Category Archives: Reviews

Goolwa A Natural Holiday Destination

murray

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.

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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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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