Tuesday

New Year, New You?

New Year – new you. Usually that means a diet…

For any diet to be successful, we have to give less attention to food and more to our fat-causing thoughts.

By the Law of Attraction, you can’t get slender and beautiful by considering yourself fat and ugly. Tough but true.

If you hate and despise yourself in a world that has a low opinion of people who are overweight then you will create fat – and the food that creates fat will leap to your attention and clamour to be devoured - we know it does that, right?
If the world respected fat people and despised thin ones (as used to be the case in some countries where fat indicated wealth) then the odds are, you would be thin. It’s what you think and believe about yourself that is the key; not the food itself. If you need a cause to hate yourself, your weight is an easy target in a world full of yummy, addictive, sugary or salty foods.

And, of course, the more we worry about nutrition, the more cause for worry we attract too..

Michael Pollan’s excellent book In Defence of Food, (Penguin) suggests that the American people’s major problems with weight gain began as the same time that low-fat foods were introduced. It may be a coincidence, but it is certainly true that much of what we eat today is not actually food but an arrangement of nutrients and what Michael calls “food science” – highly processed and rearranged so that our bodies don’t understand it.

That, and how we are eating these food substitutes – on the street, in the car, in front of the TV, in the movie theatre, while we read a book (and more and more alone rather than with others) – affects the body’s reaction. Without the original make-up of food, including the fats, we don’t have the original automatic signalling system through our body that we have eaten enough. Instead we crave more. And without sitting down and taking time over food, we fail to notice when we are full.

I’ve never been skinny and I’m not built to be a rake. However it took me many years to be at peace with that. I have been what is considered “too fat” and I’ve done diets that worked very well. But they worked more because of my belief in them and my satisfaction at the idea of getting slimmer than because of the food I was eating or not eating. That’s why diets will work to start with and become more difficult later if the issues of self-esteem that caused the need for them in the first place are not dealt with. What really works for me is to ask my body every day what it wants to do and to eat. At the moment it’s mostly blueberries, oranges and watercress and bouncing on my rebounder trampoline. My addictions on the other hand want more Christmas cake, chocolate and biscuits. You can tell the difference between the two – the real desires are much more quietly expressed!

My naturopath wants me only ever to eat 70%+ chocolate and in nutritional terms of course she is right. But that kind of chocolate doesn’t attract me or make me happy. So by the Law of Attraction, it can’t help me much. What can help is loving myself - again and again and again going back to that wonderful ho’oponopono of “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.”

It’s vital when you want to become more slender to do it from the point of view of positivity and not from a feeling of self-hatred. From the ego’s and the body’s point of view, dieting is starvation and both will react to attempt to regain the weight and possibly add some more in order to ensure that you do not starve to death in the future.

So a slow diet is always a more successful one in the long run (I know, I know!). Also it’s unwise to refer to "losing weight" as the ego has no concept of loss being a good thing. In absolutely everything else in our life, we want to find things that have been lost so why would weight be any different?

Instead, refer to “becoming slender” or “becoming fitter” and seek interest in how you eat. If it’s hard to find time to cook for yourself or to sit down and eat consciously then the problem is not within your body; it’s in the part of you that doesn’t feel worthy of time for yourself and your body.

Our desire to be beautiful, young and slender has profited the medical industry greatly through the development of surgical procedures and drugs that will have the desired outer effect. But the key to happiness is not beauty, nor youth; it is self-appreciation. Sure, have the Botox if you want; even the surgery if you want. If you do it from a point of view of moving towards your bliss, that’s fine. But if you do it because you don’t, ultimately, love yourself, you will have just the same problems afterwards.

A wonderful affirmation to help with weight issues is “Blessed am I among women/men to live and love in this beautiful temple.” That way you are offering love to your body, and that is the best start you can have towards a perfect and healthy physical life.

So go enjoy that diet! You’ll find me bouncing on my rebounder and we can compare notes in February.

Wednesday

Reclaiming the Miracle of Christmas

“What the festival of lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple - and some not so simple - joys of life.” The Times of India.

The trouble with Christmas is that it’s a bit like the phrase: “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, it's easy to forget that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.”
This time of the year people start complaining about the expense and commerciality of Christmas. This year, with the belief that there is something 'wrong' going on in the world's finances, you may be dreading the expense of Christmas. But to name something is to give it power, and what have we done? We've given the financial situation a cute, alliterative name - the credit crunch. So we have made it real.
Don't doubt for a minute the power of humanity to make thing real - a truth is only a belief held by a certain number of people and passed on to others who, in turn, believe it. By believing it, we make it real.
Yes it may seem tough to change your mind in the face of such widespread external belief but it is possible. It is our choice.
Right now we have to decide whether to give 'the situation' more energy through moaning and complaining and believing what is said on the News or we can choose to look for prosperity, health and joy in the coming of Winter. By looking for the hope andthe glory we can change the world from within.
It's not them who controls our lives, whatever we may have thought, it's us.
So perhaps the real secret of Christmas this year is to use the ide of a credit crunch for good. To simplify something that has got out of hand...this is the perfect time to say 'No!' to anything you don't truly want to do at Christmas. Commit instead to something that would have meaning instead of a season of angst and worry.
Only we can reclaim the miracles and mystery that have existed at this time of the year for thousands of years - way longer than Christianity has been in place.
I’ve often wondered whether, without women, Christmas might be a much happier (albeit slimmer and drabber) affair. It is horribly likely that, without the duty and fervour of women, the majority of blokes would probably be happy to pick up whatever’s remotely turkey-like that’s still in the local supermarket freezer on Christmas Eve, some ale and a bag of party poppers.
Maybe they’re right...We seem to run ourselves ragged with all the preparations to the extent that we overspend, over extend ourselves, over-complicate things and try to live up to some incredibly unrealistic standard of hospitality and catering...not to mention the horrors of some members of the family visiting —or events that we long outgrew but are still expected to attend—and make our children attend ‘because it’s traditional.’
And then, when it’s all over, there’s still the oven to clean and the washing up to do... (took me until August to clean the oven this year...)
Don’t get me wrong, I ‘do’ the whole Christmas thing – but there isn’t a single part of the ritual that I don’t love. But it took me years to learn to re-engage with the magic that does make it such a special time of year – whatever your faith.
'But I can't have a simple Christmas because of the children,' you may say.
Perhaps the worst misuse of Christmas is the idea that ‘it’s for the children.’ In a way that’s true but only in the way that we too need to be children again in order to see the miracles and magic of Christmas in us. That saying of Jesus’s about having to become a child again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is the answer. The ‘child’ is the part of us that expects miracles and magic (probably why Harry Potter is so popular). It’s also the ego – and for most of us, it’s been overwhelmed with ‘duty’ and ‘shoulds’ and other horrors for so long that it simply dreads the word ‘Christmas.’
It is the ego of the child that demands the same presents as everyone else. It's the ego of we adults that thinks that we have to give those presents in order to be 'good' parents. But what about giving an experience of spirit instead?
So what is this Christmas miracle all about? It’s about the rebirth of the real you; the peeling off of the outer layers that hide the gold within; the sloughing off of all the past year that you’d like to leave behind and a commitment towards creating a better, happier life.
You don’t have to be a Christian to see the wonderful, deep inner meaning of the Winter Solstice. Nowadays, we tend to focus more on the New Year as a new start to life (and use that for a guilt trip too!) but, in fact, it’s on December 25th that we have the first, visible evidence that the sun is returning and that spring will come once again.
From the day we first started appreciating the cycles of nature, humanity has celebrated the Solstices. The Winter Solstice heralds the coming of the Light; the return of the Sun—or the birth of the Son—and I believe that there is a deep primal need in our animal soul to celebrate it whether our busy, social, disbelieving selves deem it relevant or not!
The Winter Solstice is a kind of choice between life or death. We may know that the sun returns because it happens every year. But the ancient celebrations are just as much about our willing our own inner source of light to rekindle at this time as they are about the external sun.
The dark days of winter are when the roots go down and consolidate for new growth. One of my sacred rituals this time of year is planting prepared hyacinths which must be kept in the dark and cool for at least a month so that they can develop roots. Then, after Christmas, they will grow and give beautiful colour and scent to herald the often long-awaited new life of spring.
Nearly all the major religions have special symbolism around this time. It’s often said that the birth of Jesus was placed on December 25th because it was the ancient celebration of Saturnalia and that Christianity ‘stole’ a great deal of the pagan symbolism. Two main theories compete about this - one claims that in A.D. 274, the Roman Emperor Aurelian inaugurated December 25th as the pagan "Birth of the Unconquered Sun" celebration, at the calendar point when daylight began to lengthen. Supposedly, Christians then borrowed the date and devised Christmas to compete with paganism. But William Tighe, a church history specialist at Pennsylvania's Muhlenberg College, puts forward the exact opposite theory —that Aurelian created a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Tighe says that the pagans-first theory only originated three centuries ago in the writings of Protestant historian Paul Ernst Jablonski and Catholic monk Jean Hardouin. Tighe acknowledged that the first hard evidence of Christmas occurring on Dec. 25 isn't found until A.D. 336 and the date only became a fixed festival in Constantinople in 379.
Whichever it was, there have long been a series of religious festivals going into—and out of—the darkest days and it’s a wonderful reclamation of Christmas to do something personal and spiritual to mark the ending of one year and the resurgence of the light in you for the coming year. Who knows, it might make the rest of the celebrations fun? And, even if you still think Christmas is going to be hell, perhaps one of this year’s resolutions could be to promise yourself that next Christmas you will actually do what you would like to do...

Christmas/Solstice rituals:

Plan a little time on your own – or with friends if they want to join you. Find something that represents the ‘old you’ of 2008 whether it’s something you’ve grown out of or something that represents a difficult time that you have gone through and then create a little ceremony of release (including burning the symbol if that is possible). Dress up in something you love to wear, light a couple of candles, and take a few deep, connected breaths. As you let go of the object, say something like ‘I release this representation of pain to the Light and move forward to my Higher Good.’
Then take a moment to ask your Higher Self, Guardian Angel or the Source of All to watch over you, protect and guide you to a happier life in the next year.

Fill an atomiser with water containing a few drops of refreshing aromatherapy oils such as lemon or grapefruit plus some Flower Remedies – such as Rescue Remedy, Walnut (protection from outside energies/help with change), Willow (dissolves resentment), Wild Oat (for uncertainty about your path in life) or Holly (anger and hatred) and spray around the whole of your home saying ‘In the name of the Source this room/house and all that is in it, is blessed, cleansed and filled with light.’

Make a prosperity wheel or dream board. This is a montage of all the things, experiences and happy times that you would like to draw to you. Instructions on my Pure Prosperity website. This works by reprogramming the subconscious to look for what you want instead of what you don’t want.

Write a letter to a friend the other side of the world (or to someone closer if neccessary - but someone with whom you only correspond infrequently - someone without email probably!). Date this letter 1st December 2009 and in it tell them of all the wonderful things that have happened to you throughout 2009. And invent everything you could possibly want from a perfect home, partner or job to living in the Maldives. Don't worry about seeming grasping or greedy - that fear is probably what has held you back for so long. There is a reason why Luis Vuitton bags are made and houses and cars are built –so that people can enjoy them. And if you are wealthy, you can do SO much more for others. To think that you can't be rich because of the starving poor is an argument full of holes. If you are wealthy you can donate; teach and offer time to ensure that they too learn how to be prosperous like you.
And if you're now saying 'but my friend would hate me if I sent him/her a letter like that' then I’d suggest that you find a friend who wouldn't. And that's probably the best task you could set yourself this year - to be with people who allow you to be prosperous. If there's no one, then plan to send it to me, because I'll be SO happy for you! You can post it in the comments below if you like.
The letter will work best if it's full of enthusiasm and acknowledgement of the good in your life. It's great if you can start off with something that you actually know IS going to happen. That gives you confidence.
Will it happen? Well, it's got a better chance of happening if you do write the letter than if you don't. If you put it away somewhere safe and forget all about it, the chances are pretty high that at least 60% of it will either be with you or on its way by the date you put on it. My letter last year came 80% true...no complaints about that!
Wishing you the perfect Christmas time...

Tuesday

Making Peace With What Is

This is one of the main thrusts of the Abraham-Hicks teachings. Sometimes we can’t change the outer circumstances as quickly as we would like – and sometimes we’ve made choices that we regret which land us in less than perfect situations.

But as what we think, what we feel and what we receive are always a perfect match then it’s really important to make peace with the now that we have created up to this moment.

To do that, all we really have to do is acknowledge that we created the situation. And by making peace with it in that way, we can at least ensure that we won’t create it again.

Making peace does not mean going into denial as in 'it's fine...I'm fine...' when you're not - and it's not about gritting your teeth and enduring because it's 'good' or 'worthy' to do so - it's about seeking for the better thought in a difficult situation and building blocks to happier thoughts in order to reclaim your power.

One of my favourite phrases at a challenging time is Catherine Ponder’s ‘I can hardly wait to see the good that comes from this!’ Once you can say that, then you’re on your way to something better.

We’ve been back from Montana for nearly a month now but that amazing holiday is still warm in my heart. And there was a lovely example of making peace with the now within it.

Our friends, Ris and Joe run an impressive Leadership Coaching company. They use horses to help people realise how they relate to others at work and play and during our visit they wanted to give both Peter (now re-named with his Native American Indian name of Lion!) and me a session with the horses in the Round.

What you do is to wander among their seven very different horses and pick one that you want to work with through your intuition. You’ll always pick the right one. Then you and that horse go into the Round (a circular corral) and either Ris or Joe teaches you how that horse and you are just the same and how to gain each other’s trust.

I was really keen to do this as I’ve always loved horses and ridden since I was nine. Lion wasn’t so keen because he’s a bit wary of big animals but he was up for giving it a go.

The first bit of making peace with now was when Ris and Joe simply had too much work to do to be able to take time out to work with the horses and us during our stay. For a day or so I allowed that to unsettle me a bit – you know the kind of thing; hanging around in case instead of just going out and doing something else that I wanted to do and trusting that all would be well.

But once I’d come to terms that it might not happen at all and if it didn’t, that was okay, and I’d had a lot of fun walking in the horses’ huge field with them and grooming several of them, then I was absolutely at peace with it.

Then, of course, Ris found the time...

It was early evening and I’d just led a workshop at the local Unity Church so I wanted a little time to gather my thoughts so Lion went first. I just wandered among the horses a little at the same time as him and was quite sure that, when my time came, I wanted to work with Billy, a young red-roan appaloosa mustang who was broken to the saddle but very shy.

Lion went into the Round and time passed as he and Walker, his horse, began to get to know each other. It was Montana in late October and evening and it started getting seriously cold.

Time went on and it became very clear to me that the sun was about to set and time would run out for me to have my turn. And we were leaving the next day. So, frozen to the bone, I started working on making peace with that.

Oh God it was cold! But I didn’t want to go inside because I was fascinated by what Lion and Walker and Ris were doing. And I was so pleased to see Lion working with a horse. And of course, I love horses and can hang around them whenever I want to – I used to have my own horse a while back and I did some learnt-from-a-book horse whispering with her (to very limited effect I must admit!). And I was just so thrilled to see Lion losing his fear of horses and realising that both he and Walker were getting into an incredible accord.

So I made peace with the situation and watched Lion and Walker and the amazing, totally glorious orange and crimson sunset across the mountains of the sacred Bozeman valley and I realised how utterly, utterly lucky I am.

But I was still awfully cold! So I sent up a swift prayer to be able to endure out there until Lion had finished – and within 30 seconds there was a warm breath on my cheek. Billy the mustang had walked quietly up behind me. He put his head over my shoulder and placed his chest against my back warming me through. It was glorious.

I knew from Ris that Billy never approached a human voluntarily so this was amazing – and when she saw what was happening she was as thrilled as I was.

Once Lion and Walker had finished, I patted Billy’s neck and walked forward to congratulate my husband. And Billy followed me. He did what’s known in horse whispering circles as ‘join-up.’ It’s the biggest mark of trust a horse can offer. And he did it for me! And all I had done was stand, watching my husband and making peace with the situation.

It was one of the best moments of my life – I kid you not. I was so thrilled. And so chuffed when Ris telephoned her husband, Joe, to tell him all about Billy and me – because Billy had never, ever done that before in the Round, let alone out of it.

So this month, whenever there’s a tricky situation, or even a slightly uncomfortable one - hardly likely over Christmas I know (!), and see if you can make peace with it. Just let go of the resentment with a more cheerful thought about how you are the one responsible for your life and that you created the situation that you are in. Just knowing that, and owning it means that you are already creating a better future. Then see what Christmas miracles may come for you.

Wishing you a wonderful Solstice/Christmas season – a blessed and sacred time.