You or anyone you know ever set new year’s resolutions? If so, ever wonder why set goals for a new year rather than in, say, July or May? Let’s look at why and how to be sure you get what you want in the new year.

December has brought a flurry of activity and projects so I’ve slacked a bit on my writings but will continue the series on how to age in reverse shortly.

First of all, why resolutions for a new year?

Important on several levels.

The shift from December 31st to January 1st of any year is filled with the mass mind or collective energy of people all over the world putting thought energy into a new start. All that energy that gets put out creates a reality that we can utilize now to lay the groundwork for achieving everything we want.

Further, there are two energies here. The accumulating thought energy that builds as we get closer to the new year and the energy that has build over many millenia since we began using the western calendar.

There are two main keys to riding this wave…

1. Take your foot off the break by letting go of the baggage from 2012 and obstacles that prevent you from accomplishing what you want

2. Step on the gas and set and manifest your goals

Sounds wonderfully vague and idealistic, right? Let’s look at why it’s not.

Think about it this way – if you were preparing your place for entertaining guests would you set a really nice table with great food without cleaning first? Maybe you would but I probably wouldn’t come :)

You gotta get rid of the shit to make room for the good stuff!

Most indigenous spiritual traditions around the world have ceremonies that mark the passage into the new year. In Japan for example, Shinto has a midyear purification ceremony in July and one in mid December to clear the negative energies and make room for fresh ones. 

Each year can be compared to when we are born. We are born with infinite potential and as we grow and conform to what society tells us we should do, we often end up collecting baggage and viewpoints that prevent us from fully maximizing our potential. So, the cycle of each year can be a rebirth and an opportunity to clear the slate and open to maximum potential.

2012 was a rough year for many people. I’m sure you have at least one thing you wish you could have done differently or that hadn’t happened, I know I do. Well the good news is that you can let it go now!

Here are some practical steps you can take to accomplish this clearing in your own life.

 

1. Spend some time thinking about the things, thoughts, obstacles, and experiences that didn’t quite go the way you wanted in 2012.

2. Write them down on slips of paper

3. Make a commitment to let them go.

4. Burn the slips of paper in a fire and throw salt  on the fire. In many traditions, salt is considered the great purifier of negativity.

5. Get rid of (by burning or throwing out) anything associated with the negativity.

As an example, in 2012 I made some business decisions that I regret. I have now let everything associated with those decisions go so the way can be paved for 2013 to be a soaring year for my company.

The above “ritual” may seem simplistic or weird but it really is that simple. The power of commitment is often underestimated however it’s the single most powerful tool we have. Once you commit to clearing the way, the steps above solidify that decision into the material world. 

Give it a try.

Next setting and manifesting goals:

1. After you complete the above, spend some time thinking about what you really want to have in 2013. These things can be actual objective goals or more abstract goals such as clarity on a situation.

2. Next, ask yourself “How will I know when I have achieved this goal?” This step is super important because you need to define what you want and give yourself a reference point. “Getting in shape” is not enough. How will you know when you have gotten in shape? Too many people set vague goals that line them up for failure.

3. Don’t set too many goals. Keep them realistic and attainable.

4. Commit to achieving them. Again the power of commitment cannot be understated

5. Spend New Year’s Eve doing something inspiring. Whether you go out to an awesome party and get wasted or stay in and reflect meditatively, make sure you cross into the new year in a positive state of mind as that will set the tone for the entire year. The energy you take into January 1st lays the groundwork for the entire year.

6. Stay flexible with your goals. Yes, you have set objective benchmarks to know when you have gotten what you want but it’s also important to stay flexible to allow the universe to provide you with what you’ve asked for. It’s more effective to allow yourself to be open to the universe rather than trying to make the universe conform to you. Sounds obvious but look around.

The above process will firmly set your goals in your consciousness and set them out to the universal consciousness as well.

I achieved everything I set out to accomplish in 2013 using the above process. One of my goals was to get in the best shape of my life. When I met Uldi, the olypmpic gymnastics coach who took me under his wing this year,  he told me he saw 20 pounds too much on me. Ok actually he said “As comparing to most Americans you are very fit and strong but as comparing to your goals, you are fat and veak.” (insert Hungarian Accent)

So losing 20 pounds was one of my benchmarks. I also got hit with a shoulder injury in July that limited my training for months so I had to be flexible and work around it. I kept training but had to modify my routines.

2013 is the year of the snake in Chinese Astrology. Stay tuned for an article on what that means and how we can utilize it to accomplish what we want.

Mixing my longevity herbs with green tea, lemon, and patron. A liver tonic, antioxidants, and alcohol.

Yes it’s disgusting… and yes I love it!

herbs

Ok folks, I know after the last few articles about what no to eat you’re thinking “geez DJ is really falling off his rocker.”

Ok confession time: I’ve always been off my rocker.

Seriously though let’s look quickly at calories…a great topic on Thanksgiving when people typically stuff themselves with a ridiculous amount of food. When I was a paramedic, we always had lots of heart attacks and angina on Thanksgiving.

A calorie is a unit of energy. Specifically it is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree celcius at standard pressures. Calories come into play when we are looking at gaining, losing, or maintaining weight.

 Conversely, if you take in more than you burn, you will gain weight. This is true  regardless of whether the calories are highly nutritious and charged or totally empty. In other words, you can technically lose weight eating mcdonalds. Granted, you may have to eat very little, work out a ton, and your body will fail to thrive but you can lose weight.

Chronic alcoholics are usually way underweight.

So why not just eat mcdonalds and taco bell and work out knowing you will lose weight? Simple – is this about simply losing weight or optimizing your body and spirit to maximize your potential?

However, here’s the simple formula should you wish to use it – You need to burn 3500 more calories than you consume if you want to lose 1 pound. You need to consume 3500 more calories than you burn if you want to gain a pound.

It’s actually pretty simple compared with the last few articles about everything not to put into your body. Also less calorie dense foods, in other words foods that are full of nutrition rather than empty calories go a lot further ie you can eat a lot more of them and will feel much much better.

In the next article I will begin writing about all of the stuff you can do to age in reverse now that we’ve covered most of the “do nots”.

I am going to discuss the one thing you should cut from your diet to really notice a huge difference. 

This is part three in an ongoing series on how I found the fountain of youth. Note that even though I’m not selling anything, I’m playing with catchier headlines to get more clicks. In the last post I covered specific ingredients to cut out of your diet, in this installment I am going to share the one group of foods that are wreaking more havoc on your body than anything else.

That group is:

 Anything processed!

That’s right. Modern food processing strips food of pretty much all of its nutritional value by modifying it  to the point where it basically becomes empty calories.

Here are some specific things to look out for

Artificial Sweeteners: Nutrasweet (aspartame) causes the same insulin release from the pancreas as sugar so if you think you’re sparing yourself the side effects of sugar, you are not. It is also an excitotoxin which simply put means it messes with your brain. Sucralose (splenda) is a combination of table sugar and chlorine. I can’t emphasize enough how much you should avoid these sweeteners

MSG: Also an excitotoxin added to many asian foods. Known to give you a headache. Ongoing excitotoxicity can be very dangerous.

 Artificial Colors: Clues are words like “FD&C Blue” in the ingredients list. This is more crap that is foreign to the body

 Pasteurization: Louis Pasteur did in fact invent a process to kill bacteria. However, pasteurization which happens by raising the temperature of things like milk to near boiling also destroys the beneficial bacteria, necessary enzymes, and energetic qualities of the milk. Opt instead of raw milk. Even better, is raw goat milk. You’ll have to look around your area for it. Your body will love you for giving it raw foods with natural enzymes to help it digest.

Trans fats also called hydrogenated oils: These are used in things like margarine to keep it solid at room temperature. Basically hydrogen is pumped through the fat and in the process changes the chemical structure of the molecules to a form that 1) is solid at room temperature and 2) The body has no idea what to do with. Some states have considered banning foodswith hydrogenated oils. Go for natural alternatives

Preservatives: Things like sodiumbenzoate and sulfites are added to foods to preserve them. Truth is, it’s possible to preserve foods using anti-oxidants like vitamins c and e. More chemicals = more stress on your body

 Water: I’ll go into this in the future but avoid tap water as it contains chlorine and fluoride. Think about it – if chlorine is toxic to the cells of bacteria, what would make it wonderful for our cells? Cells are cells. Opt instead for alkaline bottled waters in BPA free containers or get a good water filter. More later.

Fat Free:  This was the fad of the 90s…fats are necessary for life, the key is to eat the right fats in the right amounts. To remove the fat from foods with naturally occurring fats requires artificial processing.

 GMOs: Genetically modified foods are banned in most countries except the US. We don’t yet know the dangers of genetically modifying things. Be aware and go for “non-gmo.”

Hormones: Girls are hitting puberty way earlier than they should these days and much of this is a result of the steroids given to cows so they produce far more milk and meat than they are supposed to. They are also given to poultry.  These chemicals remain in the body and they get passed to us through consumption. Think of how you feel when you see a steroid freak walking around. So why would you eat one? Go for organic and free range varieties.

Antibiotics: Are given in large doses to cattle to prevent disease but they are also giving rise to a huge problem of drug resistant bacteria. Our bodies need healthy bacteria to function and there are times when we  have to take an antibiotic to treat an illness. But why would you want to ingest them everyday? 

Mercury in Fish: Another huge problem. Mercury is one of the most toxic substances known to man.

As I’ve stated above, processing destroys the food we eat and nearly all the foods we eat processed.

Avoid it.

Opt for organic alternatives and stay as close to the way nature intended it as you can. This is also true for your pets. Modern food puts a lot of stress on our bodies.

Remove the stress, allow your body to return to homeostasis, and see (and feel) what happens! Try it for 30 days, I dare you :)

More Info: http://www.udoerasmus.com/pyramid/pyr_proc/pyramid_proc_text.htm

And yes you can eat healthy on a budget. Write to me and I’ll help you figure out how.

This concludes the two part series on what not to eat. Rest assured I will be devoting plenty of time in future articles to what you should be eating.

As promised, I am going to expound on each point in my article on the Fountain of Youth

#1 Cut out all wheat, dairy, sugar, white carbs, artificial anything, and anything processed

It’s probably going to take me two posts to get through all the “Don’t Dos” but here goes.

Gluten:

I discovered that I had a gluten (a protein in wheat) sensitivity a few years ago and while researching it, I learned that most people actually do. Some realize it and some do not. Wheat is the most difficult grain for the body to digest and if you think about it, our ancestors did not consume a diet primarily of grains. Now we add all the processing and refinement that goes into modern breads and we end up with something that is like pushing an overweight kid in a stroller, it slows the body down.

I am not advocating cutting all wheat entirely however if you try wheat free for a week, I’ll bet you will feel and see an extremely tangible difference. Corn is also a very difficult grain to digest. If you look carefully (as gross as it is) whole corn passes through the digestive tracts of animals (like my dog) untouched.

There are many gluten alternatives available now. I’ll cover them in a separate article but here is a fantastic source www.vermontglutenfree.com

American food sources are obsessed with processing everything and we in turn end up with food that is far removed from the way nature intended it and subsequently difficult for the body to utilize.

Side note: Being Italian, I love pizza and pasta so this took some effort. However, the results are so profound they provide the ongoing motivation.

Dairy:

Another big no-no. Just like gluten, most people have a difficult time digesting lactose. Dairy products can get stuck in the intestines and slow down peristalsis (the muscular contractions that move food through the intestines). I’m going to cover the Oriental medical perspective later, but dairy also produces moisture and in turn, phlegm, which creates an environment ripe for illness.

Goat milk is a great alternative. Goat milk molecules are smaller and easier to digest but are not a complete protein so it cannot be relied upon as a full protein like cow’s milk can.

Almond milk is another great alternative. Almonds have numerous health benefits. I recommend the unsweetened kind. If you wish to sweeten it, use agave.

Soy milk is not so good as it contains plentiful phytoestrogens which mimic female hormones. In men, this can lower testosterone and in women some studies suggest too much soy can be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Soy milk is good sparingly and be sure to get the non genetically modified kind. (non-GMO)

So there we go, I just nixed my favorite food – pizza!

Sugar

Sugar is one of the worst substances you can put in your body, period. It gets stored as fat, depletes the immune system, and spikes insulin levels resulting in a subsequent crash. Refined sugars are the absolute worst staple in the American diet. Cut them out 99% and save the other 1% for a treat here or there.

This means to avoid all commercial soda, pastries, cakes, gatorade, candy, bread, commercial juices, frappucinos, – this list is endless as sugar is added to just about everything. So, the best advice is to start reading labels and avoid any commercial foods that contain sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, and fructose. Fruit, is of course, good and is great when eaten with breakfast.

For those of us with a sweet tooth, there are alternatives. And I do not mean aspartame or sucralose (nutrasweet/splenda). I use agave nectar. There’s not enough room in this article to get into the chemistry of sugars but suffice it to say the body cannot survive without sugars. We just eat tons (literally) more than the body wasdesigned to process.

When you eat sugar, the pancreas dumps insulin which transports the sugar into your cells where it is used as energy and that’s why you feel an energy spike. However, it’s quickly over and you begin to crash because the body was designed to process complex carbs and not simple sugars. This insulin dump, energy spike, and crash are draining on the body. Further, excess sugar (which is abundant in just about everything we eat) gets stored as fat.

And fat is also difficult on the body as it’s useless weight that the body must support and nourish not to mention it’s unsightly.

I’ll cover the other items in the next article. In this first series, we’re taking our foot off the break if you will; removing all the toxic substances that slow down metabolism and make the body sluggish so that it can begin to balance and optimize itself. You don’t need to be a fitness freak or have “perfect genetics” to be in shape. I have far from perfect genetics.

Being lean and in shape is the natural state of the human body when it is allowed to be in balance. All we have to do is glance at animals to understand how the body is supposed to look and work.

On the flip side, we’re a culture obsessed with being thin. Thin is also not the natural state of the body nor is juice head Jersey Shore bulging muscles with no ability to do functional work.

What I am advocating is allowing your body to reach its optimum state and return to the balance it is programmed to maintain and then celebrating and enjoying whatever that natural state is for your specific body

I am now 11 months into my reverse aging project for 2012 and my body’s age is now 24. (Don’t ask me how I know this, you wouldn’t believe me anyway)

In January of this year, I was taken under the wing of an Olympic Gymnastics Coach and a French Parkours Expert. Both are Cirque du Soleil acrobats and when I first met Uldi, the Hungarian Gymnast, he said

“Vell, DJ…as comparing to most Americans you very fit and strong. But for where you want to go, you fat and veak.” (My early progress with him is detailed in other articles on this blog)

Thus began a quest to see just what I could accomplish and I decided to throw myself into it.

So, I wanted to write some of what I have learned about the aging process and how to stop it. I don’t expect everyone to do what I did, but I know that some of what I have learned can be useful to all who wish to feel better and be more healthy

First of all, aging is comprised of several factors:

1. Certain inevitable physiological processes
2. Beliefs about aging held in the collective consciousness
3. Energetic factors

All of the above are influenced by beliefs, diet, and lifestyle. My sister and I recently looked at pictures of old friends from high school and college and were astounded at how bad and aged they looked.

Sadly, most people live in a way that ages them far more rapidly than they should. Scientists have discovered that when compared with animals, the natural lifespan of humans should be around 120 years. My dog is now 12 or 84 in human years and still has the energy of a puppy because of how he’s been cared for.

Check out this group of friends who took pictures every 5 years and look how they’ve let themselves go over the years:

Friends Take Pictures Every 5 Years

The first place to start exploring why people are aging faster than they should is to look at Traditional Chinese Medicine. I was fortunate to do a 2 year apprenticeship in TCM in my teen years and my quest this year has brought me back to the principles with which I basically grew up.

I also worked with an anti aging MD who prescribed certain supplements and monitored my blood chemistry. Having mostly worked with older people and steroid using men whose natural testosterone has diminished down to nothing, he was quite surprised when I walked in in great health wanting to optimize everything. Last time I saw him he said “You’re knocking it out of the park.” On a side note, he’s a very interesting guy…he had a career as a neurologist and then went into aging medicine where he makes a huge impact in people’s lives and relationships.

Before we delve into physiology and theory, I first want to share some of the actual steps I took that reverse aged me this year. I will then explain each one in more detail in future articles

Basically the whole idea is to get the body back to its natural state and prime it for optimization. The body is amazingly adaptable but can only work with what you give it. This sounds like a lot of work but really it isn’t. We are simply returning to living in a more natural way closer to nature, as we are designed to do.

I know many people won’t take all of these steps however I’ll be detailing them in future posts so you can understand the science behind them and choose which ones, if any, are a good match for you.

1. Cut out all wheat, dairy, sugar, white carbs, artificial anything, and anything processed
2. Eat only organic foods as close to the earth as I could
3. Light on heavy meats
4. Eat 5 meals per day until you are about 75% full
5. Take something warming with the meals…tea or soup
6. Began a multivitamin including fish oils and tribulus
7. Started chinese longevity herbs
8. Started a supplement to manage cortisol
9. Workout an hour per day and stretch
10. Began an amino acid supplement to release growth hormone
11. Switched to GABA Brown Rice as my main source of carbs. Added adzuki beans to the rice
12. Keep the neck warm
13. I didn’t stop drinking…but I drink mainly wine or vodka/tequila with soda. No sugar
14. Stay clear of harmful energies
15. Don’t smoke cigarettes
16. Eat breakfast…and include protein such as eggs. Typical breakfast for me is eggs with gaba rice, fruit, a piece of gluten free toast, and tea
17. Eat lighter at night and don’t eat within 3 hours of bed
18. Sleep at least 8 hours per night
19. Regular chiropractic and massage to keep the spine and muscles from tightening
20. Raw vegetable juice!
21. Manage your emotions as emotional weight can often get stored as physical weight

Here are the results so far:

> My blood chemistry went from a bit out of whack to perfect
>My blood pressure resting is 102/64
>My testosterone was initially 530 and is now 900. (T ranges from 250 which is ED range up to 1100. Mine wasn’t low but it wasn’t as high as it could be)
> I lost 30 pounds
> Dropped to 11.5% bodyfat and still dropping
> In the first few months people told me I looked 10 years younger
> Dropped from a 36 to a 29/30 waist. It was annoying to have to keep buying new jeans
> Had to get all of my shirts tailored

I’ll explore the purpose behind each of the concepts and steps in more detail in a series of individual blog articles….if you wish to follow this series, please subscribe to this blog or enter your email address on the right. There’s nothing for sale here…just me sharing what I’ve learned…

Haven’t posted many updates here on my training as I managed to sustain a rather serious shoulder injury in July which set me back quite a bit. Naturally being the stubborn guy that I am, I kept training for the first month of it which of course only made it worse. But I am happy to report that after some healing work, it’s well on its way to full recovery and I’m ramping up my training again. As is usually the case with injuries, there was some underlying energetic and emotional crap which of course allowed the injury to set in deeper.

The injury really became apparent while doing a rather odd form of pushup called “plange pushups” where you start from a pushup position and move down until your forearms are flat on the ground and then push back up. Uldi had suggested that I not do these as they put too much unnatural stress on the shoulder but I did them anyway.

So for most of the summer I got to focus on running and cardio and just in the last couple of weeks I got going again with upper body workouts and hope to be able to move into full gymnastics and acrobatics in November.

Some doctor friends suggested this was a surgical repair but I’m happy to report that I put off getting the MRI and relied on other sources of healing and it’s coming along.

Here’s my latest trick…this is called “Fish”

Pole-Oct-12

I know a few people who recount stories of college professors who really had an impact on them but it seems these stories are becoming more rare. I was one of those fortunate few.

Flashback to me as a teenager in high school..years before I was running into burning buildings and driving drunk students to the ER, I had just begun training in the warrior martial art that I continue to practice today and was like a sponge soaking up anything to do with Asian spiritual traditions.

As a child I had wanted to be a Catholic Priest and then started looking eastward in my teens before finally settling in on enjoying the common threads at the core of all traditions before man began to shape them.

I was full of way too much energy, too many stupid questions, and not much life experience and drove everyone around me nuts.

I had decided that I must go to Miami University in Ohio in order to further my martial arts training with my teacher there and while visiting the school, of course had to meet the professor of Asian traditions.

In I walked to the office of religion and looking for any available professor to chat with. There behind the desk in an office full of thousands of books sat a white bearded laid back man who looked like the perfect quintessential scholar. He spoke with eloquence in a tone reminiscent of the ivy league scholars of old. He had time to speak with me and took an interest in my passion and all of my teenage energy. His name was Dr. Alan Miller and I remember him telling me his dream was to retire in a library.

Over my years in college, I took every class he taught but beyond that, whenever I found myself lonely or misunderstood, I would stop into his office and minutes of conversation would turn into hours to where he would realize his next class started 15 minutes ago. He was always available, always tolerant, and always willing to listen to whatever was on my mind and share his own wisdom from his scholarly path.

But perhaps the most notable thing about Dr. Miller and the one thing I continue to appreciate to this day above all else is that he got me. If I needed to take 10 days off from classes to spend time with one of my teachers, he made room for that. When I either refused or was simply unable to write papers in the correct academic manner with appropriate footnotes and references because I was quoting my teachers, my experience, and sometimes couldn’t even remember whom had given me an insight I was using in a paper, he allowed me to get away with it. He once even told me I would probably have issues with other professors but he liked my style because I “did it well.”

And have issues with other professors I did.

Where other professors tried to make me conform, he didn’t. And where I judged other professors for being too academic and disconnected, I respected Dr. Miller because he was a non judgmental scholar of the highest order who could discuss any topic in any subject from religion to history to engineering .

At one point a 6 page paper he assigned us turned into a 32 page paper for me because it was of a topic of my choice. And I sure chose…at the expense of all my other classes!

At some point during my junior year, Dr. Miller told me he was retiring and moving to washington state. I remember being very sad however he also told me that the Department of Religion had told him he could teach a class on any topic at all and he chose “Spiritual Autobiography.” The class began with 6 students and involved reading autobiographies from different religious traditions around the world.

Great class

About 1 month into the class, Dr. Miller announced he had been diagnosed with some health issues that required surgery and would be out for 6 weeks. He suggested we work on writing our own spiritual autobiographies and reconvene when he returned.

In his honor, the class continued to meet every Tues and thurs at 11am without him. When the religion department attempted to assign a grad student to monitor the class because “DJ Siclari is not a suitable proctor,” we just took our meetings off campus…meeting at ponds, lakes, restaurants, fields etc.

Dr. Miller returned from surgery with a positive outcome and joined the class. But the dynamic was different as he no longer felt like a professor but seemed more like one of us. We were all working on our spiritual autobiographies and he was too. Finally all 7 of us, including Dr. Miller, shared our stories with each other. At the end of the semester, we took him out for Indian Food and gave him a copy of all of our biographies compiled into a bound work complete with pictures from the class for him to remember the last class he was to teach.

I was able to visit him and his wife several years later in Washington State and visited him again last week. Though it was a short drive from the ferry station to his house, when he met my sister and I at the top of his driveway, he was engrossed in a book. I realized he is living his dream as I walked through the stacks and stacks of books in his small cabin and asked him if he knew how many he had.

His answer “About 7000.”

In an age of e-books, kindle, and audiobooks you can download on your phone, I’d say he has indeed retired in a library.

It was wonderful to reconnect with an old friend and professor who was there for me when I felt there was no one else I could talk to about my real interests. For Alan Miller religion was his rebellion…he was pursuing a degree in engineering and switched to religion because it was out of the norm. He walked the path and continues to walk the path of an academic scholar very well and continues to be full of gems of knowledge and insight when I see him.

We reminisced at his house and over Thai Food. He updated me on his health and let me know he is loving teaching a class for adults and we discussed how few of the undergrads who came through his classes at Miami really had any interest in the material and he was feeling more and more generationally removed coupled with the fact that many of the students were Christian Missionairies planning to go to Asia to proselytize their beliefs.

Our time together came and went far too fast and before we knew it, my sister and I were on the ferry back to Seattle.

He and his wife recently acquired a puppy named “Mujo’ in honor or impermanence which as fate would have it ended up being a perfectly fitting name as Mujo destroys everything he comes into contact with!

Today I had the great honor to assist one of my teachers with the Japanese rite known as Nagoshi no Oharae Taisai.

It’s kind of human nature to like to hold onto things and get in our own way. I mean think about it, how many times have you had a bad day or an emotional reaction to something and it was still annoying you after it was over? These kinds of things get stuck in our unconscious minds and energy fields just like dust accumulates around the house. Just as we have to dust and clean our space, if we “dust off” ourselves as well, we can really be receptive to great things.But just as we wouldn’t put a brand new TV on a dusty shelf, we also need to do this self dusting to be ready for new opportunities.

The Japanese Nagoshi ceremony is conducted at the end of June to release any and all negativity and unfortunate luck from the first part of the year and to open the doors for all good things for the remainder of the year.

Before arriving, each participant uses a rice paper proxy in the shape of a human figure to absorb any negativity in and around their personal energy fields and in their lives.

There are three major aspects to Nagoshi Taisai

First, sacred words of purification are read and participants are covered with small squares of rice paper thrown into the air like confetti. This special paper has the ability to absorb and retain any negative energies and serves as the initial immediate purification

Secondly, each person walks three times through a reed hoop that is designed to purify him/her and is both symbolic and really a way to leave the old behind and step into the new. This serves to open the doors for fresh opportunities.

Rev. Koichi Barrish releases the proxies into the river as part of Nagoshi Taisai

Finally the rice paper proxies encapsulating the negative energies of each person are released into the river where said negativity is completely and thoroughly purified by the water. (what’s more cleansing than mountain water?)

This aspect serves to totally transform anything unfortunate from the first 6 months of the year.

This ancient technology has existed for many centuries in Japan and is akin to a mid year new year.

Many of us are used to preparing for the arrival of the new year but how great would it be to get a fresh start right in the middle of the year?

If this sounds appealing, why not do something right now to create that? A really simple and highly effective practice would be to write on a piece of paper anything you want to release from 2012 so far.

Then, you can either burn this paper and throw some salt on it or throw it into a river while setting a conscious intention to let it go. (FYI please either burn or throw into water. Do not bury it)

Such a practice might sound really simple but this stuff works. Give it a try and do feel free to leave comments. Have a super badass awesome rest of 2012!

Moments with Sensei 3: The Power of Choice over Emotion and the Haunted Hospital

It was a warm night after dark in the mountains. My teacher and I sat outside on a balcony in our room in a 1920s hospital converted to a hotel and known for being extremely haunted. Our view was astonishing, we could see for miles over the valley from this balcony with doors that opened to allow in fresh evening air. This corner of the building used to be the insane asylum and old creepy lobotomy and gyn tools sat on display outside our room.

I probably had already had too many drinks (or he was waiting for me to have too many drinks) and the conversation turned to relationships then to the work I have done with stalker protection. We discussed everything from masculinity to the dynamics of a spiritual relationship to control issues and stalkers.

I remember bringing up how people seem to like to create drama and he commented how much of the control elements I’ve dealt with in stalker scenarios arises out of desperation. And desperation is the least attractive quality in a person. Generally it’s an instant deal-killer much like turning off a light switch.

(Here’s an article on cutting root of neediness)

He got up and walked over to the door as he often does with no explanation. Looking out at the stars, he stood there in peaceful silence for a few moments doing what he does, his long grey Native hair flowing down his back. He then came and sat back down noticing how I was waiting with baited breath to hear what he had to say next.

This man, who for some reason still unknown to me had agreed to mentor me in his ways years ago after years of persistence on my part, has lived an extraordinary life and has been my primary role model for what it means to be a man.

He then said “You know I had a good friend whose wife suddenly told him she was leaving with no explanation. He right then and there made a decision to just accept it and therefore create or accept no drama.”

The conversation twisted and turned as time and space seemed to shrink and blend together as it often does when I am with him. I wasn’t sure whether I was still sitting on a balcony or in some other reality. We discussed a recent case I had worked and finally settled into some personal introspective work. We went deep. As if guided by something beyond myself, I asked questions that surprised even me and I came out with some very cool realizations and insights about things that are really important to me in my life…and how they contrast with the control dynamics I often have to deal with in the case work that I do.

Though I typically like to illustrate lessons I learned with personal stories, I am not able to share any details on the security work that I do.

In my work, I have discovered several common denominators that indicate strong potential for control and stalking dynamics. I’ve written quite a bit on the subject and will post more here periodically. But the first one I want to address is intensity.

Oftentimes a person who has control issues will present way too much intensity in the beginning of a connection. To the receiver, this can be extremely charming as it feels as if you are being showered with affection. In reality, the other person is planting the seeds of their control mechanisms and it’s important to have the awareness to know the difference between genuine intensity and control dynamics.

New connections are often intense with excitement. When I met the girl who knocked me on my butt, it was extremely intense, like nothing we had ever experienced before….and quite scary in some ways as well as exciting as I knew I would have to really “step up” to be supportive of her and also in my own work on myself. I was in for a heck of a ride but I also knew that attempting to control the connection and its timeline would get me nowhere. Patience was the overarching theme and one of the lessons I was to explore.

In contrast, in the potential stalker scenario, the showering of affection continues for some time. As soon as there is a change in the response or the object of his affection pulls away or doesn’t comply with his demands, the dramatic side begins to show. First with small comments that seem innocent and caring. And then with more dramatic moves and eventually culminating in outright desperation that causes the other person to completely pull away and in worst cases can lead to emotional and/or physical abuse. When the person pulls away, the other partner will often begin to talk of what is “owed.” For example “You owe me a phone call.” Or “I want to see you just one more time.” These are manipulation tactics designed to pull on your heartstrings and only lead to more control dynamics.

Or, the other person is “ready to change” if you will “just give him/her one more chance.”

This is why the average woman will go back to the abusive man SEVEN times.

Some simple advice on dealing with these potential scenarios:

1. Develop the awareness to see through these dynamics. Ask yourself “Why am I drawn to this person?” Is it because of a genuine mind blowing connection or is it because you either 1) want to help or save him/her or 2) Need all the affection as validation of your self worth? Hard questions for sure, but worth asking.

2. If you decide it’s time to end things, end them completely. Tell the other person you are at a point where you need to go your separate ways and do it. Friendship is certainly possible in a health relationship but I am talking about relationships characterized by control dynamics which, by definition, are not truly loving or healthy.

3. Burn all memorabilia associated with the relationship and throw salt on the fire. This helps you both detach and move on and also opens the doors for new opportunities.

4. Do not accept emails, phone calls, packages, etc from the person.

5. If the person continues to push, consider tactics to protect yourself such as leaving town for a bit, being aware of your surroundings, changing your phone number, etc. True control freaks will not give up easily and will do everything they can to regain control

6. If you are the person who is longing after someone, give that person some space. Do NOT push or become desperate. If it’s over, it’s over. Let it go. One of the most attractive qualities in a person is having the self esteem to honor where another person is and being there to be supportive. This is love. Control is not love.

7. Restraining orders are a mixed bag. They can work in some scenarios but in others they only piss off the other person more and put them in a position where they are going to “prove their love.”

When I was in executive protection school, we watched videos of every public assassination attempt and physical assault on a public figure that has been recorded and studied them in detail. For example, John Hinckley shot President Reagan to attempt to catch the attention of Jody Foster who was a student at Yale University at the time and wasn’t responding to his advances. Obviously this is an extreme scenario example but I use it to illustrate the extremes that some people will utilize to accomplish their twisted goals.

It’s incredibly unlikely that you will ever face anything very threatening or dangerous. However, developing the awareness I spoke of above can assist you in many, many ways in life and in relationships of all kinds.