Thursday, December 23, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
In the beginning, the day of remembrance held much sadness and reverence. There was a lot more memorializing, and a certain sense of fear and resignation because the proliferation of the virus was decimating our communities, while terrorizing mostly everyone. The simple act of having sex was causing trauma, and there was an unfounded fear of even coming into physical contact with anyone carrying the virus. Things have changed a great deal as we have had years of experience to draw from. Some of the fear has abated, but the stigma is still very much a part of the problem.It would be unreasonable, in my opinion, to not be grateful for the many pharmaceutical advances, but one of the downsides of those gains are the increasingly lax attitude of some people who feel that you can just "take a pill" and be alright. The diseases caused by HIV are more manageable now, but HIV is certainly not for sissies. There is a discipline needed to maintain some modicum of normalcy that does not often get discussed by those of us who are host to the virus. Not everyone, by the way, is blessed enough to have the option of taking medications due to their costs here in the U.S.Never the less, stigma still pervades in more ways than one. When stigma is coupled with the pre and post traumatic emotional disorders that affect the wellness of all of us who are affected, HIV still is winning the war, and it is showing the kind of resolve that continues to indicate it will not stop until we are extinct. Now, nobody is gonna get out of this thing alive, but if you don't stand for something...and besides, what is more worth fighting for than salvation? In order for us to be emancipated from the bondage of self, it is important to identify the enemy and use the weapons we have to wage the battle. The love of God, family and friends has saved and encouraged me. I am responsible for spreading that love to all those who would receive it. World AIDS Day presents another opportunity to do so. After 25 years of personal, intimate experience as a host for HIV, one day will never be enough to share all I would like, but I am grateful to have another day! I give thanks, honor and love to all those spirits and beings who have either passed on as a result of exposure to, or are living with HIV. We stand on your spirits and fight on in your memory.I was on NPR Wednesday Dec. 1st with Michel Martin on 'Tell Me More" one of my favorite shows. Then my wife Dionne and I were on Professor Michael Eric Dyson's NPR show the same day discussing how we negotiate in a "hetero-magnetic" relationship, where one person is HIV+, and the other HIV-. Michael is a brother I admire greatly and we are honored to have been on his show as well. Dionne and I are participated in panel discussions during the International Conference on HIV Stigma in Washington D.C. on Wednesday as well. You can find us online, on buses and billboards as part of the "Greater Than AIDS" campaign too (greaterthan.org). Kudos to all of the advocates, activist and soldiers that are willing to participate in our own salvation, so that we are not complicit in our own demise.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
"Prevalence and Correlates of Sexual Behavior and Risk Management Among HIV-Positive Adults over 50"
The study authors "examined the prevalence and correlates of sexual behavior, sexual risk and behavioral risk reduction strategies among a diverse sample of HIV-positive adults over age 50."A total of 914 HIV-positive adults age 50 and older (640 males, 264 females, 10 transgender) living in New York City completed individually conducted surveys. Study results showed more than half of participants reported sexual activity in the previous three months, and one-third of sexually active participants reported unprotected vaginal or anal sex in that time period. Though there was no difference by physical health status, sexually active participants were more likely to be younger and male. A range of risk-management strategies was reported, including 100 percent condom use (49 percent of sexually active participants), serosorting (17 percent) and strategic positioning (4 percent). Strategy prevalence differed by gender/sexual identity subgroups. Multivariate modeling found unprotected sex was significantly associated with recent substance use and loneliness."Older HIV-positive adults are sexually active, and engage in both high-risk and risk-management behaviors," the investigators concluded. "Loneliness emerged as the dominant risk factor in this sample. Findings provide meaningful implications for HIV prevention interventions targeting this population." Sexually Transmitted Diseases Vol. 37; No. 10: P. 615-620 (10..10):: Sarit A. Golub; Julia C. Tomassilli; David W. Pantalone; Mark Brennan; Stephen E. Karpiak; Jeffrey T. Parsons
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Reggie Smith, Dr. Luther Virgil Jr., & Dr. Lisa Henry-Reid Share @ the US Conference on AIDS in Orlando, FL
Here is a link to the video of the U.S Conference on AIDS where I was blessed to be able to share our strength, hope and experience. Thank you for your love!http://www.youthhiv.net/
Thank you Bailey Barash for your love and permission to use the clip from your inspirational documentary "The AIDS CHRONICLES - HERE TO REPRESENT".
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Below is an email that Dionne got from a friend. It is appropriate for all of us who participated in voting for our causes in the Refresh Everything project.
Thank you all for your faith and hard work. We have been building on the momentum that we gained from the sacrifice and effort you put into the project, so even though we did not win the money ( battle) the war is still being fought.
The letter below is very revealing and I identify with all that is written. Please know that we have not now, nor will we ever, give up on the mission to free ourselves and others from the prison of the stigma surrounding HIV.
Dionne and I, as a result of the cohesion and clarity the campaign helped create, have been given the opportunity to represent our cause in arenas we may be more effective on a national level. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Please continue to share your unmet needs to us so we can represent and convey them wherever possible.
We are honored to be a part of this soul group. There are some very exciting events being planned and coordinated for the coming months!! We will keep you informed!!
God loves you & so do I.
Good day, everyone! I hope this note finds you enjoying this last official day of summer and preparing for a wonderful fall season.
Over the past few weeks, many of you have written to ask when / whether I planned to publish a 'final update' about the outcome of our participation in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant challenge. Honestly, I'd been waiting to send this update for two reasons.
First of all, as many of you noted, Pepsi's website was notoriously difficult to use, and I'm relatively certain that a number of you had problems actually registering your votes. We were hoping that Pepsi might find some way to take that into consideration when calculating the final vote tallies.
Secondly, as many of you suspected, Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' competition was plagued by a very large number of - what's the nicest way to say this? - 'voting irregularities' that, if addressed by Pepsi, would've drastically altered the outcome of the competition in both the $50K and $250K grant categories.
Unfortunately, despite multiple promises from the 'powers that be' at Pepsi that they were 'actively investigating' these issues, Pepsi ultimately opted to take no significant action. That was Pepsi's 'last word' on the issue, and in a grant competition of this type, the 'last word' of the corporate sponsor is law.
Thanks to these voting irregularities, I really don't know who actually won Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant competition. In fact, nobody outside of Pepsi actually knows who *really* won their 'Refresh the Gulf' grants, as no one outside of Pepsi has access to the actual vote tallies, and Pepsi isn't sharing this information with anyone.
I can only tell you that, tomorrow, when Pepsi officially announces the recipients of their $250,000.00 'Refresh the Gulf' grants, one of the recipients will be a terrific organization that I genuinely respect and admire. The other grant will go to an organization who received a $250,000.00 'Refresh Everything' grant from Pepsi earlier this year, who achieved their standing in the 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign directly as a result of a proxy voting scheme in which they knowingly and actively participated, and that - if the persons in charge of that organization are to be believed - were actually invited by Pepsi to apply for a second grant during Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign.
After working your hearts out for a month, I know many of you were disappointed to learn that Modest Needs would not be receiving the $250,000.00 'Refresh the Gulf' grant. I was too - for about five minutes. And then, I started to consider all of the good that came out of our participation in this competition.
First and foremost, I'm proud of us - all of us - for the way we ran our grant campaign. We did everything strictly 'by the book.' We played by the rules, even when playing by the rules was hard. We didn't enter into partnerships that would've given us tens of thousands of additional votes by proxy - a practice specifically prohibited by Pepsi. And we didn't engage in the kinds of 'smear tactics' in which some other organizations unfortunately engaged throughout the grant competition.
To me, the reputation that Modest Needs has earned over the years is worth a heck of a lot more than a quarter million dollars. So even though we didn't win a $250,000.00 grant from Pepsi, we came away from this competition with our reputation for ethical behavior in tact. As far as I'm concerned, that's something we can be proud of. It's an unqualified 'win' for Modest Needs, and for those of you who support this work.
Secondly, our experience with Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign caused me - a lot of us, I think - to 're-think' the wisdom of participating in competitions of this type. Initially, like many of you, I figured there wasn't any harm in submitting a grant proposal to Pepsi. The worst thing that could happen would be that we simply wouldn't get the grant, right?
Now that we've actually participated in a grant competition of this type, we've learned that, in the immortal words of Han Solo, 'No reward is worth this!' I'm all for additional funding, but this competition took much more time to manage than we ever imagined. What's more, it required us to spend an entire month competing against our friends in the non-profit community and marketing Pepsi's products for them.
I think we can all agree that there are better, more effective ways to fundraise. So while I'm not sorry we entered this competition, I can promise you that having done this once, we'll never do it again. To avoid competitions of this type - that's important lesson we learned from participating in this competition, and you just can't underestimate the value of wisdom that comes from experience.
But best of all, participating in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant competition really brought the Modest Needs community together in ways I've haven't seen in a very long time. I can't tell you how much it meant to all of us at Modest Needs to see so many of you become 'activists' for Modest Needs, to hear from you as you were voting, and - beset of all - to read the very kind comments all of you left about our work on Pepsi's website. Those comments, in fact, meant more to all of us than I could probably express.
And as for the daily reminders we sent out during our month-long grant campaign (thank you for tolerating those, by the way)? Well, it turns out that they inspired some people to become new supporters of this work, brought former supporters of this work back to us, and encouraged some of you who already support Modest Needs regularly to do just a little more for those persons in need of our help during the month of August.
So, if nothing else, this grant competition had the result of pulling us together in pursuit of a common goal. And you know what? As a result, in the month of August - normally our slowest month of the year - we funded more requests for help than we were able to fund in June and July of 2010 combined. And that, my friends, is truly a 'win' for all of us.
We may not have received a $250,000.00 grant from Pepsi, but we did have the opportunity to show the world our true colors in the way we handled the grant competition. We learned some important lessons about the best uses of our limited time. And best of all, we came together for common good and helped a lot of people in the process.
That kind of team work, our solidarity, is worth a lot more than $250,000.00. It's the reason Modest Needs is so much more than 'just another charity.'
Again, thank you so very much for your support of our grant proposal in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' promotion, and, of course, for your support of Modest Needs. I look forward to hearing from many of you soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the first days of fall, and above all, be well.
Warmest Personal Regards,
Dr. Keith P. Taylor
Chief Executive Officer
Modest Needs Foundation
'Small Change: A World of Difference'
If you believe in the power of human kindness to change lives, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Modest Needs.
You can make an instant, secure contribution of ANY size in 60 seconds or less by visiting https://www.modestneeds.org/donation/online
Remember, the work we do at Modest Needs is funded exclusively through the generosity of persons just like you. Without your support, this work would not be possible.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I had a great time interacting with the over 1100 people who came out to show their support and gratitude for the fact that there has been a transformation of behavior for themselves or a loved one who has acknowledged the devastating effect that a particular addiction has had on their life. You see, recovery from the insidious, cunning and baffling addictive behaviors that have destroyed so many lives, is not something to be taken for granted. In fact, it is still a miracle that many thought they would never experience in this lifetime.Addictions are not something that we grow up aspiring to get caught in the grips of. They sneak up on us veiled in the cloak of pleasure and escapism. Let's face it...there is plenty to wwant to escape from in this world that we live in. I grew up in the 60's & 70's in the southside of Jamaica Queens NY, during the time when our heroes were being assasinated both by character and literally. There were race riots, wars, poverty, disease and despair...even in the "land of the free and the home of the brave". That is not to mention the stunning availability of illegal drugs. Of course, those things really have not changed that much in my lifetime, and they seem to be a staple of life on this planet. It takes some doing to navigate our emotions and state of mind if our intent is to have "peace on earth".I think that is ALL we ever really want - peace on earth that is. Everything we do is in an attempt to find or create it. We desperately chase after whatever person, place or thing that we think will make us feel better. The longer we can have the experience of joy or serenity, even if it is artificial and temporary, the "happier" we seem to be. That was my story, and as I have heard over the past 25 years of my recovery, it is a common theme for those who have found the utter futility of that path and have chosen (or resigned themselves) to a new life direction. That direction is an inward journey that is often taken after paying the high cost of low living. Pain and suffering seem to be the most common motivation for those who have discovered that joy is a by-product of spiritual enlightenment. Even though sex, drugs, and immediate gratification felt good for a while, my inability to sustain that state of being became much more painful than the pleasure that I derived from trying. The things that I would do in order to try to sustain that feeling caused me more and more shame, guilt, remorse and degradation. Instead of evolving as a human having a spiritual experience, I seemed to be caught in a "living hell" where I could no longer control my actions in spite of my best thinking, and I considered myself a pretty intelligent fellow!That seems to have been the plight of many (or all) of those who attended the Recovery Day event. Moreover, I have heard people share variations on the same story all over the world! We are the blessed ones, those of us who have survived the battlefield of life long enough to experience the miracle of recovery. Many of us were ready to die. Many of us were left for dead, or would have rather died than to continue living the way that we were. Now, not only have we found a way to relieve the suffering of ourselves and others by changing the patterns of our ineffective behaviors, we have become productive members of society and are developing relationships with ourselves and a "higher power". The vibrations felt when so many "miracles" gather in one place seems to have an even deeper cleansing effect. Our spirits are raised, giving us the energy needed to offset the opposite polar attraction that is pervasive on this plane as well. Recovery, in my humble estimation, is actually the process of recovering a right relationship with our Creator. It is a well defined process that has been successfully navigated, and regularly replicated by people all over the world. It has been effective in laying the groundwork for the re-patterning of addictive behaviors of all kinds. For me, it has inspired a discipline and insight into myself and others that now makes it possible for me to achieve my soul's true purpose.Paradoxically, surrender is the first step in "winning" the WAR we are engaged in with the many addictions with which we presently battle. Human nature seems to thrive on our desire to escape the reality of living on this plane. Our souls know that this is not our true home, and its constant attraction is to be back at home with the Father. Our minds and emotions are the anchors that tether us to the lower vibrations that dull our senses and make it harder for us to attach to the sound of the celestial music within. That is the sound and light that provide the transportation for our soul to make the journey home, and "soul" intuitively remembers that, even after the eons of ages it has been trapped on this plane by mind and illusion. This is our opportunity, though, to make the great escape, and to experience that heaven within.It begins with recovery. After we acknowledge our lack of power, we are then empowered. When we do the introspection and look at our deeds and shortcomings, we are able to forgive ourselves and others. By practicing prayer and meditation, we are able to experience the light and sound, and more clearly see the synchronicity of life. We begin to have some inkling of "God's will for us" and pray for the power to carry that out. It is in that spirit that I/we share our strength, hope and experience with each other. It is our attempt to follow the process of recovery in the hopes of recreating our original relationship with the source of all power - beyond mind and illusion - and to manifest spiritual wellness within. Recovery is much, much more than getting off of drugs, alcohol, or some other substance or behavior. Recovery is our hope for salvation. Everybody is recovering from something...or should be. How about you?Please join us as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of recovery with Dionne S., on Monday, September 27th @7PM - at the Making A Way Housing complex (The Compound)
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Is that I am a D. J. I love to play and listen to House Music, especially old School. Being from N. Y. means having a special kind of flavor in the music we love and appreciate.I don't play much these days, at least I haven't been playing much, but after having experienced the House in The Park event here in Atlanta this weekend, I'm inspired to re-emerge on to the scene. I'd been told about the previous 5 years of success the event has had, but there would have been no way for anyone to effectively convey the spiritual nature of the being in the company of "Jack" and so many of his folk. The reason this is so germaine to living well with HIV is because the spiritual realm is where we can most effectively heal our physical being. The energy that was created by he music and the beings, young and old, that attended physically and spiritually, was awesome and in invigorating. I had a special event, my granddaughter's 7th birthday party to attend at the same time I was at HITP, and I showed up late because the vibe (Jack) wouldn't let me go! Our healing is expedited when it is created in the spiritual realm. I had forgotten how important he music is for my healing. I'm making a pledge to myself to get the proper dosage of musical enlightenment, and I pray to be a vessel of he same. As I leave the doctors office today, grateful for wellness and the things that medicine has sone to help me maintain, I am encouraged to remember to move my body, and help you to jack your body too!!
God loves you & so do I.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Thanks to you all for your continued love and support!!
Friday, September 3, 2010
I thought you would like to know that I am blessed to be able to share my strength, hope and experience at the United States Conference on AIDS. My wife Dionne and I will also be sharing our thoughts with the Congressional Black Caucus at their annual national gathering in Washington D.C on September 17th at 9am. We are honored to have these opportunities, and appreciate the love and support you continually give us and this cause. We are engaged in W.A.R (Wellness, Awareness, & Recovery)!!
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Dialogues in HIV: Can We Talk?
About USCA's Sponsor, NMAC
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
<br />~۞~Cha※Cha aka FataL※Lady!~۞~ | <a style="font: Verdana;" href="http://vids.myspace.com%20%20">MySpace Video</a></span></p>
<font face="Verdana" size="1" color="#999999"><br/><a href="http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=43042359" style="font: Verdana">VERY SPIRITUAL! OPRAH & OTHER POWERFUL WOMEN REJOINING!</a><br/><object width="425px" height="360px" ><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"/><param name="wmode" value="transparent"/><param name="movie" value="http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=43042359,t=1,mt=video"/><embed src="http://mediaservices.myspace.com/services/media/embed.aspx/m=43042359,t=1,mt=video" width="425" height="360" allowFullScreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-
The non-binding recommendation urges countries to set up AIDS prevention programs in places of employment and help infected workers be productive for as long as possible.
Government officials, employers' groups and trade unions approved the recommendation by a large majority at the ILO's annual ministerial conference, after two years of discussion.
The agreement also covers armed forces and uniformed services, the ILO said in a statement.
"With the recommendation we can ensure confidence of job security and access to treatment," said Sophia Kisting, director of the ILO's program on HIV and AIDS and the world of work.
"We want to get rid of the silence and the shame around it and let people know they won't lose their job or won't be shunned at work," she told reporters.
It will be up to the U.N. agency's 183 member states to decide how to integrate its principles into their national policies and legislation.
The United Nations estimates 33 million people around the world are infected with the virus that causes AIDS and says more people are living longer thanks to the availability of drugs.
The recommendation is less powerful than an ILO convention requiring ratification, but aims to harmonize programs.
"To this day, stigma and discrimination still means job losses, it still means a lack of access to jobs and it still means that through fear and going too late for an HIV test that potentially a life is lost," Kisting said.
Employers should accommodate infected workers and train them to acquire new skills, she said.
"Psychological support from fellow workers when you are ill ... is so important to boost the will to live," she added.
Friday, June 4, 2010
June 2, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Stephen LeBlanc 510-388-7089
GERMAN DOCTOR HONORED FOR FIRST FUNCTIONAL CURE FOR HIV/AIDS
June 3, San Francisco City Hall, Front Steps, 11:30 AM
Gero Hütter, MD, the Berlin physician who performed the historic stem cell transplant in 2007 that has to date functionally cured an American patient with HIV/AIDS, will be honored by San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and the AIDS Policy Project on the steps of San Francisco City Hall.
Dr. Hütter’s achievement, known colloquially as the “Berlin patient,” has sparked great interest in the scientific community. However, few people outside the scientific world have taken note of this case, which is likely the first successful cure of a person with AIDS. The patient has been completely HIV-free for three years; there is no fixed threshold for when a patient is considered officially cured, since it has never happened before. Grassroots AIDS treatment activists, including many people with AIDS, asked Supervisor Mirkarimi to make this proclamation thanking Dr. Hütter for his work. “We know too well the destructive power of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco. And while antiretroviral drug regimens are keeping people alive, we are seeing shortened life spans due to either HIV, the side effects of the medications or a harmful synergy between both. Dr. Hütter’s extraordinary work illuminates one path towards a cure. We honor him for his vision and hope that the one person he has functionally cured is the harbinger of a future without AIDS,” said San Francisco Supervisor Mirkarimi.
“Right now, the cure for AIDS is the scientific goal that dare not speak its name,” said AIDS Policy Project Executive Director Kate Krauss. “But there is remarkable research that is leading us closer to that goal, and we want people to know about it. We want to put the cure for AIDS back on the map. Also, Dr. Hütter is not a traditional AIDS researcher, but a leukemia doctor who was thinking outside the box. More of that, we say.”
The Science—California is Key
In the case reported in the February 12, 2009 issue of the New England Journal Medicine, Hütter treated a man infected with HIV and on antiretroviral therapy who later developed leukemia. After failing conventional chemotherapy for leukemia, the last hope for the patient was a hematopoietic stem cell transplant from a matched donor.
Hütter, whose team performed the transplant, sought a compatible stem cell donor who also had a genetic mutation known as CCR5 deletion. People born with the CCR5 deletion mutation (about 1/1000 Northern Europeans) lack a key receptor that HIV uses to enter cells and are highly resistant to HIV infection. The mutation is thought to have been protective for bubonic plague and to have emerged in Northern Europe in response to the “Black Plague” during the Middle Ages.
The patient received first one and than another stem cell transplant from a CCR5 deleted donor. The procedures first required the destruction of the patient’s own hematopoietic stem cell population, which eliminated the leukemia. The ensuing stem cells transplants performed by Hütter’s team essentially replaced his immune system with that of the donor. The hematopoietic stem cells from the donor comprising the patient’s new immune system lacked CCR5 and gave the patient an immune system resistant to HIV.
In the three years since these stem cell transplants occurred, the patient’s body has remained completely free of HIV, despite extensive testing. The patient has not been on antiretroviral therapy, though he was indicated for it before the transplants. This is unlike patients with “zero viral load” where there is no detectable virus in the blood, but it remains in pockets in the body and quickly re-emerges following cessation of antiretroviral therapy. If Dr. Hütter’s patient continues to show no virus in his body, he will be considered the first patient ever cured of AIDS.
These types of stem cell transplants are very dangerous, with a 20% to 30% fatality rate and therefore are considered an important scientific milestone rather than cure that is ready now for roughly 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.
In California: California’s state stem cell agency, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), established by Proposition 71 in 2004 with $3 billion in total funding, funded two approaches in October of 2009 to try and replicate and extend Hütter ’s procedure. The two grants, each for $20 million over 4 years, seek to delete CCR5 from a potential HIV patient’s own hematopoietic stem cells using genetic engineering techniques.
One, a team at the City of Hope led by John Zaia, MD, uses zinc finger technology from Sangamo BioSciences in Richmond, CA. The other team is led by Irving Chen, PhD, at UCLA. The grants seek the ability to genetically alter hematopoietic stem cells taken from patients to resist HIV. The therapeutic goal is to then return these HIV resistant stem cells back into the patients with the hope that the patients can control HIV without antiretroviral therapy, much like the “Berlin patient”. The target of both grants is an investigational new drug (IND) filing with the FDA within the four-year term of the grant award. A successful IND filing opens the door for Phase I clinical trials testing these techniques in actual patients.
“Hütter ’s remarkable experiment provides a critical “proof of concept” for gene therapy/stem cell transplant approaches to functionally cure a patient with HIV/AIDS. A great deal of difficult work needs to be done before we can realistically talk about a “cure” for more than a handful of HIV patients, but his work and the follow-on approaches funded by CIRM are absolutely essential first steps,” said Jeff Sheehy, an HIV advocate serving as a governing board member of CIRM and a member of the AIDS Policy Project.
The AIDS Policy Project: We are building a public, visible movement to support AIDS cure research, which is farther along than most people realize. As longtime AIDS treatment activists, including people with AIDS, we want to dismantle obstacles to this crucial research. We reach out to researchers, we organize community coalitions, and we meet with decision makers and innovators. See our web site:http://www.AIDSPolicyProject.org
It’s time to start talking about a cure for AIDS again.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
TANTRIC SEX is meditative, spontaneous and intimate lovemaking. Through it you learn to prolong the act of making love and to channel, rather than dissipate. potent orgasmic energies moving through you, thereby raising the level of your consciousness. Tantra transports your sexuality from the plane of doing to the place of being. There is no goal in Tantric sex, only the present moment of perfect and harmonious union. Tantra teaches you to revere your sexual partner and to transform the act of sex into a sacrament of love.
Tantra teaches that lovemaking between a man and woman, when entered into with awareness, is a gateway to both sexual and spiritual ecstasy. In India, traditional Tantrikas spent many years under the guidance of a spiritual teacher and engaged in elaborate yogic rituals to purify and master the body and mind. These practices were intended to awaken the powerful psychic energies through which the adept could enter into higher states of consciousness When a disciple was deemed ready he or she partook in sexual rites with a partner.
Through the sacred act of love, they sought to merge the dual nature of their sexuality into an ecstatic union. Through this came the harmonization of their own internal masculine and feminine polarities and a realization of the blissful nature of the Self.
Do any of these scenarios apply to you…
You've heard about merging sex with spirit through Tantra. You hope learning to practice sacred sexuality with your beloved will heal the gaps of intimacy in your relationship. You never had a "Sex 101" class and feel as a novice drawn to the Kama Sutra and claims attributed to Tantric Sex. You're drawn to the claims of multiple cosmic orgasms, lovemaking for hours, reaching an altered state of ecstatic bliss through sexual mediation. You're hoping to find yourself through the spiritual development that is Tantra's heritage and backbone.
Well, all good reasons to embark on the Tantric path. But now you've got a problem. What's the best way to proceed? If you've read anything about Tantra, no matter how valuable the information was, you realize that Tantra is about experience, not knowledge. So the decision that faces you is how to choose a master, a coach, a teacher who can guide you towards experiencing what you want personally. That's what this article is about: what to ask yourself, what to ask potential Tantra teachers, and how to decide who to get involved with.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF FIRST
The right place to begin your Tantric quest is inside. Inside you, that is. Come to think of it, that's where you'll end up too, but more about that later. Why Tantra? Let's start at the beginning. First you need to understand a little of what Tantra is about: energy, experience, spirit, and surrendering to life -- not just hot sacred sexuality. Some web surfing, book reading, watching a video, and introduction workshops can help you grasp the basic concept of Tantra.
-What does your partner think about your interest in Tantra (if you have one)? Hopefully, you're looking together. You should know upfront that the transformative power of this spiritual path is profound. If one of you starts changing dramatically without the other's understanding and collaboration, expect lots of stress in your relationship. If you're single and hoping Tantra will help you personally, there's no reason to wait. Not only do you not need a partner to begin studying but much of basic Tantra is based on solo practices you need to master before coupling. So get clear about what attracts you to Tantra.
-What are you seeking? We're continually amazed how many people rush headlong into group workshops without being clear about what they want to achieve with Tantra. Do you want to improve your sex life, find yourself, or learn to love yourself? Do you want to heal some long-standing wounding, find your soulmate, or deepen the love and intimacy in your relationship? Do you want to develop spiritually, change something else about yourself or your life? Not easy questions, of course, but essential if you want to get involved in the Tantric path of sacred sexuality.
Tantra is above all about consciousness. Enter blind and you may very well wander around in the dark for too long. There's no need to make this an elaborate research project generating reams of facts, figures, and justifications. You just need some personal awareness of the general directions you want to move.
-How do you want to learn Tantra? Do you want to start with a profound personal experience? Do you want to begin with a personal study curriculum, long-distance instruction, or attend group workshops?
Are you willing to travel? Do you want to work privately with a seasoned master? Will you be willing to make time in your busy life to practice?
Above all else, Tantra is a spiritual practice. Practice means regular exercise, like yoga, jogging, or working out. What you're hoping to change in your life has to be important enough for you to be willing to invest some time regularly. Of course, if it's fun and pleasurable, you're more likely to flex your Tantra muscles regularly.
QUESTIONS TO ASK TEACHERS
Today, there are many Tantra teachers scattered throughout the U.S., Europe, and the world. Ask friends, who have participated in Tantra workshops, what they know about various teachers. Use your web searching skills to locate interesting Tantra websites. Check out their links page to find others. When you find a teacher that you're drawn to, read their site in detail. Request their brochures, books, or tapes. Request testimonials from past participants, as well.
While surfing and studying, pay attention to your own antenna. What do your senses tell you about certain teachers? Do you resonate with their approach? There are various Tantra-related mailing lists and news groups where announcements are posted and participant experiences are discussed.
Of course, you'll be curious about how experienced a potential teacher is. Many teachers have decades of successful practice and some don't. In a field where depth of knowledge determines effectiveness, quality preparation, and teaching experience are vital. But in a spiritual pursuit like sacred sexuality, chemistry, approach, and relevance to your personal situation may be more important. A beginner with an open heart and mind can learn something from any self-appointed teacher who is just one step ahead on the same path.
Your decision about choosing a teacher will be more informed if you first find out what kind of Tantra background they have. Did they attend a Teacher's Training? Do they have a personal practice? Ask them how Tantra has changed their life. With such ancient, obscure, and unregulated origins, every school and lineage of Tantra has its own scent, flavor, and vision. What style of Tantra are you looking for? Heart-centered, meditation centered, or body centered?
Style also extends to teaching style. Most teachers offer private sessions to singles and couples as well as group workshops, most of which are weekend introductions. Only the most established instructors offer a complete curriculum with advanced stages. To dig deeper into a teacher's approach, try and discover how much lecture, feedback, discussion, and individual work is included.
What's the balance they hold of thinking, talking, and doing? How hands-on is their course? How explicit are sexual demonstrations and practices? Are intimate exercises done in public or in private? What's their balance of work with the body, mind, spirit, personal energy, and sex?
Many teachers offer introductory classes. Be sure to attend some if you can. Successful teachers conduct public presentations, conference keynotes, and even free evening previews. Experiment by attending various introductions until you find a teacher you like.
Once you've gathered all your information you'll need to make a decision. Tantra must be a personal, spiritual experience for it to have some meaningful impact on you. Your relationship with a teacher, master, or hands-on coach will be intimate, even if there is no physical contact, so don't make this critical choice about your spiritual development with your head only.
Look inside, listen to your inner voice, and use your gut feeling and intuition to sense what your heart tells you. Who do you most resonate with? Who most inspires your trust? To which teacher are you most drawn? What is important is if they create a sacred space and conscious experiences for you to discover what you're looking for.
This article comes to you thanks to Somraj and Suzie. Suzie asked him a while ago to write some guidelines for students looking for a teacher. Suzie edited. There's a longer article, including more about their teaching, on their site. You can find Somraj and his partner Jeffery (a woman!) at Tantra in Tahoe. Click that link for their teacher listing on Tantra.com. The home page for the teacher listings at Tantra.com is here.<p></p>
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
According to The Lancet, a leading English medical journal, sodium fluoride accumulates in brain tissue; it inhibits or destroys the crucial neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is imperative for the process of learning and memory. This data confirms a correlation between fluoride exposure/accumulation and diminished intelligence quotients. The mean IQ of 60 children, aged 10 to 12 years, in an area with a high level of fluoride in drinking water was significantly lower (92.27 [+ or -] 20.45) than that of 58 children in a low-fluoride area (103.05 [+ or -] 13.86). The high-fluoride area also had more children (21.6%) in the retardation or borderline categories of IQ than did the low-fluoride area (3.4%). In addition to studies on intelligence, other research on humans has associated fluoride with problems in brain functioning. It has been proven that fluoride has an adverse impact on pineal gland; which regulates sleep cycles, the onset of puberty, and other functions. Work from Dr. Jennifer Luke (50-51) indicates that fluoride reaches one very important gland in the body, the pineal gland, at very much higher concentrations than 1 ppm. This small gland is almost at the geometrical center of the brain, between the two hemispheres. However, it is outside the blood brain barrier. It also has a very high supply of blood (a perfusion rate second only to the kidney) and it is a calcifying tissue, laying down crystals of calcium hydroxyapatite like the teeth and the bone. Because of these observations, Luke argued that one would expect the pineal gland to concentrate fluoride. When she had the pineal gland from 11 human corpses analyzed, she indeed found this to be the case. The levels of fluoride in the apatite crystals averaged about 9,000 ppm (and went as high as 21,000 ppm). The average level is as high as you would expect in the bones of someone afflicted with skeletal fluorosis. The average projected by Luke for the whole tissue was 300 ppm, well over the 1 ppm found to inhibit many enzymes. Luke next examined the effect of dosing Mongolian gerbils (the animal of choice for studying the pineal gland) with fluoride. She found that animals fed higher doses of fluoride had a significant decrease in their excretion of melatonin metabolite in their urine. She also found that the high dose fluoride animals took a shorter time to reach puberty. This is exactly what you would expect if melatonin production were lowered. If this result were confirmed by others it would make fluoride an environmental hormone or endocrine disrupter, a topic of intense discussion (52) and review by regulatory agencies in the US and around the world.
Fluoride's effect on the human brain also extends to the fetus. An examination of 15 therapeutically aborted fetuses in the fifth to eighth month of gestation from a high-fluoride area documented a number of changes in the neurons, undifferentiated neuroblasts and mitochondria. The study concluded that chronic high-fluoride exposure during intrauterine life "may produce certain harmful effects on the developing brain of the fetus." (26) A number of animal studies also have linked fluoride to neurotoxic effects, such as impaired learning and memory abilities, suppression of spontaneous motor activity and poor performance in motor coordination and maze tests. Too much fluorine/fluoride can also cause the uptake of food from the stomach to decline and it can disturb development. Finally, it can cause low birth-weights. Some studies suggest that fluoride released in high concentrations during the normal resorption of high-fluoride bone, formed as a result of the habitual ingestion of fluoridated drinking-water for a period of years, may damage some immune system cells and reduce the efficacy of others. There is no dispute that too much fluoride damages teeth, actually making them more decay-prone. If fluoride is absorbed too frequently, it can cause teeth decay, osteoporosis, and harm to kidneys, bones, brain, nerves, and muscles. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates the amount of fluoride in the water supply, either ambient (organic calcium fluoride) or industrial fluoride (inorganic fluosilicic acid, sodium fluoride, etc.). EPA/SDWA regulations require industrial fluoridated water supplies to be monitored daily with ion selective electrodes, calorimetric (hydrogen titration), or complexion tests. These only determine the amount of fluorine contained in the water and not the accompanying contaminants; they do not take into consideration the bioaccumulation of fluorine/fluoride in plants, animals, and humans.
Approximately half of each day's fluoride intake will be retained by a healthy adult. This includes intake from all sources: food, air, water, dental products, etc.The fact that fluorides accumulate in the body is the reason that US law requires the Surgeon General to set a Maximum Contaminant Level for fluoride content in public water supplies as determined by the EPA.
This requirement is specifically aimed at avoiding a condition known as Crippling Skeletal Fluorosis, a disease known to progress through three stages. The Maximum Contaminant Level, designed to prevent only the third and crippling stage of this disease, is set at 4ppm or 4mg per liter. It is assumed that people will retain half of this amount (2mg), and therefore 4mg per liter is deemed “safe”. Yet a daily dose of 2-8mg is known to cause the third and crippling stage of Crippling Skeletal Fluorosis within 40 years. Furthermore, it has been proven that as little as 1 ppm of fluoride interferes with biological functions such as DNA repair enzyme activity and cause genetic and chromosomal damage.
In 1998 EPA scientists, whose job and legal duty it is to set the Maximum Contaminant Level, declared that this 4ppm level was set fraudulently by “outside forces” in a decision that omitted 90 percent of the data showing the mutagenic properties of fluoride. All sides agree to the fact that healthy kidneys can eliminate only about 50% of daily fluoride intake. The rest gets stored mainly in calcified tissues, like bones and teeth, but also in soft tissue.
EPA/SDWA regulations do not take into consideration, that many research projects have highlighted how easy it is to absorb toxins through the skin. One study done in the 1980s, suggests that 64% of waterborne contaminants are taken in through the skin. It has been proven that we get more chemical exposure from showering in contaminated water—than we do from drinking contaminated water.
The EPA/SDWA regulations do not incorporate the fluorine contamination (from the combustion of fossil fuel, certain industrial processes, and phosphate fertilizer) in our food supplies and exposure from bathing and swimming. For instance, the long-continued application of phosphate fertilizers can also raise the heavy metal and fluorine concentrations in irrigation runoff/drainage from fertilized lands, and, then, their application in agricultural soils constitute another source for workers and members of the public. One ounce @ 5.0% fluoride (about the amount used to fertilize one organic tomato plant as recommended by some organic growers) contains about 1.4 grams of fluoride, which is enough to kill a small child. Additionally, fluorine/fluoride that is located in soils, phosphate fertilizer, and fluoride in irrigation water accumulates in many plants. The amount of uptake by plants depends upon the type of plant and the type of soil and the amount and type of fluorine/fluoride compounds found in the soil and water. With plants that are sensitive for fluorine/fluoride exposure, even low concentrations of fluorine/fluoride can cause leaf damage and a decline in growth. Too much fluorine/fluoride, whether taken in from the soil by roots, or absorbed from the atmosphere by leafs, retards the growth of plants, and reduces crop yields. Fluorine also attaches to fine ash particles, coats grass, and pollutes streams and lakes. Tea leaves accumulate more fluoride (from pollution of water, soil, and air) than any other edible plant. Some seafood and fresh water fish have been found to have high levels of fluorides. In addition, water from fluoridated areas makes its way into processed foods and beverages it is then consumed by people in fluoridated areas, as well as nonfluoridated ones. Animals and humans that eat fluorine/fluoride-containing animals, plants, and grasses accumulate large amounts of fluorine/fluoride in their bodies. Consequently, everyone in the United States is being exposed to potentially lethal concentrations of fluorine/fluoride. Now add a little aluminum from antiperspirant deodorant, aluminum cookware, beverages from aluminum cans, municipal drinking water that often has aluminum compounds added, baking powders, bleached flour, processed cheese, some table salts, some antacids, and breathing in dust when sanding with aluminum oxide sandpaper. Aluminum-induced impairment of mineralization has been related to a reduced extent of active bone-forming surface. The present study investigated the effect of fluoride, a potent stimulator of osteoblast. Aluminum toxicity in the presence of fluoride may involve physical-chemical inhibition of mineralization or altered cellular activity of osteoblasts. Fluoride exacerbates aluminums inhibition of mineralization. All of the fluoride products used in the artificial fluoridation of water is contaminated with lead, arsenic, and radium. Lead is one of the most toxic elements naturally occurring on Earth. High concentrations of lead can cause irreversible brain damage, seizure, coma, and death. Arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung, and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer; it harms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems; It can cause birth defects and reproductive problems. Exposure to high levels of radium may result in health effects, such as teeth fracture, anemia, and cataract. When the exposure lasts for a long period of time radium may even cause cancer and the exposure can eventually lead to death. Large numbers of U.S. young people—up to 80 percent in some cities—now have dental fluorosis, the first visible sign of excessive fluoride exposure, according to the U.S. National Research Council. The teeth are windows to what is happening in the bones. In recent years, pediatric bone specialists have expressed alarm about an increase in stress fractures among U.S. young people. Studies have found an association between fluoride and the rate of hip fractures among the elderly. Osteosarcoma (malignant bone tumor), while rare, is the third most common form of cancer in children. Osteosarcoma accounts for about 3 percent of all childhood cancers. The five-year mortality rate is around 50 percent, and nearly all survivors have limbs amputated, usually legs.
The overall weight of the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that exposure to fluoride in tap water during the mid-childhood growth spurt between ages 5 and 10 increases the incidence of osteosarcoma in boys ages 10 through 19. Fifty percent of ingested fluoride is deposited in bones, and fluoride stimulates bone growth in the growing ends of the bones where the osteosarcoma occurs. Fluoride is also a confirmed mutagenic agent in humans, which suggests that fluoride can cause genetic damage in bone cells where it is actively deposited, in this case precisely where the osteosarcoma arises. Some forms of fluoride are used in high concentrations to kill rats and crop-eating insects. Municipal employees who add fluoridation chemicals to public water systems must wear protective clothing and respirators. Industrial workers regularly exposed to fluorine, the gas form of fluoride, have suffered skin, lung, and gastrointestinal problems; it has even been fatal for some.
Children, women in childbearing age, the elderly, and any person with impaired liver or kidney function are in the high-risk group for fluoride poisoning and must be warned to monitor their fluoride intake. Also at high risk are people with immunodeficiency’s, diabetes, and heart ailments, as well as anyone with iodine, calcium, magnesium, selenium, Vitamin C, and A deficiencies. Exposure to this powerful caustic irritant can cause conjunctivitis, skin irritation, bone degeneration, and mottling of teeth. Excess fluorine results in a significant cause of death and injury. Acute fluoride poisonings have occurred at doses of 0.1 to 0.8 mgF/kg of body weight in the USA . This means that the synergistic affect of food, fruit and vegetable juices, drinking water, and bathing in fluoridated water, combined with many dental products contains more than enough fluoride to kill or seriously harm a small child. Don’t worry, unless you are bothered by genocide or feeling fat, fuzzy, frazzled, fatigued, forgetful, depressed, ignorant, beset by intolerance to heat or cold, annoyed by problems with skin-hair-nails, or suffering with severe arthritis, osteopenia, osteoarthritis, constipation, low libido, infertility, or uncomfortable menopause. I can fix this is with your help – contact me – glen b. CaulkinsPeace, Joy & Blessings Glen & Ginger Caulkinswww.GC4Health.com