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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

Laugh Your Way To Health

Laugh & Heal: Uncover Gelotherapy Benefits & Learn What To Do!

“Take two jokes and call me in the morning.” It’s the prescription of physicians and psychologists who are aware that, if we want to look and feel our best, we should laugh more. Joy and laughter are fundamental to health and healing. Some of these men and women work diligently in research institutes, measuring cortisol levels while subjects watch Marx Brothers films. Others lead seminars for healers, doctors and business executives, helping them increase effectiveness and heighten pleasure by learning to see the funny side of things. Many work with cancer patients and the families of the seriously ill. This new breed of professionals comes in many sizes and shapes. You will often find little signs posted on their clinic walls saying things like: “I thought I made a mistake once, but I was mistaken” or “The Joys of Hypochondria” or "'I’m not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens” (Woody Allen). ENTER GELOTHERAPY It is now well-known that our emotional state exerts a major influence on health and longevity. Laughing has a highly beneficial influence on the immune system. Thirty-four years ago, Normal Cousins wrote his still-famous book Anatomy of an Illness (New York: Norton). In it he describes how laughter, together with massive doses of vitamin C, brought about his complete recovery from an excruciating form of arthritis known as ankylosing spondylitis—a crippling spinal disease. Cousins was a renowned American political journalist, author, professor and world peace advocate. While dangerously ill, he discovered that 10 minutes of rich laughter watching Laurel and Hardy or old clips from Candid Camera would bring him two hours of pain-free sleeping with no side effects. When laboratory tests were carried out to measure inflammation—a serious symptom of the illness—they revealed that inflammation was greatly reduced after each bout of laughter. This validated Cousins’ subjective experience and started a revolution in gelotherapy—the word for the therapeutic use of laughter. After his illness had healed, Cousins was invited by Dean Sherman Mellinkoff, of the University of California at Los Angeles, to join the faculty as Adjunct Professor of Medical Humanities. Until this day at The Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, a task force of high-caliber scientists continue to map the ways in which the relationship between mind and body affects health and healing—especially the vital role that humor, laughter and other positive emotions and attitudes like determination, love, purpose, hope and the will to live can both heal and lengthen lives. Cousins wrote, “It becomes necessary therefore to create a balanced perspective, one that recognizes that attitudes such as a strong will to live, high purpose, a capacity for festivity, and a reasonable degree of confidence are not an alternative to competent medical attention, but a way of enhancing the environment of treatment. The wise physician favors a spirit of responsible participation by patients in a total strategy of medical care.” LAUGHTER IS CONTAGIOUS In Europe, Britain and the United States, many hospitals provide “humor rooms” where patients go to watch videos and laugh. Organizations like John Cleese's “Video Arts Program” offer courses which make use of laughter to teach managers how to handle difficult situations more effectively through humor. American psychiatrist William Fry, M.D. is someone who has been investigating humor's beneficial effects on healing for decades. He says, "We now have laboratory evidence that mirthful laughter stimulates most of the major physiologic systems of the body.” A good belly-laugh which speeds up the heart rate, improves blood circulation and works muscles all over the body is every bit as beneficial as a bout of aerobic exercise. After the laughter is over, you feel wonderfully relaxed. It benefits the heart, increases the consumption of oxygen, reduces muscle tension, pulse and blood pressure. Fry believes that laughter is a kind of blocking agent—a buffer which helps to protect us from the damage that negative emotions (particularly those that arise during illness) do to the body. He says, “In any serious illness there's a sense of panic and helplessness that have direct psychological effects. Humor is one of the full range of positive emotions that help establish a new flux.” Fry has also discovered that laughter and humor diffuse rage—the violent emotion at the core of Type A personalities, with their high disposition to cardiovascular disease. LAUGH STRESS AWAY At Loma Linda Medical Center in the United States, Research Professor of Pathology Lee S. Berk carefully charted many of the ways in which laughter is good for you. Most of them revolve around humor’s ability to counter the ravages of the classic stress response. When we are under stress, certain hormones such as noradrenaline, cortisol and adrenaline shoot up. Adrenaline constricts blood vessels, raising heart rate and blood pressure. Over time this can lead to tachycardia, heart palpitations and hypertension. Frequent laughter significantly reduces these negative consequences. Berk finds that cortisol levels are also significantly reduced when we laugh. High cortisol levels tend to suppress the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness and premature aging. Humor lowers cortisol, modulating the immune system. DO IT YOURSELF Some wonderful organizations have grown up to help those of us who have forgotten how to laugh rediscover the art. One of the most highly respected is The Humor Project, founded by American educator Joel Goodman in Saratoga Springs New York. It acts as a clearinghouse for information and programs worldwide designed to help people find successful ways of applying humor in their lives. This was the first organization in the world to focus full-time on the positive power of humor. Right from its inception, their mission has been to make a difference to the lives of individuals, organizations and nations. They do a great job of it too. You can order books, DVDs, props and software to help you personally or professionally. They host teleseminars and international Humor and Creativity Conferences which attract health care professionals and groups of humorists from around the world, as well as ordinary people wanting to improve their health and the quality of their lives. A month ago, Scientific American published an interesting article called “How Happiness Boosts the Immune System.” It examines some of the research now taking place, not only in respect to the influence laughter has on the immune system and healing in general, but on gene expressions. Professionals working with laughter are quick to point out that laughter is not just for the ill and infirm. It is for everybody. One of the best things about humor is that it breaks through the tendency each of us has to take ourselves and our values too seriously. It breaks down the roles we play and liberates the essential being locked within. It is the tendency we humans have to identify with our own self-created image, fears, beliefs and assumptions that takes us away from the joy which is our birthright. We all need to seek out and spend time with people who make us laugh. It is high time we rediscover the art of being silly—like a child. Learn More: How Happiness Boosts the Immune System Scientific Research on Laughter at Loma Linda University The Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA The Humor Project

Sacred Truth Ep. 61: Unleash Creative Power

Unlock Creativity: Exploring Jung's Collective Unconsciousness

Every human being is brimming with creative power. Creativity lies at the core of what it is to be fully alive and vital, so each of us can express our unique visions as gifts to all life. I believe it’s time to set free our indestructible passion to create from the core of our being. I believe that we are all being called to do this, not only for our own sake but also for the sake of all beings and the Earth itself. I am excited about answering the call. Are you? Creativity is a mind-body-soul experience. It demands that you have access not only to your intelligence and to the layers of your psyche of which you are consciously aware, but also to the whole of your being, including what is commonly called the unconscious mind. Most of us have been taught to ignore the unconscious parts of us. To some degree this may be a result of Freud’s insistence that the deepest layers of a human being are a repository of repressed desires that need to be codified, pathologized, and treated. It is this belief that, for better or for worse, has propelled tens of millions of men and women into psychotherapy in the past hundred years. As a result, most of us still live with the lion’s share of our potential for creativity and freedom unavailable to us. Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of what it is to be fully human, our creative powers slumber is crying out for us to awaken it. Then, when the founder of depth psychology, Carl Jung, came along, he announced what every creative artist discovers for himself or herself: Freud’s “fearful unconscious” is in truth a realm replete with visions, archetypes, insight, and soul—all of which are fuels for our creative fires. Once we embrace the depths of our psyche and learn to work with them, we can access the gifts they hold and live our lives from a foundation of authentic freedom and power. Jung insisted that a person’s interior life not only merits attention but also calls for dedicated exploration, which is exactly what he himself did and then recorded in his fascinating and posthumously published Red Book. Thanks to more than half a century of exploration, Jung came to see the human psyche—both conscious and unconscious—as an inherently spiritual and fluid medium—a magnificent ocean in which we humans can fish for enlightenment, creativity, healing, and personal transformation. Jung then went on to discover that the dreams, myths, and archetypes that reside in our unconscious are highly personal to each of us. We are also given access to what Jung called the collective unconsciousness; that is, to archetypal realities that are not only personal but also universal. Now this is revolutionary stuff. It speaks of truths few people ever consider, unless they happen to be one of the visionary artists, thinkers, or scientists who discover this for themselves in the course of their work. The men and women who do discover all this for themselves are never willing to buy into the general consensus of what is taken to be reality. They prefer to strike out on their own, determined to enter uncharted territories and discover for themselves what treasures can be found there. Then they tend to bring these discoveries back, using them to fuel their work and transform their own lives as well as the lives of others. Invariably, when someone is courageous enough to question the stuff that the rest of us take to be true, they discover whole new realities. I have a passion to explore the nature and power of creativity from every angle possible in this blog. I hope you will join me through your own journeys.

Sacred Creativity

Unleash Your Creative Power: Leslie's Principles of Sacred Creativity

Deep within you lies a font of endless creativity. The most powerful force for freedom and fulfillment in any life, every human being has literally been made in the image of creation. How freely we are able to allow this sacred creativity to pour forth determines how rich our lives can become. It may even decide the future of our planet. This most sacred creative force can provide us with whatever we need to meet the challenges facing us in a world which increasingly appears to be edging towards chaos. And, just in case you think that when the gifts of creativity were being passed out, they bypassed you, think again. Sacred creative power is by no means only available to those who can write a book or paint a picture. It shows itself in how you think and function, in how you relate to others, as well as how we are able tocreate for ourselves the lives we long to live. Why is creativity sacred? Because, set free, it permeates every aspect of your life, lighting it up with wonder and possibility. Discovering and releasing your unique creative power enables you to turn difficulties you face on their head, transforming them into opportunities. YOUR BIRTHRIGHT Few of us come anywhere near to tapping our creative potential. Too often it is burnt out of us by education, or parental and religious training which teaches us to trust outside authority, undermining our abilities to trust in ourselves. It is time to reclaim our creative birthright. When we do, we discover a sense of purpose. Then we can call forth the support of the Universe to fulfill it. Health improves. We come to look upon our life as a great adventure which goes on expanding, year after year, towards greater fulfillment and satisfaction. Let’s now take a short journey through the mysterious labyrinth of sacred creativity. Hopefully it will inspire you to discover some truths about your own creative potential in all its magnificence. Doing so can carry us out of a life of dry responsibility and duty—sometimes tinged with disappointment, addiction and compromise—towards a pathway to authenticity, personal power, and freedom. SACRED CREATIVITY REVEALED Fifty years ago I first became fascinated by the creative process. I spent 4 years writing my first novel, Ludwig: A Spiritual Thriller. In the middle of the night, I would sit for hours on the floor in a corner of my little study listening to every piece of music Beethoven ever wrote, over and over again, always asking the question, “Where was his consciousness when he created this?” During that period I read a dozen books a week. In the beginning, they were biographies of Beethoven. I took a course in harmony and counterpoint since I knew little about either, and I felt I needed to understand more about how music is constructed. Then, for reasons I could not figure out, I found myself immersed in researching shadow governments and what was really going on in the world behind the façade of mainstream media. I kept saying to myself, “Why on earth are you learning about all this stuff when it has nothing to do with Beethoven?” What I did not realize then was just how incredibly complex and multidimensional every human being’s creative processes are nor how they work to expand and inspire our lives and our goals. For, by the time I finished the last page of my novel, every scrap of information I had amassed from my research, including what I had learned about the shadow world of political control and deceit, had all come together in ways I could never have imagined within the book to make it whole. The experience of all this brought new meaning and purpose into my own life. The bottom line is this: Once you decide to commit yourself to what you long to do or be or make in your life, and then follow it through thick and thin, this not only releases creative energies from within; it transforms your life in wonderful ways you could never have imagined. CREATIVITY: LESLIE’S PRINCIPLES Here is a short list of what I’ve discovered about the creativity within each of us: Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative vitality. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from the very core of our being. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity. There is an underlying in-dwelling creative force seated in the body which infuses all of life— including ourselves. When we seek the creative core within allowing its energy to permeate our body, we call forth sacred gifts and bring their transformative power into our lives. Creativity is the Divine’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to the Divine. The refusal to be creative is counter to our true nature and the greatest impediment to a fulfilling life. When we open ourselves to exploring creativity, we open ourselves to the unending support of universal energy. For creativity is always aligned to universal creative power so we can receive its endless gifts. As we open the sacredness of our creativity, many gentle but powerful changes start to take place in us and in those around we love. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity. Cross the threshold into your creative world, and you enter the realm of the imagination—the place in which intention can create reality. In this magical place, most of the day-to-day rules and reassurances that help us feel safe and comfortable fall away to reveal life of a different order—wilder, deeper, more authentic and unpredictable. Here’s how the adventure begins. DOORS OF PERCEPTION Human beings are, first and foremost, creators of their own lives. We do this either consciously or unconsciously. When we create consciously, we envision something close to our soul and then dance with it until out of the union—more like a love affair than anything else—our creations are born. When we create unconsciously, our creations come from a view of life that has been distorted and polluted by conditioning. The secret is to cleanse the doors of perception so that you are able to envision clearly and create what, from the deepest levels of your being, you want in your life. It is the simplest, the most challenging, and the most satisfying thing any human being ever does. What do you want to create? MEET THE DAEMON Take one part vision, mix it with methods for shifting consciousness, and a willingness to meet your Daemon and dance with it. Enter this dance of fire in a state of rapture, sometimes ecstatic and others daunting, but always exciting. In ancient times, the daemon—indispensable to creation—was considered to be a spirit of genius. Like the muse, he or she acted as an interface between you and the divine. Like nature herself, the daemon is neither good nor bad. The Greeks believed each of us was given a daemon at birth as a guardian spirit, useful in connecting earth with heaven. Through your daemon, the transcendent becomes the commonplace. A vision is tempered, honed and shaped. You are asked to fall in love with whatever you want to bring into being. Artistic visions take form. Relationships find new birth. So does everyday life. What do you love enough to want to bring into being? DANCE WITH YOUR DAEMON A willingness to do this, initiates a delicate, all encompassing, erotic process of transformation. It asks that you surrender to the dance, and at the same time maintain awareness of your separateness. This is not a loss of self, it’s a kind of cellular metamorphosis—a remembering through your subtle body who you really are. It touches your bones, your flesh, your muscles and your heart. Out of the depths of this union, destructive energies can be transformed into sheer power for creation. It’s a fascinating process—one to carry you back and forth from the very depths of your soul to the lofty heights of invention. Living it transforms an ordinary existence into a life of passion. WASTE DISPOSAL OK. So each of us comes into this life with the natural capacity to create. Indeed, that is what we are here for and what makes us unique. But our educational system, our parental and religious training—the very hierarchical structures of work and society—too often pollute our consciousness with destructive notions, lack of self-belief and an imprisoning sense of limitation. These things teach us not to be creative, not to listen to our inner voice, not to trust our visions. It is authority we are taught to bow down to. All these false notions distort our natural creative powers and truncate them, leaving us frustrated and often not knowing what is wrong. So we collect more money or lovers, crave more status and long for more holidays—none of which can fulfill the deep longing in every human being to exercise his or her birthright: To create one’s own destiny and realize our deepest dreams. HONOR THE WHISPERS Uncovering and making use of your own creative energies brings a willingness to witness what is happening to you and around you, without passing judgment and without negating whispers from your soul. Each thing you create exists in some form in consciousness before it is ever made—within your own mind to be sure, but also in the collective unconscious. This is what Plato described with his forms, and what Michelangelo knew when he chiseled a hunk of marble to allow the form he insisted was hidden within it to emerge. Creativity demands an abundance of life energy, clarity of mind and emotion, and the stamina to see something you really want to happen right through to the final moment when it does. This energy depends not on age but on aliveness. EMBRACING CHAOS All creativity demands that we enter the realm of chaos. Here the creative intention coupled with a sense of compassion for yourself and for all life, can be used to harnesses chaos and bring to birth what we you dream of creating. Good science (and, these days, little that is called “science” can claim to be valid) has much to teach about the process: Bohm’s explicate implicate order, the quantum leaps of physics, Prigogine’s bifurcation points, open systems, and dissipative structures. These visionaries have themselves made new maps of the mysterious creative process, and can help you make quantum leaps to higher orders of being, greater power, creativity and authenticity. PATH TO WHOLENESS Creativity at the highest order bursts forth from that part of your being in which you are most whole—aware simultaneously on an intellectual, instinctual and physical level. It embraces the presence of the rational thought, but it insists that reason not overstep its boundaries. With active intuition and a feeling of wonder, you enter the passionate creative dance that can become fruitful beyond your wildest dreams. Every time you choose to do this, you gain greater skills in making this fecund state of consciousness a familiar and bounteous part of everyday life. Such is the splendor of the mysterious and sacred power of your own creativity.  

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.

Celebrating Your Body

Rediscover Bodily Freedom: Awaken the Inner Child and Feel At Ease

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.

The Zen Of Infinite Reality

My 6 Yr Old Self's Unexpected Affair with Stravinsky - How It Changed My Life

When I was six years old, I had my first love affair. Yes, really. Of course, not until years later did I recognize the experience for what it was. But like every first love, it changed my life forever. My father was a jazz musician, so our house was equipped with the best possible sound equipment. He and I loved to listen to music—just about any music available—at full volume, of course. This, my mother, could not stand—which made it, even more, exciting. While my playmates roamed the hills of Hollywood skinning their knees, I would lie on my belly in our living room, listening to music as loud as I could make it. One day, combing through our vast supply of records, I came upon Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." The name meant nothing to me. But I liked the colors on the cover, so I put it on the record player, turned up the volume and flopped down in front of our huge speakers. Strange, mysterious, discordant sound flooded my body, opening a secret door to somewhere deep inside me—a mysterious inner world I had never entered. I didn't know such a place even existed. I trembled with fear and excitement while Stravinsky's music continued to wind its way through my body. I flushed hot and then cold. My heart raced, then calmed. I lost all sense of place and time as I rode the waves of an imaginal sea of sound into unexplored worlds, too numerous to name. I have no idea how long all this lasted. Eventually, even the "boat" carrying me along on vivid images began to dissolve like sugar in water. In a perfect union, the sounds and the child-that-had-been-me swirled into a vortex and became lost in each other. We shared the excitement, fear, longing, fierceness, and sadness. As lovers, we had come together—music and child—in an immediate, passionate, all-encompassing union. Eventually, I found myself at the center of this whirlpool. Then, even the ecstasy of the movement vanished. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I tumbled—not into Wonderland, but into an experience of unspeakable stillness. Zen practitioners claim this experience is available at any moment to each one of us. For me, it was an indescribable event—beyond space, beyond time, outside thought. Without the slightest possibility of ever being able to describe it, I knew that everything was as perfect as it was meant to be. In the words of Zen Master Daisetz Suzuki, in this place, I would eat when I am hungry, sleep when tired. I knew that "it was fine yesterday and today it is raining." In the words of Julian of Norwich, I was sure that "All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." My affair with Stravinsky lasted more than four hours. At least, that's what my mother said. "Don't tell me you are still listening to that awful music." She had to raise her voice to be heard above the sounds. "For God's sake, turn it off. Do something useful." So I did something useful. I went to school, then to university where I learned, at least, some of what you are supposed to learn. I earned praises for top marks, went to work, won prizes, gave birth to four children by four different men, raised them on my own, wrote books, made films, gave talks, led workshops, created products for companies, made television programs and so on and so on. In effect, I did what millions of men and women do—I became the breadwinner, the caretaker, the nurturer of people's lives. Through all the years between six and now, my passion for music, painting, books, poetry, architecture and movies has never left me. Far from it. During all of these years, the epiphany of emptiness that Stravinsky brought to me that day and the sense of absolute stillness has never faded. It has made it possible for me to create so many things as well as to explore new places and ideas. It's invited me to move beyond thought towards a place of unity with the rest of the universe. All this continues gnawing at me. I suspect it will never go away, just as the urge to breathe never goes away, no matter how long we try to hold our breath. What I did not know—and this took me scores of years to find out—is that the rabbit hole into which I had unexpectedly tumbled has for millennia, been, described by every culture and religion in the world in one form or another. Nor had I any idea that, at any moment in time, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, it is available to each of us. To Zen Buddhists, this wordless, timeless space represents ultimate reality: That which can only come through immediate experience. In Suzuki's words, "For the sake of those crucial experiences Zen Buddhism has struck out on its own paths which, through methodical immersion in oneself, lead to one's becoming aware, in the deepest ground of the soul, of the unnameable Groundlessness and Qualitylessness—nay more, to one's becoming one with it." It is a state in which nothing is thought or contrived, longed for or expected. It reaches out in no particular direction, yet it knows itself able to handle the possible as well as the impossible. Concentrated, yet so expanded too, such power is both purposeless and egoless. As such, it can be called truly spiritual. Why? I believe because it is charged with an awareness that spirit is present everywhere. Because the cosmos is present everywhere, we too are present everywhere. We can have direct experience of this, and access the power that continues to create the universe itself. And we have full access to that power of creation to use in our lives, in whatever way we choose. The Sufis call this state fana—the annihilation of your individual selfhood. When you experience fana, your everyday personality becomes transparent, so the larger being that you are shines through. You soon become absorbed in an all-encompassing fascination for the moment. Life is lived in the NOW. Cutting-edge physicists speak of a holographic universe in which we live but seldom access because we are plagued by endless mental concepts that blind us to so-called reality. This blinds us to the experience of Samadhi—"a non-dualistic state in which the consciousness of the subject becomes one with an experience of the object." This selfless absorption and total surrender of Samadhi is characteristic of children when left alone to follow their instincts. It is available to each one of us, regardless of age or condition. Honoring whatever brings you bliss in your life opens the door to it. That day, when I lay on the floor lost in Stravinsky, without recognizing, I became conscious of it what would inspire me most: The beauty of art—whether it be music, words, stories, sculpture, buildings or what-have-you. Why? Certainly not because I had any idea that art was supposed to be valued as part of what grown-ups refer to as culture. I couldn't have cared less. After all, I was a kid who, when not entranced by what I was seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, spent the rest of my day learning card tricks, wrestling with my huge dog Tuffy, and trying—unsuccessfully—to sell packets of chewing gum which my grandfather gave me to neighbors' kids. Nope—I loved the beauty and wonder of art in all its many forms because, unlike the world around me, with which had little in common, it had grabbed hold of me and would never let me go. It demanded of me both a submission as well as active participation in the making of it. I now believe that my first love affair at the age of six became the harbinger for how I have lived my life. At any moment in time, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, fana is available to all of us regardless of age. Honoring whatever brings you bliss opens the door to it for you.

Change It

Transform Your Fear: Ride the Waves of Transformation

In the universe, in your own life, only one thing is constant: change. Change is the very essence of life itself. The tides change, the moon changes, the seasons change in cyclic patterns. Day becomes night, and night day again. A seed opens, grows, becomes a plant, then flowers and produces fruit. Like you, to unfold in all its magnificence it must survive. And the only way a living thing can defy that famous law of entropy and survive is by changing. There are two kinds of change: Simple change, where whatever has changed can always change back again, and transformation, where the change that takes place is one-way and there is no going back. It is through transformation that a seed (or a woman) at a lower level of life order is changed into the same seed or woman at a higher one. By making such transformative changes in our lives, the potentials embodied in our own seedpower are set free to unfold in all their splendor. And it is in learning to work with the transformative energies in our lives that we allow change to empower us. Working with transformation is seldom easy. The one-way nature of transformational change demands that you pass through a period of confusion where old structures disintegrate in order to make reorganization at a higher order possible. Such change can be very unsettling. This is true not only in human terms, but throughout the universe. Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine has shown that for any system in the universe to evolve from one level of order to a higher level, it has to pass through a period of chaos. Evidence of this kind of transformational change can be seen all around us - in the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and in the growth of a fertilized egg into a baby. We hear of it in our myths: It is told in the Christian story of crucifixion followed by resurrection, and in the tale of the phoenix who, consumed by flames, rises out of the fire to soar again in greater splendor. We see it in our own bodies when a healing crisis takes place, and wastes we have carried for years rise to the surface, creating temporary symptoms and discomfort - only to be lifted off to make way for healing. the fires of change With transformation as leitmotif of all life, you would think we would all know how to cope with it. Yet, getting through periods of disorganization and the dissolving of limitations in our lives in order to grow is the most difficult task any of us ever faces. It asks that a woman commit to the flames anything which, no matter how useful in earlier times, has become outmoded. This means everything that no longer serves her - ideas, habits, old thought patterns, emotions from the past and, most important of all, any of her living patterns which have their roots in fear. Her metamorphosis demands that these things be laid upon an altar and sacrificed so that life can then re-create itself out of the ashes in a higher form. The word sacrifice means to make sacred. It does not mean, as so often in our culture it is taken to mean, ripping oneself apart, or denying oneself. The idea of sacrificing something which has outstayed its welcome or is no longer useful sounds as though it should be easy - rather like cleaning out a cupboard. But when it is happening it can be terrifying. It can feel as though it is we who are being sacrificed. This is why we fight so hard against change, and find it so terrifying. The key to riding the waves of transformation, which we as women are being asked to ride throughout our lives, is learning to make such sacrifices willingly - to go with the transformational energies when they come. When you can, then the process of transformation, instead of making you feel like the very flesh of your body is being stripped away, becomes an exciting voyage of discovery - a voyage which, although it has its perils and its pleasures - you know is taking you to a richer land. One thing keeps us from being able to do this: fear. fear of wholeness Fear is an essential emotion. It registers any situation in which the integrity of mind/body is threatened. Without it we would not survive. If an elephant stampedes towards you and you don't feel afraid, you might not get out of its way and you'll be trampled to death. This kind of fear is appropriate. You identify yourself as the thing in the way of the elephant and the elephant as a threat to yourself and you take action to avoid disaster. The immune system which protects your body from illness and degeneration works in very much the same way. It recognizes self as opposed to non-self, and makes sure that the integrity of self is not breached by anything that could cause it harm. But fear has a negative side too. This same tendency to identify self from non-self for the protection of life gets turned inside out and becomes distorted. Then instead of serving the essential, but limited, purpose of preserving life, for which fear is intended, it becomes a fear of life, a fear of change, the kind of fear which makes you hold on desperately to things and people and ideas and images of yourself which your life would be better without. This kind of fear is the biggest toxin that ever needs to be eliminated from your life if you want to let your life unfold in all its richness and meaning. when fear grows toxic Toxic fear has many different faces: a fear of illness, of death, of losing a relationship, of injury, even of freedom - the very thing you want most. When toxic fear is present, it pollutes your thoughts and feelings. It can produce depression, anxiety, hate, resentment and hopelessness. It also deadens relationships and makes life seem meaningless. The reason we try so hard to hang on to everything is that we identify ourselves with these things - ideas, people, images of ourselves, money, a house, a job. If any of these things should be dissolved or threatened or lost in the process of change in which we are involved, we fear that we ourselves will be lost. Every form of toxic fear is a fear of losing your self. And the irony of it all is that the self which you so greatly fear losing is always some outmoded self - which in the process of transformation needs to be sacrificed to make way for a new, expanded, more creative self to take in its place. One needs to learn to go with the process of one's own unfolding - the process of becoming who you are. You need to go beyond fear. You need to move into the realm of trust - a trust in your core, in that greater Self - the individual brand of energy from which every aspect of your life is nurtured and regenerated. at the core of you This Self which lies at your core is unlimited, all-inclusive and infinitely capable of transformation. Like the leaf painted with one brush stroke by the Zen master - it is a unique microcosmic expression of the universe. So long as your sense of who you are is identified with the smaller self and all its mental and physical baggage, transformation remains an agony. However, when you begin to see that this day-to-day self is only a minute expression of your larger Self from which your core energy comes, and you can begin to identify with that instead, then the whole game changes. Instead of being plagued by fear and the other negative emotions which accompany it (emotions which play a large part in the development of disease, incidentally) you start to act from trust and to experience yourself as an integral and harmonious part of the all that is. All of this takes patience and time. It also requires a conscious effort to identify and weed out outdated thought and behavior patterns, energetic imbalance or internal pollution in the body and to replace reactions rooted in fear with trust. This in turn calls for an internal revolution in consciousness as well as learning skills in managing change. Your journey will be different from every path that has ever been walked. Each of us has to find her own way. That is the hero's journey in every mythology in the world.

Inner Enemies

End Energy-Drainers: Discover How to Neutralize the Sources of Your Stress and Anxiety

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.

Addicted To Beauty

Discover the Beauty of Pinterest: A Social Media Sensation

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I am a sucker for beauty. I always have been. It’s no accident that I’ve spent years of my life working with beauty, writing about it, researching it, exploring it in every form. Here’s the news: I have recently become totally addicted to the marvelous new (only a year old) ‘Pinterest’. It’s a unique social network which I stumbled into almost by accident, and I’ve become completely besotted with. So much is this the case that I find myself awakening in the night to look at what is new on the site—and it is truly wonderful. It is also a very far cry from Facebook, Twitter and the rest. I predict that, if you explore it, you too will become trapped in this web of beauty. Pinterest covers everything from ancient artifacts to street fashion, health, and just about everything else that makes up our lives. PINTEREST—WHAT IS IT? How do I begin to describe it? It’s a pinboard-style photo sharing website that lets you create and manage all sorts of theme-based collections of images and events which interest, dazzle and delight you, plus lots more. Once you join Pinterest—and you can only become a member by invitation—you have access to pinboards belonging to other people all over the world. You can re-pin images in your own collections (called your “boards”), or you can “like” the photos that they present. You can save, sort, delete and resort all of your images—these are known as “pins”—enabling you to post all sorts of media content in your boards. Your boards usually follow a theme so that your pins can be easily organized, found and enjoyed by other users. There are all sorts of quick links to Pinterest, as well as “Pin It” buttons to go on the top of your browser—so that whenever you find an image or piece of information that fascinates you, you can press the Pin It button. This will immediately take you to your Pinterest account, and let you put it on one of your boards then and there. I love Pinterest’s mission statement, which is “to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”. Surprisingly enough, you will find no advertisements on Pinterest, and—though it’s only been around for just over a year—it is the fastest growing social service in the world. FEED YOUR SOUL In the world we live in, with all of its chaos and concerns about economic and political disorder, Pinterest for me—and many others—has become a place where one can nourish one’s soul with whatever fascinates, brings you joy or a sense of spiritual uplifting, or all of the above. I love boards that inspire me. My own Pinterest pages are filled with information about health, the sea, animals, spiritual renewal, healing herbs, ancient cultures, and of course beauty of every kind. The only way to appreciate Pinterest is to take a look at it for yourself and see what you feel. As you’ve probably figured out, I am over the moon about the magnificent life-enhancing beauty that you can find here. I strongly suggest that you check it out. I predict that it will inspire you too. This year, Pinterest won the “best social media app” and the “people’s voice award” for their best-functioning visual design at the Webby awards. It would be impossible for me to sing the praises of Pinterest too highly. Happy pinning!

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 11th of July 2024 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.53 lb
for women
-1.98 lb
for men
-0.53 lb
for women
-1.98 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 11th of July 2024 (updated every 12 hours)

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