user-icon chevron-right minus plus cross google shopping-cart caret-down chevron-down chevron-circle-up menu search youtube facebook twitter rss linkedin2 pinterest

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.

Featured

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

The Electric Universe: Thunderbolts Of The Gods

The Electric Universe: Thunderbolts Of The Gods

This Documentary is a remarkable eye opener to the nature of our universe and the power of electricity. This is a must see for everyone but particularly for anyone who is interested in learning about the nature of the magical universe we live in. Details of the Electric Universe Thunderbolts of the Gods by David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduces the reader to a former age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events. The 108-page full-color monograph, based on the life’s work of the two authors, offers a revolutionary synthesis of historical investigation and the newly discovered “Electric Universe.” Talbott and Thornhill claim that cosmic upheaval occurred so recently as to have profoundly affected early human cultures, provoking “incomprehensible” myths, symbols, and commemorative practices. Through a synthesis of ancient testimony, high-energy plasma experiments, and space age discoveries, the authors bring the ancient world to life. If their hypothesis is correct, it will surely alter many paths of scientific investigation as well. The little-known study of powerful electrical discharges in plasma is a new and exciting development in plasma cosmology, with profound implication for space age astronomy. Talbott and Thornhill have followed these developments because they see plasma science as a bridge between the ancient and modern worlds. To advance their case, they present side-by-side comparisons of laboratory plasma experiments and globally recurring symbols of the ancient sky. The evidence, they report, shows an ancient obsession with extremely violent electrical discharge formations in the heavens. At the core of this reconstruction lies the unique behavior of plasma. Plasma, often called the “fourth state of matter,” has been studied for less than a hundred years, and only in the recent decades of the space age have some physicists begun to realize its importance to the understanding of structure in space produced by electric currents. All stars and astronomical objects ranging from supernovae to beautiful filamentary nebulae are now known to be constituted of plasma—a conductive medium that permeates the near-vacuum of space. Charged celestial objects move within insulating cells of plasma that may discharge spectacularly upon close encounters. The plasma discharge currents take complex filamentary forms resulting in the panoply of astonishing structures seen by Hubble and other new telescopes. From these discoveries, a new approach to the understanding of the physical universe is emerging. This approach is called plasma cosmology. Through unimaginable labors, our ancestors carved unexplained pictures on stone, numbering in the tens of millions. But what inspired this massive endeavor around the world? The laboratory experiments make clear that the ancient artists were copying spectacular electrical phenomena in the heavens. Indeed, the global correspondence between laboratory discharge forms and the pictographs on stone is so detailed that same-scale images.

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.

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.

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.

Let’s Explode Reality

Let’s Explode Reality

Each one of us is brimming with creative power. Creativity lies at the core of what it is to be fully alive and free, so each of us can express our unique visions as gifts to all life. I believe it’s time to set free our indestructible passion to create from the core of our being. Each of us is being called to do this; not only for our own sake, but for the sake of all beings and the earth itself. I am excited about answering the call. Are you? HOLISTIC POWER Creativity is a mind-body-soul experience. It demands that we have access not only to our intelligence and to the layers of our psyche of which we are consciously aware, but to the whole of our being including what is commonly called the unconscious mind. Most of us have come to ignore the unconscious parts of us, in no small part as a result of Freud’s insistence that they are a repository of repressed desires which need to be codified, pathologized and treated. It is this belief that has propelled tens of millions of men and women into psychotherapy in the past hundred years. As a result, most of us still live with the lion’s share of our potential for creativity and freedom unavailable to us. Meanwhile, beneath the vast ocean of what it is to be fully human, our creative power slumbers, waiting for us to awaken it. PLUMBING THE DEPTHS Then, when the founder of depth psychology, C. G. Jung, came along. Jung announced what every creative artist discovers for himself, that Freud’s “fearful unconscious” is also a realm replete with visions, archetypes, insight and soul—all of these are fuels which feed our creative fires. Once we embrace the depths of our psyche and learn to work with them, we can access the gifts they hold, and live our lives from a foundation of authentic freedom and power. A person’s interior life, insisted Jung, not only merits attention; it calls for dedicated exploration which is exactly what he, himself, did and then recorded in his posthumously published Red Book. Thanks to more than half a century of exploration, Jung came to see the human psyche—both conscious and unconscious—as an inherently spiritual and fluid medium, a magnificent ocean which we humans can fish for enlightenment, creativity, healing and personal transformation. Jung then went on to discover that the dreams, myths and archetypes which reside in our unconscious are highly personal to each of us. Yet we are also connected with what he called the collective unconsciousness, which connects us with archetypal realities that are not only personal but universal. WAKE UP TO RAGING FREEDOM Now this is revolutionary stuff. It speaks of truths few of us even consider, unless we happen to be one of the visionary artists, thinkers or scientists who discover this for themselves in the course of their work. Such men and women are seldom willing to buy into the general consensus of what is taken to be reality. They prefer to strike out on their own, determined to enter uncharted territories and find out for themselves what treasures can be found there to bring back, fuel their work and transform their own lives and the lives of others. Invariably, when someone is courageous enough to question the stuff that the rest of us take to be true, they discover whole new realities. I have a passion to explore the nature and power of creativity from every angle possible in this blog. I hope you will join me in my journey.

Celebrating Ecstasy

Celebrating Ecstasy

Frequently discussed yet little understood in the context of our post industrial society is the value of ecstasy and the power of the erotic. For power it is of an order that is both frightening and tremendously creative. It is no accident that in all of the Eastern religions it is the erotic which symbolizes man's pathway to realizing the Divine. In our capacity to experience ecstasy at the deepest levels may lie both the key to our survival and to our ability to create. Recent studies of the human brain and its interfaces with the body have for the first time in history begun to chart biologically what takes place when one allows oneself to enter fully into an erotic state. The results of this research are not only helping us see just how important this can be to health and wholeness, they are also making us conscious of just how far away the so called sexual revolution has taken us from our being able to experience our own ecstasy. For the mechanistic approach to sexuality with which we have lived for the past thirty years, with all its sex-manuals and all its advice on 'how-to-do-it-better', instead of leading us towards a state in which we are more able to plunge into the irrational, oceanic, all-trusting state which every ecstatic encounter demands, has taught us to intellectualize sexuality making it into something which too often we do and watch ourselves doing, something which we learn about, something which we try to control. Yet right at the core of the truly ecstatic experience is a fundamental demand that we give up all control so that we are able for a time to allow ourselves to dissolve our boundaries and merge into a celebration of the body, of life itself and in doing so to experience our own wholeness. Each man and woman in reality has not one brain but two: The rational brain or the neocortex which like an immensely complicated computer enables us to make conscious choices and to collect, store and interpret the data we receive from our sensory organs and the subcortical nervous system or the primitive brain . This primitive brain is sometimes referred to as the 'reptilian structures' because from an evolutionary point of view it is the oldest part of the brain and also because, unlike the conscious mind, it can never be disassociated from our basic adaptive systems - the hormonal system and the immune system on which our survival depend. Your emotions and your instincts are bonded to the activity of your primitive brain which through the hypothalamus communicates via nerve cells with the rest of the body and via hormones regulates the activity of all the other endocrine glands with the aid of complex feedback mechanisms. When you experience joy the hormonal balance is not the same as when you grieve or when we engage in intellectual thought. This complex feedback network between mind and body, mediated through the primitive brain might be called our primitive adaptive system. On the quality of its responses and how well it is balanced with the actions of the neocortex depends how healthy we are physically, mentally and emotionally. But being human in the so-called civilized world is not always easy. The neocortex or rational brain in our society has become highly developed. It is this development which gives us the capacity to make rational decisions, to examine reality and to consciously manipulate the outside world to our advantage. In a truly healthy person the balance between the two brains is good. However the rational brain has the ability to inhibit the primitive brain. And in the modern world this neocordical inhibition of the primitive brain (on which our experience of joy and our hormonal and immune strength depends) has been carried to extremes. So much is this the case that we have undermined our ability to experience ecstasy, diminished our capacity for joy and lost our trust in the knowingness of our instincts. Take the experience of childbirth for instance. Instead of being able during the birth process simply to give over our bodies to the event and trust that at the right time the appropriate hormone will be secreted to dilate the cervix, bring the child into the world, lead us instinctively to nurture it at the breast, we tend to try exerting conscious control through our reason. In doing so we inhibit the primitive adaptive processes for we no longer trust them. We shift hormones in inappropriate ways and loose touch with the ecstatic experience of surrender to the body as well as with all the joy this can bring. In short we bring into play the rational brain at an inappropriate time and we suffer for it. (So incidentally does the baby.) We experience ourselves as separate from what is happening to our body, and we feel pain. It is not our highly developed rational brain that is the problem but the inappropriateness of allowing it to come into play in such circumstances which results in a sense of separation and our anguish. For human instincts, which need to be trusted and allowed freedom to be if we are to come to live in real health and wholeness, are fragile things. They are easily repressed and inhibited, constantly changed and controlled by the power of the neocortex - so much so that in most of us these inhibitions have become so unconscious and so habitual that we are not even aware of them have no possibility of choice. We have quite simply forgotten how to let go and trust to our body so we deny the power of human instincts. Then, instead of working with us they tend to work against us. Each woman is a great deal more than her rational mind. To be whole, to be truly healthy, to live the power of her own individual beauty she needs a highly developed emotional and instinctive life as well as a strong rationality. Each woman needs to be able to trust her body and, at appropriate times, such as in childbirth or lovemaking, to be able to abandon herself to it fully. Then the highly developed neocortex which is responsible for the development of culture and rational achievement instead of working against ones energy by inappropriate inhibition serves to channel her instinctive and the emotional life in tremendously exciting and creative ways. Then she is able to experience joy in simply being the way a child does - a joy and a radiance which does not depend upon what she does or what she has or on how clever she is or on how admired she is but simply on being. How does one rediscover this kind of trust in the body and in ones instincts? The answer is not simple. It involves experiment, listening, adjustment and it usually comes slowly, in fits and starts, through learning to trust and through becoming aware when instinctive responses begin to take place and simply allowing them to happen - particularly in the realm of ones sexuality - a realm in which the primitive brain, if it is allowed, probably comes into its own more easily than in any other. For the erotic - the ecstatic - has a power far beyond the experience of pleasure it brings. Ancient philosophical and religious traditions teach that the font of sexual power, known as the kundalini, lies coiled like a sleeping serpent at the base of the spine. When it becomes aroused this powerful procreative energy, the most powerful energy known to human life, begins to uncoil and to rise up the body activating its energy centers or chakras one by one. There are said to be seven chakras - locusts where the life energy which controls all biological processes, interfaces with the physical body. Each chakra appears to control particular endocrine glands and each is said to manifest a different quality of this powerful instinctive energy which makes human development possible. For instance the first or base chakra which lies near the base of the spine deals with survival while the next chakra, located in the pelvis looks after specific procreative energies. The chakra at the solar plexus is said to be involved with the will, the heart chakra with compassion, the throat with ones higher creative energies and so forth. The seventh chakra at the crown of the head is known as the thousand petal lotus. It is believed to be responsible for man's spiritual development at the highest level. When strongly activated it is believed to emit a radiance which you find depicted in every religious tradition in the form of the halo painted around the head of saints, the Christ, the Buddha and all the rest. The kundalini or life force is not something which can be aroused or activated through any rational effort of the conscious mind. For its energies, being sexual in the very deepest sense of the word (a sense which encompasses self-expression and creativity in every way from giving birth, to art, to the Dionysian celebration of the erotic in sexual intercourse,) are irrational in nature and belong to the realm of the primitive brain. As such they defy definition and elude any who would classify, categorize or try to control them. Since we belong to a civilization which has placed great premium on classification and control and which therefore has sought to conveniently ignore or dismiss as nonexistent any part of experience which does not fit into the rational and controllable, we often feel particularly unsettled whenever the force of these profound life energies surface. They can make us decidedly uncomfortable. For if we follow them we risk dissolving the boundaries of self and we fear a loss of the very control which the overdeveloped rational mind so loves. Yet the irony is that it is this very loss of control that we often most long for. For without an ability to live the instinctive as well as the rational we can never experience wholeness. Even more important, without it, the full creativity of our humanness being can never be realized. For it is the inhibition of this ability to experience the ecstatic and to trust in it that brings in its wake the sense of powerlessness and meaninglessness so widespread in our society. As black American writer Audre Lorde says in her book Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power (The Crossing Press, Freedom, CA), 'The Erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling...As women we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge... It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. But the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough.' Exploring the realms of ecstasy, the truly erotic in ones life, is a long way from experimenting with all the mechanistic sexual stuff you will find in the popular press that tells you how to get more pleasure sex by doing this or that to your partner. Sadly the sexual revolution instead of freeing us to explore ecstasy and helping us learn how to surrender ourselves to the realm of instinct thereby bringing a healthy balance between our two brains, has tended even to relegate sexuality to the realm of the neocortex. When this happens, the ecstatic becomes the pornographic and the powers of creativity are wasted. For health and wholeness we must somehow find a marriage between instinct and reason. It is a union which like any marriage takes time to develop and grow, but a union which in terms of your health and beauty and your wholeness can bear infinite fruit.

Sacred Truth Ep. 59: Get High On Life

Sacred Truth Ep. 59: Get High On Life

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

We Are One

We Are One

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

More in spirituality

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 11 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 19th of September 2019 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.71 lb
for women
-1.18 lb
for men
-0.71 lb
for women
-1.18 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 19th of September 2019 (updated every 12 hours)

sign up for our newsletter

download our free book healthy & lean for life