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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

How Desire Becomes Reality

Unlock the Power of Creative Imagery: Improving Self Esteem & More.

In my last post, we looked at unconscious image-making which prevents us from experiencing authentic freedom and undermines our sense of self. Now let’s flip destructive image making-on its head. It’s time to learn the art of conscious image-making It can improve health, heighten self esteem, and even forge the person whom you long to become in the future. All you need is a simple notebook in which to record your intentions, goals and experience plus 15 to 20 minutes a day to practice the art. This can be a lot of fun. POWERS OF THE MIND Creative imagery is the deliberate, repeated use of specific mental images, while in a deeply relaxed state or meditative state, to bring about change for the better. Just how creative imagery works has never been fully defined. It does, however, appear that the images one chooses to focus on when repeatedly held in the mind are able to affect one's body, emotions, and mind through the autonomic nervous system. Some of the process, at least, is explainable in biological and energetic terms. When a thought or image is kept in the mind of someone in a state of deep relaxation, his or her brain shows neuronal activity in both right and left hemispheres. Nerve fibres leading from the cerebral hemisphere through the hypothalamus can directly affect the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland as well as the adrenal cortex. Everyone has had experience of this image-making to some extent in day-to-day life. For instance, if you keep a frightening image in your mind's eye—say of a ghost, a fantastic monster, or a situation you want at all costs to avoid—your body will respond via the autonomic nervous system with a racing heartbeat, perspiration, dryness in the mouth, or gooseflesh. How strong your reactions are to the fearful thought depends entirely on how clear the image is. Similarly, when you hold a clear, relaxing image of perhaps a spring meadow or a person you love, your body responds with relaxed muscles, lowered heartbeat and blood pressure, and generally pleasant and passive bodily sensations. Researchers have found that through this mind-body connection we can exercise a great deal of control over our bodies and our behaviour simply by choosing images to focus on and using them regularly. In fact, this kind of deliberate visualization is the technique behind the ability yogis demonstrate in raising and lowering their bodily temperature or heartbeat at will, going for long periods of time without food, and performing extrasensory tasks. TRUST THE GAME Although the mechanism of creative imagery is highly complex, putting it to use is simple. For just as it is unnecessary for you to know how the nervous system, in conjunction with the brain and muscles, makes it possible for you to pick up an apple and take a bite out of it in order to perform the action, so it is not necessary to understand biological theories about creative imagery in order to practice it to your benefit. The imaging mechanism of your brain works automatically; all you have to do is provide it with images that are useful to you and let it do its job. Nor do you have to worry about whether or not you believe in creative imagery or whether or not you can do it well enough for it to work for you. If there is a goal that you want to achieve, you need simply to visualize it—again and again, at least twice a day; the rest is automatic, so long as your goal is something you consciously consider to be feasible. It would be absurd, for instance, to lie down for ten minutes each morning and afternoon and visualize yourself as an eagle. You might improve your imagination no end, you might also develop a great empathy for eagles, but it unlikely that you would develop wings or a beak. Nor need you worry about success or failure. As Maxwell Maltz says in his book Psycho-Cybernetics, "You must learn to trust your creative mechanism to do its work and not `jam it' by becoming too concerned or too anxious as to whether it will work or not, or by attempting to force it too much by conscious effort. You must let it work, rather than make it work. This trust is necessary because your creative mechanism operates below the level of consciousness." The only real "trust" needed for it to work is that which makes it possible for you to spend time repeatedly practising creative imagery. You do this by letting yourself go into a state of deep relaxation or meditation and then repeating your chosen image again and again over a sufficient length of time for it to take hold in your unconscious and begin producing results. You certainly don't have to trust it in the sense of believing in it for it to work. It will work whether you believe it or not. Just be consistent in using the technique regularly. PREPARE THE WAY Begin by learning to just let go. Creative imagery is an inner state of mind. To visualize effectively you need to put yourself into a calm, relaxed state in which mental images flow easily. Generally the more relaxed you are, the more successful your visualizations will be. This kind of relaxation is something that is learned gradually by practice. Even if you feel in the beginning that you are hardly relaxed at all, you will get benefits from your imaging and this will become progressively more true as you repeatedly practice visualization. Begin by lying down, or sitting in a comfortable chair, with your back well supported. Use a simple practice such as zazen or gentle, quiet deep breathing to let go of daily concerns and enter your private world. When you feel yourself quietly calm resting in your own inner space, there are several things you can do: In this space, you can examine in a new light any question that has been bothering you. You have access to the deeper layers of your mind where many answers can be found, provided you are willing to ask the questions simply and then just wait in stillness for the answer to come. This place is also where you can become aware of your belief systems and bring them to consciousness so that you can examine them in a detached, objective way and see whether they are working for you or not. You can then decide what you want to keep and what your want to leave behind. It is a place where you can learn to listen to the sound of your inner voice. The more you do this, the easier it becomes. This inner voice can guide you to where you are going next and tell you what you are about. It is a place where you can come to know yourself for who you really are, quite apart from roles and habitual assumptions you have always had about yourself. Most important of all in bringing about change, you can use this inner space to practise creative imagery. Go through your relaxation technique until you enter your inner space. Now you are ready to begin visualizing. You can do this in two ways: verbally, by simply repeating over and over a few words that describe the image, or visually, by simply seeing yourself as already having become what you want to be. For some, who at first experience difficulty in visualizing, the verbal method works better; for others, the visual method is more successful. Try them both and see which you prefer. Later on, after you are familiar with the use of creative imagery, you will probably want to use both. FOCUS YOUR DESIRE Let's say you pick as your goal the desire "I want to have more energy." Using the verbal method, turn the wish into a positive statement. It becomes "Every day I am more and more energetic and well." It is important that your goal be phrased in this way. It has to be in the present tense—not "One day I will be better" or "I hope that I will be more energetic," but Every day I am more and more energetic and well. It is happening now. Your subconscious mind, which holds the power to bring about change, does not function in terms of time and space as your conscious mind does. It understands only the simplest and most direct instructions, and when they are given it works as if they had already occurred or are occurring now. The words you have chosen become your image. You put them to work by simply repeating the words over and over again silently to yourself while you are in the deeply relaxed state in your inner space. It is the constant replaying of the message day after day twice a day that works best, not how long you do it each time you relax. One convenient way of doing it is to repeat the directions ten times in each session, moving one of your fingers with each repetition until you have been through all ten. Then you simply say to yourself the same, "I am now going to come out of my inner space...(by counting backwards from three, etc.) and open your eyes. The best time for most women to practice creative visualization is in bed at night just before they fall asleep, and then again in the morning just before they get up. But really you can do it anytime—whenever you can find ten minutes to yourself in the middle of the day, or in the middle of the night if you awaken, or during meditation. The important thing is to do it regularly twice a day every day. You needn't worry about doing it wrong, either. Because, in truth, there is no wrong way, and every supposed wrong in the way you are doing the technique will gradually put itself right with practice. WATCH IT HAPPEN If you prefer, you can use a visual way instead, or you can use a combination of both. Picking the same goal, I want to have more energy, go through your relaxation technique. When you are at the inner space, instead of repeating words let your mind play with the image of your goal as if it had actually come about already, almost like a daydream. In other words, see yourself moving through your day, relating to people, doing your work, playing games, all the while full of vitality and bounce. Watch yourself in your imagination and enjoy the ease with which you do things that once seemed difficult or tiring. Notice the glow of your skin, how well you look; see the vivacity in the way you speak and move. Watch yourself and enjoy it. The more of it you let yourself imagine and the more you enjoy your imaginings, the stronger will be the images you are creating and the more quickly they will become reality. But as with the verbal instructions, always keep your images in the present as if they are actually happening now and not as if they might happen in the future or are something you would like to see happen. You may find at some point that something or someone is interfering with your image. For instance, you might find that as you watch yourself moving about energetically through the day in your mind's eye, another figure appears—say an old woman—who speaks to you. Perhaps she says something like, "You silly girl, if you don't slow down you know you will exhaust yourself or make yourself ill." Or, "Why are you pretending to be full of energy when you know that you are really tired?" and so on. Pause for a moment and take a look at the figure. Who is she? Your mother? A friend who tends to be negative about everything you try? The voice of a belief system from inside you which, without your being aware of it, has been telling you for years that you are tired? Answer the figure back. Tell her quietly but firmly in your mind, "No, you are wrong. I am well and I have lots of energy. I also know how to use it wisely. I will rest and look after myself when I need to, I will eat well, I will enjoy what I do. I will be happy with my vitality." Then go on with your visualization. Unexpected intrusions like this while you are visualizing are often very useful, for they help make you aware of belief systems and notions that may have been unconsciously impeding your progress towards a goal. Then, when you have practised your visualization for, say, five or ten minutes, tell yourself you are going to count backwards from three and open your eyes. A FEW TRICKS TO HELP In the beginning, when you are just starting to explore the power of creative imagery, it is a good idea to pick only one goal at a time and work on it for several weeks or months until it is being progressively realized before taking on another thing you would like to change. The technique of keeping a journal is very useful in recording your progress, but even more important is keeping a record of insights and experiences you come upon while practising the deep relaxation and visualisation techniques. The information and insights they turn up for everyone are invariably rich. Many times something you record today which seems not particularly useful now will have a message of immediate importance to you three months from now. Finally, there is one very simple goal that I find particularly useful because it covers all areas of one's life and you can use it over and over again, year after year, with benefit. It is, "Every day I am more and more myself. My life grows richer and richer." “Practice makes perfect,” the saying goes. It most certainly does but never treat your practice as a chore. Let it be fun. When you do everything happens faster and with greater ease.

Sacred Truth Ep. 59: Get High On Life

Awakening to Oneness: Embracing the Infinity of African Night Sky

I once spent the night lying on a platform above an animal watering hole staring into the vastness of space while beholding the great, fathomless mystery of the African sky. Aaron, my youngest son, then three years old, lay curled up next to me like a kitten lost in his dreams. Dazzled by the inconceivable expanse of the sky whose darkness was so overcome with the light from billions of stars that lived in it, I lost myself in timelessness and infinity. That night I had come not to think or to wonder but to know, with absolute certainty in every cell and molecule of my body, that this cosmic world was not something separate from myself, nor I from it. We were, in a way I will never be able to understand rationally, one being. It was one of the greatest moments of my life Like the proverbial iceberg, most of us live with the lion’s share of our potential for freedom, joy, creativity, and authentic power submerged beneath a sea of unknowing. We go about our day-to-day duties and pleasures conscious only of what comes to us through our five senses. How does it taste and feel? What does it sound like? What do we see in front of our eyes? Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of consciousness that constitutes what it is to be fully human, our greater selves hibernate, waiting to be awakened. Sometimes, when we fall in love perhaps, or when we are faced with an event of life-shattering proportions like a critical illness or the death of a close friend, a submerged area of our being erupts in magic or horror and often in surges of passion, energy, and beauty. Then, for a time, the mundane quality of everyday life is replaced with a sense of expanded being. Not only do we feel more alive but we also wake up to find that familiar things—the tree that stands outside a bedroom window, the cat that greets us when we come home each day, a simple shell we picked up and slipped into our pocket while walking on the beach—have taken on a luminosity that we can’t explain. Other times, without warning, while listening to music or walking down a city street, we are suddenly gripped with a sense that the world is far greater than we ever imagined it to be, and a certainty that all we see around us somehow is us. While the experience lasts, everything seems right in the world. Then, like the sun at the point of setting, everything fades beneath the mundane horizon, leaving only the faintest wisp of color to remind us that we once stood in its glory, felt its rays on our bodies, and knew that being at one with the universe brings a sense of meaning to our own lives and to the lives of others that is simply indescribable. The greatest desire I have is to live my life conscious of the oneness to which we all belong. The universe reflected in that African sky and stretching out to infinity lives inside each one of us. Awakening to this reality floods our bodies and our lives with wonderment. It opens us to infinite freedom at the core of our being. What a blessing to behold.

Confront Yourself

Own Your Body: 7 Steps for Tuning In and Establishing Balance

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

Kill Death Curses And Live!

Unlock the Secret to Graceful Aging: Discover the Death Curses in Modern Society

Everybody’s heard of death curses. Literature is laced with accounts of how Aboriginal witch doctors have brought about the death of the young and healthy by cursing them. No sooner do these people learn about the fate which has been cast for them than, inexplicably, they begin to sicken and die. Through complex biological processes, their simple belief in the curse foisted upon starts to bring about their downfall. MODERN-DAY DEATH CURSES In civilized society we look upon such phenomena as anthropological curiosities—products of primitive superstition which can’t touch us in our “enlightened age”. What we don’t know, however, is this: We in the so-called civilized world are, more often than not, living under our own brand of “death curses”—most of which we are not even aware of. They are subtler than those issued by witch doctors, yet every bit as deadly in creating the physical and mental decline that we have been taught to associate with aging. Common charged words and phrases associated with aging like “retirement”, “middle-age”, “It's all downhill after forty”, and “At your age you must start taking things more easily” are widely voiced. They can exert a powerful effect on the process of aging for all of us by creating destructive self-fulfilling expectations of age decline. Then, instead of facing our future full of confidence and excitement about what lies ahead, optimism gets replaced by anxiety as we are warned to “Be careful”, or “Never take chances on a new career at your age.” The list of such frequently proffered “sensible” advice is a long one. Such suggestions often lead us to make changes in the way we live that actually encourage physical decline—like decreasing the amount of exercise we get, or altering our eating habits away from fiber-rich natural foods towards “softer” foods and “convenience foods”. We may even limit the amount of social and intellectual stimulation we have been used to. What’s worse, this kind of advice tends to undermine our self-image and destroy our self-confidence. This in turn interferes with the proper functioning of the immune system, which plays such a central role in protecting the body from aging. An essential ingredient in healthy aging is becoming aware of just how powerfully our emotions, state of mind, and unconscious assumptions influence susceptibility to illness and the rate at which we age. Once this awareness penetrates your consciousness, you can begin to make use of a few powerful techniques that quite automatically banish death curses from your life, and help you live healthy, decade after decade. MIND-BODY CONNECTIONS The notion that your state of mind can influence your health and the rate at which you age was once something that had to be taken on faith. Now it’s been scientifically proven, thanks to a scientific discipline with a tongue-twisting name: psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). PNI has established that the body's immune system, that bulwark of defense, is undeniably affected by your unconscious assumptions, your emotional states and your behavioral patterns. They lead either to a significant resistance to rapid aging on the one hand, or to an increased susceptibility to decrepitude and degenerative diseases on the other. The happier you are, the better you feel about yourself and the more positive are your expectations about the future, the more likely is it that you will age slowly and gracefully, and the less likely you will be to fall prey to illness of whatever sort—from a common cold to a chronic life-threatening disease. LIVE LIKE ZORBA No area of what I call “ageless aging” is more fun to explore than this one. I always think of positive aging as “Zorba the Greek” consciousness. It makes possible the most amazing physical and mental feats by quite ordinary people living ordinary lives. Take the man who is able to work eighteen hours a day, drink whisky by the tumblerful, dance on tables until the early hours of the morning and still live to be 110, thanks to the sheer joy of his passion for living. (I had a grandfather like this whom I absolutely adored!) You also find this positive vision of ageing amongst saints and holy men who carry out their day-to-day activities, from writing letters to peeling potatoes, in a state of bliss—samadhi. Take a look at their superbly unlined faces. Many could as easily be thirty as seventy. Mainstream medicine has long acknowledged that emotional states such as anxiety and depression can make some illnesses worse. These include asthma, diabetes, peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, migraine and cardiovascular problems. But until the advent of PNI, it has paid little attention to examining the power—both positive and negative—of their psychological components, nor has it explored ways and means of improving these conditions by altering a patient's mental state or behavioral patterns. Meanwhile, it still ignores psychological components in the vast majority of other illnesses—from lung disease and cancer to rheumatism and allergic reactions—choosing to treat them instead as nothing other than physiological conditions, little affected by whether the patient experiencing them felt good or bad in himself. Western medicine, bound by the Cartesian notion of a split between mind and matter, fails to consider the people it treats as psychobiological beings, whose feelings, thoughts, expectations and perceptions are intimately bound to their physiology and biochemistry. They never bother to ask the question: Why do some people who smoke forty cigarettes a day for 20 years end up with lung cancer, while others following exactly the same pattern don't? TIME TO TRANSFORM Just as prolonged unmitigated stress, depression and anxiety suppress immune functions, a positive frame of mind frees us from death curses. It brings us a sense that we can cope with whatever comes our way, offers potent protection from illness and age-degeneration. Those of us who succumb to anxiety, depression and a sense of helplessness when life difficulties arise invariably show suppressed immune functions. The Zorba-like people who feel they can deal effectively with whatever comes their way most often have good immune functions, even when faced with major life changes. In a well controlled study of women suffering from breast cancer who underwent mastectomy, British researcher Dr Steven Greer reported that women who react to their diagnosis by denying that they are seriously ill or with a determination to conquer the problem are far more likely five years later to be free of the disease than those who stoically accept a diagnosis while feeling hopeless or helpless. MAKE AGE WORK FOR YOU What can you do, starting right now, to develop your mind as a tool for positive aging? Begin by exploring the benefits of mind/body techniques that alter your mental attitudes and emotional states from negative to positive, therefore encouraging good immune functions and slowing down the rate at which you age. There are many. Some 40 years back, Dr Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School developed a simple meditative technique, called the Relaxation Response. It consists of sitting with your eyes closed for 15 or 20 minutes morning and night and repeating a single word—say “one” or “peace”—over and over again silently. Practiced regularly every day, it not only counters the immune-suppressing tendencies of stress, but even brings about major psychological shifts in belief systems that gradually change a self-defeating sense of helplessness into a free spirit who, like Zorba himself, can dance on tables just for fun. I recently wrote about Benson’s amazing work. You’ll find it here. I’ve even posted a video so you can learn the technique and practice it with me every day if you like. Finally, there is an excellent video by Benson about working with the Relaxation Response and the amazingly positive benefits research shows it to have on those who practice it daily. HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT AGING? Explore how many negative expectations you have unconsciously connected with aging. Then you simply and methodically go about changing them. Start right now: How many of the following notions would you agree with? They have been adapted from a questionnaire designed by gerontologist Erdman Palmore from Duke University Medical Center in the United States. TAKE THIS QUIZ Then check your answers at the end. (Just mark “T” for true or “F” for false.) The majority of old people (past age sixty-five) are senile (i.e. defective memory, disoriented or demented). All five senses tend to decline with age. Most old people have no interest in sex. Lung capacity tends to decline in old age. The majority of old people feel miserable most of the time. The majority of old people are seldom irritated or angry. At least one-tenth of the aged are living in long-stay institutions (i.e. nursing homes, mental hospitals, homes for the aged, etc). Aged drivers have fewer accidents per person than drivers under age sixty-five. Most older workers cannot work as effectively as younger workers. About 80 per cent of the aged are healthy enough to carry out their normal activities. Most old people are set in their ways and are unable to change. The majority of old people are working or would like to have some kind of work to do (including housework and volunteer work). It is almost impossible for most old people to learn new things. The reaction time of most old people tends to be slower than reaction time of younger people. In general, most old people are pretty much alike. The majority of old people are seldom bored. The majority of old people are socially isolated and lonely. Older workers have fewer accidents than younger workers. Older people tend to become more religious as they age. Most medical practitioners tend to give low priority to the aged. NOW CHECK YOUR ANSWERS The even-numbered questions are true. The odd numbered ones are false. How many of your own answers are correct? AGE REBORN Contrary to popular opinion, a mere 2 or 3 per cent of old people are institutionalized because of psychiatric disorders. The vast majority of older people do not have memory defects. Most people over sixty-five continue to be interested in sex, and sexual relations often continue well into the eighties between healthy men and women. Studies made of morale and happiness amongst the elderly show no difference between their enjoyment of life and that of younger people. Meanwhile, people over sixty-five have fewer accidents per person driving than younger drivers do. They also have fewer accidents at work. The majority of old people are not “set in their ways” as we have been taught, although it can take them longer to learn something new than their younger counterparts. Studies show that very few old people suffer from boredom. Neither are they socially isolated or lonely. More than 10 per cent of older people work and two-thirds of those who don't would like to. Finally, older people are seldom irritated or angry. This has been established by three separate studies. VISUALIZE AGE ANEW Becoming conscious of any false assumptions you make about aging is a good first step. The next is to create for yourself a new vision of what it means to have time passing. Make use of creative visualization techniques where, in a state of relaxation, you allow your mind to play on positive images of yourself five, ten, thirty years from now. It is only a matter of letting yourself indulge in positive daydreaming. Or practice a meditation or deep-relaxation technique once a day, and finish off by repeating silently to yourself Coue's formula for personal growth and healing: “Every day in every way I am getting better and better.” It is exquisitely simple, yet enormously powerful when practiced daily in a deeply relaxed state so that it is your imagination rather than your will which is brought into play.

Walk Through New Worlds

Feel the Energy of Life: Take The Right Kind of Walk & Connect with Satori

Who would have thought that taking the right kind of walk can not only clear stress, and energize mind and body but even bring you face to face with satori? Satori brings a sense of living in the fullness of your being, moment by moment. So often, we think we need to make decisions about what we are going to do in the next hour, the next day, the next year. We worry about how to discipline our bodies, get the work done and pay the bills, as well as a thousand other things.You can find yourself walking in new ways, with different rhythms. Aches and pains diminish. You sense a new relationships developing—to yourself, your surroundings and the world as a whole. I am passionate about taking two quite different kinds of walks which I’m keen to share with you because they have brought me much pleasure as well as so many other benefits. They are, each in their own way a lot of fun to. FREE FLOW Once a day, regardless of the weather outside, and whenever it suits you, go out walking for the sheer pleasure of doing it. It can be fun to walk in sunshine, but just as wonderful to walk in rain—unhurried and unburdened by the need to ‘look good’. Look around, smell the air, notice the way your body has begun to move. The next step is likely to sound weird, but try it: When you see a tree, say silently to yourself, ‘Tree.’ When you see a flower—‘Flower.’ This simple naming practice helps you become aware of where you are in space and time. And it does this in a wonderful, spontaneous, improvizing way. As you walk, life takes on an unexpected, exciting feel. Meanwhile, futile internal monologues begin to fade away. One of my favorite books was written by a musician named Stephen Nachmanovitch. It is called Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. It’s a superb book. If you are interested in creativity on any level—and I don’t mean just being an artist, but any and all kinds of creativity—I highly recommend it. In a chapter called ‘Inspiration and Time Flow’, Nachmanovitch describes this first way of walking I want to pass on to you. (Of course, you are probably unlikely to be walking down a street in a foreign city as he describes, but much of what he writes about this way of walking is relevant no matter where you are.) It reminds us all that it is not impossible to live our lives moment to moment, fully present with real awareness and joy. Here is what Nachmanovitch writes: A walk, following your intuitive promptings down the streets of a foreign city, holds rewards far beyond a planned tour of the tried and tested. Such a walk is totally different from random drifting. Leaving your eyes and ears wide open, you allow your likes and dislikes, your conscious and unconscious desires and irritations, your irrational hunches to guide you whenever there is a choice of turning right or left. You cut a path through a city that’s yours alone. This brings you face to face with surprises that are destined for you alone. You might discover conversations and friendships, meetings with remarkable people. When you travel in this way, when you walk in this way, you are free. There are no ‘have tos’ and ‘shoulds’. You are structured at first only by the date of the plane departure. As the pattern of people and places unfolds, the trip, like an improvised piece of music, reveals its own inner structure and rhythm. Thus do you set the stage for fateful encounters. I’ve got to add here that some of the most important ‘fateful encounters’ he speaks of are likely to be brand new encounters with yourself, in ways you may never have dreamed of. INSTANT ENERGY IS YOURS This is the second of my favorite walks. It’s a way not only of relieving stress, but of energizing yourself, learning to be present in the moment and, like Nachmanovitch’s walk, releasing your mind from the habitual chatter that prevents our feeling fully alive. I learned this technique from a Belleruth Naparstek’s “Meditations to Relieve Stress” audio. Here’s how it goes: Choose a place where you will be able to walk without meeting a lot of people, so you allow yourself to connect with your surroundings the way a child might. You don’t have to smile or relate to anyone. Instead, you will be drawing in energy from your surroundings. What will amaze you is just how much vitality you can absorb from your environment when you are not wasting your own energy with meaningless social contact. So, just for 10 to 15 minutes, let yourself retreat inwards and see what amazing things happen. GETTING EARTHED Begin your walk by shaking out your body a little. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Take a deep breath and let it out with no effort. Now look around you, at the sky, the earth, the trees, grass, rocks or flowers—whatever you find around you. Take another slow, even breath deep down into your abdomen. Now, aware of your breath going steadily in and out, start walking at a comfortable pace, opening all your senses to your environment as if it were part of you. Let yourself enjoy the light, the mist, the colors, the rocks and sand; whatever is there. Let yourself become aware of the way things move in light and shade, so you are in effect feeding on the richness of your surroundings. Let your body move easily and gently, so it feels as though it is dancing with your surroundings. Allow yourself to experience everything you see and feel, smell and touch, as though you are doing it for the first time, with the curious mind of a child. Feel the air on your skin, smell the fragrance around you in all its layers and textures as you walk. Continue to be aware of the ground beneath your feet, and how your breath going in and out feels. Notice how well the earth supports you. Enjoy the feel of your body in motion. See how heightened your senses become to the colors and the fragrances. Notice how clear your vision has become. This simple focus, this increased awareness of the sound of your own feet on the ground, the feel of your breath, the movement of your legs and torso will become more acute, more intense, more nourishing and more satisfying. LIKE MAGIC Colors become more and more intense, richer, clearer. You can find your senses opening as you become ever more aware of everything around you. You may even sense that you are immersed in a wonderful new ocean of reality. That the trees and the rocks, the air you breathe, and the sky have become part of you and you of them. Indulge yourself. Smell the air, feel the ground, immerse yourself in the sea of life and generosity in which you find yourself. Now, simply draw the energy of the earth into you. Let it fill you up. Breathe in the beauty of the sky. Take in every sight and sound, deep into your heart, as you become aware that you are attuned to everything around you. This energy is available to you whenever you want it. All it depends on is your own willingness to connect with the sea of life of which you are a part. Whenever you do, the whole world feeds you, belongs to you, nourishes you at every level. Continue to walk as long as you like, easily and blissfully, aware of your feet on the ground, your breath moving in and out, and the part you play in this wonderful sea of reality which belongs to you, and you to it. BACK TO SOURCE Both of these walking techniques are wonderful. Don’t just read about them—print up these descriptions and carry them with you. Then have a go. See what happens to you. Even better, take a look at where I learned about them. Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book is the best book on creativity I have ever read. I have read it at least 12 times. (As a present for Aaron who loves listening to audio books, I even made a recording of most of the chapters and gave it to him.) When it comes to Belleruth Naparstek’s work, her recordings are unparalleled in the world for their transformative power. You can purchase the one below on CD. Better still, just download it and put it on an MP3 player so you can begin using it today. You can find them below: Free Play - Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Improvisation In Life And Art - Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book is the best book on creativity I have ever read. I have read it at least 12 times. To find out more click on the links below. Order Free Play - Stephen Nachmanovitch’s from Amazon MEDITATIONS TO RELIEVE STRESS imagery for mastering anxiety; guided imagery to pump up feelings of love, safety and protection; a soothing, walking meditation for the fidgeters among us who can’t sit still; and affirmations for use anytime. (72 min.) Order Meditations To Relieve Stress at iTunes Order Meditations To Relieve Stress at Amazon

Laugh Hard

Unlock Joy & Health: Find the Keys to Releasing Innate Human Tendencies for Laughter

Laughter and humor are much needed in the over-serious world of health and beauty, a world which tends to measure health not as joyous energy and creativity but in terms of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and sedimentation rates. The irony is, that according to the latest research into the mind body relationship, a life which sparkles with laughter is not only good for you because it feels good, it can also help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels. Some researchers believe laughter can help look after the state of your blood pressure, immune system and cholesterol levels far better than high powered medical care and drugs. Drugs, after all, have deeply worrying side effects. The worst of laughter's side effects is joy. When we laugh we shed feelings of judgment, self pity and blame. Our perception shifts and we come to know another level of consciousness. Laughter deepens your breathing, expands blood vessels, heightens circulation bringing more oxygen to your cells, increases the secretion of hormones beneficial to your body, speeds tissue healing and helps stabilize bodily functions. A new philosophy is emerging from studies carried out in France and Canada by philosopher Andre Moreau on the notion that one should seek in all philosophical teachings the keys for releasing innate human tendencies towards humor, laughter and positive energies. It is known as "Jovialiste" which advocates the practice of smiling as a free expression of human vitality and creativity. Meanwhile, hospitals both in the United States and Europe are even prescribing laughter in the form of Jerry Lewis and Marks Brother's films, humorous books and any other simple triggers to put patients into a blissful state of spontaneous giggles. life on the flip side The way that emotions and health are closely related has been investigated for many years. The scientific press is full of papers which show the way that negative emotions such as anger, resentment, fear and despair are major factors in the development of serious illness from cancer to coronary heart disease. Scientists have charted direct pathways between mind and immunity via anatomical connections that link the brain directly to organs such as the spleen and the thymus gland. They have also shown that hormonal secretions induced by emotions and thought patterns create a second pathway between mind and body which is carried on the blood, and there is strong evidence that excess adrenaline from high levels of stress can significantly depress the body's immune system. But until recently most of the focus of mind-body research has been on the negative. Now, thanks to the new fascination with laughter, many scientists are beginning to investigate the biochemical changes brought about by positive emotions and encouraging their use as tools for health and healing. Researchers now find that laughter, relaxation, meditation and hope not only produce beneficial changes such as lowered heart rate and breathing, they can even improve the way your body responds to stress hormones, and bring about a shift in your perception of potentially stressful situations so you can look on them as challenges rather than as insurmountable problems - a vital attitude in preserving and enhancing the health of your mind and body. One of the very best things of all about laughter is that it breaks through the tendency each of us has to take our self and our values too seriously. It breaks down the roles we play and liberates the self locked within. It is our tendency to identify with our own self-created image, fears, beliefs and assumptions that takes us away from the joy which we believe is normal for each of us to feel. Give yourself a chance to laugh, and it will make you feel more alive, healthier and more beautiful. learn to laugh Seek out and spend time with people who make you laugh - often. Look for books that make you laugh, and keep a file of cartoons and magazine articles which you can share with your friends. Learn to be silly sometimes - like a child. Maybe join a drama class where they do improvisation, or make friends with children who still remember how to laugh and play and let them be your teachers.

Setting Free Your Magnificent Self Part 2

Unlock the Power of Peak Experiences: Discovering Love and Mystery

The response to my recent blog “Your Magnificent Self” was enormous. Last week I published PART ONE of my reply to your having asked for more. Here is PART TWO . I hope you enjoy it... One of the most important keys to connecting with your essential self lies in learning to pay attention to your peak experiences. These are times when you perceive reality through fresh eyes, experience the world as a whole and everything in it as being right. All of us have peak experiences yet too many of us don’t even stop to notice they are happening to us. EPIPHANIES The occurrence of these small moments of awakening can be tremendously enriching, for you are temporarily set free from habitual ways of thinking and behaving that tend to stifle your creativity. Look for peak experiences, surrender to what is happening to you, enjoy them when they come. Then record them in your notebook. The occurrences of both small and large moments of awakening can be tremendously valuable. You are temporarily set free from habitual ways of thinking and behaving that may be stifling your creativity and joy. Stay open to epiphanies. Sometimes they can be life-changing. Let me share with you how I discovered the power of peak experiences which many times have completely changed what, at the time, I believed to be true. AWAKENINGS When I was 18 years old, in my second year at Stanford University, I fell in love for the first time in my life. It was not long before I had to leave California to live in New York. His name was Dick Givens. He and I had never spent a night together. Now we would have twenty-four hours together in San Francisco before I had to catch a plane. We walked through Golden Gate Park. I had been there many times before on my own—visiting the Japanese garden, lying on the grass in the sun, looking at the paintings in the museum. But I'd never paid much attention to what was around me except in the vague way I had always appreciated being amidst the trees, grass and flowers. Today was different. He and I wandered aimlessly, aware that, in a few hours, we would probably never see each other again. REALITY SHIFTS I could feel death sitting at my shoulder. I loved this man with such intensity that I could hardly bear the fire that burned in my flesh when he touched my face, nor the surges of bliss which flooded my heart and body when we made love. Then, without warning, my whole world shifted. For reasons I will never understand, my consciousness – my awareness of the ordinary world – became transfigured, luminous. I had never experienced anything like it. As I walk with him, the structures of ordinary reality crack wide open. We come out of a wood, cross a road and step onto the curb. Old men are bowling on the green. Absorbed in their game, they pay no attention to us. Without warning the trees, the grass, the small knoll behind the men rising to a copse above, turn into a wondrous but terrifying universe. Space expands in all directions as though a million tiny holes are piercing the fabric of reality. Each one emits brilliant light. The air, the grass, the pavement, the bodies of the men, the clouds above us, the trees around us – everything trembles with a radiance. It breaks over me in great waves, simultaneously wiping me out as though it is even bringing me to birth in a new form. I understand nothing of what’s happening. DEEP MYSTERY In the presence of this overwhelming beauty, I sensed I’d tumbled into a deep mystery. Discovering love with my son, Branton who was born several months before. had been my first epiphany—my first peak experience. That day in Golden Gate Park brought my second. I am quite sure that the intensity of the love I felt for this man had triggered it. But the experience itself was far greater than either of us. I knew for the first time that by own essential being was urging me to live a different kind of life than I had lived until then – deeper, richer, larger and more connected to all living things. This was my first experience of something overwhelming which, instead of being terrifying, it carried with it a sense of exhilaration and excitement. It brought me incredible hope. That was the day I became certain that the universe is a place far greater than I had ever imagined. TELL YOUR TRUTH What are your own peak experiences? Think back and record them. Stay alert to when they arrive and enter into them. Epiphanies come in all shapes and kinds. Some overflow with bliss, others are brimming with sorrow, still others can be funny revealing to you something important about yourself that you were not aware of. Write them down whatever they are. Be as honest as you possibly can. Telling the truth first to ourselves and then, when appropriate, to some others, has enormous power. Too many of us lean in the direction of being diplomatic and discreet—adjusting our opinions and answers to fit with what we think others want to hear. This leads to a sense of confusion where instead of bringing you closer to your essential being and allowing it to guide you, you become confused—not sure what you genuinely think about anything. LOST TEENAGER That was very much the state I found myself in when at the ago of 13 an embarrassing epiphany forced me to turn away from what I had been taught and decide for myself what mattered to me. Here’s how it happened: I was sent away to a school called Castilleja and thrown in to a clique of privileged girls with whom I was quite sure I didn’t belong, I was terrified. I hoped being at this boarding school would give me the time I needed to work out the kind of human being I was supposed to be so I could survive. I was desperate. It was do or die. Once a month, as part of our ‘cultural development’ we girls were packaged in best dresses, shoes and crinolines and ushered off to view paintings, hear opera, or take part in something else which the school considered an essential part of our ‘intellectual, artistic and social development’. I learned that the trip this month was going to be to the San Francisco Opera House where we would be forced to listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, conducted by some Englishman called Sir Thomas Beecham. LESLIE THE PARROT Having been brainwashed by my opinionated musician father to believe that any music written before the twentieth century was ‘irrelevant to now and therefore a total waste of time’, I had taken on his beliefs as though they were my own. All the way to San Francisco I blabbered on about what a stupid idea it was for us to be spending time listening to ‘that old stuff’. When we arrived at the opera house, I was still seething with disapproval at having been press ganged into being there at all. In short I made an ass of myself at everyone else’s expense. THE CURTAIN RISES Then the music begins. No more than three minutes pass before my mouth drops open. I am scared to breathe, afraid that the sound of my breath will prevent my immersing myself in this wonderful sound. Incredible. Magnificent. Beethoven. In the presence of this music something occurs that has never happened to me before. His music cuts through my fear, my rage and my confusion. It fills the hollowness inside me with something so stark, so real, so vital, I can’t begin to describe it. The music and I become one. So long as it is playing, I am no longer alone. For the first time in my life, words come to me – words which will return again and again in the years that follow: ‘If such things exist, I want to go on living.’ Thanks to that experience I would come away from that night with a great gift. It opened up a world of music that had been hidden from me until then. It gave me spiritual nourishment and encouraged me to seek my own values in the world. Decades later it would also lead me to spend four and a half years writing my first novel Ludwig... A Spiritual Thriller. TAKE RISKS To free the Magnificent Self which is who you really are, consider new ways of doing things instead of mechanically following the same old patterns. Never be afraid of making a fool of yourself. When you do, as I did then (and have done many times since it must be said) you can learn some wonderful things about yourself while shaking off a lot of old baggage. Risk standing out from the rest—your own natural way of living, thinking, dressing, working may be quite different from the way you have been trained to do these things. Your opinions may differ greatly from those of people around you. Be courageous about seeing things your own way. Dare to be different in what you say and do if you feel different. The sense of freedom this can being is exhilarating. Listen to the whispers from within you. Find out what you want and then go about getting it. Whatever you work at, work hard and wholeheartedly. This brings a sense of self-reliance and also frees a lot of otherwise frustrated energy for constructive use. DISCARDING ROLES Take a look at the roles you play. There are dozens. We all play them—the 'intelligent woman', the 'man to be reckoned with', the 'expert’ the 'sexy lady', whatever. Some may be useful in getting what you think you want Most are irrelevant. They do nothing but sap your energy. As you become conscious of your own ‘roles’ you discover that have free choice to decide if you want to go on playing them or let them go. The more you leave roll playing behind, the freer you become from the hold they have exerted over you. This lets you come closer and closer to living your own authentic life with self respect, celebration, creativity and freedom. Your unique Magnificent Self is calling to you. Set it free. Discovering who you really are becomes be the most exciting thing you can do The time is now. Just do it.

Transfigure Your Life - Part 1

Discover Your Hero's Journey: Unveil Your True Identity and Find Wholeness

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'

Charisma

Discover the Characteristics and Secrets of Real Charisma with These Pro Tips

What gives any woman charisma? The Chanel suit she wears? The car she drives? The way she has been taught to use her body or speaks her words? Not really. For stylish or charming as these things may be they are ultimately externals - things put on from the outside. As such they offer a woman little more than the appearance of charisma. And like pastiche, appearances never deceive a discerning eye. What are the characteristics of real charisma? Where does it come from? How to you get it? And what is living with it all about? Charisma - the real McCoy - has certain characteristics: expansiveness for instance and energy, joy and creativity. It is not only a way of being which calls forth all the powers of a woman - from the pragmatic to the inspirational, the intellectual to the intuitional. It is also a way of relating to yourself, to those you work with and play with - even to the planet itself - through all of these modes. That is why at its core, charisma is both disarmingly simple and immeasurably complex - neither more nor less than living day by day from a full and honest outpouring of your own individuality - the spirit which is unique to you. This unique nature, which each woman has but most are still trying to discover, can be expressed in a myriad of ways from the most simple and playful to the most profound - in the colors you like best for instance, in the way you choose to have your hair cut, the kind of make-up you wear (or prefer not to wear). It is also explicit in the way you think and talk, and in the kind of deep values you embody, the dreams you dream and the things you create whether they be works of art, intellectual or physical feats, or simple day-to-day ways of being. Charisma is also evident in the rhythms and fluctuations of this energy. How different you are for instance on the tennis court, than when you hold a child in your arms, produce a piece of work, get involved in an intellectual discussion, or embrace a lover. Yet in each of these circumstances provided you are true to yourself you will have charisma - the originality of your spirit will shine through. Contacting that unique spirit, coming to respect it and having the courage to live from it is what gaining charisma is all about. Sometimes challenging, frequently exciting, this process can be a lot of fun too. As it takes place the externals - the clothes and make up you wear, the way you move and how you relate to your world cease to be arbitrary, like things you pick up with uncertainty to carry around with you. Instead they seem to unfold and develop beautifully and mysteriously - almost organically - from within as ever more honest and potent expressions of who you are. Whatever forms or shapes your individuality takes, one quality tends to permeate every facet of charisma as it unfolds: aliveness. That is where health comes in. Health is right at the core of charisma. Being healthy is a lot more than not being sick. It means having access to all of your energies from the physical stamina you need on the tennis court through the depths of your sexuality and creativity to an expanding awareness of how your mind works via the complex interface of your body's endocrine and nervous system. Such an awareness which can not only help keep you healthy and free from the ravages of premature aging but, according to advanced research may even give you the ability to alter your external reality by choice. The more fully and honestly your unique nature shows itself, the more charisma you will have. Simple? Nothing could be simpler. Yet in our society in this last decade of the 20th century, it would seem that our every encounter with the world around us - from breathing increasingly polluted air to interacting with a media intent upon selling us things we don't need or don't want at prices we can often ill afford - contrives in one way or another to interfere with the process. That is why another aspect of developing charisma is the process of gaining a strong awareness of ones own values and of finding ways of separating them from those which we are all constantly being sold by the exploitive 20th century urban world in which we live. (This by the way is every bit as important a part of health and beauty as the kind of food you eat for breakfast and the kind of creams you spread on your face.) Health, like charisma, also comes from within. Yet health needs a lot of support from the outside too - in the way you eat, exercise, deal with stress, look after your body and learn to listen to its prompting so that your potential for energy and aliveness can be maximized. For most of us this doesn't happen automatically. We have to learn how to create a high level of aliveness and to become wary of all the things which can impede it. Take toxicity in your body for instance. The build up of waste products in the cells restricts metabolic processes and depletes energy. It can also result in a great variety of unwanted conditions - from cellulite to poor skin, and anxiety and depression to degenerative conditions such as arthritis, obesity and cancer. Yet in an urbanized polluted environment all of our bodies tend to build up more waste than they are able to eliminate efficiently. Such a build up impedes aliveness. So part of developing charisma means sorting out a lifestyle for yourself which encourages continual detoxification. It can also mean learning about specific techniques from daily skin brushing, to special breathing methods, or hydrotherapy tricks which you can call on for periodic spring cleaning. To live with charisma in the fullness of ones being, to live with charisma, each of us needs continually to break down barriers, to bring to consciousness the self-imposed limitations we have been living with and to open oneself to new possibilities whether they come in the form of physical beauty - hair, body, skin, nails and all the rest - or new passions and ideals. It is a funny thing about self-expression. We in the Anglo Saxon world tend to think of it as something rather self-indulgent or self-obsessive. We have been brought up in a culture that affirms the value of altruism and insists that one should forget oneself in constant service and self-sacrifice to others. This is particularly true of women, many of whom spend their whole lives in one way or another denying their own needs and worrying about others or following a career path which society's values (not ones own) have imposed upon them only to wake up at the age of 45 to find that they feel lost, empty, and that life appears without meaning. The truth is that at the heart of serving others, as well as at the core of nurturing life lies charisma - an ability to express the totality of one's being. For only then can you bring to whatever else you are doing the full impact of your aliveness through beauty, intellect, enthusiasm, compassion, creativity, fun and joy. The pathway towards fullness of being often lies through a tremendously exciting exploration of such very personal and supposedly self-indulgent things as the kind of eyeshadow you wear or how best to look after your skin or make yourself look more beautiful. It is only when the pursuit of beauty becomes a thing apart from the expression of one's individual nature (like the notion so many women have that they will not be acceptable unless they wear designer clothes or paint their faces perfectly in order to be 'acceptable') that it goes all wrong. This is because beauty treated only as an external has sad repercussions for your own sense of self-worth. Like the old mechanistic world view which has blinded us to what we have been doing to our planet, it can imprison you within false images and limitations which make it impossible to live creatively or bring the joy of your own unique energy to those around you. So forget fears of narcissism and self indulgence. Each woman is unique and the charisma which celebrates that uniqueness can not only lift her to new levels of joy and energy and accomplishment but also enrich the lives of all who know her. Perhaps most important of all, through the expression of that uniqueness in her feelings, thoughts and actions, it can enable her to play the unique part she has to play in the future of her society and of the planet itself. Sounds revolutionary? It is. But this last decade of the twentieth century the astounding is becoming commonplace and the impossible a daily occurrence. Who would have thought the Berlin wall would fall? Exercise Let's get down to the nuts and bolts of charisma - the seemingly superficial trimmings such as make up, hairstyle and fashion which can help you explore who you are and feel good about yourself. As you will discover, when you select these trimmings and trappings from core impulses and desires the results are anything but superficial. The first step in developing your own brand of charisma is to get to know and make friends with the many facets of yourself. Each facet is like a character just itching for the chance to play a role in your life. When you encourage your characters to find expression, your reward is not only a great deal of pleasure and fun, but an abundance of core energy. THE CHARISMA DETECTIVE EXERCISE The following steps can reveal clues to characters inside you which carry energy for you. Answer each question as fully as you can in your journal. Also make a note of any feelings (good or bad) that come up as you do the exercise. You might like to work with a friend, one of you asking the questions and noting down the answers while the other allows her fantasies to run free. Whether you work with a friend or on your own, let yourself play at it. Although the issues that arise are important ones, exploring charisma above all means having fun. Choose a Photograph Find a photograph of yourself that you like. (For some this may not be easy, but you can at least find a photo that you prefer to others). Ask yourself why you have chosen this picture. What do you like about the person you see? What qualities does she have? How is the person in the photo the same as, and how is she different from, the person you feel yourself to be now? Scan Your Wardrobe Make a note of any item or items of your wardrobe that you really love - things you feel good in, for example a dress, a pair of shoes. (It could be something from your past or even something that you once borrowed.) Now ask yourself what it is you like about the thing. What qualities does it express? How does it make you feel? What image/character does it suggest? Pick Your Accessories Make a note of accessories, past, present or future, that you particularly like. Include jewellery, scarves, belts, hats, gloves, glasses, the lot. What is it about the accessory that you like? What does it remind you of? What part of you does it express? How About Your Hair? Ask yourself what was your favourite haircut or hairstyle/hair colour ever? Why did you like it? How did it make you feel? What aspect of you did it express? What Is Your Make-Up Look? Ask yourself is there an item of make up that you particularly like? Or more than one? What do you like about the way they make you feel? What part of you do they help to express? WHO ARE YOUR CORE CHARACTERS? By the end of this exercise you should have an idea of the types of images that are inspiring and hold power for you. See if you can group the images under a character or several characters that can serve as reference points for you. For instance, if you are inspired by a pair of bright red shoes because they make you feel bold and daring and suggest the sort of woman who dances on table tops, your character reference point might be "The Flamenco Dancer." Here are a few examples of characters which may help you to find labels for your own: The Romantic The Shaman The Seductress The Amazon The Athlete The Artist The English Rose The Witch The Gypsy The Glitzy Power-Broker The Princess The Anarchist The Nature Spirit The Earth Goddess The Clown The Gamine The Executive The Sophisticated Lady The Country Lady The Medieval Maiden WRITE YOUR CHARACTERS TO LIFE If one or more of your characters is particularly exciting, get to know her by writing her into existence. Describe her as fully as you can. What does she wear? What is her hair like? Her make up? Her nails? How does she move? Where does she go? What does she do? How does she speak? What does she say? What does she like and hate? Although simple, this exercise is powerful and can evoke a lot of different feelings, thoughts and memories. Whatever comes up for you, acknowledge it by writing it down, no matter how insignificant or stupid it may seem. Anything can be a clue to helping your charisma unfold from the core. Commonly women feel a sense of hopelessness and longing. They may have an image of a character who seems to be everything they feel they are not. Then, instead of inspiring them, the image overwhelms them. If this is the case remember that your character carries energy for you because she reflects an important part of you. No matter how far away from the you which you know she may seem, you can begin to live her right now. Obviously if your character is a waif-like wood nymph and you are 3 stone overweight it will take time to adjust this difference. Nevertheless it may be that by rearranging your hair or wearing a colour that the wood nymph would wear you can begin to draw upon her as an inspiration and start to tap into her quality of energy. Let these images inspire, not discourage, you. The best way to deal with a sense of discouragement in the face of anything that seems impossible is to begin by making a tiny step in the direction you want to go. We have learnt over and over that the way to climb a mountain (either physical or metaphorical) is just to put one foot in front of the other. Crack the Codes of Convention In exploring charisma it can be very freeing to break the rules and try something completely new. For instance, if you always wear make up to work, dare one day to go completely bare faced. One of us (Leslie) used to frequently go to work as the health and beauty editor of a magazine with a naked face. She found it immensely freeing to break the rules and discovered it gave her a fresh sense of herself.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 20,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 16 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 12th of April 2024 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.56 lb
for women
-1.32 lb
for men
-0.56 lb
for women
-1.32 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 12th of April 2024 (updated every 12 hours)

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