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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

Your Gift Of Health

Your Gift Of Health

Within each one of us lies an essence, a core of self, with one and only one intention—that it may be fully expressed while we live on this earth. With each passing year, I become more and more aware that illness, lack of energy, a sense of confusion or lack of meaning in someone’s life stems from a basic frustration of the expression of their unique essential being. These experiences are calls from your soul. They ask you to become more aware of who you are at the deepest level of your being. They want to awaken you to your unique nature. Energy, power and authentic freedom All healing is a process of transformation. Energy, power and authentic freedom grow as you engage in the process of connecting with your essence and discovering what your values and your soul’s purposes are, then expressing them in how you choose to live your life. To do this, you can call on all sorts of tools and techniques, from detoxifying body and mind, to herbs and natural treatments, to exercises for expanding awareness. Take energy. Being able to live out your energy potential depends on how well you nourish yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually—day by day. It helps to develop a lifestyle that incorporates pleasurable exercise, good food, restorative sleep and other helpful practices—from hydrotherapy to taking super nutrients—that support vitality. But more than anything else, the energy you have depends on how much you are living your day-to-day life from your core and not by trying to follow conventions and other people’s rules. It depends on expressing what you love in the way you choose, and discovering what feeds you most at the deepest levels of your being. soul’s passion Here’s the secret to experiencing it: Begin to live out your soul’s passion day by day. Soon you will be able to call on virtually endless energy. You see, health not only depends on how you eat and what exercise you get or how well you deal with stress. Yes, all of these things are important. But real health doesn’t stop here. Why? Because, ultimately, health is nothing less than the process of unfolding that each one of us has to go through to become more fully aware of who we really are. Once you begin to align your life with your own sense of truth, you will find out that the universe supports you in ways you may never have dreamed possible. unique health I‘ve worked with people for many years, helping them discover their own unique health processes, helping them find out what matters most to them, to discover their needs and longings on both a physical and spiritual level. It has been the most rewarding and exciting thing in my life. Every one of us carries a divine spark which we are here to live out to the full, bringing our own unique spirit into material form as we walk the earth. For me, the beauty of watching this happen to men and women I work with is like walking in a garden and coming face to face with unique flowers, plants, trees and rocks that I have never seen before. There is nothing more wondrous to behold.

Longing For Freedom

Longing For Freedom

Far too much vitality lies stillborn beneath patterns of addictive behavior, fear and heavy psychological baggage—the kind of stuff we all carry around with us which thwarts our energy and makes life hard work. One of the most moving accounts I have ever read of discovering freedom came from a political dissenter imprisoned in a concentration camp in the early 1940s. He wrote about how he came to experience the true nature of freedom, creativity and wholeness while living in the most inhumane conditions of physical incarceration imaginable. He discovered his freedom in the only way any of us ever will—by coming to live from ever deeper layers of himself. Eventually, he wrote, the very soul of him and his outer personality became like echoes of each other. REBIRTH BEGINS When the distortions we all carry—the false beliefs, destructive parental training, or negative habit patterns formed throughout our lives—begin to fall away, exciting things replace them. Rejuvenation begins to take place—emotionally, physically and spiritually—liberating life-energy and shifting the way we look upon reality, all the while allowing us just to be who we are. Any pretensions or self-limiting assumptions we have been carrying no longer diminish the experience of being fully alive. This is an experience available to everyone and one which I have discovered often takes place in men and women on Cura Romana. I have given a great deal of thought to why and how Cura Romana’s protocol initiates an expanded sense of freedom and possibility in the lives of those participating in out Journey Program, as well as those who work closely with me personally on our Inner Circle Gold protocol. I have no definitive answers. But I suspect that it has a lot to do with a couple of things. The first is the intention with which you enter into and follow your program. A few people are only interested only the fast and effective weight loss as they begin. Others tell is they are at a place in their life where they feel ripe for transformation on many different levels. Meanwhile, many first decided to do the program for weight loss alone report that their Cura Romana experience has spurred in them a desire for expansion and spiritual deepening which they could never have anticipated. BIOCHEMISTRY TRANSFORMS The other factor, which I suspect has a lot to do with the sense of freedom that the program engenders, is most certainly the result of biochemical, physiological and energetic changes that take place in the body and the psyche as greater hormonal, physiological and emotional balance progressively take place in central parts of the brain. It’s important to remember that the diencephalon deep in the brain represents the core of the autonomic nervous system. As it functions better, so do sleep, one’s sense of self, and one’s view of reality on many levels. I always tell people as they begin either of our programs that it is time to consider what you want from your Cura Romana experience. For, like many who have gone before you, you may find you get a lot more from the experience than successful weight loss. Four years ago, when Aaron and I began to work with our Cura Romana programs, we would never have dreamed that the most commonly reported non-physical benefit felt by participants completing the program is an experience of expanded freedom. Many insist that, for the first time in their lives, a burden of “conformity” they long felt themselves saddled with has been lifted away. ‘I am lighter,’ they say, ‘not just in my body but in my being. I feel free just to be me.’ Others say that long-held limiting beliefs have vanished. Others report that their lives and the world look different now—‘like everything is brand new’. Freedom has always fascinated me. I love the smell of the word. I like its sense of possibility. I taste freedom when I listen to the music of Aaron Copland—music that could only have been written in a country that once had vast prairies and seemingly infinite wilderness. I feel freedom in my body when I run along cliffs in the rain. I rejoice in the sense of freedom that comes when, after hours of shifting dead words and sentences, something suddenly comes alive and beauty spills out all over the page. A PASSION FOR FREEDOM I believe that each of us longs for greater freedom. Rightly so. Like air, food and water, freedom is a human birthrights. Yet we often have little idea how to go about finding it. In the search for freedom, some end up sniffing cocaine or drinking too much alcohol. Others dance all night at a rave. A few turn to philosophy. Or maybe they head off to India or California to sit at the foot of some guru, hoping he or she will hand it to them. All these things—from rum and cocaine to raves and yoga —offer a taste of freedom. Some, such as drugs and alcohol, are more transitory than others. When they wear off, so does the sense of liberation they once promised, to be replaced by what I call a false-freedom hangover. Others run deeper. The taste of freedom they offer encourages us to pursue them. The move towards the freedom they offer may be slower, but the liberating gifts they offer lasts longer. What’s important is that every experience of freedom, whether temporary or long-lasting, brings in its wake a sense of our being released from imprisonment—our being able, even for a short time, to respond to life spontaneously with the whole of our being. ENDING THE WEIGHT STRUGGLE When beginning their Cura Romana program, most participants have been struggling with their weight. They dislike—even hate—their bodies, and suffer a sense of shame about themselves. These are heavy burdens to carry. Often, people labor under false beliefs about the impossibility of changing things. They can be plagued by frustration or anger. And—although seldom aware of it until this begins to change—they experience a deep disconnection between mind and body. Some feel imprisoned by cravings and addictions—not only to foods, but to other things too, such as wine or cigarettes. They feel themselves at the mercy of compulsions and unconscious habit patterns which undermine belief in themselves as autonomous human beings. They’ve forgotten that, like all of us, they have been born with free will. The most freedom-restricting belief of all is the notion, which many people have, that what they want and need can only be found outside themselves. This false belief, more than any other, is what prevents us from experiencing the depth and power of our magnificent essential being which enables each one of us to forge the life we want. For many, Cura Romana has begun this process. It is the satisfaction that Aaron and I get from helping people discover and live out their natural birthright to freedom that makes us so passionate about the work we do with our participants. AUTHENTICITY AWAITS US Freedom is a unique state of being. There is a boldness to it. You dare to say what you think and feel, yet you can listen to the words and hearts of others who think differently. It brings with it a sense that you trust yourself, as well as the Universe, even if you comprehend neither. It liberates you from the slavery of conforming to other people’s rules, imprisoning ideologies, life-draining addictions to foods that do not support high-level health, and from the crippling influences of negative emotions that may once have strangled you. The way in which such authentic freedom blossoms in each of us is unique to the individual and full of surprises. However it takes place, the freer we become, the more self-determining our lives become, and the more exciting. When challenges arise, instead of looking upon them in fear as crushing forces, we start to see them as worthy opponents. We discover that wrestling with them helps us break through to an even wider experience of liberation. In an outer way, to be free means to enjoy liberty of action under a government which is not despotic and does not encroach on individual human rights. More important, in an inner way, becoming free means liberation from the relentless forces of doubt, self-criticism and fear that we all inherit from growing up in emotional and educational environments that split our mind from our body and teach us not to trust ourselves. These environments tell us that we are supposed to put our faith in ‘experts’. They teach us not to honor the splendor of the individual human soul. They say that each of us teaches what we most need to learn ourselves and creates what we most love. This is certainly the case with me and freedom. The most important thing I have learned from listening to my own longing for freedom is how essential it is that each of us learns to live our life in authenticity right from our the very core of us. We come to trust ourselves and honor who we are without ego or comparison. The more we live this way, the more beings around us are encouraged to do the same. I’ve also learned that, when we become aware of the sea of powerful cosmic energies in which every one of us is immersed, it supports our individual journeys towards authentic freedom in ways we have never dreamed possible. GIFTS FROM THE UNIVERSE The Universe is filled with compassion on which each of us can draw when we need support. Each of us has the power to create whatever we want. Authentic freedom knows no age-barriers—no limitations. Neither is it the province of an elite few while the rest of us ‘get by’ hoping that a few crumbs of this precious stuff will fall our way—if only we are patient enough, virtuous enough, or spend enough money buying all the right products. Here’s the bottom line: freedom is free. It belongs to all people. The demand for it is encoded in our very genes. This is what makes us long passionately to discover it. Go for it. It may well be the greatest gift of all.

Stress Is A Gift

Stress Is A Gift

The idea that stress is all bad is patent nonsense. As human beings we would be little more than vegetables without stress in our lives. Also, and most important, the more committed we are to the lives we are leading and the more right they are for us, the less likely we are to suffer the ravages of stress. Nevertheless we worry about stress, wonder about it, and wish it would go away. Yet seldom do we even stop to ask what it is. Little wonder. For stress is complicated even to define. YOU NEED STRESS TO LIVE The word stress comes from the language of engineering, meaning “any force which causes an object to change.” In engineering the specific change caused by stress is known as strain and there are four possible kinds: torsion, tensile, compression and sheering. In human terms the strain is you body's response to physical, chemical, emotional or spiritual forces, asking in some way that you adapt to them. As we learn this art, we also discover a great secret: How stress can become the spice of life, the exhilaration of challenge and excitement, the high of living with heavy demands on you and and thriving. For, like the tempering process involved in the production of a piece of good steel, once you make a friend of stress, forces which had seemed to be working against you become positive energies that define you, strengthen you and help you express your own brand of creativity and joy. This is one of the great gifts that stress has to offer. Without physical and mental challenges your body would become feeble and you would never feel the excitement and creative energy which are such an important part of wellbeing. But too much stress can be a killer since stress, or rather the inability to cope with it, is the common denominator in all disease states. It is also a strong contributing cause in almost every illness to which we are susceptible. Develop methods for neutralizing the negative effects of stress and you can begin to thrive on its positive aspects. TOSS OUT THE PILLS Drug-based therapy is not the answer: the a million tons of Valium swallowed each year, as well as sleeping pills and other tranquillizers, produce unpleasant and dangerous side-effects ranging from addiction to acute rage, withdrawal, long-term worsening of anxiety symptoms, sub-clinical vitamin and mineral deficiencies, aggressiveness and even acute psychotic episodes. New evidence indicates that taking tranquillizers may also encourage the growth of tumours, impair neuromuscular coordination and make takers more prone to road accidents. Quite apart from the detrimental effects these drugs exert on mind and body, the fact that they treat only the symptoms of overload and do absolutely nothing towards eliminating the causes, means they can never make a positive contribution to wellbeing. What’s worse, relying on pills weakens your ability to cope with life and undermines your autonomy and your self-esteem. QUICK ENERGY NOW It is actually possible to breathe in energy whenever you feel burdened with worry and fatigue. Try this for a couple of minutes: Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply from your diaphragm, so your stomach (not your chest) swells with each in breath. Imagine that you are breathing in vitality from the air to fill your whole body through your solar plexus. As you breathe in, feel that your whole body is becoming more and more relaxed. Imagine it as a centre of immense light radiating outward in all directions, as though you are taking in energy through the solar plexus itself, transforming it into light and radiating it out again everywhere. YOUR FEELINGS MATTER Emotional stressors in your life can take their toll. But f most emotional hurdles can be overcome. Take a look at what continues to trigger off the stress response in your own life. Ask yourself whether it is something which prevents you from turning a lot of your energy to more constructive use. Some stressors provide challenges from which we can grow. Others are simply habitual. They lead nowhere and bring little in terms of increasing awareness or your ability to make better use of your energy. If there are any of these in your life see if you can eliminate them. For instance, take a look at the work you do and ask yourself if you find it really satisfying. Are the financial responsibilities you have taken on really necessary? Can you reduce them in any way? If so, have the courage to drop them and to accept the changes this will bring about; this too can make you stronger. We humans have a tendency to hang on to the status quo at all costs - and often the cost is in terms of lost adaptive energy - occasionally even life. Regardless of whether you learn the world's finest techniques for meditation to counteract stress, if you are in a job you hate year after year or are faced with a relationship that no longer has meaning for you, they will do little good. To make stress work you must not only face up to its demands, but also take responsibility for removing it wherever it is no longer useful and relevant to you. GET INTO JOY Each of us needs to develop our own personal ways of throwing off stress. A walk in the woods for clearing consciousness is something quite specifically ordered by Tibetan doctors to patients who suffer from rapid swings of mood and worry. Or you could try sailing, running, dancing, gardening, listening to music or some other form of hobby. I have a passion, verging on an addiction, for good movies. Explore them all. Find out what works best for you and make it an important part of your day-to-day life. By eliminating unnecessary stressors from your life, practising relaxation and exercise, and becoming more and more aware of which challenges are important to you and which you are better off without, you will develop a way of being which will keep you free from unnecessary illness. You will soon be tapping the kind of vitality and enthusiasm a child has which most adults have long forgotten. A special bonus too - you will quite automatically preserve your good looks and vitality decade after decade. THE ART OF SIGHING When you begin to unwind and let go the muscles' tension, the release is often accompanied by a very slow deep breath - in fact, a sort of sigh. You can use sighing throughout the day to calm your nerves and prevent tensions building up. Think of a stress producing situation which occurs fairly frequently at work, e.g. the telephone ringing and each time it happens, take a deep breath and let it out again, then answer the phone. Be sure to let your shoulders drop as you inhale and breathe deeply down into your belly and lower back. Let the lower ribs expand away from your spine as much behind as in front. When you exhale, don't collapse, but think of your head and spine lengthening upwards. THE BLISS OF BALANCE Stress and relaxation are like two sides of a coin. Learn to move easily from one to another and you will begin to experience your life as a satisfying and enriching challenge like the ebb and flow of the tides. Then you will never again have to worry about getting stuck in a high-stressed condition which saps your vitality, distorts your perceptions and can even lead to premature ageing and chronic illness. The secret of getting the right balance between stress and relaxation is threefold. First, take a look at the kind of stress that is part of your life, eliminate unnecessary stressors and discover new ways of working with the others. Second, learn one or more techniques for conscious relaxation and practise them until they become second nature. Finally, explore ways of expanding your mind, honouring your individuality and for creating an environment that supports both. Not only will this help your body stay in balance and increase your level of overall vitality, it can bring you a sense of control over your life that is hard to come by any other way.

Stress Release

Stress Release

Somewhere inside you is a center of stillness - a wordless, formless space - the home of your self or your soul: There seeds of creativity are sown which later become your ideas and your accomplishments. There in the silence and the darkness, you can begin to listen to your own `inner voice'. You can come to know the difference between what you really want, feel and think, and what habits, false notions and other people's values have been programmed into you. This space - your center - is a place of safety and security. You can move out of it, as you choose, to meet the outside world, form friendships, love and learn. Yet it is a permanent sanctuary to which you can always return when you feel overburdened, tired, confused or in need of new vitality and direction. The key that opens this particular door for most of us is relaxation. By relaxation I mean learning to move at will into a state of deep stillness in which your usual concerns, your habitual thoughts, and the never-ending activity of your daily life are replaced by alert - yet totally passive - awareness. Dipping into such a state even for a few minutes allows many of the physiological changes normally experienced during sleep to take place while your body and mind are revitalized. But it is different from sleep. For, while your body is passive, your mind is highly alert. passive awareness For some people passive awareness occurs spontaneously - often between sleep and wakefulness. It is during this time that their best ideas come and that they experience a sense of harmony both within themselves and in relation to the rest of the world. Most of us, however, have a fear of letting go, thinking that if we give up control of things we won't be able to think clearly and independently or work well, or that someone is likely to put something over on us. In fact, just the opposite is true. When you are able to enter a state of deep relaxation at will, this frees you from patterns of living and thinking to which you tend to be a slave - although usually an unconscious one. It enables you to think more clearly and simply, and to act more directly when action is called for. Another interesting benefit from the daily practice of deep relaxation is a reduction of negative habits such as drug taking - of both prescription and mind-altering drugs - alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. Research carried out in the United States involving 2,000 students between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three who had practiced a form of meditation for periods of between a few months to a couple of years, showed that their dependence on alcohol, drugs and cigarettes dropped sharply. In the first six months of doing the practice, the number of smokers reduced by half . By twenty-one months it was down to one-third. And these changes were entirely spontaneous - at no time was any suggestion made that relaxation or meditation would change any of these habits. bridge your inner and outer world Harvard professor and expert in behavioral medicine, Herbert Benson MD, did the first studies into the effects of Transcendental Meditation many years ago. He has since continued to investigate this state of psychophysical relaxation and has shown that each of us has what he calls the `relaxation response' - a natural ability to experience the relaxed state with all its benefits. All we need to tap into it is a method to turn it on. The possibilities are many. They range from meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, zazen, silent repetition of a word, and autogenic training, to steady aerobic exercise and biofeedback. Each can be useful as a tool for silencing everyday thoughts and for temporarily shutting off habitual ways of seeing the world and doing things. Practice one regularly, and you build a powerful and useful bridge between your inner and outer world. All of them are different. Some will work better for you or be more enjoyable than others. That is why it is worthwhile to try a few different techniques until you discover which ones you prefer. Progressive relaxation is a technique based on the work of Edmund Jacobson; this is an excellent way to begin if you have never done any sort of relaxation or meditation technique before, because it gives most people some sense of what relaxation feels like even the first time you try it. As you repeat your technique (it is best done for fifteen minutes at least twice a day), you will find you enter a state of relaxation that is progressively deeper and deeper. Zazen is one of the simplest ways of meditating, this technique involves nothing more than just being aware of your breathing. But don't be deceived by its simplicity. It is a potent tool for stilling the mind and regenerating the body. And concentrating your awareness on the breath is not as easy as it sounds. We live in an age where discipline is often looked down upon as something which interferes with spontaneity and freedom - something old-fashioned and stifling to life. We tend to rebel against it. But the kind of discipline needed for daily practice of meditation or deep relaxation tends - far from stifling one's ability to be involved in the spontaneous business of life - actually to free it.

Pivots For Change

Pivots For Change

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

Write It Out

Write It Out

If you can't sleep, keep a pen and paper next to the bed.  When you awaken, rather than lying awake worrying, write down all the things that come into your mind. Don't worry if you jump from one thought to another, just keep jotting down thoughts, ideas and worries. When you run out of things to write, you can assure yourself that you can let go of all those concerns for the night because they will be right there on the paper when you wake up. A good friend of mine awakened each night for several years just before menopause, and would lie silently beside her husband in bed brimming with anger, although she didn't know at what. Finally she decided to get up in the night instead of just lying there. She would go to the kitchen and sit down and write out whatever came to her without even reading what she put down and without trying to make sense of any of it. After several weeks of this, she noticed that the anger seemed to become transmuted into new ideas. New plans and solutions to problems would come through her pen. For her, rising from her bed and writing built a bridge between the inner world, which was trying to make itself heard, and the outer, conscious, world in which she lived. A good night's sleep, as Shakespeare knew, can "knit up the ravell'd sleeve of care."

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.

A New You Calling To Be Born

A New You Calling To Be Born

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

The Health Process

The Health Process

Within each one of us lies an essence, a core of self, with one and only one intention—that it may be fully expressed while we live on this earth. With each passing year I become more and more aware that illness, lack of energy, a sense of confusion or lack of meaning in someone’s life stems from a basic frustration of the expression of their unique essential being. So often these experiences are calls from the soul. They ask us to become more aware of who we are at the deepest level of our being. They try to awaken us to our unique soul nature. All real healing is a transformation. Energy, power and authentic freedom grow as we engage in the process of connecting with our essence and begin to discover our values and our soul’s purposes and to express them in our lives. To do this we can call on all sorts of tools and techniques, from detoxifying body and mind to herbs and natural treatments to exercises for expanding awareness. Take energy. Being able to live out your energy potential depends on how well you nourish yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually—day by day. It helps to develop a lifestyle that incorporates pleasurable exercise, good food, restorative sleep and other helpful practices—from hydrotherapy to taking super nutrients—that support vitality. But more than anything else, energy depends on living from your core, not by other people’s rules. It depends on living what you love most in some way, what feeds you most at the deepest levels. Live your soul’s passion and you call on virtually endless energy. For health not only depends on how you eat and what exercise you get and how you deal with stress. All of these things are important. Each of us needs to develop a way of living unique to our needs. But real health doesn’t stop here. For ultimately health is nothing less than the process of unfolding which each one of us goes through to become more fully who we really are. Once you begin to align your life with your own truth, the universe supports you in ways you may never have dreamed possible. Working with people through their own health process, helping them discover whatever is most appropriate to their needs on both a physical and spiritual level and teaching them how to work with these things has always been the most exciting thing in my life. Each of us carries a divine spark of soul which we are here to live out to the full, bringing our own individual brand of spirit into material form as we walk the earth. The beauty of watching this happen those I work with is like walking in a garden and witnessing unique flowers and plants, trees and rocks that I have never seen before. I am forever dazzled by their beauty.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 12,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 12 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

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

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

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

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

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