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Writing teacher and author of The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss Sandra Marinella, MA, MEd, has presented hundreds of workshops to veterans, educators, and cancer patients. In this inspiring conversation about the transformational power of expressive writing, Sandra offers dynamic methods we can use to understand, tell, and edit our personal stories in ways that foster resilience and renewal. She also shares her own experience of using journaling and expressive writing to navigate the dark nights of her soul, including breast cancer, postpartum depression, and more. You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
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I first heard of Dogen when I was 19 or 20 years old. I am 53 now. So I’ve been acquainted with Dogen for most of my life. Dogen was a Japanese Buddhist monk and writer who lived around 800 years ago, from the year 1200 to 1254. He was barely older than I am now when he died. 

When I first heard of Dogen, I assumed I was a latecomer. I figured that the people of Japan had read and studied Dogen’s philosophy for the past 800 years. I assumed that Dogen’s ideas were part of Japan’s national philosophical identity.

Nope. For about 700 years, Dogen’s writings were barely known even in Japan. A few very scholarly monks and historians read and studied his writings. But most people had no idea what he wrote. Oh, they knew he wrote stuff. It’s just that very few people had read any of it. 

However, Dogen also started a temple, and monks from that temple started other temples. After a while, there were a lot of temples associated with Dogen. These temples became very popular and influential. 

Dogen also taught a style of meditation called “just sitting,” or shikantaza in Japanese. 

The “just” in “just sitting” isn’t like the “just” in “just sitting around.” The Chinese character used to represent the word I’m translating as “just” also means “to hit,” like “to hit a nail right at the center of its head.” So when Dogen said “just sitting,” he meant doing nothing else when in sitting meditation except sitting. You weren’t supposed to meditate on anything. You weren’t supposed to try to gain anything through your meditation. You weren’t trying to become calm or centered or mindful. You were supposed to completely devote yourself to the simple act of sitting, completely absorb yourself in doing nothing at all but sitting.

And a lot of people in Japan took his advice and sat for the sake of sitting alone. It wasn’t exactly a popular activity. But enough people did it that we can say that Dogen’s style of practice became an important aspect of Japanese culture.

Still, even though some of them sat, very few people in Japan read what Dogen wrote. And no one outside Japan had any idea he even existed.

In 1633, about 400 years after Dogen died, Japan closed its borders to outsiders. Very few people could come in or out of Japan. The nation deliberately isolated itself from the rest of the world. In 1865, the American Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open itself to international trade. This began what is called the Meiji Restoration. The film The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, takes place at about this time. It’s a fairly accurate movie, but Tom Cruise was not actually there.

Japan suddenly realized it was very much behind the rest of the world. Those Americans had weapons that were way beyond anything most Japanese people had ever seen. They realized that, in this age of colonization, they were incredibly vulnerable to being taken over by a more advanced foreign power. They knew that they needed to modernize fast. 

This also led Japanese people to try to find Japanese things that were as good as similar things in Europe and America, so that they could prove that Japan was worthy to stand with the mighty powers of Europe and the Americas. So they started to look more closely at their own art and literature, as well as at Japanese philosophy and religion. There was a nationwide push to discover the best that Japan had to offer to the outside world.

In 1925 a scholar named Tetsuro Watsuji published a book called Shamon Dogen (The Monk Dogen). In this book, he presented Dogen as one of Japan’s most important philosophers. This led to a widespread rediscovery of Dogen’s work in Japan. For the first time in 700 years, ordinary Japanese people started to read Dogen’s writings. And for the first time ever, they began presenting Dogen to the rest of the world.

What they discovered in Dogen’s writings surprised many people. Here are a couple of examples of interesting ideas from Dogen’s writings. 

Dogen did not believe in miracles, but he did not deny them, either.

Many religions are based on the idea that miracles can sometimes occur. For example, Jesus changed water into wine, walked on water, and was raised from the dead. Christians believe these miracles to be evidence that Jesus was divine. Because Jesus was divine, they say, his words must be true.

You might have heard that Buddha was originally not considered to be a prophet or a god or any kind of divine being. That’s true. But, as Buddha’s legend grew and his teachings were translated into new languages and introduced to new cultures, many Buddhists came to believe that Buddha performed miracles. 

Dogen believed that all things in the universe are subject to the law of cause and effect. So even if something that seems like a miracle occurred, Dogen believed it was the result of some cause. He did not believe in supernatural forces that can make things happen without any cause.

However, when he talked to his students about this, he did not deny the supposed miracles of the Buddha. Instead, he said these were “small-stuff miracles.” The bigger miracle is that there is a universe in which small miracles can occur. The existence of the universe itself is the great miracle. All other miracles are insignificant by comparison.

In my new book, It Came from Beyond Zen!, I try to express what Dogen says about Buddhist miracles by describing Christian miracles the way Dogen talks about Buddhist miracles. I write, “Jesus fed a multitude with two fishes and five loaves of bread, and he raised Lazarus from the dead and was himself raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion. These are indeed great accomplishments. But they are examples of small-stuff miracles, not the big-time miracle. It is only because of the big-time miracle that such small-stuff miracles as the ones Jesus performed exist. Without the big-time miracle, even the most spectacular of small-stuff miracles could not occur. Jesus worked great wonders. But the greater wonder is that there is a world in which Jesus could have been born, that there is a universe in which that world exists, that you and I are alive to hear about his miracles. It is only the big-time miracle of existence itself that allows smaller miracles to occur.”

Dogen believed compassion is intuitive. 

Dogen said that compassionate action is like someone reaching back for a pillow in the night.

It’s a very strange expression. Most of us think of compassion as deliberate: We see a situation. We think about what is the compassionate thing to do about that situation. Then we do that thing.

To Dogen, compassion was not like that. Dogen thought that compassion was spontaneous. We don’t need to think about what to do. We follow our intuition and automatically do what is necessary. 

Dogen also warned us against judging what others do as “not compassionate.” 

Dogen said, “There’s a difference between nighttime as conceived of by a person during the day and the reality of the darkness on an actual night. You should also look into times that aren’t quite day but aren’t quite night, either.” 

“Day” means times when it’s easy to see what the compassionate thing to do is. Like when you see a turtle on its back. The compassionate thing to do is turn it over. Easy. 

“Night” in this case would mean times when you have no idea what the best thing to do is. Sometimes there is no clear-cut, easily identifiable way to be compassionate. 

Then there are times that are neither day nor night. That means times when you might not know which among several options is really the compassionate one. 

When Dogen says “nighttime as conceived by a person during the day,” I believe he’s talking about the kinds of situations when folks think they can see what somebody else ought to have done in a certain situation. 

Sometimes we look at history and we think, “If I was alive at that time, I would have been better than those people!” Or we look at people in faraway countries and think, “If I was over there, I would do better things than those people!”

It’s easy for those of us in the “daylight” of a world at peace (at least our corner of it) to speculate about what those in the dark night of war ought to have done or what we would have done if we were there. But we weren’t there. So we have no idea what we would have done. In fact, our assumption that we know what we’d do in such a situation is the height of ignorance and arrogance. 

It’s totally pointless to claim moral superiority in these kinds of speculative matters. It’s better to listen to what people who were actually in those situations have to say about it. Sometimes you can learn a lot by listening, even if you don’t always believe everything you’re hearing. 

There is a big difference between real night and night as imagined by someone during the day. 

In the end, we are not other people. We can only try to listen to our own intuition in the real situations that we encounter for ourselves. If we meditate every day, we will be able to listen to our own intuition more clearly. Then we can act with genuine compassion. And when we do that, compassionate action is spontaneous like when you reach for a pillow in the night.

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Soto Zen priest Brad Warner is the author of It Came from Beyond Zen! and numerous other books, including Don’t Be a Jerk, Sit Down & Shut Up, and Sex, Sin, and Zen. He is a punk bassist, filmmaker, Japanese-monster-movie marketer, and popular blogger based in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info

Based on the book It Came from Beyond Zen! Copyright © 2017 by Brad Warner. 

Original author: Publicity Admin
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Fermented foods have long been celebrated for their ability to improve gut health and digestion, but did you know that new evidence suggests that their healing properties go even further? In her new book, The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life, certified herbalist and board-certified doctor of natural medicine Michelle Schoffro Cook highlights not only the deeper benefits of eating fermented foods but the ease with which you can pickle and ferment at home in your own kitchen for very little money. In this excerpt from the book, learn how fermented foods can help alleviate anxiety, as well as ten other benefits that can make your body a happier place to live. Enjoy.

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If I told you that bacteria could alleviate your anxiety, you’d probably think I was joking or uninformed. But if you suffer from anxiety, particularly social anxiety, you’ll be happy to learn about the exciting study conducted by researchers at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The study, published in Psychiatry Research, found that regularly consuming fermented foods replete with plentiful amounts of beneficial bacteria may indeed help reduce social anxiety.

In the College of William and Mary study 710 students completed food diaries about their intake of fermented foods over the previous thirty days. They were also asked about exercise frequency and their consumption of fruits and vegetables so the researchers could control for healthy habits beyond fermented food intake. Researchers found that those who ate higher amounts of fermented foods had lower levels of social anxiety. The link was particularly noticeable among those who demonstrated signs of neuroticism.

Matthew Hilimire, a professor of psychology at the College of William and Mary and one of the researchers who conducted the study, said in an interview with PsychCentral, “It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety.”13 The study found that people prone to anxiety experience less social anxiety when they frequently consume fermented foods replete with probiotics.

It may be hard to comprehend how bacteria can affect your mind, but an increasing body of research is proving that they do. A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, showed that the specific probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum eliminated anxiety and normalized behavior. The researchers found that chronic gastrointestinal inflammation induces anxiety-like behavior and alters the biochemistry of the central nervous system.

Further, a French study published in the British Journal of Nutrition confirms both the American and Canadian studies. They found that the same probiotic strain studied by the McMaster researchers, B. longum, along with another probiotic strain known as Lactobacillus helveticus, reduced anxiety. Additionally, the French study found that these two probiotics reduced psychological stress, depression, and feelings of anger and hostility.

Although the exact mechanism or mechanisms at work are not yet clear, researchers believe that the probiotics reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and boost serotonin levels. Serotonin, a feel-good brain hormone sometimes called the happiness hormone, was once believed to be exclusively found in the brain but is actually produced by the gut; in fact, scientists estimate that about 90 percent of the body’s serotonin can actually be found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. That’s right: your intestines do some of the same work as your brain. And this is why many scientists now refer to the gut as the body’s “second brain”: the gut-brain health link has been the focus of a growing body of research proving the connection.

Ten Ways Specific Fermented Foods Can Improve Your Life

Eating sauerkraut helps protect you from breast cancer. When cabbage is fermented as it is in making sauerkraut, its nutrients, known as glucosinolates, transform into the powerhouse anticancer nutrients isothiocyanates. Researchers have found that isothiocyanates balance excessive hormone production linked to breast cancer and even suppress tumor growth. Kimchi is the medicine of the future. Scientists have identified a whopping 970 different probiotic species in kimchi, many of which offer powerful immune-boosting effects. Some of these unique probiotics are proven to kill superbugs even when our most potent medicines fail! The Journal of Medicinal Food found that kimchi’s additional health properties include anticancer properties, anti-obesity benefits, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect (a process that prevents blood clots from growing), antioxidative and anti-aging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion. Regular consumption of miso fights at least five different types of cancer. Research published in multiple medical journals, including the International Journal of Oncology, found that miso consumption prevents and even effectively treats lung, liver, breast, colon, and liver cancers. Eating yogurt can reduce four markers essential for preventing diabetes and heart disease. Research published in the journal Nutrition demonstrated that yogurt cultured with the probiotic L. plantarum improved cholesterol levels, blood sugar balance, and homocysteine levels in women with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of four symptoms, and when they occur together, they increase a person’s risk of diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke. So reducing these markers bodes well for long-term health. Eating certain fermented foods can alleviate seasonal allergies. Fermented plums contain beneficial yeasts known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae that have been linked to reducing allergies, congestion, and sinusitis. But why pop expensive supplements when you can reap these benefits and enjoy my Cultured Plum Chutney? Eating fermented foods can give your brain a boost. Exciting new research published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that intentionally boosting beneficial microbes by adding fermented foods to the diet could directly activate neural pathways between the gut and the brain and may boost brain health and prevent depression. Eating nondairy yogurt can improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Research published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition and multiple other journals found a direct link between dairy-free yogurt consumption and bone health. Drinking probiotic-rich kefir helps protect against cancer and even effectively treats the disease. Kefir contains a probiotic called Lactobacillus kefiri P-IF, which is effective against leukemia even when multiple cancer drugs fail. Eating fermented soy, known as miso, can prevent radiation injury. It’s not just an urban myth: medical research conducted in Hiroshima found that eating fermented soy protects against the damaging effects of radiation — a growing concern in our modern society. Fermented foods are the missing link when it comes to effortless and permanent weight loss. In many studies the intestines of overweight and obese people were found to differ from those of lean people. Research published in the medical journal Beneficial Microbes found that obese and overweight people tend to have a higher ratio of harmful microbes to beneficial ones. The best way to boost beneficial microbes to benefit from their slimming properties is to enjoy fermented foods that contain live cultures on a regular basis.

These health benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. New studies are being released on an almost daily basis, demonstrating the health benefits of incorporating more probiotics and probiotic-rich foods into the diet.

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Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, is an internationally bestselling author whose works include The Cultured Cook and Be Your Own Herbalist. She is a certified herbalist, a board-certified doctor of natural medicine, and one of the world’s most popular natural health bloggers. She holds advanced degrees in health, nutrition, orthomolecular nutrition, and acupuncture. She lives near Vancouver, BC, Canada. Visit her online at www.drmichellecook.com.

Excerpted from the book The Cultured Cook. Copyright © 2017 by Michelle Schoffro Cook. 

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With her clear-eyed, inspiring, and sweeping vision, futurist and author of Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of our Social Potential Barbara Marx Hubbard says that the crises our world is currently facing are not precursors of an apocalypse, but the natural birth pains of what will become an awakened universal humanity. In this inspiring conversation with host Kim Corbin, Barbara reframes problems as evolutionary drivers and explains how each of us is being called to fulfill our creative potential so that we can be active participants in the greatest adventure in human history — our conscious evolution.   You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
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How does one regain confidence and optimism about love after a breakup? After her own relationship ended, author and counselor Rebekah Freedom McClaskey developed and practiced a series of small, step-by-step actions that ultimately helped her heal her heart and live in harmony with her destiny. 

In Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah meets readers in their states of grief or resignation and walks them through twelve steps to forgiveness and self-responsibility, self-compassion and self-awareness, power and purpose. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

What is forgiveness anyway? I offer you this: forgiveness is not holding yourself or another hostage to the past. It means giving yourself permission to be who you are — a perfectly flawed human who had an imperfect relationship.

It’s over. Everything you were building toward, the time you invested, and the moments you shared stopped. Who is to blame? What is to blame? Is there even anything to blame? I invite you to invest less time in avoiding the pain by playing the blame game and more time forgiving yourself and your ex.

But how do you forgive someone who hurt you so badly? How do you even begin to be kind to yourself after making such a dumb mistake? Hey, at least you tried. You put your heart out there. You got hurt. Now you have some big decisions to make.

Allow yourself the grace to say enough is enough and start to construct new boundaries. Oh, boundaries. I can hear the Dr. Phils of the world using this word as a catchall. We’ve talked about dropping our barriers and not walling off. How can we do that and still have boundaries? What do boundaries have to do with forgiveness?

Well, we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. We learn how to treat ourselves by how people treat us. Letting go and forgiving can break destructive cycles so that we can have healthier relationships. Breaking destructive cycles is the same as setting healthy boundaries. So forgiving yourself and others is a healthy way to set boundaries.

If you’re afraid to hurt your ex, if you’re a people pleaser, then setting boundaries is brave. In other words, if it’s over, let it be over. Bishop T. D. Jakes has a powerful sermon where he says, “There are people who can walk away from you. When people walk away from you, let them walk! . . . Your destiny isn’t tied to this person who left, people leave because they aren’t joined to you. You just have to let them go. . . . You have to know when a person’s part in your life is over so you don’t start trying to raise the dead.” Love won’t leave or forsake you. Trust that losing a relationship doesn’t mean you lose your ability to love or be loved.

Just keep surrendering the pain. Keep letting go. Keep forgiving.

Is this starting to sound like all the other books out there? Ugh, I know, right? But there is no way I could write this without including the timeless lesson of forgiveness. Without it, we don’t get a chance to try something new because we keep trying to repair the old. You can’t skip over learning to forgive.

The noun forgiveness means the act of pardoning someone or something. To pardon a sin is to have mercy on the sinner. A sinner is simply a person who didn’t stick the landing. The verb forgive means to actively behave in a way that demonstrates releasing yourself and others from accusation, blame, condemnation, judgment, and sentencing. Can you imagine the freedom you can have right now if you don’t make yourself or your ex wrong for what went down?

Do it. Imagine your relationship as one of many poignant experiences you’ll have in your lifetime. To forgive is to accept that what has been done to you was also done for you. Your relationship was your experience to have and so is your breakup. In some ways, forgiveness is the acknowledgment that there is something bigger than your agenda unfolding here. Like, “Okay, universe/God/whatever, I don’t understand exactly what is going on here, but I’m going to surrender my agenda and see what happens next.”

Did you have an agenda in the relationship? Don’t lie. Did you? Some of us feel bad about not being perfect (in everything we do) and that’s why we keep trying to improve ourselves. But self-help is kind of redundant if you consider that what is happening is what is supposed to happen. The thing that needs to shift is our perspective.

Forgiveness requires shifting your perspective. The roots of forgiveness begin by naming everything just as it is and accepting the past for what it was. Name it. Feel it. Then take inspired action to change it.

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The author of Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah Freedom McClaskey is a relationship specialist with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Her private practice focuses on helping clients get what they want out of life and love. She lives in Southern California. Visit her online at www.rebekahfreedom.com.

Excerpted from the book Breakup Rehab. Copyright © 2017 by Rebekah Freedom McClaskey.  

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In his new book, The Art of Connection: 7 Relationship-Building Skills Every Leader Needs Now, Michael J. Gelb writes, “Conjungere ad solvendum is Latin for ‘Connect before solving.’ I’ve made up this motto because through teaching and facilitating innovative thinking for decades I’ve discovered that the most powerful catalyst for inspiring creative breakthroughs, and for translating those breakthroughs into sustainable innovations, is to guide people to connect with one another first, before trying to solve a problem.”

When people connect — when they are on the same wavelength, attuned, in rapport — they are much better at generating, and implementing, new ideas. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt in which Gelb shares how to improve this essential relationship-building skill. 

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Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again. 
— André Gide (1869–1951), Nobel Laureate in Literature

Every book, blog, and LinkedIn post on leadership, parenting, relationships, or emotional intelligence has something to offer about the importance of listening and how to improve this critical leadership competency. Even if, in spite of Gide’s quip, you have been listening, let’s consider how to improve this essential relationship-building skill. 

Listening is like Driving

Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac? 
 — George Carlin (1937–2008), humorist

My friends in Los Angeles swear that the worst drivers in the country are to be found on the 405, but anyone from DC will tell you they’re on the Beltway. Folks from New Jersey commiserate about the Turnpike, but Bostonians will tell you that the Callahan Tunnel is the epicenter of bad driving. If you speak with Italians, Brazilians, or Indians, they’ll explain that the standard of driving in their countries makes U.S. drivers look tame. Yet, although people are quick to agree that the general standard of driving leaves much to be desired, most people believe that they are above-average drivers.

Listening is like driving — most people think they are better than average, but that can’t be true. 

The Dunning-Kruger Effect 

In a classic study entitled “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments,” psychologists Justin Kruger and David Dunning report that in many social and intellectual domains “people who lack the knowledge or wisdom to perform well are often unaware of this fact.” Dunning and Kruger’s subjects overestimated their prowess in logical reasoning, grammar, and sense of humor. 

Researchers at the University of Stockholm in Sweden posed the question: “Are we all less risky and more skillful than our fellow drivers?” The answer? No! Other studies have found that people often overestimate their popularity, job performance, and relationship abilities.

Bad driving is common, and so is bad listening. Before we explore the art of listening well, let’s consider the everyday manifestations of bad listening.

How do you know when someone isn’t listening? Let us count the ways!

Think back over your last week: 

Have you had people check their messages or text while you were trying to speak to them? Have you been interrupted? Has anyone fidgeted, checked his watch, or rolled his eyes at you? Have you had someone fail to make eye contact, look at her device, or change the subject when you were speaking?

Professor Sherry Turkle reports that 89 percent of Americans admit they took out a phone at their last social encounter — and 82 percent say that they felt the conversation deteriorated after they did so. 

And just as you may have been cut off by someone in a rush to get to work or stuck behind a torturously slow car in the fast lane, chances are that at some point another driver felt that you cut him off or that you failed to signal before turning. As you reflect on the bad listening manifestations that you’ve observed in others, please consider the possibility that others may have perceived you as being a less than ideal listener. 

A Bad-Listening Exercise
Take an inventory of your relationships and contemplate with humility and curiosity how you can become a better listener. You can deepen your insight and have some fun by experimenting with the following listening exercise.

For this exercise, you’ll need a partner. Tell your partner about something that interests you. Choose a topic that is meaningful, something that you’d really like to share. You might, for example, offer your thoughts on a political issue, ideas for a vacation you’re planning, or memories from the best concert you ever attended. Your partner’s job is to practice bad listening — to manifest as many nonaffirming listening habits as possible. Your task is to persist in communicating your message. After a minute or so, switch roles. Aim to do a worse job of listening than your partner did.

When this exercise is practiced in a class setting, the results are always fascinating. Tension quickly fills the room, often manifested in near hysterical laughter. Even though everyone knows it’s only a game, the stress generated is palpable. The result is that participants become sensitized to the manifestations of bad listening. This sets the stage for a deeper consideration of listening. 

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Michael J. Gelb, author of The Art of Connection, has pioneered the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership. He leads seminars for organizations such as DuPont, Merck, Microsoft, Nike, Raytheon, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He is also coauthor of Brain Power and several other bestsellers. His website is www.MichaelGelb.com.

Excerpted from the book The Art of Connection. Copyright © 2017 by Michael J. Gelb. 

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These days it can be easy to feel like it’s impossible to make a difference in the world at an individual level. But in this inspiring conversation, Scott Stabile, author of Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart, promises that nothing stands to transform us, our relationships, and the world more than a commitment to living our lives from love. He stresses the importance of standing up for what we believe in and offers an empowering perspective for reframing our relationship to fear as we put our love into action in the world.  You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes.For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
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From the Editor’s Foreword by David Kudler:

When Joseph Campbell arrived in Colombo, Ceylon, on March 4, 1955, he was in a foul mood. He had come to India some six months before, funded by grants from the Bollingen Foundation, and driven by his own deep desire to see the country that had dominated his professional life and his dreams for so many years.

Since a chance meeting with Jiddu Krishnamurti on a transatlantic steamship in 1924, Campbell had been fascinated with the religions and philosophies of Asia, and particularly India. When his mentor, renowned Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, had died in 1943, leaving behind a huge volume of notes for uncompleted scholarly texts, Campbell had agreed with Zimmer’s widow Christiane to fashion these notes into a collection of posthumous works. He had spent the next twelve years devoting most of his professional energy into these books. Indeed, he had traveled to India with the proofs for the last volume, The Art of Indian Asia, in his suitcase.

Campbell had arrived in India expecting to find the breath of brahman—the World Soul of the Hindu religion—that inspired the classical Indian art and literature that he and Zimmer had studied. What he had found instead was a society obsessed with bhakti, the rituals of devotion, and centered around what Campbell came to call “the Baksheesh Complex”: what he felt was a national expectation of getting something for nothing. In his journals, he said:

 

The squalor of India is not a result of Indian poverty alone, but also of an indifference to dirt, the inefficiency of city officials, and an intentional spectacle of poverty presented by professional beggars: moreover, the assault that the visitor endures from the beggars gives him an exaggerated view of the seedier aspects of the Indian scene. This whole matter of Indian poverty and squalor may be summed up as a function of the Baksheesh Complex, which has two major forms of manifestation: that of the beggar, that of the retired pensioner. The formula for both is Something for Nothing.

India’s pretext of spiritual superiority is another consequence of the Baksheesh Complex and does not accord with the actualities of the modern international scene. India is in fact receiving all of her progressive ideals (spiritual principles) as well as machines (technological principles) from the West.

 

Campbell had faced beggars and hucksters, pimps and fakirs, and like many Westerners before and since it had put him in a state of moral shock. He had had many wonderful, enriching experiences as well, but by the time he had finished up his tour, he was sick at heart.

The Indian government itself had dealt the final insult. As Campbell had applied for an exit visa, he had discovered that he would have to pay income tax on all the money that he had brought into the country. In Campbell’s eye, this was nothing but the last, egregious, institutional form of baksheesh. As he wrote to the Indian Minister of Finance:

 

I arrived in New Delhi, August 30, 1954; lectured, gratis, at a number of Indian colleges and institutions; spent as much as I could afford on Indian textiles; gave as generously as I could to your temples and beggars; overlooked the anti-American propaganda in the newspapers; learned to admire and love the Indian people, as I had long admired and loved their culture—and when it came time for me to buy my ticket to depart (that is to say, today), my way was blocked by your income tax officials, to whom I am compelled to pay 519 rupees—not on any moneys earned in India (for I have not received one rupee here) but out of the funds that I brought into India and spent here. After this final experience of the baksheesh motif—played fortissimo, now, by the government itself—I am afraid that I am going to find it harder than it used to be, to speak and write about the Indian character with the respect it deserves.

 

Campbell’s thoughts and feelings about the contradictions of Indian philosophy and society dominate the journals from which this volume and Baksheesh & Brahman are drawn as he moves from a Hindu to a Buddhist world. He was ready for a different experience than the dirt and squalor that had overwhelmed him in India, and he found it in Ceylon, Southeast Asia, and especially Japan. Reading his daily musings, one sees a sensualist delight in the pleasures of these newfound lands. He experienced anew the joy of discovery, not only in the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, but also in the bath- and teahouses.

Now, by his own testimony, Campbell was a very happily married man. He wrote his wife, choreographer Jean Erdman, regularly, and looked forward to his final month in Asia, when she would join him on a teaching junket. Yet he indulged in the fleshpots of Tokyo with a man-of-the-world (and almost entirely voyeuristic) verve.

From the sybaritic glee that Campbell took in immersing himself in Japanese nightclubs, baths, and theaters, he soon moved to the scholar’s joy of immersing himself in this new country’s language and religion. As his stay lengthened—and especially once the first copy of The Art of Indian Asia arrived—Campbell’s physical, spiritual, and intellectual reaction to his stay in India mellowed, and he gained new perspectives on India, Japan, and his own psyche, as well as on geopolitics, a subject he had previously avoided considering.

Campbell’s timing in traveling to East Asia was politically fortuitous. Nineteen fifty-five was a relative slack-water period in the Cold War: two years after the cessation of hostilities in Korea, one after the French departure from Indochina. America’s post–World War II occupation of Japan was officially over (though an enormous U.S. military presence remained in the country, much to Campbell’s repeatedly voiced dismay) and its involvement in Vietnam had not yet begun. Joseph McCarthy’s hearings in the U.S. Senate, seeking to unearth Communists among the employees of the Department of State and the army (whom Campbell refers to somewhat sneeringly as “our Fifth Amendment boys”), had ended. Yet the politics of East and West, Capitalist and Communist were very much in the air, and Campbell, a lifelong nonpartisan, found himself increasingly drawn to defend his native land.

The difficulty for Campbell was that he found the Americans working and traveling in Asia to be, for the most part, woefully uninformed, misinformed, and unconcerned about the cultures of the nations they were visiting. A classic example occurred during a dusty tour-bus ride back from the spectacular ruins of Angkor Wat. As he was to recount many times in later years, he overheard an American tourist moan to his wife, “I’d give everything I have to have had three Coca-Colas instead of all those temples.”

As he considered this dilemma—his love of America and what it stood for on the one hand, and the poor showing that its representatives made abroad—several initiatives shaped themselves in his mind that were to inform the rest of his career. The first was his course of lectures on world culture and religion for the Foreign Service Institute, the training program of the U.S. State Department, that he undertook soon after his return to the United States and continued well into the 1970s. 

The second was the germ of the idea that was to become the series of books known as The Masks of God—four comprehensive volumes on comparative religion and myth aimed not only at his fellow academics but also at the broader American populace. These books would engage most of his writing energy from his return home until the last volume, Creative Mythology, was issued in 1968. 

The third initiative that he undertook after his travels in Asia was his series of popular lectures. From his homecoming until his death in 1987, Campbell embarked on an ongoing succession of lectures at colleges and churches, public venues (such as New York’s Cooper Union) and private conferences, on radio and television, seeking to educate the public about world myth and religion.

Indeed, it is in these journals that Campbell finally identifies his field of study: “Resolution: Comparative mythology...is indeed my field.” Amazing as it may seem to us, Campbell had always avoided defining precisely what it was that he was studying and teaching. He had studied English, biology, and medieval literature as a young man; he was on the Sarah Lawrence College English faculty. It was only now, at the age of fifty, that Campbell—the obdurate generalist—felt ready to name his specialty.

It is in these journals too that Campbell begins to realize and take into account some of his own preconceptions. In the notes that provide the first manifesto for what is to become The Masks of God, Campbell wrote, “As a contemporary Occidental faced with Occidental and contemporary psychological problems, I am to admit and even celebrate (in Spengler’s manner) the relativity of my historical view to my own neurosis (Rorschach formula).” It is in this self-aware mode that Campbell embarked on the new phase of a career that was to reshape his ideas on comparative mythology, and ours.

# # #

Perhaps most responsible for bringing mythology to a mass audience, Joseph Campbell’s works rank among the classics in mythology and literature. Among his many awards, Campbell received the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Contribution to Creative Literature and the 1985 Medal of Honor for Literature from the National Arts Club. A president of the American Society for the Study of Religion, Campbell was professor emeritus at Sarah Lawrence College in New York until his retirement in 1972, at which time he devoted himself to his writing. He died after a short struggle with cancer in 1987. David Kudler is the managing editor of the Joseph Campbell Foundation. 

From the book Asian Journals: India and Japan. Copyright © 2002 by the Joseph Campbell Foundation. Excerpted with special permission from the Joseph Campbell Foundation, www.jcf.org.

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What happens when you fully commit yourself to love? Endless good, says author and social media sensation Scott Stabile, who came to that conclusion by overcoming plenty of bad. Scott’s parents were murdered when he was fourteen. Nine years later, his brother died of a heroin overdose. Soon after that, he joined a cult that dominated his life for thirteen years before he summoned the courage to walk away. In this inspiring conversation with host Kim Corbin about his memoir, Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart, Scott relates how, through it all, he has become evermore committed to living a life of love, while encouraging each of us to do the same. You can tune in and listen to this great conversation directly on Unity Online Radio, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or YouTube, and if you enjoy this podcast series, please feel free to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes. For more discussion with other listeners and fans after the show, we invite you to join the New World Now podcast community on Facebook.
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Thursday, August 24, 2017
FIVE WAYS TO SUPPORT BALANCE & FLOW THIS SCHOOL YEAR by Renée Peterson Trudeau, author of NURTURING THE SOUL OF YOUR FAMILY
 
Last night we were shopping for school supplies with my fifteen-year-old and talking about whether he’ll be able to work as a lifeguard all year, what colleges he might like to visit during our Thanksgiving trip to California, and if he wants to continue playing in the high school jazz band. I could feel my chest start to tighten as we envisioned the very full year ahead of us, and we all paused in the school supply aisle and took a deep breath.  Growing up with a parent who suffered from clinical depression and navigating a heaping dose of dysfunction, stress, anxiety, and “not feeling enough” the first thirty years of my life have left me highly motivated to want to feel good.  The primary drive for the work I do now — helping people find their center and enhance balance and flow in everyday life — is that I’ve experienced what it feels like to live with a sense of unease and to always look outside myself for happiness and self-worth. But when I finally learned how to find my “home base,” through practicing the art and science of self-care and tapping into the deep well of peace that exists within all of us, I knew that this was where I wanted to spend as much time as possible. Finding balance is not about attaining a state of perfection or having it all together. And it’s not about having equal time for work/school and play. Balance is about staying true to what’s most important to you at your current life stage and feeling a sense of flow, harmony, and resiliency as you move through life. Preparing a sophomore for high school is quite different from getting him ready for second grade. Still, as our family looks ahead to a very full fall, we’re returning again to the five guiding life-balance principles I have been practicing, writing about, and teaching for more than fifteen years, which have made a huge impact on our family’s ability to find peace and flow in everyday life.  Five Ways to Find Balance in a 24/7 World
Understand the concept of managing energy (vs. time), and choose to do less. Our energy is precious; use it wisely. In a world where we’re constantly doing too much, doing less can not only be our salvation but can greatly enhance our ability to be creative and focused and to feel happier and more alive. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Embrace self-care — it’s a game changer. Self-care isn’t about adding something to your to-do list; it’s about cultivating a kinder, gentler way of being with yourself. Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self-care is key to balanced living and as essential as oxygen. Place a hand over your chest, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and ask, “What do I most need right now?” Believe you’re worthy of feeling good and of caring for yourself. Be here now. Stress, anxiety, and fear are brought on when we live in the future or dwell on the past. Breathing, embracing mindfulness, and learning how to become more present in everyday experiences — washing dishes, helping kids with homework, making a phone call — not only enhances our sense of joy and connection with ourselves and others but teaches us to access our innate resiliency and well-being. Ask for and receive help. Having a support system we can tap — friends, mentors, parenting coaches, support groups, neighbors — has a profound effect on our emotional and mental health and our ability to weather crises. Most of us have had to rewire our brains to learn this concept, but leaning on others — which requires vulnerability and letting go — can make all the difference in how we experience our life journey. Let go and practice “good is good enough.” Too many of us are trying to hold it together, to control everything and everyone around us, to adhere to unrealistic, perfectionistic standards, and to do so with a tea set balanced on our heads. Research shows we’re happiest when we have fewer choices, when we embrace simplicity, and when we put people first and things second. Just let go.  Today, as a mother, wife, community leader, entrepreneur, and business owner, I have my good days and my bad days, just like everyone else. But most of the time, I say no to requests for my time a lot more than I say yes. I am kind to myself, I spend a lot of time unplugged in nature (the best antidepressant), I make time with friends a priority, I meditate in the morning, I ask for help a lot, and every morning I reflect on “How can I do less today?” I’m not trying to become a better person or Renée version 2.0. I do these things because I want to live a life of joy and connection and to remember that as great as it feels to get stuff done, my real purpose for being here is to give and receive love. # # # Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized transformational coach and speaker, the president of Career Strategists, and the author of three books on life balance, including the award-winning Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. Renée has been creating and leading transformative events for women for more than twenty years, and thousands of women in more than ten countries are facilitating and joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. Connect with her online at www.ReneeTrudeau.com.

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Walter Ling MD

As most drug and alcohol addicts eventually realize, good intentions alone aren’t enough to break destructive habits. However, addiction can be managed once its true nature is understood. Mastering the Addicted Brain: Building a Sane and Meaningful Life to Stay Clean is a simple yet profound guidebook that takes readers step-by-step through the process of building a life after addiction by adopting new behaviors that create lasting change. An internationally renowned psychiatrist, neurologist, and addiction specialist, author Dr. Walter Ling has worked with thousands of addicts, their loved ones, and fellow clinicians. His no-nonsense, no-judgment approach, which he calls the “neuroscience of common sense,” advocates holistic methods to prevent relapse and establish new patterns to create a sustainable, meaningful life.

We hope you’ll find this excerpt helpful as Dr. Ling offers advice on what to do when strong emotions crop up for those in recovery. 

# # #

Meditation and journaling are ideal for calm moments of reflection. However, what do you do in heated moments? Sometimes, strong emotions arise suddenly and we don’t know how to handle them. We can get swept up in our emotions and react and behave inappropriately. Or we may deny our emotions entirely; try to suppress an emotion we fear, such as anger; or mislabel our feelings. For example, we may say we are “a little upset” when in fact we are very angry or depressed. All these things can prevent us from understanding and dealing appropriately with our emotions. Moreover, our emotions often manifest themselves through physical symptoms and outward expressions. You might experience a stomachache or a headache when you are nervous, bite your nails when you are stressed, or yell when you are angry. It is important to recognize these outward signs of emotion so they do not continue to build up inside. 

On the other hand, physical symptoms can also be the cause of your feelings. You may feel down in the dumps because of a genuine physiological depression, because of the fatigue that persists beyond the immediate withdrawal (known as protracted abstinence syndrome), or simply because you’re hungry. Clinical depression may require specific medical management, but sometimes you just need to eat better. In other words, so that we react in appropriate ways, and avoid harming others, we must correctly identify the cause of our emotions while also learning to identify and face our true feelings as they arise.

The problem is that, when strong emotions arise suddenly, we tend to react too quickly. The connections between our emotional brain and our survival brain are fast and autonomous. They usually happen before we’ve had time to think. This is not surprising since we acquired our survival and emotional brains long before we got our slow-and-deliberate thinking brain. Our emotional-survival brain unit is our first responder to any crisis. Any sudden emotion will cause it to jump into action before we have time to take in the whole picture, which is how we get into trouble. To avoid that, we must practice slowing down in the moment so we can engage our thinking, cortical brain before we act. We can do this with the following exercise, which I learned from Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, Professor of Neurology at Harvard University Medical School.

STOP and HALT: Understanding Our Vulnerability and Exercising Control

STOP is an acronym that stands for “Stop, Take a few deep breaths, Observe, and Proceed.”

When you notice a strong physical or emotional reaction, practice these four steps:

Stop whatever you are doing. Restrain the urge to act immediately on whatever you are feeling. Say to yourself, “Hold on a minute, wait.” Take three deep breaths to calm yourself down, and smile — I mean really smile. This interrupts the emotion itself and releases the bonding hormone that makes people like you. Observe what is going on inside you and around you: What in this situation is affecting you? How are you affecting those around you? Proceed with consideration of others. That is, make sure you act in ways that don’t hurt or harm others.

When we get upset and “lose control of our emotions,” our emotional brain calls on our reptilian brain, its old partner, which is devoted to our survival. If we are upset and feel threatened, this part of our brain kicks in to protect us, usually by urging us to fight (to end the threat) or flee (to escape it). But in many situations, these reactions are overreactions. They are inappropriate to what’s going on and hurtful to others. We think we’re protecting ourselves, but we are only making things worse.

By learning to STOP when we feel emotions taking over, we give ourselves time to evaluate what’s really going on and act appropriately.

We are most likely to act without thinking, and fail to engage our thinking brain, when we are run-down, exhausted, or feeling bummed out. Counselors use the acronym HALT to remind people in recovery that they are especially vulnerable to relapse in four situations: when they feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. These feelings keep us from engaging our thinking brain. When we feel our emotions getting the best of us, we should use STOP to give ourselves a chance to see what is really going on and engage our uniquely human cortical, thinking brain.

In the same way that our emotional brain is linked to our physical, survival-oriented brain, so our emotional brain is linked to our thinking brain. Yet as I mention above, the connection between our feeling brain and our survival brain has been around much longer. It is powerful and easily activated, and communication is fast and automatic, mostly out of our consciousness. Our thinking brain, which exercises control over our unconscious emotional-survival brain, arrived on the scene much later. It is also powerful, but it needs to be actively engaged. It operates in our consciousness. Our cortical brain is what makes us uniquely human, since it provides control over our largely subconscious emotional and survival brains, but the bad news is that it is slower to respond, and we have to actively engage it to make it work.

The good news is that this effort has big payoffs. By engaging our cortical brain, we can change our thinking, or consider a different point of view, and this helps us change how we feel. Since feelings lead to actions, right thinking leads to right feelings, which lead to right actions.

For example, we may feel sad, mad, or worried, and we believe we can’t control or change these feelings. Perhaps we blame others for causing us to feel this way, or we blame ourselves for our weakness. By engaging our thinking brain, we can see that these feelings have nothing to do with weakness and that they aren’t being caused by others, and by changing our perspective, we can start to feel different. For instance, perhaps a recovering person says, “All my friends have abandoned me. They never call. I might as well do drugs.” By being mindful of HALT and using STOP, the person might change their thinking to: “I feel lonely. Drugs won’t fix that. I need to call my friends.” Changing our thinking can help to diminish negative feelings and lead to better solutions. In another example, perhaps someone says, “I am so angry she doesn’t agree with me that I feel like using drugs.” They could revise this to: “It is all right for her to disagree with me. I don’t need to be angry, and using drugs won’t make it any better.”

When we think differently, we act differently, and when we act differently, things turn out differently, usually for the better — and that helps us cope with bad feelings and keeps them from driving us back to using drugs. It is important to realize that we do have control over our emotions. We can change the way we feel by changing the way we think.

You might ask, if we have so much power over how we feel and how we act, how come we still get into so much trouble? The answer is that we don’t think as much as we think we do. It takes conscious effort to avoid our automatic survival responses and to engage our thinking brain. That is why we need to keep reminding ourselves of HALT and practicing STOP. That is also why journaling and practicing mindfulness are so helpful, particularly for those in recovery. They create a calm space for our thinking brain to understand what’s going on and execute the right command. They slow down our emotions so we can increase our self-awareness. Putting the thinking brain in charge is hard enough under normal circumstances, and it’s extraordinarily difficult when we are distracted by the powerful HALT emotions. We just have to keep practicing until we make self-awareness a habit.

# # #

Walter Ling MD

Walter Ling, MD, author of Mastering the Addicted Brain, is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and the founding director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP) at the University of California, Los Angeles. With board certifications in neurology and psychiatry, Ling has conducted clinical trials of psychiatric medications, acted as a consultant to the World Health Organization, and run a private practice listed in the “Best Doctors in America” directory.

Excerpted from the book Mastering the Addicted Brain. Copyright © 2017 by Walter Ling, MD.

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When I found out I would be working with Danielle Dulsky to promote her book Woman Most Wild: Three Keys to Liberating the Witch Within, I was over the moon. It was the perfect match for me. Not only am I a longtime practicing Witch myself, but I am also dedicated to empowering women to own their power and live the best lives they can, creatively and spiritually. The work of Danielle Dulsky, who is also an artist, yoga teacher, and energy worker, reflects a similar life path. She leads women’s circles, Witchcraft workshops, and energy healing trainings and regularly speaks about how everyone — female, male, or beyond the gender binary — can find a unique feminine spirituality and welcome that spirituality into daily life.

When I related my delight in this perfect fit to my colleague Kim Corbin, she pointed out that this often happens at New World Library — the right publicist gets the right book, exactly when she needs it. And I did need this book. I was about a year into life after the sudden death of my beloved husband. Everything felt upside down. My spiritual practice had started to falter. I had lost track of what was deeply important to me. It was as if my grief were a giant vacuum, sucking up any joy, hope, or faith I may have had. 

As I dove into Woman Most Wild, I felt my wild feminine spirituality calling to me from the woods behind my house. I started listening to the birds. I started doing ritual again. I remembered and reaffirmed my deep connection to the cycles of the moon and how they relate to my own personal and physical cycles. Danielle’s book lifted me up out of my grief and reminded me that I am still a vibrant, powerful woman who has the wisdom and companionship of nature at my fingertips. 

While working together, Danielle and I have been Witchy partners in publicity, spreading the word about her fantastic book far and wide (including all the way to the UK — if you are in London on August 7, 2017, go see her at the Atlantis Bookshop!). I take such great delight in seeing the impact her book has had on readers everywhere, and I feel blessed to play my small role in bringing Woman Most Wild to the world.

I recently interviewed Danielle — a “Witch-to-Witch” chat, if you will. You can watch a video of this vibrant and playful interview here. Among many other things, we talk about being a Witch on a budget, how to let go of dogmatic practices and find your own authentic spiritual path, and how cats are better than dogs as partners in spellwork.

I want to end with this wonderful excerpt from Woman Most Wild. In it, Danielle invites us all to awaken the feminine divine within and walk our life journey with pride and power. I hope you enjoy it.

# # #


Every time you honor the feminine divine as part of you, as alive and well inside your psyche and body, a quiver in the energetic web of divinity surrounds us. Every time you give a nod to your Witch’s identity and acknowledge the wild within you, we move closer to a pan-gender-equal world. I urge you now to sense the profound truth of the feminine divine’s awakening in a world so pervaded with male dominance, and I am crying out for you to set a place for the Goddess at your table. 

She needs us, and we need Her. She is us, and we are Her. There is no wall between you and the sacred source, my love, so burn your shame. To embrace your own divinity is not sacrilege; it is your birthright. If you are able to honor the Goddess openly, do so for those who cannot. I am calling you out as a Goddess born as woman, and I am affirming your place in the realm of deity. You, Sister-Goddess, are who we have been waiting for all these Motherless years, and I stand with you as a grieving orphan longing for Her return. 

Come to the temple with me, and light candles for Her. Let us show Her we have not forgotten our nature, and let us sing out in unity hymns we were forbidden to learn. Teach your daughters to roll in the mud with you, and teach your sons the merit of their tears. The scent of the charred skin of women burned for their healers’ beliefs still hangs thick in the air around us, my love, but do not be afraid, for She is with us. Run with me now into the night fearlessly, and let us bleed onto the ground. I love you, Woman, and we are in this together. Come with me, and let us bring our Mother home! You are a Woman Most Wild, and your global family needs your divinity!

# # #


Tristy Taylor is an artist, interfaith minister, radio host, and associate publicist for New World Library. Her husband suddenly passed away in August 2015, and she has been documenting her grief journey in writing and photos on her blog, CreateWithSpirit.com

Danielle Dulsky, author of Woman Most Wild, is an artist, yoga teacher, energy worker, and founder of Living Mandala Yoga teacher training programs. She leads women’s circles, Witchcraft workshops, and energy healing trainings and lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Find her online at LivingMandalaYoga.com.

The excerpt is from the book Woman Most Wild. Copyright © 2017 by Danielle Dulsky

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In The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart: An Emotional and Spiritual Handbook, beloved bestselling author Daphne Rose Kingma gives you the tools you need to face and learn from whatever devastating life crises you are navigating. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book. 

# # #


Hard times, more than any others, reveal to us the truth that the signature of our humanity is our emotional nature. What differentiates us from stones and butterflies is the degree to which what happens to us affects us on an emotional level. We don’t just experience things — get a divorce, lose our house, watch our dog die from eating poison — we have feelings about these events. It is the depth and nuance of our feelings — of our joy, sorrow, anger, and fear — that give texture to our humanity. 

Sorrow and grief are the emotions that apply when we experience loss, and crying is the body’s mechanism for expressing grief. It may seem self-evident that we should cry when we’re in pain, but it’s surprising how much we resist our tears. Often it is only when we’ve been overtaken by them that we finally discover how terribly aggrieved we are.

We live in a culture that’s afraid of grieving; we don’t know how to cry. When our lives fall apart in one way or another, we usually try to take control of things and solve them, forget them, or deny them — rather than experience them, accept them, or see the meaning they may hold for us. That’s because underlying many of our responses to difficulty is the unstated assumption that we should be able to engage in life, liberty, and the unbridled pursuit of happiness without ever having to grieve — over anything. It’s almost as if we believe that pain, suffering, and challenge are bad and should never be a part of our path. 

The truth is that pain is one of our greatest teachers, hurt can be a birth, and our sufferings are the portals to change. This being true, we need to know how to grieve, to mourn, to shed our tears, because grief is the cure for the pain of loss. Tears are the medicine of grieving. 

When life is hard, when you’re in a crisis, you should cry not because you’re weak but because crying holds the power of healing. Tears, in fact, are the vehicle for transformation. When you cry, your loss moves through you to the point of exit. What was holding you up and eating you up, what was stuck inside your body, gets released and moves outside your body. Your physical structure is quite literally cleansed and, like a blackboard sponged clean, is available to receive the imprint of whatever wants to come next. That’s why, when you have cried, you will be reborn, free to begin again.

Hard Afternoons on the Couch
It has been clinically demonstrated that when you suppress sadness you also suppress positive emotions. What we don’t feel on one end of the emotional spectrum, we don’t feel on the other. As a consequence, people who try to be happy all the time, who suppress what they perceive to be the “negative” emotions of sorrow and grief, actually, over time, become more anxious and depressed. Crying is not a sign of weakness; we shouldn’t staunch our tears. They’re a healing balm, a river to the future.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a bunch of really great cries in my life — days, afternoons, and nights when I took to the couch or my bed and literally wailed about the hardships of life. I’ve cried over sweethearts who left, lovers I couldn’t get rid of, bad decisions, feeling forsaken by God, people who didn’t “get” me, wrecking my dancing shoes, selling my house, feeling isolated, wretched, and unloved, and feeling the impending sorrow of death. I have cried because of my stupidity, my naïveté, and my lack of courage, because of tornadoes and earthquakes, because of money I lost and money that was stolen from me (a lot of both).

At times I’ve been surprised by the magnitude of my tears, by the amount of sheer wailing and letting go that certain circumstances called for. I’ve been shocked, almost worried that such a big cry might have been some sort of hysterical emotional excess, some kind of performance. But the quiet integration, the fragile and yet sublime peace that followed each vintage cry was the measure of the healing power of those tears. 

I’ve always felt better because of having cried. I have felt reglued, reborn, strong, silken, vulnerable, permeable, powerful, radical, formidable, tender, pure, loving, exquisite, invincible, clear, new, real, whole.

When you stop and think about it, there are things worth crying about every day. So cry, for God’s sake. Cry your heart out.

# # #

Daphne Rose Kingma is the author of The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart and numerous other books, including Coming Apart, The Men We Never Knew, and The Future of Love. A six-time guest on Oprah, she has also appeared on many other television shows and media outlets. Visit her online at www.daphnekingma.com

Excerpted from The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart. Copyright © 2010 by Daphne Rose Kingma.  

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Twenty-three years after its original publication, the popular New World Library book Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder, by acclaimed author Kent Nerburn, has been adapted into a feature film. Thanks to the Museum of the American Indian and the Marin Community Foundation, a screening of this Steven Lewis Simpson–directed film recently took place in San Rafael, California. 

Nerburn also cowrote the screenplay (with Simpson), and the main character, played by the talented actor Christopher Sweeney, is based on him. After seeing the final cut, Nerburn said, “The film, in both its choices that reflect the book and its choices that go outside the book, is always and uncompromisingly respectful and accurate in its depiction of Native people and life. To my mind, there is not one false note in the portrayal of Native reality.”

Many New World Library staff members, including me, attended the San Rafael screening, and it was a very powerful experience. Before the film, Hayna Brown of the Ho-Chunk Nation shared a blessing with the audience, inviting us into a deeper space of witnessing and presence. The name Ho-Chunk comes from the word Hochungra, meaning “People of the Big Voice” or “People of the Sacred Language,” and Brown told us that each word he spoke in his native language had many facets of meaning in English. It was a wonderful way to begin the presentation.

The film is a moving journey through the heart of Lakota country, guided by the wisdom of the 94-year-old Lakota elder Dan, played by the incomparable actor David Bald Eagle — a veteran of 1940s cowboy movies, both as a stunt man and an actor, who also trained John Wayne in techniques for horse and gun handling. He walked on his journey to the spirit world in July 2016 at the age 97, but he was able to watch the completed film before he passed on, saying, “It’s the only film I’ve been in about my people that told the truth.”

In the film, we meet quite a few characters, including Grover, played by Richard Ray Whitman — the slightly cantankerous but steady friend who drives Nerburn and Dan around in an old but very reliable green Buick on a “spiritual road trip” of sorts. There’s also the trickster character Jumbo, played by Harlen Standing Bear Sr., who can “fix anything” — but only on his own terms. And the pudgy corgi dog actor that plays Dan’s canine companion, Fatback, stole every scene she was in.

After the screening, Kerby Ann Gleeson, a Lakota Sioux of the Hunkpapa lineage, spoke about being the founder of the White Buffalo Woman Council and urged us all to take what we learned in this poignant film out into our communities — to talk about the issues of Native Americans across the continent and to stay present to the myriad of feelings the film may have brought up in us. “The first step is talking to each other,” she reminded us as the evening came to a close. 

We hope you’ll find a screening near you and see this wonderful film in your local theater. Until then, please enjoy the following excerpt from the book, which was adapted into a scene in the film. Neither Wolf nor Dog is written from the perspective of the author, Kent Nerburn, and in this scene, Dan is explaining the importance of being present and really listening. (And keep your eyes peeled for Fatback!)

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“People should think of their words like seeds. They should plant them, then let them grow in silence. Our old people taught us that the earth is always speaking to us, but that we have to be silent to hear her.

“I try to be that way. I taught my children to be that way.”

He swept his hand out across the panorama in front of us. “Do you hear the sound of the prairie? That is a great sound. But when I’m talking I can’t hear it.

“There are lots of voices besides ours, Nerburn. Lots of voices.”

I smiled at his gentle lecture. “You make good sense, old man,” I said. He nodded in quiet acknowledgment. I think we both felt a sense of pride at how things were progressing.

He picked up a handful of loose earth and looked at it. “What do you do in your mind while we are up here, Nerburn?” he asked.

“Oh, I think about my family. Sometimes I make little prayers or look for shapes in the clouds. Mostly, I guess I’m just in some kind of reverie.”

“Do you know what I do?” he said. “I listen to voices. For me this hill is so full of life I can never be quiet enough to hear all the voices.”

I wanted to press him on this, but gently. I didn’t want to break the spell. “Do you mean real voices, or sensations that seem to have meaning?”

“I mean real voices. They’re not all people. They’re not all speaking our language. But they are voices. Listen.”

I heard the buzzing of locusts and the distant, rhythmic call of some kind of bird.

“Do you hear that bird?” asked Dan.

I told him I did.

“Do you know what he is saying?”

“I don’t speak ‘bird,’” I answered.

“You should,” he twinkled. “Learn a lot. The birds are ‘two-legs,’ like us. They are very close to us. He is calling to another. He is saying it will rain soon.”

“You can tell that?”

“Yes, and I can tell that the wind is switching to the north and we will soon have colder weather.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just do,” he responded cryptically. “It’s in the voices I hear. I can understand all the trees. The wind. All the animals. The insects. I can tell what a color of the sky means. Everything speaks to me.

“There,” he said, pointing to a patch of scrubby grass in the distance. “What do you see?”

“It looks a little greener than the rest of the hills,” I answered. “At least in a few patches.”

“Good. Now why is that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Look closer.”

I squinted my eyes. There was nothing to be seen except the short green grass.

“I don’t see anything,” I said.

“Look closer.”

I squinted again. There seemed to be some kind of movement, but it was too small to make out.

“Something is moving,” I said.

“Good. Do you know what it is?”

I admitted I didn’t.

“Pispiza. You call them prairie dogs.”

“Okay,” I acknowledged.

“That’s why the grass is green. Our brother prairie dogs dig under the ground to make their homes. They dig up the earth so the rain can go deeper and the roots of the grass can grow stronger.

“Where the grass is richer, the bigger animals come to feed. If we sit here quietly, in the morning, when the antelope are hungry, we will see them and we could hunt them. It is all because of our brother prairie dog. Where he lives, we can live.

“These are the kind of things I see when I look out here. They are things my grandfathers taught me. I hear them, too. My grandfathers. I hear their bones under the ground.”

I looked at the clump of dusty earth he held in his hand.

“You think I’m lying, don’t you? Or just a crazy old fool. I can’t explain it. But I know where the dead are buried. I hear them. They speak to me in some ancient tongue. It’s a gift I have.

“You’ve read about those people who can find water by using a forked stick? They walk along with the stick above the ground, and when they get above water the stick just points down.

“That’s the way it is with me. When I get over one of the graves I have a feeling inside me. It’s like a shiver. My grandmother had it, too. She said that our ancestors gave it to us, and that I should always listen.

“That’s why I come up here, Nerburn. Out there is where my people are buried. This is where I come to listen.”

“I believe you, Dan,” I said. And I did. Once, many years ago, I had taken a great deal of peyote. I had thought nothing of it at the time — it was just one of those acts that went along with life in the sixties. Within hours I was lying on my back under the midnight sky listening to the springs flow under the ground. It was a rushing sound, as if they were all speaking to each other. I felt like I was overhearing a conversation in the earth. Then, as I walked to a certain spot that sat like a plateau overlooking a valley, I felt a cold shiver come across me. “There are graves here,” I had said to myself. I knew I believed it, but I had never been sure whether it was the peyote talking or whether I had been opened to some deeper realm of meaning. I had never forgotten that moment, though I seldom shared it with anyone.

Now, this old man was telling me the same thing, but for him it was not some drug-induced awareness, but a part of everyday reality. I wondered what it must be like to have that sensitivity every moment of your life.

He saw my curiosity. “Here,” he said, “watch this.” He sat back on his haunches and cupped his hands over his knees. Nothing seemed to be different. I sat silently beside him, wondering what it was I was supposed to see. Suddenly, Fatback came rustling through the tall grasses wagging her tail.

“Good dog,” he said, and ruffled the scruff of her neck. Fatback wagged her tail furiously, then pushed back off through the weeds.

I raised my eyebrows and gave Dan a little half smile.

“See,” he said.

“You called her over here?”

“Want me to do it again?”

“No,” I answered, though I truly wanted to challenge him on this. But I knew that, on some level, everything was a test, and I did not want to appear the skeptic. My job was to record what I saw as he wanted it told, not to get involved in some ersatz anthropological research. All I could think of was what one tough old woman had said to me when I first arrived on the Red Lake reservation to begin the oral history project. I had gone over to her office to request her assistance in identifying elders who might be interested in participating. She stared at me with a hard glare, then stated, simply, “If you think you’re going to come up here and do one of those goddamn white anthropology projects, you can just get on your pony and ride.” Then she turned back to her beadwork and never said another word.

As much as I wanted Dan to prove that he had called Fatback, it seemed too close to a “goddamn white anthropology project.” So, I just said, “That dog’s got good hearing,” and let things go at that.

Dan chuckled knowingly. “You’re a good boy, Nerburn. Let’s go get some lunch.”

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Tristy Taylor is an artist, interfaith minister, radio host, and associate publicist for New World Library. Her husband suddenly passed away in August 2015, and she has been documenting her grief journey in writing and photos on her blog, CreateWithSpirit.com.

Kent Nerburn is an author, sculptor, and educator who has been deeply involved in Native American issues and education. He developed and directed an award-winning oral history project on the Red Lake Ojibwe reservation in northern Minnesota and went on to write the award-winning trilogy that began with Neither Wolf nor Dog and also included The Wolf at Twilight and The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo. He has been a presenter before various groups, including the National Indian Education Association. Find him online at KentNerburn.com.

Excerpt is from the book Neither Wolf nor Dog. Copyright © 1994, 2002 by Kent Nerburn.

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I can’t believe it. We’re celebrating forty years of publishing at New World Library. And it was all something I just stumbled into. Or maybe I was guided into it by forces far beyond me — who knows?

In my twenties, I spent most of my time in what we called the “spiritual smorgasbord” of the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was twenty-eight — in 1974 — I met a young woman named Shakti Gawain. She was two years younger and had just spent a year in India. We went to a weekend workshop led by a man named Ken Keyes, Jr., based on his book Handbook to Higher Consciousness. It was an incredible experience, and Shakti and I became close heart friends and partners.

Neither of us had any money whatsoever, so when a friend asked us to work for him during a four-day seminar he was going to lead, we both said yes. It was a paying gig, after all. Shakti was going to cook, and I was going to support him in whatever he needed, handing out papers and things. Twenty-five people registered for the workshop and showed up at a big house we were all renting in north Berkeley. 

Ten minutes before it was supposed to start, the three of us were in the kitchen, and our would-be seminar leader said, “I can’t handle this,” and he went out the back door and left. And that’s how Shakti and I got started leading workshops: we never would’ve had the chutzpah to organize one ourselves, but one fell into our laps. We threw everything at the participants that each of us had learned in the previous decade, and it turned out — to our amazement — they loved it.

Between sessions I kept running upstairs and typing out a summary of what we had just done. We covered so much in those four days, and I knew people would forget most of it, so I wanted them to have a written record. I went to the copy shop in the evening and made copies to hand out. 

Some of the people who’d taken the first workshop asked Shakti and me to do another one, and we used the little booklet I’d thrown together. We even made extra copies, and charged $2.00 to cover the cost of making it. I wondered if that meant we had written and published a book, so I looked up book and publish in the dictionary and found that a book was any collection of paper with a spine of some sort (I assumed stapling it together counted), and publishing just meant printing a number of copies (no specific number was given) and distributing at least a few to the public. 

Every little step we took led to the next obvious step. We put out our funky little book with the title Reunion: Tools for Transformation and started to sell a few. Then I wrote a book called Astrology for the New Age, and we put out a slightly better-looking book.

Then in 1978 Shakti wrote a book called Creative Visualization, and it started selling through word of mouth. A few years later, Oprah Winfrey found it somehow and invited Shakti on her show. Suddenly we had a book that was selling. Suddenly we had a bona fide publishing company.

And it was totally out of control, losing money every month, because I had no idea how a profitable company operated. Finally, in 1982, we hired a woman named Victoria Clarke as a bookkeeper, and she showed me how to control our costs so that the bottom line was black instead of red. I’m eternally grateful to her. We’ve been profitable ever since she joined us — and she’s still with New World Library, thirty-five years later.

We still had one major weakness, however: marketing. We had no knowledge of promotion, no understanding of how the book industry operated in general. That problem was solved when Munro Magruder came along in 1990, first as a consultant, then full-time as Marketing Director. He had been with Little, Brown in Boston and knew what a serious publishing company needed to do to promote and sell books. He’s been with us ever since.

Once we had Creative Visualization out, it worked like a magnet, attracting other authors who we were able to publish successfully. Now we’ve got names on our list that include Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Campbell, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Deepak Chopra, Jane Roberts, Dan Millman, Richard Carlson, Peter Russell, SARK, Bernie Siegel, Mother Teresa, Alan Watts, and many, many others. We publish books we love, books that change people’s lives.

One other thing transformed our company: In those first years when we were losing money, I read an article about a Swiss hotel that, like us, was bleeding red ink. They interviewed someone to be the new manager, and he told the owners that his plan for success was a simple one — he’d give half the profits to employees, half to owners. After the first year, employees received a bonus from the profits equal to about two and a half weeks’ pay. After seven years, when the article was written, they’d received bonuses of nearly eight months’ pay. In cash. The hotel had obviously become a huge success.

I went to my staff and said, “Look, we’re losing money. Help me make a profit, and I’ll split the profits between employees and owners.” There was a dramatic change in the company, practically overnight. People found all kinds of creative ways to make the company better, and we eventually created a smoothly running, profitable enterprise.

We now have a wonderful team of eighteen staff members working together to produce books, as well as the occasional audio or video, that help fulfill our goal of creating beautiful works that help change people’s lives and help make this a better world. Of course, a great many other people also contribute to our success, including our authors, our distributors (thanks especially to Publishers Group West!), booksellers, enthusiastic people in the media, and, most of all, the people who read and love our work.

I salute every one of you. I’ll raise a glass of nonalcoholic champagne or sparkling apple juice and toast all the people who have helped me build the company of my dreams. We couldn’t have done it without you!

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While the English language frequently refers to what our bodies know — “gut feelings,” hearts “reaching out” to others, etc. — many of us have learned to ignore, deny, or even mistrust our body’s inherent wisdom. Even worse, a lot of people don’t like their bodies very much at all. 

As a result, we often cut ourselves off from one of our greatest allies. In Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body’s Wisdom, author Suzanne Scurlock-Durana provides the tools and guidance necessary to reconnect with our body’s inner guidance system of sensation, imagery, and inner knowing. Her book includes chapters for each main “wisdom area” of the body — the heart, gut, pelvis, legs and feet, bones, and brain — and explores each area’s unique roles in the process of developing full-body presence.

We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt, which speaks to the wisdom of the heart.

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The heart is the wellspring of our inspiration for life. The characteristic wisdom of the heart is in how it inspires us to live more deeply and fully and to create from our gifts. The energy of love resides throughout the entire body. It is the foundational energy upon which our creative inspirations are born. 

Although the energy field of the heart has been proven to be quite powerful, in our culture today the voice of the heart is often muted or ignored altogether. When our heart’s intelligence isn’t activated, we can easily feel confused, or we may listen only to the voice of the head telling us what we should do. The inspiration of our deepest heart’s knowing is then lost to us. 

There is a distinct feeling when we drop into our heart and let it open up. When we share from our heart, there is an authenticity and vulnerability that create a feeling of connection and intimacy if the listener is open and receptive.

There is also a distinct feeling when we are not connected to our heart. This could manifest as “coldheartedness,” which might be experienced as a chill in the room or a conversation killer, and it will create a block to genuine intimacy.

Another feeling occurs when we are in our heart in an overly sympathetic manner. These kinds of interchanges often feel cloying, sometimes suffocating, and frequently invasive.

Yet another experience occurs when our heart resonates with another person’s heart. A warmth in meeting, ease of connection, feeling deeply seen and heard — these are the empathetic connections that may become lifelong relationships or enduring imprints on our heart. 

What is the quality of energy that our hearts generate? The heart expresses warmth, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, loving-kindness, and most of all inspiration. A full-hearted person is a happy person. 

In Chinese medicine, the element of the heart is fire, and there is a distinct sensation when this element is balanced. We feel excited, creative, and “on fire” for life. The heart is the birthplace of our deepest inspirations, so when it has been suppressed or exhausted, we may have a flat, muted experience. Burnout approaches when our creative fire has gone out.

Priming the Deep Well of the Heart
The heart is the home of compassion. When I work with someone in the helping professions, especially healthcare providers, their genuine concern for others is apparent. Their warmth and caring is frequently the original inspiration that moved them toward their profession. 

However, when I sit with them long enough, I often discover that they are much better at giving than receiving. The front of a caregiver’s heart — the part that they radiate love from — feels warm and wide open. 

However, often they have much less awareness of the back of their heart, the heart space of self-love and nurturing. I think of this as the deep well that feeds the rest of the heart. Like any well, when it is not primed and replenished, it runs dry and burnout starts to take hold. The front of the heart — the part shared with the world — needs connection to the deeper well of the heart in order to survive and thrive. 

This means self-care is mandatory, not optional. The airlines truly do have it right. You must “put your own oxygen mask on first” before helping those in need around you. What the flight attendant doesn’t say is that if you fail to care for yourself first, unconsciousness or even death may result. Yet many of us have been taught to ignore our own needs as we focus on caring for those around us. This is a sure recipe for disaster. Now is the time to turn this paradigm around and treat our own heart as a primary resource that is to be treasured and deeply valued. 

The heart is the home of our deepest inspiration and the well of our love for life. Having respect for the wisdom of the heart and living from its rich depths is essential. 

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Suzanne Scurlock-Durana is the author of Reclaiming Your Body and Full Body Presence. Her Healing from the Core curriculum combined with CranioSacral therapy and other bodywork modalities creates a complete, body-centered guide to awareness, healing, and joy. She teaches around the world and lives in Reston, Virginia. Visit her online at www.HealingFromTheCore.com.

Excerpted from the book Reclaiming Your Body. Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana.
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Women are intimately connected to the rhythms and cycles of the earth, and in The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life, author Sara Avant Stover shows how simple, natural, and refreshingly accessible practices can minimize stress and put us back in sync with our own cycles and those of nature. In the following excerpt, she offers advice for how we can make the most of the summer season. 

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Bare feet, watermelon, sunburns, and sipping Chardonnay on the deck under the stars: all reflect summer’s freedom, joy, and playfulness. On June 21 in the northern hemisphere (and on December 21 in the southern), the summer solstice burns brightly as the longest day of the year — so bright that in northern lands such as Alaska and Scandinavia, the sun never even sets that evening. From this point onward, the sun’s yang energy slowly wanes, as do the daylight hours, until we reach the darkest point in the yearly spectrum, the winter solstice. The impermanence of this bright day signifies the earth’s biggest inhalation of the year and reminds us to celebrate and relish all of life’s pleasures by drinking them into every cell of our bodies. 

Just as a child savors each day of her summer vacation, counting down the days until her return to school, we also must become more present and more attuned to the warmth, colorfulness, fecundity, and juiciness of this season through even the simplest of pleasures. It’s time to partake in nature’s flourishing and to celebrate all the ways in which our lives are blossoming too.

The ancient Chinese celebrated the earth, the feminine, and the yin forces on summer’s arrival. Ancient pagans honored midsummer with bonfires; Swedes decorated a midsummer tree to dance around in a magical ritual intended to bring rain. Caribbean pirates believed a ship could sail off the world and into the sun on that day, and Native Americans have created countless stone structures linked to equinoxes and solstices, the most famous being Wyoming’s Bighorn Medicine Wheel. 

Make it a priority to enjoy summer’s delicacies as you go about your life. Enjoy walks in the morning air, yoga outdoors, lunches in the park, moments to watch the sun rise or set, bike rides through the country, candlelit dinners on the deck, or afternoons spent swimming and sunning at the beach or pool. Even indulging in quick snapshots of summer can do it: sip a fresh juice, sunbathe on the roof during your lunch break, or wear a bright flower in your hair to work. 

The season invites us to bring more enthusiasm, warmth, extroversion, and joy into our daily lives, to be as energetic as children. We can stay up late and wake up early, like the sun. We can splash in swimming holes or nap under the shaded canopy of a big tree to escape midafternoon heat. We can bite into a ripe mango or a juicy peach. 

Summer Moon Time Practices
This season’s warm temperatures allow for some great moon practices. On the full moon, get naked, wrap yourself in a big blanket, and at night privately slip outside onto your roof or into your backyard. If your house isn’t private enough, get together with a girlfriend who has a more secluded space to do this. Lie down on the earth, your back on the blanket. Drink the moonlight into your body. Bathe in it. Pray to the moon for any healing of your body, sexuality, or femininity that you need right now. If there’s some water nearby, go for a moonlit skinny-dip.

During your menstrual cycle in the summer (and year-round), use organic cloth menstrual pads (I like www.PartyPantsPads.com; they’re much friendlier to the environment and your body than the disposable ones) most of the time and organic tampons when you are going to the beach or want to go swimming. Pads allow the downward flow of your menstrual blood to remain uninterrupted, so they’re the best option. I know it might sound a little far-out for many of you, but, ideally, each day you should soak your soiled menstrual pads in a large jar that’s filled with cold water. Then, at the end of the day, wash the pads in the washing machine with cold water, and feed your favorite plant or tree the water from the jar. Why on earth would you want to do that, you might ask? Well, menstrual blood hasn’t always been seen as dirty or gross. Our ancestors thought menstrual blood to be very rejuvenating and fertilizing, and in ancient times, women sat on the earth in red tents and moon lodges, bleeding directly into the ground beneath them. Some of my women friends involve their daughters in this ritual each month to teach them how to revere, rather than hide, their menstrual blood. 

I first learned this when I spent the summer at one of my teacher’s ashrams in the Pyrenees of southern France. She mentioned this ancient wisdom, and, since I was camping at the time, I had plenty of opportunities to squat on the earth and release my menstrual blood. Because my mind was so quiet during those months due to a lot of yoga and meditation practices (and living in such intimacy with the elements), I could hear the earth — and my inner wisdom — speaking to me, telling me how much she needed women to remember our bond with her. We don’t need to keep our menstrual blood so neat and tidy. Sure, we need to be practical and use some discretion at times, but simply by pouring your menstrual water back onto nature’s creations, you’re helping to heal a long-lost bond between women and our mother, the earth. Your menstrual blood is purifying and powerful and is never something to be ashamed or afraid of.

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Sara Avant Stover is the author of The Book of SHE and The Way of the Happy Woman

She has been featured in Yoga Journal, Newsweek, and Natural Health and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. Visit her online at www.TheWayOfTheHappyWoman.com

Excerpted from The Way of the Happy Woman. Copyright © 2011 by Sara Avant Stover
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