Hearing Our World: Aural Living

We all experience life through our senses, if our sensory equipment is fully functional and working. Most of us have five senses, a few of us claim to have a sixth sense, and I would say that is a great imagination. We are designed by existence, or god, to operate in this fashion. By touch, by smell, by taste, by sight and by sound, we make our way through life. We meet other human beings and animals, and we employ our senses to enjoy one another; if we are not hell bent on killing or eating this other.

Hearing Our World: Aural Living

What about when one of those senses malfunctions permanently? What then, when colourful sight becomes an unending dark of night? When all taste ceases to inspire and delight? When aroma departs for a distant shore? When touch is dulled to an unregistered numbness? And, when all song is silent forever more? How do we adapt to a loss of a sensory pathway? I have heard it reported that the remaining senses become more acute to cover for the missing sense. Blind people can hear with much greater acuity, so, I am reliably told.

Personally, I identify with my aural sensory capabilities than I do with any other single sense. I listen very carefully to the sound of other people’s voices. I have always thought that I can sense their mood and feeling through the sound of their voice. Whether this skill, imagined or otherwise, has developed from a self-preserving motivation, I do not know. Perhaps, I learnt to listen to the sound of my mother’s or father’s voice to predict their mood and resulting actions. I did not have overly violent or aggressive parents, but you never know the reasons behind a child’s sensitivity.

Because that is what it is really, a sensitivity to the sound of the human voice. It is a useful skill to have when circumnavigating the treacherous seas of human relationship. Not taking things at face value, but sensing some cutting iceberg deep in the depths. It was useful in sales as well, when I was forced to make my living through this means. Sensing when a client was more amenable to my proposal by the sound and tone of their voice.  I remember as a child, attempting to umpire the many disagreements between my mother and father, perhaps, it was then, that I honed my skill in this aural regard.

Losing the ability to hear another human being’s voice must be profoundly disturbing and sad. The arrival of deafness, when one has previously had the ability to hear, must be truly devastating. That there are now a variety of technological aids to help the hearing impaired is in no way a small mercy. The senses are so close to who we believe ourselves to be, that their removal or reduction in facility results in enormous disorientation for the affected individual. It is something to always keep in mind when relating to members of that aurally deprived society. Take the time to consider your actions in regard to their wellbeing.

Comfortable or Stuck? Never Stop Seeking to Learn

It is a fact of life that we as human beings slow down as we age. When we are young adults we challenge ourselves with new sights and sensations. We don’t know the answers to everything, so, we go out and try the experience. Often, things do not work out the way we had hoped, but that is part of life when growing up. As we get older, we begin to limit our experiences to things that we know and are comfortable with. Whether at work, play or in relationships, we choose more carefully what we engage in and with.

Comfortable or Stuck? Never Stop Seeking to Learn

It is very easy during the early middle years and later to stick steadfastly to our comfort zones; which is why we often get fat. Many people think that learning finishes when we leave schools and universities behind. As we become more established at work we refrain from further training unless absolutely necessary. When forced to attend training seminars, we often sneer at the silliness of it all. We imply through our behaviour and body language that we are above all this ‘carry on’ and ‘ra ra ra’.

Before you know it, you are stuck in a rut of complacency. You watch a lot of TV at night; you have become a spectator in your own life to a large degree. Old age is prematurely eating you up like a cancer. You listen to talk-back radio in your car on the way to and from work. Your opinions and attitudes are becoming rusted on; and you complain about the way things are in the world right now. You no longer take risks; wherever possible you avoid any discomfort or feelings of unease.

This is a sure way to an early grave. Your decision to stop learning is killing you. Thinking that you know everything that you need to know to get by, is a delusion. Thinking that you are in control of your life, is another delusion. If you do not challenge yourself on a regular basis, you will slip into a state of inertia. Comfortably numb and uninspired by life. Learning never stops, and we never master this life, it is a constant work in progress. Be humble and challenge yourself to learn new things every day. Go above and beyond what you think that you know; embrace training wherever you can find it. This approach will keep you young and alive; it makes life worth living.

The Spiritual Power of Surfing

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The power of surfing captures a lone human being aboard a thin sheet of fibreglass, being propelled by the massive force of the ocean. It involves strength, balance and a centredness that is rarely required in other pursuits. For some, the surfing experience is akin to a spiritual one, as they profess to be transported to another place or dimension. It has been said that the brief moments that the surfer is atop, or within a wave, are timeless, in the experience of that surfer. There is the sound of the ocean, the surge and the crashing of the waves. Tim Winton has described the swelling ocean better than most modern writers since Herman Melville did in his Moby Dick.

The dynamic of human being and ocean, not necessarily pitted against one another, but working in harmony with one another is a powerful one. The fact that we as human beings cannot breathe underwater injects a special intensity into this relationship. It makes our sense of balance even more important; especially on big waves. Even those of us who have never quite managed to stand up on a wave, may have experienced being dumped whilst body surfing and know the terror. When one is forcibly submerged and turned again and again, as if in a washing machine, beneath metres of surging water it can be a terrifying experience.

The Spiritual Power of Surfing

I think, it is this death-defying and, quite possibly, death embracing aspect of surfing, which imbues it with a spiritual power. Facing one’s death, or fear of death, is often a highly stimulating activity for the human being. For some, it is regenerative; and this may contribute to the addictive quality that surfing has for many of its adherents. The lone surfer paddling out on a break with only the expanse of nature all around him. The enormity of the sky combined with the seemingly infinite nature of the ocean; and the solo spirit doing battle with the great Poseidon. It is exhilarating stuff; and a cleansing break from the moral turpitude of modern life.

Surfing remains one of those few pioneer activities that are still accessible for those who live in places, and in lives, able to take advantage of it. It is a meditation, an active meditation, which demands total physical concentration and presence of ???? (mind, soul, the watcher state). The massive beast of a wave beneath the surfer, propelling him, or her, at the whim of nature, and the surfer dallies on the edge hoping to ride like there is no tomorrow without paying the ultimate price. Then, there is reflection and contemplation. After the storm there is a sense of purity, and a place within that echoes with magic.

Eco-Friendly Furniture: Green Ethics for The Future

Those who wish to emphasise their green ethics usually like to have environmentally friendly things around them. In their homes and at their workplaces, they enjoy seeing and touching the fruits of the forest. True greenies do not surround themselves with glass and steel, rather they love the soulful and natural appeal of timber. Eco-friendly furniture: green ethics for the future will remain a constant for those who are dedicated to our harmonious living on this planet. There is nothing quite like the feel of natural timber beneath your hand and the whorls and grains inherent within its form.

Some could say that many vegetarians love animals and that is why they do not eat their flesh, should then lovers of the environment adorn their domestic abodes with wood? Would they not be better off avoiding the use of timber in their homes and commercial enterprises? As long as the wood has been sourced from environmentally friendly plantations and not from old-growth forest or endangered rainforest, wood is the natural building material for humanity. Human beings have been living inside wooden structures for millennia. When we left our caves we constructed our homes from the fruits of the forest.

Eco-Friendly Furniture: Green Ethics for The Future

Timber furniture is both good for the environment and an aesthetic and sensual pleasure, if built well. Buying beautiful furniture made out of wood can be a lifetime purchase. It is something that you do with an awareness that this item may well be with you and your family for a very long time. Well-designed wooden furniture makes a statement in every home or office; it is not merely a useful structure. It has something to say to everybody who lives, works and visits that particular space. Eco-friendly furniture speaks to the soul.

We all like to grab a bargain, but when purchasing beautiful timber furniture it is time to put that impulse on hold. It is time to think about longevity, and consider that this piece of furniture will accompany you and your family on your life’s journey. Master craftsman have been designing and joining wooden furniture for a very long time. In eastern and western cultures, furniture has reflected the flavours of the times. To study wooden furniture is to study history, there are so many stories to be told. When you have a piece of this puzzle in your home or workplace it communicates something about what it means to be a human being.

Environmentally Sustainable Developments Don’t Cost the Earth

Property development in Australia has a rich and chequered history. From the Alan Bonds to the Bruce Smalls we have seen property development makes some people very rich indeed. For some, Australia is built not on the sheep’s back, but on the back of buying and selling real estate. It is the great Australian dream to own your own house; and most Aussies buy into that bank driven dream. In most cases we are left with enormous box-like housing developments dotting the landscape; a cornucopia of uniform geometric red rooves covering square kilometre after square kilometre. However, are these environmentally sustainable developments?

For corporations like Meriton, their interest is in fitting as many apartments into a building as possible in high density areas of Sydney and Melbourne. Most developers are more concerned with their bottom line than anything else. We have seen a few environmentally friendly commercial developments by companies like Lendlease at Barangaroo. The residential property development field is less well represented in terms of environmental sustainability. Traditionally, Australians have been less concerned with their environment, when it comes to housing, than they have been in servicing the economic imperative involved in paying off a house. Could things be about to change on this score?

Environmentally Sustainable Developments Don’t Cost the Earth

A new development in South Australia’s Victor Harbor, in a suburb called Hayborough, has put its environmental credentials front and centre. The developers of Victor Harbor’s Hayborough eco-estate cost themselves a lot of money by choosing to put only 250 homes on the estate instead of up to 1400. The developers have planted 250,000 trees on 64 ha of unused land, which will become wetlands and native forest. Beyond Today, the name of the eco-estate, will feature 250 energy efficient homes. This development is owned and operated by the Wright family. under the moniker ESD. Their motivation has been their shared passion for the environment, and they have created a place that they would want to live in.

Whether things will work out for this project, as with all business projects, involves a fair amount of risk. Will there be enough South Australians who wish to live in an eco-sensitive residential development at Hayborough and will they be willing to pay for it? Having ideals can be expensive, but some things, such as a genuine care for the environment, can be worth much more than money. That’s a form of spiritual literacy and considering the goodwill and positive publicity that has come from their vision, it also translates into financial literacy. Investing in group financial literacy may just be the way of the future for this country.

 

Tuning Into Nature: Listening To the Earth’s Wisdom

By Mitch Given

It cannot be denied that as a race we are pretty much out of touch with our planet. We, as human beings, are primarily concerned with ourselves. Most of us like to keep our circle of real friends around us fairly small. You may have hundreds of Facebook acquaintances, but if you think that they will be there for you when the chips are down you are kidding yourself. Digital friends are like moths around a flame, fascinated by the light, but when a brighter light shines they move on rather quickly.

Tuning into nature: listening to the Earth’s wisdom; can we really do it? Or, is it too late for us and are our heads too full of concepts and theories about things? How do you listen to the earth? Through meditation or something like Qigong? A method or process which can stop us paying so much attention to the endless recycling of thoughts inside our heads? Hugging a tree maybe? Embracing the ancient whorls within the trunk of a silent sentinel, which has stood on this earth for hundreds of years? So many questions and so few definite answers.

Even if we take the time and spend many years tuning into nature: listening to the Earth’s wisdom; do we ever hear anything else but ourselves and our imaginings. Prophets from the religious traditions in the Bronze Age thought they heard the voice of god inside their heads. All of the Judaic Christian religions are based on these revelations; but were they truly prophetic? People, even today, fight wars on the basis of these ‘so called’ revelations. Be careful about the kinds of stories that you put your faith in. Belief in supernatural powers can be a very dangerous thing.

The belief in psychics and channels, who ‘supposedly’ have an innate ability to converse with the wisdom of the ages, is equally fraught with problems. For many New Age folks, they have never left behind the Oracle of Delphi and believe whole heartedly in the words of psychics and spiritual readers. Humankind, it seems, is genetically susceptible to auguries and the belief in magic. We long to listen to the heart beat of nature and to feel the aura of some supernatural force. Does the Earth whisper its secrets so that the human animal can perceive them or is this, merely, our wishful thinking?

 

Horses Deserve Better Than Ending Up as Pet Food: A Gourmet View?

By Simeon Isaker

I will begin this article with a warning that the content that follows contains views and information which some people may find shocking. You may not agree with them but they are put forward with the issue of increased sustainability at the heart of the matter. In my opinion, horses deserve better than ending up as pet food: a gourmet view? Possibly, but more importantly it evaluates their existence at a higher level than the current situation.

The horse racing industry in Australia is estimated to produce fifteen thousand thoroughbred foals each year and at the same time some twenty five thousand thoroughbred horses are sent to slaughter each year; due to injuries and not being economically worth training and racing. The large majority of them end up as pet food. However, two thousand tonnes of horse meat is exported to Japan and Europe for human consumption. Now, ultimately, horse racing should be banned worldwide and the so called ‘sport of kings’ should be consigned to the pages of history. Horse race betting is not an essential entertainment industry in Australia or anywhere. In the meantime, I ask myself why we discriminately eat some animals and not others?

The French and the Spanish value horse meat highly and yet we consign it to the wasteful and misguided use of being pet food. Horses can run fast and they carried human beings on their back for millennia. Is this why we exempt them from our food chain but happily slaughter cows, sheep, pigs and goats (to name but a few) for our consumption? Do we have a psychological affinity with the horse, like the dog, which makes it sacred, so that it ends up in a tin of dog food?

There are, actually, two butchers, one in Perth and one in Sydney, who are licensed to sell horse meat in Australia for human consumption. Twenty years ago lamb shanks were fed to dogs as pet food and now they are valued for their gourmet value. We, now, waste less of the animals slaughtered for food production in this country; thanks to the input of the many migrants who have come to Australia. We use carcasses to make stocks and so, do not waste them. Sustainability within meat processing has increased over the last couple of decades and reconsidering horse meat for human consumption may be a better use of this valuable food source.

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of Eco Living Magazine, but we encourage the expression of new ideas for debate.

Setting Up a Green Business

There are an increasing number of opportunities to set up a ‘green’ business or ‘eco’ business. These businesses are defined by their concern with promoting green issues and the fact that they are being run on ecologically aware principles. An example could be an organic caterer, as this type of business appeals to those people in the market who are seeking a caterer for a wedding, or other event, but who like to eat organically. If you have been paying attention to the rapidly growing shelves devoted to organic produce in your local supermarket you will understand that there is now a substantial market for organics in Australia.

Although, the market for green businesses is much larger and more advanced in the United States, it is also a burgeoning one in Australia. Organic food is in demand and whether you set yourself up as a caterer, or a café, and/or a retail provider this is a niche market on the move. Their customers want clean green food in minimal packaging, which also reflects sustainable practices. Too much packaging choking our waste management processing methods in our cities is a huge problem; more organic food businesses with sound recycling policies can really help in this area.

Another industry, which is converting to green principles, is the beauty industry. There are more and more product lines available within the beauty sphere, which are eco-friendly and organically made. People are not only concerned with what they are putting inside their bodies, but also onto their bodies topically. Women do not want to wear beauty products that are toxic or that have been cruelly tested on animals. Setting up an ecologically aware beauty salon or hair care salon could have a very positive effect on the planet.

Can you get business funding for setting up a green business in Australia? Yes you can, with funding streams having been created for this very purpose by Australian governments. Malcolm Turnbull, our new Prime Minister, has appeared very bullish about supporting new business ideas. Definitely investigate potential opportunities for business loans here and through the private finance market. Business loans are more readily available in the current market than previously considered and it is worth exploring thoroughly all opportunities.

The majority of Australians support a greener economy for the betterment of the planet and for its sustainability; especially in regard for their children and grand children. Setting up a green business is only going to be good for everyone.

 

History Can Tell Us a Lot About Right Now.

The more I delve into history, through my studies, and in my own reading, I am continually amazed at the relevance of it to current affairs. It is like we, as a race, are fated to repeat ourselves. Some do say, that there are only a finite number of stories out there and our worlds are interwoven with these narratives. Language is a symbolic representation of recounted events and we reorder these events to make sense of them; thus creating a story.

It might be your story, involving how you were raised, what your parents were like, when you met your life partner, when you separated from him or her, maybe you didn’t, having children or not, getting older and so on. Alternatively, it may be the story of the Second World War, who started it, who suffered, who was victorious and who was defeated, what were the ramifications. Each story will not be an exact record of events; it will be a version of selected events ordered according to the interpreter. There is no truth, no unquestionable objective reality, in our stories and the stories from history; there is only an interpretation of events.

Autobiography is no longer, really, considered to be non-fiction, likewise memoires, they are the stories we tell others about ourselves and aspects of our lives. As readers and human beings, generally, we love to read stories; to share a journey. The fact that these stories are not exact recordings of lives in real time does not bother us; we prefer the director’s cut, as it is usually far more interesting. Most of us tell stories about ourselves, at various times, recounting stressful events from the safe shores of memory. Often terrible, climactic occurrences become hilarious anecdotes when shared with family and friends. Our stories, when told, become a release valve for escaping pressure; anxieties loosen their hold.

History’s identities are most often long dead and so their stories cannot ease their psychic burdens, but culturally they can have a similar affect upon us, their descendants. Which is why it is important that we continue to seek to unravel the events of the past, using technologies and methodologies to inch ever closer to some approximation of what actually occurred. History is most often told by the victors and the generations that come after them. It is their version of events we are handed down and told, “it is the gospel truth.” Later comes the processes of revisionism and historians are most often at the forefront of that. Then the new views may filter into the arts, as in the case of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and how we now see Thomas More.

We love to learn things from stories, as the King James Bible proves, when all those allegorical stories were translated into the King ’s English by scholars and poets from Oxford and Cambridge; borrowing heavily from Tyndale’s earlier masterly effort, for which he was burned alive for.

My new book of Essays on Ancient History is now available on Amazon Kindle for very little money. If you have an interest in the stories which underpin our lives, the ancient events from the Greek, Roman and Hebrew worlds, I recommend you read it.

Robert Hamilton

 

 

Digital Age of Diminishing Returns

Some say that pornography is demeaning to women, that images of people engaging in sex, both real and pretend, flickering on the internet devalues the real thing. In a similar vein, some also say that online dating is reducing the magic inherent in human relationships; turning shopping for love into supermarket shopping over the internet. The digital age it seems is victim of that truism – familiarity breeds contempt. By making everything easy and readily available, be it music, sex, art, relationships etc we are diminishing the value of these things.

The English language is suffering too, with billions of pages and posts online, and some say that it is getting harder to distinguish between copy written for profit and content written to communicate. Communicate passion, inspiration, love, and all those less commercially definable human qualities. Much of the digital content we read is produced in third world countries by writers who have English as a second language. Many of these writers are quite serviceable in their production of online copy. They are utilised by website owners because they are cheap.

Writers who have more mastery of the English language are not so readily employed by the corporate world because it is harder to pay them a pittance. The result is that, we the reading public, are exposed to more and more denuded language. The written content becomes like a skeleton, barely holding together, hardly making sense, and we read more and more of it everyday. At the same time intelligent journalism is fast disappearing from the print media and its digital equivalents. Consumers have stopped buying magazines and newspapers, thinking that information on the net should be free.

PR is spreading through all forms of media like a cancer. Opinion which is paid for fills our news programs on TV and on radio. PR made to look like editorial is everywhere and many people do not know the difference. The internet is a pretty much unrestricted realm where commercial interests outnumber the alternative by hundreds of thousands, if not much more. Consumerism has created open slather, but we do not value anything which stands for educated objectivity; we doubt its very existence. Which is why the ABC is constantly under fire from those with more clearly defined vested interests.

My children are just making their journey toward books and the English language in its greatest forms; both still at primary school. I wonder at their future in a world where language serves only commercial interests and great writing becomes a historical anomaly. Functional language reduced beyond nuance and any reading between the lines; digital copy produced by slaves and machines.

Goolwa A Natural Holiday Destination

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Interacting with nature, away from the technological gadgets which dominate our twenty first century lives, is more important than ever. Goolwa offers a peaceful alternative from the whizz bang of our cities. Walking by the gently lapping Murray River watching the water birds arc and gambol can soothe a frayed nervous system. Sailing or paddling down that same river transports one away from the stresses of urban life. Enjoying children at play on bikes and scooters as they traverse the cycleway at Goolwa is a real pleasure.

Fresh air and a slower pace of life works wonders on troubled souls. Eating simple food and hanging out with family can be a healing retreat from life’s worries. Holidays do not need to be wall to wall entertainment, they can be time at the beach, a stroll through a village market and a quiet drink in the local pub. Goolwa offers all this and much more. There are wetlands for bird watching and coastal whale watching in season. Surfing is very big in Goolwa and a great way to commune with nature.

Fishing is a timeless occupation for the patient person, casting a line out into a peaceful river and waiting for that gentle tug on the line. Personally I never catch anything myself but it is a meditative practice; apart from when your line becomes tangled. Goolwa has lots of jetties and the Hindmarsh Bridge. The Goolwa wharf sees paddlesteamers offering river tours.

Goolwa has a steam train tooting its way down the track. History abounds in the old buildings dotted all around the township. Museums and art galleries are a portal into the places cultural identity, then and now. There is good food in Goolwa, especially at the Farm Shop in Cadell Street. Goolwa find can point you in the right direction.

For a relaxed lifestyle or a natural holiday check out Goolwa.

Solar Power Producing Despite Abbott

Peter Hartcher, international editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, has reported that roof top solar power installations in Queensland and South Australia have on occasion produced so much power that the wholesale price of electricity has fallen below zero. Alternative energy, the conservative’s favourite whipping industry, is getting the job done despite hindrance and negativity from the Abbott Government’s environmental policies. Economist Ross Garnaut was quoted as saying: “If South Australia were a country it would have more wind and solar than any country on earth.”

It is very rare to read positive reports about alternative energy in the mainstream press, Fairfax is to be applauded for commissioning this article. The article goes on to portray Australia, under Abbott, as the last environmental laggard in the world; with even Saudia Arabia preparing for an alternative energy future. The conservative press, led in this country by News Corp, continuely criticise alternative energy and play the anti-Greens card, appealing to the lowest common denominator within the Australian community. However, the truth is that selfish, short sighted, slobs are not going to save the world.

Australian power company AGL has declared it will decarbonise by 2050 and is ramping up its renewable energy plans. Industry is not looking to the Abbott Government and may be seeing this anti-environment administration as a temporary blip on the radar.

ALP Pushes for Coding to be Taught in Schools

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has slammed the Abbott government for not placing a greater focus on introducing coding to schools as part of the 2015 Budget.

Shorten said last week’s federal budget was a “missed opportunity” on Monday, saying it is important that the current education curriculum pre-emptively equip school children with coding skills for future jobs.

“I don’t want our children just playing on apps invented overseas,” he said. “I want Australians to design, create, and operate the apps and the computers and machines of the future.”

Last Thursday, the opposition leader outlined that a Shorten Labor government would turn Australia into a science, start-up, and technology capital of the region. He said he would boost the skills of 10,000 current primary and secondary teachers, as well as train 25,000 new teachers who are science and technology graduates. Additionally, he promised to wipe the university debts of 100,000 science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) students.

However, Minister for Education and Training Christopher Pyne hit back saying that work on STEM and computing coding in Australian schools was already well underway. The federal government said it is investing AU$3.5 million to ensure all students will have the opportunity to study computer coding in both primary and secondary school.

According to Pyne, the investment is part of the government’s AU$12 million Industry, Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, which was announced in October 2014. The agenda has been designed to support the teaching of STEM, including implementing online curriculum resources in mathematics; providing seed funding to pilot a US-based ‘P-tech’ styled secondary education initiative; and increasing student participation through ‘Summer schools for STEM students’.

“The Coalition Government is determined to ensure our schools give young Australians the skills both they and Australian businesses need to succeed in the highly competitive, high-tech, 21st century,” Pyne said.

“We know that as computer driven smart-technology expands into every aspect of our recreational and working lives, there is an ever growing need for highly skilled workers in this global growth industry. All children will need to understand computational thinking and how it can contribute to their future.

“We are investing in computer coding across different year levels in Australian schools, and STEM education more broadly to ensure young Australians and our nation can grasp the opportunities the high-tech future offers.”

Last week, during the Microsoft-led WeSpeakCode initiative, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged that the education sector has gone backwards, with the uptake of STEM learning among students having dropped significantly, and believed the way to reverse is to teach students how to code.

“Of our 600,000 workers in ICT, more than half work outside the traditional ICT sector. 75 percent of the fastest-growing occupations require STEM skills, but only half of year 12 students are studying science; that’s down from 94 percent 20 years ago,” Turnbull said.

“That is really a retrograde development, and we have to turn that around.”

City Farm Kitchen Cooking Classes

Farmer’s markets, a kitchen for cooking lessons and a hundred fruit trees will delight Sydneysiders at the City of Sydney’s City Farm.
The farm, located in the heart of Sydney Park, will produce over four tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables a year and cooking classes will be held in the outdoor farm kitchen.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the farm would allow visitors and residents to learn about country life and local food production in the heart of Australia’s global city.

“Many of our inner-city dwellers don’t have a backyard to call their own and this open space will allow visitors to learn about local and seasonal food from paddock to plate,” the Lord Mayor said.

“City farms are great places for growing fruit and vegetables, volunteering within your community, holding farmers’ markets and, with hands-on lessons, helping children learn where food comes from.

“The kitchen will be a hub for food preparation and cooking where people can sit and enjoy the fresh, tasty food they’ve made from ingredients grown and picked.”

The City has been working closely with the community to develop the look and feel of the farm. A recent community consultation open day encouraged feedback on the design and features of the farm.

“We were delighted the feedback on the farm design has been so overwhelmingly positive,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Creating a farm in the heart of Sydney will provide a hands-on experience for visitors, businesses and local school children to learn all about food production and sustainable living in an urban environment.”

The farm will include:

  • A weekly farmers’ market;
  • Up to 300 training and educational workshops a year;
  • 100 fruit trees and crops producing over three tonnes fresh fruit and vegetables a year; and
  • Animal husbandry programs with chickens, native bees and visiting farm animals.

During the consultation period, feedback from the community was included into the new master plan for the farm. A more detailed design is being developed and construction is due to begin later this year.

The farm will be located in the south-west corner of Sydney Park, which receives plenty of sun, shelter, good drainage and access to the wetlands stormwater harvesting network.

As well as promoting agriculture, the farm will include educational, community and cultural activities such as waste and composting workshops.

For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Claire Thompson
Phone 02 9265 9582 or email cthompson1@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au 

Digital Future Nightmares: Childhood Health and Fitness

A “nightmarish” vision of a future in which technology makes physical education more boring, judgmental and narrow is driving a new study by a University of Queensland academic.Associate Professor Michael Gard from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences has begun a three-year research project on the digitisation of school health and physical education.

The project stems from the assumption that developments in digital technology present exciting educational opportunities but carry a new set of philosophical, educational and ethical questions and dilemmas.

“Will we leverage the power of digital technology to expand student’s minds and open up choices about how to live, or will we use it to monitor students’ behaviour and tell them how to live?” Dr Gard said.

“For example, much of the health-related technology that we are seeing involves asking children to count the calories they consume or expend when they are exercising. Is this this what we want students to be doing at school?

“There is a lot of money to be made from digitising school health and physical education and, make no mistake, companies are already vigorously marketing all kinds of health and fitness technologies to schools.

“Then you have the whole ‘big data’ concern about how your child’s records are used.”

The recipient of a $177,000 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant for the study, Dr Gard is collaborating with academics in Canberra, Melbourne and Illinois, USA.

One aspect of the research sure to raise interest is the potential impact on the career prospects of health and physical education teachers.

“You see gyms already that have replaced human staff with digital screens which either instruct the class or measure the output of the participants,” Dr Gard said.

“Similar things are happening in school physical education programs in the United States.

“Do we need to send someone to university for three-to-four years if they are there merely to over-see children using technology?

“And if you could train a health and physical education teacher in a matter of months, what would that mean for their pay scale?

“Then think of a perfect storm, where performance pay for health and physical education teachers is linked to children losing weight, and you introduce some very tricky ethical situations. Once again, some American states are moving in this direction.”

The study will also investigate how schools use digital technology to measure students, such as their BMI (body mass index), and what becomes of the data once collected.

Dr Gard is interested in speaking with Australian teachers and schools that already identify as being innovative with the use of digital technology in health and physical education.

Media: Associate Professor Michael Gard +61 407 894 607, m.gard@uq.edu.au; UQ Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences Communications Kirsten O’Leary 07 3345 7436 or 0412 307 594, r.burgin@uq.edu.au.

Tomatis Method

The Tomatis Method is an alternatively based sound healing therapy, which was developed by the French ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Alfred A. Tomatis. This process, also known as Audio-Psycho-Phonology (APP), had its roots in Dr Tomatis’ work with opera singers who had vocal problems; his own father was an opera singer. Tomatis discovered that many vocal problems were actually caused by hearing problems and formulated the theory that “the voice does not produce what the ear does not hear”.

Dr Tomatis went on to develop his Electronic Ear, which is a therapeutic device designed to utilise electronic gating, bone conduction transducers and sound filters to enhance missing frequencies. Toning up the muscles within the middle ear, to sensitise the listener to sound frequencies they are currently not hearing, is the aim of this therapy.  The Tomatis effect has helped numerous auditory processing disorders (APD), such as: dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities and autism, to name a few. Children, in particular, have benefitted from working therapeutically with the Tomatis Method.

Famously Dr Tomatis has successfully worked with iconic French movie stars Gerard Depardieu and Juliette Binoche to transform their voices as performers. Musicians, singers and actors around the world have benefitted from the Tomatis Method; improving their creativity and vocal skills. The Tomatis Method has trained practitioners, healing sufferers of sensory processing disorders, globally. Other notable performers who have been treated with the Tomatis Method are the singers Sting and Maria Callas.

The auditory process employs the music of Mozart, some Gregorian Chanting and recordings of the patient’s mother as it tunes up the ear. The theory bases its successful work on the physiological framework that the brain receives its energy through the auditory process. Damage to the ability to listen to, or hear, certain sound frequencies deprives the brain of balanced energetic input. Harmonious auditory sensory input is vital to our sense of wellbeing; distortion and white noise are at the opposite end of the spectrum causing disfunctionality.

The treatments of autism, with therapies like the Tomatis Method, have provoked contentious reactions from sections of the medical establishment, here in Australia and elsewhere around the world. Exclusive ownership of this, currently considered, incurable condition by the medical fraternity is a fairly standard ethical position, when viewed historically. Ongoing scientific studies into the efficacy of the Tomatis Method continue today, to measure its healing value in a number of auditory sensory disorders.

Self Managed Super

Self managed superannuation funds are in the political spotlight at the moment as both sides of the Australian political spectrum debate the merits of the current taxation laws in regard to superannuation. There is a generational divide to this argument, as well, as younger Australians see unfairness in the current Australian economy, which favours wealthier, older Australians, providing them with far more substantial tax benefits through their superannuation contributions.

The statistical data, which shows that richer Australians are getting wealthier and that the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is widening, provides stimulus for those who demand a more equitable Australia. The political debate generally revolves around the differing strategies of the political parties, with those on the right side wishing to reward the ‘producers’ within the economy, and those on the left wanting to redistribute their wealth in search of a fairer economic community. In balance both arguments have genuine merit and Australia is in the process of finding that middle ground in regard to superannuation.

The advantages of self managed super are the investment options, which are far wider; meaning that your SMSF can invest in direct shares, property, cash accounts, unlisted assets and corporate debt. The generous and flexible tax benefits offered by an SMSF to its trustees are substantially superior to traditional industry or retail super funds. The SMSF is not really any cheaper to operate than public superannuation funds but there is a far greater level of control over these costs. Professional specialist advice is recommended when setting up your self managed super fund.

Superannuation is now most Australian’s second largest asset, after the family home, so it is a highly important and therefore emotive topic, when changes to policies are mooted by governments and political parties. Superannuation was implemented by the Hawke/Keating government to head off the looming pension crisis, caused by an ageing Australian population. Economists could see that the worsening ratio of taxpaying workers to older Australians, receiving social security payments through the aged pension, would produce an unsustainable budgetary position over the long term. Forced savings through super was supposed to drastically reduce the number of Australians who would require the support of a full aged pension, but softening asset and income test requirements, over successive governments, has seen sustained levels of older Australians on the aged pension.

Self managed super funds are here to stay and they offer greater control and benefits for their trustees. Adjustments to the levels of taxation breaks on contributions and the amounts of those contributions may occur down the track. The flexibility and autonomy offered by the SMSF will continue to see their popularity rise in the super marketplace.

Green Marketing

Green marketing as a marketing strategy has been with us since the nineteen eighties and nineties, when it emerged, predominantly within developed countries, in response to concerns about pollution, the environment and sustainability of resources. Environmental activists embarked on a strategy to encourage businesses and consumers to show their support for global and local ecological action through the marketplace. Businesses would promote their green bonafides and consumers would purchase their products and services over those of non-ecologically minded companies.

Since those early years there has been an explosion of green marketing in the twenty first century, especially in response to the growing scientific and community awareness around global warming. A sense of urgency entered the environmental debate within governments globally when economists began to plot the costs of global warming to economies around the world. In Australia, the Garnaut Climate Change Review in 2008 enabled the then Australian Government to forecast the dangers of inaction to our economy, and to move toward strategic policies designed to halt its spread. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, in his 2007 speech to the United Nations climate change conference in Bali, stated, “that climate change represents one of the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenges of our age”.

Subsequently, the climate change debate has been heavily politicised in Australia, and in countries around the world. Deniers of global warming have made their opinions known throughout the media in questioning the science behind climate change. Funding for climate change deniers has been linked to corporations who would be adversely affected by economic policies such as an emissions trading scheme and a tax on carbon. Conservative political parties have appealed to their voter’s concerns with the short term economic pain in any adjustment to strategies designed to combat climate change. The election of Tony Abbot’s Liberal National Party coalition to government in Australia has flagged a reaction within the community to these economic policies.

Green marketing remains a powerful tool in the marketplace, as consumers continue to patronise companies, which signal their eco credentials. The sincerity behind green branding is at times questioned within sectors of the Australian community, but, by and large, it is seen as a force for positive environmental change. ’Greenwashing’ is a pejorative term used to point the finger at cynical companies and industries, which superficially market themselves as ecologically minded without fundamentally altering their unsustainable business practices.

Products and services aligned with green principles have a trajectory in the marketplace, only matched by the market’s love of technological innovation within consumer devices. The green can, and bottle, of Coke Life illustrates the iconic shift that has occurred within the global market toward environmentally sustainable products and services. Green marketing or Greenwashing? Only you will be able to answer that question!

 

Eco Friendly Waste Management

Eco friendly waste management begins at home, or at your workplace. There are a number of proactive things that you can do to ensure that your waste management practices are eco friendly. A good first step is to take note of the amounts of organic waste/food that you or your household throw out, as compared to recyclable packaging waste. Composting can dispose of a large portion of this organic waste. Basically, just burying your wet rubbish in your garden will take care of the majority of this waste matter.

What if you live in an apartment, as many Australians residing in cities now do?

Here is an opportunity to compost on your balcony, or perhaps, approach friends with houses and gardens and arrange a swap to contribute to their compost levels. Communities deal with issues like waste management much better than individuals, or individual households. Compost can be a valuable commodity to keen gardens; your trash can be their treasure. Enrich a friend’s garden today!

Workplaces offer a range of opportunities to reduce waste matter generally and to create eco friendly outcomes for this shared management of waste. We are all in this together and we need to work together, both labour and management, to take responsibility for our rubbish. Organic matter, once again, is best composted, and setting up a communal compost point can be both fun and productive. Things like this bring people together!

Recyclables, like wastepaper, can be reused in offices and factories to reduce waste matter; and this will reduce costs as well. When recycling empty bottles make sure that they are empty and remove the lids.  Do not recycle paper and cardboard spoiled by food, like pizza boxes and takeaway bags. Help the recycling process along with smart choices.

Plastic bags are a major waste management problem at work and at home; reduce your use of them. Recycle plastic bags for your own personal uses, don’t just throw them out and get another one. Remember to take your re-useable green bags to the supermarket with you; keeping them in the car is a good idea to make sure that they are accessible when needed. Go to supermarkets and shops which encourage re-useable bags. In South Australia the free plastic carry bag has been outlawed at supermarkets, which has reduced the number of these plastic bags in landfill. There is, however, still a very long way to go in the battle against plastic bags in landfill, in Australia, and globally.

Ground-breaking floating solar technology launches in Australia

Ground-breaking floating solar technology launches in Australia

ADELAIDE, Australia, 29 April 2014 – Infratech Industries launches Australia’s first floating solar system today which will generate an estimated 57 percent more power than fixed land-based systems.

The proprietary tracking, cooling and concentrating technology uses water to counteract the gradual loss of output caused by overheating solar panels to create a better performing and more efficient system.

Based in South Australia’s Jamestown, the Northern Areas Council Waste Water Treatment Plant is the first to implement the new system which is expected to exceed the plant’s high energy needs and will feed through to the surrounding local communities and Council buildings.

Infratech Industries Director Felicia Whiting said the benefits extend beyond energy efficiencies to improve the treatment plant’s water quality and create nearly 70 new jobs for the local community as a result of the project.

“Blue-green algae is a major concern for wastewater treatment plants and the shade produced by the floating solar panels combats this problem by limiting the photosynthesis process. The energy goes into the panels, not the water, so the surface stays cool which helps to lift the quality of treated wastewater.” she said.

“On a broader scale, the technology is suitable for any body of water including drinking water and moving water bodies such as lakes. Since it reduces evaporation by up to 90 percent, it can have a powerful saving for areas affected by drought and dry climate such as Australia and California, Indonesia, Singapore and Philippines,” she said.

The Northern Areas Council will reap additional economic benefits with a cost saving of approximately 15 percent on their current energy expenditure plus an additional one percent margin on the excess energy provided to the local community.

No small undertaking and privately funded, more than 15 Australian engineers and research scientists in the Nano Science and Technology Department in Adelaide’s Flinders University were involved in the project’s technological and engineering development. The development team will remain involved as research and development continues into integrated water treatment, phosphorous treatment systems and energy storage.

Jon Dee, Australia’s leading expert in energy efficiency, author of ‘Energy Cut’ (EnergyCut.info/SME-book), and co-founder of the Planet Ark and DoSomething organisations, has applauded the innovation and leadership of Infratech Industries.

“Solar PV panels currently generate renewable electricity on more than 1.36 million Australian rooftops, so we’ve more than shown our acceptance of solar technology” said Dee. “However, many people want to see more solar innovation being undertaken in Australia by local companies, in a way that helps the environment and generates local jobs at the same time.”

“The development of Australian-owned, researched and developed floating solar is to be applauded as it shows that Australian companies can be leaders in the transition to economies that are powered by increasing amounts of renewable energy. In addition to reducing greenhouse emissions, there is also strong potential to export this technology to other countries which can only lead to even more jobs.”

As such a major milestone in the renewable energy movement, Whiting expects a national and international spotlight will be focused on Jamestown with visiting ambassadors from South East Asia, France and the Hon. Minister Ian Hunter MLC for Climate Change attending the launch with key members of the SA Cabinet having already visited the site.

“Just how strong Australia’s post-2020 emissions reduction targets remain unknown however we do know solar innovation is a milestone towards Australian councils, communities and businesses making a difference. As Australians evangelise this type of technology, it is our hope that renewable energy becomes the mainstream rather than niche solution. Change is not beyond us and this is definitely a strong step forward,” Whiting said.

###

Infratech Industries Pty Limited has offices in Sydney, San Diego and Singapore. For more information on Infratech Industries and the Floating Solar technology please visit www.infratechindustriesinc.com or follow Infratech @Infratechind.

PR Contact: Catherine Slogrove, MAVE (PR for Infratech) | Mob: 0466 669 260 |
Email: catherine@mave.com.au

PR Contact: Nicole Gemmell, MAVE (PR for Infratech) | Mob: 0416 071 900 |
Email: nicole@mave.com.au

New study calls for changes to childcare ‘mandatory’ sleep rules

New study calls for changes to childcare ‘mandatory’ sleep rules
The findings from a QUT study have put to bed the idea of mandatory sleep times in licenced childcare settings.
The research, led by Dr Sally Staton and co-authored by Professor Karen Thorpe, Associate Professor Simon Smith and PhD student Cassandra Pattinson, was conducted on behalf of the Australian-based Sleep in Early Childhood Research group.

The study, Mandatory Naptimes in Childcare and Children’s Nighttime Sleep, has been published-ahead-of-print for the May edition of the prestigious US-based Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

The Sleep in Early Childhood Research group also recently published a review in BMJ Archives of Disease in Childhood of 26 international articles relating to children under five and unnecessary napping.

Dr Staton said this study examined the relationship between mandatory nap times in childcare and children’s night-time sleep duration concurrently and then 12 months later.

“For the first time this study shows a relationship between observed naptime practices in childcare and children’s night-time sleep,” Dr Staton said.

It found children who were exposed to more than 60 minutes mandatory sleep at childcare slept worse at night which continued when they started school.
Dr Sally Staton
“The results showed that children exposed to more than an hour of mandatory naptime in their childcare setting had, on average, 24 minutes less night-time sleep when in childcare,” she said.

“We also found that once children had entered school and mandatory napping had ceased, those children still had a 21 minute reduction in total sleep duration.”

A sample of 168 children, aged between 50-72 months of which 55 per cent were male, was observed during the study.

A year later the children were observed in their first year of school.

“A common practice in childcare programs internationally is the scheduling of mandatory naptime throughout the childcare years,” Dr Staton said.

“This means all children are required to lie on their bed and are not permitted to engage in any other activity.”

Dr Staton said it was noted there had been little research previously on naptime programs in childcare settings and the effects of these practices on children’s sleep patterns.

Dr Staton said, however, it was estimated 30-40 per cent of children have sleep problems in the years prior to school.

“Insufficient night-time sleep in young children significantly increases the risk of poor health and developmental outcomes, most notably behavioural problems,” she said.

She said the study also found once in school, children who had been exposed to more than 60 minutes of naptime had a total sleep duration that fell below the recommended average for children aged 3-5 years as set out by the National Sleep Foundation.

“Our findings raise important questions regarding the most appropriate timing and approach for transitioning away from naptimes in young children,” Dr Staton said.

“There is not a specific age at which children no longer need naps, as this will vary from child to child.”

Dr Staton said Australian legislation required all childcare services provide for each child’s individual sleep and rest needs but there were currently no specific guidelines regarding how children’s sleep needs should be met.

“Consequently, decisions regarding the duration and mandating of naptimes for preschool children are made at an organisational level and can be influenced by staffing constraints,” she said.

“Given the number of young children who attend childcare and the relationship of night time sleep with multiple health outcomes, childcare sleep practices represent an important focus for child health.”

A pdf of the study can be made available upon request. The abstract can be viewed here.

Dr Staton can be contacted via email s.staton@qut.edu.au
Media contacts:
– Debra Nowland, QUT media officer, 07 3138 1150 or 0488 752875 or media@qut.edu.au
– (after hours) 0407 585 901

The Hands of Time

This story was inspired by a true incident told to me about a relative. A great uncle who had been a local golf professional, now retired and suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, was regularly picked up by police whilst lost and out walking, sometimes late at night. This old chap would give the police putting lessons back at the station, whilst awaiting collection by a family member. The issues of ageing and the game of golf’s broad appeal are presented entwined within this short narrative.

Robert Hamilton is a writer, student of history, and a keen golfer. He is currently working on a collection of short stories, inspired by sport, but also dealing with what it means to be alive; to be titled She’ll Be Right Sport. He lives in hope of breaking 80. www.midasword.com.au

THE HANDS OF TIME

By Robert Hamilton

Constable Davis sitting in the front passenger seat noticed the man first. He pointed him out to his partner, Senior Constable Vickery, who was driving the police car. The man was striding down the footpath, which ran adjacent to Stirling Highway. It was not the gait of the man, which drew the attention of Constable Gary Davis, but the fact that he was wearing what clearly looked like pyjamas and that it was nearly three am. The highway and surrounding streets were deserted; Perth was a quiet city after midnight mid week. The police car drew level with the walking man, and Davis could see that he was an older Caucasian white male, winding down his window he hailed the man to stop.

The figure in the blue and white striped pyjamas turned his head and faced the policeman who was leaning his head out of the window. The old man, although bent over a bit, was well over six feet tall and broad chested. His arms hung down by his sides and he looked like a man who had made his living with his hands. His feet were bare, white, hairy, toe nails thick and yellow; there were traces of blood beneath them.

“Excuse me Sir, everything alright? Can we help you with anything? Pretty late to be out and about.”

The old fella was clearly confused. His gaze took in the flashing lights atop the blue and white patrol car, the uniformed occupants of the vehicle, and the sound of the police radio with its staccato blasts of disembodied voices. As his eyes flickered back and forth from face to face, to empty highway left and right, and back to the idling police car time seemed to slow down, stop and start, blinking like the flashing lights.

“Can you give us your name Mister? Where are you going to tonight in such a hurry?”

The pyjama clad man made move to walk away and Constable Davis clicked open his door, and rose out of his seat to prevent the old chap from doing so.

“Steady on old fella. What’s your name? Are you alright mate, can we give you a lift somewhere?”

The words hung in the air seemingly going nowhere. The man squinted his eyes in an effort to concentrate on something fleeting. All these words directed at him and too many shiny surfaces reflecting pieces of light. Where was he going? He knew he had to get somewhere quickly but for the life of him couldn’t remember where.

Gary Davis turned to his partner, Ethan Vickery, and said, “I think that we better take him back to the station, I don’t reckon this old chap knows what’s going on.”

“Yeah Okay Gary I will call it in and let them know we are heading back.”

“Okay Dad we are going to give you a ride back to somewhere nice and warm. Maybe get you a cup of tea or something to warm you up.”

Constable Davis gently steered the pyjama clad man through the now open rear door of the police car and onto the empty seat. A frightened look on the big fella’s face and a raising of his arms caused Constable Davis to increase his hold on the man. The man suddenly spoke for the first time.

“I don’t know who you chaps are but I am really alright…. aah…I really think that I can manage on my own thanks.”

“Well let’s start with your name then Grandad. Can you tell us your name?”

They were back at the station and the old chap, still in his blue and white pyjamas, was nursing a cup of tea, seated at the desk of Senior Constable Vickery. His eyes were red and the large grey skinned bags under them spoke of the late hour, especially under the harsh fluorescent station lights. Nobody looked particularly well under their examining force. Davis thought the bloke must be at least seventy five by the looks of the deeply etched lines on his neck and face. Still had a full head of grey tinged blackish hair though and those arms were well muscled despite the advanced years. His hands were something else again. Davis nudged his partner indicating the old chap’s hands and Vickery acknowledged the tremendous size of the old bloke’s hands. Big hairy mitts with enormous swollen knuckles on each prodigious digit.

“Eric!”

The two policemen broke off their examination of their guest’s phalanges, snapping out of their momentary reverie to process this proffered data. Vickery the more senior of the two policemen was first to respond.

“Okay Eric and do you have a last name?”

The elderly figure smiled at the two coppers and basked for a few seconds in the joyous certainty of remembering his own first name. His gaze then took in an old black and white photograph, framed and hanging on the wall of the station. The image depicted Claremont Railway station sometime near its opening, late in the nineteenth century. He remembered being a boy when things looked like that, the horse drawn carts and the early motor cars. The sound of the steam trains and the smell of horse shit.

“Eric. Eric can you remember your surname, your family name?”

Eric looked vacantly toward the intent faces of the questioning police officers. He wondered exactly what he had done wrong and why he was being interrogated. They did seem to be nice young chaps but with so many difficult questions for him. He was feeling tired and would like to lie down. He couldn’t remember where his bedroom was and which doorway would lead to it. The panic was there again, the unreasoning expanse of nothingness rising up inside of him.

“Eric. My name is Constable Ethan Vickery and this is Constable Gary Davis. And your name is Eric …..?”

Nothing. Nothing was there but a blankness. Eric brought his hand up from the surface of the desk and looked over his hand, perhaps hoping for clues or that the answer might be written on the back of his hand. He remembered as a boy writing important things on the back of his hand, during tests and exams it had been a useful practice. As long as the master did not catch you out, then you were up for six of the best.

“You have a fair pair of hands Eric. They must have come in handy with work and stuff I imagine. Work with your hands did you Eric?”

“I was a golf pro.”

The two policemen glanced impressively at each other.

“A golf pro. And where abouts did you ply your trade Eric? What golf club did you work at?”

“Swanbourne. Cottesloe Golf Club I was the head professional there for thirty years.”

“Now we are getting somewhere I think Gary. We can probably trace Eric’s name from the golf club and get his address.”

“I bet those big hands of his were a sight to see wrapped around a golf club.”

“Were you a big hitter Eric? In your day?”

Eric looked up and held the two young policemen’s appreciative stares in his gaze.

“I was pretty handy of the tee, but as the old saying goes you drive for show but putt for dough. It all comes down to the short stick in the end. You need to roll that ball into the hole.”

“Perhaps we could get some lessons from you while you are here Eric. What do you think?”

“I would be very happy to oblige you officers with a few tips. A smooth stroke is what is required.”

Eric brought his two hands together to grip the handle of his hickory shafted putter. He felt the wound leather grip, which had been specifically tailored to the dimensions of his hands. A golfer’s hands were his real tools in this game of golf. His mentor had emphasised that it was the golfer’s grip which was the most important element in a successful swing. He remembered that overcast day, a rarity in Perth, when his father first took him along to see Mister McDermott the golf professional at the Cottesloe Club. He felt scared as he sat there waiting outside the pro shop, next to where the caddies had a shed. The sweat in the palms of his hands and the rapid beating inside his chest.

“Show me your hands boy. Let’s see how you hold this mashie niblick.”

The tall grey headed man had emerged from his rooms bearing a golf club. Grey woollen knickers and tartan stockings could not hide his lean well muscled legs.

“Come on lad up with you, out of the chair, we don’t have all day!”

Large gnarly hands picked up his own hands and turned them over to examine their constituent parts. The man’s skin felt rough and chapped but his touch was gentle. Eric relaxed a little into the strength of this man.

“Good size. Now grip this club boy. Let’s see how you hold a golf club.”

**********

“Eric. Eric are you okay mate? Want me to freshen up that cup of tea, its looks like it’s gone cold on you?”

Eric smiled at the speaking policeman and shook his head.

“Don’t bother yourself over me. I’m fine, thank you Officer.”

The two constables conferred amongst themselves in the station room, occasionally looking up to see that their guest was alright. They were now the only occupants of the police station at this pre-dawn period, waiting for their shift to end and for the day shift to arrive in another hour.

“I reckon someone will be at the Cottesloe Golf Club in about an hour and we can give them a call and see if they can fill us in about big boy Eric here.”

“Well why don’t I grab a putter and a few balls from my car and we stroke a few putts with Eric.”

“Sounds good to me Gary.”

*******************************

Mister McDermott watched young Eric chip his golf ball to the practice green. Watching carefully how the boy held the club and his stance. The ball tracked toward the hole and came to rest about two feet past. The pro motioned for Eric to join him and waited for the boy to saunter over to him, club in hand, ball in pocket.

McDermott was about six foot two inches and towered over the young boy. He led Eric to a waiting bench seat not far from the first tee, where they could watch a few of the members getting ready to tee off. Caddies were carrying the golfer’s leather bags containing their clubs for their morning round. Everything was very green, the grassy fairways and the bordering foliage and trees.

“I call this my green cathedral,” Mister McDermott suddenly announced.

“A place of prayer, pain and the occasional miracle.” He smiled at Eric as he said this. “And you could be a part of this Master Roberts, if you so desire.”

Eric was silent he wasn’t sure if he was expected to say anything at this point. He looked up at the overcast sky and watched a bird fly low over the gum tree to his right. Everything was slowing down it seemed and Eric was feeling more aware of himself than usual; it was like that final second before you hit your ball.

“Would you like that Eric? Would you be prepared to work hard and make this club proud to have you?”

Eric nodded his head solemnly, or what he hoped appeared that way, and held Mister McDermott’s piercing gaze for at least a second or two. Glancing down at his feet he noticed the scratches that the black boot polish had failed to hide.

“You have a fine pair of hands Eric; golfer’s hands. Your hands and their grip on the club are the most important part of the golf swing. Without golfer’s hands you can never become a player, and as a professional you must be able to play well boy. To teach the members, to advise and if possible inspire them.”

McDermott sat back on the bench and breathed a sigh of, who knows what, contentment, sadness, ennui? Eric definitely didn’t know but he felt at home here, more than that, he felt like he was about to begin here.

“Let me tell you a story lad. A story about a fella called Old Tom Morris. Mister Morris was one of the first golf pro’s in the entire world. He was a denizen of a place called Fyfe in Scotland. Have you heard of Scotland Eric?”

The young boy nodded his assent and watched the whiskers on McDermott’s sideburns twitch as he spoke.

“Old Tom Morris, and the reason why they called him that was because he had a son, also a golf professional, called Young Tom Morris. They both plied their trade at a golf course by the name of St Andrews and this was no ordinary gold course; this was, and still is, the home of golf. The very first golf course and it was marked out by God, with the help of a few sheep and those winds that terrorise a true links course.”

Eric could see the florid skin beneath Mister McDermott’s whiskers glowing brighter as he shared this story. He understood that it was important, somehow, the passing on of this tale about a Scottish golf pro. He looked down at his hands and wondered what made them so special, so different to other boy’s hands.

“Well, Old Tom was the son of a weaver and them weavers needed real good hands too. Strong hands that could weave all day. Tom became an apprentice at St Andrews at about your age. He learnt how to make golf clubs, as you will Eric, and he learnt every single thing about becoming a golf professional, and eventually he became the greatest golf player in the world; winning The Open Championship four times.”

The boy took all of this in and wondered whether he would ever win the Open Championship, or whether he was expected to do so.

“Old Tom Morris worked as a green-keeper, club maker, ball maker, golf teacher, course designer and tournament professional. One day Old Tom was teaching a young apprentice at his course and was having a wee bit of difficulty in instructing the young chap as to the right grip pressure when playing a stroke. He could see that the boy was choking the life out of that golf club handle. and that this was not allowing him to release the club head through the ball. The lad was pulling the shot something awful. Old Tom had pleaded with the boy, “Andrew lad, you must have a light touch on the club.” But to no avail Andrew was determined not to let that spoon even think about slipping out of his hands.

Eventually Tom decided to approach the problem from another angle entirely. Taking Andrew down to the shoreline of the Fyfe of Fief, where there was a birder plying his trade in water birds. After giving young Andrew his solemn speech about the special importance of the hands to a professional golfer and how his grip is the only thing linking him to the golf club, Old Tom, like a West End magician produced from his knickers a warbling duckling. Fluffy in matt grey feathers and somewhat distressed, he held that baby bird before him like some votive offering. He then asked Andrew to place his hands on the throat of the frantic duckling, but before he did so he had to promise Old Tom not to strangle the wee bird and also not to let the bird get away. Faced with this life and death conundrum young Andrew peered into the eyes of the desperate duckling and then into the sage old glare of Old Tom. He gingerly reached out toward the living creature, both of them afraid, and he placed his large golfer’s hands around the delicate neck of this feathered creature and sensitively adjusted his grip pressure before nodding to Old Tom, who then let go. He felt the bird struggle to be free of him and yet he held on, he could feel just how easy it would be to crush that tiny windpipe and break its neck. Andrew found his equilibrium. He found the middle pathway. And Old Tom smiled one of his rare smiles, and told him to remember this moment and this sensation whenever he was holding a club out on the course. It was a Goldilocks moment, a just right sensation. The bird shat on the boy’s golf shoes.

*****************

Eric could see that Constable Davis now had a putter in his hands and that there were several golf balls at his feet on the police station carpet. He rose gingerly, his feet were very sore. He wondered where his Footjoys were, his smart brown brogues. No matter, he reached out for the putter and gently placed his hands on the rubber grip. His thumbs came together, the right slightly lower than the left but both pointing down the club’s shaft. It felt good to be holding a putter again. It felt right.

The two police officers watched as the enormous hands encircled the grip of the putter and emanated a degree of comfort and belonging noticeably absent from their own efforts at gripping the putter. Eric lowered the putter head to the carpet surface and began to brush it with rhythmic movements like the pendulum within a grandfather clock. The two constables were somewhat spellbound in the presence of this aged golf master.

“Putting the golf ball is all about a smooth stroke gentlemen. It is a rocking of the shoulders. A gentle motion, which involves rolling a ball across a smooth surface. Smooth back and smooth through”

Eric knelt slowly down, his aching joints complaining, and placed an empty coffee mug on its side down on the floor some ten feet from the golf balls. Stepping tenderly back to the golf balls he took his stance, the putter at address behind the first of the dimpled white spheres. Both policemen watched intently as the old golf pro took the putter head back and then through the stationary ball, initiating a roll which propelled that golf ball into the open mouth of that coffee cup ten feet away.

“Way to go Eric great stroke!” they chimed in unison. It was like they were children again being initiated into a new game. Watching Eric stroke that ball, the walls of the station seemed to fade and roles were reversing with every roll of that hypnotic white ball.

Eric repeated the process and again that small white ball found its unerring way into the concave cavity within the mug.

“You need to keep your head and body still at the moment of impact. Only the rocking motion of your shoulders direct your arms, hands and the putter toward the target.”

Eric motioned Constable Davis over to him and proffered the putter.

“Here you have a try Officer.”

Awkwardly, the young policeman took the club and began to lay his hands around the putter grip. Eric reached out and placed his enormous old hands over the constables’ grip, delicately adjusting the positioning of the police officer’s digits and gripping of the putter handle. He shyly looked up at Eric, as he would a granddad at Christmas, who had bought him a present.

“Try that, you might find it feels a lot more comfortable. Now have a few practice strokes, rocking your shoulders back and forth. Don’t force anything, just let it happen.”

Constable Gary Davis brushed the surface of the carpet, tentatively at first but more assuredly as he continued. Constable Vickery had removed the putted balls from the coffee mug and now placed them alongside his partner’s putter.

“Now give it a go Son,” Eric instructed the young policeman.

The solid clocking sound of the struck golf ball preceded its rolling journey toward the open coffee mug , time seemed to stand still, the ball turned end over end making its way over the mottled mustard carpet. Existence took a deep breath and held it, and then without further ado that white ball hit the bottom of the cup.

“Way to go Gary?”, whooped Ethan Vickery. “Old Eric here has turned you into a pro on the greens.”

Gary smiled at his partner and Eric, nodding his appreciation of the old pro’s teaching method and the seemingly instantaneous results.

Eric enjoyed the fact that he had made the policemen happier and was at last finding his way in this new universe. Looking around he was unfamiliar with the lay-out and decor of these rooms and uncertain of how he had found himself here. The golf balls and the putter were familiar objects but the setting and characters strangely alien. This bubble of reality was occurring but had no connection with anything else. There were things he knew and much more that he did not. His world was cut into strips and they were flickering like the light on the shiny buttons of the policemen’s uniforms. Eric was often afraid now and uncertain about which direction to head in. The golf course was unfamiliar to him, the lay-out of the holes mysterious. He didn’t know whether he should lay-up or go for the green.

 

©Robert Hamilton

New Books on Sydney Funded – Politics and Plant Histories

Putting Sydney’s history of politics and plants in print
New City of Sydney grants will help bring history to life by supporting books exploring colonial fears of invasion, the city’s botanical heritage, and Jack Mundey’s influence on Australia’s urban conservation.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said City historians had selected three new works that shed new light on important aspects of Sydney’s history.

“From colonial fears to garden designs and urban conservation, these three books will make a great contribution to our local history,” the Lord Mayor said.

“They focus on the anxieties among early European settlers, the part gardens have played in Sydney and NSW, and the tireless work of former Alderman Jack Mundey to protect community spaces and buildings in Potts Point and Woolloomooloo.”

Invasion: Colonial Sydney’s fears of attack, tells the story of Sydney’s enduring and often well-founded fears of external attack throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Written by historian Dean Boyce, it offers insights into local defences during the colonial period and canvasses the ‘invasion anxiety’ caused by France, Russia, Spain, Japan, Germany and even the United States.

Gardens as history and imagination is an edited volume produced by the Independent Scholars Association of Australia (NSW chapter). It explores Sydney’s gardens and their meanings, both to the individuals who tended them and the societies that enjoyed them during the same period.

In 10 essays by different writers, the botanical collection draws on scholarship of garden and landscape history and focuses on the social, historical and economic significance of gardens in Sydney and NSW. It will be published to mark the 200th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens next year.

In The House that Jack built, author James Colman charts the role Jack Mundey, a union and environmental activist, played in the history of urban conservation in Sydney and Australia.

Colman’s manuscript covers Mundey’s instrumental role in the green bans which helped conserve a number of open community spaces and heritage buildings in Sydney in the 1970s, as well as his influence on the national and international heritage movements.

The City’s financial support of between $8,000 and $12,000 for each of the three books will help improve their standing through illustrations and quality paper, increasing their likelihood of being published.

The works are funded under the History Publication and Sponsorship Program which supports publishers and historians with the research and recording of the history of the City of Sydney. This will become part of the wider City’s cultural and creative grants and sponsorships program from July.

Applications for the next round of funding will be open until Tuesday 31 March 2015 to allow time for assessment before the end of the financial year.

For more information, visit http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/community/grants-and-sponsorships

For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser.
Phone Ben Johnson on 0467 810 160 or email bjohnson1@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jonathon Larkin.
Phone 0477 310 149 or email jlarkin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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Cervical Cancer Vaccine Inventor Finalist in Award

The University of Queensland’s Professor Ian Frazer – hailed as “the man who saved a million lives” – has been named a finalist in the prestigious 2015 European Inventor Awards.

The awards acknowledge inventions that have made major contributions towards social, technological and economic progress.

Professor Frazer co-created the Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine with Dr Jian Zhou and has won more than 20 significant awards for his contributions to science, including being named an Australian National Living Treasure and Australian of the Year.

He was selected from 450 potential candidates to be one of 15 finalists for this year’s European Inventor Award and has been nominated in the non-European countries category.

He is also a contender in the Popular Prize section, which will be decided by public vote. You can help him win this prize by voting here.

“I’m very honoured to be named a finalist in these respected awards,” Professor Frazer said.

“Translating research into practical solutions is very important to me, and I believe the discoveries and research coming from Australia in the health and science fields are among the best in the world.

“Awards such as this promote that research on a global stage, hopefully inspiring others and encouraging collaboration across borders, leading to new innovations.”

Professor Frazer, who was the founding CEO of Brisbane’s Translational Research Institute (TRI) and chairs the TRI Foundation, is working on a vaccine for genital herpes, a virus that affects hundreds of thousands of people, threatens newborn babies and is believed to contribute to the development of HIV.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj congratulated Professor Frazer on his nomination and urged the public to show their support.

“Professor Frazer’s achievements are a shining example of the innovative medical and health research UQ scientists are working on,” he said.

“His projects not only benefit the local community, but have a lasting impact across the globe, with more than 144 million doses of Gardasil distributed in more than 100 countries since 2006.

“He is extremely deserving of this honour, and I encourage the community to support him by voting in the Popular Prize award.”

The award winners will be announced in a ceremony in Paris on June 11. Don’t forget to vote for Professor Ian Frazer online here.

Media: UQ Senior Communications Officer Katie Rowney, 3365 3439, Katie.Rowney@uq.edu.au; TRI Communications and Marketing Director Louise Morland, +61 7 344 37744 or 0417 679306, louise.morland@tri.edu.au.

Image: UQ’s Professor Ian Frazer has been named a finalist in the prestigious 2015 European Inventor Awards.

Greenfleet Greener

Sustainability specialist joins Greenfleet Board

Sustainability specialist Angela McClowry has been appointed to the board of Greenfleet.

Ms McClowry has 15 years’ experience driving sustainability programs across the food, energy, forestry and horticulture industries, and joins a diverse board committed to building Australia’s ‘green’ infrastructure.

According to Greenfleet’s Chairman, Gunther Jurkschat, Ms McClowry’s expertise will complement the already robust board.

“Angela has worked in sustainability roles in Australia, the United Kingdom and in the United States, and her deep understanding of strategy and implementation across a range of industries will help us steer Greenfleet’s ambitious agenda,” Mr Jurkschat says.

More information is available in the attached media release. Please contact me for images and interviews.

Karen Jamal

www.greenfleet.com.au

Good Night’s Sleep Importance Flies High

Read this story online at UQ News.

An international study on sleep and learning in flies has shown a good night’s sleep might be vital for retaining our capacity to learn and remember, with implications for the treatment of human disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

University of Queensland PhD student Leonie Kirszenblat said the research, published today in Current Biology, found that increased sleep temporarily cured flies with learning defects.

Different genetic or pharmacological methods were used to induce the flies’ sleep, to prove that it was indeed sleep that cured the flies, rather than any specific drug or genetic pathway.

The research, led by Washington University, involved UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute and the universities of Oxford and Surrey.

Ms Kirszenblat, said the study reinforced the therapeutic benefits of sleep, even if the different functions of sleep remained mysterious.

“A lot of human disorders result in sleep problems. For instance, many Alzheimer’s disease patients report problems sleeping,” she said.

“But in humans, it is difficult to determine causality: does bad sleep lead to cognitive disorders, or do these disorders cause bad sleep?”

The study used strains of flies with severe learning defects, or flies with memory problems that develop as they age.

“We forced them all to sleep for two days, and afterwards they all became normal learners,” Ms Kirszenblat said.

“For example, we tested flies with a mutation in a gene called presenilin, which has been linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and we put the flies to sleep by activating GABA-A receptors in their brain – which humans also have.

“So it’s possible that simply by finding effective methods of promoting natural sleep, perhaps we will see some improvement in patients’ conditions.”

Humans and flies share most genes that are important for memory, leading the researchers to conclude that the work could lead to discoveries about improving memory in humans.

“The next step is to understand the actual mechanism that improves memory after sleep,” Ms Kirszenblat said.

“If we could understand how sleep improves memory in the fly brain, perhaps these mechanisms could be tweaked to improve memory in humans as well.”

QBI’s Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen said the Drosophila fly strains were easy to work with and study.

“This work offers a real opportunity finally to understand why we sleep, what it is good for, and how it works to maintain a healthy brain,” he said.

“At QBI we have designed new experiments in order to better study sleep in the fly model, and these were crucial for the results of this international study.

“One way we test and measure the flies’ memory is to use a visual learning task in which they must learn to avoid light that they are normally drawn to, by associating it with punishment.

“We test and measure their sleep by probing their responsiveness to different vibration intensities throughout successive days and nights, using a sophisticated computer interface we call DART: Drosophila ARousal Tracking.”

Media: Darius Koreis, +61 7 3346 6353, d.koreis@uq.edu.au; Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen, +61 7 3346 6332, +61 420 365 450 or b.vanswinderen@uq.edu.au

Roman Death Mask

He liked the painting hanging on the wall, especially its strength. The bold lines etched upon the face were unambiguous. The clear creases bespoke of firmness. The size and shape of the head was harmoniously proportionate. The jaw line was the epitome of masculine but the lips sensuously full. He saw some of his father’s face in this canvas and also a likeness to an uncle on his mother’s side. The tri colours emerging from the torso: scarlet, green and gold – had, for him, biblical connotations, like some Luciferion manifestation gleaming against a black background. The whiteness of the skull like visage had echoes of some comic book super hero, or villain, from his childhood reading.

It was a painting of a Roman death mask, which was why the eyes were eyeless empty sockets; white portals into an interior expanse of unreadable blankness. His children had found it creepy. He supposed that others would also judge it to be disquieting. His brother had made reference to the fact of his recent milestone birthday, just passed, and that, perhaps, the striking image of a death mask was psychologically linked to thoughts about his own mortality. He had painted the Roman death masks because of the facial detail captured in plaster, which had inspired him to pick up his brushes after almost a year of inactivity. The copious lines on the faces of these ancient sentinels told the story of their lives, or rather, showed the impact events had had upon them. The Romans wore their lives like badges of honour, every wrinkle, and every line, was a mark of experience crying out, “I lived, I survived, I made my presence felt!”

They wiped their arses with sea sponges soaked in vinegar. He imagined how old arse holes filled with piles would react to the astringent sting. That could put lines on your face. They lived hard lives close to the ground; a race of farmers who became unbeatable soldiers marching in scarlet and always keeping time. They lived on porridge most of the time, which may have kept the piles at bay. Death was notoriously prevalent and like the seasonal slaughter of farmyard animals it was only a matter of time. It was hard not to admire this civilisation, from a safe distance of course. They wore medallions carved in the likeness of erect phalluses, even women and children. They worshipped fertility, the potency of the seed and its deliverer. Mars, the god of war, with sword and spear stood tall amongst them.

His Roman death mask painting captured some of that spirit, he thought to himself. It depicted an angry fucker staring out from history, daring anyone, or thing, to mock him. He hadn’t given him a name, though the Romans were very big on names; nomenclature – the systematic naming of things. They often had three names or nomens. The first, and least important, was the praenomen – something like Gaius or Marcus; there was only a limited number of these to choose from, so many had the same first name. The second name was called the nomen and this was the clan, or gens, you belonged to. A third name was the cognomen, which indicated the branch of the clan you belonged to. It was very important for them to address each other correctly at the appropriate occasion. He had called his painting “Roman Death Mask 1”, a much more functionally modern nomen.

©Robert Hamilton

Self-Reflective Comment

 

I suppose, the fact that I had just returned from my best friend’s funeral, he had taken his own life, was a strong undercurrent in my choice of inspiration for this text. Thoughts about mortality, the life lived and family were uppermost in my mind. I wondered, self-reflectively, if my painting of these Roman death masks had been some intuitive leap into the reality of Andrew’s reality, as the timing of the paintings coincided with the lead-up to his suicide. We had not spoken for almost a year, something I deeply regretted in hindsight, and he had not reached out to me in those final days of his troubled existence. The creative process contains so many arbitrary decisions involving subject matter and the like; I asked myself why I had chosen to suddenly paint this material, at this time.

I think that art, the visual medium, provides a sensory stimulus to the observer, which can trigger self-reflective questioning. Lines indicating shapes on a canvas ask our brains to register meaningful forms and often these provoke personal connotations. Writing this piece allowed me to mine my responses to this image, finding linkages to family, my late father, and to childhood memories. The writing came easy, as a series of evaluations and thoughts emerged from my self-enquiry into what the painting stirred in me.

What it means to be a man, the ageing process of the body, and nomenclature are thematic issues which emerge from the piece for me. I am getting older, old friends are starting to die, and my historical studies into an extinct civilisation evoke feelings of my own mortality. The remnants of the ancient Roman culture offer powerful symbols, which ring true to me, despite the passing of hundreds of years.

In editing the piece I cleaned up any repetition and attempted to present a concise text, which progressed. The focalisation begins with a description of the painted image by the focaliser; it expands to include related responses by family; and then temporally shifts to minutiae from ancient Rome. The juxtaposition of personal response with historical fact, I hope, provides sustained interest for the reader.

Midas Word Naming Shadows

 

ANZAC Celebration of War

Are We Celebrating War?

Every year, as the ANZAC ceremonies come around again and seem to exponentially grow in stature and public awareness, I ask myself, is the message we are sending our children the right one? Celebrity status to the young is accepted generally without much analysis and the glorious stories of these young men who unwittingly sacrificed their lives may be generating the wrong signals. As a father of two young children I am hopeful that my own abhorrence of war, and more importantly its causes, are still paramount in the minds of my children, and in the greater community. Are we focusing on the resultant individual consequences of great wars to the detriment of understanding and condemning the reasons why we find ourselves at war with, other members of the human race?

As a historian I spend a considerable amount of time analysing past conflicts between nation states and I am amazed at the general ignorance amongst the population about the political causes of the wars Australia has been involved in over its short history. ANZAC day, in my opinion, is an opportunity for all of us to spend some time thinking about these conflicts and the factors that contributed to their emergence. In some way this new found reverence for the fallen participants in Gallipoli, in particular, reminds me of what used to be far more keenly felt about the Christian religious festivals, which also reflects a similar ignorance of the actual historical details by the general population. Many people say they find the study of history boring and or a waste of time but it is an understanding of our past actions and policies, which will save us from repeating horrendous mistakes costing the lives of millions.

ANZAC

Some would say that the commemoration of ANZAC day is precisely about an awareness of our history as a nation, but to me its focus is sentimental and iconic. ANZAC day is creating symbols of nationhood, the sacrificial soldier on the altar of freedom, but isn’t the question why we were fighting in the first place equally deserving of gross public recognition? Why do we send the very youngest men into battle? It is a historical and universal social policy practiced by ancient to modern civilisations to commit young men into the violent service of their state’s militaries. Young men seek glory and fame. Young men act first and ask questions later. Young men are more likely to obey their commanders over their own consciences, than older and possibly wiser men or women. History is littered with nations and kingdoms that have spent the lives of their young men, often cheaply, in search of conquest.

The ANZACS and Australian soldiers in WWII were, we are told, defending our country rather than in search of conquest. Australia in the First World War was tied culturally to mother Britain and it was expected that we would send troops to support Britain’s involvement in this highly dubious, in my opinion, global war. WWI was the catastrophic crowning glory of the Princes of Europe, the egos of Kaisers, Czars and Kings combined with new technologies to fertilise the battlefields with an entire generation of young men’s blood and bones. The resultant victory of the Allies led to the onerous Treaty of Versailles, which impinged greatly on Germany’s future; creating Hitler and WWII. A rather brief surmising of events but true enough in essence; look at how the US handled post war Germany and Japan after their WWII defeats to see how useful the lessons of history are.

Australian soldiers in more recent conflicts are now acting, with other soldiers from developed nations, as more like global policemen in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, supposedly engaging and defeating the forces of tyrants and terrorists. The world is a complex place and the reasons for war are multiple, actions can be both right and wrong, can achieve good and bad outcomes; just look at Iraq. The media coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been micromanaged by the military to avoid the antiwar reaction engendered by the very visual conflict in Vietnam. Countries like Australia, Britain and the US are controlling what their citizens are allowed to see on their television and computer screens when it comes to military actions. Orwell’s 1984 is merely set a few decades early when we consider today’s public presentation of war and the controlled perceptions these governments wish to oversee.

We seem unflinching in our fictional reimaginings of the horrors of Gallipoli on our viewing screens, but it is easy to empathise with the affects of atrocities committed a hundred years ago upon distant relatives or strangers. Real war doesn’t currently touch the majority of Australians, as we are turned away from confronting its direct images by government policy, and only a minority of us have a connection to it through family or friend, or have experienced it ourselves. The Australian identity is linked to that of the iconic ANZACS by the fact of their almost universal presentation as Anglo-Saxon Aussies. The real effects of war upon refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka make little impact on the hearts of Australians, despite the fact that these have just happened or are maybe still happening right now. Our great public sadness is reserved for the ghosts of men and women who died up to a hundred years ago. We are authorised to feel greatly for these mainly white ancestors but actively encouraged to despise and be indifferent to the suffering of men, women and children who are clearly not Australian and thus not deserving of our sympathy. Real war is happening in Africa and the Middle East right now, people being killed and blown up, slaughter and rape everywhere. It is interesting how we rationalise and fit these realities into our ethical positions on what deserves our attention and empathy. Lest we forget.

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Redfern Park Family Space in the Future

Redfern park set for family-friendly makeover

A tree house for kids and a more relaxed setting for parents will be part of plans to transform Redfern’s Reconciliation Park into a more enjoyable public place.

The existing playground will be extended to include a tree house with a spinning ‘drop-zone’ pole and other new play equipment that kids will love, as well as new seating to allow parents and carers to relax.

Also included in the makeover are a community garden, repaved and widened pathways for easier access, and better lighting and sight lines for parents to keep tabs on their little ones.

“I started my political career fighting for better play facilities and am delighted to say that Reconciliation Park will soon be a much better place for kids and their parents,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“The tree house beneath the shade of a tree and a slide and swings will be popular with kids, while parents will be able to enjoy better seating and greater visibility across the park.

“Well-designed parks and open spaces are vital for people with limited or no backyards of their own. We have hundreds of parks and open spaces in our city, including award-winning Hyde Park, Prince Alfred Park, Redfern Park and Paddington Reservoir Gardens.”

While 17 of the park’s trees will be preserved, four trees along its perimeter will have to be removed to make way for the community garden and a safer entrance to the 1,260sqm park at the junction of George and James streets.

Replacement trees will be planted in the playground and low shrubs and groundcovers elsewhere.

Reconciliation Park’s famous Think Locally, Act Globally mural will be protected by a fence during construction from September to February.

Contractors will also replace about 30cm of top soil with a fresh layer in the 70sqm community garden area.

The renewal project follows a positive public consultation process that began when 33 Darlington Primary School students made more than 500 suggestions for the park.

A design plan mailed to 250 residents was followed by a meeting with City of Sydney staff on site in February.

Improvements to the park are part of the City’s Parks General Upgrade Program to provide residents with a broad range of quality play facilities.

The City’s local government area has more than 400 large, medium and pocket parks and open spaces.

Residents, visitors and workers recently ranked them the best in NSW in an independent state-wide survey.

The Benchmark Park Users Satisfaction Survey rated the City’s network of parks first among those of nine other councils reviewed.

Walk the Monkey Body

Take your brain for a walk and be healthier

The City of Sydney and Alzheimer’s Australia today joined forces to promote the healthy benefits of walking – and raise awareness of Australia’s third leading cause of death.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW is offering a 10 per cent discount on registration to all city residents and workers for its annual Sydney Memory Walk & Jog on Sunday 14 September.

The fun day out, held during Dementia Awareness Month, raises much-needed funds to provide support, education and resources for people living with dementia in NSW and their carers.

There are an estimated 332,000 Australians with dementia. In Sydney alone there are an estimated 1,100 people with the debilitating condition, and that figure is expected to rise by 300 per cent by 2050.

Deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis said the City was investing significantly in infrastructure to make walking more accessible and interesting for residents, commuters and tourists of all abilities.

“Dementia is a devastating disease and its impact is felt right throughout our community. One person develops the condition in Australia every six minutes. That’s one of the health reasons why we are investing in creating an environment where people are encouraged to be active and walk more,” the Deputy Lord Mayor said.

“The City is investing $50 million in improving the useability and safety of the most popular walking routes in central Sydney over the next 10 years.

“We’re implementing an extensive wayfinding system to link the entire local government area and installing modern new street furniture on every street.

“Next month we will release our first ever policy on walking and in October, Sydney will welcome the world’s leading experts on walking when the City and the NSW Government host the international Walk 21 conference.

“When you create a better environment for walking, you help people’s health, reduce congestion on our roads and boost the local economy from increased foot traffic outside local retailers.”

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW CEO, The Hon. John Watkins, said walking had so many great benefits, and applauded the City of Sydney for working to encourage people to walk more, and more often.

Mr Watkins said walking had particular benefits when it came to delaying the onset of dementia.

“Not only can regular walking improve memory and thinking functions, it can also help protect against cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia,” Mr Watkins said.

The Deputy Lord Mayor urged Sydneysiders and city workers to take up the Sydney Memory Walk & Jog discount offer.

“Alzheimer’s Australia’s Sydney Memory Walk & Jog will be a great day out for the whole family, and it also seems that taking your brain for a walk is really good medicine.”

Sydney Memory Walk & Jog is on Sunday 14 September around the Bay Run at Leichhardt. Participants can choose to take part in a 2 kilometre walk, a 7.5 kilometre walk or a 7.5 kilometre run.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW is aiming to raise $750,000 from events across the state. Bupa is the official aged care partner of the 2014 Memory Walk & Jog.

Discount registration is now open to City of Sydney residents and workers. Visit memorywalk.com.au/sydney click ‘register now’ and follow the prompts to enter promo code CityofSyd2014 for the 10 per cent discount.

Water to Sydney Park

Water brings fresh heart to Sydney Park

Scenic cascades will carry water through Sydney Park’s wetlands to the city’s largest stormwater harvesting system to create a haven for native frogs and birds and encourage bush regeneration.

The $10.5 million upgrade will be completed later this year allowing around 850 million litres of stormwater a year to be captured and cleaned – the equivalent of around 340 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The stormwater harvesting and water re-use facility, built in partnership with the Australian Government’s Water for the Future initiative through the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan, will provide a sustainable water supply for the park’s future needs and improve wetland rehabilitation. The final stages of the work will divert stormwater into Sydney Park wetlands through an underground pipe for treating.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said when the project was completed Sydney Park will have undergone a total rejuvenation with new landscaping, viewing platforms, walkways and picnic areas dotted around the parklands for visitors to enjoy.

“Sydney Park is our city’s largest park and we’re improving opportunities for recreation while maintaining its cultural heritage, and strengthening environmental sustainability and biodiversity,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve introduced new relaxation and recreation areas for visitors to the park and enhanced eco-systems to ensure the park remains a sanctuary for our urban wildlife.

“The park’s entire wetland system has been revitalised to increase storage and improve water filtering. We’ve created beautifully landscaped areas that include a picturesque series of water cascades with stepping stones and informal paths allowing people to engage with the water, and the natural wildlife it fosters.”

The 41.6-hectare park has the highest population of native bird species in the City of Sydney area. This includes 22 wetland species, several of which have not been reported elsewhere in the city.

City of Sydney project manager, Damon La’rance said the project which is nearing completion is one of the City’s largest single park project undertaken.

“The City in partnership with the Federal Government has rejuvenated the parks wetland system,” Mr La’rance said.

“This will allow us to clean and reuse harvested water while at the same time creating new habitat areas rich with local native plants and animals that contribute to the city’s thriving urban ecology.”

A new volunteer bush care program ‘We Heart Sydney Park’ is inviting enthusiastic green thumbs to join weekly working groups to help look after the park. Volunteers will take part in activities including weeding and planting native plants. They will also have an opportunity to meet other locals and join bird watching surveys and guided walks and talks on the park’s diverse ecosystems and history.

For more information go to: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/community/participation/volunteer

Sydney Park has undergone major changes since it came under the management of City of Sydney in 2004. The park includes a café, an award-winning all-abilities children’s’ play area and cycling centre. The final stages of the water re-use project are underway and the park should be fully open for public use by end 2014.

The upgrade includes:

  • Sydney’s largest stormwater harvesting and water re-use facility;
  • Revitalising the first wetland , with new pathways, wetland habitat and viewing platforms;
  • Transforming the second wetland with new stormwater treating bio-retention areas, viewing platforms, water cascades, bridges, picnic tables, pathways and lighting;
  • Adding a new bio-retention system, fenced habitat and boardwalk zone to the third wetland, picnic tables;
  • And, new public sculptures to be installed across all three wetlands.

River Red Gum True Australian

So much more than just a tree, the river red gum has been central to the tensions between economic, social and environmental values of rivers and floodplain landscapes in Australia – perhaps more so than any other Australian plant or animal.

Flooded Forest and Desert Creek: Ecology and History of the River Red Gum, a new CSIRO book, examines not only the ecology of one of the most iconic Australian trees, but how changes in attitudes towards it have reflected broader shifts in values of Australian society.

Author, CSIRO’s Dr Matthew Colloff, said that given the prominence of the river red gum in Australian culture, we know surprisingly little about the ecology and life history of it.

“The river red gum has been the subject of repeated government inquiries over its conservation, use and management. Despite this we know remarkably little about the basics of this species: its longevity; how deep its roots go; what proportion of its seedlings survive to adulthood; the diversity of organisms associated with it, and the nature of those associations,” Dr Colloff said.

Flooded Forest and Desert Creek describes what we do know about the biology and ecology of the river red gum, the changing landscape in which the tree lives and the shifting cultural context that has been shaped by our unfolding interactions with it. The author describes the factors that have driven change in river red gum forests – fire, grazing, timber harvesting, river regulation and diversions of water for irrigation – and examines how we have begun to move from a culture of exploitation to one of conservation, sustainable use and multiple values.

This shift in consciousness has been articulated in part through the depiction of river red gums and inland floodplains in art, literature and the media. Images of the tree by Hans Heysen, Henry Johnstone, Harold Cazneaux and Lin Onus are amongst the best-known and most-loved works of art in our public galleries.

The river red gum has the most widespread natural distribution of any eucalypt species in Australia, forming extensive forests and woodlands in the south-east and providing the structural and functional elements of important floodplain and wetland ecosystems. Along ephemeral creeks in arid central Australia it forms narrow corridors, providing vital refugia in the form of habitat and food resources for a whole host of animals in an otherwise hostile, arid environment.

Flooded Forest and Desert Creek also contrasts the interactions between people and the trees in arid central Australia, where the tree is sacred – standing for water, life and hope – with those further east in the Murray-Darling Basin, where conflicts between the allocation of water for irrigated agricultural production and for the environment are still being played out.

“This may give us a glimpse into how we can understand the value of this tree as part of our common heritage and how we can manage river red gum forests under a drier future climate with reduced water availability,” Dr Colloff said.

Brilliant Design Underground Sydney Library

Underground library vision takes shape

Green Square residents are a step closer to enjoying a new state of the art library following the start of the planning process for the heart of the new Green Square Town Centre.

Sydney designers Felicity Stewart and Matt Hollenstein, in association with Stewart Architecture, won the City of Sydney’s international design competition for the Green Square library and plaza.

Stewart and Hollenstein’s bold plan located much of the library below ground. One of the judges of the design competition was Australian architect Glenn Murcutt – a winner of world architecture’s highest award, the Pritzker Prize – who hailed the design as “brilliant”.

Detailed designs have now been submitted as part of the Development Application for the project. They show the library integrated with the ground level plaza, providing an “urban living room” for the fast-growing Green Square community.

Features of the library’s design include a sunken garden that bathes the library in natural light while providing a place for children to play, an amphitheatre with timber seating for up to 160 people to attend outdoor events, and a library entrance located in a dramatic glass structure that soars 15 metres.

The library’s slender, seven-story tower is one of the few structures in the plaza and will contain an acoustically-designed music room, a community function room for workshops and meetings, two levels of reading rooms and a technology suite with facilities for sound and video editing
.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she was delighted the development application had been lodged and residents could now see more detailed plans for the library and plaza.

“I was thrilled when two young Sydney architects won our international design competition last year with their innovative concepts that so delighted our judges,” the Lord Mayor said.
“This important project is quickly taking shape and I’m delighted to see how these plans have been refined and improved.

“Green Square is our fastest growing village and this library and plaza will provide wonderful facilities where the community can work and relax, play and listen to music, edit videos and read books in a café that’s included in these plans.”

The library and plaza are estimated to cost $47 million, part of the $440 million the City is investing in new infrastructure and facilities at Green Square. Preliminary work on the project is due to begin early next year.

The library and plaza will be part of the new Green Square Town Centre to be built over 14 hectares of land adjacent to Green Square railway station, four kilometres south of the city centre.

The new town centre is part of the 278 hectare Green Square urban redevelopment area, where around $8 billion is being spent on apartments and community facilities for the 53,000 people who are expected to live in the area

Greener Redfern Park

Redfern park set for family-friendly makeover

A tree house for kids and a more relaxed setting for parents will be part of plans to transform Redfern’s Reconciliation Park into a more enjoyable public place.

The existing playground will be extended to include a tree house with a spinning ‘drop-zone’ pole and other new play equipment that kids will love, as well as new seating to allow parents and carers to relax.

Also included in the makeover are a community garden, repaved and widened pathways for easier access, and better lighting and sight lines for parents to keep tabs on their little ones.

“I started my political career fighting for better play facilities and am delighted to say that Reconciliation Park will soon be a much better place for kids and their parents,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“The tree house beneath the shade of a tree and a slide and swings will be popular with kids, while parents will be able to enjoy better seating and greater visibility across the park.

“Well-designed parks and open spaces are vital for people with limited or no backyards of their own. We have hundreds of parks and open spaces in our city, including award-winning Hyde Park, Prince Alfred Park, Redfern Park and Paddington Reservoir Gardens.”

While 17 of the park’s trees will be preserved, four trees along its perimeter will have to be removed to make way for the community garden and a safer entrance to the 1,260sqm park at the junction of George and James streets.

Replacement trees will be planted in the playground and low shrubs and groundcovers elsewhere.

Reconciliation Park’s famous Think Locally, Act Globally mural will be protected by a fence during construction from September to February.

Contractors will also replace about 30cm of top soil with a fresh layer in the 70sqm community garden area.

The renewal project follows a positive public consultation process that began when 33 Darlington Primary School students made more than 500 suggestions for the park.

A design plan mailed to 250 residents was followed by a meeting with City of Sydney staff on site in February.

Improvements to the park are part of the City’s Parks General Upgrade Program to provide residents with a broad range of quality play facilities.

The City’s local government area has more than 400 large, medium and pocket parks and open spaces.

Residents, visitors and workers recently ranked them the best in NSW in an independent state-wide survey.

The Benchmark Park Users Satisfaction Survey rated the City’s network of parks first among those of nine other councils reviewed.

Brain Walk better Health

Take your brain for a walk and be healthier

The City of Sydney and Alzheimer’s Australia today joined forces to promote the healthy benefits of walking – and raise awareness of Australia’s third leading cause of death.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW is offering a 10 per cent discount on registration to all city residents and workers for its annual Sydney Memory Walk & Jog on Sunday 14 September.

The fun day out, held during Dementia Awareness Month, raises much-needed funds to provide support, education and resources for people living with dementia in NSW and their carers.

There are an estimated 332,000 Australians with dementia. In Sydney alone there are an estimated 1,100 people with the debilitating condition, and that figure is expected to rise by 300 per cent by 2050.

Deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis said the City was investing significantly in infrastructure to make walking more accessible and interesting for residents, commuters and tourists of all abilities.

“Dementia is a devastating disease and its impact is felt right throughout our community. One person develops the condition in Australia every six minutes. That’s one of the health reasons why we are investing in creating an environment where people are encouraged to be active and walk more,” the Deputy Lord Mayor said.

“The City is investing $50 million in improving the useability and safety of the most popular walking routes in central Sydney over the next 10 years.

“We’re implementing an extensive wayfinding system to link the entire local government area and installing modern new street furniture on every street.

“Next month we will release our first ever policy on walking and in October, Sydney will welcome the world’s leading experts on walking when the City and the NSW Government host the international Walk 21 conference.

“When you create a better environment for walking, you help people’s health, reduce congestion on our roads and boost the local economy from increased foot traffic outside local retailers.”

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW CEO, The Hon. John Watkins, said walking had so many great benefits, and applauded the City of Sydney for working to encourage people to walk more, and more often.

Mr Watkins said walking had particular benefits when it came to delaying the onset of dementia.

“Not only can regular walking improve memory and thinking functions, it can also help protect against cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia,” Mr Watkins said.

The Deputy Lord Mayor urged Sydneysiders and city workers to take up the Sydney Memory Walk & Jog discount offer.

“Alzheimer’s Australia’s Sydney Memory Walk & Jog will be a great day out for the whole family, and it also seems that taking your brain for a walk is really good medicine.”

Sydney Memory Walk & Jog is on Sunday 14 September around the Bay Run at Leichhardt. Participants can choose to take part in a 2 kilometre walk, a 7.5 kilometre walk or a 7.5 kilometre run.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW is aiming to raise $750,000 from events across the state. Bupa is the official aged care partner of the 2014 Memory Walk & Jog.

Discount registration is now open to City of Sydney residents and workers. Visit memorywalk.com.au/sydney click ‘register now’ and follow the prompts to enter promo code CityofSyd2014 for the 10 per cent discount.

Palm Oil Ice Cream SA Zoo Choice

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GOLDEN NORTH FROZEN OUT BY ZOOS SA DECISION TO CHOOSE ICE CREAM CONTAINING PALM OIL

Privately owned and operated South Australian ice cream maker Golden North remains committed to producing high quality, locally produced and palm oil free ice cream despite its products being axed by Zoos SA.

After completely eliminating palm oil from its ice cream, and jointly promoting the move with Adelaide and Monarto Zoo, Golden North had its contract broken by Zoos SA, which has entered into a deal with Unilever owned Streets – whose ice creams contain palm oil.

Golden North Marketing Manager Trevor Pomery said it was disappointing Zoos SA had decided against partnering with a company that produced high quality, South Australian and palm oil free products.

“We thought Zoos SA’s commitment to palm oil free products was as strong as Golden North’s but this has proved not to be the case,” said Mr Pomery.

“We still had just over a year to go on our contract but received a letter dated July 3 advising we were no longer preferred supplier with immediate effect.

“Since the news broke, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from the community, both from within South Australia and interstate.

“It is very comforting to see the level of support people have for the protection of endangered species by ceasing destruction of rainforests for palm oil production.”

Golden North Ice Cream is proudly South Australian-made and owned and has been producing ice cream in Laura, South Australia for the past 90 years.

Golden North uses only the freshest milk and cream from local dairy farmers to create its award winning rich and creamy ice cream.

Every Golden North product is Palm Oil Free and ethically produced.

For more information visit www.goldennorth.com.au

Greener Sydney

Sydney streets are even greener on the eye

Two City of Sydney programs are bringing more plant life to Sydney’s streets and making it easier and more pleasant for residents, workers and visitors to move around the city.

As part of the Greening Sydney Plan, the City is boosting standard footpath improvements by taking the opportunity to install new garden beds, trees and shrubs to soften and enhance the appearance of streets and public places.

The City has already undertaken a range of projects – with before and after photographs showing how streets can be instantly improved – and committed more than $75 million to the Footway Renewal and Public Domain Landscaping programs over the next 10 years.

Beauchamp Hotel publican, Sue Ritchie, said the introduction of planter boxes and a new garden near her hotel at the corner of Oxford and South Dowling streets had made a huge impact on the area, known as Three Saints Square.

“The little garden and the planter boxes on all five corners of the intersection help bring the community together – it’s a simple, simple thing, but really important because it has brought happiness to the area,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Every day, instead of it being grey, urban, hard and austere, it’s just mood lifting. You wouldn’t believe the positive feedback we get about how softening and pleasant the little plants are.

“For the little garden, the community had input into the design, which was fantastic of the City of Sydney, who also put a sculpture and a little seat there. It’s fabulous.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said increasing Sydney’s tree canopy and other plantings helped make the city a better place to live, work and visit.

“Greener streets help improve people’s wellbeing, cool neighbourhoods and support the wildlife that calls Sydney home, such as birds, small mammals and butterflies,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Streets and public spaces make up almost a third of our city area. By using these available spaces as garden beds, we can contribute greatly to increasing urban canopy, reducing the impact of the urban heat-island effect, as well as filtering stormwater before it reaches our harbour and waterways.

“The new garden beds have made dramatic improvements to the appearance of our streets and public spaces, making them more attractive to pedestrians and businesses.”

Some of the improvements have also been made under the City’s Traffic Safety Plan, targeting areas and streets with high rates of vehicle accidents.

The City’s 10-year corporate plan, with a record $1.94 billion infrastructure program, includes major financial commitments for projects at Green Square, George Street, Barangaroo and Harold Park, providing a boost to the city’s economy, businesses and employment.

About 2,000 new jobs a year will be created off the back of the plan, which includes more than 400 projects across the City’s local government area.

Coal Mine Fighter

Kokoda veteran, Bill Ryan may be 92 years old but he’s not letting that get in the way of standing up to stop a destructive coal mine. Watch this video to hear first hand from Bill why he’s doing it and how you can help: https://www.getup.org.au/protect-maules-creek

Robbie,

Two years ago, the small farming community of Maules Creek was transformed forever when fossil fuel giant, Whitehaven Coal, discovered dirty black coal deposits in the region.

Once an area of rolling paddocks and ancient forests, Maules Creek is now home to the biggest coal mine under construction in Australia. The local community, faced with a future of toxic dust, trucking highways and environmental degradation, has had little choice but to band together to protect their land, their community and their livelihoods.

This unlikely group of activists are already a force to be reckoned with. In mid-June, the likes of 92 year old Kokoda veteran, Bill Ryan and local farmer, Cliff Wallace, forced Whitehaven to “voluntarily” cease forest clearing for the rest of winter. But with springtime fast approaching, Whitehaven are getting ready to roll in the bulldozers and open the pit.

The community have got the people power they need to stop Whitehaven’s machines, but it takes more than a slingshot for David to take on Goliath. That’s where we come in. Our movement has the resources to help this people-powered campaign afford the camp infrastructure, food, solar panels, toilet maintenance and legal support they need to keep their community, and their land, fossil-free.

Watch this video, hear their stories and chip in to help them defend their land and protect their water:

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this type of people power prevail. This past May, just a couple of hours east, another farming community stood up to coal seam gas giant, Metgasco, to keep their farms gas field-free. The awe-inspiring Bentley Blockade led directly to the NSW government’s decision to suspend Metgasco’s gas exploration licence — demonstrating that regional communities can win out against huge corporations.

Now it’s happening again, with farmers, war veterans and local business-owners standing together to defend Maules Creek. And it’s not hard to understand why when you consider that Whitehaven’s open pit coal mine will:

  • Ruin local farms and drain the water table. Dangerous dust, noise, traffic and, most importantly, falling water tables will have huge impacts on the local area and nearby residents. The area is a crucial food bowl, it’s critical we ensure it remains clean and functional for future generations.
  • Demolish ancient forests and risk threatened species. The Leard State Forest, the exact location of the coal pit, is home to 396 native species and 2,153ha of critically endangered Box-Gum Woodland — the most extensive remaining area in Australia1.
  • Disrespect Gomeroi land and culture. The mine site is also of significant cultural importance with numerous Indigenous artefacts and burial grounds. When the Gomeroi people demanded a stop-work order to try protect these sites, they were blatantly ignored. “All we ask as Aboriginal people is that they do the right thing and respect our culture and heritage,” said Traditional owner Stephen Talbott2.
  • Fuel the climate crisis. It has been estimated that the mine will produce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to about 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year — roughly equivalent to the entire fossil fuel emissions of New Zealand3.

This mine must be stopped in its tracks in order to avoid these terrible outcomes. Fortunately for all of us, there’s already a powerful community ready – and based on the huge win in Bentley, we know they can win. However in the words of Cliff, “the day to day running of it is expensive, we rely on donations to keep it going”, and the current trickle of resources is set to fall well short of their budget for the rest of the year.

If anyone can take on a multi-million dollar corporation it’s these farmers — all they need is our help. Click here to chip in and support these farmers with the financial and legal support they need

Local resident Jenny puts it best: “This is the best farming country in Australia, this coal mine is a violation of all that the farmers hold dear here”. Together we can help the farmers of Northern NSW do what they do best — prove that people, when united, are more powerful than profits.

For their farms, our food and everyone’s future,
Michael, for the GetUp team

PS — A campaign that started with a handful of locals in a farm shed is attracting the attention of some of the most powerful environmental organisations in the country. We’re working closely with this growing alliance to help boost this strategic campaign. The number of groups involved is far too long to list here, so to find out more about the Maules Creek Alliance and how you can support them visit: https://www.getup.org.au/protect-maules-creek

[1] “Maules Creek Environmental Assessment”, World Heritage Committee
[2] “Minister ‘failed to act’ on Maules Creek mine stop-work order”, Sydney Morning Herald, January 17 2014
[3] “Maules Creek proposed coal mine: greenhouse gas emissions”, Dr Ian Lowe

Sydney Underground Bin System

DIARY NOTE: Sydney’s first underground bin system cleans up

DIARY NOTE: underground waste solution

WHAT: An innovative, state-of –the-art waste system with underground communal chutes has been installed in Darlinghurst.

The new system in Royston Street replaces an unsightly, cluttered bin bay with new recycling and waste chutes linking to an underground storage system.

Underground waste systems have been used in other cities around the world and are proven to be an effective means of managing waste in high density areas with limited bin space.

WHO: Lord Mayor Clover Moore
City’s Director Operations, Garry Harding

WHEN: midday on Monday 11 August, 2014

WHERE: Royston Street, Darlinghurst

Media contact: Claire Thompson 0408 414 376

Deva Premal is Back!

 

August New Release Catalogue – CLICK HERE!
Deva Premal is back!
Mantras For Life Deval Premal & Miten with ManoseMantras for Life includes chants to invoke very specific intentions, among them: for animal welfare; for the blessing of children; for poetry, music and learning; for perfect timing; for physical strength, and for the earth itself. Based upon the tradition of Japa, a spiritual discipline centered upon the meditative repetition of mantra (in cycles of 108 recitations), Deva Premal and Miten invite the listener to join them in chant – and to utilise humanity’s most powerful healing tool: the voice. To celebrate the release of Deva & Miten’s new album we’re offering a special buy six get one free promotion.

Elemental Music • $24.95 • CD • EM012 • Mantra • Shop Here Buy 6 Get 1 Free

New Diaries For 2015

We’re past the halfway mark of 2014 so it’s time to start getting ready for Christmas. And to help you with your shelf stocking we’ve got some must-have diaries for 2015. The Moontime Diary and Gratitude Diary ran out the door last year and Simon & Schuster have again released a Mind Body Spirit Diary for 2015. Last year it was the Book of Days, this year Every Day Matters. Also available in pocket size. More diaries coming next month. To view 2015 diary and calendar products click here.

Hay House up-and-coming new releases

Hay House have some fantastic new releases coming out ahead of Christmas, including new cards from John Holland, Miranda Kerr and Doreen Virtue as well as books by Pam Grout (author of the best selling e-Squared) Louise Hay and Bronie Ware (author of The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying). These titles will be coming out in September, October and November but are available for pre-order on our site now. So get your orders in now to ensure you don’t miss out for Christmas. You can find them in the New Releases section on our website or view them on page 3 of this month’s New Release Catalogue.

Is your business in the next Living Now?
Would you like to see your business advertised in Australia’s largest holistic magazine, Living Now? Take advantage of Phoenix Distribution’s one-page monthly advertisement which aims to help promote our best selling new releases and help you, our valued retailers.Each month we promote four exclusive Phoenix titles. August’s titles are listed below. This is a service provided at absolutely no cost to our retailers and is designed to help drive customers into your stores.

To be included on the advertisement as a Phoenix partner and stockist email: info@phoenixdistribution.com.au

Products for Living Now August
EXCLUSIVE So, Why Become Vegan?
by Sandra Kimler • 9781452513737 • PB • $27.95
The Little Book of Good Health
by Dr Sonia Kakar • 9781921966361
PB • $19.99
EXCLUSIVE Great Body, No Diet
by Racha Zeidan • 9780988290501 • PB • $19.95
The Beauty Diet
by David Wolfe • 735885589790
DVD • $39.95
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China’s New Energy Policy

What China’s energy turnaround means for us
Experts believe China’s radically new energy policy has major implications for economies and communities around the world.
Leading economists and climate scientists including Professor Ross Garnaut, China’s Energy Research Institute Director Dr Jiang Kejun and Climate Change Authority CEO Anthea Harris will meet at Victoria University on June 26 for the free public conference ‘Abrupt change in China’s energy path: implications for China, Australia and the global climate’.
This follows an article published recently in Nature Climate Change, where Victoria University’s Professor Peter Sheehan and colleagues argue China’s air pollution crisis over the past year – and its potential to destabilise the country – has provided impetus for the government to aggressively reshape its energy system, with profound implications for global climate change.
The Chinese government’s Action Plan for Air Pollution Prevention and Control (2013‐17) aims to improve air quality by 2017 with a focus on the three key regions in the heart of China: the Beijing‐Tianjin‐Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta.
The Plan includes mandatory targeted reductions in fine particulate emissions, a ban on new coal power plants and sharp cutbacks in coal consumption and steel production in these regions. For example, steelmaking capacity in Hebei province, which produces about one quarter of China’s steel, will be reduced by 80 million tonnes by 2017. This is equivalent to about 10% of China’s steel production.
Most polluting heavy vehicles are to be removed from three key regions and new fuel standards introduced by 2015 and nationally by 2017. Non‐fossil energy resources will increase to 13% of total energy consumption by 2017, by comparison with 9.4% in 2012 and there will be increased emphasis on natural gas, which is to gradually replace coal by 2017 in power stations, industrial furnaces and thermal heating plants.
Meanwhile, hundreds of air quality observation stations have been installed across the country providing real time publicly available data on air quality with a monthly ‘naming and shaming’ of the worst polluting cities.
“If China’s pursues these and other plans to control air pollution, China’s emissions could peak by about 2020 and then begin to fall. This is a dramatic change relative to its previous path, and would greatly enhance prospects for holding global warming to less than 2°C,” Professor Sheehan said.
“The new direction also demonstrates an alternative path for countries, such as India, that face rising pollution from development based on coal and oil and should influence current negotiations in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to establish by 2015 a legally binding emissions agreement to apply from 2020.”
Other event speakers include Victoria Institute for Strategic Economic Studies (VISES) Director Professor Bruce Rasmussen and head of the VISES Sustainability and Climate Change cluster Professor Roger Jones. Dr Kejun and other guests will be available for questions.
The free event runs 8.30am to 6.00pm on Thursday 26 June, 2014 at room FS1101, Level 11, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne.
RSVP: birute.prasmutas@vu.edu.au

Available for interview
Professor Peter Sheehan, Professorial Fellow
Victoria Institute for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University
(03) 9919 1341; peter.sheehan@vu.edu.au

Professor Roger Jones, Head of VISES Sustainability and Climate Change cluster
Victoria Institute for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University
(03) 9919 1992; 0434 543 425; roger.jones@vu.edu.au

Run 4 Refugees

Run 4 Refugees Sunday 12th October

It’s Run 4 Refugees time again! Last year we had 420 amazing people run and raise over $200,000. This year we’re aiming to raise over $250,000!


It’s just under 3 months until race day so if you haven’t registered yet register soon so that your preferred distance doesn’t sell out. Head to the Run 4 Refugees page to sign up. You’ll also find the link for the Melbourne Marathon page here.

You don’t have to be a runner to take part, there are events for all levels!

Please contact our fundraising team if you have any questions about the process fundraising@asrc.org.au

Winter Appeal

Thank you so much to everyone who supported our Winter Appeal. This was our most successful appeal to date, and we couldn’t have done it without our supporters.

Stay tuned for better and more frequent updates.

Thank you all for your ongoing support.

 

Regards,

Tash Howson
ASRC Donor Relationships Coordinator
tash.h@asrc.org.au
03 9326 6066

 

Farmers Direct To Consumers

Community backs bid to bypass big supermarkets
An ambitious project designed to connect shoppers directly with farmers and to support independent retailers and wholesalers aims to crowd fund $100,000 to launch in Australia.
The Open Food Network, an online marketplace that makes it easier to find, buy, and sell local sustainable food, received startup funding from VicHealth via its Seed Challenge program, to conduct early trials.

More than 170 individuals passionate about an alternative to the supermarkets giants have already donated $15,000 towards the cause.

The Open Food Network is a bias-free, not-for-profit website which connects farmers with distribution hubs and customers, to make affordable fresh food accessible to all Australians.

The website will be further developed, with the organisers currently crowd-funding to launch the open beta version across Australia by the end of the year.

Open Food Network co-founder Kirsten Larsen said the food supply system has major issues.

“The Open Food Network has been designed in response to major problems in our food system, including too much power wielded by just a few players,” Ms Larsen said.

“The supermarkets and other ‘big guys’ are offering a raw deal and little bargaining power to both farmers and end customers.

“Proudly not-for-profit, the money we raise will go to development of this important resource for producers and independent food businesses fighting to provide an alternative to the supermarket duopoly.”

Following successful trials in Australia, the Open Food Network is building a strong following overseas, with demand for use of the system from food hubs in the UK, USA, Canada and India. A UK trial, with Europe’s largest local food network, the Fife Diet, launches next week.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said the idea of using technology to open the doors to fresh and affordable food for all is the way of the future.

“Digital technology has opened our world up to more options. We don’t have to rely on big corporations to source our food for us any longer. By connecting consumers with the growers, and supporting local businesses, it’s better for the environment, our community and our farmers,” Ms Rechter said.

“We would love to see this idea grow to reach all Australians and we know it will make a big difference.”

Local farmer Shona Crawford of Vegie Bunch, from Pearcedale in Melbourne’s South East, is involved with a trial of the network in Victoria.

“We are always looking for new ways to get our food to businesses and the community around us, but it is time-consuming and bitsy. The trial is opening up possibilities and we’re excited about what it could mean for small farmers like us,” Ms Crawford said.

The Open Food Network has small trials currently in operation in Mildura, Gippsland and South East Melbourne. Go to www.openfoodnetwork.org.au for details.

Help them to launch in Australia: http://startsomegood.com/openfoodnetwork

News

Green thumbs dig in for national tree day

Volunteers can get their hands dirty planting 4,500 new seedlings in Sydney Park today (Sunday 27 July) to celebrate Planet Ark’s National Tree Day.

More than 300 Sydneysiders and visitors are expected to join the free tree planting event, where they can enjoy a barbeque, learn about greening their homes and help cool the city at the same time.

Anyone can get involved and have a go at planting a tree. All they need to do is turn-up between 10am and 1pm and ensure they are wearing covered shoes.

The City supports the annual event as part of its Greening Sydney Plan, which encourages volunteers to contribute to greening the urban landscape.

“National Tree Day is a wonderful opportunity for the whole community to come together and help green our City,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“The City aims to increase our urban canopy by 50 per cent by 2030. We’re planting more street trees and increasing the number of trees in our parks. Events like this help cool our city and make it even more beautiful.”

Sydney Park will also host several education tents on the day, offering tips about green living and the latest innovations in sustainability.

Since 2005, the City has planted 9,791 trees. There are currently around 30,000 street trees across the city, and 12,000 trees in the City’s parks. Along with green roofs and walls they contribute to the urban canopy, help combat climate change, and create wildlife corridors for native birds and animals.

Green spaces also benefit residents’ health, cleaning pollutants from the air, creating shade in the hot summer months and enhancing general wellbeing.

Since Planet Ark launched National Tree Day in 1996, more than 2.8 million volunteers across Australia have planted over 17 million trees and shrubs.

This year, in June as a prelude to National Tree Day, Planet Ark created an urban jungle outside the City’s Customs House in Circular Quay. The installation was to highlight the many values of bringing nature into our everyday lives.

Kitchen gods and sacrifice

Excerpt from – House Therapy – Discovering who you really are at home!

By Sudha Hamilton

House Therapy is Sudha’s soon to be published new book.

 

The Kitchen

The Ancient Greeks, who gave us many of the founding principles upon which we base our modern societies – democracy; logic; philosophy; literature and poetry to name but a few salient examples, had  a rich collection of gods and goddesses. Hestia was the goddess of hearth and home, older sister to Zeus and first born of the titans Kronos and Rhea – perhaps not as well known today as her siblings Demeter, Hera, Haides and Poseidon.  This may have been due to the fact that she was swallowed first by her titan father Kronos, who in  a bid to avoid being overthrown by one of his children, as prophesied, ate all his children, she was thus the last to be regurgitated, once Zeus had forced his father to do so.

The Romans also worshipped her in their homes and knew her as Vesta. The areas of responsibility for which Hestia was worshipped and sacrificed to, were most aspects of domestic life and in particular what we now call the kitchen. For it is around the cooking hearth or kitchen that a home or house builds up or out. Hestia was always toasted at the beginning of a meal in thanks for the hospitality proffered. She was probably where the early Christians appropriated their ‘saying of grace’ before dinner from.

Homeric Hymn 24 to Hestia (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th – 4th B.C.) :
“Hestia, in the high dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour: glorious is your portion and your right. For without you mortals hold no banquet,–where one does not duly pour sweet wine in offering to Hestia both first and last. And you, Argeiphontes [Hermes], son of Zeus and Maia, . . . be favourable and help us, you and Hestia, the worshipful and dear. Come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength. Hail, Daughter of Kronos, and you also, Hermes.”

Interestingly Hestia was a virginal goddess and refused the suits of both Apollo and Poseidon. Perhaps this is where we get the separation of the sexual roles of the wife and mother in the home and the focus on providing nurture and hospitality instead. Hestia was seen as the giver of all domestic happiness and good fortune in the home and she was believed to dwell in the inner parts of every home. She was also the first god mentioned at every sacrifice, as she represented the hearth where sacrifices took place – this is the direct link to our kitchens today and the genesis of the sacred chef. There are very few temples of Hestia extant and this is thought to be because every home was her temple in the Hellenistic world. I think we can draw some intuition from this in our view of our homes being places of divine inspiration.

The kitchen has of late become a popular focus of interest, with TV chefs and groovy restaurants grabbing the public’s imagination. For House Therapy the kitchen represents our centre, our practical and instinctual selves. This is where we prepare food for family and ourselves. It is also often where food is stored in the refrigerator and pantry cupboards. Food is about survival and security. There is no bullshit about these things and the kitchen is a place where the elements of nature still regularly intervene. Fire on the stove and in your oven; water at the sink, earth in the bench tops and structure; and air in the extractor, fan forced oven and all around. You can be hurt in the kitchen if you do not pay attention to what you are about. Unlike the faux furies vented in the kitchens on TV, you can experience some real passions in these hot and pressurised places at home. You might be burning fingers and dishes, dropping scoldingly hot plates and crying bitter tears over chopped onions. The kitchen is where we show our real reactions to strong emotions, pressure in our lives and our appetites and jealousies.

Have a look around now at your kitchen, the colour of the walls and general lay-out of things. What is your first impression? What does it say to you about your instinctive self? Are you clinical or passionate? Are the walls white/neutral or vivid/strong colours? Is it large or small? Is the instinctual, raw and pragmatic you an important part of your life? Or is it hidden away or missing? The trend in studio apartment architecture now, to build them without kitchens and have neutered mini servery’s instead, is a reflection of a missing essential in sections of our culture. Stripping away the practical ability to fend for yourself by cooking your own food and becoming dependent on pre-prepared meals is symptomatic of us having lost our way along the journey. Is your kitchen well equipped? Can you cook? Do you enjoy cooking for friends, family and yourself?

Returning to the rich historical connection our modern day kitchen has with Hestia’s hearth, as mentioned earlier it was the place where the highly necessary ritualised sacrifices took place. These sacrifices usually involved a calf or some other domesticated animal and those involved with the sacrifice would share in eating the meat of the roasted animal. So the power of the sacrifice would be in the ritualised slaughtering of the animal in dedication to the goddess for a particular purpose – to bring good fortune upon whatever was so desired for example. Today the cook or cooks go into the kitchen, risking cuts, perspiration and burns, to prepare a celebratory meal for our friends and or family – Christmas, birthdays and other days of ritualised festivities. We may not consciously invoke Hestia or any other gods but the overall intention is the same, we wish to share good cheer with those we love and bring good fortune upon us all.

It is interesting to ask oneself what is true sacrifice and what does it mean in our lives today? When we think of sacrificing something, we tend to see it as foregoing or missing out on something so as to have something else. “You cannot have your cake and eat it too.” Which I have always thought was an incredibly stupid saying, because what is the point of possessing uneaten cake? A sacrifice I hear you say, perhaps a slice for the gods. Interestingly the Greeks and Romans would eat the cooked flesh of their sacrifice, offering the bones and fat to the gods and goddesses, but it was the life itself, that was the real sacrifice in my view. The word sacrifice means to make sacred, so whatever we offer up in dedication to the gods becomes sacred. Actually the word anathema, was the Greek word forlaying-up or suspending something in wait for the gods, and it is has now taken on the meaning of something that is accursed, through its contact, down through the ages, with the jealous Hebrew  god, Yahweh; the Christian god. Our language, and lexicon of words, have taken an interesting journey over the last four millennia, and it is no wonder we are all a little confused at times. So we could make  a correlation between sacrificing something in our life and that thing, which  has been sacrificed becomes anathema to us or accursed. How do you feel about the things you have sacrificed in your life? A person’s love; a relationship; a career; types of food; alcohol; drugs; sex; lifestyle; freedom?  We do not live in a particularly sacrificial age, more of a ‘you can have it all’ age, but can you really enjoy it all and be present for entirely disparate things in your life? Do we appreciate things more when we make room for them in our lives? Perhaps sacrifice still has a part to play in our lives today, better sharpen those knives.

The kitchen is also a place of transformation, where base elements are turned into the gold of love and nourishment. Is your kitchen a space where magic like this happens, regularly or just on special occasions? Domestic kitchens have a great tradition throughout the West of being incredibly impractical, lacking preparation space and adequate and functional cupboards. This is now being addressed in more modern homes, as the passion is returning to the kitchen. I think that we suffered for a few decades from the ‘American wonder of white goods’ syndrome, where no home was complete without these wonderful space and time saving machines and that a mentality of faster was better grew up around them. Fast foods, sliced white bread, whipped cream in a can, all these travesties were accorded the haloed status of modernity and progress. When in actual fact they were soulless short cuts that ripped the heart out of good cooking. Yes we still do have a lot of gadgets in the kitchen but we also now understand that good food still needs dedication and application. Bread makers are great, but bread cooked in a wood fired oven tastes better and if it is naturally fermented sour dough even better. Espresso coffee from your home machine tastes a lot better than instant coffee.

Your kitchen is a place where you can practically respond to the basic needs of living. Is your kitchen letting you do this? Is your kitchen supporting you in feeling centred and secure in dealing with the vicissitudes that life often throws up? Are your knives sharp and well balanced? Do you have enough bench space when preparing meals? Does your stove cook the way you want it to cook?  If not then you are letting yourself down and going around with a bloody great hole where your centre should be. As a member of the human tribe you need to be able to fend for yourself, and the kitchen can empower you to be grounded in the here and now. Not wafting around on the ceiling hoping for the crumbs of human kindness to drop your way.

Things we can do to transform our kitchen

As a chef, who has owned and managed a number of restaurants and cafes, I know all about kitchens and their design downfalls. First and foremost it is about space and in particular bench top space where most kitchens, especially older kitchens, are lacking. Storage space comes a close second and it is in these areas that a solid beginning can be made in transforming your kitchen from a frustration trap into a pragmatic pleasure dome. Cooking is never completely easy, if it is, it isn’t real cooking, in my opinion, there must be some blood, sweat and tears in every great dish but not too much. Unnecessary suffering is not on anyone’s menu by choice.

Buy an island bench if you lack bench top space and cannot easily create more, they are great and I have several of them, and you can take them with you when you move.

Sharp knives, that are also well weighted in the overall heft of the knife, can bring a smile to any good cook and I always say, “happiness is a sharp knife.”

Obviously kitchens need to be clean and cleaned regularly for all sorts of reasons, hygiene, health and happiness. Clutter in the kitchen causes chaos and calamity, food takes longer to prepare and the energy around it is bad.

Trapped dead energy, in the form of rotting and old produce in fridges and cupboards, does not augur well for happy kitchen gods and thus producing yummy healthy and nutritious food; so clean out and clean up.

 

©Sudha Hamilton

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Is Sex A Mystical Gateway?

 

Is sex a mystical gateway, to a boundless place of untold pleasures and exquisite pains, in your life?

Sex, I think, is different things at different times of our lives. It reflects what we are seeking, at that juncture, and therefore, who, we are attracting into our life. For it is a union of energies after all, and as they say in the song, “it takes two to tango, baby.” Occasionally that saying has some negative connotations, and similarly our sexual experiences can at times be defined by our partner’s energies, for good or bad.

Making love, having sex, it is a moment when we return to our interior universe and tune into our sensory responses. It is an intensely personal experience, which is also shared, in an intimate revelation of our essentially animal natures. We roar and groan, grunt and gasp, in a symphony of respiratory action, for our ride to pleasure is carried on each breath. It is that breath, which makes sexual activity a possible doorway to the divine. Reading Tim Winton’s novel, Breath, you can sense the parallels between experiences of the ocean and sexual experiences. Metaphorical language used to describe the tumbling; submerged qualities inherent inside a wave are similar to the ocean of bliss, inside us, which can well up during sex. At times we are letting go to the inextricable force of the sea, as we must’ let go’ to the surging currents within our sexuality. We ride upon, and inside, our wave of ecstasy and our breathing triggers the biochemical reactions, which can awaken orgasmic brain activity.

Sex is most often heightened at the beginning of a relationship, when two individuals come together as strangers and begin a process of removing outer signs of independent identity. Clothing, which like a uniform represents each individuals place and possibly role in society, is stripped away and they stand naked before one another. Clothing can hide essential truths, about who we are, and allow us to pretend to be someone we are not. Sex asks of us, right at the start, to play the hand we have been dealt by nature ( I suppose cosmetic surgery has interjected here).  Sex asks us to bring the bare truth to this union, as the key to opening a doorway to bliss. Our feelings, at the beginning, can be on a knife edge, as we show parts of ourselves, normally well hidden, and vacillate between hopes and fears, regarding our acceptance by the beloved. We are not only showing our arse in public but celebrating its function and uses with another. It is a merging process, as we share and discover our erogenous nooks and crannies with another.  Our normally vigilant guard comes down and our pupils dilate, as we hold the gaze of our lover and drink in the cause of this new delight. There is the magic of the unknown in the air and it is charged with the frisson of the archetypal merging moment. There is glory and boldness, and there is surrender and humbleness, there is the charging of the stag with antlers aquiver, and the dissolving into an endless ocean of energy. There are intense moments of you and equally intense moments beyond you. There is the ride and there is the fall.

Once committed to the fruitful sexual act, and thus rewarded with acceptance by our new sexual partner, we bring a sense of hope and with it the possibility of a clean slate, in regard to an ongoing mutually rewarding physical and emotional relationship. For ‘gateway’ sex, as I call it, is a magical, sacred space and we can only access it when we have hope in our heart. The sexual realm, can ask all of us to embody archetypal energies, no longer displayed by our genders in the modern age. It can create a dichotomy or unresolvable dynamic tension, where what we play out sexually can never quite fit into the rest of our lives. It has a special place and demands distinct rules around it, for it to survive and prosper in the twenty first century. So many relationships break down here, as the magic fades in the harsh light of the day and countless tiny grievances mount up to close his or her heart away. Once that heart and hope are locked away then sex becomes a macabre shadow dance, where the bodies go through the motions but with no soul at play. It can be like someone has switched off all the nerve endings, and more importantly all the meaning, from the activity. It is like making love whilst encased in a thick glove of suspended despair. The individual has returned to that individual space and no merging is possible anymore. When love dies it is a very sad day and our consciousness’s run endless reruns of sepia tinted memories to drive all joy away. Grieving the loss of love is probably the most traumatic experience we all will experience in our lifetimes. Like the bush after a fire, everything is black and burnt away. There are skeletons of trees, which mark how high our joy once reached. The echo of love’s laughter keeps the birds at bay. For a time nothing new will grow here and the skies are always grey.

Many of us have put away the magic of sex into the bottom drawer of an old cupboard, which we never use anymore. Somewhere inside of us we have sworn off this disrupting force and condemned that last great hurt to be the final one. We may masturbate our selves, often or not, but without the emotional commitment of another’s fumbling touch. Sex is a momentary relief to help us get to sleep or a frustrated release that doesn’t stain the sheets. Layers of emotional scar tissue have built up hard upon our souls and the smile we may offer another is firmly closed indoors.  When, and if, love returns to these shores it faces a long thaw and the messianic job of raising Lazarus from the dead. I know from my own personal experience that there can be a physical delay in being able to respond sexually after a long lay-off. It is like those layers of calcified hurt must be given time to melt away before my penis will trust enough to fill with blood and stretch out to meet the new day.

Returning now to that time, when we have just established honest sexual union with our new partner and that sense of being ‘in love’ is reciprocated.  Can you remember what it is like? When every part of their body is simply amazing and emanating some intangible quality. To touch their skin is the greatest pleasure you have ever known and it is all holistically connected with some cosmic secret that you just had no idea about before it happened. When you wake up in the morning and glance over at this beatific being, lying next to you and the realisation hits that you and, he or she, are ‘together’. This is the magic realm and it is often bitter sweet for our cynical selves to recall this state of ‘in loveness’.  We have developed the habit of ‘putting down’ such heightened states labelling them  as ‘the honeymoon period’ and quickly assuring the occupants that it will be over before you know it. You cannot stay too long in fairy land and Peter Pan must grow up to face the grim realities of a real relationship. Yet today, even in the age of ‘fast food’ marriages and divorces, we still clamour to be ‘in love’ and now the Internet has brought the supermarket experience to shopping for love and relationships.  In aisle one, we have forty five year old, divorced Capricorns with a penchant for reading the newspaper on the loo; in aisle two……..

How do we integrate magic into our hum drum lives? How do we honour the gods in our lovers and in ourselves? Can we maintain a sense of reality? Can we go to work; support the family; clean the bathroom; listen to the gripers and whingers in the average world; and still delve into the delicious, dripping divinity of another realm?

Is sex a mystical gateway, to a boundless place of untold pleasures and exquisite pains, in your life?

©Sudha Hamilton

CopyMW

 

Raising Children Consciously

RAISING CHILDREN CONSCIOUSLY

Subheading : Parenting for a peaceful world.

By Sudha Hamilton & Suzy Barry

Is parenting a thankless task of unfathomable consequences or an opportunity to bring a keener light of consciousness to our universe?

Parenting is a state that resides deep within the lands of instinct and tradition. The most common determinant of your parenting instincts is your own parents and how they parented you. Depending on the circumstances you may either repeat that act of parenting or do the opposite in reaction to the unwelcome reminder of your own parent-induced trauma.

This repetition in parenting behaviour patterns is condemning us to keep on making the same mistakes again and again. If you do not take responsibility for raising your children in the most enlightened manner possible then how can you ever expect them to take responsibility for themselves, their health, their state of mind and their ability to love. It is a challenge to stand apart from the ever repeating cycle and honestly ask yourself, “what do I want for my child in every moment?”

It is those moments that make up the whole. So what does it all mean? How can we apply the same level of consciousness to raising our children as we do to our own issues? Here are some practical solutions for ‘aware parenting’.

The “Fourth Trimester”

The first few months of new parenthood can be considered the “fourth trimester” of your baby’s life. For parents they are the most intense, but need not be the most difficult! Humans are born at the earliest maturation of all mammals. Consider other mammals that are born almost as fragile and dependent as humans. A baby orang-utan is carried almost constantly on its mother’s body until it is capable of dealing with life on its own. This is a useful way to look at the early months: it helps to separate the advice based on this premise and the advice characteristic of a fast-paced, ‘get things done’ society.

Controlled Crying

Controlled Crying is an example of a common practice considered to be harmful and unnatural by many. Keeping your baby close is what’s best for baby and your relationship with them. You might say, “There are no predators in the nursery, my baby is safe,” but the hollow sound of a baby’s unanswered anguished cries indicates a type of predator, a human emotional predator, which can engender a sense of abandonment and is extremely distressing for the infant. The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health has expressed concern and does not encourage this practice of Control Crying and other variations on the theme, which essentially disregard the only method of communication available to your child. Babies and young children have shorter sleep cycles providing more opportunity for awakening but also more REM sleep and hence, essential brain development. This means that if those inconvenient awakenings that infants are prone to in the first two years or so, are by-products of the short sleep cycles, which are vital for their brain development. Controlled Crying and other sleep training methods designed to keep children asleep for longer periods, must train them out of these shorter cycles, hence rob them of their quota of REM.

Physical touch

English psychiatrist John Bowlby, developed in the nineteen sixties, what has come to be known as attachment theory. This theory holds that babies thrive best on having a secure touch orientated attachment to their parents, being constantly held rather than being placed in a pram or cot. More recently science has detected positive benefits to the babies immune system when they are predominantly held in states of physical closeness to the mother or primary carer.

When you think about it, it is not so surprising, having been inside the womb for nine months, the transition from mother’s body to spending large parts of the day in a pram or cot, away from the reassuring heart beat of the mother does seem harsh. Jean Liedloff in her nineteen seventy five seminal book, The Continuum Concept, named this vital stage in early childhood care the “in-arms phase.” Spending several years in the jungles of South America with a tribe of Indians, she observed a different and decidedly more nurturing way to raise children.

Skin to skin contact is a vital physical reassurance to the newborn child and like our monkey forebears this contact provides a successful two million year old continuum. Strapping the baby to the mother by means of a sling or other similar device allows the child to be part of the mother’s energy field and has been a part of numerous cultures throughout the world; in Africa; Asia and beyond. Through observation the baby is also learning about the mother’s universe, her day-to-day activities. Beware though of the front packs where the legs hang straight down, they are not good for spinal development. [STUDIES?]

Rochelle L. Casses, D.C, taken from http://continuum-concept.org/reading/spinalStress.html

“A baby’s spine is placed in a compromising position in many of today’s popular carriers. If the carrier positions the infant upright, with the legs hanging down and the bodyweight supported at the base of the baby’s spine (i.e. at the crotch), it puts undue stress on the spine which can adversely affect the development of the spinal curves and, in some cases, cause spondylolisthesis (forward slipping of a vertebra on the one below it).

Spondylolisthesis is documented in approximately 5% of white males, but is prevalent in native Eskimos (as high as 60% of the population is affected). There has been much discussion on the high percentage of affected Eskimos as to whether it is a genetic predisposition or related to environmental factors (i.e., papoose carriers). Knowing how dynamic and vital the biomechanics of the spine are, I believe that environmental factors are the cause. If the trend continues in the U.S. to carry infants in carriers (or place them in walkers, jumpers, etc.) that place their spines in a weight bearing position before the spine is developmentally ready to do so, I believe we will see an increase in the incidence of spondylolisthesis”

Breastfeeding

The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for the first two years and beyond. The WHO encourages food as a diet of food and bm after 6 months, exclusive bfeeding up to 2 years and beyond.

“Promoting appropriate feeding for infants and young children

10. Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the

healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral

part of the reproductive process with important implications for

the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation,

infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of

life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.1 Thereafter,

to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should

receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while

breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive

breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical

conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in

ample milk production.”

http://www.waba.org.my/docs/gs_iycf.pdf

The WHO’s recommendation to exclusively breastfeeding to six months should not be mistaken as an instruction to wean at six months. There are wonderful benefits to full term breastfeeding. Six months is such a premature time to wean when the human history is taken into account as is the world’s current population. If you can do it, the best foundation for ensuring your child’s needs are being met is to breastfeed on demand for the first year and as long as is mutually desirable. Some time in the second year, the child’s understanding of others’ needs may grow to allow you to gently begin to assert your own needs, your own instincts and your child’s reaction are the best guides here. Breast milk changes with the growing infant and is undoubtedly the best source of nutrition for a young child.

Toddler Years and Beyond

The toddler years are the beginning of individuation and undoubtedly the most challenging for many parents and children. The toddler is becoming aware that they are separate people and their own desires are emerging and taking control of their body, mind, voice and spirit. The age of the tantrum is upon you! How many of us have looked at or partaken in a sort of release therapy? Toddlers should be release therapy practitioners. They are open valves of emotion, they live in the moment and embody the oneness that so many of us are striving for.

Raising toddlers consciously means not crushing this exuberance, whilst guiding your tremendous toddler in the ways of the world, via your own personal boundaries. To parent authentically is to allow your toddler to express themselves within the boundaries you are comfortable with. There is no benefit to the toddler allowing them to climb on your head, while you patiently wait for their exuberance to change to respect, you need to indicate that you have personal boundaries. They are now ready for them. In teaching them that you need your boundaries respected, they will learn to give this respect and expect the same from others; here we have the foundation of respect for self.

Gentle Discipline

Gentle discipline means respecting your toddler as another human being. It does not mean allowing them to walk all over you as this is rarely what the toddler wants or needs. Gentle discipline involves negotiation from a place of empathy with a view to a long-term goal, as opposed to short-term convenience of an obedient toddler with eyes downcast in shame. Shaming and physical punishment/ solitary confinement (time-out) have become the cornerstone of popular discipline. This is what Robin Grille, psychologist and psychotherapist, in his book Parenting for a Peaceful World terms operating in “Socializing Mode”. The socializing mode is characterized by the preoccupation with social norms and producing children who will function well in society, be employable, polite and well mannered. In order to train children it is necessary to curb their natural desires in some way. Every time we employ these conventional methods, we are attempting to “break” our children. An obedient animal has its sprit broken, and every time this happens to a child, a little of them must surely die.

Redirection

If you see your child becoming aggressive, don’t wait for them to hit someone, and then punish them. Intervene, ask if they are feeling angry and tell them it is not acceptable to hit people, but that it is just fine to feel angry and invite them to belt a cushion to alleviate their frustration. This can be great fun!

Negotiation

Invite and employ negotiation. Think about the wonderful skills you are passing on by respecting their desires enough to negotiate. Blind obedience loses its appeal somewhat after about age 10, then we value initiative. Probably one of the few simple formulas: If your child doesn’t want their nappy changed, but it is stinky and you need to go out. You can say: “We have to change your nappy, but would you like to bring this toy with you, or this one?” Or “We have to change your nappy now, but would you like to do it on the change table or on the couch?” This alleviates the monotony a toddler must feel of not being in charge by giving them a choice within your own boundaries. You need to go out now – that is your boundary – so within that, what can you offer?

Allow Expression

Frustration abounds in the toddler years, they are becoming independent in so many ways, but their natural exuberance means that they are often met with opposition from parents and from their own capacity. Allow and encourage tantrums, they are the toddler’s therapy; they are valid expressions and should be honoured. If your child wants chocolate in the middle of shopping and you don’t want her to have it – fair enough! But…she will be upset and though it wouldn’t distress you that much, it is the end of the world for her, so there is no point telling her it’s not! Let her sit on the ground and have a ‘tanty’, really what’s the big deal, be brave and weather the disapproving glances of the old ladies who ‘never would have had that in their day’ or who would ‘have given them short shrift’. Remember, it is children brought up under that paradigm who pack the waiting rooms of therapists, and whose depression levels have hit record levels. Honour your child and focus on your child and you will be amazed at the transformation after she has grieved the chocolate experience that never was.

Look behind the behaviour

It is important that you delve beneath the behaviour presented by your child and always ask, “Why?” A holistic way is to look at the whole child, not just the behaviour you would like to stamp out. What is happening for your child that is making them react in this way? Can you help them? As we all know; it is always better to deal with the cause than the symptom.

Unconditional Parenting

Alfie Kohn has published works including “Unconditional Parenting” on the problems with a system of punishments and rewards. We are not dealing with a rat, which is what behaviourism was based upon. (The faith in a punishment/reward system is based on studies conducted with rats and morsels of food; not humans).

Withholding love and approval sends a message to our children that they are only lovable if they do what we want, what a concerning idea to take to the world! The idea is to ‘work with’ your children to achieve the best consensus for all involved, instead of ‘doing to’ them – in order have your own laws obeyed. For example, a punishment is something you do to your children; instead consider working out a solution that is acceptable to all parties.

Mutual Respect and Authenticity

These are perhaps the most important elements that underpin all aspects of Gentle Discipline. When your child does something that makes you angry tell them so just as you would your partner. Communicate with your child with respect, but with feeling and authenticity. Your children want to know you. Your needs are also important, a self-sacrificing parent is not being authentic and our children can feel it. If you have had enough of reading “Maisy” after the 50th time that day; stop. Offer another suggestion, or just say, I need a break and offer an alternative activity that doesn’t involve you…or Maisy. Your child should respect your threshold, as you should respect theirs.

The bigger picture

Are we parenting today in a manner today that is all about making things easier for parents or are we parenting for healthier conscious children? Is placing six month old babies in full time childcare in the best interests of that child? Are we relinquishing our parental responsibilities over to paid professionals for purely economic reasons? Economics is after all, about the value of “things”. What is the value of a well-loved child throughout his or her lifetime?

There is a millennium of violent, exploitive and sadistic cultural behaviour towards children entrenched in our collective unconscious, and only a handful of sporadic decades that have been characterised by the desire to nurture and value children. Robin Grille prefaces his book by saying, “The key to world peace and sustainability lies in the way we collectively relate to our children.”

This might not be the first occasion in human history on which this idea has been expressed. Today however, groundbreaking research has brought new confirmation to this ancient idea. Our understanding of early childhood development has grown so rapidly in recent years, that we can now say the following with unprecedented confidence: “the human brain and heart that are met primarily with empathy in the critical early years cannot and will not grow to choose a violent or selfish life.” This is Robin Grille. Parenting for A Peaceful World.

There is a link between how we parent our own children and the levels of violence and degradation in our communities. Each moment with our children provides the opportunity to foster respect for self and others, to nurture them with the same enlightened quality of love that you desire in your own life and to above all allow their individual spirit to flourish. When you as a parent are temporarily subsumed by your negative emotions (rage, despair, and the like) find ways to vent these elsewhere away from your children, remembering that in reality they are often just very small children, not the “Toddzillas” they sometimes feel like. As with all moments that seem to be overwhelming remember, “this too will pass.”

There is no future in a return to a spurious golden age of discipline and authoritarian control, as often promulgated by media commentators. This was clearly a time characterised by violence and force. There is no turning back the pages of time and there is no quick fix, raising children consciously is time consuming, challenging and the true consequences of an act of love.

References

Parenting for a Peaceful World

By Robin Grille

Longueville Media 2005

www.our-emotional-health.com

The Continuum Concept

By Jean Liedloff

Penguin Books 2004 reissue

Unconditional Parenting

By Alfie Kohn

Aria Books

The Natural Child – Parenting from the Heart

By Jan Hunt

New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island BC 2001

The Aware Baby : A New Approach to Parenting

By AJ Solter

Shining Star Press, Goleta California 1998

The First Relationship – Infant & Mother

By Daniel N Stern

Harvard University Press 2002.

©Sudha Hamilton

Appeared in WellBeing Magazine

Midas Word

www.sacredchef.com

Together We Can Heal Ourselves

EMOTIONAL HEALING – AF-X RELEASE THERAPY.

Heading: Emotional Healing.

Subheading: Af-x Release Therapy.

What first attracted me to Af-x Release Therapy©, was the notion of respect for our own mind’s ability to heal ourselves, inherent within its philosophy. Here, it seemed, was a process that put the onus on self-responsibility, instead of the almighty therapist. Having tried numerous therapies, I now have a greater respect for anything that puts me in touch with my own wisdom, rather than something that makes me dependent on someone or something else. It intrigued me, too, when I was told there would be only three sessions and I would not be required to speak much in any of them. This was definitely like no counselling I’d had before.

A Zen-like flavour pervaded my encounter with Af-x’s founding practitioner, Ian White, with few words on my part and from him a confidence in my ability to “right my own mental and emotional cart.” The silence growing within me was a welcome change from the usual chatter as I listened to him outlining the coming sessions. Why was I here? I suppose you could call it mild depression. I was also interested in experiencing this therapy. Closing my eyes and sitting back in my chair, I opened my mind to the words being spoken to me.

Af-x Release Therapy© is based on the work of the School of Affectology, developed by Australian psychotherapist, Ian White. Its roots are in studies are in studies of early childhood and the discovery that we develop a subtle emotional sense well before we begin to think conceptually. In the period of birth to 18 months, we’re developing our feeling selves long before we learn words and how to think in a narrative way. We learn what feeling responses work for us and this is the basis of the development of our emotions. This information is stored by the limbic brain, there to be called on when we require an emotional response. The process is referred to as neuro-encoding. Many of the scientific studies of this early learning period are covered in books by Goleman, Damasio, LeDoux and others.

“Of course, our affect -meaning emotional reactions, are immediate and don’t allow us to think about them because they are happening at a subconscious level – the reactions defy our rational selves,” says Ian. “Through this we build a habit of feeling,  that eventually grows into our own unconscious sense of self.” Af-x Release Therapy© predicates that these first learning’s have a powerful influence on how we react emotionally throughout our life, often without realising why. As these feelings are experienced pre-verbally, it is, Ian’s view, ineffective for the client to attempt to “talk it out.” “What is important is to allow the client to focus on, and safely reach, that inner feeling space, and it’s only through silence and a quietening of the mind’s chatter that this is possible,” says Ian. “Once there, the subconscious mind’s own sophisticated self-correcting gear is available to a simple ‘reminder like’ suggestion.”

“So isn’t this just hypnotherapy?” I put to Ian. “I prefer to use the term ‘assisted self attention’, or ‘focus  on feelings’, as it’s not necessary for the client to be in any particular state for the process to work, and the term ‘self attention’ also describes the meditative state, which I think is a closer fit for this work,” responds Ian. “Also, what is integral to understand here is that, unlike hypnotherapists and all other counsellors and psychotherapists, we are not responding to a particular complaint voiced by the client, because of course the client has not said anything. The Af-x practitioner is appealing to the client’s own innate ability as a perfect being to make the necessary adjustments to their emotional self.”

As I hear these words and ruminate on being a ‘perfect being,’ memories of my own spiritual journey filter into consciousness. I remember being told stories by my spiritual ‘master’ about how insanity was dealt with in the East, in the time of Lao Tzu; how the suffere would be locked in a cell in complete darkness with no contact with any other person, meals being slipped under the door. It sounded barbaric but, apparently, it was often a quick cure as the inflamed mental state was not pandered to and an encounter with the”original face or self” was hard to avoid. The strict adherence of the client to the no-speaking approach in Af-x therapy and the self-attention consciousness of the meditative state ring a few bells for me, so I am not surprised to learn that Ian White trained as a Zen Bukkyo monk in his earlier years.

“Yes, I sat in Zasen in black hakama robes, being whacked on the back with an oak walking stick by the senior monk and scrubbing a sterile, perfectly clean floor over and over again, and all that other exciting stuff, but I never really took to it because it didn’t deal with my impatience about helping bring peace to my fellow person,” says White.

It is perhaps that focus that has led Ian to a life devoted to assisting in the healing of thousands through the development and refinement of Af-x Release Therapy©. Through the School of Affectology, Ian White has trained Af-x practitioners in Australia, the US and Europe. He and those who are using the therapy in their work have had particular success in dealing with those apparently suffering from the many forms of depression, as well as a host of other mental-emotional problems. Ian says, “One of the most important aspects of the Af-x approach is that we do not consider that ongoing psychotherapy is productive in changes for the better. In fact, ongoing therapy actually gets in the way of people making the mental and emotional change choices that bring about success.”

“How do you monitor whether three sessions are enough or are effective at all?” I ask.

“Over the past 10 years, every Af-x client has been asked to participate in a feedback system,” Ian ventures. “Questionnaires are sent out guaranteeing that the client’s responses will remain confidential and anonymous. We just get the pure data and so we know in the majority of cases that it is working.”

Many ex-clients have come forward to volunteer their personal stories about their experiences with Af-x. It’s through this process that I am able to read through testimonials from clients who have visited an Af-x practitioner. Although these people range widely in age and circumstance, there’s a common theme, which runs through their experiences. In nearly all cases, they were previously informed by health professionals that they were suffering from depression, panic attacks or stress and required medication. One testimonial in particular caught my attention – “Lisa’s Story.” I think it was because, being a teenager, Lisa (not her real name) conveyed her situation with that rawness and emotional honesty often seen in her age group.

Lisa’s Story (age 17)

“For many years I suffered from what is known as clinical depression, a diagnosis I received from psychiatrists and doctors. From the early days of my problem, I was prescribed various antidepressants. I also suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. During this time, I thought about suicide on many occasions. Life seemed to be of no use, no purpose, and I didn’t want to spend the rest of it living in the big black hole I seemed to exist in. I felt lost and alone. No one knew how to help me. Of course, many people tried to help, but for a long while I suffered alone, thinking I was beyond help; just willing myself to die. On more than one occasion, I attempted to take my life, never thinking I could find any solutions to getting any better than just coping from day to day, taking drugs and lashing out at everyone and everything around me.

“My friends and family were desperate for my recovery. Endless visits to the school counsellor seemed to make no difference. I spent many months ‘in therapy’ with a psychiatrist. Same outcome. Those many years of taking antidepressants and even alternative natural medication resulted in no answer. In fact, things were getting steadily worse. Quite apart from my depressive sickness, there was a steadily increasing pressure on me to get better. Pressure that people who had no idea of the loneliness of me applied. I know they had the best intentions, but they didn’t know they were adding incredibly to my burden.

“Then my parents heard about Ian White and his work, which he called Af-x therapy. My parents had no idea how it worked and, quite incorrectly, translated it to me as being ‘hypnotherapy.’ This, of course, didn’t help my expectations and I was opposed to the idea of seeing him from the start. In fact, I was very sceptical about the idea, I thought it would be another case of crazy person with crazy antics claiming to have all the answers. For this reason, I refused the treatment.

“After months of my family pleading with me to ‘give it a go’, I reluctantly agreed. In all honesty, that was merely to stop the pleading and give me an excuse to say to them, ‘See, this didn’t work, either!’ I walked into his rooms, making it very obvious that I didn’t want to be there and I was only there to ‘shut everybody up’.  Of course, I was determined to derail anything he was going to try with me. As a result of my many visits to other counsellors and therapists, I was certain I knew how to handle him to my own ends.

“But I was very surprised at his approach. Now, in hindsight, I would say I was pleasantly surprised. Ian was lovely and considerate of the fact that I had been pressured to undergo treatment. He talked about that pressure right from the outset and gave the impression that he knew all about how I felt about ‘everybody trying to tell me what’s best for me’.  He made me feel very comfortable and relaxed and told me I was ‘the boss’. In other words, he did not do or say anything I was uncomfortable with and I was given no reason to oppose the idea of going ahead with helping myself out of the dilemma.

“He explained the procedures of Af-x very clearly, removing any idea that there was ‘a mystery’ about what he had to offer. Ian explained he didn’t want me to talk unless I wanted to ask a general question about the treatment. He explained why it was important for me not to try to put my problems into words. That was a great relief, because I had been trying unsuccessfully to put my problems into words for years. I had always left counsellors’ offices wondering whether I had really explained things in a truthful way.

“After my third session I thanked Ian for his time and walked away wondering when and if I would notice any change. In some ways, even though I had enjoyed my time in the therapy, I still couldn’t see how it could help to ‘say nothing’ and ‘take notice of my self’. I did what Ian suggested and tried not to analyse what we had done in therapy. As a matter of fact, I tended to forget I had gone to see him.

“About a month later, I stated to feel very strong, physically and emotionally, and I decided to stop taking medication for my depression. I had depended on that medication for such a long time, that there was a part of me that seemed to be saying, ‘Well, I’ll stop taking it and that’ll prove that I can do without it.’ But that didn’t happen. I started to notice that my energy levels were gradually rising and my desire for sleep was declining. I also started to notice I had a calmer and less aggressive approach to negative situations. My friends, my family and my teachers all noticed and commented on this change. I no longer felt a need to resolve my problems with violence, verbal or otherwise, and for the first time in my life I felt happy. Although I did not understand how the therapy worked, I remember on many occasions, the things he said and explained came back to me in those moments when I once would have become depressed or lost my temper.

“Today, eight months after my therapy, I am still not taking medication, I’m attending the gym three times a week and I seem to not react to things as I used to- angrily. I receive compliments all the time on how much I have improved in all areas of my life. At times, these comments are about changes that I think are obvious, but sometimes I’m surprised that people have noticed some of the more gentle changes to who I am. I feel like I have eventually found myself, and found the person inside that I once used to be, and found the person I can be.”

No analysing?

The idea that we can undergo change without analysing it, talking it through and even intellectually understanding that change is baffling for many people. In many of the volunteered stories I read the most common response was: “I don’t know how this thing worked but it did.” Ian White talks about ‘re-education’, that the work of Af-x Release Therapy© is all about re-educating our early emotional selves. This is subtle stuff and it doesn’t employ any high tech gadgetry….well, except, that is, for the most sophisticated gadget of all, the human mind. Perhaps as we evolve further we will learn to value the finer workings of the human brain. At present, our models of our own consciousness are computers, which in truth are terribly inadequate.

For many people, the whole purpose of their visit to a counsellor is to pour out their problems, so this ban on words can be a major deterrent. Ian explains it’s absolutely vital to the success of the therapy: “As soon as you listen to their story you are complicit in their world paradigm – the half truths, the snippets of pseudo self-help theories they’ve picked up and applied to their own situation; and you are caught in their web with them. The Af-x practitioner comes clean to the table and bypasses all this completely, working directly with the subconscious emotional mind.” White likens this process to the Zen therapeutic approach of “holding the mirror firmly.”

After speaking with Ian for many hours about his past training and personal experiences, I begin to get a picture of how this therapy has come into being. The development of Affectology has been a constant evolution of a work that began with a desire to understand the qualities of consciousness. Having at its core a profound respect for the ‘perfection’ of humankind, it’s a therapy for a conscious age. Also, at that core seems to be a deep concern for the way society believes many of the damaging myths about our mental and emotional wellbeing.

How was it for me? I experienced an upsurge of self-belief immediately after the sessions, which I had over a three week period. My self esteem, which had been low, due to a failed relationship that had ended some 16 months before, felt markedly stronger at the conclusion of the sessions. While I was suffering only a low level of depression, the results were gentle and subtle, yet definite. As for curing ‘the human condition’, Ian White maintains strongly that our human condition is already perfect but needs some guidance for reflective emotional and mental healing. That’s the nature of Af-x Release Therapy©.

There are now a number of practitioners who have been trained by the School of Affectology in Australia, the US and Sweden. Ian White is currently in Greece, training practitioners in Athens.

©Sudha Hamilton

Appeared in WellBeing Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Cooking school on the sunshine coast, the Sacred Chef cooking classes, where you will prepare great food, discover new recipes, eat, drink and meet new like minded people.

Imagine if you will…

Imagine if you will, that you lived in a world where every day you were told that you had no influence on the really important things in your life. Imagine that you were born to parents, who likewise, believed that they, and you, had no power to affect the way life was; and that they also had been born to parents, who were very sure, that they too, were powerless in this manner. Generations of firm belief and concomitant proof, through life experience, that this was true. That reality was operating outside of you and that you had no noticeable effect upon it, it would go on doing what it would do, whether you were there or not. The sun would come up in the morning and set in the evening; the rain would fall from the sky when there were precipitating circumstances; people around you would live and die – and all of these things would happen, pretty much without your direct input making a world of difference. Imagine what affect this would have upon your sense of self worth and attitude towards your existence.

Well, welcome to the real world, and to the psychological basis of your life and the lives of the majority of the six billion people living on this planet we call Earth. Newtonian science has for the last four hundred years firmly placed us outside of reality, as spectators in our own life, able to measure things but not much else. We have been taught and told, as were our parents, that life and matter happens independently of us. We can of course engage in transmutation of substances, if we follow strict rules for doing so, in a laboratory under controlled conditions and with the appropriate levels of technological education. Our subjective consciousness, our sense of who we are and how we process the sensory experience of our lives,  however, cannot directly interface with existence. It can bear witness and it can measure, and oh what pleasure can it be to measure, everything. Science has measured and identified and named much of the fabric of our known universe, we know a hundred different names each for a billion different things we have never experienced; and most likely never will. I suppose it is a bit like that old Islamic idea of there being 999 names for God. Our Western scientific heritage has set us up as the ultimate arbiters of measurement and not so much good taste.

For the taste of powerlessness is one reason why, I think, that we have massive levels of depression in our modern cities and why we are medicating, or sedating, vast numbers of their inhabitants. Now smarties can put up their hand and say well Newtonian physics is dead, it died in 1904 with the discovery of Quantum Mechanics, but I would reply, that this fact is a well kept secret, culturally speaking, and that the greater majority of human beings are untouched by its revelations. Even Einstein struggled with accepting Quantum physics basic premise and resisted its outcomes for decades. The uncertain nature of The Uncertainty Principle does not lend itself to the delusional controlling proclivities of generations of white coated lab assistants and the population at large. We are all in love with the idea that we can benignly go about life, if we stick to the rules as Science has laid out for us, derived from all that measuring, and, like a good anti-depressant, avoid the lows by sacrificing the highs.

So the good news is, that on the most basic level we can perceive matter, the sub-atomic level, we actually do effect whatever we attempt to observe or measure, our consciousness of it changes it; and so the deadening spectator sport, that was Newtonian physics, is now obsolete. The bad news is, that the reality of this over the last hundred years has failed to bite, or be taken up by us, the masses, and that our lives continue to be mired in the complacency of our previous understanding of the workings of reality. Which means, that while we live in a truly wondrous world of modern scientific genius, the greater majority of us only get to experience it, as consumers, as if we are watching it on TV- and I reckon, that discovering ground breaking shifts in human evolution, via the Discovery Channel, years after they happen, is not an individually deeply rewarding experience. As populations in our cities, have grown and grown, we have replaced concern with the direct experience of the individual with statistical concern for the majority percentage of the many. Which is why so many people can still be unhappy or depressed,  despite the fact that their lives contain less death, hunger, poverty, disease, and numerous other positively indicated quality of life evaluation measurements.  Western medicine is a statistical science in practise and theory and concerns itself ultimately with the individual only as a unit of population. The pharmaceutical industry, which funds the medical behemoth in part and provides it with its tools for healing, is predicated on the double blind testing of its drugs and their ability to work on the greatest statistical percentage of people with as few side effects as can be managed.

“Over the last 30 years, rates of depression have been steadily increasing in Western societies. In the last ten years, consumption of antidepressants has doubled in the most advanced Western countries. Today, more than 11 million Americans are taking antidepressants. The estimated number of people in Britain taking antidepressants is two million. In Australia, 66 percent of those seeing a GP for the first time about depression have a chance of being medicated – in most cases with antidepressants. These data are so stark that most of us and our institutions prefer not to think about them.”

Dr David Servan-Schreiber, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Pittsburgh University School of Medicine

Author of Healing Without Freud or Prozac, 2004, Rodale.

 

So we live in a world, where care and concern, is officially monitored in terms of our per unit participation in demographic data for various population studies. We read in the newspaper, or online, about rates of unemployment, rates of breast cancer, rates of life expectancy, and rates of mortgage defaulting etc. We learn that if something affects the many then it must be powerful and have substance – it must be real. An example of this is the many chronic health conditions, which began under clouds of suspicion, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome began as this shady condition affecting bludgers and other weak and lazy people; Bulimia and Anorexia were likewise considered examples of neurotic women’s problems; ADHD is still doubtful in many people’s minds – but once weight of numbers builds up, then democracy grants acceptance for these diseased manifestations into the canon of medical reality. Pharmaceutical companies then go into overdrive to come up with a drug to cure them – often recycling ones that did not work out for other diseases, like Ritalin, now the drug of choice for ADHD and ADD.

Common sense is most people’s strongest definer of reality, meaning if the largest number of fellow citizens consider something to be so, then it must be so. The term common sense also has many subtle strands of meaning: its common sense! Can be exclaimed to mean that something is so manifestly obvious, that its truth cannot really be questioned. For something to be of common sense, it must appeal to a primary indicator of what is true, which is shared by the greater majority. We school our children in institutions made up of hundreds and sometimes thousands of pupils, we encourage socialisation and the herd mentality that goes with it. Common sense must survive the sometimes brutal testing of the mob and therefore have the appeal of being  the lowest common denominator.  Common sense is very often paraded as a decidedly uncommon virtue by those wielding it in argument.

I question whether common sense is the most apt indicator for the understanding of truth and also whether capitalism – the so called ‘free market’ and selling things – is the best distributor of truth. How will we, the masses, discover the changing nature of humanities perception of physical reality? Through our consumption of product, which has been created in light of the technological changes made possible by subatomic particle physics, and through the consumption of media informed by it. It has been over a hundred years since the first experiments baffled and perplexed physicists like Nils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, before ultimately turning them 360 degrees around in  a new direction. Yet most people have no idea about this reality shaking, new awareness and the consequences to our culturally accepted perception of what existence is made up of and our consciousness of it.

 

“I think it would be misleading to call particles, the entities involved in the most primitive events of the theory (quantum topology) because they don’t move in space, they don’t carry mass, they don’t have charge, they don’t have energy in the usual sense of the word.

Q – So what is it that makes events at that level?

A-  Who are the dancers and who the dance? They have no attributes other than the dance.

Q-  What is they?

A- The things that dance, the dancers. My God! We’re back to the title of the book.”

 

Physicist David Finkelstein & author Gary Zukav

The Dancing Wu Li Masters, 1979, Hutchinson & Co.

 

So the nature of matter, at the most fundamental level known to humanity, is a dance of energy and barely understood as matter. We have gone on, since the publication of this book, to comprehend that much of our known universe is in fact empty space and that we could fit all the actual particles or dancing energy, which make up the six billion people who inhabit the Earth, into a small suitcase. So perhaps  Mother Earth is travelling light after all and cataclysmic disasters, like that which wiped out the Dinosaurs are not such a big deal, sub-atomically speaking anyway.

The most important aspect of this to understand, is that how the universe is perceived by those who make it their business to care, has had a filtering down effect upon humanity since the beginning of time. It may seem so much irrelevant bumph to those firmly rooted in the here and now of survival and making money, but once those, who wish to lead and control the rest of us, get hold of this information; they then utilise it for their own ends. In the West we are still greatly influenced by the thinkers and early scientists of the classical world, from ancient Greece and then Rome.

“Every domain of post-classical life and thought has been profoundly influenced by ancient models. True, these models have not always been interpreted in ways that a sober modern scholarship would consider correct. On the contrary: it has often been creative misunderstandings that have preserved the ancient heritage and made it useful.”

 

Edited by Anthony Grafton, Glen W Most & Salvatore Settis

The Classical Tradition, 2011, Belknap Press

 

Our very language, the meaning of our words, comes from those who thought in Ancient Greek and Latin.  Homer the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, who was alive anywhere from 1200BC to 850BC, is a great example of where we can see the changes in consciousness, in the development of the words used to describe these states. Terms like thumos, phrenes, noos and psyche, which are the first recorded words referring to places within an individual where inner life is happening. There were no words for ‘mind’ or such as we would understand, and in the Iliad everything happens outside of the hero, through the directions of the gods.  Achilles is directed by the goddess Athene in his actions against Hector, during the Trojan War, and the Iliad relates similar control over the other players into the hands of the gods. Thumos originally is used as a term in the poem to indicate spirit of life, as in it ceases to exist when a warrior is slain, it then evolves to incorporate the aroused pre-battle state experienced by a warrior; and then if it is not a god urging a man into battle it is his thumos. Julian Jaynes goes on to say:

“All these metaphors are extremely important. Saying that the internal sensations of large circulatory and muscular changes are a thing into which strength can be put is to generate an imagined ‘space’, here located always in the chest, which is the forerunner of the mind-space of contemporary consciousness. And to compare the function of that sensation to that of another person or even to the less-frequent gods is to begin those metaphor processes that will later become the analog ‘I’.”

Julian Jaynes

The Origin of Consciousness In the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976, First Mariner Books,

pp 263.

 

Noos of course becomes nous, and this term is still used as a slang colloquialism in English to mean intelligence or smarts. It began in the Iliad as a term referring to perception or seeing, or a sight or show, as in for a warrior there is no better noos than hand to hand combat. Noos was then located in the chest and began to mean heart or spirit. Words in all languages evolve and often come to mean different things over time, but in these early recorded examples it can show us the development of how these people were thinking. These are the first recorded examples of the internalisation of consciousness in human beings.

This process obviously continued over time and grew and grew until we had such a strong sense of an inner subjective consciousness, and this was reflected and emphasised in our languages, that we separated mind from body; mind from matter. Dualism was born and came to flourish into Aristotelian physics, which really lasted from Aristotle’s time 384BC-322BC right up until Isaac Newton in the seventeenth century. It continues today as commonly held belief  – that our minds are separate from our bodies. And most of us live inside our heads, within those 20cm from chin to the top of our skull. Well that is where we perceive ourselves to reside – to be floating somewhere inside our craniums; as we sit slumped on our couches at night staring at flickering screens and wondering why we are depressed. So our imagined space, where we consider our consciousness to reside,  has moved from chest to head over the last couple of millennia.

Where do we reside inside ourselves? Do you know where your consciousness, spatially, has its abode? When you speak of your self, and your awareness of your self, where is that self inside you located? Where does the watcher live? What do you imagine when you refer to these things? How do you calibrate your own levels of self? Do you have a soul and is your mind separate from it?

Religion has made great use of this split between body and soul, and flourished in the crack like a healthy weed. For once you remove the necessity of having a corporeal presence, then you are unfettered by any physical limitations like material reality, you can bend truth any which way you like. God, in my opinion,  is an invention based on our own inner reflections of mind space, and, seemingly, can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee (apologies to Muhammad Ali). Has there ever been a bigger fib than the one about there being a god? An all seeing, omnipresent , omnipotent and omnificent being, who, just like Santa, knows when you are good and definitely knows when you are bad. The thought police were invented by the Church and still exist in many people’s minds today, because if you are brought up with these fairy tales about good and evil, God and Satan, Jesus dying for your sins etc – then you have been brainwashed at an early and very vulnerable age to believe in fantasy. If your mummy and daddy believed in these things and their mummies and daddies also believed in all of this, then it becomes solidly fixed as a reality; a traditional lore established over generations. People stop questioning things like this and act out of deference to the past. It takes much greater strength to question and overcome tradition, to break away from the beliefs of your tribe. Because once you believe in things that have no verifiable relationship to reality, and are simply asked to have faith, then you are lost in Maya – an illusion of ancient parentage designed to control you within the flock.

“One facet of the many faces of religion is intense love focused on one supernatural person, i.e. God, plus reverence for icons of that person. Human life is driven largely by our selfish genes and by the processes of reinforcement. Much positive reinforcement derives from religion: warm and comforting feelings of being loved and protected in a dangerous world, loss of fear of death, help from the hills in response to prayer in difficult times, etc. Likewise, romantic love for another real person (usually of the other sex) exhibits the same intense concentration on the other and related positive reinforcements. These feelings can be triggered by icons of the other, such as letters, photographs, and even, as in Victorian times, locks of hair. The state of being in love has many physiological accompaniments, such as sighing like a furnace.”

 

John Smythies

Neuropsychiatrist, 2006 – http://wn.com/John_Raymond_Smythies

Ask yourself how many assumptions, about reality and existence, you hold among your most valued truths? How many untested beliefs live inside your consciousness? Is there a god? Is there good and evil? Do you believe in sin? What about love, what is love? What is the purpose of your existence?

Do you have any proof, any discernable evidence that would stand up in a court of law for your answers to the above questions? Why do you believe the things you do? Where did these beliefs come from? Who was involved in their transference to you?

The reality is, that just because something has been passed down to you by family, does not make it true. And just because something has been written in a book, and published, similarly does not make it true, even if it is a really old book, which has been accepted as the gospel truth over hundreds of years. Truth is something we all need to seek out ourselves, in our own lifetime, and see it put to the test by experience. At some point in time, we all need to put aside, the desire to be liked and to belong, and use our time on earth to find out what is really what. Don’t take my word for it – find out yourself!

Who are you? What are you? Beyond the roles you may play of wife, husband, partner, mother, father, daughter, son, and far beyond the work you may perform. Who are you really? Deep inside your consciousness, what are you? Go beyond the pat answers you may have read in some book and answer the question from your own true knowledge and experience. Nobody knows you as well as you know yourself! So who are you?

Are you an accident of nature? A dribble of sperm and some egg, that has grown into a human being and been given your name? If you don’t know who you are, then why are you here? What is your real purpose? Why are you alive this day? Why do you have consciousness?

©Sudha Hamilton

designSauce graphic design studio sunshine coast

Materialism Our One God

Today in the harsh daylight of our overcrowded cities, in developed nations around the globe, we are encouraged to worship only one god, the holy dollar. People are rushing about in their cars, and on public transport, to reach their destinations, their places of work and of investment, where labour and lead may be turned into gold. Sitting at terminals, tapping keys, in the hope that interest rates will rise or fall, that the market will strengthen their position; and that bears will turn into bulls. If you can imagine an animated city scene, with hundreds of besuited pedestrians crossing the pavements, all with a cartoon circle above their heads, showing their thoughts as a dollar sign. This is the charge of the light brigade, where horses have become mobile phones and helmets and swords, iPods and sunglasses.

Newspapers, and online sources, today are filled with economic imperatives, and this obsession, which began in the late nineteen seventies, has become the overriding concern for dad and mum; and their kids. Money is on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s mind, how to get it, how to make it, how to keep it; and how to hide it. Everyone’s become  a banker and governments are complicit in this – the tax department has driven these changes , as your tax return became more and more complex, you had to think like an accountant to make sense of it. Paul Keating, as rock star Treasurer, had a hand in it, as he, and PM Hawke, deregulated the banks and made public announcements about “banana state economies.” Suddenly everyone had to get up to speed on the balance of payments and interest rate figures daily made the front page. It was like a crash course in economics, skewed with the dramatics and sensationalism that sells papers.

There are and were positives, about this new found economic literacy amongst the hoi polloi, as people are always empowered by knowledge. In this new era of freedom, individuals and groups, were able to break down decades and centuries of banking obfuscation, to achieve their wants; even women, who had been particularly disadvantaged by the prejudices of this male dominated industry. Economic growth came spurting out, after years of lazy conservative rule, people got money and invested it in new businesses and real estate – the housing market exploded. Of course we got some excessive behaviour, Alan Bond, Christopher Skase etc but generally it was much more for the good, as a greater number and spread of people were enabled to become productive.

However, and I will use a controversial analogy here to illustrate my point, the economic awareness grew and has now become such an overweening thing that it has strangled all other gods. I liken it to the historical journey of Western women, from their hair covered and protected imprisonment in wifely roles, through the suffragettes and then the women’s liberation movement, up until now in their emancipated state from legislated prejudice; but still with the biological necessities to be women. This potentially challenging, dichotomous position is most dramatically seen in the form of the traditionally attired Islamic woman, as she represents the other extreme pole, as if she has just stepped out of the pages of history into the twenty first century. I respect the fiercely won freedoms of today’s Western woman, but also see the conflicting impact that the demands of the world have made upon the inner life of some women. In a similar vein, today’s awareness of the economic imperative has damaged the inner life of us all, removing perceived value from other pursuits not so closely held to the material bosom.

As Science, in the service of money, has slain the Christian religion, condemning it to the irrelevancy of a surfeit of poorly attended suburban churches clamouring for ageing attendees, the great god avarice has filled the breach. Materialism, what you can buy with money, has taken hold of head and heart inside the majority of us all. What is the holiest, most sacred, thing that you can purchase? It is of course the home, a house or flat, villa or apartment, but  a home by any other name just the same. This haloed quest, the often life time journey devoted to owning your own home, is, in Australia anyway, a culturally approved goal that lies beneath the day to day activity of millions. It gives meaning to life to many of these people, and I imagine the banks must really love it. It reminds me of the association between diamond rings and marriage; doctors, pharmaceutical drugs and illness; and other firmly entrenched cultural beliefs. How do you get people to work all the time and do it more or less willingly? By making what they want so expensive that they have to. If the average home is priced around nine times the average income, and you have to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars from the banks at substantial and fluctuating interest rates, then you are going to be tied into working for a very long time. Mentally, by the time you have paid off your house and loan, you are often so brain washed into that behaviour that you go on working anyway. Homes bought as investment properties, charge rentals at a market value so determined,  that they can pay off housing loans and or profit accordingly – thus making shelter/housing expensive for everyone.  The goal for many in owning their own home is financial freedom, which often really means, once achieved, becoming a landlord and profiting from others, for money as they say does not stand still and you will be advised by those who work with money to invest your new found freedom in more real estate; and the cycle continues.

Going to work every week day, and often doing something that you dislike in some way, treating another human being in  a less than  human way by focusing on the money at the expense of everything else, damages the soul some say. You might go to your doctor and complain that you are not feeling, dare I say it, happy, and he most probably will tell you that you are depressed and prescribe an antidepressant.

“Over the last 30 years, rates of depression have been steadily increasing in Western societies. In the last ten years, consumption of antidepressants has doubled in the most advanced Western countries. Today, more than 11 million Americans are taking antidepressants. The estimated number of people in Britain taking antidepressants is two million. In Australia, 66 percent of those seeing a GP for the first time about depression have a chance of being medicated – in most cases with antidepressants. These data are so stark that most of us and our institutions prefer not to think about them.”

Dr David Servan-Schreiber, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Pittsburgh University School of Medicine

Author of Healing Without Freud or Prozac, 2004, Rodale.

 

Then, in a tra la la drugged state, not caring so much about a lot of things, unable to achieve an orgasm, you will keep on doing what you were doing, working in much the same way and edging hopefully closer to that nirvana, called financial freedom. When you set out on the journey as a youngish adult, I imagine that the many things you associate with financial freedom will change over the years and that when you get there, often decades later, you will be a completely different person. It is like any long journey, in that it is better to make the experience of your journey your succour than the goal itself. Otherwise you are training yourself, every day, to switch off subtly and desensitise yourself to life, killing yourself a little bit each day in the hope that when you get to the end you will be able to turn yourself back on; and enjoy that wonderful financial freedom you see in the scenes depicted in those TV ads for the banks.

If you read a little history and have a good look at the Christian religion, you will see that belief in god, for much of their sixteen hundred years in power, was not optional. From the time of Constantine, the Roman emperor in the fourth century AD when Christianity became the state religion – the Holy Roman Catholic Church,  if you did not believe in a Christian god, and their version of that Christian god, you were very likely to be put to death. This heavy handed approach began to soften after the Renaissance in the sixteenth century, but life remained very hard for those who did not acquiesce and worship in the prescribed manner. Jews of course were murdered, exiled, banned and generally hated since the time of Christ. The crusades slaughtered millions of Muslims over centuries and religious pogroms have continued the genocide of both Jews and Muslims by Christians. I always smile when I remember Sunday School, and the things I was told about the poor Christians being thrown to the lions by the Romans, of course this was true for the three centuries it happened,  but nobody was teaching the children about the next twelve centuries of Christian atrocities committed against the rest of the world; and also within their own communities in the prosecution of heresies. History always favours the victors.

Within, and despite all this bloodshed, many people had an experience of god being present within their lives. It seems in a lot of instances to have provided these individuals with a sense of belonging to something divine, which was beyond the reach of those with the swords. I would posit that the very threat to some people’s belief in god, through perceived heretical accusations, as in the time of the Cathars in France in the thirteenth century, and in the very bloody later schism between Catholics and the Reformation Church in the sixteenth century, to name but a few, intensified their experience of their religion and god. Nobody loves quite so much as when that love is threatened and or about to go away. Religion, and or belief in god, is always like that enormous elephant in the room, which will not go away.

“Superstition requires credulity, just as true religion requires faith. Deep-rooted credulity is so powerful that it may even, in false beliefs, be thought to perform miracles. For if anyone believes most firmly that his religion is true, even if it is in fact false, he raises his spirit by reason of that very credulity until it becomes like the spirits who are the leaders and princes of that religion and seems to perform things which are not perceived by those in a normal and rational state.”

Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535)

De Occulta Philosophia

I ask myself, a lot, what belief in god really is. Rationally there is no evidence for  the existence of a god, and in my historical search so far, there never has been any evidence. In Christianity’s case, we now clearly know that the gospels in the Bible, which were written between seventy and up to two hundred years after the time of Jesus, are not reliable historical accounts and indeed are more like PR releases or overly favourable biographical sketches, designed to sell Christianity to the Roman power elite and others. The account of Pilate for instance, is completely fictitious and reworked by the writers of the gospels to exonerate the Romans from the execution of Jesus and to put that blame squarely upon the Jews; which has had onerous historical consequences to put it mildly. Christianity is not alone in creating fictions to make it divine and more than merely human, in PR and sales there is a great and long lasting tradition, which is about making your product uniquely special and divinity ticks all those boxes. The tablet which held the ten commandments, where is it and who else but Moses really saw it and if it was placed in the Ark of the Covenant, where is it also? The Mormons then, through their prophet, Joseph Smith Junior, and I imagine from his impression of the historical precedent set by Moses as reported in Exodus, had a solid gold tablet from the Angel Moroni containing their scriptures, which conveniently only Joseph actually saw. Now Christians, who believe in Jesus rising bodily from the dead, often chuckle softly at the unrealistic beliefs of other religions, whilst having no problem with the outlandish collection of miracle stories and the like contained in their Bible. When we inherit beliefs from our parents, these loving and respected beings, and they likewise inherited their beliefs from their parents and so on, it is easy to understand why these often ridiculous beliefs have lasted so long. It is hard to shoot down the firmly held beliefs of your elders and those whom you love; many people choose to turn away from confronting the elephant in the room.

Buddhism, both the Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism, are also a collection of stories tinged with the magical properties of the divine. Siddhartha Gautama, the Nepalese prince  did exist historically and most probably did venture out on a spiritual quest, but then the story tellers take over and we are regaled with unearthly feats designed to impress the uneducated masses. Hinduism is a fantastic collection of wildly colourful stories, creation myths involving gods and demons, many of them extraordinarily beautiful.

“An ancient Hindu warrior-king named Muchukunda was born from his father’s left side, the father having swallowed by mistake a fertility potion that the Brahmins had prepared for his wife; and in keeping with the promising symbolism of this miracle, the motherless marvel, fruit of the male womb, grew to be such a king among kings that when the gods, at one period, were suffering defeat in their perpetual contest with the demons, they called upon him for help. He assisted them to a mighty victory, and they, in their divine pleasure, granted him the realisation of his highest wish. But what should such a king, himself almost omnipotent, desire? What greatest boon of boons could be conceived of by such a master among men? King Muchukunda, so runs the story, was very tired after his battle: all he asked was that he might be granted a sleep without end, and that any person chancing to arouse him should be burned to a crisp by the first glance of his eye.

The boon was bestowed. In a cavern chamber, deep within the womb of a mountain, King Muchukunda retired to sleep, and there slumbered through the revolving eons. Individuals, peoples, civilisations, world ages, came into being out of the void and dropped back into it again, while the old king, in his state of subconscious bliss, endured. Timeless as the Freudian unconscious beneath the dramatic time world of our fluctuating ego-experience, that old mountain man, the drinker of deep sleep, lived on and on.

His awakening came- but with a surprising turn that throws into new perspective the whole problem of the hero-circuit, as well as the mystery of a  mighty king’s request for sleep as the highest conceivable boon.

Vishnu, the Lord of the World, had become incarnate in the person of a beautiful youth named Krishna, who, having saved the land of India from a  tyrannical race of demons, had assumed the throne. And he had been ruling in Utopian peace, when a horde of barbarians suddenly invaded from the northwest. Krishna the king went against them, but, in keeping with his divine nature, won the victory playfully, by a simple ruse. Unarmed and garlanded with lotuses, he came out of his stronghold and tempted the enemy king to pursue and catch him, then dodged into a cave. When the barbarian followed, he discovered someone lying there in the chamber, asleep.

“Oh!” thought he. “So he has lured me here and now feigns to be a harmless sleeper.”

He kicked the figure lying on the ground before him, and it stirred. It was King Muchukunda. The figure rose, and the eyes that had been closed for unnumbered cycles of creation, world history, and dissolution, opened slowly to the light. The first glance that went forth struck the enemy king, who burst into a torch of flame and was reduced immediately to a smoking heap of ash. Muchukunda turned, and the second glance struck the garlanded, beautiful youth, whom the awakened old king straightaway recognised by his radiance as an incarnation of God. And Muchukunda bowed before his Saviour with the following prayer:

“ My Lord God! When I lived and wrought as a man, I lived and wrought – straying restlessly; through many lives, birth after birth, I sought and suffered, nowhere knowing cease or rest. Distress I mistook for joy. Mirages appearing over the desert I mistook for refreshing waters. Delights I grasped, and what I obtained was misery. Kingly power and earthly possession, riches and might, friends and sons, wife and followers, everything that lures the senses: I wanted them all, because I believed that these would bring me beatitude. But the moment anything was mine it changed its nature, and became as  a burning fire.

Then I found my way into the company of the gods, and they welcomed me as a companion. But where, still, surcease? Where rest? The creatures of this world, gods included, all are tricked, my Lord God, by your playful ruses; that is why they continue in their futile round of birth, life agony, old age, and death. Between lives, they confront the lord of the dead and are forced to endure hells of every degree of pitiless pain. And it all comes from you!

“My Lord God, deluded by your playful ruses, I too was a prey of the world, wandering in a labyrinth of error, netted in the meshes of ego-consciousness. Now, therefore, I take refuge in your Presence – the boundless, the adorable – desiring only freedom from it all.”

When Muchukunda stepped from his cave, he saw that men, since his departure, had become reduced in stature. He was as a giant among them. And so he departed from them again, retreated to the highest mountains, and there dedicated himself to the ascetic practices that should finally release him from his last attachment to the forms of being.

Muchukunda, in other words, instead of returning, decided to retreat one degree still further from the world. And who shall say that his decision was altogether without reason?”

Joseph Campbell

The Hero With A Thousand Faces, 1993, Fontana Press, pp 194-196.

 

I would say that the original author of this story was probably a new parent, indicated by the hero wishing for eternal sleep over all other riches LOL. What it also tells us, is that the successful religions, which have been taken up by kings and therefore the state, all have messages at their heart which assure the listener that the rewards and sufferings of life are nothing in comparison with the promises of divinity. These are not their only messages, but clearly that message would resonate with the suffering masses – to hear that all life, good and bad, is an illusion, would be a panacea to the many who were decidedly short changed by the distribution of commonwealth. It is kings who have driven religions and enforced participation in their rituals, and kings who have controlled and censored the scriptural content of these religion’s holy books. Kings have had much more need of religion and its ability to control the behaviour of adherents, than have subjects had need of religious beliefs.

The belief in  a god, who will upon the death of the believer, even things up in terms of getting a fair share of the goodies, in heaven or some paradisiacal garden in the afterlife, has had broad appeal among the disadvantaged. I think we see that now in the fervent take up of extremist Islamic beliefs, many of these adherents are poor and have been racially slighted in the countries they reside in, and they believe that their actions and belief in a vengeful Allah will deliver them to paradise. The African American slaves took the Christian message of the meek inheriting the Earth to heart; women, who have been down trodden and abused by men, have found succour in religion, and it is often a belief which burns brightest in the hearts of mothers within a family; perhaps as salve to the tragedies that historically affected women through the deaths of their children. To believe in something better than avarice, competition and bloodshed is an understandable wish, if Darwinian evolution can only provide that the strong/intelligent will prevail, then it is perfectly understandable that humanity would invent a god that possibly offers the mercy of something else with a kinder face. Although the original incarnations of the old testament Judo-Christian religions were decidedly brutal.

“The great unmentionable evil at the centre of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal – god is the Omnipotent Father – hence the loathing of women for 2000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates.”

Gore Vidal

The belief in god has been used by the strong to justify their rule and control over others, the divine right of kings to rule, and the same belief has been employed by the weak to salve their hurts and pains in the hope for  a better deal in the afterlife; it is a flexible beast this elephant. All religions seem to make a heap of promises, which require your extinction before they pay out on them, and as nobody has as yet returned from the dead (Jesus excepting but then he works for them) we are none the wiser when it comes to knowing their truth and efficacy. The poor and down trodden masses, who were forced to subscribe to the state religion – the Holy Roman Catholic Church – would have taken what message of hope they could from their time in church. The church collected taxes from these same people and controlled their lives as much as the king, for hundreds of years people were expected to go on a religious pilgrimage during their lives and if they did not they were expected to pay the church the equivalent amount of money they would have spent on their holy journey. Representatives of the church would sell common folk religious relics, purporting to be splinters of the cross that crucified Jesus and the like, and absolutions; so you could buy a piece of heaven, a bit like you can buy financial freedom through home ownership today.

I would say that in our relationship with the new religion, materialism, we have done away with a good deal of hypocrisy about money and its importance in our lives. When I was growing up it was considered rude to ask direct questions about money, which set me back somewhat for many years when it came to negotiating transactions. It was bad form to ask how much something was worth – shopping could be a struggle – bad manners to ask how much someone earnt for a living – life was a bit less exacting I suppose – I imagine as it was before the advent of the electric light, when the edges of existence were not so pronounced in gaslight and candle light. Not a bad thing sometimes to have a bit more mystery. There was however a great deal of downplaying falsely of the importance of money and this was simple dishonesty in many instances. A bit like not being able to talk about ‘fucking’ and always having to say ‘making love’ when referring to sex, which was also the case when I was growing up, at least in polite society or with a lady. But sometimes ‘fucking’ is a more correct description for the activity and incorporates more of our animal natures, whereas ‘making love’ is a far more ethereal term, non-corporeal in fact; and “fucking” is after all only a small part of making love. There always needs to be black and white in the equation, otherwise if we are forced to pretend to only live in the light, we will get corruption, as we do with celibate priests and all those who deny the darkness and their shadow side.

Similarly we need the balance of spirit, inchoate things inside of us, anti-matter if you like, especially now in the time of money. When the zeitgeist is the passion for money and the things that money can buy and people are marching to the consumerist beat, for technological toys like IPhone’s and other gadgets, then the opposite pole becomes so very important. Familiarity breeds contempt and that is what is happening, and will happen even more, with materialism, its strident voice drowns out the sensitive and the mysterious. Science like a Krispy Kreme doughnut has deliciously explained the how but has nothing at its centre to explain the why – consciousness continues to elude neuroscience and all other branches of material knowledge. We need to realise that just because we have named a street on a map and given a moment in time a precise number, that it does not truly define the reality of that particular space and moment. We have killed the mystery, the unexpected nature of existence, by naming and measuring everything and then agreeing amongst ourselves that this is its only reality – we have turned symbols into things and references into realities. No wonder so many people are depressed, having lost contact with the earth beneath their feet, because they are walking on a line on a map inside their head.

I wonder if you or I were to go and lie in a dark cave for a year, a space with no light whatsoever, but with enough warmth, food and comfort to sustain us, and we had no contact with the outside world for that entire year – how we would be on our emergence from the cave after the year? Would our consciousnesses be changed, affected, transformed in any meaningful way? What would we encounter within our own psyches and would the zeitgeist of the times slip away? I imagine that our thoughts would continue to go around and around, as they do, chasing their own tails and tales. But after awhile, with no points of external reference, with which to reinforce their existence, these thoughts would, I suspect, evolve or devolve. Perhaps as in a spiral motion returning to their points of origin, regressing to where they came from – things someone said that we appropriated; wisdom from mum and dad; teachers and mentors; books that we have read; Sunday School scriptures; and finally back even further as we lie there in the pure blackness. We would, I suspect, begin to break down all thoughts and all the things we live by, our moral compass so to speak, our very own philosophy of life, and things would be reduced to essentialities and much of the guff would simply fall away. Close your eyes now and drift away.

©Sudha Hamilton

Materialism is our god

Today in the harsh daylight of our overcrowded cities, in developed nations around the globe, we are encouraged to worship only one god, the holy dollar. People are rushing about in their cars, and on public transport, to reach their destinations, their places of work and of investment, where labour and lead may be turned into gold. Sitting at terminals, tapping keys, in the hope that interest rates will rise or fall, that the market will strengthen their position; and that bears will turn into bulls. If you can imagine an animated city scene, with hundreds of besuited pedestrians crossing the pavements, all with a cartoon circle above their heads, showing their thoughts as a dollar sign. This is the charge of the light brigade, where horses have become mobile phones and helmets and swords, iPods and sunglasses.

Newspapers, and online sources, today are filled with economic imperatives, and this obsession, which began in the late nineteen seventies, has become the overriding concern for dad and mum; and their kids. Money is on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s mind, how to get it, how to make it, how to keep it; and how to hide it. Everyone’s become  a banker and governments are complicit in this – the tax department has driven these changes , as your tax return became more and more complex, you had to think like an accountant to make sense of it. Paul Keating, as rock star Treasurer, had a hand in it, as he, and PM Hawke, deregulated the banks and made public announcements about “banana state economies.” Suddenly everyone had to get up to speed on the balance of payments and interest rate figures daily made the front page. It was like a crash course in economics, skewed with the dramatics and sensationalism that sells papers.

There are and were positives, about this new found economic literacy amongst the hoi polloi, as people are always empowered by knowledge. In this new era of freedom, individuals and groups, were able to break down decades and centuries of banking obfuscation, to achieve their wants; even women, who had been particularly disadvantaged by the prejudices of this male dominated industry. Economic growth came spurting out, after years of lazy conservative rule, people got money and invested it in new businesses and real estate – the housing market exploded. Of course we got some excessive behaviour, Alan Bond, Christopher Skase etc but generally it was much more for the good, as a greater number and spread of people were enabled to become productive.

However, and I will use a controversial analogy here to illustrate my point, the economic awareness grew and has now become such an overweening thing that it has strangled all other gods. I liken it to the historical journey of Western women, from their hair covered and protected imprisonment in wifely roles, through the suffragettes and then the women’s liberation movement, up until now in their emancipated state from legislated prejudice; but still with the biological necessities to be women. This potentially challenging, dichotomous position is most dramatically seen in the form of the traditionally attired Islamic woman, as she represents the other extreme pole, as if she has just stepped out of the pages of history into the twenty first century. I respect the fiercely won freedoms of today’s Western woman, but also see the conflicting impact that the demands of the world have made upon the inner life of some women. In a similar vein, today’s awareness of the economic imperative has damaged the inner life of us all, removing perceived value from other pursuits not so closely held to the material bosom.

As Science, in the service of money, has slain the Christian religion, condemning it to the irrelevancy of a surfeit of poorly attended suburban churches clamouring for ageing attendees, the great god avarice has filled the breach. Materialism, what you can buy with money, has taken hold of head and heart inside the majority of us all. What is the holiest, most sacred, thing that you can purchase? It is of course the home, a house or flat, villa or apartment, but  a home by any other name just the same. This haloed quest, the often life time journey devoted to owning your own home, is, in Australia anyway, a culturally approved goal that lies beneath the day to day activity of millions. It gives meaning to life to many of these people, and I imagine the banks must really love it. It reminds me of the association between diamond rings and marriage; doctors, pharmaceutical drugs and illness; and other firmly entrenched cultural beliefs. How do you get people to work all the time and do it more or less willingly? By making what they want so expensive that they have to. If the average home is priced around nine times the average annual income, and you have to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars from the banks at substantial and fluctuating interest rates, then you are going to be tied into working for a very long time. Mentally, by the time you have paid off your house and loan, you are often so brain washed into that behaviour that you go on working anyway. Homes bought as investment properties, charge rentals at a market value so determined,  that they can pay off housing loans and or profit accordingly – thus making shelter/housing expensive for everyone.  The goal for many in owning their own home is financial freedom, which often really means, once achieved, becoming a landlord and profiting from others, for money as they say does not stand still and you will be advised by those who work with money to invest your new found freedom in more real estate; and the cycle continues.

Going to work every week day, and often doing something that you dislike in some way, treating another human being in  a less than  human way by focusing on the money at the expense of everything else, damages the soul some say. You might go to your doctor and complain that you are not feeling, dare I say it, happy, and he most probably will tell you that you are depressed and prescribe an antidepressant.

“Over the last 30 years, rates of depression have been steadily increasing in Western societies. In the last ten years, consumption of antidepressants has doubled in the most advanced Western countries. Today, more than 11 million Americans are taking antidepressants. The estimated number of people in Britain taking antidepressants is two million. In Australia, 66 percent of those seeing a GP for the first time about depression have a chance of being medicated – in most cases with antidepressants. These data are so stark that most of us and our institutions prefer not to think about them.”

Dr David Servan-Schreiber, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Pittsburgh University School of Medicine

Author of Healing Without Freud or Prozac, 2004, Rodale.

Then, in a tra la la drugged state, not caring so much about a lot of things, unable to achieve an orgasm, you will keep on doing what you were doing, working in much the same way and edging hopefully closer to that nirvana, called financial freedom. When you set out on the journey as a youngish adult, I imagine that the many things you associate with financial freedom will change over the years and that when you get there, often decades later, you will be a completely different person. It is like any long journey, in that it is better to make the experience of your journey your succour than the goal itself. Otherwise you are training yourself, every day, to switch off subtly and desensitise yourself to life, killing yourself a little bit each day in the hope that when you get to the end you will be able to turn yourself back on; and enjoy that wonderful financial freedom you see in the scenes depicted in those TV ads for the banks.

If you read a little history and have a good look at the Christian religion, you will see that belief in god, for much of their sixteen hundred years in power, was not optional. From the time of Constantine, the Roman emperor in the fourth century AD when Christianity became the state religion – the Holy Roman Catholic Church,  if you did not believe in a Christian god, and their version of that Christian god, you were very likely to be put to death. This heavy handed approach began to soften after the Renaissance in the sixteenth century, but life remained very hard for those who did not acquiesce and worship in the prescribed manner. Jews of course were murdered, exiled, banned and generally hated since the time of Christ. The crusades slaughtered millions of Muslims over centuries and religious pogroms have continued the genocide of both Jews and Muslims by Christians. I always smile when I remember Sunday School, and the things I was told about the poor Christians being thrown to the lions by the Romans, of course this was true for the three centuries it happened,  but nobody was teaching the children about the next twelve centuries of Christian atrocities committed against the rest of the world; and also within their own communities in the prosecution of heresies. History always favours the victors.

Within, and despite all this bloodshed, many people had an experience of god being present within their lives. It seems in a lot of instances to have provided these individuals with a sense of belonging to something divine, which was beyond the reach of those with the swords. I would posit that the very threat to some people’s belief in god, through perceived heretical accusations, as in the time of the Cathars in France in the thirteenth century, and in the very bloody later schism between Catholics and the Reformation Church in the sixteenth century, to name but a few, intensified their experience of their religion and god. Nobody loves quite so much as when that love is threatened and or about to go away. Religion, and or belief in god, is always like that enormous elephant in the room, which will not go away.

“Superstition requires credulity, just as true religion requires faith. Deep-rooted credulity is so powerful that it may even, in false beliefs, be thought to perform miracles. For if anyone believes most firmly that his religion is true, even if it is in fact false, he raises his spirit by reason of that very credulity until it becomes like the spirits who are the leaders and princes of that religion and seems to perform things which are not perceived by those in a normal and rational state.”

Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535)

De Occulta Philosophia

I ask myself, a lot, what belief in god really is. Rationally there is no evidence for  the existence of a god, and in my historical search so far, there never has been any evidence. In Christianity’s case, we now clearly know that the gospels in the Bible, which were written between seventy and up to two hundred years after the time of Jesus, are not reliable historical accounts and indeed are more like PR releases or overly favourable biographical sketches, designed to sell Christianity to the Roman power elite and others. The account of Pilate for instance, is completely fictitious and reworked by the writers of the gospels to exonerate the Romans from the execution of Jesus and to put that blame squarely upon the Jews; which has had onerous historical consequences to put it mildly. Christianity is not alone in creating fictions to make it divine and more than merely human, in PR and sales there is a great and long lasting tradition, which is about making your product uniquely special and divinity ticks all those boxes. The tablet which held the ten commandments, where is it and who else but Moses really saw it and if it was placed in the Ark of the Covenant, where is it also? The Mormons then, through their prophet, Joseph Smith Junior, and I imagine from his impression of the historical precedent set by Moses as reported in Exodus, had a solid gold tablet from the Angel Moroni containing their scriptures, which conveniently only Joseph actually saw. Now Christians, who believe in Jesus rising bodily from the dead, often chuckle softly at the unrealistic beliefs of other religions, whilst having no problem with the outlandish collection of miracle stories and the like contained in their Bible. When we inherit beliefs from our parents, these loving and respected beings, and they likewise inherited their beliefs from their parents and so on, it is easy to understand why these often ridiculous beliefs have lasted so long. It is hard to shoot down the firmly held beliefs of your elders and those whom you love; many people choose to turn away from confronting the elephant in the room.

Buddhism, both the Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism, are also a collection of stories tinged with the magical properties of the divine. Siddhartha Gautama, the Nepalese prince  did exist historically and most probably did venture out on a spiritual quest, but then the story tellers take over and we are regaled with unearthly feats designed to impress the uneducated masses. Hinduism is a fantastic collection of wildly colourful stories, creation myths involving gods and demons, many of them extraordinarily beautiful.

“An ancient Hindu warrior-king named Muchukunda was born from his father’s left side, the father having swallowed by mistake a fertility potion that the Brahmins had prepared for his wife; and in keeping with the promising symbolism of this miracle, the motherless marvel, fruit of the male womb, grew to be such a king among kings that when the gods, at one period, were suffering defeat in their perpetual contest with the demons, they called upon him for help. He assisted them to a mighty victory, and they, in their divine pleasure, granted him the realisation of his highest wish. But what should such a king, himself almost omnipotent, desire? What greatest boon of boons could be conceived of by such a master among men? King Muchukunda, so runs the story, was very tired after his battle: all he asked was that he might be granted a sleep without end, and that any person chancing to arouse him should be burned to a crisp by the first glance of his eye.

The boon was bestowed. In a cavern chamber, deep within the womb of a mountain, King Muchukunda retired to sleep, and there slumbered through the revolving eons. Individuals, peoples, civilisations, world ages, came into being out of the void and dropped back into it again, while the old king, in his state of subconscious bliss, endured. Timeless as the Freudian unconscious beneath the dramatic time world of our fluctuating ego-experience, that old mountain man, the drinker of deep sleep, lived on and on.

His awakening came- but with a surprising turn that throws into new perspective the whole problem of the hero-circuit, as well as the mystery of a  mighty king’s request for sleep as the highest conceivable boon.

Vishnu, the Lord of the World, had become incarnate in the person of a beautiful youth named Krishna, who, having saved the land of India from a  tyrannical race of demons, had assumed the throne. And he had been ruling in Utopian peace, when a horde of barbarians suddenly invaded from the northwest. Krishna the king went against them, but, in keeping with his divine nature, won the victory playfully, by a simple ruse. Unarmed and garlanded with lotuses, he came out of his stronghold and tempted the enemy king to pursue and catch him, then dodged into a cave. When the barbarian followed, he discovered someone lying there in the chamber, asleep.

“Oh!” thought he. “So he has lured me here and now feigns to be a harmless sleeper.”

He kicked the figure lying on the ground before him, and it stirred. It was King Muchukunda. The figure rose, and the eyes that had been closed for unnumbered cycles of creation, world history, and dissolution, opened slowly to the light. The first glance that went forth struck the enemy king, who burst into a torch of flame and was reduced immediately to a smoking heap of ash. Muchukunda turned, and the second glance struck the garlanded, beautiful youth, whom the awakened old king straightaway recognised by his radiance as an incarnation of God. And Muchukunda bowed before his Saviour with the following prayer:

“ My Lord God! When I lived and wrought as a man, I lived and wrought – straying restlessly; through many lives, birth after birth, I sought and suffered, nowhere knowing cease or rest. Distress I mistook for joy. Mirages appearing over the desert I mistook for refreshing waters. Delights I grasped, and what I obtained was misery. Kingly power and earthly possession, riches and might, friends and sons, wife and followers, everything that lures the senses: I wanted them all, because I believed that these would bring me beatitude. But the moment anything was mine it changed its nature, and became as  a burning fire.

Then I found my way into the company of the gods, and they welcomed me as a companion. But where, still, surcease? Where rest? The creatures of this world, gods included, all are tricked, my Lord God, by your playful ruses; that is why they continue in their futile round of birth, life agony, old age, and death. Between lives, they confront the lord of the dead and are forced to endure hells of every degree of pitiless pain. And it all comes from you!

“My Lord God, deluded by your playful ruses, I too was a prey of the world, wandering in a labyrinth of error, netted in the meshes of ego-consciousness. Now, therefore, I take refuge in your Presence – the boundless, the adorable – desiring only freedom from it all.”

When Muchukunda stepped from his cave, he saw that men, since his departure, had become reduced in stature. He was as a giant among them. And so he departed from them again, retreated to the highest mountains, and there dedicated himself to the ascetic practices that should finally release him from his last attachment to the forms of being.

Muchukunda, in other words, instead of returning, decided to retreat one degree still further from the world. And who shall say that his decision was altogether without reason?”

Joseph Campbell

The Hero With A Thousand Faces, 1993, Fontana Press, pp 194-196.

I would say that the original author of this story was probably a new parent, indicated by the hero wishing for eternal sleep over all other riches LOL. What it also tells us, is that the successful religions, which have been taken up by kings and therefore the state, all have messages at their heart which assure the listener that the rewards and sufferings of life are nothing in comparison with the promises of divinity. These are not their only messages, but clearly that message would resonate with the suffering masses – to hear that all life, good and bad, is an illusion, would be a panacea to the many who were decidedly short changed by the distribution of commonwealth. It is kings who have driven religions and enforced participation in their rituals, and kings who have controlled and censored the scriptural content of these religion’s holy books. Kings have had much more need of religion and its ability to control the behaviour of adherents, than have subjects had need of religious beliefs.

The belief in  a god, who will upon the death of the believer, even things up in terms of getting a fair share of the goodies, in heaven or some paradisiacal garden in the afterlife, has had broad appeal among the disadvantaged. I think we see that now in the fervent take up of extremist Islamic beliefs, many of these adherents are poor and have been racially slighted in the countries they reside in, and they believe that their actions and belief in a vengeful Allah will deliver them to paradise. The African American slaves took the Christian message of the meek inheriting the Earth to heart; women, who have been down trodden and abused by men, have found succour in religion, and it is often a belief which burns brightest in the hearts of mothers within a family; perhaps as salve to the tragedies that historically affected women through the deaths of their children. To believe in something better than avarice, competition and bloodshed is an understandable wish, if Darwinian evolution can only provide that the strong/intelligent will prevail, then it is perfectly understandable that humanity would invent a god that possibly offers the mercy of something else with a kinder face. Although the original incarnations of the old testament Judo-Christian religions were decidedly brutal.

“The great unmentionable evil at the centre of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal – god is the Omnipotent Father – hence the loathing of women for 2000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates.”

Gore Vidal

The belief in god has been used by the strong to justify their rule and control over others, the divine right of kings to rule, and the same belief has been employed by the weak to salve their hurts and pains in the hope for  a better deal in the afterlife; it is a flexible beast this elephant. All religions seem to make a heap of promises, which require your extinction before they pay out on them, and as nobody has as yet returned from the dead (Jesus excepting but then he works for them) we are none the wiser when it comes to knowing their truth and efficacy. The poor and down trodden masses, who were forced to subscribe to the state religion – the Holy Roman Catholic Church – would have taken what message of hope they could from their time in church. The church collected taxes from these same people and controlled their lives as much as the king, for hundreds of years people were expected to go on a religious pilgrimage during their lives and if they did not they were expected to pay the church the equivalent amount of money they would have spent on their holy journey. Representatives of the church would sell common folk religious relics, purporting to be splinters of the cross that crucified Jesus and the like, and absolutions; so you could buy a piece of heaven, a bit like you can buy financial freedom through home ownership today.

I would say that in our relationship with the new religion, materialism, we have done away with a good deal of hypocrisy about money and its importance in our lives. When I was growing up it was considered rude to ask direct questions about money, which set me back somewhat for many years when it came to negotiating transactions. It was bad form to ask how much something was worth – shopping could be a struggle – bad manners to ask how much someone earnt for a living – life was a bit less exacting I suppose – I imagine as it was before the advent of the electric light, when the edges of existence were not so pronounced in gaslight and candle light. Not a bad thing sometimes to have a bit more mystery. There was however a great deal of downplaying falsely of the importance of money and this was simple dishonesty in many instances. A bit like not being able to talk about ‘fucking’ and always having to say ‘making love’ when referring to sex, which was also the case when I was growing up, at least in polite society or with a lady. But sometimes ‘fucking’ is a more correct description for the activity and incorporates more of our animal natures, whereas ‘making love’ is a far more ethereal term, non-corporeal in fact; and “fucking” is after all only a small part of making love. There always needs to be black and white in the equation, otherwise if we are forced to pretend to only live in the light, we will get corruption, as we do with celibate priests and all those who deny the darkness and their shadow side.

Similarly we need the balance of spirit, inchoate things inside of us, anti-matter if you like, especially now in the time of money. When the zeitgeist is the passion for money and the things that money can buy and people are marching to the consumerist beat, for technological toys like IPhone’s and other gadgets, then the opposite pole becomes so very important. Familiarity breeds contempt and that is what is happening, and will happen even more, with materialism, its strident voice drowns out the sensitive and the mysterious. Science like a Krispy Kreme doughnut has deliciously explained the how but has nothing at its centre to explain the why – consciousness continues to elude neuroscience and all other branches of material knowledge. We need to realise that just because we have named a street on a map and given a moment in time a precise number, that it does not truly define the reality of that particular space and moment. We have killed the mystery, the unexpected nature of existence, by naming and measuring everything and then agreeing amongst ourselves that this is its only reality – we have turned symbols into things and references into realities. No wonder so many people are depressed, having lost contact with the earth beneath their feet, because they are walking on a line on a map inside their head.

I wonder if you or I were to go and lie in a dark cave for a year, a space with no light whatsoever, but with enough warmth, food and comfort to sustain us, and we had no contact with the outside world for that entire year – how we would be on our emergence from the cave after the year? Would our consciousnesses be changed, affected, transformed in any meaningful way? What would we encounter within our own psyches and would the zeitgeist of the times slip away? I imagine that our thoughts would continue to go around and around, as they do, chasing their own tails and tales. But after awhile, with no points of external reference, with which to reinforce their existence, these thoughts would, I suspect, evolve or devolve. Perhaps as in a spiral motion returning to their points of origin, regressing to where they came from – things someone said that we appropriated; wisdom from mum and dad; teachers and mentors; books that we have read; Sunday School scriptures; and finally back even further as we lie there in the pure blackness. We would, I suspect, begin to break down all thoughts and all the things we live by, our moral compass so to speak, our very own philosophy of life, and things would be reduced to essentialities and much of the guff would simply fall away. Close your eyes now and drift away.

©Sudha Hamilton

What is it to be human?

Our Posthuman Future – Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

By Francis Fukuyama

Profile Books, 2003.

Book Review

A disturbing orange cover, with a picture of what looks like a conveyer belt full of robotic looking babies stretching into infinity, possibly delayed my reading of this brilliant book. Its publication date accidentally synchronised with the birth of my own children and perhaps I was too involved in the real thing to have the time to read about biotechnology and its impact on humanity; well I am glad I finally have. Francis Fukuyama likes to invoke the heavy hitters of philosophy right off and Nietzsche’s ominous quotes are littered throughout at chapter beginnings, I suppose it is called getting your attention. Fukuyama weaves around all over the place  a bit at first, delineating things by way of reference to George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, before settling down and finding his stride. These two books were the two poles of possible fears for Fukuyama’s American baby boomer generation, representing the futuristic totalitarian IT nightmare in the former and the more creepy biotechnological nirvana in the latter. We have of course now arrived into a world where, both the technologies featured in these two books  are part of our reality, and the author goes on throughout his book to show, that it is the biotechnological possibilities of which we have most to fear.

He classifies biotechnology into three major parts: Neuropharmacology; Genetic Engineering; and Lifespan Extension. Beginning with Neuropharmacology Fukuyama paints  a vivid picture of now, in our Western urban worlds, with facts about the prevalence of antidepressant drug use through Prozac and its many SSRI cousins, and even more disturbingly the massive use of Ritalin being prescribed for our children. We are deeply involved in mind and behaviour control on  a societal level through our complacent acceptance of these drugs. Doctors are prescribing antidepressants and amphetamines to men, women and children at an alarming rate. Why is this happening? Why has something like ADHD suddenly gone from not existing at all to enormous levels within our communities? Fukuyama does not take a moralistic tone in his discussion about this but brings the facts and their ramifications into sharp focus. There are various forces at work within these situations: our expectations regarding happiness are very different now to twenty or thirty years ago and our reliance on medical science has been consistently encouraged by governments and the pharmaceutical industry during the last few decades. Economically we are all expected to provide maximum levels of productivity, whether you are a mother or a teacher, we do not have the same amount of time to devote to the care of our children in many cases and we therefore expect our children to be more cooperative at school and at home. When they are not we now classify them as deficient in attention and drug them.

At the same time, as we are officially giving happy pills to a substantial percentage of our population, we are condemning and prosecuting another large section as illegal drug users. You can see the strange hypocrisy in this fact, as Fukuyama points out the similarities, chemically speaking, between  many of these drugs, like Ecstasy  and the SSRI’s, and that Speed is an amphetamine like Ritalin. It is these fine lines of demarcation within our societies, defining what neuropharmacology is really for, that this book explores. Drugs are OK if we are sick but are bad if merely for pleasure and that certain levels of unhappiness then become sickness (depression), as do certain levels of not paying enough attention (ADHD). Who is deciding the points on the scale? Doctors and the medical industry? Don’t they have  a vested interest in all these matters and indeed a trillion dollar interest in pharmacology? A lot of what this book is about, is asking who in our Western civilised worlds should be making these decisions for society and is it really OK to let the market decide? Being an American, Francis Fukuyama is living in the nation, which has the most avaristic culture in the world, especially around technological developments; as we have seen in the IT industry. He postulates that we as a world need to think about the consequences of these biotechnological developments and legislate for them; for our own protection.

Moving on to Genetic Engineering, and the myriad of biotechnological challenges we now and in the very near future face, Fukuyama shepherds in Dolly the Sheep and its obvious pointer to human cloning. Human cloning is currently banned in most countries and faces a huge amount of legal discussion, as to the rights of  a clone within our societies. The whole genetic question raises the unholy spectre of Eugenics and the Nazis experiments on the weak and their racially judged inferiors. It was not only in Germany and Japan, where these ghastly experiments went on, scientists in the US in a Jewish hospital infected the chronically ill with cancer cells, in another case it was mentally retarded children with hepatitis and the more famous case (they made a movie about it) of 400 black men, many of whom were purposely not treated for syphilis with available medication to record the diseases progression. Fukuyama’s book indicates that this whole racial genetic argument is still very much alive in the US and that the nurture versus nature questions splits the sciences down the middle on political grounds. He states that the Left have always come down on the side of environmental factors affecting intelligence levels within races – not enough to eat so the brain doesn’t develop – where the Right have been firmly on the side of white people being genetically superior in terms of intelligence. Reading all this myself I wondered about the tests being utilised in all this so called intelligence testing, the criteria for intelligence and how it is judged? Scientists, politicians and bureaucrats all testing on the basis of their own preconceived ideas about what it is to be intelligent in a predominantly white Anglo Saxon culture. And even beyond questions of race what is intelligence anyway, is it IQ or Emotional Intelligence or Spiritual Intelligence?

The horrors of rational fascistic science have lodged in the cultural consciousness and so there is a justifiable amount of fear around Genetic Engineering. In contrast to this are the things we now can do about diseases and conditions like cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome, which are now being screened for with preimplantation genetic diagnosis. The extension of this will be designer babies, where technology again offers the graduation from avoidance of sickness to ideas of perfection. Introducing questions of who will be able to afford it and will this become the province of the rich, thus increasing the gulf between the haves and have nots?  The author emphasises again that governments must play their part in making sure that genetic engineering does not disadvantage the already disadvantaged within our communities; and goes further to suggest that it could indeed be a technology used to improve things for these sections of the community. Fukuyama recommends international bodies for the guidance of biotechnology and offers the examples in the nuclear industry as proof of possible efficacy in this regard. The dangers of the nuclear industry (as seen by the crisis currently in Japan) are, I think he is inferring, on par with the dangers inherent in the biotechnology sphere.

Francis Fukuyama talks a lot about what it means to be human and the essential qualities of humanness. He invokes Aristotle and a whole pantheon of philosophers and moral judges in answering this question. In the end I think he comes down on the side of feeling, that it is our human feelings which define us as human. So we have the harsh and hostile world of Darwinian evolution and the men in white lab coats on one hand and the subjective consciousness of the feeling world on the other, his book may be an informed cry for help. An Achtung before it is too late and we have sold our humanness for bigger boobs, and smarter and taller, better looking kids. Stem cell therapy and the use of research involving embryos are or have been hot topics recently, with governments voting on legislation, and often doing so as votes of conscience rather than on party policy grounds. The ability to grow new cells and possibly limbs and other organs for the sick versus the rights of the unborn. This takes us back to abortion and how that is still used in many Eastern countries as a genetic engineering tool in favour of males over females in the human species. Abortion is a very volatile topic in the US especially, and anything to do with it opens up that great religious divide and debate. The genetic engineering argument embraces the scientist’s pragmatic view that if we are terminating unwanted pregnancies, and also if there are extra embryos left over from IVF, then we should be using these for embryonic stem cell research. Against this we have the Right To Life religious organisations and also non-religious anti-biotechnology groups, who see this work as a corruption of the rights of the individual, which opens the question –  at what age do we become human?

The third part of this whole dilemma, according to Fukuyama, is science’s work in prolonging our life expectancies. The twentieth century has seen the life expectancies raised in women from 46.3 and men from 48.3, in the US in 1900, to that of 79.9 for women and 74.2 for men in the year 2000. The author points out, when you combine this with falling birth rates in most Western countries we are now facing  a rapidly changing age demographic, meaning that fewer young people will be supporting many more older and infirm people in our communities and economies. In addition to the well publicised affect this will have on social security systems, there will be further ramifications with a growing divide internationally, with developing nations with higher birth rates having younger population demographics; more angry young men. Fukuyama posits that the US will have a decidedly older and more feminine population, as women live longer, and that this will contrast politically with their dealings with these young countries (I think it more likely to be a good thing as grandma is less likely to bomb people). Our Posthuman Future goes onto list many of the possible scenarios related to these population and demographic shifts related to life span extension, and in particular talks about our attitudes to the elderly, facing challenges; when we are forced to care for them on mass and they are taking our jobs – (which the baby boomers have been doing for years in Australia LOL). Fukuyama spells out the medical facts about prolonging life spans and that quality of life experience will not necessarily accompany this extension; and that our cultural worshipping of youth is very much about sexual reproductivity. Lives lived for the majority of years as aged, and non-reproductively,  will present clear cultural and psychological challenges for the participants and for all those around them. Medical science is taking us all down this path because nobody really wants to die and wants to see their parents die, and euthanasia is feared by many within our societies. We do and will need to have these discussions about death and what it means to have a life, beyond the ‘hands off’ and keep everything alive for as long as possible, which is the  current position of governments and medical science. I think we as a community will have to grow up and religions will need to pull their heads out of the sands of two millennia ago – which is when their religious texts were written.

Francis Fukuyama, being an American and working in the US education system, as the Professor of International Political Economy at John Hopkins University, in my opinion shies away from stressing the very large part that the free market in our capitalist economy plays in this. Despite the fact that the overall message of his book is that we need impartial democratic government bodies policing biotechnology, I still think the author misses out on emphasising the fact, that we as a society leave  a great deal of medical science in the hands of a market intent on making as much money as possible out of whatever situation they find or create. Our democratically elected representatives in government are too dependent on popular decisions and election campaign dollars from the pharmaceutical industry. Our scientists are equally dependent on private enterprise funded research grants and even the scientific journals, which publish the reports, are dependent on big pharma advertising dollars. If we value the dollar over everything else how will we ever get any impartiality in any decision making body and if every government department is only potentially lasting four or five years how can we carry out any far reaching legislation?

This is a really worthwhile and enjoyable book to read, drawing on our great Western philosophical canon to pose many of the questions, we as a society face in regard to the biotechnological revolution.

©Sudha Hamilton

Who Murdered Chaucer?

Who Murdered Chaucer?

Book Review

Who Murdered Chaucer? – A Medieval Mystery

By Terry Jones, Robert Yeager, Terry Dolan, Alan Fletcher, Juliette Dor

Methuen, 2004.

 

Geoffrey Chaucer, poet and most importantly one of the earliest literary stars of the English language, was the author of The Canterbury Tales – a celebrated collection of verse pieces which have provided an incredibly rich source of historical information about the types of people inhabiting the Middle Ages. Many of us studied Chaucer at school, and I am afraid, that by dint of either my own shallowness or via unenthusiastic teaching, I was not a big fan at the time– the early English language was quite challenging I seem to remember – he remains however a major influence upon our Western canon. Like much of the history taught at school, a great deal of important information and context was omitted, thus denuding what could have been a powerful lesson about real life. You see, Chaucer seems to have been disappeared, in the same way, that more recently, people in South American countries have been disappeared by forces within their governments.

I don’t know if it is merely that the majority of people who study history and literature are averse to making waves, or that it is something else entirely, but we seem to get a dry, unquestioning version of history being passed down in our educational institutions. I know here in Australia, teaching was always the profession of choice for the less academically gifted and the ones who didn’t really know what they wanted to do at university. Perhaps the title of this essay should really be, Who Murdered History? As one of the primary integral qualities for teaching must be passion, if a teacher’s communication is not imbued with enthusiasm and real care for the topic, then who is going to listen to him or her?

Geoffrey Chaucer was a poet and scholar in the court of the English king, Richard the second, at the close of the fourteenth century. Now if you are at all familiar with medieval history, or Shakespeare, you will know that Richard II has a seriously sullied reputation as the fey, spoilt, generally unloved king, who was usurped by a far more deserving Henry IV. Here however, is a great example of the fact that history is written by the victor, and the disappointing thing in this circumstance is that in this case, it has been unquestionably accepted by historians down the centuries. I personally came across Richard II as an acting student, when I was doing my NIDA audition – I studied Shakespeare’s play of the same name and chose an audition piece, of Richard expressing his outrage and righteous indignation at being deposed. The whole experience made a lasting impression upon me and I found it very interesting to revisit this piece of history. Terry Jones and his co-authors make it abundantly clear, that Richard was not the despot history and Shakespeare made him out to be, citing chronicled evidence to the contrary. More importantly they show that these chronicles, kept by the religious orders within their abbeys (Westminster, Kirkstall), had been doctored and amended once Henry IV had taken the throne.

Richard II had ascended the throne at the age of ten, and so you can imagine the difficulties he had in establishing his authority as he grew into the role, with overweening advisors and power hungry barons all around him. Terry Jones posits, that far from being a weak and corrupt king, Richard was in fact a king who was at the forefront of new royal practises. He suggests that Richard was creating a uniquely English court, and that Chaucer, with his wonderful wielding of the newly flourishing English language(in contrast to Latin and French), was a big part of that. Richard resisted supporting the maintenance of  the military campaigns in France, that his father, the Black Prince, and grandfather Edward III and his forebears had campaigned so vigorously at. Indeed he wished for a peaceful reign and copped a great deal of flak from the more warlord like dukes around him. Similarly today in the United States, great chunks of their industrial wealth is based on armaments and technologies of war, and Presidents are lobbied to support these activities to maintain the economy (Donald Rumsfeld and George W Bush in Iraq). Likewise, several of the barons around Richard, depended upon constant military actions for their upkeep and any threat to this was viewed with great resistance, especially by Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, Richard’s uncle and the youngest son of Edward III. Often this military action was portrayed, especially to the poor, as courageous and brave behaviour to be admired in a man and a leader; manipulations utilising cultural assumptions that still exist today. So Richard reigned during a precarious time and his behaviour actually challenged the status quo, in ways, which we would now admire in our modern more peaceful world.

Terry Jones and co-authors make clear that Richard II, once he had taken personal control over the realm in 1389, made the pursuit of peace with France a priority. They cite the influence of Giles of Rome, the Italian theologian and philosopher, in Richard’s education, as a setter of kingly aspirations in the direction of peace. They also suggest that Richard may have been a more intellectual king than his predecessors, and one who fostered and encouraged men of letters; like Chaucer and his contemporaries. Jones makes a good argument for Richard’s court being one of new ideas and creativity; and in a cultural ferment with the recently flourishing English language at its centre.

‘Namoore of this, for Goddes dignitee,’

Quod oure Hooste, ‘for thou makest me

So wery of they verray lewednesse

That, also wisly God my soule blesse,

Myne eres aken of thy drasty speche.

Now swich a rym the devel I biteche!

This may wel be rym doggerel,’ quod he.

The Canterbury Tales, VII, II. 919-25

‘No more of this, for God’s dignity,’

Swore our Host, ‘for you make me

So weary of your total unlearnedness

That, just as God will bless my soul,

My ears are aching with your dreadful speech.

Now such a rhyme I’ll teach the devil!

This may well be doggerel rhyme, ‘ said he.

 

It is interesting to read the early English employed by Chaucer and in particular the spellings of the words – I found it threw new light and understanding about certain words and their origins. The piece above by Chaucer, is in the persona of the character Harry Bailey, and highlights the author’s opinions of the travelling minstrels, who were the traditional courtly entertainers before the advent of the poet/authors. A modern parallel for this evolution in courtly tastes would be the difference between the singer/songwriters of the sixties (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell) and the vocalists or cover bands of the previous decade , who did popular renditions of standards. So Richard II was a new type of ruler and under him there flowered a new language, new expressions and new ideas.

In the book Who Murdered Chaucer? the authors describe the effect this change had on those with vested interests in how things were, and the Roman Catholic Church was one organisation who had deeply rooted and very valuable vested interests in medieval England. The powerful leaders of the Church were busy protecting their own authority against forces for change, like John Wyclif, an Oxford theologian who translated the Bible into English and was against many of the commercial aspects of the Church. Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, eventually aligned the Church establishment in its reactionary crushing of all dissent and introduced the practise of burning heretics at the stake into England. Terry Jones and co-authors produce evidence, that it was the recently exiled Archbishop Arundel who joined forced with Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby, another recently exiled by Richard II, to topple the young king and place Henry on the throne. Together they travelled from Europe back to England illegally, and became irresistible forces of conservatism, appealing to the barons and bishops who had been dismayed and offended by Richard’s new methods and associations. Richard II had been surrounding himself with men of ideas and letters, who were not necessarily from the aristocratic classes, and promoting these men of middle class into positions of power. This is suggested as one reason for the relatively quick and successful usurpation by Henry, as he and Arundel were able to unite the anti-Richard forces together and bring down the king.

Chaucer,  and his literary cohorts, had under Richard II been able to express a number of quite radical ideas in their work, ideas about the role of the Church and State. There are many Wyclifian concepts within Chaucer’s work, and in particular in the mouths of certain characters,  who inhabit The Canterbury Tales. The Poor Parson truly embodies Christ like behaviours in his holy thoughts and good works, and these sit in direct contrast to the avaristic exemplars of what Jones calls the ‘Church Commercial.’ Chaucer parodies other Church representatives,  like Friar Huberd in The General Prologue and the character of the Summoner in The Summoner’s Tale, conveying the well known corruption within the Church, being practised by these ecclesiastical officers. The selling of relics to the general public, pieces of the holy cross which crucified Jesus and a myriad of other bogus bits of rubbish, was rife throughout Christendom. In addition to this, people were encouraged to purchase prayers, and if they did not go on a pilgrimage they were expected to donate the dollar value of the journey to the Church in compensation. The Church collected taxes from everyone in the form of tithes, which could be 10% of their income or more. Basically the Church was  a vehicle for the systematic abuse and exploitation of the population. It was run by the disinherited children of the aristocracy, the sons who were not first born, and became their private fiefdoms – many bishops were ordained at the ages of twelve and fifteen. You had the irony of the Church being run by completely irreligious people, who were more akin to our corporate CEO’s today.

Archbishop Thomas Arundel, was like a Rupert Murdoch of the Church Commercial, conspiring to prevent the radical forces of change from interrupting the control exerted by the Church and the flow of revenue coming to it. Chaucer could be seen as a literary lion, who expounded with humour and style the lie of the land, and told those who would listen, what was really going on. During Richard’s reign this was permissible and Terry Jones would say perhaps even encouraged, but upon Henry IV taking over, it was now an entirely different universe. The rules had changed and it was unfortunate for Chaucer that he had a written body of work out there, which could act as evidence of his heretical beliefs. Like many usurpers Henry IV was insecure, especially just after murdering an anointed king in Richard II, and he looked to secure his newly stolen throne by  a policy of containment and suppression. Apart from the evidence of his sending out a directive to all chroniclers, that he wished to witness what they had written, an unspoken message that said you better write nice things about me and my new rulership of the realm or else, there was also a spate of mob executions of most of Richard’s friends and allies. Henry IV, with the help of the master strategist Arundel, was able to eradicate much of his opposition without directly bloodying his hands. The last known record of Chaucer, was that he had in the year 1400, just taken out a 53 year lease on  a house in the garden of Lady Chapel, in Westminster Abbey.  Westminster was a sanctuary of the Church, which meant that theoretically it was  a place you could go and not be touched by forces of the State, but in practise it did not stop determined agents riding in and dispatching whoever they were really after. Westminster became known as a place where people who were still loyal to Richard II gathered, and indeed the Abbey itself, was implicated in a plot to overthrow the new king and this was discovered by Henry IV not long after the usurpation; and there were deadly ramifications for some of those involved. So it was  a time of secrets and suspicions, a bit like East Berlin during the cold war, and those writers and liberals who had flourished in Richard’s court were under the microscope of Archbishop Arundel and Henry IV.

John Gower, a Chaucer contemporary, managed to rewrite sections of his Confessio Amantis, swapping praise of Richard II to Henry of Lancaster, and this rewriting of history to support Henry IV’s new regime was so successful that it was used by later historians to justify the Lancastrian view of English history. This was one example among many of the exorcising of Richard II from histories warm embrace and his consignment into no-speak and ignominy. Thus we have had six centuries of misinformation and unfounded slander upon Richard II and his reign. This book and its detailed referencing of available records and evidence, really showed me how easily history can be re-edited by those who control the information and records. If we do not ask the question and are not prepared to dig  a bit deeper then we will never know the truth.

There is no clear and incontrovertible evidence that Chaucer was murdered by agents on behalf of Arundel or Henry IV, but there is a long list of unexplainable facts.

  • Why did Chaucer the literary star of his day just disappear?
  • Why did he leave no Will, when he was a meticulous public servant?
  • Why was no monument built to him?
  • Why do none of his own copies of his work survive today?
  • Why is his death eulogised as a tragedy by other poets?

 

It seems as if Geoffrey Chaucer, England’s most esteemed poet and public servant, just dropped off the face of the Earth. It is the very lack of recorded information about his death, which points to something decidedly suspicious having occurred and the likelihood that he may have died in Archbishop Arundel’s prison; like many other perceived heretics of the time. Arundel used the uncertainty of the times to eradicate enemies of the Church at home and managed through the threat of burning heretics at the stake to get many dissenting voices within the Church to recant and retract their statements. William Sawtre was the first man burnt at the stake in this new England, this religious police state. Sir Lewis Clifford, one of Chaucer’s oldest friends and one of the Church’s most outspoken critics , was persuaded to recant under the new regime and to bow before the unholy spectre of an agonising death amid the flames. Chaucer’s fellow poet John Montagu, the Earl of Salisbury, was ripped to pieces by the mob at Cirencester in the wake of an abortive revolt in 1400. This was a very scary time to be alive, if you held to an alternative view about Henry IV’s right to be on the throne and the nature of Church and State.

Nobody knows exactly when Chaucer died, whether it was the year 1400 or 1402, various biographers down the ages have drawn on misinformation and then compounded that by using that as mistaken sources for factual information. Like a few journalists today, I suppose these biographers thought why spoil a good story just because there are no concrete facts about the ending. Most commonly Chaucer is depicted as gently dying of old age, in a state of contentment at his own home, of course there is no evidence for this and a whole lot of holes in the story – what happened to his substantial library (books were very rare and valuable in 1400) and his own copies of his body of work? Why didn’t an old man, well versed in the law as a respected public servant in the employ of a king, leave a Will? Very strange indeed and highly unlikely. Who murdered Chaucer? The most likely candidates, Archbishop Arundel and Henry IV, have swept clean histories trail and left little trace, but the book concludes, that the glaring omissions of any recorded evidence regarding Chaucer’s final days and demise are highly suspicious, and considering that they quietly despatched Richard II with similarly no official announcement- it is, in detective speak, their MO modus operandi.

©Sudha Hamilton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally finished with physics

Book Review
The Dancing Wu Li Masters
By Gary Zukav
Fontana/Collins 1980.

Who else out there, has carried a book around  with them for twenty plus years, with the intention of reading that book, because it is really something they ought to read? That book for me, has been The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav, first published in 1979 and subtitled – An Overview of the New Physics. Now I was never big on science at school, in fact I only did biology in my final years of school, because you had to do at least one science or math subject for tertiary admittance, and I failed that. In the years since I have developed a far keener interest in the non-humanities and I put down my adolescent indifference to the sciences, to the appalling teachers we had – repressed science types with no flair for teaching. In the intervening years, I have found a fulfilling passion for Richard Dawkins, the celebrated atheist and biologist, reading several of his enlightening books about selfish genes and blind watch makers (being a selfish bastard myself I could easily relate to those genes). I have also flirted with neuroscience and a number of studies of the human brain by a variety of scientific authors.

I suppose, however, I have read more of what they call pseudoscience than anything else, all those self-help authors who have picked up a scientific concept or two along the way, and expounded upon them for a book or ten. Deepak Chopra springs to mind but there have been many more, Wayne Dyer, Stuart Wilde, Ken Wilber, and the list could go on and on. What these authors were and are, are great communicators – able to deliver a concept with best selling aplomb. Gary Zukav, fits into this category, but the content of The Dancing Wu Li Master does not – physics  of the non-Newtonian, non-classical sort, is not light reading.

The mystery of the sub-atomic world and its quantum mechanical behaviour has always appealed to me. Sure, the gist of it all, has leaked out into my world over the last thirty years and has conceptually influenced many of the seminars I have attended and many of those pseudoscientific books I have read. Still I wanted to read this account of it and I had carried this book with me for most of those thirty years. The fact is, it wasn’t even my book, as confirmed by the name inscribed in the fly leaf, it was an old girlfriends and I am not even sure if my appropriation of it was entirely mutually consenting – but this kind of things often happens with books doesn’t it? I had of course made several attempts to read the thing over the years, but a number of issues had prevented me each time. These stumbling blocks are clearly visible now in hindsight, but at the time were not.

Firstly, the edition of this book was a Fontana paperback, now yellowing with age, and the size of the type is highly sympathetic to the sub-atomic subject matter. I would begin the book and after struggling through a couple of pages, listing experiments involving excited atoms and a Danish physicist in 1913, I would begin to glaze over and squint at the black micro copy now dancing on the page. If I had also had a few glasses of wine with dinner, then the whole campaign would be very short lived and the petit paperback would find its way back onto the bookshelf; to be lost for another half decade or so.

Another little matter, or amusing literary device employed by the author, Gary Zukav, which I was entirely unaware of in my earlier unsuccessful stints at reading the book, was the fact that there are multiple chapters but they are all entitled Chapter One. So to the dilettante reader who makes only occasional forays into the book, one never seems to make any headway and when picking the book up again after a break is never sure where he is up to. This in combination with the seemingly nonsensical content of quantum physics is almost a guarantee of unreadability.

However, today, I stand before you as  a new man who has now read an overview of the new physics. I did have to make  a few changes in my life for this remarkable achievement to have finally occurred. My marriage break down and separation, was an important stepping stone I now see, and the following break down and separation from my subsequent lover was also a vital link in the chain. I would also posit, that my removal from all friends and acquaintances, was equally integral to creating the necessary ambience for the reading of this title. Not having  a job, which could get in the way and distract from the level of concentration required, was another step in the right direction.  In toto I would say that all of these things contributed to having the time and space to complete my reading of The Dancing Wu Li Masters.

It is an excellent and at times exciting book about a topic that is often imponderable and at heart indescribable. Quantum Theory is really a theory about the ultimately elusive nature of matter’s smallest building blocks. Very early on in the book we discover that these sub-atomic particles can  be observed to be behaving as both waves and particles, but not at the same time. This immediately, for the first time since Isaac Newton gave us our classical world view of the physical nature of all things, created uncertainty; bona fide scientific uncertainty. What does science love to do in such circumstances? Name things of course, so we end up with Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle , which states that we cannot know both the position and the momentum of a particle with absolute precision. The more we know about its position, the less we can then know about its momentum. Our study of the sub-atomic world was taking us beyond what we knew as common sense and delivering us into an unknown  realm of maybes. The book shares the shocking sentiment, this experimentally verified new physical reality sent into the established scientific world. Nothing would ever be the same again in that once rock solid scientific strata.

Quantum physics questions, and then dissembles, the once sanctified truth, which was the separation between the observer and what was being measured. In the old Newtonian scientific view, when and where an experiment was held, all things being declared,  had no measurable influence on the outcome. Not so in the sub-atomic universe, as particles or waves appeared and disappeared depending upon the observer’s intention to observe. Zukav then begins to introduce the parallels with Eastern philosophical mysticism and in particular it’s understanding that language can never deliver experience. Similarly words and even mathematics cannot adequately convey what is truly happening on the sub-atomic level. All languages have their own symbology and rules which define them and thus make them unable to describe things that they were never designed to describe. So our attempts at understanding sub-atomic reality, our ability to picture it, are on par with languages attempts to describe mystical enlightenment or satori. This conundrum has been poetically referenced as to be like a finger pointing at the moon.

The Dancing Wu Li Masters are another poetic metaphor, taken from one of the many meanings of the Chinese characters utilised in the term Wu LI. They are used here to reference the possible nature of the sub-atomic realm, as a quantum energy field alive with dancing probabilities. The indications of the unfolding new physical realities of the quantum universe are tantalisingly mysterious, and mathematical equations and so called proofs are all pointing at something so much more alive with unforeseen possibilities. The book imparts a real attitude of excitement  and infers that science, and physics in particular, has awoken after a long sleep of certainty.

One of the more interesting possibilities is the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, in this it is posited that when a particle appears in a certain place or behaves in a certain way, all the other possibilities occur simultaneously in other dimensions or worlds, rather than just not happening in this world. This level of unknown behaviour and reality is mainly possible because we are unable to perceive the sub-atomic world with our senses (the dark adapted eye apparently can detect single photons, but all other particles must be detected indirectly). Zukav is suggesting that the nature of existence is far more unpredictable than we once thought.

Humanities best loved and most well known scientist, Albert Einstein, graces the pages of The Dancing Wu Li Masters and we are informed of his importance to much of the new understanding of the quantum universe. Einstein himself rejected the pragmatic Copenhagen Interpretation of the new physics, citing its inability to represent all aspects of physical reality. He felt that a true theory needs to be able to interact with all levels of reality and that Quantum Mechanics may indeed be the best explanation for the sub-atomic realm but could not provide a one to one correspondence between reality and theory. The book is very illuminating when explaining Einstein’s Theories of Relativity, both the general and the special; it is worth reading for this alone. We all know Einstein as some sort of twentieth century celebrity but very few of us actually understand the ramifications of his scientific work. Basically he brought a fourth wall or dimension to our understanding of the universe, a space-time continuum, that alone shattered our age old assumptions built on Euclidean geometry. He questioned things, which had never been questioned before, and that is why he was able to come up with answers nobody else had. Of course much of what he achieved and gave us goes completely over my head but this book did give me a grasp of a few things.

A large part of the book is concerned with explaining how sub-atomic particles collide into each other and reform as completely new particles. This is what Zukav calls the dance and we hear a lot today about particle accelerators and colliders, including the giant one, CERN, in Switzerland. He  explains how the colliding and accelerating of these particles is really all about creating mass, as sub-atomic particles have no mass at rest, and through this activity the quantum behaviour can be observed in an attempt to get closer to understanding the fabric of the universe. We have particles and anti-particles, photons, protons, neutrons, electrons, possibly gravitons, and the four forces known as: the strong force; electromagnetic force; weak force; and the gravitational force. Bubble chambers are used to capture the particle behaviour on photographic plates, as we chase the elusive tail of this mythical dragon, made up of sub-atomic matter.

I have used the Internet to check out the ongoing Quantum Physics journey,  since the book’s publication, and there has been the discovery of the W & Z Bosun particles discovered at CERN in 1983 – which led to a Nobel prize for its discoverer in 1984.  There is still talk of discovering Tachyons, once we are travelling beyond the speed of light, and we hypothetically think a lot about Gravitons too. So what has happened to the general zeitgeist of physicists since the publication of this book? Well not  a lot as far as I can see, there still seems to be those (the majority) who keep their head down and don’t formulate the big questions and carry on like technicians, to borrow a defining term from the book, rather than as scientists in search of the  answers to “what is the nature of existence?” But how the hell would I really know. The book is worth the read, even if it took me thirty years to scale it, and in a way it’s timeline is my timeline, as I first ventured out on the road to nowhere at about the same time. So if you have a little space in your life I recommend a dance with a Wu Li master.

©Sudha Hamilton

 

 

 

Do you long for certainty?

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

By Julian Jaynes

First Mariner Books  ISBN 0-618-05707-2

Do you ever long for certainty?

Do you wish that you had a direct line to God, especially during those times when you are really unsure about what direction to take in your life? Would you like to be able to reach deep inside yourself and just know the right answer? Well according to the theory of the bicameral mind, and its part in the origin of consciousness, we all do have that facility within our brains. In fact it was originally all we did have, as it preceded that sense of I or me, our very own subjective consciousness which we all have today. Julian Jaynes published his book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, in 1976 and the waves of influence have been spreading out ever since. The first sixty pages of his book are to me, the most immediately confronting and mind expanding – as they focus on what consciousness actually is or is not.

I mean consciousness is not mere reactivity or being awake, it is much more than that isn’t it? Think about what your sense of consciousness is to you. Where is your consciousness located? Is it somewhere on or in your body? What purpose does your consciousness serve? Is it so that you can learn things? Jaynes lists a number of scientific studies showing that our ability to learn things is not dependent upon our sense of consciousness and is actually impeded by it – a perfect example is when we are overly self-conscious we cannot perform basic tasks that involve motor skills, like talking. Try it now, try speaking and at the same time focus on your articulation, bringing your full consciousness to bear on every enunciated syllable. How each vibrational sound is made inside your throat – you will just stop speaking as it becomes overwhelming.

Our consciousness is also not a perfect copy of our experiences; it is not some recording device taking impressions of memories and storing them. You can show this to yourself by asking yourself what information you can remember about walking into the last room you walked into. Try remembering what was in the room and where, get a piece of paper and write down your results. You will find that you have very little to show for it, so our consciousnesses are not providing this service. Jaynes goes on to say, that when we recall a memory, we do not call up the actual physical memory but a generalised version of it largely invented by ourselves to represent whatever it is – swimming or walking in a park. The memory is a construct involving thoughts we have about the activities and often is influenced by how we imagine others see us swimming or walking  – so our consciousness is not a faithful recording of reality.

What Julian Jaynes does posit, is where our sense of consciousness has come about from, and he points the finger at language and in particular languages love of metaphor. In fact he states language is largely metaphor and shows how many words have their roots in metaphor, for example the verb ‘to be’ comes from the Sanskrit ‘bhu’- meaning to grow, or make grow. Similarly our English words ‘am’ and ‘is’ have evolved from the Sanskrit ‘asmi’- meaning to breathe. Think to yourself now just how many times our language references other familiar pictures to describe less familiar things. For example how we use parts of the human body to describe parts of other things, like the face of a clock, cliff, card; and the eyes of needles, storms, potatoes; the lips of cups, craters; and the tongues of shoes, joints; and the teeth of winds, cogs etc. Indeed we reference and compare constantly with language, in the meaning of the words themselves and in the expressions we invent to make metaphors with. The vastness of language over several millennia means that we lose touch with its incredible elasticity and tend to think of it as some solid construct, missing the obvious evidence it has to show us about ourselves and the origin of consciousness.

It is through the ability to metaphor that the modern lexicon of our language is able to remain a reasonably finite collection of words. Otherwise like the Inuit we would have to have 150 different words for snow.  Jaynes talks about the function of metaphor being one of creating understanding through familiarity. We use a familiar example to shine a light on something less familiar, but ultimately this brings us a limited understanding based entirely on the quality of the metaphor employed. I would go on to say that it means we actually know far less than we think we do. An example of this would be our understanding of what happens during an electrical storm, we have learnt at school that it involves air pressure, vacuums and particle friction but we have no real direct experience of what happens and only a theoretical knowledge of it. Our sense of subjective consciousness is based on how we perceive existence through the use of language and referencing through metaphor. It is like the relationship between a map and the geographical reality of what has been mapped. So ultimately our knowledge of reality is a tenuous one at best and it is riddled with theoretical understandings based on metaphorical language constructs. You think you know stuff that you don’t really.

Where does that certainty principle, I mentioned at the beginning, fit into this? It seems like we are getting further and further away from that shore of assurance.  Well Jaynes postulates, that prior to the development of our illusory sense of subjective consciousness, we had a fully operating God spot in the right hemisphere of our temporal lobe and it was here that we received direct transmission from the divine.  He lists a number of studies into the brain, where scientists have removed sections and whole hemispheres to reveal what areas of the brain are responsible for particular functions and how the brain adapts. He gives a fascinating example where a dozen neurosurgical patients have undergone a complete commissurotomy, the cutting of all interconnections between the two hemispheres down the middle, as a treatment for severe epilepsy. For a period of about two months some patients lose the power of speech, but gradually they all return to a sense of being how they were prior to the operation. Normal observation of these patients shows nothing amiss either. However under rigorous study it becomes clear that these people cannot see things on their left side and the dominant left hemisphere projects a repeat of the right side vision to fill in the gaps. Even more astonishing though is that the right hemisphere is actually seeing  what is there on the left side but because of the cutting of the interconnections between the two sides of the brain has no way to communicate it. Tests have shown that these people using their left hand only can point out or draw what is on the left side but have no verbal or cognitive awareness of what is there. It is like there are two separate awareness’s, functioning independently within the same body.

Julian Jaynes goes on, in a satisfyingly erudite manner, to illustrate through countless examples taken from the great recorded histories like The Iliad, The Old Testament, Egyptian Papyruses, Babylonian Cuneiforms and more, how different humankind was at this time. That this difference in how they thought was because of this bicameral mind, that there were literally two separate minds at work within them. A dominant over mind or ‘God speak’ operating from the right hemisphere, which was triggered during times of stress or novel challenges outside the normal demands of the time, and the more prosaic left hemisphere ‘man brain’, which at this time had no subjective consciousness, no sense of I or me. Jaynes takes you on a journey from languages evolution from signalling and intentional calls to the development of nouns. Remember for a long time nobody had a name for things and for individuals. Death was a different beast when the one who died did not even have a name. Try and imagine a time when the sense of self was so small or non-existent and nobody had names. When there were no names for things and no words, how would you think?

It is an incredible theory and explains a great deal about why we worshipped statues of Gods and why we buried dead kings and priests surrounded by things to eat and treasures to keep. If these Gods and their stewards were continuing to speak inside our heads, beyond their allotted life spans, then it makes a lot more sense. Religion has always been about control and if that controlling centre is inbuilt inside our brains, then anthropologically a lot of stuff makes much more sense. It explains why we still cling to religions even now hundreds of years after science had ridiculed their fundamental platforms of belief. We are programmed to believe and to follow instructions, to understand – meaning stand under God. Jaynes maintains an aesthetic appreciation for the many wonders that humankind’s devotion to beliefs in Gods have produced and he is perhaps an example of his Christian American background. Still his insights and his theory are so startlingly original that he may have had no reason to bother with aggravating those of a more narrow minded persuasion.

The modern parallels with those suffering from schizophrenia are explored and Jaynes again proffers numerous scientific studies to illuminate his theoretical claims. Joan of Arc and many of the first testament prophets are prime examples of individuals recorded in history, who heard the passionate and insistent voice of God inside their heads. These individuals often laid down their own lives and willingly would lay down the lives of others to fulfil the ambitions of the voice within their head. Culturally now we have no room for those exhibiting a fully fledged bicameral mind and the voice of God; and so we lock them up and drug them.

Jaynes points out that it is poetry, and poetries link to music, which has been the favoured speech of the Gods, with most of our great and holy missives having been delivered in verse. This fact again links the right hemisphere of our brains with our connection to God, for it is in the right hemisphere where we process music and poetry. Music comes from the Muses, and they were the daughters of Zeus – bringers of divine inspiration; our connection to the Gods. Poets have, down through the ages, often been deliverers of God’s message, and the metre of verse can have a hypnotic, hallucinatory effect upon the listener. So many of the strands of evidence produced by Jaynes, to promote his theory, illuminates these aspects of humanity with a new understanding of where they actually fit in with the greater scheme of things.

What I particularly like about Julian Jayne’s theory of the bicameral mind is that it shatters the safe and often dry outcomes of much of the study of ancient history. We are so far removed from these ancient millennia’s, and the translations of these earliest languages are rife with modern approximations, making so many assumptions about who they were grossly incorrect. This book is a quantum leap into the unknown and really worth reading on so many levels.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

By Julian Jaynes

First Mariner Books  ISBN 0-618-05707-2

©Sudha Hamilton

What is the Wellness Industry?

Heading: What is the Wellness Industry?

Subheading: A look at the health system.

There has been of late, a great deal of talk about the new – “wellness industry” – and I think it might be useful to establish what some of its defining aspects are.

Looking back historically, humanity has always been interested in its own mortality, how to preserve it, improve it and prolong it. At the same time, these primary urges have also often provoked an economic response, as those with the knowledge and/or skills to heal, have sought to be remunerated for their services. A fare exchange being the bedrock upon which we have based our capitalist system, and which allows those so inclined to practice their specialised craft.

For the last hundred years, or so, the state sponsored health industry in our country has been the exclusive domain of those trained via the allopathic school of medicine (defined as the use of opposites in treating disease* and is commonly referred to as ‘modern medicine”). A consequence of this proliferation of a “one school” specialised approach, has been the dis empowerment of the individual in his or her responsibility for their own health. Our failure, to include a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing, when educating our young has further removed the individual’s ability to manage his or her own health.

However, despite some magnificent breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases such as childhood  leukemia, heart disease and many more, there has been a growing general disaffection with modern medicine and its inability to treat chronic illnesses. Perhaps also in part due to its failure to respectfully deal with the mind, as distinct from the body, and science’s continuing inability to understand human consciousness; but also in it’s arrogant dismissal of alternative healing approaches. Modern medicine is after all a big business, and like many big businesses, it prefers a monopoly to competition for those health dollars. Funded by large pharmaceutical corporations it treads a precarious path in its bid to fulfill its Hippocratic oath,** and not be swayed by the often unseen lure of filthy lucre.

It is the general overview of the modern medical/pharmaceutical behemoth, that there will be a pharmacological cure/treatment for every disease/medical condition, if you can find or fabricate the right drug/ingredient. Whether this premise is indeed correct, or not, cannot hide the fact that for many people the current crop of available pharmaceutical drugs is not the panacea that they are searching for right now. Many in the community (a recent Victorian survey confirmed up to two thirds surveyed had consulted an alternative non-allopathic practitioner) have turned away from the local GP, prescribing pain killers and antibiotics, in search of an alternative, that is possibly more inclusive and often gives them more time, care and understanding. In response to this market led shift away from complete dominance of the health industry there has been some small cross fertilisation by doctors learning acupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy and the like – and the renaming of alternative health as complementary health (proving in business that if you cannot eradicate your competition then the next best thing is to incorporate them into your own business).

This just about puts us where we are, at the beginning of the 21C, and in the midst of a trend or movement toward wellness or preventative medicine, where a growing proportion of the population are self-medicating with vitamins, minerals, supplements and organic food. This is generally, I believe, in the hope that they will avoid many of the diseases, that their parents and grandparents have fallen foul of, and indeed beyond that- to live longer and better lives. Enter the wellness industry with its rapidly growing nutriceutical manufacturers, associated bodies representing natural practitioners, natural health media and a host of astute businesses, recognising a hugely expanding market, that have jumped on the band wagon.

As in many sections within the business community, you can find a mixture of motivating reasons why these people are involved in this particular industry: personal commitments based on health issues that have affected themselves or a close family member; vocational destiny; avarice, pure chance and a combination of the above. However, as more and more existing companies seek to align themselves with this push toward health, the number of people, who will find themselves working in a health related field, will continue to grow exponentially; and these people will need to be educated beyond their current level of knowledge.

The recognition and accreditation, recently achieved by many of the natural health educational institutions, is tantamount to this fact. The establishment of the Complementary Healthcare Council, under the direction of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the ever growing legislative requirements of this body- is further testament to the size and recognition of the natural health industry. Recent problems, best illustrated by the Pan Vitamin Crisis, saw the largest recall of vitamins ever seen in this country. Hundreds of lines of vitamin supplements were recalled, in defiance of the fact, that Pan, was also a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, and that the Travacalm product, which caused the serious complaints, which led to the TGA action, was actually a pharmaceutical item. This disturbing incident has created a certain unease within the general public and I am sure has had long lasting negative implications for the industry.

However it seems regulation is necessary, and for the industry to continue to grow, certain requirements will need to be met. History shows, that pioneers, who establish new industries will often resent government interference at first, but that it is part and parcel of the natural evolution from small to big business. Of course many of the vitamin manufacturers are primarily pharmaceutical companies, who have developed the vitamins as a side line or who recognising the market growth have bought in. It does raise certain questions about their positions on the Complementary Healthcare Council and could be seen to be somewhat compromised. Who are they representing, and what hat are they wearing, when decisions affecting both the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry and the traditionally less regulated natural health supplement industry are being made. It is in my view, always a shame, when the expense of regulation moves an industry out of the financial reach of many of those who wish to take part in it, but the upside of this is the removal of many of the so called “snake oil” salesmen who inhabit it (the future possibility that snake oil is found to actually contain the ingredients of some wonder drug would render this metaphor obsolete). Welcome to the wellness industry.

* whereas homeopathy uses minute doses of substances that create similar effects to the existing symptoms of the condition.

**Hippocratic Oath — Classical Version

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfil according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art – if they desire to learn it – without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfil this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein. From The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943.

©Sudha Hamilton

Books Are They Facing Extinction?

books in article in eco living magazine.

The recent financial demise of Australian book retailers, Angus & Robertson and Borders Books, is a timely reminder to have another look at the effects of the Internet and digitalisation upon the book industry. Coupling this local retail failure with the bankruptcy of the Borders Group in the US, shines a light on how books are now being sold in these developed markets. Time now to see, just what is the long term impact of Amazon and other online suppliers of books on the bookstore concept and retail book chains.

Of course A & R had stopped being an example of a good bookshop years before. Even before it was purchased by the private equity group, Red Group, it was a chain of substandard stores offering a very average range of titles. Indeed that is why it was snapped very cheaply and the new managers accentuated all that was mediocre about A & R, and then had to operate with enormous debt levels . Many will say that bad management is always the true cause of business failure in the marketplace and an inability to respond to technological challenges within your industry is merely an example of this. Borders introduced the super store concept to Australia and in the process contributed to the demise of many small bookshops around the nation.

So we can now purchase a huge range of titles online, relatively quickly and affordably. In Australia we do not pay any GST on books purchased through Amazon or some other overseas online supplier, unless we are spending over a A$1000. Many retailers are now voicing their complaints about this unfair playing field and I would posit that books are one area that the Internet is taking a sizeable chunk of sales, somewhere in the vicinity of 15 to 20%. Retailers do pay proportionately high rents in Australia and then they have to pay staff and all the other infrastructure costs associated with retailing.  So how are they going to be able to compete on price with a GST free online supplier? The consumer gets cheaper books if they are Internet savvy and or have access to online suppliers but they lose a sizeable retail presence in their local shopping precincts.

As a community we lose jobs in the book sector, which is a shame, because having personally come from a family retail book background I can tell you it is a great area to work in – very stimulating and people are passionate about their books. It is in my opinion a bit like the wine industry on many levels, the level of knowledgeable service that customers require is intense and like the wine business you cannot hope to survive as a small retailer without providing this. Fosters has been discovering this in its disastrous foray into the wine business, with massive write-downs on the Penfolds and Rosemount businesses. A & R were treating books and more importantly their customers like they were selling stationary – and they have paid the price. The amount of time in a bookshop spent researching titles for customers on a quest for a specific book, which may indeed be out of print, is enormous and you have to have people who love books working in bookshops. Of course much of this research can now be done online if the customer has access and is trained to do so.

The digital supply of books on tablets like Amazon’s Kindle will be an interesting phenomenon to watch and see whether the take-up will move beyond the initial very small percentage of the reading market. Again however this is something which moves book buying into the home and out of the shoppingcentre, removing jobs and the physical social interaction of the book buyer with the book seller. Passion will have to stay at home and sit in front of that flickering screen and book lovers will have to be satisfied with joining online forums. It is sad to see the demise of a wonderful profession, the book seller, and likewise the continuing eradication of book publishing here in Australia. The life of the mind is moving online.

©Sudha Hamilton

Suicide Rates in Australia

I read with interest a recent report into suicide, published in The Australian newspaper, where it was declared that the rate of annual suicide in Australia is now well over that of road deaths. It was, I think, a feature written with the intent to ring a few alarm bells in this country, amongst leaders and the general population. It seems to me, that despite the wonders of a hundred and one different kinds of mobile phones and the fabulous Internet, the lives of Australians, and in particular our youth, are not all they are cracked up to be. Not as they are portrayed in the countless advertisements for all these apparently necessary, technological accoutrements, which are inferred to guarantee a fulfilling life. The ability to communicate in a nanosecond, eighteen different ways does not come with an automatic application to develop content worth communicating it seems.

Gizmo’s and gadgets are not going to provide meaning to anyone’s life. Waiting for the new IPhone or tablet reader is no anteroom experience on the way to transformation. As a society it seems that we are always helpless to effect any real change in the face of the markets relentless desire to satisfy the inconsequential. The article in The Australian did not address why people and in particular young people are killing themselves, it was all about what could have been done in the period immediately prior to the suicide to prevent such a tragedy.  I always ask myself why are people killing themselves, obviously there are unique situations in each case but I also feel that there are shared cultural reasons why suicide rates are so high. Where is the deep meaning in these people’s lives and where is it rooted in your own life? Ask yourself honestly what you are living for?

  • to live a good life
  • for friends and family
  • to amass a fortune
  • so I can have sex with ______
  • to help others
  • for the love of some god
  • because I love ________
  • I don’t know I have never thought about it

These are some of the answers I have received in answer to this question. We emerge from our mother’s womb and make our way through childhood, having reasons to ‘be’ indoctrinated into us, by everything from the messages inherent within our children’s stories to the modern version of fireside chats with our parents. Early life comes with a moral behind every lesson, in the hope that it will train us to becomes good little boys or girls. But what are we training or being trained for? What is the real core meaning in our lives? What is the bottom line, when everything is stripped away and you are bare of all the palaver? Is it merely a choiceless choice! This is it, you have been born and there is no meaning to it, beyond the obvious experience itself, so just get on and make the best of it.

It seems we in the wealthy West, where we are not generally scrabbling for our very survival, are caught in this intensely materialistic society. A society which celebrates the invention and endless modification of communication devices and holds the purchase of your own home, as the most sacrosanct of all things that can be achieved in a lifetime. So our kids grow up as consumers not creators, coveting sleek, technological gadgets. Believing that liberty and freedom are achieved in the possession of these talismans of ‘cool‘, just like in the ads. Perhaps when things don’t quite pan out the way the advertising  has been assuring them they will  and they are subject to a concerted digital hate campaign via Facebook by their ‘so called’ friends, then these individuals are missing a reason to live for.

The cultural changes and evolution, which are endlessly unfolding, finds us at a time when the meaning of life, seemingly apparent in our parents and grandparents lives, have become a flicker on a screen – an entry in Wikipedia on a Google page ranking list. Belief in god has been subject to the erosion of a full twentieth century’s worth of scientific derision. So many sub-splinters of meaning came from this one awesome god delusion. Millions of people down the ages have been slaughtered in this belief and it emanates in our DNA like a blood disease. So we are left now at the altar of our lives looking around for the next suitor to give our lives something worth living for. Belief in ourselves perhaps?

Well we have become so functional in everything we do and say. Language has become so functional, losing all it’s flowery intrigues of earlier times. Education is so god damned functional, all about jobs and continuous assessments. Love has become pretty functional too, try before you buy living together and fast food divorce. Can functionality alone give deep and true meaning to life? My function in life is to ______________________ insert your own function in the space provided. Will that function give you the meaning you need to cope with tragedy and grief in your life?

If we really want to reduce the number of people killing themselves within our communities, I think we need to ask ourselves about the meaning of our lives. Digging bloody great big holes in the ground and selling ore to the Chinese is not going to provide us all with a meaningful reason to celebrate being alive. Having a new mobile phone is not going to change your life where it matters. How we educate our children and ourselves is going to get a bit closer in that search for meaning. We need to really have a look at our whole education system and see what it provides, beyond the ability to get a job. We need to move the ancient education set-up we have out of the nineteenth century, remove the god botherers from their positions of influence, and ask ourselves some real honest to _____? questions about ourselves and the meaning of life. We can do this we just need to care enough to do something.

Carbon tax time

The argument against Australia’s adoption of a carbon tax by those on the conservative side of politics is one of “let’s wait until the world has come up with an agreement about this.” Wait and see is their motto. This lack of leadership characterises Australia under the stultifying leadership of past Liberal governments, like Menzies and Howard. Tony Abbot is rallying the troops around the “no carbon tax and we will repeal it if elected” position. Even big business in Australia wants the certainty of a carbon tax, because they know they need to factor this into their pricing and fiscal realities sooner than later.

Heaven help Australia if the negative do nothing but complain factor ever swings into the balance of power. News Corp endlessly sniping at the NBN initiative, saying it’s too expensive and basically criticising any and every aspect of it they can. Imagine being a Murdoch journalist – instructed to write nay saying negative piece after piece on this brave nation changing venture. The free market has not delivered us great broadband coverage in this country, especially if you live in a regional area, and they were not going to any time soon. So shut the f—- up about letting the market take care of things.

We are only now emerging from the consequences of the über greed of a bunch of international bankers and their wonderful version of the free market. That is why world-wide government policies toward combatting climate change have been postponed, not indefinetly shelved as most short sighted conservative sided pollies would have it. Pollution must have a price in the market and a carbon tax will give us that.

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

The forces of conservatism and resistance have risen once again on the back of the global economic downturn, a disaster of their own creation, and are only too happy to say we cannot afford a carbon tax or to invest in more renewable sources of energy right now. Putting off the needs of tomorrow for the apparently more urgent demands of today. As a generalisation you can say that the world is broken up into two groups: on the one hand you have your managers who respond to what is in front of their faces and on the other you have visionaries, who consider the future and the ramifications of today’s inaction. We had a brief period in the two years before the GFC when the visionaries grabbed the ear of the public and held sway, crying out loudly for dramatic action on climate change. In times of sustained plenty the people in the West may afford a moment to listen to the murmurings of visionaries but in times of need they are deaf but to their own demands of assistance.

The political cycle makes it exceedingly difficult for governments to achieve anything, as they too soon face electoral backlash for any unpopular legislation. We are ruled by short-term self-gratification, and even that self-gratification is not true gratification, as we clamour for band-aid relief not real satisfaction. People in the over-crowded cities in the West are playing a game, like rats in a cage, working at jobs they often dislike to pay off mortgages they cannot afford. The self-interest they display is often not deeply thought out but a knee-jerk reaction to make sure they don’t miss out. Nobody is offering them a real choice in this debate, well not an easy one anyway.

Have you noticed how government leaders everywhere are looking younger and are especially groomed for TV appearances: in the UK with their new conservative PM David Cameron, Obama in the US and here in Australia Julia Gillard. Are these leaders anymore effective, as they give off the impression of more youthful vigour? No I would posit that they are actually more ineffective and less likely to have the courage of their convictions – if they could locate a conviction. Often they are controlled by the backroom, party room leaders, who must live out their ambitions vicariously as the puppet masters – being too ugly for TV appearances themselves.

The media is to blame, as they fan the fires of narcissism in these politicians with every day being a list of photo opportunities. A visual medium reducing the act of government to a series of bad TV commercials. Perhaps we are all helpless in the hands of technology and our unquestioning acceptance of the latest innovation leaves us with no backbone at all. Twitter, mobile phones, computers, television, radio – it is like a timeline of the getting of superficiality. Politics, has of course, always had its degree of artifice but that share has grown exponentially in the last few decades.

Scientists themselves – are the tests and studies designed to prove global warming a concerted effort to appear to be in control of the essentially uncontrollable? Is science a conceit in itself – this desperate need to measure everything and to advertise some understanding of life itself? Aren’t we kidding ourselves if we really think that we exert some measure of control or influence over the Earth? Ice ages have come and gone, global warmings have appeared and disappeared and yes have been cataclysmic, but is humankind able to avert a disaster of this magnitude?

We as humanity live on the surface of a planet which is thousand’s of kilometres deep and we know very little really about what happens down there. Even the weather is immensely powerful and science presumes to know much more than it actually does. We are fair weather friends to the Earth and don’t really want to know unless it adversely impacts on our lifestyle choices. I imagine the dinosaurs felt pretty powerful too and living anywhere for a longtime gives a sense of ownership doesn’t it? I am all in favour of reducing our environmental imact upon the Earth but lets not kid ourselves about saving the planet – it is going to be here or not independent of us. We are a scourge to ourselves more than anything else.

Eco Living Magazine

Quick and Easy!

Quick and Easy – Transformation Guaranteed!

We have all seen these words splashed across advertisements, books, and websites; and heard them coming out of the mouths of sales people everywhere. There are doctors, naturopaths, therapists, and other ‘so called’ health professionals, extracting dollars through the promotion of pills, courses and products – all claiming to do the hard work for you. Well it’s not true! There are no quick fixes in health, weight loss, and just about anywhere else in life. Ask yourself honestly, have you ever really taken a pill and instantly achieved whatever it claimed to do for you? Of course not, occasionally they have been an accessory and encouragement on the road to your goals – a bit like gym clothes really.

If you want a few guidelines in life that really stack up, this is point one – there are no quick fixes. Now immediately you have one structure in your life to guide you away from delusional situations, involving those who claim to be able to facilitate change in your life, instantly and without some sacrifice. This is not a case of mere exploitation with you and me as the victims; no we are actively involved in the whole fraud, because we want a quick fix too- as we do not want to do the necessary hard work to achieve change. We want to have our cake and eat it too – and we want to be thin and attractive at the same time, as we want to stuff our faces with cake. This is the modern dilemma of humankind in the consumerist age.

Quick and easy meals! Just 4 ingredients! Dinner in 5 minutes! Cookbooks around the globe are emblazoned with these headlines. What is the mass appeal of this message saying about us? Well maybe that we don’t enjoy cooking and that we would rather be doing something else. There are a number of issues here of course – mothers who are traditionally coerced into cooking meals for an often unappreciative family audience; singles who would rather work or play elsewhere and do not enjoy cooking for one; and those who do not know their tastebuds from their haemorrhoids, to name a few. However health is derived from a good nutritional diet and if we continue to take the easy option, popping a few multi-vitamin pills to prop up our neglected nutritional selves, we are heading for a state of disease. Quick and easy cancer in just a few years!

Become a Reiki master in 3 days! Learn to heal your emotional self in one weekend! Re-birthing in a single session! Wow when I flick through the pages of the monthly, throwaway, holistic journals I can see how easy it all really is. World hunger, victims of the devastation of war and suffering watch out – there is a Reiki master waving his hands right now. Refugees from the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, where our Australian soldiers are fighting now, are however not benefitting from these ads for instant transformation – in fact they cannot even get into our country.

Horny goat weed; fat blaster; tiger penis; snake oil – products packaged and sold in pharmacies, multi-level marketing pyramids, and TCM shops around the globe – all promising transformation in exchange for money. The health industry! We have doctors and pharmaceutical companies (who now own all the vitamin producers) on one side, ready to chop you up and medicate you with anti-depressants, and on the other side we have a mish-mash, containing a few good hearted healers interspersed with the providores of the all natural, quick fix, in various forms. The former bunch do not respect you at all and see you as meat, muscle and bone and the latter are predominantly ineffectual and unrealistic in their claims for you and for themselves – because in many cases their training has been as inadequate as the one they are now selling to you.

All however is not lost. Put down the newspaper, magazine, and mouse. Close your eyes and ask yourself – really ask yourself, where do I go next? What is the next step for me? How can I heal myself? Keep asking the questions – this is no quick and easy solution. Meditate upon them and follow your fears into the unknown.  It may take a lifetime but the journey is worth taking, and really you don’t have a choice anyway. It’s your life after all!

Eco Living Magazine

Living Next Door to the Bush.

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Living next door to the bush.

By Sudha Hamilton

With the ramifications of the horrendous Victorian bush fires still traumatising  all levels of the Australian community, it asks fundamental questions of our lifestyles and where we live.  Should we be building houses on the edge of bushland? Is it safe to be living next door to the bush? Are these communities on the outer edges of our big cities – towns or satellite suburbs? Do they have the necessary services to protect themselves and are we letting developers profit too early in the creation of these hamlets? What should we be looking at and planning for, before we rebuild these houses and homes?

Has a tragedy exposed a flaw in our town planning or the lack of it? Is it the case that we have city people, who have had little or no experience of living in the bush, suddenly facing a natural disaster of extreme magnitude but not uncommon in its cyclical appearances, as seen by Ash Wednesday and Black Friday before? Australia is a continent, which experiences seasonal extreme heat and we have vast tracts of dry bushland. Bushland that is widely populated with the brittle and structurally unpredicatable Gum Tree. Fire has a long history in our bushland, with indigenous Australians utilising fire in their land management and hunting practices. Have we become too sentimental about nature in our desire to conserve and protect flora and fauna? This terrible tragedy of never before seen proportions has shocked Australians at all stratas of society. Stunned governments at state, federal and of course local levels, about what to do and what they could have done to prevent it.

There has been an enormous outpouring of compassion around the nation and great generosity, in uncertain financial times, to help stem the suffering that these people have endured. But before we rebuild these houses and small communities lets ask a few important questions about how and where we live. The bush is a fundamentally unregulated place, that is why it is called the bush, and if families are going to live on its edges then they need to be protected. A growing awareness of the dangers of living next door to national park lands has of course already begun. With the government’s recent reluctance to back burn and clear land, because of fears of contributing to drought conditions, coinciding with a prolonged extreme heat wave to produce a well fueled national disaster. How do we fire proof these communities living on the edge in the future?

I think we will see far greater regulatory conditions prescribing where people can live and what needs to be in place before communities can arise. The bush will be treated with a lot more respect and not simply seen as some benign sanctuary. Australia’s sentimental relationship with the bush might undergo a few home truths. Most of us live on the coast in big cities for a reason – the bush is a tough place to live. Beautiful but unpredictable and wildly savage at certain times. This is another example where intelligent government intervention is called for and where the bar needs to be raised for property developers who ply their trade on the outer reaches of bushland.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Barack Obama the West’s new white knight

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Barack Obama: The West’s new white knight

By Sudha Hamilton

Barack Obama’s Presidency has come to represent, to many people around the globe, the hope for a new future based on fairer principles – after a dark time of ignorance and fear induced US international policy. With the US still seen as the world’s pre-eminent economic and military superpower, it was a frightening time for many, to witness the US under George W Bush, invading Iraq and operating a ‘tooth for a tooth’ style anti-terrorism policy. There has been too much death, flying under the banner of a ‘good old boys’ quasi religious war against Islam.

With the election of the US’s first African American President, it is seen as an almost symbolic shift in consciousness toward disadvantaged minorities and away from the entrenched ruling elite. The hyperbole and fanfare that has accompanied Obama’s rise to the oval office has been quite incredible, and not since the assassination of John F Kennedy has sentiment reached this level of fervor in the US. Of course, for a country founded in part on the slavery of African Americans, it is quite a journey for one stained with that skin to reach the highest office in the land.

Obama enters the office of the Presidency at a time of real crisis, with the US leading the world financial markets down a spiral of unprecedented severity. There will be nowhere to hide, and states of emergency are the making or breaking of leaders. Will the huge expectations be rewarded or will they crush the life out of such a left field candidate running the biggest game in town? President Obama has assembled a quality team to execute government policy and it will be interesting to see what type of CEO he is – consensual or lone ranger? The call to action right now is loud; and it is for decisive and far reaching policy to end the panic, stimulate demand and stop the freefall of markets.

Will the West’s new white knight come to the rescue of a jaded and cynical world? Will Obama be able to restore belief in the US’s democratic quest to bring freedom and enlightenment to parts of the globe ruled by despots? Where are we right now on capitalism’s life cycle, and will the market welcome legislature to rein in its unfettered desire for ever more? Barack Obama comes to town at a time when there are a lot of burnt fingers and I think Wall St will keep its mouth shut for a while anyway. It is a great opportunity to start again – to rebuild a US economy and world economy factoring in things like climate change at the outset. To get carbon credit schemes functioning around the globe and for governments to guide development based on principles of sustainability.

If global capitalism is widely believed to have seen off socialism, then the ‘champ’ has all of a sudden fallen in a big hole of his own making. Where have all the ‘free-marketeers’ gone? We are not hearing so much about how perfect the market is and all that self correcting claptrap. No it is big business with its hand out for government assistance and packages in the trillions of dollars. The US carmakers, which have studiously ignored non-oil dependent technologies for so long, are at the front of the queue demanding bail outs for their failing billion dollar businesses. Perhaps it is time to let go of the status quo and allow real change to take its course. President Obama and his team will be faced with questions like this, and how much damage control will be good for the US in the long run?

I think there is a collective hope for some personified goodness in America’s new leader, and that he will heal some old wounds in the country and in the greater world. Whether this can transmute beyond mere words and sentiment into empowering action will have to be seen. In a similar way to our own PM Kevin Rudd, who came after a decade of self interest under Howard, and had the opportunity to ‘say sorry’ and ratify Kyoto, will they both talk the talk…and walk the walk?

2009 is going to be a fascinating and challenging year to be alive. I wish President Barack Obama all the very best!

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Eco News

Planetary  Eco Newsbeat

New Eco Friendly De-Inking Process Developed.

A new technology utilising enzymes (biological molecules) has been shown to remove ink from recycled paper. A research project conducted by the University of  Malaysia Sarawak reported the use of a crude enzyme preparation for the enzymatic de-inking of mixed office paper. Traditional de-inking methods have involved the use of large quantities of chemicals, causing pollution to the environment.  The enzyme material was prepared by growing endoglucanase (enzyme use for the enzymatic treatment) producing Bacillus licheniformis BL-P7 in a liquid culture media containing sago pith waste and rice husk. Furthermore, the process proved to be more effective for the removal of larger ink particles. Also, properties such as brightness, air permeability, tensile, and tear were enhanced in the preparation of the recycled mixed office paper.

Researchers : Hashimatul F.H., Hairul A.R., Andrew Wong H.H., Awg A.Sallehin A.H. (all of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak), Nigel Lim P.T. (Sarawak Forestry Corporation) Adapted from materials provided by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

Organic Wine Leaves Only Half the Eco Footprint of Non-Organic!

Italian environmental scientists from the University of Siena, measured the resources needed to produce wine at two farms in Tuscany. Both were utilizing Sangiovese grapes but one was totally organic and the other was not. The organic farm used natural fertilisers and most of the work was done by hand, while the other farm used conventional methods of production. A bottle from the organic farm had an eco-footprint of 7.17 square metres, half that of the non-organic wine with a footprint of 13.98 square metres. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, DOI: 10.1016/j

Low Sperm Count Link to Soy also includes Nuts, Wines and Beers

The high levels of oestrogen like chemicals in soya beans have also been found in beers, wines and nuts. Gunter Kuhnle of the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, UK tested foods and beverages using mass spectrometry. Previous testing had focused on lignans but ignored isoflavones and this expanded search has found phytoestrogens in many more foods and drinks. Studies into the effects of phytoestrogens have produced a mixture of results, with some showing compounds that protect against cancer, menopausal symptoms and heart diseases, whilst others have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and male infertility.  Journal reference:                                                                                                    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (DOI: 10.1021/jf801534g)

A-Beta Protein Alzheimer Disease Clues

Amyloid-beta the thinking brain’s protein has been shown to be intrinsically involved in increased neuron activity. A study into people with severe brain injuries resulted in steadily rising levels of A-beta protein as their brain activity increased through recovery. A-beta, as the protein is sometimes called, is best known for causing plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a normal component of the brain, but scientists don’t know what it does. Traumatic brain injuries increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from Milan, Italy and Washington University in St. Louis, USA used advance brain testing techniques to ascertain if brain injuries cause a spike in amyloid-beta levels that could lead to plaque formation, a team of researchers from Milan, Italy, sampled fluid from the brains of 18 comatose patients.

What the researchers found was exactly the opposite of what they expected, says David L. Brody, a neurologist at Washington University who led the study with Sandra Magnoni of the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan. Instead of seeing a spike of A-beta soon after brain injury from falls, car accidents, assaults or hemorrhages, levels of the protein started low and rose as the patients improved, the team reports in the Aug. 29 Science.

Farm Kids Avoid Asthma & Allergies

Pre-natal exposure to farm animals and plants helps protect children from asthma, allergies and eczema. Researchers from the Centre for Public Health Research discovered farmers’ children had a lower incidence of allergic diseases than children not exposed to animals, grain and hay products. The findings have been published in the European Respiratory Journal. Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes says it is the first study to show a direct link between exposures in utero and a significant reduction in asthma symptoms, hay fever and eczema.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

School Yard Bullying

Eco Living Magazine presents:

The Underlying Impacts of School Yard Bullying

By Anne Matheson

Kerry, a client of many years, but this time she came to see me, not for herself – but for Florence her 6 year old daughter.  Flo had experienced school yard bullying and was very traumatised by the whole experience.  Neither Kerry, her husband, nor their other daughter (who was at the same school) had any idea that the bullying had been going on for months.  The first hints were when Flo started to say she was sick in the stomach or the head and did not want to go to school.  The whole story came out when Flo ran crying to her sister in the playground.

Even though the school had a ‘bullying policy’, the culture of the classroom did not create an environment where Flo felt comfortable enough to say something to her teacher or her parents.  Flo’s trauma was significant enough for her parents to keep her out of school for the rest of the term. She would start at a different school the following term.  The new school understood the situation and Flo was going into a small class with an experienced teacher, who would be able to monitor Flo’s emotional behaviour.

To help her deal with the problem her parents had encouraged her to talk about how she felt and to get angry with what had happened.  She would freely express that she was miserable, and people didn’t like her – and that she felt her life was bad and would never get better.  No improvement was noted from the release and she felt no hope for the future. Her previous energetic, enthusiastic character had been replaced by a sad and pessimistic child at a critical point in her development – and one that could shape her approach to life.

In infancy, we share our mother’s energy field, with the terrible two’s marking the beginning of the individuation process. From age 2 until around age 8 children are connected to the ‘primary mothering energy’. (From then until around puberty they are connected to the ‘primary fathering energy’). During their connection to the primary mothering energy, children learn about their own self-worth, developing their self-esteem later with their primary fathering energy.  Self-worth and self-esteem are absolutely fundamental to our emotional and psychological health as adults.

During our first years of interaction within the broader community, we start to shape many of the beliefs that we have developed and inherited from our family.  Our experience at this stage will either reinforce or alter the basic psychological mechanisms that we have already developed for moving through the world.  These determine our beliefs. Do we see the world as scary? How will we react to criticism? How do we create forms of self protection? How do we react to power and authority? What is our relationship with trust? Do we believe we can be happy?

As life is experienced within the cocoon of developing self-worth, our experiences are measured against, and impact on, the development of self-worth.  It is as if we continually ask ourselves ‘am I worthy enough or not at this moment?’

It is also in these years that self-pity emerges as a mechanism for self-protection.  Self-pity is the most common of defence mechanisms and generally is the cry of ‘poor me’ and leads to a whole range of dysfunctional patterns in life.  This insidious defence mechanism can also involve the self absorption of feeling unworthy – (when it’s all about YOU being good enough or not). This can further descend into becoming a Victim or a Martyr in life or being a Blamer or a Struggler with life.

In Flo, these defence mechanisms were beginning to form. Saying that she was ‘sick in the head or stomach’ as a way of not going to school, shows that she has developed effective means of protecting herself from attack. Being sick is now positioned in her sub-conscious as a way of protecting herself from the unpleasantness or upsets of life.

Her level of self-worth is being negatively impacted, and her beliefs about the world are being shaped and re-shaped.  The risk is that she will have implanted beliefs that she is’ not good enough’ and ‘not worthy of having friends’, that ‘school is not enjoyable and fun’, that the ‘future is not something you can look forward to’, that ‘you cannot change things in your life for the better’.  The potential is there for Flo to develop a pessimistic, hopeless and powerless view of life.

So what to do. Firstly, her parents responded well, by taking decisive action and taking her seriously, she felt comfortable that they were there to defend and protect her.  Flo has had the experience that she has power in her life; that when she spoke up she was believed, and the situation changed, and she was no longer being threatened.  Having Flo talk about the issue is critical to her learning to express her feelings.  However, she seemed to have become fixated on the negative and so was not releasing the emotion.  It was also important not to create drama, so that she doesn’t ‘learn’ that melodrama is the best way of getting attention.

I suggested that Kerry start Flo on a program of vibrational essences – one for releasing the anger she still harboured and another for the pessimism and sadness; one to be taken in the morning and the other in the evening.  When she started the new school, it was important to monitor her and see how she was coping, and if necessary to use a third essence for any sense of worry or crisis she might experience.

Kerry reported back after Flo had been at the new school for 2 weeks.  The essences had worked well and she had stopped fixating on the negative experience.  Apart from a little nervousness on the first day, and a lack of enthusiasm in the first week, she had settled in well – and said that she loved her new school and her new teacher.  Kerry and her family were overjoyed that Flo had her joy and optimism back, and was full of enthusiasm and life again.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Eco Baby Stuff Reviews

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Eco Baby Stuff Reviews

Baby Lavender Lotion

Using nature’s gentle botanicals, this lotion is a gentle way to complete the bathing ritual and to restore moisture back into your baby’s skin. With 100% natural and active ingredients to nourish and support your skin, you can trust Invoke Natural Skincare products on your baby’s beautiful skin. Products are not tested on animals and are vegetarian and vegan friendly. There are no synthetic ingredients, such as Sodium Lauryl, Laureth Sulfates, colours, fragrances or preservatives, so the products are gentle enough for babies. The Baby Lavender Lotion is part of Invoke Natural Skincare’s Mums and Bubs Range, which feature products that centre around the natural calming and soothing properties of lavender and chamomile essential oils to help encourage a content baby. Available in 50ml for $8 or 125ml for $16, visit www.invokenaturalskincare.com.au.

Funky Little Monkeys!

At Gecko Tots, they step outside the square with funky kids designs. Vibrant colours and patterns to create fun clothes for the special little people in our lives. The uniquely designed babies and children’s clothes are made out of 100% cotton, which is ideal for our Australian climate. Cotton is also kind to children with sensitive skin. Range includes baby and children’s clothes, toys, accessories and bedding in beautifully designed bright fabrics. Fabrics are hand printed and all clothes are handmade with love. The great colours allow you to mix and match to enable your child to dress in a fun and unique way – true to their individual personalities.. All garments are designed by owner (and mother of 5 children – youngest is 2.5!). The fabrics are manufactured, printed and sewn in “sweatshop free” environments. About 72 families benefit directly from this venture in India, Indonesia and Australia. To clothe your kids in freedom and sunshine visit: www.geckotots.com

“Little Tacker, Naturally” is a beautiful range of products for babies & children. Using gentle & mild ingredients that nourish, protect & repair the delicate skin that children have. Try the Precious Bundle Baby Cream for perfect top and bottom care in a handy tube that is easy to apply to a wriggling baby. A vital ingredient in the range is Mandarin EO – well known to reduce anxiety & restlessness, for peaceful times for the whole family. Also available are Relax-a-Bub Massage & Bath Oil, Nighty Night Bubbles, & Sleepytime Bedroom Spray. W:www.coonawarralavender.com.au

Gift hunting?

Skin Things Baby Range

“Natural Baby” gift pack             (4 pc)

$69.95

An ideal gift for mum & baby. Includes a super sensitive soap bar, 250ml of baby wash, 125ml baby oil, and the fantastically gentle SkinThings baby balm presented in a delicate white gift bag. The baby balm is a delicious combination of nourishing plant oils and soothing essential oils of lavender and chamomile – Ideal all over moisturiser as well as a healing nappy balm. The Baby Wash is nice and gentle for delicate skins – and the purest essential oil for a baby massage – great for bonding. A beautiful welcome gift for any lucky baby. Order online at www.skinthings.com.au
Nappy Road Test Special

Sandman Night Nappy from Sustainable Hemp Products

“I have just spent a few weeks trialling the Sandman Night Hemp Nappy with wool cover from Sustainable Hemp Products.  I usually use terry squares with a booster system at night, and polar fleece wraps. My son, at almost 11mths, is a moderate wetter – some nights heavy. My current nappy system works most of the time, with the occasional very wet nappy ‘leaking’.  When I first saw the new nappy, it looked big and bulky, and I thought it would never dry! I liked the pattern on the outside of the nappy, and the wool cover looked funky. I was initially bemused by all the snaps, but quickly realised that there were actually a great design that would enable the nappy to be used over a lot of growth time.  I washed the nappy and all the inserts, and to my surprise, everything dried in the same amount of time as the boosters I currently use! Rainy weather meant this happened around a slow combustion stove. The knitted wool cover came pre-lanolised, and as yet I have not had to re-lanolise it! The nappy and both inserts all dried in a day!  Once I put the nappy on, I found it to be much less bulky and more fitted than I assumed it would be. The snaps made getting it on a breeze, and the all in one cover was a lot better than doing up velcro and watching as my son undid it behind me.  In the morning, the nappy itself was wet, but my son’s bottom was dry, and he had no rashes! We gave up using liners because he got rashes from them. The soaker was mildly damp, but his clothes were dry.  Over several more uses, I have found this nappy to be up to scratch. No matter how much he wets in the night, his skin is dry in the morning, as are his clothes. This nappy seems to hold a lot of wee!
Summary: Easy to wash, fairly quick to dry, easy to put on, and works well as a night nappy. Excellent customer service as well. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Linda, NSW

w: www.sustainablehempproducts.com.au

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

A2 Milk Different White Stuff

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Mad, bad and dangerous to eat the series

A2 Milk Different White Stuff

With The Sacred Chef

INTRO: A few years ago; ‘milk was milk’, it came in funny shaped glass bottles and was delivered by a milkman, (who was rumoured to be infamously linked with extramarital activities), and who would run along behind the truck carrying the clinking milk bottles in their crates.

Then, along came the momentous choice between full fat milk and low fat milk; and glass milk bottles went the way of the dodo. Nowadays, producers are adding so much stuff into milk that it is hard to keep up – omega 3 fatty acids, added calcium, vitamin D, in addition to coffee, chocolate, banana and other flavours. ‘Low fat’ has been joined by ‘no fat’ and milk comes in a variety of cartons and plastic bottles. So, today a trip around the supermarket and up the dairy aisle entails a whole lot more choosing time than it once did.

If you really think about the simplicity of where it all came from – over there is the cow and here is a bucket and you pull on these…. Well now there is a whole new kind of cow’s milk to think about called A2, and this is an essentially different type of milk than everyone else’s. Humour aside, this is probably the most important development in the understanding of one of our most cherished consumer foods. We drink a lot of cow’s milk and we give our kids a lot of cow’s milk products, and if there is a concern about it; we should all be informed.

There are two main forms of the important cow’s milk protein, beta casein, found in the cows’ milk that you drink. These two forms are known as A1 and A2 beta casein. The A2 form of beta casein has been identified by scientific research to be the original form of beta casein that would have been produced by cows thousands of years ago. Every litre of milk contains about two teaspoons of beta-casein, usually a mix between A1 and A2.  A2 is the original type but over time a natural mutation occurred in some European cattle, and A1 beta-casein developed, says Keith Woodford, professor of farm management and agribusiness at Lincoln University in New Zealand, and the author of a book on the subject:  Devil in the Milk.

According to Woodford, the genetic difference between the two beta-caseins is tiny, but the difference in outcome is enormous. “The beta-casein has 209 amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and the difference between A1 and A2 is just one of these,” he says.

A1 milk beta-casein has been linked to allergies, type 1 diabetes, heart conditions and more recently some psychological conditions, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and Schizophrenia. For more info on these issues or to see details of the Devil in the Milk by Keith Woodford visit www.unireps.com.au

A2 milk is not genetically modified. It’s not that the A1 protein is taken out later: it’s that it was never there! The milk used in A2 branded milk is taken only from cows that produce the A2 form of beta casein.

Make Your Own A2 Yoghurt


Sterilize all bowls, utensils or yogurt maker (internal container) before starting. You can sterilize them in the dishwasher or boil them for 5-10 minutes.

What do you need:

*           2 litres of A2 Full Fat Milk

*           1 teaspoon dairy-free acidophilus

*           thermometer

Method:

1.     Bring milk to just under boiling point, and then pour the milk into a glass or earthenware dish. Let the milk cool to about 42°C.

2.     Prepare starter by combining acidophilus powder with 3 tablespoons A2 Milk (at room temperature).

3.     Pour the starter mixture into the milk carefully without disturbing the skin that may have formed on the surface of the milk.

4.     Cover with a cloth, place in a warm, draft-free place for 8 to 12 hours or overnight, and do not disturb it until the yoghurt thickens.

5.     Drain any excess liquid and store in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.

To make your yoghurt a thicker consistency

1.     Remove the skin on the surface of the yoghurt you’ve just made.

2.     Pour the yoghurt into a muslin bag.

3.     Hang the bag over a bowl and let drain for about 2 hours or until the desired thickness is obtained.

Serve with fresh berries or passionfruit; stir a little maple syrup through for an added treat.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Tantric Sex or Tantra

Eco Living magazine presents:

Tantric Sex or Tantra?

By Diane and Kerry Riley

Tantra is a spiritual science from ancient India and in its basic essence is very similar to Taoism from China. Both involve balancing the male and female energies to create harmony and both have an ultimate goal of spiritual unity with the universe or the source or God.

The Tantric interplay of the male and female energies was represented in Hindu mythology with Shakti and Shiva, and represented in Taoism with yin and yang. Both Tantra and Taoism aimed to create union of body, mind and spirit. And in both, sexuality was seen and practiced in a spiritual context.

Tantra emphasises that we deserve all the love and sexual pleasure we can possibly receive; that sexual loving is a way to reach the mysteries of the heart, the soul; the God and Goddess within each person. It also teaches that sex is a way of bonding with a lover physically, emotionally and spiritually to create feelings of ecstatic pleasure, deep intimacy and expanded consciousness. It’s important to recognise that any judgments we have about sex reflect our inhibitions and demonstrate that we are not entirely free and accepting of our own sexuality.

Well, what’s the difference between Tantra and just having sex? One of the key differences is where the mind is. It’s the same in life. One’s experience of life depends on where the mind is. We are all living in the same world, but our experiences are determined by our perception.

And so in lovemaking it’s not what we are doing that affects us; it’s the attitude with which we are doing it that makes the real difference to our experience. If we can adopt the attitude that our lovemaking is spiritual, then our lovemaking will indeed become a spiritual experience. When I’m asked this question of the difference between tantric sex and just having sex, I use the analogy: normal sex is like running along the beach, it’s a good exercise and shouldn’t be stopped however tantric sex is more like tai chi or yoga or chi gong; it’s a different level of exercise – it harmonises body, mind and soul, as does tantric sex.

Tantra was traditionally only practised in a spiritual sense, but this doesn’t mean you have to be ‘holier than holy’ or understand Hindu mythology to incorporate the practices into your love life. Modern teachings of tantra are accessible for anyone who has an interest in adding to, and expanding the ways they make love.

Benefits and practices you can try:

For Men

There are excellent techniques in Tantric Sex to increase a man’s ability to last longer using ejaculation control skills and practices to help with erection dysfunction and feeling of virility. Viagra can help with performance but not with loving desire for his partner, (unless that desire is only to perform). Women want to feel a man’s love and connection not just his performance trying to get her to climax. Tantra teaches a man intimacy skills to turn sex into making love. For an experiment ask your man ‘How much love are you feeling while making love? ‘

Often men are more conscious about getting a result … good sex and orgasm… than how much love they are feeling in their heart. It may be that a Tantra lesson would be good to connect sex and heart feelings for him. Of course if he can’t last long, then he has no time to feel his love anyway because he is to busy concentrating on controlling himself – this is not making love.

A practice to help him with control is strengthening the pubocoxigel muscle one way to locate this muscle is to try and stop the flow during urination by contracting the pelvic floor. If you can do that then you have found the muscle. It is taught in many texts that if a man contracts this muscle before ejaculation it will stop it.

However if it is done incorrectly it doesn’t work. For example, a common error is trying to contract this muscle just before ejaculation. If you do it at 90%, and you haven’t practiced enough it won’t work and may even cause you to come. It’s best to do it in stages at 20%, at 30%, at 50%, at 75% and then 90%. I’m not suggesting non ejaculation practices that are often given in Taoist texts, because if these are not done properly it can lead to prostate problems. So for these practices to be successful and healthy full education / training is necessary.

Tantric techniques can assist in prolonging and improving the experience of love-making – for example breathing slower and deeper and concentrating more on the out- stroke than the in- stroke can help. It’s not the woman’s responsibility; it’s up to him to master ejaculation control. It’s men’s business. Men can have up to four sessions with a Tantra goddess skilled in teaching these practices to guide conscious men to be better lovers. Also these skills can be taught in a couple’s session.

Tantra for women

‘Traditional texts on Tantra and Taoism were written by men – and many of the practices strike me as having a male orientation about them, emphasizing techniques for the man to use for his spiritual enlightenment. Although the female was honored, the practices for her to do are not as easy to find. For example, so many of the contemporary books on tantra and Taoist sexology emphasize the forcing of the sexual energy, or Kundalini, up the spine with strong breathing and visualization to move it out of the sex center and into the higher center, known as the spiritual center, often called the crown chakra at the top of the head. This is most often done in a sitting crossed-legged position by oneself or with a partner sitting astride in a position called Yab/Yum.

This practice of forcefully directing the Kundalini up the spine can be good for men to learn because the energy in the genitals generally builds up quickly for them and, as a result, they often ejaculate too soon before their partner’s sexual energy has time to build. So moving sexual energy into the brain for expanded consciousness can be of practical benefit for men to help them control ejaculation. However, for some women, this practice may not be suitable, particularly if you are not consistently orgasmic. The reason for this is that if you pull energy out of your pelvis and your yoni, then it is less likely you will orgasm, and that’s not what most women want! It’s only recently that women have strengthened their connection to their orgasm, so why do the opposite?

One suggestion for women is that once you are feeling sexually excited, concentrate on swirling your pelvis, as in belly dancing movement imagining the energy rising naturally like steam from a simmering pot, radiating throughout the body – filling you with delightful pulses of sensual/sexual energy. There is no need to force anything, when it can flow. According to Dr Stephen Chang “the Tao of Sexology’ forcing can have detrimental effects ‘. Another suggestion is to actually take a belly dancing class. This really helps a free and easy movement of your hips and promotes a good and strong connection between the mind and body, especially the pelvic area, the sex area. This can greatly enhance the pleasure you feel during sex.

A practice you can do yourself at home is the ‘Crescent moon’. Stand with your legs slightly apart and your knees bent a little. Trace the shape of the other rim of the crescent moon with the movement of your hips. After a while, if that comes easily to you, experiment with figure eights and a variety of movements. Close your eyes and continue and enjoy the flow of this very feminine movement. Try shutting your eyes for a few moments so that you can sense deep into your hips and pelvic bowl.

Tips from a man- what he wants: In my consultations with men, many express their disappointment that their partner doesn’t move their hips enough. Men like it when their partner moves. Another thing men love is when their partner is making pleasurable sounds.  These are keys of tantra: sounds and hip movement. Another key is to be aware of the PC muscle and contract it during lovemaking to create pleasurable sensation for him and you. The most important thing conscious men want is for their woman to be really enjoying the lovemaking – releasing inhibitions and freeing the love goddess within. Experiment with some of these elements to create and sustain a passionate relationship. There was an episode on ‘Sex in the City’ where a group of women friends got a Tantra Goddess, a  female coach, to show them some magic strokes to use on their partner and how to create more sweet orgasms for themselves.

Tantra for couples: Tantra can bond relationships together, break habitual patterns, put new spark into relationships, balance desire levels and expand the way you make love on all levels. More and more couples are open to exploring tantra and not just accepting that ‘this is the way it is’ after a few years together. A good place to start as a couples is to hold hands and shut your eyes for a few minutes, and think about some of the things you enjoy about your partner, because we often spend a lot of energy inwardly complaining about the things that annoy us or we want to change about the other. So for five minutes, let go of that, open your eyes and take turns telling each other ten things you appreciate about them. When one partner shares something the other should simply say ‘thank you’ with no further comment. Just accept and enjoy. At the end have a hug and don’t discuss it further. Do something together like a walk or a simple act of having a cup of tea.

Sounds too simple… but try it and see the effect for yourself. Theory is knowing it, practice is living it!*

For more information and education on Tantra and any of the above go to www.australianschooloftantra.com.au

*excerpt from ‘Sexual secrets and Practices for women, unleashing the sex goddess within’ by Diane Riley (to be released later this year).

**for full instructions see ‘Sexual Secrets for men, what every woman would want the man to know’ by Diane & Kerry Riley.

Bio: Kerry and Diane Riley are Australia’s leading Tantra teacher’s and founders of the ‘Australian School of Tantra’. They have shared their deep understanding of sacred sexuality, heartfelt connection and committed relationship with thousands of men and women through their courses, books & DVD’s.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

What Happened to Sex?

Eco Living Magazine presents:

So you’ve had a baby, what happened to sex?

By Jan Roberts

If you’ve just had a baby you might be wondering whatever happened to sex. Rest assured that many women are relatively sexually uninterested after childbirth and during breastfeeding. In fact it’s quite normal and is Nature’s way of spacing out your children in the most effective way. Studies show a wide variation of sexual behaviour among women after childbirth. Every woman is different and no response is ‘normal’ or better than another.

In fact, in some cultures, post-childbirth sexual abstinence is compulsory, and it is considered ‘bad form’ for children to be born very close together. For example, in Sierra Leone sexual abstinence lasts for a full year, in some Pacific Island cultures it lasts for two. Although some women experience a highly charged vitality, even in the first few days after birth, and find their sexual energy also heightened, there are many reasons why you may be less sexually motivated than before.

The factors involved include hormonal changes, your new role as a mother (and your joint role as parents), your levels of energy (or fatigue), your emotional state, physical problems resulting from childbirth, your new body image, your possible fear of another pregnancy and your partner’s attitude to it all. As well as letting your body and libido recover at their own rate it’s important to understand why you feel the way you do.

While you’re breastfeeding, raised levels of prolactin are produced by your pituitary gland. This is the hormone that controls lactation and also has a sedative effect. Another result of increased prolactin production is that ovulation is delayed. In the absence of an ovulation cycle, normal ovarian hormones such as oestrogen won’t peak once a month to trigger the release of an egg, and this affects your sexual motivation which is highest at ovulation.

Oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the ‘let-down’ reflex, is the same hormone that is released at orgasm, and its release during breastfeeding may make you less likely to look for sexual satisfaction with your partner. Part of the delight you take in your new baby will be sensual. The skin-to-skin contact, so vital for him, is also exquisitely pleasurable for you. This, coupled with the intense feelings of love you feel, will probably mean that you are emotionally and physically focused on your child, and on your breastfeeding relationship.

It’s a common joke that birth control in the postnatal period is mostly achieved through ‘baby interruptus’. The best way round this is to keep your baby in (or at least near) the bed with you. In this way he can still sense that you are close, and will stay peacefully asleep. Even if he does wake, you can tend to him without too much disturbance. This arrangement also overcomes the problem of sleep deprivation. A breastfed baby will want to feed more often, so, in order that this doesn’t affect your sleep too adversely, keep your baby in the family bed, or at least within reach, so you can satisfy his hunger without getting out of bed.

However well you manage your night time feeds, you may still find at the end of the day, or at any time when you can relax, that all you want to do is sleep, and that sex is the furthest thing from your mind. Obviously the best plan is to sleep when your baby does, but this may not leave much room (or desire) for sexual activity. If you and your partner feel like ships passing in the night, make ‘appointments’ to at least meet and talk, and arrange to set aside special times to get together. These times may not necessarily lead to sex, but they will set the right intent for a time when libido is restored and you feel ready to resume regular sexual activity.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

CD Reviews in Eco Living Magazine

CD Reviews in Eco Living Magazine

In Good Hands   – Wonderful Weight Loss

The Golden Matrix

In this supportive subliminal CD, Master Healer Stephen and Jennifer Edwards bring affirmations to assist in the process of safe, healthy Weight Loss into your everyday life. The relaxing, meditative music with bi-urnal frequencies, enhances a healing state of consciousness and allows your mind to accept subliminal suggestions to create the background for your guided journey, which will bring balance and harmony to your Body, Mind and Spirit. This one hour CD holds a 30 minute meditation, which contains audible affirmations on Weight Loss and a further 30 minutes with serene music and subliminal affirmations. Many other life changing affirmation CDs available.

Price: $19.99 Available at www.thegoldenmatrix.com

Lullaby for my favourite insomniac.

Ahn Trio

This is my CD of the year to date! The Ahn Trio are three gorgeous looking Korean American sisters, who are classically trained musicians and together create an album of music to die for. On piano, violin and cello you will swoon to their heart felt renditions of some truly great pieces of music. Their version of  Michel Nyman’s “Heart Asks Pleasure First” from movie The Piano is powerful and a delight to hear. Guest vocalists shine on several stand-out tracks like “All I Want” and “Solitary Singer,” but it is the playing of these sublime musicians which places this album amongst the firmament of stars. This is music you can eat to, make love to and meditate upon the depths of your very soul. If you buy one CD this year for yourself or want to give a present with real feeling, make it this one. www.sonybmgmasterworks.com

DVD Review

The Opus

The Opus is a new movie featuring some of the world’s leading inspirational speakers and authors such as, Jack Canfield, Frank Maguire (cofounder Fed Ex), Bill Bartmann (Forbes Top 400 Wealthiest Americans), Dr John Demartini, Morris “The Miracle Man” Goodman, Marci Smirnoff and Mark Victor Hansen.

The Opus is the story of a young man who pursues his dream in the face of impossible challenges and succeeds – the young man is Vincenzo Vivaldi. Drawing upon the analogy of music and an artist’s greatest performance, the Opus Movie is designed to have viewers recognize we are all composers in the grand scheme of life and have within us legacy to leave behind. The Opus is not a sequel to the Secret, but rather a standalone production that will expand on the concepts explored in The Secret. Inspirational and uplifting. Spring is a time of new creations; be inspired to create your opus! The Opus is available at all good bookstores (rrp $34.95). To watch the movie preview online please go to- www.theopus.net

Eco Living Magazine

Dancing the Wu Tao Way

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading:   Dancing the Wu Tao Way

By Michelle Locke

Everyone is getting on the dance band wagon right now.  Millions of people across the globe are becoming aware of dance as a medium for the individual expression, of beauty, passion, and joy, the qualities of the soul.  Just look at the increase of shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ to see how popular dance is becoming. It’s no wonder people everywhere are signing up for dance classes in all styles.

Welcome Wu Tao. Wu Tao Dance is one of the newcomers on the dance block.  Suitable for everyone, Wu Tao is essentially about healing.  Through the medium of dance, and using the inspiration of beautiful music, Wu Tao enables everyone to tap into their soul and express themselves while balancing out life energy and increasing physical fitness.

Wu Tao (translation: “The Dancing Way”) is a therapeutic dance workout that aims to restore balance.  Based on the principles of Chinese Medicine, it works by harmonising the flow of vital energy called Qi or Chi, throughout the body.  The Chi flows through channels called meridians and Wu Tao helps to rebalance, unblock and restore the chi flow in these meridians.

Wu Tao – The Dancing Way® was developed in 2001 by former ballerina Michelle Locke.  A career in classical ballet was brought to a halt when Michelle suffered a serious back injury that forced her to stop dancing.  Devastated by the loss of her career, but motivated to heal herself, Michelle discovered Shiatsu, went on to study it and in 1993, set up the first Shiatsu school in WA.  Her passionate love of dance and her on-going interests in eastern healing methods, led her to create Wu Tao.

Wu Tao is dance that balances the Chi.  It is unique in its style, as well as being beautiful to do.  There are no harsh or jarring movements, just flowing, expressive dance that energises and tones the body while calming the spirit.

Fundamental to the practice of Wu Tao, is its foundations in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the philosophy of Taoism. The ‘Tao’ simply means the ‘way’ or ‘path’, which in essence, refers to living life in harmony with the natural flow of Life.  Ancient Taoist sages lived their lives observing life in the natural world and attuning themselves to it.  Hence, being able to ‘flow like water’, be ‘flexible like a tree’, turn inwards and build energy in the season of winter, or harness the energy and move obstacles from the path in spring.

Many people these days are looking for ways to become less stressed, more peaceful and more joyful.  It is obvious that being in this zone is good for you! Recent scientific studies (see Molecules of Emotion by Candice Pert) show the benefits of thinking thoughts that increase positive feeling states.

It has been proven that one of the biggest killers of human beings is stress and its related conditions.  Hence, the increase in therapies and methods that reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation and psychotherapy have become very popular.

One of the unique benefits that Wu Tao has is that you are able to embody positive states of awareness, as opposed to just thinking about them.  You literally dance them into being.

Imagine this.  You have a problem with your boss.  It’s driving you crazy.  You have been thinking of how to resolve it for days, going over and over it in your head.  It takes a few days for you to think up a solution, and by the end of that time you are stressed and fatigued.

Now imagine this: You have a problem with your boss.  It’s driving you crazy.  You have been thinking of how to resolve it for days, going over and over it in your head.  You go to your Wu Tao class.  You take the situation with you into the dance.  In the first dance you embody letting go.  As you dance you let go of your thoughts, feelings, expectations and struggle.  No thinking is involved; you just embody release as you dance.

In the next dance, you become trust. You give yourself over to the energy that is greater than yourself, (also called God or Source Energy); trusting that in your surrender, the way will open up.  In this dance you simply rest, surrender and trust the process. Next dance is about self expression and clearing energy blockages.  In this one you consciously dance out all and any feelings that you have about the situation.  If you are angry, you dance it.  If you are frustrated or anxious you dance this too.

The next dance relates to the Fire element and is about celebration and transformation. The final earth dance embodies gratitude.  This is where it all comes together.  Here you give thanks for the gifts and opportunities this situation and person has brought you.

Working from the premise that Life supports you, you stop pushing and resisting. Instead you give thanks for everything that Life is bringing you, opening yourself fully to the energy.  This brings about a total realignment with Life and everything is brought into balance.

By the time you leave class, you feel peaceful, balanced and energized.  The situation you came in with is no longer a problem and you have accessed the inner resources to deal with it effectively and easily.  You are free of anxiety and tension and able to move forward knowing the situation has been resolved.  The energy is always available to show the way.

In Wu Tao, the dances help you to harness the power of life force energy. As you dance you begin to know yourself as one with this energy. It becomes easier to listen and follow your inner guidance.  There is a sense of flow and ease that is palpable. The mind is given ‘time out’ and bliss naturally arises as the body becomes fully engaged in the dance.

In a regular class the dances are done in sequence.  The class starts with some gentle stretches and warm-up, followed by the dances and finishing with meditation and deep relaxation.  When you leave the class, ready to rejoin the world, you are centred, peaceful and energized.  Many people sleep better after a class and the effects are enduring and sustaining.

Wu Tao offers classes and workshops to many different groups of people including children, the elderly, and the corporate sector. It is most beneficial to join a beginner’s class or workshop first, but many people jump straight in to a regular class and pick the dances up over a few weeks.

Also available are classes and workshops in Wu Tao for TwoTM, a version of the dances that are done with a partner.  The Wu Tao for TwoTM dances are unique beautiful, and great fun to do! They also help us to bring harmony, love and balance into our relationships with others by increasing energy flow and connection.

Wu Tao classes are now held in most states throughout Australia, as well as in New Zealand and London, UK. Those people passionate about Wu Tao and wanting to share this healing modality are able to take it a step further and become teachers.  The teacher training program which is now offered in most states of Australia as well as New Zealand is intensive, transformational and practical.  Wu Tao now has over 80 trained teachers, including 10 teachers in New Zealand.  For more information visit www.wutaodance.com

For people who are looking for a different experience where healing and balance are important, Wu Tao could be just the thing.  Differing from other healing forms such as yoga, tai chi or pilates with its use of music and dance, it offers the discerning participant a very enjoyable, powerful and energising experience for body, heart and soul.

©Eco Living Magazine.

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Midas Word

Winter Spring Earth Wisdom

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Winter-Spring Earth Wisdom

By Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.

Intro: In the Southern Hemisphere we have just passed the Earth holy-day of Winter Solstice, which was in late June; and are moving into Early Spring which may be celebrated in early August and is traditionally named as “Imbolc”.

Winter Solstice is the Seasonal Moment of the year when Earth’s tilt leans us furthest away from the Sun – when the dark part of the day is at its longest. The stories of Old tell of the Great Mother giving birth to the Divine Child on this night, as henceforth the Sun’s light and warmth begin to return, and the ongoing creativity of Earth is assured. This Earth holy-day was adapted by Christianity as the time to celebrate the birth of its Divine Child, but the Divine Child of more ancient Earth-based religious practice was understood as renewed Being itself, the promise of never-ending renewal – apparent eternal Creativity itself. And just so, may we re-story it again in our times, with our own renewed understandings. From this point of the year on, for the next few seasons, Sun’s strength will grow, until it peaks at Summer Solstice and turns yet again.

At the sacred site of Newgrange in Ireland – known by its indigenous name as “Bru na Boinne” – where the megalithic mound is dated at 3200 B.C.E. , the Winter Solstice dawn lights up a Triple Spiral motif that is engraved on the inner chamber wall. It is thought that this Triple Spiral represents the Triple Goddess as She was known by the ancients in that place, and also that it represents the heart of the sacred heritage of ritual celebration of eternal creation, that the seasonal Wheel of the Year expresses, and that this site records .*

Winter Solstice is the time for the lighting of candles, for embracing the miracle of being, for choosing a joyful response to the awesome fact of existence, for celebrating the gift of birth. Birthing is not often an easy process – for the birthgiver, nor for the birthed one: it is a shamanic act requiring strength of bodymind, attention and focus of the mother, and courage to be of the new young one.

Birthgiving is the original place of “heroics”. Many cultures of the world have never forgotten that: perhaps therefore better termed as “heroics.”(In pre-Olympian times, Hera was Amazon Queen of the Land and not the “wife of Zeus”. Heracles was her hero, because he did her bidding, thus the term “hero” is derivative of “Hera”).

Patriarchal adaptations of the story of this Seasonal Moment usually miss the Creative Act of birthgiving completely – pre-occupied as they often are with the “virgin” nature of the Mother being interpreted as an “intact hymen”, and the focus being the Child as “saviour”: even the Mother gazes at the Child in Christian icons, while in more ancient images Her eyes are direct and expressive of her integrity as Creator.

Winter Solstice and Early Spring rituals may be a contemplation of the Creativity of the Cosmos – Cosmogenesis … how it all unfolds. When told from within a “Mother-mind” – a mind that connects the biological creativity of the female body to Cosmic Creativity, to our “Navel” lineage, to the Nativity of every being, then we are all the Holy Ones. And we all – female and male – may know the skill and care required for “birthing” the New, whether that is physical, psychological or however one categorizes it.

In Earth-based religious practice, the ubiquitous icon of Mother and Child – Creator and Created – expresses something essential about the Universe itself … the “motherhood” we are all born within (not simply a “brotherhood”). It expresses the essential Communion experience that this Cosmos is, the innate and holy Care that it takes, and the reciprocal nature of it: that is, how one is always Creator and Created at the same time. We cannot touch without being touched at the same time. We may realize that Cosmogenesis – the entire Unfolding of the Cosmos – is essentially relational: our experience tells us this is so.

Subheading:  Early Spring/Imbolc

The Early Spring/Imbolc celebration is traditionally a time of dedication to the nurturance of the New Young Being. Once again, this is no wimpy task: it is for the brave and courageous, whether one is committing to the new being in another, or in one’s self. The Great Goddess Brigid of the Celtic peoples is traditionally invoked for such a task. She has been understood for millennia as the ‘One Who tends the Flame of Being’: a Brigid-ine commitment is one that is unwavering in its devotion to the central truth of each unique particular self. The stories of old speak of Brigid in three primary capacities – that may need spelling out in our times, as they are almost forgotten skills: She is imagined as blacksmith, physician and poet …   all three.

Blacksmith is one who takes the unshapely lump of raw metal, melts it, then takes the fiery hot form and shapes it. This is no stereotypical “feminine” act: the Goddess of old is not bound by such patriarchal dualisms. She is spiritual warrior, shaman – this is her eternal virgin quality, never separate from the ‘mother’ quality or the ‘Old One’ quality, and no need to characterize such power as “masculine” or dissociate it from “nursery” activity.

Physician is one who understands the “physics” of being, of matter – how a body relates within itself and within its context, functions harmoniously and thus may heal/ become whole. In this role, Brigid is scientist, healer – none of it is separate. Her physics are biologically connected – an understanding of dwelling within a whole and seamless Universe.

Poet of Old is one who speaks the metaphors, the stories of cultural knowledge, the sacred language of creativity – one who “spells” what may be so. It is a power of spirit: the voice enabled by air, resonant with the winged ones – the birds – whose perspective transcends boundaries. The ancients knew Poetry as a sacred and powerful task – that with our words, we do create what is so. Brigid’s “motherhood statements” are statements of the Mother/Creator, Who once again is never separate from her whole self – the Young One and the Old One – represented in the Triple Spiral dynamic.

The coming into Being that Winter Solstice and Early Spring celebrates, is an awesome thing. It takes courage and daring. It has taken courage and daring – always. In these times of change, it is perhaps particularly so. Our times require the melting down of so much that no longer works, that will not carry us through. These times require the re-shaping and speaking of new realities – an aboriginal magic of new connections, with what is already present within us, if we can but plumb it, open to it deep within. This is a great seasonal moment to get with the plot of Creativity, to align ourselves with our Native Wisdom …the Wisdom that in fact brings us all into being. We may respond to the gift of being by receiving it graciously – and thus become responsible. Though we may feel inadequate, we are not – and we need to begin.

It can be a useful exercise to re-write prayers or songs learned perhaps too well as a child or later, to re-speak them and imbue them with new understandings. It is a way of spelling one’s self, of changing one’s mind – to articulate with each word and phrase what one truly believes to be so. And besides, many of the prayers and praises that are found in patriarchal religions of recent human history are often founded upon the expressions of some earlier Earth-based Goddess religion that is now unmentioned and buried. So any re-writing and listening to one’s own interpretations of the pattern of the prayer may end up being closer to its original sense, as well as speaking a new moment.

I offer the following, addressing the Universe as Mother:

Our Mother

Who is with us,

Holy is our Being.

Thy Kin-dom is present.

Thy Desire is felt throughout the Cosmos.

We graciously receive your infinite daily abundance.

May we forgive each other our lack of skill and insensitivity.

May we understand our inner guidance,

and perceive each other’s needs.

For Thine is the Kin-dom, the Power and the Story,

forever and ever.

Blessed Be . **

© Glenys Livingstone 2008

* See Martin Brennan, The Stones of Time: Calendars, Sundials, and Stone Chambers of Ancient Ireland. Rochester Vermont, Inner Traditions International, 1994.

** Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. IUniverse 2005, p. 259, with acknowledgement of Karen Davis’ term “Kin-dom”, from “A Peacable Kin-dom and the Ethics of Eating”, EarthLight, Issue 51 Vol 14 No.2., Autumn 2004. p.54.

***Newgrange:  The Megalithic Passage Tombs of Newgrange,  Knowth,  Dowth, Fourknocks, Loughcrew and Tara are located in the present day County of Meath on the east coast of Ireland. The Boyne Valley Mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth were built around 3200BC making them older than Stonehenge in England and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Built by Neolithic farming communities about 5000 years ago, the passage tombs have clear astronomical alignments such as the Winter Solstice Sunrise at Newgrange and the Equinox Sunrise at Loughcrew.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Eco Living Book Reviews

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Book and CD Reviews

Heart to Heart Parenting

By Robin Grille

ISBN: 9780733322983

Heart to Heart Parenting is a book on nurturing your child’s emotional intelligence from conception to school age. For anyone who enjoyed the expansion and wisdom of Parenting For a Peaceful World – this is the developmental sequel. Practical in application, but still with the historical context and psychological understanding that is characteristic of Robin Grille’s creations.

Raising your children can be the most fulfilling thing you ever do. But your children can also challenge you like no one else ever will. To make it through the sleepless nights and toddler tantrums, it is fundamental that you develop an understanding of what makes your child tick.

An empowering book for parents, Heart to Heart parenting is more than just a ‘how to’ book about raising happy and resilient children – it aims to help you create a deep and lasting relationship that is unique to you and your child. Using techniques that are based on connection rather than shaming, manipulation or punishment, Robin Grille introduces you to insightful and practical ways to benefit your child’s emotional wellbeing and development. Available from ABC Shops / Centres, selected bookstores and online at www.abcshop.com.au RRP $35.00

The River Runs Free – Exploring and Defending Tasmania’s Wilderness

By Geoff Law

ISBN: 9780670072453

Geoff Law first rafted the dangerously beautiful Franklin River on a whim. He was inexperienced and in a leaky raft, the weather was treacherous, and his travelling companion was someone he didn’t know and who hated the place. But that eventful trip drew him into the historic battle to save the Franklin from being dammed. It was a struggle that brought down a federal government, and one whose ecological reverberations, twenty-five years on, are more commanding than ever.

In The River Runs Free Geoff Law gives a lively and witty account of that flagship campaign, weaving it around stories of his wilderness travels. Drawn since childhood to wild places, he is an experienced solo bushwalker, one who can never resist a challenge. He writes powerfully about the connection between humans and landscape, the source of inspiration for his life’s work. Travel with him and you never know what’s coming next – but you’ll arrive exhilarated. RRP $32.95 www.penguin.com.au

The Conscious Cook

By Giselle Wilkinson

ISBN: 9781921221385

Giselle Wilkinson has been a social and environmental activist for over thirty years. Influenced by

early experiences of communal living and travel Education, Giselle realised earlier then most that choosing to live consciously is a powerful force for positive change. What better way to live consciously than in the kitchen? Her book takes us on a journey into the breadth of food-associated issues, helps us join the dots connecting the issues and demonstrates the complexity of sustainability and the simplicity of many of the actions involved in achieving it. Containing 50 delicious recipes covering an eclectic mix of ethnicities, ingredients and dishes, The Conscious Cook is completely different from other cookbooks. It looks at food, not only from the point of health and taste, but also through the lens of the global sustainability movement working to reduce our impact on our very stressed planet. The Conscious Cook raises awareness of the interconnections that link human health and wellbeing with that of the health of the planet. RRP $34.95 Order online at http://consciouscook.org/buy

Starsong

By Lia Scallon

The Sacred Language and melodies of Sirius channelled here through Lia are a beautiful healing gift for all. The sounds of ‘Starsong’ travel deep within to touch and heal the wounded child.

These sacred harmonics gently stir the soul, unlocking its secrets, reawakening it to recalling its true purpose. ‘The Sounds of Sirius’ are a gift to humanity at this time of great change. They come to assist us with the major shift in consciousness and to reconnect us with our true essence. Comforting, calming and deeply relaxing, ‘Starsong’ is a gentle and joyous celebration of life.

‘Starsong’ & ‘Song Of The Earth’ are companion CD’s, brought through from Spirit together. Although each individual ‘Sounds of Sirius’ recording works on many levels of the being, these two particular CDs, used together, have proven to be profound “Inner Child” therapy. Available at ABC Shops or from Lia www.soundsofsirius.com RRP $29.95

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

NLP – Three Letters that Changed the World

Eco Living Magazine presents:

NLP – Three letters that changed the world

NLP the most influential therapy around the globe.

By Sudha Hamilton

Is there a therapy or transformational process that has been as influential and all pervasive as NLP?

Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) has, over the last 30 years, reached into nearly every level of our society. Beginning with the therapeutic community, Richard Bandler and John Grinder (who were the founders) developed their work in conjunction with three of the most effective and well known psychotherapists of the time – Fritz Perls (founder of Gestalt), Virginia Satir (family systems therapy) and Milton Erickson (hypnotherapy). As NLP included principles from all of these disparate modalities, it dropped a large pebble in many pools of consciousness – and the ripple effect has been substantial. It is highly likely that any training or transformational work that you may have done has been positively and powerfully influenced by the many guiding principles inherent in NLP. Recently the publication “Psychology Today” stated that “NLP may be the most powerful vehicle for change in existence.”

From there, NLP immediately began spreading like a virus into the corporate world, infecting sales trainings around the world, as managers realised that this work could make their people more effective and therefore their make companies more money. Modelling “rapport”, and “anchoring their intentions” with powerful gestures and mental images, firstly sales people, and then all levels of corporate management began to expand their understanding of how we all think and operate. Training and Development Journal says “NLP does offer the potential for making changes without the usual agony that accompanies these phenomena….it offers the opportunity to gain flexibility, creativity and greater freedom of action than most of us now know.” NLP has been instrumental in the shift to a greater consciousness within our corporate world.

NLP has also been hugely influential in the field of sport and other high performance categories. Coaches and athletes have benefited from the techniques employed by NLP – “reframing” their communication to be able to perceive new possibilities and identifying our sabotage tendencies through “parts integration.” Golfing star Tiger Woods and tennis great Andre Agassi both utilised NLP techniques to reach the peak of their particular sports. A strong mental performance is such a vital component of any successful performance, be it on the sports field or on any other world stage. Politicians and performers have also taken advantage of the NLP approach, with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair as two notable examples.

NLP is, of course, all about education, and it focuses on the effective teaching process through “modelling” and recognising the different ways we learn, depending on whether we are more visually inclined – “I can see what you mean” – or auditory – “That rings a bell” – or kinaesthetic – “That feels right to me.” These defining sub-groups allow teachers and trainers to use the language that each student’s brain is most able to effectively process. Concepts are grasped quickly and learning occurs without the pain of incomprehension. Recognising that each individual has a preferred representational system (PRS), was a key to designing effective “sub modality” tools, like visual, sound and textual imagery.

The techniques which NLP practitioners employ bring awareness to naturally occurring processes, and enable us to enact change in our behaviour at will. As the great teacher Osho would always say, “awareness is enough” – once you become conscious of something then transformation can happen spontaneously. Ask yourself the question who am I? Keep asking and with each round of answers you will discover more and more parts of yourself. Some seemingly buried in your unconscious and quite a few in apparent conflict with each other. Recognition and understanding of these disparate parts and their desires can allow us to move forward and to let go of attachments to unhelpful behaviours. These processes can release a tremendous amount of previously pent up energy and many people who have done the trainings have reported such results. NLP can also help you gain access to the many resources in the unconscious mind – that great storehouse of learning, memory, behaviour and emotion.

One of the fundamentally correct things about NLP is that it was formed out of the observation of what works – Bandler and Grinder analysed the language and behaviour utilised by three excellent psychotherapists in their consultations with clients that affected positive healing outcomes. It is solution based rather than symptomatic. This is, I think, one of the main reasons it has gone on to become the most influential transformative process on the planet. To understand how our brains work and the important role that language plays in how we process information and perceive reality is heroic stuff indeed. Bandler and Grinder, and all those NLP innovators who have come after, have created a system that allows humanity to develop, change, grow and evolve. Christopher Partridge, author of New Religions, states that “NLP may be best thought of as a system of psychology concerned with the self development of the human being” and “It is concerned with the function of belief rather than its nature. It is not concerned whether a belief is true or not, but whether it is empowering or disempowering.”

In Australia we have a number of innovative and excellent NLP Master Practitioners, who have taught, trained and created – transforming lives along the way. There are also NLP schools where you can become a teacher/trainer in a variety of NLP associated modalities including hypnosis, time line therapyTM and NLP life coaching. (Many thanks to Sue Sharp of Australian College of NLP for editorial contribution to the above article.)

Break out Box:

Creative Future Dynamics

Creative Future Dynamics has been described as the training company with heart. Our vision is to provide groups and individuals with the tools to effect lasting change in life, create the future as they want it and take their life to the next level. The powerful combination of NeuroLinguistic Programming, Time Line TherapyTM, Hypnosis, Hawaiian Huna and performance creates memorable and life changing experiences for all who are serious about achieving their desired outcomes and dreams. This is the promise of Creative Future Dynamics. Martha Follent, the Director of Creative Future Dynamics, is a Trainer of NLP, Time Line TherapyTM and Hypnosis and has a varied and extensive background in business, public and private health systems, coaching, training and the performing arts. From this base, the seminars run by Creative Future Dynamics take on new dimensions for personal growth and development. Courses include weekend seminars, certification training programmes for Practitioner and Master Practitioner of NLP, Time Line TherapyTM, and Hypnosis, Hawaiian Huna initiate training, coaching for excellence, performance enhancement, counselling and customised corporate training and coaching. All areas of life can be worked with including career, relationships, health and fitness, personal development. Our clients include business people seeking to enhance business performance and relationships with clients, customers and colleagues, corporate and public groups and individuals wishing to achieve outcomes such as greater career clarity and opportunities, better relationships, greater health and fitness, personal growth and development, more money.  Anyone who takes advantage of our certification programmes is, following certification, eligible for membership (at the appropriate level) with the Australian and the American Boards of NLP, the American Board of Hypnosis, the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnosis and The Time Line TherapyTM Association. Find out more at: www.creativefuturedynamics.com

Break out box:

Australian School of NLP

Our Practitioner, Master Practitioner and Trainers Training courses are internationally recognised and meet the standards of the American Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming, American Board of Hypnotherapy and the Time Line Therapy Association. We have high standards on our courses and feel it is important to be accredited by one of the most, significant boards in the world.

Our courses are supported with pre-study kits allowing you to listen to CD’s and digest information at your own speed prior to the course. We have high standards and we want you to be the best practitioner you can be. Completing pre-study means that we spend most of the course practising and honing your skills in a supported and professional learning environment. We teach Time Line Therapy® and Hypnosis together with NLP at Practitioner and Master Practitioner courses. What’s the benefit? Time Line Therapy® is a highly effective way to rapidly let go of limitations and negative emotions that are preventing you from performing optimally and achieving your desired outcomes. Hypnosis is excellent in creating and supporting new habits, beliefs and behaviours that enabling us to put our desired changes into action in the real world. The three modules (NLP, Time Line TherapyTM and Hypnosis) work most effectively as a combined package although each individually provides a powerful toolset for your mind. Find out more at www.asnlp.com.au

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Lotus Birth

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Lotus Birth

A gentle birth for baby.

By Sam Pearson

Lotus Birth is the practice of leaving the umbilical cord uncut after the third stage of labour so that the baby remains attached to both cord and placenta until they naturally separate from the umbilicus, exactly as a cut cord does. This practice, named by the woman who brought it to the western world, Clare Lotus Day, is sometimes referred to as the fourth stage of labour, non-severance or the second birth.

Lotus Birth is practiced by some Indigenous Australian tribes the !Kung tribe in Africa and occurs in some parts of Russia and India. Some species of monkey also do not sever their baby’s cords. However, cutting a baby’s cord once the placenta has been birthed is a widespread and ancient practice. Lotus Birth is a new tradition in the western world and while uncommon is becoming more popular as many parents are returning to natural birth practices.

In past times there have been some very good reasons for severing the cord when a baby was born. It would have been essential from a survival perspective to avoid attracting predators, so placentas along with all other traces of birth would have been quickly removed. Detaching the cord and placenta also meant that a new mother was more mobile in the event that she did have to flee from a predator.

Another reason for cutting the cord was hygiene. When living in isolated tribal situations, new mothers and their babies were not vulnerable to infection. Eventually, humans began living in larger communities but it took time before we learned to manage large populations hygienically. These days, unless you are living in unclean conditions, and particularly if you are birthing at home amongst familiar germs, infection is not an issue. There are no recorded cases of infection with Lotus Born baby’s cords or placentas. When you cut the cord you create an opportunity for infection and while this risk is very small it is completely avoidable with a Lotus Birth.

A third reason we traditionally cut babies cords is cultural. Human practices throughout history, such as not allowing a baby to take colostrum, binding a baby, early weaning and cutting babies cords all interfered with the early mother/infant attachment. Detached practices served the purpose of creating more aggressive people and, therefore, superior warriors. This was advantageous when conquering the natural world and other tribes, and meant survival of our own group of people.

Lotus birth slows down the process after birth, bringing awareness to the needs of the baby, allowing intimacy and integration to occur. Lotus Birth is seen as a way of prolonging the birth of the baby, extending their transition into the world in order to make it as gentle and gradual as possible. Lotus born babies seem to be very aware of their placenta and will sometimes flinch, even when asleep, if their placenta or cord is touched. Parents report that their Lotus babies are more serene than most newborns and notice a definite change in their demeanour when their cords detach, reporting that they become more aware and less settled. Some cultures believe that energy passes between the baby and its placenta long after the placenta has ceased to be a functioning organ. No matter what significance the parents see in leaving the placenta attached it seems that a common impact of lotus birth is the difference in the way the baby is treated.

Some parents, while not following through with a complete Lotus Birth, are choosing to delay cutting of their baby’s cords. The baby continues to get oxygenated blood from the placenta even after the centre of the cord stops pulsing. Umbilical cords can continue to pulse at the umbilicus for much longer than the centre of the cord – about 2 to 3 hours longer. The deeper vein remains open and it is believed that the baby’s body closes the umbilical vein when the baby’s blood volume has reached the right levels. Waiting until the placenta has stopped functioning altogether means, there is no need to clamp before cutting because all the vessels have closed naturally.

Physiological benefits of delayed cord cutting include:
– More maternal antibodies received by infant.
– The baby receives full benefits from the placental blood including platelets that clot the blood, plasma (proteins of the blood), white cells to fight infections, red cells that have iron and carry oxygen to all cells, stem cells that replace worn out cells, hormones and enzymes and iron reserves.
– Less Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), especially in premature infants.
– Less chance of infant brain damage (i.e., cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, autism).
– Higher infant blood pressure.
– Less need for blood transfusions for premature infants.
– Less chance of organ damage from schema in premature babies.
– Improved infant renal (kidney) function.


Some reasons parents choose a Lotus Birth include:
– Improved breastfeeding success rate.
– Possible faster healing of the umbilicus.
– To avoid unnecessary risk of cord infection.
– Because the parents don’t want to cut the cord, preferring a completely natural intervention-free birth.
– No need to worry about clamping or cutting the cord.
– Respect for the baby and placenta/spiritual reasons.
– Encourages maximum mother/baby bonding.
– Facilitates baby mooning by limiting visitors (many will prefer to wait until the cord separates).
– To promote mother/baby attachment, less passing around of the baby.
– To allow the most gradual and peaceful transition into this world for the baby.
– Baby is kept very still, the environment kept very quiet and mother gets maximum rest.

Care for the cord and placenta during a Lotus Birth

– After the third stage of labour, the placenta is inspected as usual to check that is it intact.
– Care must be taken to keep the placenta fairly level with the baby until the Wharton’s jelly, a rich source of stem cells, has solidified; hence no more blood transfusion is occurring. This occurs several minutes after the cord has stopped pulsing.
– The placenta is drained for the first 24 hours in a sieve over a bowl kept next to the baby.
– After this the placenta should be washed in warm water ensuring blood clots are removed and gently pat dried.
– At this stage the placenta can simply be placed on a clean cloth and left air dry naturally, but is usually salted daily to improve the drying process and wrapped in a placenta cloth. Sometimes essential oils, dried flowers or powdered spices can also be applied for preservation. The placenta may be kept in a placenta bag made especially for the purpose.
– The placenta will become drier, smaller and lighter every day and the cord will become brittle until it falls off naturally.
Care should be taken when handling the baby to ensure the placenta remains close to the baby to avoid tugging on the cord. Dress your baby in loose clothing that does up at the front. Nappies should also be kept loose with extra nappies underneath your baby if required. When feeding or cuddling your baby ensure the placenta is carefully placed to avoid it slipping. Babies appear to be sensitive to when their placentas and cords are being touched so be nice, treat their placentas gently and remember to create as peaceful as environment as possible during this time of transition.
Supplies for a Lotus Birth are very straight forward and what you on hand in your own home already will suffice.

A common supply list would include:

– A large bowl to birth the placenta in.
– A large sieve to strain the placenta for the first 24 hours.
– A bunny rug, terry cloth nappy or other fabric to use as a placenta cloth.
– Sea salt, dried flowers, dried herbs or essential oils if desired.
– A placenta bag if desired.

A placenta cloth is used to wrap a baby’s placenta during a Lotus Birth. It can be made of any breathable fabric and often a cloth nappy is used. A placenta cloth serves to absorb fluid and contain any salt, herbs, spices or dried flowers that have been used to pack the placenta to aid the drying process.

Many parents choose to enclose the placenta either on it’s own or wrapped, in a placenta bag. The mother-to-be usually prepares a placenta bag as part of her preparations during pregnancy. It can be as simple as a clean pillowslip or custom made with a cord cover. It must be large enough to contain the fresh placenta and larger if you plan to pack the placenta with salt and cover with a placenta cloth before placing into the bag. It can be made from any breathable fabric and of any design that pleases the mother. Some are very plain and others intricately decorated perhaps with motifs that are symbolic to the baby’s family. A placenta bag might also be borrowed and some are used over and over, shared by friends and washed and stored after use to be saved for another Lotus Birth.Nearly everyone can have a Lotus Birth. The only medical reason for cutting a baby’s cord is if the cord has torn or in the incidence of placenta previa. Whether you are having a homebirth or a hospital birth you have the right to request that the cord not be severed. C-section babies can be removed from the womb with their umbilical cords and placentas intact and unclamped.

The average time for a Lotus Birth baby’s cord to come off naturally is 3-10 days after the birth. Research has found that there is a direct relationship between the time the cord is cut after birth and the number of days it takes for the navel to heal. When the umbilical cord is cut immediately the average length of time required for the navel to heal is 9.56 days, when cut after the cord stops pulsing it is an average of 7.16 days and when later, as in a Lotus Birth, the average time is 3.75 days.

It is totally a personal preference what happens to the placenta after it has detached from the baby. Once the placenta comes off it can be further dried to preserve it indefinitely or placed in a freezer to keep for future use. It can be wrapped in a breathable piece of cloth to dry out naturally or the process can be sped up by using an oven, the sun, or in a dehydrator. The dried placenta can also be powdered and encapsulated for postpartum nutritional Chinese medicine. Some families choose to honour the placenta by burying it and often perform a ritual, which may include planting a tree over the placenta. If doing this with a placenta that has been salted it is best to choose a species that is tolerant of high levels of salt in the soil such as a native coastal plant.

Today, there are no medical or cultural reasons for cutting a baby’s cord. It could be said that for the future preservation of our species and planet it is sensitive rather than aggressive people that are needed. We are learning that a close attachment with our mothers as a child is vital if we want to produce adults who are in tune with their natural instincts and interested in nurturing their relationships with others as well as caring for our planet. One of the ways we can achieve this new way forward is by giving up our detached parenting practices and moving towards more gentle ways of life. As life starts with birth the best way of making changes towards a more nurturing world is by beginning with the most gentle of births and continuing with the most attached and gentle parenting.

Books:
“Lotus Birth” – (AUS) by Shivam Rachana is available from Greenwood Press
“Prenatal Yoga & Natural Birth” – (USA) Jeannine Parvati Baker

Australian Websites:
http://www.purebirth-australia.com/lotusbirth/lotusbirth.html
www.joyousbirth.info
www.pregnancy.com.au

Websites:
www.lotusbirth.com
www.lotusfertility.com

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Probiotics – Fermenting for life.

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Probiotics – Fermenting For Life.

By Sudha Hamilton

Intro: We are not alone. In fact, we are hosts to trillions of micro-organisms, happily munching on our waste products and doing a sterling job within our digestive system.

It may come as a bit of a shock to those of us with obsessive compulsive cleaning tendencies, that killing all the tiny invisible bugs is not a really good idea. Bacteria are all around us, within us and performing vital tasks for our health and the health of this planet.  Of course, like everything in existence, there are good and bad bacteria, not intrinsically bad but just bad for humans – and probably quite good for something else. The good bacteria, (or gut flora), are involved in a myriad of useful functions – such as fermenting unused energy substrates, producing vitamins for us, preventing the growth of bad bacteria, producing hormones to help us store fats, and improving our immune functioning.  If we did not have all these bacteria munching away our bodies would be unable to digest many of the carbohydrates that we consume – like certain starches, fibres, proteins, and sugars like lactose. Studies with animals indicate that we may need to eat 30% more calories to maintain our stable body weight without the helpful presence of gut flora. The good bacteria transforms carbohydrates into short chain fatty acids, and these are able to be processed by our cells into nutrition and energy. Lactic and acetic acid are also produced by this saccahrolytic fermentation, and they are used by our muscles. There are numerous other positive functions supported by good bacteria in our systems.

Bacteria have also been shown to be implicit in preventing allergies (which are an over reaction of the immune system to non-harmful antigens). Research into children with allergies has confirmed that the make-up of their gut flora is different to those without allergies. The role that bacteria play in training our immune systems to respond to antigens is the key point in understanding this. A baby inside its mother is bacteria free, and develops its gut flora through birth and breast feeding initially.

By the second year of life the infant’s faeces contains a similar amount of bacteria as an adult. The prevalence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in our western societies has been linked to our obsession with hygiene. Our predilection for kitchen and bathroom cleaning sprays has “über- sanitised” our homes, and has thus lowered the absorption – and the variety – of useful bacteria available in the colon to break down waste material. The lack of breastfeeding for the baby boomer generation has also contributed to this situation. Not to mention the pharmaceutically driven overuse of antibiotics that has killed off gut flora in exceptional amounts. The inverse of this occurs in developing countries, and there is no sign of IBD at the rates that we experience it here in the West.

Probiotics, meaning literally “for life”, can help with IBD and other conditions associated with bacteria levels, which are out of balance or missing vital components. Originally discovered by science at the beginning of the twentieth century, before being named ‘Probiotics’ in 1953, it has been defined by Dr Roy Fuller (author of Probiotic’s in Human Medicine) as, ” a live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance.” Of course, sour milk and yoghurt have long been part of healthy regimes employed by cultures around the globe. The naming of particular strains by science is as much about recognizing effective natural approaches to nutrition, as it is about reinventing the wheel and claiming credit for it. Lactobacillus Acidophulis is probably the best known probiotic strain but there are many more including the Bifodobacterium family, the rest of the large Lactobacillus family and Escherichia Coli. Many of these are now available in supplement form, having been combined to form effective treatments for many bowel complaints, helping with lactose intolerance, some cholesterol reduction, improving immune function and lowering blood pressure. There is a large and still growing body of scientific evidence, indicating that diet supplementation with live probiotic bacteria may confer a significant health effect on the host, when those bacteria are consumed in “adequate” amounts. In fact, one important problem is that more then 400 bacterial species are thought to be present in the normal intestine, with bacterial concentration in the colon equivalent to one thousand billion bacteria per gram. This means that only “high-potency” probiotic products, i.e., those that contain at least a comparable number of live bacteria per gram of product, can be expected to modify the bacterial flora in the gastrointestinal tract in terms of quantitative and qualitative composition. Consult your natural health practitioner for advice on which probiotic supplement is best for your particular condition.

The argument against probiotics by some nutritional scientists is that the bacteria in these supplements and foods cannot possibly survive the naturally occurring acids in our stomach and this is where prebiotic foods come in. Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients in foods, which stimulate the growth and activity of certain helpful bacteria – fructoologosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides are the two that best fit the bill. These can be found in functional foods like bananas, berries, asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, chicory, legumes, oats, tomatoes, spinach and other greens. Perhaps a diet rich in both prebiotics and probiotics is the best solution for those seeking a healthy bowel.

Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, soya sauce, kim chi, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables also offer lactic acid bacteria. The oriental cultures in particular – who have developed these fermented foods –  are well known for their traditionally long lived healthy lives. The pickling process activates certain bacterial properties within the food, and eliminates some of the qualities that inhibit the food’s digestion by humans. Pickled or activated nuts and seeds, which have been treated in a solution – a brine or other acidic liquid – for some time and then slowly warmed through a dehydrating process are a great example of this. Delicious and much more digestible.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Retreats and Spas – The new holiday.

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Retreats and Spas – The New Holiday.

By Sudha Hamilton

INTRO: Retreats and spas are fast becoming the new holiday of choice, as an antidote to the pressured life of the mind that we all seem to be corralled into these days.

As we live in an increasingly demanding high tech world, where our downtime is rapidly disappearing into the Ether(net) – where it is trapped by Microsoft and Google in an endlessly informative embrace.  Work never seems to finish, as it follows us home via cunningly invisible wireless cables and our living spaces are filled with screens, which never sleep, and phones that go beep, beep, beep. We used to go on holidays for the sun, surf and beach – but our blackberries accompanied us, and nestled there beside us on the towel began to wink a message or two or three about work. No island resort was ever far enough away from a colleague on the phone or an email from the boss.

Stress was mounting up like the Himalayas in June, and alcoholic relief was just a drink away but in the morning it was worse. Where can we get away to escape the maddening ring of technologies echoing? A monastery or nunnery? Perhaps a touch too austere; but retreat we must or face the curdling of the milk beneath the full white moon.

A retreat indeed, to a place where there are trees and grass, where nature walks tall and the life is not so fast. To a place which is all about us; about the fleshy bits that change as we age and seasons pass, rather than the synapses drawn tight by modern life. Where expert hands can rub relief into bodies running on adrenal fatigue and quiet vegetarian food beckons a good night’s sleep. A spa that smells so pure, that it must be made of milk and honey. The sensual joy of a natural scrub, ridding your skin of grime and the cities’ dub.  Where exercise is something that happens when walking to and from your cabin – and fun is to be found outside running about with others. A return to the childlike pleasures of mucking about in nature, and seeing the pure experience reflected in the eyes of another, who is likewise having a good time just being themselves. Retreats are like this – mixing an ambience of naturalness with gentleness and providing a resource for practical advice about diet, exercise, life coaching, natural therapies and your health. This is the healing holiday experience that you often feel that you need to take after a family holiday or ill fated overseas jaunt with a partner.

Retreats and spas are fast becoming the new holiday of choice, as an antidote to the pressured life of the mind that we all seem to be corralled into these days. So what are the defining differences between spas and retreats and what are some of the features you may encounter on your new holiday of the physical senses? Well a spa is defined in real terms as the kind of place where you will find a variety of treatments that relate to your skin and body. Many establishments qualify themselves as a beauty spa or day spa and they specialize in a wonderful cornucopia of aromatising, massaging, bathing, skin conditioning therapies which will make you feel cleaner, fresher, revitalised and more beautiful. Many of these spas will have a special relationship with a resort providing accommodation in their locale – so that you can make your holiday special. Many new skin care companies, who have developed unique ranges of organic skin care products, have relationships with these spa operators to bring you a treatment experience that you just don’t have access to in your own bathroom cabinet.

A retreat will usually involve accommodation specifically chosen for its naturally soothing character, either in its surrounds or on the property itself. It may indeed offer access to day spa facilities as well or it may not. The soul of the retreat experience is in its program of healthy activities – or non-activities in the case of a meditation retreat. The retreat is, by its very name, a retreat from the demands of modern life into a program defined by a philosophy, which focuses on reconnecting the individual with their elemental selves. Their body – fitness, heart rate, muscle tone, unwanted tension, health of the skin, weight issues, and groundedness. Their dependencies – so often we find ourselves self-medicating with alcohol, nicotine, drugs, sugar, work, parenting and various addictive behaviours, which we use to avoid periods of self-reflection that may initially lead to feelings of despair. When we stop; and arrive at a place, which, by design, does not have the stuff with which we distract ourselves from our real issues;  things like TV, computers, trashy magazines and the idle chatter of co-dependents (like minded folk who are also avoiding their issues), we face the overwhelming emptiness of our lives and often freak out for awhile. This however passes and slowly with the help of the retreat staff, who are trained in positively assisting you through this phase, you come out the other side. Where you find the inner peace to enjoy stillness of the lake or the wind whistling through the trees above you, and all the myriad unimportant junk of your day to day life withdraws to give you the space to feel again. To feel your connection with yourself, to laugh again as you jump and skip and make a lovely fool of yourself attempting some physical pursuit that you have not tried for umpteen numbers of years. You can find your heart again, not in the embrace of anyone else but in the enjoyment of simply being with yourself. All these things are available and more when you surrender to the retreat experience.

Good Retreats and Bad Retreats

OK so the ideal retreat experience can deliver us to a state where healing can take place but how do we spot the bad retreat or the retreat that is not up to the mark. Tension – if you can feel tension in the air or insecurity among the staff, beyond encountering someone on their first day at work, then this is a sure sign that perhaps things are not all that they are cracked up to be. Health retreat staff have a duty, like all healers, to be aware that they are stewards to individuals who have made a commitment to the healing process. Everybody from the cleaner to the retreat coordinator needs to be on the same conscious page and if they are not, then it is not supporting your journey to heal. How to discover this before you actually book and are on the property? Well, ask some pertinent questions, like how long has the establishment been operating and what is the average length of employment and what appropriate qualifications are held among the staff? Ask to speak with the coordinator and perhaps a therapist or even a guest – it is quite within your rights to make thorough enquiries before you make your investment of time and money.

Every retreat has its own particular philosophy, and has been uniquely created in response to this set of ideals or life lessons – you can usually get a fair idea from their website. Being open to the full retreat experience involves vulnerability on your part, so you want to feel a certain trust in the people who are interacting with you – therapists, practitioners and staff. Retreats have a certain mystique about them in our psyches – Avalon like places where the mists part to reveal holy grounds where transformations and miracles take place -this is can be a powerful help to fully letting go to the healing experience, but it is also wise to tether your camel before the journey.

Retreats in Review

Hopewood Health Retreat

One of Australia’s longest established health retreats, Hopewood has been operating for 46 years – located just one hour’s drive from Sydney and surrounded by beautiful bush land. Hopewood is the epitome of a well run health retreat, with dedicated, professional staff who have been working there for many years. Renowned for its natural health philosophy, which advocates a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, gentle exercise, plenty of water, fresh air and rest; Hopewood Health Retreat is the perfect place to relax by the river, revitalize and revive your mojo and zest for life. Specialising in natural healing, stress control, weight management, as well as massage and beauty pampering, Hopewood has long been helping Australian’s to rediscover their equilibrium.

Good food is a cornerstone of their successful approach to healing and transformation – passionate chefs, who love plying their trade at a fantastic health retreat, and presenting you with knock out combinations of delicious healthy ingredients. Utilising the smart and simple dietary technique of food combining – which serves particular vegetarian food groups together and avoids combining starch and protein – you will feel lighter and more vital.  Of course you get to take home these secrets with you and the great feelings come with you. Hopewood even has its own cookbook, full of yummy healthy recipes and tips for detoxing diets. Hopewood’s juice therapy pointers are:

  • Drink a small glass or two of freshly prepared juice every day.
  • Avoid mixing fruits and vegetables as it can cause fermentation in your stomach.
  • Top up with carrot and ginger instead of coffee when you need a lift.
  • Juices are a great addition to your diet but remember to also eat whole fruit and veggies for the added fibre.

There is a full range of exercise and fitness activities available and you can tailor your own program to suit your desires and aspirations. Inspiring guided bush walks, yoga classes, aqua aerobics and personal training assessments are just some of the options from which you can choose to make your stay both enjoyable and transformational. After the exercise you can unwind with the de-stressing massage therapies like myofascial release; reflexology; shiatsu and hot stone therapy to name a few. Feel beautiful with organic facials, body wraps and other divine skin treatments all available on site at Hopewood. This is a total retreat experience where you can put aside the pressures of your day to day life to give something back to yourself. All Hopewood’s retreat packages include accommodation – ranging from balcony rooms with ensuite to budget rooms in single or twin with shared bathrooms; full use of all facilities; smorgasbord vegetarian meals and the daily activities program.

For further information www.hopewood.com.au Ph- 02 4773 8401.

Dargan Springs Mountain Lodge Wellness Retreat

Looking for a natural high? Where the air is cleaner and a little more rarified? Dargan Springs is the Blue Mountains health retreat par excellence, surrounded by breath taking views, peace and tranquility. Located 2 hours from Sydney, it is nestled in the trees and looks out upon the majestic vistas of Australia’s greatest mountain range. Each retreat has its own unique slice of natural magic and Dargan Springs is a beauty to behold and experience. Mountain lodge accommodation finds you ensconced in the light and airy luxury of those who live in the clouds, with each room having private ensuites, valley or garden views, and king sized or twin beds.  Central heating keeps you warm inside, with soft linen, natural bedding, thick towels and down doonas to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Outdoor activities are conducted by host and owner Mike Corkin, who trained in climbing, abseiling and mountaineering in New Zealand at Otago University. Happy to instruct and guide small groups and individuals at all levels of proficiency, Mike is passionate about sharing the special magic inherent in the mountaineering experience and the exhilaration it can produce. One of the special advantages Dargan Springs’ guests have is the lodge’s direct access to amazing walks, climbs and abseiling trips, meaning more time in the natural wilderness. All the Dargan Springs outdoor trips are certified with Advanced Eco-Accreditation, which recognises their commitment to ecologically sustainable eco tourism.  Whether you wish to enjoy the mountains with an expert, or prefer to go it alone, the experience of this incredible wildlife resource is an inspiring life choice and will have you feeling more alive than you have before. Wildflowers in brilliant colours, dramatic rock formations, wallabies and a host of native birds freewheeling before your eyes, it is a rich pageant of life and of course you need to stay alert up here. Like on a Zen meditation walk your awareness is keen and the witness state allows life to flow through him/her.

All this mountain air activity provokes an appetite for sure, in addition to burning off calories; you want and get to eat fantastic fresh food at Dargan Springs. Being in the pure mountain climes somehow stimulates you to appreciate the pure flavours in good healthy food, it’s delicious and Dargan Springs offers you a range of quality meat, fish and vegetarian meals that are all low fat and bursting with freshness. Food never tasted so good and your body never felt so good. Plus certified mountain spring water flows from all the taps, freshly made juices are available and hot drinks too.

Massage therapies, yoga, aromatherapy facials, wellness consultations, meditations, hot spa’s and tai chi are all on the menu at Dargan Springs. Plus you have the choice of experiencing it at what level you wish to, from the wonderfully restorative Healthy Escape package to the bed and breakfast option. Dargan Springs can be a sensational place for a healthy group conference, a longer stay healing program or a divine place to explore the Blue Mountains from. It is welcoming and life enhancing without being too fanatical.

www.dargansprings.com.au Ph – 02 6355 2939.

Fountainhead Organic Health Retreat

The Fountainhead Organic Health Retreat is, according to founder Wayne Parrott, the only certified organic health retreat in the world. Established five years ago on an avocado orchard, it combines the stunning beauty of its chalets and lake setting with the natural order of a working organic farm. Utilising permaculture principles it is not a place of manufactured beauty like some resorts but a truly tranquil and magical locale for a healing retreat. Based in Maleny, in the Blackall ranges on the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland, Fountainhead is a vision of rolling pastures, bubbling creeks and pristine lakes. Fountainhead runs a range of exceptional life changing programs focusing on Helping Overcoming Depressive and Anxiety Illnesses; Fit for Life and Cancer Education retreats. It is also a great place to pamper yourself, with the help of some wonderful massage therapists, life coaches and their attentive staff.

Organic juices flow at Fountainhead three days a week, in conjunction with some seriously delicious meals, which utilise the organic farm’s veggie output and also bring in some quality local organic produce from around the hinterland. Cooking schools demonstrate the best way to get the maximum amount of live nutrition from your food at home. Detox programs are available with expert input and guidance.

The Fountainhead Maleny Baths utilise natural spring water in the pools and there are saunas, a steam room and a fantastic area for relaxing by the pools. The brilliant blue of the bath centre’s walls contrasts with the green natural foliage all around and you have this sneaking suspicion that you might be in paradise after all. I remember during my last visit the chef bringing me over a fantastic warm salad of grilled king prawns, avocado and organic mixed leaves as I relaxed on a sun lounge by the pool. There are usually guests playing games in the pool or doing languid laps on their path to fitness and health. Choose from yoga, bush walking, aqua aerobics, personal training assessments, beach visits and daily excursions.

Accommodation is in a variety of architecturally designed chalets and you can choose from premium or deluxe levels. www.fountainhead.com.au Ph 07 5494 3494.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Eco Living Healthy Skin Heroes

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Eco Living Healthy Skin Heroes

Organic Skin Care Products

Nourishing the skin is as important as eating healthy, fresh organic food, so you’ll love the natural vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and essential fatty acids found in Synthesis 345 skin care.

Using Certified Organic and Cruelty Free skincare is very important to anyone who wants to care for their health and the natural environment. These official logos are the ONLY way to be sure a product is truly organic, chemical and animal testing free. Our packaging is recyclable and we offer a re-fill service.

Synthesis 345 comes from a picturesque village, watched over by the awe inspiring majesty of Mt. Warning (where sunlight first touches Australia each day), surrounded by rolling green hills and gently flowing rivers. The abundance of roses, lavender, jasmine and geranium that grows on our property is reflected in our skin care.

Synthesis 345 is inspired by the cosmology of the Ancient Egyptian Mystics, who observed the wonder of the natural world and the spiritual essence of all life. 345 are the sides of the triangle they called the ‘secret of all measure’, which was used to build their great temples. In a world tending to reduce everything to mere physical significance, Synthesis 345 encourages us to participate in something greater. Each product is Alchymeically imbued via a sacred Hermetic process, merging Heaven with Earth to manifest a heart-felt current of Love-Bliss. Allow yourself to be uplifted by the mystery and abundance that is Synthesis 345. www.synthesis345.com

Invoke Natural Skincare

Invoke Natural Skincare was born out of a new found interest in seeking natural skincare alternatives for herself and newborn baby daughter.  As a first time Mum, Rebecca Kennedy identified more mums just like her, are now more conscious of exactly what they are using on their precious little ones, and also what they were using on themselves.

After intense research through focus group testing it became apparent that we all want to do the right thing by the environment and ourselves, without compromising on our own style.

So armed with the knowledge of what was needed in the market place, combined with sheer determination, she set about working with some of the industry’s best to develop a purely natural and result driven skincare range that had a contemporary and modern edge.

As the name suggests, Invoke is also about developing a desired state of emotion whether it be to feel revived, calm, re-vitalised, balanced, etc.  Based on simple yet tried and tested aromatherapy principals, Invoke’s products will help you to nurture your body and soul, all thanks to nature! www.invokenaturalskincare.com.au

Mokosh

Mokosh founder Marion O’Leary left the world of science on a quest to produce skin products containing only natural ingredients, completely free of synthetic chemicals. This led to the development of a range of preservative-free skin moisturisers, lip balms and soaps that are preservative-free, yet have a long shelf-life. Over time – in keeping with the aim for a chemical free product – there has been a gradual switch to certified organic ingredients, which are now close to 100% certified organic.

Unrefined shea butter is a favourite ingredient of many of the body moisturisers and lip balms – with remarkable moisturising properties, and is full of nutrients lacking in the more commonly used refined shea butter. The body butters and shea lip balms are perfect for the colder weather ahead.

Many cosmetic ingredients are grown in developing nations, including coconut oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. Mokosh uses only Fair Trade ingredients. Mokosh uses cocoa butter instead of using palm oil of any description in its products. www.mokosh.com.au

SkinThings

If you’re concerned about the products you’re putting on your skin, Skin Things is a refreshing natural option. They’re totally natural, chemical-free, and made in South Australia. Skin Things salon has become the salon of choice in Glenelg, where they pamper customers with luxurious, affordable beauty treatments ranging from fabulous facials, pedicures, manicures and relaxing Indian head and Hot stone massages. Pregnant mums are pampered with massages too!

Their expanding product range includes over 40 face, body and hair products, baby products, cellulite detox oil and cleansing herbal teas. Their latest product launch is an anti-aging, rejuvenation moisturizer.  Skin Things products are gentle and effective using the highest quality organic ingredients and Natural preservatives.

Nicole is keen to make her skincare products and treatments accessible to everyone.

“We hope to open our second store in the near future.” Wholesale enquiries welcome  www.skinthings.com.au

Vitale Natural

Organic and natural products with super natural results! Conventional skin care contains so many potentially toxic chemicals and nasty ingredients, creating a toxic burden and more often than not contributing to skin issues. With over 15 ranges of organic skin care including premium botanical, aromatherapy, cosmeceutical and professional ranges Vitale Natural provides skin solutions using optimal organic skin care.

At Vitale, they realise that choosing the best Organic skin care for your skin can be a little challenging so they have specialists available for in-store or on-line skin consultations, ensuring you make the right choice of product for your skin and get great results. Vitale Beauty is the organic salon on Latrobe terrace in Paddington where for 3 years Vitale has been providing premium certified organic beauty therapy and facials including skin consultation, chemical free waxing and Australian mineral make up – so you can support your skin in all ways. www.vitalenatural.com.au

Coonawarra Lavender

Born 10 years ago in the stunning wine region of South Australia – It is now owned by Stephanie, the daughter of its founder & is located in Newtown Sydney. The range of skincare came from humble beginnings. Her mother wanted to create a cream for Stephanie that would alleviate the terrible eczema that she had suffered since toddlerhood. Their range has now grown to over 35 items all made with our abiding philosophy of no chemicals, no synthetics & no petro chemicals. With a focus & commitment to only use natural ingredients sets us apart from many skincare companies & has bred a trust with our customers that our skincare is truly good for them & their families. High quality skincare without the exorbitant price tag is always at the forefront of the business. Products are available at www.coonewarralavender.com.au , or from one of over 70 stockists in Australia, New Zealand or Taiwan.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Aphrodisiacs in Food

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Aphrodisiacs in Food

Yummy food Yummy love

With The Sacred Chef

Intro: Celebrating spring is very much about the birds and the bees, sowing seeds and enjoying the fecundity of nature. So what foods stimulate the arousal of life inside us by their essential chemical make-up and perhaps by their shape and form?

Eating well – beautiful organic food presented naturally, and eaten after some blood pumping exercise is the first step. Food tastes so much better when you have a healthy appetite for it. Don’t eat out of habit. Don’t eat the same boring thing every day. Don’t eat if you are not hungry. Food like love making is better when it is special.

Food is an essentially visual art medium, like painting it is an arrangement of form and colour on the plate. Glistening green spears of asparagus with a dollop of basil, macadamia nut and honey mayonnaise; freshly shucked oysters alive in their sea salty liquor; ripe red strawberries perfect in their natural state; a salad of warm artichoke hearts, goats cheese, fresh figs and baby spinach leaves; or a tangle of fettuccine slippery with extra virgin olive oil, cherry tomatoes, chilli and chunks of ocean trout. Each dish can be a moment of poetry, involving all the senses – what other art form do we literally consume. Let the smears on your serviette be a testament to the abundance of your life!

Food for fertility and a touch of “friskiness”

Zinc is one of the most important minerals to be aware of in relation to our libido and fertility levels. It helps maintain sperm count and levels of testosterone in men and in women; it is involved in a healthy menstrual cycle; it is vital for cell division during pregnancy. Zinc is also needed for the parts of our brains that activate our sense of appetite, taste and smell. Oysters are packed full of zinc, as are fish, green leafy vegetables, lean meats, nuts and pulses.

Organic veggies have higher levels of mineral content than those grown with chemical assistance. Why not grow your own organic veggies? Spend a weekend digging in a patch and readying the soil for sowing – you will be amazed when green things start sprouting and you will feel a quiet pride when you first serve the progeny of your garden to friends and family. The taste, (oh! the taste) will blow your mind. You get the complete package – exercise by honest toil to build appetite, pheromones from perspiration to attract the opposite sex, superior nutritional value from organic produce, and the best flesh for taste and colour.

Avocadoes were known as testicle fruit by the ancient folk in Central and South America. They are rich in phyto-chemicals and are linked to lowering cholesterol. Their creamy texture, gorgeous colour, (and reputation as an aphrodisiacal food), make them an ideal ingredient in dips, salads and wraps. Three quarters of the avocadoes, which we consume in Australia are of the Hass variety – with distinctive purple black skin and oval shape. Other varieties are the Shepard – green skin with golden buttery flesh ( and the only avocado not to turn brown once cut open), available from Feb to April; Reed – green skin when ripe, round shape, peaks in November; Sharwil – smaller pear shaped avocado with a rich nutty flavour; a winter/spring variety;  and the Wurtz – a smaller winter avocado grown in Queensland. Try spreading avocado, a good local honey and cracked black pepper on some lightly toasted sour dough rye bread for a delicious and nutritious start to the day.

Tropical fruits are pretty much sexy per se; things that like to grow and ripen under the sweaty equatorial sun. Biting into beautifully coloured fruits that explode in your mouth, and send streams of juice running down your chin are experiences to surrender to. Fresh pineapple slices are particularly like eating sunshine – and of course mango is the queen of the slippery fruit affair. These fruits are full of antioxidants, vitamin C and a diet rich in them can make you feel vital and youthful.

The following is an excerpt from Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Penguin Books ISBN 9780143038412

Holy of Holies – Perfect Pizza in Italy

“Pizzeria da Michele is a small place with only two rooms and one non-stop oven. It’s about a fifteen minute walk from the train station in the rain, don’t even worry about it , just go. You need to get there fairly early in the day because sometimes they run out of dough, which will break your heart. By 1pm, the streets outside the pizzeria have become jammed with Neapolitans trying to get into the place, shoving for access like they’re trying to get space on a lifeboat. There’s not a menu. They have only two varieties of pizza here – regular and extra cheese. None of this new age southern Californian olives-and sun-dried tomato wannabe pizza twaddle. The dough, it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian nan than like any pizza dough I ever tried. It’s soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we only had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crusts- thin and crispy, or thick and doughy. How was I to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise. On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance………”

Recipes from the Sacred Chef

A different kind of sexy is the feeling you get sliding a warmed spicy olive into your mouth.

Warmed Kalamata Olives in Infused Oil

Into a fry pan over a low heat, pour 2 tbspns of extra virgin olive, then chop up a lime & 6 cloves of garlic and a piece of ginger, a sprig of rosemary, a cinnamon quill and add this to the warming oil, before adding in 3 cups of Kalamata olives. Stir through for 5 minutes and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve on a platter.

Salted fresh pineapple is a great way to serve the tangy flavor sensation of fresh ripe pineapple.

Choose a ripe pineapple by its aroma, if you can find one that has not been too dulled by refrigeration, cut it up into bite sized pieces and lightly salt with a special sea salt freshly ground down in your mortar and pestle. Accompanied by a fresh lime soda or a cold beer — and heaven is right there on that tropical island inside your taste buds.

Fresh Asparagus Spears dipped in Basil, Macadamia Nut & Honey Mayonnaise

Whole free range egg or egg yolk mayonnaise with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Ingredients

3 Tsp honey

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 cup fresh basil leaves torn

½ cup roasted macadamia nuts

1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil drizzled in slowly.

Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt to taste.

Method:

Whizz it by hand or in the blender adding in your oil slowly as you go. Lightly steam or blanch your asparagus spears and serve accompanied by your tangy mayonnaise.

Warm Salad of Artichoke Hearts, Fresh Figs, Goats Cheese and Spinach Leaf Salad

Ingredients:

4 Globe Artichokes Steamed Peeled and halved

3 Figs sliced lengthwise into quarters

120g fresh goat’s cheese served at room temperature

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 cups baby spinach leaves

3 Romano tomatoes sliced lengthwise into quarters

Dressing – ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Sea salt & black pepper to taste.

Method:

Begin with the warm artichoke hearts and cover them with dressing before gently arrange dobs of the goats cheese amid the figs, tomatoes, parsley and spinach leaves on a platter and lightly toss before serving.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Foodmatters

Eco Builders & Materials Reviewed

Eco Living Magazine presents

Sustainable Home Builders & Materials in Review

By Eco Living Magazine

West Coast Poly

Established in 1999, West Coast Poly manufactures a range of water tanks for farming, domestic, agricultural, industrial and transport sectors, in WA and interstate.  All the water tanks are manufactured to the highest standards, with onsite impact and ultrasound test equipment for quality control. The Urban range is especially designed suburban homes – for the space conscious aesthetic eye – capacity ranging from 720 litres to 23,000.

The rotomoulding process is used from high-grade polyethylene powder that meets AS4020 and AS 2070 (Aust. Standards for materials in contact with drinking water and food products). The process involves placing finely ground thermoplastic material inside a female mould and firing this in an oven while rotating on two perpendicular axes to obtain a homogeneous melting of the plastic on the surface. When complete, the mould is transferred into a cooling phase while still rotating and finally the finished part is removed from the mould and the process restarted. For more info visit www.westcoastpoly.com.au or Ph: +61 (08) 9456 5888

ecoInfusion – Spa Tonic & Spa Treatment:

Acutely aware of the state of the environment, ecoInfusion is committed to eco-friendly practices. Products are environmentally friendly; packaging is 100% recyclable, as is all of our promotional material. Spa Tonic & Spa Treatment are 100% natural spa water maintenance products, based on seaweed enzymes. Spa Tonic has been specifically designed to seek out and destroy contaminants and viruses in spa water without the use of toxic chemicals. One bottle will keep your spa water clean and healthy for 3 months. No more constant pH tests and chemical adjustments, as Spa Tonic automatically balances your water levels. Spa Treatment, a natural deep cleanser dissolves any existing chemical residue and mineral build-up in your spa pump, plumbing and seals. Spa Treatment will lubricate your spa system and prevent mineral deposits, rust and stains from building up in spa equipment, reducing maintenance costs and extending the life of your spa. Non-toxic products mean less frequent water changing, so less water is used.  The other added bonus, is that free of chemicals, ecoInfiosn products are ideal for Grey Water usage – water your plants with the bath water! (ecoInfusion uses green power in the office and environmentally friendly printing companies for our printing needs). For more info: Website: www.ecoinfusion.com.au

Breakout box: Case Study on a Solar Dwelling – a 7 star rating

The home sets an impressive 7-star rating for thermal performance on a difficult 45° to north block and is expected to maintain comfortable temperatures year round. The client brief to Solar Dwellings was to design an affordable, single storey, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with double lock up garage in keeping with the style of the urban renewal project. The Quattro Sustainable Home presents as an aesthetically stimulating, stylish and livable home adaptable  – With a few simple modifications the single storey 227sqm home can be built on any flat, 45° to north block with as narrow a frontage as 12 metres and will achieve excellent thermal performance for natural heating and cooling.

Constructed of cavity brick and iron, the residence incorporates simple energy efficient principles to ensure a comfortable and consistent ambient temperature all year round and to display reduced energy and water requirements and reduced running costs.  The home also displays material specification for reduced embodied energy and environmental impact and low toxicity and low allergen finishes were specified to ensure excellent indoor air quality.

Energy efficiency is achieved by:

Passive thermal design for natural heating and cooling, including a mix of  insulations;

Installation of a gas boosted solar water heater  as close as possible to the kitchen, bathroom and laundry;

Reflective zinculume roof  prevents excess solar heat gain;

Insulation of the hot water service and the pipes;

Thermostat set as low as possible; and

An intelligent lighting system, using natural light and energy efficient CFLs.

A minimum 4-star energy efficient appliance package will be showcased during the display phase and a user manual will be provided to the home owner upon sale of the home to ensure the home maintains optimum performance.

Water efficiency is achieved through the installation of:

A greywater reuse system and subsurface drip irrigation;

Water efficient (minimum 4-star) tap and showers fittings;

Aqualocs installed to all taps;

Dual flush AAAA rated toilets;

Waterwise garden design;

2,500 litrerainwater collection tank plumbed for toilet and laundry use; and

Water efficient appliances.

Designed by Solar Dwellings for joint venture partners Peet Limited and the Department of Housing and Works, the Quattro Sustainable Home is energy and water efficient, universally accessible and comfortable to live in. For WA – The home at 325 Wharf Street, Queens Park will be open up to two years and will also be the Quattro: The New Queens Park sales centre. – For interstate enquiries about this home and how to apply these eco-measures to your home plan. www.solardwellings.com.au

Break Out Box:

For more sustainable building resources or other states & territories try:

National: http://www.safecom.org.au/buildings.htm

National: www.yourhome.gov.au

NSW: http://www.yourabode.com.au/

QLD: www.sustainablebuildings.com.au

SA:         http://ecopolis.com.au/

TAS: www.sunrisehomes.net.au – consults nationally

VIC: http://www.sunpowerdesign.com.au/

WA: www.solardwellings.com.au

And for NZ:  http://www.ecoprojects.co.nz/ is a good resource.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Theta Healing

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: A Calling To Heal

Theta Healing Understanding Miracles.

Sudha Hamilton speaks with Mark Anthony Australia’s leading Theta Healing Instructor.

You may have become aware of a new type of healing name with a Greek linguistic origin – Theta. What does the word Theta mean? It is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet and more recently has been adapted by western neuroscience to name one of the deep brain wave states or rhythms. Theta brain waves are known to be associated with aspects of deep sleep, learning and spatial navigation. It is thought that when the brain is in its Theta rhythm, it is accessing deeply stored information involving the hippocampus (home of our instinctive emotional beliefs), and conveying these to the cerebral cortex (our rational operating thoughts).

Research into these brain wave states has observed that we move into Theta rhythms quite often, at various times throughout the day and in particular when meditating or in a moment of focussed reverie.  I spoke with Mark Anthony, Australia’s leading Theta Healing instructor; about its origins and what it has done for him personally and how it has transformed his life.

Sudha- Mark I understand that Theta Healing’s founder Vianna Stibal, is an intuitive naturopath and massage therapist who is based in the United States?

Mark – Yes, Vianna discovered Theta Healing through healing her own cancer. She realised that the states she invoked during her intuitive readings were Theta brain wave rhythms and that these could be utilised to facilitate healing in others. Since that initial breakthrough of awareness, she has healed and trained thousands of people worldwide and Theta Healing has spread like wildfire across the globe.

Sudha- So what actually happens? How and why do the processes involved in Theta Healing work?

Mark -The original process, which Vianna Stibal called the Orian technique, was based on her early intuitive reading work and involved a visualised technique, which included a body scan, and sending her awareness out through the crown chakra, (top of the head) and communicating with God or the creator consciousness. Once in communion with the higher consciousness, she would seek answers for the condition to be healed, and/or request that the person be healed. Vianna healed her own bone cancer and then found herself healing many people from all over the world.

Sudha- I understand that she sought a scientific basis for the healing process, and with the help of a physicist, conducted some electroencephalographic tests, which determined that she was correct and that the brain waves detected were in the 4-8 Hz range (indicating the Theta rhythm).

Mark- Yes through her earlier contact with the study of hypnosis, Vianna was aware that our brains operate on a Theta rhythm when we are in a hypnotic state, and she thought that this was most likely what was happening when she was reading. It was found through those tests that both healer and patient were in the Theta brain wave state during the process. Her work then moved to another level entirely, through the challenge of a client who did not completely respond to the healing process. In this instance, Vianna’s communion with the God consciousness led her to the understanding that our DNA chromosome makeup was not fixed, but actually responded to Theta Healing – and this was the beginning of her work now known as DNA Activation. In practice, this involves the introduction of new supportive belief system that are instantly reproduced in our cellular reality This work has dramatically expanded the healing reach of Theta Healing, as thousands of people have been trained in this approach with incredible results – facilitating the healing, and saving the lives of people all over the world.

Sudha – The science around Theta brain wave rhythms shows them to be one of several characteristic electroencephalogram wave forms associated with various states of sleep and wakefulness. When seen in this form, they are between 4 and 8 Hz, and involve many neurons firing synchronously – in the hippocampus and through the cortex. Theta activity can be observed in adults during some sleep states, and in states of quiet focus, for example meditation. These rhythms are also involved with spatial navigation and some forms of memory and learning, especially in the temporal lobes. Theta-frequency activity is also manifested during some short term memory tasks.

Sudha – Mark I wonder if you would share with us a little of your own remarkable story?

Mark- I found myself at age 32 facing a life threatening disease and despite the best intentions of Australia’s world class medical system was not getting any better. It began with me feeling generally run down over a period of time and a visit to my holistic chiropractor. Unfortunately I came away with several fractured ribs and a cracked vertebra, which were not discovered until, after experiencing excruciating pain, I was sent for a bone scan by my local doctor. Following this I was wrongly diagnosed as suffering from low bone density, despite my years in the construction industry and playing heavy contact sport.

Sudha –  It sounds like the beginning of a nightmare journey.

Mark – Yes it was, as this error was followed by another when I was misdiagnosed as having Tuberculosis (TB) and immediately hospitalised. However, all my tests for TB came back negative, many blood tests followed before the first of several fine needle biopsies under CT guidance were conducted. This involves an 18cm needle being repeatedly inserted into the spine in search of the right sample location. I was by this time under the care of several neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, cardio-thoracic surgeons and infectious disease doctors. These fine needle biopsies were unsuccessful and so the decision was taken to cut three holes in my side and insert a camera and take a sample of the infection.

Sudha – I imagine you would have been pretty frightened at this point.

Mark- Well, upon awakening I then had two tubes draining blood from me, as they had collapsed my lung for the procedure, and a third tube as a morphine drip – and a 25cm scar as a keepsake for my troubles. The good news was that I did not have cancer but the bad news was that they did not take a large enough sample to test for anything else. Repeating the operation was next on the agenda but “luckily” I had developed a fever, and medical protocol insisted that this be treated with antibiotics before surgery. After receiving a high dosage antibiotic for 6 weeks I was still found to have a blood infection level of 125 (normal rates are 0 – 15). Another fine needle biopsy followed before another course of high dosage antibiotics, and finally a correct diagnosis – Vertebral Osteomyelitis. This infection in the partially collapsed T6 and T7 vertebrae was potentially fatal and incapacitated me to the extent that I could not pick up a shopping bag, let alone my two year old daughter.

Sudha – I understand that it was at this time that you were given a copy of Vianna Stibal’s book “Go Up and Work With God.”

Mark- My naturopath recommended it and I seized upon it, sensing that the answers and the healing I had so desperately been seeking were right here. You know when you read something and you just know this is it! I did a bit of further research on the internet and registered for the next workshop. I did the Advanced Theta Healing seminar over that weekend and found that the pain in my back was completely gone.

Sudha – That must have been amazing after such a terrifying time. What happened to heal you?

Mark- During the Theta Healing processes new affirmative life beliefs were conveyed to me, whilst in the Theta state, which enabled me to replace the failing negative beliefs that were literally killing me. My Father passed away from a sudden heart attack when I was 16 and I was told to be strong for my mother. I subconsciously took this on as a reason not to be able to grieve, and I felt a great deal of pressure to get everything right from then on. Subconsciously, I carried feelings of resentment toward my father for leaving me and not teaching me all I had to learn from him. This created in my mind a lack of support, which was heightened, due to the fact that all my friend’s fathers were in the construction industry, and when they left school, they all went into their fathers businesses. I had to do it all on my own. These support issues manifested in my back, and the resentment I carried manifested into the infection. The first Theta Healing consultation I had, we worked on the issues about my father, which immediately eliminated a great deal of the pain I was feeling in my back. I was then able to see the support that I had in my life from my mother, brother, sisters and my wife. In fact I had so much support around me but was unable to see it due to my beliefs.

Sudha – Mark thank you so much for sharing your incredible life changing journey.

Mark – My pleasure.

Mark Anthony has since gone on to train directly with Vianna Stibal and to devote his life’s work to the facilitating and training of others in Theta Healing. He feels that the importance of this work lies in the empowering effect that it has on people to heal themselves, and that it is this paradigm shift which can transform humanity. Mark teaches all of Vianna’s courses around Australia including the Basic and Advanced Theta Healing and Intuitive Anatomy courses. www.thetahealing.net.au

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Preconception Care

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Preconception Care – exploring the need in the modern context

By Karen McElroy, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist

Intro: A holistic approach to preconception health care is vital for a healthy conception and pregnancy.

The term ‘preconception care’ relates to the time prior to attempting conception, whereby health is optimised in the hope that a couple will conceive easily and attain a healthy pregnancy and birth.

There is perhaps a greater need for preconception care today, given such things as inadequate diets, a polluted environment and our often stressful lifestyles. A truly holistic approach to reproductive health must address these factors.

It takes approximately 115 days to fully develop sperm in men, whilst the development of an individual ovum takes about 100 days in women.  So the health of a couple in the three to four months prior to conception can play a big part in the health of these germs cells and the subsequent health of the developing embryo and eventually the health of the baby. This idea is the cornerstone of preconception care.

Foresight (The Association for the Promotion of Preconceptual Care) in the UK, is an association who have carried quite a lot of research into treating couples in the preconception period to increase their chances of both conception and a healthy pregnancy outcome.

Couples following the Foresight programme are given the following advice:

  • Avoid contaminants in food and water, such as pesticides, some food additives and bacteria, by eating a nutritious, whole food organic diet.
  • Identify and correct trace mineral deficiencies and heavy metal toxicities.
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, street drugs and other non-essential medication.
  • Screen for genito-urinary and other infections (eg: Rubella, toxoplasmosis, etc.).
  • Identify any other problems, eg: due to allergy, malabsorption, candida and /or parasites.

Couples wishing to start a family are encouraged to follow a programme which looks at these areas and identifies and corrects potential areas for concern, after which the pregnancy can be started with a normal, strong sperm and ovum, the embryo can implant in a healthy uterus and can develop in optimum conditions. There will be no danger from nutritional deficiency, or damage from heavy metals or other toxins or viral, and/or bacterial disease.

Foresight has found that under these conditions it is possible to have uncomplicated pregnancies resulting in strong and healthy babies. This approach to preconceptual care can be applied as a means of improving general nutritional status and fertility in any couple planning to have a baby, regardless of previous history. The results of Foresight’s three year study found the preconception programme to be particularly successful for 80% of the couples in the study – including many couples who had previously experienced problems with recurrent miscarriage or unexplained infertility. Even some couples who had unsuccessful attempts at artificial methods of conception, such as IVF, were able to conceive naturally.

Couples wishing to conceive can benefit from having a consultation with a qualified naturopath or herbalist.  They will provide a thorough assessment of your diet and lifestyle and advise on any changes necessary.  Also if there are any underlying health issues for either partner relating to reproductive health such as poor sperm count or gynaecological conditions, herbal and nutritional remedies can be prescribed.  A preconception check-up with a doctor is also advisable – this may include blood tests to check folate and iron levels, rubella immunity and a PAP smear.

Reproduced with thanks to  www.joyousbirth.info The Australian Homebirth Network  – a great community resource, providing support and information on birth traumafor women who have experienced birth trauma, as well as info and support for an empowered birth.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Aspartame – Poisons in our food chain.

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading:  Mad, Bad and dangerous to eat…

The “Poisons in our food chain” Series.

Part 1 Aspartame

By Sudha Hamilton

A recent survey of 166 studies into the safety of Aspartame found that 74 of them had NutraSweet related funding and that they all found that Aspartame was safe. Whereas of the 92 independently funded studies, only 8% of them found that Aspartame did not have safety concerns in humans to answer to.

Aspartame is the technical name for the main ingredient in many artificial non-sucrose sweeteners; including NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal-Measure. It is also at the top of the list of chemical baddies that are still being approved by government agencies for use in our food. You will also find Aspartame commonly used in soft drinks, pharmaceutical products and over the counter cough lollies and syrups. It is said to be an ingredient in over six thousand items of consumer foods/drinks. It is a compound of aspartic acid, phenylalanine (a free amino acid isolate) and methanol (wood alcohol). This combination is subsequently responsible for some very serious negative activity in our bodies, including nerve cell necrosis (death) which can lead to organ system disease and also contributes to dangerous toxic interactions with other pharmaceutical drugs. Aspartame crosses the blood/brain barrier and damages brain tissue and causes lesions on the brain, where the dead cells once were. It also affects the autonomic nerve system located down the spine and the conjunction system of the heart. It is quite simply a neurotoxin.

How, why and when did Aspartame become approved for human consumption? It was discovered accidentally in 1965 by James Schlatter – a chemist working for the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co – and was found to be 180 times sweeter than sugar. Initial safety tests were inconclusive, as to whether Aspartame may have caused cancer in rats and the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) did not approve its use in food for many years. Further testing did not answer why the brain cancer developed in the rats, and the debate raged on until some familiar names entered the scene.

One Donald Rumsfield became Searle’s CEO and Ronald Reagan became US President, and he appointed Arthur Hull Hayes FDA commissioner, who approved Aspartame in the dry goods food category. In 1985 Monsanto bought G.D.Searle and the Aspartame business became a separate subsidiary; the NutraSweet Company.  I would love to tell you that it is not about money or that there was never a suspicion of corruption; but I cannot. In 1995, the FDA Epidemiology Branch Chief Thomas Wilcox reported that Aspartame complaints represented 75% of all reports of adverse reactions to substances in the food supply from 1981 to 1995.

The metabolic journey that Aspartame takes once ingested causes it to break down into several residual chemicals and further break down products include formaldehyde, formic acid and diketopiperazine.  Exposures to very low levels of formaldehyde have been proven to cause chronic toxicity in humans. There has however been scientific disagreement regarding how the body deals with the methanol and formaldehyde produced by Aspartame, and this debate is one of the key reasons why Aspartame has not been reviewed and subsequently banned by regulatory government bodies in the western world.  The phenylalanine component of Aspartame, which is one of the nine essential fatty acids, makes up around 50% of Aspartame’s mass and this is highly unsafe for those with the rare genetic condition known as Phenylketonuria. It is also known that Aspartame can spike blood plasma levels of phenylalanine, as it is absorbed much faster than naturally occurring phenylalanine containing proteins. This has caused further debate into whether Aspartame ingestion by pregnant mothers can harm the safe development of neurotransmitters in the brains of fetuses.  Similarly the 40% of Aspartame broken down into Aspartic Acid also causes large spikes in the level of the acid in blood plasma and these can act as excitotoxins- which can inflict brain and nerve cell damage by crossing the blood/brain barrier. Again there is scientific debate over whether humans are as susceptible to this extensive brain damage as are the rats, for which the research shows conclusive proof. Further concerns regarding Diketopiperazine, which is created in products as Aspartame breaks down over time, can through nitrosation in the body create a chemical which can cause brain tumors.

So we are left with a situation of scientific disagreement paralysing regulatory bodies, and lots and lots of health complaints, ranging from the small, to claims involving hundreds of thousands of possible deaths.  A recent survey of 166 studies into the safety of Aspartame found that 74 of them had NutraSweet related funding and that they all found that Aspartame was safe. Whereas of the 92 independently funded studies, only 8% of them found that Aspartame did not have safety concerns in humans to answer to.  Science may not be as clean and trustworthy as those white lab jackets that so many scientists are fond of wearing might indicate to us. After all, if you ask the right questions in any scientific study you can pretty much get any answer you are after. Omission is as much of a cause of death as anything else.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Mineral Make Up Review

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: From Dust to Dust

Mineral Make Up…Naturally beautiful

By Eco Living

Being someone that rarely leaves the house without a sweep of Mascara and a few dots of Concealer, I have consistently looked for make up that is both safe and natural. My sensitive skin means, whatever I apply needs to be hypo-allergenic and free from chemical nasties – otherwise I’m red and blotchy within minutes. The best results I’ve had so far are with mineral make up. This is delicately effective make up, which comes in a huge range of colours and preparations with everything from liquid and powder foundations through to eye shadow and blush.

What makes mineral make up different from other foundations and powders is its ability to give great coverage without blocking pores, therefore allowing your skin to breathe. Most foundations create a film on your skin; whatever is trapped under that film stays there until you next cleanse your skin. Underneath your make up may be inflammation in the form of acne or pimples, Eczema, Dermatitis or even Rosacea and all day long your film of foundation is holding in the heat of that inflammation and causing – more inflammation. It’s no mystery then why most make up only makes these conditions worse, leading many women to apply more make up to cover blemishes. Mineral make up is non-eclusive, meaning it doesn’t form a film on the skin and won’t lead to further inflammation.

Mineral make up has also been recommended by plastic surgeons and other health professional for its ability to cover scarring. With mineral powder foundations, you can apply several layers to create the coverage needed, without fear of blocking pores and causing breakouts. Mineral eye shadow is also great because it’s water resistant; it doesn’t slide into the creases of your eyelid, and it won’t cause redness or itchy eyes. So your make up stays put all day or night, even if you wear make up when exercising, your skin can breathe and you’ll stay gorgeous – and above all else your skin will stay healthy. Another great bonus is that loose mineral foundation is formulated with Micronized Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. These natural minerals block harmful rays from the sun.

There are several brands of mineral make up available now but there are a few things you need to know before you make your choice. Look for a brand with No Talc – even though Talc is a mineral, it’s not the kind of mineral you want in your make up. Talc can clog pores and can dry your skin, leading to the same inflammation issue as a regular foundation. Bismuth Oxychloride and Boron Nitride are also ingredients that may cause irritation in more sensitive skins, and if you’re buying a liquid mineral foundation, be sure to check that it contains a non-paraben preservative. As always when buying cosmetics and skincare, check the packaging to ensure it’s recyclable, if not reusable.

There are several great Aussie companies producing mineral make up, you can find most of them online, and some in pharmacies and health food shops. Buying Australian cosmetics and skincare, means you don’t have to concern yourself with the cost in both financial and environmental terms of getting the products here. The other benefit is that if you have a question regarding your make up, you have the convenience of being able to contact the company directly.

Break out box: APPLYING MINERAL MAKEUP

All loose mineral powders can be used as eye shadows, blushes, eyeliners and lip gloss. You can even add to clear nail polish to colour. Mineral foundation can be used as a concealer, powder and sunscreen. Always start with a clean dry bare face that has been moisturised.

WET: dampen a flock or latex sponge, tip a little powder into the lid and dab with a sponge, and gently spread over the area to be covered (great as a concealer before brushing on foundation).

DRY: Use a good quality natural fibre brush. Tap a small amount into the lid, dip the brush in and swirl it in the lid until the minerals are picked up by the brush. Tap off excess minerals on the side of the jar or tap the brush handle first on the bench so minerals travel into the brush head. Blend the minerals down your face until you have the coverage you want (TIP -two light layers will give a better finish than one thick layer). For smaller areas use a contour brush and apply under eyes and around nose to conceal dark areas and large pores.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Organic Wines in Australia

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Organic Sommelier

Wines by region in Australia & New Zealand

With The Sacred Chef

Intro: For the freshest fruit flavours available in your wine drinking experience, it is hard to go past good organic wine. When the fruit on the vine has been treated with knowledgeable care – sans the chemicals – it often takes the wine making to a whole new level.

By the same token, being organic does not turn ordinary wine into great wine and cannot replace wine making proficiency. The number of organically grown wines is increasing all the time, and I counted well over fifty wineries making organic wines during a brief bit of research. However, distribution difficulties for many wineries mean that you do not find much of a range in your local bottle shop, and this is something that can be greatly improved upon.

I am a strong advocate of regionalism or the eponymous terroir – meaning that certain regions, climates and soil types produce better examples of certain varieties of wine. It took me a while to realise this, and since I have pretty much committed myself to following this course of action I have had far fewer disappointing wine experiences. Of course there are always wonderful exceptions to any set of rules and some tragic ones too… We all have different likes and dislikes, as well in our wine tastes, and whatever I recommend here are really only my own opinions and I encourage you to follow your own taste buds.

White wines

Sauvignon Blanc – Upfront fresh tangy fruit driven style – New Zealand’s Marlborough, SA’s Adelaide Hills, WA’s Margaret River/Pemberton, NSW’s Orange, TAS’s North and South.

Semillon – A clean crisp lemony style when young but ages into a complex burnished beauty- NSW’s Hunter Valley.

Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – A blend of these two varieties best exemplified by – WA’s Margaret River, Great Southern.

Riesling – Dry apple, lime, mineral and sometimes floral style – SA’s Eden Valley, Clare Valley, WA’s Frankland; TAS’s North and South.

Chardonnay – Versatile style of wine ranging from full flavoured, creamy, buttery, big to peach, melon and lemon – VIC’s Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Beechworth; SA’s Adelaide Hills, WA’s Margaret River; TAS’s North and South.

Viognier – Full blown peach/apricot fruit and honey style – VIC’s Yarra Valley, SA’s Barossa Valley

Red wines

Pinot Noir –  Wild strawberry and cherry aromas and a flavour spectrum from young and fruity to elegant and complex – VIC’s Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong; SA’s Adelaide Hills; TAS’s North and South;  NZ’s Marlborough, Central Otago

Cabernet Sauvignon – Deep inky colour and black current flavour, classic wine that blends exceptionally well with merlot, high anti-oxidant rating – WA’s Margaret River; SA’s Coonawarra, Padthaway, Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Riverland; VIC’s Pyranees, Goulburn Valley, Bendigo, Yarra Valley;  NSW’s Orange, Mudgee, Cowra, Hunter Valley.

Merlot – Soft, dry and dark fruit variety of wine that has too few great examples in Australia except when partnering cabernet sauvignon – SA’s Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley

Shiraz – Blackberry and vanilla aromas in this red variety which ranges from chocolatey, prunish, high alcohol in warm regions to peppery and herbal in cooler areas – SA’s Clare Valley, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, WA’s Margaret River, VIC’s Yarra Valley, Heathcote, Mornington Peninsula, Grampians; NSW’s Hunter Valley, Canberra District

Grenache – Great blending variety with shiraz, earthy fruity flavours – SA’s Barossa Valley

Sangiovese – Italian varietal full of red fruit flavours with a herbal savoury finish – SA’s McLaren Vale

Tempranillo – Savoury black cherry Spanish variety blends well with shiraz – SA’s McLaren Vale

Zinfandel – Spicy and black berry big flavoured, alcoholic variety with massive plantings in California – WA’s Margaret River; SA’s McLaren Vale.

REVIEWS

Temple Bruer 2007 Cabernet Merlot Preservative Free.

This is an incredible wine with cabernet berry fruit flavours that seem to be dancing in your mouth and a lovely medium bodied balance that can keep you drinking it all night long. This is my wine of the year so far and I recommend it highly to lovers of wine who want a flexible companion to great tasting meals of many persuasions.

I am looking forward to trying the 2008 vintage of this wine – now out.

RRP $20.00

www.templebruer.com.au

Cullen Wines 2007 Margaret River White

As with all Cullen wines finesse is to the fore, and well before their decision to go biodynamic and organic they were making some of the finest wines in Australia. This predominantly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion blend is a gorgeous wine, complex and refreshing. This will lift any extraordinary lunch or dinner to the sublime and you will thank existence for your taste buds.

RRP $25.00

www.cullenwines.com.au

Happs 2007  Preservative Free White

Another stunner from the west, this Chardonnay with amazing fruit flavours will reinvigorate the most jaded pallet. Drinking these wines you feel purer inside and it can be akin to a religious experience. The Happs vineyards are located in Dunsborough and Karridale WA.

RRP $22.00

www.happs.com.au

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Natural Skin Care Solutions

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Natural Skin Care Solutions

Organic Skin Care Options

By Lesley-Ann Trow

“Nature has provided us with everything we need to nurture our skin; we should just let it get on with it.”

There’s no shortage of skincare brands – marketing, advertising and making claims on the shelves in your local pharmacy, health food store or where ever it is you go to buy your beauty products. Underneath all the hype there are some fundamental guidelines you can follow when purchasing your skincare to ensure your ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ product is everything the label says it is.

Several environmentally and health conscious skincare companies have spent a fortune in research and development to make safe products that are full of active natural ingredients and no chemical nasties. Many of these are just as, and often more effective than products sold over the counter in department stores every day. Nature has provided us with everything we need to nurture our skin; we should just let it get on with it.

Here are some of the best natural ingredients for skincare to effectively heal, nurture, moisturise and slow down the ageing process. It’s also important to note the order the ingredients are listed on the label. The more there is of an ingredient, the closer to the top of the list it is.

Jojoba Oil

With properties similar to the skin’s own sebrum, jojoba oil is easily absorbed for maximum moisturising. With strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, it can destroy skin bacteria and fungi making it useful in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. It’s also known as nature’s wrinkle fighter – when applied, it holds water in the skin and it even absorbs UV rays before they can penetrate the skin. It can also act as a natural preservative with its antioxidant properties.

Rosehip Oil

Best renowned for its anti-aging benefits, rosehip oil is extracted from the fruit of the rose bush. The oil is extracted in order to get the high essential fatty acids, which make it such a beneficial oil for anti-aging and regeneration of the skin. Along with the essential fatty acids, rosehip oil is also rich in Vitamin C, A, D and E and antioxidants. The vitamin C in rosehip oil is responsible for producing collagen and improving skin elasticity. Used at night, it acts as a skin multi-vitamin, replacing nutrients lost during the day and repairs the skin while you sleep. Can be used for dry skins, as it can balance the skin.

Coconut Oil

Noted as one of the best ingredients for healthy hair and used in India, coconut oil helps to condition and repair hair and help with dandruff. The different acids and antioxidants and antibacterial properties are the reasons for its benefits. Good for cooking and the face, coconut oil is nourishing and moisturising without being too heavy on the face. It’s great for dry, flaky skin in winter and for helping to improve those wrinkles or sagging.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is best known for its fabulous smell. Used regularly in natural perfumes or aromatherapy blends, it also has antiseptic and antifungal properties. It helps to soothe sunburn and heal wounds. Combined with chamomile, lavender oil helps with eczema treatment.

Aloe

Aloe is found in many skincare products, especially products designed for oily skin. But it’s also a great healer – it is absorbed into the skin tissues below the surface.  It’s rich in vitamins as well as being an effective wetting agent to help with cleansing.

Panthenol

This plant derived pro vitamin B5 is an effective aid for irritated or damaged skin.

Green Tea

Organic green tea (Camellia sinensis): A potent anti-oxidant known to fight free radicals helps rejuvenate the skin and prevents sun damage. Promotes elasticity – as well as being high in vitamins, including B complex.

Manuka Honey

Included in facial creams to treat acne due to antibacterial properties and also contains lactic acid and helps remove dead skin cells in facial cleansers.

Calendula

Included for its antibacterial and soothing properties. Many creams for babies’ skin also contain calendula; it’s also great in hair care to sooth sensitive scalps.

Unrefined Shea Butter

Shea butter is a common ingredient in body butters, lip balms and moisturisers – creamy yellow in colour; it has a lovely nutty fragrance. This unrefined version retains many of the remarkable properties for which shea butter is renowned – deeply moisturising, anti-scarring, anti-inflammatory, rich in vitamins A and E and other phytonutrients, and even provides mild UV radiation protection.

Preserving natural and organic skincare products has been one of the major sticking points. Certified organic skincare can have no chemical interference, this means water based products that are prone to bacterial growth once opened, must contain a natural preservative. Many products labelled organic, as opposed to certified organic (and yes, there is a BIG difference) contain safer chemical preservatives such as phenoxyethanol or benzyl alcohol.

The chemical nasties you’re looking for when it comes to preservatives include;

Parabens (Propyl, Methyl, Butyl, or Ethyl): Parabens are used as preservatives in numerous skin care and hair care products. They are highly toxic as they release Formaldehyde when exposed to the air and cause allergic and skin reactions.

There’s a whole host of other chemical nasties to avoid if you’re concerned about your health, and the health of your family. Several of these ingredients are now considered a cancer risk, especially breast cancer. More and more research is being done so that in the future they can have them banned from skincare.

Propylene Glycol: Propylene glycol is obtained from petrochemicals and is added in numerous skin care creams and lotions as an emulsifying agent. It makes the skin look smooth; however, it speeds up aging of the skin. It also causes irritation and contact dermatitis.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): SLS acts as a surfactant, degreaser, and emulsifier and is used in numerous foaming personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, body wash products, face cleansers, shaving cream, etc. This detergent affects the eyes and delays their healing time. It can be absorbed by the skin surface and gets accumulated in your body organs. When used in products containing nitrogen-based raw materials, it forms carcinogenic nitrates, which are known to cause irritation to the eye and skin.

Fragrance/Parfum: Artificial fragrance can cause numerous health problems including headaches, lung problems, skin irritation and dizziness.

Mineral Oil: Mineral oils are obtained from petroleum products and can cause skin irritations. They block skin pores, which restricts movement of nutrients and waste matter from the cells.

Imidazolidinyl and Diazolidinyl Urea: These are also used as preservatives and are known for causing contact dermatitis.

Ingredients with PEG in the name: Polyethylene Glycol is their extended name; they should be avoided in cleansers for your skin and hair, as independent testing has shown they can be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane; a petroleum-derived carcinogenic compound that is also used in dry cleaning solvents, lacquers and automotive coolant.
Synthetic Colours: Synthetic colours can cause allergic skin reactions.

Triethanolamine (TEA): TEA is used to adjust the pH of the cosmetics. It causes various allergic reactions including eye problems, and dryness of hair and skin. Also look out for MEA and DEA for the same reasons.

Packaging is the final element for consideration for natural and organic skincare. Certified organic skincare can contain only natural ingredients so it’s incredibly important to stop bacterial growth, by keeping air from getting into the packaging. Some skincare companies have again spent a fortune in research and development to ensure that their super effective ingredients maintain their integrity for the life of the product. It should also be noted here that the time between starting and discarding most organic and natural skincare should only be about 9 to 12 months. A product you love to use probably wouldn’t last you that long anyway.

What to look for in packaging.

Recycleable or Reusable: just makes good sense.

Positive Packaging: Opening and dispenser is at the bottom of the packaging allowing gravity to make it airtight.

Dark coloured glass: To maintain the integrity of active ingredients and Essential Oils.

As wonderful as it would be to live in a world where all products were labelled with 100% honesty (and claims had to be proven without a doubt before they could be made); we’re not there yet.

We can all help move a step closer though by making the hugely profitable skincare industry conscious of the new paradigm by voting with our wallets and supporting skincare companies that have embraced nature in word and action by creating super effective products that have a positive impact on the future of our planet and our health.

(Lesley-Ann Trow is the founder of www.gorgeousthings.com.au – The Pink Guide to Being Green and Gorgeous)

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Chemical Free Cleaning at Home

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Clean & Green- Chemical Free Cleaning at Home

Subheading: Would you bathe in your bathroom cleaner??

By Lesley-Ann Trow

We’ve all experienced how tough it can be to clean our bathrooms without gassing ourselves. Anyone who uses traditional household cleaners knows you’ve got to wear gloves, open the windows, and scrub whilst holding your breath. This experience should tell us a few things about traditional household cleaners, and not least that they’re having a negative impact on our health – while also being damaging to the environment.

If you’re looking to make your household cleaning safer for yourself and the environment then there are some great options available to you. The first step is to safely discard the chemical cocktail in your cleaning cupboard.

The health concerns stem from absorption of harsh chemicals directly through your skin and nasal passages to your bloodstream, as well as Volatile Organic Compounds that are found in petrochemical based cleaning products and synthetic fragrances and are released into the atmosphere as you spray your cleaners around your home. If you or your children have asthma, or you have allergies then these VOCs could be aggravating symptoms.

It’s not hard to imagine what the world will be like if we don’t address our polluting of waterways and ground water. No one wants to be responsible for making the problem worse but as Leroy Eldridge Cleaver put it – ‘you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem’   – and we all have to do our bit in our own homes today. That means switching to products that are 100% biodegradable (truly green products will tell you how many days this will take – 7 is good!), buying Phosphate Free cleaners and avoiding chemicals where there is a natural alternative.

You can then take the ‘back to basics’ approach and use simple ingredients to create your own cleaners and a bit of elbow grease. This is a great alternative if you have the time and patience. From Lemon Juice and Baking Soda for scrubbing down benches, chopping boards and bathrooms right through to Vinegar to clean your windows, there’s a natural alternative to pretty much everything you find under your sink. There are recipes you can following in fabulous books like ‘Spotless’ by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Flemming or even a quick Google search will have you cleaning up an environmentally friendly storm in no time.

The other way to go, which is the option I’ve chosen in my home is to use household cleaning products that have been formulated to be kind to you and have minimal impact on the environment. Not only does this option save time and effort but in most cases the ready-made cleaning products smell much better. In some cases so much so that you’ll never need to use anything else to scent your home. These greener household cleaning products will give you all the information you need on the label. They’ll tell you if it’s a plant-based surfactant, if the fragrance in naturally derived, how many days it will take to biodegrade and if it contains phosphates.

A few brands to look out for in the Supermarket or your Health Food store are Seventh Generation – great product imported from the US, Cinderella – my favourite as they smell divine and are Aussie Made, BEE – amazing Laundry Liquid & Dr Bronners – the ultimate All Purpose Castile Soap. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, you’ll notice the difference immediately.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Help Save the Orangutan

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: HELP SAVE THE ORANGUTAN

Palm Oil Plantations Threaten Their Survival

By Michelle Walker

Currently, these beautiful, shy and intelligent great apes are on the critically endangered list. They are in grave danger of becoming extinct within the next 10 years unless we all come together to fight for their survival.

The orangutan was once found throughout Southeast Asia, but now the species only survives in relic populations in Borneo and Sumatra. Recent estimates suggest that wild orangutan numbers could be as low as 50,000. Orangutan populations have declined by 50% over the last 10 years and their habitat by 80% over the last 20 years.

The word orangutan is Malay for ‘person of the forest’. The orangutan is 97% genetically the same as humans and has the intelligence of a 5 to 6 year old child. Orangutans are shy, solitary animals that are active during the day and build nests to sleep in at night – these are made from leaves and are high up in the trees. They live alone in large territories – probably due to their eating habits. A large portion of the orangutans diet is fruit and if there are too many trying to feed in one area this may lead to starvation. The only real social group is the mother and her offspring who live together for around 8 to 12 years. When mating the male and female usually only stay together for a few days. The female is capable of giving birth from 12 to 15 years and usually has only one baby about every 8 years. The mother and baby have a very strong bond and the baby depends entirely on its mother for nourishment, protection, to learn what to eat and where to find food, how to climb and swing through the trees and how to make a nest. The orangutan is estimated to live for about 50 years in the wild.

The single most significant threat to the survival of the orangutans is the expansion of palm oil plantations. The beautiful rainforests, in which the orangutans live, are being cleared at an alarming rate. Plantations in Indonesia have expanded from 600,000 hectares in 1985 to an estimated 6.4 million hectares this year. According to the UN, “The natural forests of Sumatra and Borneo are being cleared so fast, up to 98% may be destroyed by 2022”. This is due to the high world demand for palm oil to be used in products such as biofuel, cooking oil, chips, chocolate, biscuits, margarine, toothpaste, soap and much more.

Many consumers are unaware that they are purchasing products containing palm oil as the label usually only states vegetable oil or palm oil derivatives. As the orangutan’s forests are disappearing so is their food supply. This then causes them to go onto palm oil plantations in search of something to eat. The orangutans are then killed by the land owners or the farmers as they are considered to be pests.

As the forests are being cleared and the land burnt to make way for palm oil plantations this is also a major contribution to global warming. Biofuel was developed with the intention of being a greener fuel but bio-diesel containing palm oil is anything but green. Palm oil is high in saturated fat and low in polyunsaturated fat. Research indicates that the consumption of palm oil increases the risk of heart disease and should be avoided in your diet. This is difficult to do when manufacturers aren’t required to label it.

Another significant factor in the decline of the wild orangutan population is the illegal pet trade. Orangutan mothers are being killed so that the babies can be stolen from them and sold as pets. Unfortunately it is estimated that only one out of four babies will survive this experience.

Other issues affecting the orangutan are legal and illegal logging for timber and pulp for paper, and also gold mining. Even National Parks and protected areas are being deforested by illegal logging and mining.

Fortunately, there is a group of volunteers working very hard to try and save the orangutans and they belong to the Australian Orangutan Project. The Australian Orangutan Project is a non-profit organization and was set up in 1998 by Leif Cocks.  AOP is the Australian contribution to international efforts to save the great apes, and is a partner of the United Nations Environmental Programme, Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP). AOP’s mission is to raise awareness and ensure the survival of both the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan in their natural habitat and promote the welfare of all orangutans.

AOP has been working with in-situ conservation organizations to protect the orangutan in the wild. They provide funds for conservation, protection and education programmes such as –

  • Food, salaries, medicines and equipment for rescue centres.
  • Anti-logging patrols in National Parks.
  • Community based rangers.
  • Safe release sites for ex-pets, orphans and injured orangutans.
  • Support for conservation research.
  • Community education programmes.
  • Community based Eco Tours.

Rehabilitation centres in Indonesia and Malaysia are set up to treat and care for sick, injured, or captive orangutans. The ultimate aim is to return the orangutans back to the forest. Many have been returned successfully, however due to lack of available habitat this process is becoming more difficult.For more information or to get involved please go to www.orangutan.org.au .

For more information about palm oil, the issues and what you can do to help, such as letter writing, please go to www.palmoilaction.org.au

“Every person can make a huge difference to the lives of these beautiful animals”.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Sustainable Dream Home

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Sustainable Dream Home

Building and renovating an energy efficient home.

By Libe Chacos

Even Hobart in Tasmania, which has the lowest level of sun of all of Australia’s capital cities, has more than double the average sun hours that much of Germany has, whose long term goal is for a quarter of their electricity to be solar generated.

Intro: Imagine living in a home that stays between 16-24°C all year round and paying just $2 per day for all your heating and cooling costs.  It is easier than you think… but only after you abandon what most people ‘know’ about energy efficient and sustainable homes and follow the simple steps that work 100% of the time, in every style of home, and in every climate.

Ordinary people in ‘apparently ordinary’ homes across the country have already cut 41% and more off their electricity bills, 56% off their homes CO2 emissions, and saved hundreds of litres of water every day. We are all feeling the pressure: electricity prices are going up; petrol prices are going up – add interest rate pressure to that. Your dream home has a place in all of this. This is how.

Maybe you have already read some books, done some surfing on the internet and gone to sites that claim they can help you save water and electricity… Then they tell you to turn the power point off at the wall when you have finished watching TV and have 4 minute showers.

Well those changes are valid and do work, but there is definitely more to it than that. Besides, if you are not one of those people who is able to enjoy a massage every week or so, then a 15 minute shower may be your only escape from the kids, work and stress of every day life.

I’m sure that you are probably aware of some of the obvious fundamentals of energy efficient housing:

P   Lots of Windows to let the sun in to warm you up in winter

P   Insulate the walls and ceilings

P   Use energy efficient appliances

But there are houses being built like this all across the country, and they simply aren’t comfortable to live in. They still need lots of heating and cooling. So what’s the answer then? How do you create a home that is energy efficient, affordable, and comfortable; and one that you can happily have a guilt free spa in?

By following fundamentals and applying them where it counts the most in your home. Though people already follow these principles, but so many don’t  – next time you go for a walk around your neighbourhood, just have a look at how many solar hot water panels there are on the roof tops. Most people know that solar hot water is good for the environment and saves energy. Around 30% of the average Australian electricity bill is taken up by heating your hot water. New evacuated tube solar hot water systems will save around 70% of those costs and more for most Australians.

Now if you live in the shade of a neighbouring building or hill side then you can still save up to 75% off your hot water bills with another great Australian invention: The heat pump hot water system. They work like a reverse cycle air conditioner, and save heaps of energy on your hot water bills.  There are a range of brands to choose from, with two options being from Quantum and Siddons. Although, generally speaking the most effective savings in CO2 emissions are gained with a solar hot water system with a gas back up (for when the sun doesn’t shine). These types of savings will literally put money back into your hip pocket. If you invest in the right unit, it will work financially for you as well as environmentally. I have no interest in selling you a particular model… I’m just sharing what I’ve learnt. I just want you to save money and have a lighter eco footprint.

Did you know that Melbourne gets as much sunshine as the south of Spain and parts of Northern Africa? And most of the country receives more sunshine than Melbourne. Solar power is here now and readily available. We know it works and you can simply buy and have installed a ‘plug and play’ system and continue on with your life as though nothing has changed. There are literally thousands of houses across Australia that are totally solar powered.

What are Photovoltaics?

There is a difference between solar hot water systems and solar power panels – photovoltaics. Put simply, a photovoltaic is a material that is capable of generating electricity when exposed to light.

Is there enough sunshine?

In less than 2 hours of daylight the sun provides us with the amount of energy that is consumed by the entire population of the planet in one year. Even Hobart in Tasmania, which has the lowest level of sun of all of Australia’s capital cities, has more than double the average sun hours that much of Germany has, whose long term goal is for a quarter of their electricity to be solar generated.

Is it really cost effective?

There are four major contributing factors to cost effective solar power: How much sun you receive, the cost of the solar power system, the price you pay for electricity and how much electricity you use.

“…with this new $8,000 rebate when you do the sums, it turns out that if you’re in Alice Springs, Darwin and Perth, you are now economically advised to go and get a solar panel, because the price of electricity from your solar panel will be comparable with the daytime retail electricity price.” Professor Andrew Blakers, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, at the ANU in Canberra.

Perth receives a similar amount of sun hours to Adelaide, Sydney and cost effective, Brisbane; and Canberra is not far behind. Professor Blakers made these calculations before the latest hikes in electricity prices, so the costs are even more favourable now for more of Australia.

The key to the system being cost effective is to ensure that your home is designed and built to be energy efficient. To make solar power more cost effective for your home use natural gas for cooking; solar (including heat pump) hot water systems; passive solar designs and insulation for heating and cooling and an energy efficient fridge. These practices will make the initial cost of your photovoltaic system much more manageable and your return on investment healthier.

To make your home truly sustainable with solar power the following steps will help:

When you are replacing your appliances, choose energy efficient ones.

Replace your light globes with compact fluorescents

Replacing hot water systems with solar or heat pump hot water units.

Improve your insulation and windows

Use skylights effectively to warm and cool your home.

Then you can more cost effectively add photovoltaics to your home and get a real return on your dollar.

What about saving water?

You know the story: “we love a sunburnt country… droughts and flooding plains…” We know that we live in the driest inhabited continent on the planet. And we know that when it rains – it pours. This is not new information; but if you get the chance to have a look at the Bureau of Meteorology website statistics for your area, you’ll likely see some worrying signs for rainfall trends. As a result in many areas it is now mandatory to include a rain water tank when you build a new home. But how big should it be and what else can you do?

Reduce; Reuse; Recycle. Always the best place to start is to reduce. You’ve seen the ads on TV, but they don’t really explain why in this order. The good thing about water is that reusing is recycling and it is safe and easy to do.

Nearly half of all water consumed in the home is used in the bathroom. 20% of that water is literally flushed down the toilet. Now if you’re unsure where to invest money in the current climate here’s a good idea for a tax free return on your investment:

It is now mandatory that every tap sold in Australia is water saving. By buying more water-efficient products, you can save money on water and electricity bills and help the environment. Look for a product that has a high star rating – the more stars, the more water efficient the product. A standard 3-star rated showerhead can save the average home $150 a year in water bills and can be purchased for as little as $50. I’m going to say it again: If you invest your money in the right place to be sustainable and eco-friendly – you will get a financial benefit.

Saving water in the shower…

Showerheads with a 3-star rating use no more than 9 litres of water per minute, while old style showerheads use 15 – 20 litres per minute. If you shower for ten minutes, a water efficient showerhead can save up to 100 litres of water for each shower or up to 36,000 litres of water per person per year. With that amount of water saving you can comfortably have a guilt free spa bath! You can see how it starts to add up. OK we’ve reduced our consumption with water saving showerheads and dual flush toilets.

Now to reuse and recycle – the first step is a water tank. You will collect 1 litre of water for every square metre of roof area every time 1mm of rain falls on your roof. For example, if your home is 200m² and you get 10mm of rain overnight, your tank will catch 2000 litres of water. If you get 60mm of rain in a month then you will capture 12,000 litres (60mm x 200m2). What most people tend to forget is that we want the water more when it’s not raining, so if you have a rainwater tank you want to make sure it can store enough water for a dry spell.

On average, people use around 200L of water a day at home. For a family of four, that’s 800 litres of water a day. If you want to be self sufficient in your water supply, and it doesn’t rain for 30 days at your place then you need 4 x 200 x 30 (4 people x 200 litres x 30 days) = 24,000 litres of storage capacity.

The good news is you can safely recycle most of the water that gets used at home and put it to good use. An easy way to save water is to recycle it. Statistics tell us that in the average urban home we use 25% of our water on the garden. If you water your garden with a sprinkler for just one hour that’s as much as 1000 litres of water! A grey water system will recycle water from your shower (or spa!).  Attaching a grey water system to your shower, laundry tub or spa can be a great way to recycle – generate sufficient water supply for gardens, a great vegie patch, whatever water restriction levels apply! Grey water systems can be purchased from most plumbing stores. Check with your local council to confirm what requirements need to be met and systems should be installed by a licensed plumber.

So by taking the first step and reducing the amount of water you use – by installing water saving taps, dual flush toilets, using drip irrigation instead of hoses, watering the lawn at the right time of day so you don’t lose half to evaporation – you dramatically lessen the water storage requirements to be self sufficient, so you can invest in a smaller rainwater tank to get the same outcome. All without a change in lifestyle.

All it requires is a few subtle changes: the differences that make the difference. The Master Builders Association research tells us that buildings in Australia are responsible for 42% of our emissions. We know we all have a responsibility to save water and reduce our emissions. What you haven’t been told up till now is how easy it is to do!  (Libe Chacos has over 18 years experience in the sustainable building industry and produces manuals on the best way to build a sustainable dream home. See book reviews page 106-8 for more info on these guides).

Breakout box:

Heading: Tips for a happy, healthy hot tub…

  1. Go for an ‘all-in-one’ installation – these have the heater and pump built in under the spa. This shortens the distance the water has to travel, which means that the water stays warmer and takes less gas to keep it at the desired temperature. Better for the environment and easier on the wallet. They are much easier to install and maintain too.
  2. If you are having the heater/pump separate, try and have the water pipes insulated. If they pass through the ground the water will lose a lot of heat, making the unit less efficient and more expensive to run.
  3. Use your hot tub daily? Make sure you keep the cover on as this helps the water stay warm and is quicker to heat up next time you use it.
  4. If your spa is under a roof, consider installing a water tank. You can use this to refill or top up the hot tub (and water the garden) instead of using the mains water.
  5. Avoid showering before getting in the spa – the soap residue on your skin (and bathing suit) can make the water ‘frothy’ and affect the chemical balance.
  6. Try using a natural product to clean your spa to avoid the weekly pH tests and exposure to noxious chemicals. You won’t have wash to off that nasty chlorine afterwards. It’s just like having a nice hot bath and saves you water.
  7. If your hot tub is a few years old, it’s important to flush out your pumps plumbing as there can be chemical & mineral build up. Chose a natural spa treatment; this can eliminate this clogging in your pipes.
  8. Natural products are a great alternative to harsh chemicals – there is less maintenance involved and you can dump the water on your lawn or garden. Chemicals can kill your grass or plants, and definitely can’t be used on a veggie patch. This means it has to go down the drain – what a waste!
  9. Live in a sunny area like Queensland? Consider solar hot water heating for your hot tub. This is a virtually ‘free’ way to heat your water & will keep it nice and toasty all year round.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Hemp and Humanity.

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Hemp and Humanity- How Can it Help

By Michelle Stapleton

Hemp food products are widely consumed throughout the world, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand.

Intro: What if someone told you that there was an amazing natural resource that could help feed us, house us, clothe us, make our paper, our fuel, replace plastic with a biodegradable alternative and assist in our personal care? You would be amazed? Read on!

The resource that can achieve this is industrial hemp, and this natural resource has been well tested throughout time for thousands of years, but in the last fifty years it has virtually disappeared from mainstream usage in western society. Hemp is one of the oldest plants used by mankind.  Hemp seeds have been found in archaeological excavations over much of the world. The potential of this resource is now being revisited, developed and adapted to meet 21st century needs, right here in Australia, in several Industry sectors. The industry now needs support from the consumer and the support of Government. The present limitations on its use are environmentally, economically and socially irrational.

Growing hemp was made illegal in the early part of last century due to the economic advantage of the timber, cotton and synthetic fibre industries. The United States of America headed this change and the rest of the “western world” followed their lead. With the greater need for sustainable industries and environmental practices, the tide is turning for industrial hemp – a new evolution is dawning.

Today, one of the main misconceptions with Industrial hemp is the botanical relationship with Marijuana. Industrial hemp has little or no THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychotropic drug) found in high levels in Marijuana. Unfortunately, it has the same botanical name as Marijuana – Cannabis Sativa. Approximately 90% of Cannabis Sativa is industrial hemp and only 10% is Marijuana yet the Marijuana debate dominates the discussions surrounding Cannabis Sativa. industrial hemp and its attributes need to be understood and supported.

Why should we be using industrial hemp?

  • Hemp is the longest and strongest natural plant fibre.
  • Hemp is suitable to be grown in most climates and conditions, including high degree of soil salinity.
  • Hemp can be successfully grown with little or no use of insecticides, fertilisers, herbicides or fungicides.
  • Hemp can be used to produce paper without the use of chlorines.
  • Hemp can produce up to 4½ times more paper per acre then pulped timber.
  • Hemp outgrows all weeds and prevents the growth of weeds leaving the farm paddock clean for the next year.
  • Hemp has a deep taproot, which penetrates the soil raising nutrients towards the surface and aerating the soil.
  • Hemp cloth is extremely hard wearing. It outwears cotton and other natural fibres. The fabric improves with washing and wearing. It rapidly absorbs moisture. Over time it becomes softer without losing its shape or appearance. Hemp offers a high degree of UV protection and has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Hemp seed oil contains a balance of the essential oils required by the human body- all of the Omega Fatty acids in the correct ratios for the human body. The oil is easily absorbed into our skin, and is attributed to assisting medical skin conditions including Psoriasis, Eczema and Dermatitis. Hemp Protein is the best source of plant protein in the world.

Worldwide demand for hemp food and fibre products is growing daily. Unfortunately, most hemp fibre products are still imported due to the fledgling size of the Australian hemp farming community. We have the ability to process and produce a variety of hemp fibre and cellulose based products. We have the industries ready to utilise Australian hemp fibre and seed, all Australia needs more farmers to meet the demand of the industries that require hemp fibre and seed – and for this, all is needed is our support.

Australia is geographically well suited to the commercial production of industrial hemp. Additionally, five states have made the necessary legislative changes that allow commercial industrial hemp farming. The emerging food industry in Queensland is currently providing hemp products for the export industry and pet food sector. Demand for human consumption in Australia is increasing, and needs further support from the public and Government. Hemp food products are widely consumed throughout the world, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand. The legislative power to regulate hemp is held by each state government.

There is a strong demand for hemp fibres also, in various manufacturing industries. Hemp is now being included as a component of current corporate research in Australia, utilising modern techniques and technology within the building industry. There are exciting proposals for a hemp pulp industry underway in Western Australia, which really make sense – a superior paper can be made from the hemp plant. Hemp plastic technology is another emerging industry that needs our support.  State industry representative groups are being formed and are set to play key roles in the growth and development of the Hemp industry.

Due to the overuse of other commonly used natural resources and global environmental pressures, Henry Ford’s visionary construction of a hemp car in 1941 may actually be a reality in mainstream production in the future. This was a car, which was constructed using hemp and other cellulose and resins to make most of the components. Although no one is making automobiles from hemp today, Mercedes Benz has pledged to build parts such as dashboards from it.

Impressively, and importantly, the environmental benefits of the growing of hemp, include, (though are not limited to): less reliance on fossil fuels; more efficient use of energy; water conservation; forest conservation; carbon sequestration; agricultural pesticide use reduction; dioxin and other pollution reduction; recycled end use efficiency and landfill reduction.

Let us take our future into our own hands and make NOW the time to choose wisely to make the power of our dollar really count. With global warming upon us and the need for alternatives, hemp can be a part of the solution to a sustainable future.

The food legislation in Australia needs to be amended to create a viable industry for our farmers. The legalisation of industrial hemp products in the food industry will enable the whole plant to be used, making the industry more profitable as well as ecologically sustainable.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Colon Hydrotherapy

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Colon Hydrotherapy

Where Science & Nature Work Together.

By Diedre Ellis

“generally speaking a colonic is often a relaxing and pleasant experience”

The essential process known as a colonic or an enema has been with us for hundreds of years and its association with faeces has not been kind to its public profile but with the technological advancements in the equipment and the real improvements in practitioner training – a colonic is now often the beginning of a beneficial educational process about your own health and wellbeing.

Many people are often frightened that experiencing Colonic Hydrotherapy will be embarrassing or that the procedure is painful, often we fear the worst when we are unsure of what to expect.

A colonic is not much different than going to the toilet, with an open system the therapist does not need to be present all the time, and I find that most of my clients are very relieved that they can release on their own. The unique design of the Libbe bed means that there is absolutely no odour or mess, you easily insert the tube yourself, and you are completely covered during the whole procedure. So with this in mind there is no need to be embarrassed.

It is natural to be fearful and worried that it may be a painful experience; generally speaking a colonic is often a relaxing and pleasant experience. Of course your colonic is influenced by your own reaction to something new, your general health, and any previous experience. Most people are amazed that there initial perception was nothing like the actual colonic.

Most people don’t experience any pain during a colonic, just a feeling of fullness, however a few people may experience a little discomfort especially during the first colonic, generally in the form of minor cramping, this is caused by trapping of gas and the body trying to eliminate waste. The best way to reduce this comfort is to relax, deep breathe and some very gentle massage.

There are some contraindications to having a colonic, that is why a detailed health history is always taken on your initial appointment, and it is always advisable to ask your therapist for advice if you are concerned at all about any health issues or current medication that you may be taking.

Colon hydrotherapy, also known as colonics and colon irrigation, has been used, in some form, for over 3500 years. Colon hydrotherapy is an easy and proven method for cleansing the bowel. Many of us suffer regularly as a result of a poor functioning bowel. Common symptoms indicating colon dysfunction can include constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, abdominal cramping, nausea, bad breathe and excessive flatulence, plus more serious bowel conditions like irritable bowel and inflammatory bowel disorders. Other symptoms include fatigue, headache, skin problems, memory lapse, increased stress and irritability, poor circulation, joint pain, respiratory problems and weight issues.

There are many positive reasons for having a colonic

Waste material, especially that which has remained in the colon for some time (eg impacted faeces, dead cellular tissue, accumulated mucous and parasites) poses several problems. This matter can have a very sticky quality to it and over time can develop a coating on the lining which can build up and harden into plaque, in some people this can be up to an inch thick, this not only narrows the diameter of the bowel, causing problems with elimination but also hinders the absorption of essential nutrients, and encourages the growth of parasites, bacteria, fungi and yeasts. * Once this unwanted material is removed the bowel can begin to function the way nature intended. In a sense a colonic is a rejuvenation treatment.

The colon absorbs liquids and other elements through its walls and into the blood stream and lymph, which is then carried to the liver for processing, if there is a build up in the colon (most people can store between 2-10kg of faecal waste), then putrefaction and fermentation occurs and this can pass into the blood stream as poisons, which can affect any part of you body depending on your weaknesses. These toxins compromise your immunity and place stress on your detoxification organs.

Colonics are a way of exercising the bowel muscles. The build up of these waste materials, and our western life style have caused our bowels to lose their muscle tone, this further hinders our ability to eliminate effectively. The gentle filling and empting of the colon improves peristalsis (muscular contraction) movement, and triggers the nerve reflexes that trigger our desire to go to the toilet. It’s like a gym workout for the bowel.

Colonics help to reshape the bowel. The gentle action of the water, coupled with abdominal massage helps eliminate bulging pockets of waste, and narrowed, spastic constrictions finally enabling the bowel to resume its natural state.

Additional benefits of a colonic include, stimulation of reflex points that are associated with corresponding areas in the body, thus improving our general wellbeing, Colonics also help release old emotions that are often stored in the solas plexus and our gut. Colonics also have the ability to start you on a very beneficial educational process about your own health and wellbeing.

Is Colon Hydrotherapy more effective than in-house enemas?

The basic difference is that you have access to a lot more water during a hydrotherapy session, approx 20-30 litres, compared to 2 litres that your average enema holds. For reasons stated above you receive a much more effective cleanse with a professional hydrotherapy session. Often the number one goal is cleansing and improving muscular tone, Colon hydrotherapy sessions are extremely effective at achieving this. Enemas done well can also be very effective, but they require a lot of time and patience, as well as some know how. They are however very cost effective.

What physically happens during colonic hydrotherapy?

Here are two common systems utilised in Colonic Hydrotherapy Clinics:

LIBBE METHOD OF HYDROTHERAPY

The LIBBE system is an open unit where filtered, UV, sterilized and temperature controlled water is gently introduced into the colon. This water is gravity fed into your lower bowel via a pencil thin tube that is introduced by the client in privacy. This type of tube provides an amazing level of comfort compared to some other type of systems. All equipment is FDA approved and for single use only, ensuring your total safety at all times.

During a typical colonic, approximately 30 litres of water will be transported into and out of the colon, you will experience several fills and releases of water during the procedure, this ebbing and flowing gently begins to soak and soften the faecal matter, allowing debris, gas and mucous to be eliminated. A good colonic is capable of removing the equivalent of about 10 normal bowel movements, and further treatments can remove even more substantial amounts.

A fully certified therapist will assist you throughout the whole process, or if you prefer you can be left in complete solitude, the choice is entirely up to you. Each session takes 40-45 minutes but you need to allow 60 minutes.

The frequency of visits varies from person to person and depends on your goals, medical history and intestinal health. I will review your medical history with you, offer my recommendations, but the choice is always yours.

However, generally speaking I recommend three sessions to begin with, the first two within two days and the third a few days later. The reason for this is because there is over a metre of large bowel to cleanse and this in my experience requires a minimum of three sessions to cleanse the entire large bowel.  A restful ambience created by soft lighting and relaxing music allows you to completely relax during your session. At the end of each session you receive a nourishing shake or electrolyte drink plus a probiotic to help replace the beneficial bacteria.

For more info diedre@dynamichealthsolutions.com.au

BRUnelle Method of Colon Hydrotherapy

The Brunelle system of colon hydrotherapy is unique. Small amounts of oxygen infused water, is gently pulsated (massaged) against the internal wall of the colon, section by small section until the whole colon is stimulated. There is no ‘guesswork’; the equipment is designed, to take the water exactly where it is needed. The pressure used during the colonic is lower than when the colon is defecating.

Another unique feature of the Brunelle method is the temperature of the water is altered to help in the stimulation of the colon to release waste.

Thus leaving the liver and other organs to get on with what they do best, without interference from a toxic colon and toxic blood.

The results of colon hydrotherapy treatment have an effect on the whole body. It can benefit the entire system, including the mind, giving better health and vitality.

The health of the rest of your body is directly dependent on the health of your colon.

To learn more about how to be a colon therapist in the Brunelle method of colon hydrotherapy visit www.australianhealth.com

*Editor’s Notes: Good bacteria are also attracted to clean areas, so cleaning out the nasties can actually allow the good bacteria to populate. Supplements can be helpful to speed the breakdown of bad bacteria and the re-generation the good. Probiotics can be very helpful in the regeneration of the good guys.

Text box: (Lisa: pls make it very visible – start burst sort of visible) For more info and to find a clinic near you turn to the resource guide on page 109 for clinic profiles.

©Eco Living Magazine

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Lungs Fit For Life

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: Lungs Fit For Life

Subheading: Power Breathe Review

By Sudha Hamilton

In our city centred world, full of stress, pollution and too many sedentary occupations, we seem to be at the mercy of the many resultant respiratory ailments. It is all too common to hear of spiralling rates of asthma and bronchial complaints within our modern communities.  The breath of life – is there anything as vital to our survival? Have you ever experienced that panic inducing moment when you just cannot catch your breath, whether it’s under the waves in the surf, running a race, or simply stressed by life? Not being able to breathe properly is a terrible experience, and one that marks a rapid rise in heart rate. What can we do to check the rise of these often life threatening conditions? Get fit! Yes – improving overall fitness levels through regular exercise like swimming, walking and going to the gym, can and does help many people who are prone to developing serious respiratory diseases.

What are we doing physiologically when we exercise? Well many things are occurring within our bodies when we run, swim or walk quickly. Our hearts beat faster and push more blood around our body more quickly; our lungs expand to take in more oxygen, and we are forced to do this more often. As we breathe in and out, especially if we are running uphill or further than we have before, it gets harder to catch that full breath. There is resistance to this caused by the exertion involved and it is this resistance that trains our lungs and improves our inspiratory muscle strength.

These muscles, which are directly responsible for our ability to breathe, are weakened when suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is most often exacerbated by bronchial infections and can often lead to hospitalisation if unchecked. The treatment for COPD is usually a rehabilitation program, which involves some inspiratory muscle training, and runs between 4 to 12 weeks depending on the severity of the disease. Unfortunately around 50% of hospitalised COPD patients are readmitted the following year with the same condition and many patients remain permanently symptomatic with impaired quality of life. This is due to the fact that the effects of short term rehabilitation program inspiratory muscle training fade after 6 months.

What is involved in inspiratory muscle training (IMT)? Generally speaking a breathing device is used and this device creates resistance by means of pressurisation – making it more difficult to breathe in fully and thus building muscle tension. So in the same way we build muscles in the gym, we can do this internally for our inspiratory muscles. This means that IMT is a completely natural approach to the treatment of respiratory illness, and allows us to target the particular muscles with which we need to breathe. These devices are now available for use at home and can now provide long term IMT for the successful maintenance of conditions like COPD and the many other degrees of respiratory disease. These devices are of particular use to those who are unable to exercise their whole body because of an accident or illness. The IMT devices now available were developed by sports scientists to help athletes improve their aerobic capacity and sporting performances.

The Power Breathe Wellness device I trialled at home is a hand held portable unit and is easy to use. It has an adjustable load feature, which allows you to increase or decrease the training level. You place the mouthpiece of the unit in your mouth, holding the handle at the same time, your lips cover the outer shield to make a seal and the mouthpiece bite blocks are gripped between your upper and lower teeth. Then you breathe out as far as you can before taking a fast and forceful breath in through your mouth. Take in as much air as you can, quickly, straightening your back and expanding your chest. Repeat the process, feeling more confident about breathing in through the Power Breathe unit each time. There is a nose clip for those who require some assistance in not breathing in through their nose. The instruction manual recommends starting with thirty breaths at level 0 before turning the dial clockwise to increase the load if you feel ready and able to. It also advises to complete 30 breaths at whatever level you feel able to twice a day – once in the morning and again in the evening.

It may feel difficult at first but as with all muscle training this is part of the journey to increased lung capacity. In my experience and if you are using the unit correctly, after four to six weeks your breathing and lungs will show increased capacity.

The really wonderful thing about this therapeutic device is that it is completely natural and that you are in control of your own training. The work that you put in directly correlates with the improvements you will experience in your ability to breathe, and thus enjoy life. This is in complete contrast to many of the medications prescribed for breathing conditions, which often have side effects and most importantly give you no feeling of being part of your own cure. Of course consultation with your GP is always recommended if you are currently on medications for respiratory illness and wish to begin training with the Power Breathe Wellness unit. Medical research has conclusively shown that IMT increases strength and reduces fatigue in those that embark upon it. If we can take back responsibility for our ability to breathe, it will be in my opinion, the beginning of a dramatic reduction in the incidence of diseases like asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Eco Living Magazine

Welcome to Eco Living Magazine’s Blog.

Eco Living Health Aware is the freshest holistic health and eco magazine now currently available in Australia in print.

Eco Living Magazine is all about vision and sustainability – inspiring all our readers to find and follow their vision and contributing practical advice to help us create a sustainable future. Eco Living Magazine is full of articles that aim to inform and motivate all those who read them to take action in their lives.

In issue 100, currently onsale, we feature Anthony Ackroyd and the power of laughter; Bernie Prior and the dance of love on four legs; building your sustainable dream home with Libe Chacos; spas and retreats are the new holiday; and Wild Borneo – an eco adventure. Great recipes for delicious and healthy food, discover organic wine and regionalism, and get the low down on the poisons in our food chain.

112 pages of transformative eco living health aware content – chock full of positivity and beautiful stories. Reviews, organic skin care tips and dance your way to health with Wu Tao. Save the gentle Orangutans by taking action against palm oil.

Eco Living Magazine great reading for the twenty first century.

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