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Meditation as a medication: An auto-immune disease called Lupus

JEMMA’S JOURNEY: (The 2nd of 2 parts)

Master Hai Kong is a revered figure in China’s resurrected and re-activated Buddhist community. Seekers from all over the most populous nation-state in the world want to learn from him.

Typically, he performs his empowerment rituals four times a year — and does so for hundreds of students at a time. To have my own personal ritual, was a once-in-a-lifetime gift (and many more if you believe in Buddhism).

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Master Hai Kong and Buddhist monks: Jemma’s journey out of chronic pain

BEING THERE: JEMMA FONG

Jemma’s journey: “I just need to live with the pain” (1st of 2 parts)

Living with a chronic condition resulting in daily pain and periodic acute flare-ups that flatten me in bed for days seemed to be the only “norm” I knew for the past two and a half decades. Increased stress of any sort would worsen the situation by triggering a vicious spiral: as I became frustrated with my inability to perform at my optimum, I added new layers of stress.

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How To Look Good Naked: My private reality show

How To Look Good Naked: My private reality show

GUEST COLUMN: LAURA HOLLICK

Have you heard of the Lifetime network reality series, How to Look Good Naked?

It’s hosted by Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and takes women through a kind of 12-step program on how to fall in love with their bodies.

Two years ago, long before this series ever hit the airwaves, I embarked on my own How to Look Good Naked odyssey. In my case: I set a specific benchmark and goal. By the summer of 2008, I contracted with myself, I’d pose for a nude photo shoot as a symbolic gesture to mark my celebration of loving my body.

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In relationships, besides love, here is the one necessary trait you need to make it last

GUEST COLUMN: VICKI WOODYARD

Vicki is a spiritual teacher and writer who lives in Atlanta, GA

Besides love, what one trait have you noticed in couples that have maintained a successful relationship for many years?

The question in the headline is a common one on dating sites, which probe people for their relationship attitudes when filling in the boxes in their profiles. I was asked the question not on a dating site, but by this site because I was happily married to the same man for thirty-eight years. And I am going to tell you something that will make me blush.

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A spiritual seeker experiences a strip club

GUEST POEM: HUNTER REYNOLDS

Hunter is an astrologer whose practice is based at the California spiritual retreat, Harbin Hot Springs

Here at this strip club,
where the seductive maidens of phenomena
undulate on the lap . . .

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Priceless is what remains after a loved one dies

Priceless is what remains after a loved one dies

GUEST COLUMN: VICKI WOODYARD

Vicki is a spiritual teacher and writer who lives in Atlanta, GA

We have all watched the Mastercard ads where narrow slices of life are branded as “priceless.” What I’ve come to learn from those whom I’ve loved, and have died, is that what is truly Priceless is an essence that animates each of us — and which I still know in those whom I’ve “lost.”

When was the last time you looked at the truth of your being and rejoiced? Most of us look at ourselves with jaundiced, weary eyes — and look at bonded-teeth and hair-weaves with envy and a sense that we will never look “perfect.”

I remember when my young daughter was dying of cancer. She lost all of her hair to chemo at age four.

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Tibet and the 2008 Summer Olympics: It’s not just politics

Tibet and the 2008 Summer Olympics: It’s not just politics

How the Beijing Olympics made Tibet a wedge issue between China and the West

GUEST COLUMN: SHARON BROCK — The global appeal of the Olympics is vested in a time-honored ideal of one-world peace. To bring the world together through a shared love of human *being*, embodied by the dreams and devotion of young athletes. The Olympics is an answer to the Babel conundrum: A way to communicate and gather, even when we can’t speak each others’ languages.

 

At the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco, I felt a mix of emotions.

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Camino de Santiago pilgrimmage

The trail had lots of hikers but few pilgrims

PhyllistheAuthor — Two friends have asked my Baptist husband if after the pilgrimage, he is going to become a Roman Catholic. How much these people missed the point of the Camino. It was not a religious exercise like kissing the hem of the Pope’s robe. It was a spiritual journey.

In fact, I didn’t meet anyone who was overtly religious on the Camino. No one wished us a “Blessed day” or mentioned God or religion. I have no idea what, if any religion, my fellow pilgrims followed. In asking people what brought them to the Camino, I got a variety of answers. No one said he/she was doing the Camino for a religious purpose. We only met one person who made a point of the fact that for him, it was just a hike. We met only one woman who proclaimed that she had no faith.

In contrast, signs of a spiritual journey were everywhere: In the stones left at kilometer marking. In the hearts, flowers, and crosses along the way. In the quiet contemplation of the pilgrims in churches. In journals being kept by pilgrims, In the respect shown the countryside through which the pilgrims walked. In the kindness of one pilgrim to another.

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Camino Reflection #11

In response to our pilgrimage, one person asked how could anyone believe in a God who let babies die. Implicit in the question is the belief that death is bad. And it does seem so to those who are left bereft. Yet it may be the greatest good for those who die. For the innocents who die it may be a shortcut to fields of flowers, singing birds, endless rainbows, pure joy.

If death is not bad, the problem then is not dying, but suffering. How does one understand suffering? One only has to read The Book of Job to appreciate that suffering is difficult to understand. It once was thought that suffering was redemptive, and I suspect it can be so. More often, it seems to be a dessert of endless sand, parched earth, and prickly cactus, a no man’s land of pain. Could it be the suffering is the price, the passport, for entering into the delights of death?

Or could it be that suffering is not about the person suffering? Could it be instead about us and our call to be kind? How can anyone believe in a loving God without experiencing love in their lives?

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Radical Honesty

SOUL’S CODE — What do you make of the movement-of-the-day about telling people exactly what you think?. At one level, it sounds like the core of integrity and right speech. You’re being compassionate and respecting those around you by being honest. There’s no pandering or no assumption that they won’t be able to deal with whatever truth you would unveil to them.

Here’s a fun exhibit of the issue from a recent Esquire article:

Once again, I felt the thrill of inappropriate candor. And I felt something else, too. The paradoxical joy of being free from choice. I had no choice but to tell the truth. I didn’t have to rack my brain figuring out how to hedge it, spin it, massage it.

The thing is, the separate cubbyholes of my personality are merging. Usually, there’s a professional self, a home self, a friend self, a with-the-guys self. Now, it’s one big improper mess. This woman and I have either taken a step forward in our relationship, or she’ll never return my calls again.

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