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"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spread the Story, Stop the Disease

Help to spread awareness about this curable disease that is threatening global health. If one of us suffer, we all suffer. Share this 3 minute video with others.



If you experience any difficulty viewing the video, please click here to go to the original website (www.xdrtb.org) for viewing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gratitude, Choice, and the “Why Did This Happen to Me?” Syndrome

An Olympic contender slips just before the finish line and loses the single most important race of his life. A youngster who has made it through countless spelling bees, makes a careless mistake in the second last competition, and so doesn’t have a chance at winning the state championship.

A woman who has spent the past six years hoping against hope that the man she is seeing will finally decide to commit to her, is painfully dumped by him in full view of their mutual friends and acquaintances.

A man’s wife cheats on him…not once, but four times! Your business partner walks off leaving half a million euros in debt. You are diagnosed with heart problems just when you thought your life was pulling together and you would be able to enjoy the retirement years in peace and joy. Cancer strikes, death strikes, tragedy strikes, and it makes most of us ask this:

Why me?

The Unfairness of Life

Somehow it seems so unfair, so unjust, destiny could have spared me this one, you mourn. Why did this have to happen to me. If only…and on and on. My life was going so well, it seemed – you say to yourself - until this happened. Because of this, everything else is no longer working, or is put on a back burner, until this is solved…if it ever gets solved.

Maybe other people don’t look after themselves, they eat junk food, and smoke and drink, so they deserve to get sick, but not me…I eat healthy food…maybe other people don’t train for a competition, so they don’t deserve to win, but I work out every day…maybe other people don’t make a budget and watch expenditures, so if they have a financial disaster, it’s their own fault, but not me…I control all of that very well…maybe other people don’t treat their spouse well, and so they deserve to be betrayed, but not me, I’m a good person…and on it goes.

In this fashion we justify to ourselves how unfair it is that calamity or tragedy stuck us, and that we absolutely do not deserve it. We rail against the event and the unforeseeable changes it has necessarily wrought in our lives. We concentrate on all the negative aspects of it…and certainly, if you have received a diagnosis of cancer, or lost your spouse, or fortune, or job, it would be hard to find something positive to say about it.

And yet…isn’t it true that we always have a choice? (Also see my February 2006 Newsletter: Making Choices: Taking Responsibility For Our Lives).

It Doesn’t Have to be This Way

My practice brings me in touch with many people telling me about something terrible in their lives. Their stories are legitimately filled with pain, sorrow, desperation, anger, guilt, resentment, jealousy, loss, disillusion, and fear. My heart goes out to them…not so much because of the content of their stories, but because they don’t have to feel this way, and learning and understanding the truth of that statement is frequently one of the hardest things I ask my clients to do. But once they grasp it, life becomes infinitely easier.

So what is the alternative to feeling this way, to having this wrenching pain in your life?

How To Go About Having a Choice

When you are filled with pain or any of those other dreadful emotions referred to in the last paragraph, you are obviously feeling miserable, wishing things were different, bemoaning your fate, or trying desperately to figure the way out of the situation.

Now imagine just for an instant that you could fill your mind with other thoughts. Not because you “pretend” to yourself that the hard thoughts are no longer there, and not because you “control” the hard thoughts or difficult feelings, and not because you “suppress” the hard thoughts, or anything along those lines. Quite the contrary. You would fill your mind with other thoughts not because you would have been able to eradicate these hard thoughts, but because you choose to think other thoughts.

Choose To Think Other Thoughts

What, you say? Choose to think other thoughts? How can I choose? I have to think these thoughts if I have any of these problems, because I have to try to resolve them, or get over them. I have no choice in the matter until the problem is gone.

In order to think other thoughts, you need to make room in your mind to do so. Therefore, there is less room or no room to think the hard thoughts. If you can get your mind around that concept, you will have taken the first step.

Next, consider the fact that if you want to resolve the problem, you probably have already done all that you can to do so…at least for today. Therefore, continuing to think about it serves no purpose. It might, as a matter of fact, be considered a waste of time. A waste of valuable time that you could be using to choose to make your day good, joyous, and filled with satisfaction.

The Comfort of Wallowing in the Familiarity of Our Pain

Oh no, you say. That is impossible. I have this huge problem. I have this terrible emotional pain. I can’t be joyous…do you see how your thoughts are already diverging into the territory of I must cling to my pain? Clinging to the pain sometimes, even when 20 years have passed since the painful thing took place, define the individual, and because of that, the individual feels the need to hang on to that definition. Who would they be without this pain? Eckhard Tolle (The Power of Now) refers to this as the pain body, a place where we like to wallow, because we feel so comfortable there, because we have been there so often before. Leaving there, choosing to go elsewhere, is actually harder, at least at the beginning, because it implies stepping out of our comfort zone (see my article on the subject of the comfort zone), out of that place where we feel secure, in order to cross a threshold into new areas of living where we totally change our current status quo. (See also my January 2006 Newsletter – Living in the Now: Use it to Enrich Your Life).

That’s crazy, you say. I would never wallow in my pain, rather than go where I can be free of it. I’m not a masochist. I don’t like pain and worry.

Chris Griscom (The Healing of Emotions) calls this the emotional body, a part of us that is so stuck in the place in which it has experienced the most difficult and painful feelings, that we have an extraordinarily difficult time cleaning it up, in other words, getting out of it. (see also my article Entering the Now Moment by Leaving Unawareness Behind).

Clearly, this pain also causes much stress. Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (Healing Without Freud or Prozac) states that “in terms of mortality, stress poses a more serious risk factor than tobacco”.

Out of the Comfort Zone and into New Territory

OK. So here you have your thoughts of pain and worry on the one hand, and the choice of going elsewhere in your thoughts on the other hand. By taking this choice, you walk into new territory. You walk into a place you have never been before, because if your reactions have sometimes been the ones I have described thus far in this article, then you have possibly never deliberately chosen to go towards more joyous thoughts. So give it a try. What do you have to lose?

Now here comes the tricky part. The new thoughts that you choose must mean something to you. Just thinking about a new car you might like to have, or a movie that you saw last night, will probably not do it. A very useful thing to turn your thoughts towards is something that has meaning in your life, or something that gives your life meaning, which is independent of other people or external circumstances for its fulfillment, i.e., essentially it depends on you. Let’s say, for example, that you are working on changing careers, and that you can imagine that your new career (that’s why you chose it) will give you enormous satisfaction. (See also my article: Finding a Meaning For Your Life). So think about that. Think about how it will feel when you have accomplished that. Imagine it in all its facets. Fill your mind with the joy and satisfaction you will feel when that is a reality. Imagine it as if it already existed. (See also my March 2006 Newsletter – Intentional Focus: Your Happiness, Your Success, and the Law of Attraction).

Another new direction you might take with your thoughts, is to make a short list of everything you are grateful for…the by now famous “Gratitude Journal”, the one element, that according to multiple ivy-league happiness research (see also my October 2006 Newsletter about Happiness), most contributes to long-lasting and higher indices of happiness in individuals. What do you have to be grateful for when you are in a “bad place” in your life? Much. You may have your health. If not, you may have your family. If not, you may have wonderful friends. Your intelligence, your inner beauty, your sense of humor, your fearlessness, your dog, your home, your sparkling eyes, etc. Choosing to think about these things is a sure-fire way of making yourself feel better.

You might also think about the fact that by learning to do this, by learning to choose your thoughts, not just now, but consistently, all throughout your day, every day, your life will begin to have a chance to be filled with joy at will, and not as a consequence of circumstances; that your life will have a chance to be structured in ways that give you meaning and fulfillment because you are working on dealing with those parts of yourself that keep you miserable by choosing thoughts that take you in other directions. Would that not be worth gold? Would that not give you a major degree of freedom from your pain? Would it not be worth your while to just give it a try? And think about this: your happiness, or your state of being content and satisfied would no longer depend on external circumstances, but on your inner decision to choose your thoughts, in order to maintain that inner balance.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Mind is Not the Brain

How do we know that the mind is not the brain?

The brain is a physical organ housed inside our skull. It has weight, dimension, substance.

The mind, however, is not tangible. It is the mind of a mother, for example, that knows the precise moment her son has fallen in a war, and when the telephone call or telegram, or official visit comes some days later to inform her of the facts, she is able to pinpoint the moment of his death.

It is the mind that can tell about an experience during clinical death after the body (and brain) have been resuscitated.

It is the mind that knows seconds before the phone rings, that it is a specific person on the line.

Interestingly, researchers (eg., Dr. Norman Doidge ... The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science) are calling this the new paradigm in neuroscience. Also listen to The Power of Plasticity, an interview with Dr. Doidge on All in the Mind.

Craig Hogan, Ph.D. has written about this as well in his excellent compilation of investigative work done on the subject: Your Eternal Self.

The mind is eternal, the brain is temporal.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Existential Digging

This morning I spoke to a group of 16-year-olds at a local private international school. The topic was Making the Most of Your Life, and those of you who dip into this blog occasionally, will realize that the gist of what I spoke of over the 2 1/2 hour session had to do with:
  • being aware

  • being in a position to know that you can always make choices about how to react to whatever it is that is happening to you, both inside and out (you can't control the outside, but you can choose how to react to the event on the inside)

  • being responsible for the self

  • being conscious of the fact that your state of inner well-being (and happiness) is in your hands

  • finding a meaning for your life

These young adolescents were - on the whole - receptive to the message, and not only that, they showed, in their body positions and the energy they emanated, exactly when something did (and did not) reach them. This kind of energetic barometer (see also my article The Energy Barometer: Make Your Mind Body Connection Work For You) is of enormous importance, not only for someone like myself who wants to guage the energy of an audience (in this case, captive audience), but to guage one's own state of being. I have written much in this blog about energy and I suggest you take a look, because what you learn about yourself because of your energetic frequency, can make a big difference in how you feel at any given moment.

So imagine my delight, given the above, and the clear importance it has in my life and work, when I read another blogger's post about a similar train of thought. Alex Pattakos, writing at the Huffington Post, says this:

"For now, I would like to introduce you to a process that I call "existential digging." I have found this procedure to be especially helpful as both a catalyst and guide for putting the principle, Detect the Meaning of Life's Moments, into everyday practice. Simply put, for every situation or life experience, I would like you to do some "existential digging" by reflecting upon and making note of your responses to the following four questions:

  1. How did you respond to the situation or life experience?

  2. How did you feel about the situation or life experience?

  3. What did you learn from the situation or life experience?

  4. How did you grow from the situation or life experience?"

Please read the entire article. It is excellent.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do You Dance?

When do you dance?

I'm talking about dancing in your life, not at night at a club.

Dancing in your life has to do with joy, with exuberance, with letting go, with letting your hair down, with feeling free to be you and exhilarate in the unrepressed delight of being you.

Dancing in your life has to do with knowing that life can be as good as you allow it to be, despite your outer circumstances.

Dancing in your life has to do with the thrill of knowing you have choices, as long as you choose to have choices at least on an inner level, even though externally your choices may be very limited.

Dancing in your life has to do with being conscious and aware.

Dancing in your life has to do with doing your joyful utmost to pursue your dreams because your dreams give your life meaning.

Dancing in your life has to do with surrounding yourself with joy, love, and peace, even though these are only available on an inner level.

Dancing in your life has to do with knowing that you will not die without having danced to the music that is inside of you.

Have you danced lately?

Photo: Bora Bora

Monday, September 22, 2008

Switching On to Better Understand ADHD

Stated succinctly, ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder refers to problems with attention, with a need for a complicated and complex motor involvement that grabs the attention.

Our Culture

Our culture helps to bring out the disorder due to the type of frantic activity we seem to have more and more of such as television, continual distraction, noise, and our general lifestyle.

Biological Causes

John Ratey, M.D. was recently interviewed on one of the websites I highly recommend called Brain Science Podcast about this very controversial subject. He states that there are biological causes of ADHD and that they are genetically transmitted, that ADHD is a syndrome passed on by families and that if a parent has it, there is a 30% higher likelihood that the child will get it too.

ADHD & Addiction & the Reward Network

There is a strong relationship between ADHD and addiction due to a similarity in what is called the reward network or the addiction network in the brain, where a dopamine track runs from one end of the limbic system to the other. This has a pleasure button or reward center that is highly involved with dopamine.

People with ADHD or addiction problems have trouble - because they don't have enough motivation to sustain their attention in situations which are not highly charged, so they are seeking high intensity activity or situations.

With ADHD that is not treated in adolescence, at least twice as many individuals are seen that are prone to addiction problems as with those who were treated in adolescence.

This reward network is the reason there is such a high addiction rate in kids with ADHD for video games because these games offer a highly charged environment.

Concentrating on Video Games...and French Verbs

Other people tend to say in an almost moralizing fashion that these kids can concentrate (their concentration in video games is proof of the pudding) if they want to enough, and while it is true that they can, it is only true if they have a support structure of awareness of people who understand their brain and know how to help them manage it.

It is very different sitting in front of a creative and stimulating environment such as a video game as opposed to sitting in school learning French verbs. In the stimulating environment their is personal involvement and there tends to be life or death role playing. As Dr. Ratey puts it, when we are in survival mode, we tend to do very well with our attention, and people diagnosed with ADHD generally do very well in crisis situations. And of course, conjugating French verbs can not compete with that.

Our school environment is a sort of anti-evolution, as it is not geared to movement, survival, and so on, unless we make a game of what we need to do for school.

Reward Deficiency Syndrome

Ratey states that it has been suggested that ADHD should be re-named to something that is less judgmental such as the Reward Deficiency Syndrome which is a term that has already been used with some types of addiction that recognize a genedtic difference that codes for less dopamine-2 receptors so these individuals tend to search for high stimulation situations.

Hunter-Gatherers & ADHD

Interestingly, Ratey suggests that in hunting and gathering societies, the individuals with ADHD were probably the hunters. Their craving for survival stimulation probably made them the leaders.

Memory in ADHD

A key fact is that persons with ADHD have problems with their short-term, or working memory, partly because, as Ratey puts it, their frontal cortex is sleepy, it has to be jazzed all the time. That area of the brain is not lit up enough for school type activity, but jazzed when it needs to remember facts about a video game that puts the player into a creative environment or survival mode.

Procrastination

Another key problem is procrastination, mainly because people with ADHD absolutely forget what they are supposed to be doing. Even their motivation may be forgotten.

Structure

Structure is anathema to people with ADHD, they are allergic to it, they rebel against it, and yet they absolutely know that they need it to manage their lives and goals, and to remind them to do whatever is necessary to achieve their goals.

Some of the solutions for this lack of structure have to do with
  • parents helping their children learn how to plan
  • helping them talk it out
  • helping to train them to do things a certain way that is personally useful in order that the child learns to develop these resources (e.g. keeping their keys in the same place every day)

Anger & Impulsivity

Anger and impulsivity are major problems with ADHD as the survival switch is turned on too quickly resulting in uncontrollable rage, causing the individual to see the situation as a survival problem, rather than simply a problem one has to effectively deal with.

Hence, the energy goes into the response of what one sees a a threat as opposed to resolving the problem.

Some Solutions Beyond Medication
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Learning about choices
  • Learning about awareness

To listen to the entire interview, click here

Practice Makes Perfect, But Watching Also Improves Our Skills

We all know that the more you put something into practice, the more likely it is that you will be able to excel at it.

Now, as reported in Science Daily, researchers have determined that watching another person do something also improves your own ability at it.

"[...] people can acquire motor skills through the "seeing" as well as the "doing" form of learning."

In this study researchers at Dartmouth "were surprised by the remarkable similarity in brain activation when [...] research participants observed dance sequences that were actively or passively experienced."

"This research contributes to a growing body of study about how people learn and how best to help people with brain injuries." read entire article

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Radio Program October 2008

Once a month I will be posting the current list of topics for my weekly radio show.


This is what the October 2008 schedule looks like:

Oct. 1 Interview 1: Eric Rolf: Soul Medicine (listen to this audio clip by clicking here and scrolling down to the Interview Section)
Oct. 8 Why Does My Partner Treat Me Like This?
Oct. 15 Empowering Our Children
Oct. 22 Spiritual Partnership
Oct. 29 Talking About Your Victories


NEW: ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEWS

Starting in October 2008 a new section will be added to the topic areas that this website has addressed in the past. Once or twice a month I will be conducting interviews with key international figures in the fields of nutrition, business, healing, and science. They will be listed under Interviews on the Radio Page and uploaded to the website as the studio makes the respective audio clips available to me.

Here is a partial list of some upcoming shows (check scheduling each month for exact dates):

AUDIO ARCHIVES 2004 - 2008

Click here for radio show archives from 2004-2008 (not all are up, but you'll find more than 125 different radio shows!).

The show airs weekly on Wednesdays from 11 – 12 noon CEDT (Central European Daylight Time) which is 6 hours ahead of New York, one hour ahead of London, the same time as Paris or Berlin (except at the end of October and March, where there tends to be a week of confusion, as not all countries change to daylight saving and back, and those that do, don't always do so on the same day).

See below for equivalent times in other locations.

Ways To Listen

1) LIVE on your radio dial OCI FM 101.6 (Costa del Sol) or FM 94.6 (Costa Blanca)
2) LIVE on the web Onda Cero (Once there, click on “Internacional” on upper left)
3) Listen to over 125 archived audio files on my website

Equivalent Times in Other Locations: (Locally: CEDT: Central European Daylight Time)

or go to http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html to convert from your time zone (some of these times may not be correct at certain times of the year):

11 pm – 12 midnight: Honolulu (locally Tuesday evening)
5-6 am: New York City, Miami, Montreal, Toronto, Nassau, Santo Domingo, Barbados
6-7 am: Rio de Janeiro
9-10 am: Reykjavik, Casablanca
10-11 am: London, Lagos
11-12 noon: (LOCAL) Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, Tripoli, Harare, Cape Town
12-1 pm: Bucharest, Riga, Istanbul, Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Addis Ababa, Nairobi
12:30-1:30 pm: Tehran
1-2 pm: Moscow, Dubai, Baghdad, Seychelles
2-3 pm: Islamabad
2:30-3:30 pm: New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai
4-5 pm: Hanoi, Bangkok
5-6 pm: Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila, Bali, Taipei, Perth
6-7 pm: Tokyo, Seoul
7-8 pm: Sydney
9-10 pm: Auckland, Fiji Islands

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Study Investigates Out-of-Body Experiences by Clinically Dead

Just as we are only truly able to appreciate the design and beauty of a crop circle (see photo) from above, so do the investigators of a study to be carried out on heart patients who are resuscitated, intend to place pictures throughout the ER and other care rooms in a hospital, in such a way that they can only be viewed from above.

In other words, in order to see the pictures, you would need to be near the ceiling. Hence, so believe the researchers, if you can describe the pictures after having been resuscitated, it means you were "alive" and out-of-body during the process of resuscitation from clinical death.

The Independent recently published an article about a study to be carried out by a "coalition of British and US scientists". They have "launched an experiment to study more than 1,500 heart attack patients over the next three years to see if people with no heartbeat and brain activity can have genuine "out-of-body" experiences. "

[...]

"About 25 centres in the US and Britain, including Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, University Hospital in Birmingham and the Morriston Hospital in Swansea, will take part in the experiment. Over the next three years about 15,000 patients will be brought to these hospitals suffering from cardiac arrest. Around 1,500 are likely to be resuscitated and hundreds will probably claim they had some sort of out-of-body experience when they were clinically dead."

read entire article

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Greatest Gift For the World is a Healthy You


The more vibrant you are, the happier you are, the more conscious and aware you are, the more responsibility you take for your own inner and outer well-being - the healthier you are.

And the healthier you are, the more you are able to give the world a gift: a gift of this higher energetic frequency, a gift of all that you emanate, a gift of your innate joyfulness ... innate, because you have made it so, and not because you were born this way.

Can you imagine the ripple effects of all of this?

And then think of it in geometric progression: the ripple effects of your presence will affect the people whose lives you touch. As they in turn, should they choose to emulate your energetic frequency because they can feel how great it is, also create ripple effects in their lives, affecting the people whose lives they touch, the potential for more and more people to create ripple effects grows exponentially.

If only you will work on yourself to heal and change yourself, you can have the potential to be the catalyst for change in the lives of many others. And that will change our world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Being With Things the Way They Are

Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, addresses our wholeness and our awareness in this video with regards to being able to be with things the way they are instead of needing them to be another way. Chris Griscom refers to that concept by insisting that where there is no resistance there is no pain.

Kabat-Zinn refers to mindfulness being the art of "falling awake", of re-introducing us to ourselves, and that mindfulness cultivates intimacy with the core of our own being. He also says that mindfulness trains us to see the most fundamental in our lives, rather than the most urgent.

He speaks of meditation and mindfulness really being the cultivation of attention, in order to sustain our awareness of one thing or another, such as some of the following:
  • eating
  • seeing
  • hearing

This is totally connected to Tolle's concept of the now.

Watch this 10 minute video with Jon Kabat-Zinn:


If you wish to see the entire talk (just under one hour), view it here:


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Where Are Your Habits Leading You?

We all have habits. We tend to think of them as being things like biting our nails or twisting a curl of our hair around a finger while we sit and think, or swinging a leg back and forth as we speak on the phone, and so on.

But there are many other habits, and as long as you remain blind to them, you have much less of a chance of doing something about them in order to improve your life.

Some of those habits that you may not think of as habits are (and there are many others):
  • filling in a silence with unnecessary words just to fill it in
  • telling yourself you don't have time to exercise because you have so much work to do
  • smoking when you don't really want the cigarette
  • drinking a bit too much on the weekends, because that is what you do
  • not being observant as you walk down the street, with the resultant unawareness of the beauty around you
  • complaining
  • judging
  • always wanting more rather than finding joy in what you have
  • telling yourself that the reason you fly off the handle is because "I'm like that and I can't change anything about that"

All of these (and many other examples I am certain you can come up with yourself) are habits, as well as erroneous belief systems, laziness, unawareness, etc., but because we can also classify them as habits, it may mean that it will be easier for you to conceptualize changing them

What a difference to your life if you only change the one that makes you aware of the beauty around you on a daily basis ... beauty that you are determined to find, no matter where you are, no matter what the season and no matter what the weather ... this is another step towards freedom, and you can go there simply by choosing to do so and then begin by consciously choosing to take a small step in that direction every day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Money Does Make the ... Marriage Go Round

Recently the New York Times published a need-to-read article for anyone contemplating marriage, or even moving in together.

The Key to Wedded Bliss? Money Matters

"Marrying a person who shares your attitudes about money might just be the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, when it comes to finances, your marriage is likely to be your most valuable asset — or your largest liability.

Marrying for love is a relatively recent phenomenon. For centuries, marriages were arranged affairs, aligning families for economic or political purposes or simply pooling the resources of those scraping by.

Today, while most of us marry for romantic reasons, marriage at its core is still a financial union. So much of what we want — or don’t want — out of life boils down to dollars and cents, whether it’s how hard we choose to work, how much we consume or how much we save. For some people, it’s working 80-hour weeks to finance a third home and country club membership; for others, it means cutting back on office hours to spend more time with the family."

In a later part of the article a number of guidelines are set down for couples contemplating marriage:

TALK AND SHARE GOALS

Before walking down the aisle, couples should have a talk about their financial health and goals. They should ask each other tough questions: Do we want children? When? Who will care for them? Will they go to public or private school? What kind of life do we want? When will we retire?

“In my ideal plan for couples, they would have a meeting every week on their finances,” said Karen Altfest, a financial planner who runs the New York firm L. J. Altfest & Company, with her husband, Lewis. “That way, they are in sync with each other’s goals.”

Other excellent suggestions this eye-opening article mentions are (each with detailed explanations):
  • RUN A HOME LIKE A BUSINESS

  • BE SUPPORTIVE OF CAREERS

  • ENJOY, BUT WITHIN REASON

  • USE A MEDIATOR

  • MAINTAIN SOME INDEPENDENCE

  • INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE
Read the entire article

Photo: Blue Lagoon, Oludeniz Beach, Fethiye, Turkey

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dream Symbols 24: Remembering Your Dreams

There are some fundamental steps to be followed in order to remember your dreams. When I taught this subject to undergrads many often told me that they had great difficulty in remembering their dreams. Here is what I recommended:

Making An Effort To Give Your Dreams Importance Prior To Sleep

Decide you are interested in dreams, but ‘show” yourself that you are serious about it by actually getting a notebook destined precisely for that purpose, and putting it on a permanent spot on your bedside table, along with a pen or pencil (or, if you prefer to record, get that equipment out and ready)

Imagine yourself remembering and writing down your dreams
  • Imagine yourself experiencing the “aha” of insight (the "aha" that would come to you once you have understood the meaning of the dream)
  • Do the above steps just before falling asleep, but also during the day
  • Read books about dreams and dreaming and symbolism
  • Share dreams with others (have a socially and emotionally supportive context i.e. take a dream class, join a dream group, do therapy, etc.)
  • Focus on the desire to remember dreams as your last intentional act before falling asleep
  • Focus also on the issues/situations you would like to dream about (dream incubation)
  • Date your notebook/journal/paper in advance

Preparation of Tools for Dream Collection & Recollection

  • Keep your tools (paper, pen, tape recorder, flashlight, etc.) for recording initial dream memories at your bedside
  • When you wake up try to keep your eyes closed in order to recreate as much as possible of the dream before actually writing it down
  • Also, move as little as possible in the morning before getting up in order to keep as many dream memories intact, or if you have already moved, try getting back into the position you were in just upon waking to see if that will help you recall your dreams
  • Start by remembering what it was you were dreaming about just before you woke up and then work your way back through the dream, rather than trying to think of the entire dream all at once. After you have worked your way back, you can rework it forward, in order to have it in sequence. Don’t forget that this process just takes a few minutes or often just seconds

Recording Your Dreams

  • Draw sketches of the visual memories of the dream if you are so inclined and/or moved
  • Remember it is crucial to record the dream experience in some fashion as soon as you remember it, since even with vivid memories, these will soon fade unless notes are made immediately
  • Even if you only remember a small dream fragment, record it as well – even if this is only a feeling – since this may help you remember more on subsequent nights. Further, the fragment may help you recall greater portions of the dream, or even other dreams
  • Record your feelings after you wake up since even if a dream was apparently good, if you have dubious or negative feelings about it, perhaps something about the dream has eluded you
  • Make sure you mention colors in your dream recording, especially if these appeared to be of importance in the dream
  • Transcribe your dreams the next day, otherwise you may forget what a lot of your nighttime scribbling meant, and also you may find that too many dreams start accumulating, and then of course, it will become too much of a chore to do

Previous posts in this series are:

You may also be interested in viewing some of the recommended dream books and books on symbolism on my website, my radio shows on the topic, as well as some of the dream links on my links page.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Raw Food Myths Debunked

An interesting take on raw food myths was presented on Jim Carey's blog some months ago. Jim writes about raw food and health, I receive his newsletter, and when I saw that he had made this video to talk about the most common raw food myths, I had a look and am very pleased I did. Check it out for yourself.



Should you have any difficulty with the video on my blog, please click here to view it at the original website.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Schools Need To Get Aboard The Positive Thinking Bus

Something I have been fighting for on a very small, local level for years, is now beginning to take shape on a much larger level thanks to some big names in positive psychology. According to Dr. Martin Seligman lessons in happiness should be taught at schools to try to improve young people's well-being.

The Guardian published this article today:

Call for happiness lessons as teenage depression increases

Speaking at a conference in London yesterday, Seligman said a $2.8m (£1.6m), three-year study in the United States found that children who had been taught "positive psychology" performed better in class. Teachers also reported these young people had higher social skills and were more engaged.

"The evidence is that wellbeing is synergistic with traditional learning: people who are in positive states learn better," he told the conference, organised by the Young Foundation and its local wellbeing project.

Seligman's ideas of "positive education" are now being tested in schools in Manchester, south Tyneside and Hertfordshire. Pupils are being taught how to handle day-to-day stress, assertiveness, decision-making and how to change negative thoughts.

He told the audience of social care workers, local authority staff, educationalists and exclusion specialists the pupils have a significantly lower rate of conduct disorder, anxiety and depression.

Irene Lucas, the chief executive of South Tyneside council, said the wellbeing project has had such a positive impact on young people, it was as though "pixie dust and magic" had been sprinkled on an area where over half of the residents live in wards which rank in the country's most deprived 25%. Read more

You can also listen to my radio show about this topic in the Child and Life Development Section, called Ten Steps to Freedom: New Education.

Our children need to be given the new tools that are available out there, even if we, as parents, are not yet fully conversant with them. Just because your parents didn't give you vitamins when you were growing up, doesn't mean that you don't give them to your own children, does it? This is the same ... let's step up to the plate and give our children what is now becoming more and more clear, and what can make their lives so much more free and unlimited than ours, and much more quickly. Give them this gift. Urge your children's schools to adopt measures of this type.

Do it for your children's future, and do it for the future of the world.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Who Needs Your Approval?

You may have noticed there are several people in your life who need your approval. Perhaps one of your children. Perhaps your spouse. Perhaps a person who works for you.

And you also know that when you withhold your approval, they go down ... maybe only slightly, but they go down on differing levels: perhaps their self esteem, their self-confidence, their courage to take on risks, their motivation, their autonomy and independence, or their energy, their sense of well-being, and so on.

The question is: knowing what effect the withholding of your approval has on them, what do you do?

The answer to this question contains much interesting information for you about you. It speaks of your character, but it also speaks of your level of self-understanding. It says much about your ethics, but it also says much about your level of enlightenment

  • do you give the approval? In this case we might say you are generous with praise, and that you care about the feelings of the other person

  • do you withhold the approval? In this case we might say you like the feeling of power it gives you to withhold it and see the reaction your behavior (or lack of it) has on the other person

  • do you give some and withhold some, depending on what you want the other person to do? In this case we might say that you are also aware of the power this gives you over the other person, but now we could add that you enjoy manipulating the other person depending on your whims. While they behave the way you want them to, you will give them your approval, and when they do not, you withhold it until they go back to the behavior you want of them
  • do you withhold some even when the other person is doing what you want them to do? In this case we might say that you not only are aware of the power this gives you over the other, and that you not only enjoy manipulating the other in order to get what you want, but that you also deny them your approval even when they have done what you want, in order to keep them on their toes in their endless efforts to gain your approval

  • are you aware of all of the above and hence decide to address the topic with the other person? Tell them what they are doing to themselves by needing your approval? In this case we might say that you desire to show this other person how to find the road to freedom because you are already well on it

Monday, September 8, 2008

Are You Being Responsible --- About the Joy in Your Life?

We know we are meant to be responsible about all those things that a decent sense of morality and a firm Puritan work ethic would demand of us.

But what about being responsible for the joy in our lives?

How so, you ask. How can I be responsible for the joy in my life if my partner or spouse / parent / child / colleague / boss / friend, etc. does what they do and makes my life difficult / miserable / impossible / painful / exasperating, etc.?

Simple.

By deciding that you will be in charge of the joy in your life. By deciding at each moment - no matter what it contains - that you will seek joy, or at least, that you will seek the road that allows you to remain in a state of equanimity, which will - eventually - return you to joy. If you furthermore receive joyful moments thanks to some of those others who populate your life, wonderful! But if you don't, and if you decide to be in charge of the joy in your life, you will have joy whether you receive it from others or not.

Also see related articles on these topics:

Abraham: Beating A Drum That Doesn't Feel Good To You

Some of the quotations from Abraham just can't be beat for their lucidity about a subject we find so difficult to implement in our lives ... what we feel, think, say, and do now creates the reality that will be our mid- to long-term future.

He says:

"You cannot continue to beat the drum of things that don't feel good when you beat them - without filling your future experience full of things that don't feel good. At some point, there's going to be a tipping point that's going to become a manifestation."

Abraham

Friday, September 5, 2008

Are You Living the Life You Want to Live?

When our birthdays roll around and we take a look at the past year of our lives, we often have cause to ponder. Another year come and gone. Resolutions made? Kept? Questions asked in the process. And isn’t one of the most frequent questions that line from the old song: Is this all there is?

Is This All There Is?

Let’s look at that for a moment…”is this all there is?”…if this is all there is, then that would depend on something, right? In other words, the fact that this is all there is would have to have a reason. Maybe your family was poor and couldn’t afford to give you an Ivy League education, maybe your mother was bi-polar and your early environment set you up for failure, or maybe your father had cancer and spent five years of your early childhood dying a painful death, or maybe you married a loser, or maybe you made a bad business decision and after that everything went down the tube, or maybe your child is a drug addict, or maybe you had dreams of being a ballerina, but only made it to high school gym teacher because you broke your ankle when you were 14 in such a way that prevented you from ever becoming a first-rate dancer.

Whose Fault Is It?

So what we’re saying here is that there is always something or someone to blame. Right? Wrong. (See also my article The “Why Did This Happen To Me Syndrome?”). Living the life you want to live depends much more on your inner attitude to all the things that happen to you in life, than on the actual things that happen.

Let’s repeat that. If you want to live a certain way and are not living that way yet, the results you currently have are much more the product of how you constantly react to all the things that do happen, than the fault of any external event that may influence your life course.

What does that mean?

Attitude

It literally means that you have the power to influence outcomes in your life by your inner attitude to your life and everything that goes on in it. Hocus pocus, you say. Attitude, I say. Think of the girl who goes to the dance confident of herself, happy to be going, and convinced that she will have a good time. Even if she is not nearly the prettiest girl there, she will shine, and stand out, simply because of her inner attitude. We’ve all been in a social situation and scratched our heads mentally, asking ourselves how on earth it is that someone who really doesn’t look very special, and may not necessarily be wearing the most fashionable clothes, or driving the most luxurious car, or be the most intelligent or interesting person there, is nevertheless the most popular or sought-out person there. Now think of the girl who goes to the party thinking her dress or her hair is all wrong, and that surely no one will ask her to dance. Guess where she will be as the confident girl sails by in dance after dance? Holding up the wall, naturally. Attitude.

Let’s use another example. Job interviews. Does the person with the best curriculum and the highest grades always get the job? Not necessarily. Attitude plays a large role.

Faith

Attitude contains within itself a large grain of faith. It’s not religious faith, but it’s a kissing cousin, because it involves a kind of blind belief akin to followers of religious orientations. In this case, however, it’s faith in oneself. Faith in the rightness of what one is doing. Faith in the ultimate outcome. And it’s often blind faith because whatever it is one is seeking to do, wishing to accomplish, or trying to figure out how to manifest in one’s life, has never yet actually happened.

Obviously there are many things that an individual can do in order to move the process forward. You can get an education in a specific field, you can train for a specific activity, you can hone your character, you can attempt to meet influential people who may help you move forward, etc. However, much of the above is at best only partially useful without the right attitude. A winning attitude, you might say, of which you are convinced. Quite a bit different from the attitude some people take of trying to convince others of the fact that they have this inner positive attitude.

Getting There

All right, already, I hear you saying. Clue me in on this winning attitude, on this inner positive way of seeing life…how do I acquire it? Not only do I not have such an attitude, but I really don’t much believe in myself. Admittedly, my office attracts many clients whose self confidence and sense of self worth is not the best. But read on, it is not an impossible quest.

You did say you‘re not living the life you want to live, right? And you didn’t think it was all just a question of snapping your fingers, right? But it’s truly not very much harder. (See also my March 2006 Newsletter: Intentional Focus).

Again, the main ingredient here is attitude. Impossible, you say? The content of this article is just ridiculous? Well, there you go: attitude. Let’s give it a try, you say? Let’s read on and see what this writer has to say. Notice that if that is your decision, it also says something about your attitude.

Choosing to Decide That You Have a Choice

So how do you go from living a life you don’t want to live, to living one you do want to live? How do you begin to believe in yourself if you don’t? How do you stop having agonizing relationships or downbeat jobs? One of the books I recommended in my 2006 newsletters was William Glasser’s Choice Theory. Dr. Glasser and I concur about many of the topics I have addressed over the past 18 months for those of you following these articles in my newsletters or on my weekly radio show, in particular, with the question of choice (see also my article Making Choices). If you begin to open yourself to the possibility that every thought, feeling, action, and reaction that you have is not only your responsibility but also your choice, you begin to understand the magnitude of the sentence that if you are not living the life you want to live, it is also your choice – no matter what the conditions of your upbringing, your circumstances, your partner, or your health are – that your life is not as you would wish it to be.

Whew. C.G. Jung put it this way: Free will is the ability to do gladly that which I must do.

Choice and Focus

So what can you do right now, today, at this very moment to begin to change your life and bring it more into alignment with that which you would like to see in your life? Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Focus on where you want to go, not on where you think you might go if things don’t work out well. Focus on the best possible outcome, even if you don’t yet know how to get from here to there. Focus on what quickens your breath, focus on what makes your blood pound, focus on what sets your heart hammering when you think about it, but don’t focus on your fears about how it all might not work out. When your mind goes into the space where you find yourself thinking about how it might not work, or what terrible thing will happen if you don’t achieve this or get that by the end of the month, or in five months or ten years or by the time you’re 25, or 40, or 72, recognize where your mind is taking you, and begin to exercise a totally new muscle that allows you to choose the thoughts you have at all times. As soon as you notice that your thoughts are going in directions that vary with your purpose, focus, and attitude, choose to change the direction of those thoughts. It is absolutely your choice to focus differently. In making that choice, changes will begin to happen in your life.

Remember that whatever you focus on initially might need some adjustment. A sculptor may see a vision of his finished work of art in his mind’s eye, but as he begins to prepare the marble and work on it, due to the vein in the material, or due, perhaps, to changes that have taken place in the sculptor’s mind, as he grows and matures, the final version may vary slightly or a lot from the initial vision. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you also learn to adjust as you go along, always remembering that the adjustment must be aligned with your purpose, positive focus, and attitude.

Your life is a reflection of your inner being, your thoughts and feelings, and above all, of the choices you make on a moment-by-moment basis. Learn this, use it, see how these choices begin making first small, and then larger differences in your life, and begin to live the life you want to live. It is never too late to start.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Disempower Pain From Your Past

There are many articles that address the issue of pain in one's past, and that it needs to be disempowered. I imagine we probably all agree on that.

Many, however, misunderstand this, and believe that it means that past pain, or, the memories of the past pain, need to be erased, forgotten, done away with, in order for the pain to be disempowered.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter how much I insist that you erase those memories, or that you forget them, or that you push them somewhere very far away from your conscious attention, they continue to be there.

Do you forget something just because you want to? Erase it just because you feel your life would be better if it were no longer in your memories? It doesn't work that way, does it?

So here's what I (and others) recommend: keep the memories. They will always be there. But disempower them by taking away the energetic charge you get when you think about them. That is something you can do simply by deciding to do it.

Let's say you begin to think about something painful from the past ... your parents were emotionally abusive to you and favored your younger sibling. That is a fact. That can not be changed. What can be changed is what you think and cause yourself to feel as you remember.

So you begin to have the painful feelings as you remember, and you can take these steps:

  • remember to be aware, so that when the feelings come, you are in a position to say to yourself:
  • this is a memory
  • it hurt when it happened
  • it has hurt dozens, or even hundreds of times since then, whenever I think of it
  • since having the memory always gives me the same results (pain), I could potentially choose to do something different this time
  • I could choose to do something physical (get oxygen into my system to raise the serotonin levels in me and hence feel a bit better)
  • or I could choose (instead of going into the pain) to think of five things for which I am grateful (gratitude causes us to come to the present, to the NOW more readily and easily than any other practice. If we are in the present, we aren't thinking about the pain from the past).
  • as I begin to make new choices, and as I begin to realize that I may not feel like jumping up and down for joy, but I do feel much better than I normally do when I think about that memory, I begin to also realize that the way I feel about that memory appears to be in my hands. In other words, I can choose how to feel.

So: don't deny the memories, but begin to disempower the pain by making new choices each time by remaining aware so that you are actually in a position to be able to make those choices.

Related Articles:

Photo: Croatia

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Amazing Symbolism Inherent In My Ficus Trees

Early last year I blogged about the symbolism of the outer aspects of a person's life with regards to what was going on in the inner life, and told the story of some ficus trees I have. Feng Shui Order, Replanted Ficus Trees, & Bees.

Those trees have developed and thrived, but not as much as I would have expected. In particular one of them remained somewhat stunted, both in exuberance of leaf growth and in aspect of the leaves it actually had.

Again, I was looking for (and found) parallels in my own life, and decided I had to do something about the tree. You are going to laugh, but I realized I had planted a small decorative plant in the area around the trunk (in the large pot in which the tree sits), and it came to me that perhaps that plant, small as it was, might be comandeering all the life-giving water that the ficus needed for it to flourish (and I found parallels in my own life).

I uprooted this small plant, and lo and behold saw that it had enormous water-absorbing roots. They were very healthy. In a sense these roots were parasites, leaching the very life blood from the ficus roots. Again, I looked to parallels in my own life (and found them).

So I decided to leave the ficus tree on its own, no more small decorative, but vampire-like plants to adorn it, I added some fertilizer, some more soil, and I begin to water with devotion. At first those leaves that it had that were lush all fell off. I decided perhaps the fertilizer had been too much of a good thing (again, I found parallels), but what was done, was done, so I waited out the process (more parallels).

When no leaves were left at all, and as I continued to water with a passion, new tender buds started appearing with a passion (again, parallels), they grew with astounding speed (more parallels), and they increased in number, also with astounding speed.

And so, on symbolic levels, things were/are happening inside of me. I tell you this story to point out that there is much on the outer level that gives us insight into the inner one as long as we are willing to look for it and then to truly see it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Estranged Mothers

A vivacious 36-year-old divorced mother of three is estranged from her eldest son who is 18 (yes, she was 18 when she had him). She stems from a middle class background: her own family was lower middle class, as was her husband's, but due to his career as a physician they moved well through middle class into upper middle class over the course of their 18 year marriage.

Her estrangement from her son is not violent or ugly. It simply is. They have little to talk about. When they do talk, there is little agreement about anything. She feels he is cold, dismissive, and rejecting of her. When she speaks of him, her mouth works itself into an almost petulant arrangement, something I have not seen in her when she speaks of other, also very difficult matters. This tells me that part of the problem is that it is the child in her that is still reacting to her own child (the son), rather than her adult part reacting to him. This is potentially a major part of the problem. I don't know what the son feels, as I have only heard her side of the story.

What I do know is this: if she wants to re-establish a relationship with him, she will have to be the driving force behind the attempt. She will need to take the bull by the horns and let him know how important he is to her. She will need to let him know that their relationship - hers with him - is paramount and weighs in more heavily than any hurt or disagreement that may exist between the two - at least from her point of view. She will need to wear down his defenses (probably erected when he was still a little boy and she was not yet emotionally and psychologically able to be an adult mother for him), in order that he see through the hurt he probably feels to the parent that truly does love and care for him.

But as I say: this is probably only going to happen if she intends it. If she takes the responsibility for making it happen. And especially if she can overcome the child in herself that still reacts to him as though he had been an adult all along rather than her child. Overcoming that child in herself implies - among other things - moving into consciousness.

I very much hope she will realize that love comes before all else. Before being right and before being hurt. It is the road back to her son.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Past Trauma & Metaphysical Symbolism of Illness

The fact that our body is generally sending us a message when it gets ill about something that goes way beyond the physical body is no longer a thought that causes most people to go into paroxysms of disbelief.

PNI (psychoneuroimmunology) or the study of the body-mind connection, is a subject I've written about in the past, but while it is closely connected to today's topic, this - past trauma and metaphysical symbolism of illness - goes further. Understanding how past trauma may have brought about a present illness, and understanding the metaphysical symbolism of an illness, may well help you find your way through it to healing, health, long life, and above all, conscious growth.

With this in mind, my objective today is to equip you with several books that address the subject. This is not a definitive list. There are many others. But if I were ill at this time, these are the ones I would keep at arm's reach. Each is different, but all are complementary to each other.