St. Francis through Anina Davenport
Many of you have trouble dealing with fear. There is the fear of terrorism. There are personal fears concerning finances, health or relationship issues. There are many other fears. Your mind and body is saying too much. S o what do you do?
A good idea is to write out those fears. Start with, “I am afraid that my health is getting worse. My legs are hurting (or whatever it is). I have trouble sleeping at night because… ” Write down all your fears without getting into how to solve problem A or B. Relax.
Then take the paper and hand it over to God or Mother Mary or Krishna or Buddha or Tara or whoever you feel close to. Your Higher Self if you prefer. Burn the paper or tear it apart and symbolically give up your worries and fears. Ask God or the Goddess to help you. Say, “Please help me with my problems.” And relax. Detach. Give it a couple of days.
Relaxation is very important. Relaxation is healing. A walk on the beach can do more to solve your problems than another frantic round trying to figure it all out. Some find this relaxation in deep breathing, some in dance, some in painting, some in cuddling with their pet. There are many ways. Find yours.
Wait for a week and watch for signs, revelations, new insights. Relax. The more relaxed you can be the easier for those insights to drop into your mind. Use a tape if that helps to let go. Relax.
The next thing we want you to do is to examine your fears for example, ‘the older I get the worse my health will get’. Is that really true? Are there people who live long healthy lives? Are there people who have a zest for life in their 80’s? The answer is yes so you need not follow the majority. It is possible that you will live a long healthy life. If you don’t, at least you won’t have worried about it in your 30’s and 40’s. Relax. Things might turn out very well and you might well feel silly about all the time you wasted. Or look at the belief ‘I will never have financial security?’ Why? Who said so? Just because your parents did not why can you not have it?
It is important to examine one’s fears and not let them run around in one’s head unquestioned. You have no control over the future but you have control over your mental and emotional state now. You can choose peace and a sense of optimism. You can create relaxation now. Paradoxically by not worrying about the future you send energy to those probabilities that are peaceful.
The fear of terrorism. There is really very little you can do. Terrorists could blow up your city. There is a lot of security to prevent that but it could happen. Let us tell you it is very unlikely. If you practice holding peace and love in your heart it is even less likely. Don’t let the mass media wind you up and we are not speaking against media. It is doing its job. That is what it does: Alert people. Play with scenarios including fearful ones. If you want to buy into these fear scenarios you can. Think about how much energy was spent worrying about the bomb coming from the former Soviet Union. It never happened although there was a probability but you all raised frequency. Things shifted. Things can shift now.
When you examine fears they diminish. Look at a fear and ask: “Is that really true?” This is a good question to ask. Put the fear under the magnifying glass. Is that true? Why do I believe this? Often it has more to do with past experiences than present circumstances. Clear that. Clear it in therapy, healing sessions or writing.
Writing can be very helpful. Write your fears down. Write the reasons down. Do not cow tow to untruth. Is it true? Is this really true? Am I deceiving myself? Keep asking these questions. Get help if you need to but examine.
Life is action. You cannot avoid action. You cannot avoid movement whether it is movement of the physical, mental or emotional kind. If the fear is financial you might have to do some steps after examining what the fear is about. After giving it to God and after processing it with writing or in therapy, meditation, etc. a practical step might be to go to a financial planner and start a method of paying down your debt. You might well start an IRA after all your metaphysical release. or maybe your action will be different, but life is practical.
A health fear might result in getting an exam by a doctor. After processing your fears you might be ready to give up smoking or alcohol or whatever action comes to you. This is your work. No one else’s. You decide what you need to do. Belief work usually is part of any fear work. “I feel safe in a sane universe” is one belief you might adopt. For the universe is indeed sane from your Higher Self’s perspective and you can live there without becoming unpractical or dysfunctional. You live in the energy of sanity while dealing with whatever you have to deal with including men on TV hating Americans or white people or black people or whatever their particular version of insanity.
Relax, dear ones. Call on your guides. Call on God. Some of you have biochemical reasons that cause you to feel more fear. Sometimes extra calcium, magnesium and/or B6 or pyridoxal 5 can do the trick or part of it. Especially if your fear seems out of control at times and includes heart racing, etc. Consult a professional such as a naturopath, herbalist or doctor who can test you for certain deficiencies.
Some of you are empaths who pick up much fear from others and/or the radio. There are many books including our book Energetic Empowerment on how to keep your energy clear and there are gemstones, jewelries such as the rejuvenator and others. Break down the components of fear. Some of it might be biochemical, some related to being very empathic and some will require some simple action that will get quite clear after you process your feelings and thoughts.
Good luck and our love is with you.
Copyright Anina Davenport 2006
Anina is the author of Reflections on Ascension and her new book Energetic Empowerment which is meant to help people to stay clear and centered even if times are turbulent. Anina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saint Francis through Anina Davenport
How are relationships changing in this time of increased frequency and what can you do to stay free and centered and focused on Highest Good and that can include helping another person or being helped by another?
Number one: Practice
responsibility. In this new age and in the new kind of relationships that
you are forming everyone is responsible for their stuff. No more dumping on
others and if you do you apologize and say, “Sorry, I take this back.” And
then you take it back literally. You take back the negative energies that
you deposited on another and process them by yourself with the help of your
new tools such as visualizations, mantras, writing, dance, yoga, meditation,
counseling or other ways that you have found for yourself. There is no need
to say out loud, “I take this back,” or “I’m sorry,” but if you do so
energetically the other person will know. He or she will feel lighter and
Number two: Practice energetic hygiene. We talk about this in our books. It means you say what you mean and you mean what you say. Energetically it means you are grounded and rooted in your Self or Higher Self. You don’t leave your energy all over the place. You speak when you have something to say and don’t when you don’t. You are kind but you don’t rescue others from themselves. You are thoughtful but not lost in your thoughts. You live here and now.
Number three: You strive for authenticity not perfection. There is no such thing as perfection really. Have you ever thought of that? There is no such thing as perfection also in relationship. There is no perfect relationship. Let us repeat this one. There is no perfect relationship. There is good enough. There is lovely, fun, and enjoyable but perfect there is not and if you expect perfect you expect what cannot exist. Would you want to live with someone who keeps looking at you with a critical expression on his or her face saying, “Well, not perfect yet. Not good enough. If you could just change A, B, C, D, E, F, G …. (laughter) about yourself it might work.”
Number four: Take responsibility for your beliefs. If a belief creates conflict in your relationship then investigate it. Instead of saying, “Well I’ve always believed that,” go deeper. Why do you have this belief? Where does it come from? Whenever you hear yourself say, “I cannot accept so and so,” investigate. Why is that? Non-acceptance usually results from fear. What fear is there underneath? Go deep. Don’t just accept what you don’t want to accept but look at what is going on. Watch your thoughts, your intentions, your patterns. What can you learn about yourself?
Number five: Don’t sacrifice yourself. Helping another is different from giving yourself up for another. Be smart about helping. Don’t reinforce your or other people’s old patterns. For example your husband is having a temper tantrum and you rush in to help him. What does he learn? Temper tantrums work. What did you learn? “If I cater to his temper tantrums they stop at some point.” It seems like success but if you step back it is not. Next time let him have his temper tantrums. Go for a walk. Meet for coffee with a friend. Have a nice day (amused).
Another example: Your wife criticizes you, not constructively but out of habit. “You don’t make enough money,” she says. Let’s assume you have been working hard but have not been able to earn as much as she would like. Instead of apologizing or feeling guilty, stand up for yourself. Say, “I have been looking for a better job but this is what I have right now and this is what I earn.” She will say, “Not good enough.” You need to say, “This is what is right now. I cannot change it right now. This is my reality.” If you stand your ground she will eventually say, “Well, you are right. You did work hard this year and this is the income you make and we do get by.” If she is not interested in reality you might have a bigger problem in your relationship but hang in there for awhile. Counter with what is when she criticizes you. Give it some time. At some point she might say, “Oh, this is what is. I have to accept reality.” Maybe she won’t use these exact words but she might say something like this.
Number six: Accept what is. This is a prescription for enlightenment although it needs to be explained properly. It is not about martyrdom or letting others walk all over you but it means you deal with facts. If your wife has beautiful dark hair you don’t wish her to be a blonde. You love who is in front of you. That is being practical and wise and not foolish. The foolish create suffering for themselves by always questioning what is. “What if I had married Martha? Maybe life would have been more exciting?” But you did not. You married Jane so how can you have a good day with Jane right here right now?
Number seven: Leave when it is time to leave. There are times in close and also in less close relationships when it is time to move on, when you have truly investigated and searched yourself and tried to patch things up with the other and it is just not working. Then it is time to leave. It is easier to leave if you have truly exhausted other avenues. Relationships can be hard at times. We don’t mean leave at any conflict but when it’s time it is time.
Are there questions?
Questioner: You have not mentioned communication. Why?
Saint Francis: Right communication arises out of the points we have mentioned. If you keep your energy clear and deal with ‘what is’ words will come and they will be clear and serve Highest Good.
Questioner: How about conflict resolution?
Saint Francis: Conflict has a lot to do with fear. Usually some old fear gets stirred within you and you get defensive. Rather than saying, “I don’t agree with your opinion,” you say, “You are so mean. How can you say this? You really hurt me now. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this one,” (laughter). Seriously, look for what has triggered you. What old fear, old wound, old pain came up? Clear that and then give another response. That is communication not reaction out of pain and past hurt.
Questioner: But sometimes we get triggered?
Saint Francis: Yes of course and if you never speak up a little temper tantrum might be better than being stoic and suppressing yourself but in the long run you want to move toward maturity.
Questioner: What is maturity?
Saint Francis: Good question. It means first and foremost that you live in the now. You take care of yourself and your business so to speak. You pay your rent, mow the lawn, take care of your kids, your dog, etc.
Questioner: Take out the garbage?
Saint Francis: Yes.
Questioner: The energetic garbage too?
Saint Francis: Yes, you practice energetic hygiene. You transform your energetic garbage. You don’t give it to your neighbors or others. You find ways to process it. You live now and you deal with ‘what is’. The heater needs to be fixed. The customer needs new supplies. Your daughter has an appointment at the dentist. The book needs to be edited. The flowers need water.
Questioner: And in between I meditate?
Saint Francis: Life should become a meditation. It is not, “Let me fix my daughter’s bike right quick so I can run up and meditate.” The question is more, “How can this task which I like or don’t like (it does not matter) be a meditation?”
Questioner: I slow it down?
Saint Francis: Yes, you do it thoughtfully with love and you can do it with love and not like it that much. Relax, breathe, focus on what is.
Questioner: But I can still meditate?
Saint Francis: Yes, do that too. Sit and breathe. Relax. Feel your body and then do your mantra or whatever way you meditate. If you become more gentle to yourself, if you become more loving, less demanding, more accepting, your outside will change, your spouse will also become more accepting or maybe there will be someone else for you but don’t push it. Work on yourself and see what happens. Our love is with you.
Copyright Anina Davenport 2006
The Death of Privacy
September 5, 2006
In privacy circles, a mostly forgotten incident from the end of the dot-com euphoria aptly illustrates the lack of regard most companies have toward protecting personal data, even if they make a point of promising to do so.
With the Web surging with an enormous amount of commercial activity and sensitive information, the FTC had recently beefed up its Internet consumer-protection efforts. Commission regulators decided that Toysmart's blatant disdain for its own privacy oath was just too contemptuous to be ignored. Backed by 44 state attorneys general, the FTC sued to block the Toysmart data auction, arguing that it constituted a "deceptive practice." In early 2001, an agreement was forged under which Toysmart investor, the Walt Disney Co., would buy the company's customer data for $50,000 and then promptly destroy it.
"The Toysmart case and others like it—among them Living.com and CraftShop .com—proves what some of us have suspected all along: Many companies don't really believe privacy is something to protect when there's money to be made from confidential data, or when safeguarding sensitive data gets in the way of making money," says Luis Salazar, an attorney in the privacy practice group at Miami-based law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP. Last year, at the request of Senator Patrick Leahy (D– Vt.), Salazar authored a provision for a new bankruptcy law that makes it illegal for insolvent companies to sell personally identifiable information if their privacy policies forbade such activities.
These findings, while disturbing, should not be particularly surprising when measured against the number of high- and low-profile data breaches that have occurred in the past two years. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, based in San Diego, has been keeping a running total of the leaks of sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, account numbers, and driver's license numbers, by companies and government agencies since data aggregator ChoicePoint Inc. sold 145,000 consumer files to identity thieves in February 2005. Scores of incidents are chronicled, as many as three dozen a month, some involving global brands such as Toyota Motor Corp., Chevron Corp., Allstate Corp. and Equifax Inc. In all, more than 90 million records containing confidential information about individuals—in large part, consumers, patients and employees—have been stolen from U.S. organizations in the past 18 months.
The pattern that emerges is not pretty. Most companies claim that privacy is a priority—chiefly because they believe consumers are more willing to do repeat business with them if personal information is carefully handled. But in reality, many companies are woefully inept at protecting privacy. Some companies view robust data protection as too expensive to consider seriously, so half-hearted steps are taken instead. Others see the penalty for data breaches and privacy failures as too low to generate much concern. In many instances, management of privacy policies is handed off to chief privacy officers who report to the corporate lawyers, not a C-level executive, and whose main responsibility is to make sure the company's data policies are in line with government regulations and industry benchmarks. In other words, privacy is regarded as a risk that must be mitigated, not a strategic imperative.
"It's only been recently, as privacy breaches occur and make the headlines, that it's becoming obvious to everybody that companies haven't been doing a good enough job," says Alex Fowler, co-leader of the privacy practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "As time goes by, we'll get an even clearer picture of the data-handling practices of companies. My guess is we're not going to like what we find out."
At its core, protecting privacy is an information management issue. With the cost of computer storage plummeting, companies are maintaining more and more data, for longer periods of time, at rock-bottom prices. Executives are driven by the idea that any morsel of information about customer purchases, browsing habits and preferences could someday be valuable, so they simply can't bring themselves to erase anything. Consequently, personal information and less sensitive details exist side-by-side in the same databases, often accessible by multiple programs throughout the organization, many of which have long been forgotten. Without a complete, up-to-date inventory of what data they possess and how it is being used, which data should be segregated and which can be freely shared, many companies are making privacy breaches a foregone conclusion.
Budgets and leadership also play roles. Technology managers say they are loath to ask for the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would cost to create a blueprint of company data and a system for keeping confidential information from being easily accessed, when management has shown little interest in spending discretionary money on an activity with such limited tangible return.
Encrypting networked information, for example, would "take care of 95 percent of the internal privacy intrusions," says George Toft, a veteran IT manager who has worked at American Express Co., Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Department of Defense and IBM Corp., and who currently runs My IT Department, a small computer-services firm in Anthem, Az. Yet few companies are willing to pay for this safeguard. CIO Insight's own research indicates that only 41 percent of companies surveyed encrypt stored data and documents. And only 56 percent encrypt data in flight, or during transmission.
Why? The No. 1 issue was the potential for performance degradation; No. 2 was cost. This attitude reflects a serious lack of leadership on the part of executives, notes George Tillmann, former chief information officer at consultants Booz Allen Hamilton. "Companies will not take privacy seriously until management does. So far, most managers prefer to see it as a problem that does not rise to the strategic level," Tillmann says.
Tillmann, who is now retired, argues that CEOs must set stringent corporate information retention policies and processes that "state explicitly what data can be stored, where it can be stored (on PCs, laptops, PDAs, and the like) and how it should be stored (encrypted or not). The policies need to address all types of data—customer, employee and supplier records—not just financial information. They should include guidelines for reducing the amount of information stored by getting rid of it as soon as it is not needed," he adds.
CEOs and other executives may be neglecting privacy safeguards and rigid privacy policies because the cost of failing to protect data is not as high as is commonly believed. It is de rigueur for chief executives to publicly state that protecting customer data is critical, because trust is an essential part of the relationship businesses have with consumers. Yet a closer look at the price of an actual breach reveals that, while not insignificant, it can be relatively minimal. In a recent study of 14 lost-data incidents, encryption company PGP Corp. found that the average opportunity cost of a data breach, measured by the "loss of existing customers and the increased difficulty in recruiting new customers" was about $75 per lost customer record. For typical successful retailers or financial services firms with billions in annual earnings, that represents an acceptable hit to the bottom line.
Moreover, in most cases, companies can easily avoid legal penalties for a data breach. There are nearly three dozen state laws that require companies to notify consumers if their private information has been leaked and a risk of identity theft exists. As long as these procedures are followed, companies are free from criminal liability for the leak itself.
"While there's a general sense that it's embarrassing to be involved in a data breach, and it is true that a breach doesn't do anything for your reputation as a trusted business, privacy is a business decision that ultimately comes down to a risk calculation. And many companies believe—wrongfully, from my perspective—that the price of data loss simply isn't high enough," says Gary Lynch, business continuity management practice leader at Marsh Risk Consulting, a division of New York City-based Marsh Inc.
Most executives don't like to think of it this way, but, so far, companies have created strong privacy policies only when forced to by federal legislation with very specific data-protection provisions. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, require healthcare providers and financial services firms, respectively, to implement systems to protect the privacy of patient and customer information. Both bills have been criticized for being long on rhetoric and short on rigorous penalties, but few companies are prepared to ignore mandates from Washington, no matter how weak-kneed the law or how expensive it is to implement. Consequently, the privacy policies in the business sectors overseen by HIPAA and Gramm-Leach-Bliley are considerably more enlightened than in other industries.
These laws affect fewer than a quarter of U.S. companies, and as a result, their reach has been limited. Ironically, the European Union's privacy regulations have probably had a much more significant influence on the data-protection policies of a much wider group of U.S. companies.
In 2000, after months of negotiations, the EU and the U.S. Commerce Department forged a safe-harbor agreement that allows U.S. companies to collect and share data in Europe in the course of doing business, as long as they promise to abide by a slightly watered-down version of the EU's data protection rules. Since then, hundreds of U.S. organizations have signed on to the accord.
Safe-harbor companies are required to follow the EU's austere data protection standards only when dealing with European consumers, or when managing subsidiary or affiliate businesses on the continent. The result: Most U.S. companies now have two sets of privacy rules—one for the European market, and another set of less rigid policies in the U.S. and other nations. However, a few companies were convinced that the EU approach served the consumer's appropriate expectation of privacy quite well. These companies saw safe harbor as an opportunity to create a single, strict data-protection regimen for the entire organization, wherever on the globe it operated.
In 2001, Eli Lilly & Co., the maker of Prozac, made the embarrassing mistake of sending out an e-mail to 600 users of the anti-depressant that contained the e-mail addresses of every recipient. In effect, Lilly had broadcast the names of Prozac patients to perfect strangers around the world. That incident resulted in a deal with the FTC under which Lilly agreed to improve its privacy practices, and coincided with Lilly's signing on to the EU's safe-harbor agreement. With these two activities on the front burner at the company, Lilly management, with the strong urging of Global Privacy Officer Stan Crosley, decided to make data protection a centerpiece of the company's strategic direction.
"Europe was a significant driver on privacy for Lilly," says Crosley. "It showed us that there was a different approach that could have a nice return for the company—not necessarily in dollars and cents, but in the gains a company can get from having good business practices. There is a distrust of large corporations among consumers. But we cannot survive in the pharmaceutical industry as a target of that distrust."
Lilly spent tens of millions of dollars over many months to develop a global data-protection system that contains a series of approval layers for accessing private information. Its information protocols are designed to ensure that the only people permitted to view discrete, confidential data are those who must access it to do their jobs. Furthermore, sensitive information is clearly marked and segregated from less classified data in order to make it difficult to inadvertently leak customer records.
"Information is valuable to us, and we realized that we would only be able to continue to collect it if we convinced consumers that we appreciated that things of value should be protected," Crosley adds.
Stories like Lilly's—particularly the role that the EU directive played in the company's conversion to a pro-privacy stance—bolster the notion that U.S. companies won't install comprehensive data-protection systems until government legislation forces them to. About a dozen bills have been introduced in the current Congress that tackle various aspects of data protection. The most expansive legislation is the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act, co-sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R–Pa.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Leahy, the committee's ranking member. Their proposal would require most companies with at least 10,000 digital files on individuals to adopt data-privacy procedures that protect against unauthorized access and use of personally identifiable information. Violators face fines and prosecution.
When it was introduced in mid-2005, the bipartisan legislation was expected to pass easily before the end of the year. But revelations about warrentless wiretapping of domestic phone calls by the National Security Agency and other terrorist-related law enforcement activities have preoccupied the committee since then, and the Specter-Leahy bill has yet to reach the Senate floor. None of the other data-privacy proposals have been voted on, in either house of Congress. Frustrated by the lack of action, Senator Leahy says that it signifies a general disinclination among lawmakers to tackle privacy problems. "The longer there is erosion of Americans' privacy rights, the more difficult it becomes to do something about it," says Leahy. "This Congress has not made a priority of privacy protection. I hope the next Congress will."
That can't come a moment too soon, says PwC's Fowler. As companies grapple with basic data-privacy concerns that should probably have been dealt with a decade ago, the issue is fast gaining in complexity. "Our notion of identity is going to change a lot in the new millennium. We're just scratching the surface now," Fowler says. "Which aspects of our data identity must be protected at all costs, which aspects of it are the most sensitive, is just beginning to come into shape even as the amount of data about us continues to expand. We need to step back and understand the dynamics of identity, and how it is shifting and putting pressure on businesses, government, regulators and policy makers from a social, political and cultural perspective. That is a discussion we are not having."
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