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Archive for February, 2014

Global youth are 1/4 of the world’s population. Who are they?

The major difference between young people today is not their nationality but whether they’re urban or rural. Illiterate villagers live in a past century. For example, I interviewed village kids in Indonesia, India and Pakistan who had never heard of global warming (see the interview with an illiterate Pakistani girl in Chapter 13). Middle-class urban young people share a youth culture with its own music (hip-hop), clothes (jeans and T-shirts), slang (cool), social networks (Facebook and Twitter), and electronic pastimes (video games, texting, movies and TV). However, almost half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day and about one billion people are illiterate.[i] When around 5% of the global population receives 40% of world income,[ii] rising expectations fuel discontent.

Global youth live in rural areas, in urban slums, or urban and suburban middle-class families—in that order. Middle class young people are the ones who have the opportunity to get an education and access the Internet, either at home or in Internet cafes. Only a fifth of youth live in upper-middle and high-income countries. Globally, 31% of females and 28% of males are enrolled in higher education,[i] while about 8% of boys are illiterate and 13% of girls.[ii] Illiteracy is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. Globally, about 150 million children live on the streets, some without any parents to care for them.[iii]

The interview with Mashal in Chapter 14, a rural Pakistani teenager who lives in a mud brick hut, conveys the pain of spending all your time working to try to feed the family, being illiterate and having no control over your own life. She only saw her fiancé once and hopes he won’t insist on gold jewelry for her dowry that her family can’t afford. Photos of the one-room apartment I visited in Shanghai covey what their life is like. The little girl, age 8, said her parents argue all the time over lack of money. They can’t afford to get medical care for a burn scar that bothers her, but she is going to school.

Photos of the favela I visited in Rio de Janerio reveal bullet holes in walls from gun battles between the young drug lords who control the favela and the police. A study of one favela found the average school attendance was for four years–20% of Brazilians live in favelas.[iv] The young men sat on their motorcycles guarding the entrance to the favela, knowing they will probably die in their 20s. The woman who showed me around Rochina has staph sores on her legs because of the human waste in floodwaters that flow in the narrow alleys between houses when it rains. Because of poverty and drug use, families are unstable with children growing up without their fathers.

Katherine Boo reports on the grim details of children’s lives as trash pickers in a Mumbai slum in her book Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012). Rubina, the child star of Slumdog Millionaire also grew up in a Mumbai slum. She told her story to a French writer when she was nine (although she doesn’t know her exact birthday).[v]  Rubina described the children playing along the railroad tracks, because it’s dark and damp in the shacks, so close together they don’t allow sunlight, similar to the slums I saw in Rio. Her extended family sleeps next to each other on mats in one small room with no window, and their only luxury is an old black and white TV.

Rubina explains there is no privacy in the slum and people insult and shout at each other “all the time.” Boys harass and chase the girls. Kids have to get up early to wait in line to get water for the day before the water stops at 10 am so they can’t go to school. During monsoon season, the slum floods with dirty water as it does in Rochina. There’s a toilet area with three holes that don’t get pumped out. Rats and mosquitoes cause diseases; “every year children die of malaria in our slum,” she reports.

The poor don’t have the resources to pull themselves out of poverty and their governments are in debt. Economic development moves from agriculture in rural areas to light manufacturing and urbanization, to high-tech services in cities, but poor counties don’t have the basics to get the evolution started, explains economist Jeffery Sachs.[vi] He breaks down the numbers of global poverty this way:

1 billion: About one sixth of the world’s people are the extreme poor who live in developing countries and earn pennies a day. In India, about 836 million people live on less than 50 cents a day. They are not on the ladder to development and progress, caught in a poverty trap. For example, two-thirds of India’s population of a billion people lives in the nation’s 600,000 villages. Despite India’s economic growth, the disparities between wealth and poverty are enormous. Many villagers migrate to the cities in search of work and end up begging on the streets.

Most of the poor live in rural sub-Saharan Africa, and East and South Asia. In Latin America, the extreme poverty rate is stuck at around 10%. Globally, a record 1 billion people went hungry in 2009, with parents cutting back on school and health care to give their children a meal once a day, according to the UN Food Agency. A child dies every six seconds of malnutrition, so investment in agriculture needs to be increased. Thirty countries require emergency aid to feed people, including 20 African nations. I asked Hassan in Pakistan to interview a village girl so we could have an insight into the life of one illiterate girl who spends her days working without hope for a better life, in the next chapter.


1.5 billion are poor who have food but may lack safe drinking water and working latrines, as in Bangladesh. Together with the extreme poor, they make up 40% of humanity. Approximately half the world’s population of 7 billion (as of 2011) now lives in cities and towns. In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 billion people) were living in slum conditions.


2.5 billion are middle-income. Most of them live in cities, but wouldn’t be considered middle class by rich countries. They may be able to purchase a scooter and send their children go to school. About 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, according to the National Academy of Science in 2009. MAHD doctors report 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance, 14,000 lose coverage each day, and 120 die daily due to lack of health care. [vii] The US lost 15 million jobs since the Great Recession of 2008, so many Americans also struggle with food shortages—about 5.6 million households had chronic struggles putting enough food on the table in 2009.[viii]


1 billion, about one-sixth of the world, is high-income. The richest countries, in terms of average earnings of the population, are Luxembourg, Norway and the United States. The most expensive countries to live in are Japan, South Korea, and Russia. The countries with the most billionaires are the US, Japan, and Germany. (aneki.com)


Improvement is occurring in some areas. The UN reported in 2010 that the extreme poverty rate (earning less than $1.25 a day) fell from 46% in 1990 to 27% in 2005, and is expected to fall to 15% by 2015, mainly because of gains in Asia.[ix] Deaths among children under five years of age have been reduced from 12.5 million per year (1990) to 8.8 million (2008).[x] However, hunger and malnutrition are increasing in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and gaps are widening between rich and poor and between urban and rural areas. Women are more impacted by poverty: A girl who lives in a poor households is four times more likely than a similar boy to not be in school. In some African regions, less than half the women are assisted by skilled health workers when they give birth.


[i] http://www.prb.org/pdf13/youth-data-sheet-2013.pdf

Population Reference Bureau, “The World’s Youth 2013 Data Steet.”


[v] Rubina Ali. Slumgirl Dreaming. Delacorte Press, 2009.

[vi] Jeffrey Sachs. The End of Poverty, 2005

[viii] A 2010 report by the US Department of Agriculture. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/food_frequency.htm

[i]Anup Shah, “Causes of Poverty,” Global Issues, March 24, 2013.


[ii] Catherine Rampell, “Thy Neighbor’s Wealth,” New York Times, January 28, 2011.


Women Lead Revolutions

Women use blogs, videos and cell phones to publicize events and educate people about revolutionary issues. Asmaa Mahfouz, 26, is called the Leader of the Revolution because of her famous video appealing to men’s honor to come to Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Her family forbade her to demonstrate on the street and cut her off from the Internet, so she used her phone to organize from her bedroom. Libyan women lawyers were pioneering organizers against Gaddafi in Benghazi and women started uprisings in Lebanon and Israel. Natalia Morar, 25, a Moldovan journalist organized a protest against rigged elections that attracted 20,000 people storming the parliament building in 2009. This was called the first “Twitter Revolution.” Like other organizers she was surprised at the turnout of young supporters.

Young women’s courage is astounding: Anyone who follows world news has heard of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani advocate for girls’ education since she started writing a blog for BBC at age 11. She represents a pattern of outspoken first-born women who were encouraged by their fathers. When her teacher father was asked about his influence, Ziauddin said, “You should not ask me what I have done. Rather you ask me, what I did not do. I did not clip her wings to fly. I did not stop her from flying.”[i] A traditional stimulus for women’s leadership was belief that holy spirit was guided them, like the teenage Joan of Arc, or the 19th century women founders of US religions Christian Science and the Seventh Day Adventists. Today the inspiration for young women and men activists willing to put their lives on the line is justice, freedom, and dignity rather than the holy spirit, political party, union or class.

Youth-Led Revolution in Tunisia, critique of social movement theory

In the only book about youth’s role in a Middle East uprising (Youth and Revolution in Tunisia, 2013), Mozambican scholar Alcinda Honwana analyzed the Tunisian youth movement that displaced dictator Ben Ali. She points out that the research on social movements that began nearly a century ago is biased towards Western Europe and North America, with some research on South America. Also, studies of non-violent movements have neglected Africa with the possible exception of South Africa. Post-Marxist European research studies the New Social Movements that began in the 1960s such as environmentalism and feminism. In the Global South, movements are more interested in jobs than human rights. Since the 1990s North Americans were interested in what makes a movement succeed, using Resource Mobilization and Political Process (PP) models that looked at the structure and organization of movements. Applying PP to the Tunisian movement, as to why Ben Ali couldn’t maintain power, Honwana points to economic crisis, unemployment especially of young college graduates, and splintering of the elites, plus widespread anger over police violence and censorship. In terms of framing the uprising to get broad support, the demand “Ben Ali leave” had broad appeal. But she finds the PP limited because youth aren’t involved in the old political process; they’re making a new politics outside of political parties. She observed that SMT hasn’t looked closely at post-revolutions that are developing a new form of politics. In summary, with a few exceptions, “these theories have failed to take account Southern realities.”

Young leftist Greek leader called the most dangerous man in Europe

A rising political star is Alexis Tsipras (born in 1974), the young leader of the SYRIZA coalition of small leftist groups. Referred to as the most dangerous man in Europe, he wants to cancel the €240 billion bailout agreement with the Troika and stop cuts to social programs. He stated in 2012, “The rotten and reliant establishment is making its last stand. Their dominance is ending after they looted the country and saddled it with debt.”[i] He explains, “Our political plan is to effect alternative policies that will efficiently address the crisis and kickstart the economy by supporting the weak, creating new employment and supporting basic incomes. Greece’s reconstruction will come from a fresh developmental plan, one that is aimed at income redistribution, decent jobs and the enhancement of public goods.”[ii]

As a high school student (age 16) he led student protests against education reforms, appearing on TV as a spokesman and he has a photo of Che Guevara on his office wall. He was a member of Communist Youth where he met his partner and mother of his sons. Unlike many other Greek politicians he isn’t a member of an elite family and is rarely seen wearing a tie. He campaigned to be head of the European Commission in 2014, causing some leftist philosophers who opposed participating in meaningless elections to support Tsipra. Philosophers Antonio Negri and Sandro Mezzadra explained essential issues can “only be addressed at a European level. Outside of this sphere there is no such thing as political realism.”[iii] While French philosopher Alain Badiou advocated “subtraction” from the state and denigrated the uprisings in Egypt and Greece as “communist invariants,” Negri believes It’s possible to create a “new political grammar” working with European organizations.

[ii] Lynn Stuart Parramore, “Exclusive Interview: Meet Alexis Tsipras,” AlterNet, February 12, 2013.


[iii] Srecko Horvat, “President Alexis Tsipras: Is that a Joke?” The Guardian, January 21, 2014.


Alternative to corrupt governments

Interesting article on how to build alternatives to governments sold out to big business by a Dutch grad student.

Jerome Roos, a graduate student who lives in Athens, is hopeful that, “We do not necessarily have to innovate the new so much as we have to crush the past and intensify the already existing” communal self-help activities that Graeber refers to as “everyday communism.”[i] Roos adds that it’s important not to fetishize (a Marxist word popular in revolutionary circles) direct democracy because, “The capitalist state survives, and creating our own parallel society is not enough. We must self-organize, and then push our quest for autonomy outwards to eventually encapsulate all of society.”[ii] He points out that no revolutionary party from China to Latin America that achieved state power genuinely changed capitalism, so the goal must be ongoing social revolution towards autonomy, what John Holloway described as “the end of power-over and the unleasing of power to.” Revolution is not the seizure of state power like 1917 in Russia, 1949 in China, and 1959 in Cuba, but ongoing social struggle and practical direct democracy in the expansion of local assemblies and cooperatives.

[i] Jerome Roos, “Everyday Communism and the ‘Sprit of Christmas,’” Roar Mag.org, December 25, 2013.


[ii] Jerome Roos, Autonomy: An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” Roar Journal of the Radical Imagination, June 23, 2013.


Coping with anxiety and depression naturally

Q: The new DSA (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 has a lot of influence on diagnosis and mental health treatment. What’s its approach?

A: About 20% of American adults suffer from a mental illness each year, with about 5% experiencing a serious disorder that disrupts their life. [i] It’s more common in women, young adults, the unemployed and people with low incomes. Only about 60% with disabling illnesses get treatment each year. Prescription medicine is the most common treatment, used by 12% of adults. Holistic psychologists criticize it for relying too much on drug treatment for possible biological causes of disorders like anxiety and depression.[ii] Thousands of holistic psychologists posted a petition against broadening of definitions of mental health disorders, which they fear could lead to overtreatment with drugs. In 2010, 1 in 5 American adults were using a mental health medication, up 22% over the past decade.[iii] The rate for women was 1 in 4, with antidepressants the most widely used drug. “There’s this propensity to push pills instead of looking at what’s really going on with the person. When we saw in the DSM-5 that there was going to be a push in the direction of a more medical, less holistic ways of doing things, we felt we should take a stand,” said Mark Schulman, President of Saybrook University. Dale Milfay, VP of the National Alliance on Mental Illness added, “We’re in a bind in this country with the drug companies pushing pills because they make a lot of money on people who don’t need them, and the people who really do need them can’t get them.” Many alternative remedies exist, some of which are mentioned in this book as described by Dr. Weil and Dr. Blasch.


Q: I have waves of anxiety and sadness where I cry and cry. Anti-anxiety meds take the edge off but don’t solve it.


A: What I’m seeing is that you’ve stuffed pain and trauma for years. Now it’s like an overflowing septic tank. The pain and fear needs to be released in a way that you can keep some distance from it. Remind yourself it’s about the past and not an accurate emotional response to the present. Use Emotional Freedom Technique tapping, thinking about the fear as a wild dog you tame with kind tapping. Or, use a Neuro-Linguistic Programming technique where you put your fears as a film on a movie screen, move back to the projection booth, change the colors, run the film backwards, then send the screen away from you fading into the distance, as described on page 9.[iv] This is similar to the NLP visualization to reduce pain by changing the senses along the pain pathway, explained in the first answer under the Pain section.


Q: All my life I’ve been anxious and worried, as about my family members, even though I had a peaceful childhood in a loving family. I often worry and feel anxious and it spills out on what ever is happening currently. I feel guilty even though I’ve had a squeaky clean life so far. What’s up with this constant worry and guilt? Exercise doesn’t help because my mind goes in so many places I can’t get into the zone.

A: I’m seeing a past life where you were on a handmade raft in a flood, trying to protect your three little children from being swept into the raging waters. You couldn’t save them, although you survived. The legacy of guilt and fear bled over into this life. Forgive yourself and think of what the Buddha taught, nothing is permanent, all is transitory. We are born and die many times on the wheel of rebirth, hopefully earning and evolving. Develop a routine that you automatically engage in when you’re aware of feeling anxious.
1.    Take a deep breath with your tongue on the roof of the mouth. Exhale with your tongue on the floor of your mouth. This connects the Governing and Central meridians and is really calming. Repeat while deep breathing, “I am relaxed, calm and centered.”
2.    Visualize releasing some of the anxiety into your grounding pipe every day as described on page 37. (https://gaylekimball.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/visualization-to-ground).

3.    Take charge with the centering visualization (https://gaylekimball.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/visualization-…tered-and-calm) When you start to worry about something or someone you care about, imagine being in the throne in the middle of your head, the centering visualization. This aligns you with the neutral sixth chakra, rather than reacting emotionally from the second chakra where we feel it in our gut.

4.    Set positive energy by imaging filling in a gold sun with what you want to feel and imagine it pouring its contents down into your head all the way to your feet.

You can also try these other tools:

*The Freeze Frame exercise (www.pbs.org/bodyandsoul/203/heartmath.htm).


*Visualize a peaceful place like snorkeling in a warm clear ocean bay.


*Be aware of where you feel the anxiety in your body as on a thermostat, turn it down, and send warm green light to that area.


*Talk to the subpersonality who believes being anxious is the way to achieve a task.


*Search out an archetype that feels protective, like downloading a picture of Angel Michael. Post it in your vehicle and bathroom mirror.


*When you start to obsess over what could go wrong, try taking it to its extreme, like “I could end up a bag lady on the street,” and you may even be amused. When you face the realistic worse that could happen, it may not be so bad, as when one door closes, another opens. The point is not to worry about worrying.


Q: I’m feeling anxious over a recent breakup with my girlfriend even though I don’t want to get back together with her. What can I do?

A: A recent traumatic event kicks up unresolved traumas to be processed, which can feel overwhelming but can be healing if you work through it. That means seeing a counselor, journaling, talking to a supportive friend who is a good listener, and using energy psychologies like EFT to clear the blocks.

Q: I married my husband because I was pregnant. I’m not in love with him, he’s disrespectful to me in front of our daughter, and he’s domineering and controlling. I don’t know what to do about my anxiety and depression living with him.


A: Q: I married my husband because I was pregnant. I’m not in love with him, he’s disrespectful to me in front of our son, and he’s domineering and controlling. I don’t know what to do about my anxiety and depression living with him.


A: Read Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum to think about specific questions. Learn about the cycle of abuse where tension builds, the abuser explodes verbally and/or physically, and then is apologetic and loving, the tension builds again and the cycle continues.[v] Abusers try to undermine the strength of the victim with putdowns and isolation from a social network so as to have more control.

Look at it as a challenge and opportunity to empower yourself, to not allow yourself to be intimidated. Read Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women. Match the power of the goddess you want to emulate. Imagine you’re surrounded by roses that absorb other people’s energy before it enters your field. Bullies feed on getting a fear reaction so don’t give him this reinforcement when he puts you down: Keep your goddess image of strength in mind. Walk away, don’t engage. Do let him know calmly and rationally that you’re not happy with the status quo and specific changes you’d like, so you give him the clear opportunity to change–without expecting that he will. If he has moments of kindness, as with your son, reinforce this behavior with praise. Prepare yourself to be able to support yourself if you decide to leave and spend time with supportive friends and family. Life is too short to live with a bully.


Q: I get irrationally anxious over predictions of the end of the world, like the talk about 2012.


A: Realize that you’re working from a generalized pool of anxiety that pops out in the fear du jour. The event changes, the consistency is providing something your fear can grasp. Realize that the current fears are the symptom, not the cause of your discomfort. Fearing the end of the world is irrational, or if the world ends, we won’t be alive to worry about it. Your job is to take action every day to deflate the anxiety, like letting air out of a too-full tire. Exercise is a sure bet, stimulating feel good endorphins and reducing stress hormones.[vi] Taking anxiety-reducing herbs or homeopathy formulas can help.[vii] Since you’re a visually creative person, create an ongoing story about a tricky fear monster and a superhero who outsmarts and vanquishes the bad guy. Don’t let yourself read about the end of the world predictions. Read about something funny instead.[viii]


Q: I’m always tense and anxious, hyper vigilant. What can I do to relax?


A: I’d get treated for possible PTSD associated with that kind of response. Look at funny videos and books because laughing is an antidote for tension. Listen to music that balances left and right brain hemisphere like Hemisync (www.hemi-sync.com/). Simplify your life so you have less to juggle and worry about.

Kathi Kemper, MD, suggests remedies for anxiety in Mental Health, Naturally: exercise, sleep well,[ix] meditate, keep a journal, listen to calm music, avoid TV, and get acupuncture. Eat breakfast and whole foods, avoid caffeine, take vitamins B, C, D3, and minerals including calcium (not citrate) and magnesium, fish oils for omega-3 fatty acids, GABA, and Theanine found in green tea. Dr. Kemper also recommends Tryptophan and 5-http, calming herbs like chamomile and valerian, ginkgo, gotu kola, rhodiola, St. John’s Wort, and lavender. Also read Julia Ross, The Mood Cure.


Q: I get anxiety attacks when I get in the car to leave the house.


A: Although uncomfortable and scary, anxiety doesn’t cause a physical problem like a heart attack. Analyze the triggers like getting in the car and figure out what they means to you. Why does leaving home feel unsafe? For some people a pool of anxiety surfaces in fear of flying or a car wreck even when they have no negative experiences with these things; this deeper pool needs to be explored and vented with the help of a therapist.

One solution is to gradually desensitize your fear by associating it with something safe, such as just sitting in the car with a good book, fun music, and a comforting cup of herb tea for five minutes, then ten minutes the next time, until you feel comfortable turning on the engine. You also can try distracting yourself by listening to music or an audio book while in the car. Create a mental picture of a safe beautiful place and call it to mind when you start to get anxious. For example, I call forth a joyous experience when I was snorkeling in Hawaii surrounded by a large school of small silvery fish and felt peaceful in their midst.

Instead of trying to repress the obsessive anxious thoughts that create more anxiety, allow yourself to be obsessive about counting and recording them. Record how many come up during the day, acknowledging them and then imagining them flying off like birds. To deal with the underlying fear about safety or lack of confidence, simple visualizations to feel grounded and centered are explained in Essential Energy Tools.

Imagine you’re a turtle, carrying your safe shell with you when you leave home. Visualize a bubble around your body made of space launch strong plastic shielding. You can see out but other people’s energy can’t permeate. Shift your focus from your internal anxiety to looking at people you encounter externally as works of art, with various colors and sizes and shapes.


Q: I feel social anxiety when I’m around new people other than my old friends.


A: When you’re in a group, look for one person who looks interesting and get to know her or him. If you go with an extroverted friend, take different transportation so you can leave if you’ve had enough. Read about the traits and coping skills for introverts.[x] Use the energy tools visualization of roses around you absorbing other people’s energy. When they feel full, blow them up with imaginary fireworks, and visualize new ones.


Q: As the last child in a large family, I never felt accepted by my alcoholic mother. I still am anxious about not being appreciated by friends and extended family. It’s hard for me to relax and enjoy my life. What can I do after all these years?


A: Being over-eager to get attention and approval does the opposite, setting a downward spiral into play, where the harder you try, the more a friend pulls back. Relax into being a good listener, asking some questions to let people know you’re interested in them, then letting them know you’re attentive and caring, as by saying, “Sounds like you’re feeling ___ because ___.” This is a lesson in looking for internal validation of your worth, rather than external dependency on others to feel OK. They can’t ever fill up the empty spot; only you can. Consider joining a performance group—dance, music, drama—where you’ll get applause.


Q: I chew my fingers all the time to the point that they bleed. I know I should stop but I can’t. Any hope for me?


A: It feels like a tension release similar to a volcano that has to release built-up pressure from magma. To deal with the cause rather than the symptom, work with a therapist about unresolved emotions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. To avoid feeling more guilt and shame, tell yourself it could be worse–you’re not a drug addict. Keep a journal of the triggers, like boredom or anxiety. When you’re in a trigger situation where you want to chew, rub your hand reflexology points to keep your fingers busy: You’ll find charts on the Internet.[xi]


Q: I get anxious when I’m driving too far from home.


A: Try the Neuro-Linguistic Programming “Swish Pattern” to change the senses around the problem to desensitize it. 1) Think of the problem and an image to represent it. What do you see or hear in your mind’s eye? 2) Distract yourself by saying your phone number backwards. 3) Create a resourceful positive image. 4) Put the positive image in a tiny sparkling dot of light and enlarge it. Go back and forth from the positive image in an enlarging dot to a neutral blank screen until you don’t feel unpleasant feelings.  Let the positive light enlarge and multiply and encircle you. Test by trying to get the original image back. Try an affirmation such as “My safe place is not physical: It’s inside me.” Take breaks while you’re driving to get out and stretch and get grounded to the earth. Distract your mind while driving with music, books on tape, or language tapes.


Q: I feel confused and anxious about my future and don’t know what to do about it.


A: You need to ground: you’re floating and not really anchored in your body, so to speak, so it’s hard to manifest. We say “spaced out” or “out of it” and it’s true energetically. A visualization to ground is to visualize a big tree from the base of your spine deep in the earth. Set your intention to release any confusion down your grounding pipe (page 37). Imagine a gold sun over your head and fill it with clarity, certainty, gratitude, and enjoyment of each day. Then talk yourself through bringing down through your head, neck, shoulders and so on down to your feet.

The visualization to get centered is to imagine a room in the center of your head with a command chair. Sit in it as if you were the king of your body and life. There’s nothing magical about these images, just a way to get energy into your body.


Q: I’m feeling overwhelmed. I moved to a new city, moved in with my boyfriend after living alone for years, am looking for a job, and am going back to college. How can I feel grounded?


A: That many changes are stressful. See my suggestions for how to stay calm and centered and ground on my blog.[xii] Make sure you take time to recharge your batteries and explain to your boyfriend that when you need time by yourself it’s not a rejection of him, but a necessity for staying centered as an introvert. The endnote references a useful list of stress reduction techniques.[xiii]

On a scale of 1 to 100 how anxious are you? Just rank it without being anxious about feeling anxious. You don’t have to create a perfect life. Do your best and if you need help, ask for it. Imagine putting on adjustable glasses where you can focus on the detail or the big picture so you can deal with one task at a time, rather than being overwhelmed by your to do list. Think about six months from now, when you’ll be enjoying the rhythm you’ve created with ease and flow.

Do what I call “4-8 breathing” throughout the day to relax: In four parts, breath in for the count of 8 from your belly, hold 8, exhale through the mouth like blowing a feather up for 8, and then don’t inhale for as long as comfortable. The main point is not to breathe shallow quick breaths, which signal stress to the body, but deep slow breaths from the diaphragm which sits under the lungs. It’s also fun to do a buddy feet massage and talk while you each rub a foot.

Also remember gratitude and love are the strongest emotions, so when you wake up say something like, “I’m in loving gratitude that I have a job in my field, that I’m earning money, and that I’m learning so much.” Join a group, i.e., political, hobby, sports, or service, to meet new friends.


Q: I’m facing one difficulty after another, like being caught in a shore break and not being able to get out from under the waves.


A: Look at hard times as your best teachers and a catalyst for change. For example, when I was student teaching my first junior high class, I wanted to give them freedom. What resulted was paper airplanes and chaos. In my first teaching assignment as a regular teacher, I was strict and they respected me though I was only 22. I’m glad I messed up in the student teaching situation and not on the job. In another position, I had a vindictive punitive boss, who hassled me with petty actions like trying to move me to an office that was designed as a large closet, going through my files when I wasn’t there, etc. I quit and it opened up wonderful opportunities like writing this book.

Being lucky means you flow with the Tao and stay centered so you can listen to your higher guidance. Think about being in a sturdy boat and staying focused on letting the current carry you forward. Can you find a support group to give you more strength in adversity?


Q: You wouldn’t believe the number of car accidents and physical problems I’ve suffered. I can’t work and now my boyfriend of decades is kicking me out of his house, although I’ve taken care of him during his long illness. I feel like I’m losing it.


A: The image I got when I looked at your pattern was of a medieval monk who believed that suffering, self-flagellation, and pain were the way to Christ’s love, although of course Jesus never recommended such practices. He advised to be like little children. What ever the origin of the belief that life is about suffering, it’s time to change it. Tell yourself, “As part of the divine creation, I deserve to heal and enjoy my life.” Listen carefully for any “Yes, but______” thoughts that pop up in your mind. Sometimes the universe gives us what feels like a kick in the rear to get us to change, but actually is a blessing in disguise. Your boyfriend is doing you a favor by releasing you from your nursing duties so you can focus on self-care. You’ll probably feel liberated once you’re out of his house.


Q: I realized I carry non-stop tension in my body, due to habit, ongoing worry about money, and so on. What can I do to relax?


A: If you wear a watch or carry another device with an alarm, set it to beep every hour to remind you to take a deep belly breath and exhale tension through the mouth and stretch. You can’t be tense if you’re laughing, so have a humor scrapbook where you work and take an occasional minute to look at your collection of cartoons and wonderful photographs printed from the Internet or your own photos. Schedule a massage as often as you can afford it or trade with a friend. Set aside time every day to exercise and to meditate. If it’s hard for you to sit still, do a walking meditation. I made a CD with a meditation you can listen to on headphones sitting or walking.

Praise yourself for noticing tension in a body part and imagine breathing green or blue light into it. Before you go to sleep, try progressive relaxation, moving your attention from feet to head. Think, “My feet are warm and heavy, fluid like melting butter. I thank my feet for their service as they receive relaxing healing energy,” and so on. I use flower essences in my coaching practice to balance emotional issues; you might want to give them a try.


Q: I’ve had a series of women friends who’ve betrayed me and I can’t forgive them. Should I?


A: Your judgment of them keeps you enmeshed with them on the same level. Instead of condemnation, think about what you’re learning from a series of repeated events. When a pattern occurs, it’s a lesson. Also, see if you can find out what led them to their dishonorable behavior so you have more compassion. An abusive person was usually abused. Forgiving them doesn’t mean you trust them or spend time with them, just separate emotionally so you’re neutral when you think about them.


Q: For some people, it seems like they cruise through life. For me, it feels like I’m always slogging against the current. Any way to make living easier?


A: Imagine floating or tubing from point A to point B on a crystal clear stream. Do this every day and journal about what you see on your imaginary journey. If obstacles occur, visualize solving them without effort or struggle. For example, if there’s a sea of frogs in your way, throw them flies to eat on the ground to distract them, away from the stream. The goal is to reprogram your expectation of struggle. Also, it feels like you react from your gut, as to defend your male honor, rather than from your brain. Think of moving your locus of control from gut to brain. It may be the smartest thing to do to walk away from a fight, even if it feels like you’re being disrespected. So what? Think about healthy ways to relax and schedule them on your calendar. For me, it’s hiking, gardening, or talking to a friend.


Q: I get perfectionist and it gets in the way of enjoyment of my activities. This includes being critical of myself and others close to me.


A: Imagine a speedometer with the numbers 1 to 100. Ask it to show or tell you how perfectly a task needs to be done. Many chores don’t have to done perfectly; save perfectionism for when it’s necessary. Focus on the present process rather than the end result. You might want to take the Myers Briggs personality inventory online or in their book Please Understand Me. The four categories are introvert or extrovert, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, judging (Js) or perceiving (Ps). Js tend to focus on the goal, Ps on the process. If you’re aware of this, you can shift your habitual behaviors to become more relaxed. Also, be aware of your subconscious personalities, especially the inner critic and judge. When their judgment is too much, conjure up a supportive grandparent to praise what you’ve done right and what you’ve learned. You can also think of a radio dial. Tune it to the positive helpful voice that represents your higher self.


Q: A week ago I was snorkeling by myself on Maui. Before I go in the water I give thanks for the beauty and ask permission of the four directions. Although entranced by the underwater coral beauty, I was drawn to look over my shoulder. I saw a large gray fin with a large body pointed in my direction: Shark–my worst fear. I did what you’re not supposed to do and splashed and kicked, swimming for shore as fast as I could. When I asked a fisherman on the beach if he’d noticed anything, he said, “Yes, a big gray thing was following you.” I’m OK during the day, and feel more assertive than before the encounter, but at night I have scary flashbacks to that fin.


A: Think of this as an initiation into a higher state. You faced the embodiment of your fears, didn’t freeze, and got away. Since a shark can out swim humans, it seems your prayers connecting you to the ocean protected you. When you see the shark image in your mind’s eye, thank it for not hurting you and ask it to be your protector. Let the fear surface, don’t repress it, and send the fear down your imaginary grounding pipe into the earth. Some Hawaiians regard the shark as a protective spirit (aumakua) and view seeing a shark as a good sign. Appreciate your new lease on life! You’ll probably want to snorkel with a partner from now on.


Q: I’m about to have a nervous breakdown caring for and trying to heal two autistic sons. What can I do differently?


A: Do what you can without the expectation and pressure to change them, which is driving you nuts. The caregiver must take care of herself or she will eventually break. Get respite care. It’s your duty to do what nourishes you and to get out of the house, rather than feeling guilty. It looks like you had a past life where you were an obsessive scientist, something like an alchemist compelled to make gold out of lesser metals. The lesson is to stop obsessing about your boys, pull some of your energy out of them so they can breathe on their own and not have to rebel, and let go and let God. You may not be able to perform a miraculous transformation. Do your best and let that be good enough.


Q: When I close my eyes I see scary demons and fire. It scares me.

Q: I fear razor blades in my mouth.

Q: There’s negative entity in my house; I even felt it rape me.


A: If I say, “Don’t think of donuts,” you will focus on them for sure. Thinking “Don’t see demons,” just gives more power to the images. If you imagine one, say “Hello, you’re boring, so repetitive, can’t you do better?” They’re not physical so there is nothing to be afraid of. Imagine the demons in hair bows and pigtails or something silly. Try a Neuro-Linguistic Programming technique to disassociate from negative experiences by imagining sitting in a movie theater, watching your fears on the screen from a neutral point of view (see page 9). Ask to see what created them, and then change the film as by running it backwards or going from color to black and white.

Another way to distance yourself from the fear was used by Russell Crowe’s character in the film The Beautiful Mind. He dealt with his demons by saying to himself, “Well, that’s just my schizophrenia, so I’m going to ignore it.” Print out photos of guardian angels like Raphael and look at them instead of mental images. A therapist can help figure out the real origin of your anxiety that gets projected on scary images.

Read Michael Newton’s series of books Journey of Souls, by a therapist who does hypnotic regressions and focuses on between lives. He found strong beliefs generate their own shared reality; for example, someone who believes in God on a throne in heaven will gravitate to that vision after death. Robert Monroe found the same thing in his astral travels. Let your reason and intelligence be your guide rather than your imaginary fears, and visualize what you’d like to attract.


[x]  www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696, Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person, and Keirsey and Bates’ Understand Me Please.

Young Indian starts environmental organization, blog

Siddhant is a 20-year-old student who plans to be a professional environmentalist. I also asked him about New Delhi gaining on Beijing as the most polluted city: “Delhi is improving. Its one of India’s greenest metros and all the public buses are CNG [natural gas] powered. People are becoming more aware and are speaking up. The newer areas of Delhi are green, at least compared to other Indian metros.” However, I was surprised at how little green I saw in New Delhi and that people don’t use flat rooftops for pot gardening—or in used truck tires. Siddant told me his family has a terrace garden and they’re common in smaller cities. He acts on his environmental goals by writing and organizing tree planting. ”I am basically into cyber-activism [see his informative blog and Facebook page].[i] He is also a journalist for YouthLeader magazine.[ii])

As a high school student, he founded GreenGaians in 2009. The group organized a campaign in schools and government offices to plant trees. Siddhant added, “More than activism, I prefer to lead by example, trying to follow a green lifestyle.” About the role of young women, he said they are some of his best supporters: “They are loyal to the cause and don’t get distracted, that’s what I like about them.” I asked him what motivated him to be a teen changemaker; “I guess my motivation came from my love for the planet. When children used to watch Cartoon Network, I would watch National Geographic or Discovery. I became a vegetarian when I was nine due to ethical reasons.” Being a Hindu is another influence, “The respect I have for other creatures has come from my religion. We worship the elements, and therefore respect them.” His parents are both teachers and “have always been very supportive in everything I’ve done.”

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