Rebirth

Rebirth: the action of reappearing or starting to flourish or increase after a decline; revival.

Rebirth in Buddhism refers to the teaching that the actions of a person lead to a new existence after death, in an endless cycle called saṃsāra. This cycle is considered to be dukkha, unsatisfactory and painful. The cycle stops only if liberation is achieved by insight and the extinguishing of craving. Rebirth is one of the foundational doctrines of Buddhism, along with karma, nirvana and moksha.

The rebirth doctrine, sometimes referred to as reincarnation or transmigration, asserts that rebirth does not necessarily take place as another human being, but can also lead to an existence in one of the six realms of existence, which also include heaven realms, the animal realm, the ghost realm and hell realms.

Rebirth, as stated by various Buddhist traditions, is determined by karma, with good realms favored by kushala (good or skillful karma), while a rebirth in evil realms is a consequence of akushala (bad karma). While nirvana is the ultimate goal of Buddhist teaching, much of traditional Buddhist practice has been centered on gaining merit and merit transfer, whereby one gains rebirth in the good realms and avoids rebirth in the evil realms.

Carl Jung is famous for among other things, his Theory of The Psyche. In this theory, individuation is a psychological concept that can be defined as the achievement of self-actualization through integrating the conscious and the unconscious parts of our mind. Its aim is to become aware of who we truly are without any filters or barriers, and reach our full potential by acknowledging all parts of our mind. or as Jung prefers to call it ‘’ psyche”. 

According to Jung, most people do not understand the role that the unconscious part of their minds plays in their lives and how it controls and manipulates their actions. So, it is their duty to discover it through bringing it to the conscious realm and becoming aware of it. As he said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

The psyche, based on this theory, has two parts. The conscious, which is the part that we are aware of. And the unconscious is the part that controls our life and behavior behind the scenes because of our unawareness. So, the process of individuation consists of bringing parts from the darkness of our unconscious into our conscious side in order to prevent it from controlling us. We recently talked about the shadow and its integration. This is what we mean when we talk about individuation and Jung believed that when we reach this integration, we experience a rebirth.

Consciousness is the part of our minds that we know through our thoughts, emotion, etc, and the center of this side is ego. What is ego? It is a projection or a reflection of the “unconscious” and a result of social conditioning. Our ego is like a cloud that appears to have a form, but it changes constantly. It is the mask that we wear to hide our true “self” from ourselves. It is not solid but a misinterpretation of who we are and who we should be based on some idealized traits and false notions that differ from one person to another according to the context and the environment. Unfortunately, we over-identify ourselves with our Ego to believe that it is us.

Ego is shaped through our growth. When we were brought to the world, we had no sense of self, and no association with different names and opinions (which gradually develop to form our ego). As we grow older, our brains become more conditioned according to our environment. So, the first part of the individuation process is to learn how to separate our ego from ourselves and understand that it is not our identity, but just its external layer.

Some people misunderstand this concept of individuation as getting rid of our Ego, but that is impossible. Our ego is essential for us to survive in society, it is what gives us the subjective experience of life. The aim of individuation is not to get rid of it but rather identify it, understand it and control it.  In order to do that, according to Jung, we have to go through “ego transformation”, which means reconstructing our ego (thoughts and beliefs) all over again in a healthy way without identifying it as who we are. 

People tend to resist this transformation because it represents a threat to their identity and the foundation of the character that they adapted for too long. This ego transformation does not happen deliberately. It happens when you realize that your beliefs contradict with reality through a hard experience, which may lead to an identity crisis, or even as what some people call an existential crisis. which ends up with the rebirth of a new healthy ego.

The persona is a reflection of our ego. It is the mask we wear to hide our real selves from the others. The more comfortable we are around some people, the less it conceals parts from our real character.  If you have ever wondered why we subconsciously act differently around people, it is because our ego dictates how we should act according to the context. Some people may face trouble trying to understand themselves through judging this persona which may lead to confusion, but they are merely a reflection of the ego.

The unconscious realm is the hidden side of yourself, it is the main and the leading part of our psyche. It is made of many archetypes and each one of them has a role and an effect. The unconscious projects itself into our lives without our awareness, it controls our behavior while we think that we are fully aware and responsible for our actions.

The unconscious produces our thoughts that we display through our ego, but we identify ourselves as the thoughts while ignoring its real source. For example, some people go through traumatic experiences in their childhood, take as an example physical abuse, it makes them feel unworthy of love as children. This part of their lives is hidden in the unconscious part, but this traumatic experience comes from the unconscious and projects itself on the ego as thoughts like, I am worthless, I hate myself, no one will love me… Unfortunately, the individual starts believing what his ego repeats regardless of its validity.

A huge part of our personalities is built throughout our childhood. 

According to Jung, it is wrong to identify ourselves as good or bad because we are inherently flawed. As we have discussed before, the unconscious part is made of archetypes including the shadow.

The shadow is the dark side of your personality, and by dark, we do not necessarily mean negative, but it is hidden and repressed somewhere in our unconscious. It consists of both negative or positive qualities that your ego considers as unacceptable, so you have subconsciously disowned them through time. Because ego does not know what is right and what is wrong.

It is a survival tool that aims to keep you away from any potential danger even if the threat is not real. We hide sides of ourselves because we fear judgments and need to fit in, which creates a false sense of self that is made of these beliefs, thoughts, and conditioning. 

After becoming aware of our ego, we start to understand how our thoughts are a product of the unconscious. Then we move to the next step which is the Shadow Work.

As we have explored, shadow work is the process of exploring your inner darkness, it uncovers every part of you that has been disowned, repressed and rejected and not displayed in public. Shadow work is one of the most important parts of in-depth psychological work. Jung used this method in his analysis because Jungian Analysis encourages us to seek out our shadow. It is liberating and would enable the individual to discover who she or he really is and reach their full potential using the traits that were oppressed before. 

We should proceed by accepting the fact that we have flaws and hidden parts that need to be worked on without feeling ashamed because the refusal to accept our dark side is a refusal to accept our entire being. 

But how can we reach individuation and re-make our character? Can we become another as if born anew? Most models of human development place tight bounds around our capacity for self-directed change. Although I work with clients in the realm of the subconscious and often achieve rapid change, we are a conservative creature. We crave order and a have a deep need for a stable sense of self. 

Change, according to these models, is best accomplished in a gradual manner. We need to focus on taking small steps each day in the direction of the person we wish to become. We need to break down our bad habits, cultivate good ones and over time these small changes will cumulate to produce impressive results.

This approach to self-change is not the only way that we change, nor is it adequate for all situations. For while we are conservative creatures, we are also mortal creatures with limited time and a limited capacity to endure suffering. 

Sometimes life requires radical change, not merely a change in a habit or two, but a change of such significance that it leads to what is known as a psychological rebirth. Fortunately, this type of change is possible and occurs in more lives than is often realized.

Doing the work of integration, taming the ego and the shadow can lead you to a realization that your beliefs contradict reality. You can avoid this realization being the result of a hard experience, which can lead to an identity crisis, or even as what some people call an existential crisis. Instead, doing the ego and shadow work before a hard lesson can end up as a rebirth of a new healthy ego. A psychological rebirth of integration and individuation.

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Regret

 


Regret: A feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done. 

From a psychological standpoint, regret is a negative cognitive or emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been, or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made. 

Most, if not all, of us want to live life with no regrets; some push life to the ultimate limit and want to experience just about everything. But sometimes the craziness of life’s day-to-day tasks gets in the way of making progress towards your ideal life.

Unfortunately, while you may be busy with the routines of life, time may fly by all too fast and before you know it you may be looking back on your life with some big regrets. 

Regret can have damaging effects on mind and body when it turns into fruitless rumination and self-blame that keeps people from re-engaging with life. This pattern of repetitive, negative, self-focused ruminative thinking is characteristic of depression—and may be a cause of this mental health problem as well. Other research shows that regret can result in chronic stress, negatively affecting hormonal and immune system functioning. Regret impedes the ability to recover from stressful life events by extending their emotional reach for months, years, or lifetimes.

The best way to limit these regrets is first by understanding what the biggest ones are and second, by taking action before its too late.

Here are some of the biggest regrets people may have as they look back upon their lives.

Sweating the Small Stuff- In surveys, the elderly report regret over having wasted so much time and energy stressing over little things of life. That’s understandable though, right? We all know that at the end of the day, not to mention the end of our lives, it probably doesn’t really matter that your spouse forgot to take out the trash, or that your dog pooped on the carpet, or that you had a bad hair day.

Letting those things go can free up so much energy that we can redirect towards appreciating the big stuff. Worrying is the number one way of wasting precious time, time that you can never get back, which in turn severely affects your happiness, so if you’re going to do it, make sure it’s about something important.

Not Making Amends- It’s no surprise that not making amends with old friends and family members is a regret. Sure, sometimes we need to let go of toxic people in our lives. Other times, we hold grudges that aren’t healthy and definitely don’t make us happy.

Always take a minute to reflect on each situation. There is definitely at least one opportunity to make amends that popped into your head when you heard the statement, right? Think about whether you really want to move on or if you might want to mend that bridge. Remember that sometimes making amends isn’t about making the other person feel better, but about your mental wellbeing, letting go of anger or bitterness, or some other unhealthy emotion.

Words left unsaid- Another way that fear stops us from living our lives to the fullest is that so often we are afraid to speak our minds, to tell people how we feel, or to say something that might make us vulnerable. Of course, that includes the usual suspects: “I love you,” and “I’m sorry.” But withholding your feelings when you’re struggling, hurt, or upset can cause just as much damage to our relationships and lead to serious regret in the long-term. Choose your words wisely, we don’t want to be hurtful, but say what you feel. When you don’t you are withholding a little bit of the truth inside.

Not following their passion.- Again, most of us aren’t exactly encouraged to follow our passions in this workaholic society that believes in a conventional life of having a good 9-5 job, loving your spouse, adorable children and an oversized home. Doing what you love doesn’t necessarily mean giving all that up and quitting your job to become a painter, or moving to Costa Rica to lead retreats every day (although it totally can, though).

Do some real reflecting on why your dream job is your dream job, and whether you’re truly setting yourself up to be happy with what you do. I encourage my clients to ask themselves: what do you want, why do you want it and what are you going to do to get it.

Unaccomplished Goals- Goals are super important, like intentions, they are the coordinates that we navigate through life with, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I let life get in the way of completing items. Surely many people at the end of their lives have fallen into this trap and have regrets about not achieving their dreams.

Things like busy work and, let’s keep it real, laziness can hold us back. But more often than not its fear that stops us from reaching our goals. Writing down your goals is a good step, but it’s only the first step. Figure out one thing that you can do every day to get one step closer to achieving what you really want.

Working too much- Put your phone away! Having our phones in our pockets can mean constant access, making it harder than ever to mentally clock out at the end of the day. Add that to the double barrels of having a home office and that most employees aren’t encouraged to take time off of work, and it is easy to see that we live in a real workaholic culture.

Even if your job brings you genuine joy (this might be a good time to ask yourself: by the way, does it?) and you tend to overwork yourself, at some point you’ll probably regret not having carved out more free time to explore the other things you love. I love what I do, but it comes at an energetic price. I must always be mindful that I need to recharge my batteries so that I can show up for those whom I serve in my best and highest way.

Worrying too much about what others think.- Everyone struggles with this self-consciousness in a different way, and for many it takes a long time to overcome. Interestingly, we all tend to walk around worrying what others think of us. But think about it for a minute, how much time do you actually spend analyzing others and judging their decisions? Not much really and neither do I. When it comes right down to it, they are probably not concerned with analyzing you a thousandth as much as you’re doing it to yourself.

The sooner we let go of this inhibition, the sooner we’ll be able to be our true selves and focus the things that actually bring us joy.

Taking life too seriously. – It’s difficult to fully imagine which of our stressors, achievements, failures, and dreams will still seem important to us when we’re on our deathbeds. But you can probably come up with a pretty good idea in the moment if you need to. Many of the things that we believe are “the end of the world” in the moment won’t even matter in 10 to 20 years, maybe even in a month.

It’s easy to remind ourselves not to sweat the little things, but sometimes we need reminding that those ‘big’ stressors might not actually be so big either. Plus, most times you have no control over them, just the way you react to them. So, take the time to put things into perspective and learn to laugh a little more.

Not listening to their intuition. – We all know what will make us happy—and often, it’s not even buried that deep down. We can get a little mixed up and need to correct our course sometimes, but we also know what it feels like to be drawn towards one decision only to have our instinct tell us to go in another direction.

Not listening to that instinct can get us into all kinds of messes that can feel completely overwhelming; winding up in a career that you don’t enjoy, in a city you don’t love, or neglecting a passion that you slowly let fall to the side. Check in with yourself—that intuition wants to be heard.

Not spending more time with family and friends. In the end, our relationships with family, friends, and partners bring us more joy than working or superficial successes do. At the end of their lives, people so often regret not having spent more time with their kids, not having been a better spouse, and not keeping in touch with friends and relatives.

Luckily, this is a fairly easy one to fix: look at your calendar for the week, figure out how much time you spend in the office or doing household duties, and compare that to how much free time you have. Schedule in spending times with your loved ones, just like you would any other appointment.

For young people in particular, regret, although painful to experience, can be a helpful emotion. The pain of regret can result in refocusing and taking corrective action or pursuing a new path. However, the less opportunity one has to change the situation, the more likely it is that regret can turn into rumination and trigger chronic stress that damages mind and body.

What Can We Do to Cope With Regret?

We can harness the functional aspects of regret, which, like all emotions, has a function for survival. It is our brain’s way of telling us to take another look at our choices, a signal that our actions may be leading to negative consequences. Regret is a major reason why addicts get into recovery.

If there is nothing you can do to change the situation, let it go. If you get stuck blaming yourself and regretting past actions, this could turn into depression and damage your self-esteem. Find a way to forgive yourself and let it go. You could think about what you would say to a loved one in the same situation to make them feel better. Most people have an easier time forgiving others than themselves.

Make sure you are not taking too much blame. Consider the circumstances that may have made it more difficult to make good choices in that particular instance, or the fact that you had limited knowledge at the time. Perhaps you had to make a quick decision under time pressure or had multiple stresses going on. 

Reframe the situation more positively. Think about life as a journey. Everybody makes mistakes. They can be opportunities to learn important lessons about yourself—including your values, vulnerabilities, and triggers—as well as about other people. You can also use past regrets to decide how to take better care of yourself in the future.

Regret can be an aversive emotion impacting life-satisfaction. However, if regret is confronted appropriately, it can have a positive effect. Regret can lead to a retrospective analysis that may help people understand the reason why they thought or acted as they did. At that time, there may have been a specific reason. By making sense of their past thoughts or actions, individuals may:

Feel less pain, remorse, and self-condemnation; Change their thoughts and behavior that will lead to a desired outcome; Learn from their mistakes and incorporate this into their subsequent decisions and actions.

Regret is an emotional mechanism. If one ruminates on lost opportunities, then regret becomes maladaptive and can stymie growth. On the other hand, if regret reminds us that our time is short and that opportunities may be transitory, it helps us strive for a life well-lived.

On a daily level, being self-aware can help you make incremental changes. But after decades of making those small adjustments, hopefully we can avoid sharing some of the common regrets listed above and instead harness the functional aspects of regret. I hope to learn from these lessons and continue to live a “no regrets” kind of life and I hope you can, too

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The Benefits of Clinical Hypnotherapy in Functional Medicine

Overcoming Psychological Barriers to Treatment

In the world of functional medicine, we are often dealing with chronically ill patients who have been sick for a long time. It is our job to communicate with them, figure out what is wrong with them, and design a treatment plan that inspires them to take action. The problem is that many patients have a difficult time articulating what is wrong with them, which creates a rift that makes it difficult to treat them. Clinical hypnotherapy can significantly aid our efforts in helping patients overcome the psychological barriers to treatment so they can get healthy.

Check out my awesome interview on “THE FM SHIFT” Podcast with Dr.’s Brandon & Heather Credeur..

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Action of the Tao: Wu Wei

Those who stand on tippy toes do not stand firmly; those who rush ahead do not get very far; those who try to outshine others dim their own light. Lao Tzu

Why do we always end up wasting our efforts trying to control a situation with questionable results? Why do we attempt to gain knowledge chasing external objects, exhausting our bodies in the process and burdening our minds only to end up in discontent?

As humans, we tend to act in ways that are counterproductive in our attempts to alter the natural way. We simply end up making things worse. We tend to remove ourselves from the natural flow of life. Trying to alter what nature has intended is like paddling upstream, or swimming against the tide. This is exhausting, pointless and gets us nowhere.

What if we pursued a less strident way?

We humans attempt to conceptualize things that are beyond our understanding. The result is the creation of deception, the establishment of artifice. These deceptions and artifices make life understandable for us humans, but by trying to comprehend we suffer at the expense of meaning.

Taoists find meaning when they learn to know and feel the Tao even though we cannot comprehend it. Complex and paradoxical as it might seem to the western mind, the art of not trying can yield great accomplishments and lead to deep meaning.

“The five colors blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavors dull the pallet. Racing, hunting, and galloping about only disturb the mind. Wasting energy to obtain rare objects only impedes one’s growth.” Tao Te Ching

The five senses of the human body are ego driven. They keep us grounded in society’s illusions. When we focus our attention onto any aspect, be it visual, tonal, tactile, taste or olfactory information must necessarily be filtered out.

If all the data was absorbed, the human mind would be overwhelmed. We filter out information according to our senses in our younger years. What had left impressions form the basis of our conscious and subconscious mind and forms our programming.

This information becomes our foundation for working with our concept of reality.

People also search for physical aspects in order to appease the craving of a void within. They believe something in the physical world will gratify the longing for satisfaction and yield a sense of completeness. But nothing at the human level can ever fill the void unless the search leads one inward. And the more busyness one tries to fill up the moments with, the further away the true treasure will be found.

Seek and you shall find is not suggesting the need to run around searching through the human experiences in order to find satisfaction, chasing external objects, exhausting our bodies in the process and burdening our minds; as noted, this only leads to discontent.

First, we must train our ego for sustainable enlightenment, otherwise the ego will spend our life cycle trying to distract us from the authentic goal, which is to connect with our Source, and realize our birthright.

When we understand that human senses are surface level, that the spiritual senses are found within we can apply these aspects to the physical realm and experience human emotions with a deeper, more meaningful appreciation.

The art of not trying, what the Taoist refers to as wu wei, yields a heart working from the core of unconditional love; to have the feeling of gratitude with no human strings attached; to trust without conditions; to be able to believe with no limitations.

This takes power beyond the physical world. This is action without acting. This is wu wei. Paradoxical? Perhaps. The Tao reminds us that our humaness can never lead us to everlasting peace and joy by striving.

 We must search inward to master this truth.

By giving form and making rules we exclude everything outside of these artificial boundaries in our effort to get a sense of control. And our ever-changing world makes our illusion obsolete tomorrow.

The principle of wu wei suggests non action will allow us to go inward, be quiet and still, until the time is right and then we do not try, but act, with the conviction and effortlessness of flow state, in a smooth, painless manner.

When we are quiet and still, when we commune with our inner world, we tend to be able to see things more clearly. The truth will come to you. Remember, the prize does not chase.

In the west, our tradition sees nondoing as uselessness and unproductive, without progress. But the Taoist might counter do not confuse motion with progress.

The Universe is in a constant state of flux. When that flux encroaches on our illusion of structure and comprehension we tend to overreact and make things worse than they already are. So often, problems seem to work themselves out and our trying to fix things or improve things leads us to distance ourselves from the natural course.

Why do we humans repeatedly act in ways that are unnatural? We kid ourselves that we are trying to better the world, but the results are questionable. We need look no further than the environmental degradation of our mother Earth.

Perhaps it is time to embrace the natural, to fill the human void by going inward to connect with source and to practice wu wei, growing comfortable in nondoing until guided to do naturally.

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Trust Requires Surrender

When I turned 40 I finagled a Porsche.

The newfangled internet had made it much easier to locate and acquire vehicles that were previously the domain of exclusive dealers and inside networks. Now you could scour the country to find a deal on eBay and other sites and the competition drove down prices.

I found a 1982 911 in Reno, Nevada. It had 70k miles and was under $10k. I put it on a credit card and drove it home.

I was going to “restore” it. It didn’t take long to realize that restoration was expensive. And meticulous. I was too busy for meticulous, I just wanted to go fast.

A fellow lobbyist and friend, Carl Brakenseik, had a Porsche, was a member of the Porsche Club and frequently attended races at Nor Cal race tracks. Except the Porsche guys don’t call it racing, they call it high performance driver education (HPDE). He hooked me.

Setting the car up to go faster was only slightly less expensive than restoring it, but instead of tucking it away in the garage after you restore it, after you race prep you take it out and drive the wheels off of it.

Before they let you on these race tracks you must learn the rules and get instruction. There are the fast driving techniques like turn in, track out, braking zones, trail braking and heel/toe shifting; then there are the track rules and the flags that represent them; then there are the nuances of the track that aren’t written anywhere, you learn them from your instructor whose motto is do as I say, not as I do.

The whole idea is to use the entire track and drive just inside, but right up the edge of, the traction point.

My first track day was at Thunderhill Raceway. About 80 miles north of Sacramento and seven miles west of I5 at the town of Willows, CA, the cow pastures give way to this racetrack. in the middle of nowhere.

Like a kid on Christmas eve I didn’t sleep much the night before. Arriving at dawn preparations begin getting everything out of your vehicle, adjusting air pressure taping off glass. The drivers’ meeting out of the way and everyone briefed the run groups began.

I was paired with a cool instructor who had a badass race car and I would ride with him when it was his group and he rode with me when it was mine. Russ Hildebrand was a city attorney for a suburb city in the Sacramento area and an all around nice guy.

I had an initial tendency to overgrip the wheel which made for not so smooth turns- smooth equals fast, which he made clear immediately, so I loosened my grip. With each lap he added new nuances.

Thunderhill is a really cool track. There are several configurations now, but at the time it was three miles with 15 turns. A road course that sported elevation changes in addition to the turns and straight aways. Remembering that smooth equals fast, these elevation changes are tricky because they tend to unsettle the car.

Every track has its own personality and THill is no different.

From the outset turn one at the end of the start/finish straightaway has a short braking zone and a hard left turn in and it begins.

Turn two is a carousel with a big sweeping turn and late apex.

Turn five has a climb/turn/descend/turn at the bottom combo that will hurt you if not played well.

Turn eight is not fully appreciated until you have enough experience to enter without braking. It takes some real nerve and the trust that comes with experience to lay off the brake and unwind all of the way to the other side of the track at exit- I have seen drivers pitched up onto the bank from carrying too much speed.

Turn nine we’ll come back to.

Turn 10 is a hard left after a straight with a short unwind before you go into the kind of esses of 11/12/13, which once you get the timing of you can flatten out into almost one turn.

Fourteen and fifteen are a big roundhouse after the back straight that require apex discipline in order to have the car settled to maximize speed into the main straight away/finish.

It is turn nine however that taught me that the pathway to trust is through surrender. Coming out of eight not having braked you climb into nine hot with a left sweep after which the bottom falls out with a steep elevation loss.

Even when you have driven the course many times and you know where the track goes, not being able to see is terrifying. The tendency is to downshift and brake as you crest over the hill, but this is not smooth, unsettles the car and breaks your rhythm.

The key to nailing turn nine at Thunderhill, said Russ, was to fix your eyes on the water tower in the distance, which rose above the horizon and if you aligned on it, you would be in the center of the track to speed out of nine and into 10.

To nail turn nine at Thunderhill I had to get out of my head and follow my gut, my intuition. In order to trust I was in the right place I had to surrender my need to see the track and follow a path I knew to be there even though my eyes couldn’t see it.

If you are in a place in life where your eyes don’t see and your path eludes you perhaps it is time to surrender to your intuition and trust the power of your subconscious mind to help you find answers through the application of hypnotherapy.

Maybe answers to your health, your career, your behavior, your relationship are just a hypnotherapy session away.

Maybe just letting the soothing surrender of trusting your powerful subconscious mind through a hypnotherapy session can help you take a break from your crazy world, or get a fresh perspective.

Hypnotherapy is a powerful modality for positive change. Call for a free consultation today …

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