TEMPLE OF VENUS: BEAUTY IMAGE BEAUTIFUL

In her latest Temple of Venus column, Elyssa Jakim discovers that even among spiritual circles, body image issues persist…Images: Karis Wakeling-Farren 

Beauty. Isn’t that a gorgeous word? Look at how it sits on the page: regal with all those vowels. I’ve always adored words with lots of vowels: elegant, exquisite, gorgeous, pleasing. Beauty is such an angel word.

Recently in a meditation, I heard the message: “You are more beautiful than you think you are.” This message struck me—it brought a sad little pang to my heart. When I thought more about it, I realized I’ve been experiencing one of those periods where I look in the mirror and think I look weird. Where I’m breaking out more than usual, where I don’t feel particularly connected to my sensual side, where, I don’t know, I just don’t “feel beautiful,” you know?

And I know what it’s about, really, this denial of beauty. I’ve been dancing with body image issues since I was thirteen. There was something wrong with my belly! Why did it stick out from my body like that? Why was I the only one with a strange belly like this? At 17, when other stresses kicked in, I acted on these thoughts and began dieting. I struggled from compulsive dieting for the next eight years.

I had grown up wanting to be an actress, famously a profession of body image perfectionism. When I was 19, I spent my summer as an apprentice at a theatre festival. I recall hanging out in a circle of about 10 women, and the conversation turned to food and dieting. It became clear to me that all these young women who wanted to be actresses had struggled with or were struggling with eating disorder.

All these gorgeous women who I knew as gorgeous because of their insides, their passionate outlook and fearlessness on stage, were folding themselves in one way or another in order to feel included in an exclusive industry: in order to feel included in their own dreams. It was the first time I realized how much I wasn’t alone in this “bad body image” compulsion. And, of course, it’s not just actresses who go through this. It’s all of us.

As years have passed, I feel better about me. A lot. I’m no longer dieting, and I feel I can accept whatever it is I have chosen to eat. However, I now find myself in many other women’s circles that mirror the above one. Healing circle. Meditation Circle. Brunch table. And to tell you the truth, even though these are circles of loving, empowered people, I’m often still worrying about the size of my belly.

The tendency toward self-blame is always there lingering in the background—and I’d like to posit that it is for many of us. It’s an elephant in our yoga studios and sound baths. We’ve had so much programming about how we’re supposed to look for our whole lives, that body anxiety just feels like a channel many of us have been set to. Especially if you live in a trendy city, and the street suggests fashion putting your body on show.

In groups and even just among friends, I’ve started paying attention to when my body image insecurity comes up. I get in touch with my inner knowing and I ask, “Is this mine?” Often, I hear “no.” It belongs to a peer. It belongs to a friend. Doing this has helped me understand, once again, that I am truly not alone in my insecurity. That it is SO MANY OF US who feel not right in ourselves.

Everyone, everyone has that something: “I’ve got a great body, but my skin sucks.” “I love my hips but my eyes kind of cross sometimes and I think I look messed up.” “My face is weird.” “I should look more masculine.” “I should look more feminine.” We compartmentalize ourselves and obsess over our “wrong” thing. So of course, even if the thought is usually not mine, it IS mine too. It’s all of ours. And we “empath” it back and forth to one another.

At this point, I’d like to bring up that this is the ego’s favorite myth, that: “There is something wrong with me.” Psychologist Tara Brach brilliantly describes this concept in her book Radical Acceptance:

[T]he universal sense that “something is wrong” easily solidifies into “something is wrong with me.” When I look into my own feelings of unworthiness, sometimes I can’t point to any significant way I’m actually falling short. Yet just this feeling of being a self, separate from others, brings up a fundamental assumption that I am not okay…Believing that we are separate, incomplete, and therefore at risk, is not some malfunction of nature. Rather, this perception is an intrinsic part of our human experience—indeed of all life.

Brach makes it clear: it’s our sense of alone-ness that makes us feel wrong. The great irony of course is that we’re all together in feeling separate. And there is nothing wrong with you or me or us. There may, however, be something wrong with the society we live in (“The universal sense that something is wrong…”). There may be something wrong with the messages that we ingest and unknowingly propagate.

The author today

But what is the gift of these insane societal standards? What is the gift of the insecurity?

Disagreeing with the ego’s unloving ideas strengthens the mind and soul. When you choose to say “no” to this habit of self-attack, when you choose love in favor of compulsion, you are growing. You are claiming your worth. You are getting stronger each time. Whenever we actively proclaim the Truth to the unloving self, we are paving the way for freedom.

Choose an affirmation today for your unloving habit and resolve to challenge it in order to gain freedom. Mine is: “I know that these fears about my body are untrue. I know I am so much more than this body. I surrender these fears to love.” This can, of course, be applied to any flavor of compulsion, not just body perfectionism. And of course, whenever we free ourselves, we free our sisters and brothers, too. The grip of group insecurity relaxes, we’re all getting spiritually lighter together. Which, in my humble opinion, is way more important than physical lightness. This is a spiritual workout!

These hurts also build empathy and compassion. How could I, Elyssa, help others love their bodies if I hadn’t run the whole gamut of fear and love in my own thinking? Thus our misfortunes become our miracles.

I told a friend about my meditation, the one in which I heard, “You are more beautiful than you think you are.”

“What do you mean by that?” He asked. “Physically?”

“Yes, physically.”

“Go to your heart,” he said. “Go to your heart. That’s where beauty lives. Focus on the feelings inside your heart and you will know you’re beautiful. Then your whole self responds.”

I love this. And, it is true. And when I talked to Venus, Venus told me: “You are all beautiful. You are all divine. You are all so much more radiant than you know.” Go to your heart. Find the beauty and resilience there. “Heart.” That’s got a nice vowel assortment too.

PS: This post marks my one-year anniversary of writing for the Numinous! From Spring to Spring, I am grateful for all of the gifts.

Need more Venus inspiration? Check out Elyssa’s last Temple of Venus column on the practice of receiving.

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: LULU BRUD

A.k.a. Lady Lu of The Wolves, Pretty Little Liars actress, storyteller, and interior designer Lulu Brud is the most mystical of material girls. Here’s a peek into her world…Portraits: Taren Maroun

WE’RE STARTING A NEW EVENT SERIES CALLED “STORY MEDICINE.” AS A TELLER OF STORIES YOURSELF, WHAT DO YOU FIND HEALING ABOUT STORYTELLING?
Stories are mirrors, reflectors of humanity that can reveal the great archetypes throughout history. They can awaken a connection to seemingly far away lands, spirits, and forgotten or imagined times. Stories are teachers and invokers. They lend us the words when we have gone silent or inspire empathy where perhaps before there was none.

WHERE DID THE NAME OF YOUR BRAND – “OF THE WOLVES” – COME FROM?
I dated a man a long time ago who gave me this book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. It was as if he had been sent just to give me this important thing, because I never really heard from him again after that! Later that year, for my 25th birthday, my best friend gave me a Wolf Ring that has become a talisman in my life. I joined Instagram the same week I got the ring, and as I was searching for my moniker, the name just sort of came to me. I didn’t go out looking for the wolves, the wolves came looking for me.

AS AN INTERIOR DESIGNER, WHAT MAKES A HOME A SANCTUARY?
We spend a lot of our lives out in the world, sharing space and entangling ourselves with the energy of strangers. It’s important to have a home to return to that feels like a calm and grounded sanctuary of our own making. My personal approach to interior spaces is inspired by natural and warm elements like plants, crystals and wood, different patterns and colors in textiles and tiles, and up-cycled/repurposed pieces. I love bringing inside living, outside, and outside living, inside…in other words, I don’t like such hard defined lines between the inside of one’s home and the wild outdoors.

WE LOVE THE SOUND OF YOUR “PICNICS OF THE WOLVES” GATHERINGS! WHAT INSPIRED THIS IDEA AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
I love gathering with women (and sometimes men too!) over food, drinks and chats doing crafts and/or at lectures. Working with our hands, healing through laughter and shared stories, that’s what it’s about. I’ve done a few of my own gatherings now, and they are organically growing into something really special. There will be several coming up in 2016 – Lindsay Mack of Wild Soul Healing will be in LA in May for a Tarot focused Picnic, and I’m hoping to get a Cob Oven building workshop on the books too, things like that. The sign-ups will be listed on my website as they become available!

ACTORS ARE EMPATHETIC SOULS BY NATURE – HOW DOES ONE KEEP YOUR ENERGY FIELD CLEAN OPERATING IN A CUT-THROAT ENVIRONMENT LIKE HOLLYWOOD?
To be honest, I struggle with it a lot, but Of the Wolves has saved me in many ways. My days are filled with storytelling in many forms, and I go to bed feeling creatively fulfilled at night. I have had the opportunity to work more this year than I ever have before, with a small arc on Pretty Little Liars and an appearance on Ray Donovan, but for now, it’s all quiet again on the acting front.

The ups can be really exciting and thrilling, the downs can be pretty heavy and dark, and rejection is an everyday occurrence. The trick, for me at least, is staying balanced and grounded through it all, keeping my hands busy, telling good stories, and not pausing for too long to dwell on things that are so out of my control. At the end of the day, it’s just a job. It’s hard not to compare my path with that of those around me, but I just can’t do it…their story isn’t my story and my story isn’t theirs.

:: MATERIAL GIRL :: 

My label // Reformation or vintage finds from old closets.

Bordeaux dress, $278, Reformation

My shoes // Black vintage lace up Justin boots (that I’ve had resoled 5 times), PFKaufman Mules, Minnetonka Moccassins.

Mules, $350, PFKaufman

My fragrance // Jiva Apoha 1967 Body Oil or if I’m feeling fancy D. S. & Durga Freetrapper.

Body oil, from $53, Jiva Apoha

My jewels // Alkiemie Wolf Ring, Communion by Joy Eye of the Warrior Ring, my wedding ring with a family crest that my husband and I designed together, and Native American vintage turquoise pieces

Eye of the Warrior Ring, $1985, Communion by Joy

My pampering // A quiet solo night at home with a good playlist, candles, bath time, and a glass of wine.

My home // Rustic + Bohemian + Cabin feels nestled into a hillside on the east-side of LA.

My food // I love cooking any foods with good people and high-vibing ingredients

The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening // Waking up slowly and cuddling my husband and our eight-year-old tea cup poodle. Then lighting candles in our meditation room, burning Juniper Ridge incense, and sipping coffee until I need to face the music and get the day started.

White Sage Incense, $12, Juniper Ridge

My sign // Sun: Scorpio | Rising: Taurus | Moon: Cancer.

My mantra // “I am enough.”

My healer // The colors and the quiet of Momma Earth – deserts, oceans, mountains.

My reading // “Women Who Run with the Wolves” – “The Anthropology of Turquoise” – “Just Kids” – “A Handbook of Native American Herbs”

Just Kids by Patti Smith

My transformation // When I stopped limiting myself to just being a storyteller through acting, and opened myself up to all of the other ways I tell stories – home designing, sharing stories on my blog, making goods, and curating my online shop.

My mission // To awaken and connect people back to one another and their wild sides, and to instill a new paradigm of protectors for the sustainability of this planet.

www.ofthewolves.com

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: SHIVA ROSE

Meet Shiva Rose, Earth mother and holistic creatrix, and discover the fashion and beauty finds that rock her Mystical world…

“We escaped Iran when I was ten years old, one cold winter night as the country was in the throes of a bloody revolution. We traveled to Germany, then London and finally to California, where my mother and her family is from. We settled in LA.”

So speaks actress, activist and curator Shiva Rose, whose lifestyle blog and online store The Local Rose celebrates her local community of artisan makers and mystics. And it was going from “a childhood nurtured on imagination and nature to life as a refugee,” that in fact fueled her passion for fashion and paved the way for her current incarnation as a woman dedicated to promoting a holistic, healthy and authentic lifestyle.

“I was a bit shy and awkward, and the trauma of escaping a revolution didn’t help. My refuge and escape from this reality was immersing myself in what I loved best, which was old European/Hollywood films and great books. I fell in love with story telling and being told stories,” she says. “I feel today I do this with each product I create and curate. The story behind the power of the ingredients rules me.”

Shiva Rose currently lives with her two daughters, Colette Blu, 19 and Charlotte Rumi, 10, in the Santa Monica Mountains, where the family is virtually self-sufficient. In itself an important part of her evolution as a woman.

“I feel like I have only become an adult in the last five years. There have been immense challenges and yet I have so much strength now that things that I couldn’t even dream of doing a few years ago are a welcome treat now. Things like fighting off a pack of coyotes that are trying to get my chickens by the light of the moon in my garden!”

The most vital lesson of all on her life path, however; “is that i have finally realized no one is going to make me happy unless I am happy, content and fulfilled on my own.”

Here’s a peek into the Mystical World of Shiva Rose, Earth Mama and Material Girl.

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My label
“Clothes designed and made by my community like Awave/Awake and Rachel Craven.”

Awave Awake Fall 2015 collection

My shoes
“Celine on a fancy day. Hand made moccasins most days.”

Manitobah handmade moccasins, $149

My scent
“Faith Essential Oil (on my site shop) or Rose oil from Amma.”

Essential Faith Oil, $65

My jewels
“Tantric pearls worn through meditation to soak up the high vibrations.”

Tantric Meditation Pearls, $595, Nine Treasures

My pampering
“Daily evening goddess baths with my handmade Moon Rose Salts and then my Nectar Body Oil.”

Rose Moon Sea Salts, $50, The Local Rose

My home
“Minimal astral treehouse!”

My food
“Organic and hand picked from my garden ~ fresh salads and fruit crumble with raw cream.”

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My Awakening
“I awake before my children and creatures so I can have a few cups of Living Tea in meditative silence. If I am bending time that day, I will do a few Kundalini sets.”

My sign
“Aquarius with a Scorpio Moon, thus the dance between light and dark.”

My mantra
“Wahe Guru” and “I am Love.”

My guru
“Mama Earth and Father Sky.”

My reading
“So much to devour and learn. At the moment Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams; books on bee keeping, and The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.”

My transformation
“So many, I’m always evolving and transforming ~ but the most recent when I got divorced 7 years ago, and my life broke apart and then open.”

My mission
“To raise compassionate daughters, to walk in beauty every day, to be a custodian of Mama Earth.”

Read more about Shiva Rose and shop her collections at Thelocalrose.com