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Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Do Yoda Proud: Meditation 101
Topic: meditation
Meditation refers to a state where your body and mind are
consciously relaxed and focused. Practitioners of this art
report increased awareness, focus, and concentration, as
well as a more positive outlook in life.

Meditation is most commonly associated with monks, mystics
and other spiritual disciplines. However, you don't have
to be a monk or mystic to enjoy its benefits. And you
don't even have to be in a special place to practice it.
You could even try it in your own living room!

Although there are many different approaches to meditation,
the fundamental principles remain the same. The most
important among these principles is that of removing
obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts and
fantasies, and calming the mind with a deep sense of focus.
This clears the mind of debris and prepares it for a
higher quality of activity.

The negative thoughts you have – those of noisy neighbors,
bossy officemates, that parking ticket you got, and
unwanted spam – are said to contribute to the `polluting'
of the mind, and shutting them out it allows for the
`cleansing' of the mind so that it may focus on deeper,
more meaningful thoughts.

Some practitioners even shut out all sensory input – no
sights, no sounds, and nothing to touch – and try to detach
themselves from the commotion around them. You may now
focus on a deep, profound thought if this is your goal. It
may seem deafening at first, since we are all too
accustomed to constantly hearing and seeing things, but as
you continue this exercise you will find yourself becoming
more aware of everything around you.

If you find the meditating positions you see on television
threatening – those with impossibly arched backs, and
painful-looking contortions – you need not worry. The
principle here is to be in a comfortable position conducive
to concentration. This may be while sitting cross-legged,
standing, lying down, and even walking.

If the position allows you to relax and focus, then that
would be a good starting point. While sitting or standing,
the back should be straight, but not tense or tight. In
other positions, the only no-no is slouching and falling

Loose, comfortable clothes help a lot in the process since
tight fitting clothes have a tendency to choke you up and
make you feel tense.

The place you perform meditation should have a soothing
atmosphere. It may be in your living room, or bedroom, or
any place that you feel comfortable in. You might want an
exercise mat if you plan to take on the more challenging
positions (if you feel more focused doing so, and if the
contortionist in you is screaming for release). You may
want to have the place arranged so that it is soothing to
your senses.

Silence helps most people relax and meditate, so you may
want a quiet, isolated area far from the ringing of the
phone or the humming of the washing machine. Pleasing
scents also help in that regard, so stocking up on aromatic
candles isn't such a bad idea either.

The monks you see on television making those monotonous
sounds are actually performing their mantra. This, in
simple terms, is a short creed, a simple sound which, for
these practitioners, holds a mystic value.

You do not need to perform such; however, it would pay to
note that focusing on repeated actions such as breathing,
and humming help the practitioner enter a higher state of

The principle here is focus. You could also try focusing
on a certain object or thought, or even, while keeping your
eyes open, focus on a single sight.

One sample routine would be to – while in a meditative
state – silently name every part of you body and focusing
your consciousness on that part. While doing this you
should be aware of any tension on any part of your body.
Mentally visualize releasing this tension. It works

In all, meditation is a relatively risk-free practice and
its benefits are well worth the effort (or non-effort –
remember we're relaxing).

Studies have shown that meditation does bring about
beneficial physiologic effects to the body. And there has
been a growing consensus in the medical community to
further study the effects of such. So in the near future,
who knows, that mystical, esoteric thing we call meditation
might become a science itself!

About the Author:

Tim Maher is interested in personal development in all its
facets and has read many books on this topic. It is an
interest that is fed and nurtured by listening to audio
books and seminars when possible. To assist your own
personal growth journey get your audio resources at ==>

Posted by forestwonderer at 9:26 AM EDT
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
Medicine for the Soul - Plant Spirit Shamans of the Amazon Rainforest
Topic: Book Review
by Howard G. Charing

'Whether the plant is to heal the body or the spirit or whether it is part of an apprenticeship, what makes it work is your good intention towards the plant. They are beings, which have their own forms or they can be like human beings with faces and bodies. When the spirit accepts the person, and the person has the will, the spirit grants them energy. The path to knowledge opens, and the healing takes place'

Guillermo Arevalo - Shipibo Maestro

In the Amazonian tradition working with planta maestras (teacher plants) is known as the Shaman's Diet. The working can be seen as a conscious body of actions to incorporate the plant spirit into one's own spirit. From this incorporation or union, the plant spirit informs and teaches the maestro or apprentice. They learn the magical chants (icaros) which invoke the power of the plant, how to use the plant for healing purposes, and how to strengthen the dieter both psychologically and physically. The purpose of the diet is to prepare the body and nervous system for the powerful knowledge and expansion of consciousness given by teacher plants.

It offers a significant challenge for the rational Western mind to come to terms with the teacher plants, and a leap of imagination is required to incorporate the 'other' consciousness, or spirit of the plant.

We also have a 'linguistic' limitation (as an analogue the Inuit have over fifty distinct words for snow), in that the word 'shaman' is very recent to the Amazon, coming via the Western world in the last 20 - 30 years. There are many words which denote the plant specialisation of the maestro or Vegetalista. Benjamin Ochavano a 70 year old Shipibo Vegetalista says that his father was known as a moraya or banco (healer), in Spanish it was a curandero. A curandero could then further specialise in a particular plant such as chonta (bamboo) and be a chontero. For example a curandero who specialises in smells and perfumes would be a perfumero.

Another challenge to our rational mind to enter the magical world to which we are transported by plants is that it is mainly accessible through dream language or an expansion of the imagination. Thus dreams & our imaginative powers act like doorways during a plant diet and connect us with the plant spirit.

The rational mind can only struggle, to take as an example the famed 'love potion' of the Amazon known as the Pusanga. In rational terms it makes no sense whatsoever, how can a concoction of leaves, roots, and seeds attract a lover, or good luck to you? My experience working with shamans in preparing Pusangas (which normally is prepared away from their clients so it was a privilege to be invited to participate in the preparation) showed me that far from interfering with the freedom of other individuals or putting a 'number' on them, we were altering something within ourselves, which was brought out by the ingredients, the magic of the plants. Whatever it was, it felt wholesome and good. It is what is in oneself... one's own magic. Asking Javier Arevalo (the shaman) what does the Pusanga actually do, is it inside us or outside of us? His response was "When you pour it onto your skin it begins to penetrate your spirit, and the spirit is what gives you the force to pull the people. The spirit is what pulls".

The anthropological term 'sympathetic magic' does not give this justice, to illustrate this, the water used in the preparation of an authentic pusanga (which has been specifically made for you) has been collected from a deep trek in the rainforest, sometimes 40 or 50 miles, where there are no people and where clay pools collect and thousands of the most beautiful coloured parrots and macaws gather to drink from them for the mineral content. Now the great leap of imagination required is to bring into yourself the knowledge, the feeling, the sense that the water in the Pusanga has drawn in or attracted thousands of the most brightly coloured creatures on the planet. If you do this, it can generate a shift in consciousness in you.

You can sample this for yourself, just find a quiet moment and space, close your eyes, and with the power of your imagination as the launch pad, draw in the verdant, abundant forest filled with life, colour, and sound. Sense the rich vibrancy of the rainforest as a single breathing rhythmic totality of life force. When you have this image, expand it to include, the humid warmth, the smell of earth, the scent of plants, hear the sound of insects and bird song, allow all your senses to experience this. Then with a conscious decision draw this sensory experience into your being. Whenever you are ready, open your eyes, and check how you are feeling.

Maestros do not invent diets, they are given by the plant spirits themselves, but there is more to it than simply abstaining from certain foods and activities. It involves a state of purification, retreat, commitment, and respect for our connection with everything around us - above all the rain forest. When we listen to our dreams, they become more real, and equally important as everyday life.

The shamans work with the power of the plants in many ways, the colours of the flowers, the perfume, their shape, form, and associations. To illustrate this, another maestro Artiduro Aro Cardenas remarks;

'A smell has the power to attract. I can also make smells to attract business, people who buy. You just rub it on your face and it brings in the people to your business, if you are selling, people come to buy. I also make perfumes for love, and others for flourishing. These are the forces of nature, what I do is give it direction with my breath so it has effect. I use my experience of the plants which I have dieted. I have a relation with the plants and with the patient; I can't make these things on a commercial scale.

When I diet I take in the strength of the plant and it stays with me. Later I find the illness or suffering of the person or what it is they want, and the plant guides me and tells me if it is the right one for that person, and I cure them'

He also (as do many maestros) works with the plants not only to heal illnesses but to resolve domestic and family problems;

'I get people coming for help to give up drug addiction, people with family problems, supposing the man has gone off and left his family, the Mama is here with me and the Papa is far away. I pull him back so he returns to his home so that the family can consolidate again. In a short time he will be thinking of his children and his wife, and he comes back. I don't need to have the actual plants in front of me, I call the plant spirits which work for that, Renaco, Huayanche, Lamarosa, Sangapilla, perfumes and I call his spirit back to the family home. I blow smoke to reunite them.'

Another (in a very enjoyable way) the qualities, consciousness or spirit of the plant is used to attract benign forces is "los baños florales" or flower baths. In this the individual is bathed in flowers which have been soaking in water for many hours. The maestro prepares the water by blowing mapacho (jungle tobacco) smoke and at the same time placing his intention into the flower soaked water. Again these flowers and plants have been gathered from sometimes deep and not easily accessible locations in the rainforest and have been selected for their specific qualities which the maestro feels are needed to help that person.

A friend of mine Alonso del Rio, who has lived with the Shipibo people, and is uniquely well equipped to be a bridge between the indigenous wisdom and modern Westerners, tells the following;

'The mind of the traditional maestro is very different from yours or mine. He has lived in the rainforest without contact with the Western world, so to have access to the same visions, the same codes is difficult. But what I have found is that the expansion of the consciousness and the power that the plant gives you to understand many things is perfectly valid.

The magical space to which we are taken - call it the 'unconscious' or any term you want to use depending on your psychological model - is one where all the kingdoms of nature can communicate. That is people can talk to plants, and plants with minerals, minerals to animals and animals with humans... all in the same language. It is a very real communication and one of the greatest mysteries which exists. This is something which an English person or a Peruvian born in Lima can experience just as an Amazonian person. Because you can do it without speaking in a native dialect, it doesn't go through the mind but between one spirit and another."

On the edge of the Amazonian town Iquitos is the market river port of Belen, which has the famous street 'Pasaje Paquito' where many of the rainforest, herbs, plants, mixtures, tinctures are sold. Chatting to Juanita the owner of the stall where I buy plants from, I remember her describing some of the potions, lotions, plants, tonics, barks, perfumes, roots, oils, aphrodisiacs and leaves, and remarking "when you talk to the plants you will get to know them like friends, they have their own spirits, their own personalities".


A look at a few of the 'planta maestras'

The shamans say that plants connect us with nature because they take their nourishment directly from the earth, as well as the sun's rays, the air, and water. They allow us to know and recognize ourselves. A shaman must know this and must love his people to heal them. Chiric Sanango Brumfelsia grandiflora; this plant is good for colds and arthritis and has the effect of heating up the body, so much so that the maestros advise a cold shower after each dose! This plant can be used in baths for good luck, and bring success to fishing, hunting etc. This planta maestra also makes possible for people to open up their heart to feel love for people and animals (warms up a cold heart) and bestows the ability to identify with other people as though they were your brothers and sisters. The plant grows mainly in the Upper Amazon and only a few 'restingas' (high ground which never floods) in the Lower Amazon. The gift of Chiric Sanango is self esteem, and develops a deep connection with your inner self. On a personal note, I have dieted this plant, and although I thought the terminology of "warming one's heart" to be a bit "cheesy", this plant really did have an extraordinary effect on me, I really did feel this inner glow of warmth, and friendship, and to my surprise it is still there! I feel that I returned from my exploration with this plant a changed person.

Guayusa (Piper callosum); is good for excessive acidity and other digestive problems in the stomach and bile. Also it is both energizing and relaxing at the same time and develops mental strength. Guayusa also has the most interesting effect of giving lucid dreams i.e. when you are dreaming you are aware that you are dreaming. The plant is also known as the "night watchman's plant", as even when sleeping you seem to have an awareness the outer physical surroundings. On another personal note, I found the experience with this plant also to be quite incredible. I found that the usual boundary between sleeping and being awake to be more fluid than I had anticipated. Even now, sometime after taking the plant my dreams are more colourful, richer, and lucid than before. When taking this plant, I sometimes wake up not knowing if I have actually 'woken up' or I am dreaming that I've woken up. For those interested in 'dreaming' this is certainly the plant to explore.

Ajo Sacha (Pseudocalymma); A very important planta maestra in the initiation of Amazonian shamans. On a physical level it purifies the blood, and is used for people suffering from arthritis and rheumatism. The other benefits are that it brings mental strength, acuity of mind, and it can take you out of saladera (regarded as a run of bad luck, inertia, or a sense of not living to the full). It is also used for ridding spells. The plant is used to enhance hunting skills by covering up human smell with the garlic-like smell of Ajo Sacha. The Shipibo maestro Guillermo Arevalo also added that this plant opens the shamanic path - if we are prepared to live under the obligations of shamanism, to do this we need the qualities of courage, and no fear of extremes or 'ugly' things. We need to understand what role we will play in our community, and have the heart of a warrior. As a personal observation, Guillermo is one of the most highly respected maestros in the Amazonian region and is regarded as the authority on dieting this planta maestra.

On another personal note, I found my senses being altered and enhanced with this plant. I could zoom in and focus on sounds emanating from the rainforest, my sense of smell became sharper, and in some ineffable way I could tune into the breathing or rhythm of the rainforest. The sound of insects and birds was no longer a random phenomenon, these sounds became a rhythmic breath, rising and falling. No wonder that it is used for hunting as one's sense are heightened in an incredible way.

Reflections On reflection dieting plant medicine is totally different than pharmaceutical medication which only affects one whilst it is being taken; these kinds of plant medicines seem to have a permanent effect in some way metaphorical or otherwise altering one's consciousness or "DNA".

One of the great revelations that we can experience in working with the plant spirit or consciousness is that we are not separate from the natural world. In our culture we perceive ourselves to be separate beings with our minds firmly embedded within our physical being (typically our head). The plants can show you that this way of being is an illusion and that we are all connected, all of us and everything else is a discrete element in the great universal field of consciousness or spirit.

About the Author

An introduction to the magical world of the Shamans of the Amazon Rainforest, masters of plant spirit medicine. By the author of Plant Spirit Shamanism published by Destiny Books (USA).

For details of our Amazon Retreats, write to Eagle's Wing BM BOX 7475 London WC1N 3XX, telephone 01273 882027, Our website:

Posted by forestwonderer at 9:34 AM EDT
Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Dealing with depression spiritually
Topic: Spiritual

A Spiritual View Of Depression: Living With The
Written by: Julie Redstone


There is never a time in life when things are not changing –
when one view of reality does not give way before another, or
one person whom we are connected with or another does not go
through a shift that changes them, or a situation we find
ourselves in turns out not to be what we expected it to be.
There is no time of pause in life's ceaseless flow, however it
may appear on the surface of things For even in the quiet
times of peace, things that are of the future are being
prepared, and the end of one phase is already on the horizon,
waiting for the next phase to begin. This is the nature of
life's ceaseless movement, and it is part of wisdom to learn
how to move with it.

Ordinarily, when change that comes into view is positive,
valuable, hoped for, and appreciated, there is little thought
given to what will happen next because the immediacy of the
delight, pleasure, or comfort taken in what is, is what we seek
to immerse ourselves in. But when change brings with it illness,
or loss, or limitation, or helplessness, or an end to what may
have appeared to be a hoped-for possibility, then the question
of what comes next is very much in the foreground of
consciousness, since the heart's desire is to be free of
limitation and pain, and the longing in the midst of either is
always that there be a 'next' – a next phase, chapter, or
situation in which the pain or limitation will be gone.
Depression often occurs when this hoped for next chapter of
life does not feel real or possible.

In the midst of flow, there is a need that beats within each
human heart to find an anchorpoint, a place of steadiness that
does not change, even if everything else does. This center
that is changeless, that can be turned to when everything else
is in flux, lives within each human being. It has been called
many things, and is the feeling of an eternal Heart that beats
inside – an experience of inner continuity, love, and
lastingness that is 'I Am'. This 'I Am' is the deeper sense of
one's existence that is ongoing, eternal, and part of something
greater than oneself. It is a sense of beingness, love,
purpose, knowing, that can be an anchorpoint in the sea of the
unknown. Often, when one has drifted far away from this sense,
it must be pursued in order to be found again, especially when
adversity seems to be all around. Such a pursuit is a central
reason, among others, to deepen one's spiritual life.

'I Am' is the affirmation of one's eternal being, of one's
ongoing life and existence beyond any limitation. In the face
of physical disability or handicap, it is the knowing of the
perfection and limitlessness of one's deeper self. In the face
of loss and the grief that follows, it is the feeling of one's
wholeness. In the face of heartache of any kind, it is the
awareness that joy is still possible and love is still possible
because the foundations of both love and joy are inextricably
woven into life itself.

Everywhere in life, things are moving, relationships are
changing, disappointments are happening, letting go is
required, and the sense of the unknown exists as an everpresent
companion to each step that we take. In the midst of this,
there is the Eternal presence saying, I am with you, I am you.
It may be that the experience of inner stability and of
unconquerable hope is difficult to locate at first, since the
intensity of emotion, and especially that of depression, can
cover any other feeling, However, knowing that there is a part
of the self that is untouched by the circumstances of one's life
and that that part of the self is accessible, is a reason to
strive to reach it, to search in every way possible for the
path to find it. This is the nature of spiritual seeking
everywhere, and in the presence of the unknown, it is the basis
for moving past fear and sorrow into a new relationship with

Such movement can come through the beginning of a spiritual
practice whose purpose is to help locate and create an
experience of this eternal center. There is no one way to go
about this, for the paths to truth are many and need to
correspond to a person's own preferences and predilections.
Nevertheless, the signpost that such a path is useful is the
sense of upliftment and peace that it brings – the inner quiet
and stability that creates a knowing of being whole and held in
the midst of whatever else may be going on. No matter what
feelings are present on the emotional level, there is a level
beneath these feelings that remains always true, always
present. To seek it with a whole heart is to pursue wisdom.
To find it is to experience truth.

About The Author: For additional writings by Julie Redstone see
Pathways of Light –
and the Light Omega website – For a
series of daily meditations focused on healing, see the
"Calendar of Healing" within Pathways of Light.

Posted by forestwonderer at 9:58 AM EDT
Monday, 9 April 2007
Two natural supplements to use to fight stress and anxiety
Topic: Stress

Two Proven Herbal Supplements For Stress And
Written by: Edward Sample


The fast-paced nature of modern life is characterized by
constant demands and personal challenges. As we try to earn a
living or take care of a family, the resulting stress can often
feel insurmountable. While many can hide their feelings from
family and co-workers, this stress is often characterized by an
ongoing sense of anxiety and inability to sleep. Then, as we get
tired or more anxious, our ability to cope diminishes.

Most of us don't realize there is a problem until relationships
begin to suffer or performance at work slips. At this point,
many turn to either alcohol or prescription drugs as a way to
escape from the stress. Alternatives to dealing with this
stress and anxiety in a productive way are often difficult to
consider in the midst of such crisis. Unfortunately,
self-medicating often makes the problem worse and may become

Fortunately, there are a variety of natural methods for
addressing the ongoing challenges of life. The first step
essential to reducing stress and anxiety is to take a hard look
at what is causing the angst. The issue might be around life at
work, or maybe a personal relationship is suffering. Once
you've identified the root cause, then take a hard look at
which obligations are really essential versus those that you
may perceive to be important. Perhaps your social schedule is
too intense or too much time is spent at the office. Even after
you've completed a fair life evaluation, it is often tough to
implement the changes you know are necessary. This is where
herbal supplements for stress and anxiety can play a role.

Natural herbal supplements can help you relax or deal with
social anxiety without the harsh and unwanted side effects
associated with alcohol or drugs. In general, they can enhance
your ability to relax or get the sleep essential to making real
change. However, few know where to start or which supplements
actually work. Our brains produce a variety of hormones and
chemicals in order to regulate essential functions such as
sleep and relaxation. This brings us to the role of 5-HTP and
Melatonin - two essential herbal supplements for stress and


While the processes are complex, 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan
is an amino acid required for the production of serotonin.
Studies have shown that low levels of serotonin can lead to
depression, insomnia, irritability and anxiety. Therefore,
supplementing with 5-HTP can help alleviate these symptoms and
is particularly useful as a holistic treatment for stress. If
you are debating the effectiveness of herbal supplements vs.
prescription drugs, consider that 5HTP works in a manner
similar to SSRI's. (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
Common prescription SSRI's and anti anxiety disorder
medications include drugs like Zoloft and Prozac. In fact, one
study demonstrated that 5-HTP was as effective in treating
anxiety and depression as the SSRI Fluvoxamine. As an added
bonus, 5HTP has been shown to help reduce the pain associated
with fibromyalgia and migraine headaches. Finally, given its
ability to help produce serotonin, which make the body feel
full and content, 5-HTP is often used as a weight loss
supplement. Also, 5-HTP is a precursor, or is involved in the
natural production of melatonin.


Melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain, is an important
part of the cycle of sleeping and waking up. In this role,
Melatonin produces the feeling of sleepiness that sets upon us
when night falls. The reason that we normally fall asleep is
due to the timing of our circadian rhythms, or biological
processes that regulate bodily function. Early in the evening,
the pineal gland begins to secrete melatonin with its peak
production hitting half way through the night. Then, it begins
to taper off towards morning. Taking melatonin as a supplement
before bedtime accelerates natural production so that this peak
is reached earlier. This helps those with insomnia fall asleep
and stay asleep. In several properly documented studies,
melatonin was given to test subjects as an alternative to a
class of sedatives called benzodiazepines. Common prescription
drug brands in this group are Xanax, Tafil, Ativan, and Valium
– many of which can become addictive. In several cases, the
participants using melatonin were able to stop taking the drugs
while still maintaining healthy sleep habits. This makes a
powerful case for herbal supplements vs. prescription drugs.
These same studies discovered that those with a history of
seizures experienced more frequent incidents when taking
melatonin. As such, those who have ever had seizures should not
take this supplement. Also, melatonin is best used when a full
night's rest can be enjoyed. Those who cannot enjoy a full
night's sleep should not take this supplement because it is so
effective and will cause drowsiness.

Remember that melatonin and 5-HTP should be used in conjunction
with a healthy diet, exercise and with the knowledge of your
doctor. In addition, you should not mix supplements with each
other or prescription drugs. Even thought the supplements we've
discussed are natural alternatives to medication for anxiety
disorders, they are very effective and should be taken in the
proper dosages.

Everyone wants to be able to balance life's obligations. This
is entirely possible while also taking care of personal
well-being and happiness. Leading a productive existence and a
low-stress life are actually complimentary and can be a reality
for anyone. If you can first identify the aspects of life that
are causing you emotional discomfort, then you can begin to
make meaningful changes. Getting a full night of sleep or
reducing the amount of stress you feel in a given situation may
be the first step you take. It is very possible that one of
these herbal supplements for stress and anxiety will help.
Don't delay another day - you owe it to yourself to live the
best life you can.

About The Author: Want to learn more about the role of other
Natural Herbs for Anxiety? Visit us at

Posted by forestwonderer at 10:11 AM EDT
Friday, 6 April 2007
Momfulness: Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion, and Grace - Book Review
Topic: Book Review
Written by Susie Cortright

As mothers, we all know that there is a thread of magic that runs just beneath even the most mundane moments of our lives. But sometimes, we have to do something to find it. We have to do something to remember how very lucky we are to be running around in a mess of a house making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Denise Roy's new book teaches how to find this thread - and gives us practical suggestions for pulling it up to reveal the grace and the beauty that motherhood brings into our experience as nothing else can.

Denise Roy is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a mother of five. She is also an experienced spiritual guide for mothers. Her previous book, My Monastery is a Minivan, has been a title on my shelf that I have returned to again and again. This book is a series of essays, straight from Roy's real life, which help to bring my focus back to my spiritual center when I get off balance.

In Momfulness, Roy's approach is somewhat different. Just as motherhood is a continual back-and-forth between the practical and the sublime, the routine and the transcendent, the nose-wipes and the deep-snuggles - Roy's new book alternates between reflections and practical tips; stories and suggestions.

Momfulness is arranged around a series of lessons that most of would agree are natural to the journey of motherhood: presence, attention, compassion, embodiment, the sacred in all things, and community. There are six chapters devoted to each of the lessons, and each begins with a quotation (including those from some of my own favorite writers, such as Brenda Ueland, Anne Lamott, and Thich Nhat Hahn) followed by a story or essay. Each chapter concludes with practical steps you can take to weave this lesson into your daily life.

The reflective pieces are where Roy really shines. Roy's honesty is refreshing, and she is skilled at showing how even the most ordinary moments can present a pathway to a richer world if we can take the time to notice and to embrace them.

Such a book is a gift for those times when we need to be able to look on our children with a renewed appreciation and to see the gifts that they present to us in every moment of motherhood.

Momfulness is a quick read and great for study groups, particularly a regular church group or mom's group.

Susie Cortright is the founder of and . Visit her site today for the latest coupon codes and special offers especially for busy parents.


About the Author

Susie Cortright is the founder of and Visit her site today for the latest coupon codes and special offers especially for busy parents.

Posted by forestwonderer at 11:48 AM EDT
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Lao Tzu philosophy. Taoism at its best
Topic: Philosophy


 Give A Man A Fish, Feed Him For A Day. Teach A Man To Fish, Feed Him For A Lifetime - Lao Tzu 101
Written by: Martin Haworth

Lao Tzu was the founder of taoism, the mystical 'way' or 'path' that many have followed since. From way back between the 4th and 6th century BC, his amazing words echo down the centuries.

As well as many more wise sayings for which he is so well renowned.

One of the best known is the one quoted above, "Give a man a fish; feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; feed him for a lifetime", which has a wonderful analogy with the modern world of management today.

The metaphor of feeding someone and that sufficing to get them through one day, and one day alone shows that people can only be helped so far. If we help them and do things for them all the time, then they rely on us, which is not only unhealthy for their development of skills, but also potentially dangerous, if we are not there to help them one day, their very future is at risk.

The principle whereby we rely totally on the support, guidance and even nurturing of someone else, for too long a period, is typical of many modern management environments. The old-style 'command and control' management processes lead to employees only being required or even able to do what they were told, which puts great pressure on those doing the telling.

Not only that, but where employees are not provided with stimulating work and aren't asked to challenge themselves mentally, this often leads to demotivation and then higher absence rates, as well as employee turnover that such boredom precipitates.

Lack of stimulation=boredom=frustration=leave to find something else.

Let's look at the flip side, where we 'teach a man to fish'. Not only does the man become self-sufficient and be able to survive without being provided for, but he has a sense of achievement and fulfillment. How good does an angler feel as he pulls a fish from the water?

Much better than when one is placed generously in front of him, merely to eat. Sure it may be good, for a while, to be provided for, but human psyche is bigger than that in a healthy human being. People need to be valued for who they are.

So - we 'teach them to fish'. In the workplace, by teaching out people new skills, we validate them for who they are and the contribution they are able to make. They know they are useful and valued and with this confidence they do more. They learn that to stretch themselves is good. That they have within themselves untapped resources which show off the potential they have always had, now released.

Indeed 'teaching them to fish' realizes not just the material potential they have, but catalyses even bigger capabilities in them. Their development muscle has been stretched and exercised, so it becomes bigger and more capable.

The business upside for 'teaching our people to fish'? Well, managers are able to offload some of their tactical workload to others who relish the opportunity. This frees managers to do more with more of their people.

A workplace environment that becomes the breeding ground for capable, committed and excited employees, straining at the leash to do more. Managers enable their business to become a developmental mixing bowl of ideas and capability like nothing before.

In a business world where the embodiment of excellent management is an operation that works at least as well (and sometimes better!), when the manager is absent is to be acknowledged as the purest quality.

And with that level of capability developed, all because the manager taught his people 'how to fish', business thrives.

In the hurried excitement of the crazy business world of today, how Lao Tzu would be impressed at the relevance of his ancient words.

(c) 2007 Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach, trainer and writer. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website,

Posted by forestwonderer at 9:19 AM EDT
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
Meaning Of Dreams In Chinese Medicine
Topic: Dreams
Do dreams carry any meaning? Does it foretell a future event?
What do dreams mean, especially recurring unfavorable ones?
What about sweet dreams or scarry dreams?

People frequent ask me but I am of not much help as this is not
my area of expertise. In fact dreams interpretation is a
separate skill by itself.

Recently I read a book on Chinese Medicine and there is a
section on how dreams can assist in Chinese medical diagnosis.
This is from a section in the Yellow Emperor's Medicine Classic
called the Miraculous Pivot. I find it extremely interesting and
I would like to share some of their findings with you.

The classic says that fearful dream is a result of lack of qi
in the heart and gallbladder. It can also be due a prolonged
illness or excessive anxiety.

Angry dream is caused by stagnation of qi in the liver and
gallbladder or hardening of the liver. It can also be due to
the presence of gallstones. Conversely, happy dream is due to
the smooth flow of qi and indicate quick recovery even if you
should fall sick.

Sad dream is due to deficiency of qi in the heart and lung,
deficiency of yin in the liver for example with chronic liver
disease and tuberculosis. Melancholic dream is due to imbalance
in the liver and spleen.

What about dreams where you are continuous striving for
something? This is due to reverse flow of qi in the liver and
gallbladder and increasing yang in the liver for example with
hypertension and poor food digestion.

Floating and falling in dreams are amongst the most common type
of dreams. Floating dream is due to excess in the upper part of
the body but deficiency in the lower parts like deficiency of
the kidneys, excess phlegm or coronary heart disease. Falling
dream is due to deficiency in the upper and excess in the lower
part. This is often seen in water retention in the kidneys and
deficiency of yang in the heart.

What if you dream of looking for food or water? Looking for
food dream indicate a weak spleen and deficiency of yin in the
stomach. If you dream of looking for water it can imply
excessive yang and depletion of bodily fluids for example due
to high fever or dehydration.

What about looking for toilet dream? According to the classic
this dream is often caused by painful urination, inflammation
of the intestines, poor digestion or diarrhea.

Finally what is the cause of the most serious form of dreams,
sleep walking? It is most likely due to stagnation of qi in the
liver or distractions!

About The Author: Henry Fong

Posted by forestwonderer at 9:20 AM EDT
Monday, 2 April 2007
Life, Now. By Shannon and Michael Primicero book review
Topic: Book Review
Title: Life. Now.
Authors: Shannon and Michael Primicerio
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0314-5
Publisher: Bethany House

I just spent the morning reading "Life. Now." by Shannon and Michael
Primicerio, the twenty-something authors who've decided to make
something of their lives and share the secrets they've learned thus

As a thirty-something mother and wife who has lived in five different
states and dabbled in many careers, I can tell you, from experience,
that the advice given in this little book is very wise. And I can
humbly say that I wish I'd known as much as they know at their young

The authors discuss the importance of getting away from thinking, "Is
it ever going to get any better than this?" to thinking, "I am going
to pursue what makes me happy so that I never end up in a dreaded mid-
life crisis."

The book goes over several key elements: Fear, How To Stop Seeking
The Approval Of Others, Learning To Say No, Stepping Out Of Our
Comfort Zones, Going Beyond What Is Normal, How To Take Control Of
Our Lives, How To Let Go Of Control, and finally, how money plays a
role in what we do or don't do with our lives.

One statement I really loved was, "Don't live your life in the PRISON
of UNREALIZED dreams."

How often have I heard people dream of taking on a new job, living in
a new state, going back to school, or doing more with their lives
only to push their dreams aside—believing they have too many
responsibilities and too little this or that to make those dreams
come true. Then one day, it's simply too late: old age, physical
limitations, financial issues, and so on and so forth.

My own mother passed away never having been able to fulfill many of
her dreams because she kept saying, "There's always tomorrow." But
tomorrow never came. It seldom does. If you want your dreams to come
true, you have to take active steps towards achieving those dreams.

While "Life. Now." is not a roadmap to success, it does get one
thinking in the right direction. And there are plenty of life stories
from normal, everyday people to help solidify the thinking behind the
statements. So if you've ever wondered, "Is this all there is to
life?" why not pick up a copy of "Life. Now." and see if that
yearning is really a dream unrealized.

About The Author:
Alyice Edrich is the author of
several e-books</a> designed to take parents step-by-
step through the process of running various home businesses. Visit
her at

Posted by forestwonderer at 2:08 PM EDT
A deeper explanation of dreams
Topic: Dreams

The Nature of Dreaming: A Doorway into Multiple Realities   by Julie Redstone

There are different kinds of dreams that we dream, and each has a value in its own right and must be taken seriously as a representative of an aspect of our consciousness.

Some dreams seem peripheral to everyday life. They have fantastic characters, absurd plots, and linger in our minds for a very brief period of time because they seem to make no sense at all to our conscious waking experience.

Other dreams have a strong emotional message that can be felt in the body, even if the actual content of the dream is not entirely understood. Often, the emotional component of a dream message is the central aspect of the teaching, and so it is often not necessary to understand the content further, no matter how much it might add to our knowledge.

Finally, there are dreams whose emotional content and meaning is very clear and very relevant to our conscious waking state. These dreams also fall into several distinct categories: There are those that have to do with everyday life - with relationships, past or present, with longings or fears that we are aware of, with repetitive themes in our mental or emotional experience. These dreams seem to offer a commentary, directly or indirectly, on the life we lead.

There are other dreams, however, which seem to catapult us into a different life and often into a different reality altogether, where space and time feel different, where we experience ourselves on a deep inner level as different from our normal self-perception, and where a message from the beyond may come through to our consciousness that is as real and as potent as anything that we might feel or think that is more familiar to us.

These messages from the beyond are not all fashioned out of words. Some come in the form of visual displays of things that have no correlates on the human level. Some come in the shape of sounds that affect our consciousness with a meaning that only our deepest self can translate. Some come with words that arrive as a thought or as a voice that conveys a purposefulness and a direction that we are being asked to follow. These dreams can be premonitions. They can be glimpses of our soul's essential nature. They can be visions that we have carried into the present lifetime which have lain dormant beneath the threshold of awareness. These awaken during sleep when the ego and mental processes are less in charge.

The dreams that are visionary or that bring us into a different reality are not always dreams. Some, are the visual translation of messages that were seeded into our consciousness prior to incarnating into a human body, containing things that we were supposed to remember at a particular time. Others are wake up calls that are sent from helpers and teachers with whom an association exists, whether or not it is known to the more conscious self. Still others are actual events that are taking place primarily on a different dimensional level - events which are being translated into our semi-awake mind, even while we sleep. These other-dimensional events may be happening to our physical self or they may not. We may be taken somewhere or carried somewhere in what seems to be an energy body that is very close to our physical body. Or we may exist in a dream as pure awareness, simply in touch with a knowing that could never have occurred in a waking state.

The 'akashic chronicle' of the world's life and the akashic chronicle of our own individual life are often made known during dreaming, especially when one has embarked upon a spiritual path and is pursuing a deepening knowledge of the sacred. These chronicles contain the history of our actions and consciousness and of the world's actions and consciousness. Both chronicles reveal the moral and spiritual weight of events that have been, are, and will be. Both convey to the self that is aware, a possible or probable future, or an actual or alternate reality of the past. When we sleep, the absence of mental vigilance can lead us to experience our own akashic chronicle that contains our soul's memory existing outside of time. This ledger extends both to the past and to the future. It brings to us experiences that have already happened at another level that have yet to happen at this one.

All that we know of dreaming cannot fathom the mystery of intertwining multiple realities which dreaming can provide a doorway into. Far from being just a commentary by the psyche on the psychological aspects of our inner life, dreams can create a world of their own and a life of their own which in many ways may seem more real to us than our everyday life. They can engage us with a larger reality that we are already living, though our conscious waking self may not be aware of it. The experience of other-dimensional realities in which we also seem to be living and that we feel touched by is increasing now, as the distance between planes is simultaneously decreasing, and as the physical plane is being drawn closer to the higher realms. Because of this increased proximity, there is a 'bleed through' that can happen more easily now from one plane to another, both during waking hours and while we sleep.

When we become able through time, effort, and the illumination of our total being to experience our multi-dimensional self in a waking state as well, it is then that our dream life can become just another layer of our being - one that can easily be incorporated into the ongoing sense of self that lives within time, and one whose other-worldly experiences can be accepted as having equal validity to those we experience during our more awake states. To accept the experiences of dreaming as an extension of our ordinary self into the multidimensional self that we already are, is to recognize the great complexity and expansiveness of the human psyche which, while fully present on the earth, has yet one foot in worlds that are far away which dreaming brings closer.

About the Author

For additional writings by Julie Redstone and Messages by Request see Pathways of Light, a part of

Posted by forestwonderer at 12:25 PM EDT
Friday, 30 March 2007
meditation with Vissuddimargga
Topic: meditation

A New Meditation   by Huntly Reid

So, being a thoroughly modern person you have decided that you want to find a meditation and you are thinking of starting your search on the Internet.

Well you are in for a big surprise. Key in the word 'meditation' or 'yoga' and you are going to be overwhelmed by a multiplicity of choice. Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga, The Kabbalah, Tibetan Buddhism, Kundalini Yoga, Krishnamurti's Choiceless Awareness, Zen, Vippasana meditation, the Ramana Maharshi meditation or perhaps Sahaja Yoga. There are many more.

Well help is at hand. Daniel Goleman has written a book called "The Meditative Mind in which he classifies all the different meditations in terms of the Vissudhimagga that was taught by the Lord Buddha. The Vissushimagga means the path of purification. There are two basic types of meditation: the path of concentration and the path of insight.

Thoughts enter your mind in a random manner. There is no pattern to their entry. The path of concentration has you direct the flow of your thoughts, fixing them onto the object chosen for the meditation. By forcing your wandering thoughts back on to the object your mind will eventually become absorbed in it and your awareness will experience a feeling of oneness with it. This is called the "point of entry."

The start of insight meditation is the practice of mindfulness. You are required to pay attention to your thoughts and senses as they arise and to merely register or note your observation of the thought or sense impression without further comment, reflection or judgement. You simply pay attention to what is happening in and to you. In the beginning as in the path of concentration your mind will wander until you reach the point of bare insight where your mind develops the ability to observe all that is registering in your mind without the interference of wandering thoughts. With the achievement of bare insight you realise that your awareness is different from the object of your awareness.

Once you have reached the point of entry or of bare insight you then continue to achieve higher and higher levels of awareness until eventually you reach the highest state possible, which is variously called Nirvana, Nirodh, Moksha and various other names. This state indicates that you have achieved the point whereby you have acquired total self-knowledge and are freed from the perpetual cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

What actually happens here is that your kundalini awakens and rises up the central subtle spiritual channel called the Sushumna. The kundalini is the dormant spiritual power within each one of us, which resides in our pelvic bone. The disadvantage with either of the two paths of the Vissuddimagga is that normally it takes a very long time to get your self-realisation. More than one lifetime is not unusual. Remember that the Vissuddimagga means the 'Path of Purification'. This refers to the fact that in addition to meditation the seeker has to purify his spiritual centres called chakras one by one. This is why the Indian yogis go to the Himalayan Mountains or the forests. They isolate themselves in order to concentrate on their spirit and not be interrupted by mundane life.

In the modern world it is well nigh impossible for the ordinary seeker to achieve their self-realisation using the paths of the Vissuddhimagga. There has however been a change in the firmament and it is now possible to achieve your self-realisation through taking to Sahaja Yoga. As impossible as it seems you can now get your self-realisation simply by asking for it. Any Sahaja yogi can give self-realisation. It is like one candle lighting another. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi developed Sahaja Yoga. She is a very high spiritual personality and can be described as a messenger from God.

With the Vissuddimagga you have to be spiritually perfect before you can get your self-realisation. With the Sahaja Yoga you are not perfect but you can work on trying to become spiritually perfect. The point is that your kundalini does the work for you. All that you have to do is to introspect on your self during meditation. What's wrong with me? The path of Sahaja Yoga is a much faster and easier method of achieving spiritual perfection than the two Vissuddimagga paths. It's like putting the roof on the house first and then building up the walls and windows etc rather than the conventional way around.

The methods used by the Vissuddimargga meditation work by trying to subdue the mind. Sahaja Yoga says that instead of trying to subdue or control the mind, which is almost impossible anyway, why not ignore it and simply go beyond it. The Sahaja Yoga meditation is described as thoughtless awareness. Normally it is virtually impossible to do this but in Sahaja Yoga your kundalini simply takes you straight into thoughtless awareness.

In their book 'From Here to Nirvana' Anne Cushman and Jerry Jones say that there are five types of yoga: Jhana, Bhakti, Karma, Raja and Hatha. Ramana Maharshi was a Jnana yogi who taught that thinking the thought 'Who am I' would eventually lead to self-realisation. This is the mind being used to distinguish between the real and the unreal. Bhakti yoga is the path of love, devotion, and worship. Karma yoga is the path of selfless service. The Karma yogi does not renounce the world but rather seeks to serve humanity in a detached, egoless manner. This leads to self-realisation. Raja yoga is the path taught by the saint Patanjali around the second and third centuries AD. It is a systematic eight-fold path, which works through the quietening of the mind. Raja yoga includes a moral code, positive breath control and a meditation akin to the ' path of concentration' talked about above. Hatha yoga is the classic 'exercise' yoga well known to people in the west. Raja and Hatha yoga are usually associated together. Sahaja Yoga includes elements of all the different types of yoga except Hatha Yoga.

References. (1) From Here to Nirvana. 1998. Anne Cushman and Jerry Jones. Rider Books, London. ISBN 0712670610.

(2) Meditative Mind. 1996. Daniel Goleman Harper Collins Publishers, London. ISBN 07225 347 2

About the Author

Huntly Reid is an experienced Sahaja Yoga practitoner.

Posted by forestwonderer at 4:11 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007 4:16 PM EDT

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