Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To Reinvent Oneself

A few years ago I participated in a year-long personal development program called the Landmark Forum ( There are three basic stages in the Forum’s curriculum, each consisting of three full weekends of what is called transformative learning. I often think of it as an exercise in deprogramming. Concepts of who we are and who we are not have become very popular throughout the world, making books like Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth international best sellers. Like most new age concepts Landmark is based on ancient wisdom: the key to life is to understand oneself.

Forum exercises allow individuals to experience what’s called a breakthrough: that moment in time when you realize you can create new possibilities in your life. From a very early age we’re programmed to think of ourselves and others a certain way. Some of the programming we’re aware of - most of it we’re not. Much of it started at birth and continued until about six years old. A great deal of our current emotional stress is due to past programming. Something happens - and then the story of what happened is played over and over in our head. The emotions connected to our interpretation of that story affects our whole lives.

Limitations which develop due to this programming can affect relationships, careers, and happiness. One of the most meaningful lessons I learned during my Landmark Forum experience is that we all have the ability to reinvent ourselves. Any time we choose. Have you ever wondered why situations that create negative emotions in you such as anger, fear or sadness, may not have the same affect on another person? In most cases it’s not the situation, but the story that plays in your head relating to the situation that’s activating your negative emotional response.

We’re programmed to carry emotional stories in our heads most of our lives. An inferiority complex, hatred of someone or something, fear of someone or something are, in most cases, due to past programming. Programming learned at an early age due to race, religion, social environment, geographical location and individual experiences. People don’t make you mad - you make yourself mad. If you’re unhappy it’s because you allow yourself to be. Many believe that programmed unhappiness is addictive. Tolle calls it “the pain-body addiction to unhappiness”: something within us that feeds on emotional negativity, and seeks unhappiness like an addiction. According to Tolle, this energy form has a dormant and active stage when triggered by something somebody says or does. Anger and unhappiness not only overtakes you - but you try to make everyone around you miserable to satisfy your pain body addiction.

It’s all emotional programming. And the first step in the deprogramming process is to become aware that it’s all in your head. The next time you become extremely upset over something, consider the possibility of reinventing yourself. You can create the possibility of happiness and peace of mind if you learn to move your Self out of the way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Tao of Health

Taoism, also known as The Tao, or The Way, has over 3000 years of history relating to the study of how the balance of mind, body and spirit can affect health. When all three are in balance we are well, when they are not in balance we become ill. For a host of reasons people are now rediscovering natural ways to empower their ability to self heal. For those of you interested in beginning this path I would like to recommend the following two books: Chi Nei Tsang: Internal Organs Chi Massage by Mantak and Maneewan Chia, and the Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing by Daniel Reid.

In the first book Chi Nei Tsang Mantak Chia and his wife Maneewan write about how ancient Taoist sages observed that humans often develop energy blockages in their internal organs that result in knots and tangles in their abdomens. It is now common knowledge that over 80% of human illness comes from some type of emotional stress. The negative energy caused by negative emotional stress, such as fear, worry, hate and anger can impair both physical and spiritual functions.

This negative emotional energy turns into toxins that affect our organs. Worry affects the heart, depression affects the lungs, fear the kidneys and anger the liver. Ancient Taoists developed the art of Chi Nei Tsang to recycle and transform negative energies that obstruct the internal organs and knots in the abdomen. Chi Nei Tsang: Internal Organs Chi Massage will provide a clear understanding of ways to self-heal using ancient healing techniques which focus on abdomen and organ massage. The Korean Taoist Ki energy stress management technique of Chunsoo also starts in the abdominal area. The Chia book will teach you ways to address many different types of common ailments.

In the Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing Daniel Reid provides an easy to follow guide to the traditional Taoist approach to self-care, including basic principles of physical and emotional health, nutrition and diet, herbal remedies, breathing exercises, meditation methods, sexual yoga and energy control techniques. The list of therapeutic food recipes and herbal tonics can provide an excellent option to prescription or over-the- counter drugs that can, over time, become harmful to the immune system.

In both books you will learn how to bring balance to the flow of the body’s vital energy known as Chi in China and Ki in Japan and Korea. If you would like to start taking control over your ability to self-heal, you should have these two books in your library. I will teach a four-week workshop this spring under the City College of New York’s Adult and Continuing Education program entitled: The Tao of Health, Happiness and Longevity. If you are interested you can register online at in the personal development section, or you can call the college at 212 650-7312. If this subject is of interest, but you are not in New York, you can visit my blog at