Tag Archives: Values

Shining a Personal Light On Abuse: An Audio

It’s time to talk about abuse and its connections to self-abuse and imbalanced behaviors, as well as how to triumph over the abuse and thereby change those behaviors.

I speak completely openly for the first time here about my personal experiences with abuse, which I am only doing because I feel we need to bring this conversation to the table in full for greater wholeness and healing. I feel we are just opening a door here — this subject and this conversation deserves far more attention. So please listen to my discussion with Macha and then leave your questions and comments in the comment area so we can continue this essential conversation.

All with the greatest respect, love & support, Natalia



Shiver and Shake!

Shiver and say the words
Of every lie you’ve heard
First I’m gonna make it
Then I’m gonna break it
Till it falls apart
Hating all the faking
And shaking while I’m breaking
Your brittle heart 

—Echo & The Bunnymen, from “Bring on the Dancing Horses”

Sometimes I don’t even know where to start. How do you remove the blinders from 10,000 years of programming from people’s eyes? If people are rattled by the idea that milk and meat are killers, not healers, and resist the fact that virtually all behavior common to our world has a destructive effect upon the human body and the planet, how will they ever come to see the deeper problem—the heartless juggernaut that drives a civilization possessed by madness?

The lies of our world are so deep. If we remain blind to them, there’s no way forward. Everywhere we look, there is tremendous suffering—on both a human and a planetary level—and yet the most that people seem to hope for are patchwork solutions for their lives of quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) desperation.

It seems that people today don’t expect much of a life at all: perhaps some relief for their depression, a few pounds lost, the suppression of a few symptoms. Otherwise, they ignore the fact that our culture is largely antithetical to life—human or otherwise—and merely soldier on.

This indicates a very deep programming. I don’t know many people who have truly seen through it. It takes a lot of effort, a deep and abiding desire to live, to see through all the rubbish we’ve been raised to accept without question.

I can’t think of anything more important than shattering the façade of our destructive world. I have such a desire to live—truly live—that I have devoted my life to discovering what’s on the other side, and my greatest ambition is to help you do the same.

It’s probably the ugliest boomerang effect in the history of humankind: a civilization is erected and expanded on the backs of slaves, and with utter disregard to the devastation of living communities the world over—only to come full circle to meet its end by the other side of its own sword.

Our civilization has bullied to death beautiful, vibrant people, cultures, and lands and replaced them with inanimate things. And even now, as it’s all breaking down into pain and chaos beneath the weight of so many missteps, our civilization ignores the truth. Rather than look in the mirror, it clings to glossy images of health and prosperity—all facades, all illusions. The truth is far too ugly to look at. So ugly, in fact, that when we really see it, the mirror will shatter!

My friend asked me yesterday, “So where do you think it’s all going?” This is how I explained it:

We have to observe how life operates. If an organism is cut off from its vital sources—fellow organisms and their shared, interconnected environment—its spirit begins to depart, eventually leaving the shell of the organism for dead. This occurs on a microbial level: the lack of sustaining elements causes the decomposer microbes to break down the organism. The more the good microbes are supplanted with the decomposers, the more this cycle of natural decay accelerates. All living organisms on this planet are thus losing their life force.
Vitality is also leaving the soil, rendering it infertile, unable to conduct the quality of life force into our produce that humans require. This does not mean you should go out and buy a bunch of dietary supplements! It means you change your worldview!

Basically, the planet is dying and the viability of human life is decreasing. This reveals itself multi-generationally: adults today are suffering from low vitality, as our parents and grandparents have, due to industrial living, pollution, smoking, medicines, and mainstream diets of processed foods. The younger generations will have it even worse. The babies to come will suffer even more dramatically degenerated (literally, de-gene-erated) fates. Each new generation is further devitalized, less able to fend off the repeated assaults of modern life on the body. In our civilization, we are not even managing to maintain the status quo; we are passing along ever more de-generation to our offspring.

The days of being able to live in relative physical balance are behind us. Symptoms will increase and the body is going to become a much more difficult place to be. While you may find such statements upsetting and negative, I hasten to remind you that our bodies have been sending out plenty of alarm bells of their own. Ignoring our bodies and repeatedly cutting off communication, generation after generation, has driven society far off course. Pointing out that a train is barreling our way is not being negative. It gives us the chance to jump off the tracks before it flattens us entirely.

Let me repeat, adults today are revealing signs of further degeneration to the human species than generations past. Not only are adults finding it far more difficult to reproduce, but their children are more prone to physical handicaps and mental and emotional imbalances. This will become even more visible and acute in the offspring of the next decade.

The “health authorities” and the media focus so much on obesity and diet, but to little effect. We need to pull out much further and see that it is an entire worldview that is in error, that the obesity problem is just one symptom of a whole life-threatening system.

I went to a fundraiser for autism recently. Normally, I would never attend something like this because it’s mostly a bunch of celebrities and bankers taking on a cause and raising money to give to researchers, which is often useless. It’s just like those breast cancer run-walks and ribbons, which ignore the true causes of cancer (see my 3/2/09 blog, Cancer: A Mystery?) and perpetuate the shortsighted work of laboratories and pharmaceutical companies. The kids are the ones who end up paying, while their parents remain in the dark. But I must confess, I attended this event because it was an intimate concert with Bruce Springsteen. Okay, enough said.

Again, if this discussion strikes you as overly negative or threatening, I remind you that it’s never negative to identify a problem in the interest of fixing it. That’s actually a positive thing. This is a time for being proactive, not inactive, apathetic, or delusional—those are the truly negative postures. Simply repeating the mantra of “love and light” will not help.

As long as we’re on the subject, we must recognize that spirituality and materiality fuse together to create the human experience. It seems like people are trying to escape the here and now either by focusing on a better world in the afterlife or by repressing the truth in the name of “love and light.” We can experience neither love nor light until we’ve stripped away the lies of our civilization. Let’s stop pretending to be happy. We will never experience wellness or happiness until we’ve fundamentally changed our worldview. On the other side of the coin are those attempting to escape their pain by going deeper into materiality and carnality.

We need to recognize that humans are spiritual and material. To pursue one at the expense of the other is a death trap. Yet, today more than ever, people are puzzled by the body-spirit union. All life is spirit-infused matter; and matter, as I’ve explained in Raw Food Life Force Energy, is actually light. Therein we have the oneness we seek—so let’s come home to our wholeness, and honor that instead of ripping ourselves apart by choosing sides.

We are what we do, think, and see. We are vessels of our worldview. If we continue to treat the world—and therefore ourselves—as a machine of separate, replaceable parts, nothing will change. Of that we can be sure. We must work to see through our culture of death and reclaim our natural vitality, which predates civilization as we know it, and still exists outside its limits.

In my family, we have two Bengal cats. Of course, they would be more at home in the wild, but their lives are circumscribed by the layout of our apartment. Now, imagine how much their lives would expand and open up if they knew the forest! People of our civilization are likewise limited in their knowledge of life.

Countless beautiful communities once lived in startling and enviable contrast to how we typically live today, but we destroyed most of them in our westward expansion. If you’d like to read more about this, I highly recommend reading all of the works of Derrick Jensen, starting with The Culture of Make Believe and A Language Older Than Words. As long as we fail to understand the alternatives to our current way of life, we’ll be left with a kind of “Sofie’s Choice”—between death and death.

Our bodies and spirits will continue to suffer and degenerate until we wake up and see what’s really going on. Obesity is only one small symptom of a world gone mad. Slavery is another (if you think slavery is a thing of the past, readDisposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales). Child prostitution is another. The decimation of forests is yet another. The list goes on and on and on. As all of these symptoms play out on an ever larger and larger scale, who stands to win?

There is no question that the big engines of our culture are antithetical to life. The good that has survived in our culture—the love, inspiration, creativity, vitality, harmony, and beauty—exist not despite it, not because of it.

The living world is hurtling toward irreversible destruction, and we humans are asleep at the wheel. If you think that you’re somehow above it all, you’ve got a lot of waking up to do. If you think that you’ll be saved by certain social or financial privileges, or by the powers of positive thinking, I repeat, wakey wakey! If you’ve been averting your eyes, it may be the time to have a good face-to-face with your values. Believe me, I was raised on all the wrong values, too, and it took me a lot of re-education and contemplation to change them.

In Detox 4 Women, I explain how the environment has become exponentially more acidifying to the body. Radiation, GMO food, stress, low-vitality air and water, and limited exposure to sunlight in our indoor lifestyles have prevented alkalinity from conducting through the body while these acidifying elements have been pouring in. This has created a full-on devastation to the viability of the organism. Our civilization has wreaked the same kind of devastation on the planet. It extinguishes living organisms and replaces them with shrines to dead things. So the body and the planet are in a state of acidity and low vitality that may be unrecoverable. We have to face that possibility.

If we want to bring vitality back to the planet and to our bodies, we have to give it a reason to stay. For spirit and matter to unite, we have to create viable conditions.

It’s not easy to face all the lies of our world, but it’s much harder to sustain life in the presence of them. We are in the unfortunate—but, I dare say, deserved—position of having to pull ourselves up out of the muck of 10,000 years of greed and abuse of power. Our bodies are not as strong as they should be; the air and water are not the vital resources they should be. At this late stage, we have to call upon the stores of vitality in our hearts and give life a reason to come back to us.

We do this by engaging every part of ourselves: by educating ourselves so our logical minds can see the way; by cleaning our cells and maintaining them so our bodies can recognize true vitality for what it is; by envisioning both what’s wrong and how to fix it, so that we can unite our thoughts and actions in a common, life-affirming mission.

Yours in love and peace after the illusions are shattered,


A Tribute to Michael Jackson and Neda Agha-Soltan

What do Michael Jackson and Neda Agha-Soltan, the beautiful young Iranian girl shot through the heart in Tehran earlier this week, have in common? They are mirrors—or what I like to call “perception-givers.” Their lives and deaths reflect to us the tragic effects of our commonly accepted ways of seeing, being, and engaging.

My father, Ben Barrett, was in the music business and recorded a great deal of Michael Jackson’s music—from the early days with the Jackson Five right up to the “Dirty Diana” album (one of the last albums he recorded before his death in 1992). My brother Roman and I spent a lot of time in the studios when our dad was recording; he would even take us with him on the nightshifts. So the two of us spent time with Michael playing video games and consuming “studio snacks” (sugar cubes, Hershey’s Kisses, Melba Toast, and Coffee-mate). Michael was always kind and engaging—never once inappropriate with us, just for the record.


I imagine that just about everyone born prior to 1980 feels an emotional tug in response to the news of Michael’s death. He was, after all, probably the most famous person after Jesus and Elvis. I’m certainly not immune. But what I feel is a tremendous relief for him. I can’t help but feel like Grace released him from the torment of his existence.

For many years, Michael lived with his parents and siblings down the road from us in Encino, California, on a street called Havenhurst just off the main road of Ventura Blvd. (famously referenced in Tom Petty’s hit “Free Fallin’” for you music trivia buffs). When he was a kid, Michael and his brothers would ride their bikes up to our house and visit my dad. Just take a moment to imagine Michael as a ten-year-old—that gorgeous little boy singing “My Cherie Amour”—riding his bike around his neighborhood like any ordinary, innocent kid. He was beautiful and, by anyone’s standards, uncommonly talented.

His father, as it is famously documented by his sister Latoya’s memoirs, was a hideous character. He was dominating, violent, and abusive. Young Michael’s truth was usurped by his father’s soul-annihilating abuse. From his father’s behavior and words came the stories and lies (reinforced by those who neither challenged them nor taught Michael to challenge them) that would imprison Michael for the rest of his life. To varying degrees, we have all accepted the stories and lies imposed upon us as children.

Yet, despite this, young Michael’s light shone so brightly. The brighter a light shines in the presence of a bully stuck in darkness, the more desperate that bully becomes to snuff out that light for fear of exposure. Many of us, in our defenseless innocence, have been at the mercy of such abuse. (Of course, these bullies, who have likely been abused themselves, need love more than most. But that is a separate issue.)

Young Michael was natural, innocent, exploding with creativity, and in enough possession of his own soul power to radiate his personal essence—making him and his music positively irresistible. Let’s all take a moment and acknowledge that what he expressed in 1970 in his recordings of “ABC” and “The Love You Save” was his true, irrepressible essence—inspiring, enchanting, and downright magical! That was the real Michael. That was before the world of UNTRUTH had at him. This, I believe, is what his spirit and soul are returning to as he sheds the cage of his physical body and the false stories it absorbed over the course of his life on earth.

Michael and Neda (whose name means “voice” in Farsi) are two innocent, pure souls who demonstrated the lies of our world and what we communally deem acceptable. The painful unfolding of Michael’s public life and the tragic, rapid-fire death of Neda in Iran have showed us the EFFECTS of the CAUSES supported by such a world. What happened to Michael and Neda could happen to any innocent, and indeed does—every second of every day. Dramatic displays of suffering and wasted life can sometimes jolt humans out of our programmed, blinkered ways of seeing so that we can begin to discern the truth. But then most of us get distracted again and fall back into our old ways.

To varying degrees, we are all PERCEPTION-GIVERS: those who reflect through personal experience the truths and untruths of our humanity. We must also pay attention and be PERCEPTION-GETTERS. This is the way of the Peaceful Warrior, who does not draw a machine gun or send out a drone against injustice. The Peaceful Warrior knows there is more power in simply holding a mental posture of attentiveness and knows exactly what to watch for. An effective Peaceful Warrior is fluent in the language of Life—able to discern between that which is life-generating and that which is life-deteriorating—and from there is able to make swift life-generating choices.

How perceptive are you? How adept a Peaceful Warrior? How many of the lies, stories, and life-deteriorating but commonly accepted ideas can you see though? What do you do with what you see? Do you passively pray that the world will change or do you change yourself based on what you discover?

Our world can change only if individuals truly perceive and understand the EFFECTS of every CAUSE, and can discern between life and death. How the term “life” is misused! That which is truly living is harmonious and beautiful. Can we stop going around saying “Well, that’s life!” when something undesirable happens? It would be more accurate to say, “Well, that’s death!”

If Michael was taking substances to ease his inner pain and these substances played a role in his passing, this would bear closer examination. Whether it’s pharmaceutical or recreational drugs, alcohol, overeating, or other perverse forms of consumption like excessive shopping and sex addiction, these numbing behaviors indicate a world of PAIN and UNTRUTH. We must acknowledge that the personal and communal pain is real, neither a minor blip on the screen nor an acceptable part of normal life. Perception-getters know that pain is the alarm bell sounding off against the error of life-destroying causes and actions. Furthermore, error begets error, growing exponentially and multiplying human pain.

Instead of trading one numbing behavior for another—say, drinking for smoking, or smoking for overeating, we must determine what is motivating this behavior. The fact is, like Michael, many people don’t want see the truth and go through the shedding process. But for those of us who do, perception can lead to freedom.

To get really personal, for the first time in a long time I was so overcome with emotion today that I just wept. I didn’t resist the urge; I was grateful no one around to say, “Please don’t cry.” It felt so good to shed my tears. The flood of tears came through me like a summer storm after a long, hot day—it drenched my face, neck and T-shirt. I was not lost in the emotion. Rather, I was able to observe it. I was delighted that what I was feeling (and for whatever length of time I had been holding onto it) was finding a release—an exit from my body.

As I cried, all I could think of were the lies and the suffering those lies were causing. I wept for the beautiful boy, Michael, whose experience is a mirror for humanity. I wept in joy for all of our journeys, for despite how daunting it can be to truly perceive, it is a gift. It enables us to shed our old skins of untruth and renew ourselves. I wept for the gorgeous, young Neda and thanked her for her sacrifice, which has opened our eyes in invaluable ways.

One of my favorite songs is “The Nightshift” by the Commodores. It reminds me of my dad making music-magic in the studios on the nightshift—when most of the biggest R&B hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s were recorded. The Commodores recorded this song as a tribute to two of their friends who both passed in 1984: one was the legendary perception-giver, Marvin Gaye; and the other, the great Jackie Wilson.

I’ve posted the lyrics below as a tribute to Michael’s legacy and the mirror he offered mankind. I suppose this gives new meaning to his 1988 hit, “Man in the Mirror.” His fifty years on this planet were not easy for him. This is for you, Michael, may your pain not be in vain, and may your harmonies bring about greater harmony here on earth.

The “Nightshift” by The Commodores 

Marvin, he was a friend of mine
And he could sing a song
His heart in every line.
Marvin sang of the joy and pain
He opened up our minds
And I still can hear him say:
Talk to me
So you can see
What’s goin’ on.
Say you will sing your songs
Forever more
ever more
ever more.
Gonna be some sweet sounds comin’ down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singin’ proud
Oh, I bet you pull a crowd.
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right on the nightshift.
You found another home
I know you’re not alone on the nightshift.
You found another home
I know you’re not alone on the nightshift.
Jackie, hey what you’re doin’ now? It seems like yesterday
When we were workin’ out.
Jackie, you set the world on fire
You came and gifted us
Your love, it lifted us higher and higher.
Keep it up and we’ll be there at your side.
Say you will sing your songs forever more
ever more
ever more.
Gonna be some sweet sounds comin’ down on the nightshift… 

Aw—just download it and have a listen. It’s one of the greats!


The Necessity of Winter

Landing back in the harshness of winter and the even harsher reality of the U.S. recession was nothing short of a brutal reentry after three weeks of being blissfully cocooned in South Africa. Instead of going on about our joyful days in Cape Town and the surrounding area, I’ll post a few new pics on the photo page so you can see for yourself. I’d rather take this opportunity to dive right into the state of confusion and suffering in the here and now—a very harsh reality for a lot of people.

Along with most of you, I know a number of people who have lost their jobs and many more who have lost their nest eggs and fortunes (both modest and whopping). I even received the shocking news that one friend took his own life over the holidays. The only way that I can make sense of it and ensure that he and others in similar despair do not die in vain is to point out that they are reflecting the dire consequences of our social values.

The extreme panic that would lead one to deploy death as his or her only option betrays much about the social structures we’ve been idealizing. It reveals what our group values really are, and what really motivates our choices. Yes, it is high time that the walls of over-consumption and selfishness come crumbing down! While it’s never comfortable to experience enormous shifts as we now are, the chaos, fear, confusion, panic, and suffering are all part of a necessary crumbling of social and corporate structures that no longer serve our greatest good.

Change is a funny thing. People often say they want to be healthier, happier, spend more time with their family, be more creative, etc., but unless the old structures that prohibit our attainment of these goals are dismantled, we will be blocked from living these ideals. So, if we want change, we need to allow change to happen within and around us. We can’t put a new dress on top of our old sweats and then go to a fancy dinner. We can’t grow our adult teeth without first losing our baby teeth. We can’t live on our own without first moving out of our parents’ place. Change requires and begets change. We must leave some things behind forever, and never look back.

Our country has overwhelmingly supported our new president’s message of change. Change is what we wished for, and now here change comes. But in order for the new structures of hope and healing to arise, there has to be some demolition. If well directed and not feared, intelligent change can give rise to improved systems.

I encourage you to make friends with this changing world and remember that the tearing away of the old structures that supported over-consumption and selfishness will make way for more mature, mutually supportive structures. Change is the great law of life—after we build this new structure, an even better one should emerge after that—never stopping to stagnate, as stagnation is the seat of deterioration.

Pain persists when we try to shove new structures into old ones, insisting that they will fit, instead of adjusting to the natural evolutionary growth. In his time, Christ warned against resisting change by pointing out that one would never put new wine into old wineskins.

The same holds true for how to feed and care for our bodies. As we learn that the old ways of consuming food and drink are not life-supporting, let’s stop trying to shove the principles of our evolved detox lifestyle into our old lifestyle box. Trying to make this new knowledge conform to the deteriorating (albeit widely accepted) nutritional structures will only wear us down. Let’s not put our new wine into old bottles. Through this phase, however long it may last, let’s remember that the falling away of the old is as much a part of the lifecycle as leaves falling off trees in autumn. As we allow the old to fall away, we can expect a new and more beautiful paradigm to replace it.

It is appropriate that we heed this message of change in the midst of a brutal Northeastern winter because, like winter, this painful stage is deceptively beneficial. Beneath the ice-cold struggles, the seeds of revival are taking root. We will see the fruits of this season in seasons to come. We may not have a harmonious new world in place this April—it could take many months and even years for the seedlings of our deepest desires for a more life-generating society to spring their tender leaves. But, it will happen.

Yes, winter will eventually turn to spring, and when it does, it will be the most marvelous spring we’ve ever experienced. We will live with more harmony, intelligence, and beauty in this magnificent garden that we call Earth.