Each week our wellness experts wow us with their wisdom, wit and warnings. Of all the advice we received in 2003, here are the year's most practical and provocative offerings.
1 ON VAGINAL PROWESS: "If you really love someone, you can't get close enough -- you want to crawl in under the skin. There is a sacredness to that, and a lot of power for the person being penetrated and the one penetrating. This is a mutual power, and it oscillates between the partners. As a woman, you can play with how much you take in a partner and how much you suck in or push out. The more women are willing to exercise their vaginas, the more power they have."
MARTA HELLIESEN, MSc (neuroscience), sex therapist, New York City (June 26-July 2)
2 ON HYPNOTIC TIME TRAVEL: "Every person I have ever done a past-life regression session with has expressed a greater comfort with death as a result. Some people have articulated that they feel a connection with a much longer-lasting part of themselves. They look at the bigger picture and say, "Oh, it's probably not the first time I've died. It won't be the last, and dying brings opportunities for new beginnings."
TWILA PLANT, hypnotherapist, Toronto (January 30-February 5)
3 ON SOUND HEARING: "Be mindful about what you put in your ears. One person's sonic tonic may be another's aural pollutant. Sonic play, as the shamans know, is a powerful tool for altering consciousness or promoting well-being. The human voice is a great starting place for intentional and improvisational sound-making. Sighing and wailing can release grief. Impromptu chanting or deep breathing can relieve stress. Impressionistic or imitative language (vocables) can liberate the imagination and stuck emotions. Forget singing songs. Make up your own rants, chants and growls."
GARY DIGGINS, director, soundwork as soulwork program, Transformational Arts College, Toronto (March 13-19)
4 ON MEN AND DEATH: "I get men in who haven't laid eyes on a doctor for 10 or 15 years. That's not unusual. For most men being sick is seen as an anomaly, not an organic process that flows out of how you take care of yourself. It's so pervasive that they're probably to some extent hard-wired that way. It's important for men to accept the fact they they can get sick and that we're all going to die."
HEATHER TICK, MD, MA, Toronto (April 3-9)
5 ON PEYOTE THERAPY: "My interim results do not appear to support the idea that long-term use of peyote causes neuro-cognitive damage. I've asked countless members of the Native American Church (NAC, which uses peyote in rituals) about flashbacks, and no one has reported this. People told me of 10, 20, 30 years of sobriety while going to the NAC. Psychedelics can cut through narcissism, but some people get grandiose, not from peyote, but from lack of ritual and of respect."
JOHN HALPERN, psychiatrist, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts (February 20-26)
6 ON THE LOVE DRUG: "What does science know about love? Not much at all. We do know that people who are in committed relationships and people who are sexually expressive are less depressed and have fewer incidences of heart disease and stroke. More frequent sexual activity is also associated with a decreased incidence of female and male breast cancer."
BEVERLY WHIPPLE, president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Medford, New Jersey (February 13-19)
7 ON SOULFUL HOUSEKEEPING: "Sometimes you want clarity, joy or sexiness -- de-clutter on the basis of your intention for a room. Be brave, be bold, be relentless. Once a room is set up, when you bring one thing in, take one thing out. You have to attend to it the way you attend to a garden. It's about how you nurture yourself: if you're not doing it with your home, you're not doing it with yourself. De-cluttering is about the transformation of self. The relief you feel when you let go is amazing. You cannot carry your life around with you."
CHERYL FISHER, home decor consultant, Toronto (March 6-12)
8 ON AVOIDING ABUSIVE GURUS: "The power and charisma of individuals with spiritual authority can lead people to become starry-eyed and result in abuses of power. I've met leaders who are astoundingly insightful and loving, but I have not met anyone who is perfect. Don't ignore obvious conflicts between what a teacher preaches and practises. True spirituality can withstand exposure to an open society. Ask if your path is opening you up to contribute to the broader world or closing you down into your own narrow world.'
RICHARD FAULDS, senior teacher, Kripalu Center, Lenox, Massachusett (March 27-April 2)
9 ON BUSTING THE BLUES: "Severe unremitting stress and food allergies (e.g., to milk, sugar or coffee) are very common causes of depression. So are deficiencies in one or more nutrients, chronic illness and fatigue. I ask my patients to eliminate sugar. I prescribe lots of vitamin C, B3 and B complex. There's a lot of research showing folic acid works as well as antidepressant drugs. Essential fatty acids (flax oil, fish oil) are extremely important. Chromium is a blood sugar stabilizer and a good antidepressant. I try to get patients off medication. It's a shame so many are exposed to these toxic drugs when the therapeutic advantages have been exaggerated and the major side effects downplayed."
ABRAM HOFFER, MD, orthomolecular psychiatrist, president, International Schizophrenia Foundation, Victoria (September 25-October 1)
10 ON DINING AS A TONIC: "As important as what's on the plate is who's sitting at the table with you. Eat socially and fully cook dinner from scratch once a week. Make a party of it. The enjoyment of your food is one of life's free pleasures."
JEFF CRUMP, chef, Slow Food Ontario (January 9 -15)