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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

Confront Yourself

Confront Yourself

To make the most of your potential you have to truly own your body. This means realizing that your entire body, from the roots of your hair to the tips of your toes, is the embodiment of your Self. Sadly most of us dissociate from our body. We imagine ourselves as a mind somewhere in our heads which is responsible for the rest of us from the neck down. This dissociation encourages us to treat our bodies with contempt: we eat the wrong foods, drink too much, and continually drive ourselves beyond the state of fatigue. Then, when we suffer from pains or get sick we wonder foolishly why fate seems to have it in for us. Sound familiar? Rather than treat your body like a machine which seems to break down for no apparent reason, you need to begin listening to what it tells you. Very often, we can prevent illness or heal ourselves by taking the trouble to tune into our bodies. By increasing your awareness and sensitivity throughout your body, you can not only avoid many health and beauty hazards, you can also learn to apply all of yourself to whatever you are doing and so function at a much more efficient level in everything you do. Total involvement can bring with it great joy and a sense of energy. "Lord, Help me to accept the things I cannot change. Give me the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." It is important to begin by accepting your own form. All of us have things which we dislike about our bodies. It may be the size of your bust or your hips/waist/thighs, the shape of your nose or chin, your teeth, hair, etc. We waste far too much time and energy worrying about the parts of ourselves that we dislike, instead of focusing on the positive things and putting our energy into the task at hand. Try the following exercise to put your dislikes into perspective. confront the mirror Stand in front of a full-length mirror naked and use a hand mirror to take a really good look at yourself from all angles. Make a list of all the things you dislike about yourself. Be thorough and write down everything you see which you dislike. Now take a pen and give each item a code. If it is something that cannot be changed, for example your height, mark it with a "I" for impossible. If it is something that would require professional help to fix such as chipped or gappy teeth, bust size, disfiguring scars, etc. mark it with a "P." If it something that you know can be changed such as your haircut, muscle tone, weight, excess body hair etc., mark it with a "C." I - impossible to change P - professional assistance c - possible to change for instance... some sample dislikes might be: BUST TOO SMALL I/P I wouldn't want to go through implantation surgery. Perhaps if I slim a bit I'll lose some weight from my hips and my bust won't look so small by comparison. HIPS TOO BIG C I really would like to do something once and for all about my weight problem so that I can wear more attractive clothes and feel like less of a moose. DOUBLE CHIN C/P A face lift would be too expensive. I'll look into exercises to tone my chin and neck muscles. THIN HAIR - CUT DOESN'T SUIT ME C It's definitely time to change this haircut. I think perhaps I'll try a better hairdresser, even if it is more expensive. Hopefully a good professional will be able to tell me what style would suit me best. DARK CIRCLES UNDER EYES I/C I'm not sure if I can get rid of them. Perhaps a detoxification diet for a few days would help? ONE EAR HIGHER THAN THE OTHER I I think I'm stuck with this one. SPLITTING NAILS C I would really love to have long strong nails. I'll promise myself to manicure them regularly and take some vitamin and mineral supplements to strengthen them. CELLULITE ON THIGHS I/P/C? I'm not sure how to get rid of it, but I can't accept it so I'll do what I can. EXCESS HAIR ON MY THIGHS P For the moment I don't really care, but perhaps I'll get my legs waxed before I go on holiday. First, look at the C's. Decide whether you really care enough about the thing to change it. If you do, underline it, and make a mental decision to take action on it. If you don't care enough to do something about it, then it's not worth worrying about any more, so cross it off your list. Now look at the P's and decide whether they are really a possibility - could you afford the expense of professional help? Is the problem really that important to you? Again, either decide to do something about it and begin by making inquiries, or choose to accept it and cross it off your list. Finally, count the number of "impossible" dislikes you are left with. Take another look at yourself in the mirror and this time, beside the first list, make a second list of all the things you do like about yourself. Go on writing things down until your list of likes is at least as long as your list of impossible dislikes. If you run out of things you like then write down the things about yourself which you don't mind. some sample likes might be: EYES People have told me they're nice HANDS I quite like my hands HAIR I like the natural color of my hair LEGS I suppose my legs aren't too bad, although I could lose some weight from my thighs. Make a decision to begin to appreciate and accentuate your positive features and not dwell on your dislikes. The more you focus on your good points, the less you'll notice or even care about your dislikes.

The Beauty Of Being Who You Are

The Beauty Of Being Who You Are

To be beautiful, you must be who you are. Because who you are is far more creative, vital, and powerful than anything or anyone you might try to be. It’s a fundamental truth too often forgotten. Still we live in a world that teaches us, however unwittingly, that whatever we are is not as good as what we should or could be. It tells us that we need someone or something outside ourselves to give our lives meaning. All of which is utter hogwash. You’ll never fulfill the magnificence and uniqueness of who you are by following convention, bowing down to some guru or following somebody else’s rules. The truth about YOU lies within your own body—your own being. And there has never been a better time to uncover it than right now. SEDUCTION BY ILLUSION The media is full of programs, articles, advertisements, and imperatives that urge you to "be a better lover", "wear this fashion," "make more money". It is an amazing game. It keeps selling dresses, books, and automobiles because it keeps people wanting. But, in the process, it creates enormous misery and dissatisfaction as we look outside ourselves for yardsticks to measure ourselves by. This is because, no matter how well it works, the "want-need-get" game obscures one really important truth: What you need to experience wholeness, meaning and joy is not "out there," "one day," or "if I only had…” It does not need to be bought, sought, seduced, or copied. It already exists right here, right now, inside of you. It simply needs to be discovered within you and then lived out. CONQUERING CONFLICT A woman is, in reality, two women. The first, the outer woman, is a collection of physical characteristics, habits of speech and movement, and ways of thinking and of expressing her essential being. This outer part is the result of past experience, conditioning, and values—either your own or, more often, those given you by your family, educational background, and society, plus a great many preconceived ideas you have about who you are and what you can and can't do. The outer woman comes in many different forms. She may be conventionally attractive, plain, sexy, dynamic, withdrawn, aggressive, apparently assured, or terribly uncertain about herself. And for each outer woman, there is also an inner counterpart, an individual self that is utterly unique. This stable center of strength and growth, your inner core, sees the world in its own way, has its own needs, desires, and its own brand of creativity, and is a law unto itself. Your core holds the power to create, change, build, and nurture. The outer woman is little more than the vehicle for what your essential being creates. THE OUTER AND THE INNER When your essential being is allowed free expression, a woman can be truly beautiful without the need for artificiality or imitation, concealment, or excessive adornment. Her body will be strong and well, her skin clear and healthy, and her movements, speech, and actions will radiate a kind of vitality that is unmistakably charismatic, because it is real—an outward expression of who she truly is. Often, though, the inner and the outer woman have diverged so that there is conflict. The inner truth of a woman can be particularly clear and direct while her outer expression is a mass of confusion in how she dresses, speaks, acts, and looks. Usually this is because she is stifled by false ideas of how she is supposed to be, think, act, dress, and look. Where there is no free channel for expression of your essence, there is much disharmony. Eventually both your health and beauty will suffer. Perhaps even more importantly, you will probably feel you lack identity—have no firm idea of who you are or what you want. TRUTH FROM YOUR ESSENCE Discovering the power of your essential being and learning to live from it involves transformation. This process can be tremendously exciting. Sometimes this can also be challenging, for it means peeling away the superfluous mechanical façades we all collect—the ways of appearing and acting that have little to do with who we really are, but that have come to seem safe and secure. But this transformative process can be thrilling, too. You needn't look for a specific end result to justify it. In short, being beautiful is being authentic. It is all about becoming who you really are. Begin by letting yourself become aware that you are someone quite different from everyone else in the world. To some women who have never experienced this awareness before, this can seem scary at first. Others will find it is something they have known all along without ever putting it into words. Still others will accept the notion as self-evident. When you are relaxed yet alert, nonproductive thought patterns and habits loosen their hold, as do common interfering emotions such as anxiety and fear, so you are better able to hear your inner voice. Listen to it. Let it be your guide in matters of taste and in decisions you have to make. Most of us have been programmed to listen not to ourselves but to Mommy's interjected voice, or Daddy's voice, or the voice of the Establishment, of the Elders, of authority or of tradition. Instead, begin to explore how you feel about something or what you really want. Take a look at the ideas, behavior patterns, or assumptions about yourself and your life that might be blocking your free expression. These mechanical patterns of thinking and behaving are usually unconscious. They come in many forms. They can be ideas you hold about yourself such as "I am physically weak," or "I can't wear my hair back because my nose is too big," or "I will never be slender," or "I am too old to change"; or they can be even more deeply embedded notions such as "I can never do anything right," or "I am only a woman." When you become aware of these notions and the power they hold over you, you will see that many of them are little more than habitual assumptions with no basis in fact, and you will gradually find them falling away so that you are more free to be whatever you want to be. Whatever you happen to be doing, try letting yourself experience it fully. Get involved in an event, action, or project in the way a child would—wholeheartedly. Whether you are peeling potatoes, enjoying music, scrubbing floors, planning work, making love, or eating, let yourself be absorbed, forgetting everything else for the moment. When you are wholly and fully human—your essential being is being set free. These are times which all of us experience, and there is a real delight in this kind of involvement. It silences the usually worried thoughts and concerns that tend to sap your energy and make every event less interesting than it should be. This ability of complete involvement is a key to enormous vitality. At such times, little of you is wasted on anxiety about the past or future, or meaningless and unproductive worry about yourself and others. Explore new ways of doing things instead of mechanically following the same old patterns. Risk being different from the rest—your own natural way of living, thinking, dressing, working may be unique from the way you have been trained to do these things. Your opinions may differ greatly from those of people around you. Be courageous about seeing things your own way and dare to be different in what you say and do when you feel different. Be as honest as you can. Telling the truth has great power. Most of us lean far too much in the direction of being diplomatic and discreet. Many women tend too often to adjust their opinions and answers to fit in with the opinions of others. This leads to a sense of confusion where one is not really sure what one thinks. When you answer something honestly, when you do and say what you want instead of what you think is asked of you, it makes you aware that you are responsible for yourself. This in turn leads towards further freedom, creativity and truth. Take a look at any roles you find yourself playing. There are dozens—the "intelligent woman," the "woman to be reckoned with," the "shy violet," the "sexy lady"' and so forth. Some of them may be appropriate to what you want from other people; others are not only irrelevant but also sap energy that could otherwise be used effectively. The more you are aware of them, the freer you will become from the hold they have over you, and the more you will be able to discover who you are and what you are about. The other thing about roles in relation to beauty is that no role that any woman plays (no matter how delightful) comes anywhere near being as exciting, vital, and fulfilling as the truth of what she is at her core. And gradually beginning to peel away the roles by becoming aware of them is one way of discovering this. Pay attention to any peak experiences in which you perceive the world as a whole and everything as being right. Everyone has these occurrences, but many of us do not articulate them and so they happen and then are forgotten or ignored. The occurrence of these small moments of joy can be tremendously enriching. They temporarily set you free from habitual ways of thinking and behaving that tend to stifle your creativity. Look for peak experiences and enjoy them when they come. They can be useful as guidelines to decision making from day to day. Finally, work out what you want and then go get it. Whatever you work for, work hard and wholeheartedly. This brings a sense of self-reliance and frees a lot of otherwise frustrated energy for constructive use. These things have always been very important to living my own life. They still are. I would love to hear from you about your experience with all of this, if you would like to share it with me.

Take A Quantum Leap

Take A Quantum Leap

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

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 Myth Guides Your Life

What Myth Guides Your Life

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

Crisis To Creativity

Crisis To Creativity

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

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!

Charisma—What It Is & How To Get It

Charisma—What It Is & How To Get It

What gives any woman charisma? The Chanel suit she wears? The car she drives? The way she has been taught to use her body or speak her words? Not really. For stylish or charming as these things may be, they are ultimately externals—things put on from the outside. As such they offer a 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 certain characteristics: expansiveness for instance, and energy, joy and creativity. It is not only a way of being which calls forth all the powers of a woman— from the pragmatic to the inspirational, the intellectual to the intuitional. It is also a way of relating to yourself, to those you work with and play with—even to the planet itself—through all of these modes. That is why at its core, charisma is both disarmingly simple and immeasurably complex—neither more nor less than living day by day from a full and honest outpouring of your own individuality—the spirit which is unique to you. CHARISMA—YOUR UNIQUE ENERGY This unique nature, which each woman has but most of us have yet to discover, can be expressed in a myriad of ways from the most simple and playful to the most profound—in the colors you like best for instance, in the way you choose to have your hair cut, the kind of make-up you wear (or prefer NOT to wear). It is also explicit in the way you think and talk, and in the kind of deep values you embody, the dreams you dream and the things you create, whether they be works of art, intellectual or physical feats, or simple day-to-day ways of being. Charisma is also evident in the rhythms and fluctuations of this energy. How different you are, for instance on the tennis court, than when you hold a child in your arms, produce a piece of work, get involved in an intellectual discussion, or embrace a lover. Yet in each of these circumstances, provided you are true to yourself, you will have charisma—the originality of your spirit will shine through. IT COMES FROM WITHIN Contacting that unique spirit, coming to respect it and having the courage to live from it, is what gaining charisma is all about. Sometimes challenging, frequently exciting, this process can be a lot of fun too. As it takes place, the externals—the clothes and make up you wear, the way you move and how you relate to your world, cease to be arbitrary, like things you pick up with uncertainty to carry around with you. Instead they seem to unfold and develop beautifully and mysteriously—almost organically—from within, as ever more honest and potent expressions of who you are. Whatever forms or shapes your individuality takes, one quality tends to permeate every facet of charisma as it unfolds: aliveness. That is where health comes in. Health is right at the core of charisma. The more fully and honestly your unique nature shows itself, the more charisma you will have. Simple? Nothing could be simpler. Yet in our 21st century crazy world, it would seem that our every encounter with the world around us—from breathing increasingly polluted air, to interacting with a media intent upon selling us things we don't need or don't want at prices we can often ill afford—contrives in one way or another to interfere with the process. Decide not to let it interfere with your discovery of who at the very core YOU are. I firmly believe that each of us is being called to become a creator of a new world—for ourselves then for the planet as a whole. I hope you will join me in your own process of becoming, in essence, who you are at the deepest levels of your being. For along with all the horror in our world there is such great promise. Has there ever been a more perfect moment for your charisma to come into its own?

Your Magnificent Self

Your Magnificent Self

At the core of us - far beneath the illusions, traumas, joys, and chaos of 21st Century life - our authentic being calls to us - the unique, essential self - the very truth of who you are.  It carries only one intention: to help you express as fully as possible your creativity, your love, your power, and your magnificence as you walk the earth. SPIRIT INTO FORM The Tibetan Buddhists have a saying which for many years I didn’t understand.  They say, “The only path to enlightenment is through the perfect human rebirth.”  At last, I think I got it.  I suspect they are probably right.  I have come to believe that each one of us actually chose to come to earth in human form—not just to work of some karma—because we longed to play what is the most creative, difficult, exciting, and challenging—yet infinitely joyous—game of all.  In truth it is the greatest game of all—that of bringing your Spirit into Form. I speak of the Spirit which is unique to you—to each of us—yet, at the same time, is a universal expression of the All That Is.  This is such a marvelous enigma—far beyond the grasp of the mind. PLAYING THE GREATEST GAME How we choose to play this greatest game is as individual as is our authentic being.  It can be played in an infinite number of ways.  It can be driven by curiosity and excitement; it can be riddled with trauma, disappointment and grief; it can be a cause for celebration and wonderment.  Most of us, at one time or another, experience all of these things as we learn to play the game. Often, chronic fatigue, depression, loneliness, and poor health are whispers or shouts from our authentic being asking that we stop for a moment in the midst of all the noise of daily life and listen to the source of being that lies deepest within us.  So are the long-term struggles with weight loss.  They ask of us a question:  Do we dare to lay aside our self-criticism and false beliefs long enough to journey beneath the surface of who we think we are to discover who we really are? What has always been my passion is working with techniques, processes and teachings that support this process of connecting with our authenticity and living more the truth of who we really are.  Learning to do this brings greater health, more joy, more creativity and vitality to the way we live, work, and relate to others.  The more each of us lives from the core of our being, the more - through some mysterious osmoses, do we become catalysts encouraging this process in others. TRANSFORMATION’S GIFTS For the past four years I have been with men and women all over the world working with life-changing programs that not only transforms health.  It also clears away masses of the spiritual static and false beliefs that inhibit each of us from living from the core of our being with all the creativity and authenticity that we long to live out. Watching the transformation process unfold uniquely in each of these people has been an enormous gift.  For me it has been like walking in a garden and coming upon flowers and plants, trees and rocks, which I had never seen before.  never met before.  I am often dazzled by the beauty of it. SECRETS CAN BE TOLD In a world filled with uncertainty and so much fear just now, it is this kind of permanent transformation on an individual level that is most urgently needed.   Let me know if you are interested in learning the secrets of self awakening. If so I will share some of the most important ones with you soon.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 12,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 12 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 26th of November 2020 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.62 lb
for women
-1.19 lb
for men
-0.62 lb
for women
-1.19 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 26th of November 2020 (updated every 12 hours)

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