June 8, 2011


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My continuing odyssey here at the Optimum Health Institute has not just been about physical health--there are very prominent mental and spiritual components to this experience, too. Because I'm actually working as a volunteer, there is a responsibility to help the non-staff make as much progress with their stay as possible. And that includes the more difficult cases...

It seems that often times where there is a person struggling with a particularly resistant condition or malady, there are parts of their personality contributing to creating that resistance to healing. And then there are those that may be "fine" physically, but are suffering socially and spiritually, and some who attempt to pull whomever is around into their story--or drama.

I've leaned a lot on the concept of the "petty tyrant," made famous by Carlos Castaneda. A petty tyrant is just that--a person who's personal conflicts, pain and anger is such that they involve others in order to maintain whatever justifications they have for being in pain or being angry. Their behaviors are unfair, childish, irritating, cruel and dogmatic, putting anyone around them on the defensive which then reflects back to the petty tyrant more reasons to be angry and in pain.

Castaneda's shaman teacher, Don Juan, would say that a good petty tyrant should be treated like gold by any shaman worth their salt, because only petty tyrants can reflect back to the shaman what shadows exists somewhere in the psyche. The shaman would not be experiencing the petty tyrant unless a part of the tyrant was within. Once the shaman has had that shadow reflected back, then is the magical opportunity to embrace the moment--to BE THERE with the shadow, and in so doing, experience the re-unification of the self hidden in the shadow, and thus obtain greater personal power.

The petty tyrant taps into our deepest fears that we truly are tyrants ourselves. It is why we cling to versions of ourselves that we have decided are "good," and live in denial about the versions that are "bad." The petty tyrant can allow us to release the fear, pain and anger that is constantly reminding us that we are "not enough." We come face-to-face with this, the biggest lie behind the ego. The truth is that we are all "enough," and we are all perfect.

I am so grateful for being in this space and around people who understand all this--it makes my personal transformation a true adventure.

Until next time...

In vibrant health,

Shay Arave, President


The Freedom of a Goalless Life

goal So many times I had passed up opportunities to do something really interesting or exciting because I was focussed on "making my goals." When you think about it, goal setting and making is at its core completely consumerist behavior. More or better cars, houses, TVs, computers, friends, women, whatever--the goal-setting lifestyle leads to more consumption, and all the other human foibles of the seven deadly sins...

By making life about what interests and excites, when you are doing the exciting and interesting thing, the only "goal" is doing more of it! This is where the "do what you love and all else will follow" school contains a great deal of truth.

Why do certain things interest you? Why do certain things excite? To me, those are the REAL questions to ask about how to live a life. For me, I believe what interests and excites me is what I am designed to be doing; where I can make contributions, feel accomplishment, and increase my personal power. It is why I am here. >>>> MORE


10 Healthy Snack Ideas

chickpeas In the quest for healthy eating--getting rid of that junk food--here are some great-tasting snack foods that are high protein, low carb alternatives to their junk food opposites...

  1. Nori sheets - Head to your local Japanese or Asian grocery store and grab some nori. Yes, the seaweed stuff used in sushi rolls is delicious fresh from the pack. Although it is quite drying, but highly nourishing, so you will need some water with it.
  2. Nuts - My go-to snack, especially when I'm traveling. Almonds, brazil nuts, macadamias, pistachios: there's so much variety to explore. Nuts are portable, delicious and packed with minerals and proteins. Look for dry roasted, preferably unsalted. And remember nuts like almonds with their skins on have more fiber than those without.
  3. Kale Chips - There are a heap of different commercial kale chips on the market these days. While delicious, they tend to be expensive, so you could have a go at making your own. Just toss some kale (or other leafy greens) in a little oil, layer on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes until crisp. Salt or season to taste.
  4. Salsa - Based mostly on tomato and chilli, a good salsa can be a great way to boost your veggie intake.
  5. Nut butters - Look for unsweetened nut butters such as almond or cashew butter at your local health food store, or try making your own. Pop a handful of nuts in your food processor and whizz until it forms a nut butter, adding a little oil to help if it looks too dry.
  6. Antipastos - The Italians know a thing or two about healthy snacking. Olives, marinated veg like eggplant, artichokes or peppers all make wonderful quick snacks. You can even throw in a little proscuitto.
  7. Mezze - Similar to antipasto, these Lebanese small plates are a great thing to have in the fridge. Hummus is probably the most famous but there's also babaganoush, tatziki and beetroot drips to make your carrot and celery sticks more appealing.
  8. Boiled eggs - While not for the vegans, eggs are a wonderful source of protein. Boil up a whole batch at once then keep them in the fridge to peel and eat with a little salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Roasted chickpeas - I just adore chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in all their forms. And have recently started roasting them and tossing with a little spice to serve as a snack. So good.
  10. Dark chocolate - When only something sweet will do, dark chocolate is your best bet. At least you'll also be getting some antioxidants. Look for good quality brands that tell you the percentage of cocoa solids. The higher the cocoa, the less sugar. Dark is far superior to "milk" chocolate for health benefits.
Yes, some of these do take some preparation, but they all can be prepared in bulk and eaten whenever--time well spent for health! (Thanks to Jules Clancy of Stonesoup, and Zen Habits)


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