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spirituality

All freedom comes from within. Live free and you feel fully alive. It is like taking a deep, spontaneous breath. It is like laughter. Freedom is also full of surprises. There is a boldness to it.

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Focused Intention Can Change A Life

Focused Intention Can Change A Life

The Universe is energy. From cyclones and thunderbolts to all material forms—pure energy. Dogs, kayaks and grapevines, human beings, dwellings, plants and rocks—all energy. And, although we cannot see or hear energy, when human intention is consciously focused and directed towards a particular goal, energy responds by helping us accomplish that goal. When you or I focus our intention, we have the power to change virtually anything, from the room we live in, to a person’s suffering. Here’s how physicists describe this truth. They tell us that “focused consciousness can raise a room’s physics gauge symmetry.” Sounds a bit pompous. But here’s what matters. You don’t have to be trained in physics to put focused intention to work for you. You can start right now to enhance your health, increase your serenity or your vitality, or create an ideal energetic space to live in, make love in, or do whatever your heart desires in. SENSE THE VIBES Have you ever walked into an office just after someone has been fired? Or entered a room where a heated argument has taken place? Then you’ve seen firsthand how negative energy tends to linger. On the other hand, you’ve probably also entered a house, a museum, a cathedral, or some special place in nature where just being there feels so delicious you want to stay a long time. Like our own body and mind, the space in which we live and work holds both positive and negative vibrations. Here’s what’s fun: You can “teach” an area to support your health and vitality, to relax you, to inspire you—even to increase you skill at consciously creating the life you long for. The idea that focused human intention—both conscious and unconscious—changes reality was once dismissed as supernatural nonsense. No longer. In the past three decades, controlled university studies affirm its tremendous power for altering reality. Each of us, knowingly or unknowingly, continues to influence the space in which we live and work. Because our Universe is holographic in nature, we cannot help but do this. The exciting challenge is for us to develop the ability to do this consciously. INTEND AND CREATE William A. Tiller’s work stands out amongst a growing number of new paradigm scientists who have already mapped the ways in which human intention can be used to alter physical reality. Fellow to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and Professor Emeritus of Stanford University’s Department of Materials Science, Tiller has a background in semiconductor processing and psychoenergetics (the focusing of human intentions). He has long carried out research with the help of what he calls “highly-inner-self-managed” people. These are people who have trained themselves to expand their consciousness and quiet their mind, often by practicing daily meditation. Tiller discovered that, together, even a handful of such people holding a specific intention, can easily shift reality in all sorts of fascinating ways. FUN RESEARCH In one experiment, four people were directed to “imprint” an electrical device with the intention of using it to alter the pH of water—something previously considered impossible to do. And it worked. Then the team decided to take their experiment further. They wrapped this intention-imprinted electrical device in aluminum foil and shipped it 2000 miles away to another laboratory. To everyone’s amazement there, in the second lab, researchers discovered that when they placed water in the vicinity of this “energy-impregnated device,” it altered the pH of their water in exactly the same way. Tiller’s real pièce de résistance came a bit later on. Having repeated these experiments many times in the same location, he and his team discovered that, by then, the laboratory in which his “intentioners” had been working had become positively conditioned to alter water’s pH automatically. In fact, the pH-changing results actually got stronger and happened faster every time they were tested. “In one of the spaces that we used,” Tiller reports, “the alteration in the space of the room has remained stable for well over a year and is still going strong.” I LOVE THIS STUFF Having for many years taught workshops in shamanism, I know firsthand what stunning changes in ourselves, our lives, the places we live and the world around us are possible. It is just a matter of learning how to do this. A shaman is a spiritual activist. It’s a great way to describe the self-directed, intentional power shamanic practitioners develop. A skilled practitioner develops a high degree of dexterity. This enables him or her, through intention, to move at will from ordinary reality to what is known as non-ordinary reality. This involves the kind of intentional power that Tiller’s work has demonstrated. A shamanic practitioner is as comfortable in the every day ordinary world as he or she is in the realms of expanded consciousness where focused intention reigns supreme. By the way, mediums tend to make lousy shamans. Why? Because they lack the grounding and the control that gives the shaman his remarkable ability to live with “a foot in both worlds” and feel completely at ease in doing so. COMPASSIONATE SERVICE Focusing their intention, shamans do all sorts of service for the community. A shaman may help the dead find peace in the realms beyond life, purify water, bring healing to the living, and a thousand other things. There are two powerful energies implicit in all shamanic work. The first is compassion. The second is intention. The stronger his or her compassion, and the clearer the intention, the more powerful and positive the results become. ANYONE CAN LEARN It’s these two secret ingredients that make all focused intentional techniques work superbly. This truth is so simple yet so powerful. Let me share with you some of the outcomes of using this amazing duo to transform reality. Here are just a few of the outcomes when we bring intention and compassion together to accomplish positive change. INTENTION + COMPASSION = FREEDOM INTENTION + COMPASSION = HEALING INTENTION + COMPASSION = TRANSFORMATIONS INTENTION + COMPASSION = ECSTASY INTENTION + COMPASSION = CREATIVITY INTENTION + COMPASSION = BLESSINGS Any way you measure it, joined together, these two powerhouses can bring about life-changing transformation. Here’s what takes place when we practice focusing intention to accomplish some goal. Universal energy aligns itself with what we are intending. It is this that makes it possible to bring what we desire into being. But this desire has to come from deep within us. It is not a mental thought, but a heartfelt longing. It is the felt passion and the soul’s longing which fuels the universe to fulfill your goal. Like any new skill, it takes a little practice to learn. It also takes an open heart full of compassion, especially for yourself. For most of us, feeling compassion for ourselves is the biggest challenge we ever face. WHAT’S YOUR INTENTION If you’d like to develop the art intentionality, this is the way to begin: First write down your desire so you are really clear about it. Remind yourself that success in doing this powerful work relies on two elements: intention and compassion. Together they make it happen. Without both, Trying to learn this practice can seem like getting into a rudderless boat on a big lake—turning the engine on and just allowing it to careen around without control. You don’t want to end up hitting a bank. So as you prepare to practice, keep your heart open as much as possible, with a feeling of friendship for yourself and all things, and keep gently repeating your intention. Be sure that your intention has meaning for you. Universal energies respond best to what comes from our heart—not from our head. BE HERE NOW Lie down or sit down if you prefer. Usually lying down is easier—especially in the beginning. Close your eyes. Take a few gentle but deep breaths stating your intention several more times. Try to let go of thoughts about what you need to do later or what you did yesterday. Let yourself just be present in the moment. Now move deeply into your body. Feel the floor beneath you. Listen to the sound of your breath and feel the air as it enters and leaves your body. Become conscious of any tensions anywhere. Allow them grow stronger. Then, taking another deep breath, let go of them as you sink deeper into the surface on which you are lying. Now bring all your senses into play. Notice what you feel, smell, taste, see, hear? Enjoy the sensuousness of this. GET EXCITED Remember when you were a child at Christmas and you couldn’t wait to find out what was inside all those bright ribboned packages sitting beneath the tree? See if you can allow this kind of anticipation and curiosity to rise up in you as you luxuriate in thoughts of what you desire to bring into being. When we grow up, we often become jaded and lose our sense of fascination and curiosity. See if you can allow yours return. Mastering the art of conscious intending is a wonderful adventure. You never know what you are going to meet, learn, or experience. Go back once more to your intention. This time, send it out from your heart. It will go before you as a herald to announce to the Universe what you asking for. You only need to do this once, the way a trumpet sounds to announce an event. Enjoy the bliss that comes on its return. Spend five or ten minutes immersed in this new way of being, while experiencing the delight in learning this new art. Then, when you are ready, very gently open your eyes and come back into the room. Practice this protocol for 15 minutes, a couple of times a week. You will be surprised how pleasurable it will become, as well as by the gifts that intentional creation can bring you. FOR PERSON AND PLANET Emerging paradigm scientists have demonstrated that the potential we hold to influence the course of personal and planetary evolution is immense. If together we learn to connect with the deepest levels of our being, together we can envision a future in which each one of us has a unique role to play. We can create new ways of living. Eventually we may be able to share the blessings of it brings our own life with all people, maybe even with our planet itself.

Let's Break Free Together

Let's Break Free Together

It’s easy to get trapped in a prison of your own making and not even realize it. We all do. The bars have been forged out of the worldview we have grown up with. A worldview is not something you sit down and figure out. It is a collection of ideas inherited from your culture, your educational background and what is known as consensus reality—notions about what’s real. A worldview is a package of beliefs learned in childhood that make the world seem coherent. These notions become so deeply ingrained in your thinking that you are usually not even aware of them, yet they define the breadth of your life. They limit your ability to see whatever truly exists around you. A worldview remains unconscious in a culture, yet it governs the judgements we all make as part of that culture. WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE? Here are just a few of the basic assumptions on which the worldview we have inherited rests. Every statement below is false. Yet we all go on living as if they were true. And we remain imprisoned by them. There is a clear distinction between the objective world around us and our own subjective experience. Mind is a function of the physical brain. It has no existence apart from the body. Our consciousness cannot affect the material world. The only way we can gain knowledge is through our five senses. Psychic gifts such as ESP, out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences are figments of your imagination. They don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. The universe can be reduced to nothing but a random collection of material particles without meaning. Whether or not you have read the philosophy or understand the mathematics out of which today’s materialistic worldview has evolved, it nonetheless affects you. And it blinds you completely to your own experience of truth from within. As a result, it blocks freedom, entraps creativity and limits joy. BEWARE FALSE SCIENCE Throughout history, we humans have constructed hundreds of different methods for describing what is real. These include a wide variety of political systems, moral philosophies and religions which have shaped our worldviews and our history. In the last three centuries, we have relied for our information about what is real not on religion, philosophy, or cosmology as we once did, but rather on the system we call “science”. Since the 17th century, science has pushed aside political and philosophical thinking, religions and mythology to take center stage as the global authority in shaping our worldview. Since we give such authority to science, it becomes absolutely essential that the science on which we are relying to define consensus reality be up to the task. Today’s so-called science is by no means up to the task. And basing the functioning of a culture on a system of knowledge which is either incomplete or which contains some fundamental flaw in its assumptions means the society based on it will not function properly. As a result, we find ourselves rushing headlong towards a massive dissolution of the political, moral and social structures on which we once relied to orientate our lives and give meaning to our activities. We are now faced with disintegration of the biosphere and degradation of life. Both are happening so dramatically that the ecological destruction around us has become virtually irreversible. WEEDING OUT THE LIES There are two basic flaws in the science out of which the 20th century worldview has developed. They form the crossbars of a prison we have unwittingly constructed to limit our freedom by shaping a consensus reality that is too small to serve us. The first is the assumption that we live in a mechanical universe made up of bits and pieces—atoms, protons, neutrons, and what-have-you—which can be taken apart, studied and manipulated to our own advantage, then used to build whatever we want without concern for the effect that it might have. “Science” has almost entirely concerned itself with the parts. It has neglected the whole. It has remained blind to the complex interactions and feedback loops on living systems and the planet as a whole. It has become mechanistic and reductionist. The more you examine the major problems of our time, the more obvious it becomes that they will never be solved at this level. They are far too interrelated in complex ways for any of them ever to be understood in isolation. World population growth will never be stabilized until poverty is reduced. The devastation to the rainforest and the destruction to thousands of species of plants and animals will continue just as long as developing countries are being crushed under massive debts. Meanwhile, a dearth of natural resources and the degradation of living environments in a world of expanding population are destroying cohesion of local communities, creating ethnic cleansing and absurd religious wars. For us to address such challenges, we need to move beyond the mechanistic, reductionist worldview, reject the bogus science out of which it has developed, and replace it with a more holistic, organic and ecological perspective—one that takes into account these complex interactions. THE NEW SCIENCE A worldview that fosters human freedom looks at living systems as integrated wholes. It takes into account the interconnectedness of all things. Such an expanded sense of reality has long been held by mystics from every religious tradition in history. They have always insisted that the universe is one. Traditional mystic teachings are reinforced by recent scientific findings in quantum mechanics, systems thinking in biology and leading-edge consciousness research. But all this has by no means filtered down to consensus reality yet. This expanded worldview is known as the holographic or systemic paradigm, after the work of independent scientists who demonstrate that living organisms are indeed integrated energetic systems within an integrated universe. The tension between mechanism—which developed out of a sense of separation between spirit and matter, form and substance—and holism in contemporary science must be resolved if you are to break out of any self-imposed prison that may be limiting your life. You must be willing for a time to let go of all your preconceived notions about what is real in order for you to explore the wider universe and discover what you have been missing. This is how to begin taking a quantum leap towards freedom. THE POWER OF CONSCIOUSNESS The second flaw in the science out of which our current worldview has come is equally huge. Mechanistic science has completely ignored—left out altogether—one critical factor in its description of reality: The power of consciousness. By consciousness I mean both our everyday sense of awareness as well as the vast uncharted realms of expanded awareness, which hold our creative powers, our intuition, our dreams, our spiritual experiences, and our sense of ultimate meaning and values. Although consciousness is not something you can hold in your hand or draw a picture of, it has enormous power to affect material reality. This is not just an empty statement. Hundreds of researchers throughout the world have carried out multidisciplinary, multicultural research. Their intention has been to map the whole spectrum of the various states of human awareness, including those generally categorized as unconscious and super-conscious. The efforts of researchers involved in consciousness research have converged to form a surprisingly coherent picture of the various states available to men and women and the remarkably different experiences that can come out of each one. They are discovering that the quantum realms—source of creativity, mythology and spiritual experience—can be mapped. This is some mind blowing stuff. BREAKING THE MOULD Yet despite all this most of us continue to adhere to the conventions of our society, we keep learning in school, buying the things we are told to buy and trying to make sense of a world while somewhere deep inside we feel that we are imprisoned. We experience very little sense of freedom. When things get really bad it can even seem we are living in a wasteland, a mechanical world without meaning or purpose. In short we have become separated from our own authentic power. We keep buying the goods they tell us to buy, we keep playing the games they tell us to play. WE ARE NOT SHEEP Our longing for freedom demands that each of us reconnects with our instincts, for instinct is the voice of expanded awareness. In short, it asks that we come home to ourselves. You can do this without drugs, without gurus, without becoming a disciple or having to belong to any privileged group. You can do it regardless of your age, your physical condition or your religious beliefs. Freedom becomes part of your day to day experience as soon as you are willing to: Become an explorer of the multi-dimensional universe in which you live. Recognize, honor and respect the beauty of your soul and give it authentic expression in your life. Allow your worldview to expand until it gets large enough to encompass the whole of reality. Recognize and be willing to let go of the restrictions imposed on you from childhood, religion and education. Develop an abiding friendship with the inhabitants of the multi-dimensional universe in which we make our homes—from the moles and the stars, the grass and the trees, the rocks and the quasars, to the helping spirits who guide, bless and inform us, the muses who inspire us, the angels who shine for us and the maggots who eat away decaying matter so that new life may come forth from old. Begin to build powerful bridges between the rich inner world of consciousness and your day to day existence. Commit yourself to bringing your own unique creations into being. In its essence, your own path to freedom can bring you home to that sense of bliss and wholeness which we all know should be in our lives but which we often experience only fleetingly. It is an awakening that depends on turning away from all false “science” and rigid convention, and gaining access to the wisdom that lies within you by coming to trust your own unique perceptions and putting it into practice what you discover there. The world is rapidly changing. We are living in the midst of a revolution in knowledge and vision so vast that nothing like it has ever been experienced by mankind. At last, the scientific view of reality is moving ever closer to the mystics’ cosmology. It is a cosmology often referred to as the perennial philosophy. And it crosses all cultural barriers. These are very challenging but exciting times that we are living in. The bottom line is simple: Are you ready to discover and live your truth no matter what it takes? If so, I’m with you 100%. Let me know then let’s move together towards an experience of freedom we humans have never before known.

I must have flowers

I must have flowers

Whatever else happens in my life, I must have flowers. These gifts from Nature nourish the soul. We scatter their petals when we marry. We send bouquets of them to celebrate the birth of a child. We decorate our homes and our places of worship with them. We use flowers to comfort the lonely and the ill. We even honour the end of a person’s life by laying floral wreathes on a grave. Not only do flowers play a central role in the rituals of life, they bless our ordinary daily existence by blossoming in our gardens, waste ground and hedgerows – and gracing our windowsills by protruding gaily from a cracked teapot. Perhaps it is the velvet softness of their petals and their luminous colours that make these affirmations from nature so precious to us. Maybe it is the uplifting energy they carry – an energy you sense lying in a field of poppies or when you go into a florist’s shop. It could be the fragrance of flowers, or the transient nature of their coming and going. I don’t know. Ancient Wreaths Our passion for flowers and the awareness that they carry deep healing and sanctifying energies are both as old as history itself. Not long ago, archaeologists digging in the Cave of Shanidar within the Zagros Mountains of Iran unearthed nine bodies of primitive people and discovered that, at least 60,000 years ago, men and women were carrying out flower rituals similar to those we use today. The archaeologists found soil samples in which clusters of pollen from twenty-eight different species of flower lay in a circle forming a wreath which had been laid to rest with human remains. One of the interesting things about the find was that the flowers these primitive people chose to use as a sacred and healing offering to their dead were not the most beautiful, nor were they the most readily available in that area. The flowers from which these wreathes had been made were chosen from plants that are specifically known for their healing properties - hollyhock, grape hyacinth and horsetail - all of which we still use today for medicinal purposes. Precious Offerings The Ancient Greeks and the Egyptians used aromatic oils and flowers for healing too, as they did for embalming, expanding consciousness and for sanctifying space. The Bible is riddled with words of praise for flowers and what they have to teach us, both about the realms of Spirit and about the ordinary world in which we live most of our lives. It tells us “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Mathew 6:28-29). In Song of Solomon 2:12 “The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is at hand…” Soul Healers Not only does humanity have a passion for flowers. Flowers have a passion for us. They love to share with us their beauty, their healing powers – their very life force. “When I touch a flower, I am touching infinity,” said the American botanist George Washington Carver: “Through the flower I talk to the Infinite… a silent force… that still small voice.” American clairvoyant and healer Edgar Cayce celebrated the healing power of flowers again and again. He insisted that flowers bring companionship to those of us who are lonely, that they speak to the “shut in”, and that they bring Divine grace and upliftment to everyone. That is certainly my own experience of flowers. The Time Is Now Despite our longstanding love affair with flowers - despite the way for thousands of years we have used them for healing and to mark life’s passages, never in recorded history have we experienced a greater need for their healing and their blessings than right now. For we who live in the post-modern world often feel ourselves to be alienated, isolated, suspended, caught somewhere between the magnificent technology we have created and a longing to bond with the earth and with our own souls. Flowers can help bridge this gap. I think they do this better than anything else in nature. Flowers delight us, bless us and heal us. They clear the spiritual anorexia so widespread in urban life and help fill up our starving souls. They remind us of our own simple humanity as well as our essentially divine nature: They whisper to us of the splendour in the world around us—a world of which we humans are the guardians. Most important of all our relationship with flowers helps realign our ordinary day-to day lives with the authenticity of our unique soul energies. A big statement to make? Yes, but having worked with flower meditation for many years, having explored the potential flower essences have to build bridges for us between our inner truth and our outer lives I have come to believed with all my being that this is so. How Do Flowers Heal? No-one knows for sure. There are so many of their elements which carry healing potential that it would be hard to list them all: Their colours influence our mind, our energy levels, our clarity of thought. Colourful flowers and the plants they come from often carry health-enhancing nutrients within them - anti-oxidants such as flavinoids, which give plants their wonderful colours and help protect from degeneration, and other phyto-chemicals that help to strengthen immunity, improve circulation or delay ageing. Then there are the more recently discovered vibrational energies which Dr Bach called on when he fashioned flower essences and, of course, essential oil treats and treatments for person and place. Last, but by no means least, is the power of flower meditation. Here is where the soul of a human being meets the soul of a flower to bring healing, friendship and blessings to both. To Each His Own Flowers are as individual in their personalities as they are in their looks and fragrance. Some love the night. They only display their beauty and emit their fragrance once the sun goes down. Like night-owl people, at their best in the wee small hours of the morning, these blossoms have a passionate nature. They often carry exotic names like Queen of the Night, Night-Blooming Silene, and Gilliflower. Other flowers, like goatsbeard, poppy and marigold, open their petals at the crack of dawn then close down each evening and drift away into sleep. The sunflower stretches itself boldly towards heaven, while the bright blue borage flower, worshiped by Celtic warriors for its ability to bring courage in battle, bows its tiny head towards the ground. A shy soul with a great power to heal, borage prefers to go unnoticed – despite its heart-rending beauty. I have learned much about the individual personalities and soul nature of flowers not only from meditating on them and using them for healing but also from photographing them. Some, like peony, love the spotlight. Put them in front of a camera and they upstage everything else. Many have very strong likes and dislikes about where you plant them and where you place a bouquet of them in a room. On one table a particular flower becomes recalcitrant. But move it to the top of a bookcase in front of a window and suddenly it surrenders its beauty to the camera the way a woman yields to the touch of her lover. Each flower has unique healing properties and each speaks its own silent language. Learning that language, listening to flower wisdom and opening your heart to a flower’s healing energy can be a joyous and often life-changing experience. Spotlight On Flower Essences Get to know half a dozen of the most useful essences. Choose them depending on where you are in your life now and as you change explore more of these wonderful floral friends. Here is my personal selection with some information about each essence. It can open up a whole new world for you of beauty, healing and joy. Here are a few flower essences you might like Bach Original Flower Essences, Vervain Vervain is essentially a plant of ease. It eases heartache, headache, stomach-ache, concern for the future and bad luck. Dr Bach made a flower essence from vervain to ease stress and tension. Vervain is an essence for those of us who tend to ‘live on our nerves’. These people are likely to take on tasks beyond their strength then force themselves onward through will-power alone. They are the martyrs of this world who will do anything for their cause. Vervain essence is calming. It helps you to slow down long enough to listen to your own needs, and to the opinions of others as well as to let you restore your strength. In all its forms vervain brings relief. Order Bach Original Flower Essences, Vervain from iherb Flower Essence Services, Lotus The lotus is no symbol of abstract perfection never to be achieved. All true lovers of the lotus will tell you that true spirituality grows out of the depths of material form. Step by step it reaches toward the light. The unique power nestled within the lotus’ genetic structure is this: Only this flower among all water plants is born from the muck with such strength of stem that, instead of floating on the water as do others, the power of its life force raises it a foot or more above the pond. Flower essence made from lotus can help when you find yourself knee deep in an endless swamp. Meditating on the lotus flower opens you to a pride-free experience of your soul’s divinity. I find both the essence and the meditation useful in blearing illusions and dissolving spiritual pride. Lotus reminds us that all true spirituality is deeply rooted in imperfection. Order Flower Essence Services, Lotus from iherb Flower Essence Services, Sunflower Sunflower essence helps those on a spiritual path, who tend to forget their bodily needs. It brings grounding and helps us manage times of dramatic change with ease. Its wisdom is a fine example of the Australian aboriginal idea of 'keeping your head in the stars and your feet on the ground'. Sunflower essence also helps strengthen self-esteem. It can improve the way you relate to people in authority by allowing you to maintain your sense of self in the face of someone else’s demands. Order Flower Essence Services, Sunflower from iherb Flower Essence Services, Mallow, Flower Essence The mallow is a flower of the heart. Its flower essence can help you to align the demands of your head with the intuition of the heart – in effect, to hear the whispers of your soul. Mallow is of great help to those who ‘lead from the head’ rather than from the heart and who often feel that life is a struggle although they are not sure why. This essence helps you to integrate your deepest beliefs and desires with your daily thinking and, in doing so, to live out more fully your true nature. Order Flower Essence Services, Mallow, Flower Essence from iherb Bach Original Flower Essences, Honeysuckle Honeysuckle flower essence was a favorite of Dr Bach – father of all flower essences. He prescribed it “to remove from the mind the regrets and sorrows of the past.” It is an essence which can help anyone who is stuck in the past, either through regret or nostalgia. As Dr Bach insisted, the important thing about any experience is that we learn from it, not continue to relive it. Honeysuckle flower essence helps put the events of the past where they belong – behind you – so that you can go forward into the future with the enthusiasm and innocence of the child reborn. Order Bach Original Flower Essences, Honeysuckle from iherb Flower Essence Services Calendula The flower essence of calendula is both warming and calming. It can help speakers, writers, teachers and leaders use words with clarity, compassion and creativity. The flower boasts a benign energy that makes it easier to express yourself and at the same time honor the opinions of others. Marigold can be especially useful for people who find their discussions too often end in arguments. This flower essence brings warmth and patience. It encourages you to listen as well as to make your point and furthers the cause of real communication. Order Flower Essence Services Calendula from iherb

Rites Of Passage

Rites Of Passage

Like the moon's waxing and waning, or the snake which sheds its skin to be born anew, woman is a cycling creature. Both the fecundity of the moon and the snake's bondage to the changes of life through time are endemic to her nature. They are, in fact, so much a part of our make up that seldom do we stop to think about them. Yet both depend upon the almost infinitely complex multiple interactions of hormones within our bodies. In short, hormones matter a lot. An awareness of the profound influence they exert on a woman's health and emotions - even her view of reality - is crucial. So complicated are the interactions between hormones in the human body, many are still not understood by science. spiritual interface So complex are the hormonal events within the female body, and so central is their relationship to how we think and feel, that it would be no exaggeration to say the female endocrine system is an interface between body and spirit. Even our hopes and dreams are echoed in surges of hormones and in their shifting patterns - much as chords and rhythms develop into the themes and movements of a symphony. Changes in hormonal balance from day to day - even from moment to moment - can not only alter the way you feel emotionally; they can even affect your view of reality. Whether you see life as a challenge to be met, or a source of constant misery and disappointment, can also be reflected in hormone shifts. This is why hormonal imbalances create such emotional and spiritual agonies in women, such as those associated with PMS or menopausal symptoms. The psychic and spiritual aspects of a woman's hormonal interactions are all too often forgotten living within the confines of the mechanistic thinking that rules our society. Instead of recognizing the changes in mood and personality as natural to any cycling creature, we tend to think we should always be the same - always rational, reliable, reasonable and steady. Meanwhile, synthetic hormones - drugs with potentially devastating side-effects - continue to be doled out to us from puberty onwards, with no respect for a woman's cycling nature, and little concern for the long term consequences these chemicals can have on our health and emotions. There is, I believe, far too little awareness of the way in which the use of one or two artificial hormones year after year may not only undermine our long term health, but can also affect a woman's ability to fulfill her potentials for wholeness and may even impede her spiritual development. i excite The word hormone comes from the a Greek word, hormao, which means "I excite", and this is exactly what hormones do. They are messenger chemicals, made in minute quantities in the brain or in special endocrine glands such as the thyroid, adrenals, pancreas and ovaries - sometimes even in fat cells - and then carried by the blood stream to distant parts of the body where they control, activate and direct the ever-changing systems and organ functions, urges and feelings which are you. Your body is continually creating new hormones out of amino acids, peptides and cholesterol in the presence of certain vitamins and minerals - all in response to its specific needs. Hormones are also continually being destroyed - that is, metabolized and removed from your system - as your need for one or another of them changes. All this happens in much the same way a theme or cadence in a piece of music gives way to the next. So rapidly can hormonal shifts take place, and so closely interwoven is the endocrine system with your thoughts, feelings and external events, that measurements of oestrogen or progesterone levels can differ drastically when taken only an hour apart. Hormones perform many tasks. Some help produce or store energy; some trigger growth, or balance blood sugar; some affect your water balance; others your metabolic rate. Still others regulate respiration, cell metabolism or neural activity. Classified by their chemical structure, hormones can be either polypeptides or proteins, phenol derivatives or steroids. The steroid hormones - from the oestrogens and progesterone to DHEA, cortisol, aldosterone and others - that are nature's servants for regulating sex and reproduction, as well as for balancing brain chemistry and helping the body handle stress without succumbing to illness. Although they are only produced in small doses, steroids pack a big wallop. Each is highly specific in its actions. Each hormone will only excite the particular cells it is designed to affect. How this happens is one of nature's most clever tricks. A molecule of a certain hormone - take progesterone or DHEA - has a unique shape. It will be ignored by all receptor molecules - key-holes on the cells - as it travels through your body, until it is at last recognized by the particular receptor molecule with which it is meant to connect. Into this receptor site in cells, and into it alone, the hormone molecule fits perfectly - just the way a key does in its lock. So powerful are a hormone's actions that your body only needs to make minute quantities of each as they are required. For instance, at any moment there may be as little as one molecule of a particular hormone to every fifty thousand million other molecules in your bloodstream. The body's production of hormones, and the way in which the relationship between them is continuously adjusted, relies on complex interactions involving your pituitary (a tiny gland at the base of your brain) and your hypothalamus, often called the master gland, as well as other glands such as the adrenals. In addition to producing sex related hormones such as the oestrogens, the adrenals manufacture other important steroids including cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol's main function is looking after blood sugar levels on which energy depends, while aldosterone oversees potassium and magnesium excretion as well as sodium retention, and influences both blood pressure and fluid retention. It is how you live during the menstrual years - the way you eat, how you use your body, and the decisions you make about what medications you take or don't take - that the stage is set for a trouble-free life, and when the time arrives, for a natural menopause.

Come Join Me In The Sacred

Come Join Me In The Sacred

The journey of a lifetime begins when you make friends with the sacred. And the sacred is everywhere. You don’t have to travel to Stonehenge or Machu Pichu to find it. Neither do you need to swallow a consciousness-altering drug. Sacred energy continually pours forth from the center of our universe, which according to religious traditions as well as leading edge science is both right here and now yet everywhere, at any time too. The problem is that most of us have become blinded by the mechanically-orientated worldview we inherited. We have forgotten how to experience the sacred. TAKE THE QUANTUM LEAP Rediscovering this is the simplest thing in the world. It happens through a shift of consciousness—a break in time and space through which each of us can witness the sacred realms come into being. Sometimes this takes place spontaneously. It is given by grace. You can also create structures in your life which invite it to happen. Organise the space you live and work in, for instance, to make a place in your life for rituals which honor the radiance of the world around you and within you. Doing this can be a lot of fun. Think of it as adventures, a game, a childlike exploration of new worlds. CRACK IN THE COSMOS Can I share with you my own life-changing call to sacred reality? It happened when I was 18 years old—just finishing my second year at Stanford University. Five months earlier I had fallen in love for the first time with a man three years older than I. I found myself in the unenviable position of having to leave him to go to live in New York. I knew it would be a long time before we met again—maybe never. We had only one day to spend together in San Francisco before my plane left. So we went for a walk in Golden Gate Park. I had been in the park many times before, visiting the Japanese garden or the museum. But I’d paid little attention to what was around me, except in the rather vague way we all “appreciate” being amidst trees, grass and flowers. That morning, the sacred realm cracked wide open for me. As he and I wandered across grass, through trees, knowing that in a few hours we would no longer be together, I felt as though death was sitting at my shoulder. I had no idea why. I loved this man with an intensity I would never have dreamed possible. I could hardly bear the fire that burned in my flesh when he touched me, let alone the surges of power that flooded my body and psyche when he held me in his arms or whispered in my ear. Right from the moment we had met, the love between us had arisen. Both of us sensed that this love between us had somehow always existed and would forever. SPLENDOR IN THE NOW That morning, we crossed a road and stepped up on to the curb. In front of us a group of old men were bowling on the green. They were dressed in the shabby clothes the old sometimes wear—garments which, like long trusted friends, they had lived in for so many years they did not want to be parted from. None of these men paid the least attention to us, absorbed as they were in their game. All at once, the scene before me shifted from that of a pleasant ordinary morning spent in nature—nice trees, green grass, a small knoll behind the old men rising to a copse above—to something at once ecstatic and at the same time terrifying. Space expanded in all directions. A million tiny holes appeared in reality—each emitting light. The air and grass, the pavement we had just crossed, the bodies of the men in their shabby clothes, the clouds above us, and the trees around us, trembled in radiance. Time burst wide open, breaking in great waves over the lawn. My heart seemed to grow to immense proportions. I did not understand what was happening. I knew that I had never experienced any of this before. In some way that seemed totally crazy, I was all—at the same time—being wiped out and brought back into being in a brand new form. LISTEN TO THE WHISPERS When an experience of the sacred arises spontaneously—frequently at times of great emotional joy or loss—it can be both blissful and awe-filled as well as mind-blowing. In whatever guise it shows itself, the sacred is a far cry from some “orchestrated” experience of pink-flowers-and-soft-music that the false purveyors of control with their glib proclamations offer us. It’s an experience full of beauty and terror, fascination and majesty. In the presence of an overwhelming power you find yourself standing before a mystery that is wholly other. I had no understanding about what was happening that morning in Golden Gate Park. The only thing I was sure of was this: I had experienced an epiphany in my life and that I wanted to live more and more in close connection with this new reality. GREAT MYSTERY In 1917, Rudolf Otto published one of the most important books on spirituality ever written, Das Heilige—The Sacred. In it he describes the awe-inspiring mystery—mysterium tremendum he calls it—that we feel in the presence of sacred energy. He characterises it as “a perfect fullness of being, a flowering which dissolves away our conditioned thinking and breaks down all the barriers to our being fully present in the moment.” Every time we are touched by the sacred, it urges us to live a little more from the deepest levels of our own being. Experience of the sacred opens the door to a whole new way of living and perceiving reality. Create time and space in your own life for the sacred and you automatically take the first step towards discovering the truth about who you are at the very core of your being. This is always a magnificent truth. And it is just waiting for you to uncover it. Otto characterises the qualities of the sacred as numinous (from the Latin numen, i.e. god), for they are brought about by the sudden revelation of some aspect of divine power within the paraphernalia of day-to-day living. Such is the nature of the sacred when it appears in your life. One minute you are waiting for a bus, standing under a tree you have stood under a hundred times before. The next, this tree has become suddenly something else as well. It has been transmuted in some mysterious way into a “supernatural reality”. Of course it is still a tree to you and everybody else standing there. In fact, nothing in particular may distinguish this particular tree from all the other trees on the street. Yet because it has, at that moment, chosen to reveal itself to you in its sacred form, your immediate experience of it is transmuted into something wild and free, great and wonderful. It’s as though the tree has opened its secret nature to you and become a repository of all that is awesome. So much is this the case that experiencing the sacred can make it hard to catch your breath. It can even, for a time, make you wonder who you are and what on earth you are doing there. FEAR OF THE SACRED Our modern world feels profoundly uneasy before such experiences. We are the only age in all history to be living in a desacralized culture. Limited worldviews impose themselves on our lives, forcing us to live in an almost totally profane world. Today, a tree is nothing but a tree. The wind is only the movement of air caused by nothing more than mechanical shifts in currents. As far as rocks are concerned, what could possibly be more mundane or less sacred? So we make fun of “primitive” people and their “quaint” superstitions. At the same time we exploit their land and force the deadening mechanistic values of our materialistic world on them. Whats the real truth? Rocks too have consciousness, as does everything in the universe. What we forget is that cultures for whom the sacred speaks to them through ordinary objects know very well that a rock is a rock. They don’t venerate the rock itself, or the wind. They worship the aliveness of all things and the spirit of each—something totally other and infinitely vast in its beauty. They know that whenever and wherever the sacred erupts in our lives, no matter what form it takes, a deeper, wider, richer, dimension of reality is asking us to dance with its power and celebrate its splendor. SAY YES TO THE SACRED Most of us have to relearn how. Once we do, we find ourselves continually renewed, energised, and ecstatic in the presence of sacred energies. It’s as though a wild blessing has been given us—a blessing that both nourishes and heals us. We humans have a profound need to plunge periodically into these sacred and indestructible realms which are the eternal present. It’s a need so deeply ingrained in our very being that when we are unable to fulfil it from time to time we end up living in a nihilistic wasteland. Then our lives become narrow, no matter how many fast cars we buy, how many drugs we take, how many lovers we have. Eating, sex, and getting up in the morning become nothing more than physiological events in a mechanical existence. Reawakening an awareness of the sacred in your life and making room for it turns these things into much more than mundane functions. Each one can evolve into a sacrament—the meaning of which is a communion with the sacred. As it does, our vitality, joy and creativity go on and on expanding. WILL YOU JOIN ME? Sacred truths have long guided my life and work. Each year they become more and more important to me. I’m keen to hear from each one of you about your own thoughts and experiences about and in relation to the sacred. I’d like to if, when and how you have found the sacred permeating your own life. Shall we share with each other beliefs and events that may awaken us to the experience of the mysterium tremendum? Do let me hear from you.

Mind Body Spirit - Living Your Truth

Mind Body Spirit - Living Your Truth

Authentic freedom develops when you life from the the core of your being. It is all about discovering what you chose to incarnate on this earth to do or to be. Why? Because this brings each of us the greatest joy and satisfaction possible. After all, we can only collect so many BMWs, university degrees, and new lovers. All of these things are nice, but none of them leads to true freedom. Freedom is the birthright of every human being. Deciding you deserve your own is the first step in claiming yours. For many of us this is also the most difficult step to take, for it means deciding to respect and honor yourself enough that you allow freedom into your life. Doing this enables you to bring the very best of yourself to your day to day life—in your family, your community, the earth as a whole. Mind Body and Spirit ARE ONE When people begin Cura Romana, they experience their body as something separate from themselves. Their minds are filled with the false idea that changing their weight and their lives can never be more than a dream. Then they learn otherwise. They discover just how connected it’s possible to become at every level, and how exciting it can be to live one’s life in wholeness. As the program brings together body, mind and spirit in a harmonious way, you begin to experience a natural lifting off and clearing away of limiting beliefs and false notions that have dogged you, bringing a new sense of self-respect and authentic freedom to your life. This process greatly clarifies and expands our experience of the world around us too. For every blinkered view of reality blocks freedom, entraps creativity, limits bliss and disconnects us—not only from our essential nature, but from the Universe as a whole, in all its beauty, wonderment and the power it can bring for growth and transformation of our lives and our world. AUTHENTIC POWER IS YOURS Connecting with who you really are, accessing authentic power, and living your freedom requires that you expand your consciousness in a major way. In this chapter we explore the way that, as human beings, we have a natural capacity to move beyond our limited experience of five-sensory three-dimensional reality—how we can learn at will and with total control to enter the expanded realms of consciousness. In doing so, you begin to learn about your own seedpower—those divine, highly individual soul qualities which are unique to you. WORLD VIEW REVOLUTION The new expanding worldview is called holism. It looks upon the nature of the Universe as holographic. It was named after the work of scientists who demonstrated that living organisms are integrated energetic systems within an integrated Universe. They showed that our brain and body are holographic. Each small part of us, like each part of the Universe, is not only connected to the rest, it actually embodies the nature of the whole within it. The tension between the new holism and the old mechanism—which depended on a belief in separation between spirit and matter, form and substance—is important to resolve if we are to break out of whatever self-imposed prisons still limit our lives. Each of us is being asked to let go of our preconceived notions about what’s real, in order to explore the further reaches of a wider, more exciting and transformative Universe. And for reasons I still don’t fully understand, Cura Romana has become the perfect opportunity for most people to let this happen. DANCE YOUR FREEDOM To experience real freedom you need only allow more and more of your essential soul nature into your everyday experience of life— through dance, through ritual, through prayer, through your work and your relationships, and in your interactions with the world around you—in ever more direct and fearless ways. Such freedom not only brings an immense sense of joy and satisfaction, it’s also self-perpetuating. The more you do of this, the easier and more satisfying it becomes. There is nothing more fun than being who you really are. Learn to dance with freedom, and the Universe dances with you. A true expression of living your mind body spirit truth.

Time For Death And Rebirth

Time For Death And Rebirth

I have always loved Easter. Not because of the gorgeous painted eggs or the magic bunnies delivering them or even the marvelous laughter of children on treasure hunts. I love Easter because it is a time of death and rebirth for all life including each and every one of us. Of course, the death part of these natural cycles is what we fear greatly. Not only is this fear unfounded; it greatly limits our inner growth. It also prevents us from experiencing the most valuable process in life during which we can discover who, at the deepest level of our being, we really are. I invite you, this Easter, to explore the magnificent gifts available to you when you embrace death/rebirth experiences in your own life. UNIVERSAL CYCLES Death/rebirth cycles are fundamental to all living things—plants and trees, animals, our own bodies and minds, even the stars in the heavens. Easter holidays are a celebration of these cycles which Jesus himself is said to have experienced between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The origins of Easter also have even more ancient roots in pagan death/rebirth festivals celebrated long before the Christian era. In Sumerian mythology, the goddess Inanna was hung naked on a stake, killed and resurrected as she ascended from darkness into light. The Easter Bunny, whom we all so love, is a modern day manifestation of another pagan festival of death and rebirth involving Eostre, the great Northern Goddess whose symbol was a rabbit. Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, even the cells of our body undergo a death/rebirth cycle so we can go on living. WHY I LOVE EASTER Easter Season is a fine time to lay aside fears of death and darkness, and give thanks for rebirth and renewal which continues to be offered us. The thing I love most about Easter is it reminds me that if we want to live a life true to our essential nature, each of us must be willing to experience death and rebirth—to leave what is old and no longer useful in our own lives so we can bring light and expanded consciousness into our lives. Of course this can be a challenge for us humans. We so love to cling to what is most familiar even if doing so prevents us from experiencing new realities. PREGNANT DARKNESS The dark realms are transcendent domains about which our materialistic culture remains naïve. Darkness is a place where seeds lie dormant, a realm of incubation, the womb in a woman’s body where a new being is nurtured so that it can be born. In dark spaces what is old and outdated becomes compost to feed tiny seed of new life. When they open, husks fall away, freeing new plants to grow towards the sun. Within our own psyche, a thousand such seeds lie waiting to break open and grow. They urge us to nurture them, to trust them, so they too can come forth. If we are riddled with fear we remain deaf to their call. Of course our greatest fear is invariably the fear of our own death. Yet the death/rebirth cycles I’m speaking are not involved in destroying the physical body. They are nature’s renewal transformations in service of new life. After all, the old, decayed leaves of the forest must die to fertilize its saplings. And whatever we still carry about which no longer serves us must be allowed to die to make way for new ways of being. Death/rebirth initiation shappens to us again and again throughout the whole of our lives. They also happen as the moon dies and is renewed every month. And you can see them in the way a snake sheds a skin when it needs to grow. THE HERO’S JOURNEY Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces talks a lot about coming to terms with the experience of these deaths and the rebirths. They are central to the growth and spiritual development of human beings in every culture of the world he says. Throughout history, tribal societies have created rites of passage to celebrate the death/rebirth cycle at times of important biological change like puberty. Initiates are put through rituals involving non-ordinary states of consciousness during which they can connect with the energies of numinous realms in order to experience the power and the meaning of the process. Such rituals celebrate dying to the old role one has been playing in their society—that of a dependent child—and being born into a new one as a powerful and independent adult. A boy dies. A man is born. From that moment onward, nobody in the tribe treats the initiate as a child anymore. For most of us, the death we fear is not death of the body (although we often think it is). It is the death of outmoded beliefs and ways of living our lives that no longer serve us. And, in order to allow an influx of our deeper soul energies to emerge from the darkness and recreate our life anew, we need to become aware of them and welcome change. It is this experience that Campbell describes so well in his mythological hero’s journey. There death and rebirth represent the membrane or interface in the psyche between the domain of the personal and the vast spiritual realms of the universal. Death becomes a frontier to a new way of being. Once we realize this, the whole death/rebirth process becomes a friend. In truth this is a sacred experience with rewards so great it is not possible to put them into words. By the way, one of the most exhilarating gifts that comes with welcoming any death/rebirth process is an experience of authentic freedom that arises from within us. GATEWAY TO NEW LIFE Our own culture lost touch with death/rebirth transformations. This is why we fear them. Sooner later death/rebirth comes to each of us. It can be triggered by the ending of a love affair, the recognition that one is addicted to alcohol, drugs or work, a dawning awareness that what you have always worked for and what you have achieved no longer holds meaning for you, the loss of a job or reputation, even the unexpected release of intense emotion and the spontaneous entrance into altered states of consciousness which challenges every notion about what is real and what is unreal. We approach any kind of death or crisis with anxiety, embarrassment and denial. Thankfully this is beginning to change. The work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Stephen Levine and Ram Dass— all of whom have written wisely about death—is gradually altering our attitude. So is the in-depth research into near-death experiences where people consistently report the survival of consciousness as well as spontaneous experiences of illumination when the soul separates even temporarily from the body. THRESHOLDS The confrontation with birth and death we experience can introduce us to new realities. It can happen in a literal sense to a woman in the act of giving birth or a man sitting at the bedside of his wife who is dying of cancer. It can also happen in your life when you have to face the abandonment at the end of a marriage or the disruption in your ordinary life that accompanies the loss of a job. For many it comes in a life-threatening situation, for instance in a car crash, when you find yourself standing outside your body looking down on what until then you assumed to be the only reality there was. It can even occur in some kind of spontaneous eruption—often labeled a psychotic break—through which the volatile world of expanded consciousness emerges, full-blown, to shake the very foundations of your life. Such events lead people into the transpersonal realms experienced by mystics, great artists and other visionary beings. They are invitations to new ways of thinking and new ways of experiencing reality not through the mind but through the heart. So much for fearing the magnificent darkness which brings forth life. When I tuned into the nature of the death/rebirth cycles in operation this Easter Season, with all the cosmic energies now bombarding our earth, here are the words that came to me. I’d like to share them with you. I move in velvet silence within forgotten spaces of your being. Fear me not. For when you fear me, you fear your own beauty and your own creative power. In the light all is separate. Within my darkness all is One. Whenever your soul calls, I am here to wrap my silent wings of transformation around you. Enter me in friendship. I will introduce you to the magic of angels and archetypes, deities and your own profound essential being. Look carefully at each of these things, no matter how fearsome its face may feel to you. You will find each and every one is a window to the divine truth unique to you alone. I am the Spirit of the Dark

Sacred Truth Ep. 45: The Zen Of Stress-Free

Sacred Truth Ep. 45: The Zen Of Stress-Free

Cats laze in the sun. The caterpillar dozes on a tomato plant. A bumblebee nestles between two blades of grass. Yet we humans seem to be continually on the run. It’s as though we have become programmed by the media, advertising, and personal growth gurus to do it better and faster, to be more efficient, to keep going no matter what. We have lost the art of stillness. As a result, we miss out on the gifts that come to us when for a time we put aside doing and let ourselves just enjoy being. “What goes up must come down.” It would be great if these words were engraved on the brain of those of us who live busy lives. When stress gets out of hand it wears you down and creates deep fatigue. When stress is prolonged, it can make you feel overwhelmed, undermine your peace of mind, and turn into adrenal exhaustion that undermines your health. Yet, when you learn how to balance with relaxation, what was once stressful can feel like the spice of your life—fun even when life makes heavy demands. You know you’ll be able to meet them and enjoy the process. You and I and every other living thing have two fundamental modes—solar and lunar. Physiologically the solar—stressed—mode is a dynamic outpouring of energy and spirit. Oriental cultures call this mode the yang rhythm. When it’s in control you feel excited, love the thrill of a challenge, and become determined to make things happen. The lunar mode, your yin rhythm, is its exact opposite. When lunar energy predominates, you move into deep relaxation, which restores and rebalances your body and mind. Instead of an outpouring of spirit and energy, you become deeply receptive—literally able to draw energy, strength, and bliss into your body and your life as a cat does lying in front of a winter fire. Few of us are taught how to ease back and forth from dynamic to receptive mode and vice versa. As a result, our bodies are seldom at peace. Our minds are always busy. We can’t let go of those endless internal monologues. Continually mulling over past and the future, we miss out on the joy of moment-to-moment awareness. We eat food but don’t really taste it. We make love then wonder why it is not always as satisfying as we know it could be. We have forgotten how to live in the moment from the core of our being and let life flow through us instead of attempting to “manage” it. In short, we have lost connection with the two rhythms on which lasting health, vitality, and joy depend. Let’s now look at the simplest and most efficient way of reconnecting with both. It’s called Zazen. A powerful technique for reestablishing life-giving balance, zazen is a simple, yet almost infinitely transformative practice. I have taught this simple practice to thousands of people who continue to sing its praises. Practiced for 10 or 15 minutes a day, it silences your endless internal chatter, releases anxiety, and stops the kind of tail chasing like an obsessive dog that gets us nowhere. It gently trains your body and mind to move at will from the dynamic, solar, stressed state into the deeply receptive, restorative lunar one, helping us to become fully present in the eternal NOW like a child, a sage, an artist, a lover. Zazen is all about a new way of breathing. The word Spirit means breath—that is, life force. In Japanese they call it ki, and in Chinese it is called chi. In English we refer to it as energy or power. It is the electrical energy that fuels the living matrix of your body. Practice zazen and you learn how closely your breath is connected with the kinds of thoughts you have and the emotions you feel. As you develop awareness of your breath, entering and leaving your body, and of all the sensations this brings, you come to touch the still point of your being. You start by sitting in a comfortable but straight back posture and silently counting your breath: Inhale... “one,” exhale... “two,” and so on up to ten. Then you begin again back at “one.” The point of the counting has nothing to do with trying to get to ten. This is just a simple tool. If you lose count and your mind begins to wander, notice this, bless your thoughts, whatever they are, then let them go and gently return your concentration to the breath and start again at “one.” Each time you choose consciously to let a thought go and bring yourself back to your breathing, you increase your ability to place your mind where you want it to be. Believe me, this is an incredibly powerful experience. Before long it will help you break free of the limiting thoughts, worries, and obsessions that can rule our lives. Your sense of connection with your innate being grows stronger, as does your capacity to experience bliss, pleasure, and the that you have the right to be who you are without having to conform to other people’s imperatives. Your spiritual power grows, as do your intuitive skills. Creativity, which is closely woven into intuition, blossoms. Ok let’s get started together: • Position Your Body: The way you hold your body—your posture—helps create your state of consciousness. There are many choices. You can sit tailor-fashion on the floor using a small firm pillow or zafu, which raises your bottom slightly off the floor. Sit on the front third of your zafu tipping your body slightly forward. This creates the strongest feeling of stability. You can also use a chair. When sitting on a chair it is also important to use a cushion so you can sit on the front third of the cushion and keep your back away from its back. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor. However you choose to sit, your back needs to be straight. Imagine that your head is pressing against the ceiling. Now allow your muscles to soften so the natural curve of the back appears and the abdomen pushes slightly forward so your diaphragm moves freely—rising and falling with each breath. • Position Your Hands: Place your hands in what is known as a cosmic mudra where your active hand (right if you are right handed and left if you are left handed) lies palm up in your lap. Nestle the other hand gently onto the palm of the active hand so that the knuckles overlap and your thumb tips just touch, forming a kind of oval. This connects your body’s right and left energy fields. It acts as a symbol for the unity of the breath, your life, and the Universe. This also helps turn you inward away from the confusion and chaos of daily life. • Grow Quiet: Allow your body to settle into a comfortable posture. Your back is erect but never stiff, your chin is tucked in slightly, and the tip of your tongue rests easily against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper teeth. • Breathe through your nose. Lower your eyes so you are looking at the ground two or three feet in front of you. After a while you may be surprised to find that although your eyes are open, you are no longer “seeing” what you are looking at, since the focus of your attention will have shifted within. • Discover Your Center: This is the hara—the physical and spiritual center of the body. It is a place of power from which all the martial arts are performed. Located in the pelvis, two-and-a-half to three inches below the navel, it is also the center of gravity in your body. Allowing your focus of attention to rest at the hara creates a sense of balance for body and mind. As you breathe in, imagine your breath going down to the hara and returning from the hara. Of course, on a physical level the breath is really filling the lungs but you need to just imagine this, which helps you with the breathing. • Breathe Easy: Pay attention to your breath without trying to change anything. Be aware of the tactile feelings that come with breathing. Notice the cool air entering your body as you inhale through your nose and what it feels like as it travels down the back of your throat. Feel the warmth of the out-breath as you exhale. When you stay in touch with this tactile sensation of breathing, you are less likely to be distracted by thoughts. • Silently count the Ins and Outs: Inhalation is “one.” Exhalation is “two.” Inhalation is “three” and so on until you get to ten. Then start all over again. The simple agreement you make with yourself is only that when the mind begins to distract you, you notice this and consciously choose to let it go and go back to watching the breath, and begin counting again from one. • Zazen is as simple as this. Practicing it for fifteen minutes once or twice a day—preferably at the beginning of the day and the end of the day—you begin to touch the still point within you again and again. In the process you build up joriki—the power of focus and concentration so that, in time, instead of becoming caught up in the endless mental machinations that draw us away from living our lives fully whatever you are doing, you become able to choose consciously to let go and turn your mind towards whatever you choose. The connection with your innate being strengthens so that your inner world and your day-to-day life gradually come together in harmony. The more you practice the easier it becomes so, at will you are able to move into in and out of highly stressful situations that at one time would have made you frantic. In essence, the mind is meant to be like the still water of a lake at dawn. But when the rains fall or the winds blow, its natural glass-like surface, which is meant to reflect sun and moon, becomes disturbed with eddies and waves which distort your perception of your feelings, your body, and the world around you. As you practice zazen your mind returns to its mirror-like state. Then it is able to reflect the world around you without becoming obstructed or distorted by anything in it. You learn first hand that you do not have to hold on to anything to create the life you long for. You become truly free. This experience of freedom becomes contagious—a blessing not only for ourselves but for others as well. Marianne Williamson describes it well: “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Trying to understand or rationalize the practice of zazen is a waste of time. Like every genuinely transformative practice, it can never be fully understood. Zazen can only be lived.

Enter The Sacred

Enter The Sacred

If you want to enrich your life immeasurably, make friends with the sacred. It is everywhere. You don’t need to travel to Stonehenge or Machu Pichu to discover it. Nor do you need to swallow some consciousness-altering drug. Sacred power continually pours forth from the center of the universe. It is simultaneously here and now, while also everywhere, at any time. Trouble is, most of us have become blinded by the mechanically-oriented worldview that pervades our technologically-driven culture. So we have forgotten how to see it. Rediscovering the sacred is the simplest thing in the world. It happens through a shift of consciousness—a break in time and space, if you like, through which you can experience the sacred realms come into being. Often this takes place spontaneously. It is given by grace. But anyone can also create structures in their life which invite this to happen. Organize the space you live and work in, for instance, to make a place in your life for rituals which honor the radiance of the world around you and within you. Doing this can be a lot of fun, too. Think of it as an adventure, a game, a childlike exploration into expanded awareness. A SACRED ADVENTURE My first experience of the sacred as an adult took place when I was 18 years old—just finishing my second year at Stanford University. Five months earlier, I had fallen in love for the first time with a man three years older. Then I found myself in the unenviable position of having to leave him to live in New York. I knew it would be a long time before we met again—if ever. We had one day to spend together in San Francisco before my plane left. We went for a walk in Golden Gate Park. I had been in the park many times before, visiting the Japanese garden or the museum. But I’d never paid much attention to what was around me, except in the vague way we all appreciate being amidst trees, grass and flowers. That morning, the realm of the sacred cracked wide open for me. As he and I wandered across grass, through trees, knowing that in a few hours we would no longer be together, it felt as though death were sitting on my shoulder. I had no idea why. The love between us had arisen simultaneously a few months before. From the moment we met, both of us had experienced the sense that it was a bond that had always existed and always would. I loved this man with an intensity I had never dreamed possible. I could hardly bear the fire that burned in me when we touched, let alone the surges of power that happened when he held me in his arms. CRACK IN THE COSMOS In the park that morning, we crossed a road and stepped up on to the curb. In front of us a group of old men were bowling on the green. They were dressed in the shabby clothes the old sometimes wear—garments which, like old friends, you have lived with so long you don’t want to be parted from. None of the men paid the least attention to us, absorbed as they were in their game. All at once, the scene before me shifted from that of a pleasant ordinary morning spent in nature—nice trees, green grass, a small knoll behind the old men rising to a copse above—to something at once blissful and completely terrifying. Space expanded in all directions. A million tiny holes appeared in reality—each emitting light—so that the air and grass, the pavement we had just crossed, the bodies of the men in their shabby clothes, the clouds above us, and the trees around us trembled with a strange radiance. Time burst wide open, breaking in great waves over the lawn. I couldn’t tell if this strange experience lasted for a few moments or for hours. My heart swelled to immense proportions. I had no idea what was happening, since I had never experienced anything like this before. It seemed totally crazy—as though, at the same time, I had been wiped out and brought into being in a brand new form. When an experience of the sacred arises spontaneously—often at times of great emotional joy or loss—it is both blissful and awe-filled. In whatever guise it shows itself, the sacred is a far cry from any ‘orchestrated’ experience of pink-flowers-and-soft-music which purveyors of false freedom and all their easy answers offer us. It is an experience full of beauty and terror, fascination and majesty. In the presence of such overwhelming wonder, you find yourself standing before a mystery that is wholly other. I knew nothing about what was happening that morning in Golden Gate Park. Only that an epiphany had occurred that day, and that I wanted to live a lot of my life from this level of being in the future. MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM In 1917, Rudolf Otto published one of the most important books on spirituality ever written, Das Heilige—The Sacred. In it, he describes the awe-inspiring mystery (mysterium tremendum) which we feel in the presence of sacred energy. He characterizes it as a perfect fullness of being, a flowering which dissolves away our conditioned thinking and breaks down all the barriers to being fully present in the moment. Every time we are touched by the sacred, the experience urges each of us to live a little more of our life from the deepest levels of our being. Make room in your life for the sacred, and you can make a quantum leap towards authentic freedom and creative power. Otto characterizes the qualities of the sacred as numinous—from the Latin numen, meaning god. For they are brought about by the sudden revelation of an aspect of divine power within the paraphernalia of our day-to-day lives. Such is the nature of the sacred when it enters our life. One minute, you’re waiting for a bus or standing beneath a tree you have stood under a hundred times before. The next minute, this tree has suddenly become altogether something else. It has been transmuted in some mysterious way into an expanded, luminous reality. Of course, it is still a tree both to you and to everybody else standing there. In fact, nothing in particular may distinguish this particular tree from all the other trees on the street. Yet because, at that moment, it has chosen to reveal itself more fully to you, your immediate experience of it becomes transfigured. It feels as though the tree has revealed its secret nature to you. It has become a repository of all that is awesome—so much so that, often, experiencing the sacred makes it hard just to catch your breath. For a time, it can even make you wonder who you are and what on earth you are doing there. JOY IN THE NUMINOUS Another great philosopher of the sacred is religious philosopher Mircea Eliade. Eliade calls the manifestation of the sacred—during which the numinous realms open to reveal themselves—an hierophany. This is a great word. For it does not imply any religious or philosophical bias that would indicate you need to belong to some in-group to have a right to sacred experience. Hierophanies belong to everyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear. In early civilizations, hierophanies were common occurrences. In the tribal cultures that still remain, they are to this day—in fact, wherever people live with an awareness of the magnificence hidden within the most ordinary of things. To them, rocks are sacred, as is the wind, stars, earth, animals, the changes of the seasons, the sun and the rain, the birth of a child, the death of an elder. Wherever you discover an awareness of the sacred, you will also find rituals for celebrating it—rituals which set the stage for hierophanies to happen more often. WE FEAR THE SACRED Most of the modern world feels profoundly uneasy about such experiences. We are the only known age in history that lives almost entirely in a desacralized culture. Limited worldviews imprison us, forcing us to live an almost totally profane existence. A tree is nothing but a tree. Wind is but movement of air, caused by nothing more than mechanical shifts in currents. As far as rocks are concerned, what could possibly be more mundane? We make fun of “primitive” people and their “quaint” superstitions. We often exploit their land and force the values of our materialistic world on them. What we forget is this: Cultures for whom the sacred appears through ordinary objects know very well that a rock is a rock. They don’t venerate the rock itself, or the wind. They worship the hierophanies which appear as these things to reveal the essential spirit of each—something vast in its beauty. They know that whenever and wherever the sacred erupts into the mundane world, no matter what form it takes, a deeper, wider, richer dimension of reality is inviting them to dance with its power and celebrate its beauty. EXPAND YOUR REALITY Most of us have to relearn how. Once we do, we find our lives continually renewed, energized, and ecstatic. It is as though a wild blessing has been given – a blessing which nourishes and heals us. In The Sacred and the Profane, Eliade speaks of the basic need we as humans have, ‘to plunge periodically into this sacred and indestructible time…the eternal present.’ It is a need so deeply ingrained in our being that, when we are unable to fulfill it from time to time, we end up living in a nihilistic wasteland. Our lives become narrow, no matter how many fast cars we buy, how many drugs we take, how many lovers we have. Eating, sex, and getting up in the morning become nothing more than physiological events in a mechanical world. Reawakening an awareness of the sacred in your own life and making room for it turns these events into much more than largely mechanical actions. Each can evolve into a ‘sacrament’—the meaning of which is communion with the sacred. Once it does, our capacity for vitality, joy and creativity goes on expanding. FREEDOM’S GATEWAY Welcoming the sacred into your life is the first step in opening a door to authentic freedom. It is not hard. All of us knew how as children. Then our educational system with its emphasis on the rational, the abstract and mass conformity has taught us to forget it. It taught us to be ‘serious’, to ‘work hard’, not to ‘daydream’, not to ‘be silly.’ Luckily, like learning to ride a bicycle, you never really lose the skill. To recover your own lost ability to bring hierophanies into your life, you need only remember what you have temporarily forgotten and begin to play again. Nature is a great carrier of sacred power for us. This is because the energies of nature, in which we have lived as human beings throughout four million years, are our energies. Our bodies and our beings literally communicate through our DNA with those of plants and animals. At a cellular level, our bodies know the familiar taste of herbs and smells of the earth. It’s a knowing built right into our being. When we interact with nature, we align ourselves with her power, coming into harmony with the different directions and the energies she carries, as well as with all the elements—air, fire, water and earth. By making friends with the living world around us, whether this means going out into the fields, by the sea, into the hills, woods or mountains, the sacred opens itself to us. If you are a city dweller, learning to dialogue with any natural object in your environment—a rock, a flower, even the food you eat, opens consciousness to the sacred. The gifts this brings when we do are limitless.

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