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Well-being Q&A: Liz Mitten Ryan

2 Jun

www.lizmittenryan.comLiz Mitten Ryan talks to the animals. But not in a Dr. Dolittle sort of way. The animals she communicates with have messages about their experiences and ways of being that are meant to transform the way we see ourselves and the lives we lead. To Liz, they are messengers, friends, and unique individuals.

Liz’ first book One With the Herd won five Independent Publishing awards at Book Expo America in 2008. She is also the author of Truth According to Horses, Life Unbridled and Sabbatical.

She has enjoyed an illustrious art career and worked with conservation groups throughout the world raising awareness and money for animals in need. At her ranch in British Columbia, a small group of visitors are allowed to participate in workshops each year which illuminate the interconnectedness of the environment, the animals and the people who live there. Mitten writes, “It is in nature that I find life’s answers. It is there, that one can interface with the wisdom and truth behind all creation; a vast ocean of information that nourishes all who bathe in it.”

JHR: How did you first begin communicating with animals and why?

LMR: I was a bit dazed and confused and half way through writing One With the Herd I began to realize it was all about the animals and their message. I then began to ask them questions about their involvement and message.

JHR: For many years you’ve committed to lead a life without the influence of modern culture in order to connect more deeply with the environment and the animals who share it with you. How has this decision transformed your life?

LMR: Magically! I have come to understand that when we leave the confines of Human Mass Mind Consciousness and the mind shaping mass media we begin to resonate with the All as my animals describe God and connect and communicate with a higher perspective that is the one consciousness in all life.

JHR: In your book One with the Herd you write: “I now send and receive messages telepathically,and I’m beginning to know a whole new reality through the eyes of my herd.” Can you describe what this process is like for you and what sorts of messages come through from the animals who live there?

LMR: The new reality that I now live in is one of wholeness, oneness, allness and interconnection with all life. My animals are in a sense like contemplatives whose path and message is about higher consciousness and one consciousness, no matter what our physical form. Animals are no different than people and share the same diverse interests from sports to mysticism -my animals are mystics.

JHR: What can we learn from animals on a spiritual level?

LMR: I believe animals have some important things to teach us. First of all to be in our truth -you will never find an animal in a lie -they are always absolutely honest. Secondly to listen to our intuition. Animals always listen to their instinct, which is the same as intuition for humans. How many times do we get important nudges and then refuse to listen to our detriment.

JHR: How similar or different are humans and animals?

LMR: We are all one consciousness in myriad form in matter. In that way we all are made of the same substance and have the same possibility to allow that substance to flow through us and contribute individual gifts through our unique attributes. We are different in that humans have drifted off to their own special island, apart from and disconnected from the rest of life. Animals are one with that life.

JHR: You conduct retreats at Gateway 2 Ranch to help people experience a new way of being with animals and themselves. What can visitors expect when they visit the ranch for a week-long workshop?

LizMittenRyanLMR: The life changing workshops on Gateway 2 Ranch are designed to be just that. An experience of connection and oneness like you have never experienced before. The energy and vibration here in the land and the animals will tune and elevate individuals to a place where they will resonate once again as higher spiritual beings -co-creators with the ALL. When we reach that level of connection all is given and we remember who we are, our path and our place in the cosmos.

JHR: What books have influenced your work and life that you would like to share with readers?

LMR: I absorb books -anything spiritual, about animal communication, horses, quantum theory. One for everybody that will change lives and help people discover their true path is Your Heart’s Desire by Sonia Choquette. The others are on my site, co-authored by my animals at If you click on the orange titles you can read most of their message. Together the four books have won eight independent publishing awards and are guaranteed to change your understanding of life forever!

Well-being Q&A: Carole Coombs, Green Valley Spa

24 Apr




Green Valley Spa was established in 1986 by Alan & Carole Coombs. Carole, a Master Esthetician, has been called the “Grandmother of Spas” and has worked in the spa business for more than thirty years. Carole has played a vital role in the development of the Green Valley Spa and the Green Valley Laboratories where all of the products used at the spa are manufactured.

Green Valley Resort & Spa caters to guests from the U.S. and around the globe. It has been named 3rd best Spa in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine. I had the chance to ask Carole about Green Valley Spa, and some of products that are made from ingredients harvested directly from the nutrient-rich red rock country in Utah where the spa is located.

JHR: Last night I took a bath with your Sweet Dreams Fairy Dust and I was so relaxed I almost slipped into a coma. Do you think you should have a warning label on the package that says “may delight and relax you into oblivion?” What’s the secret?

CC: That’s a good question. Our bath salts contain ancient sea salts in powdered form that were fossilized a long time ago and now offer a full spectrum of mineralized elements that we need to operate at a top level. When used before and after physical activities, our bath salts can lighten and strengthen muscles and other tissues crucial to mobility, flexibility, and reflex response capabilities.

Our Fairy Dust Bath Salts come in seven colors and are a testament to our color therapy philosophy in which every color offers a different healing power with a special blend of pure essential oils. How do you choose a color? By your mood, of course.

Red — For a romantic evening, to enliven the senses and turn the heart toward magical moments of affection and delight.

Orange — To celebrate life’s special moments and to arouse warm feelings and bridge the space that holds us apart from others.

Yellow –- Clears troublesome thoughts and mental confusion, while pulling the past into the light of day where new possibilities appear.

Green –- Helps prepare for a busy day or lively evening while energizing tired muscles and reviving the spirit.

Blue –- A heart remedy that chases away the blues and discouragement for emotional stability.

Indigo –- A sleeping potion for peaceful dreams and visions.

Violet –- Reaches into the spiritual realm and appeals to artistic and creative endeavors.


JHR: Your Good Medicine product line comes straight from the red rock country of Southwestern Utah . Can you tell me how you discovered the rejuvenative properties of the ingredients you use?

CC: In the beginning, our Green Valley research team began hunting for ingredients that would not only beautify the skin’s precious surface, but also allow the body’s natural systems to function fully to release toxic waste, absorb nutrients, activate the cell’s innate ability to rejuvenate, and enliven the sensory components.

Our team was composed of a plastic surgeon, an ethno-botanist, a consultant specializing in organic formulations, highly-trained therapists, and Native Americans, among others. Their discoveries eventually led us back to the wild plant life in our local, red rock desert. We call our skin care line “Good Medicine,” which is a term used by the Indian Nations to describe anything that uplifts the spirit and brings pleasure and wholesome nourishment. We thought it was fitting.

Our Good Medicine products include extracts of desert botanicals, such as Larrea, Sage, Juniper, and Yucca. These plants grow in the wild, are nurtured by sunlight and rain, remain free of many harsh chemical substances so prevalent in plant life today, and are neither crossbred, chemically fertilized or even irrigated. This is why we say our skin care products are “wildcrafted” straight from nature.

Because our products are made with organic ingredients, they not only neutralize toxic waste materials, but their nutritive properties are easily broken down and assimilated by our cells. We gather our desert ingredients locally, combine and prepare them in our on-site laboratory, and then bottle them with loving care to preserve their beneficial properties. Every Green Valley Spa product is fresh with no preservatives.

A variety of our products include aqueous extractions from native plants that grow in the nearby foothills and uplands of the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts . These plants include Utah Juniper (Juniperus utahensis), Banana Yucca (Yucca baccatta), Larrea (Larrea tridentada) and Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentada). Gathered from their native habitat, the raw botanical materials retain their natural qualities and are truly organic.

Some of our products, including the Breeze, Radiance, Sand and Clarity products from our Good Medicine line, consist of compounds extracted from Larrea –- often called Chapparal. These compounds, including Nordihydroguiaretic Acid (NDGA), are powerful antioxidants and have been found to have strong antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and even anti-protozoan properties. While the healing properties of these Larrea compounds have only recently come to light in modern medicine, its traditional Native American use is thousands of years old.

NDGA is actually one of the most highly antioxidant substances known to man –- a concentrated extract form of the plant may immensely help several types of tumors, and it can inhibit several enzyme reactions, including lipo oxyginase, which is responsible for some unhealthy inflammatory and immune-system responses. It has also been shown to reduce inflammatory histamine responses in the lung, which is good news for asthma sufferers.


JHR: What sort of experience can people can expect when they visit Green Valley Spa?

CC: Our vision for the Green Valley Spa Treatment Center was a place where the senses combine to create that magical state within ourselves. The process used here at Green Valley is really very simple: It is a total sensory experience, one that uses the senses as a guide to discover that special condition of lightness and clarity. It is simple because it just happens — the senses respond and carry us along without our having to figure out or understand the process. We simply feel.

Each day we refashion the Treatment Center with fresh flowers, aromatics, music and even subtly-flavored and scented water to tantalize and impress the senses. All the sounds, images, smells, and tastes correspond to a certain color that represents a quality or dimension of life around us — one we may not have noticed or experienced before.

As the senses respond with pleasure, they bring impulses of delight deep into the innermost part of ourselves, dissolving all that is tense and tight into a condition of repose, resolution, satisfaction and contentment. We hope a Green Valley Spa visit will leave you feeling fit and full — like a vase filled with special moments that continue to bloom long after you leave. When you see a craggy mountain top rising above the desert floor or a flower brushed with dew, I hope you will remember with affection and delight the walks, majestic moments, and the colors, smells and tastes you experienced here.

JHR: Have there been any surprise “big sellers” in your product line and what’s your current favorite?

CC: Along the way, we have had several best-sellers that surprised us all. Two such products that really took off are our Muscle Balm and Essential Oils. Our Muscle Balm is infused with intense, muscle-heating pure essential oils to rejuvenate sore joints and muscles. These carefully chosen oils target the nerve tissues and effectively heal and warm the affected area.

Our Essential Oils come in all colors of the rainbow and are created around the spa’s color therapy philosophy as explained above. Our studies indicated that essential oils differ in molecular structure and metabolic function, and when blended together, the activation of multiple response centers simultaneously is much greater than that of single oils.

Our essential oils fulfill a particular function, which include sedating the respiratory rate or stimulating the rapid response mechanism. Each special blend recharges receptor patterns where they are disengaged or blocked, and clarifies emotional upset and mental confusion to make way for new insight and understanding.

JHR: What is true beauty?

CC: When we see aliveness, we see true beauty.

JHR: What are a few books that have influenced you in your life that you would like to share with readers?

CC: Anything by John O’Donohue Anam Cara, Eternal Echoes and Beauty: The Invisible Embrace.


Visit Green Valley Spa’s online beauty store,, to receive 25% off all green-colored essential oils, soaps, Fairy Dust bath salts and bath teas in celebration of Spring renewal. Discount is good through April 30, 2009.

Well-being Q&A: Michael Mitton, Findhorn Foundation

22 Apr
The original Findhorn caravan and a garden of 40 lb. cabbages

The original Findhorn caravan and a garden of 40 lb. cabbages

The Findhorn Community began in 1962 by Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean. They first came to northeast Scotland in 1957 to manage the Cluny Hill Hotel in the town of Forres with great success due to their unorthodox management style driven by intuition and receiving “guidance” from spiritual sources.  Cluny became a four-star hotel, but after several years the three lost their jobs and were forced into unknown territories.

With their three young sons and Dorothy, the group’s caravan stopped in Findhorn where the ground was dry and sandy. With no money and no prospects, Peter decided to grow vegetables to feed his family, though the earth was barren. However, Dorothy discovered she was able to communicate with plant spirits- which she called angels, and then devas – who gave her instructions on how to make the most of their fledgling garden. Eventually, the land yielded incredible results including huge plants, dozens of varieties of herbs anf flowers and the now legendary 40 lb. cabbages. Obviously, news quickly spread and horticultural experts came to investigate. They were stunned and the garden at Findhorn became famous.

Michael Mitton was born and raised at Findorn which has evolved into a model Ecovillage offering year-round educational opportunities in holistic living, spirituality and community building. I had a chance to ask Michael about what Findhorn is like today, and how far it has come.

JHR: There is so much mythology and lore surrounding the story of Findhorn and how it was started. Can you talk a little bit about how the community began and how it has evolved over the years?

Michael Mitton

MM: When I read this question, my first reaction was to think “Yes, lets put all the myths aside and look at what really happened.” But I found I couldn’t because in truth it was very mystical and mythic. Three people following their own inner wisdom despite hardships, deprivation and isolation discover a deep and abiding relationship with the subtle realms of nature. The miracles of 40 lb. cabbages spring forth from the sand. An inspirational community is born, deeply grounded in encouraging spiritual harmony between all beings. They build a world renowned ecovillage on an abandoned air force base where the answers to the problems of our age are developed and embodied. Could make a movie about it. In fact, I know a few people who have been talking about for a few years now.

The Findhorn now is different than the Findhorn I grew up in. It’s larger, more complex and sophisticated, more intergrated into the world around it, and it’s still the same. The simple magic that attracted so many people in the early days is still affecting people today, there has always been a feeling about the place, a sense of belonging and ‘rightness’ that many people feel as soon as they come in the entrance. That has never changed. I hope it never will.

JHR: I understand that you were born and raised in Findhorn and that must have been an extraordinary experience as a child. Now that you’re an adult, how do you perceive your upbringing and how has it informed your life?

MM: That’s a question I have been asked a lot since I returned from the States 6 years ago, so I have had a lot of chances to consider this. Ultimately, it was wonderful. No childhood is without pain or suffering, but I do believe that growing up in this community was a blessing. When asked if Findhorn is a good place to raise children I always say unequivocally yes, it’s one of the best. There is something about not having to do it alone. I think that kids are more likely to develop a balanced spirit if raised by a community rather than the nuclear family unit. They have a wider range of role models and thus are less likleyto merely copy the idiosyncrasies of their parents. So it was great to have a 150 parents growing up, but it was also awful. I couldn’t get away with anything!

Also, my creativity and imagination were encouraged to a great degree, and I was really allowed to find myself. There’s a wonderful quote from Eileen, that I can’t find for the life of me, but it’s something about children being like flowers and they should be encouraged and helped to grow but not constrained and be allowed to develop into whatever beautiful blossom they truly are, for God’s garden is great with variety and includes flowers of every colour and shape. Or something like that, she said it a lot better.

And I look to the results. Everyone I grew up with I have such a large amount of respect for, they have all excelled at whatever field they choose for themselves, be it arts, science or academia. They are chemists, doctors, archaeologists, dancers, singers, snowboarders, you name it! But they all seem empowered by an incredible self belief, this faith in themselves that they can do it, whatever it is that ‘it’ is in their lives. They are all amazing, i am often in awe of my friends achievements.

JHR: In your view, is the planet currently in a state of environmental emergency? If so, what can people outside the community do to stop and reverse the damage?

MM: Yes. The most important thing that we can do is to start working together on this. The fact that we must do something is irrefutable but I find that many people are at a loss because they can’t see how one person can make a difference to such a big issue. So get involved in your local community through eco-friendly groups like the transition town movement( Or start one yourself if there is not one in your area. I like what they have to say on their site:

• if we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late
• if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little
• but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.

Also check out It’s one of the most important movements of our time.

JHR: Findhorn is a model community for living intentionally and respectfully with nature. Do you see the innovations and ideas developed there to be a model for other similar places around the world?

MM: Absolutely. One of our most popular programmes, the Ecovillage Training, is in it’s 11thyear now. It takes many of the aspects of our community, the social, the spiritual, the ecological, the economic and presents them in a very accessible, grounded, hands on fashion, while still being very in depth. It’s a powerful course, 4 weeks of intense community education, and at the end of it you’ve left with a whole bunch of ideas that you can take back to any community, or even start your own. The Gaia Education Design for Sustainability takes this even further. Check them out at: and

Also here’s an article I wrote about them:

JHR: For over 45 years the Findhorn Foundation has offered a wide range of workshops and programs which encourage self-discovery. What can people expect to experience when they attend a workshop or spend seven days there during Experience Week?

MM: “Seven days that can change your world” was the tagline we came up for for Experience Week. I think that sums it up well. Even after having grown up here and done a whole bunch of experiencing the Findhorn community, I still found it to be a fantastic, life-affirming, and life-changing experience.

Experience Week is a wonderful opportunity to find out what it is like living in this community. It’s like it takes a whole month or two of activities and fits it all into one week– very intense and you get to see and be a lot in just one week. A comment I hear a lot from guests is that they were amazed to discover that work could be joyful. The whole ‘work is love in action’ thing that we try to live by seems to touch many souls. They say “I never knew work could be so fun!” Is it work then? Didn’t Confucius say “they who love their job, never work” or something. Seems apt.

JHR: What are some books that have influenced you in your work and in your life that would like to share with readers?

My two top authors are Richard Bach and Terry Pratchett, I often refer to them as two of the foundations of my life philosophy. I love how they can deal with very deep and profound subjects with humour and great insight. It’s important to not take things too seriously.

Eileen (Caddy), of course, has been a constant source of inspiration to me and I quote her all the time when I’m waxing philosophical.

I read Peter’s autobiography (In Perfect Timing: Memoirs of a Man for the New Millenium) when I was growing up and I found that to be very powerful. He had such a powerful faith which enabled him to do such incredible things. I would love to be that sure of myself!

On the eco front, I found George Monbiots Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning and Richard Heinberg’s The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies to be wake up calls for myself to really consider the scope of the problem we face and to really engage with finding a solution.

Sustainable barrel houses at Findhorn's Ecovillage

Sustainable barrel houses at Findhorn's Ecovillage

Well-being Q&A: Stuart Wilde

21 Apr


Author, lecturer and veteran metaphysical teacher Stuart Wilde has written 19 books on consciousness and awareness. Originally from Farnham, England, his humorous and straightforward style in explaining complex metaphysical subjects has earned him a loyal readership which has resulted in millions of books sold in 15 languages. A modern steward of the English mystical tradition, Wilde has been an advocate for raising global consciousness since the early 1980s.

Among his most famous writings are the Taos Quintet (Miracles, Affirmations, The Force, The Quickening and The Trick to Money is Having Some!) After the publication of Miracles Wilde began lecturing publicly and regularly appeared with Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay– leaders in the New Thought movement.

Wilde believes through use of the theta state of meditation individuals can enjoy better command over their emotional well-being and begin to experience visions and extrasensory feelings that lead to a greater sense of balance and freedom.

In his later work, Wilde has addressed more in-depth metaphysical principles considered controverisal to many. Though some people might dismiss his bold concepts as pure science fiction, Wilde claims that his unorthodox theories regarding other spiritual dimensions, dematerialization and parallel worlds are real. He supports Paul Dirac’s hypothesis of parallel antiparticle worlds which human consciousness can access through trance meditation. Wilde also follows Stephen Hawking’s theory of transverse light waves as a indicator of other spiritual dimensions not readily experienced by people. Over two thousand students worldwide have reported entering these dimensions with great success.

gaiaIn his most recent book, Grace, Gaia and the End of Days: An Alternative Way for the Advanced Soul (Hay House, March 2009), Wilde describes a level of metaphysical comprehension and sophistication not normally understood. Stuart says that we are in the Kali Yuga, the Age of Destruction, when the self-correcting intelligence of the planet (Gaia) will take back Earth on behalf of the animals, nature, and the little children. He says there are battles currently raging in the spiritual worlds between the forces of light and the ghouls (dark entities) in order to free us all. He describes a power he calls the Solar Logos, which he says comes to Earth to deliver a rebirth he calls the Renewal. As such, he calls this time the “End of Days”—not because the world will end, but because it is the end of the world as we know it.

JHR: What prompted you to write Grace, Gaia and The End of Days right now? Was it simply the “right time”?

SW: When I write a book I do so very fast. My book God’s Gladiators took me ninety-one hours, writing more or less non-stop. I sit calmly and hear the words then I type in my hunt an’ peck style.

So when I could feel Grace coming through from my Inner Mind I began to write it down. The book took seven days as this time I slept a bit here and there.

JHR: You talk about a battle raging between Gaia (Earth) and dark spirits. Can you explain how these battles are manifesting on earth right now?

SW: We have seen many thousands of visions of what people call Armageddon, which we understand from watching it in the Mirror-Worlds is a battle in the those hyperspace dimensions between the light celestial beings and the forces of dark. Vast forces are fighting night and day.

But we can also see there is a personal Armageddon inside each of us as we struggle to accept and go beyond our darkness. Each of us stands at the edge of redemption or destruction, the tussle is to see which way we will jump.

I wrote many years ago in a book called Whispering Winds of Change that the Global-Ego will take a big hit as is happening now and that will make the human shadow come out for all to see. It has to be enticed out in order for the evil to be destroyed, so we see that in a phenomena we call the Swivelers. People that are normal that suddenly turn overnight and become cruel, mean and dishonest for no apparent reason.

JHR: You describe “grace” as being informed by the principles of quantum physics and “quantum mysticism.” In your view, what is “grace”?

SW: It is golden light that is data driven. It has trillions of terabytes of information in it. We see that information as fractal codes– we learn to decode it but it is way too complex for us to get but a small bit of it and we learn to direct it to help people in need of emergency healing.

JHR: How has your personal definition of spirtuality evolved since writing Miracles in 1983?

SW: My perception has become very much more technical because of 200,000 + visions I have documented and then in another way it has become more simple. I realized the spirituality is the act of becoming ever more normal. Dropping all pretences so that is also what I teach. It is the Taoist teacher in me returned two decades later with a message of serenity, simplicity and respect.

JHR: You’ve been a controversial figure in the field of metaphysical studies almost since you came on the scene. Do you feel that your views on extrasensory perception, transcendental 90 ° perception and parallel worlds has experienced more or less understanding or acceptance?

SW: People that are sophisticated understand it but the crystal-lilac-New-Age find it too complicated so they only get bits of it. So I write a blog–– to help people understand in more simple terms and this has helped a lot.

JHR: You’ve written extensively about emotional and financial freedom. How are these two aspects of life linked, and how can readers begin to experience true freedom now?

SW: Money is just energy and people are scared so they push it away or they lurch and make mistakes. Again I teach simplicity… less expenses and a simple life style one meal a day, humble dwellings and hard work so the two graphs of income and expenditure cross in the right direction. People imprison themselves and I’ve worked hard to get them to see there is way out once one drops the seriousness of it all and all the silly rules we impose and once one becomes disciplined and humble.

JHR: What are a few books that have influenced you in your life that you would like to recommend to people who connect with your work?

Arthur Waley: The Way and Its Power: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought
Manley P. Hall: The Secret Teaching of All Ages
Stephen Hawking: The Universe in a Nutshell
C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia
And the first Matrix film which is very accurate in describing the Aluna world and the battles we have with entities there– sentient beings of an evil disposition.

Well-being Q&A: Leslie Davenport

17 Apr

How much do you know about self-guided imagery? If you think it’s about visualizing beautiful landscapes to cope with stress, that’s not it. Well, maybe that’s a little of it. I guess Thomas Moore summed it up well when he wrote, “I see imagination as the most important power we have. As we imagine the world, so we live and understand. But a great deal of the imagination that shapes us lies under the surface. We need to tap that underlying storehouse of images in order to grasp who we are and where we are headed.”

So whether we understand the power of self-guided imagery or not, we’re doing it all the time. So says author Leslie Davenport, a pioneer in the role of guided imagery in psychotherapy and integrative medicine. She  is she a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Master’s Degrees in both the arts and psychology, as well as an ordained minister in the interfaith Sufi tradition.

Leslie says that images are the natural language of our intuition and the wisdom of the heart. So understanding the images that flow constantly through consciousness as well as creating them deliberately can help heal and transform our lives. I asked Leslie to cover some of the basics on the hows and whys of self-guided imagery.

JHR: In your book Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery (Celestial Arts/Ten Speed Press, Feb. 2009), you say that we are constantly being guided by imagery all the time, and that entering a different state of consciousness is not necessary. How does that work?

LD: If you have ever worried, daydreamed, or fantasized you have successfully done imagery. In essence, we move in and out of different states of consciousness all the time. Those common forms of imagery are a far cry from the range and depth of the healing possibilities with imagery, but it’s important to recognize that imagery, among other things, is the natural way that we store and expresses information. Try this simple 30 second exercise: Take a moment right now to answer the question, “How many doors, including closet doors, do you have in your home?” (pause) Unless you recently remodeled, you didn’t have a number pop into your head. You retrieved the information you were after by taking a quick imaginary tour of your home and looking around the rooms. The ability to enter imagery is easily available to everyone. And if we do take the time to relax and move into quieter realms within, we can also tour quite subtle and soulful aspects of our inner landscapes.

JHR: Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell talk about the idea that mythology is the result of the collective subconscious of humanity. Is there a link between this idea and the information individuals can glean from self-guided imagery?

healingselfguided1LD: Yes – very much so! The imagery journey is paradoxical in that it is both intensely personal and vastly universal. The images that arise have a characteristic of being exactly what is needed for the person at that very time in their lives, and yet the images themselves are often surprising, as though they originated from a realm beyond their knowledge.

By turning our awareness within through an imagery process, we can travel below our personal beliefs and psychological defenses, and tap into the layers of the subconscious and unconscious. Jung referred to the collective unconscious a “reservoir of the experience of our species,” and it is said to hold shared ancestral experiences. In imagery, people often tap into wisdom images that have meaning for them, but are unexpected and unfamiliar. As we dip into this shared layer of consciousness, universal images, or archetypes, arise that often appear in many different eras and cultures. Joseph Campbell describes universal imagery as the “mythic imagination,” and writes of the hero archetype in his book, Hero With a Thousand Faces.

JHR: Why do you think the practice of self-guided imagery is experiencing a renaissance now?

LD: While imagery is a very natural way of knowing ourselves and life, it has been severely underutilized in our contemporary culture where achievement, analysis and organization are prized. While those skills are valuable, when we fail to draw upon the full range of human perception, it creates imbalance. The cumulative lack of balance eventually becomes unsustainability which is now showing up on a global scale in health, environment, and economic crisis. This is a time when we are not only called to action, but to examine why we find ourselves here. As Einstein is attributed as saying, “Problems cannot be solved by the same consciousness that created them.” While I’m not suggesting that if we had all done imagery none of these problems would exist, I am saying that we have collectively lost sight of the mystery, beauty and soulful aspects of life as ways to inform our decisions. Imagery is one of the ways to remain connected with those depth aspects of life.

JHR: If someone is first getting started in the practice of self-guided imagery, what are some basic steps to be aware of? Is it a good to begin the process with a facilitator?

LD: I can’t emphasize enough how imagery is a natural process, and for that reason, it is very possible for someone to tap into meaningful images on their own. That being said, there are quite a few misconceptions about imagery that can initially get in the way. One example I often hear is, “I’ve tried before to picture a pretty place, but I just can’t.” While about 55% of the population does have a visual orientation when it comes to internal sense perceptions, there are also kinesthetic impressions, auditory responses, olfactory memories, all of which are valid portals for the full expressing on internal guidance. We often just sense something and it is accompanied by a feeling that rings true. All these internal impressions are the language of imagery. When we did the 30 second “door” exercise in question one, the images of your home may not have been Technicolor, but it was clear enough imagery to retrieve the information you were after. That’s all it takes! The goal is not to picture something: The goal is to tap into the amazing source of wisdom and healing within. When you are new to imagery, sometimes it is useful to have an experienced guide who can coach you through some of these kinds of temporary obstacles.

JHR: How does self-guided imagery support physical healing? How is the process different from emotional or spiritual healing?

LD: Recent research has confirmed that whether we are imagining a situation, or actually experiencing it, our physiology responds in almost exactly the same way. For example, if you are replaying a heated argument you had yesterday with a neighbor, a cascade of stress chemicals are released in your body in much the same way they were when you actually interacted with that person! The good news is that we can use this same mind-body connection to cultivate images that support wellbeing and trigger a healing response.

We are unitive beings: Your body, mind, emotions, and spirit are intimately connected. If we begin to relax our muscles, it quiets our thoughts and emotions. If we let go of a distressing thought, our muscles naturally relax. At the same time, we are complex beings. If we find ourselves with an illness, for example, it doesn’t mean that we created it because we had “bad thoughts” or weren’t spiritual enough. It does mean, however, that we can focus our minds to optimize healing and wellbeing because of the existing links with the various layers of who we are.

Because imagery is based on focused awareness, we can become more acquainted with and attend to the wounds and wholeness within all areas of our being, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

JHR: Can you share an exercise that readers can use today to begin utilizing the process of self-guided imagery?

LD: The imagery journey begins as soon as you close your eyes and bring your focus away from your thinking mind. Bring attention to your breathing. Each time you breathe in, silently say the word clarity. Every time you exhale, silently say the word peace and feel your body relaxing. Continue to deepen your relaxation with this breath practice for about three minutes. Then invite an image to arise of an environment where you could feel even more peaceful and supported, and when it takes shape, notice the colors, texture, sounds scents and feel. Step in and soak in the healing atmosphere of your inner sanctuary.

JHR: What are you reading? What are some books or authors who have influenced you in your life and in your work?

LD: My earliest teacher of imagery came from years of embodying living images as a professional modern dancer. Tapping into the creative well within as a choreographer opened the way for a growing understanding of the body-mind-spirit connections which took a healing focus later in life. I have great respect for imagery colleagues Martin Rossman, David Bressler, Jeanne Achterberg and Belleruth Naparstek. In the spiritual arenas, I have been influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh, Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle, Meister Eckhart and Patanjali. Poetry nourishes me, and Mary Oliver and Rumi are top favorites. I am currently reading Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating.

Free Mother’s Day Book Download from Renee Trudeau

17 Apr
From May 8-10 Download this Book FOR FREE!

From May 8-10 Download this Book FOR FREE!

Download a free copy of life balance expert Renee Trudeau’s award-winning book  The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life for 48 hours: May 8th-May 10th at Sign up today!

And here is a reprint of an interview I did with Renee:

At one point or another many of us come to a crossroads in our professional and personal lives. We sit back, sigh deeply and ask ourselves “is this all there is?” For Renee Trudeau, the deep inner calling of her life became louder and louder until one day she decided to leave a successful corporate career and change the direction of her life forever. What happened next not only took her own family in an entirely new direction, but her powerful message of motherhood and self-care has changed the lives of thousands of women worldwide. Now, Renee is exploring the world of everyday spirituality. And somewhere in the process of being a student, she has become the teacher.

CL: You left behind a lucrative and very stable career in order to pursue your passions. Can you tell me about that decision, what you decided to do and how leaving the corporate environment changed your life?

RT: Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life says “Generally people won’t pursue their calling until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so. But, it’s amazing how high our threshold is for this type of pain.” I knew after a stable, 14-year career in the marketing communications field that there was another way I was meant to use my gifts and talents.

I had coached professionals (for free) for years on how to develop and leverage their personal brand and I had a strong desire to help others express their potential. So, after much soul searching—more on this journey in my book– I launched Career Strategists in 2000, based on my strong belief that we are truly meant to integrate “who we are” with “what we do” in the world. Yes, like all that make the leap to self-employment, I had a lot of fear come up. But I knew that the life I desired (one where I was the master of, not the slave to my life) was more important than the fear. Ultimately, I had no choice but to take this leap.

I believe we all receive these taps on the shoulder throughout our life. The question is, next time you receive a tap, will you shrug the feeling off, or say yes (to your life)?

CL: How did the concept of personal renewal groups and your book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal, initially come about and what has been the response?

RT: After having my son at age 37, I was shocked to realize how profound the transition to parenthood is. I believe having a child, literally changes you on a cellular level. Who you are will never be the same. And, at the same time, it really rocks you to your core and challenges you to get clear on why you’re here, what is your path and what does the life you truly desire—look like? (My video talks more about this.)

After searching for resources and books that support mothers in nurturing their essence while taking care of their kids, I found nothing and was ultimately guided to start a Personal Renewal Group (self renewal circle for women) in 2003. Five years and countless groups later, after repeated requests from my Personal Renewal Group members, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal was born. Now thousands of women around the US/Canada and beyond are leading these groups, which are based on the Guide, and supporting women in nurturing their emotional well-being. The response has been phenomenal (many therapists, coaches, doulas and women’s empowerment advocates are being called to lead groups.) Everyone seems to immediately get how important and needed a life coaching program like this, is. The book will be published in Korea later this year. It seems that the messages that came through me are resonating on a universal level.

CL: When people come to a crossroads in life, they are often told to pursue their passions and the money will follow. Do you believe that’s true?

RT: Yes! After working now for more than 20 years in this arena (I started helping family/friends with career strategy when I was eighteen) and having supported thousands in both big and small career and life transitions, I absolutely believe it is our job, our responsibility, to give birth to the best that is within us. And when we do this from a place of truth and authenticity, we will prosper.

I also work with clients a lot on marrying their passion with their brilliance (what you innately “do best”). This is where the magic happens! When we leverage our innate God-given talents, we’re in flow. We’re doing what we were put on the earth to do. And, when this happens, we can’t help but prosper financially. Interestingly, for most of my clients, the hard work isn’t around manifesting, it’s around “receiving” (believing that you’re worthy to be paid for these gifts).

CL: We all know how important it is to take good physical care of oneself in order to be effective in life. What else do you advise people to do to take care of themselves? What is your definition of self-care?

RT: Self-care is the practice of self-nourishment and self-nurturing. It’s essential to feeling whole and to being human. Cancer survivor/activist Audrey Lorde says “Self care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” Taking time to fill our cups first before helping others is essential to our well-being and to optimal living.

Start by cultivating an awareness of how you talk to, treat, think about and care for yourself—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have found the practice of self-care is a portal for many of us to our deeper selves. Loving ourselves and treating ourselves as if you would treat a small child, requires a deep honoring of spirit, of our essence (you can learn more about the transformative power of self-care in The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal). Begin with baby steps, be gentle with yourself and know that developing a self-care practice takes time and being around others who believe this is essential, too.

CL: What are you reading right now? What are some books that you can recommend for people interested in personal/spiritual growth?

RT: Life coaches Jennifer Louden and Cheryl Richardson are two of the original self-care advocates/pioneers and all of their books are wonderful and highly recommended, particularly if you’re just getting started on your self-care journey. In terms of physical self-care, I am reading Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston and The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup—both are very holistic and integrative in their approach to physical/emotional/spiritual well-being. I am also reading (I’m a multiple books at one time reader) Practicing The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Soul Signs by Diane Eichenbaum, Conversations with God (again) by Neal Donald Walsch, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women and Open Heart, Open Mind by Father Thomas Keating (who will be in Austin Feb. 21-22).

CL: I understand you are working on a new project. Can you tell us about that?

RT: Since last summer, I have been researching and exploring the theme of “everyday spirituality”—the idea that the sacred is present and accessible everyday, through simple daily rituals and activities like walking in nature, playing with our kids and artistic expression, etc.

I think most Americans are overwhelmed, overworked and overscheduled. They are craving meaning in their lives, but when they hear the term “spiritual practice,” they think forget it, who has time to go on a ten day silent retreat or go sit on a mountaintop! I’ve got kids to get to soccer and bosses to appease! I believe strongly that there are many avenues for nourishment on the“spiritual practice” continuum and that each of us just needs to get quiet and hear what spiritual renewal looks like to us.

I was raised in a very interesting family (my latest blog posting on Spirituality talks about this)—I have a brother named Shiva and a sister named after St. Theresa. Questions around spiritual renewal and fulfillment have been sitting with me for a long, long time. I believe this is the direction my work will be taking me over the next 5-7 years.

Well-being Q&A: Jesse Jacobs, Founder Samovar Tea Lounge

11 Apr
Jesse Jacobs, Founder Samovar Tea Lounge

Jesse Jacobs, Founder Samovar Tea Lounge

Everywhere I go, people tell me how horrible it is to be drinking so much coffee. I get it. Extreme coffee experiences can put your whole sense of well-being out of whack even if it does jolt you to your basic senses first thing in the morning.

So more and more, I’m substituting my coffee routine with tea and I’ve rediscovered a long forgotten passion that began steeping in my soul since my childhood. Growing up in Texas, I was raised on iced tea. Huge tumblers of frosty deep amber tea with lemon. Tea has always been in my life in one way or another. And when I spent a summer in Winchester, UK when I was 14, my admiration for tea culture was officially born. I found the perfect teapot for my mother and I ritually drank my tea while reading Alice in Wonderland or The Chronicles of Narnia. Later, when I went to college in Boston, I had boxes of herbal teas stashed in every corner of my apartments just to help fend off the biting, inhuman cold. Later, I lived in a Zen Center in Hollywood, where I enjoyed the art of tea ceremonies during retreats and using hot tea at every meal to clean our eating bowls.

So it was with great pleasure that I recently discovered Samovar Tea Lounge. Based is San Francisco and shipping around the globe, Samovar recently put together a custom blend prepared for His Holiness The Dalai Lama called Ocean of Wisdom. The tea accommodated The Dalai Lama as he traveled to various art institutions exhibiting the project “The Missing Peace.” Samovar has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today rated Samovar teas as one of the top ten teas in the US.

Jesse Jacobs founded Samovar six years ago. I recently had the chance to ask Jesse some tea-related questions.

JHR: We live in such a dense coffee culture, but it seems like tea drinking is on the rise. Is that true and, if so, why? Also, can people really “get going” in the morning with a cup of organic, hand-crafted, artisan tea? Isn’t espresso, you know, faster?

JJ: In the ’90s, the specialty tea industry made $1 billion. In 2007, it was at $7 billion, and its forecasted by 2012 it will be at $14 billion. So, the tea industry is definitely on the rise. Samovar Tea Lounge has grown 300% in last 3 years. Tea has caffeine, and yes it can be used “as a get up and go beverage,” but with less jitters, and more focused awareness. It doesn’t have the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but artisan teas naturally carry caffeine and L-theanine, which induces the alpha state. Its scientifically proven that L-theanine aids in a state of relaxed awareness. This is helpful for the start of your day.

JHR: You’ve created a culture of mindfulness in your business. How important is mindfulness in the hectic life of a business?

JJ: Its very important because life is hectic and can be a frenzy, so there is more need for focus to get things done. I think mindfulness is the same as awareness. Awareness is the key to living fruitfully because if you are aware, you know what’s going on around you. You are sensitive, you can listen to the marketplace, to your customers, to your vendors, to yourself. And if you can listen, and hear, you can make effective and adventageous decisions. Interestingly, awareness is intrinsic in the practice of tea. So, the practice of tea aids in a successful practice of business.

Business is never ending, it is literally a practice, like meditation, or yoga or a martial art. It takes continual refinement, and as a practice, it requires mindfulness. Any study on mindfulness whether it be in meditation, drinking tea, yoga, martial arts, it’s helpful in achieving a better handle on how you approach business. I spent all of my life studying mindfulness practices, on the mat, on the cushion, in the martial arts dojo. Now, this business is just another manifestation of my mindfulness practice.

JHR: It seems like having tea is a time to slow down, connect and regroup. If someone wants to plan the perfect tea time, what are some important elements?

JJ: The important elements are having the freshest, best tea you can find. Having good quality hot water. And, having a moment to manage brewing the leaves, a mini-ritual to slow you down, stop you in the moment, and allow you to consciously take your next step.

JHR: What are some of the health and well-being elements of tea?

JJ: The scientifically proven health benefits of tea are that it is full of antioxidants, there are cancer fighting elements, and numerous vitamins and nutrients. Thousands of studies have been conducted on the benefits of tea. Additionally, a benefit of tea is that is it delicious, it pleases the palate, but also allows for a sense of setting a mood. It serves as a gentle awareness inducing uplifter. Tea brings people together, it serves as a natural social lubricant today just as much as it has when it was discovered several thousand years ago. It brings business, family and personal relations together, and today we really need togetherness. It creates ritual in our highly digitized, fast-paced, frenetic world. We are lacking ritual… the ritual that offers us to slow down, make us healthy, and connect us to the earth, and our humanness.

JHR: What is your current favorite and why?

JJ: Organic Masala Chai: I love this tea because the taste is very complex: spicy, great fragrance, nutty, sweet, aromatic, and earthy. Cooking the chai at my home or at Samovar, it fills the entire space with these overwhelming aromas. The caffeine is a natural and stimulating uplifter.

JHR: You started a podcast series called Passage to Peace linking tea to promoting universal peace. How did that come about and what has the reaction been?

JJ: It came about by looking at what our customers, and therefore the world needs. They need peace. This is part of our mission. So, I thought it would be interesting to connect the people involved in the tea business (i.e. carpenters of peace) to the world at large through a multi-media, educational visual medium. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, which has motivated me to continue the series in an expanded new direction. We are launching a new video series.

JHR: What ignited your passion for tea?

JJ: My need for slowing down, and having time for myself and for my friends and family. And a remembrance of my childhood on the East Coast where I grew up with being surrounded by constant tea culture. I was always exposed to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and European influences.

JHR: Can you share five books that have either influenced you or that you just like to read with, well, a good cup of tea?

JJ: Shibumi: Trevanian; The Sun Also Rises: Ernest Hemingway; Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi; The Book of Five Rings: Miyamoto Musashi; Body and Mature Behavior: Moshe Feldenkrais and Carl Ginsburg
The Executive In Action: Peter F. Drucker

Note: Samovar Tea is nationally available for purchase at


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