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End of a (blog) Era

 
Sunset photo taken the other day by my husband Brad Klopman.

Sunset photo taken the other day by my husband Brad Klopman.

 

I began my blog almost nine years ago, April 17, 2009. (Tech is like dog years, feels like 63 years ago.) I remember it well. I sat outside on my front stoop in LA, sun in my eyes and Kansas (my then dog) rolling in the grass beside me. It was early in the blogging world. I remember trying to figure out "how to create a blog." It was exciting and challenging. I had no idea what I was doing and I certainly didn't know what I was going to blog about. All I knew was that I had an urge--a desire to share information and to connect with other like-minded folks (social media was just becoming a thing). It felt soul-baring. 

I wrote this in my introduction to the blog: 

In his autobiography "My Experiments with Truth", Gandhi says, "Writing (this autobiography) is one of the experiments with truth. One of its objects is certainly to provide some comfort and food for reflection."  

My blog was definitely an experiment. I was constantly thinking about it, juggling sometimes how far to push it, yet wanting to serve the causes I was passionate about, as well as my own truth, and my dear readers. I hoped, as Gandhi said, to provide some comfort and food for reflection--not just for my readers but, honestly, for myself. Blogging made me feel less lonely. And that was important for me in those years.

To those of you who have followed my blog, thank you. Above all, I hope my posts have in a small way been a source of something good in your life. Maybe you even found a new favorite vegan thing! 

Though I will continue my experiments with truth in other formats, it is the end of an era for me. I have deleted 95% of my posts--hundreds of them--except for a few that still mean something to me or still garner attention. I wrote a post called, "How I Healed a Pinch Nerve in My Neck" that gets a hit every couple of minutes from all over the world. It has 80 comments and I've received countless personal messages about how this post has helped someone out there. It's beyond gratifying to know that post has been and continues to be of service to others. 

The next day, April 18th, 2009, I sat outside on my stoop again--laptop in hand, sun in my eyes (it's LA, after all) Kansas rolling in the grass, and wrote my first real blog post. Here it is: 

Today I am determined to see things differently. Truth be told, I wake up every morning and say that. I figure it's like the daily spoonful of glucosamine I give my dog Kansas for his bad hips. I don't really notice he walks any easier, but I trust that over time it's having some effect.

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In memory of Kansas.

5 Things to Do Under Tomorrow's Supermoon

PREFACE: I've been obsessed with the moon since before I knew it was written in my name. My middle name is Selene, which in Greek Mythology is the "Goddess of the Moon." Selene was also known as Cynthia, because she was born on Mount Cynthus. I don't think my dad knew this when he named me Cynthia Selene, but I'll have to check. On top of all that, the moon rules the subconscious, which I'm also obsessed with, being a hypnotherapist. So that's a long-winded way of saying here's another moon post. 


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We haven't seen a Supermoon this super since 1948! Tomorrow, Monday November 14th, the moon will be the closest it's been to earth since most us have been alive. (It will be closest and fullest at 8:52 a.m. EST.) The moon has a deep subconscious effect, we can see its power in action by the powerful ocean's changing tides. This Supermoon is stirring things, and that makes it a great time to stimulate the change you desire in your own life. (We will continue to feel the moon's energy a couple of days before and a couple of days after.) Here are five Supermoon rituals to align yourself with this opportunity.

1. Meditate on Abundance

This particular Supermoon is in Taurus, which rules money. Meditate on opening yourself to receive more money. Repeat "I deserve money." Or "Money flows to me." Or "I am abundant." Just pick one and repeat it all day long. As a hypnotherapist, I prefer simple, short affirmations. If you have enough money, meditate on how you can be of service to the world with your money, or affirm, "I use my money for the good of all."

2. Release the Old

A Supermoon is the beginning of a new phase. What better way to make room for the new than to release the old? Clear out clutter; throw away or donate clothes, books, housewares you don't need; give worn sheets, towels and blankets to an animal shelter, release a friendship that doesn't serve a higher purpose for you anymore, drink more water so you pee out more toxins, you get the idea. Just clear the way!

3. Journal Your Desires

This Supermoon is coinciding with the winding down of our 2016 calendar year. Take a moment to write in your journal (or iPhone) your desires for the rest of this year. What do you want to accomplish before year's end? What do you need to do to achieve that? Who do you want to be in 2017?

4. Smudge Your Home 

I love to smudge! Smudging is the use of dried sage sticks to cleanse and clear the energy of your home/office/car/wherever. (Purchase here on Amazon, just in time for tomorrow.) I smudge about twice a year. The Supermoon is a very favorable time for smudging.

5. Moonbathe Your Crystals (and Yourself!)

Pick out your favorite quartz crystal. What? You don't have one?! Okay, I've got you covered. Go here and buy some on Amazon Prime to be delivered tomorrow (and if it's the next day, that's fine too. Moonbeams will still be in effect from the Supermoon energy). Once you have your crystal(s), run it under cold water and then set it in the moon's light overnight to be supercharged. It's kinda magical. Once charged, place it on your nightstand while you sleep or hold it as a meditation stone. I like to put them all around our house. If you prefer rose quartz, you could purchase a little pyramid like this. Or indulge in a necklace to wear. Not into crystals? No worries! Bathe yourself in moonbeams. Is it private enough and warm enough where you live to sit outside (preferably naked or semi-naked!) and soak up the moon's energy? Then that'd be amazing, and definitely what you ought to do! If not, just let the top of your head and your face soak in those good moonbeams. 

 

We have so much support! The universe is on your side urging you towards healing, growth, greater wellbeing and success, and Mother Nature bends to kiss your forehead, blessing you with everything she has. Spend a moment in gratitude for what you do have, and open yourself to what you could have. 

Super Easy Raw Chocolate Vegan Birthday Cake

It's my husband Brad's birthday today! And he loves healthy superfoods, so I concocted this raw chocolate cake this morning after perusing a few recipes (plant-based pixie, this rawsome vegan life, eating vibrantly). I took what I liked from one, and something else from another, and substituted what I had on hand, and, tada!, it surprisingly turned out great! 

If you haven't tried raw cacao (not cocoa) powder, I highly recommend it for baking and putting in smoothies for a rich, chocolatey, raw superfoods boost! I use Navitas Naturals Organic, available on Amazon

DIRECTIONS

CRUST

1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup walnuts
(pinch of sea salt and a dribble of coconut oil, if you like, but not necessary)

Using a food processor, blend the walnuts into a powder, then add dates and continue to blend until sticky. Firmly pat down into a 7-9" springform pan. (A round cake pan will do, but it'll be harder to cut it out.) Place in freezer.

FILLING

3 ripe avocados
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup raw cacao powder
pinch of sea salt
3 - 4 tsps. agave
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Using a food processor, blend the avocados, vanilla, and coconut oil until smooth, then add remaining ingredients. If you don't have agave, just skip it. Add more or less sweetener, depending on your preference. (And really you can add any liquid sweetener.) I added the sweetener slowly and kept tasting to my preference. 

Spatula ingredients onto crust, then freeze for a couple of hours (even overnight). Let thaw like 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

I decorated mine with walnuts, dark chocolate pieces, and blueberries, but you can add whatever you like--coconut flakes, strawberries, bananas--that's the fun part! 

PS. For all those purists out there, it should be noted that with maple syrup and agave, and possibly the vanilla extract, this cake isn't technically totally raw, but it's like 95% raw.

Enjoy! 


 

 

My Plastic-Free Kitchen

This summer I got rid of about 97% of the plastic in my kitchen. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time. Google the dangers of plastic and you'll come up with a half million results. It's no secret that plastics are at best questionable for our health. This isn't some hippie idea, it's serious enough that leading scientists, top research schools like Harvard, global environmental organizations, EPA programs, medical organizations and more have done research into the harmful effects of plastic. 

We can't avoid plastic. It's so ubiquitous we don't even notice it. Even though it's only really been in daily use, like in dishes, since the 50s. It's still too early to fully understand the daily effects of our modern reliance on this toxic chemical known as plastic. But we do know that BPA (Bisphenol A) is one of the most pervasive chemicals in modern life. BPA is a building block of plastic and is used in thousands of consumer products, including food packaging. It's one of many man-made chemicals classified as endocrine disruptors, which alter the function of the endocrine system by mimicking the role of the body's natural hormones. Creepy stuff with adverse consequences, like obesity, breast growth in men, early puberty for girls, breast and prostate cancers. Many plastic additives have been banned across Europe, Canada, and China, surprisingly. 

There's sufficient evidence to make you scratch your head, and perhaps think "Maybe I don't need all this plastic in my life." I can't control every piece of plastic I come in contact with, but I do have control over what I put in my mouth and on my body and in my home. I can limit my exposure to plastic, and make choices that align with what I value. 

By the way, I am of the belief that fear is one of the greatest killers. No fear mongering here. I promise. Just good old-fashioned pre-plastic common sense. It's important to find a balance between being practical, living normally, listening to your own inner guidance, heeding health warnings, but also not caving to fear. I don't live in fear of plastic, nor should anyone else. But that doesn't mean it's good for us. Just like I would get rid of black mold if it was growing in my house, I am getting rid of unnecessary plastic, particularly in my kitchen where it comes in contact with what goes into my, and my family's, body.

I actually found it liberating to get rid of most of the plastic in my kitchen. It felt like I was taking back a part of my life in some strange way. I couldn't believe the copious amounts of plastic I had tucked away--food/storage containers, cutting boards, measuring cups, dog and cat bowls, cooking utensils and more.

But when it came time to let go of some of the bowls I've always liked, it wasn't easy. 

I replaced what I wanted with metal or glass. I searched high and low for an all glass storage container set, but couldn't find one. So I bought this set below on the left with the red lids. The lids are BPA-free (when you buy plastic look for BPA-free) but my husband and I are still careful to not pack them so the food touches the lids. We love this set. I'll include a link to some of the things I purchased below at the end of this post. 

I love these 100% cotton food storage bags!

I suppose it's like when you clean out your closet, you then wear only your favorite clothes. I started using the beautiful midcentury glass cooking ware and bowls that my grandmother passed down to me years ago as storage containers. It now makes me so happy to see them being used every day! (And I'm sure it makes her smile, as well.)

See, I'm not going bananas and feverishly ridding my house of every ounce of plastic. I used plastic bags to toss (donate and recycle) my plastic containers. (On the hunt for BPA free plastic garbage bags!)

Goodbye plastic kitchen stuff!

I hope this has inspired you to at least reconsider the plastics in your kitchen, which I think, is the most important place to start. We can't do everything, but we can all do something. And sometimes, that's enough. 

Here are some of the things I bought. And I can honestly say I would purchase them all again. Great products all around! I've linked the titles to their Amazon page. 

Happy BPA Plastic-Free Zoning Your Kitchen!










How I Healed a Pinched Nerve (Herniated Disc / Bulging Disc) in My Neck

 
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January 30, 2014

As I write this, I am almost fully recovered from a tremendously painful pinched nerve in my neck. I'm at about 95%. My left thumb is still numb, but the feeling in the top of my left hand has come back almost entirely. It's been since Dec. 18th, six weeks to the day.

I want to share my story and process of healing, because there is a dearth of first-hand accounts of healing this painful experience available. I know, I searched the internet for weeks trying to narrow down the confusing information not only from online but from the chiropractors, doctors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and physical therapists I saw in person. It's very clear what to do for a broken finger, for instance, there aren't many differing opinions, but with a pinched nerve, contradictions abound. I was told to ice it, heat it, take hot baths at 105*, don't take baths, move it, immobilize it, rest it, exercise it, sleep with two pillows, don't sleep with a pillow, only sleep with a cervical pillow, sit on hard surfaces, sit on soft surfaces...the list of complete opposite advice goes on.

On top of that, no one quite knows what to call it: pinched nerve, compressed nerve, herniated disc, bulging disc, ruptured disc, torn disc, slipped disc, collapsed disc, disc protrusion, degenerative disc disease....the list of names I heard goes on.

This post is certainly not to replace medical advice. It's just my experience of what worked and didn't work, and what I wish I had done differently. I don't know if any of this matches up to conventional wisdom, it's just my opinion. (I've linked the things I purchased to where you can purchase them, as well.)

Backstory: I am in my late 40s, in good health, don't exercise and have never taken prescription meds. I was a gymnast until the age of 16, lots of crunching of the neck and flexing of the spine. I had an incident with my neck when I was 14. I woke up in the morning and stretched, heard a crack in my neck and couldn't move. My dad took me to an osteopath and the doctor adjusted me and I was healed. It was pretty miraculous.

When I was 23, I got rear ended in my car and had minor whiplash. I went to a chiropractor a few times and wore a brace. And that healed pretty quickly. I do (did!) sleep on my stomach most of my life, one of the worst things for your neck. I sit a lot during the day, hunched over a computer or talking to clients with, I'm sure, pretty poor posture. So perhaps all of that contributed over time.

In July 2013, I was walking in the mall with my husband and I felt a tingling in my left arm. I mentioned it to my him but we both shrugged it off. A few weeks later, we were in the mall again (I was getting my first pair of glasses, so we kept going back for check ups and fittings. Funny how my neck coincided with my eyes--it's an aging thing!) and the tingling started in my left arm. Why did I only feel it in the mall? I have no idea. Never felt it any other time.

A few months after that, I noticed my neck and shoulders were sore. I thought it'd go away by itself, but it didn't. I went to a chiropractor who didn't seem alarmed, didn't ask for X-rays, and adjusted me. I felt worse after. For the next few weeks my neck and shoulder bothered me on and off, but I didn't do anything about it. I had tried the chiropractor and it didn't help, and I wasn't in enough pain to go to a doctor, so I left it alone. By Thanksgiving, I was feeling a bit run down, as well.

I am a hypnotherapist and felt I needed to decompress from my work with clients, so I decided to take two weeks off at Christmas. My last client was Dec. 18th, and the next day, Dec. 19th, my husband and I were supposed to leave for a Christmas vacation in NYC. After that, the plan was to take 10 days off of work to "relax and refocus."

Dec. 16th, I met with a new doctor--nothing neck related--just for a physical for my insurance. My neck wasn't bothering me that much then. In fact, I forgot to mention it to him in our detailed health history. It wasn't until our meeting was over that I remembered and said, "Oh, I forgot to mention that my left arm has been tingling. I think it's related to a sore neck that I've had on and off for a few months." After talking, he told me that I should get my neck X-rayed and we would go from there. I had no intention of getting an X-ray.

The next night, Dec. 17th, I was very stressed about something, and I tossed and turned all night. Awful night's sleep. The following morning I woke up and told my husband I was in "excruciating pain." (At least the most pain I had felt up until that point. Little did I know, it was about to get way worse.) I decided that after work that day I would see the chiropractor downstairs from my office. I still didn't know if I should go to NYC the next day. The chiropractor adjusted me and said hopefully, "I think you'll be able to go on your trip tomorrow." I went home that night and it got worse. First BIG MISTAKE. I should not have gone to the chiropractor. (At least not at this point.) I should have realized that from the couple of months earlier when I went to the chiropractor and it exacerbated the injury.

Second BIG MISTAKE was heating my neck that night, which I was told to do by the chiropractor. I cancelled our trip (Thank God I didn't go!) and laid in bed with heat. Third BIG MISTAKE, I used a pillow that was supposed to support the neck. The next morning, I woke up and did not recognize myself. I didn't know my body was capable of doing what it did. My head was frozen stuck way forward, like a turtle. And my left shoulder was frozen stuck about three inches higher than my right shoulder. I couldn't believe it! I could not turn my head even a quarter of an inch. I was now in truly excruciating pain and had constant muscle spasms up and down my back and along my side. (For reference, I've had broken bones and they felt like minor scratches in comparison.)

I had been told to put heat on my neck, so I stood under the shower, thinking I could relax the muscles. It didn't help. I cried out in pain. My husband called the chiropractor and she said either I needed to go to the emergency room or if I could somehow manage to get myself to her, I needed to have an adjustment ASAP.

My husband and I were very scared, not sure what was happening. But I knew hospitals were out for me. So I laid down in the back seat of the car as he drove me back to the chiropractor. I wailed in pain the whole way. And here was my fourth BIG MISTAKE. I wish I had not gotten out of bed. I wish I had not gone anywhere. I wish I had iced my neck, stayed in bed and did not move.

But because we didn't know what was happening, we took the advice to get my neck adjusted. Bad move. By the way, the chiropractor completely disagrees. She kept saying, "This is an alignment issue. You need to come in every day to get it aligned and off the nerve." It made perfect sense logically, but with this level of pain, the best thing I believe now, is that I should have just rested, and not done anything at all to aggravate the muscles and the nerve. I believe that what was more important for me was to lay still and ice my neck to get the swelling down. I could barely walk at this point, and here I was bouncing around the back of a car to get to a chiropractor. Unbelievable, looking back on it. Any small movement caused immense pain.

The pain was now radiating into my left shoulder, through my left upper back and down my arm. It was that radiating pain that hurt the most. It felt like a 250 lb. man had beat my arm until it was black and blue, and then kept beating it some more. It was an unbearable deep soreness. I could only hold my arm in the air to find some small relief.

On the way home, I hit rockbottom desperation. I called my client who is a doctor and asked him for painkillers. (I had never taken a painkiller or any prescription drugs in my life. I rarely even take an aspirin.) This was the Thursday before Christmas and he was leaving his office for a Christmas party and then would be gone for vacation. I begged him to do it right now. He conceded and called in a prescription for painkillers (Vicodin 300mg), muscle relaxers (Cyclobenzaprine 5mg), anti-inflammatories (Diclofenac 100mg), and an antacid (Pepcid) because "anti-inflammatories are hard on the stomach." (I hadn't called my new doctor because I knew I would have to make an appointment to go see him and blah, blah, blah, protocol.)

I didn't really understand how this was going to correct the problem if it was an alignment issue as I had been told. So I asked him how it was going to fix itself, and he said, "With medication." I trust this man, he's a brilliant, highly regarded, sought after doctor. But I was confused. How can medication, if it was an alignment issue, heal or align my neck? The chiropractor said that these meds only mask the problem. Hmmm. I had no choice, I took the medication and actually relaxed for the first time. I also iced my neck and that helped. REST, MEDICATION, and ICE was what I had needed the whole time. First thing I DID RIGHT. If I had iced my neck the first night, skipped the chiropractor and the heat and the "neck pillow," I do not believe I would have woken up looking like Frankenstein's daughter. (Side note: Many people heal these injuries without chiropractors.)

I was still desperate for some type of help in healing this, so we called an acupuncturist the next day and made an appointment with her for Monday. It's hard to tell what worked and didn't. I believe I found slight relief in my left shoulder after that acupuncture session. I went back again a few days later and she put the electrical current needles in my shoulder. I found slight relief again. It should be noted that I was still in tremendous pain. Walking sent shockwaves through my spinal cord. The third time I visited her, the needle really hurt my shoulder. I asked her to take it out,  and left her office with more pain than when I went in.

I gave it one more try, and the fourth time, she had to move the needles in both my hands near my thumbs because it was hurting so much. Afterward, I told her that those areas were really sore. She rubbed my hands and sent me home. Within an hour, my right hand swelled up. (Mind you, I couldn't use my left arm or hand because of the pain and weakness and numbness in my left hand, but now my right hand was in pain and swollen!) And the pain began to radiate up my right arm. I could no longer use that arm now either! I iced my hand to get the swelling down. It took four days.

The acupuncturist had suggested some herb infused neck patches. I was told to keep it on for 48 hours and I ripped it off as soon as I got home. I found it incredibly annoying. One thing I did like was a Chinese oil called Chan Yak Hing She Woo Lok Medicated Oil that she put on my neck--like the Chinese medicine equivalent to Icy Hot. It felt good, like it was doing something beneficial to my neck, relaxing the muscles or something. I continue to use this every day, plus I love the wintergreen oil smell.

 
 

For two weeks, except going to the acupuncturist a few times, I laid in bed with no pillow (any slight touch like my hair brushing up against my neck sent shivers of pain) but eventually I was able to roll up a soft t-shirt half way and put it under my neck, and all I did was stare at the ceiling. Luckily, my husband thought of a brilliant idea. A hand held projector!

He connected it to Netflix, and I watched The Office every evening into night. (Watch something funny!) That's our set up in the photo below. That projector was a lifesaver, or sanity-saver. I no longer went quite as stir crazy.

 
 

I am a newlywed, and I don't know what I would've done without my husband. He took care of me and our furry kids and the house. He did everything for me. He fed me, even holding a cup with a straw into my mouth in order for me to drink. I could not feed myself, as I couldn't sit up or move my neck. He made midnight runs if I needed something. I honestly feel so blessed and such gratitude to have him in my life. I don't know how anyone goes through this alone.

It's surprisingly super hard to lay flat all day and then go to sleep at night after doing nothing during the day, and then only sleep on your back. I couldn't roll over. Some nights felt like torture. The muscle relaxers and painkillers helped me go to sleep at night in the beginning, but by week two, I had gotten used to them and they didn't aid that process. The only side effect was from the Vicodin--constipation, which apparently is common. I started drinking prune juice, and that helped.

Eventually I ran out of my 10-day prescription and thought I no longer needed any meds. But without them, I backslid. I became overly ambitious about what I could do--like get out of bed--and ended up in more pain. I needed more muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories, but my client was out of the country. So I went back to the new doctor and explained what happened two days after I saw him. He put me on a "better" muscle relaxer (Carisoprodol) and anti-inflammatory (Naproxen). The new muscle relaxers did not make me at all drowsy. I liked being drowsy enough to fall asleep. I felt the original one did a better job for me personally. And I wasn't sleeping well.

At some point, I decided to get those X-rays at the encouragement of my acupuncturist. Turns out two of the discs had sort of collapsed, and I was told there was disc degeneration in my neck, causing a bulging disc and pinched nerve. I was relieved that it wasn't super serious. At least no one I saw said I needed surgery. I almost didn't make it to the X-rays because I couldn't sit or stand for more than one minute in the waiting room without terrible pain. Somehow I managed to push myself through the X-rays, and I'm glad I did. It was helpful to know that it wasn't more serious. I honestly had been thinking that there was no way I would ever return to a normal life. But the body is miraculous. It can heal. 

Within the first three or four days of being laid up, I had found some neck exercises on YouTube that I began doing each day. I could only barely do the easiest one, the first one, called retraction. But I did it religiously because I was so desperate. Looking back, I think that expedited the healing process.

Besides the oil, the only other helpful thing the acupuncturist did for me was mention a book called, "Treat Your Own Neck" (There's also Treat Your Own Back") by Robin MacKenzie, which contains neck exercises called the MacKenzie Method of exercises.

 
 

I the acupuncturist her that I was already doing some type of exercise each day, but I ordered the book anyway. The book was very informative--and the exercise I was already doing came from the book! I decided that I needed to see someone who specialized in these type of neck exercises. Luckily, living in Los Angeles, I looked online and found a man named Dr. Gary Jacob. When I had gone back to the acupuncturist for my fourth treatment, she said that I should see a man named Dr. Gary Jacob, who she knew personally--she had gone to him as a patient and had taken classes from him. I knew he was just the person to help me. And boy did he!

Dr. Gary Jacob is a chiropractor/acupuncturist (he lectures around the country to chiropractors and teaches acupuncture) but more importantly to me, he was the first chiropractor certified in the MacKenzie Method of exercises for patients with neck and back pain. I called him on New Years Eve, almost two weeks after the acute stage began and asked when I could see him. He suggested the next day. I said, "But I don't want you to work on New Year's Day." And he told me it didn't matter. Wow.

The next day, I put on my neck brace, laid down in the back seat, and we drove over to see him. Dr. Jacob was a god-send. He was informal in demeanor, making me feel so at ease immediately, but he was also very authoritative. He was accessible with a discreet office, no receptionist or assistant. (Apparently, he  used to have a huge practice in Santa Monica with receptionists and a gym and massage therapists--the whole nine yards--but he taught so many patients to heal themselves that he had to downsize, because they didn't need to come back!) I knew instantly he was my Holy Grail. He suggested that I no longer have any chiropractic neck adjustments. I assured him I wasn't. He relayed a message to my acupuncturist, who he knew, to think more "cosmically" and treat me holistically rather than specifically. He did a bunch of tests on me--strength tests, rotating tests, etc. And he poked around the muscles in my neck, he even cracked my back. After the tests, he said to me, "You respond to movement." I started to cry of relief. I had been immobile for 2 weeks, wondering how I would ever possibly be normal again. And this was the best news I had heard! My body responded to movement! It wanted to move!

He laid me down and pushed his thumb up each side of my neck vertebrae, digging in deep, and afterward he asked me to turn my neck. Again, I cried--not of pain, but of joy. I could turn my neck more! I felt a release and ease of movement. He asked me how far I could walk without pain and I told him "around our small pool." Though even that was painful. He said, "Now I want you to walk fast for 3 minutes a day. Get your heart rate up." I said, "I can't do that. The pain would stop me." And he responded, "Work through the pain." I needed someone to tell me that I was going to be okay and give me permission to keep moving even if I felt I would collapse from pain. No one had told me that I would heal completely. No one told me that this nightmare would all go away. I don't believe Dr. Jacob would have told me to get up and exercise for three minutes even a couple of days before. But somehow, that day, I was ready to begin to move. It was, after all, New Year's Day.

Seeing him was divine timing. I needed to hear what he had to say at exactly that time in my healing process. I do believe Dr. Jacob would have told me to do exactly what I had been doing that week--rest, ice (I did 20 minutes about 5 times throughout the day) and stay on the medication. I was off the painkillers and he asked what anti-inflammatory I was still on and I told him Naproxin. He said, "That's a good one." So I kept taking it. Dr. Jacob also gave me a list of supplements to take: vitamin D, magnesium, and omega 3s. (I took them all.) And he told me to come back and see him if I needed. I only needed to see him one more time.

My husband and I walked out of his office and we both hugged each other and cried. We finally knew it was all going to be okay from here on out, for the first time. It was the best New Year's Day ever. I was beginning the new year on the right foot with hope and joy. I can't even begin to describe what I felt. "Elation" comes close.

Dr. Jacob had taught my husband some exercises, traction-type ones where I lay on the bed and he pulls my head away from my body to do on me that were very beneficial. No one suggested a traction table to me, but I do believe that would have helped after the acute pain. While in acute pain, I found only rest, ice, and medication gave relief. We did the exercises each day.

(It should be noted that I did try massage and body work, but I don't believe at that stage it helped much. Last weekend, however, I did get another massage, and I think it was beneficial but only because I am at the end of my healing process. I also did not try a steroid epidural shot because I felt that was a riskier approach.)

Another thing I had been doing on my own from day one was visualization. I did guided meditations for healing every day.  I attribute much of the quickness of my recovery to that daily guided imagery. (I am a hypnotherapist, and I've created over 40 hypnosis MP3s. Please consider downloading the ones I have created for "Illness." They're only $8.96 for 6 of them!)

I tried EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which I have been using for 13 years with wonderful results, but in this case, it didn't help.

There is a Workbook lesson in A Course in Miracles (my spiritual path, which is simply a book) that states: "All things are lessons God would have me learn." I believe that if we don't reflect on the lesson that the situation is trying to teach us, then it will just reappear in the same form or worse. I had nothing but time for those few weeks, so I reflected on the lesson I was to learn through this ordeal. For me, it came down these

1. Listening to my body and acting on first signs of "trouble."

2. Taking care of my body with exercise and stretching.

3. Most importantly: Keeping a healthy mind. Meaning, not allowing others (both in my personal life and in my professional life) to throw me off my peaceful center. I needed to change my perception about some things and let go of control. I needed a 180 in the way I was seeing a particular situation in my life, and I needed to let go of other peoples' problems. In line with keeping a healthy mind, I knew I needed a break for Christmas to refocus, but in hindsight I now see it went beyond need to desperation. I had no idea how badly I needed to lie flat on my back for two weeks and do nothing. The universe, my higher self, God, whatever you call that, did know. And made sure it happened.

4. Not take my health for granted. Not take the fact that I can get out of bed and walk for granted. Not take a beautiful day for granted. Not take my body for granted. Not take anything for granted.

I think I'm doing pretty good on all those accounts. I definitely see these last six weeks as a gift now. I  wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I learned so much and I grew immensely. (I wrote a blog post during this ordeal about my spiritual teacher dying at this same time.)

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Just when I was feeling back to almost normal, last week, I discovered that I developed an ulcer. I woke up in the middle of the night with a burning sensation and mild nausea. The nausea stayed with me into the morning accompanied by a lot of burping. I remember saying to my husband that day, "I just don't feel good." And I tried to take a nap, which I never do. I googled my symptoms and I realized it was an ulcer. I had every symptom on the list. I came to find out that Naproxin is notorious for causing ulcers. Why wouldn't my doctor tell me this? My client-doctor had given me an antacid to take 30 minutes before the anti-inflammatory, and I stayed on that for 10 days, which was the amount he prescribed. But my new doctor gave me 30 days with no warning or antacid. I had no idea it was eating a hole in my stomach lining! Everyone told me it was a better anti-inflammatory than the one I had been taking, and I didn't have any side effects from that one, so I assumed I was safe with this one. Wrong! I immediately went off all meds and have been healing the ulcer naturally--licorice root tablets, pure cranberry juice, pure aloe vera juice, probiotics, and enzymes. And it is working. As far as my stomach goes, it's healing, except for the occasional mild burning or very mild nausea.

I'm hoping that's it now! Nothing more after the ulcer.

It is my sincere wish that if you are suffering from the same thing that this information has been helpful to you. I want to give you hope that it will heal. You WILL get better. My advice is to listen to your own body. About two weeks ago I stopped icing my neck and began heating it. That "felt" like the right thing to do. All that confusing advice left me listening to myself more and more, even if it contradicted what professionals were telling me. It's your body. You do know what you need. In the acute stages, if it hurts to do something, don't do it. Give your body rest. And eat healthfully. I am a vegan, and I ate only healthy foods--tons of raw veggies each day in a sandwich, stayed away from gluten and sugar (inflammatories), ate an apple a day, because my body craved it, and drank green juices and plenty of water. I did lose five pounds, but it wasn't unhealthy for me. I feel like I shed a layer that needed to be released. Food is medicine, and it no doubt attributed to a speedier recovery.

I feel like I have a new lease on life. I'm walking regularly. I'm eating more slowly and consciously. I no longer sleep on my stomach. I sit straighter and don't slouch as much. Oh, I got this awesome wedge set up from Relax The Back for reading, being on my computer, or watching TV in bed, and love it! I am currently using a memory foam pillow from Bed Bath and Beyond. It's their store brand of Tempur-Pedic. I don't know if they still carry it. It's equivalent to this Tempur-Pedic pillow and gives the right amount of neck support for side sleeping. This Therapedic pillow from Bed Bath and Beyond is very similar, as well. 

And one of the best things that came out of this is that I purchased an Intex inflatable hot tub that I'm obsessed with. I use it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My husband was very skeptical, but it's been a lifesaver for my neck and shoulders and general de-stressing. Believe it or not, it works great! I honestly can't say enough good things about it. Oh, and I saw that Ellen DeGeneres gave it as a gift on her tv show to every member of her audience for Christmas! That's a pretty good endorsement! Check it out here. 

If you can't purchase an inflatable hot tub, once you've healed, consider maintaining good health by taking weekly warm baths with epsom salts. 

All in all, I've created new healthier routines and behaviors for my body, and I'm thinking healthier thoughts, as well, by releasing what isn't mine to hold onto.

Life is good.

Here's to health!

Dear Reader: Please take advantage of my discounted Hypnotherapy MP3s for healing. You can purchase the ILLNESS bundle (includes 6 different sessions) for only $8.96. Or purchase ALL (over 40) for $39.99. It will absolutely expedite your healing process! 


UPDATE:

Feb. 17, 2015

I couldn't be more thrilled with the 5,000 hits this post has received, and from all over the world! Please know that you are not alone. Every day this post gets at least 50 hits from people suffering from this neck ordeal, just like you. I've been asked how I am now doing, so I thought I would give a quick update.

I am fully recovered. I never thought it would happen, but miracles do occur! I have absolutely no residual pain or discomfort. I am back to all my usual activities, except sleeping on my stomach. I am forever a back/side sleeper, unfortunately.

I still put the Chinese oil on my neck EVERY night. I've done that for over a year now. Rubbing it in gives me a moment to massage my neck muscles, and I think that has helped. And I still sit in my inflatable hot tub every day! I am more cautious now, in that I don't crank my neck to talk to people, or sit or lie down to read or watch TV with my neck forward. I also won't do anything that jerks my neck, like ride roller coasters. (Not that I rode roller coasters often before.) I will occasionally do a McKenzie neck exercise, just to counter any weird tweaking of my neck I may have done naturally throughout the day.

I hope that gives you hope! Be patient with yourself, you will heal.

Love,
Cynthia


RIP My Spiritual Teacher Kenneth Wapnick

 

A great man died a few days ago on December 27, 2013. He was one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth. If you don’t believe me, check back in about 50 years. He’s one of those that will become more famous with time. Like Van Gogh, minus the mental illness. Not many knew him. Relatively few noticed that he was here, or that he left. But if you were a serious student of A Course in Miracles, his name was known around the world to you as Dr. Kenneth Wapnick.

He was the most enlightened person I had ever come across in all my seeking and traveling. And that’s probably why not many people knew him. The enlightened are like that. They don’t seek the limelight. They are unassuming. (Kenneth looked like a junior high school science teacher to me.) They live quiet, yet hugely productive, lives that leave indelible marks on those they touch.

Kenneth profoundly changed my life. He was the greatest scholar and living example of A Course in Miracles that the world has seen, and I considered him my teacher. Much of my book You're Already Hypnotized: A Guide to Waking Up (and my podcast A Course in What?! is based on his work. Kenneth knew I was writing a book, which began in July 1996. The book just became available this July, around the time, it seems, that Kenneth was diagnosed with cancer. Years ago he asked me how the book was coming, and I sheepishly responded that it was a slow process. He brushed it off and said, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes, just write a good book.”

I took those words to heart. I wrote the best book I could, no matter how long it took. I never sent the finished book to Kenneth. I told myself that I would hand him a copy when I saw him in person. But I now know the truth. I had no intention of ever giving Kenneth the book. Deep down, I was afraid of disappointing him. I couldn’t bear anything less than complete acceptance from this man. And yet even if he disagreed with some of my work, which I expect he would since he had told me that he disagreed with me in the past, I know that he would continue to love me unconditionally. Because that’s what enlightened people do. They love you anyway.

I suppose in my life it's no coincidence that I have been laid up flat on my back for two weeks now with a herniated disc in my neck. It's the most excruciating pain I have ever felt (makes broken bones, of which I had a couple, seem like child's play). I realized, while staring at the ceiling for the last two weeks, that I've gotten away from the Course.

A Course in Miracles is always central to my thinking, but I've strayed from applying and practicing its principles in every situation. I've gotten into the habit of applying it when it's convenient for me. I had planned to take two weeks off for Christmas in order to reevaluate and rest. I just didn't realize the rest would come in this form. This is my wake up call to step-up my spiritual practice. So as I am lying on my back thinking of how I feel called to reconnect with the Course in a deeper way and to begin teaching it again (stay tuned), I received the news that my dear teacher of the Course has died. 

Kenneth’s life changed my life. And I intend for his death to do the same for me. I was never the same once I found him, and something deep within me tells me that I will never be the same now that he is gone.

I tell the story in my book of meeting a man named Peter at the Foundation for Inner Peace in 1996 in upstate New York where Kenneth was teaching. Peter and I became great friends, bonded by our deep devotion to A Course in Miracles. And then Peter committed suicide. I remember grappling with how one of the most dedicated students of A Course in Miracles could kill himself. I couldn’t find the peace I needed to move on, so I wrote to Kenneth who also knew Peter. I'd have to dig up the letter to remember all that Kenneth said to me, but I will never forget the sentence, “Do not focus on the separation, focus on the truth that you are still together.” I began to heal after that.

Though it is with great sadness that I write this, I am trying to heed Kenneth’s words and focus on the truth that we are still together.

I join with those who mourn our loss, and join as well in the gratitude that we were gifted with such an illuminating light.

As Ken used to say, "God speed." 


Tess Chronicles: Messages from One Woman's Spirit Guide in Hypnosis (Visit 5)

The Tall Dark Familiar Stranger

This installment is part of a series. Type "Tess" in the search box to read the previous four posts.

As I was floating up away from the world and beyond the sky on my cloud mattress, I was surprised to notice beautiful glowing white angels underneath the mattress. They were working very hard, heaving and ho-ing, trying to lift me higher and higher. I said, ‘Have you guys always been there?” They said, “Yeah, you’ve just never noticed us before.” I then decided to go flying with them. We flew all around, dipping up and down.

Two of the angels took me underneath my arms, and in a forceful strong-armed way, “very unangelic,” led me to some place with a trellis and a pathway. They said, “Do you want to see the secret garden?” I said, “Yes, I’ve never been there.” They responded, “Then we’ll go this way.” They pulled open the trellis and I watched with amazement as they went through a small opening, easily. They said, “We can go anywhere and through anything.” It was my turn, but I couldn’t fit. I was trying to get through, but I kept getting hooked. I told them, “I can’t get through.” They nonchalantly responded, “Oh well, see ya later” They took off saying, “See you next time.”

I was frustrated trying to get unhooked, but I finally managed to free myself. Once free, I didn’t know which way to turn. I looked to the left and there was some guy digging a hole. He saw me look at him and said, “Go away.” It was creepy. As I looked to the right I noticed a very long path that had no end in sight. I became scared, afraid that I was trapped and I would never get out of this place. I didn’t know which way to turn and started feeling woozy.

Then I saw a stone bench. I thought, “Okay, I’m going to sit here and calm down and think this through.” There wasn’t anyone there. As I was sitting alone, a guy came out of nowhere. He was a bit eerie looking, dressed in a long dark brown robe with a hood, very monk-like. He was all dark. I couldn’t see his face, but he had extremely long limbs. He sat down and enthusiastically said, “Hi!” and I said, “Wow, you look really scary but you’re super nice. I feel like I should be scared of you, but I’m not.”

I told him he looked like the grim reaper. He was sitting back sort of sprawled out and relaxed, and responded, ‘Welllllll, not reeeeally. That whole grim reaper thing is kind of made up.”

He told me, “You don’t need to know who I am. Actually, you already do know. You’ve met me before. I said, “I have?” He said, “Yes, in a past life. You don’t remember which one.” I said, “I don’t remember you or your name.” And he responded, “You will.”

I said, “Oh, I keep forgetting when I’m here to ask if I can I meet my grandma. Is she here?” He said, “Yes, she’s here. Maybe next time.”

Tess then asked some questions that we had prepared for her before the session. I record these sessions and then type them up in her voice. I noticed that in this particular session there was a lot of time between her asking the questions, receiving the answers and relaying the information to me. She said that the answers were coming very slowly. The conversation felt very drawn out.

Tess asked:

“What is my life purpose?”

He showed me a scrolled piece of paper and I didn’t see any words on it, but he said, “Do you remember you wrote this before you came here?” and I said, “Nope.” He said,

“Well, no one really remembers their life purpose once they’re here because if they remembered it they would take a short cut and not go through the process, which is meant for learning and growth.”

He assured me, “You’re on the right path.

But you need to remember that this place you come to in hypnosis is real, and that it’s one with the world you perceive on earth. They aren’t separate; they are connected. 

(He showed her a picture of one on top of the other with a line between them, saying, “Everything is connected.”) 

You need to remind the world of this.” 

I asked, “But how do I do that?”

He said, “

Try to remember that everything is bigger than just you. That everyone and everything is connected.

Get past the old fear that people will laugh at you if you reveal this information.

(Tess still hasn’t told anyone, including her husband Mark, of her journeys.)

Try to remember the bigger picture of existence, then you can tell people more fearlessly, and the more people you tell, the more connected you are—to others and to this place.” 

“What are my lessons in this lifetime?”

“To eliminate fear.”

I said, “Why do you always say that? It’s so boring.”

He said, “But we’ll tell you it every time, we will say it 100 times until it’s gone. You need to get rid of fear and then tell people about this place. This is not in your imagination. It’s a very real place, just as your life on earth is real to you. The reason you need to tell people is because they don’t know that it exists. And they can’t find this place on their own. They don’t have access to this type of information. And they need to know. Most people can’t afford hypnotherapy or they can’t just go do it. But imagine if people could live their lives without fear, knowing that this place exists? If you tell other people that they can eliminate fear (and in particular a fear of death) then that’s what you have to do.

When you eliminate your fear, it will feel so good. And then you will be able to help others eliminate their fear. But first you must eliminate your own.”

I said, “I don’t know how that’s even possible!” I continued, “But don’t you tell lots of people this?”

“Yes, but the more people we tell the more people get to hear about it. We hope that people do something with the information; most people don’t, some people do. We can’t tell everyone because they’re not all ready to listen, but everyone is going to come here soon. (Tess felt waves of masses upon masses of people arriving at this place.) It’s all going to end up here, and wouldn’t it be nice for people to know that?”

I asked, “How can I create more success and abundance, like money?”

He quickly responded, “No, no, no.

Abundance isn’t about money; it’s about love.

You have it all wrong. Please remember this. When you have love, you have abundance. You have to have love first. And the more present you are, the more you will love, and the more you will have. If you are present and really listen to people they will tell you the things you need to hear. You have to really listen.

If you want to succeed, you must be present. And be careful with the words you say.”

I asked, “How do I have more success?”

He responded, “But don’t you already have success? Do you need more? Every year you will have more success, but you’ll always think you don’t have enough.”

He then said, “Now I’m going to lay out your life exactly as it’s going to be. Because isn’t that really what you want to hear?” He began to rattle off very quickly and emotionless, like a psychic reading, what was going to happen.

You’re going to be fine, your marriage will get stronger and stronger, and Mark will die before you, but you’ve always known that. (Tess always felt she would be left alone in her old age.) It won’t happen until you’re much older. Your children will be great (her two children are under 10 years old now). They won’t do drugs.

But you will have problems with your younger one. You’ll move houses in two years. You will be so happy with that house. You’ll feel lucky that you got it. You’ll stay in your business partnership for a while longer, a couple of years. I know you want to move on, but the time isn’t right yet. Mark will get a lot of success. You’ll get stronger as a couple. You’re on the same path together.(Though Mark doesn’t know of her hypnotherapy sessions and ability, he is documentary filmmaker and very much into researching life and self-improvement.) You will have more money and you’ll be able to do more things. Your parents will be around a long time. Don’t worry about them. Everything’s going to be fine.

I said, “I want to write children’s books.” He said, “You will.”

I asked, “Should you be telling me this stuff?” “He answered, “Well isn’t that what you really want to know? Don’t worry. All will be fine.”

I then told Tess it was time to end the session and led her back down to earth and into her body. Tess was completely taken by surprise by the fact checking run-through of her life. She seemed very animated after the session. More so than usual.

In terms of the life purpose question, I often regress people in hypnosis to before their incarnation, or their pre-incarnate state, to get a glimpse of their intention for their upcoming life. I hear things like “to forgive, to undo fear, to learn and to teach.” Undoing fear may seem like a boring answer, but imagine what the world would look like if we undid our collective fear?

Imagine what your life would be like if fear no longer held you back?

Not a fear of spiders or bees or public speaking or of flying or love or death. What would a fearless life look like? That is the question they are asking of us. That is the existence they asking us to seek.


International March for Elephants: Los Angeles

Did you know that elephants will be extinct in 12 years?

My husband Brad and I participated in the International March for Elephants in LA on October 4, 2013. He was also asked to make a video of the event. Please take 4 minutes to watch this informative, powerful video. It's awesome, if I do say so myself. (For more of Brad's work, visit www.BradKlopman.com.)


Tess Chronicles: Messages from One Woman's Spirit Guide in Hypnosis (Visit 4)

Visit 4: Five Questions

The way I am instructed to arrive at the place in which I meet my spirit guide is by what Cynthia calls a "cloud mattress" in hypnosis. When I am on this cloud, I am magically lifted higher and higher to a place beyond the world and beyond time and space. As the cloud goes higher, my body becomes so light that I am no longer aware of it. The physical world and my body seem to disappear. 

This time I arrived at the place with the gates. (This was mentioned in a previous visitation.) Unlike the last time I was here, the gates were wide open. 

(Sometimes they are shut, sometimes partially open.) 

I enter into a garden area. There is a gravel path to the left, which I had seen before in other visitation sessions, and a fountain to the right. I have been through these gates before, but each time I see this place it is slightly different, except for the gravel path.

The path goes around the corner. I decide to walk it. As I reach the corner someone meets me on the path. It's a man in a white robe with a long beard. He says his name is Joseph. We are familiar with each other.

I am above average height for a woman in "real" life, but I am much shorter than Joseph, like a child. I feel just like a child. We go over to the fountain, I put my hand in the water and my hand merges with the water. I start splashing the water around and throwing it in the air, and the water is so light that it stays in the air, like light particles. I am mesmerized.

Then he says, “Let’s meet the others.” We go up a small steep hill and as we get to the top there is a very steep long hill below. It looks treacherous. I say, “I can't go down that or I will fall.” He says, “Oh, you can, you just need to walk down it.”

We get half way down the hill to a ledge with two rocks to sit on. It's overlooking a grassy slope and below that are the lights of the world. I can see that the world is dark with lights dotted everywhere. It is a beautiful arc shape appearing below the field.

Then there are a few others who come to join us and sit behind us. (I don't meet any of them but I somehow know they are other disciples.) Jesus walks up the grass and sits next to me. I still feel like a child. 

He greets me as with "How are you my child?" gently cupping my face with his hands.

Cynthia starts to ask questions. The first one is hard [to concentrate on] but I manage to stay in the moment. During the second question about the church, I say to Jesus, “Oh, I don't really understand that question and I don't think I can answer that.” He says, “It is not for you to answer but for me.” Then at this point the answers come without me even thinking. They just easily come through me. 

At the end, Cynthia tells me to ask any personal questions. I ask mostly about money. Jesus tells me not to keep asking that. He says that all will be okay and that I have a bright future ahead. 

Once the questions are finished Jesus says he must go because they have much to do. I think that seems strange, that doesn't he always have time for everything and everyone? I think, why is he in such a hurry? What does he need to do? 

It seems funny to me that he’s so busy. As if reading my mind, he turns and says he always has time for me and everyone if I need him.

He asks if I need anything else, but I don't have any more questions. I just think it would be nice if he would stay and just hang out. 

Then he turns and leaves down the grassy hill, and as he and the others (who are ahead of him) leave they disappear into the grass. They blend into it. E

verything is always green and alive in here. The grass is longish, lush and slightly damp. Nothing ever feels dry.

Here are the questions I (Cynthia) had Tess ask.

1. What is the purpose of the world?

We need to create peace and harmony around us. All of the worlds need to connect together. There are indeed other worlds. And we need to connect the energy, like rods between the worlds.

We leave there [our pre-incarnate state or true Home before we are born] with every intention of bringing peace and harmony to the world, but we never remember when we get here because we are so distracted by everything around us.

We need to remember. We need to remind people. We need to connect back to where we came from or we will never remember to bring peace and harmony to the world. Everyone has been here so many times and so many people fail. The world is not a happy place. Neither are the other worlds.

We get distracted by greed. And every time we go back there [our true Home] we say we will remember the peace and harmony next time we come to the world, and then we get here and we forget.

We need to remind people where to go to reconnect back to a higher consciousness and bring that to the world.

2. What is the best way to remember? How do we do that in this world of distractions?

It’s about going back there to visit. But it’s not done through going to church.

It’s about reminding people that there is an energy of love, and this energy is what connects us all.

That energy will lead them to remember where they came from. But everything is connected through energy—all of us. Little by little, we will teach the world. We have to show that there is a force of energy that connects us all. The church on a whole doesn’t work to do that.

After the session, Tess said she was told that hypnotherapy was a good way to remember. I imagine then that techniques like meditation and yoga and prayer would fit into this, as well. Processes that still the mind and access different levels of consciousness.

3. What’s going to happen to church and religion as consciousness progresses?

Only energy and a higher consciousness will take us to the next level. The church is only one level. It never takes the world any further because it's of a human level. The church is good in that people come together, but they don’t go far enough. The church has been around for thousands of years because it works on one level, but it doesn’t work on another.

The only way to move forward is through the remembrance of the energy of connectedness.

This is the only way we will remember that our job is to bring peace and love. 

4. There is a lot of talk about consciousness changing in 2012, some even believe it’s the end of the world. From your perspective, what is that all about?

It’s of human talk. Time has no importance.

After the session, Tess said that in relation to the 2012 question, she felt there was going to be a shift away from the church. It should be noted that this session took place in December 2010.

5. How will the world look when healed?

The world won’t exist when that happens. 

Please know that you can only try your best to bring healing to the world, but not only one person can do it alone. Little by little through your efforts, we will all move on to another world.

After that, Jesus told her that she was on the right track and they were very proud of her. She was told that she had been here many times before. Then Jesus said,

“Okay, we’re done.”