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spirituality

25 articles in spirituality

Enter The Sacred

Discover Sacred Realms: My First Experience of the Sacred as an Adult

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.

Mind Magic

Unlock Hidden Potentials: Harness Mind Power to Change Your World

Do you believe in magic? Despite what you might have heard, it’s real, and it resides within you: Specifically, within your mind. This is because your thoughts and emotions can directly alter your reality—in accordance with your desires—in measurable ways. You probably aren’t yet aware of the astounding power that your mind can have when used to full effect. But don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself how experimenting with a couple of simple practices can enable you to unleash its hidden ability, and literally change your world as a result. MIND OVER MATTER Looking back in history, science has always been considered ‘magic’ before it is fully understood and explained. The ways in which mind can affect matter are not yet completely explained by science, lending a supernatural association to this field. Certainly when you begin to harness mind power and observe it shaping your life, you’ll be convinced of its magical prowess! But there is also a solid and growing foundation of scientific evidence in its support. Physics, for example, has established that a change in one molecule can bring about an alteration to another—faster than the speed of light—even if they’re thousands of miles apart. Other scientific studies have proven that clear intention can, when coupled with a state of expanded awareness, have all sorts of physical repercussions: From increasing oxygen levels in cells to inhibiting cancer growth. PRAYER POWER One of the most effective ways to harness the power of intention and put it to work in your own life is through Affirmative Prayer. This technique involves verbally affirming your desired outcome—as if it already exists. It is incredibly powerful, and can be done either by yourself or in a group if you prefer. HERE’S HOW Recognition. To begin, open your heart and mind to the presence of the universal being all around us—or God, nature, spirits, or whatever you prefer. You might say, “I acknowledge Spirit as the birds chirping, the breath that fills my lungs…” or “I know that Spirit is everywhere in everything…there is no place that Spirit is not.” Unity. Honor and affirm your oneness with God, the Universe, or whatever entity you recognized in step one. “I am one with the presence of the Universe. That which the universe is, I am.” Realization. This is where you affirm the existence of whatever it is you desire to manifest, as if it has already happened. If you are praying for healing you might say “My body, mind and spirit are perfectly aligned and whole. I experience radiant health on all levels.” Thanksgiving. Give thanks to whatever in your life brings you gratitude. This will have the effect of ‘sprinkling water’ on the seeds of prayer you have planted. “I am grateful for my home and my friends… I give thanks for this opportunity to remember my wellbeing through prayer.” Release. Surrender your prayer to the universe in full belief that it will be handled. ‘I release my prayer freely and fully into universal law knowing that it is done. Amen.’ UNLEASH ENERGIES Energy changes always precede physical changes. This is one of the ways in which acupuncture works on human and animals as it allows a change in energy to take place within the organism. When we are carrying about a lot of latent energy—especially negative energies in the form of anger, grief, unfulfilled lust and so on—which cannot find a release, this interferes with our daily functioning. Often, it also stops us from achieving our goals. The good news is that, with a little mind-power, you can actually make this energy work to your advantage. When emotional or bodily energy is isolated and focused, it becomes a dynamically transmittable force. What this means is that, when coupled with clear intention, this bioelectrical discharge enters the atmosphere and can be used for whatever purpose you choose. Alternatively, you might simply want to rid yourself of a stifling emotional force that is holding you back from reaching your full potential. This is a worthy cause in itself. A ritualistic energy release is a wonderful way of spiritually detoxing your being, while turning negative energies into forces for good. HERE’S HOW Firstly, you’ll want to set up an appropriate ‘chamber’ where you will be comfortable and undisturbed. Use whatever props will help you intensify your emotional experience—a written letter or perhaps a photo or effigy of the person you are trying to help. Music is a wonderful evocative tool, possibly the best. Cleanse your chamber and open the ceremony using any combination of bell-ringing, incense-burning, and spoken word. Next, clearly announce your intention in as many or as few words as you wish, as long as it’s clear. Describe what you wish to achieve and why. Call upon the help of whatever spirits or supernatural entities (if any) you believe in. Continue to focus on whatever is making you angry, sad, etc. LET LOOSE When you feel that your emotions are profoundly heightened, release them. You might do this through an unsuppressed flow of tears, the violent destruction of an inanimate object, even orgasm if your goals are romantically-oriented (or you are trying to discharge excessive lust). Once all of your emotional and physical energy has been expended, close the ceremony, perhaps with a single sentence and the tolling of a bell. As with affirmative prayer, be confident in the knowledge that the universe will respond. Don’t worry about feeling stupid while going through this process. You will find that how you feel afterwards will justify the trouble you have taken. Not only will you feel like a fresh person: You will begin to see changes in your chosen areas of life—wherever you have directed the energy. You will discover how, using your own mind, you can create real-life magic … and you’ll never look back. TRY IT YOURSELF To discover the power of affirmative prayer for yourself, try this interactive prayer audio: www.theheartpod.com/pray-now.html. You can use it to pray for health, abundance, a relationship – or any subject dear to your heart. If you enjoy the process, you might like to start your own prayer group. You’ll find instructions on how to do that here: www.theheartpod.com/group-prayer.html.

Focused Intention Can Change A Life

Discover How Human Intention Changes Physical Reality

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.

Immersed In Freedom

My First Love Affair at Six: How Stravinsky Changed My Life Forever

When I was six years old I had my first love affair. Yes, really. Of course, not until years later did I recognize the experience for what it was. But like every first love, it changed my life forever. My father was a jazz musician so our house was equipped with the best possible sound equipment. Both he and I loved to listen to music—just about any music—at full volume. This my mother could not stand—which made it something even more exciting. While my playmates roamed the hills of Hollywood skinning their knees, I would lie on my belly in the living room, listening to music at full blast. THE MAGIC BEGINS One day, combing through our vast supply of records, I came upon Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” It meant nothing to me, but I liked the colors on the cover, so I put it on the record player, turned up the volume and flopped in front of our huge speakers. Strange, mysterious, often discordant sound flooded my body, opening a secret door to somewhere deep inside me. It was a place I had never been before. I did not even know it existed. I trembled with fear and excitement as the music wound its way into me. I flushed hot and then cold; my heart raced then calmed. I lost all sense of place and time as I rode the waves of an imaginal sea into unexplored worlds, too numerous to identify. ONE WITH STILLNESS I have no idea how long this lasted. Before long, even the “boat” carrying me along, and all the images that came with it, had dissolved like sugar in water. Then, in perfect union, the sounds and child-that-had-been-me swirled into a vortex, becoming lost in each other. We shared excitement, fear, longing, fierceness and sadness. Like lovers, we had come together—music and child—in an immediate, passionate, all encompassing union. Eventually I found myself at the centre of this whirlpool. There, even the ecstasy of the movement vanished. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I tumbled—not into Wonderland, but into that place of unspeakable stillness. Zen practitioners claim this place is available at every moment to each one of us. For me it was an indescribable event—beyond space, beyond time, outside thought. Here I knew, without the slightest possibility of ever being able to describe it, that everything was exactly as it should be. In the words of Zen Master Daisetz Suzuki, it is a place where I would eat when I am hungry, sleep when tired. I knew that “it was fine yesterday and today it is raining.” Or, in the words of Julian of Norwich, that “All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” My affair with Stravinsky lasted more than four hours. At least that’s what my mother said. “Don’t tell me you are still listening to that awful music.” She had to raise her voice to be heard above the sounds. “For God’s sake, turn it off. Do something useful.” MY USEFUL LIFE So I did something useful. I went to school, then to university where I learned at least some of what you are supposed to learn. I earned praises for good marks, went to work, won prizes, gave birth to four children, wrote books, gave talks and made television programmes. In effect I did what millions of men and women do—became the breadwinner, the carer, the nurturer of others’ lives. And I loved it. Yet through all the years between six and now, my passion for music, painting, books, poetry, architecture and design never left me. Far from it. During most of those years, my longing not only to experience the emptiness that listening to Stravinsky had brought me that day—an epiphany, and the experience of being fully alive for the first time in my life—but also to create things: books, films, relationships, and to explore physical places, inviting me to move beyond thoughts to a place of unity with the rest of the universe. They kept gnawing at my gut. They would not go away, just as the urge to breathe never goes away no matter how long we hold our breath. SIX YEAR OLD WISDOM That day, when I lay on the floor lost in Stravinsky, without realizing it I had decided that what interested me most was the beauty of art—whether it be music, words, film, stories, sculpture, buildings or what-have-you. Why? Certainly not because I had any idea that art was supposed to be valued since it was part of what grown-ups called culture. I knew nothing about either. I could not have cared less. After all, I was a kid who, when I was not entranced by what I was seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, spent the rest of my day learning card tricks, wrestling with my rough Collie, and trying (unsuccessfully) to sell packets of chewing gum my grandfather brought me to neighbors’ kids. Nope—I loved the beauty and wonder of art in all its many forms because, unlike the world around me, with which I seemed to have little in common, it had always grabbed hold of me and would not let me go. It demanded of me both a submission and an active participation in the making of it. TIMELESS REALITY What I did not know, and this took me scores of years to come to understand, is that the rabbit hole into which I had accidentally tumbled at six is described by every culture and religion in the world in one form or another. Nor had I any idea that, at any moment in time, anywhere in the world, regardless of the circumstances of our lives, it is available to each of us. To Zen Buddhists, this wordless, timeless space represents ultimate reality—that which can only be sampled through immediate experience. In Suzuki’s words, “For the sake of those crucial experiences Zen Buddhism has struck out on its own paths which, through methodical immersion in oneself, lead to one’s becoming aware, in the deepest ground of the soul, of the unnameable Groundlessness and Qualitylessness—nay more, to one’s becoming one with it.” ANNIHILATION AND RENEWAL It is a state in which nothing is thought or contrived, longed for or expected. It reaches out in no particular direction, yet it knows itself able to handle the possible as well as the impossible. Concentrated, yet so expanding is its potential, such power is both purposeless and egoless. As such, it is often called truly spiritual. Why? I suspect because it is charged with an awareness that spirit is present everywhere. The universe and all that is created is never attached to place or time. In such a state, because the cosmos is present everywhere, we too are present everywhere. We have direct experience of and access to the power that continues to create the universe itself. And, like water flowing through the river, we have full access to that power of creation to use in our own lives, in whatever way we choose. DOORWAY TO BLISS The Sufis call this state fana—the annihilation of your individual selfhood. When we experience fana, our everyday personality becomes transparent, so the larger being that we are shines through. You become fully absorbed in the all-encompassing fascination of the moment—textures, nuances... Cutting edge physicists speak of a holographic universe in which we live but seldom access because we are plagued by endless mental concepts which blind us to reality. They also blind us to the experience of Samadhi—“a non-dualistic state in which the consciousness of the subject becomes one with the experienced object.” This state of selfless absorption and total surrender is characteristic of children when left alone to follow their instincts. Yet it is available to each one of us, regardless of age. Honoring whatever brings us bliss in our own lives opens the door to it.

Let’s Explode Reality

Unleashing Creative Power: Exploring the Depths of the Psyche for Whole Being Transformation

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.

Life Breaks The Rules

Discover How Energy Can Help Support Your Health!

Let me share with you some exciting stuff—all about energy. This is where life breaks all the rules. Biological science has only just begun to penetrate the mysteries of life energies and the body’s energy fields which enable us to maintain health and to heal illness. Until now, energy has remained the province of mystics, sages and visionary physicists. When it comes to establishing radiant health and maintaining it, energy is where it's at. There is a mysterious lifeforce—expressing itself through a multitude of energetic fields within and around all living things. In its positive expressions, it governs growth, nourishes us, sustains us, and deep-cleanses our bodies. It also regenerates our cells and makes us feel happy just to be alive. This ineffable lifeforce is found in abundance in all living things, from bananas and beetles to hedgehogs and flowers. Different cultures call it by different names. The Indians speak of it as Prana. In Polynesia it is known as Mana. The Chinese call it Qi. These words describe various forms of subtle energy, which, at least until the advent of quantum physics, have remained virtually unknown to Western science. Yet throughout history, all forms of traditional medicine—from Paracelsus to Chinese and Ayurvedic herbalism—have worked with it. It is important to get to become aware of your body’s energy fields and how they can be directed to enhance our experience of health and life. LIGHT IN OUR CELLS More than seventy years ago, the eminent scientist Albert Szent-Györgyi, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on oxidation and for isolating Vitamin C, asked himself a question. He then spent almost every working moment of his life in an attempt to answer it. He is often quoted as having posed the question at a dinner party: “What is the difference between a living rat and a dead one?” According to the laws of classical chemistry and physics, there should be no fundamental difference. Szent-Györgyi’s own reply was simple yet revolutionary—“Some kind of electricity.” Early in the twentieth century, quantum physics established that wave particles in living systems behave as biophotons. A biophoton is a proton in the visible and ultraviolet spectrum that biological systems, like the human body, emit as bioluminescence—electromagnetic waves in the form of light. This bioluminescence regulates and controls enzyme activities, cell reproduction and the creation of vitality. Experiments, such as those reported in the March 1995 issue of Scientific American by Brumer and Shapiro, helped to establish the importance of these energetic particle/wave behaviors in organisms. QUANTUM MAGIC Like light bulbs, all atoms and molecules give out radiant bioenergies, both harmonious—which produce health and healing in the body—and destructive. When they become scrambled, disordered and chaotic they produce illness. Sadly conventional science still tends to ignore or dismiss the way interference wave forms from negative sources—generated by cell phones, smart meters, and other electronic emissions as well as negative thoughts and feelings, internally manufactured toxins or external exposure to environmental pollutants—disrupt the body’s harmonious biophoton energies. They undermine homeostasis on which our health and protection from degenerative illnesses depend. The behavior of these light emissions reveals the functional state of the body— how healthy or unhealthy a body is. For instance, cancer cells and healthy cells of the same type show huge differences in biophotons emitted by them. There is currently a lot of investigation taking place to determine how we can use various kinds of bioenergies constructively to support health and slow degeneration. Some of this is considered “hard science”, from electromagnetic techniques now used to rejuvenate bone and tissues, to electronic devices for diagnosing disease. But a lot of it is shunned by conventional medicine, with its commitment to prescribing drugs. The use of visualization, for instance; focused intention, prayer and other forms of spiritual healing, as well as energy-based martial arts like Aikido, Tai Chi and Thought Field Therapy. Within the next few decades we are going to hear more and more about biophoton therapies. For now, we can still make practical use of the knowledge that has already emerged about how to change our emotional and mental states, and how to heal the body by altering our energy fields through consciousness alone. POWER OF CONSCIOUSNESS Like all biological organisms, we human beings are not only immersed in energy fields. Our bodies, our minds, our cells, our genes—every part of us, in a very real way, is made of pure energy. Our fields are constantly contracting and expanding as our thoughts, diets and lifestyles change. The aim of any form of natural treatment, from dietary change or detoxification to hydrotherapy, exercise and meditation, is to enhance positive bio-energies in an organism and to create greater order in your body, biochemically, psychologically, and spiritually. However, the biochemical view of health and sickness continues to be materialistic. It is based on the assumption that life can be entirely explained by an understanding of the laws of chemistry and physiology. It concerns itself about the way inorganic chemicals, like pharmaceutical drugs, act on a biological system to treat symptoms. Indeed, this is the whole point and purpose of biochemistry and molecular biology—the now-outdated scientific models that are still worshipped by conventional allopathic medicine. The only problem is that the living human body breaks all the rules. To get full benefit from what is now known about life processes, health and healing, we must go beyond the biochemical model. How? First, by asking a few provocative questions, like “What is the nature of this life force energy?” And, “How can we enhance and preserve it?” Second, we need to learn more about energetic models at the leading edge. These include models built on cutting-edge physics, biophoton data and information theory as applied to biology. These advanced paradigms encompass whole new realities. They also offer powerful tools and techniques for expanding consciousness and directing our intentions to bring effective healing and personal transformation. I love this quote by Richard Tarnas. It expresses so beautifully the conundrum that mainstream science has found itself in for scores of years, yet which it works hard to deny. “By the end of the third decade of the twentieth century, virtually every major postulate of the earlier scientific conception had been controverted: the atom as solid, indestructible, and separate building block of nature, space and time as independent absolutes, the strict mechanistic causality of all phenomena, the possibility of the objective observation of nature. Such fundamental transformation in the scientific world picture was staggering, and for no one was this more true than the physicists themselves.” ORDER FROM CHAOS In physics, the first and second laws of thermodynamics continue to rule supreme. Both laws focus on the nature of energy in the universe. They attempt to understand events in the universe by studying the kind of energy changes that accompany them. The second law of thermodynamics is particularly important in relation to health and healing. It is called the law of entropy. It states that, left to their own devices, all things in the universe become disordered: Iron rusts, buildings crumble, dead flowers decay, humans lose homeostasis, degenerate and die. In the language of physics, this is described by saying that everything tends toward maximum entropy. Entropy describes a state of maximum disorder—chaos if you prefer—in which all useful energy has been decreased. What is so remarkable about us human beings—and what has been a great puzzle to many of the world's finest minds—is this: Despite the second law of thermodynamics, we, like other living organisms, are able to remain highly ordered. In fact, so long as we are alive, our bodies are maintained in a condition of fantastic “improbability,” despite the endless destructive processes continually going on in and around us. More than that, there is every indication that a healthy body—a healthy mind as well—is continually involved in creating yet more order. This we do both individually—thanks to the repair functions of our cells and enzymic systems—and also viewed as a species, since from an evolutionary point of view, over time, all living species differentiate into ever more complex and highly structured organisms. NEGENTROPIC WONDERS Unlike the rocks and nails in the inorganic world, living organisms are both capable of becoming and of remaining superbly ordered thanks to their capacity for continuously recreating homeostasis and wholeness through energy. This is how we maintain our bodies at a high degree of health. Of course, our “ordering ability” makes no sense to dyed-in-the-wool scientists and doctors, who still worship paradigms of Newtonian physics with the passion of a religious dogma. According to mainstream science there should be little difference in the chemical and physical processes taking place in a living body and those in a corpse—since both, according to the second law of thermodynamics, follow the same scientific law which produces chaos, loss of lifeforce, degeneration and death. Yet there is every difference in the world. A living organism is able to maintain the system in quite exceptional harmony, despite the fact that events leading to maximum entropy in the universe as a whole should be destroying it. In the words of Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi: “Life is a paradox... the most basic rule of inanimate nature is that it tends toward equilibrium which is at the maximum of entropy and the minimum of free energy. The main characteristic of life is that it tends to decrease its entropy. It also tends to increase its free energy. Maximum entropy means complete randomness, disorder. Life is made possible by order, structure, a pattern which is the opposite of entropy. This pattern is our chief possession, it was developed over billions of years. The main aim of our existence is its conservation and transmission. Life is a revolt against the statistical rules of physics.” SUCK ORDER Physicist and Nobel laureate Erwin Schrodinger also took a close look at the scientific contradictions implicit in the living state. He concluded that, so long as the human body is alive, it avoids decaying into an inert state of equilibrium—death—through the processes of metabolism. In other words by eating, drinking and assimilating “information”—in effect by sucking order from the environment. As far back as 1944 Schrodinger wrote: “Every process, event, happening—call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. Thus a living organism continually increases its entropy—or as you may say, produces positive entropy—and thus tends to approach the dangerous state of maximum entropy, which is death. It can only keep aloof from it, i.e. alive, by continually drawing from its environment negative entropy... What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy... which is in itself a measure of order. Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment.” Energetically, a human being is an open system. This means we continually exchange energetic information with our environment—through the foods we eat, digest, assimilate and excrete, as well as the company we keep, the radiation and electromagnetic fields we are exposed to, the way we exercise—even the thoughts we think. As such, we are constantly processing the energetic data—information which comes into us and continues to flow in and out of our own biophoton energy fields. We need a constant supply of the right kind of information from the outside world to keep our bodies functioning optimally, and we need to be able to dissipate any disorder and chaos—entropy—that has built up within our bodies and our lives. Although most biochemists and all physicists know about Schrodinger's concept of living organisms feeding on negative entropy, and though it is covered in standard textbooks on biophysics and biochemistry, it is still largely ignored by mainstream scientists. THE OSTRICH SYNDROME Life processes which cannot be explained within conventional belief systems have a long history of being ignored, misinterpreted and even viciously attacked. It’s easier to bury one’s head in the sand. Yet the energetics of how life breaks all the rules are central to an understanding of the body’s marvelous ability to heal itself. For when control processes go awry, disorder takes over the organism and degeneration ensues. Our natural capacity to recreate order in our bodies makes mincemeat of the outdated second law of thermodynamics applied to living systems. It makes most conventional scientists squirm. Why? Because within the paradigms of Newtonian physics it is nonsense. Where should we all be looking to find life-changing answers? Towards the body’s energy fields, and what we can do to enhance the order and vitality of positive energy fields in our own bodies. It is easier than you think once you learn how. More about all this very soon…

Longing For Freedom

Discover True Freedom: Political Dissident in Concentration Camp

Far too much vitality lies stillborn beneath patterns of addictive behavior, fear and heavy psychological baggage—the kind of stuff we all carry around with us which thwarts our energy and makes life hard work. One of the most moving accounts I have ever read of discovering freedom came from a political dissenter imprisoned in a concentration camp in the early 1940s. He wrote about how he came to experience the true nature of freedom, creativity and wholeness while living in the most inhumane conditions of physical incarceration imaginable. He discovered his freedom in the only way any of us ever will—by coming to live from ever deeper layers of himself. Eventually, he wrote, the very soul of him and his outer personality became like echoes of each other. REBIRTH BEGINS When the distortions we all carry—the false beliefs, destructive parental training, or negative habit patterns formed throughout our lives—begin to fall away, exciting things replace them. Rejuvenation begins to take place—emotionally, physically and spiritually—liberating life-energy and shifting the way we look upon reality, all the while allowing us just to be who we are. Any pretensions or self-limiting assumptions we have been carrying no longer diminish the experience of being fully alive. This is an experience available to everyone and one which I have discovered often takes place in men and women on Cura Romana. I have given a great deal of thought to why and how Cura Romana’s protocol initiates an expanded sense of freedom and possibility in the lives of those participating in out Journey Program, as well as those who work closely with me personally on our Inner Circle Gold protocol. I have no definitive answers. But I suspect that it has a lot to do with a couple of things. The first is the intention with which you enter into and follow your program. A few people are only interested only the fast and effective weight loss as they begin. Others tell is they are at a place in their life where they feel ripe for transformation on many different levels. Meanwhile, many first decided to do the program for weight loss alone report that their Cura Romana experience has spurred in them a desire for expansion and spiritual deepening which they could never have anticipated. BIOCHEMISTRY TRANSFORMS The other factor, which I suspect has a lot to do with the sense of freedom that the program engenders, is most certainly the result of biochemical, physiological and energetic changes that take place in the body and the psyche as greater hormonal, physiological and emotional balance progressively take place in central parts of the brain. It’s important to remember that the diencephalon deep in the brain represents the core of the autonomic nervous system. As it functions better, so do sleep, one’s sense of self, and one’s view of reality on many levels. I always tell people as they begin either of our programs that it is time to consider what you want from your Cura Romana experience. For, like many who have gone before you, you may find you get a lot more from the experience than successful weight loss. Four years ago, when Aaron and I began to work with our Cura Romana programs, we would never have dreamed that the most commonly reported non-physical benefit felt by participants completing the program is an experience of expanded freedom. Many insist that, for the first time in their lives, a burden of “conformity” they long felt themselves saddled with has been lifted away. ‘I am lighter,’ they say, ‘not just in my body but in my being. I feel free just to be me.’ Others say that long-held limiting beliefs have vanished. Others report that their lives and the world look different now—‘like everything is brand new’. Freedom has always fascinated me. I love the smell of the word. I like its sense of possibility. I taste freedom when I listen to the music of Aaron Copland—music that could only have been written in a country that once had vast prairies and seemingly infinite wilderness. I feel freedom in my body when I run along cliffs in the rain. I rejoice in the sense of freedom that comes when, after hours of shifting dead words and sentences, something suddenly comes alive and beauty spills out all over the page. A PASSION FOR FREEDOM I believe that each of us longs for greater freedom. Rightly so. Like air, food and water, freedom is a human birthrights. Yet we often have little idea how to go about finding it. In the search for freedom, some end up sniffing cocaine or drinking too much alcohol. Others dance all night at a rave. A few turn to philosophy. Or maybe they head off to India or California to sit at the foot of some guru, hoping he or she will hand it to them. All these things—from rum and cocaine to raves and yoga —offer a taste of freedom. Some, such as drugs and alcohol, are more transitory than others. When they wear off, so does the sense of liberation they once promised, to be replaced by what I call a false-freedom hangover. Others run deeper. The taste of freedom they offer encourages us to pursue them. The move towards the freedom they offer may be slower, but the liberating gifts they offer lasts longer. What’s important is that every experience of freedom, whether temporary or long-lasting, brings in its wake a sense of our being released from imprisonment—our being able, even for a short time, to respond to life spontaneously with the whole of our being. ENDING THE WEIGHT STRUGGLE When beginning their Cura Romana program, most participants have been struggling with their weight. They dislike—even hate—their bodies, and suffer a sense of shame about themselves. These are heavy burdens to carry. Often, people labor under false beliefs about the impossibility of changing things. They can be plagued by frustration or anger. And—although seldom aware of it until this begins to change—they experience a deep disconnection between mind and body. Some feel imprisoned by cravings and addictions—not only to foods, but to other things too, such as wine or cigarettes. They feel themselves at the mercy of compulsions and unconscious habit patterns which undermine belief in themselves as autonomous human beings. They’ve forgotten that, like all of us, they have been born with free will. The most freedom-restricting belief of all is the notion, which many people have, that what they want and need can only be found outside themselves. This false belief, more than any other, is what prevents us from experiencing the depth and power of our magnificent essential being which enables each one of us to forge the life we want. For many, Cura Romana has begun this process. It is the satisfaction that Aaron and I get from helping people discover and live out their natural birthright to freedom that makes us so passionate about the work we do with our participants. AUTHENTICITY AWAITS US Freedom is a unique state of being. There is a boldness to it. You dare to say what you think and feel, yet you can listen to the words and hearts of others who think differently. It brings with it a sense that you trust yourself, as well as the Universe, even if you comprehend neither. It liberates you from the slavery of conforming to other people’s rules, imprisoning ideologies, life-draining addictions to foods that do not support high-level health, and from the crippling influences of negative emotions that may once have strangled you. The way in which such authentic freedom blossoms in each of us is unique to the individual and full of surprises. However it takes place, the freer we become, the more self-determining our lives become, and the more exciting. When challenges arise, instead of looking upon them in fear as crushing forces, we start to see them as worthy opponents. We discover that wrestling with them helps us break through to an even wider experience of liberation. In an outer way, to be free means to enjoy liberty of action under a government which is not despotic and does not encroach on individual human rights. More important, in an inner way, becoming free means liberation from the relentless forces of doubt, self-criticism and fear that we all inherit from growing up in emotional and educational environments that split our mind from our body and teach us not to trust ourselves. These environments tell us that we are supposed to put our faith in ‘experts’. They teach us not to honor the splendor of the individual human soul. They say that each of us teaches what we most need to learn ourselves and creates what we most love. This is certainly the case with me and freedom. The most important thing I have learned from listening to my own longing for freedom is how essential it is that each of us learns to live our life in authenticity right from our the very core of us. We come to trust ourselves and honor who we are without ego or comparison. The more we live this way, the more beings around us are encouraged to do the same. I’ve also learned that, when we become aware of the sea of powerful cosmic energies in which every one of us is immersed, it supports our individual journeys towards authentic freedom in ways we have never dreamed possible. GIFTS FROM THE UNIVERSE The Universe is filled with compassion on which each of us can draw when we need support. Each of us has the power to create whatever we want. Authentic freedom knows no age-barriers—no limitations. Neither is it the province of an elite few while the rest of us ‘get by’ hoping that a few crumbs of this precious stuff will fall our way—if only we are patient enough, virtuous enough, or spend enough money buying all the right products. Here’s the bottom line: freedom is free. It belongs to all people. The demand for it is encoded in our very genes. This is what makes us long passionately to discover it. Go for it. It may well be the greatest gift of all.

Rites Of Passage

Unlocking the Secrets Of Female Endocrine Health: Discover the Power of Hormones in Your Life

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

Discover the Art of Stillness: Become More Balanced with Zazen

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.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 20,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 16 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 13th of June 2024 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.76 lb
for women
-0.81 lb
for men
-0.76 lb
for women
-0.81 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 13th of June 2024 (updated every 12 hours)

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