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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

Creativity Is Yours

Creativity Is Yours

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

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.

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!

The Zen Of Infinite Reality

The Zen Of Infinite Reality

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. He and I loved to listen to music—just about any music available—at full volume, of course. This, my mother, could not stand—which made it, even more, exciting. While my playmates roamed the hills of Hollywood skinning their knees, I would lie on my belly in our living room, listening to music as loud as I could make it. One day, combing through our vast supply of records, I came upon Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." The name 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 down in front of our huge speakers. Strange, mysterious, discordant sound flooded my body, opening a secret door to somewhere deep inside me—a mysterious inner world I had never entered. I didn't know such a place even existed. I trembled with fear and excitement while Stravinsky's music continued to wind its way through my body. 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 of sound into unexplored worlds, too numerous to name. I have no idea how long all this lasted. Eventually, even the "boat" carrying me along on vivid images began to dissolve like sugar in water. In a perfect union, the sounds and the child-that-had-been-me swirled into a vortex and became lost in each other. We shared the excitement, fear, longing, fierceness, and sadness. As lovers, we had come together—music and child—in an immediate, passionate, all-encompassing union. Eventually, I found myself at the center of this whirlpool. Then, even the ecstasy of the movement vanished. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I tumbled—not into Wonderland, but into an experience of unspeakable stillness. Zen practitioners claim this experience is available at any moment to each one of us. For me, it was an indescribable event—beyond space, beyond time, outside thought. Without the slightest possibility of ever being able to describe it, I knew that everything was as perfect as it was meant to be. In the words of Zen Master Daisetz Suzuki, in this place, I would eat when I am hungry, sleep when tired. I knew that "it was fine yesterday and today it is raining." In the words of Julian of Norwich, I was sure that "All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of things 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." 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 top marks, went to work, won prizes, gave birth to four children by four different men, raised them on my own, wrote books, made films, gave talks, led workshops, created products for companies, made television programs and so on and so on. In effect, I did what millions of men and women do—I became the breadwinner, the caretaker, the nurturer of people's lives. Through all the years between six and now, my passion for music, painting, books, poetry, architecture and movies has never left me. Far from it. During all of these years, the epiphany of emptiness that Stravinsky brought to me that day and the sense of absolute stillness has never faded. It has made it possible for me to create so many things as well as to explore new places and ideas. It's invited me to move beyond thought towards a place of unity with the rest of the universe. All this continues gnawing at me. I suspect it will never go away, just as the urge to breathe never goes away, no matter how long we try to hold our breath. What I did not know—and this took me scores of years to find out—is that the rabbit hole into which I had unexpectedly tumbled has for millennia, been, 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, 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 come 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." 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 expanded too, such power is both purposeless and egoless. As such, it can be called truly spiritual. Why? I believe because it is charged with an awareness that spirit is present everywhere. Because the cosmos is present everywhere, we too are present everywhere. We can have direct experience of this, and access the power that continues to create the universe itself. And we have full access to that power of creation to use in our lives, in whatever way we choose. The Sufis call this state fana—the annihilation of your individual selfhood. When you experience fana, your everyday personality becomes transparent, so the larger being that you are shines through. You soon become absorbed in an all-encompassing fascination for the moment. Life is lived in the NOW. Cutting-edge physicists speak of a holographic universe in which we live but seldom access because we are plagued by endless mental concepts that blind us to so-called reality. This blinds us to the experience of Samadhi—"a non-dualistic state in which the consciousness of the subject becomes one with an experience of the object." This selfless absorption and total surrender of Samadhi is characteristic of children when left alone to follow their instincts. It is available to each one of us, regardless of age or condition. Honoring whatever brings you bliss in your life opens the door to it. That day, when I lay on the floor lost in Stravinsky, without recognizing, I became conscious of it what would inspire me most: The beauty of art—whether it be music, words, stories, sculpture, buildings or what-have-you. Why? Certainly not because I had any idea that art was supposed to be valued as part of what grown-ups refer to as culture. I couldn't have cared less. After all, I was a kid who, when not entranced by what I was seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, spent the rest of my day learning card tricks, wrestling with my huge dog Tuffy, and trying—unsuccessfully—to sell packets of chewing gum which my grandfather gave 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 had little in common, it had grabbed hold of me and would never let me go. It demanded of me both a submission as well as active participation in the making of it. I now believe that my first love affair at the age of six became the harbinger for how I have lived my life. At any moment in time, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, fana is available to all of us regardless of age. Honoring whatever brings you bliss opens the door to it for you.

Metamorphoses For Freedom

Metamorphoses For Freedom

Examining what works in your life and what doesn't takes courage. It is never easy. It demands that you disassemble structures that you take for granted but which may no longer serve you at the deepest level. These structures can include anything from a habit of munching your way through two pounds of chocolates every time you feel depressed, to holding on to a job that is meaningless, or to a relationship which does not help you grow - all because you are afraid you can't cope otherwise or do any better for yourself. Every transformation, every profound and life-enhancing change in some way involves dismemberment. It dissolves every structure that has become inadequate to support an organism. Like the crab which sheds his cramped shell in order to create a larger one, each of us again and again is faced with the prospect of taking apart structures in our own lives which have become too small to contain us. If we don't consciously rise to the occasion, then life takes them apart for us, and we find ourselves precipitated into crises: It seems as though you have entered a dark tunnel leading to an unknown land. You feel that you don't know yourself any more, or what you value, or even what is going on. So fundamental is this uncomfortable but necessary process of molting to human physical, emotional and spiritual health - in fact to life itself - that it takes place again and again in our lives whether we like it or not. Sometimes change comes spontaneously as a result of something that happens to us - the death of a loved one perhaps, or the loss of a job. Sometimes it is consciously chosen out of an awareness that our current life structures no longer serve our values and our goals. Whether the transition required is a big one - choosing to enter or leave a long-term relationship - or a relatively small one - putting yourself through a short spring cleaning diet to detoxify your body - it frequently brings an experience of deep uncertainty and anxiety - the sense that you are in crisis. The transition facing you seems terrifying. You want most to run away as fast as you can. You feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. The irony in all this is that it is only in facing a crisis and making the transitions it demands that we learn we can cope, and that life can be trusted. We also discover that, given half a chance, the body has an amazing capacity to heal itself, and that there exists deep within us a wisdom and a clarity more profound and powerful than the conscious mind. The Lebanese poet Kahil Gibran wisely wrote, "Your pain is but the breaking of the shell than encloses your understanding." For most of us, learning to live through our crises and to make something positive out of them means revising a lot of what we have been taught about ourselves, our minds, even life itself. Most of all, it means looking at the concept of crisis and the experience of change from a whole new point of view. It means learning to transform what may feel like a life-threatening situation into a true passage to power.

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.

Erotic Power - Set Yourself Free

Erotic Power - Set Yourself Free

Before we begin I would like to share a short interview I did with Helen Musset, who was on Leslie Kenton's Cura Romana and lost 20 kilos while on the program. I was lucky enough to interview her about her experience. You can listen to the interview here. Now back to my newsletter. Frequently discussed yet little understood in our post-industrial society is the value of ecstasy and the spiritually creative power of the erotic. For power, it is of an order that can be both frightening and tremendously creative. It is no accident that in all of the Eastern religions it is the erotic which symbolizes man's pathway to realizing the Divine. In our capacity to experience ecstasy at the deepest levels may lie both the key to our survival and our ability to create. Studies of the human brain and its interfaces with the body have for the first time in history begun to chart what takes place biologically when one allows oneself to enter fully into the erotic state. PATH TO FREEDOM The results of this research are not only helping us see just how important this can be to health and wholeness, they make us conscious of just how far away the so-called sexual revolution has taken us from our being able to experience true ecstasy. For the mechanistic approach to sexuality with which we have lived for the past four decades, with all its sex-manuals and all the advice on “how-to-do-it-better”—instead of leading us towards a state in which we are more able to plunge into the irrational, oceanic, all-trusting state which every ecstatic encounter demands—has taught us to intellectualize sexuality. We’ve made it into something which too often we do and watch ourselves doing; something that we learn about and something that we try to control. Yet right at the core of every truly ecstatic experience is a fundamental demand that we give up all control, so that for a time we allow ourselves to dissolve our boundaries and merge into a celebration of the body, of life itself. In doing so, we experience being fully present in the moment. THE PRIMITIVE BRAIN Each man and woman has not one brain but two: The rational brain or the neocortex, which like an immensely complicated computer enables us to make conscious choices and to collect, store and interpret the data we receive from our sensory organs. We also have the subcortical nervous system known as the primitive brain. This primitive brain is sometimes referred to as the “reptilian structure”. From an evolutionary point of view, it is the oldest part of our brain. Unlike our conscious mind, it can never be disassociated from our basic adaptive systems such as the hormonal system and the immune system, on which survival depends. Your emotions and your instincts are bonded to the activity of your primitive brain. The hormone control center area regulates the activity of all your endocrine glands through complex feedback mechanisms. When you experience joy, your hormonal functioning is better. When you grieve or when you engage in intellectual thought, it is subject to greater stress. This complex feedback network between our mind and body, mediated through the primitive brain, is often referred to as our primitive adaptive system. On the quality of its responses and how well it is balanced with the functioning of our neocortex depends how healthy we are physically, mentally and spiritually. LOSS OF TRUST But being human in the so-called civilized world is not always easy. In our culture, the neocortex—our rational brain—has become highly developed. It is this development which gives us the capacity to make rational decisions, to define what we perceive to be “reality”, and to consciously manipulate the outside world to our advantage. In a truly healthy person, the balance between the two brains is good. However in most of us, our rational brain inhibits the primitive brain. In truth, in our 21st century world, this neocortical inhibition of the primitive brain has been carried to extremes. So much is this the case that we have undermined our ability to experience ecstasy, diminished our capacity for creativity and joy and have forgotten how to trust in the wisdom of our instincts. Take the experience of childbirth, for example. Instead of our being able during the birth process to give over our bodies to the event and trust that at the right time the appropriate hormone will be secreted to dilate the cervix and bring the child into the world. This leads instinctively to the desire to nurture new life at the breast and experience the oceanic love that comes with mother/child bonding. When we try to exert conscious control of the process, we undermine our natural, primitive adaptive processes. As a result, hormones shift in inappropriate ways and we lose touch with the ecstatic experience of surrender to the body, as well as with all the joy this brings. In short, Whenever we bring into play the rational brain at an inappropriate time we suffer for it. (So, incidentally, does the baby.) Then we experience ourselves as separate from what is happening to our body, and we feel pain. THE PAIN OF SEPARATION It is not our rational brain that is the problem, but the inappropriateness of allowing it to come into play at the wrong time, which results in an experience of separation and anguish. Human instincts, which need to be valued, trusted and allowed freedom to be for us to live in real health and wholeness Fragile things, they are easily repressed and inhibited, constantly changed and controlled by the power of the neocortex. So much is this the case in the majority of people nowadays these inhibitions have become so unconscious and habitual that they are not even aware of them—something which eliminates the possibility of choice. Quite simply, we have forgotten how to let go and trust to our body. We deny the power of our instincts. Then, instead of working for us they work against us. Each woman is a great deal more than her rational mind. To be whole, to be healthy, to live the power of her own individual truth, she requires a highly developed emotional and instinctive life as well as a strong rationality. She needs to learn to trust her body so that, at appropriate times, such as in childbirth or lovemaking, she can abandon herself to it fully. Then the highly developed neocortex—responsible for the development of culture and rational achievement—instead of working against our vitality, can help channel her instinctive and emotional life in exciting and creative ways. We become able to experience joy in simply being, the way a child can—a joy and a radiance which does not depend upon what we do or have, or on how clever we are, or how admired: We come to live life moment by moment, simply by being fully present to whatever is happening. THE SERPENT AWAKENS How do we rediscover this kind of trust in our body and our instincts? The answer is not simple. It involves experiment, listening, adjustment. Usually it develops slowly, in fits and starts, by learning to trust ourselves, by becoming aware when instinctive responses begin to take place and allowing them to happen. This is especially important in the experience of sexuality—a realm in which the primitive brain comes into its own more easily than in any other. The erotic, the ecstatic, has a power far beyond the experience of pleasure it brings. Ancient philosophical and religious traditions teach that the font of our sexual power, known as the kundalini, lies coiled like a sleeping serpent at the base of the spine. When aroused, this intense procreative energy, the most powerful energy known to human life, begins to uncoil and rise up the body, activating our energy centers—chakras—one by one. There are seven main chakras in the body. These locusts are where life energy, which controls biological processes, interfaces with the physical body. Each chakra relates to particular endocrine glands and each manifests a different quality of powerful instinctive energy. For instance, the first chakra which lies near the base of the spine deals with our survival. The next chakra, located in the pelvis, looks after procreative energies. The chakra at the solar plexus is involved with our will, the heart chakra with compassion, the throat with our higher creative energies, and so forth. The seventh chakra at the crown of the head is known as the thousand petal lotus. It has long been believed to be responsible for man's spiritual development at the highest level. When fully activated, this crown chakra can emit a radiance which you find depicted in every religious tradition in the form of the halo around the head of saints, the Christ, the Buddha and all the rest. CREATIVE FREEDOM The kundalini or life force is not something which can be aroused or activated through rational effort by the conscious mind. For its energies, being sexual in the very deepest sense of the word—a sense which encompasses self-expression and creativity in every way from giving birth, to art, to Dionysian celebration of the erotic in sexual intercourse—are irrational in nature. They belong to the realm of the primitive brain. As such, they defy definition and elude any who would classify, categorize or try to control them. Since we belong to a civilization that places great value on classification and control—and which therefore has sought conveniently to ignore or dismiss as non-existent any part of experience which does not fit into whatever is rational and controllable. We often feel particularly unsettled whenever the power of these profound life energies surface. They can make us decidedly uncomfortable. After all, if we decide to follow them, we risk dissolving the boundaries of ourselves. Then we fear a loss of the very control which the overdeveloped rational mind so loves. The irony is that it is this very loss of this control that we most long for. Here’s the bottom line: Without an ability to live the instinctive as well as the rational, we will never experience our wholeness. Without this, the full creativity of our longings and our humanity can never be realized. For it is the inhibition of this ability to experience the ecstatic and to trust in ourselves and our bodies that bring feelings of powerlessness and meaninglessness which are now widespread in our society. CELEBRATE ECSTASY As black American writer Audre Lorde says, “The Erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling... As women we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge... It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. But the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough.” Exploring the realms of ecstasy, the truly erotic in your own life, is a long way from experimenting with all the mechanistic sexual stuff you will find in the popular press which tells us how we are supposed to get more pleasure from sex by doing this or that to your partner. Sadly, instead of freeing us to explore ecstasy, the so-called “sexual revolution” has crushed our erotic power not set it free. When this happens, what is meant to bring ecstasy instead turns pornographic then our powers for creativity and freedom are truncated. It is time that we develop the ability to surrender ourselves to the realm of instinct, to trust our bodies and stop relegating our sexuality to the realm of the neocortex. To experience high level health and wholeness, we must find a marriage between instinct and reason. It is a union which like any marriage takes time to develop and grow, but a union which in terms of our wellbeing, self-respect and capacity for joy in day to day life can bear infinite fruit. DOWNLOAD MY FREE BOOK 7 STUNNING SECRETS FOR WEIGHT LOSS FREE It Will Bring You: • A clear understanding of why conventional weight loss diets fail. • A step-by-step guide to help you shed excess fat permanently. • Insight into food cravings and why they are not your fault. • Actions you can take right now to move forward towards a leaner and healthier body. latter Download 7 Stunning Secrets For Weight Loss HELEN LOST 20 KILOS ON CURA ROMANA - INTERVIEW Helen Musset, who was on Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana lost 20 kilos while on the program. I was lucky enough to interview her about her experience in this short audio conversation. Many people find it hard to understand the transformation that occurs through out the Cura Romana program as it almost always seems to good to be true. I hope this sheds some light into this process from someone who has been through the program and experienced it’s powerful weight loss properties as well as it’s ability to provide tremendous personal transformation. I hope you enjoy. Listen to Helen’s Interview

How I Learned That Love Is Real

How I Learned That Love Is Real

My first child was born in a huge teaching hospital in Los Angeles. The labor was long and regrettably not natural. I was given an analgesic during labor and an epidural for the delivery. It was all very cold, efficient and mechanical. The hospital I was in happened to be a Catholic one in which every other woman there seemed already to know the ropes since she was giving birth to her fifth or eighth or tenth child. Nobody bothered to tell me much about what was going on or what was expected of me. My baby was taken from me immediately after the birth and put into a nursery with all of the other babies while I was wheeled off to a private room. Soon they brought this tiny creature to me. I held him in my arms and stared at him in stark wonder. Then at three hourly intervals he would reappear for twenty minutes at a time and I'd hold him in bed beside me until the nurse would come and take him away again. The third or fourth time they brought him to me, he began to cry. I nestled him, rocked him, and spoke gently to him but he wouldn't stop so I rang for the nurse. `My baby's crying,' I said, `What should I do?' `Have you burped him?' `Burped him?' `You have fed him haven't you?' `Fed him? Am I supposed to feed him?` The nurse took him and put him to my breast. His tiny mouth opened and reached for me as if he had known forever what to do. He began to suck with such force it took my breath away. It was like being attached to a vacuum cleaner. I began to laugh. I couldn't help myself. It seemed incredible that such a tiny creature could have such power and determination. He too had a purpose. He was raw, insistent and real. With every fiber of his being, this child was drawing his life and he would not be denied. Tears of joy ran shamelessly down my cheeks while he sucked. There in the midst of all that clinical green and white, I had discovered what love was all about. It was really quite simple—a meeting of two beings. The age, the sex, the relationship didn't matter. That day two creatures - he and I — had met. We touched each other in utter honesty and simplicity. This experience was for me a true epiphany. My life was forever altered by it. There was nothing romantic or solemn about it. No obligations, no duties, no fancy games, and you didn't have to read an encyclopedia of baby care to experience it. We'd met, just that. Somewhere in spirit we were friends. I knew beyond all doubt that I had found something real and real it has remained.

Youth Factors

Youth Factors

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

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 19,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 14 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 3rd of October 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.50 lb
for women
-0.98 lb
for men
-0.50 lb
for women
-0.98 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 3rd of October 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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