Friday, 20 November 2009

Making Your Life a "Work of Art"

You're walking through your neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine, the crisp, clean air and the birds. Everything is peaceful and you're very content...

...and then a diesel truck speeds by, spewing black smoke and leaving you coughing and sputtering for the next 60 seconds.

Sound familiar? We all seek harmony and beauty in our surrounding, but those surroundings are anything but harmonious and beautiful much of the time. All too often, we're engulfed by noise, air pollution and visual "pollution". Then it dawns on us that maybe harmony and beauty have never been high on our society's priority list.

That's changing, of course, as I outlined in my Special Report called "Gong-Fu" last year. (You can find a copy here:

In Monday's post we talked about health. In Wednesday's about spiritual life. In the end, we all realize that it's harmony and beauty that are the key to both. What does that mean?

It means that we need emotional harmony within ourselves, otherwise both physical health and spiritual life will elude us.

We need tranquility of thought - to bring our thinking processes under our control.

We need a lifestyle that cultivates and builds harmony deliberately on every level.

Now what if there were a way to access the fundamental harmony and beauty of the universe already build into us? What if it was a matter of simply accessing what we've buried inside rather than "inventing" anything? That would be much easier, wouldn't it?

The good news is... that's the case. Not only do we have a built-in way to access the harmony and beauty of the universe, but that harmony and beauty is already inside, just waiting to be rediscovered.

With the ancient Taoist art of HARA, that's what students most frequently report - that a whole new universe of profound peace, great beauty and wonderful harmony has just opened up to them.

There's a Calvin and Hobbs cartoon we loved so much we had it framed. Calvin asks his dad why old pictures are always in black and white. His dad mischievously replies that the world only turned color a few decades ago.

That experience of feeling your world turn from black and white to color describes the feeling of practicing HARA. It also explains why HARA is the very foundation of both Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Must have been pretty successful ;-)

You can learn more about HARA here:

For anyone who grabs a copy of this unique course before Sunday at midnight, I'll toss in a free copy of The 5 Pillars of Life as well.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Becoming a "Hollow Bone"

Hi all,

Just a couple of days ago I was teaching a University class on Native American Spirituality. We were talking about the famous Sioux medicine man, Frank Fools Crow, and how he approached his spiritual path and his healing of others.

Fools Crow said that since the power that healed himself and others wasn't his own power but just came through him, he first had to make himself like a "hollow bone" (i.e. a tube), so that the Power from on high wasn't obstructed or blocked.

To do this, Fools Crow used some Sioux rituals for expelling unwanted thoughts, energies and emotional content, and for refocusing himself on his relationship to this Power that comes from "Wakan Tanka" (the Sioux name for God).

This way, he noted, the medicine men and holy men of the Sioux typically lived longer and happier lives than most of the people around them. And, true to form, Fools Crow passed away in 1989 in his 100th year of life.

How to Become a "Hollow Bone":

Obviously, learning Sioux rituals is highly impractical for anyone outside that culture. Fortunately there are alternatives.

We all know that if we make our happiness dependent on our circumstances, life will always seem like a struggle. And we can pretty easily understand that if our minds are full of negative emotional states, we're the opposite of a "hollow bone". Instead we're a blocked pipe, and the energy of God can't penetrate.

That's the essence of the teachings of the "Authentic Ancient Traditions" I described in The 5 Pillars of Life. They all teach methods for becoming a "hollow bone" - that is, for emptying your self-concern and entering into inner silence - because human happiness depends on that.

So exactly HOW do you do it?? Yes, the intention to do so is vital, but how do you defeat your habits that create the opposite result?

Centuries ago, Taoist masters came up with their own method, one that's simple, direct and can be used by anyone. When they took it to Japan, the Japanese eventually named it "Hara-gei", the "art of the belly".

By doing a makeover of your breathing, posture and movement, and then combining them with your mental attention, the ancient masters came up with a fool-proof way to return your entire mind-body organism to its natural state - a state of positive emotion, where no thoughts arise to disturb you... unless you decide to think about something.

This method was so powerful that the famous Chinese physician Sun Simiao - who himself lived over a hundred years in good health, wrote: "Tranquility then attains to concentration, and the body continues to live for years eternal."

To learn more about this amazing method, you can go here:

This course is, so far as I know, the ONLY one in the entire English speaking world that actually shows you how to master HARA step-by-step.

And for anyone who grabs a copy this week, I'll throw in a free copy of The 5 Pillars of Life.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Monday, 16 November 2009

Want Health? Then You Can't Afford to Ignore This...

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison

Hi all,

Edison was right, all those years ago, and despite the power and political clout of the pharmaceutical industry, people will likely look back at the medical and health practices of the our time and shake their heads saying...

"What WERE they thinking??"

Ancient cultures made some miraculous medical discoveries, and none more far-reaching in its effectiveness than the science of BREATHING. Sounds ridiculously simple?

What if I told you that just by using certain breathing methods for minutes a day, you could detox your whole body? Here's the scoop...

Beyond "Deep Breathing"

Taoist longevity masters discovered that although ordinary "deep breathing" is really good for you, there's something even better. Yes, it's a great idea to go outside first thing in the morning, expel all the stale air from your lungs and take in some crisp, clean air to oxygenate your system (and wake you up ;-), but there's more...

They discovered that the human body is designed for "abdominal breathing", not the chest breathing adults are used to, and that when you change over to abdominal breathing, amazing things happen. For one thing, it will detox your whole body continually (a big plus in our toxin-filled society). Here's how:

Your body eliminates toxins in 3 main ways - through your lungs, your skin and your bowels.

Abdominal breathing uses the whole lung and eliminates toxins through the lungs more efficiently than chest breathing. Abdominal breathing continuously massages the lower digestive tract, allowing your intestines, kidneys and bladder to eliminate waste products far more effectively than they usually do.

And now the "piece de resistance"... they discovered that through breath control they could access the body's energy field. You can too. Focus your attention on the tip of one finger as you practice abdominal breathing and you'll notice something...

Your finger feels like it's breathing too! Eventually, you'll learn to feel this sensation everywhere. To make a long story very short, using this dynamic allows you to eliminate toxins directly through your skin.

The Taoist masters also noticed that normal abdominal breathing and the special exercises that use it radically improved the circulation of blood, lymph fluid and energy throughout the body and eased the burden on the heart muscle. And they enable you to gather energy all day long instead of just expending it.

There are further benefits on the emotional and spiritual levels too, but I've run out of space for today, so...

To learn more about these miracles, just hop on over to:

For anyone who grabs a copy this week, I'll toss in a free copy of my book, The 5 Pillars of Life in case you don't already have one ;-)

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Friday, 13 November 2009

In Remembrance of the Veterans, Past and Present...

Yes, I realize I'm a day or two late in getting this out. Fortunately, "Remembrance Day" here in Canada has been rebranded as "Remembrance WEEK", so I don't feel so bad!

Just yesterday I had the privilege of reading a very moving letter. It was written only days ago by a young widow, the wife of a Canadian Forces officer who had just lost his life in Afghanistan. Her life has been devastated. She has lost her husband, her lover and her best friend... and the father of her children. Life will never be the same for her or her children.

And yet the letter was a noble reminder of the principles that her husband stood for and of the principles that all of us who love our respective countries and value our freedoms embrace. There was no self-pity, but rather a call for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the things that really matter.

Her letter reminded me of the words I heard from my own relatives who had gone through the darkest days of the Second World War, when all seemed hopeless and civilization itself hung in the balance. "We did what we had to do," my aunt told me. Her husband was escorting convoys in the North Atlantic and she had no idea whether he would come home alive or end up in a watery grave.

As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I tends to be somewhat critical of Western civilization. I suppose we Orthodox feel that our historical knowledge of what really happened in the West - of which 99.9% of Westerners are ignorant - gives us the right to do so. Perhaps. However, whatever the faults of the West, I see its value in this world as irreplaceable.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."

Ponder that for a moment... Written nearly two and half centuries ago, these words from the US Declaration of Independence are ones that we have yet to live up to. They sum up the common foundation of Western civilization as a whole. And they are light years ahead of the sad reality in which most of the human race still lives. As President Obama rightly said, these ideas still light the world. And God help us if we ever allow them to be extinguished by any of the hate-filled religious or secular ideolologies we've had to face over the last century.

"Heaven Rescued Land"

I'm not an American, yet I can think of no better way to remember the veterans than by looking at the fourth stanza of Francis Scott Key's magnificent poem, "The Defense of Fort McHenry", better known as the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner.

Here they are:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blessed with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Or, if you'd prefer to listen to it, here it is on Youtube (where it's sung as the third and final verse by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir):

Although he wrote it 195 years ago while watching the British navy bombard Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, it describes perfectly what our forebears lived through only 7 decades ago.

In that epic struggle, all of Western civilization was indeed a "heaven rescued land" and "the land of the free and the home of the brave". Let's face it; there is no freedom without bravery. In the immortal words of the great historian, Will Durant, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

He also noted that "a nation must love peace, but keep its powder dry". And he wrote those words in the context of the massacre of millions of people in India in the middle ages at the hands of their Muslim conquerors, events he called "the bloodiest story in human history". The price of failing to keep your powder dry can be horror beyond imagination.

You may feel a sense of discomfort when you read the Key's words, "And conquer we must, when our cause it is just..." and that's understandable. We've all been conditioned by the disastrous consequences of some of our own foolish military misadventures since World War Two. That can make us pretty cynical. However...

...we must never let it blind us to the eternal values that our civilization is based on, no matter how often we manage to screw up the implementation of those values.

So let's all remember all those brave men and women who have stood up to be counted when it mattered, who have put their lives on the line and are still doing so on a daily basis. And let us all strive every day to be worthy of their sacrifices and of the civilization that we so often take for granted.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

People WANT to Drag You Down!

Hi Everyone,

There's a flip side to setting ambitious goals for your life. It's one that the goal-setting and success gurus don't spend nearly enough time on...

You know how they say that if you can imagine a goal, and it really excites you, and you go after that goal, then the whole universe starts lining up to make it possible?

It's true... but...

Everyone who knows you and can't identify with your goal or the new direction you're trying to take your life in will rise up AGAINST YOU. Yes, there are exceptions but, generally speaking, when human beings - and expecially human beings living in "victim syndrome" - see you trying to rise above the pack, they're going to do everything possible to drag you back down.

They will mock you. They will conspire against you, start intrigues and try to get you into trouble with your boss, your family, with anyone they can. And when you "fail" - and you will fail, because we usually fail before we succeed - they'll be the first to say, "I told you so!"

This is pretty much a UNIVERSAL LAW.

It even happens in the most "spiritual" of places. One great Orthodox Christian holy man of the 20th century - a monk on Mount Athos in Greece - wrote something like, "Our spiritual struggles were difficult enough in themselves, but were made a hundred times worse by the mockery of other monks who didn't understand our way of life. So the very people who should have supported us most were the very ones who turned against us."

Yes, if you try to fly above the herd in ANY WAY, you WILL be attacked. Just remember the old saying that "just because you're not paranoid, it doesn't mean everyone isn't out to get you" ;-)

When I went into business and wrote The 5 Pillars of Life, I was viciously attacked by people in the Church. Only a few, of course, but the TREACHERY was unreal - going behind my back to try to turn Church authorities against me, trying to isolate and marginalize me. And then there were all the comments about the evils of business and money.

You should read Michael Jordan's bio someday - he was determined to be a great professional basketball player yet nearly everyone he knew became an obstacle. They mocked him, they didn't believe in him, they told him he was wasting his time. I wonder if any of those losers woke up in the end.

So the bottom line is this...

Before you dedicate yourself to those ambitious goals of yours, no matter what those goals are, you need to develop a VERY THICK SKIN. You actually need to PRACTICE not caring what other people think or say. And that's especially true if you're a sensitive person and have been conditioned to seek peer approval.

Yes, PRACTICE it. It doesn't come naturally to most of us. You need to develop a special kind of RESILIENCE, and it only comes with practice.

The price of success is the willingness to persevere and to TOTALLY DISREGARD what everybody else thinks.

Now I know I'll get people responding to this saying that if you don't listen to other people's advice, how can you expect to be successful. Or that it's "arrogant" not to listen to others and think you know better. Of course, it should be obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that's not what I'm talking about here.

Yes, you need to stay humble and listen to whatever qualified advice you can get. You also need to be SO SURE AND SO FOCUSED on your goal that you'll be able to persevere when everyone around you is trying to stop you.

In other words, you need to train yourself to become mentally and emotionally TOUGH. I know it sounds indelicate, insensitive and not politically correct. However, it's the plain truth for anyone willing to listen. And if you've tried to fly high in any area of your life before, you KNOW this to be true already.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Fitness and the Fallacy of Overtraining

Hi all,

I've spent a good deal of effort emphasizing the fact that you need to maintain a baseline level of physical fitness if you want to enjoy:

- Superior health (since health depends partly on fitness)
- Peak performance (since energy level and focus depend on it to)
- Self-confidence (since fitness goes a long way towards providing that)

As you know from experience, everybody's stiff and sore after starting a new exercise program or even a single new exercise. I know, for example, that if I go a week without doing any squats, I'll pay for it when I start up again.

Then there are the inevitable minor aches and pains of training. Yes, they're inevitable and no, they're not going to go away. On the other hand, they're a testimony to the fact you're actually doing something!

Unfortunately, though, the first thing that seems to pass through our minds when we feel a twinge here or an ache there is, "Oh, I must be over-training. I should take a few days off!"

Indeed, the myth of overtraining has been so drilled into us that it's become part of our mentality. Why's it a myth? Only because most of the people who think they're overtraining are NOWHERE NEAR overtraining and probably haven't overtrained a single day in the last twenty years.

Now don't get me wrong; real overtraining DOES exist. You'll find it among professional body builders, for example, who have actually damaged their muscles and created large amounts of scar tissue in the process. You'll find distance runners who have damaged knees and shins through repetitively pounding the pavement. But all this is much different from the minor aches and pains of ordinary training.

You see, the vast majority of people UNDER-TRAIN. They may only do 2 or 3 days a week, they don't push themselves or they're none too regular about what they do.

If you want your fitness program to give you the results I mentioned above - superior health, peak performance and enhanced self-confidence - then you absolutely need to train seriously at least 3 times a week and do a lighter workout at least twice a week. Anything less won't get you anywhere. In a future article I'll talk more about WHY this is. For now, though, I'll simply ask you to trust me on this one.

Remember that, if you're serious about becoming a more RESILIENT person, you need to train the BIG 3 - strength, flexibility and endurance - in a balanced way. This means thinking of overall health and fitness as you train, and not just focusing on your immediate goal of toning your derriere, building your biceps or running the 10K in X number of minutes.

Of course, if you have any kind of pre-existing injury or medical condition, you need to take that into account. But if not, your fears of "overtraining" are probably unfounded. And when you stop undertraining, you'll discover a whole new level of fitness (and therefore health, performance and confidence) that can be yours.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

U.S. Health Care Debate: This Irate Canadian Speaks Out!

Hi all,

This post is addressed largely to those of you living in the United States.

Debates about the cost and structuring of public health care in industialized nations are hardly a new thing. As most of you reading this probably know, the REAL problem with any of our existing healthcare systems is NEVER discussed in the public debates - that's the absurdity of the reigning medical paradigm (allopathic medicine) and the pharmaceutical giants who sponsor if not control it.

However, that's not what I want to talk about today. What has many of us here in Canada genuinely annoyed is the manipulation of the facts and the outright lies circulated in the United States about Canada's health care system.

A friend of mine in the US suffered a serious stroke back in March. He actually died on the table. He was successfully resuscitated and is doing quite well now, thank God. However, he told me that many of his acquaintances have said to him things like, "It's a good thing you didn't have that stroke in Canada. You'd have probably died before they got around to treating you because you have to wait so long for care in Canada."

Let's set the record straight: No one has to wait for critical health care in Canada. If my friend had suffered his stroke while visiting Ottawa, he would have found himself in a world-class hospital's intensive care unit within MINUTES. And nobody would have been demanding proof of medical insurance before treating him.

As a Canadian I have absolutely NO financial worries related to health care. Neither does anyone I know. I will never be refused treatment for lack of insurance, since we're all insured. I have never had any problems getting my family's medical procedures paid for or getting reimbursed for up to 80% for the costs of their prescription drugs, dental visits, eye glasses and a pile of other necessary services.

For decades now we've been stunned by the American reality of "catastrophic illness" - an illness that wipes you out financially. To us, this is complete madness.

We're stunned by the ideological mud-slinging of your current health care debate and especially by the lies circulating about our own health care system. When people tell you that our Canadian health care is poor, that people in Canada wait forever and still don't get the care they need, or that the system is "socialist" or (sillier still) "communist", YOU need to know this - you are being LIED TO.

Yes, it's always amused us up here in the far north that so many Americans are terrified of "communism" without having the foggiest idea what the word means. Rather than getting into that, though, let's do a little political science lesson I think you'll find MUCH more enlightening.


We've had our current health care system for nearly half a century. We actually PREFER to have our federal and provincial governments run major public utilities and infrastructure. We LIKE the fact that our national airline is publicly owned. We LIKE the fact that our banks are few, large and heavily regulated - it makes them pretty much invulnerable to all those depressions / recessions you're so good at sharing with us ;-)

Is this because we're "left-wing", "socialist" or "communist"? Hardly. We do have a social democratic party, but it has NEVER held power here on the federal level.

No, my American friends, it's our CONSERVATIVES, our "right-wing" that has historically been behind the public ownership of utilities and services that are so vital to everyone and to the national interest.

You see, we inherited the British "Tory" tradition, and conservatives of that ilk have no problem with the idea that certain things are best left in the hands of government, because government, however inefficient it sometimes may be, is not obsessed with making a profit to the detriment of the people as corporations so often are.

("Conservatism" in the USA, however, is just runaway free-market liberalism. For various historical reasons, it bears no resemblance to what Brits or Canadians think of as "conservative".)

So, strangely enough, our publicly funded healthcare system is something ALL major political parties in Canada have always favored. It keeps the people happy, which is one less headache for the politicians.

Does that mean the system is perfect? Far from it. We do have a shortage of doctors and nurses in some localities. You may have to wait a while to see certain specialists for conditions that aren't life threatening.

When I went to see my family doctor, he noticed a wart on my hand. I'd have to pay to have it removed, he told me, because the system considers a wart "cosmetic" unless it's on your private parts! But, you know, I can live with that. If having to pay for a minor cosmetic procedure like that means more resources can go to treating people who have really serious conditions or injuries, then I'm happy to live with my little wart. Besides, I can find something to remove the wart for about ten bucks at the local pharmacy.


You'd be VERY hard pressed to find ANY Canadian who would trade our healthcare system for yours. Personally, I've never met even one.

So, my American friends, stop allowing yourselves to be manipulated by your unscrupulous media and the special interest groups behind that media because there's one thing you can be very sure of - it's not YOUR interests that those special interest groups are fighting for.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Monday, 2 November 2009

Meditation: Why You Need to Change Your Paradigm

One of the greatest RESILIENCE-BUILDERS out there is the regular practice of meditation. More and more people are taking up meditation for a variety of reasons, ranging from stress-management to seeking inner peace to enhancing their spiritual life to controlling their inner energy (Qi).

Unfortunately, most people are not getting nearly the benefits their meditation practice has to offer simply because they're making a culturally ingrained mistake that every Westerner is pretty much bound to make...

...they meditate when they meditate; then they get up and switch their brain into the same old stressed-out "daytime" mode they're so used to.

Hear this: your meditation's effectiveness can be easily quadrupled by simply avoiding that habitual mental shift.

"Great," you say, "but just how am I supposed to do that? My kids need their lunches made and a ride to school. My boss is on my case about that report and I'm run off my feet!"


Fair enough. Let me explain... You're obviously familiar with the idea that whatever you focus on, especially with strong emotion, grows and eventually becomes your reality.

So if you insist on focusing on how insanely busy you are and how everyone is making demands on you, then that will become your reality. Let's call it the "fundamental background" of your life. Incidents will come and go throughout your day, but this "fundamental background" will always remain -ever-present and unchanged.

Suppose you decided to change that. What if the calm and centeredness of your meditation practice could be the NEW fundamental background of your life? What if your focus were constantly on that instead of on your problems and challenges?

For one thing, you'd have a lot less stress. Unpleasant incidents during the day would barely phase you. You'd be more effective and productive, since the meditative mind is always more effective than so-called "waking consciousness". And you'd be more deeply relaxed, so your health and resilience would naturally improve.


Mea culpa - guilty as charged! So let's get to that part now...

Here's a step-by-step method you can use to get started. Keep in mind this won't change your life overnight because your old habits of mind and body are SOOO deeply ingrained.

1. Meditate first thing in the morning

2. When you're ready to finish your meditation session, remind yourself that maintaining your meditative mind, the awareness of your inner being, is going to be the "fundamental background" of your day.

3. Become aware of the delightful PHYSICAL sensations of meditation as you go through your day - the rhythm of your breathing, the inner energy contracting and expanding, etc.

4. By focusing on these sensations, strive to keep your mind and emotions clear and calm.

"Can't be done," you say? Nonsense! Generations of experience show that people living in far more challenging circumstances than yours and mine trained themselves to do this and reaped the awesome benefits of health, immunity, longevity, inner peace and spiritual insight. That's why... can too!

To learn about the SILVER BULLET for mastering meditation, whether you're sitting, standing, moving or doing anything at all, go here:

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger