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20 Dec


An excerpt from the 40th Anniversary Edition of Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain

If anyone can be called a self-help, self-actualization pioneer, it is Shakti Gawain. Years before “manifestation,” “the law attraction,” and “the secret” entered the lexicon, Shakti was sharing daily affirmations, meditations, and mental imagery practices that millions found could help them achieve goals, change habits, relax deeply, and significantly improve overall health and well-being.  We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the new 40th anniversary edition of her international bestseller Creative Visualization.


# # #


A very important part of the whole creative visualization process is developing a sense of prosperity. This means having the understanding, or consciously taking the point of view, that the universe is abundant, that life is actually trying to bring us what our hearts and souls truly desire — spiritually, mentally, emotionally, as well as physically. Almost everything you truly need or want is here for the asking; you only need to believe that it is so, truly desire it, and be willing to accept it.


One of the most common causes of failure when seeking what you want is “scarcity programming.” This is an attitude or set of beliefs about life that goes something like this:


There isn’t enough to go around….

Life is suffering….

It is immoral or selfish to have enough when others don’t….

Life is hard, difficult, a vale of tears….

You must work hard and sacrifice for everything you gain….

It’s more noble and spiritual to be poor….


These are all false beliefs. They are based on a lack of understanding of how the universe works, or a misunderstanding of some important spiritual principles. These beliefs are not of service to you or anyone else; they simply limit all of us from realizing our natural state of prosperity and plenty on all levels.


At the present time there is a reality in this world of starvation and poverty for many people, but we do not need to keep creating and perpetuating that reality. The fact is that there is more than enough to go around for every being on earth, if we are willing to open our minds to that possibility, and change our ways of using and distributing the world’s resources. The universe is a place of great abundance and we are all meant to be naturally prosperous, both in material and spiritual wealth, in a way that is balanced and harmonious with one another and with the earth that nourishes us.


In modern times, humankind has lost touch with its natural state of prosperity. Together, we are creating a world vastly out of balance, in which a relative few have far more than they need and are using up our natural resources at an alarming rate, while the majority suffer from serious lack. We are all responsible for creating this reality, and we can change it by changing both our way of thinking and our way of living. We need to reclaim our ability to appreciate and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Many of us in the industrialized world need to cultivate a simpler, more natural lifestyle. We need to realize that after our basic needs are met, the experience of abundance has more to do with expressing our creative gifts in satisfying ways, and learning to give and receive in a balanced way, than it does with extravagant consumerism.


The truth about this earth is that it is an infinitely good, beautiful, nourishing place to be. The only “evil” comes from a lack of understanding of this truth. Evil (ignorance) is like a shadow — it has no real substance of its own; it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, by stamping on it, by railing against it, or by any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.


Take a look at your belief system and see if you are holding yourself back by not believing sufficiently in the possibility of prosperity. Can you actually realistically imagine yourself as a successful, satisfied, fulfilled person? Can you really open your eyes to the goodness and beauty and abundance that are all around you? Can you imagine this world transformed into a prosperous and supportive environment in which everyone can flourish?

You will experience difficulty in creating what you want in your personal life unless you view the world as a good place to be and a place that works for everyone.


This is because human nature is basically loving, and so most of us will not allow ourselves to have what we want as long as we believe that we might be depriving others in order to do so.


We have to understand in a deep way that having what we truly want in life contributes to the general state of human happiness and supports others in creating more happiness for themselves.


To create prosperity, we need to visualize ourselves living as we desire to live, doing what we love, feeling satisfied with what we attain, in a context of other people doing the same.


In a spirit of fun, try this exercise to stimulate your imagination and expand your ability to visualize true prosperity:


Abundance Meditation


Relax completely in a comfortable position.


Picture yourself in any lovely natural environment — perhaps by a green, open meadow with a lovely brook, or on white sand by the ocean. Take some time to imagine all the beautiful details, and see yourself fully enjoying and appreciating your surroundings. Now begin to walk, and soon find yourself in some totally different surrounding environment, perhaps exploring a waving field of golden grain, or swimming in a lake. Continue to wander and explore — finding more and more exquisitely beautiful environments of great variety — mountains, forests, deserts, whatever suits your fantasy. Take a little time to appreciate each one.



Now imagine returning home to a simple but comfortable and lovely environment, whatever would most suit you. Imagine having loving family, friends, and community around you. Visualize yourself doing work that you love, and expressing yourself creatively in ways that feel just right for you. You are being amply rewarded for your efforts, in internal satisfaction, appreciation from others, and financial return. Imagine yourself feeling fulfilled and thoroughly enjoying your life. Step back, and see if you can imagine a world full of people living simply yet abundantly, in harmony with one another and the earth.

# # #


Shakti Gawain is a bestselling author and a pioneer in the field of personal growth and consciousness. The 40th Anniversary edition of her classic work Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life was recently published by New World Library.


Excerpted from Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life © 2002 by Shakti Gawain. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA — www.newworldlibrary.com.


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16 Dec

The Ins and Outs of Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

walk-gardenManaging suicidal thoughts is not an easy task for anyone. While treatment is the most important part of handling this symptom of depression, it’s not always enough. There are a number of things you can be doing to help yourself overcome these thoughts and negative emotions. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, here are a few things you can be doing to help cope.

First Step is Quality, Consistent Treatment

It cannot be stressed enough that consistent treatment is necessary for someone experiencing suicidal thoughts. While you can do some things to help counteract depression and suicidal thoughts, these actions are no replacement for professional help. If you cannot afford traditional treatment, you may consider online treatment or getting advice from a free health clinic.

Build a Support Network

No one should have to overcome suicidal thoughts alone. Try to open up to people in your life who can help you through this difficult time. Know that you may have to offer them resources for how they can help, why suicidal thoughts occur, and what depression is. A support network can only be as good as their information on the problem. Of course, you may not feel comfortable opening up to anyone close to you, and if so, that’s ok. There are many suicide prevention services waiting to help you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and IMAlive at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) are both toll-free crisis hotlines available 24/7.

Do Your Best to Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the best depression-fighting activities you can do. The endorphins it releases allow your mood to go up and your suicidal thoughts to be less frequent. Unfortunately, depression also makes it very difficult to do regular exercise. Even tasks that seem simple to others can appear to be impossible. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy doing. For example, if you hate running, try swimming. It’s a great workout and it’s also calming and soothing. On the good days, be sure to fit exercise in. On the bad days, don’t beat yourself up over missing a workout. Instead set smaller goals. For example, your exercise for the day may be walking to check your mail or completing one household cleaning task. These are tasks that will help you get up and moving when feeling especially depressed.

Consider Adopting a Dog

Dogs are another excellent way to fight depression. A dog can prevent feelings of loneliness by offering love and affection as well as a happy face to come home to. Dogs will also make exercise easier by insisting on playtime or daily walks. In fact, if you don’t feel up to taking on the responsibility of caring for a pet fulltime, you might offer your services as a dog walker. When you do so, you’ll get the physical and mental health benefits of being around dogs, while making some extra money on the side. Whether you’re walking your own dog or someone else’s, the outings will be essential because they’ll give you the opportunity for more social interaction as people stop to say hi to the dog and ask what his name is. It may not seem like much, but to someone with depression, it can make all the difference.

Meditate Daily

Meditation takes far less effort and can be easier to perform on your bad days. It may not have an immediate effect but, with time, meditation can help you stay calm and rational throughout your illness. It is the practice of learning to control your own mind, an invaluable skill for someone with depression. Even a few minutes each day spent meditating can make a difference. Perhaps the best thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere. So, whether you find yourself needing a moment to quiet your mind at work or at home, meditation is a great tool to have in your belt, offering you a positive solution to calming negative thoughts.

Find an Enjoyable Hobby

Depression can suck the joy out of every activity you do, including hobbies. However, a hobby is still an excellent tool to distract your mind and hands when a suicidal thought strikes. It can also help manage other symptoms of depression by allowing you to feel as though you did something productive. Many people with depression will experience worsened symptoms after a day spent unable to do anything. Even if you only manage to knit a single hat, you have accomplished something and that knowledge can be very helpful.

Suicidal thoughts can be intrusive, leaking into every aspect of your life. However, if you can build a solid support system, make a few positive changes in your daily routine, and ensure that you are getting help, it is fully possible to recover from this condition.

Image via Pixabay by Tabeajaichhalt

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16 Dec

Love is Undefeated

Guest Post by Vanessa D. Werts
Have you ever wondered what your life would be if you could conquer your fears, fully connect with your purpose for being alive, and love yourself and others unconditionally? Well, if you believe in the healing power of love, there is a pre-destined path for you to get there.


Anything love touches, comes alive and grows. The heart responds to love with exuberance, and also knows and reacts when there is a lack of it. Without exception, God put a spirit of love on each one of us when his hands touched and formed us in our mothers’ womb. After we were born, that same touch created a void that the heart is wildly in search of as we look to people for this radical love of God we once knew.


If you asked ten people what love means to them, you would probably get ten different answers. However, there is a definition and demonstration of love that every heart would acknowledge as true love, and it looks like this: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT). There isn’t a heart beating that would dispute being treated in this way.


My nonfiction book Lies and Love: Cleansing The Heart To Make Room For Radical Love (November 2016), a 30-Day Heart Cleanse for Women, is a tool for inner healing. In the Bible, it says that the heart is “extremely sick” (see Jeremiah 17:9), and it also says to “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT). Lies and Love offers a spiritual approach to identify and cast out the residue left behind from traumatic life experiences, then fills up those empty places with love. The cleanse is also designed to activate your God-given gifts and talents.


In the opening of the book, I share my own heart story and how daddy issues and being sexually assaulted as a teen affected my self-worth. Then God got my attention one day and taught me to value and honor myself; by his love, he healed my life and defeated every enemy of my soul.


What is your heart story? This is the question I ask in Lies and Love. As you follow the spiritual journey through the heart, you will be able to pinpoint your own heart issues. These issues or chaos, would be feelings such as anger, bitterness, fear, frustration, grudges, rejection, resentment, shame, and even hatred, that have become trapped in the heart, affecting how you view yourself and how you interact with and treat others. A chaotic heart is unhealthy and often leads to feeling insecure, unloved, unworthy, and sorrowful. Though we all may experience a range of these emotions at some point in our lives, if you feel like this most of the time, your heart needs to be healed.


Any attitude, behavior, or habit that is counterproductive to your life is an indicator that something is going on in the heart that should be addressed. Do any of the following issues play out in your life or concern you on a regular basis?

  • Are you angry often and take it out on those close to you?
  • Is sarcasm your way of communicating with people?
  • Are you frustrated with your current station in life (career, personal, spiritual)?
  • Are you single and discouraged by the dating scene?
  • Does your childhood still haunt you today?
  • Are you indifferent about major decisions you need to make?
  • Do you have a bias against a particular group of people?


This is a short list but it makes the point that, just as the issues of life vary, so do the issues of the heart that affect how we function day to day. Only you and God know your heart story, and he wants to heal the hurtful memories of your past that keep you from living fearlessly and loving fully, today.


Before the actual 30-day cleanse commences, the topics of lies and love are explored from a heavenly perspective. Lies are considered to be anything that God did not say or provision for your life, according to Scripture. For instance, living with regret is living a lie. Why? Because having regret causes you to hold something you’ve previously done, against yourself now; it’s like having a vendetta against yourself. But the Bible commands us to always forgive, which also includes forgiving ourselves.


During the cleanse process, chaos is expelled from the heart through daily activities that are guided by scripture, encouraging women to forgive, pursue love, celebrate their lives, and live on purpose. The 30- Day Heart Cleanse is a literal and spiritual step forward into a new season of your life.


Do you want to live that abundant life you dream of, now? Believe that it is possible; let go of emotional baggage, and always remember to love. Love is the undisputed, undefeated, champion.



VANESSA D. WERTS is the author of Lies and Love and other fiction books about relationships, love and forgiveness. She’s a military veteran, minister, and champion for women achieving a healthy selfimage. When she’s not writing, you can find her speaking to church groups and to college students about the messages in her books. Vanessa has an abiding love to bridge the gap from people’s life experiences to the promises of God. Her website is www.VanessaWerts.com.

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09 Dec

Grassroots Actions are Key for Peace in the Holy Land

Guest post by Dr. Frank Romano, December 7th, 2016


I sincerely believe that one of the keys to peace in the Middle is through grassroots efforts to organized interfaith dialogues, to bring people together when politicians, many religious leaders tend to tear them apart chasing their silver linings. The success of these efforts is directly proportional to the results of the dialogues which are designed to open up people’s hearts to each other, to help them overcome years of negative programming derived from the fear and hate exacerbated by ignorance of each other’s culture and religion. To illustrate that, I use an example of a typical interfaith dialogue I lead that could take place either in Israel or in the West Bank:


During one session, Jews, Muslims and Christians (sometimes they are orthodox, sometimes liberal practitioners) are sitting next to each other in a circle. They were breaking bread together and drinking tea or eating humus. After an hour, I asked Jacob the Jew to tell me about Muhammad, his orthodox Muslim neighbor or visa-versa. He responded by saying they are talking which, coming from isolated unmixed villages in Israel, is new to them. He added that they have something in common in that their children go to the same school in a third village. The Jew and the Muslim, in their discussion, instead of talking about divisive subjects like religion or politics, they talk about everyday things, like the price of lunch at school has increased, or the history teacher is weird, etc. They were really bonding, becoming friends. Then I asked Sam the Christian what he thought about the group and he responded that he had invited Jacob and Muhammad to experience Christmas with him and his family in December, that they were all going to break the Ramadan fast at Muhammad’s house tonight and would attend Chanukah festivities with Jacob.


However, he said there was a problem. Jacob’s and Muhammad’s religion are taking him down the wrong path because they don’t believe in Jesus as their savoir. That opened the “Pandora’s Box” on the topic of religion. Muhammad interrupted and stated that the Jews and Christians didn’t accept Muhammad as an important prophet and then Jacob opened up his Torah and claimed non-Jews don’t accept the importance of Moses and Abraham as the principle prophets. During the discussion that followed, they implied that they don’t share the same God and that they were going to heaven but not those from other religions.


As the facilitator of the dialogue, I didn’t judge any of them. I opened up my Torah (first five chapters of the Old Testament), the New Testament and the Qur’an and lead the following discussion on comparing the main principles and philosophies found in those writings. After an hour discussion, most of the members of the dialogue are surprised to learn that all the texts reflect many similar principles, such as the belief in one God, thou shalt not kill, the obligation to help the poor, treat your neighbor with respect. . .etc.


After an hour discussing that, I asked the group another question, this time focusing my attention on the Christian as he views his Jewish or Muslim neighbor.


“Since there are so many similarities among those sacred writings, do you think it is possible you may share the same God?  After a short discussion, many members now say it is possible.


Then I close the dialogue with one last question:


“Does it make sense to kill in the name of God if you share the same God? You don’t need to answer that now. Think about it and we’ll resume the dialogue in a month or so.”


After we agree to continue the dialogue, I left them to ruminate over the last question without expecting an immediate response and then I returned two months later to the Holy Land to continue the dialogue.


Despite the bonding going on among the members of different religions in the above dialogues, they are useless without follow-up actions, which are occasions were the participants walk the talk working on peace projects. Working together, sweating together with few words is when the true profound bonding takes place. I believe those interfaith dialogues and peace marches in Israel and Palestine are thus taking steps, but those are just the first steps. In sum, our work doesn’t end there. The same mixed group, with my participation, continues bonding by rebuilding buildings destroyed during the conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians. But the rebuilding, for the moment, has only taken place on the Palestinian side and should include buildings on both sides of the wall, including the Israeli side.


Interfaith activists also engage in the replanting of olive trees that have been uprooted to make way for the walls and part of the confiscation of land engaged in by Israel in the West Bank. Olives are the most important crop for Palestinians who often have difficulties harvesting them due to attacks by Israeli settlers who often steal the olives, even set fire to Palestinian olive trees, some hundreds of years old. In addition, many of the Palestinians who normally help their families harvest the olives are in jail or have left the lands, so there is a serious lack of farm workers to help in the harvest. Thus, I along with many other activists, join the Palestinians in the fields to help them harvest olives in October.


A final goal of organizing these interfaith groups and engaging in projects discussed above is to create a massive non-violent peace movement among Israelis and Palestinians, and world activists. We then encourage the activists to exert pressure on their governments to lobby the return of Israel and Palestine to the negotiation table in order to find a solution to the conflict. Only then will the people be finally free and prosperous.


My efforts over the last 10 years to organize interfaith events and peace & freedom demonstrations in the Holy Land are chronicled in my book: Love and Terror in the Middle East, 4th Edition.


In conclusion, the Holy Land is the epicenter of world conflict, and until a durable peace is found there, the world will remain at war.



FRANK ROMANO earned a PhD at University of Paris I, Panthéon Sorbonne. He is a Maître de conférences (assistant tenured professor) at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in the Anglo-American Literature and Civilization Department and a member of the California and Marseille Bars. At present, he teaches law, literature, history and philosophy of law at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and practices law in France and in the United States. The author actively organizes and participates in interfaith events involving Jews, Moslems, Christians and people of other faiths in Israel and Palestine.

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08 Dec

Help for Your Anxious Child. Replacing Worried Thoughts with Coping Thoughts.

Guest Post by Donna Shea & Nadine Briggs

The emotion that a child feels when he or she worried is real, but most anxiety is based on something that only might happen. Most worried thoughts begin with the words “what if?” If your child struggles with anxiety, it is important for him or her to know that she doesn’t have to let the worries win. He or she can overcome the anxiety by replacing a worried thought with a coping thought.

In our workbook, I Feel Worried: Tips for Kids on Overcoming Anxiety, we provide many ideas for managing anxiety along with a list of coping thoughts for many situations that kids can become anxious about. Here are a few:

Worried Thoughts Coping Thoughts
What if I feel embarrassed? I’ll ask for help if I need it. It’s always OK to ask for help.
What if I’m in class and I don’t know anybody? I will try to say hello to just one person. If that doesn’t work, I will try another person.
What if kids bully me or act in a mean way? I’ll just say “what ev” if someone is bothering me or someone is not being nice.
I like fireworks but what if it’s loud? I will remember a time when I was scared but I could power through it. I can bring ear protectors just in case.
I’m going to a new school this fall. What if I don’t make any friends? I can decide to be friendly and bring new friends into my life. I will focus on making friends instead of on my worry.
What if I don’t know what to do next and feel too shy to ask? I can decide to solve my problems. I will stop the worry and to action to ask the question.
My dad is late picking me up. I wonder if something happened to him. I will focus on positive thoughts to keep the bad thoughts out of my brain.
I hope my project is good enough. I tried to make it perfect but what if it isn’t? I can only try to do my best.

No one is perfect.

I might need a shot when I go to the doctor next time and it will hurt. I will take three deep belly breaths to relax my body, then count to three and the shot will be over just like that!

donna-sheaDonna Shea, Founder of the Peter Pan Center for Social and Emotional Growth and Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kids are authors of the How to Make and Keep Friends book and workbook series. Briggs and Shea specialize in coaching and creating simple tips and language for kids with social and emotional learning challenges.

Connect with Briggs and Shea on www.howtomakeandkeepfriends.com, Twitter, and Facebook.


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05 Dec

In The Spirit Of Giving, Offer A Peaceful Respite To Those Who Need It Most This Holiday

Guest post by Kim Weiss

inkspirations-recoveryThe trend this holiday season is all about ‘giving’ – not another ugly Christmas sweater, but something meaningful like a donation in the name of a family member or friend. Here’s a novel idea; give adult coloring books to a worthwhile group and put smiles on many faces! The beautiful Inkspirations series of adult coloring books from HCI has something for everyone – from Gardening and Pets, to Recovery and Christmas Joy – even postcards and greeting cards!  To help make this a truly “giving” holiday, donate coloring books to your favorite charity, hospital, homeless or women’s shelter, where some extra moments of peace and encouraged wellness would be welcomed.


Bringing a little peace and joy to someone is what the holidays are all about; something to help quiet the mind and

ease the soul. From HCI, the original publishers of Chicken Soup for the Soul, now comes a line of adult coloring books ready to encourage, inspire, and help worries fade. Art therapy has long proven its effects as an aid in emotional and mental restoration, and it is not news that coloring as active meditation reduces stress and quiets


Example of coloring page.

thoughts. Inkspirations coloring books for adults offer a way to turn off negativity while healing the spirit.


With moving quotes alongside unique and graceful images, Inkspirations include a wide array of themes to help express creativity and enjoy therapy through coloring. To start overcoming heartache, releasing tensions, and building positive energy, readers can visit the new Inkspirations website.


The website is a reader’s portal to a more colorful world, giving a peek at the wide spread of unique pages Inkspirations has to offer.


On coloring lists now:

  • Inkspirations Create While You Wait

Create beautiful art wherever you are with this portable coloring book.  Next time you’re waiting—at the doctor’s office, in the airport, or on the bus—stop stressing and start creating! In today’s busy world, finding peace can be a challenge. Now, with this unique, compact coloring book, you can use those idle moments to foster your creativity and enjoy a sense of calm. Perfectly sized to fit into a purse, pack, or pocket, Create While You Wait will help you color your day brighter wherever you go. A special binding lets you lay the book flat, and the unique horizontal layout is perfect whether you’re left- or right-handed. So grab your colored pencils, crayons, markers or pen—and find your inner Zen. Created in conjunction with AARP, see more at www.aarp.org/coloringbooks.



  • inkspirations-christmasjoyInkspirations Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time of magic, and now you can color your season even brighter with more than thirty original, festive designs, plus 12 pages of DIY projects including color-your-own gift tags, postcards, wine tags and more! From highly detailed to fun and free-flowing, each design will deck your heart and home with the holiday spirit. Designs include: trees to make your own; winter wonderlands, polar bears and penguins; charming gingerbread houses, wreaths, and stockings; whimsical scenes of snowmen and ugly holiday sweaters; a Santa sighting or two, plus heartwarming expressions of holiday cheer written in exquisite typography.


  • Inkspirations for Dog Lovers

Dogs are our loyal, playful, energetic, goofy, and brave companions who color our lives with so much joy―now you can bring them to life on every page with this captivating compendium that celebrates the glory of canines throughout the seasons. From Boxers, Bulldogs, and Beagles, to Pomeranians, Poodles, and Pugs, to Shepherds, Shih Tzus, and Siberian Huskies, this eclectic mix of original artwork showcases the many ways in which dogs warm our hearts no matter the season. Whether it’s a spirited puppy romping through the first spring tulips, two Golden Retrievers sprinting against fiery autumn leaves, or a curious Lab leaving fresh paw prints in the winter snow, our furry friends color our world brighter every day. Inkspirations for Dog Lovers is a fitting tribute to the canine kingdom.


  • Inkspirations Fruit of the Spirit

In a world that’s not always black and white, it’s often challenging to put the fruit of the Spirit into practice, but this captivating coloring book offers an enjoyable way to quiet the chatter, tap into your creativity, and spend some reflective time with God. Stunning original art is paired with powerful Scriptures that eloquently embody the fruit of the Spirit, inviting you to immerse yourself in the meaning of the messages and cultivate them in everyday life. This is a perfect way to relax and unwind as you create beautiful works of art while rejoicing in the blessings of the Holy Spirit. Celebrate your faith in full color!


There’s even Inkspirations Greeting and Post Cards to personalize and send to someone or give as a gift.


Also see www.Inkspirations.com/shop for:


  • Inkspirations in the Garden
  • Inkspirations Animal Kingdom
  • Inkspirations for a Happy Heart
  • Inkspirations for Cat Lovers
  • Inkspirations for Women
  • Inkspirations for Recovery



For more information, please contact Kim Weiss at (800) 851-9100 ex. 9212, or kimw@hcibooks.com



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03 Dec

Excerpt from The Autoimmune Fix by Dr. Tom O’Bryan

Guest Post by Dr. Tom O’Bryan

taf-coverI was recently asked: “What’s the one thing you would do, more than anything else, if you were going to focus on being healthy?” My recommendation is to focus on creating a healthier microbiome. All the little steps that are easy to implement will add up to having a robustly healthy microbiome. Nothing is more important to the function of your body. Nothing has more control. Nothing impacts more of your tissues and organs than the microbiota. It’s the big kahuna.


Luckily, the microbiome can easily be rebalanced. In just a day or two of changing your diet, you can begin to change and reduce dysbiosis. First, avoid the foods you may be sensitive to. When you have food sensitivities, the immune system responds with an inflammatory cascade in the gut. Every forkful can have a detrimental effect on your microbiome, even if you don’t feel bad as you eat it. The inflammatory cascade kills off the good bacteria, and pathogenic bacteria begin to prosper, creating an imbalanced environment in the gut. When you remove the foods that you are reacting to—beginning with gluten, dairy, and sugar—you can positively affect your microbiome.


My Transition Protocol includes better food selection, probiotics, and prebiotics to help restore a healthy microbiome. The foods that support the microbiome are grouped into four categories.


  1. Choose foods high in polyphenols—colorful, high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols are micronutrients found in the bright colors in fruits and vegetables and have are incredibly beneficial to the microbiome. You may have heard of resveratrol, found in red wine, and the benefits of dark chocolate or green tea. It’s the polyphenols that provide much of these foods’ health benefits. Polyphenols occur within a diverse class of plants and are associated with strong-colored fruits (like berries) and vegetables (like red tomatoes). Fruits and veget-

bles that are high in polyphenols have the same dark color throughout. While eggplants have a nice, dark skin, the flesh is white, so it isn’t a high polyphenol choice. A better choice would be dark, leafy greens like spinach or kale.


You can add polyphenols into your diet every day in several ways including salads filled with greens and crunchy, colorful cruciferous vegetables. It is the insoluble fiber in these vegetables that the bacteria thrive on that promote being lean and healthy. Other foods high in polyphenols can be eaten every day, but in moderation, including fresh garlic, fresh raw almonds, and 70 percent or higher dark chocolate. Cocoa has been shown to influence the microbiome toward a more health-promoting profile by increasing the relative abundance of good bacteria. What’s more, chocolate is thought to modify intestinal immune status, lowering the expression of IgA antibodies.


  1. Choose the right carbohydrates. Avoid processed carbohydrates that feed bad bacteria—chips, French fries, breads, white rice, cookies, crackers, desserts, and sugars. These foods put your body in a chronically hungry, metabolically damaged, fat-storing mode. Eating them can increase your risk of intestinal permeability and may alter the makeup of your microbiome, upsetting the balance between “friendly” and unfriendly bacteria.

However, eating good carbohydrates can actually reduce obesity by increasing beneficial bacteria. In 2006, microbiologist Liping Zhao, PhD, conducted an experiment on himself to replicate findings that showed a link between obesity and the microbiome in mice. At the time, Dr. Zhao was overweight and in poor health. He adopted a diet that included whole grains (brown rice) along with two traditional Chinese medicine foods: Chinese yams and bitter melon, both of which contain a particular type of indigestible carbohydrate (a prebiotic that encourages the development of one form of good bacteria, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii). He monitored his weight loss as well as his microbiome. Two years later, he had lost a total of 44 pounds by restoring his good bacteria. In a 2016 study from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College, London, it was found that the bacteria produced by eating these same foods (Faecalibacterium) is significantly associated with reduced frailty. This is important, because frailty is a useful indicator of overall health deficit, describing a physiological loss of reserve capacity and reduced resistance to stress.

Carbohydrates containing artificial sweeteners promote unhealthy gut bacteria that cause obesity. In one study, the sugar substitute saccharin was shown to alter the function of 115 different pathways in the gut because of the microbiome controlling glucose tolerance, leading to obesity. The bacteria that aid in the digestion of saccharin turn the switch on to store energy as body fat and alter the gut microbiome.


  1. Eat grass-fed red meat and healthy fats. When you eat healthy fats, including the fats found in avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, fish, free-range poultry, and grass-fed beef, there is no evidence of lipid raft transcytosis, which is responsible for moving LPS into the bloodstream.


  1. Eat one forkful of fermented foods every day. A hundred years ago, people thought yogurt was healthy for you but were not exactly sure why. We now know that it is because of the fermentation of the bacteria in milk: Every time you eat yogurt, you get a dose of good bacteria.

However, because so many people have a dairy sensitivity and because the quality of most pasteurized yogurts found at the grocer is so poor and low in beneficial bacteria by the time it reaches your table, we are going to focus on eating fermented vegetables and drinks like kefir (a cultured/fermented milk), KeVita (a cultured/fermented coconut water), and kombucha (a fermented tea) to encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut.

Fermented foods are those that grow bacteria in them or on them. They are some of the best detoxifying agents available. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals. They can contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement. Every day, you need to eat just a little bit, such as one forkful of fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, both made from cabbage. You can purchase fermented vegetables or follow the recipes in Chapter 10 to make your own. If you find that you have a little gas or bloating after eating fermented vegetables, it is a biomarker of dysbiosis (abnormal gut bacteria in high concentration). It doesn’t mean the fermented foods are bad for you; it means your threshold for digesting them is very low. So reduce your dosage: Try a tablespoon of sauerkraut juice on your salad with your normal salad dressing so that the taste isn’t so strong. Next week, try 2 tablespoons per day. This is an example of transitioning—you are taking an accurate evaluation of where you body is currently functioning and moving it in the direction of better functioning.


For a healthy microbiome, probiotics need to be the majority of all your gut bacteria. There are thousands of different types of probiotics, and each is defined by its genus (for example, Lactobacillus), by its species (such as rhamnosus), and by its strain designation (often a combination of letters or numbers). The concept of a bacterial “strain” is similar to the breed of a dog—all dogs are the same genus and species, but different breeds of dogs have different attributes, and different breeds are good for different tasks.

The use of probiotic supplements is still in its infancy. We really don’t know exactly how to use them to create a healthier microbiome. We do know that they work to balance immune function and decreasing inflammation by helping you maintain a healthy environment in the gut. They are available as nutritional supplements that increase beneficial bacteria in the gut and crowd out bad bacteria. They can also heal intestinal permeability. Different strains of even the same species of probiotics can vary in their specific bacteria.

Probiotics are most effective when they are combined with a high-fiber diet that features lots of vegetables every day. Vegetable fiber is critical for creating butyrate, which, is the fuel for the fastest-growing cells in the body: the inside lining of the intestines. This is a critical concept and the reason why I don’t encourage fiber supplements, because I have never found a study where fiber supplements increase butyrate levels. The right fiber acts as a fertilizer that helps the probiotic grow and proliferate good bacteria in your microbiome. And because probiotics interact with the digestive system, each strain performs differently depending on your gut’s unique environment. This means that one type of probiotic doesn’t work the same for everybody. To find the supplement that will work best for you, choose a broad- spectrum, high-potency probiotic. “Broad spectrum” means that it contains more than one strain of probiotics.


Prebiotics: Even the best of dietary intentions can cause problems. A gluten-free diet may actually contribute to dysbiosis. When you follow a gluten-free diet, you remove many of the carbohydrates necessary to feed good bacteria. Gluten-free foods are not known to contain healthy prebiotics. You are in effect starving your own bacteria unless you replace the gluten with prebiotics.

Prebiotics are food components that cannot be digested by the body but are consumed by the beneficial bacteria to help them function. Chocolate or cocoa is considered a prebiotic that is also rich in polyphenols.




Eat a little dark chocolate every day to increase your intake of polyphenols and prebiotics. Take a square of the very best dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao) that you can get and put it on or under your tongue. Don’t let it touch your teeth. Let it sit there without chewing, so that it slowly dissolves in your mouth. In this way, you saturate your taste buds to send the message “chocolate is here” to your brain via the oral thalamic tract that leads from the mouth right up to the brain. Chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins and enkephalins, which are 200 times more powerful than morphine in how they stimulate the feel-good sensors in your brain.  If you eat that one square of chocolate every day and let it melt in your mouth for about 2 minutes, you’ll most likely feel very satisfied. If you want more, go ahead and have another piece. I’ve never ever, ever had a patient want more than two squares if they follow this method. This way, you can have dark chocolate every day and not gain weight or throw your blood sugar out of balance.



tom-casual-sitting-56-1About Dr. Tom O’Bryan:

Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN, DACBN, is a world-renown expert in the field of Gluten-Related Disorders, chronic disease and metabolic disorders. Author of The Autoimmune Fix, he lectures to healthcare professionals and the public about celiac disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity worldwide. Dr. O’Bryan has more than 30 years of experience as a functional medicine practitioner and he serves on the faculty of the Institute of Functional Medicine. His site seeks to inform and empower those with Gluten-Related Disorders and their families. He offers a Certified Gluten Practitioner course and certification to healthcare professionals looking for a revolutionary way to diagnose, treat, and educate patients about Gluten-Related Disorders. He recently put together and hosted Betrayal, a 7-part documentary series about Autoimmune disease featuring 85 leading experts around the world. In 2013, Dr. O’Bryan hosted the world’s first Gluten Summit, where he interviewed 29 experts and opinion leaders on the topic of gluten-related health issues. It serves as the premier educational forum for the public and healthcare professionals on the topic of immune reaction to gluten and health.

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02 Dec

The Power of Transcendence Through Surprise

Little_Book_Surprises_COVER_Rev3Guest post by Deirdre Hade

The (Not So) Little Book of Surprises was twenty years in the making.  My husband, Will Arntz, who created the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? got the idea to take my poetic writing and the mystical transcendental experiences I draw upon when I teach, and combine with the photos of the award‑winning photographer, Endre Balogh, in a book – creating a journey of thought, a journey of the divine, a journey of wisdom.  And when he came to me with this idea I said, “Great, let’s do it.”  And then he said to me, “No, no, it’s not LET’s do it, it’s I’M doing it,” and he actually would not let me see what he was doing in the beginning.

Because he made the successful film What the Bleep, I trusted his insight and intuition and I loved what he put together. He came up with the title The (Not So) Little Book of Surprise because he said this book is a Surprise!  There’s not a book like this book anywhere in the world.  You can look at just one page, read a few sentences and receive wisdom. You can experience the breathtaking nature photography. Or you can read the entire book in about an hour and a half, experiencing a journey as the wisdom story unfolds.

Transformation and consciousness always comes in a Surprise!  We can study, go to our place of worship, we can have a practice. But when those moments of awakening of awareness, the “aha”, when the world looks different…when That happens, it is always a surprise. Awakening comes in surprise moments.

Since a very young age I have been visited by angels, saints and different illuminated beings.  They speak to me, and I’ve seen them with my own eyes.  At an early age I began to write down what they would tell me.

These light beings feel strongly that they want their voices heard, because they want to bring hope. They want to share a map that will help us to get through our changing times with as much grace as is available. This map is inside of us. The (not so) Little Book of Surprises is a guide to one’s inner map of wisdom and awakening.

I say to people, “I’m not really here, I’m a simulation. I’m from the grand projector, I’m beaming in.” My messages come from a state of Irradiance, which is defined as the ability to radiate outward an energy that is felt and/or experienced into the environment.  (You can find this term in the dictionary.)  I use this definition because when the Angels, the Light Beings, when God speaks to me, I feel a palpable presence, like a heaviness of light – my body changes.  I go into a state of bliss and ecstasy, and then I hear their voices.  I’ve worked very hard to be very clear to hear them and to make sure that the voices I hear are who they say they are.  I then speak what they tell me, or I write it down. Surprises is a combination of my own wisdom, with what I’ve learned from God and the Beings of Light. It is my poetic understanding, and it is a combination of the Light Beings and of God sharing a greater reality perspective of our human experience.

Will picked out quotes for the book that resonate as true for the times we live in.  Surprises is a book of my life experience with the divine realms. This is what I’ve seen and experienced with my eyes, this is what I know.  If it rings true for you, great.  If you can’t go there, that’s okay too. The Book of Surprises is like a rock‑and‑roll song.  You get what you can just  enjoy the ride.  Enjoy the magic, the insight, inspiration – Surprises is a melody of sprit and beauty in the mystical. I highly recommend that the reader

Surprises is a “children’s book” for adults.  But it’s also very much a children’s book.  I find children today are very aware, awake, and they’re looking to be validated for the wise souls that they are. More souls are being born right now have this high level of sensitivity.  What I mean by that is, that they have an ability to feel and sense the natural world  outside of the intellectual two-dimensional processing.  These kids Know – and they’re being born by the millions. They want validation.  They have come to help us heal our world.  They come wrapped in a vibration of love. All children, are aware and sensitive, we must prepare a world for them to thrive.  They learn differently, they need different kinds of schools, they need to be honored for what they see and what they know.  The book Surprises  is supportive for young people – it’s a family book to sit around and read together.

I’m ecstatic with how The (not so) Little Book of Surprises turned out.  I love reading it myself.  Because of the through line that Will so artistically created. Each time I read it I experience something new – a spiritual experience of a different flavor.  I actually learn, even though it comes from “my work.” I see something deeper every time.  I’ve been asked, “Why read this book?” and I answer, because we are here as consciousness to experience the third dimension. We are here to create the magic, the miracle and the beauty – the justice, the truth – of what it really means to be human.  And that’s our journey, and it’s bumpy ride.  And we meet obstacles, but that’s really the journey of our human soul. And The (Not So) Little Book of Surprises was created for you to have an awesome experience in a book.


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25 Nov

The Thanksgiving Play Microphone Grab Viewed Around The World

Guest post by Dreama Denver

As the mother of a severely autistic son, I know how badly a mother’s heart yearns to see her child treated with respect and some semblance of normalcy even when he’s different. I also understand autistic behaviors and how disruptive they can be.
My husband, television actor Bob Denver (“Gilligan” in Gilligan’s Island, “Maynard G. Krebs” in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) understood the challenges that special needs families face so well that he literally walked away from a very successful Hollywood career in order to be by my side to care for our son Colin. For over two decades until Bob passed in 2005, my husband was Colin’s biggest champion.  His role as a father was far more important to him than any other role television, movies or theatre could hope to offer.

So, when I, like millions of others saw the video on social media of the teacher at an elementary school in West Virginia pulling the microphone away from a little autistic boy at the end of the school’s Thanksgiving play, I felt an immediate combination of sadness and anger. My “mother/protector” instinct kicked in immediately, much as it did for the countless others who commented on the video. But, viewing only the 15 or 20 seconds that most people saw doesn’t give a clear picture of the incident. After tracking down the entire 15 minute video, it’s apparent that the little boy was indeed allowed to fully participate with the other children, and I applaud his teacher and the school for that. It was also clear that he wandered the stage a bit, unable to totally focus on the task at hand, which is not unusual for an autistic child, or any young elementary school-age child for that matter. As parents, we want our children to ‘fit in’, we want them to have friends and experiences that give them a sense of self and their worth in the world. Parents of autistic children are no different, and I’m grateful that this precious little guy had the chance to be “one of the kids”.

Bob and I spent over twenty years caring for our son Colin, and I know first hand that providing care for a special needs child 24/7/365 is a daunting task, but one that makes you a better person for the experience. Our son’s worth was always apparent to us and our family, even though he was nonverbal and “different”. To an outsider looking in, that worth may have been a mystery, but here’s what I can tell you about differences; they should be celebrated!
Had our son been what society deems normal, I’m not sure I would know unconditional love in its purest form. We loved with no expectation of having it returned in any kind of normal way, and that only made us love harder. Colin taught us patience and gratitude for the smallest victories, gave us strength we never knew we had, not to mention a profound understanding of the miracle of the human body and the blessing of having a child whose parts work the way they were designed to work.

We, as a society, are defined by the way we treat the weakest among us. So how can we sit in judgement of a child who, through no fault of his own, is different? I can tell you from personal experience these children know when they’re being made to feel less than normal. Why would we ever want to diminish another human being? It takes so little effort to show kindness and understanding, so little effort to give someone hope that they too can be included.
I don’t personally know anyone involved in this incident or the behavioral history of this adorable little boy. Maybe the teacher had good reason to be wary of what he might say his last time at the microphone. The previous time he said, ‘ouch, ouch’, maybe that was part of the script, maybe not.  Maybe the teacher made a split second decision that she wishes she could take back. How many of us have made a bad decision on the fly that we’ve regretted later?  Maybe every elementary school Thanksgiving pageant in America goes off the rails to a certain extent, and that’s what makes them so adorable and memorable.  Teachers of special needs kids are by and large incredibly warm, caring individuals who have chosen a career path that’s often much tougher than that of their colleagues in education. I support and thank them for stepping up; special adults who help special children deserve a special place in heaven as far as I’m concerned.
What am I thankful for? I’m thankful for the fact that this special little soul was included in the school’s Thanksgiving pageant at all.  There was a time not too long ago that he would have been kept from participating.  I HOPE there was a valid reason for not letting him say his last line; that’s my Thanksgiving wish.


Dreama Denver is a former television and stage actress who was selected by Roy Disney to be in the original cast of 40 at Disney World. She met Bob Denver when they were cast aopposite one another in a play, and spent nearly 30 years together until Bob’s untimely passing in 2005. The Denver Foundation was formed by Bob and Dreama to help the families of special needs children. Dreama’s book “Gilligan’s Dreams” chronicles their life together in Hollywood and then as parents to their special needs child.  It’s available at https://www.amazon.com/Gilligans-Dreams-Dreama-Denver/dp/1479320005 and wherever great books are sold.  Find out more at www.bobdenver.com.

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22 Nov

You are Not Alone: The Epidemic of Self-Judgment

84304An Excerpt from Make Peace with Your Mind

by Mark Coleman

Many of us are well acquainted with our “Inner Critic.” It is the voice that makes us second-guess our every step by saying “not enough,” “not good enough,” or sometimes “too much.” At times the Inner Critic can be so strong that it feels invincible, but bestselling author and renowned meditation teacher Mark Coleman promises that it is not in his new book Make Peace with Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Your Inner Critic. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt.


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Have you noticed how many people give themselves a hard time? How friends and colleagues routinely put themselves down and happily confess all their faults and problems? It is culturally acceptable to talk about your faults and challenges, and of course to complain ad nauseam about the faults of others. As Lucy so eloquently put it in a Peanuts cartoon (speaking to Charlie Brown): “The problem with you, Charlie, is that you are you.”


At the same time it is quite the norm not to talk about one’s successes, strengths, and accomplishments. In some cultures, that is considered gauche and egotistical. Being raised in England, I was taught it was a faux pas to speak of your talents and gifts or celebrate your victories. It is as if you are rubbing other people’s nose in the dirt by doing so. Yet it is fine to lead with one’s inadequacies and problems.


In the United States the mental health statistics are alarming. One in ten Americans is on some form of antidepressant. One in five took some kind of behavioral medication in 2010. The number of suicides is equally staggering: forty thousand per year. And that’s just the numbers that are reported. Though the numbers may be higher in the United States than elsewhere, many industrialized countries report similarly alarming statistics.


Based on the work I have done with people over the past fifteen years on six continents, I believe the inner critic is a significant cause of much of the depression, anxiety, and suicide prevalent today. When the critic’s voices are loud, sharp, and rampant, it is hard to keep a sense of self-worth or feel there is a meaning or purpose in life.


Though the statistics are startling, there is one sad but reassuring fact among them: you are not alone. One of the biggest burdens we can carry when we are depressed, or just lost in a swamp of self-reproach, is the troubling thought that we are unusual to have such problems. We mistakenly believe that we are the only ones afflicted by nagging, negative stories about ourselves. It is bad enough to have such troubling thoughts, but the idea that you may be the only “loser” in the room who has them is doubly shaming, and harder to work with.


In workshops that I lead about the inner critic, one of the most healing outcomes is people’s realization that they are not the only ones with a judging mind. Isolation and the belief that you’re the odd one out, that everyone but you is having a merry old time, just compounds these mental challenges.


When I have people pair up at an inner-critic workshop and share their list of self-judgments, there is at first a sense of great apprehension and embarrassment, and a fear of the shame that may ensue. But when they actually do share their lists, a collective relief sweeps the room. The realization that we share similar self-judgments and negative mental habits brings this sense of relief. The thought that we can help each other if we share a similar burden also nurtures an important sense of camaraderie and social support.


Practice: Noticing the Critic Everywhere

As you go about your life — whether at home, at work, with friends, running errands, watching television — start paying attention to how you see the critic operating in other people. We can certainly observe it when hearing politicians and pundits barking on the radio or when movie critics are demolishing the latest film.


Also notice the inner critic in conversations, in the way people jokingly put themselves down: “Oh, you know me. I’m hopeless at math. Why don’t you do the numbers?” “My hair looks terrible today.” “I look awful in those photos.” “I made a real mess of that meeting at work yesterday.” These are all common parts of social conversation.


Observe what happens when you notice this behavior. Can you relate to others when they are putting themselves or others down? Does it feel familiar or even comfortable? Do you feel a sense of camaraderie? Can you see how ubiquitous this pattern is? Does it leave you feeling less alone, now that you can see you are not the only person with a sadistic inner voice? Similarly, do you feel compassion for others when they talk about themselves so negatively?


The more you can observe in this way, the more you will relieve yourself of the burdensome feeling that you are the only one with a problem, that you alone have a voice you should be ashamed of. Instead you may begin to feel a sense of connection with others, a feeling that you too are part of the shared human struggle, trying to find a way to be at peace amid all our conditioning and mental gyrations.


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Carmel Valley CA Photographer Doug EllisMark Coleman is the author of Make Peace with Your Mind and Awake in the Wild.  He is the founder of the Mindfulness Institute and has an MA in Clinical Psychology. Mark has guided students on five continents as a corporate consultant, counselor, meditation teacher, and wilderness guide. He lives in Northern California. Visit him online at www.markcoleman.org.


Excerpted from Make Peace with Your Mind. Copyright © 2016 by Mark Coleman. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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