I haven’t been home in a while. My life on the road is a series of suitcase bumps up and down escalators and relentless packing and unpacking.
Swimming in my pool – this is the life
Six years ago things were different. I had a home, a son in high school, a marriage, a stable income and my pancreas was still producing insulin. I can remember swimming laps in my pool and thinking, this is the life.
But just when I thought things were hunkey dorey, the shit hit the fan.
My particular brand of crisis didn’t actually happen because I was diagnosed with diabetes. It happened before then. It was happening because I was sick and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was convinced that my marriage, my home and everything stable was dragging me down. I wanted adventure and radical change.
Then all hell broke loose.
The details are irrelevant (a whole book in itself ) but within a year or two I was no longer married, my son had moved to Melbourne, someone else owned my home and I was living out of a suitcase in India. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times that phrase, “be careful what you wish for” rolled around in my head!
That moment of radical crisis forced me into a corner and made me question everything. Especially my roles. The big question? If I’m not a mother, wife, yoga teacher, who am I? I’d lived through so many ideas about who I thought I was that I realised I didn’t have a clue who I actually was. It’s the existential question most of us soul-searching bohemian types ask at one point or other right?
My eat-pray-love adventure
Lucky for me I slam dunked into a person, who having been through something similar, was now out the other side. We met in India, as you do when you’re in the middle of an eat-pray-love adventure. He led me to a teacher and a teaching which answered every single soul searching question I’d ever had. Sound unbelievable? I thought the same. But it just so happens that a crisis is the only time in your life that you are forced to question. And in India a traditional teaching, which has existed for thousands of years, is designed to provide the answers.
Diabetes diagnosis – getting on with life
As a westerner I was so full of my own ideas, conditioning and beliefs I never thought I could drop all that, but I did. As the simplicity of it all dawned on me I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. And rather then being devastated I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. Suddenly everything made sense. It enabled me to accept my diagnosis and get on with life. Living as artfully, passionately and fully as possible.
Coming out of crisis for me was finding home in myself. And to be real, words cannot adequately describe what I’ve been assimilating since being exposed to the wisdom of the upanishadic tradition in India. What I can say is that in spite of living with a chronic illness I’ve found peace.
So when friends ask me how I manage to travel constantly, teach yoga, manage my relationship and live with diabetes.
Keeping it simple
I keep it simple, practicing yoga every day, eating small nurturing meals. Walking in nature, taking time to be still and be with myself.
Rachel Zinman’s groundbreaking new book, Yoga for Diabetes is out soon..
Founder of The Butterfly Temple Trudy Johnston knows a thing or two about just what it takes to feel beautiful.
When I was four years old, my mother left my younger brother, sister and I with a neighbour. And never came back. By the time I was 11, my family had lost everything which catapulted my father into a serious illness.
I was a single mum aged 21, unqualified, receiving government benefits and not much support. Or confidence, for that matter.
Fast forward 20 years, I had university lectureships and a university scholarship under my belt, and a well-respected arts PR and marketing business (www.vimandzest.com.au). I worked for the Sydney2000 Olympics and top arts organisations.
But I was yet to undertake the most challenging decade of my life with a family member. We’re lucky to be here. Others didn’t make it through.
A few years ago, I forgave my mother for abandoning me. We both found peace.
Then I learnt to stop abandoning myself. It was not easy. Painful, alone, step by step. Often my best (and sometimes only) companion was my yoga mat.
Just over a year later, the man of my dreams danced his way into my life and my beautiful granddaughter soon followed.
I’ve created this global campaign for True Beauty because I know that there is a place of innocence behind every suffering smile; a place of beauty and peace. And a wonderful life to create.
The Butterfly Temple is a global campaign for women to wake up and see the beauty that lies inside us. As we truly are, right here, right now. Without having to change anything about ourselves, only how we see ourselves.
We believe our vision is do-able: that by 2020 every woman in the world will see herself as beautiful, regardless of her looks, body size or age.
The Butterfly Temple is an information portal. We offer quality, thought-provoking articles, podcasts and video clips to provoke, inform, enrage and entertain you.
We collaborate with other creative women and run online and offline events to spread our message.
We are a global community of women, supported by men.
Our goal is to dislodge the malaise and move the inertia that keeps women on a miserable treadmill and teaches young girls to look like a photo-shopped celebrity to be worthwhile and valued.
We know that True Beauty is power. Seeing our beauty is powerful expression. The whole world resonates, because we are all connected.
Beauty is an inner job. When we give ourselves permission to feel beautiful, everyone around us has permission as well.
This is the next level of human evolution.
The Butterfly Temple honours the places of transformation in a woman’s life so we can all live to the fullest of who we are – in all of our magnificence, colour and beauty.
For this to happen, as women, we must walk through the different stages of our lives, go into our cocoon in order to grow.
Life moves in cycles.
If you watch nature, you’ll see the natural rhythm of death, rebirth, change, movement, chaos and back to life again.
Think of leaves as they start as tiny buds, bursting open, unfurling, then falling from the tree, decaying on the ground and finally composting the soil to create nutrients for the tree to grow more leaves.
You’ll see this so markedly in the changing seasons and in every arena of nature.
Butterflies Aren’t Born Butterflies
The butterfly is a universal symbol of transformation. And that’s because a butterfly can only ever start as a caterpillar. Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but butterflies are never born as butterflies.
Think about that for a moment – to fully transform and emerge as an exquisite creature of beauty – caterpillars surrender themselves to a sort of death so they can emerge with wings.
They must enter into their cocoon in full trust and faith.
This caterpillar doesn’t know what’s going to happen. It doesn’t know it will emerge as a butterfly, if it allows the process of transformation to happen.
Just as the caterpillar must die to its hairy grub self, so to we must leave our safe shores so that we transform.
Live and Let Die
What is familiar must be relinquished. What is known and finished must die.
It’s almost like being in a tunnel … and some people call it the ‘long dark night of the soul.’
Beautiful yet fragile, to actually emerge as a butterfly takes two things – great courage and knowingness of what is actually complete and what must die.
It takes inner reflection and trust in knowing that in the process of death what will come is something that is far greater than what was.
Unlike caterpillars, magnificent, colourful butterflies have wings that give them a capacity to fly. And, importantly, the ability to pollinate flowers and catalyse creation and life.
Just like us. We let go of our hairy, slow, inching crawling fat wingless selves to emerge in beauty as a pollinator of life.
With an ability to create and gestate life – and be an inextricable part of the food chain of the interconnectedness of life. Incredible.
That’s the Butterfly, Now for the ‘Temple’
Temples hold that which is sacred. At The Butterfly Temple we support women everywhere to hold themselves as sacred in a new way – care, value and nurture themselves in loving and respectful ways.
In a way that is beyond any attributes of superficial identity.
We’ve seen enormous social change in the last 50 years, where we’ve been encouraged to see ourselves in new and more connected ways.
Connecting with ourselves, with others and creating community. It’s incredible the speed of change and what’s been created from this shift in mindset.
It has been an enormous gain. However, there is a lot of lip service in the media about honouring and respecting ourselves, but actually promoting the opposite.
So, the Butterfly Temple, we’re asking, ‘what is that process of transformation for you?’ ‘What’s the process of transformation for our planet’?
‘How can we support each other to emerge and fly as the beautiful butterflies we are, in our own way?’
How Can we Hold Ourselves as Sacred?
We restore our trust in ourselves, our faith in others and see ourselves with eyes of innocence and kindness, as we did when we were small children.
So, if the Butterfly Temple can make a small contribution to reclaiming connectedness, where we can trust ourselves, where we can hold ourselves with care and as innocent, irrespective of what’s happened to us in ourselves and in our lives, we will have done our job.
That’s our goal, that’s our vision, and ultimately that’s a vision of love. Of forgiveness and compassion.
Supporters of The Butterfly Temple
We have many incredible wise and courageous women around us. They show us the way, how to shine and be leaders in a powerful, feminine way. We support them as they support us.
Barbara Marx Hubbard
Barbara Marx Hubbard supports The Butterfly Temple.
Barbara Marx Hubbard is a prolific futurist, author and public speaker, President of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution and US Vice President nominee (1984). Hubbard famously asked President Eisenhower in 1952, “What is the meaning of our new power that is good?”
The Butterfly Temple supportsInternational Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers
We support the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, who come from all over the globe – the USA, Amazon, Alaska, Tibet, Nepal, New Zealand and Africa.
The Grandmothers are deeply concerned about the destruction of planet earth, war, materialism, poverty and the destruction of indigenous culture. They believe that ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking and healing are vitally needed.
For us today and for the next seven generations to come.
Grand Mothers Council
Telling the total, utter darkness of one’s life story with humour speaks not only about story telling finesse, but how an author successfully finds lightness and purpose – a through line – when you might expect otherwise.
Rosie Waterland is one such hero. Listening to Rosie (author of her memoir Anti-Cool Girl, recently published by Harper Collins) at the Sydney Writers Festival on the weekend was an absolute standout.
Amidst an impressive array of leading international authors, this humble, soon to turn 30 Australian debut author really captured my attention, and ultimately my heart.
I felt she has a strong message to teach all of us.
My laughter mixed with tears as she recounted the bleakest of human experience – how she accidently witnessed her mother’s failed suicide attempt and more – with crackling candour.
Tragedy made all the more poignant because it was recounted with humour.
Narratives Powered By Courage
I started to consider the potency of narratives. And the impact of courage. How we tell ourselves our stories about the key events of our lives and what’s happened to us.
How these stories inform the voices in our heads (and the fears in our hearts) and cause us to act in subtle and overt ways.
Whilst I acknowledge the whole field of trauma study and therapy – and the excellent practitioners in the field that assist many to find their way in the world – I’d like to focus here on how courage in telling personal stories openly activates the palpable sense of “if she can do it, so can I.” (In her talk Rosie openly mentioned her PTSD and the long-term support of her psychiatrist as pivotal to her healing journey).
Rosie Waterland’s ability to create a framework of humour and meet humiliation head on is outstanding.
I Listened and Pondered the ‘What If’?
What if she took another route and lost herself, getting stuck in an unraveling spiral of bleak stories? What if she allowed her open, self-described shame to inform her world-view model? Where innocence was violated and justice denied. Where the birthright protection of simply being a child was absent and proper care was missing.
What if she simply repeated the path laid open to her by her highly dysfunctional parents?
I started considering the processes by which individuals, such as Rosie, make remarkable turnarounds in their framework of meaning and worldview model.
Where Rosie (and people like her) have survived unmentionable suffering, abuse and neglect and are able to rise above and lead others with such rawness and vulnerability.
Become truly inspirational.
Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story
Their personal narrative then becomes compost for their hero’s journey. They bring to the world an expression of themselves where their dark recesses are not denied, but rather allowed to be front and centre in their lives. They truly become the hero of their own story.
This takes such courage.
I am sure that the scars from earlier experience probably always live on. And who can ever know the inner life of another? Certainly from Rosie’s litany of events, she could be easily justified for having many.
Many people know of Rosie from her Rosie Recaps on mamamia and her Writers Festival session was packed with fans. Being new to Rosie’s work, I’m keen to read more.
How do people like Rosie make such dramatic turnarounds?
How do you turn your personal narrative around and make your story compost for something much richer?
One of the Greatest Lessons of My Life
About five years ago a very wise man taught me one of the greatest lessons of my life.
He told me that no experience is ever wasted – if you look for the gain and see what you’ve learnt. Things certainly don’t always turn out in the ways we want them, but if we miss the ‘gain’, we miss the what’s most important about the experience. We then unproductively tend to beat ourselves up – and the experience cycles downwards.
It’s a simple reframing, but one of the most powerful.
And what I unexpectedly discovered is that looking for the gain in every experience has given me more appreciation for what I have, more gratitude, a greater feeling of accomplishment. And, surprisingly, a great feeling of true wealth.
This doesn’t mean that life is peachy and without challenge, but creating a new framework and world view model has allowed what I previously considered impossible to materialise.
What is the gain in your life?
So what are some simple steps that a woman can take, to move beyond, be truly beautiful, whatever her age?
1. Pay it forward – practice random acts of beauty
Look for beauty in the world around you. Look for just one thing in someone else that’s beautiful. Tell strangers how beautiful they are. It’s remarkable to see them melt and smile when they are acknowledged. It also comes right back at you.
At The Butterfly Temple we want you to get the beauty habit. Tell 2 people every day how beautiful they are. One of those people is you, and the other can be a loved one or stranger.
2. Develop intimacy with yourself – look within, not outside yourself
Develop an intimacy with yourself and take loving care of yourself. The quickest way to feel beautiful is to feel and ground in your body. It sounds simple, but for some women this can be challenging to start.
For example, when you shower, take time to feel the water touching your skin. Feel every part of your body. Just be aware. Engage your senses. You don’t have to do anything big. Pay attention to what you see, hear, taste and touch.
Acknowledge your body as the most sacred place you have ever visited.
If you’ve ever looked after a small baby, remember how much care you lavished on that little person – give this to yourself.
3. Don’t change your life – just start the day in bed with 10 minutes of breathing
Many women are busy, with families and a career.
Don’t add one more thing to the to-do list, just be more aware of what you’re doing. Start the day with 10 minutes lying in bed just breathing. Make this time your meditation, the most sacred moment of your day. Start your day by appreciating and prioritising yourself before anything or anyone else
A daily practice feeds your mind and energy. You feel a lot better.
4. Stay in contact with your rhythms
Be as natural as possible and stay in contact with your rhythms. Remain connected to your menstrual cycle (if that’s still there for you) and move inside on those days, be active when you have energy and rest when you’re tired. This will support you feeling feminine, however that is for you.
When your cycle naturally moves out again, you’ll feel more attractive and connected with your energy and femininity.
5. Practice forgiveness and compassion
Forgiveness cleans out the old clutter and makes space for the new. It’s the best way to wipe a slate clean and silence those nitty-picky voices. When you forgive (especially yourself) you no longer drag around what’s old. Take responsibility for yourself and your choices.
6. Trust yourself
Trust your feminine wisdom to know when the appropriate time is to trust life and to have faith in others. And when to walk away. Sometimes this is a lot easier said than done, so get some help, speak to a friend or mentor.
Prioritise your needs, so you have a full tank. Do what it takes to find out what you want in life and go for your dreams.
Be courageous – speak up, speak out. Say yes to what matters and no to distractions.
7. Do small things to cultivate a life of beauty
Imagine you are 80 years old and full of wisdom, write a letter to your younger self with all that wisdom from your life experience. Appreciate who and what you are.
Clean out your space. Listen to inspiring music. Only wear clothes you love, that enhance you, fashionable or not. Surround yourself with kind and compassionate people.
8. Be thankful for what you have
Even if you’ve had a life filled with hardship, make it a choice to be thankful for the beauty you do have. This is the fastest way to fill your tank and gain energy – see what you do have, and not focus on what’s missing. And then take appropriate steps to get what your heart yearns for. It’s remarkable how gratitude sparks greater abundance and opportunity.
When you practice small and consistent acts of beauty the world starts to shine a little more. It’s that simple.
True Beauty means going for simplicity. And in a very intimate way, caring for yourself. And appreciating the incredible place of being a woman.
That’s what connects you to your beauty.
And your power.
Leaving aside the need for achieving so-called equality between the sexes, what are the benefits to yourself and your community when you reconnect to your own true feminine or masculine essence?
The gains and opportunities afforded to women in the past 40 years, thanks to the women’s movement, are well documented and prolific. Women have certainly come a long way. Few would advocate that we turn back the clock to a time of production-line childbearing and mindless domestic drudgery. Yet somewhere in the mix much has been overlooked in the fight for equal rights. If you’re a woman and you’re not into feminism, are you letting the side down? If you’re not a feminist or a 1950s cake-baking housewife, how can you reclaim your essence?
In fact, what are “feminine essence” and “masculine essence” in the first place and how do they relate to being female and being male? How do you move through the world from a place of “essence” in your work, with your family, being available to yourself, your partner and the community? More importantly, how do you remain empowered without either dropping into stereotypes of socially ascribed gender roles or jumping the fence in your efforts to repudiate them?
The identification and significance of sex and gender roles (female/feminine and male/masculine) has been long argued by feminists, sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, cultural theorists and scientists. The debate is far from over, particularly in terms of the nature-vsnurture causality. Perhaps another useful (but non-exclusive) way is to investigate these essences in terms of their energy and polarity, a perspective embraced by proponents of tantra and other modalities.
Your essence is what actually animates you so that if you are out of touch with your essence then you are basically pretending to be someone that you never have been.
Author Diana Richardson says, “The understanding of tantra is that man is 50 per cent woman and woman is 50 per cent man and that this is a 15,000-year-old understanding that goes into the myths of humanity … and only now, in the past 100 years, it’s been proved to be embedded in chromosomes.”
“We need to discern between gender construct here and between these energies, which are like ying and yang. It’s not a new construct; it’s been around forever — polarity is the basis of biology,” adds Jungian psychoanalyst, Jutka Freiman.
“The qualities of the masculine, as I understand it, are those qualities which include rational, linear thinking and cognition, not to be confused with intelligence; it’s that more transcendent function. It is goal-orientated towards taking charge and making it all happen, so it’s more an active principle.
“The feminine, on the other hand, is the much more open and receptive position where we allow the impact of things to direct us and we move with them in a relational way. Some people call it receptive, but we can’t confuse that with passivity,” explains Freiman.
“When I am in the receptive, I am on my own two feet or in my own belly, if you like. I’m open to being directed by the masculine. I’m open to going with the flow of the world, but I’m in my own centre and it makes it easier for the other to actually direct without feeling like they have to hold me up,” she says.
When asked about the relationship between female/feminine and male/ masculine, tantra master Shantam Nityama says, “They’re pretty much synonymous terms in the sense that they are representing the positive and negative poles. “Both male and masculinity are speaking of the positive pole; both female and femininity are speaking of the negative pole; so they are pretty much interchangeable at the level that most people would have an understanding of it.
“Everyone has both aspects. You have a positive aspect and negative polarity. The two polarities exist within each and every one of us. For the man, his masculinity will be outer, while his femininity will be inner; for the women, the femininity will be outer and the masculinity will be inner,” he says.
In investigating ways to integrate the feminine and masculine essences and bring them back into alignment and balance, throwing a spotlight on attitudes held by today’s young women illuminates some of the confusion experienced when these energies are out of balance.
My suit is my armour. It’s a costume for the man’s world. It fits in with them. I’ve had a history of hiding my femininity because I took on what I thought was required in the business world, which blocked out all the softness of the feminine and neutralised femininity.
Eighteen-year-old Catherine’s confident worldliness conceals her country-town upbringing. “I’ve grown up in a household that totally flips every traditional Stepford wife concept on its head,” she says. “I had a mum who worked and I think cooked for me a total of twice in my life and a pa who was totally different.
“It’s shown me that women can get out and succeed and the whole glass ceiling for me doesn’t exist. My mother has showed me that you don’t need a man to financially support you. You can get out and get your own career; you can support yourself.”
So if the Stepford wives have given up cooking dinner and the men are no longer needed, who is at the stove, oven mitts poised, holding the evening’s dinner? In this common family scenario, a healthy expression of both masculine and feminine is missing and, in the meantime, the family is being fed takeaway.
Richardson continues: “What is a man today? What is a woman today? I can say from my perspective that we are living a confusing distortion. Woman is distorted; man is distorted.”
Mid-40s financer Amy Lee wears heels and perfume and, dropping her briefcase after coming in late from work, explains, “My suit is my armour. It’s a costume for the man’s world. It fits in with them. I’ve had a history of hiding my femininity because I took on what I thought was required in the business world, which blocked out all the softness of the feminine and neutralised femininity.” “The accolades for women to trash their feminine and ride into their masculine are huge, and I think it is a very strong and brave woman who can push that to one side and say no, there is something more important than all the money, accolades and career moves,” says Freiman. “There’s something missing here that’s drying me up and I need to take responsibility for that and I need to find a place where I can reinstate my feminine in a safe, relational environment.”
Going with the flow
In the flow of energy, the masculine energy follows the feminine, so when the women are out of touch with their femininity, men don’t tend to fare that well, either. “Some men get scared when the topic of ‘empowering women’ comes up,” adds Louise, a 35-yearold professional. “They immediately think it’s about feminism and this causes separation.”
On the state of men in the Western world, Nityama doesn’t mince words. “Most of them [men] are very wishy-washy, confused and unclear of what their purpose for being on the planet is because, normally, they would be assisting women, but the moment that women go into being a man, then who do you assist? So they wind up feeling lost. They feel unnecessary. These lost men have become unrecognisable as men by women. Most of them are purposeless, wandering, lost little boys attempting to cater to mamma, but they have no idea what mamma wants any more because mamma doesn’t even know what she wants any more.
“Men want to interact with women, but it’s unclear how to interact with them any more because of the internal confusion,” he adds. Amy Lee echoes this: “When I wear that stuff [suit], I feel asexual. How I’ve approached that world is to make my femininity invisible because I wanted to be taken seriously.”
“The moment he’s just like you, where’s the attraction?” asks Nityama. “He needs to be able to go and do and be how he needs to do and be in order to keep his male testosterone and his whole masculine thing alive, and that’s what you are attracted to.”
Laws of attraction
“As we know, all opposites attract — that’s just a function of life on the planet — so we have a kind of an intra-psychic process as well as the biological and physiological processes,” says Freiman.
Part of Amy Lee’s journey back to more balanced energetic polarity and to being more energetically attractive initially meant recognising the parts of being a woman she had devalued. “In the fight for equality, women put aside what they thought made them vulnerable, which was softness and celebration of the female essence,” she says. “But I don’t blame them because, when you go to war, you have to wear armour and protection, but in a safe place you can take off your amour and be yourself.”
For her, one step was the simple one of discarding her armoured suit. “I saw my flatmate dressing for work in a beautifully feminine way,” she adds. “It showed me a woman being proud of her femininity, essentially enjoying it, accepting it, putting it out for others to enjoy. She was putting her full self into her business.”
“Your essence is what actually animates you so that if you are out of touch with your essence then you are basically pretending to be someone that you never truly have been,” says Nityama. “If you are playing like you’re someone else, all it means is that you never get recognised in your life for being who you really are. Everyone is always interfacing with you as though you are somebody else because you are presenting yourself as somebody else.”
Too much male
For Richardson, it’s about redressing the over-orientation with the male and masculine, on both an individual and cultural level, which means taking a step in the feminine direction. “Man has to become more feminine, which means to listen to his inner world and woman also,” she says. “So, funnily enough, to find the balance again, we both have to become more feminine.”
With the masculine being basically the initiator and the feminine being the nurturer, Nityama says, “There is no community without some solidness within the women. The two work hand in hand with one another, so the masculine is incapable of carrying out or having any influence here without the feminine and vice versa — the feminine is unable to have influence here and to manifest here without the masculine. Both parts are needed.”
Getting back into and understanding the body, for both men and women, is the first step to reconnect to one’s essence. “I go in and find the home in the body,” says Richardson. “You become more aware of this aliveness in the body and expansion through your awareness, because it grows with attention. You can totally change your inner reality just through having more attention in the body, but what is needed is a shift in how we perceive the body.”
Getting back into the body, for both men and women, is the first step to reconnect to one’s essence.
One of the major keys in getting back into the body is through the breath, which directly builds awareness of one’s essence. There are many meditation practices available to activate key points in the body and its energy fields.
Using the breath, Nityama also strongly advocates the Universal Life Energy exercises, which are a set of three simple meditative qi goong exercises for channelling life energy. Taken to the US by Baron Eugene Fersen over a century ago, the exercises start to calm and centre the practitioner, often facilitating spiritual downloads of information, purging what needs to be cleared from the body and building qi.
Healthy communities arise from centred individuals coming together with shared intention. Forming community — particularly for women, the ones who hold the community together — is a vital step in reconnecting with a healthy feminine essence. What supports women together in reconnecting is activities that engage touch, talking, sharing experiences, dancing and generally anything that is more “rightbrained” in approach.
“Men are a little different,” says Freiman. “Men grow their masculine more in being in their solitary, meditative, transcendent function, or in the world in their action.”
“Men and women really need to come back and really evaluate how they can support each other in their respective roles, stop fighting with one another over the different roles they are here to play, and accept the role you are here to play willingly, joyously as a form of prayer,” says Nityama.
“Men need to learn how to create environments where women feel safe enough to surrender and women learn to really understand what it means to be around a man.” Building mutual respect and understanding is essential.
In service and devotion, we’re ultimately moving to a deeper place than a “right or wrong”, “tit for tat” sense of fairness and equality. As Freiman concludes, “In relationship, we are moving toward a kind of transparency where we are able to take each other to God by reinstating each other’s essential position. I can’t think of anything more beautiful, can you?”
This article first appeared in Wellbeing Magazine, Issue 125
In the past 20 years angelogist Doreen Virtue has propelled global attention on how working with angels can assist to find your life purpose, attract and maintain relationships and improve health.
Her maxim is that ‘the angels have a purpose to enact God’s will, which is peace on earth, one person at a time’ and reveals a belief that if each person is peaceful, then we will have a world full of peaceful people.
Sometimes easier said than done, she concedes, but an effective way forward.
A car-jacking and 2 sentences ignited global fascination for angels
It’s hard to fathom that in 1996 Doreen Virtue was told that angel books were a dead genre and nobody wants to know about them. A life changing car-jacking and a two sentence pitch email to her publisher Hay House changed all of that. Today angel oracle cards, books and workshops are ubiquitous. Interest in them is escalating rapidly.
An act of interceded prayer
Communicating with angels and archangels – asking for and receiving their guidance – is essentially an act of prayer for Virtue.
It is flipping the energy of stress and worry (habitual negative self-talk and ingrained unconscious patterns) to a more life-affirming, outcome-orientated higher vibration energy.
Prayer is not directed to the angels per se, but rather through their intersession to God or the Divine or whatever name is ascribed to a higher being. She teaches that the act of asking for assistance from angels is essential and then one must be prepared to listen and act on guidance. Prayer is obviously petitioned through the energy of thoughts (in words) so the intention and awareness behind them is vital. The angels recently stressed upon her the importance of high vibratory communication.
The big questions for angels
Doreen Virtue’s facilitation and teachings assist with core questions – how to have greater inner peace, a life partner, health and wellbeing and a life purpose? How to influence world leaders energetically and create world peace?
Her workshops around the world are consistently sold out, she’s written and co-authored over 68 books (that’s nearly 3 per year), 58 ebooks, many audio programs and 28 oracle card decks. Two of her books The Angel Therapy Handbook (2011) and Angel Words: Visual Evidence of how Words can be Angels in your Life (2010) demonstrate her commitment to build the global pool of spiritual teachers and communicate with more awareness in a higher vibration and assist people live intuitively.
Generous with her knowledge, Virtue’s output is prolific. Yet she still finds time to dive near her home in Hawaii (she is a divemaster) and swim with her girlfriends wearing a mermaid mono-fin tail.
An ardent environmentalist and animal rites supporter, she regularly donates money to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and is involved in farm-animal and sea-animal advocacy groups such as Ocean Defenders Alliance and the Humane Society. A committed vegan, she is passionate about diet, both her own and those she assists.
A striking crone and grandmother
Raised with a Christian Science background, this American grandmother is a striking example of a crone in full flight. A compassionate woman, wearing the strong mantle of celebrity with humility and patience, she teaches her many students with gentle encouragement.
Her long-haired youthfulness belies a strong commitment to self-care and a diligent adherence to diet and exercise, something she espouses with great regularity. You could easily imagine her in Hawaii, bikini and sarong clad with bare feet and her beloved pet dog under her arm.
A young mum with little money
But it wasn’t always like this. She’s quick to share her tales of being a twenty-something mum and wife with little money for food and electricity. In time, she graduated with a MA and PhD, becoming a sort-after psychotherapist and media spokesperson, specialising in substance abuse and eating disorders. With clients she interwove what was channelled through her without revealing its source, anxious to avoid the ridicule of her younger years, when she was teased. A fourth generation metaphysician, Virtue saw angels and was naturally clairvoyant as a child, but felt ‘weird and strange’ in a world that didn’t understand them.
Of her former career days, Virtue herself reports that she was wilful. Just prior to driving her BMW convertible one day in 1995 she was strongly warned it would be stolen. Not heeding the warning, only one hour later when the car was stopped at her destination, two assailants pointed a gun at her. A voice, she attributes to Archangel Michael, cut through loudly, telling her to scream with all her might. Her screams attracted passerby attention and her would-be attackers ran off. She remained unharmed and nothing was stolen.
Swapped business suits for goddess gowns
In her workshop the very next day she swapped her business suits for ‘goddess gowns’ and started to interweave her teachings with information about angels. She noticed that, as the millennium approached and growing concern about Y2K grew, her workshops in 1999 morphed from having “fringe type of people in my audiences, where everyone had tie-dye on to an audience wearing three piece suits. It was the first millennium shift and the angels just told me it was going to be fine.” She parallels the panic around Y2K to the 2012 end of the Mayan calendar, counsels to keep a positive outlook and not contribute to growing fear and panic.
The Angel Therapy Handbook cites that “an ‘angel’, in our terms, is a celestial (non physical) being who is an egoless messenger of God… Angels are the delivers of Heaven’s love and guidance.”
We have at least 2 guardian angels
Virtue explains that all of us have at least two guardian angels, who are with us all of our lives and love us unconditionally. Some people have more, having asked for them or someone else asked on our behalf. Angels are non-denominational and assist people of every faith, working alongside Jesus and the Ascended Masters, assisting us to be at peace – their primary duty.
As ‘chief messengers of God’, the Archangels are the ‘managers of the angels’, larger and more powerful than the angels. Just like the guardian angels, the Archangels are non-denominational. They have specific fortes and characteristics, and although genderless, they have distinct male and female energies and personas. Of the many Archangels (various religions report different amounts), the four main Archangels are Michael (protector/courage), Gabriel (messenger/strength), Raphael (healer/health) and Uriel (illuminator/problem-solver). T
No worship, just work with angels for peace
he Archangels have appeared in sacred texts such as the Bible, the Apocryphal and Talmudic biblical books, the Kabbalah and the Qur’an. We don’t pray or worship angels or archangels, merely work with them for peace. Technically, accordingly to Virtue, angels refer to messengers of God, not deceased ones (however saintlike they may be!) who are more ‘spirit guides’ than angels, functioning at a different energy frequency.
You don’t have to earn love, you are loved
“The first thing angels help you to do is to know that you are not alone, ever, that you are loved for who you are, right now,” she counsels. “You don’t have to earn love, you are loved. Angels help us to lift the fears that take away from that feeling of peace, joy and love, so angels can help you to feel safe with someone by your side guarding and protecting you.”
I feel much happier now
“That’s the number one thing I hear when I introduce people to working with angels – ‘gosh I feel so much happier now’ – and that’s what’s it’s really about, happiness and love to me are synonymous. And when you lose the fear of doubt, that’s really where people start to feel enjoyment in each moment, in the now.”
Virtue finds that people more readily accept angels and archangels because they exist across many faiths.
“I find that people will agree about angels who wouldn’t agree about God, or Jesus, because God and Jesus have come across with organised religions as male figures associated with guilt and with fear,” she says.
“Angels are really more of a blank slate, a starting place for a lot of folks who have moved away from their childhood religion or don’t have any kind of faith. Angels are so safe and accessible. It’s something that we can all agree upon. And that’s what I love about working with angels – how unifying they are.”
Helping to open the heart
Angels are conduits to opening the heart – individual and collective – and an important bridge facilitating this opening is communication through words, either thought or spoken, making the connection possible. Positive (high frequency) and negative (low frequency) words attract and creative life experiences.'
“It wasn’t until Angel Words that the whole point was really driven into me that every single word, individually, has the power to open your heart or close your heart,” she states.
Recently Virtue was podcasting with her son Grant and they discovered a relationship between the image of verbal words and energetic vibration. Angel Words is a body of visual research that adds to the collective research about how the words we say affect us.
“I said the word “angel” and Grant stopped me and said Mum, when you said that word, look at this, and he turned his computer around and there was a graph that was shaped like an angel wings flying.”
They noted that the visual graphic representation on a computer of a particular word, despite the way in which it was said – with irony, different volumes and emotions etc – correlated to its intrinsic energetic vibration, either high (positive) or low (negative). Grant tried saying positive words with fear in his heart and also anger, and a couple of other emotions that are considered low, and it didn’t matter, it always had the higher vibration in it.
The energy of words is felt through the body, whether spoken as self-talk or by someone else. For example, a stomach tightens when the conversation gets gossipy or the heart opens if the conversation becomes warm and loving. She explains “just watch what your body does. Your body will tell you if it’s a high or a low vibrating verbal communication, and what this really shows is if you speaking from your ego or from your higher self.”
The energy of words has big impact
Angel Words details many scientific studies on the impact of words and importantly, for Virtue, communication is a key element in connecting with angels, and bringing about peace on the planet.
“Just like second hand smoke, when people smoke cigarettes, it creates pollution, our words do the same thing,” explains Virtue. “So if you’ve ever been around someone, like a stranger who is yelling, or even worse, cursing, it upsets everyone around them, and so our biggest contribution we can make is to be at peace.”
“To go outside of your house and to be at peace is no easy task, it’s easy to be at peace when you are home alone, but to go outside, to ordinary places like Big W or something like that and to walk around and be at peace, you are more of a spiritual teacher than someone who has written a book to me.”
Think what you desire, not fear
Given that you think in words, Virtue further extrapolates, “your thoughts need to be monitored and controlled, which means deciding to think about what you desire, instead of what you fear.”
Angels help with world politicians
Doreen Virtue consciously and consistently uses her work with angels to help energetically shift the motivations of world politicians and bring about balance and harmony.
“I’m very politically active in terms of being aware of what’s going on worldwide and in America, and so the politicians, whether we like them or not, are affecting all of us,” she states. “I believe that highly sensitive people, even more than others, need to stay aware of world events.”
She sees that too many people she meets at spiritual events have just dropped out, not voting, reading the news and not wanting to know what’s going on. “I can understand that,” she says. “But it’s a mistake because then only people who are insensitive are running the countries.”
She’s met politicians backstage and on television and radio shows that she’s been in. She has worked with them for years.
Understanding that these are the key people affecting the whole planet, including world bankers, says that “those are the folks that I work on the most, because I believe that deep down, everybody has goodness, and everyone has Godliness in them.”
“I really believe that even the most evil people have the potential to be good people, and so I work with the angels to lift away the selfishness from these world leaders all the time and I ask for help with other people who pray, to do the same thing,” she adds. “I think that if enough of us pray to lift their selfishness, that it can open their hearts to compassion.”
Listen to the truth, as you know it
Awareness is a matter of balance and not just reading the news, but going with what your gut tells you and she says that “we’ve to just be really be aware of what we feel the truth is and really trust that, that inner feeling.” She cautions about not getting too obsessed with it, but just figuring out what anyone can a do, as an individual, to help, whether by voting, writing a letter to the editor, or talking with someone else.
Feminine and powerful = strength
Working with all people across the globe is important and Virtue believes that women have a unique role in moving the planet forward, particularly those in leadership or potential leadership positions. She sees that the next wave is being highly feminine and powerful at the same time, and we need role models for that.
The majority of Virtue’s students are family-centric women. “You don’t have to have a job outside the home to be powerful, you can be a stay at home mother, and be one of the most powerful women in the world. What we are looking for is women who own their femininity and who are also fully themselves. To me that’s the definition of strength,” she declares.
“It’s a matter of coming with balance because you’ve also got to retain your softness and your thoughtfulness, you’ve got to retain the gentleness, and so the gentle crone who is fully herself, I think is, is the most attractive being in this planet.”
Archangel Jophiel, the angel of beauty helps to silence the voice of the ego
The gentle crone gives one final word of advice of how she parks her ego in the driveway. She finds that the main thing that works for her is to call upon Archangel Jophiel, the angel of beauty, whose name means ‘beauty of God’.
After reading A Course in Miracles 20 times, Virtue reports that “it doesn’t personally work for me as well as calling Jophiel and just saying ‘help’. And every time I do that the ego is silenced. She’s got her finger on the pulse and I love that she is a feminine angel.” Surely this is a great start for peace on earth.
Doreen recommends to talk with angels:
1. Address any fears so they don’t hinder your Divine connections. Fear is the main factor blocking transmissions.
2. It’s not blasphemous to talk to angels, as they are messengers of God.
3. Centre yourself in a meditative space, simply be receptive and notice all thoughts, feelings, visions and words that come to you.
4. True Divine guidance is uplifting and inspiring. Angel messages always mention how to improve on something – outlook, health, relationships etc.
5. God, the Archangels, Ascended Masters and angels all speak with loving words – their sentence constructions involve ‘you’ and ‘we’, where the ego will use ‘I’.
6. Ask for a sign verifying their message if you’re not sure you’re hearing your angels and be alert for unusual happenings.
7. Ask for help, as with any conversation – perhaps the angels need to speak up or clarify what they have said.
8. Turn it over – don’t carry your fears single-handedly. Give it to the angels. It’s not that you have fears, it’s how you handle them that counts. Archangel Jophiel is especially helpful at beautifying thoughts.
9. Check your lifestyle – diet, sleeping, exercise to support your growing sensitivity.
10. Keep notes of your messages received in a journal.
11. Practice, practice and practice. This will help you develop confidence.
This article was originally published in Wellbeing magazine, June 2011
When a woman is truly radiant, her beauty is unmistakable. Luminous and expansive, she is magnetic, Attractive, lovely and sensual.
A woman will light up a room when she radiates confidence and peace in herself. She becomes magnetic and beautiful.
She is not running with a deficit in her tank, a need to be filled.
The path from believing what society says is beautiful to feeling radiant and empowered can be a long haul for many women.
It’s a journey of finding self-acceptance and self-worth that’s far removed from physical appearance and bodily attributes.
The quality of her depth, passion and willingness to grow sets her apart.
It’s an inner beauty connection that makes a woman beautiful
Related Tags: What is Inner Beauty
A woman’s beauty has been conceived through the ages as a form of currency, which has lead to an over-identification with physical appearance. How then does a woman begin to fully radiate in her true beauty, at any age, and embody her beauty as power?
Beauty, it’s often said, is in the eye of the beholder. But actually it’s in the shine of a woman’s eyes. Fresh, clear and irresistible. The path from being bound to culturally ascribed notions of beauty to feminine radiance, women empowerment & Self Esteem can be a long haul for many women.
It’s a journey of finding self-acceptance and self-worth that’s far detached from physical appearance and bodily attributes. Irrespective of age and size, whilst also fully acknowledging the body’s potentiality, beauty is fundamentally an inner job for women. This is the place where a shift in the definition, and ownership, of beauty occurs.
It’s an inner connection that makes a woman beautiful
Devoid of makeup, with natural hair and easily the body of a woman half her age, 51 year old Chilean-born yogini Satya Katiza Ivulic radiates the quality of beauty which many women aspire to. A yoga teacher trainer of international standing, most recently on-staff at Bali’s exclusive Como Shambala Estate, her contagious enthusiasm, femininity and warmth inspire her many students. Her advice to women is simply to love themselves.
“What I see when a woman has beauty, it’s that she shines from the inside through her eyes and skin. It’s the way she uses her words and moves her body. It’s an inner connection and that’s beautiful,” she explains. “That is a very profound place in herself where she moves from.”
“It’s like having a crown on your head, full of light, saying yes I am.”
For Satya, beauty doesn’t have any proportions or special look. She says that “it’s very beautiful when a woman knows how to use clothes, fabric and jewelry with sensitivity. It’s the state of being in communion with everything a woman does – with harmony, grace and connection.”
A radiant woman is luminous
When a woman is truly radiant, the quality of beauty is unmistakable. Luminous and expansive, she is magnetic, lovely and sexually attractive.
Yet in the pursuit of ‘being beautiful’, the over-identification with the physical form has moved away from the inner qualities that create the glow of beauty in the first place. In order to reconnect with the essence of beauty, it’s helpful to investigate points of disconnection.
Umberto Eco opens On Beauty, a historical survey of the Western idea of beauty (Secker & Warburg, 2004), with a declaration that “‘Beautiful’ – together with ‘graceful’ and ‘pretty’, or ‘sublime’, ‘marvelous’, ‘superb’ and similar expressions – is an adjective we often employ to indicate something that we like.” p8
‘To be beautiful is to be ‘good’
In many Western and non-Western societies women have been deemed ‘desirable’ and ‘good’ according to their physical beauty, as defined by the dominant culture. To be ‘beautiful’ therefore has become interlinked with what is ‘good’, what we like and what we would like to have for ourselves.
Appearance thus conforms to sets of ever-changing socio-cultural ideals, which are arbitrary and, in the contemporary world, largely driven by market forces.
Beauty impacts on marriage and partnership prospects
In a world that overvalues physical attributes, a woman’s beauty can dramatically impact upon her marriage and partnership prospects. The more she fits into what is deemed attractive and sexually potent, the more desirable she is with greater prospects for her to secure a high status partner.
Her beauty thus becomes her currency (which is why so many women want it) enabling her greater ease of access to wealth, status and power – both her own and her partner’s. Generally speaking, her prospects of employment and social popularity tend to increase the more attractive she is.
This also works in reverse with women who are outside of ‘beauty norms’. In 2006 a New York study found that obesity was associated with a 16% reduction in women’s probability of marriage, an 18% reduction in women’s wages, and a 25% reduction in women’s family income.1
High-fashion models, of whom are selected entirely for their appearance, actors and celebrities feed the media and set the tone of ‘the look’ for women across the globe.
Swedish former international model 26 year old Lisa* travelled across the globe between the ages of 16 and 22 in front of the camera. She typifies the modelling world’s checklist: blonde, willowy with a balletic gait, her long eyelashes frame pools of blue and contrast perfect milky skin.
Lisa’s professional and personal values reveal a rich inner life and strong self-worth. Now she is more interested in a deeper level of beauty – both her own and those around her.
“True beauty is reflected in a women’s whole being, and I believe that beauty is created from within,” says Lisa. “The women who are beautiful have strength and confidence in who they are.”
“They are passionate, intelligent, confident and also loving, kind and considerate. Love and the belief in yourself and others as well as the ability to be happy and positive, creates this beauty – these traits are reflected on the outside.”
Ambivalent about the benefits of modelling, she notes that the aesthetic criteria of models’ ethnicity and cultural background and the masculinisation of women is also trend-based and change frequently.
“These are very superficial traits, it’s got nothing to do with personality, background or who you are,” she says. “You don’t have much say about how you are perceived. You are the image that’s selling and they [the fashion world and media] do what they want with it, they create the standard.”
“The standard for models is that they need big eyes and lips; defined bone structure; flawless skin; height that starts at 177cm,” she explains. “If a woman is taller, she is more fascinating.”
“Models need to be very slim and slightly androgynous, which is why very young girls are used because they haven’t yet developed the female body shape. The clothes are only made in the sample size, which is a small European 34 [Australian size 4-6]. The models need to fit these.”
Lisa’s revelations of other people’s negative reactions to her physical beauty when growing up are poignant. This experience is unspoken yet common for many young women.
Jealousy and what women ‘should’ look like
Jealousy, taunting, social exclusion and gossiping in young women reveal disturbing distortions in perception, which derive from ambivalent relationships to social ideals of what women ‘should’ look like and the enormous gap in how they actually appear.
Not only does this indicate projection and discomfort with another woman’s beauty, it also highlights a lack of self-acceptance and not feeling innately beautiful in oneself. In 2005 a study in 10 countries commissioned by Dove surveyed 3,300 girls and women between the ages of 15 and 64. Beyond Stereotypes found that 90% of these women wanted to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.
Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves (Random House, 1992) succinctly identifies the root cause of distortions of beauty and what this does to women’s psyches: “When women are relegated to moods, mannerisms, and contours that conform to a single ideal of beauty and behaviour, they are captured in both body and soul, and are no longer free.” p200.
Social distortions and beauty
Single culturally ascribed ideals of beauty and behaviour – particularly those around ‘youthfulness’ and thin bodies – breed distortions which manifest in eating disorders, excessive use of cosmetic surgery, anxiety, depression and more. So many women struggle, to their detriment, to fit unattainable notions of size, weight and shape to conform to this ideal.
The Beyond Stereotypes study also found that 67% of all women 15 to 64 withdraw from life-engaging activities due to feeling badly about their looks.
Whilst some women withdraw, others simply change their looks. With an annual turnover in the vicinity of $1 billion annually, cosmetic surgery in Australia is big business. In 2009 Australia was ranked in the top 25 countries in The International Survey on Aesthetic/Cosmetic Procedures performed.
The pursuit of the androgenised whippet-thin body has lead to an epidemic of young women (and some young men) dieting and starving themselves. After obesity and asthma, anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic illness for adolescent girls in Australia.
An epidemic of eating disorders
Of the 14,686 women aged 18-23 years surveyed in The Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health, two thirds of them had a BMI within a healthy weight range, however only one fifth of these women were happy with their weight.
Whilst distortions such as the above are well documented, there are many people and organisations actively engaged in revealing these debilitating conditions and encouraging women and men to discover what ‘true beauty’ actually is.
Three-time Grammy-nominee singer Toni Childs is one of them. She was commissioned by Eve Ensler, writer of The Vagina Monologues, to write a song that would end the violence against women and children. Childs’ evocative song ‘Because You’re Beautiful’ went on to win an Emmy and after that the Because You’re Beautiful project was born (www.causeyourebeautiful.com).
She declares that “our beauty exists, it is like the sunlight, and our nature is beauty. It is the power, our gifts are our natural resonance of our beauty.”
Beauty is power
Beauty, for Toni Childs, is power, and she says that “waking to our beauty is a powerful expression. Not settling for less than that is a powerful contribution, it’s the resonance factor. The ripple effect on the world is massive because we are all connected globally.”
“When each one of us does it, it gives permission to everyone around us to do it. And this is the next level of human evolution.”
The singer has made self-acceptance and the re-alignment in self-perception around beauty a large part of her life’s creative output. Toni Childs is on a big mission for the women – and men – of the world to see themselves as ‘a living beauty’.
The crie de coeur came from Childs’ own inability to accept herself and her own beauty, “I think it’s a struggle that I have to own as experiencing. It’s caused me to go down into a rabbit hole to discover and try to find the roots of this distortion.”
The key for her to reconnect with beauty – initially her own and then everyone else’s – is to experience her own vulnerability, visit the places where she doesn’t believe that she is beautiful.
“What happens is, we grow up in a culture, in a world that says you don’t look like this, you’re not beautiful and you believe that, you’ve just given your power away,” she says.
“So if you are giving away your power, you can’t shine in the beauty and glory of who you are.”
She explains that in the first instance that “some ancestral prisons need identification and dismantling to identify the blocks to experiencing beauty. These can be very difficult to let go of and disconnect from.”
After acknowledging the distortions, their impact and where they come from, what are some of the steps that a woman can take, to move beyond, be truly beautiful, whatever her age?
The first step – develop self-intimacy
For Satya, the first step for any woman is to develop an intimacy with herself. She explains that “she has to create a place in her daily life to meet herself. This is done by breathing deeply, engaging all the senses – feeling her body and skin, smelling, hearing, seeing and listening – and then moving into meditation.”
Don’t change your life – just start with 15 mins breathing
Many women juggle multiple commitments of family, career and more. Rather than adding one more thing on the to-do list for them, the yoga teacher recommends that “first of all you have nothing to change in your life. Everything you are doing, just allow it. Start the day with 10 -15 minutes lying in bed breathing and make this time the most sacred moment of your day.”
Instead of jumping out of the bed, Satya advises that women put their hands on their diaphragm, breathe for about five minutes, and then move to the feet, giving attention to each part of the body before getting out of bed.
“This will be the beginning of connecting with yourself and moving towards your beauty,” she says.
Afterwards, when women shower, Satya encourages them take time to feel the water touching the skin and then feel any lotions or creams that are put on the body.
Feel your eyes and being
“Feel your eyes,” Satya recommends, “feel every part of your being, before you go into the outer world. Just bring awareness. You don’t have to do anything big. When you prepare your breakfast take the time to taste your food. So you’re actually just doing the same thing as you normally do, but now you are bringing awareness to it. And then suddenly without knowing it, the world starts to shine. It’s that simple.”
For young women whose energy is still fresh and vibrant Satya encourages them to be as natural as possible and stay in contact with their rhythms. And for all women she recommends being connected to the menstrual cycle and the moon, which supports women’s experience of their femininity and their innate sacredness, which ultimately gives women strength and trust.
Move inward when menstruating
“Make sure that the menstrual days are not filled up with going out, but filled up with moving in,” she says. “If you have to work, do it, but don’t put a lot of stuff in there. Afterwards you will naturally start to come into a cycle of moving outwards and then you will feel more attractive and connected with your energy and femininity.
“The more women are able to fully embrace this cycle, we are also able to see the male in his beauty. They have a cycle too, but they don’t recognise it. The female needs to recognise nature very intimately, because that allows us also to communicate with the male in a very natural way. And that makes a woman beautiful.”
Satya’s advice is simple and she says “in a very intimate way, start to love yourself. Start to appreciate the incredible place of being a woman.”
Embrace what is
She teaches her students to love themselves, recognise themselves and stop trying to change anything. Embrace every part of their bodies as they are, embrace the sense organs, the bodily functions, the breath and to connect to their real nature.
“As a woman you are the one who needs to recognise that it’s from this connection with yourself that beauty comes and then the man becomes attracted. Then you have something to tell,” she says. “You have something to show.”
True beauty is an inside job. It shines from the heart and radiates through the eyes. It expresses all the body’s aspects.
“The most beautiful thing I know is seeing my loved ones laugh and be happy, it just makes them radiate,” says Lisa.
Beauty is empowerment, a state of being fully in the body rather than a cultural power of the body. The individual and collective journey back to the heart is what ignites feminine radiance and makes beauty shine.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes expansively sums it up (p201), “It is clear that the instinctive nature of women values body and spirit far more for their ability to be vital, responsive, and enduring than by any measure of appearance. This is not to dismiss who or what is considered beautiful by any segment of culture, but to draw a large circle that embraces all forms of beauty, form, and function.”
*name changed by request
This was published in Wellbeing magazine, August 2011
Gender, Body Mass and Socioeconomic Status – New Evidence from the PSID, 2006,
It was extraordinary to launch The Butterfly Temple at the Northern Rivers International Women’s Day lunch in Ballina on Friday 6 March.
To speak about True Beauty in front of a captive audience of 300 women – 40 of them school girls – and to realise my long-held dream was deeply moving.
And as if this wasn’t enough, my childhood best friend Amanda Pauley, who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 40 years had, unbeknownst to me, flown up to Ballina to hear me speak. I had no idea she was in the audience until after the lunch had finished. Our reunion was so sweet….
Now, that’s what I call an act of beauty – I will never forget that day.
Excerpts of my International Women’s Day Keynote speech Intolerable statistics
Today we have 700,000,000 women without adequate food, water, sanitation, health care or education (compared with 100,000,000 men).
That’s the entire population of the USA, Canada, Mexico and Indonesia put together.
67% of illiterate adults in the world are women.
An international survey found that 57% of women surveyed had experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence over their lifetime.
These are intolerable statistics.
True Beauty Matters
It’s appropriate to talk about beauty on International Women’s Day because when we appreciate ourselves just as we are, and the beauty we have inside us, we have freedom. We have power. We have autonomy.
We are in a much better place to offer something of value to our world.
True Beauty is a way of living, having an attitude and approach to life that’s self-accepting and loving.
When a woman has this she is radiant. Her beauty is unmistakable.
A few years ago I was offered a magazine interview with best-selling author Marianne Williamson, who is famous for writing Nelson Mandela’s speech.
Marianne Williamson is told me that she felt that Western women have lost their sense of being like a mother bear who will fiercely protect her cubs.
She spoke of women going soft, of being distracted and not paying attention to what is truly important.
I agree with her – that when women stop hiding in fake tan because of feelings of fear, shame and lack of worth, we will build a far more empowered world.
On International Women’s Day 2015, I’m launching a global campaign for True Beauty – The Butterfly Temple.
The Butterfly Temple is a global campaign with a vision that in 2020 all the 3.85 billion women and girls in the world will see the beauty that lies inside them, just as we are, regardless of our looks, body size or age.
We want to get people into the beauty habit – see themselves as beautiful.
True beauty is often a big ask. It’s a lot easier said than done. And it takes willingness.
When a woman has been abused, assaulted, raped, abandoned, neglected, the last thing she feels is beautiful.
Women I’ve spoken to who have these experiences just want to hide and to be invisible. As a result, many abandon themselves.
My story (thumbnail version)
I was abandoned by my mother aged 4. My father became gravely ill when I was 11. I put myself through upper high school. At 21 I was a single mother with very little prospects. Later in life I had a journey with a family member for 10 years that I wish no one would ever have to think about let alone live through. Today my family is thriving. A few years ago, I forgave my mother. We both found peace.
This changed my life in a way I never expected. It was not easy though.
I know that gentleness, kindness, compassion and forgiveness do really work.
To me, this is at the heart of empowered femininity. These qualities give us strength.
When you are determined, never give up and are willing to dive deep and shine brightly, you can do anything.
You can really make it happen.
I know that no amount of achievement, lipstick and nice shoes hold the sacred transformational space that is so critical to our development so that we mature as loving, bold, caring women who contribute something of value to this planet.
So we become the type of women that Marianne Williamson speaks of.
Beauty Myth and its distortions
The beauty myth in our society causes distortions that result in eating disorders, excessive use of cosmetic surgery, anxiety, depression and more.
The cost of such beauty ideals is very high for women.
This is why connecting to our True Beauty is so important.
Withdraw or change your looks?
Whilst some women withdraw from life because of their perceptions about their looks, others simply change their looks.
With an annual turnover of $1 billion, cosmetic surgery in Australia is big business. It’s 12 times higher in America.
Celebrity look-a-like surgery is a new and growing trend. Women are actually requesting that they look like their ideal woman, who has Angelina Jolie’s lips and cheekbones, Beyoncé’s facial structure, Kim Kardashian’s eyes and jawline and Natalie Portman’s nose.
Not safe to be beautiful
On the other hand, for many young women, it’s not safe to be beautiful, even when you do look like what society deems is desirable.
We hear so many stories about jealousy, taunting and gossiping by other women and girls. This so often results in social exclusion and cyber bullying. It’s a big problem.
Today’s model trends foster an unreal image of women that is androgynous and based on an undeveloped child-like female body shape. This distortion has lead to epidemic of young women dieting and starving themselves.
Eating disorders are serious.
So it’s time now to heed the call to reclaim ourselves, the reality of who we are and what truly matters.
I acknowledge that some deep pieces of our beliefs and psyches sometimes need attention to identify the blocks to experiencing beauty.
There are many wonderful programs and therapists working to support women. It’s not a quick fix.
So what are some simple steps that a woman can take to start to feel truly beautiful, whatever her age, body size or looks?
1. Give. Pay it forward – practice random acts of beauty.
Look for beauty in the world around you. Look for just one thing in someone else that’s beautiful. Tell strangers how beautiful they are.
Get the beauty habit. Tell 2 people every day how beautiful they are. One of these people could be a loved one or stranger, the other is you.
2. Hold. Develop intimacy with yourself – look within, not outside yourself.
Develop an intimacy with yourself and take loving care of yourself. The quickest way to feel beautiful is to take time and feel yourself in your body.
Acknowledge your body as the most sacred place you has ever visited. If you don’t, no one else will.
3. Receive. Be open to what’s already there and cultivate a life of beauty.
Be more receptive to what life offers. Don’t always be the giver. This creates more balance.
Make it a choice to be thankful for the beauty you do have. It’s remarkable how gratitude sparks greater abundance and opportunity.
4. Determine. Trust yourself, find your passion and go for it.
Prioritise your needs, so you have a full tank. Do what it takes to find out what you want in life and go for your dreams.
When you practice small and consistent acts of True Beauty the world starts to shine a little more.
Come and join us at The Butterfly Temple in our global campaign for True Beauty.
Help us get this message out.
Let’s make True Beauty happen.
We were sent this report from Andrew Garton, an Australian filmmaker in India. It’s a very moving piece about rural women in India being empowered by their newly founded community – on the internet. Their connection to each other and the world around them through the net is helping to find solidarity – and natural beauty tips. Poignant to read of their struggle – deeply moving to hear of their humour in the face of it.
Women are stepping up in India’s off-grid rural communities
In India’s north-east, in its rural off-grid villages where electricity has barely lit a single light bulb something truly beautiful is taking place. Women and girls from tribal communities, many former forest dwellers, once hunter-gathers, where resilience thrives, are inspiring each other through a communal space very new to them – the internet.
Below poverty line women find solidarity in Muzaffarpur
Indu Devi’s husband sold fish at the nearby markets in Muzaffarpur, a town in the Bajjikanchal region of Bihar. He fell ill, Indu describing it as a “brain disease”. Their family is now entirely dependent on her for their income. She is legally entitled to work at least 100 days per year on agricultural land. The work offered to her barely meets the quota allocated to all Indians who live below the poverty line.
Sanjay Sahni is an electrician. He works 10 days a month in New Delhi and spends the rest in the agricultural communities of Muzaffarpur. Within a dirt floor, stone and brick farm building Sanjay fires up a laptop, a single internet connection and loads up a government website. Every day for the rest of each month he will provide women like Indu, who stream in from off the fields all day, with labor market information; hours worked, how much they ought to have earned and what to do if employers rip them off. Plenty of them do.
Many of these women are much worse off then Indu. Their husbands are abusive, refuse to work spending much of their days drunk, stoned or both. In spite of the harsh circumstances the women of Muzaffarpur are finding strength and solidarity directly as a consequence of knowing their labor rights.
Led by the formidable Madina Begam they have formed themselves into an organisation, the Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sansthan. They cry “solidarity” when talking about their strengths and when called upon will, as a group, humiliate husbands when their behaviour becomes entirely unacceptable. They have come to protect each other.
A job card that every below the poverty line worker is entitled to and a single net connection has seeded a movement among the women of Muzzaffarpur, informed and emboldened them.
Basanti and Reena escape child marriage in Baran
In the once lush forests of Baran, in the southern region of Rajasthan, Basanti Bheel and Reena Sahariya tell me why the internet is so useful. “It’s great for fashion tips,” and burst out laughing. “Aloe vera is good for the skin!”
Now both in their late teens / early twenties it is incomprehensible to think that only a handful of years ago they were too frightened to speak. Both had attended a course at the Manomi Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC) where they learnt how to use computers and the internet. They now teach there. Manomi is the home to a vast wireless broadband network established with the support of the Delhi based Digital Empowerment Foundation who also supports Sanjay Sahni’s work in Muzaffarpur.
Where barely a radio has been heard Basanti and Reena’s communities of former forest dwellers have access to video conferencing, telemedicine services, video on demand, email.
Name it and they have it. Though they may adore aloe vera as any woman of their age might, both have high hopes for themselves and their communities.
Basanti has already gathered around 500 women in her village to whom she shares information about women’s health issues, sanitation, general access to the internet and no doubt fashion tips.
Though child marriage is still rife in Rajasthan Basanti and Reena found that even a meagre education ensured their escape from this practice. Both their families and friends are supportive of their new-found strength and commitment to helping other women.
It is women such as Indu, Madina, Basanti and Reena that are changing the perception of women in their villages. Small steps in a vast country.
About this article
Extracts from UPLIFT, a new film by Andrew Garton in association with the Digital Empowerment Foundation. UPLIFT traces the motivations, challenges and victories of the Foundation’s life among the downtrodden and unknown peoples of a continent where medieval communities and modernity finds both friction and fortune – heritage and triumph at the coal face of India’s information divide.
Photo: Basanti Bheel & Reena Sahariya. By Jary Nemo
When I think about my mother I am sure she was beautiful, well to me anyway. But I was ashamed too. I couldn’t always love her the way I thought I should. She was loud, blunt and often rude. And she lashed out at us, left us at home far too long on our own with people we didn’t know. I thought I was too ugly for her and then she died.
My Dad told me I was beautiful
Living with my dad was different. He was alive, creative and famous. He’d hold me on his lap and stroke my hair and tell me I was beautiful. In fact everyone around him and associated with him told me that. But I was only 10 and I didn’t really understand.
Dancing made me alive and also hid my shame
When I danced I felt something I couldn’t quite describe; an exhilaration and expansion that went beyond looks. To move through the space and tumble to the floor made me feel alive, rooted and the terrifying feelings would subside. I felt seen and my soaring body hid my shame.
My breaking heart
But in the girls bathroom I was afraid the other girls would hear me pee. It was easier to drink small sips of beer and sneak a puff on my Grandfathers Pall Mall cigarette then feel the breaking of my heart.
The first kiss didn’t work and neither did the boys who paid me to kiss them after that. They called me a whore. I didn’t know what that was. But I felt the meaning behind the words and it hurt.
I fell in love with someone too old. He promised me that no one made him feel like that. He told me I was too beautiful for words and did things to me no one else would. But I left him. He wanted to bottle me like a firefly in the dark.
My husband told me I smelled wrong. I buried my feelings and worked harder. Why did he love me anyway? It was hard to tell. He told me other men would always want me. Did he tell me that to absolve himself?
Happy in my skin as an older woman
As an older woman I no longer search for the meaning of “beautiful”. I’m happy in my skin. I remember beauty in the coloured petals that stain my fingers as I whirl them into circles and prayers. I see beauty in the hollow winds that scream up the trees. A beautiful moment has no opposite.
What makes a woman beautiful? That’s no one’s place to say.
A woman defines her beauty in the way she loves and holds her world.
These things cannot be taught. Beauty is not a definition.
All too often, we are told to go with our feelings. Yet, to truly make our contribution in the world, we must continue to teach, to heal, to write, to reach out even on the days that we don’t really ‘feel’ like it.
The way a soul-purpose unfolds is akin to each of the developmental milestones we bear witness to in our own children.
Talent, intention, discipline – mastery
Each and every stage of life we are in, contributes to a greater understanding about who we are, what we are naturally gifted at and how we make our gifts work in the world. Raw and natural talent isn’t enough. There needs to be an exertion of intention, discipline and will to achieve mastery.
Dharma is often not the smoothest and easiest road
After coaching several clients for hundreds of hours on the intricacies of finding and embracing dharma, I have come to the understanding that your unique dharma may not always be the smoothest and easiest road to take.
It may take more guts, more determination and more perseverance than you bargained for. Yet, it is ultimately, the road to your greatest freedom, fulfilment, soul growth and satisfaction. It’s worth suffering, for your contribution truly is profound. Yet we can also choose not to suffer if we know who we truly are at our core.
Our spiritual covenant
There are polarities at work at any one moment as we bring the expression of our dharma into being. Dharma is our spiritual covenant which is effectively like a contract we have made before we take human form. This covenant is our promise to carry out a specific set of duties while we are here. We can have several covenants including the duty of bringing other beings into existence (parenthood) and caring for another so that they can bring important work into being.
Anatomy of soul purpose – all parts of you
The anatomy of your soul purpose consists of each of the requisite parts that make up your constitutional state of being. These requisite parts are your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and psychic layers. Each of these aspects make a contribution to the qualities of your unique purpose or dharma. Most importantly, these aspects carry a resonance or a blueprint that cannot be faked or fraudulent.
Will and determination for your unique expression to finds its place
They are as they are, divinely ordained and awaiting an expression which no-one but you can bring in to being. Holistically speaking, these aspects must also work simultaneously and in alignment with one another for momentum and flow to occur. Your role, as a human being, is to exert right will and discipline in order for your unique expression to find its right place in the world.
Not enough to simply know your soul purpose
Contrary to what you may have read, it is not enough to simply ‘know’ your purpose. Many of my clients come for coaching because they know their soul purpose already. The challenge is, that in the downloading of their purpose into worldly structure, they may have lost sight of their ‘why’ and their big vision has become more of a burden than an inspiration
Instead of resting solely on your natural and innate talents, there is very real effort required to put these talents into a coherent and productive form so that you can experience true freedom and honest expression.
Support and being witnessed
A good coach is like bread, completely neutral, bearing witness to your discipline and holding you accountable for the expression that has been eluding you. There is something powerful about being witnessed. The non-judgmental space of witness and observation alone can provide fertile soil for attenuation, healing, momentum, realisation, insight and inspiration.
It’s liberating to see the fruits of your labour. Yet, you are not supposed to journey alone. Having a witness can be the secret ingredient that bridges the gap between your current reality and your desired reality. Listen carefully as your soul purpose is calling you. Choose a mentor who can really see your strengths and proceed to reach for the stars.
Every day we are bombarded with millions of social media posts. We document our lives in all of their glory and perhaps a little too much of the minutiae. We express our opinions, we open what’s deepest in us, we rant about the injustices in the world.
But does Facebook and Instagram actually help to feed our masks, of what we want others to see of us?
Do we construct our self-image by referencing how others might perceive us, rather than what’s real – and ultimately beautiful – in ourselves?
Paradox of social media
Social media is a wonderful enabler. It obviously helps us stay connected with those around us – our family, friends and those who we haven’t met yet.
But paradoxically, our hyper-connectivity and the pressure to be always ‘on’ 24/7 means that our relationships can something amount to 140 characters or a sum total of the selfies we take.
Digital empires are vast. Facebook has 1.038 billion daily active users (Feb 2016) and there are 70 million daily Instagram users – who share an average of 70 million photos per day.
These are staggering amounts.
Vanity – how much do we observe ourselves being observed?
But my question is about social media posting – and how do we live life too focused on being the ‘observed’?
Before we post, how much do we ask ourselves, what will people think of my post? How will they see me? Will I be liked? How can I get as many Likes as possible?
Are we hooked on vanity?
We’re observer and observed at the same time.
Or do we post what really needs to be said?
I work in PR, and my daily interactions with colleagues focuses on messaging (words, images and video content) and their channels of dissemination – how they reach their target market or audience (or not).
In my business we’re very strict. We do everything we can to represent our clients with text and images that are authentic and express the very heart of their work.
We know how important accurate representation is.
Gap between artful Instagram and how we really feel
However in the broader field, what I see so often is a gap between what is shown – artfully made and posted on Facebook and Instagram – and what is real in life.
As the world grows more digitised, we’re seeing a whole tribe of ‘experts’ who tell others how to live, eat, love and work. However what’s obvious is that there is often a huge gap between what is shown and taught and what is.
For us to come together as women to fully support each other, it’s so important to take off our Facebook mask, to remove the Instagram filters and to start to get real in how we communicate in the world.
Keep what’s private, private
And by this, I don’t mean blurting the inner-most revelations that show stay in the diary. There’s still a role for old-fashioned pen and paper. And privacy.
Keeping up managing businesses and/or careers with relationships, children (or a grandchild in my instance), exercise and self-care, learning, relaxation, having fun and quality ‘me time’ is a huge ask for any woman, let alone those of us who are single mums or trying to conceive or find a partner or who don’t have financial resources or are battling illness (and a whole lot more).
A big tension between the inner and the outer
I’ve yet to meet a woman who doesn’t juggle something that creates a big tension between the inner and the outer. Myself included.
The super-fit, gorgeous 20 somethings who drink green smoothies and appear to have the world at their feet but are frightened if they will ever make a living from their passion.
The sassy 35 year old at the height of her career who wonders if she’ll ever meet the father of her child?
The successful career woman in her 40’s who, as a single mum wonders if life will ever be different from the endless struggle to make ends meet, and if she’s missed the eligibility boat for re-partnering.
The mummas in their 50s who are terrified of changes in their bodies and of the unstable, increasingly violent world their children and grandchildren inherit.
There are many women in the media to take a strong position around the myth of having it all.
Recently I saw the excellent Dr Libby Weaver speak at an IWD lunch. In detail, she outlined the cost of what she calls ‘Rushing Women’s Syndrome’ and the high price women pay.
Toothpaste smiles and having it all
Our society strongly encourages us present a picture perfect, white-toothed smile where we successfully ‘have it all’.
So we comply with glossed images plastered all over Facebook and Instagram.
These images don’t reveal the extent of our exhaustion or our anxiety over money, life direction, concern for our children, ageing, loneliness without a partner and a lot more.
Having honest conversations
So I think it’s time to pull out our journals, talk to trusted friends and family and start to have an honest conversation with ourselves about how we really feel, with what’s really going on.
A conversation that is sacred and private, one that’s not plastered everywhere electronically and feeds ravenous digital empires.
A shared conversation to check in with what’s really going on. And to find ways of being honest and genuinely supporting each other.
It’s so extraordinary that when one woman speaks up and tells the truth, she opens the door and allows others to do the same.
I did this recently with a group of women – and it was remarkable how huge the level of support we all received – bigger than my wildest imagination.. Much meatier than a post or two..
Think before we post.
So maybe it’s also time to consider that before we post the airbrushed version of ourself, that we take a moment to consider, is this actually real? Or is this part of the same story of how I want people to know of me?
How can I show my true beauty to the world, today?
Let me preface this article by confessing that I have hijacked The Butterfly Temple blog. I feel blessed to work on this global campaign but was unsure that if I showed this article to our fearless leader, Trudy, she would allow me to post it. I hope it inspires you to look around you, recognise and thank the warrior women among us.
If we’re lucky, we realise we’re in the company of a warrior woman as soon as we meet them.
They are the women fuelled by passion, anchored by experience and blessed with the generosity to share both.
They are the women who stand up for what they believe in when most would fall.
If we’re lucky, we realise we’ve met them straight away.
This was the case when I first met Trudy Johnston.
I was at a networking breakfast. You know the kind – each person stands up and introduces themselves.
When Trudy introduced herself, I knew I had to navigate my way down to her end of the table and meet her.
It turned out she waded through the participants before I could. She shook my hand, gave me her business card and said we needed to speak before apologising for having to leave for another appointment.
Call it intuition. Perhaps a gut feeling. But I knew there was something about Trudy that made me want to follow her.
She was an obvious leader. I wasn’t sure where she was leading us all. But I knew that I wanted to find out.
What I would eventually learn is that she is, in fact, a modern day warrior woman.
The Warrior Women of Chapters Past
There are warrior women dotted throughout the history of the world.
Those who have stood for justice and peace. Those who have changed the fate of communities, countries and the world in which we live today.
There was Nakano Takeko who broke centuries of tradition to become one of the only female power samurais in Japan’s history.
Or Queen Boudicca who as the Queen of a Celtic Tribe commanded a tribe of 100,000 to topple the Roman Capital of Britain
In more modern times, we have Nancy Wake the World War II resistance leader who shot her way out of roadblocks and biked 70 hours through perilous Nazi checkpoints to deliver radio codes for the Allies.
Or perhaps Rosie Batty who now devotes her life to eliminating domestic violence across Australia after her 11 year-old son was murdered by his father
Look Around You
It’s easy to spot the warrior women of history. Hindsight gives us the perspective to see their actions for the ultimate benefit they afforded society.
It’s not always so easy in modern day.
Don’t forget, it took the Catholic Church 460 years to declare Joan of Arc a saint.
Our lives are so full of schedules, deadlines and the daily grind that we simply don’t see so many of the blessings that happen around us.
Here is a lesson I have learned.
When you meet someone for the first time – actually meet them.
Be in the moment. Take time to listen to their story and ask questions about their lives that will tell you about their values.
Then listen to your instinct, heart, gut…whatever sense you use to just know when you’ve met someone that you should cultivate a relationship with.
That’s how we identify the warrior women among us. That’s how we absorb their wisdom and begin the journey to becoming warrior women ourselves.
DNA of a Warrior Woman
I’m lucky enough to have a living, breathing example of a warrior woman & Women Self Esteem in my life.
Here are the gifts she offers us all:
Unbelievable Strength – Trudy is a female power and woman who has lived a big life. She has built empires from nothing. Lost everything. Found everything. In the face of every challenge she continues to learn lessons and rise up again and again. Her strength carries her and many others in a perpetual forward motion.
Uncanny Intuition – She just knows things. She senses them. She dreams them. Occasionally I’m concerned she can read my mind. She has an incredible intuition. And unlike most people she recognises it and listens to it. It serves her and anyone who follows her well.
Unbridled Passion – Trudy dreams big. Her vision is global. And unlike most of us this doesn’t scare her, it excites her. When you meet her, you know she will do something big. She will change the world.
Inability to Stop Teaching – Her drive to help others by sharing her wisdom, experience and knowledge is genuine, organic and non-stoppable. In her every action she is teaching someone something. And like the best teachers, she knows when to sit back and let us learn our own lessons.
The Warrior Within
From the moment I met Trudy I aspired to be like her. To become a warrior woman myself.
What I didn’t realise until just recently is that I am already on that path.
Every lesson I have learned from Trudy, both professionally and personally, has been another step closer to finding the warrior woman within me.
From Trudy I have learned the power of clarity, the gift of patience and the courage to keep standing up for the world I want to live in.
I will always be thankful to have Trudy in my life.
And now I know how to see every warrior woman around me and find the one within.
Janet Bray Attwood flips wishful thinking into full expression in The Passion Test
In a rapidly changing world, it’s become widely accepted that keys to personal fulfillment and happiness lie not in accumulating vast wealth but through deep personal connection to one’s passions.
Flipping people’s approach to life from wishful thinking to full passionate expression is Janet Bray Attwood’s number one passion.
Thriving in business with her ex-husband
It’s rare you come across someone thriving in business with their ex-husband. Janet Bray Attwood, co-author of The Passion Test: the Effortless Path to Discovering Your Destiny with (now ex-husband) Chris Attwood, is so clearly fuelled by her work that passion has long overridden marital history.
Through a simple step by step process, Janet, along with Chris, has not only helped thousands of people worldwide to live a passionate life in alignment with their dreams, they also teach that living your passion serves the planet as well.
“Whenever you are faced with a choice, a decision or an opportunity, choose in favour of your passions.” The Passion Test, p 38
The Passion Test is a simple set of exercises that assists people to clarify what is important in their lives and make ‘that’ a reality. Its purpose is to connect people with the things they love the most so they can have a meaningful life – with an open heart and mind – and connected to what they love.
A deep sense of clarity about what you are passionate about
“What the Passion Test does is to give a person a deep sense of clarity about what it is they are passionate about, in terms of their health, career, environment, spirituality, relationships, education and fun,” says Janet Bray Attwood. She believes that we are happiest and most fulfilled when we are fully engaged in our lives.
Whilst The Passion Test has been in hot demand, hitting The New York Times best-seller lists and its facilitators are reaching over the 900 mark, Bray Attwood is particularly keen to bring her message right across the social spectrum.
Passion for the homeless and in youth detention centres
She regularly facilitates sessions about living a passionate life in women’s and homeless people’s shelters, youth detention facilities and places where people are seen as disadvantaged and disempowered, both by society and themselves.
She achieves remarkable results. And this is largely due to the simplicity of her process. With the key attributes of the Passion Test being clarity, focus, intention and attention, many large and small projects have been seeded.
Janet Bray Attwood developed the Passion Test from the experience of being a young woman working in a Silicon Valley job unmatched to her talents, skills and interests. Her frustration catapulted her on a search for motivation and meaning, taking her career through the catering and book publishing industries alongside deep personal enquiry and transcendental meditation. The Passion Test gained enormous momentum during these years.
The very first exercise in the Passion Test is an elimination process.
People begin with the sentence, ‘When my life is ideal I am…..’. They are asked to think about different areas of their life and then make a list of about 10 – 15 passions, very succinctly and positively. For example, ‘when my life is ideal I am vibrantly healthy’, ‘when my life is ideal I love what is and am present in every moment.’ Step Two then takes this list through a ranking exercise to finally identify their top five passions.
“The reason we have them choose their top five is because we’ve been working with neuro-scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and they have found that the mind can only contain five to seven pieces of information at any given time,” explains Bray Attwood.
Overloading brings unhappiness
She cites US statistics that 80% of working Americans are not happy, fulfilled or passionate about what they do. One main reason why they don’t have clarity is because they are overloaded with too much going on in their lives.
Ranking your passions
Once the top five passions have been identified, Bray Attwood encourages people to put the list – including ‘this or something better’ at the end – on small cards because it focuses attention on the passions. The cards are then placed in strategic places in people’s daily sightlines: on the bathroom mirror, computer and car etc.
From this ranked shortlist of passions, the Passion Test then guides people to create Markers which give them guidelines to indicate where they are on their path. She stresses the importance of staying open and making any necessary adjustments to changing circumstances, allowing for the unforeseen to show up.
Clarity is essential
Bray Attwood believes that clarity is the essential ingredient in a passionate life, “when you are clear, what you choose to have show up on your life will, and only to the extent that you’re clear.”
She explains that most people never step out of their busy life to ask themselves ‘what do I care about?’ ‘What’s important to me?’
“Most people settle for what, Mark Victor Hanson once said to me many years ago, ‘JOB’ which is ‘Just Over Broke. The reason is because they settle for safety and security.”
Bray Attwood cites that most people don’t think big because as children, our parents, schoolteacher or someone else said that we were enough – not smart enough, the right colour, not beautiful etc – and we believed them.
The odds of disappointment
“Most people don’t go for the big audacious hairy passion, because the thought of failing at something that is so intimate, meaningful and precious to them is just worse – it’s because of the odds of disappointment.”
She talks about changing our neural pathways through following our passion and creating ‘success habits’ based on where we put our attention, doing what we really love and following the path of least resistance.
“The universe doesn’t play tricks, and it’s not a mistake that you love what you love,” she explains. “When you take your passions, add to them your skills and talents, you use these together to serve some kind of need, that’s when you hit a grand slam.”
In her book she explains the magnetising force of alignment – combining passion with talents and skills – when people are in alignment they become a passionate magnet where things, people and places start to show up.
The formula – intention, attention, no tension.
“We have a formula for living a passionate life,” Bray Attwood states, “and the formula is intention, attention, no tension.”
Bray Attwood writes that everything has been created twice, first as an idea in someone’s mind and then it is actualised: “The power of intention and attention is what brings ideas into concrete form…..Intention is the conscious or unconscious choice to create. All of us are constantly creating the circumstances and situations in our world by virtue of the beliefs and concepts we hold to be true.” p 51.
Where you put your attention
Given that people are constantly choosing – consciously or unconsciously – to create their lives, it’s vital to have clarity about these choices because that’s where they put their attention.
We are all powerful
In acknowledging that each and every one of us is powerful she asks, “are you being what I call a Samurai, and taking your powerful attention and putting it on the things that you choose to create? Or are you putting it on, ‘I’m never going to be what I want to be’, ‘I’m never going to have what I want to have’, ‘Oh my God the recession is eating everything up’ etc.
Bray Attwood further outlines that it’s not enough just to put attention on what is desired to be created, but to take action and do everything in order to have those passions meet with success.
Action engages attention
Her co-author Chris Attwood further explains how ‘action engages attention’ and talks about people’s belief that it’s their action that creates their results – the thought that ‘if I just take the right actions, then I’ll be able to create the result that I want’
“What they don’t realise is that what actually creates our results is the power of our own consciousness, our own attention,” he says. “The reason action appears to create the results is because action focuses our attention on the achievement of a particular outcome.”
“But if it were the case that action was really creating results, then all we would have to do is to create a good plan, execute it well and we’d always get the results that we were looking for, right? Many people have experienced that they’ve created a good plan, executed it really well and something different came.”
Attwood emphasises that the value and purpose of action is that it takes our awareness and it focuses on the creation of a particular outcome.
The most beneficial outcome
“But the way that the outcome comes, is going to be in a way that’s going to be of most benefit to us and to the people around us, whether we know it or not. It’s the connection of our own individual desires and intention, connected with that universal intelligence which is guiding everything.”
The most important part – and this is the next step of ‘no tension’ – is in the surrender. “You let go,” Bray Attwood says, “you say this or something better.”
“In terms of ‘intention, attention, no tension’, the reason ‘no tension’ is so important is because if we keep our attention so firmly fixed on the creation of an outcome, it’s like we are stepping on the hose of that universal intelligence,” extrapolates Chris Attwood.
“We are attached to the way that we think it should get achieved. So when we let go we step into the ‘no tension’ place, we open up to that universal infinite intelligence, coming together in such a way to create outcome that we could probably have never dreamed of ourselves.”
In talking about why many people aren’t living their passion, Bray Attwood has found that only thing that gets in the way of anybody of being able to live a passionate life is a set of false beliefs, ideas and concepts. She and her 900 facilitators use the work of Byron Katie for self- enquiry and working through their limiting perceptions and beliefs.
Bray Attwood coaches those interested in the Passion Test to take baby steps every day, in favour of their passions and life choices. She is the first to acknowledge that ‘she’s still in the process of becoming the expert’ and is open about her earlier years when she lived with the President of the Hells Angels, was strung out on drugs and more. All experiences she says have taken her to a place of greater understanding and self-acceptance.
A transcendental meditator of 40 years standing – she lives in a meditation community in Iowa – Bray Attwood’s passionate life securely rests in long established success habits: daily meditation and exercise, close attention to nutrition and self-enquiry through the work of Byron Katie. All acts of self love for her.
Love of self is the first step
She says that the whole Passion Test Program stands for ‘inspiring transformation through love’ and love of self is the first step, “what we tell people is that the most important thing that we can do is to remember that love is the highest act and that is more important than doing anything right.”
Make a difference in the world
Chris Attwood supports Janet’s view. He feels that “our individual lives are meaningful and purposeful is when we feel that we’re somehow making a difference in the world, which ultimately means making a difference in the lives of others.”
“So from the largest perspective, the purpose of all of our lives is to serve and support others by giving our own unique gifts,” he says. “Our passions are the clues, they are the keys that unlock the door to our individual purpose which serves that bigger purpose that we are all part of.”
Secret of being happy – give to others
One of Bray Attwood’s passions is to interview masters from all over the world, particularly from India and Nepal. She has concluded that they all agree that the secret to being happy is in giving to others.
You have to know what you’re passionate about to be able to give
If the secret to being happy is in giving, she feels that for people to be happy, they have to know what they are passionate about in the first instance. Then they can give their gifts freely and be of service to humanity, doing the things that they love.
“This whole thing about living a passionate life is that in fulfilling yourself with those things that have the greatest meaning for you, and the natural reaction and response, when you are full and overflowing, you are compelled to give.”
“And when you are in service to humanity, giving your gifts in service, that’s where the happiness and the juice of life comes from,” she says. “I love the saying in the Upanishads (ancient mystic Hindu texts) ‘from abundance comes abundance, and abundance remains’.”
Adrenal fatigue has a huge affect on how beautiful you feel
Excess weight around the abdominal region – those extra rolls have just appeared. How did they get there? Your clothes just don’t fit like they use to, the muffin top has started to appear. The extra tyre that lies above the waist band.
Too tired to exercise, metabolism has slowed, feeling sluggish and exhausted?
Ever heard of adrenal fatigue?
Adrenals are small, but powerful organs that affect our hormones
Our adrenals are small, but powerful organs that sit just above our kidneys. They control a lot of our hormones – from cortisol to adrenalin; they affect our pituitary to our thyroid, even our sex hormones. So if you can add low libido to the tiredness and abdominal weight gain – guess what you need to check – your adrenal health.
Fight or flight – too much stress
Remember the ‘fight or flight’ response our body has when confronted with a stressful situation? Our body automatically produces stress hormones that provide us with what we need to stay and fight or run for safety. What use to happen is the stress was dealt with – the fight occurred or we ran away from the perceived threat. However, in today’s fast paced, time driven world, the stress may be a deadline, running late for work….there is no physical fight or flight needed.
Hormonal imbalance leads to excess glucose
But, our adrenals have still manufactured those hormones in preparedness. Now if not used, these hormones can cause imbalances in our body.
So the glucose released from storage to fuel the muscles for the fight or flight is circulating in our bodies, along with the adrenaline and cortisol. As we don’t actually need the glucose, insulin is released to deal with it. Now our bodies are clever enough to do this. But, if we continue to repeat this scenario several times a day, day after day in our high powered, high stress careers, our bodies stop responding as effectively. So then what?
Well this excess glucose leads to excess abdominal weight!
‘Tired but wired’ at bed time
The cells start to become insulin resistant thus lead to metabolic syndrome- more weight gain! Insulin resistance, Leptin resistance and cortisol resistance… Slippery slide.
Our adrenals can’t continue to produce the necessary hormones like cortisol so we find it difficult to get up in the morning. By the time they do kick in we are meant to be going to sleep – so now we are ‘tired but wired’ at bed time.
Thyroid out of balance – weight gain and low libido
Our thyroid is also depleted as it attempts to bring balance and homeostasis back to the body. So now our metabolism is slowing – more weight gain and libido drops.
And what about those sex hormones I mentioned? Well our oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone our now out of whack too and this can lead to increased PMS symptoms, lower libido, and compromised fertility or more extreme menopausal symptoms.
Even your immune system is affected, the higher the stress exposure, the lower your immunity. High, long term stress is a main contributor to autoimmune conditions and chronic degenerative disease. Sleep deprivation alone will lead to increased weight, especially visceral fat (the dangerous type like that found in fatty liver disease – Which by the way is one of the fastest growing diseases in Australia) and insulin resistance
What can we do about this?
The answer is multifactorial. We have to address it from many levels – firstly testing to find out just how the adrenals are feeling.
Some simple home tests:
Adrenals – check your blood pressure when lying and then when standing – if it drops instead of raising – suspect adrenals.
Thyroid – basal temperature – monitor your morning temperature – if it is below 36.6 to 36.8C on 3 or more consecutive days – more testing is suggested.
Adrenals – preferred option is saliva (yes your read it correctly – a spit test) and at least 4 samples over the day as cortisol levels are meant to change throughout the day.
Thyroid – just because your TSH is ‘in normal range’ is not definitive. It is but one factor and by no means the best one. There is also the T3, T4, rT3, free T3 and free T4 and the antibodies that may be hiding the answer to your clinical symptoms.
You need to look at diet and lifestyle, possibly get some adrenal support and if necessary thyroid support too. Rest and allow your body to heal.
Will the weight drop, energy lift and libido return?
How long will it take?
Now that is a more difficult one to answer – it is dependent on just how long they have been fatigued for and what state they are in, as well as how compliant you are with treatment options.
Sally Pattison is a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and massage therapist. She’s passionate about helping women detox, energise, have healthy guts and empower people to be well.
The morning beauty routine: 200 chemicals for women and 100 for men.
What are we putting on our bodies?
Naturopath, Acupuncturist and author Nicole Bijlsma is also the CEO of the Australian College of Environmental Studies. She exposes what’s really in our personal care products.
If you are serious about your health, the first thing you would eliminate in your home is perfume, air fresheners and all products that contain artificial fragrances (parfum). Many are phthalates which are known to affect fertility and increase the risk of breast cancer.
By the time you left your home this morning, the average woman would have exposed herself to over 200 chemicals and a man to around 100.
Surprisingly, only 80% of the ingredients in your personal care products have been assessed for their impact on human health.
Unfortunately the cosmetic industry is largely self regulated which means little or no regulation.
Did you know for example, that when you see the word Organic on a label, it refers to the scientific definition that it contains the atom carbon? It has nothing to do with being pesticide-free or still in its natural state.
The great majority is derived from petrochemicals, and several are known carcinogens however “they are present in acceptable limits”.
WHO REGULATES COSMETICS IN AUSTRALIA?
Cosmetics are regulated by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS). The labeling of ingredients is overseen by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. Whilst NICNAS don’t test ingredients for adverse health effects, they rely on international authorities such as Cosmetic Ingredient Review, US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada for their analysis. This reactive approach is not protecting consumers, as they wait until the disease occurs in the population before they act.
10 INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
Fragrances and perfumes
Most fragrances contain hundreds of ingredients that the manufacturer is not required to disclose due to ‘trade secrets’.
Fortunately there is a push to make the thousands of primarily petrochemical ingredients used in perfumes to be more transparent. Here is a list of just some of them.
The concern is that fragrances may contain phthalates which mimic the hormone oestrogen and consequently should be avoided in women because of its link to breast cancer.
Pregnant women SHOULD avoid perfume and all personal care products with artificial fragrances as they may harm the reproductive health of their unborn child. Many of the phthalates that have been banned by the European Union still continue to be present in products sold in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Preservatives such as triclosan
A full list of preservatives that should be avoided in your products is listed in the book Healthy Home, Healthy Family.
Not only is talcum powder a lung, eye and skin irritant, a recent Harvard Medical School study has confirmed what has long been suspected; that it may also increase the risk of ovarian cancer when applied as a powder to the genitals of baby girls (Gates et al, 2008).
There are suspicions that antiperspirants may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease because autopsies of the brain of deceased victims show higher levels of aluminium (Perl and Brody, 1980). In addition there are also concerns that it may increase the risk of breast cancer because aluminium interferes with the function of oestrogen receptors (Darbre, 2005). Whilst the preliminary evidence is not conclusive, it should be avoided until it can be proven to be safe.
Bubble bath and some types of detergent
Detergents are the foaming agents in your shampoo, bubble bath, body wash and liquid soap. Many detergents including the coco betaines and lauryl/laureth sulphates are a common cause of skin problems and dandruff. Detergents and fragrances in bubble bath may irritate the urethra (where the urine comes out) and therefore make your child more susceptible to urinary tract infections.
Head lice treatment
Head lice treatment that contains the pesticide lindane should be avoided as it is toxic.
A survey conducted by the US Food & Drug Administration found all 400 lipsticks contained lead including those marketed as natural (US FDA, 2010). It appears that lead is not added to lipsticks, rather it is found naturally in the tints mined from the ground. L’Oreal and its subsidiary Maybelline contained five of the top ten lipsticks for lead content. Read more…
SunscreensSunscreens play an important role in protecting you from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Disturbingly however, an investigation of 882 sunscreens concluded that 4 out of 5 products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns (Environmental Working Group, 2009). Read more…
Children under 4 years of age should avoid fluoridated toothpaste
Topical application of fluoride in the form of toothpaste has a protective effect on preventing tooth decay. However children should not use fluoridated toothpaste until they are old enough to spit it out (from the age of 4 or so). The health concerns associated with fluoride include mottling of the teeth, osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and osteoarthritis (it displaces fluoride and makes bones brittle). Until then, a non-fluoridated toothpaste from your local health food store or food co-operative is a safer option for young children.
Such as phthalates, dioxins, nitrosamines and formaldehyde. Unfortunately they are not required to be disclosed on the label. However they are commonly found associated with specific ingredients which are outlined in the book Healthy Home Healthy Family.
Here is a list of some brands being mindful that not all of the products in their range may comply with the information I have provided. As always, READ THE LABEL!
Aromababy, Aubrey Organics, Avalon Organics, Badger, Burt’s Bees, Cosmic Tree, Dr Bronners (soap), Dr Hauschka, Earth Tribe, Food For Your Skin, Living Nature, Miessence, Organic Rosehip Skincare, Phyts, Tom’s of Maine and Weleda.