depression is rather like an anger turned in on yourself to block you from doing harm to anyone else. To break through and release the energy that has been blocked by depression you may need to examine your experience of depression carefully as well as change your lifestyle. Resentment, too, can be an enormous energy-blocker. Anger immediately felt and expressed keeps energy flowing. As adults we tend to swallow our anger, turning it into resentment. Fear can also block energy. In a measurable physical way it freezes you into inactivity and makes all things seem impossible. So can negative feedback loops. When you feel low in energy you tend to attract energy-drainers which in turn attract other energy-drainers and before you know it you find yourself caught up in a negative feedback loop. You feel helpless - a victim of circumstances over which you have no power - and you lack the energy or the incentive to break out of the loop.

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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 16th of August 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.80 lb
for women
-0.80 lb
for men
-0.80 lb
for women
-0.80 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 16th of August 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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