Death — or Transition?

With Halloween and the Day of the Dead upon us, it seems like a good time to discuss the topic of death. What really happens when our physical body dies?

While modern science and medicine is convinced that our physical bodies are all there is to us, every ancient culture and wisdom on Earth disagrees. When we die, they say, only our physical body dies. Afterward, another part of us moves on or transitions into another realm of being.

While hard-headed materialists say that belief in an afterlife is all wishful thinking, I tend to side with the wisdom of the ages. In my view, what’s the harm in doing so? Of course, one doesn’t want to waste one’s life on Earth focusing on or being manipulated by others, in the hopes of a better afterlife. But if nothing truly exists after death, what’s the harm in believing there might be? And if something does exist after death — well, believing otherwise seems an awful lot like spending your life feeling empty, scared, and depressed about something that never was true in the first place.

Actually, there is quite a lot of evidence for the afterlife, and I have a few personal experiences of it. Take, for example, the work of psychiatrist Dr. Ian Stevenson about reincarnation. He found many children who had memories of their previous lives — including obscure details that were later verified. There are even online videos and movies made about stories like this. (Just type in “child with memory of afterlife” to YouTube.)

Then there’s mediumship — the art of communicating with the dead. For a while, my husband Steve and I occasionally visited spiritualist churches, including a trip to the spiritualist town of Lilydale, New York. Spiritualism is a religious belief system whose goal is connection to the unseen realm of the afterlife. Adherents train themselves in the art of mediumship, as well as other psychic abilities. I believe there is a lot to be said for visiting a medium, even if the bulk of contact information is bogus. For example, contact with a recently-passed loved one can do an awful lot to lift debilitating grief; I myself had the experience of this.

Here is a description of one contact with the dead that was particularly convincing and noteworthy to Steve and me. While still in our car in the parking lot of a spiritualist church, I focused on the intention to contact my father who died in 1971 at the age of 72. Although I said nothing to anyone except Steve about this intention, the medium came to me during the service and told me he was receiving contact with an older man. The medium kept telling me he was being shown the image of a baby falling out of a carriage. I told him that this did not ring a bell for me, so the medium moved on to someone else. But later, Steve told me that this had actually happened!

Steve had forgotten all about it, but about 20 years earlier when our son Izaak was a baby, Steve was pushing him in a stroller but had forgotten to fasten the seat belt. When the stroller hit a bump in the sidewalk, Izaak fell hard, face-first onto the pavement. The odd thing was, Izaak didn’t cry at all and was unhurt, despite quite a bad fall. Steve was shocked at the time; he was sure Izaak was going to have some kind of injury. In fact, he didn’t tell me about the accident because he thought I’d be angry with him! When Steve and I told the medium after the service about this occurrence, he said that sometimes the dead tell us information like this to let us know that they had intervened to prevent an injury.

Now, had this medium really made contact my father? Or was he just psychic and “reading” a long-forgotten event from Steve’s mind? In either case, it’s rather amazing!

As I discuss in detail in my book Active Consciousness, spiritual teacher Rudolf Steiner taught the following about the death process. First, our physical body dies. Then, over the course of the next few days (Buddhists say three days), the energy or etheric body dissipates. The etheric body is likely related to the electromagnetic field and is the fundamental lattice upon which the physical body is built. It is also the primary realm of operation of energy medicines, like acupuncture and homeopathy.

After the physical body dies and the etheric body dissipates, the higher level energy bodies — the emotional astral body, the mental body, and the causal body — continue on. As I discuss in Active Consciousness, I believe that these higher (or deeper) parts of ourselves likely operate in higher dimensional space. They are also part of us when we are alive (even if we are not conscious of them), and give us access to things like psychic abilities and sudden inspirations. I also think that these three bodies correspond to the “Basic Self” (astral body), “Middle Self” (mental body), and “Higher Self” (causal body) of Huna, a spiritual system based on Hawaiian shamanistic beliefs, which I have written about quite frequently in past newsletters.

Although we now only exist as an astral/mental/causal being, we are still essentially “ourselves”. Although we don’t have a physical body living in three-dimensional space, we can create worlds that seem much like the one we departed. As I discuss in Active Consciousness, this isn’t suprising if we are actually operating in four-dimensional space. This realm of being is essentially like the one we sense in our dreams. In fact, Steiner said that our three higher bodies detach from our physical body during sleep or out-of-body experiences. Our primary memories of such experiences are largely those of our astral body.

A very detailed cosmology based on this kind of belief system is described in the work of Waldo Vieira and is taught by the International Academy of Consciousness. I took a couple of weekend workshops with this organization a few years ago and found it fascinating. One of their main focuses is on teaching people to have out-of-body experiences. The organization is based in Brazil, where beliefs of this type are much more common. In fact, a Brazilian movie, Nosso Lar (Our Home) is based on these ideas. I recommend it to all of you — it’s fascinating, and the music is great — written by composer Philip Glass.

There is so much more that I could write about this topic. I hope this short article has provided food for thought and ideas to explore during your Halloween season!

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Homeopathy — Ever Controversial

Homeopathy has aroused controversy ever since the time of Hahnemann — mostly because it posed a threat to the medical status quo. Yes, it has always been mocked as “ridiculous” by the powers-that-be within medical orthodoxy. But I believe that the outcry against homeopathy has been mostly motivated by the bottom line — that homeopathy has always achieved successes that conventional methods did not; that the underlying tenets of homeopathy point a finger at the dangers of (usually suppressive) conventional medical practices; that conventional doctors have been known to become homeopaths (at times in large numbers) when they realize its truth and efficacy; and especially, that the remedies, being essentially cost-free, pose a threat to those who manufacture medicines. 200 years ago it was the apothecaries that chased Hahnemann out of town because he was making his own remedies. Today it is the drug companies and the medical-industrial-complex that do all they can to undermine homeopathy. If homeopathy was a treatment of little or no consequence, this pattern would not have been constantly repeated for over 200 years, let alone still exist.

Several recent developments underscore the fact that this pattern is alive and well. The fact that things have been escalating may also indicate that homeopathy is gaining ground despite all efforts against it. Indeed, since modern science is getting closer to explaining the mysterious power of ultra dilutions, the threat of homeopathy grows ever larger.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Just One Drop, Laurel Chiten’s new movie about homeopathy, at the Mill Valley Film Festival. I recommend that you visit the web site and check it out for yourself. Another filmmaker friend pointed out to me recently that the Mill Valley Film Festival is considered to be extremely prestigious. So the fact that they embraced Laurel’s film wholeheartedly (indeed, a film festival official spoke of his enthusiastic support to me personally) says a lot about both the movie and, perhaps, the future of homeopathy itself.

As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, I have been supporting Laurel’s valiant efforts to make this movie since the beginning, and I was thrilled to sit next to her at the film festival showing and have dinner with her afterward. Although Laurel interviewed and filmed many prominent homeopaths all over the world during the past eight years while she was developing Just One Drop, what eventually gelled the film for her was zeroing in on the ongoing controversy surrounding homeopathy — in particular, she ended up placing a special focus on the gross misconduct that apparently occurred during the development of a recent Australian study that dismissed homeopathy.

Of course, this kind of thing has happened before. For example, a third European meta-analysis of homeopathic studies that was negative, which was conducted after two previous positive meta-analyses, turned out to be plagued by fudging and subterfuge. In the case of the recent Australia study, a special effort seems to have been made to eliminate all positive studies of homeopathic efficacy from any consideration (even if they were extremely well-executed and highly regarded). Unfortunately, the world-wide media picked up and promulgated only the negative studies, while ignoring the positive ones. Personally, I believe this is due to the big money and influence that Big Pharma wields over almost all media.

While I might have enjoyed a greater focus on miracle cures in Laurel’s movie (though there were some), I was not the target audience of this film. Laurel’s goal wasn’t to play to homeopathy’s supporters, but rather, to provide a balanced expose’ to the general public. I think she largely succeeded. For example, my son Izaak, who lives in Australia and has many friends who dismiss homeopathy, felt that the film really has the potential to enable open-minded skeptics to open their minds just a little bit more.

Interestingly, another movie about homeopathy is also currently making the rounds — “Magic Pills”. This film focuses more on convincing case studies of homeopathic efficacy.

Support for homeopathy and alternative therapies in general has also recently emerged from some wealthy donors. In September, the University of California at Irvine (UCI) announced a huge contribution of $200 million from the Samueli family to create a new facility and program to study “integrative” medicine. Nary a moment had passed after the announcement of this gift when the most prominent quackbuster skeptics (among them Steven Novella, who also appeared in “Just One Drop”) pounced upon UCI with denouncements, with the mainstream press (e.g., the LA Times) quickly echoing them. In this case, it wasn’t homeopathy in particular that was decried but the fact that UCI would dare give quarter to any form of alternative treatment. You can read Dana Ullman’s insightful article about this event here.

It remains to be seen what happens after this backlash from the media. Although Susan Samueli is a big supporter of homeopathy and studied it herself, it’s possible that examination of homeopathy in particular will be excluded from UCI’s program. But it is quite interesting that at a time when many medical schools are making some effort at opening their doors to complementary and alternative modalities, even just a crack, the Samueli’s gift was met with such intense opposition. Once again, I sniff Big Pharma at work — a sign that they are more threatened than ever!

Yes, these are interesting times. But I have no doubt that homeopathy will continue to survive as it always has. The question is whether homeopathy will grow (with its power potentially becoming usurped by the medical complex), or it continues along its merry way as a small, persecuted therapy for those who know about and appreciate true healing.

 

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How to Make Happiness a Habit

Most of us spend the majority of our time in an emotional state of mind that my teacher, Gary Sherman, calls our “baseline state.” Usually, this habitual way of being is established in childhood, often as a reaction to the underlying tone of our family home or, perhaps, various childhood traumas.

The trouble is, our baseline state is so habitual, so “normal” for us, that we don’t even realize or feel what it is. But you might be able to identify it by getting quiet and tuning in — perhaps to physical tensions in your body. Your baseline state may also reveal itself in habitual thought patterns. Another way to discover your baseline state is to first tune in and then draw a little face caricature of your emotions. Or, imagine that you’re looking into the window of your childhood home and see yourself — what was your state?

For me, I tend to be in a constant, subtle state of free-floating anxiety. There is always a sense that I have to be on alert in case something bad happens suddenly. I believe this state arose from my father’s tendency to have quick and unpredictable bursts of anger, as well as several sudden deaths in my extended family that occurred during my childhood.

Certainly, recognizing one’s baseline state can be eye-opening in and of itself. But what I’d like to talk about today is our innate ability to establish new emotional habits. Lately, I’ve been reading a book called Life On Earth. The author, Mike Dooley, asserts that the underlying goal of our life here on Earth is to be happy. Yes, we might want wealth, love, or success — but it’s because we believe that these things will make us happy.

The truth is, however, that you can be happy at any moment, no matter what is happening. We all have the innate ability to shift our emotional state intentionally, if only for a few seconds. So why not try to create a new habit of shifting your state into happiness, at least for a few brief moments? It’s easier than you think.

How to establish a new habit? One way I’ve discovered is to link the desired habit to an existing routine. For example, over the course of each day, I have to do a series of six exercises for my weak ankle, each taking from 1-4 minutes to perform. I remember to do them by linking each exercise to one of my daily routines — making my hot cereal in the morning, boiling water for coffee, etc. I’ve done this for over a year now, and now whenever I boil the water for my coffee, I automatically do the associated exercise. It’s a habit.

Last week, while meditating, I received an inspiration to try and make happiness a habit. I then engaged in a happiness experiment. I decided to link “happiness” to a routine I do every 2-4 hours — going to the toilet. Each time I do so, I now take approximately 30 seconds to be happy. First I settle using the technique described in Active Consciousness — “Feet. Seat. Back.” That is, I get into the Now by sensing my feet, seat, and back. When I feel settled, I close my eyes and put a smile on my face. Almost immediately I feel a sense of peace and joy within me — indeed, a connection to my inner self. Another thing that can help is imagining something that brings joy — for example, a child or pet. Gratitude also can appear. That’s it!

I’m happy to report that my experiment was a success. I noticed that after “forcing” myself to do this for two or three days, my little happiness shift had become a habit. Now, every time I sit on the toilet, I sense that it’s time to get happy. I don’t need to remind myself. I haven’t yet determined what the net effect will be on my life, but it certainly can’t hurt to be happy for a few moments several times a day!

Do you think you could devote 30 seconds a few times a day to happiness? Try it out. It will only take a total of less than five minutes out of your busy day. Make happiness a habit!

 

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Coincidence, Con, or Kismet?

I thought my general audience would enjoy this recent article from the Ask Amy blog about the synchronicities that can occur when we make an important love connection.

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“Just One Drop” Is Here!

For many years, the Impossible Cure Newsletter has talked about a movie-in-the-making about homeopathy — “Just One Drop.” Laurel Chiten, the award-winning filmmaker of “Just One Drop”, has poured her heart and soul into this project for over 10 years.

Well, the time is now! The film has been premiering world-wide for months now, to rave reviews, and showings are now being scheduled in the USA too. My son Izaak attended the sold-out premiere in Sydney, Australia in July and said it really was great! He felt that it could change people’s minds about homeopathy and convince them to give it a fair go. I myself will be attending a showing at the Marin Film Festival in October.

Please support this excellent movie and make your plans today to attend a showing — or sponsor one in your city. Get your tickets today!

 

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Synchronicity of the Month!

I just can’t resist telling you about an amazing synchronicity I recently experienced. For the past several years, I have utilized an excellent journal called The Sacred Journey. Among other things, it involves “pulling cards” from a divination deck of your choice to reveal a message for each month. I utilize the Medicine Card deck, based on the symbolism associated with various animals. Over time, because of the process of “conditioning” that I describe in Active Consciousness, the accuracy of these cards has grown to be increasingly apt, significant, and helpful to me.

Recently, I entered a period of time for which I drew the Opossum card in the “upside-down” position (the meaning of the cards differs, depending on if you pull them in a rightside-up versus an upside-own orientation). A couple of days later, I began to notice a peculiar smell in my bedroom. As it grew stronger, I realized that it was the odor of a dead animal. I live in the country, so an occasional dead rat in the crawl space beneath my house is a fact of life. “Oh great!” I thought. “Now I have to find that dead rat under my bedroom.” Before I got around to it, however, I was doing some qi-gong exercises next to the sliding-glass door of my bedroom, with the air from my outside deck blowing in through the screen. “Odd! That smell is now definitely wafting in from outside!”

When I was done with my exercises, I suddenly got the notion that I should look beneath the boards of the deck. And right there, just outside the door and beneath the deck boards, was a dead opossum! Talk about synchronicity! There was my upside-down opossum right outside my bedroom door!

Now, I have lived in my house for 33 years, and never have I found any dead animal under the deck, let alone a dead opossum. In fact, that part of the deck is very low to the ground and accessing underneath it is very difficult. Luckily, there was an access door within a foot of the opossum and I was able to pull it out and dispose of it in a place where I wouldn’t have to smell it.

You can be sure that I read and and re-read the Medicine Card message for Opossum after that synchronicity! The ways of the world are ever mysterious.

 

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Face Your Feelings

Just a few weeks ago, my friend Lise told me about the Sedona Method. I vaguely remembered hearing of it before. Originated by Lester Levenson in the 1950s and now taught by his protege Hale Dwoskin, I eventually realized that I had read an ad about the method in an airline magazine. With this new recommendation from Lise, I decided to explore it further — and I’m glad I did!

Just like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), the Sedona Method enables one to truly face and release life’s difficult emotions and experiences. The Sedona Method, however, is particularly simple and rapid in effectiveness. In fact, you can easily watch a few videos on YouTube and read free content on the Sedona Method website and start to use it right away. I’ve been finding it extremely useful for releasing a few of the anxieties I tend to experience.

It wasn’t long after I started reading Hale Dwoskin’s book about the Sedona Method before I realized that it is actually a perfect illustration of homeopathic principles and philosophy. Just as most allopathic treatments focus on suppressing troublesome symptoms, most of us tend to suppress our uncomfortable emotions, often by distracting ourselves with entertainment, alcohol, or even with suppressive drugs.

Homeopathic philosophy, in contrast, teaches us that suppression is never truly curative. Instead, suppression of physical symptoms usually only works for a short time, and if a symptom is completely suppressed, it often leads to deeper and more serious physical problems. Similarly, suppression of emotions never works in the long run. We might evade our feelings for a while but they return. And even if we completely suppress our emotions and don’t experience them consciously anymore, they are still buried in the subconscious, often deepening into physical symptoms (which we then suppress too). For example, we might effectively suppress our anger at our spouse, only to develop recurrent heartburn and bloating, which, after repeated suppression with over-the-counter medicines, eventually develops into chronic colitis.

The homeopathic approach, of course, is to meet like with like — to meet our suffering head on. To treat a symptom, a homeopath will prescribe an energetic dose of a substance that normally could cause the symptom in question. The resulting healing can sometimes be quick and nearly miraculous — a spontaneous release of even chronic symptoms. (To learn more about homeopathy, consider reading my first book, Impossible Cure.)

With the Sedona Method, we likewise meet like with like — indeed we welcome and actively experience our feelings. And miraculously, using a simple three or four step inquiry process, these feelings can be released — often quite quickly. With repetition (just as repeating a remedy is sometimes needed), chronic psychological complexes can also be released, sometimes revealing underlying feelings that formed a foundation for the problem in the first place.

This uncovering of underlying layers is also analogous to the homeopathic healing process. In particular, the successful healing of a physical problem often uncovers the suppressed physical problem that preceded it. For example, homeopathic treatment of colitis might revert into the less intractable gastrointestinal problems, which can then be treated homeopathically too. Eventually, the buried anger at our spouse is revealed, which might be addressed with a remedy — or with a technique like the Sedona Method. Of course, it would have been simpler to use the Sedona Method in the first place!

If you think about it, we all could sure use a daily dose of the Sedona Method. Our daily lives can often be a veritable roller coaster of anxiety, anger, guilt, and fear. We tend suppress it all with drugs, entertainment, coffee, booze, sex, and more. The net effect, of course, is deeper psychological and physical problems — which we then suppress again. No wonder health care costs are eating us alive! Even using alternative healthcare modalities can be expensive.

Why not nip it all in the bud in the first place? That’s why I’ve become so fascinated lately with learning and writing about self-care techniques that don’t cost a dime — techniques like EFT, the Sedona Method, teachings based on Hawaiian shamanism (like Huna), and more. After all, the answer is almost always within. And it doesn’t have to be hard and complicated. Release and happiness can be only a hair’s breadth away, if we only let ourselves see and feel it!

 

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Some New Articles Relevant to the Legality of Homeopathic Practice and Remedies

As I’ve stressed in Impossible Cure, homeopathy can only thrive and grow if its practice is legal (enabling more homeopaths to be trained and become available to patients) and if homeopathic remedies are freely available too. These recent articles by health freedom lawyer Diane Miller (who I worked with when I got involved in passing California’s health freedom bill back in 2002) are relevant to these issues.

Homeopathy and the National Health Freedom Coalition

Homeopathy and the Federal Trade Commission: Policies for the 21st Century

 

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The Meaning of Life …. According to Amy!

Check out this short article I wrote about my views about the meaning of life.  It was solicited by a site that collected this material from various writers. The content of the site has now been published as  a book.

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Homeopath — Heal Thyself!

Check out this recent article I wrote about how homeopaths need to start taking better care of themselves. This article appeared last year in The American Homeopath journal, and now appears online on the excellent site, Hpathy.

p.s. When I say, “heal thyself” I don’t mean treat thyself!

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