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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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Immersed In Freedom

Immersed In Freedom

When I was six years old I had my first love affair. Yes, really. Of course, not until years later did I recognize the experience for what it was. But like every first love, it changed my life forever. My father was a jazz musician so our house was equipped with the best possible sound equipment. Both he and I loved to listen to music—just about any music—at full volume. This my mother could not stand—which made it something even more exciting. While my playmates roamed the hills of Hollywood skinning their knees, I would lie on my belly in the living room, listening to music at full blast. THE MAGIC BEGINS One day, combing through our vast supply of records, I came upon Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” It meant nothing to me, but I liked the colors on the cover, so I put it on the record player, turned up the volume and flopped in front of our huge speakers. Strange, mysterious, often discordant sound flooded my body, opening a secret door to somewhere deep inside me. It was a place I had never been before. I did not even know it existed. I trembled with fear and excitement as the music wound its way into me. I flushed hot and then cold; my heart raced then calmed. I lost all sense of place and time as I rode the waves of an imaginal sea into unexplored worlds, too numerous to identify. ONE WITH STILLNESS I have no idea how long this lasted. Before long, even the “boat” carrying me along, and all the images that came with it, had dissolved like sugar in water. Then, in perfect union, the sounds and child-that-had-been-me swirled into a vortex, becoming lost in each other. We shared excitement, fear, longing, fierceness and sadness. Like lovers, we had come together—music and child—in an immediate, passionate, all encompassing union. Eventually I found myself at the centre of this whirlpool. There, even the ecstasy of the movement vanished. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I tumbled—not into Wonderland, but into that place of unspeakable stillness. Zen practitioners claim this place is available at every moment to each one of us. For me it was an indescribable event—beyond space, beyond time, outside thought. Here I knew, without the slightest possibility of ever being able to describe it, that everything was exactly as it should be. In the words of Zen Master Daisetz Suzuki, it is a place where I would eat when I am hungry, sleep when tired. I knew that “it was fine yesterday and today it is raining.” Or, in the words of Julian of Norwich, that “All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” My affair with Stravinsky lasted more than four hours. At least that’s what my mother said. “Don’t tell me you are still listening to that awful music.” She had to raise her voice to be heard above the sounds. “For God’s sake, turn it off. Do something useful.” MY USEFUL LIFE So I did something useful. I went to school, then to university where I learned at least some of what you are supposed to learn. I earned praises for good marks, went to work, won prizes, gave birth to four children, wrote books, gave talks and made television programmes. In effect I did what millions of men and women do—became the breadwinner, the carer, the nurturer of others’ lives. And I loved it. Yet through all the years between six and now, my passion for music, painting, books, poetry, architecture and design never left me. Far from it. During most of those years, my longing not only to experience the emptiness that listening to Stravinsky had brought me that day—an epiphany, and the experience of being fully alive for the first time in my life—but also to create things: books, films, relationships, and to explore physical places, inviting me to move beyond thoughts to a place of unity with the rest of the universe. They kept gnawing at my gut. They would not go away, just as the urge to breathe never goes away no matter how long we hold our breath. SIX YEAR OLD WISDOM That day, when I lay on the floor lost in Stravinsky, without realizing it I had decided that what interested me most was the beauty of art—whether it be music, words, film, stories, sculpture, buildings or what-have-you. Why? Certainly not because I had any idea that art was supposed to be valued since it was part of what grown-ups called culture. I knew nothing about either. I could not have cared less. After all, I was a kid who, when I was not entranced by what I was seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, spent the rest of my day learning card tricks, wrestling with my rough Collie, and trying (unsuccessfully) to sell packets of chewing gum my grandfather brought me to neighbors’ kids. Nope—I loved the beauty and wonder of art in all its many forms because, unlike the world around me, with which I seemed to have little in common, it had always grabbed hold of me and would not let me go. It demanded of me both a submission and an active participation in the making of it. TIMELESS REALITY What I did not know, and this took me scores of years to come to understand, is that the rabbit hole into which I had accidentally tumbled at six is described by every culture and religion in the world in one form or another. Nor had I any idea that, at any moment in time, anywhere in the world, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, it is available to each of us. To Zen Buddhists, this wordless, timeless space represents ultimate reality—that which can only be sampled through immediate experience. In Suzuki’s words, “For the sake of those crucial experiences Zen Buddhism has struck out on its own paths which, through methodical immersion in oneself, lead to one’s becoming aware, in the deepest ground of the soul, of the unnameable Groundlessness and Qualitylessness—nay more, to one’s becoming one with it.” ANNIHILATION AND RENEWAL It is a state in which nothing is thought or contrived, longed for or expected. It reaches out in no particular direction, yet it knows itself able to handle the possible as well as the impossible. Concentrated, yet so expanding is its potential, such power is both purposeless and egoless. As such, it is often called truly spiritual. Why? I suspect because it is charged with an awareness that spirit is present everywhere. The universe and all that is created is never attached to place or time. In such a state, because the cosmos is present everywhere, we too are present everywhere. We have direct experience of and access to the power that continues to create the universe itself. And, like water flowing through the river, we have full access to that power of creation to use in our own lives, in whatever way we choose. DOORWAY TO BLISS The Sufis call this state fana—the annihilation of your individual selfhood. When we experience fana, our everyday personality becomes transparent, so the larger being that we are shines through. You become fully absorbed in the all-encompassing fascination of the moment—textures, nuances... Cutting edge physicists speak of a holographic universe in which we live but seldom access because we are plagued by endless mental concepts which blind us to reality. They also blind us to the experience of Samadhi—“a non-dualistic state in which the consciousness of the subject becomes one with the experienced object.” This state of selfless absorption and total surrender is characteristic of children when left alone to follow their instincts. Yet it is available to each one of us, regardless of age. Honoring whatever brings us bliss in our own lives opens the door to it.

What The Daily Mail Didn't Publish

What The Daily Mail Didn't Publish

London’s Daily Mail approached me a few weeks ago asking me to write a piece on what it’s like to have 4 children by 4 different men. The idea intrigued me so I did. The piece wasn’t published since, they said, “It’s not written in the Mail style.” So here it is as a personal gift from me to you. I hope you enjoy it. Struggling to hold back the tears, my daughter’s voice on the crackly phone line was barely a whisper. “Mama, Dan died this morning,” she said. Dan Smith, biological father to my third child, Jesse, was much loved by all of my children. He had been seriously ill with a rare form of leukaemia. We knew he could die any moment. Still, the news that reached me at my Primrose Hill home that cold February morning in 2010 sent shock waves through me. “We’re already organising the funeral,” Susannah went on. “We want to play jazz music, tell fun stories about Dan and celebrate his life. Don’t worry about being 12,000 miles away, we’ll video all of it for you to watch later.” I would love to have been there to celebrate Dan’s life. It had been a good life. He was an honorable man—one who kept his promises. Dan had long adored each of my four children although only one of them was a child of his own body. Four years earlier, Dan had chosen to move to New Zealand to be near the children. Together they had searched for and found a house for him so that all of us—me included—could spend precious time with Dan and care for him so long as he lived. NOT THE MARRYING KIND I had met Dan 53 years earlier when I was seventeen years old. We became friends. Later, in my mid-twenties, we were briefly married. I was never much in favor of marriage, however. That’s probably why I chose to give birth to four children by four different men. Now I’m being called a trailblazer for what is becoming an increasingly popular brand of mothering, commonly referred to as ‘multi-dadding.’ I am supposed to be what is fashionably termed a ‘4x4.’ Mothering children by more than one man recently hit the headlines with the news that actress Kate Winslet is expecting her third child by her third husband, the rock star Ned Rocknroll. Kate, 37, has a 12-year-old daughter, Mia, with her first husband, Jim Threapleton, and a nine-year-old son, Joe, with her second husband, Sam Mendes. The former weather girl Ulrika Jonsson is a 4x4, and the late TV presenter Paula Yates was a 4x2. While supposedly gaining popularity, this style of mothering is still hugely controversial. I am told that the news that a woman has children by more than one man is still met with a mixture of horror and fascination. Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I have never had to deal with either of these attitudes. To tell the truth, I have never much cared what people think about me, how I chose to live my life or the way I have raised my children. Perhaps that’s a good thing, or maybe I am just naïve. One thing is for sure: I’ve always been one of those women so fertile that that a man could almost look at me and I’d get pregnant. I would never miscarry. I rode horses, went surfing and danced all night while pregnant and suffered no consequences. I am told that women like me are often looked upon as monstrously selfish, bad mothers. They are accused of being feckless for having multiple lovers and just plain wrong for not providing their children with a ‘traditional family setup.’ I’m sure some traditional families are genuinely wise, stable and happy. The parents love each other and care for their children with great devotion and joy. But, in my experience, such families are few and far between. KIDS MATTER MOST What matters most in child rearing is neither convention nor family labels. It is the children. Children brought up by a devoted single mother (or single father) who lovingly trusts their own parental instincts and forms honest relationships with each child in their care, thrive. I believe this is far better than desperately trying to hold on to a marriage that doesn’t work ‘for the children’s sake.’ What I find sad is the way an ordinary single woman—not a movie star or media giant—who has children by more than one man and has to bring them up by herself, earning a living and juggling the needs not only of her children but also increasingly of their fathers, doesn't get the attention, sympathy, or anywhere near the admiration she deserves. It’s a challenging job for any woman. I know, I’ve done it. I’ve raised four children all on my own, earned the money for our family, stayed up all night caring for them when they had measles, chicken pox or mumps, then got up the next morning to make breakfast and iron that school uniform about which I was told, “Mama...my teacher says it has to be perfect.” Many a time I worried where the money was coming from to pay for food that week. LION-HEARTED MOTHERHOOD I champion any woman making a life for the children she loves in this way. It is the child that matters most and his or her relationship to a mother, father, or a caring friend. Every woman has a powerful lion-hearted passion to care for and protect her children. Women should trust themselves, give thanks for such power and use it for the benefit of their children. Kids are notoriously smart. They know when they are being fed a line about what they are “supposed” to think and say. They easily distinguish between what’s real and what’s contrived. As parents, if we want to gain the respect of our children we must always tell them the truth and treat them with respect as well as demand that they respect us in return. As far as the fathers of our children are concerned, they deserve the same respect and honesty from a woman as the child does, whether or not she is married to them. I believe that each child needs to get to know its father in its own way and make its own judgements. MY OWN STORY I grew up in a wildly unconventional family of highly creative, unstable people. Until I was 5, I was raised by my maternal grandmother. Later I was raped by my father and had my brain fried with ECT in an attempt to make me forget all that had happened to me. I was always a tomboy. I hated dolls. I loved to climb trees and play football. Yet from 5 years old I was sure that I wanted to have children. When I told my grandmother my plan she said I would need to get married to have children. “What’s married?” I asked. “It’s when you wear a white dress and have a big beautiful cake and promise to love and obey a man,” she said. “Ugh, I’ll never do that,” I replied. “I hate cake.” In any case, I knew she was lying to me since none of our Siamese cats were married, but they gave birth to masses of kittens. At the age of 17, while in my Freshman year at Stanford University, I got pregnant by a 22 year old man named Peter Dau. I rang my father. “I’m pregnant,” I told him. “What are you going to do?” “Give birth and keep the baby.” “You can’t keep the baby unless you get married,” he said. Had I been a little more gutsy I would have told him to get stuffed. But at the age of 17, still wrestling with all that had happened to me in my own childhood, he wielded a lot of influence over me. So I agreed. Peter was all for the idea. Single-handedly I put together an all-white wedding for 250 people in the garden of our Beverley Hills home. I made the decision to wear black shoes under my white satin dress. I felt I was giving my life away by marrying Peter, but I was willing to make the sacrifice since I so wanted this child. As soon as Dan learned of the wedding, he sent me a beautiful sterling silver bowl as a present which I still have. My first son, Branton, was born six months later. When I held this tiny baby in my arms he taught me the most important lesson I ever learned: Love exists. It is simple, real and has nothing to do with highfalutin notions or flowery words. At the age of 18, I realized my life had found its purpose—to love and be loved. PREGNANT AGAIN A year later, Peter and I left California for New York where he was to attend medical school while I went to work as a model to help support us. At that time, Dan left his job as a journalist in Massachusetts and moved to New York to be near us. My marriage to Peter ended amicably three years later. It should never have happened in the first place. Three days after leaving Peter back in California, I stopped overnight at my father’s house in Beverley Hills on my way back to New York. Barry Comden, a man much older than I whom I had known since I was 14 but never had a sexual relationship with, discovered I was in town and came to see me. I made love to him once and knew immediately that I was pregnant again. Marry Barry? No way. I was determined not to make the same mistake twice. (Years later Barry would marry the actress Doris Day.) Nine months later my only daughter, Susannah, was born. It was then that a large tumor growing off of my right ovary was discovered. It had been hidden behind the baby during my pregnancy. It was dangerous and had to be surgically removed. HELP WHEN IT MATTERS Once again Dan appeared in my life. He had always insisted that he fell in love with me from the first day we met. He had written me letters every single day my first year at Stanford. I never answered any of them. I didn’t share his love and I didn’t want to lead him on. He had also sent me book after book which he thought I should read. I read them all and loved them. Dan had always been kind and generous to me. He was always keen to protect and care for me when I needed it. So, when I ended up penniless and alone with two children and in need of major surgery, he offered me a home. I accepted. For several months the four of us lived together in New York. Dan adored Branton and Susannah and treated them as if they were his own. I was longing to leave the United States. I wanted to live in Paris—a city I loved more than any other. Dan was able to arrange a job for himself there as a foreign correspondent. In early 1964 we went. Dan had repeatedly told me that he was sure we were meant to be together forever. I hoped that he was right and believed that if I tried hard enough to be a good wife I would learn to love him as he deserved. On July 29, 1964, we were married in Paris. Like every other man I have ever been close to, Dan knew long before we were married that my children would always come first. I had sat him down and told him that he would have to treat Susannah and Branton exactly the same as he would treat any child of his who might come along. He agreed. On June 12, 1965, Dan’s son Jesse was born. He was delighted. True to his word, never once did he favor Jesse over Branton and Susannah. This was great for all three children who came to know him well and to adore him. When presents were passed out, each child was equally favored. Dan belonged to all of them and they knew it. FATHERS, FATHERS Because Branton’s father lived in America and we lived in Europe, Branton did not see him again until he was 11. By that age I figured he was old enough to make the trip on his own and spend a week or two with Peter. Susannah was not really interested in her father—also in the United States—until she was about 17. She then went to Los Angeles to meet him. A good friendship developed between them which remained until Barry died. A non-traditional, unconventional family? Absolutely, but it worked because there was honesty and there was love—the two most important things in any family, anytime, anywhere. For five years I had told myself that, if only I could learn to love Dan more, then everything would be all right. But I couldn’t. And it wasn’t. Confused and disappointed, at the age of 27, I faced the fact that our marriage had failed. We moved to England and we separated. It was Easter. I went to a Buddhist monastery in Scotland to clear my head. Of course Dan grieved over the failure. But that never stopped him from being a welcome person in our family right up to his death. Years later he would marry Gerda Boyeson, a psychotherapist who died a few years before he did. BLESSED MEN The men who made my life rich after Dan and I divorced were, each in their own way, as special as he had been. Each accepted that my children came before all else in the world to me. I never compromised. I chose men, be they friends or lovers, who brought wonderful things to my children. No man ever came before my children. If any man didn’t understand and accept this, he had to go. One man whom I loved, Graham, taught my children to climb and sail and mountaineer. All my children forged deep bonds with Graham which have remained to this day. Another man, Garth, gave Branton, Susannah and Jesse his much cherished toy collection from his own childhood. Garth took us all on wonderful picnics, introduced us to hidden beaches, sang songs with us and blessed us with his unique brand of joy. Then there was David, a man with whom I lived with for 5 years in my late twenties. David constructed beautiful rooms for each of my children in the tiny house I had bought with the little money that my grandfather had left me, when Dan and I separated. David wrote and recorded songs for each of my children. That was 40 years ago. Last year, Susannah and her partner visited David and his wife in Barcelona where he now lives. AN UNCONVENTIONAL MOTHER Ironically, the only complaint I ever got from any of my children about my not being conventional enough was from Dan’s son Jesse. “Why aren’t you like other mothers?” Jesse asked one day when he was 7. “I don’t know, Jesse, what are other mothers like?” “Oh you know,” he said, “They’re fat and bake cookies.” Jesse even grumbled if, while I was waiting to pick him up from school, I sat on the playground swings. He was adamant that such behavior was not “proper” for his mother. Sixteen years after Jesse was born, I became pregnant for the last time by yet another special man—Paul. I announced my condition to 17 year old Susannah as we were all setting off for a six week holiday in Canada with Graham and his son Ruan. “I’m going to have a baby,” I told her. “Don’t worry Mama,” she laughed, “We’ll say it is mine!” FAMILY CELEBRATION In March of 1981, I gave birth to my fourth child, Aaron, at our home in Pembrokeshire. All three of my other children helped deliver him. While I was in labor, they prepared the most delicious lunch I have ever tasted from fruits and vegetables from the garden. I had insisted on giving birth naturally at home, not in some clinical, cold hospital. Jesse had been born via natural childbirth, at a clinique d’accouchement in Paris. After the experience of natural childbirth I swore if ever I had another child it would have to be this way. As for Dan, one way or another he was always close by. He knew David, Graham, Garth and every other man who was to play a role in my own life and my children’s lives. For many years he spent Christmases with us and with our other male friends when they were there. Dan loved to play saxophone at family gatherings. One year he dressed up as Santa Claus. Aaron, then 5 years old, was completely taken in by the costume and terrified when this rotund man belted out, “Ho, Ho, Ho, little boy, what do you want for Christmas?” It took a lot of reassurance from Aaron’s big brothers and sister to convince him that Santa was really ‘good old Dan.’ UNIQUE & INDEPENDENT As for my children, each of them is totally unique and highly independent. I have always fought hard to encourage them to trust themselves and listen to their own heart instead of doing or saying what the rest of the world tells kids they are supposed to do and say. After graduating with a first class degree from Lancaster University, Branton, now 53, developed a series of successful businesses. Susannah, 50, with whom I have written 5 books and done two television series, is a sought-after voice artist. Jesse, 48, is a highly skilled plastic surgeon. Jesse and I have also written a book together. Aaron, now 32, is a designer and filmmaker. He and I have worked together for the past four years developing Cura Romana—a spiritually based program for health, lasting weight loss and spiritual transformation. Branton and Jesse have been happily married for many years. Both have three children each. As for me, I am probably the world’s worst grandmother. I don't babysit, or do any of the things grandmothers are ‘supposed’ to do. (Including baking those cookies Jesse once complained about.) Why? I’m not sure. I guess because for forty-five years of my life I was a mother. I loved this more than all the books I’ve written, all the television programs I’ve devised and presented, all the workshops I’ve taught, and all the other things I’ve done and enjoyed. Right now, my life belongs to me alone. I love the freedom this brings me. I am passionate about being a catalyst in people’s lives, helping them realize their own magnificence and live out their potentials both for their own benefit and for the benefit of all. Who knows what exciting challenges lie before me. Bring them on!

Youth Factors

Youth Factors

The ageless aging techniques are powerful allies for survival in the 21st Century. Continuing to practice them will help protect you from degenerative diseases and can have you looking and feeling great as the years pass. But we also need to look after ourselves in other ways. Life at the millennium is not easy. We are exposed to aging influences every day of our lives. dump the drugs One of the major actions you can take to protect yourself from premature aging long-term is to stay away from drugs. Many drugs interfere with mineral absorption and undermine metabolic functions. Acid drugs bind calcium and other minerals like zinc and magnesium, making them unavailable for your body to use in its important enzymes which fuel energy and cell reproduction. Without first rate enzyme functions nobody can function optimally. Diuretics - `water pills' - given to eliminate water retention trigger the kidneys to excrete potassium and can lead to potassium deficiency. Although many doctors now give extra potassium with diuretic drugs, diuretics also increase the body's output of zinc, magnesium, and other minerals (something most doctors are still unaware of) so that deficiencies in these elements develop. Antibiotics disturb the balance of intestinal flora, creating disbiosis. The helpful bacteria needed for the production of certain important B-complex vitamins, vitamin K, and for protection against cancer, are destroyed along with the bad guy bacteria antibiotics are trying to kill off in the body. Most laxatives can also be very damaging to the system. Many contain mineral oils which bind fat soluble vitamins K, E, D, and A, leeching them from the tissues. Even when drugs are prescribed by your doctor, keep a close watch on what you are taking. It's a good idea to buy a book on drugs and their interactions so you keep well informed about anything it is suggested you take into your body. reproductive distortions In our modern industrialized world it is all too easy for our reproductive biochemistry to become distorted and youthful functioning to be undermined as a result. In the past 50 years male sperm count in the Western world has fallen by almost half. Meanwhile, women are experiencing the rise of a whole new - as yet largely unrecognized - phenomenon known as oestrogen dominance. Oestrogen dominance is where a woman's oestrogen levels far outweigh progesterone in her body making her prone to cancer, menstrual miseries and menopausal agonies. There are two classes of major reproductive hormones in a woman's body - the oestrogens which are commonly lumped together and called `oestrogen', and progesterone. When these two are in good balance a woman's health thrives. She remains free of PMS and other menstrual troubles. She also remains fertile and able to hold a fetus to full term and menopause becomes a simple transition instead of a passage riddled with suffering. And she is protected from fibroids, endometriosis and osteoporosis. She is also likely to remain emotionally balanced and free of excessive anxiety or depression. When oestrogen and progesterone are not in balance a woman's body becomes oestrogen dominant and all of these things can come a cropper. watch out for xenoestrogens Oestrogen dominance in women and the drop in sperm count in men have come about for several reasons, the major one being the widespread use of oestrogen-based oral contraceptives and the exponential spread of chemicals in our environment. Called xenoestrogens - oestrogen mimics - they are taken up by the oestrogen receptor sites in our bodies to throw spanners in the works. They include the petrochemical derivatives we take in as herbicides and pesticides which have been sprayed on our foods, the plastic cups we drink our tea out of, as well as the oestrogens that come through in drinking water recycled from our rivers. Oestrogens from The Pill and HRT are excreted in a woman's urine. They can end up back in our water supply, as hormones are not removed by standard water purification treatments. To stay vital each of us needs to be aware of the potential dangers of the `sea of oestrogens' in which we are now living. The proliferation of xenoestrogens in our environment needs to be stopped. It is making men less fertile and women more prone to breast and womb cancer, fibroid tumors, endometriosis, osteoporosis, and infertility, not to mention a long list of emotional and mental imbalances. Yet much of the medical profession as well as the general public still remains largely unaware of the effects these dangerous chemicals are exerting on our lives and the lives of animals. As a result oestrogens continue to be prescribed heavily as part of HRT - not only to the handful of women who around the time of menopause may need a little extra oestrogen temporarily - but to thousands of others whose lives would be far better off without it. go for protection You can help protect yourself from excess chemical oestrogens by not microwaving foods in plastic containers, by avoiding birth control pills and HRT, by not drinking from plastic cups, by ensuring that you eat foods grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and by including in your diet foods rich in phytosterols. These plant-based weak hormone-like compounds can help protect us by locking into oestrogen-receptor sites in the body and therefore preventing the much stronger xenoestrogens from gaining purchase in our bodies. Foods with good levels of phytosterols include yams, peas, papayas, bananas, cucumbers, raw nuts, bee pollen, sprouted seeds and grains (such as alfalfa sprouts) plus the herbs licorice root, red clover, sage, sarsaparilla and sassafras. Following a detox regime regularly a couple of times a year can also help detox the system and keep these poisonous chemicals from building up long-term. watch for deficiencies Much free radical damage and many of the problems associated with aging - from depression and insomnia to fatigue, poor eyesight or hearing, fragile bones, stiffness, and aches and pains - are the result of poor diet and the resulting nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional deficiencies are now widespread in the developed countries of the Western World. They have developed not because we don't have enough to eat but because we have so disturbed the healthy balance of minerals and other nutrients in natural foods thanks to chemically based agriculture and excessive food processing. A number of large-scale research projects show that someone living on the typical diet of convenience foods over the years becomes deficient in vitamins and minerals. As we get older the most common deficiencies are in potassium, zinc, chromium, iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin C as well as in protein and fiber. Fiber from fresh vegetables, grains, and pulses becomes particularly important as we get older. Unless the colon functions properly so that wastes are eliminated efficiently constipation becomes a problem so that the build up of toxicity in the body increases the rate at which aging occurs. A national food survey carried out recently in Great Britain showed that the average person is "grossly deficient" in six out of eight vitamins and minerals. And the problem seems to be growing worse and worse as convenience food eaters get increasingly depleted in folic acid, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin C and iron. The survey showed that the average person in Britain gets only 51% of the European recommended daily allowance of zinc, and only 71% for iron. Similarly 40% of the people studied received less than the recommended daily allowance for calcium. Nutritional deficiencies produce premature degeneration. Avoid them by avoiding processed foods as much as you can, using sea vegetables in your cooking and salads and adding more  green super foods to your diet. choose fats carefully Most of the fats that we eat today have been severely tampered with. Instead of being in a chemical form which your body can make use of (the cis form) to build cell walls, make hormones, and make prostaglandins - all of which are essential to de-age the body, we are eating trans fatty acids. These `junk fats' found in margarine, golden vegetable oils, and all of the convenience foods that we devour - from ready made meals we pop into the microwave to mayonnaise, breads and spreads - can undermine health. Trans fatty acids make up a large proportion of the fats used in making biscuits, sweets, imitation cheeses, margarine, pastries, potato crisps, puddings, and nearly all the packaged and processed food products you find on supermarket shelves. Experts in fat metabolism now blame our ever-increasing consumption of trans fatty acids and our ever decreasing consumption of essential fatty acids in no small part for premature aging and the growth of degenerative diseases including heart-attacks and cancer. About the best oil you can use for salads and wok frying is extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. It is monounsaturated and much more stable for wok frying foods and making salad dressings. Canola oil is also good but harder to find. gut feelings Another major reason why vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies tend to occur as we get older is that poor eating over many years often results in a diminishment in a person's ability to digest and assimilate nutrients from their food. This is why for some even eating a good diet is not enough to supply the nutrients needed. Deficiencies in minerals, a low level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach (essential for the absorption of nutrients), or low levels of digestive enzymes are common causes of the poor assimilation that produce nutritional deficiencies. Food allergies and other allergies are also commonly linked with low levels of hydrochloric acid in the gut. This can be corrected gradually by eating a nutrient-rich/low-calorie diet of wholesome foods and by learning to manage daily stress well using a technique like autogenics. Many experts in natural medicine also suggest drinking the juice of half a lemon squeezed into water or taking a teaspoon of apple-cider vinegar in a glass of warm water, twenty to thirty minutes before meals to enhance digestion when hydrochloric acid is low. Useful, too, are good quality supplements of the major digestive enzymes such as bromelin extracted from pineapples, and papain from the papayas. Papain is soothing to the stomach and very gentle. It helps in protein digestion. Bromelin is an anti-inflammatory enzyme which reduces tissue irritation. The pancreas secretes other enzymes important to digestion such as the lipases, amylases, and proteases. For anyone who experiences problems with digestion a good natural combination of digestive enzymes can be a great adjunct to de-aging. One or two capsules with a main meal will usually do the trick. But make sure you choose only the best as there are many poor imitations on the market. sleep a lot Sleep is a great antioxidant and rejuvenator which few pay attention to. Even age researchers are only beginning to be aware of what a potent effect good sleep can have on de-aging the body. Sleep is every bit as essential as good quality food, regular exercise and a healthy environment in rejuvenating the body. In recent years melatonin, the hormone secreted primarily by the pineal gland during the night hours in the absence of light, has been shown to play a major role in controlling the body's circadian rhythms and awareness of time. It has also drawn much attention from age researchers. Melatonin in supplement form can be used to great advantage wherever time awareness has been distorted, such as when crossing time zones or for people who suffer from insomnia. There are many indications that melatonin also offers powerful protection against the body's most destructive free radical - the hydroxyl radical. Sadly, melatonin has been taken off the market in Canada and Britain - amidst a great deal of hooha about it being "dangerous" because it is a natural hormone. Having looked in depth at the whole issue of melatonin I am convinced that used wisely and appropriately it is an extremely useful supplement and that there is nothing dangerous about it. Hopefully one day soon it will reappear. It is still widely available in the United States and most other countries. new radical quencher Meanwhile, when it comes to continual de-aging of the body, the improvement witnessed in people's lives through melatonin supplementation has made researchers ask an important question: Why would the body only secrete a substance like melatonin - a powerful free radical quencher - at night and not during the day? One of the world's experts on the antioxidant effects of melatonin, Dr Russel Reiter, believes that from a biological point of view the primary purpose of sleep may be to create a situation in which the free radicals which we generate during the day (when our exposure to free radical damage is the highest) can be mopped up at night. And it is during the hours of darkness that the body's natural melatonin levels rise. This could well be the reason why many hard-to-treat problems such as food allergies, multiple sclerosis, and ME, are often tremendously improved by getting a good night's sleep. Researchers investigating sleep have also discovered that when the body accumulates high levels of free radicals, a sense of sleepiness tends to set in. Whenever this happens it is a good idea to give in to it and have a nap. At night if you have difficulty sleeping consider using a natural botanical such as passiflora or valerian to help. Everyone's need for sleep is different and while it is true that many of us sleep less as we get older, regular restorative slumber is important for de-aging the body. Enjoy it. Here is a simple check list you can return to to help you create an ongoing lifestyle to de-age your body. 21st century survival Make Every Calorie Count: Gradually decrease the quantity of foods you eat while increasing the nutrients you are taking in. Choose your meals from real foods - the best nature has to offer: raw vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits, pulses and seeds, prepared in simple ways to preserve their innate nutritional richness. Avoid Processed Foods: Nix on junk fats, margarines, refined sugar and simple carbohydrates like most packaged breakfast cereals which tend to be depleted of essential minerals, trace elements and fiber. Go Organic: Whenever possible buy (better yet grow) organic vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts. Foods grown without chemical fertilizers help protect your body from pollution while they keep essential nutrients in good balance, on which continuing health depends. Get Smart About Labels: Read labels carefully. Don't be misled by the word `natural' or `no preservatives'. Watch out for references to hydrogenated fats, aluminum, colorings and preservatives and leave foods containing them on the shelves. Wash Non-Organic Foods Well: Use 1 tablespoon of baking soda(bicarbonate of soda) to a sink full of water. Soak for 3-5 minutes to help clear acid-pollutants from vegetables and fruits. Drink Clean Water: Use a good water filter, buy purified water or the very best natural spring waters. Don't use tap water. Eat Deep-Sea Fish: The fattier the better - sardines, mackerel, and wild (not farmed) salmon are full of healthy fatty acids. Stay away from cod, shellfish and most freshwater fish. They are more likely to be chemically polluted. Avoid Aluminum Cooking: Pots and pans of aluminum can leach this metal into the foods cooked in them. Don't Use Irradiated Foods: Their effects on the body are still largely unknown and highly questionable. Add Superfoods To Your Diet: Make good use of foods and herbs that are rich in natural antioxidants and immune-enhancers which work synergistically to protect you. These include algae, spirulina, open-celled chlorella, Australian Dunaliella Salina, bladderwrack, Irish moss, dulse, alaria, kombu and nori as well as green cereal grasses and the power mushrooms reishi, maitake, shiitake, tremella and cordyceps. Go For Greens: Increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts as well as wild green foods like nettles, dandelion and parsley. They are brimming with antioxidants. Minimize Drugs: Use nothing either of prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs that is not absolutely necessary, including hormone drugs. Also minimize recreational drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, nicotine and cocaine. Practice UV Protection: Exposure to sunlight is a great ager especially now with the depletion of the ozone layer. Protect yourself. Grow a Garden: Or at the very least sprout organic seeds and grains for salads. This gives you the freshest, chemical-free foods available. And you can sprout seeds even in a tiny kitchen in a city flat. Cut Down on Meat: Not only is the breeding of livestock on a wide scale wasteful of the earth's resources, most meat and poultry sold comes from chemically raised animals given antibiotics and much has become polluted. If you eat meat make it organic. If you eat chicken and eggs, make them free-range. Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is the body's great rejuvenator, it increases antioxidant activities to counter free radical dangers in the body, enhances the production of the anti-ageing pineal hormone melatonin and is essential to de-ageing your body. loving kindness To care for the body, to enable it to continue to de-age, it is essential that we treat life with respect and care - something which Mitsuo Koda stresses in all of his teaching. This begins with caring for oneself. Creating a lifestyle where your body and your spirit get what they need to thrive - exercise, kindness, rest, stimulation, the rewards of being taken seriously and nurtured. This is something that most of us have to learn how to do. We are always saying `Oh I can't take time to meditate or do autogenics,' or `How do I make time to take long walks or pursue a hobby I love when I have so many responsibilities to fulfill?' The answer is simple and absolutely true although it almost always takes a very long time and a lot of suffering for each of us to learn it for ourselves: Unless you take care of yourself first, making sure you eat well and honor your inner values in the way you live, you are incapable of caring for others properly. For me this has been - in many ways still is - the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn. Each of us behave unconsciously as we have been taught to behave. If our parents happened to desert us or did not care for us very well then we somehow take on their habits about ourselves and don't look after ourselves properly either. The only way to change this is through constant awareness and continued commitment to nurturing the life within us. This in turn develops our ability to nurture others and the earth. life begins today This is the first day of the rest of your life. It can be an exciting one no matter what your age now, what you want to change, and what dreams you want to bring into reality. Begin by making friends with the cornerstone practices of ageless aging. Use them regularly to make your life work better and enhance your capacity for joy. Finally explore what you love most and begin to do it - even if you can only manage an hour or two a week to start with. The American expert in mythology Joseph Campbell used to urge his students at Sarah Lawrence College to follow your bliss, and participate joyously in the sorrows of the world. It is great advice when it comes to de-aging body and mind. By this Campbell did not mean going out of our way to have a good time or chasing rainbows. Far from it. He meant being in touch with whatever is your particular, individual passion and then pursuing it for its own sake, simply because it brings you joy. This can be gardening, or racing motor bikes, going back to university, traveling, listening to music, dancing or surfing the net. The whole point about following ones bliss and honoring ones passions is that doing it leads step by step down a road towards personal authenticity as well as towards the kind of fulfillment that has nothing to do with external success or the approval of society. This too is like rediscovering the joy of childhood when for hours you could sit and perform a particular act or work with a particular skill as life unfolded moment by moment. When it comes to ongoing rejuvenation of body, mind and spirit, what can be better than that?

The Sacred Feminine

The Sacred Feminine

It is not easy to live in our 21st century world full of suffering and confusion for many. The challenges we now face worldwide have come about from the long-term rejection and degradation of the Sacred Feminine. The Sacred Feminine is the mysterious source of all life, the wellspring of all creation, and we have forgotten this. Its creative power exists in men as much as it does in women. The Sacred Feminine carries great wisdom, sensitivity, and a tender love for all life. It respects the need for suffering and vulnerability, for deaths and rebirths. It asks that we embrace life and preserve it. In all its wildness, the Sacred Feminine brings to us the ability to unify body and soul, spirituality and politics, the human and the divine. Yet most of us have lost touch with the Sacred Feminine. It’s time to regain it, and there is no better place to begin than to move into the world of women and see what we find there. A WOMAN’S LIFE So great are the demands on women now—many of them self-imposed—that we are often in danger of losing track of our own soul and of burning ourselves out. There is no place for the old female rituals in our lives. In other cultures—among the Native Americans, for instance—women would leave the tribe for a few days each month to enter the soul realms and experience the Moon Lodge during menstruation. There, in the presence of other women, they gave themselves permission to enter altered states of consciousness, to restore their energies, and to express the wildness of their own creativity—a creativity which, at the dark moon time of menstruation, has nothing to do with nurturing or relating to men or to children. We in the Western world have no such opportunity. Instead, many women, unaware of the value of venturing into the soul realms where dreams, instincts and wild energies abound as a way of reconnecting with personal meaning, choose to “control” their moods and cycles by taking hormones—not only to avoid unwanted pregnancies but even to regulate events so that a business meeting doesn't come up in the middle of a menstrual period, when they might not be as rational or socially acceptable as at other times. Then, sooner or later, every woman gets moonstruck. When it happens, the ordinary world in which she has been living is rent asunder. She is being initiated into the wild and wonderful mysteries of the Sacred Feminine. Menopause has arrived. A LOST WOMAN "Isn't it wonderful?" the editor of the woman's page of a national newspaper said to me one day, "Science has finally conquered women's biology.” “What are you talking about?" I replied. "Oh, you know," she went on, "It's great. We don't have to menstruate anymore and we don't have to have babies thanks to the Pill. We don't even have to go through menopause or get old now that we have HRT. At last, women are set free from their biology. I'd like you to write a piece on it." It took me a few seconds to recover from the shock of hearing an intelligent woman voice an opinion so far away from my own sense of what the nature of the Sacred Female is about. I knew there was no point in even discussing the issue. I said that the idea didn't grab me and walked out of the office literally stunned by how carelessly this poor frazzled and confused woman could dismiss a million years of inherited female creativity, wisdom and blood. She had done it with the wave of a hand and the swallow of a pill. Then, almost as an obituary, she had proposed a 750 word article on modern women's new-found “freedom”. At the door I turned to look at her. There sat a haggard 35-year-old who looked 50, hunched over her computer smoking cigarettes. Three years later someone told me she had just had her womb removed. SUFFERINGS OF THE WASTELAND The editor's sense of freedom, like much of the so-called “freedom” we hear about, is certainly of a very limited kind. Since all freedom is won at a price, I cannot help wondering how high a price we are paying and if it is real freedom at all—or is it a new form of slavery dressed up for make-believe? I know too many dynamic, successful women who appear to have everything. Yet, when you sit down with them alone—away from the glitter of their busy lives—they describe feeling out of sync with themselves. A sense of sterility and stagnation permeates their lives, and they carry a feeling of emptiness and even of betrayal, yet from what and by whom they rarely know. Many have aimed for the top and arrived. So now what? Where is the next challenge, the next battle to be won, the next social occasion? Like the editor, they tend to pack their days with duties and appointments, always uneasy that if they stop for a moment they might let somebody down or their lives might fall apart. PERILS OF LOGIC Just as our mothers and their mothers before them embraced the expectations of their culture that fulfillment would come through being a good wife, a good mother or good servant, women now have taken on another cultural stereotype. We have learned to do things logically. We have largely bought into a male stereotype based on the attainment of academic, financial or artistic success. We have thrown ourselves headlong into the male world, and many of us have “made it” within that world's terms. Yet in the wake of our success, we often find ourselves pursued by a confusing sense of barrenness and despair that further achievement in the world, new love affairs or the prospect of a facelift can do nothing to cure. It is at this point that many women, myself included, first hear the call to adventure. It comes as a powerful challenge to leave the ordinary world in which we have lived decades of our lives and set out in search of answers: Why did this happen? What was wrong? What secrets have we forgotten, and what connections had we lost, in our obsession with doing things and our tendency to opt for chemical control of our body's cycles? And what are we missing out on? BACK TO SOURCE How could we, as women, continue to buy into values and ways of living which not only didn’t serve the coming to fruition of our own talents and our capacities for joy, but were inexorably destroying the earth? Where had all our real freedom gone, and our power—not power in the masculine sense of power over, but in the feminine sense of power to? I delved deep into the past in search of archaeological findings and archetypal connections that might give clues to just what as women we had lost, and how any of these lost treasures might be rediscovered. This led me into the realm of myth and ritual. I discovered that the two worlds—the world of science, with all its shifting biochemistry and rising and falling hormones, and the world of myth, peopled with archetypes, symbols, goddesses and rituals—not only met, they are blended within a woman's body and psyche. And where they meet is a cauldron of blood. SACRED BLOOD According to written records, since the beginning of human history, the power of creation was believed to reside in the holy blood that pours forth from a woman's body. It ebbs and flows with the waxing and waning of the moon. Blood has always been credited with magical power and with containing the essence of a person's soul—"one's lifeblood". Medieval physicians believed that a woman's menstrual blood could cure leprosy and act as an aphrodisiac. For centuries, both male and female rituals for receiving the gifts of the Sacred Feminine involved ingesting menstrual blood: It was mixed with red wine and taken as an alchemical drink. Ancient Egyptians, Celts, Persians and Taoists in China all held similar beliefs about menstrual blood, and carried out similar rituals. In Ancient Greece during planting festivals, women mixed their menstrual blood with corn seeds, then spread them upon the earth for fertility. In the 17th century, when William Harvey wrote his famous scientific treatise on circulation, he referred to the flow of blood through the body as the coursing of spiritual power. Even our word “blessing” is derived from the Old English bloedsed, which means bleeding. HARMLESS AND FREE Menstrual blood and the blood of childbirth are the only kinds of blood given freely—that is shed without wounding. Not only metaphorically but speaking strictly from a scientific point of view, human life cannot be created without the blood in a woman's womb. So profoundly did an awareness of the power of a woman's blood touch the lives of primitive people that native words for menstruation carry connotations of spirit, divinity and magic—of the supernatural and of the sacred. Ancient Hindus taught that all life is created out of the congealing of Great Mother's menstrual substance, which had been worked and thickened to form curds or clots from which the crust of solid matter emerges. Their goddess of creation, Kali-Ma, “invited the gods to bathe in the bloody flow of her womb and to drink of it; and the gods, in holy communion, drank of the fountain of life and bathed in it, and rose blessed to the heavens.” INSTINCTUAL SEXUALITY The sexuality of the genuinely free woman is the sexuality of sheer instinct—the wildness of the Sacred Feminine set free. It is she that calls a woman into the secret places of the woods and provokes her to dance naked in wild abandon. Hers is a sexuality to be used in any way she chooses—in union with another; as power to heal the earth and all its creatures in need of healing; or alone to generate the alchemical meeting of male and female within her own body. She will be what she is, she will have what she wants. She is neither passive nor submissive, and her sexuality also has nothing whatever to do with bringing physical children into being. The Sacred Feminine’s eroticism is sheer ecstasy, lived for its own sake, and sheer creativity. She creates in an uninhibited, animated, fiery way, which emanates from the soul of a woman or a man. Such sexuality is the fuel for all creative powers in the world. It carries with it the energy of regeneration and of healing for the world. It is the kundalini power—the rejuvenating cosmic illumination, the power of the serpent, the sacred fire which heals. LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS As the Sacred Feminine gains entrance into the body and psyche of a woman or a man, it illuminates one dark corner of his or her psyche after another, lifting away all that is old and dead and without meaning, the way kundalini energy rises up within a body to illuminate each of the chakras. Their power becomes the power to leave behind what is dead and useless to make way both for personal rebirth and renewal to the natural world. It is the indomitable creative power that lies sleeping in the consciousness of both men and women. Perhaps more urgently than ever before, the Sacred Feminine now calls to us to remember who we really are, and all the creative blessings we have, which the world around us needs so very much. Never in human history has it been more urgent that we listen and respond, for our own sake and for the benefit of all beings and all living things on the earth.

To Hell With Convention

To Hell With Convention

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you are ceaselessly involved in the act of creating the quality of your own life—your looks, values, attitudes, actions, and the nature of your relationships. You do this through image-making—a universal characteristic of the human mind which appears even to precede thinking in the brain. We see, worry, put together ideas, dream, speak, wonder, all through the use of images. We experience a continuous flow of mental pictures, both conscious and unconscious, every moment of our waking lives. In fact, the capacity to visualize—to "image"—is one of the miracles of the human organism, for through it we are able to organize reality, communicate with others, and make sense of the restrictions of time and space around which our lives are organized. And images have tremendous potency. Your own images can be used for your good or they can be used against you. WHAT WE’VE BEEN TAUGHT Each of us comes into the world with a particular set of genes that determine our skin colour, sex, body type and, to a certain extent, our personality and intelligence. But by the time we are four or five, the form of what we were at birth has been altered physically and mentally so that we have become more complex and quite different in the way we respond and function, think and express ourselves. Some of these changes, such as physical growth, come from the same genetic inheritance that gave us our original form. Others, probably by far the largest number, come from what is commonly referred to as behavioural programming—the things we learn spontaneously through day-to-day living, such as motor control and speech, as well as the things we are taught, such as how to communicate with people, dress ourselves, use a pencil, and so forth. In all that we have learned from experience (things like if you touch a hot stove it hurts) and all we have been taught by our parents and other people, there are an enormous number of mental images that greatly affect our ideas and our lives ever after. For instance, from our programming we get a notion of what in our behaviour is considered good and what is called bad. We form innumerable impressions of what we are like and what others are like. And, finally, we come to have "sets" of knowledge about the world. All these things form our belief systems—conglomerates of images, ideas, and assumptions that make it possible for us to function from day to day. Some of these belief systems are individual—they pertain to our inner world alone and are entirely personal. Others we share with the rest of humanity—for instance, together we "agree" that the brown-and-white, rather square-shaped animals with horns that graze in fields and give milk are "cows." We also agree in common with others that if you step in front of a moving bus you will be hurt. Such belief systems are important, for without them we would not be able to live or share our experiences with others. WHAT WE ASSUME IS TRUE Our own individual belief systems are somewhat different in character. They consist of the many unconscious notions and assumptions we hold about what we are and are not and can and cannot do. They influence whether we see life as exiting and challenging or rather as painful and hopeless. And although most people are not aware of it, these belief systems, formed gradually as we grow up, wield enormous power over us. GROWING UP IS NEVER EASY A child who grows up in a family where he or she is treated with respect tends to grow up believing that she is worthy of this respect. When her needs are frequently met, she comes to believe that they are likely to be met in a similar way in the future and, although he is probably completely unaware of this, she actually comes to expect it. Similarly, if someone is brought up in an environment where she is treated with disdain or carelessness or as if she were stupid, then she gradually forms more negative assumptions about herself and they become the "systems" by which she lives her life. The whole creation and formation of our belief systems is a very complex process. It is largely an unconscious one, too, because the amount of sensory information fed into a human brain even in one day is immeasurably rich. We are continually responding to one perception, feeling, word, or sensory experience after another. Our belief systems, formed from these events, are therefore many-layered and extraordinarily elaborate. But they all have one thing in common: power. The images we hold, consciously or unconsciously, about ourselves and our lives are real in the sense that they tend to reaffirm themselves over and over again in our experience. Studies have been done in which a child's IQ, tested at school, is measured against her expectation of herself and her performance in the classroom. Almost invariably, the child whose belief systems include the idea or image of herself as not really very bright does badly in schoolwork regardless of what her IQ shows, and vice versa. In fact, there is also considerable evidence in older children that even IQ measurements soon come to reflect a child's basic intellectual self-esteem—or lack of it. All because of the belief systems she holds about herself. SELF-FULFILLING NOTIONS When it comes to health, relationships with other people, and creative functions, belief systems are particularly important in determining our success or lack of it. If you take the time to sit down and look at a particular area in your life that you consider reasonably successful—say your work, or your relationship with a particular person—you will find that your ideas, feelings, and attitudes about it are generally of a positive nature: pleasing, charming, fun, interesting, and so forth. Similarly, if you look at an area of your life that doesn't work so well or with which you are not satisfied, you will find it is accompanied by negative images or visualizations. Most important of all, these negative images and the belief systems they create will tend, when put to the test in real situations, to bring about exactly the effects you expect. If you feel you are uncreative when you paint a picture, it will turn out to be uninteresting. If you feel like a failure when you try to reach a goal, you will fail. Under even mildly stressful situations you become ill, and so on. And, of course, failures only further strengthen the negative belief systems you already hold. It is a vicious circle—that is, until you are able to become aware of these negative belief systems you are unconsciously carrying around with you, examine them objectively, and then make a decision to change them. So long as they are unconscious, you are in their power and no real act of will is going to change them much. When they become conscious, you can begin working with them, looking at them, examining where they come from and their validity or lack of it, and decide on whether or not they are useful. Then gradually you can become free of them. In a fortnight, we’ll exploring simple practices that make use of the power of creative imagery—the deliberate repeated use of specific mental images— to bring about dazzling positive changes to your health, your life and your core beliefs about who you are and what you love most. See you then...

what gives you Charisma?

what gives you Charisma?

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

Dare To Be You

Dare To Be You

The core of a human being - that source of virtually boundless creative power, as well as physical and psychic energy - will never be found by dissecting the human body. Nor can it be arrived at by analyzing the human mind. Yet a sense of what I call living from the core or the soul, an experience of living - living truthfully to your own values - is something each of us experiences at certain times in our lives. Although most of us only happen upon this experience accidentally, it can also be cultivated by pursuing actions which we enjoy or which make us feel good about ourselves and our lives. It can happen when we fall in love; when we feel happy because everything seems in harmony around us; or when we feel pleased with ourselves, our children, or some accomplishment. In such moments, everything seems to fit together, or feel right, and life has meaning. Such a sense is central to an experience of living with energy. The techniques for building a high-energy lifestyle with lots of energy are only of lasting value if you value yourself, and live your life on that assumption. tuning into core energy Psychologist Abraham Maslow, who spent his life studying not human pathology, but rather human beings who lived their lives with great energy, creativity and joy - he called them self-actualizers - referred to the special moments in our lives as ‘peak experiences.’ After examining the experiences of thousands of high energy, creative and happy people, he came to the conclusion that these self-actualizers have certain things in common. They tend, for instance, to be the healthiest people in society, mentally and physically. They tend to have a lot of values in common too, such as prizing simplicity, wholeness, effortlessness, truth, honesty, uniqueness, completeness, and perfection - in fact, the same values one might expect mystics to possess. They are, in effect, fully functioning people who tend frequently to have peak experiences - moments of great happiness, rapture, ecstasy - in which life’s conflicts are at least temporarily transcended or resolved. Other psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers have described Maslow’s self-actualizing person too. Carl Rogers - perhaps most appropriately of all - refers to Maslow’s self-actualizer as a ‘fully functioning’ person. Out of their work has emerged a whole new picture of what it is to be human. It has changed our perspective so that we no longer see a human being the way Freud did - as a collection of repressed destructive urges, only barely restrained by learned moral constructs from destroying ourselves and others - but as potentially autonomous human beings. We recognize that the destructive and self-defeating tendencies that we all have are far less the hidden truth of a person than the results of a frustration in the expression of what Maslow called the Self - or soul of life itself. Not only boundless energy, but happiness and freedom from this frustration and from negative thought patterns and the behavior they engender, lie in letting your natural self-actualizing tendencies (which in most of us are still weak or dormant) develop. Until they grow, we all regress into fear and frustration or laziness. Once they become stronger, one’s life becomes an ongoing process of energy release, growth, and unfolding of potential as well as, quite simply, much happier. what are your peak experiences? Take a notebook and, on a clean page, describe a moment or moments in your life where you felt a sense of `living from your core' - a time when everything seemed to work for you, where you felt temporarily fulfilled and good about yourself. If you are not sure you understand the idea, simply describe a moment when you felt particularly happy. Remember the scene as vividly as possible, and use as much detail as you can to recall your impressions. Use this description as a reference point from now on for how good you can feel and how wonderfully life can fit together. As you become more and more self-actualizing and come to live more and more from your soul, peak experiences become more frequent. Create New Visions of You and Your Life Now start to dream of what it will be like for you to have all the energy you ever need. Begin to play with a number of clear mental pictures of yourself fit, well and looking great. But don't just consider the physical changes you would like to make. Get to know the person you aim to be, and see yourself in this image. Record what you see, hope for, want to bring into being in your notebook and refer to it often when you feel unsure of your goals and direction. Here are some of the characteristics of high energy self-actualizing to use as inspiration: An exceptional ability to cope with change and to learn from it. Most people have trouble with change. It is unsettling and frightening. It needn't be. It all depends on how you look at it. We all face fear of changes, but the more you come to live from your core - to manifest your soul energy - the more you will tend to view change not as threatening, but as a challenge to learn from and grow from, whether any particular change at face value appears to be `good' or `bad'. And as far as failure is concerned, instead of being a source of fear, it can be viewed as something that shows us how to deal with a similar situation in the future. After all, human beings do fail sometimes. No great worry about saying ‘No’. Not aggression, but assertiveness, plays a central role in creating energy. It implies a strong sense of your individual right to your values and opinions, and a tendency to respect the rights of other people as well. You need to be able to say no to a food or drink you don't really want, a request from a lover or spouse, a demand from a child or a colleague. The best way to develop healthy assertiveness is simply to practice it. It feels a bit strange at first, but the more you do the easier it becomes. Paradoxically, only when you are positively assertive can you discover what real unselfishness is, because then what you give is what you choose to give, not what you feel obliged to give. A well-conditioned body. This not only brings you energy, it also helps you cope with stress better, look better and younger, and strengthens your sense of self-reliance. It also shifts hormonal balance and brain chemistry, making you highly resistant to depression and anxiety, and highly prone to feeling good about yourself and your life. Top-level fitness leads to a freedom to achieve excellence in other non-physical areas of your life as well. It increases stamina, strength and flexibility - not only physically, but emotionally as well. A marked absence of common minor ailments and troubles. Most people believe that the Monday morning `blues' or the aches and pains in joints after forty are a normal part of living. But they take up little space when you have an abundance of energy. `Normal' means moving with ease, and feeling pretty good about things day after day - sometimes feeling very good indeed - not because something stupendous has just happened, but because when you are really fit and well that is the normal way to feel. Laughter comes easily. An ability to laugh at the absurd (including yourself when appropriate) and a sense of fun are perhaps the most important of all the high-energy characteristics. Joy is health-giving. Paradoxically, often the most delightful sense of humor parallels a strong sense of purpose in a person - another high-energy characteristic. Integrity. The more you become a self-actualizer, the more you set your own standards and live up to them. Your values become a source of strength and energy for you. You don't have to compromise them to achieve some temporary advantage. You can feel the truth, be who you really are, and make your life work. Hard to believe? It’s time to.

Walk Through New Worlds

Walk Through New Worlds

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

Stress? What Stress?

Stress? What Stress?

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

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