This website and blog tool in combination together are aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange about shared spiritual journey.....”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”
New Delhi, India, 10 December 2016 - At daybreak Delhi was shrouded in thick fog, which gradually lifted as the sun rose. By the time His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove to the Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre, within the residential complex of the President of India, the day was looking bright. He had been invited to participate in the opening session of the inaugural Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit organized by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation. Once the Honourable Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, arrived, the summit began with the purpose of globalizing compassion for children.
Invited to give the keynote address, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, alluded to the diversity that flourishes in this country. He also noted that a convention has arisen that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded on 10th December, which, since 1948 has been Human Rights day.
“Children have to take centre stage,” he declared. “We have to overcome the inequality the leaves children underprivileged. We have to make a commitment to their development and security. We should correct disadvantage and equalize opportunity through education. Let us make this planet a better habitat for our children.”
When it came to his turn to speak, His Holiness acknowledged the President and his fellow honoured guests, but addressed those assembled as brothers and sisters as he usually does, saying:
“I really believe we are all the same as human beings, irrespective of our nation, belief or rank. We are all born the same way, we all depart the same way. Many of the problems we face are of our own creation. But because we have given rise to them, it is within our power and responsibility to solve them too. To come together to do that we need compassion rooted in a sense of concern for others’ well-being on the basis of our all belonging to one human family.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit in New Delhi, India on December 10, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
“Scientists say that constant anger, fear and hatred consume our immune systems, so if we’re looking for good health, we need to cultivate peace of mind. Education is a contributory factor, but our existing education system tends only towards materialistic goals. Those who have been through it have a materialistic outlook and a materialistic culture, with little regard for inner values. The source of trouble is within ourselves—our disturbing emotions. We have to learn how to tackle them.
“The President here and Kailash Satyarthi like me belong to the 20th century, a time that is gone. Those of you who belong to the 21st century, who are now 30, 20 or 15 years old, are our source of hope. If you make the effort, later in the century the world may be a happier, more peaceful place.”
His Holiness continued on the theme of peace of mind, the source of which he said was warm-heartedness. If our hearts are warm, he went on, then everyone we meet will be like a sister or brother. This is how children are: natural, accepting and inclusive of each other. It’s only as they grow up that they begin to see others in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Princess Charlene of Monaco, a former Olympic swimmer, has campaigned to prevent drowning, which otherwise takes many children’s lives. Having been born in Rhodesia, but grown up in South Africa, she quoted Nelson Mandela who said, “We owe our children a life free from violence and fear.”
Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan congratulated Kailash Satyarthi on convening the summit. He asked why today we see so many child refugees being turned away and advised,
“We owe it to our children to do more, better and faster.”
|Participants and delegates of the Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit listening to listening to the speakers during the opening session in New Delhi, India on December 10, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
“I’m sorry,” she said, “that the wealthy and powerful are so comfortable they feel no sense of urgency to act.”
Jose Ramos Horta, former President of Timor-Leste stated that child labour and slavery are indictment of us all. But, he added, some countries are too poor to change the pattern.
Finally, a child delegate to the conference, 16 year old Imtiaz Ali, a former child worker rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, said,
“We need to find ways for every child to be free and able to go to school. We the children have questions. I bring them to you. How much longer do we have to wait?”
Those assembled broke into groups for round-table discussions. The conversation His Holiness took part in focussed on compassion in business. He suggested that many businesses begin with a good motivation, but that gradually breaks down. He reiterated that simple warm-heartedness is a basis for serving humanity. “If you have a warm heart, you’ll be able to use your human intelligence in a proper, positive way.”
The session broke for a sumptuous lunch served on the lawns behind the building. Many delegates from different parts of the world took the opportunity to introduce themselves to His Holiness and take selfies with him. When the meal was over, he returned to his hotel.
New Delhi, India, 9 December 2016 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama flew from Dharamsala to Delhi yesterday afternoon. This morning his public engagements began with an interview for CBS and a conversation on Facebook live with Kailash Satyarthi, founder of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation and co-winner of the 2104 Nobel Peace Prize.
Asked about Satyarthi’s work to protect children’s rights, His Holiness declared it wonderful, adding that children are the basis of our hope for a better future.
“In today’s world, we see violence, corruption, poverty and innocent children dying of starvation. In the 20th century we paid too little attention to our inner values, choosing to try to solve problems by use of force. If the 21st century is to be different, those who are children today must make the effort to create a more peaceful, compassionate world.” Speaking to Satyarthi, he said, “I really appreciate your efforts.”
“We must oppose the slavery of children. Every child should be free to be a child; free to grow.”
Beginning their Facebook live conversation, Kailash Satyarthi recalled the sense of inspiration he had when he first met His Holiness in Berlin in 1990. When he asked if His Holiness recalled any similar source inspiration, his reply was that the Buddha said: “You are your own master; train your own mind; tackle your own emotions; don’t rely on the blessings of others.”
Satyarthi reported that as a small child going to school, he noticed another boy his own age outside with his father who was a cobbler. He asked why that boy couldn’t go to school too and the father replied, “We were born to work.” In return, His Holiness told him of meeting a black African family in Soweto and congratulating them on the new opportunities they had won with the end of apartheid. He was shocked when one member of the family told him, “We can’t compete with whites because our brains are inferior.” His Holiness remonstrated that this was simply not true, that no expert would support such a view, but that confidently making an effort was what really counted.
His Holiness’s final remarks concerned the role of NGOs in bringing about change and the need for individuals to act on their well-meaning wishes as Kailash Satyarthi has done.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Fifth Annual Convocation at Ambedkar University in New Delhi, India on December 9, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
In his introduction to the event the Vice-chancellor mentioned that the University had been functioning for 8 years and that at this 5th convocation 549 students would graduate, including the first PhD. He also noted that 66% of this year’s graduates were women. Diplomas and degrees were awarded to their respective recipients.
Chancellor Najeeb Jung, who is also Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, praised the steady progress the University has made. Welcoming His Holiness as Chief Guest, he recalled what he had said in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech when he acknowledged Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the movement for non-violent change, as a mentor. His Holiness had also noted that ignorance is the source of suffering, while happiness is to be found in appreciating our brother-hood and sister-hood with each other. Jung noted that this sense of universal responsibility had been a strong influence at Ambedkar University.
In his address, His Holiness congratulated all the graduates, teasing them that if they were anything like him, they would have had to work really hard at the end of their studies to get through their exams. He referred to the special amenability of the human brain to education. However, noting that simple warm-heartedness is a clear source of happiness, he recommended more attention being given to understanding the workings of the mind and emotions.
“Ancient Indian knowledge has much to say about this. Modern Indians tend to neglect this aspect of their heritage, but we Tibetans have kept it alive for more than 1000 years. If it doesn’t interest you, forget it, but if it does, think about how you can put it into effect.
“If you are honest, truthful and transparent, you’ll be a good human being able to contribute positively to society. These are good grounds to be optimistic---thank you.”
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama waving to the crowd on his arrival at Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi, India on December 9, 2016. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL|
After members of the Assamese Barua community had sung about taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, members of the Men-tsee-khang performed dances derived from the three major regions of Tibet.
In his introductory remarks, Tibet House Director, Geshe Dorji Damdul paid tribute to the erstwhile Nalanda tradition that informs Tibetan Buddhism. He expressed the wish that His Holiness live long and that his vision shall be brought to reality. Director of the Men-tsee-khang, Tashi Tsering Phuri spoke of the institution’s slogan ‘healthy body, healthy mind’. Dr Lalit Kumar commended Tibet House’s launch of a Master’s course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy, an opportunity to study the Nalanda tradition in English at your own pace. Geshe Dorji Damdul presented His Holiness with a summary of the course material.
Dr Najeeb Jung spoke of India as a moral force in the world and recommended all present to listen to His Holiness’s message of love, compassion and inclusiveness. Kiren Rijuju too anticipated that His Holiness’s advice would be appropriate guidance for future generations. Antonella Mathur then invited His Holiness to speak.
“Respected brothers and sisters and younger brothers and sisters,” His Holiness began, “I appreciate your enthusiasm and energy, which is what we need if we are to change the world. I want to thank Tibet House and the Men-tsee-khang for organizing this occasion.”
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Tyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi, India on December 9, 2016.|
“Sensory gratification alone does not put the mind at ease. To do that it is necessary to engage directly with the mind. This is why it is so important to understand the workings of the mind and emotions, as described in ancient Indian thought. Just as we need physical hygiene, we also need emotional hygiene if we are really to be well.”
His Holiness spoke of a reassessment of the contents of the 300 volumes of the Kangyur and Tengyur in terms of science, philosophy and religion. He stated that it was not necessary to be either Buddhist or religious minded to study the science and philosophy from an academic point of view. He cited nuclear physicist Raja Ramana’s lauding Nagarjuna’s thought as having pre-empted views now expressed in quantum physics. Likewise, he said, cognitive therapist Aaron Beck’s assessment that feelings of anger and attachment are 90% mental projection correspond to what Nagarjuna advised. He insisted that much of what the ‘Nalanda professors’ had to say continues to be of relevance to us today.
In answering questions from the audience His Holiness clarified the demarcation between violent and non-violent action as being in the motivation. He also touched on the important role of giving and taking, exchanging self and others in training the mind and achieving lasting happiness.
Following a vote of thanks, presentation of ‘katags’ to his fellow guests and posing for a photograph with members of Tibet House’s new Master’s Course, His Holiness returned to his hotel.
If you would like Jack to assist you in any areas of your life and relationships, fill out this form. He will respond to your questions through this column, normally published every Tuesday.
I’m concerned, actually more surprised, with something that happened the other day. First, let me tell you, I’m a complete “peacenik” and pacifist. I only confront if there’s no other way to handle things. I am never aggressive—never. I don’t get angry, because to me it means a loss of control.
My husband and I were walking through a neighborhood street just before a parade. There were bands playing and the usual noise associated with parades: people, vendors, children, dogs. It didn’t really bother me, although I don’t like noise.
Then we turned into a street where someone with a car had one of these boom boxes going in the trunk. The trunk was open and the deep bass sound was reverberating through every part of my body. I felt this anger well up in me—more than anger. It was an overwhelming rage. I felt every piece of me shaking, and I wanted to go over and attack the man. It took quite a bit of walking before I could calm myself down. I’d just managed to get calm when we turned onto another street and there was another car on the pavement, with the same kind of booming music. By this time, I was in tears, and I just wanted to get away from there and go home. We did.
I sat for a long time thinking about anything in my past that could’ve created this reaction, but I can find nothing. Is there something visceral about this? If so, is this a natural reaction, and then again, if yes, is this one of the things that is commonly affecting people these days?
FROM: Marietta, 51, female, Mexico
Thank you for submitting such an interesting question. In your question, it appears that you’re in fact seeking information on three different issues:
1) if there’s something visceral about the experience,
2) if it’s a natural reaction, and
3) if this experience could be affecting more people today.
The simple answer to your question is “yes,” on all three issues.
From what you described, your experience sounds very similar to the symptoms of a disorder that’s only just recently beginning to be more recognized and studied. Before I discuss the disorder, I need to clarify that it’s not my intention to imply that you have this disorder. However, if you or others reading this article believe that you share some of the symptoms discussed here, I suggest making an appointment with your doctor to further discuss any questions or concerns you may have.
Selective sound sensitivity
In 2001, Margaret M. Jastreboff and Pawel J. Jastreboff coined the term misophonia (hatred of sound) to describe a disorder in which varying sounds triggered intense emotional responses in people. The disorder has also been termed “selective sound sensitivity.” Overall, researchers consider the disorder to fall under the umbrella term Decreased Sound Tolerance (DST) disorder, which includes other disorders such as hyperacusis and phonophobia. Typically, misophonia is more often associated with specific sounds and intense emotional responses such as anger and rage. The disorder is not currently classified in the DSM-5 or ICD-10, which are the official psychological/psychiatric diagnostic manuals. However, growing research indicates that the most frequent emotional responses in those with misophonia are anger, flight, hatred, and disgust. Along with these intense emotional responses, sufferers may also experience such physical symptoms as sweating, muscle tension, and an increased heartbeat.
Misophonia is considered a rare disorder, even though some estimates suggest that around 10 to 20 percent of the population has either experienced this reaction at some point in their life, or suffer from it on a regular basis. Currently, there are a few theories that try to explain this puzzling disorder. In 2013, a review of the most recent neurological and fMRI studies of the brain, as it relates to the disorder, suggested that abnormal or dysfunctional coding of neural signals occurs in certain sections of the brain. The specific areas affected are the primary areas responsible for processing anger, pain, and other sensory information. In other words, it appears that auditory stimuli are processed in the brain in such a way that a stress response, or the fight-flight-freeze response, is more easily triggered within the brain of someone with misophonia. Research also indicates that those with misophonia tend to experience very unpleasant bodily sensations along with their intense emotional responses. What researchers are trying to determine is if this condition is genetic, meaning people are basically born with it, or whether it’s developed in a way similar to other phobias; for example, a person may develop a phobia of dogs if they are attacked by a dog.
One interesting research study was completed by Dutch researchers Schroder, Vulink, and Denys (2013). In this study, the researchers examined 42 patients with misophonia to try and discover if any suffered from what used to be referred to as Axis I disorders. These disorders include depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with Axis I disorders frequently seek help because they know that they don’t feel as they usually do. The researchers didn’t find any particular Axis I disorder that was statistically significant. However, there are also disorders called Axis II disorders, which consist of “personality disorders.” These disorders are considered more a part of a person’s personality and therefore more difficult to treat. Also, those with personality disorders often don’t believe they have an issue; it’s often at someone else’s insistence that they seek treatment. Some of the disorders in Axis II are Borderline Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, and Dependent Personality Disorder. What the researchers discovered was that more than 50 percent of the patients being studied met the diagnostic criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).
Now, OCPD is different from what many know as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is an Axis I disorder. OCPD is a personality disorder characterized by a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. Individuals with OCPD are prone to become upset and angry in situations in which they’re not able to maintain control of their physical or interpersonal environment, although their anger is rarely expressed directly, but rather indirectly, in a passive-aggressive manner. Those with OCPD may have difficulty being comfortable around emotionally expressive people, and often are considered very emotionally restricted. Their everyday relationships have a formal and serious quality, and they may often appear rather stiff or uneasy in social situations. They tend to be overly focused on performance and are highly stressed when perfection is not achieved. Lastly, individuals with OCPD also tend to be overly preoccupied with logic and intellect, due to their difficulties in processing emotions. Now, everyone has tendencies or behaviours that are found in at least one of the personality disorders listed in the DSM-5. What usually leads to a person receiving a psychological diagnosis occurs when their behaviours are so severe that they experience significant disruptions in their public and personal life.
Though the studies thus far on misophonia are very limited, they do suggest a couple of possibilities that need to be further studied and explored. First, if the brain exams are accurate, they suggest that the brain of a person with misophonia is wired in such a way that auditory sounds can trigger an autonomic response, similar to the flight-fight-freeze response, that is largely out of a person’s control. When a person with misophonia is triggered by a sound, they may instantaneously be filled with anger, rage, aggression, or an overwhelming need to leave the area. These experiences are oftentimes accompanied by intense bodily sensations that are often not recognized due to the intense flood of emotion. Those with misophonia are often very disturbed by the experiences because they don’t make sense, and the overwhelming deluge of emotion can be terrifying. Second, the Dutch study referenced above suggests a possible connection between people who are hyper-focused on control and perfectionism and misophonia as well. This suggests that a psychological or emotional connection to the triggering sound may, in fact, be present.
So, yes, the experience you described may in fact have a visceral component to it; it is technically a natural response, as far as your body is responding as it would to a perceived threat; and there are many other people who have these experiences as well.
Aggression and anger
If someone were to seek my assistance in therapy with the information you provided, the first step I’d likely take would be to explore the person’s history to try and discover any possible experiences the sound could be associated with. In doing this, I wouldn’t focus just on the sound itself, but would also explore the sources of the noise as well. Was there anything about the car, the sound system, or even the person playing the music loudly that seems familiar? Does that type of music remind you of anything?
Since you stated that you’ve thought and thought about this and can’t remember anything or connect anything to any of the factors I mentioned above, I would probably not spend a great deal of time on such a direct approach. Instead, I’d try and explore the tendencies to try and avoid confrontations at all costs. What is it about confrontations that are so uncomfortable or disagreeable for you? What would be the worst-case scenario of a confrontation gone wrong? I’d also want to explore the fact that you never become aggressive—never, as well as your belief that anger means a loss of control. Aggression can be a very potent, powerful tool if used in a healthy, appropriate manner. Most people believe that aggression must include acts of violence or threats of violence. This is not necessarily the case. So I would explore if it’s your belief that violence has to be a part of aggression that makes you completely avoid it, or if you choose to avoid taking any offensive action at all. I’d also explore the idea that anger means losing control. I would agree that people who go into a rage are likely out of control, but anger? Anger is a natural part of human existence. Even the Dalai Lama himself admits that he continues to deal with anger at times. Before I would have you begin a meditative practice, I’d want to explore if being in control at all costs is indeed an issue for you. If it is, trying to explore the reasons for that could prove beneficial and be included in the interventions I’d suggest.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” – Carl Jung
“The shadow is the greatest teacher for how to come to the light” – Ram Dass
Carl Jung stated the following in his 1912 essay “New Paths in Psychology,”
We know that the wildest and most moving dramas are played not in the theatre but in the hearts of ordinary men and women who pass by without exciting attention, and who betray to the world nothing of the conflicts that rage within them except possibly by a nervous breakdown. What is so difficult for the layman to grasp is the fact that in most cases the patients themselves have no suspicion whatever of the internecine war raging in their unconscious. If we remember that there are many people who understand nothing at all about themselves, we shall be less surprised at the realization that there are also people who are utterly unaware of their actual conflicts. (p. 425)
I believe another very beneficial approach would be in exploring the full impact the experience has had on you. I can only imagine what it must have felt like for a person who considers themselves a “complete ‘peacenik’ and pacifist” to suddenly have extreme feelings of rage and violent aggression pulsing throughout their entire body. When emotions hit us with such tremendous force, it’s not uncommon to have very violent fantasies flash through our minds, allowing us to imagine all the violent acts we’d enjoy doing in that moment. This can be a very disturbing and troubling experience. Regardless of the cause of the experience, the fact is, you came face to face with your shadow side. “It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. … there emerges a raging monster; and each individual is only one tiny cell in the monster’s body, so that for better or worse he must accompany it on its bloody rampages and even assist it to the utmost.” (Jung 1912, p. 35)
From the description in your question, it’s obvious that coming face to face with your shadow side has had a tremendous emotional and psychological impact on you. My guess is that you may have worked very hard in trying to eradicate such thoughts and feelings within yourself and may have been shocked that those kinds of impulses were still within you.
Feeding your demons
If you’re like most of us, I’d guess that your first desire is to find a way to eliminate or remove that side of you to ensure that you never have that type of experience again. As tempting as that may sound, I don’t believe it’s either a realistic goal or a healthy one. The fact is, as humans, we have a shadow side that is capable of all kinds of horrible behaviours. I have a picture that I keep hung up in my office. It’s a drawing of a young girl confronting a big aggressive demon, yet the young girl is smiling. Without fail, people always ask why I would have such a picture on display. I explain that that the picture basically explains my approach to therapy. I believe that a person has to approach the shadow just as this girl does in the picture: in a warm, welcoming, accepting, and trusting manner. When we’re able to do this, the shadow within us can actually make each of us a more compassionate, loving person. How do we do this? Again, I believe meditation and loving-kindness are at the heart of the answer.
Tsultrim Allione developed a very powerful meditation practice called “feeding your demons.” This practice is based upon a Tibetan meditation practice called Chod that was developed in the 11th century by Tibetan nun Machig Labdron. This practice doesn’t require adherence to any one particular faith or any faith at all. As the title of the practice suggests, the aim of this practice is to feed our shadow side—which is our fear, hate, anger, greed—all the things we work to repress and keep under control. Paradoxically, “feeding” our shadow side does not make it stronger; ironically, starving it can. Feeding the shadow side can actually free up the energy that’s being used to bind it. In this way, powerful emotions that have been bottled up by inner conflict are transformed into loving-kindness and compassion. When we try to fight against or repress the disowned parts of ourselves, they actually gain power and develop resistance. In feeding our shadows, we’re not only rendering them harmless; we’re also, by addressing them instead of running away from them, nurturing the shadow parts of ourselves so that the energy caught in the struggle transforms into a positive protective force.
The following is an outline of the practice:When you sit down in meditation, and after you have centred yourself through mindful breathing, think back to that day and try to remember where in your body you felt the emotions hit strongest. Gently allow yourself to begin to feel how those emotions felt, what the sensations felt like in your body. Do not try to understand why; just remain mindful of where in your body the sensations feel strongest. In the second step, allow the energy that you feel to take a personified form in front of you. Do not try to control the personification, but allow it to take whatever shape it chooses. In fact, when I do this practice, I actually set up another meditation cushion for the shadow to sit on so it feels more welcome. In the third step, we try to discover what the shadow needs. However, we don’t do this by asking it what it needs; rather, we discover what the shadow needs by putting ourselves in its place, by essentially becoming the shadow. In my own practice, I’ve even changed meditation cushions, and in this step, I sit on the cushion I placed for the shadow side. In the fourth step, imagine yourself dissolving your own body into nectar of whatever it is the shadow needs, and allow this to flow to the shadow side. You can even do this if you didn’t get a clear idea of what the shadow side needs. Sometimes it takes a few sessions before we’re comfortable enough to fully allow ourselves to become the shadow. During these times, I imagine myself dissolving into loving-kindness and allow it to flow to the shadow. In the fifth step, after you finish feeding the shadow side, generate an attitude of compassion for the shadow and allow it to dissolve back into emptiness. Stay relaxed and focused on your breath until you end the session.
I’ve found this to be a very powerful practice not only for myself, but for those with whom I’ve worked. One woman in particular felt that she was totally transformed after doing this practice a few times. Again, the main underlying principle of this practice is to confront those fear-provoking aspects of ourselves while in a state of calm mindfulness. As we become more adept at doing this, the energy and sensations that we’ve tried to avoid or control become less and less frightening because we no longer fear losing control. As a side note, the one woman who felt totally transformed by this practice was suddenly able to remember experiences that were associated with the reasons she sought help.
I believe the experience you had may, in fact, be a tremendous opportunity for remarkable growth. I suspect that if you practiced this on a regular basis, the tendency to avoid confrontation at all costs would become less and less prominent.
In closing, I want to again mention misophonia and encourage you to ask your doctor about it if you continue to have experiences like the one you described in your question. However, many of the treatments for the disorder are based upon the underlying principles of the meditative practice I described above. What you experienced can be terrifying. To feel overwhelmed with extremely powerful emotions that threaten our ability to control ourselves is not a pleasant experience. I encourage you to use the knowledge of how that feels the next time you see someone consumed with emotions. My guess is that you’ll likely feel compassion for that person, since you truly know what it’s like.
Jack Surguy has an MA in both Theological Studies and Counseling Psychology, and is currently completing his doctorate in Clinical Psychology. He has spent years studying and practicing mindfulness meditation and finding ways to effectively implement the teachings and practices into his therapeutic intervention philosophy. His main area of practice focuses on the effects of trauma and childhood maltreatment on overall psychological/emotional and spiritual functioning. He currently works in a facility that specializes in treating traumatized adolescents and families.
image 1: Pixabay; image 2: Thomas Leuthard (Creative Commons BY)
I moved to Seattle from Chicago for five years during my early twenties and loved it so much. However, I moved to Arizona for a relationship about six years ago and have had a recurring dream every few months for much of that time.
In it, I still live in Arizona, but find myself visiting Seattle. Upon arriving, I realize that I still have the keys to the first (and favourite) apartment I lived in by myself. Each time, I visit the apartment and see that it holds some of my long-forgotten belongings in varying states of moving out that had simply stopped at some point.
I feel a sense of nostalgia, longing, guilt and confusion about why I still have the keys, whether I’ve been paying rent on this apartment without realizing it, or if I haven’t been paying and therefore shouldn’t still have access to it.
I also feel anxious about living so far away from what appears to still be my residence, and realizing that I’ve been abandoning the upkeep of the apartment and my belongings. The dream is familiar enough by now that I go right into it knowing I’ll find my keys, which provides an excitement that I’ll have a place to stay during my trip, but I still feel all of those other conflicted emotions that never get resolved.
I particularly had these dreams while splitting my time between my current boyfriend’s house and my apartment in Arizona, so figured the dream could apply to my actual home that I wasn’t spending a lot of time in. But the dreams started before we met, and have continued since moving in together, so I’ve been trying to understand what they could mean?
DREAMER: Female, 35, U.S.
Apartment – dreamer’s state of mind
Key – a tool to “unlock” an understanding or a different perspective
Belongings – items that hold value to dreamer
Thank you for sharing your dream! It’s a very apt example of a dream where emotions come to the forefront. Oftentimes during waking life we might not be fully present to all the emotional states that we experience. Dreams allow us to see more clearly and fully the spectrum of emotions that we go through during our waking time.
Your dream is not really about a physical state of being (Seattle), but rather about a mental state of being that you experienced while living in your apartment in Seattle. There was an attitude of being that you fostered back then and this is what the dream is calling your attention to (as you said you loved living there in your twenties).
Finding the keys in your dream signifies that you do have access to a tool that unlocks that “past” state of being where you experienced much contentment.
I would be interested to find out what exactly are those belongings that are in the apartment. Are those clothes or pots and pans? This would give us more details as to what to focus on with regard to that past state of being: clothes would relate to your expression and pots and pans to processing of knowledge. This is to illustrate how seemingly small details in a dream provide significant guidance to the dreamer.
If it were my dream, I would take some time to reflect on what was happening within me back in Seattle. Your dream is giving you guidance to unlock (keys) those attitudes, this way of being. This might be related to being hopeful and experiencing a sense of exploration since you moved there when you were in your twenties. Whatever occurred back then is what you can still return to right now and it is not through moving back to Seattle, but accessing the state of mind, the attitudes, from back when you were living there.
Through the emotional states present in the dream your Higher Self is directing you towards the need to revisit and reconnect with your mindset from the past. There’s a need to incorporate that state of mind into your present. Nothing is permanently lost or abandoned. You can revisit the ways of being from that time and incorporate those into your current way of life in Arizona.
I would suggest you journal about your experiences and thoughts when you were living in Seattle. What were your plans and dreams? How were you approaching life back then? Answers to these and similar questions will give you clues as to what your mental attitudes back then would benefit you in the now.
May your dreams illuminate the inner you…
image via Pixabay
I had been lulled into an almost hypnotic reverie by the landscape passing below me when suddenly the brown list and roll of the plains was broken by a snaking ribbon of blue that looked like nothing so much as one of those serpentine dragons on the back of a Japanese kimono. The Missouri River. The Mne Sose, the giver of life.
Seeing this vibrant blue artery against the relentless brown of the landscape brought to mind a conversation I once had with a Lakota man outside a convenience store on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. A severe drought had overtaken the land, and the earth was parched with a desperate thirst.
“I hear the reservoirs on the Missouri are drying up,” I said. “The ranchers are having to truck in water for their stock.”
The man pulled some tobacco shards from a cigarette he had just rolled. “Damming a river is like stopping the blood in the veins,” he said. “It’s bound to cause trouble.”
His words haunted me, there at 30,000 feet, as I thought of the people gathered far below at the Sacred Stone encampment in an effort to stop the pipeline that would cut like a black snake through this magical landscape. By their presence they were trying to speak the truth that the old man knew in his heart: you do not violate a river, because it is the lifeblood of the earth.
Anyone who has ever experienced the power and the magic of the Dakotas knows that this land has a spiritual presence. It is a land of vast singularities — sky, earth, wind, moon, clouds moving in stately procession through azure skies — nothing small to stop the eye. It leans the heart instinctively toward meditation. And coursing through it all, in majestic counterpoint, is the Missouri, the longest river in America, flowing in sinuous beauty among the hills and swales toward a seemingly endless horizon.
To experience this land is to understand on a fundamental and visceral level that the confrontation taking place here at the edge of the Missouri is more than a struggle between protesters and authorities; more even than a test of limits of tribal sovereignty or claims of violations of sacred land. This is a struggle for the very health of the planet itself.
It is a wager between the belief that technology, in the service of progress, will allow us to adapt and adjust and change the earth to fit our human needs, and the belief that the earth has immutable truths that we cannot violate without causing irreparable damage. It is a wager we cannot afford to get wrong.
An elder once said to me, “You think you can fix everything, change everything. But there will come a day when things cannot be fixed. And, you know what? It will be a day just like today.”
The committed gathering of people on the banks of the Mne Sose understand this. They know, like the old man outside the convenience store, that the Missouri is the blood in the veins of this earth, and that if it becomes polluted by toxins, whether intentionally or otherwise, all the earth and the life upon it fed by those waters will be in peril.
The reactor at Fukushima sits in stark desolation, beyond the capability of human repair, seeping radioactive water into the Pacific. Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Mexico are forever tainted by the oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon. Chernobyl is a ghost city standing in haunted silence amid the rich grain fields of the Ukraine.
In these and a thousand lesser-known places, pipelines have ruptured, reactors have leaked, and trains have derailed, leaving the land and waters poisoned and the plants and animals diseased and dying. And in each case, we had claimed that such accidents were impossible, because all necessary protections and safeguards were in place to keep them from occurring.
Now, in an unholy alliance of faith in technology, our insatiable desire for oil, and the demands of corporate profit, we are trying to put a pipeline beneath the Missouri River, the giver of life.
We must not let this happen. We must now speak up, each of us in our own way. The folks huddling in the cold on those distant Dakota plains, being sprayed with water cannons and maimed by concussion grenades, need to hear our voices added to theirs.
They are not there for themselves. They are there for our children and our children’s children. They are the voice for the seventh generation, if there is to be a seventh generation. And they are being led by the very people whose voices have too long been silenced, the people who have always understood that the earth is alive and that spirit is present in all of creation — the people of Native America.
Those of us sitting comfortably in our homes are called upon at this moment to decide if we will stand with them or if we will let this fade into the background while we continue to live as if the earth is infinite in her patience and capabilities. We are asked to choose, by our words and actions, whether we believe that the earth is here for our benefit, and technology and ingenuity can always save us from our mistakes, or if we believe that we are stewards of this fragile planet and must approach her with humility and respect.
As we choose, we would do well to keep the words of the elder who spoke with me close to our heart: “There will come a day when things cannot be fixed, and it will be a day just like today.”
I, for one, believe we must do what we can to keep that day from coming.
On December 4, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a temporary order to stop construction of this section of the pipeline. Whether this constitutes a change in policy or merely a change in strategy, it is too early to say. Under any circumstances, this “desist” order will have the positive short-term effect of protecting people from the brutal North Dakota winter, with which I have had more than my share of experience.
I am thrilled that the Native people have kept the lead in this resistance. In so doing, they have shown the rest of us the power and dignity of the Native Way.
Perhaps the Shoshone elder quoted in Voices in the Stones was right: we non-Native people have come here to learn from them.
My thanks to all who have, in person or in spirit, been part of this effort. We must hope that it is more than a resistance, that it is an awakening. Our children and our children’s children deserve no less.
# # #
Kent Nerburn is the author of Voices in the Stones and fifteen other books on spirituality and Native themes, including Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce (featured on the History Channel), Small Graces, The Wisdom of the Native Americans, and his great trilogy that begins with Neither Wolf nor Dog. He lives near Portland, Oregon. Visit him online at KentNerburn.com.Copyright © 2016 by Kent Nerburn
The following article has been excerpted from The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition, in which author Julia Cameron helps inspire people to put aside any excuses, connect with their inner selves, and get their creative careers off the ground.
Although creative recovery is a highly individual process, there are certain recurrent themes and questions that I have encountered over and over in my teaching. In the hopes of answering at least some of your questions directly, I include the most commonly asked questions and answers here.
Is true creativity the possession of a relatively small percentage of the population?
No, absolutely not. We are all creative. Creativity is a natural life force that all can experience in one form or another. Just as blood is part of our physical body and is nothing we must invent, creativity is part of us and we each can tap into the greater creative energies of the universe and pull from that vast, powerful spiritual wellspring to amplify our own individual creativity.
As a culture, we tend to define creativity too narrowly and to think of it in elitist terms, as something belonging to a small chosen tribe of “real artists.” But in reality, everything we do requires making creative choices, although we seldom recognize that fact. The ways in which we dress, set up our homes, do our jobs, the movies we see, and even the people we involve ourselves with—these all are expressions of our creativity. It is our erroneous beliefs about creativity, our cultural mythology about artists (“All artists are broke, crazy, promiscuous, self- centred, single, or they have trust funds”) that encourage us to leave our dreams unfulfilled. These myths most often involve matters of money, time, and other people’s agendas for us. As we clear these blocks away, we can become more creative.
What factors keep people from being creative?
Conditioning. Family, friends, and educators may discourage us from pursuing an artist’s career. There is the mythology that artists are somehow “different,” and this mythology of difference inspires fear. If we have negative perceptions about what an artist is, we will feel less inclined to do the diligent work necessary to become one.
On a societal level, blocked creative energy manifests itself as self-destructive behavior. Many people who are engaged in self-defeating behaviors, such as addicts of alcohol, drugs, sex, or work, are really in the hands of this shadow side of the creative force. As we become more creative, these negative expressions of the creative force often abate.
One of the central themes of The Artist’s Way is the link between creativity and spirituality. How are they connected?
Creativity is a spiritual force. The force that drives the green fuse through the flower, as [poet] Dylan Thomas defined his idea of the life force, is the same urge that drives us toward creation. There is a central will to create that is part of our human heritage and potential. Because creation is always an act of faith, and faith is a spiritual issue, so is creativity. As we strive for our highest selves, our spiritual selves, we cannot help but be more aware, more proactive, and more creative.
What is the most common misconception about creativity?
The most common misconception is that we would have to leave our current lives in order to pursue our dreams. It is easier for us to use our jobs, families, financial situations, time obligations, etc., as a way (or ways) to keep us “safe” from the anxiety caused by stepping out of our comfort zones into the creative process. When we allow ourselves to be thus thwarted, we deny ourselves tremendous joy. The most effective way to center confront blocks is to form creative cluster groups in the lives we’re already leading.
Read more from Julia Cameron (along with Emma Lively) in PROSPERITY EVERY DAY: 10 daily affirmations to guide you on your path to creative, spiritual and financial fulfillment»
Julia Cameron has been an active artist for more than three decades. She is the author of more than 30 books, including such best-selling works on the creative process as The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World, and Finding Water, and her most recent title It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. Find her online at JuliaCameronLive.com.
|Excerpted with permission from THE ARTIST’S WAY: 25th Anniversary Edition by Julia Cameron, from TarcherPerigee, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright Julia Cameron, 2016.|
image 1: Stephen Ransom (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA); image 2: Alice Popkorn (Creative Commons BY)
According to the Yoga Alliance’s 2016 report on yoga in America, “36.7 million Americans or 15% of US adults practice yoga in the US.”
Of course, yoga is great for you. It promotes well-being through strength, flexibility, breathing and meditation. But is yoga good for everyone?
According to William Broad, author of The Science of Yoga, “The soothing practice … can lower blood pressure, spice up sex—and kill you.” He claims yoga comes with risks, including stroke and disc injuries—for certain people.
That makes sense, especially for men and women over 50. With age comes reduced physical and mental function. Older adults lose strength, range of motion, flexibility, bone density and balance. They often suffer from high blood pressure, osteoporosis, glaucoma, injury and the loss of hearing and sight.
Not everyone should be standing on their heads. However, with careful instruction, respect for your limitations, and realistic expectations—mindfulness—yoga has proven benefits for “golden yogis,” especially for women.
Nearly 14 million U.S. adults over 50 practice yoga. And B.K.S. Iyengar, considered the father of U.S. yoga, practiced into his nineties. Why?
Yoga is good for the mind
Yoga reduces stress and improves body image—and your sex life. Taking quiet time for yourself energizes. In fact, yoga practitioners are 20 percent more likely to have a positive self-image than people within the general population.
Moreover, researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) found that three months of yoga minimized memory loss better than “brain training exercises.”
Stress reduction lowers heart attack risk. Regular stretching and strengthening also helps eliminate joint pain, including back pain.
Heidi Mair, yoga teacher to students over 50, reports in the Seattle Times, for older yogis specifically, yoga improves:posture and balance hand-eye coordination flexibility and range of motion in joints sleep and concentration blood circulation, respiration and digestion bone density
Yoga reduces:stiffness aches and pains anxiety blood pressure menopausal discomforts
Yoga alleviates menopausal symptoms
Seventy-two percent of yoga practitioners are women. Those over 50 may find yoga a natural alternative to medication and hormone replacement in relieving peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms, according to the UCLA Research and Education Institute’s Rowan Chlebowski, M.D.
Yoga Journal’s Trisha Gura suggests meditation and these poses for those experiencing certain issues associated with menopause:Hot flashes — supported reclining poses, such as legs up the wall; poses supported with bolsters to back and head to promote cooling rather than heating, which exacerbates hot flashes Anxiety and insomnia — forward bends (with bolsters for head support) and inversions that help calm the nervous system Fatigue and depression — gentle supported back bends, chest openers Memory — downward-facing dog and corpse pose, which brings blood to the head and relaxes the mind and body
But yoga is not a cure-all. Some studies cite only modest improvements in symptoms. Results vary depending on the type of yoga (for instance, a cardio-focused practice like vinyasa or one that’s more more calming, like yin), frequency of practice, and individual biology.
Safely practicing yoga over 50
With experienced teachers who adapt classes to the strength, age and health of their students, yoga over 50 can be safe and rewarding. But it’s not just teachers that make yoga over 50 safe. It’s the students.
Yoga is a patient practice. It grows in increments: flexibility, awareness, and strength. Those who know their bodies better and work daily to love and appreciate them just as they are—wrinkled, scarred, stiff and gravity-riven—can safely practice with an open heart and attentive mind, listening to the body’s signals to go deeper or retreat.
Acceptance of contracting bodily limitations comes with the expanding level of awareness and the ability to know—wisdom—that the best route to success is the one that keeps you on the path. In that way, older yogis are more suited to yoga than younger ones, who often envision the future and their bodies as having limitless potential. They’re also the ones doing more acrobatic forms of yoga and so, I’d assume, get hurt doing yoga more often than older practitioners. Of the 36.7 million yoga practitioners in America, 14 million are 50 and over, so this lower number, probability-wise, might suggest fewer yoga-inflicted injuries.
I might also presume that most of us over 50 have either lost or tempered our perfectionist drive—and our ego-driven, no-pain-no-gain exercise routines. Ego is what slides under the surface in a yoga practice. Ego, I highly suspect, causes injury.
So, while the 50-plus crowd comes to yoga with more life under their belts and therefore, presumptively, more past and ongoing injuries, they’re more likely to be practicing with better insight, hindsight and foresight.
Life teaches those who hear the lesson, or more aptly, the Buddha has been cited as saying, “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” Older yogis, with their living pasts growing larger than their futures, know that.
Read more about yoga and meditation in ANCIENT INDIAN ENERGY HEALING: Practices for Physical, Mental and Emotional Well-Being»
image 1: Žirklerank?s galerija (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA); image 2: Pixabay
So together we are going to investigate whether desire is one of the major causes of disorder; we must explore desire, not condemn it, not escape from it, not try to suppress it. Most religions have said, “Suppress desire”—which is absurd. So let us look at it. What is desire? Put that question to yourself. Probably most of us have not thought about it at all. We have accepted it as a way of life, as the natural instinct of a man or a woman, and so we say, “Why bother about it?”. Those people who have renounced the world, those who have entered monasteries, and so on try to sublimate their desires in the worship of a symbol or a person. Please bear in mind that we are not condemning desire. We are trying to find out what is desire, why man has, for millions of years, been caught not only physically but also psychologically in the trap of desire, in the network of desire.
Man, throughout the historical period of man, has said that to find that reality or God—whatever name he may give to it—you must be a celibate; that is, you take a vow of chastity and suppress, control, battle with yourself endlessly all your life, to keep your vow. Look at the waste of energy! It is also a waste of energy to indulge. And it has far more significance when you suppress. The effort that has gone into suppression, into control, into this denial of your desire distorts your mind, and through that distortion you have a certain sense of austerity which becomes harsh. Please listen. Observe it in yourself, and observe the people around you. And observe this waste of energy, the battle. Not the implications of sex, not the actual act, but the ideals, the images, the pleasure—the constant thought about them is a waste of energy. And most people waste their energy either through denial, or through a vow of chastity, or in thinking about it endlessly. The Collected Works vol XV, p 90 Tweet
Do you suffer from continuous cold symptoms, such as a runny nose or cough? Or struggle to get a good night’s sleep but aren’t sure why?
If you own a dog, these symptoms may be caused by an allergy. In this article, I’ll take you through three effective techniques for relieving symptoms that don’t involve getting rid of your beloved pet.
Before attempting to reduce symptoms, however, it’s important to understand what causes them. Dog allergies are usually caused by dander, not hair. Symptoms can also be the result of saliva, which is why some people come up in a rash when a dog licks them.
The reason an allergy develops isn’t always known (although it’s possible early exposure to pets could reduce the risk), but symptoms are the result of an over-sensitive immune system. When a person with an allergy encounters dander or saliva, the usually harmless substances are identified by the body’s immune system as dangerous, triggering an allergic response.
Contrary to popular belief, this reaction can be caused by any dog, as there is no such thing as a true “hypoallergenic” breed. While certain breeds shed less hair, all dogs release dander into the air, and this can cause potentially severe reactions.
In most cases, getting rid of your dog is simply not an option. In years gone by, doctors regularly advised owners to give up their dogs, but began realizing many would prefer to suffer than live without their pet. The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to relieve symptoms without a heartbreaking separation.
What are the symptoms of a dog hair allergy?
Symptoms can vary greatly depending on your sensitivity to allergens. Some people’s symptoms are so mild they don’t notice them for years, while others may have severe reactions when near a dog.
Common symptoms of a dog allergy include:“Cold” symptoms caused by nasal inflammation, such as a runny nose and constant sneezing Coughing or wheezing Facial pain Difficulty staying asleep Swollen skin around the eyes Itchy or red eyes Red skin patches Skin itchiness
As you can see, a dog allergy is easy to confuse with a common cold. In general, if symptoms continue for more than a couple of weeks, you should see a doctor about a potential allergy.
A dog allergy can also make asthma symptoms worse. If you suffer from asthma and have an additional allergy, dander may cause chest pain and difficulty breathing.
How to relieve dog allergy symptoms
The three tips below are all natural solutions for alleviating allergy symptoms. Each can be effective on its own, but your doctor may recommend combining them with medication such as nasal sprays, eye drops or even immunotherapy.
1. Keep your dog away from the bedroom.
If you’re the type of dog owner who loves their dog sleeping on the bed, this is something you should stop immediately. We all spend a lot of time in our bed, and breathing in allergens all night can greatly reduce quality of sleep. At night, try to keep your dog as far away from the bedroom as possible and make sure the door is closed.
2. Choose a vacuum with an HEPA filter.
Vacuums are great for sucking up dirt, dust and other particles—including dander. The downside is these allergens can be released back into the air if the vacuum doesn’t have an efficient filter. For this reason, there is now a subset of vacuum cleaners built specifically to clean homes with pet hair. These are more powerful than regular vacuums and usually come with motorized upholstery tools.
Many of these vacuums also come with HEPA filters. These are highly efficient at removing allergens from the air so they don’t get pumped around your home. If you suffer from a dog allergy, you should always buy a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
It’s also important to vacuum regularly. Some experts recommend vacuuming every day if you have a dog allergy, as this keeps dander at manageable levels. Also, remember to regularly wash the cover of your dog’s bed and clean walls near where it sleeps.
3. Replace carpets with hard flooring and rugs.
This is a more radical solution, but can have a big effect. Dander is sticky and becomes trapped in carpets, so switching to an entirely hard-floor home makes it easier to reduce dander quantities. If your family doesn’t like the idea of walking on hard floors, you can use rugs to provide softer flooring. These are much easier to wash than carpets.
Bonus Tip: Wash your dog at least once a week.
This is a bonus tip, because there is debate about its effectiveness at reducing allergy symptoms. There’s no doubt regularly washing your dog reduces skin particles though, so it’s worth trying. You may want to get someone else to wash the dog, as it can briefly stir up allergens.
The days of doctors telling everyone with a pet allergy to get rid of their dog are almost over. By keeping your dog away from your bedroom, vacuuming regularly with an HEPA filter model vacuum cleaner and replacing carpets with hard floors, there’s a good chance of quickly relieving symptoms.
Read about the (possibly surprising!) connection between dogs and mindfulness in HOW TO LOVE MINDFULLY: Just ask a dog!»
image via Pixabay
Essential oils are versatile — each one can perform a variety of functions. There are 10 essential oils in the Basic Care Kit, which between them will manage a huge number of problems. The short profile of each of these oils that follows may help you decide which to include in your kit, and which to add as time goes on. The choice will very much depend on your own requirements. The 10 essential oils in this Basic Care Kit also feature strongly throughout this book and have useful applications for a wide diversity of purposes — from health care to well-being to the enhancement of mind, mood, and emotion, from skin care to gardening, and from home care to celebrations. So on all counts these oils make a hugely helpful contribution to any household.In addition to these 10 oils, other useful additions to your care kit would be aloe vera gel, witch hazel water, rose water, and lavender and chamomile hydrolat. Aloe vera comes from the leaf of the aloe vera succulent plant (Aloe barbadensis) and is a fine healing agent for cuts, inflammation, and burns, as well as being a good carrying agent for the essential oils. It can be bought in gel or liquid form, or try growing your own plant so you can cut a leaf and squeeze out the gel whenever you need it. Witch hazel, extracted from the shrub Hamamelis virginiana, is known for its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Rose hydrolat is a by-product of the distillation of the various varieties of rose essential oil and is used for its mild antiseptic and soothing properties. You will also need a neutral carrier oil or two to dilute the essential oils, such as sweet almond. Clove bud essential oil is another very useful essential oil to add to your Basic Care Kit for its analgesic and other properties.The 10 essential oils I have chosen for the Basic Care Kit are versatile, easy to use, and readily available. Compared to many other essential oils, they are reasonably priced, so it should be possible for you to purchase oils of good quality. Let us now have a brief look at the 10 essential oils that comprise the Basic Care Kit. The Basic Care Kit Oils LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender is an indispensable essential oil — it’s not only useful to have at home but many people won’t leave home without it. In a sense, it’s the mother of all essential oils: incredibly versatile, yet powerful. The aroma doesn’t suit all tastes, but when someone suffers a minor burn or scald, a cut or graze, an insect bite or a headache, a tooth abscess or sleeplessness, it’s lavender they call for.Not only is lavender a spectacular healer that also prevents scarring, it’s a mood tonic that brings calm, relaxation, and stress relief. Lavender oil is a natural antiseptic, antibiotic, and slightly antifungal agent that’s also a sedative and antidepressant. Although not known specifically as a circulatory stimulant, lavender oil certainly seems to allay the effects of clinical shock. Lavender is one of the few essential oils that could be applied undiluted to the skin in certain acute conditions.
GERANIUM (Pelargonium graveolens)
Geranium is deceptively charming. If the quality is good, the aroma of geranium essential oil is clean and floral and enjoyed by most everyone, including children and teenagers. The sweet aroma of geranium masks the fact that this is an antiseptic and antibacterial oil, making it a good choice to include in anti-infective blends, while also being an analgesic. Geranium is indispensable in the treatment of circulatory and blood disorders; it will help chilblains to disappear and help alleviate the effects of frostbite. Geranium brings hormonal balance and is a vital component in addressing female reproductive conditions, including menstrual and menopausal problems and infertility.Geranium oil is excellent in body care and brings a radiant glow when used in skin care. Its astringent properties contribute to its general usefulness. It also works profoundly on the emotions, serving as a nerve tonic and as a sedative. It’s fantastic in blends because just one drop used as a back note will mask a healing aroma that might otherwise be too medicinal. Aromatically, geranium is an equalizer, making everything smell a bit better, and as such it is a great all-rounder in room fragrances. THYME LINALOL (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool)
There are several types of Thymus vulgaris essential oil available, but the chemotype (ct.) linalool is preferred because it’s versatile, has a long history of use in clinical aromatherapy, and is more compatible with skin applications because it’s considered nonirritating.Thyme linalol is like a valued warrior, having powerful antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Few oils are as useful as thyme linalol when there’s an internal infection of some sort, or when “flu” or other contagious conditions are a threat. Even one or two drops of thyme linalol used in a room diffuser mix of, for example, geranium, lemon, and cardamom will add purifying anti-infectious protection.The antimicrobial aspects of thyme linalol are enhanced by other properties attributed to this oil, such as its immune stimulant and diuretic properties. Thyme linalol is excellent in the treatment of soft tissue and joint conditions, including rheumatism. It’s also used in cases of neuralgia and fatigue and in hair- and skin-care regimes, including those for acne. In addition, thyme linalol is a good brain stimulant, boosting the capacity for analytical thought. CHAMOMILE ROMAN (Anthemis nobilis)
There are several essential oil–producing plants called chamomile, but the two most commonly used in aromatherapy and known as the true chamomiles are chamomile roman, which is included here, and chamomile german (Matricaria recutita), which is distinguished by its beautiful deep-blue color, due to a high azulene content. Chamomile roman is an excellent anti-inflammatory oil, which makes it valuable in a wide range of conditions. It is also antiseptic, antibacterial, and when combined with other oils, analgesic, and it is used in recovery from burns, including sunburn, as well as for asthma, sprains, strains, diarrhea, nausea, and fever. It is also used for a variety of skin care issues, including in rejuvenation treatments. Chamomile roman is calming and sedative — particularly effective in the treatment of nervous conditions, depressive states, and insomnia. It has a balancing effect in blends. Chamomile is a strong but humble oil that works on the mind, body, and spirit, the psychological as well as the physical. As it’s essentially a soothing oil, chamomile roman is good to use with children, and also with the inner child in adults. This is an oil with many subtle levels. ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a good analgesic essential oil, useful in the treatment of all muscular problems, as well as joint conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism. It’s used both for respiratory tract issues and, in small amounts, for conditions of the liver and kidneys.
Rosemary is an aid to memory — whether required for enhancing the ability of the brain to function well or exploring long-term emotional memory. It’s also used in the treatment of depression, migraine, headaches, anxiety, and stress. Rosemary is helpful in a variety of beauty treatments, including those for cellulite, acne, and hair care. For the sportsperson, cook, or gardener, rosemary is invaluable.
PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint is hugely helpful in all problems of the digestive tract, including indigestion, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomach-derived halitosis. It’s also useful in certain conditions of the respiratory and circulatory systems and as an all-round tonic. Peppermint is an analgesic, antiseptic, cooling, anti-inflammatory oil with some antifungal properties. It has a place in the treatment of catarrh, headaches, migraines, skin irritations, rheumatism, toothache, and fatigue. In small amounts, it can be incorporated into complex perfumes or room blends, providing a subtle back note. It has a unique place in cookery, while also being able to keep ants, fleas, and mice away. Peppermint is a multipurpose oil, and a useful addition to the Basic Care Kit.
CARDAMOM (Elettaria cardamomum)
Cardamom has layers of healing ability, starting with its calming effect on the digestive system, making it a good choice when dealing with flatulence, stomach or abdominal cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease. Cardamom is antibacterial and antifungal, as well as analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It helps ease muscular cramps and spasm and, as an adaptogen, has a calming yet stimulating effect. Cardamom can also be used for most types of coughs and is useful for respiratory problems, as well as for certain types of food-related infection.
As if all this were not enough, cardamom can be used in cases of exhaustion — whether physical, mental, or emotional. It’s stimulating in cases of tiredness or fatigue, yet has a calming effect on the mind and nerves during times of stress. Cardamom has a balancing and harmonizing effect on the body and mind. It’s also a gentle ingredient in skin preparations and can be used in cooking.
LEMON (Citrus limon)
Lemon essential oil has a tonic action on the lymphatic system and a stimulating action on the digestive system. It can be used to alleviate bilious attacks, and when combined with other essential oils, it can contribute to the treatment of verrucas, insect bites, and tension headaches.
EUCALYPTUS RADIATA (Eucalyptus radiata)
Eucalyptus radiata has been chosen for the Basic Care Kit because it’s the species of the genus Eucalyptus that can safely be used on those with long-term chronic conditions, while also being a strong and effective essential oil.
Eucalyptus radiata is perhaps best known for its effectiveness against respiratory tract infections, but it has many other uses too. This is an antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, and analgesic essential oil, with anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and deodorizing properties. As part of complex blends, eucalyptus radiata can also be helpful in the treatment of cystitis and candida. It cools the body in summer, while also treating sunburn and deterring insects, and it is warming in the winter, while keeping infection at bay.
TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Tea tree essential oil is antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal — making it useful for a wide range of conditions. It’s used in the treatment of various infections, including candida, ringworm, and athlete’s foot, as well as for toothache, sunburn, cuts and grazes, and various skin conditions, including acne. It could also be incorporated into mouthwashes and hair shampoos. Tea tree oil is widely used as an insect repellent and to treat insect stings. Although the aroma is not to everyone’s taste, it can easily be disguised with other essential oils for use in room diffusion methods when someone in the household has a contagious airborne infection.
# # #Valerie Ann Worwood is the author of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy and numerous other books about essential oils. She has a doctorate in complementary health and is a clinical aromatherapist who teaches around the world, training therapists and practitioners. She lives in Sussex, United Kingdom.
Excerpted from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. Copyright © 1991, 2016 by Valerie Ann Worwood.