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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

To Hell With Convention

To Hell With Convention

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

Wild Power Set Free

Wild Power Set Free

The power of the Dark Goddess or Crone which I wrote about last week, at its most profound, represents the irrational power of nature which causes all things to decay and be changed—as well as true human freedom to be liberated. The experience of change at such deep levels can be a terrifying one both to men and women. Why? Because, these days, most try to live their lives believing that material reality is all there is, and that the great god reason is the ultimate means by which all their problems will be solved. Whatever else she may be, the Dark Goddess is most certainly not reasonable. No more reasonable than the forces which cause leaves to decay in autumn, transforming them into leaf mold that will eventually bring new life to the forest. No more reasonable than the hurricane which, irrespective of man's wishes or longings, blows its course through city and countryside. No more reasonable than the earth herself, as she quakes and trembles with shifts taking place in the continental plates of her body. INSTRUMENT OF TRANSFORMATION It is little wonder that male-centered religions have diabolized the Crone. For she is the ultimate destroyer, the emasculator of male reason. Nature and the Crone aspect of the Dark Goddess become, in the male mind, the castrator—so much so that, during the inquisition, witches were accused of collecting severed penises in boxes or birds' nests. Yet even the male penis itself represented—and still represents—an instinctive power to the male which most Western men feel uncomfortable with. For the penis seems to have a life of its own, quite separate from the man to which it is attached. Like the Dark Goddess it defies man's sterile reason. As Barbara Walker says in The Crone, Woman of Age, Wisdom and Power: "The conviction peculiar to males that sex organs have an uncontrollable, independent life of their own is expressed in the churchman's belief that the stolen penises moved about and ate food in their captivity like animals." The penis, too, is an instrument of the Dark Goddess. The Dark Goddess lives at every woman's core. She guards the Self. She is the friend of the soul whose purpose in our life is to fiercely protect and further the whole process of our learning to live authentically from our essential beings. She never trades in deceit, she never lies, nor does she veil her power. She refuses to uphold any relationship that doesn't work and she tears away with clawed hands or severs with her sword anything within us that is greedy, grasping or infantile. Throughout the lives of both men and women, she urges us to reclaim our own power—the power to set limits and to shout "no", and the power to say "this is what I will do and this is what I won't do" when we are faced with any sort of abuse, or anyone trying to steal our power or dominate us. WILD ENERGY LIBERATED But she is far more than even this. The Dark Goddess is the female power so long rejected and repressed by Western civilization that, when it rises to the surface, it often breaks forth in fury to devastate our ordinary view of reality. Sometimes when she forces her presence to be felt at menopause, she can well up inside, making us hysterical. Her frenzies—which in the rational world of linear thinking, are looked upon as something for which a human being should be tranquilized and kept under control—in the lives of both men and women were once treated with the deepest respect, as visitations from the gods. It was in such a state that the pythia or sibyl at Delphi prophesied the future, and told secrets capable of turning those who sought her help into conquerors of nations. When we forget the power of the Dark Goddess—when we separate ourselves from her essential nature—then we begin to look upon her as a destroyer who arrives like a great snake to break up the structures of our lives, devour our relationships and make mince-meat of our most precious self-deceptions. DESTROY TO RENEW In the lives of both women and men, she can quickly cut through the patriarchal image of being ‘pleasing’, ‘submissive’, ‘gentle’ and ‘nice’. If anyone has so much control of her own behavior that the Dark Goddess is unable to arise when it is time for her appearance to be made, if she remains deeply suppressed, then man or woman can experience her energies in the form of a life-threatening disease, depression, hopelessness, or seemingly endless despair. They can find themselves living in a wasteland, and feel their life to be meaningless and without direction. It is only by finding ways to reconnect with her energy within that the powers of transformation can be set free to work their magic and lead each of us on our own individual path towards freedom. As Demetra George says in Mysteries of the Dark Moon, “Whether we see the Dark Goddess as dancing ecstatically in a swirl of red flames, or enveloped in mist gazing into the inner pools of her psychic awareness, or throbbing with her orgasmic, magical creative energy, or embracing us in our grief, or furiously raging, screaming, crying, or desperately withdrawing into a stupor of denial or numbness, her ultimate purpose in each one of these guises is the same. She destroys in order to renew. The Dark Goddess of the dark moon is the mistress of transformation, and she exists everywhere there is change.” AN ACT OF LOVE The Dark Goddess demands that each one of us clear out of our lives what is no longer essential to our authentic being, whether this be possessions, relationships, jobs—anything that does not help us grow and fulfil our deepest needs. If we try to ignore her demands, like the wild and unruly creature she becomes when thwarted, she ruthlessly tears apart whatever in our own lives is restricting the full expression of our soul. Her rise can threaten everything which in ordinary life we try desperately to hold on to—our self confidence, our self-image, our sense of accomplishment, our material possessions—all of the things which for many years may have supported us now come under the scrutiny of her gaze and the ruthlessness of her sword. What can be hard to realize, while all this is happening, is that everything she does is done with love. We see such things as the breakdown of a marriage, the loss of a job, physical illness that can come at times of enormous change, as evil and negative. For we spend most of our lives trying to avoid a crisis at all cost. Yet crises are often the only means by which we can be thrust forward to a new life. Were the energies of the Dark Goddess not to rise, we would remain stagnated. We might continue living out an artificial existence, all the while trying to fill up the emptiness within with whatever we can lay our hands on, from drugs and sex to success and power in the world—yet never succeed. It is the Dark Goddess that gives us the motivation to change, and brings us the power to be able to carry it out. INNER SILENCE She also pulls us away from the external world, asking us to withdraw inside to a place of stillness and power in which we can begin to hear the echoes of our own souls—sounds which for years may have been ignored or forgotten. She stirs our being at the deepest level. She asks us to enter our own personal darkness, calling us to make a vision quest, presenting us with pain over any issues of our lives that we have been denying. She asks us to face our fears and taboos, whether they are addictions, dependencies, inadequacies—that we bring them into the open, where they can be looked at and healed. Like the Crone who is her messenger, the Dark Goddess has no adornments. She is naked and raw in her confrontations. She arrives to lead us into the labyrinthine recesses of our own being. If we consent, she offers us the courage and the strength to face our own personal demons—demons who for generations have been feeding on our inadequacies, fears, and dependencies and undermining our potential for joy. Either we acknowledge her call, retreat from the outer world and begin to make our descent voluntarily, or she grabs us by the throat and drags us under. And just in case we might be tempted to think that when menopause arrives, sexuality is dead, she makes us think again. It has not died but rather been transformed. INSTINCTUAL SEXUALITY The sexuality of the postmenopausal woman is the sexuality of the Crone. It is the sexuality of sheer instinct—wildness set free. It is she that calls a woman into the secret places of the woods and provokes her to dance naked in wild abandon. Hers is a sexuality to be used in any way a woman chooses—in union with another or alone to generate the alchemical meeting of male and female within her own body. The sexuality of the Crone belongs to herself alone. She will be what she is, she will have what she wants. She is neither passive nor submissive, and her sexuality also has nothing whatever to do with bringing physical children into being. The Crone's eroticism is sheer ecstasy, lived for its own sake, and sheer creativity. She creates in an uninhibited, animated, fiery way, which emanates from the soul of a woman. Such sexuality is the fuel for all creative powers in the world. It carries with it the energy of regeneration and of healing, not only for a woman herself but for the world. It is the kundalini power—the rejuvenating cosmic illumination, the power of the serpent, the sacred fire which heals. As the Crone gains entrance into the body and psyche of the menopausal woman, she illuminates one dark corner of her psyche after another, lifting away all that is old and dead and without meaning—the way kundalini energy rises up within a woman's body to illuminate each of the chakras. Her power becomes the power of the menopausal woman. It lies in her dark blood—the blood of creation. It is the indomitable creative power that has lain sleeping in the consciousness of both men and women. It is asking for us to honor it and set it free. Never in human history has it been more urgent that we do so for our own sake, and the benefit of all beings.

Bliss Brings Freedom

Bliss Brings Freedom

I’d like to share with you a life-changing story. Here’s how it begins: “Follow your bliss,” the gypsy said. “Connect with your inner light. Hear the sounds of birds. Taste the ocean’s spray. Listen to the whispers of your soul. Bliss is your key to freedom. Have you forgotten?” The gypsy’s words echoed in my heart. Like most women, I had never followed my bliss. I’d tried my best to do the “right thing”. I’d listened to the voices of others and valued their opinions above my own. And I am not alone in this. Too often, we women have gone on and off diets, lost weight, gained weight, made money, spent money, found lovers, lost lovers, done assertiveness workshops and quit doing them. Every so often, we figure we’ve found an answer to something. Then it melts away from us like a forgotten dream. The gypsy woman on the road was old and wrinkled. Yet her eyes shone with a light so bright you could hardly bear to look at them. What the hell, the woman thought, let’s find out what this old lady has to say. What have we got to lose? That was the day this woman let bliss into her life. That was the beginning of a journey that transformed her body and illuminated her life. You know, most of us waste a lot of time and energy doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing. This takes us far away from connecting with our souls and experiencing bliss. I believe it’s time for each one of us to discover what we love and then follow it. When Carl Jung was searching for meaning in his own life, he asked himself a simple question. “What did I most love doing as a child?” He remembered he adored making little streets and houses out of stones and blocks. So he bought some land at the side of the lake in Zurich, and began to build a house with a tower. There was no rational sense behind his decision. After all, he already owned a fine house. But what he created for himself, by choosing to do this, was a unique, sacred space in which he could both come in touch with the core of his being, and begin to live out his deepest longings. By honoring the whispers of his soul in this way, Jung not only expanded his capacity for bliss. He set the stage for the finest writings he would ever produce during his lifetime, and he embarked on a road to fulfillment he had never imagined to be possible. Long before you were born, you were wired for bliss. You still are. Its oceanic quality brings an experience of oneness and harmony both with the essence of who you are as well as with the world around you. You probably first experienced it when you were floating in the womb: Relaxation, aliveness, security and the sense that your life has purpose and all is right with the world. If you want to live in the fullness of your being and connect with your creativity, vitality, radiance and beauty, now’s the time to invite more bliss into your life. Our capacity for bliss, as well as our need to experience it, is inscribed on the primitive brain—almost as deeply as our need for air, water and food. Bliss happens to be the medium through which mind, spirit and emotions weave a tapestry of meaning. Bliss renews. Bliss cleanses. It makes us feel whole, solid, stable and alive. When we encounter something new, bliss tells us “This is something I want to try.” Then it brings us the courage to go for it. In ancient India, they had a name for it—Satchitananda. This composite Sanskrit word is made up of three roots: Sat means being or existence. Chit translates as awareness or consciousness. Ananda means bliss. Together they describe a radiant, boundless state of being that carries a sense of infinite awareness and joy. Satchitananda brings the capacity to create worlds and forms out of itself. There was a time when such experience was reserved for saints and shamans. No longer. Sometimes we steel ourselves against bliss out of guilt or misguided self-denial. Then we become as mechanical as a sharp-nosed spinster—nitpicking and critical of everything and everyone, most of all of ourselves. Is bliss the be-all and end-all of life? Nope. Is it an essential ingredient in realizing your potentials on every level? You bet. So important is bliss to discovering who you really are, and bringing your most cherished goals into form, that when we deny our need for it, or forget how to experience it, we’re forced to look for artificial substitutes. Addictions arise: to food, drugs, alcohol, sex—even ambition. But these addictions disempower us, taking us further and further from the authentic freedom and satisfaction that is our birthright. All life is lived through your senses. The more awake they are, the more you’ll get out of the multidimensional pleasures of every moment: the aroma of freshly made coffee, the touch of silk against your skin, soulful fingers on guitar strings, waves of orgasm that swell your body and silence your mind. I believe it’s time, just like the gypsy said, to leave behind guilt and self-criticism and begin to live from moment to moment just as you are. The secret to using bliss to enrich your life lies in becoming fully aware of everything you feel, touch, taste, smell, hear and see. Play a little game with me, right here, right now. Ask yourself these questions: What is the moving power behind my life today? What matters most to me? What did I love most when I was a child? How can I begin to live what I love most right now? Explore these questions in an ongoing way. When you go for a walk, lie in a warm bath, or wake up in the night—let yourself feel bliss wherever you are. It’s the perfect antidote to the meaninglessness we feel when we have been following the wrong directives. It’s time to uncover your bliss and discover the marvelous inner freedom that comes with it.

Walk Your Authentic Path

Walk Your Authentic Path

As women, our roles are traditionally nurturing ones. We tend to put the needs of others—children and partners mostly—before our own. This role is shaped both by society and our genetics. Sadly, though, this position is a limiting one when it comes to expressing our divine spark of individuality. All too often, we begin to neglect our own needs. Then we wonder why our lives are so empty. Fortunately, the time has come to break away from convention and become the free, radiant woman hidden within you. It’s time to walk your authentic path… LOSE THE GUILT Often we feel guilty if we aren’t constantly sacrificing our own desires in order to tend to other people, our homes or jobs. But it’s vitally important that we release this guilt. Remind yourself that you are more than just a mother, wife, housekeeper, or employee. You are first and foremost your own person, and your needs are just as important as everyone else’s. Learning to apply the following ideas and actions to your own life will also enable you to give more abundantly. So if you have others depending on you, all the more reason to stop the self-sacrifice and start responding to your heart’s desires with love and respect. Everyone benefits as a result. LOVE THYSELF The next step on this thrilling journey is to start learning how to nurture yourself. In doing so, you can begin to create the life you really want. Think about all the things you do for others. Then, begin to redirect some of those giving acts towards yourself. For example, you might take your children for regular pleasant outings to the park, the beach, the movies and so on. But how often do you go out, on your own, to pursue leisure activities? These could be active: Going for a run, playing a game of tennis—or relaxing: a massage or an art exhibition. You can even practice self-nurturing at home, as long as you won’t be disturbed. Try a long hot bath with essential oils, or listen to an audio book. The more time you can spend in your own company, the better. This will allow you to more deeply connect with—and learn about—your essential self. DARE TO GET REAL Another key to unlocking your authentic woman is to become brutally honest in your relationships: especially how you relate to all other people. This means learning to stop censoring yourself. Doing so requires a good amount of self-acceptance. It also requires that you allow the expressions of how you feel and what you think to come to the surface. To face someone else just as you are, without trying to behave in the way you think they are expecting, can seem a bit daunting at first. However, the more you practice it, the easier it will become—and the more rewards it will bring you. DIVE INTO BLISS The phrase “follow your bliss” is often bandied around, but what does it really mean? There are limitless answers to this question since it is 100 percent specific to you. What do you love doing most? Swimming, dancing, bird-watching, taxidermy? Perhaps it has been a long time since you were able to do any of things you adore, as you simply “don’t have the time”. Try, with all your might, to make the time on a regular basis. CALL TO ACTION Here are a few simple ways to heighten the bliss experience in your daily life. Enjoy discovering how doing this helps you more deeply to become aware of the desires of your soul and live your life more and more fully from your authentic core. If you don’t already have a journal, start one now. Write down and answer questions such as “What matters most to me?” “What did I love most as a child?” “How can I begin to live what I love most, right now?” Answering these questions over time will be an ongoing process. Just keep listing the things that bring you bliss in your journal. Then, come back to what you’ve written whenever you feel in need of guidance or direction. Delight your senses every day. Indulge in a cup of amazing coffee, a glass of red wine, or a piece of the very best dark chocolate you can find. Moderation is key, along with using the very best quality of everything. Get into the joy of movement: for its own sake, not out of fear or a sense of duty. Do what fulfills you—be it dancing, walking, horse riding. If you haven’t yet found out which physical activity you love, start exploring the multitude of possibilities… Bliss is not a luxury...it’s a necessity when it comes living your truth, creating the life you want, and connecting with the deepest levels of your being...go for it the rewards are endless both for yourself and for what you bring to the lives of those you love.

Inner Enemies

Inner Enemies

Heavy emotional stress from anxiety, resentment or depression can drain us of energy. Such delinquent influences also lower your immunity, make you vulnerable to catching colds and flu, and susceptible to premature aging and the development of degenerative conditions. For lasting high energy the energy thieves in your life need to be cornered, collared and dealt a fatal blow. the energy drainer scenario A woman is in a job which she hates. She feels unmotivated and resentful (inner energy-drainers). After work she goes out to drink (alcohol-addiction drainer). Sometimes she drinks too much and this creates friction with her husband (relationship energy-drainer). She feels bad about herself as a result of arguing (emotional energy-drainer). Her poor self-image leads her not to care for herself (poor self-esteem energy-drainer). She eats badly (biochemical energy-drainer). She feels worse and suffers depression. Nothing in her life seems to work and she has nothing to look forward to... You see the pattern. She is stuck in a rut. The energy-drainers have stolen her personal power and she can only see everything in the worst light. Now let's look at the flip side. Energy-enhancers tend to attract other energy-enhancers, creating positive feedback loops and making you feel empowered and in control of your life. Compare the following situation with the previous sketch. the energy enhancer scenario A woman is in a job which she hates. She discovers an inspiring exercise class (physical energy-booster). The class makes her feel good about herself and inspires her to eat better. (biochemical booster). She loses a few pounds, feels better in her body and begins to dress in a more flattering way (self-esteem booster). She meets some new friends whose company she really enjoys (relationship booster). As her self-esteem increases, the people she works with begin to appreciate her more. Her job becomes more enjoyable (work booster). She feels excited about her life and confident about looking for a new job, something she will really love. Identifying your own blockers and drainers, and making the choice to let go of even one or two, sows the seed for more positive feedback loops in your life. It is an important step to take in accessing more core energy and developing your personal power. Sometimes even awareness itself is enough to get the ball rolling. wasting anxiety On an internal level few emotions drain energy like anxiety. While you dash about (either physically or in your consciousness) feeling unsafe and unstable and trying like mad to make everything all right, you deplete your body and your creativity. Where there is anxiety there is a high level of electrical, electropositive magnetic activity and chemical acidity which affect the sympathetic nervous system and encourage feelings of fear, irritability, nausea and headache, as well as an inability to concentrate, muscle pain and insomnia. Even minor attacks of nervousness can dramatically undermine your work performance and make it almost impossible for you to enjoy yourself. Anxiety is frequently related to food allergies. Realigning your diet can help. So can physical exercise which calms electrical and chemical overactivity, replacing it with a more balanced energy, which you can call on, and a feeling of mental and physical well-being. Depression can be a big energy-drainer as well. Sometimes depression develops as a result of blocked emotions which you may not even be aware you are feeling - like grief. Often depression is rather like an anger turned in on yourself to block you from doing harm to anyone else. To break through and release the energy that has been blocked by depression you may need to examine your experience of depression carefully as well as change your lifestyle. Resentment, too, can be an enormous energy-blocker. Anger immediately felt and expressed keeps energy flowing. As adults we tend to swallow our anger, turning it into resentment. Fear can also block energy. In a measurable physical way it freezes you into inactivity and makes all things seem impossible. So can negative feedback loops. When you feel low in energy you tend to attract energy-drainers which in turn attract other energy-drainers and before you know it you find yourself caught up in a negative feedback loop. You feel helpless - a victim of circumstances over which you have no power - and you lack the energy or the incentive to break out of the loop.

Celebrating Your Body

Celebrating Your Body

How often do you rejoice your body? How often do you feel absolutely at ease in your skin, at peace in yourself and in harmony with your world? For many the answer is seldom. Instead we tend to us put up with the body rather like some slightly cumbersome baggage we carry with us as we go about. Yet all thought, all feeling, every response to beauty and to horror is mediated through the body. In fact your body is the medium for experiencing everything in life. As any healthy two year old knows, when it is fully alive you are fully alive. This aliveness is something we often have to rediscover. Television, films and advertising are replete with photographs of long legged pencil-thin females who are meant to be paragons of womanhood against whom we measure ourselves. Magazines and newspapers spend a large part of their time giving us advice about diets, clothes, exercise which supposedly will help the bodies of their readers more closely approach whatever shape, size and texture body the general consensus at any moment in time considers ideal. Meanwhile millions of women who, because of the way they are built, their personalities, and their own values (whether or not these values operate consciously or unconsciously) have not a hope in hell of ever looking like that ideal. And they suffer. This suffering goes deep - far beyond the simple (yet often painful) feelings of inadequacy which come with having been built with broad shoulders, big feet or a flat chest when the world you live in tells you you are supposed to be different. (Some of us alas have the misfortune of being blessed with all three). For implicit in the whole way in which the body is presented in almost everything we do and think are two far more crippling assumptions: That the body is separate from the spirit or person and that it is ultimately inferior. These assumptions are anchored deep into the belief systems from the Greco-Roman and Christian traditions in which our society has developed. They have led us to view the body either as something not to be trusted - like a wild animal that needs taming lest it gets out of hand or like a physical object outside ourselves to be watched, studied and manipulated. For most Western women their bodies are things separate from themselves, either to be prodded, criticized, and hidden or narcissistically exposed as a sexual object - something useful in gaining attention or drawing to oneself what one needs (or think she needs). In either case there is a sense of estrangement not only from the body but at a deeper level from ones self. Out of this estrangement comes a sense of powerlessness so that one begins to think that what one needs to be happy, to be complete, to be fulfilled can only be found outside oneself - by accomplishment in the world, or wearing the right clothes, by earning the love of a man or by conforming to some abstract ideal. So long as one is driven by a sense of separateness from ones body whether you succeed or fail in getting what you want from the outside world is irrelevant. For neither success nor failure bring you any closer to living freely with real health and beauty. Rediscovering the aliveness of the child and the innocence of bodily freedom can. It helps heal the wounds of separation and free a woman to live in the fullness of her own being.

Retreat Secrets

Retreat Secrets

I smile when the word “retreat” comes up and people get all “starry eyed” and “new age” about the idea. In my experience, a retreat—an enormously valuable event in one’s life which needs periodically to be repeated—has little to do with sitting beneath jasmine scented trees, communing peacefully with God. I have done many retreats of different lengths and kinds, including one in a Tibetan monastery, in which I spent some six weeks learning more about fleas than I would ever want to know. I believe each retreat is meant to be an experience of profound inner transformation, carried out with both feet planted firmly on the ground. PLUMBING THE DEPTHS Like any experience of real change, it asks that we plumb the depths of our being to come closer to what is real, as well as to access creativity, power, and energy we may never have touched before. In many ways, the process is like that of detoxifying your body by shifting from a low-carbohydrate diet to a way of eating that brings clarity to the mind and strength to the body. Retreats often bring to the surface a lot of the toxic “junk” from emotional damage and wrong thinking that all of us carry on a psychological and mental level, so it can be cleared. This is not always a comfortable process. DISCOVERING YOUR POTENTIALS Like the proverbial iceberg, most of us live with the lion’s share of our potential for freedom, joy, creativity, and power submerged beneath a sea of unknowing. We go about our day-to-day duties and pleasures, conscious only of what comes to us through our five senses. How does it taste and feel? What does it sound like? What do we see in front of our eyes? And most of the time—because of the stress that we live under in our urban lives —we are not even fully aware of our senses. Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of consciousness that constitutes what it is to be fully human, our greater selves hibernate, waiting to be awakened. It is this awakening that a retreat can help bring about. For like exceptional events in our lives which break through comfort zones—when we fall in love perhaps, or when we’re faced with an event of life-shattering proportions like a critical illness or the death of a close friend—a retreat in silence and solitude can cause submerged areas of our being to erupt in magic, in surges of passion, in vitality, in anxiety, in stunning beauty. EXPANDED AWARENESS For a time, the mundane quality of everyday life is replaced with a sense of expanded being. We not only feel more alive; we wake up to find that familiar things—the tree that stands outside the bedroom window, the cat that greets us when we come home each day, the simple shell we picked up and slipped into our pocket while walking on the beach—has taken on a luminosity we cannot explain. On retreat sometimes, without warning, while listening to music or walking down a street, we can be hit with a feeling that the world is far greater than we ever imagined it to be, or a sense that all we see around us somehow is us. We are all part of the same stuff. While the experience lasts, everything seems right in the world. Then, as our retreat ends, like the sun at the point of setting, it can all fade beneath the mundane horizon—leaving only the faintest wisp of colour to remind us that we once stood in glory, felt the rays of the sun upon our bodies, and knew that sense of being at one with the universe which gives every struggle meaning. A retreat, whether or not it is simply 2 hours set aside a week for you to do something that you absolutely love doing so that you are following your passion; whether you go into a monastery or a retreat centre for a long weekend; or into the wilderness on a vision quest, helps connect us with what is real, and remind us of who we really are. In the silence, when we are removed from the day-to-day structures of our lives which both support us and imprison us, we can begin to plunge the depths of our being and make a better connection with our inner visions, longings, passions, and creative power. DETOX FOR THE SOUL One of the most important gifts of a retreat is to help make us aware that the life we are living may not be entirely our own, or that it is not as authentic as we would like it to be, or that we are not getting as much out of our lives as we feel we should be. Such discoveries are never easy. Yet they often herald exciting changes for the better and help clear away much of the toxic “junk” we have been carrying. The process of reclaiming power and rebalancing energy, by walking away for a time from the ordinary structures of your life, is very much like the process of detoxifying the body. When you stop putting convenience foods into your body and begin eating in a way that supports life-long health, something remarkable happens. Not only do our physical distortions rise to the surface; you might experience fatigue, perhaps a headache as a result of giving up coffee, a deep cleansing of the body. In many ways a retreat acts as a detox for the soul. On a spiritual level, the distortions that we have picked up in our lives also tend to rise to the surface to be cleared away. We may find ourselves temporarily riddled with depression or a sense of meaninglessness, fear, the feeling that the life we are living in no way satisfies our inner need. WRITE IT DOWN On any retreat, it is essential to keep a journal of what you are thinking and how you are feeling, both physically and spiritually. We often forget that mind and body are one, not two separate entities. Nothing brings this truth more to consciousness than the process of retreating from our day-to-day life. For when you let go of the structures of your life for a time, the ideas, feelings, memories, and concerns that have been floating beneath the surface rise up into awareness. This is where it is important not to identify with them, but rather to just remark that they are there, record them, and learn to look at them objectively knowing that the fact they have risen to the surface means that they are probably ready to be got rid of, often leaving us lighter and freer than ever before. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE Simultaneously, probably because the psyche is so rich and complex and when you are on retreat you hear the whispers of your soul better than any other time, we tend to get tiny messages from the soul. We often get a sense of things that we want to do or be, learn, or try. Some of these things may be insignificant, while others seem to be very large indeed. Record these “whispers” in a journal, right alongside any negative or confusing feelings which surface. At the end of a retreat, you can then go back to these whispers which you have recorded. Make a decision to act upon one or two of the things you want, whether they be apparently insignificant things such as I want to change the way my hair is cut, or large issues such as I want to go back to university and learn new skills. DISCOVER YOUR PASSIONS A retreat can help us come in touch with passions of the soul. Passion, I believe, holds the key to everything, and more than anything else, the stressful demanding lives that we live, where we are living mostly by other people’s rules (being the good employee, the good mother, the good wife etc.) tend to make us deaf to the whispers of our soul. A retreat can awaken again our ability to hear these passions. A NEW LIFE BEGINS The real trick to making retreats work for you comes after the retreat is over. It’s at that point, when you look back into your journal and find out what it is, and are reminded of the things that you most want. These are not just things that you think might be possible, but what you really want in your life. Decide to bring into being only one or two of the things that you want most to do. This is how we ground our spiritual insights in our day-to-day lives and then gradually, bit by bit, day by day, we not only find that the “distortions” we have carried so long have lessened, loosening their hold on us. With each action we take, following one or two or more of what one hears from within, it becomes easier and easier to connect with our soul’s whispers and therefore easier and easier to live an infinitely rewarding, authentic life. And, as often as not, all this can begin with a simple intention to retreat.

Quantum Health For Ageless Aging

Quantum Health For Ageless Aging

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

Transfigure Your Life - Part 1

Transfigure Your Life - Part 1

Amidst all the shifting magnetic fields, galactic energies and social and economic upheaval, a life-transforming opportunity is being offered to each man and woman on the planet. I call it transfiguration. Transfiguration describes the enigmatic process by which the light of your individual spirit—which is unique to each one of us, yet at the same time universal and divine—enters into our cells, DNA, and energy fields. When the light of spirit fuses with the density of the body, a flowering of our innate being can happen with unprecedented grace—provided, of course, that we welcome the process and work with it. Transfiguration can clear away false beliefs that once held us back, enhance our health, expand our creativity and fuel our capacity to live each moment of our life in joy from the core of our being, no matter what kind of devastation may be taking place within us or around us. Throughout history, such an experience appears to have been limited to a few spiritually awakened men and women. Now, for the first time in human history, it is being offered to each one of us. THE HERO’S JOURNEY It’s up to each of us whether or not we want to take up the offer. What is being asked of us if we do? Each of us is being asked to make the journey of a lifetime—our unique Hero’s Journey. The word hero comes from a Greek root which means ‘to protect and to serve’. Like ‘poet’ or ‘teacher’, it is a word which refers equally to a man or woman. A hero is someone willing to move through and beyond narrow thinking and familiar landscapes to discover larger realms of meaning. A hero is someone willing to sacrifice or transmute his or her own fears and hesitation, anger and sorrows into creative power. From a psychological point of view, the hero archetype corresponds to what Freud called the ego—that part of each one of us which, in separating from the infantile bond to the mother, establishes our ability to function as a unique member of the human race. The hero archetype also represents a human being’s search for its true identity—the Self—and for wholeness. I’m going to examine this process primarily from a woman’s point of view, but it is equally applicable to a man’s. CALL TO ADVENTURE Each person’s hero's journey is unique. Yet every hero's journey as told throughout history and in mythological stories follows the same archetypal pattern. The story begins in the ordinary world: In the “Wizard of Oz”, in “Romancing the Stone”, and in the story of the Frog Princess, where we meet the princess doing what she always does—sitting in her favorite place playing with her golden ball. Then comes the call to adventure. Something happens to turn one’s ordinary world on its head. The hero is faced with a problem, a challenge or a difficulty to overcome. For instance, a man or woman may get sick, have a love affair, or lose a job. Other times the call can come by what would appear to be sheer chance—a blunder—for example, the way the princess' golden ball falls into the well and gets lost. Except, of course, there are no chances in the psychic realm, where the interconnectedness of all things is recognized. There are many other ways in which the adventure can begin. Frequently, the call comes in the form of a challenge. It can be physical—suddenly you wake in the middle of the night with hot sweats. It can be psychological—you find one morning that your life no longer means anything to you. You wonder where you have got to, and where you are going. Something is definitely not right. In whatever form the call to adventure arrives, it heralds the beginning of your hero’s journey. It puts you on notice that destiny has summoned you, and that your spiritual center of gravity has suddenly shifted out of the familiar world of society towards realms unknown. From now on, things are never going to be the same. REFUSING THE CALL Invariably following closely in the wake of any call to adventure, fear raises its familiar head. We want to run back into our past and hide. We want to pretend we never heard the summons in the first place. The princess wants her ball and the frog fetches it, but she is not willing to honor the bargain she has had to make with him to get him to do this for her. After all, she finds him repulsive and wants only to get away. She has now become the reluctant hero. The greatest fear that any of us ever have is fear of the unknown. And what lies ahead is completely unknown. So we try to pretend that everything is all right; we try to hold things together. Maybe we work even harder, and start to lean heavily on our emotional crutches and addictions. At the beginning of any hero's journey, the world sings sweet seductive songs and sends up countless distractions to bewitch us so we go no further. In detective novels, the private eye tries to refuse the case being offered him, only to accept it later although he would rather not. Somehow he gets a little push over the edge and the tale begins to unfold. The frog follows the princess, refusing to take no for an answer. In “Star Wars”, Luke Skywalker turns away from Obi Wan Kenobi's call to adventure to run home to his aunt and uncle—only to find that the farm has been destroyed by the Emperor's storm troopers. His hesitation is then overcome by the evil that has been perpetrated on his ordinary world. And so he begins his personal quest. Gritting our teeth and battening down the hatches is a common way of refusing to heed the call. So is being a servant to social niceties. Women, the world has taught us, are supposed to be machines for serving others. They are never supposed to interfere with anything, or need anything. Women who have forced themselves to live by such rules experience the rich relationships they long for because they cannot share their soul. This in turn creates a wasteland and loneliness—the loneliness of a soul “out to lunch” or one which has been banished to the dungeon lest it challenge the rules. HELP ARRIVES When the call comes, you are being asked to enter into the loneliness you feel and to walk forth into the wasteland with your eyes wide open. If the loneliness and the wasteland we experience cannot be brought into the ordinary world and shared with others, then probably we are spending time with the wrong people. We also may need to do something on our own. At this point in the journey a mentor usually arrives to help us out. The mentor can be a Merlin-type character, a book, or perhaps an older man or woman who knows more than we do and who can help us find out what we don't yet know. The mentor's purpose is to help make us ready to face the unknown. He or she represents the tie between mother and child, Goddess and woman, healer and the healed. The helpful crone and the fairy godmother are common mentor figures in European folklore. They provide the hero with the talisman she will need against the unknown forces she will have to meet. Glenda the good witch in Wizard of Oz gives Dorothy her wisdom and a pair of ruby slippers for her journey. Then she sends her on her way. Now the adventure has begun in earnest and the presence of a mentor helps push the hero forward. INTO THE UNKNOWN Armed with the powers of destiny bestowed by the mentor, our hero approaches her first passage. Here she meets the guardians of the threshold, whose purpose is to prevent the faint-hearted from entering the magical realms that lie beyond. Before she leaves New York, in “Romancing the Stone”, Joan Wilder has to face her publisher who scathingly warns her not to go to Colombia to rescue her sister because she is not strong enough to handle the challenge. Like a nasty old witch, she even pronounces a curse that something disastrous will happen if she goes. As women approach menopause, our lives are suddenly full of guardians of the threshold. Often they are well-meaning people who prey upon our worst fears—fears of inadequacy, of failure, of hopelessness, of illness and of death. Whatever the fears are, they need to be faced before we can go on. Face them head on and you pass through the gate. Now, at last, you are committed to finding out who you are and what your life is about. Crossing the threshold is the first step we take into the sacred realm of the Dark Goddess' world—gateway to the universal source. As Joseph Campbell says in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, "The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades." EXCITING MOVEMENT Now comes the good stuff. Your hero's journey gets into full swing. Now it is time for you to deal with the tests, allies and enemies you’ll meet along the road. Obstacles to change are always in our way—insufficient money, physical problems, fears that we have no possibility of ever fulfilling our dreams. New challenges arrive, new things need to be learned. Yet each obstacle overcome, each puzzle solved, each difficulty embraced brings us more power for what lies ahead. We meet new people, new ideas or make new relationships with nature, with animals and with the unseen world. In Star Wars, Obi Wan develops Luke's skill in using The Force by insisting that he fight blindfolded. Before long, Luke faces other minor battles which serve to hone his abilities further and help prepare him for the supreme ordeal that is to come. Joan Wilder—the timid little lady from New York—is forced to face gunfire, sinister men in black gloves, the loss of her belongings and threats to her life. Along the way she picks up an ally—Jack—who will be her companion for most of the remainder of her journey. Dorothy picks up her mentor friends—the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow—while passing her tests: She oils the tin man's joints. She coaxes the lion to face his fear. She unhooks the scarecrow, who has been unable to move. With each challenge you meet, you develop strength and collect more support from companions both in the seen and the unseen world. They will turn out to be very useful to your purpose as you approach the innermost cave. This is where the power of transformation works its wonders. And what wonders they are! Click here to read part 2 of 'Transfigure Your Life'

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 13,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 13 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

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

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

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

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

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