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And yet, just because your parents want it for you, you give in. It's the same thing with intimate relationships, which play a big role on the path to our freedom. When a girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, or spouse expects certain things from us, we often give in. We do things we don't want to do because we think it's better for the relationship. We do things that are out of our character. Increasing our appreciation for the wonders of our physical selves and becoming ever more mindful of our moving parts will help us to hear the voice that guides us, and to clearly know what our body wants. Appreciation Exercise: Your Body, Your Friend By meditating in the manner suggested, you will feel an increased appreciation for your body. You will need a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time and a thoughtful sense of where your body came from; Perhaps you feel that it comes simply from your mother and father, or perhaps, more profoundly, from the Universe, or from God, however, you might understand God. There is no right way to think about this. It is personal to you. But however you think about it, bring that awareness to the forefront of your mind as you perform the exercise below. If any of your body parts are particularly painful or have caused you difficulty over the years, say thank you as suggested anyway, and send them love, recognizing how you have invested negative energy in their direction. Sit comfortably, with your spine straight, and gently rub your hands together in small circles for about 15 seconds. The reasons involve a critical physiological structure known as the blood-brain barrier (BBB): a semipermeable layer of cells that restricts the passage of harmful substances, such as bacteria and neurotoxins, from the bloodstream into the brain and central nervous system. MS is characterized by transient or chronic disruption of the BBB. It's not known whether this leakiness is a factor in the cause of MS or whether it's a consequence of having the disease. Simply put, a leaky BBB is tied in closely with MS. We do know that in multiple sclerosis, leukocytes (white blood cells) cross the BBB and infiltrate the myelin sheath.

Some studies also suggest that specialized cells in the CNS called microglial cells--which function to clean up debris, among other things--try to halt the damage created by leukocyte infiltration. However, in so doing, the microglial cells actually cause the demyelination that characterizes MS--the body attacks itself. I discuss this in more detail in article 3. Multiple Sclerosis Risk Factors MS can occur at any age, but most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 60. I believe that my choice to become an acupuncturist and healer was an expression of my Tao. But more importantly, that inherent nature was born in response to a need to heal from my own wounding. As I've healed, I've come to help others learn to respond differently to illness and the inevitable sufferings and challenges of embodied life. My attitude toward healing is shaped by what I lived through in my own family but also by the alchemical idea that the parts of life you resist, the painful experiences you reject or deny, the parts of yourself you hate or are ashamed of, are actually points of growth, places where your soul is invited to incarnate more fully. It took many years, the help of many gifted teachers, and long practice with the tools I am presenting in this article to bring me back to the place where I began, so that my early memory of wholeness could be, in the words of author and mythologist P. Travers, [d]igested, simmered as in a crucible, suffer the sea-change and be given back. Healing as a Return to Wholeness If you consider the root of the English word health, you find there is an ancient, implicit understanding about the purpose of the healing process embedded in alchemical ideas and principles. The word health comes from the Anglo Saxon hal, which is also the root of the words heal and whole. In addition, hal is the etymological ancestor of the word holy. I also got involved in lots of organizations, trying to find my purpose. I continued to work and earn enough money to pay for everything myself by cleaning houses each day. I was determined to show everyone that I didn't need them--I could do it all on my own. The Engagement During this time, Jonathan graciously tolerated me.

We had a lot less time for one another because I was studying, and he was building his own business while taking self-study college courses at night. This added stress to our relationship, and we had to be more intentional about connecting with one another in the short time we had available. One Saturday in November of 1997, after helping me clean one of my houses, we piled into his truck and he asked me to open the glove box. There, nestled in a cute little burgundy box, was the tiniest, crystal-clear, heart-shaped diamond engagement ring. I looked at it a little surprised. These help you identify whether you're in a relationship that is good for your well-being and happiness. Gerald said he wanted a relationship that felt like a partnership, in which both people shared in the decisions and the daily tasks. He liked a calm household, quiet voices, and sharing thoughts and feelings at the end of the day. He didn't like uproar, anger, or chaos. When he looked back on his marriage to Jennifer, he realized he'd gotten the exact opposite of what he actually wanted. The relationship had moved so quickly in the beginning that he was already passionately involved and committed before he genuinely knew Jennifer. He'd been in the habit of falling for women who were exciting and whose energy filled the room, even though that didn't match the kind of life he wanted to live. After divorcing, he decided to go slower in the next relationship and look for someone who enjoyed the same kind of lifestyle he was comfortable with. That led him to thinking about Nina, who had been a friend for years. They've been together for a decade now, deeply appreciating their quiet life together. Or, rather, you're sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this. Don't do what you know on a gut level to be the wrong thing to do.

Don't stay when you know you should go or go when you know you should stay. Don't fight when you should hold steady or hold steady when you should fight. Don't focus on the short-term fun instead of the long-term fallout. It's hard to know what to do when you have a conflicting set of emotions and desires, but it's not as hard as we pretend it is. Saying it's hard is ultimately a justification to do whatever seems like the easiest thing to do--have the affair, stay at that horrible job, end a friendship over a slight, keep tolerating someone who treats you terribly. My definition of a team is a group of individuals working as one to achieve a common objective. Just as I use an acronym for TRUST, I also use one for building a high-trust team: TEAM: E: Environment A: Accountability M: Measured results We've discussed the merits of trust and how it relates to a team, so we'll skip ahead to consider the other elements of TEAM. Environment The environment can be separated into two distinct parts: an environment capable of having healthy conflict and a motivating environment. Let's first discuss components of healthy conflict. Healthy conflict is being able to debate with someone on an issue. We lose face and, as a result, we become characterless. Is that freedom? Is that good for your relationship? No, of course not. If these things are not bad enough, when it comes to our financial life, we're even worse off.

Most of us spend too much, have debt, and have jobs we hate just to pay for a lifestyle we don't even like. What brought us to this point? We like nothing about our lives. It seems like we're trapped inside someone else's life. Every day is filled with unwanted obligations and tasks that make us miserable. Then, place your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your left hand, and close your eyes. Bring your attention to your feet and say, Thank you for my feet. You can say this silently or out loud, whatever feels right to you. And then take a moment to consider the amazing features of your feet: how they move and bend, arch and point, and how you stand on them. Then say, Thank you for my toes, and consider your toes in the same way. Toes are so much fun! Remember playing This little piggy went to market, when you were little. Wiggle your toes and appreciate them. Then continue on to your ankles: Thank you for my ankles. And your calves and shins: Thank you for my calves and shins. Women are four times as likely as men to develop MS. Ethnic background. White people, particularly those of Northern European descent, are at higher risk for MS. It was thought that people of Asian, African, and Native American descent had a lower risk profile than Caucasians of Northern European ancestry. However, it is unclear whether this is because research has not focused as much on these populations until recently.