Monday, September 27, 2010

The 15% Rule - Giving Yourself the Gift of Time ~ By Caroleen Jones via Meghan Cooke

This is a cool little article that was sent out to the email list of my good friend, Vancouver based personal trainer and stuntwoman Meghan Cooke. Sign up for her fitness updates here:

~ Cliff

In 2002, I had just recently moved back East from the Mid West and enrolled my 2 small sons in a school to get some time for myself. They are 19 months apart and I had been living in Cincinnati, Ohio since they were born with no support system.
After my first son was born, I did make use of the day care at the gym I belonged to and was able to work out some kind of training schedule. Things began to change, however, as we were celebrating his 1st birthday and found out I was pregnant with number 2. He was born with a stomach condition and with 2 under the age of 2 my time at the gym disappeared.

Each day after school at pick up time all the mothers or fathers would wait outside in the playground area for school to be dismissed.
From September to November that year, I noticed one mother’s body go through some kind of transformation. Each time I saw her, she looked leaner, healthier and stronger. I had no idea what she was doing, all I knew was I wanted to try the same thing. This was the beginning of my friendship with Carole. The day before my birthday in the beginning of 2003, there was a small package in my mailbox. Inside, a piece of chocolate cake and a note: Happy Birthday! Enjoy the cake! Call him tomorrow. Love, Carole.” There on the card was the name and phone number of her trainer. The next morning I made the call.
We all have experienced those “aha” moments when the light goes on and all of a sudden we know what’s been missing. I have had many in my lifetime. Somehow back then, I got 2 small kids up in the morning, got them fed, dressed, ate breakfast, dropped them off at school and was in the gym ready to train before 9am. What I thought was impossible became a routine. In 8-12 weeks time, I lost over 10 percentage points in body fat.

I learned from one of the many mentors I have had in my life that 15% of the hours you are awake in any given day should belong to yourself. I call it the 15% Rule. If you get up at 6am and usually go to sleep around 9pm, 2 hours out of the day should be spent doing activities that are solely for your benefit. Things that you enjoy doing and that bring you joy. Mine are spent in the gym, writing and reading. With 2 boys, I am limited to the amount of time I can spend doing activities out of the house – so I prioritize my list and if there is one that requires being out of the house, like the gym, I put that at the top and work that in first. The rest are done at night, either while they are doing homework or after they have gone to sleep.

I find that when I live by the 15% Rule, I am a better person. I am not only happier on the outside, I am happier on the inside. There have been numerous times in my life I have abandoned the 15% Rule. Sometimes it has been for months, sometimes even years. It doesn’t matter. When you realize what you’ve given up, make a list, prioritize and start again. Ease into it if you have too – start with 45 minutes and work up. What you think is impossible will quickly become routine. You will start to notice a difference in yourself when you follow the rule and when you don’t.
Try it. Figure out your 15% and make a list of the things that bring you joy. It may include walking, meditating, or even practicing yoga. The 15% Rule is not strictly for women, although they are the ones who tend to over schedule and drop their own names to the bottom of their To Do list. The 15% Rule is for everyone – it is making “you” a priority for a small amount of time every day. The payoff is immeasurable.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pathfinder books has 'Choosing You!'

I remember as a youngster venturing into Pathfinder books in Auckland. It was there that I picked up, perused and bought my first books of the words of Osho, HWL Poonja, Surya Das, Krishnamurti and many, many more. 
I've always loved books, and I've always loved the hallowed nooks and crannies of bookstores like Pathfinder, almost alive with the words of those who truly 'live' love and life! 
It was, and still is a veritable treasure trove of spiritual and holistic health books and an urban oasis for seekers in the heart of Auckland's CBD. 

I'm proud to announce that Pathfinder books is now stocking my first book ~ 'Choosing You!'

Visit Pathfinder at :


Where else to order:

- Ask for Choosing You at your local bookstore

- Order Choosing You from Create Space; Amazon; or from CC Publishing direct within New Zealand.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Symbols of Encouragement (AKA T-shirts made me train!)

There are days that motivation is lacking...not necessarily motivation for everything...but especially for some of the important things that are not always urgent.

Exercise certainly falls into that category for many, and although I love to train and be active, there is the odd time when it's hard for me to get going too.

Today was one of those days.
I knew that I was 'going to' train at some stage...but there was a real 'block' to actually getting out of the office and doing a workout.

I'm enjoying training at home and doing a lot of calisthenics right now, but not having the added motivation of being in the gym, and having the office, computer and other distractions nearby is not always the most conducive to hard training!

Whilst dithering about when I would train, and when I felt that I was about to 'put it off' until later in the day, I went to my room to grab something and spied, out of the corner of my eye a few T-shirts spilling out of a bag  still left partially unpacked after my latest trip back from Vancouver.

These T-shirts almost screamed at me to 'harden up!' (a great Kiwi/Aussie saying) and train!

The T-shirts in question were one from 'Big Al's Dino Gym' - given to me by Al Myers (a great All-Round Weightlifter and strongman) and a shirt from the 2004 IAWA World Championships (one of the all-round weightlifting world champs I have competed in and my first world title win).

Little symbols and little sources of encouragement like these can provide the fuel we need to do the things that in the long run are so important for our health and happiness, and even though I would train regardless, one cannot underestimate the power that some of these symbols and this 'coaxing' can provide.

So thanks Big Al, and thanks to all my friends in weightlifting for providing the encouragement from afar that still helps to drive my training!

And FYI - here's what I did:

Pistol Squats - 5min total, switching legs between sets with no rest between.
Hand stands and hand stand walking - 5min total, little rest
Pullups - 5min total - as many reps as able
Fulton Bar Muscle Snatches (from knee) - 4 x 6 reps
Hanging Pikes - 4 x 8 reps
Dips - 2 x Tmax (short of failure)

And that's me having just finished, feeling great after training and sporting another cool T from my friend Jon 'The Dragon' Kawamoto at

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's the little things...

It's not the grandness of gestures that hold the most meaning, and it's certainly not the biggest or most expensive gifts that touch us the most.

It's the heartfelt gestures that show us that people around us care.

It's in the moments that we most need a hug, an arm around us, or a kiss upon the shoulder, that people who really care shine, and bring the light we feel has left us, back into our lives.

The little things we do, without expectation of return or reward are the physical manifestations of the love and light that we bring to the lives of others.

It could be as simple as leaving a post-it note on a tired and weary writer's keyboard....

(Love ya Sis! XO)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

9/11...Get Ready for the Hate...

I've been reading a little about the upcoming 'International Burn the Koran Day' being planned by the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida...

Every year around this time it seems we are inundated with crackpots and nutters leveraging off the deaths of thousands of innocent people on that day to attempt to advance their own bigoted agenda.

Let's remember that nearly 3000 people died this week, 9 years ago because of the acts of a very small group of extremists.
To suggest that these extremists represent the whole of Islam is naive and ignorant.
Much of the vitriol spouted around this time is by extremist Christian groups.
Perhaps they are the bearers of the torch (so to speak) of extremist Christians of yesteryear?
Perhaps they are merely carrying on what they see as the good Christian duties of book burning a la the Inquisition? (Which incidentally executed around the same amount of people as were killed in the 9/11 bombing.)

Of course they are not alone in promoting hatred and violence, there are militant Zionists and Islamists each with their own misguided agendas, battling tooth and nail to be 'right'.

Proponents of the Koran Burning Day defend it, not only on religious grounds but by using the Constitution of the United States to defend their right to 'free speech'. With this I agree...but I wonder if they would be so willing to defend the free speech rights of extremists of other religions burning the Bible?
Pastor Terry Jones says that they are 'sending a clear message' to extremist Muslims and terrorists that they live in the United States, and that they have free speech.
Well he is also sending a clear message to liberal and moderate Muslims that he and his church goers do not hold the fundamental concepts of respect and decency to be true. Destroying something that many peaceful, law abiding and loving people hold dear is after all a disrespectful and spiteful action.

I was raised by a devout Christian mother and an agnostic father with a penchant for poetry, yoga, fighting, hunting and I have a unique perspective on religion and spirituality!

We had many an interesting discussion about religion and spirituality and my parents each had their own views, but they never....never derided the view point of the other, and they both believed that love was the most important aspect of their relationship, and of the world in general...and that it could conquer all. 

My Mum - in spite of being a Christian of enormous faith, simply would not accept that non-Christians would go to hell by default! 
She just could not fathom how someone who lived a good life, did good deeds and that lived with honesty, humility and love could be rejected from God's arms. 
And that is why she gave me the freedom to explore religion and spirituality (and in fact encouraged it by introducing me to Buddhism, Hinduism and yes - the Bible) and let me make my own the full realisation that by providing me with a base of love and support that I would be in the best position to make decisions that would benefit myself and those around me, and would go on to live a life of good deeds and right action. 

I have had the pleasure and the honour of praying with, meditating with and having spiritual discourse with my Islamic friends - all of whom are caring, loving, peaceful,  spiritual souls - I guess actually getting out and meeting, knowing and accepting our fellow man helps to break down the barriers of ignorance...

To those planning on burning the Koran on 9/11 I would strongly urge you to remember the teachings of Jesus. Is this not a chance to 'turn the other cheek' and show that in spite of your feelings of being wronged and your desire for some type of retribution and vengeance that you can instead forgive and love in spite of their wrong doings? (as Jesus did)
Is this not a chance to 'love thy neighbour' in spite of whether or not you think that he is wrong?
Because whether or not you agree with someone is inconsequential. If you are only to love those that agree with you, then that by nature precludes the whole Christian notion of loving thy neighbour...

Some years ago around this time I received an email deriding Islam and highlighting some of the atrocities committed by militant, extremist groups in the name of Islam against the United States. 
The email's writer went on to spew forth one of the most hate filled diatribes I have ever read. 
Now - two wrongs certainly do not make a right, but it is important for us not to suffer from proximity bias and think that just because we are from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the UK that our nations are blameless in the committing of atrocities. 

We can easily look back at our very recent history with rose tinted spectacles and ignore the fact that there have been many innocent lives taken by our governments and militaries in many conflicts. 
Take for example the fire bombing of Tokyo in the Second World War - a campaign designed to maximise civilian casualties and maximise terror in the Japanese population, and which resulted in over 100,000 deaths. 
Whether you consider this 'collateral and necessary' damage in order to reduce the Japanese industrial capability or not, the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of civilians (innocents) died as a result of US government policy. 
And should we forget that the US is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons in war (and against civilians)?

Do the atrocities committed by the Japanese military in the Second World War, or the Nazi regime excuse atrocities committed by the Allies?
In my opinion No.

An atrocity is an atrocity...period...

Should we not be striving to do that which is right?
Should we not be striving to break the ingrained cycles of hatred and violence that have penetrated human society?

Is this not the chance to begin to change, and to have our actions be the instigator of that change, so that we can live in a world that more and more is one of peace, harmony and love?

To say that this is a pipe dream is simply a matter of resignation. To stick with the status quo is weak.
Nothing great was ever achieved without struggle, and the greatest struggles are against our own biases and conditioning.
We can create change, and we can create a better world.
The time to start is now.

Let's make 9/11 that time. A time to forgive, a time to love, a time to try and better understand our fellow man and to realise that religion and spiritual traditions, if you cut away all the ritual, dogma and rigmarole are all concerned with the same end goal.
Let's cast our eyes to the moon and not get hung up on arguing about which is the 'right' finger to guide our gaze there!

~ Cliff

[Note: Cliff will be hosting weekly spiritual meeting groups starting 22nd September 2010 ~ Click on EVENTS  to find out more]

Pastor Terry Jones on CNN

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Why Do We Cry Tears of Joy?

Thanks to my friend Leah Allinger for commenting on the  post "The Health Benefit of Tears"

She made the great point: 'The best tears for me, however, are the ones where I've been moved to tears in a moment of beauty or awe. Any idea why that reaction happens?' 

To be honest I don't know exactly!

But I do share your feelings. I have found that over the years, and as I have opened up to my own emotions, and become more 'heart centred' that I cry more frequently. Not necessarily sobbing or weeping per sé, but tears welling up in great pools in my eyes when I hear a great musical climax, see a beautiful sunset or see two people in true, wonderful love. 

I have read that the reason we do this is not because we are happy, but because we are actually sad at the things we didn't experience. For example crying at a wedding as related to the 'cryers' own inability to find a partner, or 'true love' thereby causing a subconscious release of emotion. 

I don't know about this.....I can see the possibility in some instances but I really hope there's more to it! 
And in some instances in which I get teared up I can't (consciously at least) see a hurt or trauma basis for it. 
But I guess in spite of the reasons, when we become more empathic, more heart centred and more open to emotional expression we experience the benefits (and yes joy!) of crying. And if we need to have a good ol'cry the last thing we should do is 'hold it in'. 

[By the way - Leah's latest Blog post Is a Kiss Ever Just a Kiss? is awesome! Check it out ~ Ciff]

Monday, September 06, 2010

Should MDs 'Prescribe' Exercise or Refer Patients to Exercise Specialists?

Dunedin sports and exercise medicine specialist Dr Hamish Osborne is challenging New Zealand GPs to start viewing exercise as a powerful medicine that should be prescribed to all patients. Osborne, scheduled to speak today at the Royal New Zealand College of GPs conference in Christchurch, said literature overwhelmingly supported the use of exercise as medicine. Research showed that women diagnosed with breast cancer have their survival rate doubled if they exercise for an hour a day. Similarly, research showed that with bowel cancer, for those who need chemotherapy, exercise was as powerful as chemo. Osborne said the treatment effect of exercise was so powerful the American College of Sports Medicine was pushing the line that it might become unethical not to prescribe exercise to everyone. "The government here does not spend any money on promoting it [exercise] but they pour gazillions of dollars into drugs to try and treat the illness that could be partially prevented by exercising. The exercise medicine prevention numbers are, in general, all enormous. You're talking about 50% reduction of just about whatever you name." Osborne, based at the Dunedin School of Medicine, said a typical GP consultation did not provide enough time for exercise medicine issues and many GPs had never been taught about its effectiveness. Previous governments had toyed with the idea of "green prescriptions" but not enough money had been put into it to make it work. "There needs to be a philosophical change at a whole bunch of levels," said Osborne. Osborne said that as a guideline for the adult population, everyone should walk for 30 minutes daily, five days a week, plus another hour of slightly higher intensity exercise. They should also be lifting something heavy a couple of times a week.

Read the original here:
Exercise medicine just what doctor orders |

Cliff's Comment:
I think it's great that prominent MDs are recognising the importance of exercise. It has been shown in so many studies to reduce depression, autoimmune effects and the onset of heart disease, diabetes etc that to not have it as part of a viable treatment plan for illness is very negligent. However I disagree that doctors should 'prescribe' exercise. Exercise prescription is not what doctors are trained to do. Doctors should instead refer patients to certified strength and conditioning specialists, medical exercise specialists and physiologists with a background in the population of the specific client. In the article Dr Osborne recognises that Doctors don't have the training, nor the time to effectively prescribe exercise and when there is a whole field dedicated to this it seems strange to expect one profession to learn the job skills of another!
If we all work together we can help to forge greater and greater levels of health and wellness, and referral between experts in their specialist fields is key to that. 

Some examples of strength, conditioning and exercise/rehab experts include:
Paul Hemsworth ~
Josh Neumann ~
Jon 'The Dragon' Kawamoto ~
Amber Moltzer ~
Mischa Harris ~

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Health Benefit of Tears ~ By Judith Orloff

For over twenty years as physician, I’ve witnessed, time and again, the healing power of tears. Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration. Also, you can have tears of joy, say when a child is born or tears of relief when a difficulty has passed. In my own life, I am grateful when I can cry. It feels cleansing, a way to purge pent up emotions so they don’t lodge in my body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity.
In “Emotional Freedom,” I discuss the numerous health benefits of tears. Like the ocean, tears are salt water. Protectively they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes. Our bodies produce three kinds of tears: reflex, continuous, and emotional. Each kind has different healing roles. For instance, reflex tears allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles when they’re irritated by smoke or exhaust. The second kind, continuous tears, are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated–these contain a chemical called “lysozyme” which functions as an anti-bacterial and protects our eyes from infection. Tears also travel to the nose through the tear duct to keep the nose moist and bacteria free. Typically, after crying, our breathing, and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.
Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and “tear expert” Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones.” Interestingly, humans are the only creatures known to shed emotional tears, though it’s possible that that elephants and gorillas do too. Other mammals and also salt-water crocodiles produce reflex tears which are protective and lubricating.
Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem persists. In addition to physical detoxification, emotional tears heal the heart. You don’t want to hold tears back. Patients sometimes say, “Please excuse me for crying. I was trying hard not to. It makes me feel weak.”
My heart goes out to them when I hear this. I know where that sentiment comes from: parents who were uncomfortable around tears, a society that tells us we’re weak for crying–in particular that “powerful men don’t cry.” I reject these notions. The new enlightened paradigm of what constitutes a powerful man and woman is someone who has the strength and self awareness to cry. These are the people who impress me, not those who put up some macho front of faux-bravado.
Try to let go of outmoded, untrue, conceptions about crying. It is good to cry. It is healthy to cry. This helps to emotionally clear sadness and stress. Crying is also essential to resolve grief, when waves of tears periodically come over us after we experience a loss. Tears help us process the loss so we can keep living with open hearts. Otherwise, we are a set up for depression if we suppress these potent feelings. When a friend apologized for curling up in the fetal position on my floor, weeping, depressed over a failing romance, I told her, “Your tears blessed my floor. There is nothing to apologize for.”
I’ve been this enthusiastic about crying for years. In fact, during my psychiatric residency at UCLA when supervisors and I watched videos of me with patients, they’d point out that I’d smile when a patient cried. “That’s inappropriate,” they’d say. I disagreed then; still do. I wasn’t smiling because my patients were depressed or grieving. I was smiling because they were courageously healing depression or other difficult emotions with tears. I was happy for their breakthrough. In my life, too, I love to cry. I cry whenever I can. Wish I could more. Thank God our bodies have this capacity. I hope you too can appreciate the experience. Let your tears flow to purify stress and negativity.
Judith Orloff is the author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom (Harmony Books, 2009) and the international bestseller Second Sight: An Intuitive Psychiatrist Tells Her Extraordinary Story.  Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition and energy medicine, Emotional freedom and total wellness.
[Originally posted at:]
Cliff's Note:
Often people find themselves crying in my Naturopathic practice, and particularly when doing Psych-K and energy work. In spite of their best intentions to 'not cry' they end up having an emotional release related to the work we are doing in releasing negative and self limiting beliefs. I always tell my clients that there is nothing at all to be ashamed of, and that the release is simply a part of the natural process, and as we can see from Dr Orloff's article can be really beneficial for our health. I certainly have no embarassment when around people crying. I have cried enough in my life to recognise it's value and I simply want the best for my clients!
Especially as men we often feel very reticent to be in touch with our feelings. However when we look at the myriad joys of life, the things that bring us into contact with our feelings really are the stuff that life's made of! 
To remove ourselves from this is to separate ourselves from truly living. 
I believe that there is a place and a time for being 'tough'. A time for standing up and being counted. 
My friends and readers know that in my time in the ring and on the lifting platform I have been as masculine as any one else....but toughness is being able to stand up for what is right, being able to not worry about what others think when you are doing right, and doing it all with honesty, humility, loyalty...and love!
Being scared of our emotions is the exact antithesis of being tough! However having the strength to recognise, and yes - show - that we are human and vulnerable is, to my mind, what being 'tough' in the best sense of the word is. 
~ Cliff
Thanks to my wonderful friend Melissa Lawrence of Awakening Source for posting this article.