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Nine master teachers, nine wisdom traditions, two 9-day residentials, one journey of the human spirit into the direct experience of living awake.
Our parents taught us six kids that we were all equally important, that we should look out for each other, that everyone has the same basic need to be loved and included.
My lifelong struggle has been to find my personal significance in life, to understand my gifts, and to know they are being fully maximized. I was particularly moved when a stranger wrote to me on Facebook, saying that he was an atheist who was intrigued by my particular expression of Christian spirituality. I essentially lost the first 50 years of my life’s work after I began preaching my Gospel of Inclusion.
My ministry and message encourage a commitment to reconciling our differences, celebrating our diversity, and acknowledging our oneness. Poet and writer Fleda Brown reflects on the gatherings of her weekly meditation group, speaking to you as one who has long practiced meditation but still comes to the practice with a learner’s mind. Here’s a simple analogy: I live in the Toledo, Ohio, area where, in the summer of 2014, algae blooms contaminated Lake Erie with a toxin called microcystin that can cause liver failure. But we are not so adept at detecting threats from cultural pollution to our emotional and spiritual health.
Even as I spend a portion of my days writing about matters of the spirit, a culturally conditioned voice in me constantly critiques the effort; that voice wants me to get back to doing something more successful, productive, and remunerative. When he seems silent, it’s usually not that he has given me reprieve; rather, I have become so habituated to his presence that I have trouble distinguishing the cucumber of my authentic self from the brine of culture. After spending the past four years researching the preserved words of wisdom figures throughout human history for my book, The Inconceivable Surprise of Living, I’ve come to understand that none of our cultural “dis-eases” are new.
Now, both in my meditation practice and in the rest of everyday life, I’ve developed a delightful access to a pool of wise advisers who are ready to cleanse me of cultural confusion.
I also work with my clients to help them create their own healing pools of trusted advisors.
I’ve tested thousands of products over the years and have judged numerous beauty awards, and I cannot stress enough the importance of reading your labels. Although you’ll find everything from hair care to sun care at this natural products company, we like the Rainforest Collection (try the Foaming Cream Cleanser), with its exhilarating tropical ingredients like copaiba, derived from the ocotea tree. We’re partial to the facial masks (Rejuvenating Collagen Mask, Purifying Clay Mask, and Hydrating Yogurt Mask) of this NATRUE-certified line that formulates its products with the highest possible concentration of certified organic and wild-crafted plant ingredients. Owner Angelina Swanson wild harvests herbs and makes her own infusions for her nourishing products using local, organic, and Fair Trade ingredients. Founder Sharon Christie is an unusual blend of scientist, earth mother, and aromatherapist, launching the company in the mid-1980s. This family-run company has been making soap since 1858 (regularly giving back to worthy causes and charities worldwide), and introduced Dr.
Launched in 1994, out of a charming townhouse in New York City’s West Village, this line includes ten essential oil blends that address a variety of concerns, including Balance, Fortify, and Passion.
This Texas-based company offers a number of hand-assembled, natural skin-care products with an emphasis on bath and body. Located in the pristine Baraboo Bluffs of central Wisconsin, this line of herbal wellness products is handmade by local women on a 130-acre certified organic farm. This is a lovely line of USDA Certified Organic products that are made with love and passion in HollyBeth Anderson’s studio in Atlanta, Georgia. We’ve had our eye on this brand since its founder, Horst Rechelbacher, renowned environmentalist and founder of Aveda, first started playing around with it, slowly introducing products in the 1990s. This leading Australian skin-care company launched in 1985 and operates a 153-acre farm that’s certified organic and biodynamic by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA).
We fell in love with this small company after a facial we had at Solage Resort and Spa in Calistoga, California.
A fun and quirky skin-care line founded by Nanette Pallrand, who developed a special appreciation for nature during her extensive travels, spending several years in Brazil.
Founder Barbara Close is a Renaissance woman — aromatherapist, herbalist, esthetician, and product formulator, she founded a healing arts center 15 years ago. This line is rich in essential oils and USDA Certified Organic algae and seaweed and was lovingly created by Jenefer Palmer. One of the first brands to cater to the spa market, Pevonia was founded in 1991 by Sylvie Hennessy, a serious skin-care educator who also established the Academy of Esthetics and Spa Therapy. Although this German-based company (headquartered out of a carbon-neutral facility) turns 25 this year, it was introduced to the United States only in 2011.
You may recognize the name Red Flower, a company that launched in 1999, for its delicate signature petal-topped candles, but it’s come a long way since then.
Felecia Scott, whose family is a blend of African American and Chickasaw Indian, founded this aromatherapy company using recipes passed down from her grandmother. When Antoinette Bosco experienced the deep pain of losing a sensitive and gifted son to suicide, she found the strength to release her pain and anger and, with compassion, celebrate his life. Seeking answers in the words of teachers, religious leaders, and philosophers, she found that the perennial question did not have a satisfying answer; it was only in the example of Jesus that she found the path to healing.

In her own struggle to say yes to forgiveness and the stories of others touched by soul-searing loss who also have chosen forgiveness over vengeance, Bosco presents the message that all who have suffered the loss of a loved one need to hear: healing is possible. Antoinette Bosco is a prize-winning journalist, prolific and much-published freelance writer, and author whose work has earned her the Christopher Award, the Catholic Press Award, and the Pax Christi Award. Whether you know you are prone to depression, you may well be served by including some vigorous exercise in your routine. I’m not wealthy, nor did I ever think I would be, but I always felt I should have more money then I do. In this week’s discussion at our local meditation group, we finished up Chapter 4 in Goldstein’s One Dharma , the sections on prayer and on doubt.
Dear Eve, I am writing to ask how common it is for people to encounter problems with old relationships interfering with new relationships. When I was bused to a predominantly white, rich school in a neighborhood where my mom cleaned houses, I learned what it felt like to be excluded. I don’t allow my struggle to be negative, but I make it my motivation to excel and to move toward self-actualization. I have been surprised at how my family and I continue to master the transition to a new consciousness and community, and the profound transformation that has come from it. I encourage the principle and practice of self-actualization to experience one’s higher self. One possible response to the problem would have been to treat each affected individual for liver damage, but that obviously wouldn’t make much sense. Not recognizing that so much of what we’re contending with is in the cultural water we’re consuming daily, we struggle in isolation. He believes that constant busyness is a requirement of responsible living, and that daily reflection and meditation constitute dereliction of duty. At first, I felt a creeping sadness that so many of these people who were becoming so alive in my mind and soul have been gone for hundreds or thousands of years.
Hundreds of wisdom figures live in my mind and assist me in seeing myself, as well as my culture, from a better perspective.
To start the process, I have identified twelve cultural “dis-eases” with which most of us are familiar. Developing your own pool involves finding and committing to memory preserved words of wisdom that speak to the particular issues with which you struggle. We eat organically, we drink organically, we clean our homes and feed our pets organically — and then we carelessly coat ourselves with chemicals, as if they don’t seep in. If you’re curious and serious about learning what goes into your products, check out Skin Deep, a comprehensive cosmetic database created by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group ( Bonus: the company donates a portion of each product sold from this collection to the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research. Founder Ute Leube recently was nominated for the 2012 Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year award. The top seller is the Youth in Bloom Phyto-Active anti-aging facial line that includes a Chinese mushroom extract and goji berries to help hydrate and firm naturally. Today, all of the products are created in a USDA Certified Organic manufacturing facility and formulated with organic essential oils, medicinal herbs, exotic botanicals, and Fair Trade ingredients.
Rudolph Hauschka, whose mission was to “heal humanity and the earth,” founded this line in 1967. The first product, named “Sleep,” created by founder Valerie Bennis, continues to be the most popular. We’re fans of the One Fine Day Flawless Face Polish with good-for-you ingredients that include sugar grains, shea butter, sunflower seed oil, and grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tangerine oils that contribute to its uplifting scent.
We met founder Jane Hawley Stevens at the Integrative Health Symposium in New York City four years ago and have been enamored of her violet-based products ever since. Stand-out products include the Rose Geranium Face Moisturizer, Lavender Hand Cream, one of the best eye creams we’ve tested, and a collection of lovely aromatic candles. Now, it’s a full-blown USDA Certified Organic health and beauty brand that’s making innovative leaps in the organic beauty category. Its mission is to produce the most effective natural skin care, using the most potent organic, biodynamic, and natural ingredients available.
Developed by Marie Veronique Nadeau, a former chemistry teacher, and her daughter, physicist Dr. The country, she says, “Truly gave me an appreciation for nature because of its sheer beauty and the overwhelming diversity of plants and flowers.” Nature Girl uses natural, organic, and wild-crafted ingredients that are cultivated on small family-run organic farms. Her results-driven product line soon followed and is certified natural and organic by EcoCert. A former massage therapist specializing in energy work such as polarity and cranial sacral, she also was a spa director. This is a huge brand that includes a number of lines for all ages and skin types and prides itself on its focus on science and nature. Founder Yael Alkalay, who shares some recipes here, created the brand to inspire a sense of living fully and celebrating life through the purity and freshness of flowers. Since childhood, Felecia has been making ointment, balms, and body oils with her grandmother, who taught her how to infuse flowers, roots, tea leaves, and herbs into nutrient-rich oils.

She is passionate about healing spas and is a major voice for natural products and sustainability.
Then, one year later, a second son was murdered, together with his wife, as they slept in their new home. With this book, Bosco looks at a type of forgiveness that reaches into the depths of the human heart to find the root of suffering.
One of my yoga teachers, Nico Luce, said this in a class the other day, and it’s one of the sweetest, simplest, and most poignant sentences I’ve heard in a while.
I’m a 29-year-old male whose wedding was just called off by his 25-year-old former fiancee. I am a woman in my late 40?s who was involved with a man who had recently ended a relationship with another woman.
This change continues to challenge me to love unconditionally, to forgive consistently, and to stay true to my calling rather than succumbing to bitterness and resentfulness. He feels guilty when I spend time on Skype with my daughter who is overseas during that sacrosanct time called “the workday.” He would be content if I’d find our teenager’s argument that “everyone else is doing it” a compelling reason to grant permission for something my parental instincts have red-flagged. I wondered how human beings I have never met could become such trusted advisers, until I realized that the written word allows for the only form of time travel yet discovered. There is no psychiatric diagnostic category for any of them; but they collectively cause more suffering than the hundreds of recognized diagnoses in the psychiatric codebook. Nice touch: the company gives back 5 percent of its annual operating profits to the global Fair Trade farm network. The all-in-one castile soap became a cult favorite in the 1960s, and today the brand is a leader in the organic and Fair Trade worlds, having launched the Truth in Body Care campaign, among other good works.
The brand has made a name for itself by using natural botanicals that come from the WALA biodynamic gardens in Germany and that are obtained through a unique holistic concept.
It’s a synergistic concentrate of essential oils of lavender, marjoram, cedarwood, and ylang-ylang.
Many of the plants used as ingredients are grown on Rechelbacher’s solar-, wind-, and geothermal-powered organic farm in Wisconsin. Jay Nadeau, the goal was to create a skin-care line that would allow women to age not only gracefully but naturally.
A few of our favorites: She Dreams in Green organic bath salts and I Am Plant oatmeal exfoliating face mask. Ingredients are carefully sourced from local farmers and herbalists, and best-selling products include the Aloe Cleansing Gel and the Carrot Seed Soothing Serum. During this time, she became disenchanted with the products she was putting on guests’ bodies, learning that what you see in a bottle all too often is not what you get!
Cult products include the Intensive Seed Oil Capsules (we don’t board a plane without them!) and the Moisturizing Lip Balm, rich in neroli cassis.
Nature is the name of the natural skin-care line made up of six products that are just as good for the face as they are for the body and are meant to consolidate skin-care regimens. There are a number of delicious handmade elixirs for the skin and hair from which to choose. Just the other day I was watching a commercial for gold-plated faux $50 coins and learned that by buying today I could “avoid disappointment and future regret.” Now that is something worth knowing! He wants me to ponder and get worked up about deep questions like whether or not I need a marble countertop in the kitchen. My clients first reflect on the dis-eases that feel most relevant and then choose the advisors that provide the most clarity both in their meditations and in daily life.
We’re fans of both the Sensory Fusion line and the Organics line (we recommend the Lavender and Chamomile Mineral Bath Salts). Products are Fair Trade and USDA Certified Organic and offer a variety of almond, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender-infused bath and body products.
A few of the results-oriented products we admire: Plant Stem Cell Renewal Complex, featuring ingredients from a proprietary blend of antioxidant-rich plant cells from edelweiss, coneflower, and pennywort, as well as Lip Delivery Antioxidant Gloss. Ingredients are Fair Trade, organic, and locally grown, whenever possible, and the company donates 10 percent of profits to organizations dedicated to helping women and children in Third World countries.
Made with certified organic ingredients sourced from Finland, they include waters that are pure flower distillations and whole essential oils that are cold-press extractions. The latest offering is Oh My Aching and includes eucalyptus and rosemary to help ease minor aches and pains.
Am I succeeding in life?—are so confusing because our lives are immersed in such a confused culture. Of the many products, Every Day Sheer Coverage is favored by many for its anti-aging and sun protection qualities.

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