The beauty of silence is an antidote to the modern world’s obsession with consumption – John Lane

John Lane’s appeal for silence, taken from his classic book The Spirit of Silence: Making space for creativity


To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it.

G. K. Chesterton

The widespread assumption that money is the supreme measure of achievement and happiness holds millions in its thrall. Caring for others, creative achievement, disinterested altruism, virtuous behaviour—these are still valued, but to a lesser extent than luxury and leisure, however acquired.

Nonetheless, there is only rather feeble evidence that great wealth leads to great happiness; there are too many melancholy millionaires with time on their hands for that to be so. Yet the myth persists that money brings not only pleasure but unequivocal happiness. Gandhi even prophesied that “the incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is such an evil, and I make bold to add that the Europeans themselves will have to remodel their outlook if they are not to perish under the weight of these comforts they are becoming slaves to.”

Yet as our culture lapses ever more deeply into its obsession with consumption, with things, as it urges upon us new wants and pseudoneeds, promising limitless technological progress and delivering endless distraction, it is surely time to consider where this faith in money and desire for possessions is taking us.

It is also time to consider the value of simplicity, silence and solitude “Silence,” writes Max Picard in The World of Silence, “is the only phenomenon today that is ‘useless’. It does not fit into the world of profit and utility. It simply is. It seems to have no other purpose; it cannot be exploited. . . . You cannot get anything out of it. It is ‘unproductive’. Therefore it is regarded as valueless.

“Yet there is more help and healing in silence than in all the ‘useful things’. Purposeless, unexploitable silence, suddenly appears at the side of the all-too-purposeful, and frightens us by its very purposelessness. It interferes with the regular flow of the purposeful. It strengthens the untouchable, it lessens the damage inflicted by exploitation. It makes things whole again, by taking them back from the world of dissipation into the world of wholeness. It gives things something of its own holy uselessness, for that is what silence itself is: holy uselessness.” […]

We all need time not only for reflection, but for relaxation. We need time to renew ourselves, to strengthen our depleted resources. And if this has been true in the past, it has never been more so than in our own time—demanding and greedy as it is. We need silence as an antidote to the clamour, solitude as a barrier against the distractions, and slowness as a cure for the current speed of life.

For find out more about John Lane’s works, click here


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10 Top Tips for Feeding Your Skin

Learn how to nourish your skin. Treating just one of the tips below seriously will make a noticeable difference.

1.Drink two litres (two U.S. quarts) of water daily

This must be plain water – preferably filtered.


2.Cut down on tea and coffee

Try to replace at least some of these drinks with herbal teas.


3.Cut right down on alcohol

At the very least swap to good quality organic wines, beers and ciders, and drink in moderation (if at all). It is also wise to know your upper limits for weekly alcohol unit intake. For men this amounts to 21 units a week and for women this is 14 units per week – remember this is an upper limit, not a target to strive for. If you’re not sure how many units are in your favourite drinks, ask your doctor, who may have a unit-calculator; these are useful gadgets which certainly create a shock factor when you realise how much your weekly intake really is!


4. Be Raw-some

Try to include plenty of raw foods in your diet. If you can get your daily intake to be at least 50% raw fruits and vegetables, you will see your skin transform magically before your eyes into super-flawless beauty.


5.Eat the rainbow

Colourful foods have the most beauty nutrients! Eat a wide variety of multi-coloured fruit and vegetables daily:

  • Red – cherries, tomatoes, watermelon, grapes, red cabbage
  • Orange – oranges, peppers, carrots, apricots, pumpkin
  • Yellow – peppers, bananas, lemons, honeydew melon
  • Green – lettuces, spinach, watercress, limes, avocado
  • Blue – plums, blueberries (nope, blue Smarties do not count!)
  • Purples – beetroot, aubergine, purple sprouting broccoli, blackberries


6. Be super

Super-foods are super nutrient-rich foods, such as avocados, brazil nuts, most berries, broccoli and lambs-lettuce, which are not only tasty but will make you glow! There are also some really exotic super-foods such as spirulina, maca, hemp powder, carob powder, powdered wheatgrass juice, raw cacao etc. Try these powerful, health-giving plant extracts whizzed up in fresh juices and smoothies for a super health kick.


7.Essential Fatty Acids

They are indeed ‘essential’ – these are the body’s ‘must have’ fats, and they help keep the skin supple and smooth. EFAs are naturally present in most raw nuts and seeds, but you can also supplement your diet with hemp oil or linseed oil to ensure that you’re getting enough. A teaspoon or two of EFA-rich plant oil in a smoothie is an easy way to add this to the diet.



If you’re thinking that eating nutritiously seems very expensive, here is the answer to super-foods on a budget – sprouts!! Not the Brussels type, but the tiny cute ones formed when you add moisture to a seed. Most of us have had mung bean sprouts at some point, but there are loads of other tastier sprouts that give you a mass of minerals and vitamins and, best of all, a packet of seeds and some jam jars cost next to nothing. Eat them with salad, in sandwiches, sprinkled on top of soups, or juice them with fruit etc. Just get those tiny nutrient factories inside your body and your skin will thank you for it.


9. Get nutty

Snack on small handfuls of raw nuts (brazils, almonds, hazels etc.) and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin and flax etc.) for a mineral boost and for quality proteins which will repair and maintain your skin.


10.Feeling juicy

Nothing beats freshly made fruit and vegetable juices for a vitamin injection. Juices are digested fast, and give an instant energy and nutrient boost. Juicers are easy and cheap to pick up these days, and it’s one of the best health investments you will make – keep it handy in the kitchen so daily juicing will be an easy habit to keep. Here’s an energizing smoothie recipe for a start.


For more tips on luxurious, organic and affordable skincare and how to make your own masks, cleansers, scurbs, and moisturising lotions, read Star Khechara’s The Holistic Beauty Book: Over 100 natural recipes for gorgeous healthy skin. 20141107holistic-beauty-bookep-1-3coverrgb

Image credits: Unsplash and Pixabay.

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Delicious recipe for an energizing smoothie

Our author Samantha Quinn shows you how to make a delicious energizing smoothie. Packed with nutrients, this smoothie is ideal for after a workout or whenever you are in need of a little nurturing.



1 cored apple

1 handful of spinach

200ml coconut water

flesh of one coconut

a sprig of fresh mint



To find out more about Samantha Quinn and Holly Daffurn, click here



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Why do things fall apart?- an answer from Leopold Kohr’s “The Breakdown of Nations”

As the political events of 2016 unfold , Leopold Kohr’s introduction to his classic book,  The Breakdown of Nations, provides us with a fresh perspective on current affairs.

As the physicists of our time have tried to elaborate an integrated single theory, capable of explaining not only some but all phenomena of the physical universe, so I have tried on a different plane to develop a single theory through which not only some but all phenomena of the social universe can be reduced to a common denominator. The result is a new and unified political philosophy centering in the theory of size. It suggests that there seems only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness.

Oversimplified as this may seem, we shall find the idea more easily acceptable if we consider that bigness, or oversize, is really much more than just a social problem. It appears to be the one and only problem permeating all creation. Wherever something is wrong, something is too big. If the stars in the sky or the atoms of uranium disintegrate in spontaneous explosion, it is not because their substance has lost its balance. It is because matter has attempted to expand beyond the impassable barriers set to every accumulation. Their mass has become too big. If the human body becomes diseased, it is, as in cancer, because a cell, or a group of cells, has begun to outgrow its allotted narrow limits. And if the body of a people becomes diseased with the fever of aggression, brutality, collectivism, or massive idiocy, it is not because it has fallen victim to bad leadership or mental derangement. It is because human beings, so charming as individuals or in small aggregations, have been welded into overconcentrated social units such as mobs, unions, cartels, or great powers. That is when they begin to slide into uncontrollable catastrophe. For social problems, to paraphrase the population doctrine of Thomas Malthus, have the unfortunate tendency to grow at a geometric ratio with the growth of the organism of which they are part, while the ability of man to cope with them, if it can be extended at all, grows only at an arithmetic ratio. Which means that, if a society grows beyond its optimum size, its problems must eventually outrun the growth of those human faculties which are necessary for dealing with them.

Hence it is always bigness, and only bigness, which is the problem of existence, social as well as physical, and all I have done in fusing apparently disjointed and unrelated bits of evidence into an integrated theory of size is to demonstrate first that what applies everywhere applies also in the field of social relations; and secondly that, if moral, physical, or political misery is nothing but a function of size, if the only problem is one of bigness, the only solution must lie in the cutting down of the substances and organisms which have outgrown their natural limits. The problem is not to grow but to stop growing; the answer: not union but division.


The solution of the problems confronting the world as a whole does not seem to lie in the creation of still bigger social units and still vaster governments whose formation is now attempted with such unimaginative fanaticism by our statesmen. It seems to lie in the elimination of those overgrown organisms that go by the name of great powers, and in the restoration of a healthy system of small and easily manageable states such as characterized earlier ages.

This is the proposal advanced in this book, and I have no doubt that many will call it contrary to all our concepts of progress. Which is quite true, of course. All I can do is to answer with Professor Frank Tannenbaum of Columbia University: ‘Let them, let the other people have the slogans. Let them progress themselves off the face of the earth and then they’ll have infinite progress.’


Whenever a new attempt is made to bring about international union, we are filled less with hope than with despair. A creeping presentiment seems to tell us that we are pushing into the wrong direction; that, the more united we become, the closer we get to the critical mass and density at which, as in a uranium bomb, our very compactness will lead to the explosion we try to avert.

This is why in the past few years an increasing number of authors have begun to reverse the direction of their search and to look for solutions to our social problems in small rather than large organizations, and in harmony rather than unity. Arnold Toynbee, linking the downfall of civilizations not to the fight amongst nations but the rise of universal states, suggests in the place of macropolitical solutions a return to a form of Homonoia, the Greek ideal of a self-regulatory balance of small units. Kathleen Freeman has shown in a study of Greek city-states that nearly all Western culture is the product of the disunited small states of ancient Greece, and that the same states produced almost nothing after they had become united under the wings of Rome. In the field of economics, Justice Brandeis devoted a lifetime to exposing the ‘curse of bigness’ by showing that, beyond relatively narrow limits, additional growth of plant or organizational size no longer adds to, but detracts from, the efficiency and productivity of firms. In Sociology, Frank Tannenbaum, who challengingly calls himself a parochialist, has come out in defence of small labour unions rather than their giant offspring. For only small unions seem still able to give the worker what modern vast-scale development has taken away from him: a sense of belonging and individuality. In the political field, Henry Simons has pursued the idea that the obstacles to world peace do not lie in the alleged anachronism of little states but in the great powers, those ‘monsters of nationalism and mercantilism’, in whose dismantlement he sees the only chance of survival. Finally, André Gide, to end this sketchy list with a poet, has expressed a similar thought when he wrote as possibly his last words: ‘I believe in the virtue of small nations. I believe in the virtue of small numbers. The world will be saved by the few.’

All this indicates that the idea and ideal of littleness as the only antidote to the cancerous disease of oversize—in which the bulk of contemporary theorists still insist in seeing not a deadly malady but a perverse hope of salvation—seems at last ripe for new recognition and comprehensive formulation. If my own speculations do not carry weight in this respect, perhaps Aristotle’s or St. Augustine’s will. Though I have used neither them nor the other authors just quoted in developing my theories, I find it naturally highly pleasing to find myself in so respectable a company. But I shall not hide behind their testimony or the authority of their names in an effort to obtain immunity from criticism on the part of those who think that all our time needs in order to solve its problems is to submerge itself in an all-embracing world community. The analysis as well as the conclusions are strictly my own.

In The Breakdown of Nations Leopold Kohr shows that, throughout history, people living in small states are happier, more peaceful, more creative and more prosperous. Virtually all our political and social problems would be greatly diminished if the world’s major countries were to dissolve back into the small states from which they sprang. Rather than making ever-larger political unions, in the belief that this will bring peace and security, we should minimize the aggregation of power by returning to a patchwork of small, relatively powerless states, where leaders are accessible to and responsive to the people.

“This is the most important book written by the most original political thinker of the late 20th century” Neal Acherson

“To understand the sparky, prophetic power of Kohr’s vision, you need to read The Breakdown of Nations… We have now reached the point that Kohr warned about…  the point where ‘instead of growth serving life, life must now serve growth, perverting the very purpose of existence” Paul Kingsnorth, The Guardian



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3 ways to keep this turtle happy (Hint: make your children’s toys environmentally friendly)

Have you ever worried that your kid’s toys are destroying the planet? Here are some ways to have fun without hurting the environment.

1.Buy air and not helium balloons. balloons-693728_1920

We know balloons are lots of fun. But did you know that any balloon that ends up flying off into the sky can cause serious damage to the environment? If swallowed, balloons can block an animal’s gut and cause it to starve. Dolphins, whales, turtles, seabirds and other animals have all been killed by balloons. Turtles are particularly at risk, as they seem to confuse balloons with jellyfish which are their natural prey.

Birds are also in danger from helium balloons, as they get tangled in pieces of balloon string. Use air balloons rather than helium, and always make sure you throw them into the bin once you’re done with them. Make a game out of balloon popping!

2. Seek out toys made of wood.


Plastic toys contain oil-based petrochemicals that won’t biodegrade in landfill. They do, however,  biodegrade in seawater, releasing poisonous toxins that end up in guts of marine animals and wash up on our beaches.

Wood toys last longer and can be handed down through generations. Because they’re so durable, you can also buy them cheaply from second-hand. It is almost impossible to avoid plastic toys completely, so make sure that if you do buy them, choose quality plastic that will last for years so that you don’t have to throw them out immediately (ie. lego blocks, which are basically indestructible). Alternately, make sure you buy toys made of biodegradable plastics.

3. Use rechargeable batteries for your children’s toys.


Remember all batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, which contaminate the environment and kill wildlife. Just to give you an idea of how awful these toxins are: the reason pregnant women are not supposed to eat tuna frequently is because of the dangers of mercury poisoning to herself and her unborn child. You may wonder why tuna or any marine wildlife (mercury poisoning in Japan is mostly due to eating whale meat) may contain so much mercury- the answer is, because humans continue dumping toxic waste into the sea.

By using rechargeable batteries, you avoid disposing toxins into the environment every time the toy runs out of charge. If you have to use disposable batteries, make sure you do dispose of them properly: most supermarkets have a box where you can drop them off.



For more tips on how to bring up a happy and healthy child without destroying the environment, check out Kate Blincoe’s fantastic No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting

book cover


All images used in this article come from Pixabay.



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5 reasons why you should consider a hot bed in your garden

Have you ever thought about using a hot bed in your garden? Here’s 5 reasons why hot beds might work for you…

  1. They extend the growing season potatoes-1585075_1920

If you sow your seeds by the end of January, germination will take place by mid-February! In May you could already be nibbling on fresh salad leaves and enjoying new potatoes.

  1. They are pest-freesnail-405384_1280Because you are sowing your seeds so early, snails are still in hibernation, and most of the aphids and slugs are absent. Hot beds are a natural method which lets you avoid all those pesky snails who like nibbling on your vegetables.
  1. They only require a small spacegarden-spade-1510736_1920

You don’t need much space to have a hot bed, and despite what you might think there are no unpleasant odours around them.


  1. They help retain soil nutrients.drought-780088_1920

Soil nutrients are often washed away by rain during the winter, but if you are using a hot bed, soil nutrient status usually increases, despite the heavy yields!


  1. They can be reused.recycle-1699572_1280

Once you’re done with your hot bed for the season you can make compost or mulch out of it. If you mix it some with more soil, it makes a very good growing medium for your next hot bed!


To learn more about how to grow vegetables in hot beds, have a look at Jack First’s book Hot Beds: How to grow early crops using an age-old technique . Jack First has pioneered the hot beds method in the United Kingdom and he has tried and fully tested all the methods described in his book. His hot beds have been featured on BBC TV’s Gardeners’ World.

If you want super-early crops without the hassle and expense of a heated greenhouse, look no further than Hot Beds by Jack First. A must-read if you’d like to pursue a low-cost, eco-friendly approach to out-of-season crops. –Grow Your Own

Jack is a fount of knowledge and the expert on hot bedsJoe Swift, garden designer and TV presenter

Hot Beds by expert Jack First

Hot Beds by expert Jack First

All images used here come from Pixabay.

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7 ways to save energy in your home

We all know we should turn the lights off when we’re out, but what else can we do?

  1. Vacuum the dust off the coils behind your fridge (unplug it first) to make it work more efficiently.full-fridge-1729681_1920
  2. Descale the kettle to lengthen its life and reduce the electricity needed to make your favourite cup of tea.electric-kettle-1644823_1920
  3. Don’t put the oven on until you start food prep – it doesn’t need half an hour to get to temperature. You can turn it off five minutes or so before the food is done – it will finish the cooking if you leave the door
  4. Wash full loads only and run the dishwasher when full.dishwasher-449158_1920
  5. Save the tumble dryer for emergencies. An outside clothes line or indoor clothes horse is the way forward 90% of the time.laundry-963150_1920
  6. Choose your activities carefully. Do you really have to drive to that yoga class 12 miles away? Wouldn’t the one that is walking distance do a similar job?driver-1149997_1920
  7. Think about which activities don’t require electricity and which do (for example, reading on a tablet versus reading a book, watching television versus playing a board game).book-1291164_1280

The article is based on Katie Blincoe’s The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting . All images come from Pixabay.

book cover

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