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personal growth

101 articles in personal growth

Psychic Scrub

Psychic Scrub

When it comes to rejuvenation on an emotional and spiritual level, the most powerful way there is to liberate life energy is simply to tell the truth. This means nothing more than allowing yourself to be what you are, without the pretensions or self-limiting assumptions that can unconsciously block the experience of being fully alive and able to make full use of your potentials. Far too much vitality lies stillborn beneath patterns of addictive behavior, fear, and heavy psychological baggage - the kind of stuff we all carry around with us to thwart our energy and make simply being who we are hard work. life energy thwarted The physical, emotional, spiritual and social environment in which most of us grow up rarely supports the full unfolding of our individual nature. As a result, like a plant trying to develop in depleted soil with too little rain and too little sun, each of us develops our own brand of disharmony and distortion. We may try to change ourselves to be what we think others want us to be, or we bury deep inside us all our fears, disappointments and frustrations lest they rock the boat of our day-to-day lives. Every past experience, all thoughts, perceptions and fears, can become encoded within the molecular structures of the body in the form of layer after layer of old "stress". Later on in life such `encoding' can manifest as muscle tension, metabolic processes that don't function as well as they should, negative thought patterns and recurring emotions such as fear, anxiety or depression. This happens to all of us to some degree. When we carry around a lot of old stress we can also gradually develop a lack of trust in ourselves, a lack of confidence, or a feeling of being unworthy or guilty. We can even end up burdened by a sense of meaninglessness which leads to addiction, or greed for material things, so that no matter how much we acquire we never fill up our emptiness. polishing the lens of perception At the core - at the very center of our being - beneath whatever physical, emotional or mental rubbish we have accumulated, is where true freedom is to be found. Rediscovering this freedom is essential for rejuvenation. It asks that we let go of distorted habit patterns, fears and frustrations which have developed over the years, and gradually reassert our trust in our essential self. The false ideas, notions and habit patterns that suppress and squander our life energy make us highly susceptible to early aging. They represent psychic and spiritual rubbish which is not only a big energy drainer but can cause as much free radical damage as living on junk food or taking drugs. The wonderful thing about the psyche is that, like the body, given half the chance it will detoxify itself so that life-changing psychic and spiritual energy is released. Psychic detoxification brings a spiritual rejuvenation in its wake that can echo throughout your whole life, adding the freshness of a child's vision to the wisdom you have developed over the years. There are many ways to go about it. Good psychotherapy can help. So can meditation, certain energy approaches to exercise such as Chi Chung, Tai Chi, Yoga and martial arts practices - provided they are taught with a real understanding of the spiritual power that underlies them. But one of the simplest to learn, yet most effective ways of doing this is by autogenic training. It costs nothing but a little time to learn the technique. Once learned, a daily practice of five or ten minutes a day over time can clear away psychological blocks and lift off stresses that have been locked deep within for a lifetime.

How To Die Young Late In Life

How To Die Young Late In Life

“All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” T.E. Lawrence I love this quotation. It reminds me of the imaginative power each of us has to create our own life. It also tells me there is no need to fear growing older. Each one of us can live a rich and fulfilling life, no matter what our age. Yet too few of us make use of our powerful abilities to envision and create what we long for. If, like me, you would prefer to die young late in life, you need to do two things: First, get savvy about how to care for yourself naturally. Second, start practicing Lawrence of Arabia’s dictate to become a “dreamer of the day”. Then “act with open eyes” to make it happen. AGELESSNESS Our growing understanding of natural medicine, together with research in high-tech biochemistry, has made all things possible. Once little more than a pipe-dream, the notion that we can choose to die young late in life is now a genuine possibility. Savvy gerontologists challenge the maximum lifespans of human beings. Now, men and women in the know make intelligent use of antioxidant nutrients, electromagnetic treatments, and a myriad of other anti-aging tools—including an organic, high-raw diet—to prevent physical degeneration and restore healthy balance to their bodies and their lives. Instead of prescribing dangerous drugs, a new wave of visionary psychiatrists and natural therapists have come to understand that the food we eat we eat exerts a powerful effect on our brain’s control centers. These loci direct the metabolic processes on which our health depends—from hormonal behavior, weight and appetite, to emotional and mental states and even what we perceive to be the nature of reality. What few people as yet know—and what I have been studying and teaching in the past five years—is that these control centers are also the filters through which we receive genuine spiritual revelations. Live on a diet of convenience foods, sugars, and carbohydrates, as more than 90 percent of people now do, and your brain’s control centers become crippled. Unable to do their job properly, we begin to experience not only ill health and rapid aging, but unbalanced emotions, mental fog, and a strong sense that, in ways we cannot even articulate, we have lost trust in ourselves and lost connections with ourselves although we may have no idea how this has happened. Few men and women as yet realize that changing the way they eat and care for their bodies can, often within a few weeks, not only transform their health but expand their consciousness and change their lives on virtually every level. FALSE NOTIONS For generations, society has imprinted us with a lot of negative thoughts and descriptions about what it means to grow older. In the book—for which he won a Pulitzer Prize—Why Survive? Being Old in America, Dr Robert Buffer writes astutely about how damaging false beliefs about aging continue to be. Negative ideas about what it means to get older include the belief that older people are inflexible, senile, and unproductive—in effect, that they are just waiting for the inevitable arrival of the grim reaper. Such nonsense grossly distorts the truth. TRUE PERSPECTIVES Your chronological age is a very limited indication of your biological and functional age. These two measurements are what matter. Old people can be capable of far more than society allows them to express or contribute. At any age, people who discover how to live by the principles of natural wellbeing become remarkable human beings. Highly resistant to the ravages of degeneration and to chronic illness, they know their bodies. They face each day in fresh anticipation about what it will bring. They’ve learned to dismiss the negative brainwashing which continues to bombard us from the mainstream media, the medical profession and government directives. They know that, as George M. Mann MD writes, “The diet-heart hypothesis that suggests that high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol causes heart disease has been repeatedly shown to be wrong. The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century.” Knowledgeable, independent people have every right to boast of their increased longevity and high resistance to degeneration. They’ve earned it. They have sought truths and they continue to uncover them. They’ve chosen to shun unnecessary drugs, to banish convenience foods, and to make from 50 to 75% of the foods they eat raw and organic. Having transcended all those beliefs about growing older, they have become not old people but long-lived people. TIME TO CREATE It is commonly said that we are allotted about a quarter of a century in which to grow to adulthood. The next forty years, we’re told, are to be directed towards accomplishment in the outside world, realizing the goals of adulthood, procreation and raising a family. After that, most of the world expects us to slide headlong downhill until we die. Within the confines of this three-score-years-and-ten paradigm, and under the pressures of contemporary social values, too many of us can become obsessed with accomplishment. Since the time for worldly success is supposed to be limited to the middle period of our life, we push ourselves forward at health-breaking and heart-breaking speed. The concerns with fulfilling ourselves in our career, paying the rent, or buying the baby a new pair of shoes—during what are supposed to be the best years of our lives—force us to postpone the pleasures of a time to rest, a time to think, and a time to dream about what we long to create. I believe it is essential that each of us deliberately make a place for us to explore a time-expanded universe within us. Nobel laureate novelist Hermann Hesse wrote about such a time-expanded world in his Glass Bead Game. There, time's limits become the rules of the game of life. Each human being is freed to order his existential choices. Such a time-expanded world could help us draw together our learning and re-synthesize our knowledge. It might enable the coming together of those who practice with authenticity such disciplines such as mathematics, physics, philosophy, biology, medicine, psychology, anthropology, art, literature, politics, theology and law—in fact, the whole gamut of human concerns—into a kind of connectedness which is urgently needed in the excessively fragmented post-industrial society in which we now live. THE POWER OF AGE Healthy, creative longevity can make available to us the steadily maturing wisdom that is one of the greatest blessings of growing older: People whose experience and awareness has not been distorted by ill-functioning minds and rapidly waning energies have so much to give. I believe that such wisdom is exactly what we need to help guide our species towards further evolution. Moreover, such time expansion takes hold of our personal sense of the present and, in a powerful, real, and positive way, draws it into the future. And when we are able to project ourselves into the future, that future becomes not an abstract consideration, but something of active concern to all of us. The future of the earth is our future. We are responsible for it. If we so choose, we can live to see it as caretakers instead of irresponsible tenants in a rented property. The principles of natural aging help us become its owners, and, like all owners, we are far more likely to look after our property. LIVING A LIMITLESS LIFE In George Bernard Shaw's preface to Back to Methuselah—the play in which his character Dr Conrad Barnabas promotes an extended lifespan of 300 years—he writes: “Men do not live long enough; they are, for the purposes of high civilization, mere children when they die.” He then goes on to consider some of the creative possibilities of our being able to lengthen life: “This possibility came to me when history and experience had convinced me that the social problems raised by millionfold national populations are far beyond the political capacity attainable in three score and ten years of life by slow growing mankind. On all hands as I write the cry is that our statesmen are too old, and that Leagues of Youth must be formed everywhere to save civilization from them. But despairing ancient pioneers tell me that the statesmen are not old enough for their jobs . . . We have no sages old enough and wise enough to make a synthesis of these reactions, and to develop the magnetic awe-inspiring force which must replace the policeman's baton as the instrument of authority.” For me, this magnetic awe-inspiring force of which Shaw speaks is nothing less than man's potential to become the creator of his destiny on earth. The situation in which we now live, with all the global dangers to which we are exposed—from nuclear radiation to the possibility of mass nuclear extinction and economic collapse—are not accidents of nature. They have been created by us. No act of god can suddenly remove their potential destructiveness from our future. Only we ourselves have the potential to do this. And, if we are to succeed, we will need to call forth every resource which we have—intelligence, wisdom, strength, courage, patience, wit, compassion—then work with them. Freedom from mental and physical degeneration which ageless aging brings is no longer an empty dream. It is happening to many. Who cares if, at the age of 85, we are all still capable of running a marathon, or if we look 20 years older or younger than we are chronologically? Such things matter little by themselves. But the high-level health, mental clarity and well-being which are the rewards of natural living—no matter how old one is chronologically—are of urgent concern to all of us as residents of the earth. They build form the foundation on which we human beings can build if we are to make use of our full creative potential. In the full use of such creativity lies the future of humankind, our children and our planet. In the words of Capek's Vitek: “Let's give everyone a three-hundred-year life. It will be the biggest event since the creation of man; it will be the liberating and creating anew of man! God, what man will be able to do in three hundred years! To be a child and pupil for fifty years; fifty years to understand the world and its ways and to see everything there is; and a hundred years to work in; and then a hundred years, when we have understood everything, to live in wisdom, to teach, and to give example. How valuable human life would be if it lasted for three hundred years! There would be no fear, no selfishness. Everything would be wise and dignified. Give people life! Give them full human life!” Is this no more than an idealistic plea in the midst of the profound anxiety, fear and disillusionment of early 21st century life? Maybe. Maybe not. Have I, at 72, become one of Lawrence’s “dreamers of the day”? Perhaps. It’s dreams that create the mythologies by which we live. I believe we urgently need new dreams to give our lives direction—dreams which, tempered by the wisdom of age, are large enough and rich enough to carry us forward. Such dreams not only have power. They have the ability to bring forth exciting new realities.

Woman Power

Woman Power

I have always found the Biblical expression `Become what thou art' full of meaning. Becoming beautiful is like that. But it is not a static state of perfection, as the glossy magazines would have us believe - one fleeting moment on a well-made-up, well-lit face, captured for eternity by the camera. It is a living process, an unfolding of your uniqueness, no matter what your age or where you start from - a kind of journey which, for me, is one of the two most exciting things in life. The other, I believe, is creativity itself, whether it is expressed in painting a picture, cooking a meal, running a business, loving a man or caring for a child. And the wonderful thing about the whole process of becoming what you really are is that it inevitably leads to greater creativity and satisfaction in what you do. What could be better than that?

Beware The Sneaky Inner Drainers

Beware The Sneaky Inner Drainers

With the best will in the world to live from your core, and the most conscientious attitude towards living a high-energy lifestyle, you may have no idea just how many factors can still drain your energy. Some, such as the way you eat or how much exercise you get, are fairly self-evident. Others, such as the invisible electromagnetic fields that surround you, are more tricky to fathom. The most elusive of all are the silent attitudes and beliefs you hold within. These inner drainers can affect your energy at any moment of the day without your even being conscious of it. When they do, the smallest challenge or inconvenience becomes a tremendous burden, your stress levels soar and your energy levels plummet. Use the following exercise to help identify your inner energy-draining attitudes. 1. How do you usually feel when you wake up in the morning? I just want to go back to sleep I am excited about the day ahead 2. When you look in the mirror do you... Fret over my wrinkles/grey hairs/ blemishes and feel down about myself? Feel pleased about myself and good about the way I look - imperfections and all? 3. When confronted with a difficult task at home or at work do you think... What a pain, perhaps if I avoid it someone else will do it? Here's a good challenge - a way to really stretch myself? 4. Looking forward to a romantic evening do you... Create a scenario of doom in case things work out badly - that way I won't be disappointed? Enjoy imagining how wonderful the evening is going to be? 5. When you have an argument with your partner do you say to yourself... This is typical, he doesn't understand my needs. I'll never have a decent relationship? Maybe getting things out in the open can help us understand one another better and feel closer than before? 6. When you get a cold do you think... Just my luck! I always catch a cold at the worst possible moment? My body is obviously run down. Let me see how I can change my diet or my lifestyle in order to better support my needs? 7. When someone pays you a compliment do you... Dismiss it as untrue and then try to work out what their ulterior motive is? Accept the compliment graciously and thank them for their kindness? 8. What is your attitude towards your job? I hate it. I'm overworked and underpaid, but I have to stick it - there's so much unemployment about I can't expect to find another one? I enjoy my work. It gives me a chance to use my talents in a fulfilling way and I feel personally and financially rewarded? 9. You are tired and decide to spend a restful evening alone. A friend calls feeling down and asks you to go out with her. Do you... Go out with her even though I don't want to because I feel I should - this is the second time she has wanted to get together? Tell her I'm too tired, but I would be happy go out another night and enjoy my evening alone? 10. You are invited to a family christening which you don't want to go to. Do you... Go because I'm expected to. My family make such a fuss if I don't - I hate family gatherings? Either excuse myself because there is something else I want to do or go because I would enjoy making my family happy? 11. When you look back on your past do you Feel resentful about the opportunities I didn't have and regret many of the things I have and haven't done? Feel grateful for the circumstances that have made me who I am and feel that if I could go back I wouldn't change a thing? 12. Do you feel your future happiness depends upon... Finding the right relationship, the right job, earning lots of money and hoping that not too many things go wrong? Continuing to live from my core and allowing my life to unfold with optimistic anticipation? If you identified mostly with the attitudes in the left hand column it is likely that you suffer considerably from the Inner Energy Drainers. Make a note of your beliefs and assumptions - write them down - with regard to some of the key issues in your life: 1. Your physical appearance - Do you believe that you can look the way you'd like to? If not, why not? 2. Your health - Do you believe that you can enjoy good health? If not, why not? 3. Your relationships - Do you believe that you can have good relationships with your friends? Your family? Your lover? If not, why not? 4. Your Home - Do you believe you can live in your ideal home? If not, why not? 5. Your work - Do you believe that you can have a satisfying, enjoyable and well paid job? If not, why not? 6. Your purpose - Do you believe you have a purpose in life? If so, what is it? Do you believe you can fulfil it? If not, why not? It is important to realise just how much the negative beliefs you hold about yourself and your life can limit not only the amount of energy you have, but also your potential for happiness and personal fulfilment. By becoming aware of any limiting belief you secretly carry inside, you can begin the process of melting it away. Then your inner draining attitudes can become inner strengthening ones instead. HANDLING THE EMOTIONAL DRAINERS Just as it is common to hold negative beliefs, so many of us harbor negative feelings which deplete us of energy. A common one is anger. Anger in itself does not drain energy. It can be the driving force to achieving a goal. When anger is held in, however, it can turn into depression or resentment - both significant drainers. Another common energy drainer is fear or anxiety. Here are three techniques useful for clearing negative emotional drainers. The first - The Forgiveness Letter - is especially good for anger or resentment. The second, Give Away, is good for dealing with fear and anxiety when they arise. The last one, Rewrite Your Past, helps you to reorientate the way you see yourself and your life in order to release any chronic negative feelings you may carry. THE FORGIVENESS LETTER Harbored negative feelings corrupt your perspective on life, and lead you to attract negativity from others. They also make you feel bad about yourself. Getting rid of this energy drainer means recognizing your negative feelings and actively choosing to let go of them. Here's how: Write to any person towards whom you feel particularly resentful or angry (or even to "life" itself). List all the offenses you can think of. Don't hold back from telling the person exactly how you feel. At the bottom of the letter write: "I (your name) hereby forgive you (the person's name) entirely for the above grievances. In so doing I bless you and wish you well, I release my ill feelings and honor my right to be whole, to be free and to trust in myself and my life." When you have finished, read the letter out loud to yourself. Then burn it, letting the flames dissolve any remaining negative feelings. GIVE AWAY Beginning to live from your core can be daunting. As you access deeper parts of your being it is not uncommon to experience feelings of fear or anxiety. Although it can be disconcerting to find yourself in a state of anxiety, once you recognise it you can use this simple technique to disperse your fearfulness. The Give-Away exercise is based on the American Indian tradition of offering gifts to Mother Earth. It can help you release negative emotional energy and gain comfort by reconnecting with the earth. Here's how: Stand or sit cross-legged on the floor. Notice your feelings of fear or anxiety, and try to locate the area in your body where you experience them most strongly. Breathe into this place, and each time you breathe out, imagine your feelings flowing down your body and into the ground beneath you. Make an offering of your fear to Mother Earth. As you do, you will feel calmer and more clear. REWRITE YOUR PAST Feeling unhappy about your past can be a real block to living the fullness of the present and the future. When you feel hard done by because of something that did or didn't happen to you, much of your energy gets tied up in feeling resentful or victimized. Just remember, your past belongs to you. Although the events in your past may be fixed in your memory, how you feel towards those events can change. For instance, let's say that you always had a dream to travel the world, but because you got married and began a family early your dream was sacrificed. Either you can feel sour about never getting to do what you wanted to, or you can look at all the richness the pathway you did take has brought you. Think of something in your past that makes you feel victimized. It may be the way you were treated by a parent or lover, some career advice you were/weren't given, an accident or "misfortune" that befell you. Write about your grievance as fully as possible, remembering the details as well as you can. When you have finished, look at the grievance again. This time ask yourself the questions, "Why did I choose this circumstance? How has it served me? What has it taught me? What strengths or qualities has it helped me develop?" Record your answers in your journal. See if you feel any different about your past (or your present and future) at the end of the exercise.

Transfigure Your Life - Part 1

Transfigure Your Life - Part 1

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

Caterpillars To Butterflies

Caterpillars To Butterflies

Quite apart from all the mind-boggling new research into how the right kind of exercise can rejuvenate your body,  I have discovered for myself that exercise is a great deal more than something you do to counteract aging or protect yourself from heart disease. It can be used to fan the flames of creativity and help make you more true to yourself. It can also foster personal metamorphosis of the deepest order - physical, emotional and spiritual. Not only is such transformation possible, it is virtually guaranteed - provided you are patient, and provided you are willing to put real muscle behind it. I have always been fascinated by the idea of transformation - you know the kind of thing: Frogs into princes, Cinderella becomes belle of the ball. Most people believe that in real life, transformation is not possible. They have obviously never learned to work with muscle. Some time ago I made a decision to explore just what kind of transformation was possible for me by working intensively with muscle.  I had come to understand the enormous importance of enhancing Lean Body Mass (LBM). I knew that skillful weight training (not the slap-about kind you see carried out in most gyms) is the fastest and most efficient way to do this. So I searched out someone who could work intensively with me as a trainer to shift the LBM to fat ratio in my own body. I found a Welsh champion weight lifter, Rhodri Thomas, who said he would take me on. When we began to work together I was scared to death that after the first two hours I would collapse in a heap. After all I am no athlete. However, I was keen to find out for myself just how change happens through muscle, so we trained six days a week. Every day we would work with weights backed up by aerobic exercise such as running, swimming and cycling interspersed with other activities like squash and tennis - just for relaxation. I found to my amazement that I did not collapse. Instead I watched as all sorts of deep changes began to take place. Muscles I didn't know existed slowly and quietly began to surface through my flesh. I discovered that the psycho-physiologists are right - feelings, thoughts and past experience is indeed held within our own flesh. All sorts of old memories, feelings, fears, I discovered seemed to be encoded in some mysterious way in my muscles. As you work muscle intensively, sometimes these rise to the surface to be lifted off - much as the body is detoxified of physical toxins on a fast. Frequently I found myself pushed to my absolute limits. Then the gym floor would be covered equally with my sweat and my tears. Still, thanks to Rhod's presence and a will that came out of somewhere deep inside me, I kept working. I was glad that I did. I discovered that working with muscle in this way transforms the body in an outer way by changing LBM to fat ratio and reshaping your body, which has all sorts of wonderful rewards including more energy, freedom from aches and pains, and a lean, firm body, as well as better hormonal balance. In many ways even more wonderful, it helps develop from within you a slow but steadily growing sense of self confidence, clarity and independence. For many - myself included - this was a deep change which had been virtually impossible to come by any other way. It now seems to me that working with muscle slowly and steadily day after day builds a powerful bridge between one's inner and outer world, so that with each passing week you become freer to live the truth of who you are. So now when I think back to all those fairy tales about transformation, about frogs and princes, for the first time in my life I feel I am beginning to understand them and to understand what real transformation through the body is about. It is not all glitzy, like they say in the movies. It is slow and inexorable. Yet it brings in its wake gifts far beyond our wildest dreams. Now I wonder, would Cinderella have been prepared for union with her Prince Charming had she not for many years before strengthened her body and purified her spirit through hard work?

How Desire Becomes Reality

How Desire Becomes Reality

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.

Transfigure Your Life - Part 2

Transfigure Your Life - Part 2

The reward of each and every hero’s journey is life-transformation on every level—caterpillar into butterfly, base metal into gold.  Gifts from experiencing this process are legion.  They range from radiant wellbeing, creativity and joy, to becoming free so you can live your life authentically from the core of your being. If you have not yet read “Transfigure Your Life Part One”, I suggest you do this now before reading further... SPIRITUAL SANCTUARY As we move into the second part of every hero’s journey, we enter an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous realm.  Yet it is here, within your own dark inner cave, that you begin to discover your unique life purpose and values. In Arthurian legends, this Innermost Cave is the Chapel Perilous—a dangerous room wherein the Grail is hidden.  As each hero enters his or her dark cave, they need to be prepared for a new reality.  To a woman, this is the place where the mythological Dark Goddess dwells. To a man, the cave is often the arena in which he will need to fight his unique dragon so he can win his treasure. In stories of male heroes, the central image for what is sought is often a gem or a radiant jewel.  For a woman, it is frequently the image of a child—an offspring of her own spiritual rebirth. Instead of having to slay a dragon, a woman often has to remain in this place, enduring what can seem like unendurable silence.  She needs to listen and learn before she unearths her own treasure. Sometimes, as a woman makes her descent into the innermost cave, she tumbles headlong into an experience of the dark night of the soul. Often the hero’s journey a woman makes takes place around the time of menopause. It can be fraught with confusion and grief, or filled with loneliness and anger.  Meanwhile, in this place of bone-chilling darkness within her own being, she may feel turned inside out, naked and exposed.  For all the things she thought she knew about herself and her life no longer apply here. WOMAN’S WAY Far away from comfort and companionship—which she may, at this point, only vaguely remember—silence pervades.  Endless tears without name she may shed.  Occasionally, when a woman enters the innermost cave, she may not even have the strength to get dressed—let alone cook or clean or buy food.  To friends and family, she may seem like a lost creature.  She may forget things. She may dig in her garden or wander in the woods.  Yet all these tasks are wise woman’s work. The route that can eventually lead her out of the underworld and then return her home in a transfigured state is not the same as that of a man.  He often needs to move up, away from himself, to locate his path.  For a woman to find the treasure, she must lay aside any interest in culture or games of the mind and turn within. As she does this, she becomes more and more connected with her body, her sexuality, her dreams, images and desires.  And, as she moves even further into the depths, she begins to reclaim those parts of her that have been lost.  Here, in the ground of her being, she will come face to face with her greatest yet most rewarding challenges.  Here she will confront her fears and touch the pivotal crux of her hero's journey.  Here she tastes “death” by facing her own shadow.  And, when at last it is all over, the Dark Goddess waits ready to bless her and bestow upon her the greatest treasure of all—her body and soul.  But this is not the end of any man or woman’s hero's journey.  These heroes are soon faced with the task of bringing this treasure back home. It’s a job easier said than done. THE ROAD HOME The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy escapes from the castle of the wicked witch. Luke rescues Princess Leia and gets the plans of the Death Star. The Princess throws her frog against the wall and he turns into the beautiful prince.  Yet the game is far from over.  Having survived the ordeal, withstood the pressure, slain the monster and taken possession of the treasure, every hero now has to make his or her way home. Further challenges invariably appear.  Dorothy discovers that the hot air balloon which the Wizard has provided to take her back to Kansas is not the sure form of transport she had hoped.  Toto runs off after a cat.  In trying to bring him back, the balloon takes off without her and we fear she may be trapped forever in the underworld.  Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are pursued by Darth Vader as they make their escape from the Death Star.  Joan Wilder—having defeated the evil men who wanted to kill her and steal the stone—returns to New York, where she faces the arduous task of turning what has happened into her next romantic novel.  It is never an easy task for any hero to pass back and forth between ordinary and non-ordinary reality.  For much energy is spent during the supreme ordeal, and he or she may not have banished their enemy completely. Sometimes, on the road home, the hero experiences a sudden reversal of fortune just when he or she thought that the worst was over.  Should this take place, he or she is being given a chance to test out those newfound powers by overcoming adversity. There may still be a few shadows lurking—old ideas, old ways of doing things. But the game has changed now.  While within the innermost cave, an alchemical process has been completed.  We are no longer the men or women that we once were.  Now we need to learn new ways of living, and new methods of returning to the surface, because most of the rules we once lived by may no longer apply. DEEP CLEANSING In primitive societies, after a woman had entered the traditional moon lodge for a few days during her menstrual period, or when a man returned from a hunt, they were required to be washed and purified before being allowed back into the community. After all, they too had visited an underworld of non-ordinary reality while away. They had walked in the land of the dead.  Any blood that had stained their hands during this experience, or any soil that remained on their bodies, needed to be washed away.  At the end of a hero’s journey, the newly born offspring is now returning home in its transfigured form. This, too, is a time for spring-cleaning the body and mind, for doing whatever is most comforting and rewarding so the returning hero regenerates him or herself—perhaps by listening to music for hours on end, awakening at dawn to take a long walk, or carrying out some ritual  or meditation to help refocus life while getting used to being home again. Finally, he or she arrives back home with the elixirs, treasures, wisdom and knowledge.  The mysterious world of non-ordinary reality has been entered. Trials have been faced and overcome.  In the process, they have made a deeper connection with their own essential being. Dorothy gets back to Kansas having learned that she is loved and finds that, after all is said and done, "there's no place like home." Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star so peace and order can return to the galaxy.  Joan Wilder writes her book, keeps the faith and gets her Jack, complete with alligator boots and a boat in which she can sail around the world.  Their hero's journey has come full circle.  They have returned to the place from which it started.  Yet for neither is this place as it was before their journey began. For, having brought back home the power and the blessing they earned while in the numinous realms they visited, they have been reborn.  In truth, even the world itself has been renewed. ENDS AND NEW BEGINNINGS A woman who completes her passage into the underworld and returns discovers that, within her darkness, confusion and loneliness, she has discovered a new joy, a new sense of meaning.  She now knows that the world which once seemed fragmented now all fits together.  She has tasted—often for the first time—her own authentic power and freedom.  She knows that she no longer has to live by other people's rules.  Indeed, she is likely to find it is no longer possible for her to do so.  She is no longer ‘seducible' by those who once made her feel inadequate so they could sell her another body, another BMW, another love affair to fill up the emptiness that used to be there.  Having been released from all of this, she has become set free to learn the new art of living as mistress of her own life. And so a hero's tale ends. Yet one big question remains for each man and woman who has chosen to make the journey.  What will they do with the treasure they brought back?  In most of the male myths, there are said to be two choices.  Either he takes his treasure into his castle and lives happily ever after or, like Percival, having found the Grail, he decides to share it with the world, so that the Fisher King's wounding is healed and the land that had become barren and devastated by his wound becomes fertile again. MY OWN EXPERIENCE It is my observation that, having completed her hero’s journey, a woman has no such choice.  By her nature, woman is more connected with the energies of life and the powers of the earth than her male counterpart.  She is therefore more aware of the interrelatedness of all things than most men. Sooner or later, most women heroes have no choice but to share with others the wisdom they bring back.  The female hero has by now incorporated the essence of the Dark Goddess—the most essential, generous, wise and healing of female energy—into her heart.  The mysterious goddess has communed with her wordlessly.  Now she too has become a keeper of the wisdom by which battles are won and lost.  She has  also tasted the power and the joy of transfiguration.  Now, like the Dark Goddess, she often develops a passion to share all this with the world by nurturing her own life as well as the lives of all living things. BOUNDLESS ENTHUSIASM Doing what somebody else wants you to do is living by a slave mentality. It is a perfect way to encourage physical degeneration and lose touch with your own unique truth and creativity. Now, however, you begin to live in freedom.  Whatever you do or say as you learn more and more to trust yourself flows forth with enthusiasm from the core of your being.  Little wonder, since the word entheos means ‘god-filled.”

Kill Death Curses And Live!

Kill Death Curses And Live!

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.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

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

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

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

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

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

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

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