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April 2009 Newsletter
Hello Beautiful People!
To read my previous NewsLetters, go to www.birthintobeing.com
and click on ‘newsletters' button on the Left
1. My Australian / New Zealand blog:
A large collection of photographs related to this blog can be viewed on my myspace page
Dr. Sarah Buckley: “ Wow, I just finished Elena's workshop, it was totally amazing and life-altering!....!” (Feb 2009 Byron Bay)
It's is a very rich experience - Australia!
11 days ago I landed in the city of Brisbane. Presented to a full house at the Maternity Coalition and left for Byron Bay.
There I lived in a community called Serene Earth Sanctuary, created by Premala, a belly dancer, who is at 74 still running the whole place and teaches belly dance. I did a workshop in her gorgeous Dance Temple.
The most sensuous place.. Byron Bay.. the air is so yellow with sunshine; sweet, warm and moist, - just a place to completely relax, among the lush of the rain forest..
There I met a few elders (‘elder' ? does not mean ‘old', it means ‘wise'. To my understanding, an ‘elder' can be 15 years of age, or 35! It's not about aging at all; it means ? ‘a knowing one'. Wisdom doesn't always come with age... Most of the times, age shows up alone).
I finally met the legendary Estelle Meyers, dr. Sarah Buckley, Maha, also a dancer, who just had an unassisted home/water birth 4 months ago at age of 46, dancing her way through the whole ordeal. The most fascinating fact - her birth tub was in the very spot that I was standing 4 years ago when I did my first and only birth re-coding process in Australia, when I was there with Constantine's group.
In the whole country of Australia - that room was where we anchored that particular brand of new birthing paradigm that I have brought with me.
Back then, 4 yrs ago, our group traveled to many places, but that's where we were when it was my turn to share my piece with the group. A different couple lived there at that time and I didn't even know about it being on the property of the Serene Earth Sanctuary, on the other side of it. Maha have not even met her husband yet back then. And now, there we were - 4 yrs later, in the same room! Out of all places in Australia, I ended up in the same spot! This time my workshop was supposed to be in Brisbane, an hour and a half drive north from Byron Bay. But the place suddenly fell though and the Dance Temple was the only available location on such short notice. Even as we were driving there from Brisbane it didn't click. I only realized where I was when I got there!
We had spent a wonderful time together - giggling, telling stories, cooking, going to the beach..
Estelle (72yo) just graduated and got her Phd finally!!! Wrote an amazing 500 page dissertation on prenatal psychology to accomplish that. It took her 5 years! (she gifted me with the whole text!!!). First impression: She pulled into the driveway with a zest of a teenager, in a hot red sporty convertible, jumped out of it, (flowing sarong revealing great legs) and was instantly ready to laugh and love! :):) And she looks like a dolphin!
Dr. Sarah also gifted me with her new baby, - her book "Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering" (a must read), finally published in Australia! It turns out we have the same birthday! - Tauruses..Two of us went to town for dinner on Friday night before the workshop and saw a lovely band playing music on the street. So we kicked off our shoes and had a great time dancing on a sidewalk.. I'm in love with this woman!
It was Sarah's involvement that made the whole trip possible, she was coordinating the organizers in 5 different locations ? Brisbane, Bellingen, Melbourne, Perth and in New Zealand. It was such a huge job! Thank you, Sarah! I am so grateful for your stepping forward and having faith that it would be worth it!
Maha's baby (4 mo old) learned a trick of standing on my hand just in a few first tries! Maha also gifted me with her absolutely beautiful new book 'Dance of the Womb" (highly recommend!) She wrote about her bloodline - Palestinian traditional approach to pregnancy and birth (belly dancing being an integral part of being a woman in her culture).
Premala's cooking was an exquisite mix of cultures and flavors - so creative! And the main ingredient was her very own girlish, super healthy attitude! At 74, she is still absolutely gorgeous!
The birthshop was fantastic! With 25 people in the group. They made it so easy for me..:) being able to go so deep and gracefully land on their feet afterwards!
“Elena, I want to say thank you so much for the most amazing experience of this past weekend!!!” Lianne
The organization was impeccable and superb! In Brisbane, I stayed with Suzanne Swan, who took on a Brisbane organization. She really had it down! The presentation went on in a beautiful amphitheater auditorium to a more than full house ? people were standing in the back and sitting on the floor in front.
Suzanne is well connected in her community ? she is a mother of two beautiful children, a doula, a prominent yoga teacher, an exquisite prenatal yoga teacher, a businesswoman, running 5 of her yoga studios, and a rare beauty on top of it!
In her capable hands, the birthshop ran smoothly; gourmet meals were on time, vegan, gluten free, organic, fresh.. Thank you so much, Suzanne! - From all of us.
From Byron Bay I took a bus and a train down to Bellingen. Stayed there with Mieke and then Alice for a couple of days, gave a presentation, wondered around town and went to Bundagen, 25 min away, where the workshop will be held over the next weekend.
It is a sustainable community, one of the most prominent in Australia. It's almost 200 people strong, every house is completely off the grid - on solar power, rain water, with compost toilets and so on.. The workshop will be held in their Meditation Temple. Can talk volumes.. Every day I walk to the beach, eat guavas from the tree, ride around on the bike Nicole lent me .. did I die and went to heaven?
Wonderful people in Australia.. Have not seen one face yet that was not exquisitely beautiful:) The land is breathtakingly beautiful also, - everywhere I went so far!
Having said that, financially life is pretty hard here. Most people are struggling. Massive recent job loses, by the thousands..
With that said, in the first location in Byron Bay, I was almost sold out of all my CDs and DVDs. Just a few left for the second place, where I am now, in Bundagen.
Everything is wild and raw here, in Bundagen ? horses and wallabies are walking freely among buildings; huge snakes, exotic birds.. Food tastes like real food is supposed to taste (before the pasteurizing, genetic engineering and hydroponics) - tastes like my childhood in Russia..- love this place!
I'm staying here, in Bundagen, in a small charming cottage, by myself. Every morning, very early, a cacophony of morning songs of thousands jungle birds wake me up. No one can sleep thru that!! I make myself a cup of tea and run down the hill to make love with the Ocean, to feel those huge waves pounding on my naked body..!!!!!!!!!!!:):):)
Clothing is optional on this secluded few miles long private beach and I didn't see any one here to chose it. Not that I saw a lot of people at all - just over the weekend it was the group that gathered here for my birthshop, mostly. Saw a few local women with small children during the weekdays.
It is an amazing opportunity for me to rest and play:) - a very special rare treat - to have a few days of precious solitude. That's where I draw the inspiration from the deep stillness of my being and renew my strength to face large groups of people that come to my events everywhere I go nowadays..
This is the community in Bundagen as seen from up above! Might you wonder ? where are the houses? ? well, that's exactly the point...
The birthshop starts tomorrow. It will be held in a beautiful Meditation Temple in the middle of the land. I'm on a far edge of it, closer to the water. So tomorrow I'll have to find my shortcut thru the jungle all by myself. The organizing ladies will be busy greeting the arriving participants and feeding them. I assured them I'll find my way thru the web of trails in tall grass. ? hmmm.. I better.. They showed me the way 3 days ago, but we were talking and I don't think I paid enough attention.. I was matter of factly instructed not to run into the very poisonous black snake whose home it is and it's warm and they are out, and oh yeh! 'to avoid the fire ants at all cost', as if I get bit I 'would feel like I'm dying or wish I would be'. This one came with good news, though, - it's not poisonous and pain will pass in 10 minutes. But the leaches are the most prominent side effect of walking thru these trails and here is how to remove them from my skin - oh thank you very much! ..lots of learning to do:):):)
To summarize: I am to find my way through the jungle while searching every blade of grass for ants and every branch for snakes, checking my legs for leaches, whooshing off mosquitoes, carrying my bag with all the workshop stuff and holding my skirt high up so I don't sweep those ants off and oh yeah - one more thing - the spiders! They would be right at my head's height, so make sure I don't run into those.. This area was recently flooded, so the insects are out and plenty..
hmm.. maybe I do like Chico better? ..
I really had to work on preparing myself emotionally to this 10 min walk alone! Poor city girl me.. Thought of how to cover my legs up and such.. But then I realized that local children were just running barefoot everywhere with not a care in the world!
I watched them and went swiftly thru this trail just like them, mimicking their presence and attitude. It worked!!! I did get lost a little, but realized it soon enough and turned around without missing the beginning of my birthshop.
Children are amazing here. I have deeply connected with a few of them, especially Mieke's baby, 2 yo Atlanta. The way she looked at me and hugged me - never in my life I felt so seen and appreciated!.. Children here are the beauty and power of human race manifested in a perfect physical form. Thaaat's what we, the people, are supposed to be like!!!
This place is absolutely enchanting.. and I am having a real vacation! in spite of doing workshops on weekends. I'm in love with Australia!
3/9/09, After the workshop in Bundagen:
The group was awesome! A few families with small children drove together from afar to stay intact through the weekend. They camped around the premises. While women gathered in the Temple to do our thing for 2 days, the fathers tended to the young. It was so sweet to watch them quietly, respectfully flocking up close during breaks for babies to be nursed and older children to get their 'mommy fix' and then the fathers skillfully took the kids away when breaks were over. There was no fuss, no drama, - they were all on the same page.
The birthshop was organized by 3 remarkable, drop-dead gorgeous young women - Alice, Meike and Nicole. Alice, the mother of 2 consciously birthed children, is the owner of her own booming business of eco-diapers that she designed herself. Meike, in spite of looking about 16 yo, is the mother of 4 absolute darlings, and a doula. Nicole, who actually lives in this sustainable community where the birthshop took place, also a mother of 2 ecstatically made angels, is also a doula and a filmmaker. Her documentary 'Nappy Free' is about how-tos of no-diapers infancy, featuring dr. Sarah Buckley and many families who raised their babies in 'elimination communication'.
This trio of powerful, awakened women deeply impressed me. If we have women like this, humankind has a chance to survive!
Behind their fresh, innocent appearance, they manage to run big energies! The organization was superb (with 3 catered, gourmet meals each day).
The event itself was magical! Everyone left with what they came for. It was deeply satisfying for me to see their glowing faces at the end of Sunday and hear the sincerity of their genuine gratitude. I fell in Love with everyone here, especially their kids:)
One more sweet detail. It was not clear if this birthshop would happen. In spite of all efforts, the numbers here were low - 14 people. And to make it affordable, they had to put low price for attendance - that whole area of Australia is not in good shape economically. People are really struggling.. So for that price we needed 25 participants to meet my already low fee (I had agreed upfront to cut it short, understanding that I can not charge in Australia what I charge in Europe or US). Plus, because of rains they were not sure if even those who committed to coming would come. But I felt strong about going there anyway and doing the work even if only the three beauties would show up. I assured them that money is not an issue and I'll just take what they can give me.
After the workshop, one of the participants, Tracy Dylan, got curious and asked Nicole "how in the world they were able to afford bringing someone like me to this Land's End and how much I was charging". Nicole told her that actually they were not meeting their quota and I will be leaving with much less then I initially expected. Next thing, Tracy comes back with cash in her hand. Not a moment of hesitation - she filled in the blank and then some! Thank you, Tracy, so much! It did make me feel even more appreciated and well received.
3/17/09 after Melbourne
Very interesting weather phenomena are following me! J or am I following It? When I arrived to Australia, I was told that the elements were very raw, causing a lot of damage - next place I was supposed to go to was flooded and the next one was on fire. So, it was not clear if/how this would affect my workshops. I, naturally, thought to myself, let's have lots of sunshine in the flooded area and a big rain in Melbourne. Obvious move, right? But then I was carried away with my Brisbane adventures and forgot to think about it.
It turned out that sunshine came right away and by the time I got to Bellingen it was the sweetest spot and stayed as perfect summer the whole week I was there.
Flying to Melbourne I could see from above miles of black ashes.. it was really tragic what happened here with almost 300 people dead and thousands loosing their homes. In the general background of economical collapse in Australia, Melbourne was not in good shape. Fires were still lingering and the air was full of dust and smoke.. not a blade of green grass anywhere.. scorched front yards and gardens - the city itself was spared by the fire but burnt by the sun. Because of severe drought the city asked not to water the front yards. Trees, still fighting for life, digging deep, with curled, withered leaves.. Everything was craving water.. The rain was not.
Right away I had a presentation at the Maternity Coalition in the City and the next day in another satellite city of Geelong, at the local chapter of Maternity Coalition about an hour and a half away by car, along the shoreline, on the other side of the harbor. After that second talk I stayed there in a little beachfront village, Portarlington, in the outskirts of Geelong for 3 days until the weekend workshop. My gracious Melbourne organizer, Jo, has a charming vacation home there and I was left to my own devices - to rest, read, meditate, climb the cliffs, walk on the beach.. I was really looking forward to sitting quietly by the water, gazing at the Melbourne city line on the horizon..
Never mind! The first night I fell peacefully asleep to the sound of waves only to be awakened an hour later by the crazy drummer on the roof! The downpour was trying to make up for all the missed opportunities at once! I ran to the porch to rescue my shoes and was soaked to the bone in 2 seconds:) I screamed with joy! And just sat there, watching the water falling down for a while.. It was raining the whole time I was there and I went into ecstasy just sitting on the porch and watching the plants and the soil taking it all in, filling up and straightening..
I did get my hike one afternoon when It took a break and the sparkling world appeared so brand new and oh, so clean!
I was very happy to have this time to just curl with a good book and a cuppa tea and not go anywhere, not talk.. to just listen to raindrops.. It's been, probably, 3 years since I had a luxury of reading a book..not just scanning it at 10 seconds per page to harvest the info or listening to it while driving, but actually sit down and read! How did it happen that my life is going at such speed?
On Friday eve I went back into the dusty, smoky city. It turned out it was only raining over the Geelong side of the Bay. On Saturday the birthshop started at 11am. At precisely 11am it started gently raining as the last 2 participants were running from their car. As we settled into our circle and I started to speak, it started to get darker and darker outside. As the birthing field was being conjured up for us, it was getting more and more dramatic and quiet on the streets.. And then - It came down with all It's Might! Boy, did it ever! At precisely 11:30 the skies collapsed!
It was raining all weekend. A thousand crazy drummers on the roof were so loud that people had a hard time hearing my words. I had to strain my throat and really speak up both days. Thank goodness for my theatrical background!
Right before the sunset, It took a few minutes to look at the day's job, stepped back and allowed a big open circle in the clouds right above us to let in a few rays of sun that illuminated the whole city. We ran to the windows to look at the roof tops below,- every drop on every leaf and window was reflecting those rays and each other! All was sparkly-brilliant-yellow-
It stopped raining right before the birthshop ended. I know, it sounds like something I would make up. But I'm actually not making that up. It is probably, possible to see on line the past weather reports - not sure. But anyway, I actually, remember many, many episodes like this in my travels. I always marveled at those coincidences, that I was moving with the weather patterns.. I even talked about it with a friend last year, trying to figure out what to make of it.. Did not come to a conclusion so far how to explain that.
The birthshop was, probably, my best one, ever. Given, that every time I return home, Michael Tonetti smiles at me: ''was that one your best ever?" as, apparently, I say this every time. But I, sure, can say it now - something REALLY happened. We all felt it. We all made it happen. It was DEEP..
Lots of people from this class signed up for my Apprenticeship Training next May. That tells me something:)
My last night in Melbourne we went to a great Salsa party! It has a big dancing community. Jo Askham, my Melbourne hostess, an amazing beautiful woman, was there for the first time, watched the dancers wide eyed and said she was 'hooked'! Go, Jo!!!! She is a mother of 2 angelic beings, adored wife, a doula, a successful business lady in her spare time and, generally, a superwoman of a kind:) See you soon, Jo! Don't know where and when but the feeling is - we did not part for long.
Monday, before my evening flight to Perth, to the West Coast, I spent being a tourist in the city. Climbed on top of the tallest building in downtown, where they have a beautiful observation deck with 360 degrees and had a chance to see it all at a glance (took lots of pix), went shopping to the mall, had a beautiful meal in a nice restaurant.. City life is good, too!
Now I am on a plane for 4,5 hours, crossing the country. I am having such a great time in Australia! Well, first of all, of course, I'm being treated like queen of England - everything is thought through, organized superbly, - all I need to do is to show up and do my thing. In between I'm being fed, driven, massaged, entertained.. May be it's is not good for my ego, but it surely feels good, - so relaxing - I don't have to think of every single detail myself. May be that's why all my events here are so profound and have this unmistakable air of Magic Theater. Not only in my birthshops, but also presentations and all my time in between. I am completely relaxed and surrendered, just go when and where I'm taken to. How refreshing...
I love swimming in the rain...
WOW! I might get used to it! or move to Australia:) ...And it's not even about having all this attention, it's really about feeling heard; my message is being well received here, with so much gratitude. All the ladies that I have met here so far are, first of all, amazingly authentic, beautiful, very practical, kind, grounded, in matter-of-factly living on Earth. It's a very different quality of attention here.
3/24/09 After Perth
Perth is almost 1,300,000 people strong, and is built in the middle of nowhere, on the west coast of Australia, on the sand. Let me say that again, the whole huge city built on sand. So much for the impossible dream!..
A few people after the Perth birthshop, expressed their desire to attend my upcoming apprenticeship training next year, so it makes the group almost full. I am thinking: why wait until next May. Lets do it sooner, maybe even somewhere in Australia? How about January? That's the soonest I can come back.
Do I need to mention that the birthshop was amazing? Oh, yes I do, and oh yes, it was. We had 28 people and only because I had to put a firm limit on the number. As there is simply not enough time in the day to go around the bigger circle.
The dynamite trio of organizers of my Perth visit: Vicki, Christine and Marguerite, did a truly great job! They held weekly meetings for the last few months to make sure they have no rocks left unturned. Vicki Grey is a passionate advocate for gentle birth, and was the first one to step forward with a "yes" to bringing me over. (She just emailed me that she is signing up for my training). I stayed at Christine's house the whole time in Perth. It was a relief not to pack my bags and move to another location every 2-3 days.. It is a really good way to get to know the life in the new country by just living in someone's home, not in the hotel. Between all the meals together, we had lots of opportunities to share stories and to really connect, heart to heart. She has some thirty years of experience under her belt of being a midwife and educator. She has also signed up for my 10- day training, after the workshop.
This is Christine.
Marguerite was my gracious guide, she took me around to the city, parks, beaches. That is where I took all the pictures of koalas and kangaroos. Her magical six year old boy, Arion was such a good sport sharing his mom with me. She is an amazing body worker, and gifted me with a two hour healing session upon my arrival, which completely neutralized all the wear and tear on my body, from traveling so much. (It was a four and a half hour flight across the country. Thank you so much, Marguerite, it really made a difference for me to get in gear for the weekend's birthshop.
And this is Marguerite:
Of course, the group was the biggest factor in the quality of the event. At least half of them were well primed by their own active search for awareness, working as a group for a long time already. They are a part of the spiritual community led by Michael King. It was so easy to work with them. They moved fearlessly and fast into the deepest states. It was my pleasure to watch them cover so much ground, so gracefully. Absolutely amazing people!
Transition from Perth to New Zealand was a first on this trip hiccup. But it turned to my benefit that saved me almost $500.00. I did call the airline to see if I needed a visa to go to New Zealand, - "no" was the answer. Nobody warned me that I had to have a printed out return ticket FROM New Zealand in may hands, at the time of registration TO New Zealand. (To prove that I do intend to leave the country and not stay there). I did not have a print out. I had one unified list of all my itineraries, for nine flights, - 8 of which were on Qantas. The only one on Air New Zealand, was the return flight from NZ back to Australia. So, Qantas counter clerk could not verify my reservation code with Air New Zealand, and refused to give me a boarding pass.
After a short anxious brainstorming session I did come up with a solution. I had a stop over in Sydney, on the East Coast, on my way from Perth to New Zealand, so I talked them into at least let me catch my plane to Sydney. Ok, they could do that! But all of a sudden, my luggage became a problem! (The same two suitcases that I already flew with twice on domestic Qantas.) The lady, in no uncertain terms, declared that I had one suitcase too many. That I am only allowed 23 kilos and the extra suitcase was an extra 25 kilos and that I am to pay for extra weight at $18.00 per kilo. It didn't help to tell her that I just flew with those same suitcases a few days ago without any extra fees, - she was unshakable. I asked for a supervisor. He confirmed that 'yes, domestic Qantas allows only 23 kilos per person', and was puzzled why I was not charged on previous flights. He noticed that I only had to pay the domestic fee of $3.00per kilo as I am only boarding to Sydney at this time and helped me by mentioning that it would be Australian dollars, which is much cheaper. Oh well, I could afford $3.00AU per kilo.. But he warned me that I would have to pay a full international fee on my next leg of the flight to NZ. I thought to myself "we'll see" and took off.
In Sydney, I went to the Air New Zealand counter, had them print out my return ticket, then went back to Qantas and checked in one suitcase, taking the second as my 'carry on', covering it's size with my 'invisibility cloak', gracefully imitating it's weightlessness. It was a carry on size but very heavy, because of all the books my new creative friends were gifting me with. I walked away from the counter pretending I was merely carrying my wallet. It worked! There was an adrenaline rush when I realized, as I was approaching security check, that it was in this suitcase that I had my toiletry bag with shampoos, lotions, steel nail file and small scissors, which I surely could have used to hijack the plane with. In all the commotion running between terminals for the print out, I totally forgot about that detail. But it was too late to make a wave, they were already motioning me in, to put my "carry on" onto the conveyor belt. So, I just tripled the invisibility volume and went ahead. It sailed right through! At the very moment when my piece was floating on the screen, a very pretty young woman asked the man in front of it a question. His whole being turned toward her in reply, - he did not see my suitcase!
..I really did not want to pay that extra luggage fee! Well, I was not even sure that I had to - I did make 2 previous domestic flights (to and from Melbourne) without it. So may be it was some strange Perth thing? But it was more fun this way - to play a bit.
Hiccups did not end, however. Upon my arrival to New Zealand, nobody met me at the airport! It turns out, that after waiting for a long time, Janice, my New Zealand organizer left for a few minutes to re-park her car when I finally emerged from passport control and the longest line through agricultural quarantine control. It took over an hour and a half to come out, - it was worse than in Russia! So, I waited for a while, and then called the only other person that I could possibly call at that moment, - my dear friend from California, Jonathan, who just happened to be passing through the same town in New Zealand at the same time as me. Amazingly enough, he is also another person who has the same birth day as I. I have not heard from him for many years, but all of a sudden, the day before I left Perth I got an email from him, that he saw an announcement about my birthshop there and gave me his contact number. I waited at the airport for a reasonable amount of time and then called the number he gave me. Later, when Janice came to pick me up at Jonathan's friend's house I remembered seeing her at the airport but she did not have a sign with my name on, so I didn't approach her and she did not approach me because I look so different now than in my film, with my short blond hair.
When I called Jonathan's number, a friendly voice said that Jonathan has already left town, but I was welcome to come and stay as long as I need. I grabbed a cab and went. When I pulled into the driveway, so did Jonathan!!! His car mysteriously rattled suddenly and he had to turn back. A warm reunion followed!..
Janice and I left the next day for a mini vacation to the hot springs in the middle of the island. It was a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating experience. We were on some kind of fractal time - it was only a two-day trip but we both felt like we were gone for a week, at least. Soaking in a warm pool, I had a chance to share with Janice the true meaning of ice dipping. I used very cold mountain water that I slowly poured on the different parts of her body while explaining how to navigate her energy, using it as prototype of intense labor sensations in birth. I also shared some very simple but extremely effective relaxation techniques, using warm water. She got it! She totally got it!! She was glowing and beaming at me afterwards:)
On the way to Hot Springs, we stopped at the Castle Hill, “ The Birth place of the Gods”, according to Native legend. (SEE PIX) Maori say that this IS THE BIRTH PLACE of ALL- souls of people, gods, spirits.. It looks like Stonehenge, only nature-made. It's the most picturesque gathering of white boulders and rocks, most of which resemble some familiar shapes ? animals, insects, a ship, a tooth, a womb... It is surrounded by softly rolling hills, browned by the Sun, - as far as an eye can see, there are no more such boulders anywhere, just in this tiny valley.
Both Janice and I had the most profound spiritual experience there. (We both were absolutely not high on any substance ? it was purely generated by the communion with the place itself). We hiked for a while as we arrived, explored the amazing, rich textures of the scene and at some point I've found a small cave that felt like a womb. I entered through a portal of a sort and sat on a rock inside that was conveniently shaped like a bench in a sauna. I sat there for barely a few minutes and then suddenly was overcame with the immense feelings of Happiness,? it was like a tidal wave of Pure Bliss - I could barely catch up with my breathing ? I grabbed the wall to maintain the sense of up and down and soon started hyperventilating, - all I could do was to just stay with it and try to figure out the way of grounding that huge energy in my body and prevent some kind of explosion that I felt was about to happen. I just closed my eyes and let myself go into the full experience of it... I felt tears of Ecstasy rolling down my face, soon I could not even hold my body vertical, I had to lay down... I don't know how long it took... I was able to get up at some point and had an urgent need to connect flesh to flesh with the rock that housed this womb. The need was to connect 5 points in my body directly to it ? I stood up, faced the wall, spread my arms and bare feet and pressed my hands and my forehead into the wall. It felt like I had set myself into a re-charger. I thought ? ‘this is what my cell phone feels every time!'
Janice took a picture of me when I settled back onto the bench. I don't know how much of what I've described is transparent in my face thru the photo ? you be the judgeJJJ
The next day upon returning to Christchurch, I gave a lovely presentation at the YMCA building and together with Janice, we flew to Auckland for my last birthshop.
In Auckland I met my new love, Miranda! And also, fell in love with everyone there! I had no idea I can love so deeply so many people that I didn't even know a day before!
Miranda was organizing the Auckland portion of my adventure. And what an organizer she is! Kudos, Miranda! I felt so completely taken care of, and there was so much warmth and grace, and lighthearted coherency to the whole experience.
We had a screening/presentation on Friday night and the birthshop over the weekend at Bella Rocha, a very nice, Zen style, retreat center, that could house us all. Catering was the best! Not one thing could be better!
What can I say about the birthshop.. Let participants say it:
Peter & Janice Bass:
".. Elena's ability as a teacher to support individuals & couples committed to co-creating and manifesting the life they imagined is wonderful .. we just completed Elena's 'Birth into Love' workshop and both experienced an amazing deepening of our love and connection to Spirit, Soul/Body and to each Other .. the transformation is immediate and continues to unfold each day. Our deepest Gratitude to you, Elena, for including New Zealand in your travels! We had the most wonderful time with you before, during & after the Birthshop; your work is inspiring & transformational!” (March 09 New Zealand)
On Monday after the workshop we (Miranda, Janice, her husband, Peter, and I, - Miranda's boyfriend couldn't come) took a ferry to Waiheke Island to play and spend my last night in New Zealand together, - no one was ready to part yet. One of the birthshop participants, Willow, has a lovely large house there with her wonderful fianc?, Jerry.
We spent the afternoon and the following morning on the beach,- taking long walks, talking, picking shells from the sand, basking in warm, caressing waters... Had gorgeous, castle style, candlelight dinner with lots of laughter, wine, sweet company, good food...
It is, probably, the most beautiful place on Earth... New Zealand took my breath away. It is an enchanted land.., so beautiful, nurturing and hospitable. The beauty of the land is so beyond my ability to express.. Many people come here for just a vacation and then simply could not leave and stayed. (That is why on the border I had to present my return ticket. One way is not allowed here, unless legally re-locating).
On the way from New Zealand back to California I stopped for one night in Brisbane. The Byron Bay group gathered for one last dinner.
Well, so much for now about OZ.
2. My next visit to Australia - Apprenticeship Training in January. I'm going back!
It has finally been decided to do Australian Apprenticeship Training, starting January 14th and ending January 23rd, 2010. Still working on details. There was so many people wanting to attend it, that it made sense for me to go to OZ again, then for all of them to come to California.
It will be somewhere on the East Coast - ladies are still looking for the right place. If someone knows of a place that can comfortably host and feed 20 people for 10 days, please, let me know. We already have almost a full group between all 5 of my birthshops, we just need a good place. And I decided on January because I need a few months to heal from seasonal/ time switch (it's my 3d time within the same year - South Africa, then Europe 3 months later and then OZ another 3 months later).. oy-wei! :):):)
Also, there will be a Birthshop on January 9th and 10th, 2010, in Melbourne.
Here a few letters from OZ:
“Dear Incredible, Amazing, Beautiful Elena,
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming over to Australia and sharing your wonderful insights! I have been feeling so amazingly happy since, whole inside me! That sadness that was always there has lifted. It has vanished! I cannot believe how wonderful I feel. I am motivated, enjoying life and everything is going great. I cannot thank you enough! Thank you! Thank you! Thank You!”
Christine (Perth, Australia):
“Boy, how do you keep it all together in your headspace, so much went on, didn't it? It was wonderful to have you here; I learnt and gained heaps from your presence and your workshop. Since my experience at the workshop there has been much 'shifting of the sands beneath my feet'.. Lots of change, which I am very grateful for. YEA, yea..yea.. fantastic, I am SO excited. THIS is what I have always wanted!!!!! Soooooo exciting! Thank you Elena, I LOVE your work!”
Linda King, Perth:
“I just felt to acknowledge you and the presence you hold and how grateful I feel having chosen to participate in the experience of the weekend.
I was so ready to experience a new way, be fully present, and come away changed ? I did all that and more in your birthshop.
I feel so excited about living here, on this planet, as new me, by seeing life in a new way ? in gratitude for all that we have experienced, held without judgment and open to deeper and deeper levels of newness and love, working as a co-creator with the universe, rather than a victim to it, with no old story even close! I AM being a new way - a Being in remembrance of what Love is and what being in the moment is and what being who I am is and it can only get better from here as it's never too late to re-member.
I have HOPE ? if I can do it, anyone can! I am excited about doing what I can to assist others in their new stories being written with love, truth and courage, in wholeness and compassion. Without having to know all the answers or even any answers, being in the best place, in the best moment ? right here, right now. I am, one baby step at a time. Thank you,
In love, Linda King”
“I felt so much transformation has taken place after the birthshop and I know it will continue... I am so grateful to you for that. Thank you!”
Note from Elena:
I am deeply moved to receive every one of these letters ? about a hundred of them in my inbox from this trip to OZ. Thank you for showing up, dear people! I love you, too!
2A. About my Apprenticeship Training:
In my trainings, learning what to do is quite secondary to learning how to do it, and to who you are, as a person. And, not just in regards to the birthing field but how to do all things in life - living. Birth cannot be taken out of the context of life. That is where the major pitfall of modern delivery approach lays. Birth reflects everything and multiplies it hundredfold. (First of all, the stress level of everyone present in the field, and not only in that specific time/space continuum, - it includes all the past unresolved relations and anxieties). The good news, is that it is not that hard to find the switch, and to flip on the powerful flow of life force - through a new riverbed, which would define the level of inner Freedom.
There are a lot of healing modalities that involve expensive, long-term treatments. It's better then nothing, but the fact is: the actual shift into deep healing can be very fast and easy. It's like having a huge old splinter in one's foot that is infected and very painful, but it's been there for so long that the nervous system is used to it and learned to cope with it and the walking pattern reflects favoring of the hurt foot. And one goes to the doctor to look at that splinter, to talk about it, to apply medication and such. While what needs to happen is for that splinter to be removed from the foot, then the healing can rapidly happen.
The pain that most of us carry inside from our formative period is, sort of, like that splinter. It's a tiny bundle of highly compressed huge volume of energy, frozen and stuck in the very core of our being, like a needle in the heart.
It can be removed in minutes. I've seen it hundreds (may be thousands by now - who counts..) times.
I often have psychotherapists in my groups. When they hear me say that psychotherapy has very limited and very slow healing powers, they normally get defensive, and say that they have wonderful results with their clients. To which, I usually bring their attention to the fact that if their techniques are so good then why they, themselves, carry so much tension and pain within?
In my birthshops, most of them were able, in a matter of minutes, connect with that volume of sadness and grief and then immediately experience freedom from it for the first time. It really does not require years of looking at it and talking about it. All it takes is using the proverbial 'Free Will", recovering our attention about it and claiming it as our birthright. There is never a time when it is not available. - Good thing to know!
My birthshops are always different, as it depends on what kind of group comes together and what kind of birthing field will be created by that particular cocktail of energies. I never know what to expect when I go in, in the morning of the first day. Normally, I do not know if there will be men, pregnant women, midwives, teenagers or elder people,- it is not relevant. Sometimes, I ask the day before how many people are going to be in a group, but even that is not relevant because often numbers change overnight, at the last second - people who signed up and paid in full months in advance, might drop out. And, new people pop into their places, who did not even know about this work until the day before.
So, I long ago, gave up trying to control the flow or even try to prepare for the workshop. Because, I don't even know what to prepare myself for. What will happen depends on who will show up. The best thing I can do - is just fully show up myself, - rested, relaxed, ready to listen with an open heart; love and serve to the highest GOOD OF ALL.
I don't even try to figure out when the lunch break will happen and what I will actually do. The birthing field has it's own logic and its own self-organizing power to unfold the day. Even though the basic dozen processes have the same party line, I don't know which ones, in what order, with which flavor will be called forth, and what will happen in between. It is more like a jazz improvisation on a particular musical piece,- depends on who is jamming.
Here is Sharon, from January AT:
I am basking in the privilege of having had such an amazing apprenticeship with you. Thank you for sharing with us the richness of your adventure. You are so beautiful and inspiring. What a gift you and your work are!”
JJ Thank you, Sharon!
3. Here is something to put a smile on your face: Jack Lalanne's playing with his face
4. Schedule update
I realized that going around the world twice a year, as I was doing for the last few years, is not going to work for me much longer. It was the third time within 10 months that I have switched seasons and day time, spending in South Africa last June, October in Europe and now a month and a half in OZ.
It's taking me over 2 weeks already to get over my jet lag this time. It was not so bad before, but this time, my body is pretty disoriented...
I am making an executive decision and canceling my trip to Europe in October. I really can not imagine taking off again, that soon that far. Those of you who were planning to attend any of my events in 5 European countries this Fall, please, forgive me. When I was making my schedule, I had no idea I would feel this way. I will come next year instead.
Still working on finalizing my new schedule to include more Apprenticeship Trainings, as there are so many requests.
My next AT will be here, in Northern California, in August ‘09
There will be no training in May ‘10, as I'm invited to Italy, to the Damanhur Birth Summit in May.
Then I'll do another AT in the summer of '10 in Vienna, Austria (exact date TBA; to apply, must be fluent in English). I will post all these changes on my site as soon as I get to it.
5. ‘Escape from the Zombie Food Court'
Here is an intelligent speech By Joe Bageant:
Joe Bageant recently spoke at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University at Lexington, and the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, where he was invited to speak on American consciousness and what he dubbed "The American Hologram," in his book, Deer Hunting With Jesus .. Here is a text version of the talks, assembled from his remarks at all three schools.
“No matter how smart we may think we are, the larger world does not exist for most of us in this room, except through media and maybe through the shallow experience of tourism, or in the minority instance, we may know of it through higher education. The world however, is not a cultural history course, a National Geographic special or recreational destination. It is a real place with many fast developing disasters, economic and ecological collapse being just two. The more aware among us grasp that there is much at stake. Yet, even the most informed and educated Americans have cultural conditioning working against them round the clock.
As psychology students, most of you understand that there is no way you can escape being conditioned by your society, one way or another. You are as conditioned as any trained chicken in a carnival. So am I. When we go to the ATM machine and punch the buttons to make cash fall out, we are doing the same thing as the chickens that peck the colored buttons make corn drop from the feeder. You will not do a single thing today, tomorrow or the next day that you have not been generally indoctrinated and deeply conditioned to do -- mostly along class lines.
For instance, as university students, you are among the 20% or so of Americans indoctrinated and conditioned to be the administrating and operating class of the American Empire in some form or another. In the business of managing the other 75% in innumerable ways. Psychologists, teachers, lawyers, social workers, doctors, accountants, sociologists, mental health workers, clergy -- all are in the business of coordinating and managing the greater mass of working class citizenry by the Empire's approved methods, and toward the same end: Maximum profitability for a corporate based state.
Yet it all seems so normal. Certainly the psychologists who have prescribed so much Prozac that it now shows up in the piss of penguins, saw what they did as necessary. And the doctors who enable the profitable blackmail practiced by the medical industries see it all as part of the most technologically advanced medical system in the world. And the teacher, who sees no problem with 20% of her fourth graders being on Ritalin, in the name of "appropriate behavior," is happy to have control of her classroom. None of these feel like dupes or pawns of a corporate state. It seems like just the way things are. Just modern American reality. Which is a corporate generated reality.
Given the financialization of all aspects of our culture and lives, even our so-called leisure time, it is not an exaggeration to say that true democracy is dead and a corporate financial state has now arrived. If you can get your head around that, it's not hard to see an ever-merging global corporate system masquerading electronically and digitally as a nation called the United States. Or Japan for that matter. The corporation now animates us from within our very selves through management of the need hierarchy in goods and information.
As students, even in such an enlightened institution as this one, you are being subjected to the at least some of pedagogy of the corporate management of society for maximum profit. Unarguably your training will help many fellow human beings. But in the larger scheme of things, you are part of an institution, the American Psycho-socio-medical complex, and thus authorized to manage public consciousness, one person at a time. Remember that the entire pedagogy in which you are immersed is itself immersed in a corporate financial state. Even if some of what you do is alternative psychology that is a reaction to the state, and therefore a result of it. It's still part of the financialization of consciousness. And, I might add that none you expect to work for nothing.
This financialization of our consciousness under American style capitalism has become all we know. That's why we fear its loss. Hence the bailouts of the thousands of "zombie banks," dead but still walking, thanks to the people's taxpayer offerings to the money god so that banks will not die. We believe that we dare not let corporations die. Corporations feed us. They entertain us. Corporations occupy one full half of our waking hours of our lives, through employment, either directly or indirectly. They heal us when we are sick. So it's easy to see why the corporations feel like a friendly benevolent entity in the larger American consciousness. Corporations are, of course, deathless and faceless machines, and have no soul or human emotions. That we look to them for so much makes us a corporate cult, and makes corporations a fetish of our culture. Yet to us, they are like the weather just there.
All of us live together in this corporate fetish cult. We agree upon and consent to its reality, just as the Aztecs agreed upon Quetzalcoatl and the lost people of Easter Island agreed that the great stone effigies of their remote island had significance.
We are not unique. Strangely enough, even as a population mass operating under unified corporate management machinery, most Americans believe they are unique individuals, significantly different from every other person around them. More than any other people I have met, Americans fear loss of uniqueness. Yet you and I are not unique in the least. Despite the American yada yada about individualism, you are not special. Nor am I. Just because we come from the manufacturer equipped with individual consciousness, does not make us the center of any unique world, private or public, material, intellectual or spiritual. The fact is, you will seldom if ever make any significant material or lifestyle choices of your own in your entire life. If you don't buy that house, someone else will. If you don't marry him, someone else will. If you don't become a psychologist, lawyer or a clergyman or a telemarketer, someone else will. We are all replaceable parts in the machinery of a capitalist economy. "Oh but we have unique feelings and emotions that are important," we say. Psychologists specialize in this notion. Yet I venture to say that none of us will ever feel an emotion that someone long dead has not felt, or some as yet unborn person will not feel. We are swimmers in an ancient rushing river of humanity. You, me, the people in my Central American village, the child in Bangladesh, and the millionaire frat boys who run our financial and governmental institutions with such adolescent carelessness. All of our lives will eventually be absorbed without leaving a trace.
Still though, for Western peoples in particular, there is the restless inner cultural need to differentiate our lives from the other swimmers. Most of us, especially as educated people in the Western World, will never beat that one.
Fortunately though, we can meaningfully differentiate our lives (at least in the Western sense) in the way we choose to employ our consciousness. Which is to say, to own our consciousness. If we exercise enough personal courage, we can possess the freedom to discover real meaning and value in our all-too-brief lives. We either wake up to life, or we do not. We are either in charge of our own awareness or we let someone else manage it by default. That we have a choice is damned good news.
The bad news is that we nevertheless remain one of the most controlled peoples on the planet, especially regarding control of our consciousness, public and private. And the control is tightening. I know it doesn't feel like that to most Americans. But therein rests the proof. Everything feels normal; everybody else around us is doing the same things, so it must be OK. This is a sort of Stockholm Syndrome of the soul, in which the prisoner identifies with the values of his or her captors, which in our case is of course, the American corporate state and its manufactured popular culture.
When we feel that such a life is normal, even desirable, and we act accordingly, we become helpless. Learned helplessness. For instance, most Americans believe there is little they can do in personally dealing with the most important moral and material crises ever faced, both in America and across the planet, beginning with ecocide, war making, and the grotesque deformation of the democratic process we have settled for. Citizenship has been reduced to simple consumer group consciousness. Consequently, even though Americans are only six percent of the planet's population, we use 36% of the planet's resources. And we interpret that experience as normal and desirable and as evidence of being the most advanced nation in the world. Despite that our lives have been reduced to a mere marketing demographic.
Let me digress for just a moment, to tell you about how life is outside the marketing demographic. I live much of the year in the Third World country of Belize, Central America, a nation so damned poor that our cash bounces. True, it ain't Zimbabwe, or the Sudan -- there are no dying people in the streets. But food security is easily the biggest problem and growing by the day.
Yet, despite our meager and diminishing resources down there, and much government corruption, people are still citizens, not marketing demographics, not yet anyway. Citizens who struggle toward a just society. They have made more progress than the United States in some respects. For instance, we have: A level of free medical care for the poor, though we lack much equipment and facilities. Maternity pay if either you or your spouse are employed. Retirement on Social Security at age 60. Worker rights, such as mandatory accrued severance pay for workers, even temporary workers. Most Belizeans own their homes outright, and all citizens are entitled to a free piece of land upon which to build one. Employment is scarce, and that has a down side: Many folks waste a lot of valuable time having sex , perhaps because they have too much time on their hands. The Jehovah's Witnesses missionaries are working hard to fix that problem.
Anyway, American and Canadian tourists drive by in their rented SUVs and you can see by their expressions they are scared as hell of those bare footed black folks in the sand around them. Central America sure as hell ain't heaven. But lives there are not what we Americans are told about the Third World either. It's not a flyblown, dangerous place run by murdering drug lords, and full of miserable people. It's just a whole lot of very poor people trying to get by and make a decent society.
I mention these things because it's a good example of how North Americans live in a parallel universe in which they are conditioned to see everything in terms of consumer goods and "safety," as defined by police control. Conditioned to believe they have the best lives on the planet by every measure. So when they see our village and its veneer of "tropical grunge," they experience fear. Anything outside of the parameters of the cultural hallucination they call "the first world" represents fear and psychological free fall.
Yet, even if we think in that sort of outdated terminology, first, second and Third World, and most Americans do, then America is a second world nation. We have no universal free health care (don't kid yourself about the plan underway), no guarantee of anything really, except competitive struggle with one another for work and money and career status, if you are one of those conditioned to think of your job and feudal debt enslavement as a "career." High infant mortality rates, abysmal educational scores, poor diet, no national public transportation system, crumbling infrastructure, a collapsed economy, even by our own definition we are a second world nation.
Learning to love shiny objects
But there is a shiny commercial skin that covers everything American, a thin layer of glossy throwaway technology, that leads the citizenry to believe otherwise. That slick commercial skin, the bright colored signs for Circuit City and The Gap (rest in peace), the clear plastic that covers every product from CDs to pre-cut vegetables, the friendly yellow and red wrapper on the burger inside its bright red paper box, the glossy branding of every item and experience. These things are the supposed tangible evidence that the slick conditioned illusion, the one I call The American Hologram, is indeed real. If it's bright and shiny and new, it must be better. Right? It's the complete opposite of tropical grunge.
Last week when I got back to the States I took a shower in an American friend's new $30,000 gleaming remodeled bathroom. It felt like a surgical operating room experience, compared to wading into the Caribbean surf in the tropical dusk with a bar of soap. Like a parallel universe straight out of The Matrix.
Meat space versus the parallel universe
So how is it that we Americans came to live in such a parallel universe? How is it that we prefer such things as Facebook (don't get me wrong, I'm on Facebook too), and riding around the suburbs with an iPod plugged into our brain looking for fried chicken in a Styrofoam box? Why prefer these expensive Earth destroying things over love and laughter with real people, and making real human music together with other human beings -- lifting our voices together, dancing and enjoying the world that was given to us? Absolutely for free.
And the answer is this: We suffer under a mass national hallucination. Americans, regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Our national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. We live in a "theater state."
In our theater state, we know the world through media productions which are edited and shaped to instruct us on how to look and behave and view the outside world. As in all staged productions and illusions, everyone we see is an actor. There are the television actors portraying what supposedly represents reality. Non-actors in Congress perform in front of the cameras, as the American empire's cultural machinery weaves and spins out our cultural mythology.
Cultural myth production is an enormous industry in America. It is very similar to the national projects of pyramid-building in Egypt, or cathedral-building in medieval Europe. And in our obsession with violence and punishment, two characteristics of a consensual police state reality, we are certainly similar to prison camp building in Stalinist Russia. Actually, we're pretty good in that department too. Consider that one fourth of all the incarcerated people on earth are in U.S. prisons. U.S. citizens imprisoned by their own government.
Good guys and bad guys at the chariot races
In any case, the media culture's production of martyrs, good guys and bad guys, fallen heroes and concept outlaws, is not just big corporate business. It is the armature of our cultural behavior. It tells us who to fear (Middle Eastern terrorists, Mr. Chavez in Venezuela, and foreign made pharmaceuticals), who to scorn (again the same candidates, along with Brittney Spears for her lousy child rearing skills). Our daily news is the modern version of Roman coliseum shows. Elections are personality combat, chariot races, not examinations of solutions being offered. None are offered.
What are being offered are monkey models. Man as a social animal necessarily mimics the behavior he sees around him, whether it be by real people or moving images of people. This eye-to-brain to mimicry connection does not care. Consequently, we know how to act and what the things around us are because television and media tell us. Television is the software, the operating instructions for our society. Thus, social realism for us is a television commercial for the American lifestyle: what's new to wear, what to eat, who's cool (Obama), what and whom to fear (that perennial evil booger, Castro) or who to admire (Bill Gates, pure American genius at work). This societal media software tells us what music our digitized corporate complex is selling, but you never see images of ordinary families sitting around in the evenings making music together, or creating songs of their own based upon their own lives and from their own hearts. Because that music cannot be bought and sold, and is not profitable. I think about that when the children and their parents sing and dance on the sand in front of my shack in Central America. We Americans are not offered that choice.
So instead of a daily life in the flesh, belly to belly and soul to soul, lived out in the streets, and parks and public places, in love and the workplace, we get 40-inch televisions, YouTube, Cineplexes, and the myths spun out by Hollywood.
Now for a national mythology to work, it has to be accessible to everyone all the time, it has to be all in one bundle. For example, in North Korea, it is wrapped up in a single man, Kim. In America, as we have said, it is the media and Hollywood in particular. Hollywood accommodates Imperial myths, melting pot myths, and hegemonic military masculinity myths, and glamour myths. It articulates our culture's social imaginary: "the prevailing images a society needs to project about itself in order to maintain certain features of its organization." And the features of our media mythology are terrifying when you think about them.
As a writer friend says, It is watching "Man on Fire," with Denzel Washington's tragic pose and his truthful bullets, and his willingness to saw the fingers off of Mexicans to get the information on time to protect us from The Evil. It is the absorption of that electronic mythology that allowed us to co-sign the torture at Abu Ghraib.
Incidentally, speaking of Abu Ghraib, I am a friend of Ray Hardy, lawyer to Lynndie England, the leash girl of Abu Ghraib. He has copies of thousands of other, far more grisly Abu Ghraib photos. Believe me, they picked the gentlest ones to release. Anyway, when the media and government people in power made that selection, they were managing your consciousness. What you know and don't know. Keeping you calmer by withholding the truth. Rather like not upsetting little children so they will continue to quietly behave the way you want.
But, like children, the American public got bored with the subject of torture long ago, so we quit seeing the victims. Plenty of new evidence has been coming out for years since Lynndie's famous pics from Abu Ghraib. But the short American attention span, created by our rapid fire media, says, "Move on to the next hologram please. Whoa! Stop the remote. Nice butt shot of Sarah Palin there!"
The result is that Americans cannot achieve the cathexis we need. Cathexis is the ground zero psychic and emotional attachment to the world that cannot be argued. It is "beyond ideological challenge because it is called into existence affectively." Americans are conditioned to reject any affective attachment that does not have a happy ending. And in that, we remain mostly a nation of children. We never get to grow up.
So we tell ourselves the Little Golden Book fairy tales -- that we are a great and compassionate people, and that we are personally innocent of any of our government's horrific crimes abroad. Guiltless as individuals. And we do remain innocent, in a sense, as long as we cannot see beyond the media hologram. But it is a terrible kind of self-inflicted innocence that can come to no good. We are a nation latch key kids babysat by an electronic hallucination, the national hologram.
You may or may not watch much television, but the average American spends almost one-third of his or her waking life doing so. The neurological implications of this are so profound that they cannot even be comprehended in words, much less described by them. Television constitutes our reality in the same fashion that water constitutes the environment in a goldfish bowl. It's everywhere and affects everything, even when we are not watching it. Television regulates our national perceptions and our interior ideations of who we Americans are. It schedules our cultural illusions of choice. It pre-selects candidates in our elections. By the way, as much as I like Obama, I fully understand he is there because he was selected by the illusion producing machinery of television, and citizens under its influence. It is hard to underestimate the strength of these illusions.
TV regulates holiday marketing opportunities and the national neurological seasons. It tells us, "It's Christmas! Time to shop!" Or "it's election season, time to vote." Or "it's football season, let us rally passions and buy beer and cheer." Or that America's major deity, "The Economy," is suffering badly. "Sacred temples on Wall Street make great sickness upon the land!" Or most ominous of all, "It's time to make war! Again."
It is fair to say that television and the American culture are the same thing. More than any other factor, it is the glue of society and the mediator of our experience. American culture is stone cold dead without it. If all the TVs in America went black, so would most of America's collective consciousness and knowledge. Because corporate media have replaced nearly all other previous forms of accumulated knowledge.
Especially the ancient forms, such as contemplation of the natural world, study and care of the soul. And I do not mean soul in the religious sense either. I mean the deeper self, the one you go to sleep with every night.
The media have colonized our inner lives like a virus. The virus is not going away. This commoditization of our human consciousness is probably the most astounding, most chilling accomplishment of American capitalist culture.
5. Escape from the zombie food court
Capitalist society however, can only survive by defying the laws of thermodynamics, through endlessly expanding growth, buying and using more of everything, every year and forever. Thus the cult of radical consumerism. It has been the deadliest cult of all because, so far, it has always triumphed, and has now spread around the earth and its nations.
Why has it been so viral, so attractive to so many for so long? How did it come to grip the consciousness of so much of mankind, from Beijing to Bangladesh? Thuggish enforcement accounts for part of it, of course. But it has succeeded too because it requires no effort. No critical thinking. Not even literacy. Just passive consumption. That the easy addiction to consumption is probably hard wired into us. Every one of us will go right out this door tonight and continue to play out our lives as contributors to ecocide and global warming, mainly because it's easier. And besides, we are not offered any other real options, and we don't know any other way. Nor can we ever know any other way without making a great effort.
How to make that effort? (Assuming you even want to.) As we said, consuming images, goods or buying your identity at Old Navy or a retro clothing shop takes no real effort or thought. Just money. Text messaging your whereabouts at the mall may be a technological wonder, but you're still absolutely nowhere if you are just one more oral grooved organism in the food court at the mall moving in a swarm toward Quiznos.
So how do you escape the programming of the food court, and, I might include, escape even those parts of this school that may serve more to indoctrinate than enlighten you? All pedagogy, even the best, is nevertheless about control. How does one escape such a total system?
In a word, service. Humble and thoughtful service to the world. It is heartening that we do have concerned Americans studying to alleviate the great suffering of so much of humanity. I have no proof of it, but it seems like earnest idealism is making a comeback since its decline following the optimistic 1960s. People and institutions such as this one are attempting to move American society forward again, heal us of our national sickness to the extent you can, after decades of regression, not to mention repression. Of course, to solve problems you must first identify them.
Let me say here that one of the most profound things I have learned from the Third World, perhaps the only thing I have learned, and as psychologists you've surely heard it before, is this: The diagnosis is not the disease. Which is why our prescribed treatment never seems to work in places like Africa. Or even in the Bronx or South Philly.
Even our most well intentioned thinking and study of the afflictions of Africa and Latin America, American inner cities or Appalachia, suffers from hubris, because they are necessarily the products of western propertized and monetized thinking that cause the problem. So now we study our victims with great piety. And supposedly teach them solutions to the problems we continue to cause for them. Western people studying globalization's horrific effects, or rape in Africa, or world poverty are doing so under the assumption that such things can be dealt with through some social mechanistic means, through analysis and unbiased reason and rational value-free science. Or by a network of officially sanctioned agencies.
For years I have wanted to see the opposite take place. To see well fed, educated Americans learn from the poor of the earth. Do what Gandhi advised, let the poor be the teachers. Go among them with nothing, one set of clothing and no money, keep your mouth shut, and do your best not to affect anything (which is impossible, I know. But you can come, as they say, "close enough for government work.")
Then just let the world happen to you, like they do in the so-called "passive societies," instead of trying to happen to it in typical Western fashion. Not trying to "improve" things. Maybe practice milpa agriculture with Mayans on the Guatemalan border, watching corn grow for three months. Fish in a lonely dugout, sun-up to sun-down, in the dying reefs of the Caribbean, with only a meal or two of fish as your reward. Do such things for a month or two.
First you will experience boredom, then comes an internal psychic violence and anger, much like the experience of zazen, or sitting meditation, as the layers of your mind conditioning peel away. Don't quit, keep at it, endure it, to the end. And when you return you will find that deeply experiencing a non-conditioned reality changes things forever. What you have experienced will animate whatever intellectual life you have developed. Or negate much of it. But in serious, intelligent people, experiencing non-manufactured reality usually gives lifelong meaning and insight to the work. You will have experienced the eternal verities of the world and mankind at ground zero. And you will find that the healthy social structures our well intentioned Western minds seek are already inherent in the psyche of mankind, but imprisoned. And the startling realization that you and I are the unknowing captors.
In conclusion, I would point out that the high technological imprisonment of our consciousness has been fairly recent. There are still those among us who remember when it was not so entrapped. A few of us still know what it was like to experience non-manufactured realities -- life outside our mass produced kitsch culture. Particularly some aging Sixties types, who sought to pass through the doors of perception. Many made it through. But in my travels to places such as this one, I also meet a new breed of younger people, who get it completely. I meet them in the more advanced psychological venues such as Adler. And especially in the ecological movement.
They seem to already know what it took me a lifetime to learn: that each of us is but one strand in the vast organic web of flesh and blood chlorophyll. All things and all beings are inextricably connected at the most profound level. Any physicist will confirm this. We are bound by its every wave and particle, all of us -- the lonely night clerk at Motel 6 and the leviathans of the deep, the sleeping grandmother in New Haven, Connecticut and the maimed Iraqi child in Kirkuk. It can be understood by anyone though, simply by owning one's own consciousness. And in doing so we find that ownership and domination are both temporary and meaningless. And that the animating spirit of the earth is real and within us and claimable.
The purpose of life is to know this. Einstein glimpsed it. Lao-Tzu knew it. So did St. Francis. But you and I are not supposed to. It would shatter the revered, digitized, super-sized, utterly meaningless hologram. The one that mesmerizes us, and mediates our every experience, but isolates us from universal humanness and its coursing energies. Such as love. Or mercy. Compassion. Existential pain. Hunger. Or the unmitigated joy of simply being alive one finds in children everywhere, even among the poorest. Most of the human race still lives in that realm.
Blessed is the one who joins them. Because he or she learns that the truth is not relative, and that because the human mind seeks balance, social justice is not only inescapable in the long run, but inevitable. I won't be around for that, but on a clear day if I squint real hard I can see down that road ahead. And on that road I can see the long chain of decent human beings like yourselves walking toward the light. And for your very presence on this earth and in this room, I am grateful. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
6. From Ibu Robin Lim:
“Dear Sister midwives..
I am writing from Indonesia, the country who got GMO soy first.. to share what I am seeing, and ask if you too are seeing the same, and begin a dialog..
in 2008 Bumi Sehat Bali received 573 babies. We saw and increase in retained placentas (we often see hemorrhage - attached is the paper on green revolution rice and it's impact on maternal mortality in Bali). Also I am seeing an increase in velamentous cord insertion.
One would expect given the rate of malnourishment here - that the birthing women would use every bit of Qi to push out their babies (and we go so gently) - leaving little or not much Qi for releasing the placenta and involution. However, in 2008 and so far in 2009 we have seen many too many 'sticky' placentas, two even had to be transported (we do manual removal on site when absolutely necessary - but 2 really had to go in, one for a hysterectomy, in another - Dr. Wedagama nearly took her into surgery.. but was able to remove the placenta (over 1 liter blood loss!). In the last 6 weeks of 2008 I had to go after 4 placentas!!! It was not pretty, and I do not take it lightly. (usually never more than 1 per year)
Also most shocking is the empirical experience ( I have no research to prove it) of seeing an increase of velamentous umbilical cord insertion and short cords.
two weeks ago we had Padma, a vegetarian for 15 + years.. third baby died the week before birth - from what was diagnosed as a cord accident. This 4th baby was born healthy.. but the cord was flat and 4 to 5 cm wide (looked like a tape worm) and had five skinny vulnerable vessels arriving each separately to the placenta!!! The placenta was not the lovely placentas I know and love (I am doing a book on placentas - so I am having a love affair with them). There was no Wharton's jelly to speak of, and I am seeing a decrease in Wharton's jelly among all our babies.
Last week a young mom lost her baby in labor.. suddenly FHT went from 150 to zero exactly 15 minutes between listening times.. there was no dipping or drop in heart tones, but we were concerned as they had gone up to 160 and once above.. but easily stabilized with position change of mother. We had no time to transport before infant demise. Five hours later a lovely baby girl was born dead. There was no hope. This mom is very poor, husband no job. The cord was less than 30 cm long and had been pulled too hard as it was wrapped tightly around her foot.
Yesterday evening we had a 2nd time mom come in,very poor and malnourished. On arrival FHT were above 160, she was 9 cm, but nothing we did to try to stabilize baby worked.. and when we got up to 188 and climbing (that is with O2 support! and hands and knees) we transported.. stat cesarean, baby was very weak low apgars.. but she has come around and my staff midwife has gotten her out of hospital nursery and onto breast. This baby would not have survived our normal hands-off gentle birth. Saved by O2, a doppler and cesarean - is this the kind of drama the placentas want now????
Cords are shorter. We don't cut them for a minimum of 3 hours at Bumi Sehat and many families choose lotus birth.. so we hang out with the cords a long time. Last week our midwife Ayu had to cut a cord after birth of head, as the body would not follow, it was that short a nuchal cord.. she had never had to do this before in her life as a midwife!
These are just a few stories.. but we are seeing many less dramatic examples of shorter cords, velamentous cord insertion, diminished Wharton's jelly, and strange looking placentas.
This morning Dita having her second baby was stuck at 9 cm (with crazy transient but strong intermittent urge to push) from 7 pm to next morning at 8:30 she finally got complete. After hands and knees with butt up, moxa Kidney 1 and pulsatilla to dis-engage baby from pelvis and then elephant walking stairs to bring him down right.. we had had strange bleeding in first stage, but baby remained strong and stabile, mom also was quite well through the long labor - but I was spooked to speed this up in any way.. just wanted the cord to stretch gently. 20 minutes before the birth FHT were suddenly absent. Hands and knees, O2 and slowly, slowly, he came back. Now Dita was really urging to get her baby out. He was most stabile when she squatted, but this was not our preferred gentle birth.. Dita did it (we had not time to transport - I actually considered episiotomy - imagine, and had ready a quiwi to vacuum him out!!!)her son was born by her own power and all of our prayers to Allah. Allhumdullilah!! our 3.6 kilo Baby boy's cord was short, just about 40 cm. velamentous insertion.. AGAIN. Yet another.
Last week we had a five babies in a 12 hour night.. two had velamentous cord insertions! It's just not average anymore. In five days time I saw one fatal cord accident, another cord problem leading to stat cesarean birth, and today another incident of deep fetal distress due to cord problems. BTW - none of these three were nuchal cords, just short and velamentous.
What are you, midwives, seeing? Please send this round to your friends.. I am curious.
The study I read concerning M16 genetically modified corn showed that when fed to pregnant mice, ALL THE OFFSPRING, in one generation, had alterations of ALL the cells in ALL their organs!!! Can you see why I am worried about our precious placentas? I did not make this connection, until I began to see an increase in abnormalities and pathology due to placenta and cord troubles. The fact that so many Indonesian women depend upon genetically modified soy products (tempe and tofu) for their day to day protein - and the early introduction of GMO soy here.. well it got me wondering??
Dr, Hariyasa.. Are you seeing an increase in this kind of cord and placenta problem at R.S. Sangla and Harapan Bunda? Some midwives at R.S. Ari Canti say they are seeing more problems. Dr. John.. are you seeing more problems like this in Maui? Iowa? England? Australia? East Coast? I HOPE this is not a trend or a pattern. We really don't want GMO foods, or anything, i.e. environmental pollutants etc. to make changes in placentas. It would be shattering.
As I see it we have Three combined potential ways in which the placentas are being affected in Indonesia; Malnutrition, Pollution (including Roundup) and GMO soy. We can also add to that economic and emotional stress, which taxes pregnant women's vitamin and mineral stores, add to that increased cortisol, which Dr. Odent has proven impairs brain development in fetus. I hope I am wrong - that the placentas and umbilical cords are fine and that this is all coincidence. Please give me your input and any similar findings you are seeing.
p.s. yesterday we received a lovely baby girl, the birth was gentle and beautiful, mom did not even have a tear. However, the cord was quite long, but had a 2 cm hematoma very close to the baby, this is yet another rare abnormality.
Om Shanti, Ibu Robin Lim
PS: GM soy, reproductive problems, and infant mortality
? More than half the offspring of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks.
? Male rats and mice fed GM soy showed changes in their testicles; the mice had altered young sperm cells.
? The DNA of mouse embryos whose parents ate GM soy functioned differently than those whose parents ate non-GM soy.
Many offspring of female rats fed GM soy were considerably smaller,
and more than half died within three weeks (compared to 10% of the
non-GM soy controls).
Bt crops linked to sterility, disease, and death
? When sheep grazed on Bt cotton plants after harvest, within a week 1 in 4 died. Shepherds estimate 10,000 sheep deaths in one region of India.
? Farmers in Europe and Asia say that cows, water buffaloes, chickens, and horses died from eating Bt corn varieties.
? About two dozen US farmers report that Bt corn varieties caused widespread sterility in pigs or cows.
? Filipinos in at least five villages fell sick when a nearby Bt corn variety was pollinating.
The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may be a precursor to cancer. Rats also had damaged organs and immune systems.
Functioning GM genes remain inside you
Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment verified that genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of intestinal bacteria and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us.
? If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could create super diseases, resistant to antibiotics.
? If the gene that creates Bt -toxin in GM corn were to transfer, it might turn our intestinal flora into living pesticide factories.
? Animal studies show that DNA in food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus.
GM food supplement caused deadly epidemic
In the 1980s, a contaminated brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness and disability in another 5,000-10,000 people. The source of contaminants was almost certainly the genetic engineering process used in its production. The disease took years to find and was almost overlooked. It was only identified because the symptoms were unique, acute, and fast-acting. If all three characteristics were not in place, the deadly GM supplement might never have been
55.6% Mortality in Rats Whose Mothers Were Fed GM Soy
A recent Russian study found that an astounding 55.6% of the offspring of female rats fed genetically engineered soy flour died within three weeks. The female rats had received 5-7 grams of the Roundup Ready variety of soybeans, beginning two weeks before conception and continuing through nursing. By comparison, only 9% of the offspring of rats fed non-GM soy died. Furthermore, offspring from the GM-fed group were significantly stunted—36% weighed less than 20 grams after 2 weeks, compared to only 6.7% from the non-GM soy control group.
The study was conducted by Dr. Irina Ermakova, a leading scientist at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). It was originally presented on October 10, 2005 to the symposium on genetic modification in Russia, organized by the National Association for Genetic Security (NAGS).
Click; more Jeffrey Smith's newsletter article on this study.
Om Shanti, Ibu Robin LIm
7. Let me leave you with this one!
A PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Let us take care of the children,
for they have a long way to go.
Let us take care of the elders,
for they have come a long way.
Let us take care of those in-between,
for they are doing the work.
"At some point, you get to obsess on your happiness and success..!"
- Ed Sisler
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
AND ONE MORE SMILE FOR YOU:
The 'Middle Wife' by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher
I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.
When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students.. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.
Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.
She holds up a snapshot of an infant. 'This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.'
'First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.'
She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.
'Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. 'She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!'?(Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)?
'My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.'(Then Erica lies down with her ?back against the wall.)
'And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!'(This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming ?water flowing away.. It was too much!)
'Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe, breathe. They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom's play-center, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there.'
8. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE ATTENDED MY BIRTHSHOPS, I HAVE (FINALLY!!!) A CD WITH MY ‘LIMBIC IMPRINT RE-CODING' MEDITATION!!!!
It is $30, you can either give your cr card info (just the name on the card, number and exp date, no need in all of the rest info) or via PayPal, using the above e-address.
9. Mother's Day SALE!!! May 1 -10
Just mention this Newsletter, and buy one 'Birth Into Being' get the second 'Educational' or 'International' (multi-lingual) edition free and visa versa - buy one Educational, - get one of the International or 'Birth Into Being' free. And 2 for 1 International edition - get 2 copies for the price of one.
Happy Mother's Day, yall!