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Mind over matter: can placebos help in curing cancer?
Moments of truth when you act on instinct
THE question of what is ethical and rightful action is a tricky one. I was speaking with one of my spiritual teachers and she told me this story. A monk was walking along a country path and saw a child about to be bitten by a snake. He was left with the question: does he kill the snake or let it bite the child?
Of course this a no-brainer for we in the West, but there is doubt in the mind of the Eastern practitioner. It’s not a small question. If one is to intervene and save the child and kill the snake, one would never know what the life purpose of the snake was. It might have been to stop a group of bandits from crossing a path to destroy a whole village. Continue Reading →
Ageing brain is a myth
WHILE the body is going to decline with age and our joints become worse for wear, the brain is not geared towards ageing, according to American Michael Gelb, world leader in accelerated learning, speaking at the annual Mind and Its Potential conference in Sydney last month.
Gelb, who has had his knee and hip replaced, says: ‘‘As a sportsman I know only too well the wear and tear on joints and ligaments as time progresses.’’ But the brain, according to Gelb and other leading neuroscientists at the conference, is primed to keep growing and improving. The brain cells we lose as part of natural attrition are minor in comparison to the brain synapsis and neuro pathways we already have, and can develop when we use this vital organ properly. It’s not ‘‘Use it or lose it’’ but ‘‘Use it or it will stay dormant’’. But it’s all in there, and we can get it back, says Gelb. Continue Reading →
Deal Breakers in Love
AN acquaintance recently discovered her long-time partner had gone back to smoking and she left him. For many people, that would seem extreme, given seven good years together. But for her it was part of an unspoken system in relationships that I have dubbed EDB: emotional deal breakers.
As with business contracts, it’s the non-negotiable clause. We all nurse a secret rule or set of rules that if broken are not forgivable, and breaking them is considered a breach of verbal or non-verbal contract. Continue Reading →
When it comes to kinky sex, why do we always think we’ve invented the wheel?
AMONG my peers there was much sadness over the recent death of Sylvia Kristel, star of the 1974 erotic film Emmanuelle — a film we grew up with, and which became so popular that it made soft-core erotic cinema fashionable. The film received widespread prominence in the US when Columbia Pictures agreed to distribute it after noting that its audiences in French cinemas consisted mostly of women, which meant the movie could not be regarded as ‘‘mere pornography’’. Continue Reading →
IN the wake of the global economic downturn, many people I know are having to learn to cope with becoming redundant in their 40s, 50s or 60s. And it’s not an easy task.
Many of my friends are journalists who have taken payouts and left not only their job but their identity at a stage in life when energy is declining and optimism is not the nonstop flow it used to be.
Meanwhile, the ABC in the US reported: ‘‘Just as millions of American manufacturing jobs were lost in the 1980s and 90s, today white-collar American jobs are disappearing.’’ It laments that many jobs are being contracted out overseas — for example, American computer programmers can earn about $60,000 a year, while their Indian counterparts only make $6000. Continue Reading →
The Laws of Attraction
TWO separate incidents within three hours of each other got me thinking about the nature of attraction and repulsion. I was in a cafe, perusing the menu. A particularly nice, young waiter came over and was talking me through my options. But somehow between ‘‘banana bread or omelette’’, an extraordinary conversation sparked up.
We were suddenly traversing landscapes of the soul, not just what he and I were doing with our lives but how we felt about what we were doing; our families; Australia; the nature of people. Despite being of vastly different ages and ethnic backgrounds, there was a familiarity that made me feel I had known him forever.
Conversely, a few hours later I noted a similarly strong reaction, but this one being repulsion. A salesgirl was okay with me, but had a bad reaction when my mother came over. The young woman winced visibly as my mother gave her opinion on a few of the products I was trying, and walked off to serve someone else mid-sale. Continue Reading →
Why are Australians so scared to smile?
ABOUT two weeks ago, a woman walking towards me gave me a big grin. I felt immediately self-conscious because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Were my pants on inside out, was my hair standing up in a strange way? I wondered if maybe I knew her.
As I walked closer she nodded. I stopped and asked: ‘‘I’m sorry, do I know you?’’ She shook her head. ‘‘No, I just thought the colour of your hair looked beautiful in this light.’’
I was taken aback by her friendliness and the nice compliment. And it occurred to me afterwards that having a stranger smile at us in this country is so unusual that we feel thrown. Which contrasts profoundly to life in America. Continue Reading →
Couch Potatoes Are In
I call it CBGO: ‘‘can’t be bothered going out’’ syndrome; and it’s happening to many people I know.
When it comes to going out at night in particular, I’ve noticed myself and others around me growing increasingly lazy.
For my part, I’m hoping it was just winter. I’m hugely unhappy with the lack of energy I have once the sun goes down. There was a time — oh, there was a time — when pubs, nightclubs and theatre beckoned, when I couldn’t wait to put on heels and red lipstick and escape into the world.
Nowadays, at the end of a day I can’t think of anything better than putting on slippers and curling up on the couch with a good book or movie. My significant other feels the same. Continue Reading →