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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

Freedom Calls

Freedom Calls

Freedom has always fascinated me.  I love the smell of the word.  I like its sense of possibility.  I taste freedom when I listen to the music of Aaron Copland – music that could only have been written in a country which once had vast prairies and seemingly infinite wilderness.  I feel it in my body when I run along cliffs in the rain.  I rejoice in the sense of it that comes when, after hours of shifting dead words and sentences, something suddenly comes alive and beauty spills out all over the page.   OUTER FREEDOM In an outer way, to be free means to enjoy liberty of action under a government which is not despotic and does not encroach on individual human rights.  In an inner way to be free means becoming liberated from the relentless forces of doubt, self-criticism and fear which we all inherit growing up in emotional and educational environments which split our mind from our body and teach us not to trust ourselves.  They teach us to put our faith in “experts”.  They teach us neither to honor the splendor of the individual human soul,nor do they tell us that the universe is filled with compassion which we can draw on whenever we need support and power which we can direct to create whatever we want. EXPLOITATION It makes me laugh to see the way our commercial world tries to sell the experience of freedom:  Freedom?  It means wearing a top of the range pair of Levi’s doesn’t it?  Sipping white rum on a tropical beach with a sexy lover.  Taking a 100 miles an hour ride on a Harley across the desert at sunset.  Or surfing that seventh wave.  On film these things carry the freedom buzz.  For a little while they let us imagine the real thing, even though they are only a pale facsimile of it.  These days we get offered freedom in all sorts of ‘packages’.  They range from TV ads offering telephone sex, to weekend seminars promising instant enlightenment. Some people, in their search for freedom, end up sniffing cocaine. Others dance all weekend at a festival.  A few turn to philosophy or look for freedom in ancient religious practices.  They head off to India or to California to sit at the foot of the guru and hope that somehow he will hand it to them.  All of these things—from rum and cocaine to raves and yoga—offer a taste of freedom.  Some—like drugs and alcohol—are more transitory than others.  When they wear off, so does the sense of liberation they once promised, to be replaced by a post-freedom hangover.  Others, like transpersonal psychology, or Mahayana Buddhism run deeper.  The freedom they offer is slower in the making but it lasts longer.  Every experience of freedom brings with it a sense of being released from imprisonment – of being able, even for a short time, to respond to life spontaneously with the whole of your being. Look up the verb to free in the dictionary.  It will tell you it means to release from bondage or constraint, to deliver, to disentangle from obstruction or encumbrance.  And quite right.  When we talk of freedom we often speak of it as freedom from.  Money worries for instance, or responsibility.  Sometimes we tell ourselves, ‘If only I had this or didn’t have that, then I’d be free’.  Other times we indulge in dreams of freedom—sailing across great expanses of sea with the wind in our hair, or crossing the Sahara on a camel, or building a wooden hut in the woods and living there, or partying until dawn every night.  Yet how many times have we gone on vacation to be ‘free of our worries’ only to find we packed them in the suitcase under the new underpants? FREE FROM WITHIN Like the proverbial iceberg, most of us live with the lion’s share of our potential for freedom, joy, creativity and power submerged beneath a sea of unknowing.  We go about our day-to-day duties and pleasures conscious only of what comes to us through our five senses.  How does it taste and feel?  What does it sound like?  What do we see in front of our eyes?  Meanwhile beneath the vast ocean of consciousness that constitutes what it is to be fully human, our greater selves hibernate waiting to be awakened. Sometimes, when we fall in love perhaps, or when we are faced with an event of life-shattering proportions like a critical illness or the death of a close friend, the submerged area of our being erupts in magic or horror, in surges of passion, energy and beauty.  Then for a time the mundane quality of our everyday life is replaced with a sense of expanded being.  We not only feel more alive, we wake up to find that familiar things—the tree that stands outside a bedroom window, a cat that greets us when we come home each day, the simple shell we picked up and slipped into our pocket while walking on the beach, have taken on a luminosity that we can’t explain.   Other times without warning, while listening to music or walking down a city street, we are suddenly hit with a feeling that the world is far greater than we ever imagined it to be, or a sense that all we see around us somehow is us – we are all part of the same stuff.  While the experience lasts everything seems right in the world.  Then, like the sun at the point of setting, it all fades beneath the mundane horizon leaving only the faintest wisp of color to remind us that we once stood in its glory, felt the rays of the sun upon our bodies and knew that sense of being at one with the universe which makes every struggle seem to have a meaning. SET OURSELVES FREE In the next few months I intend to explore in this blog the nature of authentic freedom, where it comes from, how we access it within ourselves and help foster it in others. Never in recorded human history have there been greater forces attempting to undermine individual human values and crush human freedom. I choose to look upon the forces that want to limit our lives, drain us of our health and our self-esteem and turn us into sheep, as worthy opponents. The burgeoning Orwellian world in which we now live can become the worthy opponent which awakens us to our deepest values and spurs us to access the strength to fulfill them. Together I believe we find our way through all this to greater freedom than we have ever known and the birth of new life. Let’s do it. Watch this space...

Pivots For Change

Pivots For Change

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

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.

Mantra Magic

Mantra Magic

Herbert Benson, who wrote The Relaxation Response and Maximum Mind, discovered that measurable physical benefits accrue from practicing any form of meditation which depends on the silent repetition of a mantra - a word-sound. This can be done by repeating any word over and over while the eyes are closed and the body is in a quiet state. Meditation using a mantra has a long tradition. Some mantras are said to be sacred words that have particular sound vibrations which transmit particular powers. Each tradition has its own mantras such as Guru Om, Om mani padme hum, La ilaha illa 'lla or, in the Catholic religion, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Whether their magic aspects are true or not, the technique works beautifully to replace the habitual chatter that runs through one's mind, worries about things past and things yet to come. Benson suggests you find a word that is pleasing to you. It could be anything, say, `flower', `peace', or `love'. He likes the word `one' as it is simple and has the connotation of unity about it. Here's how. Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed for fifteen to twenty minutes and a comfortable chair that supports your back. Sit down and close your eyes. Give yourself a moment to settle in and you are ready to begin. Simply sit there, feet on the floor and eyes closed, quietly repeating your word over and over to yourself: `one...one...one...' Whenever your mind wanders or you are disturbed by a sound or thought, simply turn your mind gently back to repeating the word again. That is all there is to it. After fifteen to twenty minutes, stop repeating the mantra and get ready to open your eyes. Open your eyes, stretch, and go about your everyday activities. This is a particularly useful technique once you have practiced it a few times because you can do it in so many different places, such as in a waiting room or on a commuter train or bus.

Health From Your Core

Health From Your Core

Within each human lies an essence, a truth, a core of self, with one and only one intention - that it may be fully expressed, wholly manifested in material form while we live on this earth. Each year I become more aware that illness, lack of energy, a sense of confusion or lack of meaning in one’s life stems from a basic frustration of the expression of this essence. These things are often calls from the soul, asking you to become more aware of who you are at the deepest level and live out your unique soul nature in your day to day life. True healing is a transformation. Energy, power and authentic freedom grow as we engage in the process of connecting with our true essence and soul’s purposes and express them in our lives. To do this we need to call on all sorts of tools and techniques, from detoxifying body and mind, to herbs and natural treatments, to exercises for expanding awareness. Take energy for instance. Being able to live out your energy potential depends on how well you nourish yourself - physically, emotionally and spiritually - day by day. This means developing a lifestyle which incorporates exercise, good food, restorative sleep and the myriad of other possible factors - from hydrotherapy to super nutrients - that help support your own brand of vitality at peak efficiency. But energy too depends on living from your core, not by other people’s rules. It depends on living what you love most in some way, what feeds you most at the deepest levels. In discovering this and living more and more in this way, you not only fulfill your own life more richly than is possible in any other ways (after all we can only collect so many PhDs, BMWs and lovers). You also bring the very highest gifts that you have to give to your family, your community and the earth as a whole. Live your soul’s passion and you call on virtually endless energy. For health not only depends on how you eat and what exercise you get, and how you deal with the stress. All of these things are important. Each of us needs to develop a way of living unique to our needs and that calls for our body and psyche. But real health doesn't stop here. For ultimately, health is nothing less than the process of unfolding which each one of us goes through to become more fully who we really are. To empower this process we need consciousness expanding techniques such as meditation, autogenic training and prayer, for instance. All these things can be useful. But so far, the most useful spiritual tool of all I have ever found is the most ancient practice in the world: shamanism. These 30,000-years-old simple practices can not only be useful for healing, divination and creativity. Shamanism can also play a major part in your unfolding. Practical, simple to learn and easy to use, shamanic techniques can enrich your creativity, heighten your energy, and bring your outer life progressively in line with your soul’s purpose, enhancing your own and others' in the process. I created my Journey to Freedom books, tapes and other workshops to help people learn shamanic skills and reestablish a sense of connection with their own authenticity as well as the universe as a whole. This invariably brings great joy in its wake. It can bring you face to face with the only true guru for health, healing and spiritual guidance that exists: the guru within you. That is where the greatest power lies. Once you begin to align your life with your own truth, the universe supports you in a way you may never have dreamed possible. Working with people through their own health process, helping them discover whatever is most appropriate to their needs on both a physical and spiritual level, and teaching them how to work with these things, is the most exciting thing in my life. For each person is totally unique. Each of us carries a divine spark of soul which we are here to live out to the full, bringing our own individual brand of spirit into material form as we walk the earth. The beauty of watching this happen in those I work with is for me like walking in a garden and seeing flowers and plants, trees and rocks that I have never seen before. I am dazzled by their beauty.

The Bliss Of Ageing

The Bliss Of Ageing

whatever brings you bliss Growing older can be wonderful, unless you are full of foreboding about the process. Like most women, in my late thirties, I spent time worrying about my looks. Would they last? What could I do to hang on to youth? On dear! Oh dear! Then, by the time I reached 50, I had become so deeply involved in a fascination with living in the moment that my angst over the aging process had dissipated. Each morning I would run along the cliffs above the crashing Irish Sea in Pembrokeshire, followed by a 6 a.m. swim—not because it was good for me, but because I loved the joy and feelings of exhilaration this brought me. I had learned a secret: When it comes to aging, nothing is more important than filling your life with whatever brings you bliss. living in my body I had long been intrigued by weight training. So at the age of 51, I talked a Welsh champion weightlifter into teaching me the ins and outs of using weights properly. Rhodri, 26, lived and breathed weights. There are few things more wonderful than learning any skill from someone who is impassioned by what he teaches. We started training together for 21 hours each week—I kid you not. We did weights, tennis, running, swimming—the lot. It was hard for me, but I was determined to keep up. Gradually I could feel my body becoming stronger. It changed shape and became more fluid. My vitality increased. I noticed that, for the first time, I was actually living in my body instead of my mind. Rhodri taught me something else equally valuable: how important it is to make downtime for recovery. Dynamism is great, but it needs to be balanced by stillness and rest—another source of bliss. This lesson has served me well—one I had desperately needed to learn. Until this day, I take a nap every afternoon. Discover this for yourself Weight training may not interest you. Why should it? But what does fascinate you? Think of one or two things that might bring you your own experience of bliss. Learning to dance or sing? Writing a story, weaving, caring for children in need, creating a new home or a new business? What do you long to learn or to do? Try it, learn it, practice it wholeheartedly while living in the moment. It can not only bring you bliss. Believe it or not, pursuing this can also make you healthier. When all is said and done, the most important advice to anyone who wishes to age well is simple: Make a commitment to honor yourself. Decide that, as each month passes, you will choose to live your life more and more from your essential being—the unique, authentic core of spirit and energy that is you at your best. Doing this can bring the greatest fulfillment, satisfaction and freedom you will ever experience—not just for yourself, but for those you love and the world all around you as well. Have a go. Discover this for yourself.

Uncovering The Magnificent Self Part 1

Uncovering The Magnificent Self Part 1

The response to my recent blog “Your Magnificent Self” was enormous. This week’s is PART ONE of my reply to your having asked for more...PART TWO comes next week... Each one of us is ceaselessly involved in creating the quality of our own life. We do this through image-making—a universal characteristic of the human mind which even precedes thinking in the brain. We see, worry, put together ideas, dream, speak, and wonder, all through images. In fact, we experience a continuous flow of mental pictures, both conscious and unconscious, every moment of our life. This capacity to visualize—to 'image'—is one of the miracles of that comes with being human. Thanks to it, we are able to organize our reality, communicate with each other, and make sense of the limits of time and space around which our lives can be organized. THE MAGIC OF IMAGING Images have tremendous potency. When used wisely, your personal images are easy to direct for your own good. They are too often used against you when you are not conscious of them, or when you remain unaware of the amazing powers of choice you were gifted with from the moment you were born. Despite Freud’s assertions to the contrary, we human beings are most certainly not, as he believed, a collection of repressed destructive urges, only restrained by learned moral constructs from destroying ourselves and others. In truth, each of us is autonomous. And, like all beings in the universe, each of us has freedom of choice. CORE FRUSTRATIONS The destructive tendencies we all carry are most often the result of frustrations in the expression of one’s essential being—your unique and magnificent core self. Moving toward happiness and freedom from frustration, as well as freedom from the negative thought patterns and the destructive behavior they engender, develop as we learn to trust our innate self-actualizing tendency. This comes with finding out what we most desire at the deepest levels of our being—when we begin to discover the unique truths that lie within us and live out our day-to-day lives guided by them. In too many of us, self-actualizing tendencies remain undeveloped. Until we become committed to discovering them within and calling them forth, we tend to regress into fear, frustration, and confusion. When we decide to discover them inside us, we start to become stronger, in every way... physically, emotionally and spiritually. Life becomes a process of deep, often rapid growth. Potentials we did not know we had surface then start to blossom into creative projects. A whole new view of our life and self-worth is issued in. Life becomes simpler and happier even if, as is often the case, the world all around us seems to be rapidly crumbling or completely insane. RADIANT AND UNIQUE A fully functioning human being is radiant—more alive than most. He or she is someone who has access to mental and physical powers and is able to use them wisely. As such, these people carry their own unconventional view of things but they are, at the same time, spontaneously more accepting of themselves and of others. Their sense of satisfaction comes from inside, not from the 'carrots' offered through advertisements and self-proclaimed New Age gurus who are now riddling the world with “systems” purporting to bring step by step enlightenment, if only we follow to the letter what they are teaching. Such sheep-like behavior is becoming endemic because there is so much suffering and fear in the world. It is time for each man and woman to connect with their unique authentic being, and come to live life from there. Perhaps the most important question to ask then, if full functioning or self-actualization is so beneficial both physically and mentally, is: how do you go about strengthening your natural tendencies towards it? There are several ways to begin. Here are some simple tools to start with. FIRST STEPS First, entertain the possibility that your essential being—your core self—exists. You are someone quite individual, quite different from everyone else in the world. To those who have not yet experienced this awareness, it can seem a bit strange at first. Others will find it is something they have known all along without ever putting it into words. Still others will immediately accept the notion as self-evident. WHAT YOU BELIEVE Take a look at the ideas, behavior patterns, or assumptions about yourself and your life—in effect, your belief systems. So often, collections of notions which are largely unconscious can be major blocks to your free expression. 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 successful...”a good person”...someone of genuine value', or 'I am too old to change'. Some belief systems are even more deeply embedded things like '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, then write them down, you will discover that many are little more than habitual assumptions with no basis in fact. Then you will gradually find them falling away, so that you are free to be whatever you want to be. LIVE THE MOMENT Whatever you are doing, try letting yourself experience it fully. Get really 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 in the task, forgetting everything else for the moment. While we live in the moment and surrender ourselves to it, we can discover a whole new way of relating to life. There is a real delight in this kind of involvement. It silences the usually worried thoughts and concerns that sap your energy and make every event less interesting than it should be. This ability of complete involvement is also 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. WRITE IT DOWN Another way to develop this awareness is through meditation or deep relaxation. When you are relaxed yet alert, non-productive 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 listen not to ourselves, but to Mummy or Daddy's interjected voice or the voice of the Establishment, of the Elders, of authority or of tradition. Begin to explore how you feel about something or what you really want. Then record it. Keep a simple little journal with you at all times. Leave it on the nightstand when you go to bed with a pen or pencil to record whatever imagery comes to you when you walk, relax, meditate or dream. This is a delightful and easy way to begin the process. I suggest that you keep this simple notebook with you wherever you go as artists and writers do. You never know when desires, visions, questions and insights are going to make an appearance. As they do, record them in words or drawings. My suggestion is that, if at all possible, keep your journal to yourself and don’t let others see it. This provides greater freedom for the powerful imaginal world within you to reveal itself to you in marvelous and unique ways. PATH TO FREEDOM STARTS HERE The more we can become aware of what we think, feel, want and don’t want—in short, of our own quite unique values, the better our health becomes and the greater we experience absence of pain, discomfort, anxiety, tension, insomnia, nightmares, indigestion, constipation; lack of fear, longevity, and pleasure, in coming to live more and more as a fully functioning human being. This experience is not so much a state as a process which leads to the discovery of your own identity, nature, and creativity, as well as your own unique brand of joy and freedom. More to come next week... Every blessing... Leslie

Transfigure Your Life - Part 2

Transfigure Your Life - Part 2

The reward of each and every hero’s journey is life-transformation on every level—caterpillar into butterfly, base metal into gold.  Gifts from experiencing this process are legion.  They range from radiant wellbeing, creativity and joy, to becoming free so you can live your life authentically from the core of your being. If you have not yet read “Transfigure Your Life Part One”, I suggest you do this now before reading further... SPIRITUAL SANCTUARY As we move into the second part of every hero’s journey, we enter an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous realm.  Yet it is here, within your own dark inner cave, that you begin to discover your unique life purpose and values. In Arthurian legends, this Innermost Cave is the Chapel Perilous—a dangerous room wherein the Grail is hidden.  As each hero enters his or her dark cave, they need to be prepared for a new reality.  To a woman, this is the place where the mythological Dark Goddess dwells. To a man, the cave is often the arena in which he will need to fight his unique dragon so he can win his treasure. In stories of male heroes, the central image for what is sought is often a gem or a radiant jewel.  For a woman, it is frequently the image of a child—an offspring of her own spiritual rebirth. Instead of having to slay a dragon, a woman often has to remain in this place, enduring what can seem like unendurable silence.  She needs to listen and learn before she unearths her own treasure. Sometimes, as a woman makes her descent into the innermost cave, she tumbles headlong into an experience of the dark night of the soul. Often the hero’s journey a woman makes takes place around the time of menopause. It can be fraught with confusion and grief, or filled with loneliness and anger.  Meanwhile, in this place of bone-chilling darkness within her own being, she may feel turned inside out, naked and exposed.  For all the things she thought she knew about herself and her life no longer apply here. WOMAN’S WAY Far away from comfort and companionship—which she may, at this point, only vaguely remember—silence pervades.  Endless tears without name she may shed.  Occasionally, when a woman enters the innermost cave, she may not even have the strength to get dressed—let alone cook or clean or buy food.  To friends and family, she may seem like a lost creature.  She may forget things. She may dig in her garden or wander in the woods.  Yet all these tasks are wise woman’s work. The route that can eventually lead her out of the underworld and then return her home in a transfigured state is not the same as that of a man.  He often needs to move up, away from himself, to locate his path.  For a woman to find the treasure, she must lay aside any interest in culture or games of the mind and turn within. As she does this, she becomes more and more connected with her body, her sexuality, her dreams, images and desires.  And, as she moves even further into the depths, she begins to reclaim those parts of her that have been lost.  Here, in the ground of her being, she will come face to face with her greatest yet most rewarding challenges.  Here she will confront her fears and touch the pivotal crux of her hero's journey.  Here she tastes “death” by facing her own shadow.  And, when at last it is all over, the Dark Goddess waits ready to bless her and bestow upon her the greatest treasure of all—her body and soul.  But this is not the end of any man or woman’s hero's journey.  These heroes are soon faced with the task of bringing this treasure back home. It’s a job easier said than done. THE ROAD HOME The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy escapes from the castle of the wicked witch. Luke rescues Princess Leia and gets the plans of the Death Star. The Princess throws her frog against the wall and he turns into the beautiful prince.  Yet the game is far from over.  Having survived the ordeal, withstood the pressure, slain the monster and taken possession of the treasure, every hero now has to make his or her way home. Further challenges invariably appear.  Dorothy discovers that the hot air balloon which the Wizard has provided to take her back to Kansas is not the sure form of transport she had hoped.  Toto runs off after a cat.  In trying to bring him back, the balloon takes off without her and we fear she may be trapped forever in the underworld.  Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are pursued by Darth Vader as they make their escape from the Death Star.  Joan Wilder—having defeated the evil men who wanted to kill her and steal the stone—returns to New York, where she faces the arduous task of turning what has happened into her next romantic novel.  It is never an easy task for any hero to pass back and forth between ordinary and non-ordinary reality.  For much energy is spent during the supreme ordeal, and he or she may not have banished their enemy completely. Sometimes, on the road home, the hero experiences a sudden reversal of fortune just when he or she thought that the worst was over.  Should this take place, he or she is being given a chance to test out those newfound powers by overcoming adversity. There may still be a few shadows lurking—old ideas, old ways of doing things. But the game has changed now.  While within the innermost cave, an alchemical process has been completed.  We are no longer the men or women that we once were.  Now we need to learn new ways of living, and new methods of returning to the surface, because most of the rules we once lived by may no longer apply. DEEP CLEANSING In primitive societies, after a woman had entered the traditional moon lodge for a few days during her menstrual period, or when a man returned from a hunt, they were required to be washed and purified before being allowed back into the community. After all, they too had visited an underworld of non-ordinary reality while away. They had walked in the land of the dead.  Any blood that had stained their hands during this experience, or any soil that remained on their bodies, needed to be washed away.  At the end of a hero’s journey, the newly born offspring is now returning home in its transfigured form. This, too, is a time for spring-cleaning the body and mind, for doing whatever is most comforting and rewarding so the returning hero regenerates him or herself—perhaps by listening to music for hours on end, awakening at dawn to take a long walk, or carrying out some ritual  or meditation to help refocus life while getting used to being home again. Finally, he or she arrives back home with the elixirs, treasures, wisdom and knowledge.  The mysterious world of non-ordinary reality has been entered. Trials have been faced and overcome.  In the process, they have made a deeper connection with their own essential being. Dorothy gets back to Kansas having learned that she is loved and finds that, after all is said and done, "there's no place like home." Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star so peace and order can return to the galaxy.  Joan Wilder writes her book, keeps the faith and gets her Jack, complete with alligator boots and a boat in which she can sail around the world.  Their hero's journey has come full circle.  They have returned to the place from which it started.  Yet for neither is this place as it was before their journey began. For, having brought back home the power and the blessing they earned while in the numinous realms they visited, they have been reborn.  In truth, even the world itself has been renewed. ENDS AND NEW BEGINNINGS A woman who completes her passage into the underworld and returns discovers that, within her darkness, confusion and loneliness, she has discovered a new joy, a new sense of meaning.  She now knows that the world which once seemed fragmented now all fits together.  She has tasted—often for the first time—her own authentic power and freedom.  She knows that she no longer has to live by other people's rules.  Indeed, she is likely to find it is no longer possible for her to do so.  She is no longer ‘seducible' by those who once made her feel inadequate so they could sell her another body, another BMW, another love affair to fill up the emptiness that used to be there.  Having been released from all of this, she has become set free to learn the new art of living as mistress of her own life. And so a hero's tale ends. Yet one big question remains for each man and woman who has chosen to make the journey.  What will they do with the treasure they brought back?  In most of the male myths, there are said to be two choices.  Either he takes his treasure into his castle and lives happily ever after or, like Percival, having found the Grail, he decides to share it with the world, so that the Fisher King's wounding is healed and the land that had become barren and devastated by his wound becomes fertile again. MY OWN EXPERIENCE It is my observation that, having completed her hero’s journey, a woman has no such choice.  By her nature, woman is more connected with the energies of life and the powers of the earth than her male counterpart.  She is therefore more aware of the interrelatedness of all things than most men. Sooner or later, most women heroes have no choice but to share with others the wisdom they bring back.  The female hero has by now incorporated the essence of the Dark Goddess—the most essential, generous, wise and healing of female energy—into her heart.  The mysterious goddess has communed with her wordlessly.  Now she too has become a keeper of the wisdom by which battles are won and lost.  She has  also tasted the power and the joy of transfiguration.  Now, like the Dark Goddess, she often develops a passion to share all this with the world by nurturing her own life as well as the lives of all living things. BOUNDLESS ENTHUSIASM Doing what somebody else wants you to do is living by a slave mentality. It is a perfect way to encourage physical degeneration and lose touch with your own unique truth and creativity. Now, however, you begin to live in freedom.  Whatever you do or say as you learn more and more to trust yourself flows forth with enthusiasm from the core of your being.  Little wonder, since the word entheos means ‘god-filled.”

A New You Calling To Be Born

A New You Calling To Be Born

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 tranquillizers, 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 MOULTING BEGINS 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 moulting 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 tranquillizers). 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. FRIENDSHIP HEALS 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 moulting. 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 moulting 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. AS 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 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 REBIRTH 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. After all a brand new year has just begin. It may well be calling forth a new you...perhaps the richest most creative just waiting to be born.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 13,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 13 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 8th of May 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.75 lb
for women
-1.27 lb
for men
-0.75 lb
for women
-1.27 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 8th of May 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

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