STRESS-SOOTHING BEAUTY FOR CANCER SEASON

Rolling in the deep end of cosmic emotion? Eunice Lucero helps us navigate the high tides, with adaptogen-infused beauty for Cancer Season …

Nope, it’s not your imagination: things are getting way, way deep. Not only are we smack-dab in the middle of Cancer season, i.e. the feelings HQ of the zodiac belt, this month’s lunations also herald the start of a series of eclipses along the Cancer-Capricorn axis—which means emotional and structural change is afoot, and in a massive way.

To ensure smooth sailing on the potentially torrential seas ahead however, we’ve enlisted the help of some adaptogen-infused beauty heroes. Officially defined as non-toxic plant extracts that help increase the body’s ability to resist the damaging effects of stress, adaptogens are nature’s very own stress-busters put here to help us navigate these emotional rollercoasters with grace!

**We’ve listed our selections for each Cancer placement, but these products truly are for everyone. Curious about what Cancer rules in your chart? You can do you birth chart HERE for free.

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1// Sun in Cancer: Moon Juice Beauty ShroomTM Plumping Jelly Serum, $58 for 30ml. Getting all up in your feelings is literally on-brand for you sensitive crabs, and nowhere are you more at home and comfier than in the watery, sometimes tear-stained depths of emotional exchange. But you’d be damned to let all this release wreak havoc on your famously glowing, youthful skin though. This adaptogenic serum infused with reishi mushroom—a.k.a. the “mushroom of immortality,” plumps skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles and locks in hydration, enhancing that supple, juicy, lit-from-within countenance that is your birthright.

Moon Juice “Beauty Shroom” Plumping Jelly Serum

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2//Moon in Cancer: 8 Faces Boundless Solid Oil, $88 for 50ml. Named for the eight phases of the moon and the eight faces of the goddess (and perhaps also the number of your ever-changing moods in, well, an hour), this multipurpose balm melts upon contact—and rescues you from a myriad of skin problems, all in one go. The secret: amla berry, which is at the heart of this uplifting grapefruit-scented oil, is a Vitamin C wunderkind (it’s the second-highest source of Vitamin C on the planet) that not only boosts collagen; it also fights free radicals and gives you that moonlit glow that can only be credited to a chic, intuitive knowledge of both self and self-care.

8 Faces Boundless Solid Oil

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3// Ascendant in Cancer: Linné Botanicals Refresh Face Mist, $36 for 120ml. In Wiccan practice, yarrow root corresponds to the sign of Cancer and is considered an herb for healing, power, and protection. One of the oldest medicinal herbs, it was used to help soothe you and aid digestion—albeit perfect for the Cancer Rising, who enter the world gut-first, and whose feelings show on their faces clear as day, for better or worse! As one of the top ingredients in this delightfully chill face mist, it helps reduce inflammation, balances circulation, and acts as an antiseptic agent for a calmed-down complexion, while promoting overall elasticity and oxygenation.

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4// Mercury in Cancer: Snow Fox Skin Care Day & Night Defense Cream, $55 for 50ml. Discussing the wide, colorful spectrum of human emotion with your fave people might be your version of the perfect day, but all that verbal energy can get exhausting—even for deft wordsmiths like you. A lightweight, day-to-night organic cream keeps up with your nimble, agile lifestyle, while Siberian ginseng, known to combat fatigue, reduce lethargy and increase resilience gives your skin that literal snap-back every time your day gets just a tad too stretched out. Bonus: It’s infused with peppermint oil extract, which not only has natural antiseptic and antimicrobial benefits, but also acts as a zingy pick-me-up.

Snow Fox Skin Care Day & Night Defense Cream

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5// Venus in Cancer: Pangea Organics Facial Mask – Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai Goji Berry, $50 for 4oz. Venus in Cancer placements have the science of cozy down pat; they’re masters of simple yet luxurious rituals, and find no shame in their self-care game. They’ve elevated nurturing to an art form, and know what they need to feel beautiful, inside and out. A facial mask chock-full of antioxidants like organic goji berries, which is touted as the Chinese “longevity fruit,” together with well-known anti-agers and skin detoxifiers and nourishers like matcha tea and seaweed, basically make this a reverse time machine for your face, and absolutely perfect for that Sunday night in.

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6// Mars in Cancer: Farmaesthetics Cool Aloe Mist, $26. Passionate, hot-hearted Mars in Cancer folks can benefit from an aloe vera cool down, once in a blue moon. Not just made for that nasty après-sun tingle, aloe vera increases the diffusion of oxygen in the blood, which relieves stress, balances circulation and alleviates symptoms of cardiovascular disease. This aloe-infused mist, trendy amongst the fitness set as well as those undergoing hormonal changes like hot flashes, has ingredients purported to activate the body’s immune system and fight free radicals too. Bonus: it also has lavender to calm you down, because feelings!

Farmaesthetics Cool Aloe Mist

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7// Jupiter in Cancer: Eminence Organics Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel, $79 for 50ml. A refined approach to abundance is your trademark; you get what you give, which is great, since you’re generous to a fault. A product that’s virtually an organic spa-on-the-go (complete with a cotton pad–dispensed formula for TSA-friendly traveling), it has super ingredients like the adaptogenic licorice root, which is a potent anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-oxidant. Most notably, it boasts of a natural hydroquinone alternative, for those jubilant expectant mamas who still want to maintain a bright, even complexion, without the risks associated with facial bleaching while with bun in oven.

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8// Saturn in Cancer: Moon Juice Sex Dust, $38, and Luna Nectar Moon Boost Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum, $75. All the emotional intensity in the air might can have you coming to terms with some deep-seated anxieties concerning safety and security. Feeling like you’re on your lonesome ownsome in the midst of a crowded room can also come over you like a crashing wave. Don’t fret: A quality cocktail of adaptogens meant for a passion, energy, libido and antioxidant boost, courtesy of shilajit, shatavari, maca root and schisandra berry, helps awaken that inner sex-positive goddess and gets those juices flowing, creatively and otherwise. And because you’re always low-key #extra, add this to that overnighter: an all-natural lash-lengthening serum, named after the seductive, unpredictable ruler of the season, meant to give you all-out flutter appeal.

Luna Nectar Moon Boost Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum

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9// Uranus in Cancer: Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, $80 for 35ml. Although in touch with your emotional center, you’re not one to succumb to unnecessary drama; in fact, you have a knack for alchemizing all you encounter into a philosophical lesson for the better, and are gifted in finding solutions beneficial for all parties. Targeted towards oily skin, this buzzworthy oil contains the super-detoxifier milk thistle, which as an adaptogen, pulls no punches in removing bullshit from our livers. On the face, this has the benefit of nourishing and smoothing skin, and together with a tempered-down salicylic acid (courtesy of cucumber seed oil) and licorice, you’re left with a brighter appearance, minimized scars with no greasy afterfeel—all in all offering a clean break, shall we say, which is just how you like it.

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil

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10// Neptune in Cancer: Red Flower Lymphatic Phytopower Sea Cleanser & Masque, $42. Highly empathic and tied to family or to those who you’ve established a heart connection with, you cherish emotional discourse and “heal through feel”—so much so that having the wool pulled over your eyes can indeed manifest like a searing betrayal. A healthy habit of setting boundaries is crucial to your mental well-being. Picking up a cleanser packed with immunity-boosting mushrooms, like chaga, reishi and maitake, helps deflect those negative energies, which can insidiously begin skin deep. These fun fungi also reduce puffiness and detox from harmful and excess fluid, leaving you with nothing but the good stuff: skin health, bouncy moisture and a sexy, profound, newly optimistic radiance.

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11// Pluto in Cancer: Cocovit Charcoal Face Mask, $38. Feeling a bit more possessive than usual? ’Tis the season that those triggers get activated, especially when it involves your nearest and dearest … and woe to those that dare poach around your territory. Fiercely protective and caring towards family and loved ones, the challenge lies in developing a healthy sense of balance and learning to love and protect yourself first, so that confidence radiates outward at a steadier pace. A mask bursting with goodies like skin-shielding neem powder, anti-inflammatory (and liver-protective) turmeric and balancing and anti-aging ginseng, helps you see the benefits of evening out the highs and lows.

Cocovit Charcoal Face Mask

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12// Chiron in Cancer: Bioelements Crucial Moisture Emollient Crème Moisturizer, $36.50, 2.5oz. Cancer season can amplify any abandonment or intimacy issues lurking beneath the surface, as well as making you refuse to let people in and even affect a general defensiveness. Embrace those fears and insecurities without judgment, and be your own mother by giving yourself the nurturing you deserve before anyone else—you can’t draw from an empty well! A rich, emollient, indulgent, pro-grade cream is an everyday treat you so deserve. Best yet? The stress-fighting effects of its powerhouse ingredients, which include panax ginseng (stress reduction, relaxation), gotu kola (connection, wound healing) and dong quai (hormonal balance), even at skin level, are all completely on your side.

ARE BODY VIBES STICKERS THE NEW CRYSTALS?

Forget your middle-school collection of holograms. Body Vibes are grown-up, Now Age magic stickers designed to change your frequency for optimal health …

Body Vibes Sacred Six “Energy” stickers

What if you could tap into the mind/body connection with just one touch? 

When we first heard about the new sticker collection from Body Vibes, we could not have been more intrigued. The stickers have been designed to invite more self-love, soothe anxiety, or up your creative game. All you need to do is apply one of their super sexy stickers, emblazoned with unicorns, mermaids, third eyes, and more.

And then just let the sub-harmonic signals do the rest …

Wait … WTF?! 

Uh yeah, we needed to get the full low down on how these babies work, too! So here’s what we learned when we sat down to chat with the babes behind Body Vibes …

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Science meets magic: Because you’re electric, baby 
Just like all of nature, every part of our bodies exists in a state of vibration. When we’re healthy, the body broadcasts overall harmonic health. But when an unhealthy frequency sets up shop in our body, it creates a disharmony we call “disease.”

Similar to crystal healing and Reiki, Body Vibes “Sacred Six” Smart Stickers are designed to bring us back into optimal frequency, based on the basic belief that we are electrical and energetic beings, and that it’s possible to move blocked energy.

How? The stickers have been programmed by scientists with actual frequency signatures taken from organic and living botanicals in a form that our body’s own electricity can read and mimic.

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The actual science part
Bio engineers capture frequencies found in nature. These are then condensed into the same unit of frequency found in the human body, and imprinted into special Mylar material that can hold an energetic flux for two years.

Each sticker is then embedded with up to 33 distinctive vibration patterns, including one of the “Solfeggio” frequencies. With roots in the Gregorian chants of the early Middle Ages, Solfeggio frequencies come from the pure tonal notes that made up the ancient musical scale, and are said to have harmonizing effects on the body as they unite us with Divine.

Oh yeah … science + magic= energetic nutrition for your cells

The Sacred Six “Beauty” Sticker

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The back story
Body Vibes founder Leslie Kritzer was first introduced to the technology when her husband’s naturopathic doctor gave him a bio-energy disc to help manage his arthritic pain. After his pain was dramatically reduced with no apparent side effects, she immediately started to utilize them to manage her own chronic anxiety.

After a month, she became aware of the little things—less road rage, more patience, more relaxation and ease. The big “aha” moment came when she decided to quit for a few days. By day 3 of sticker-free life, she was feeling much more anxious again and able to identify her “OCD” thinking in a brand new way.

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How do I tell if they’re working for me? 
Since all of our bodies are different, the technology can affect everyone differently. For example, the more energizing blends may leave you feeling immediately stimulated, while others may not notice the change until after they remove their sticker and realize how productive and energetic they felt. The same goes for the calming frequencies—the effect for most people is immediate and for others, becomes apparent after the sticker has been removed.

*Read Numinous Founder Ruby’s Body Vibes verdict at the end of the post!

The Sacred Six At the Beach Sticker

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The Sacred Six: Stick to how you want to feel  
Leslie and her partner Madison DeClercq (who also own hip LA skincare line Skin Worship) designed the different Body Vibes stickers based on the chakra system.

Each of our chakras vibrates at a different frequency—from the lowest, deepest, slowest at the root to the highest and fastest at the crown.

So, how do you want to feel? Pick it and stick it! 

Less Anxious (Root Chakra): Stick this lightening-bolt-emblazoned Anti-Anxiety hummingbird on to liberate guilt and fear, and reduce feelings of nervousness.

Empowered (Sacral Chakra): Create lasting change with the endurance and empowerment of the open-palmed Energy sticker

Loved (Solar Plexus Chakra): Transform your self-care practice and summon miracles with this gilded heart Self-Love sticker.

Connected to others (Heart Chakra): Heal conflict and harmonize relationships with a lounging mermaid At the Beach blend.

Focused (Throat Chakra): A golden pyramid and third eye imprint on the Focus sticker increase productivity, and enhances expression, creativity, and problem-solving.

Gorgeous (Third Eye): Unicorn power restores spiritual order, and reflects light, beauty, peace, and strength in the Beauty sticker.

 

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MY WEEK GETTING HIGH ON (BODY) VIBES by Ruby Warrington

Obviously, we had to put Body Vibes stickers to the test—and so I decided to wear a different one for each day this week. Read on for the verdict!

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell for A Wild Dove

MONDAY
Mondays have been coming around WAY too fast lately (anybody??) and I kind of wanna carry on the weekend vibes, so I go straight for the new Flower Power stickers—designed to promote “relaxation, coping skills, and muscle relaxation” (and emblazoned with a cannabis leaf). My afternoon is pretty chill, and that evening I find myself giggling all the way thought Mindhunter. Huh? I also have to eat an extra piece of avo toast before bed. #Munchies?!

TUESDAY
A busy day of meetings means time to up the ante with the Energy sticker. Notably, my usual afternoon dip doesn’t happen and I’m able to stay super chatty and … energized … for two back-to-back podcast interviews. That night I wake at 4.30am and can’t go back to sleep, and find myself peeling the sticker off in an attempt to stop my mind whirring with tomorrow’s to-do list.

WEDNESDAY
A bad night’s sleep is not gonna help me ace the first promo push for our New Year, Nu You retreat, followed by a 2-hour in-depth business call, another podcast interview, and cooking dinner for a friend this eve. What I need is some Focus! I slap the sticker featuring a pyramid with an evil eye right above my heart. WOW. Not only do I power through all the above, I also create a super-detailed 20-story IG promo for the retreat, and manage to fit in a yoga session before dinner. That night … I wake up, mind racing, at 3.30am! I feel like I spent the day downing espresso.

THURSDAY
Chatting with Numinous assistant editor Bess about our Body Vibes post, she tells me that the “strong coffee” effect is apparently a common way some of the stickers are described—and on the pack, “sensitive types” ARE advised to wear the stickers further away from the heart. That must be me. Feeling exhausted from two nights with no sleep, I opt for the Anti-Anxiety sticker today. Perfect for back-to-back meetings with three of my favorite women. I find myself focusing 100% on enjoying the moment with them, and barely thinking about the emails I know are stacking up in my inbox.

FRIDAY
I still didn’t sleep great last night, and woke up with a stiff neck—so it’s back to Flower Power for me (which I place on my left shoulder right where it hurts). It is Friday, after all!

THE VERDICT
Some of it could be psychosomatic, sure, but I have definitely noticed subtle shifts in my energy using the stickers this week. And that word is always key when it comes to energy work: subtle. We live in a world of such sensory overload, it can be hard to hear the gentle messages we’re receiving from our energetic body day-in-day-out, and it’s like wearing these stickers helped remind me to tune in. Plus the energy surge I felt using the Focus was undeniable! I’ll definitely be using them again …

Discover more about Body Vibes stickers and shop the collection at Shopbodyvibes.com

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***How to stick ’em 
Place the stickers on the left side of your chest, close to your heart—or on the left side of your arm, back, or shoulder. For those who are more sensitive to changes in their homeostasis, place on the lower inner arm above the wrist, or on the right side

And for magic multiplied, you can also create your own “cocktail” with more than just one. The Third Eye and Solar Plexus stickers are particularly good for adding an additional positive well-being frequency to any other vibe.

*Please be advised that once the sticker is removed, it loses its adhesive property and a new one will need to be used. 

HOW TO DEAL WHEN YOU GET YOUR DREAM JOB … AND YOU HATE IT

What do you do when your “dream job” turns out to be a nightmare? Jamie Graber tells Ruby Warrington how she finally realized it was okay to just walk away …

When Jamie Graber launched Gingersnaps Organic, the NYC restaurant and juice bar that became a favorite of raw foodies, celebrities and media alike, it felt like her dharma. Born and raised in NY, she felt it was working for Rawvolution on the West Coast that had helped her heal from a collage eating disorder, and finally develop a healthy relationship with food. Now she was helping others learn about the healing joy of food, too.

As a venue for regular high-vibe events (like Jamie’s weekly salons on the teachings from A Course in Miracles), her business also became a place to curate a community of like-minded seekers, while a move to a chichi West Village location in 2015 sent the signal that business was booming. A book, Juice It, Blend It, Live It, published later that year, cemented Jamie’s position as a leading figurehead of New York’s healthy eating scene.

So when she made the snap decision to shut up shop this summer, friends and industry figures alike were left reeling. What business disaster or personal tragedy could be behind her sudden move?

In reality, it had been a long time coming—even if Jamie herself didn’t see it. On the surface, she had built a life and a career that looked like a dream come true. Behind the scenes however, the relentless daily grind of managing a restaurant business had left her strung out, back in her eating disorder, and feeling like a prisoner in her own life. And yet, “I never even entertained the idea that I could just walk away.”

Sitting down to chat about her transition to a full-time coaching business this fall, she told me how: “part of the problem was that Gingersnaps had become my identity. Closing it would mean starting over, on every level.” Because where do you go, when the career you thought was everything you wanted, turns out to be the opposite?

Outside Gingersnaps West Village location

I found myself asking this question before I left my “dream job” on the Sunday Times Style magazine in the UK. And I’ve also found myself asking it since creating The Numinous, at times when my passion project has begun to feel more like a ball and chain. My point being that co-creating (with the Universe) a career that truly lights you up is a constant work in progress. Not to mention a privilege that deserves your full commitment.

As our own lives and needs shift, so will the work we find inspiring. And as we grow and develop as individuals, so will what we have to offer. When it comes to our profession, this will likely require multiple course-corrections as we seek to stay true to our path—even if it means “giving up” things we feel we’ve worked so hard for.

For anybody facing a similar career-crisis, Jamie’s story brings up several key areas for some honest self-enquiry. Read on if you’re ready to quit hitting snooze on living the life of your dreams—you owe it to yourself and those you seek to serve …

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QUESTION: DOES MY WORK MAKE ME FEEL POWERFUL?
“Looking back, I can see how I created a business where I wasn’t feeling powerful, because I didn’t actually want to be making food. Could I make the food? Absolutely. But I am not a chef. I’m amazing at tonics, I’m amazing at smoothies. But what people wanted to order at my restaurant was not necessarily that. What Gingersnaps was known for was not really what I wanted to be doing.”

QUESTION: IS WORK STRESS HAVING A KNOCK-ON EFFECT ON MY HEALTH?
“And then the eating stuff came back. In 2016 I had a book out, and it was all juices and smoothies. Writing it meant I gave myself the excuse to go on all liquids, because I had to recipe test. That summer, that is all I had. I probably lost 20 lbs. Eating disorders are all about control, and I felt completely out of control at Gingersnaps. So I chose to control my diet instead.”

QUESTION: WHO IS YOUR ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING’?
“I met my coach, Lacy Phillips from Free and Native, at a lecture. She wasn’t all sparkles. She talked a little bit about the darkness, and I liked that. In our first session, she asked me, ‘Who is your seeing is believing?’ And I told her ‘No-one.’ She asked again, ‘So you don’t see anyone doing what you’re doing that you can aspire to be like? Amanda from Moon Juice? Marcus from Juice Press?’ Again, I told her, ‘No.’ I realized that what I was doing did not exist as my dream job.”

QUESTION: WHAT IS IT THAT TRULY LIGHTS ME UP?
“So I wrote a list. What is it that lights me up? What is it that makes me happy? And then I wrote another list of the things I was doing every day. And it became very, very clear to me, that these were two completely different lists. That even in my best-case scenario, even on my very best days at Gingersnaps, this was still was not it. When Lacy asked me, ‘so what if Gingersnaps is not it?’ I realized for the first time I could actually just walk away. It felt like a 50lb weight had been lifted from my chest.”

QUESTION: WHAT IF IT WASN’T ABOUT THE MONEY?
“When I told my landlord, he offered me a 50 per cent rent reduction for six months. For a restaurant in New York’s West Village, that is a substantial amount of money! I could have taken this as a sign to stay, but actually it meant nothing to me, because it wasn’t about the money. I realized I wasn’t doing it for the money—and that wasn’t even important to me. It was when it became a really solid no.”

QUESTION: ARE YOU IN IT FOR YOUR EGO?
“Part of the problem was, Gingersnaps had become my identity. Lots of celebrities were doing our cleanses, and as the owner of Gingersnaps I got invited to everything, you know? I was going to have to deal with the fact that I would have to start over, in a sense. I had to really wrap my head around the idea that I no longer had an answer to, ‘so, what do you do?’”

QUESTION: WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT MY CURRENT JOB?
“One thing I did enjoy on list of daily tasks, was talking to the customers. It would wind up coaching them, and I loved seeing the change I could have on people. That I could get them to see things differently. Ironically, food was rarely part of those conversations. I think what I really wanted was a community, and a learning space. After all, I was a philosophy major at college. Clearly, this was where I was supposed to be going.”

QUESTION: WHAT WORK DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK TO ME?
“I actually have a lot of guilt now, because the work I do doesn’t feel like work. We live in this paradigm where work and play are separate, which reinforces the subconscious belief that we’re not supposed to ‘enjoy’ our work. My husband reminds me that the fact my work no longer feels like work is because I’ve finally aligned with what I’m supposed to be doing. And I think that’s so important. Really recognizing that our work can absolutely be something we truly love to do.”

A Certified Reiki Healer, Certified Yoga instructor, Gabrielle Bernstein Spirit Junkie Coach and Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) graduate, Jamie now works with clients on a one-to-one basis. Discover more about her and her work at Organicallyjamie.com.

SPIRITUAL SHROOMING: MY UNLIKELY AWAKENING

Strung out on repressed feelings, a health crisis and mental break became an unexpected awakening for Meg Hartley, care of some spiritual shrooming…

“During my four-day break with the mundane, I connected to a bigger part of myself, which also happened to feel like an infinitely more stable part of myself”—Meg Hartley 

When I was 19, I wasn’t in a good place. I had lost my mother to suicide four years prior, and my once-successful “smashing down” of feelings had relentlessly resurfaced into every part of my consciousness.

I usually avoided the pain by staying busy all day, then intoxicated into the evening via copious amounts of marijuana or whatever else was floating around the dorms: ‘shrooms, ecstasy, and lots and lots of cheap alcohol.

But late at night, when I’d try my hardest to sleep and fail miserably, I couldn’t hide from the pain. I had taken to scratching at my skin until it bled because it hurt less than the storm that wailed inside. It was like there was so much unprocessed pain my mind didn’t know where to start. Agonizing thoughts just whipped around in my head, out of control and going nowhere.

I’d soon learn about meditation and mindfulness, which gave me a life raft to embrace during these times. But before then, I’d go home to Alaska for summer break and have a four-day experience a psychologist called a “mental break” and a philosophy teacher called “a preview to awakening.”

But to me, it simply felt like a very long dream that showed me true happiness was a real possibility … even for me, which seemed impossible at the time. This set the scene for my subsequent spiritual exploration and gave me a reason to commit to my emotional healing.

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The year was 2002. My first year of philosophy classes in college had finally given form and texture to vague spiritual ideas I’d always had intuitive knowings about. The ideas that this life is an illusion, that humanity is currently experiencing a shift in consciousness, and that we’re each here to learn specific things, were presented by different religions and philosophers from all over the world.

This deja vu sense of remembering (that my teacher said was normal, but which sure felt like magic to me!) combined with all the partying left me ungrounded, spacey, and generally disinterested in “mundane” everyday life. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I also had a B12 deficiency that was hitting mental health symptom levels. In addition to this, there was a cyst growing on my pineal gland, which is known to augment spiritual experiences.

And so, not yet privy to the drawbacks of being ungrounded, and unaware of this explosive combination brewing in my brain, I celebrated my return home by eating yet more ‘shrooms with a dear friend.

The experience of taking psilocybin is different for everyone, but in my experimental days it was something that I regarded with reverence––like a really fun church. During every trip, the idea of “God” or a benevolent bigger something, seemed obvious and present to me. There was silliness and hilarity, but also times where I would leave my friends to go sit with my favorite tree for hours, my head filled with streaming thoughts that were ontological in nature- the answers to all of life’s big questions, more ideas I’d later study in ancient texts.

And this time, for four days after the mushroom trip ought to have ended, my thoughts remained consistently in the ontological realm––a far cry from my daily headscape at the time, which was mostly centered around losing my v-card and being “too fat.” 

In stark contrast, everything I encountered had meaning on top of meaning, and life felt so beautiful that I cried happy tears. From the inside, the experience felt like a blissful and meditative state where therapeutic dreams met real life. Colors became more vibrant as I released dark twisted pains from deep within like a long and satisfying belch.

Meg with a handmade lithograph about her experience

Of course, it’s not “normal” to weep from joy at the sight of a mountain that’s there every damn day, or to stare at everyday items babbling about “the language of the Universe” and “signs.”

Everyone in my world thought I had lost my marbles. When I finally noticed this reaction in others, I very suddenly snapped out of it, shocked at their concern and upset about making an ass of myself. That clouded my vision of the experience, as social acceptance was the form of surrender I was most familiar with at the time. But I now look back on it as being as helpful as it was hugely bizarre: the juice was totally worth the squeeze (it can be freeing sometimes to have people think you’re a little nuts, anyhoo!) 

I was immediately changed, and the depression didn’t return for many years (not until my B12 levels hit a fantastic new low and a whole new set of challenges revealed themselves). It was like I had been dusted from the inside out, I felt clear and centered in a way that I had never experienced. I carried on with the drug experimentation for a couple more years and nothing like that happened again- something that brought both great relief and a fleeting sense of disappointment.

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During my four-day break with the mundane, I connected to a bigger part of myself, which also happened to feel like an infinitely more stable part of myself.

And that connection––and many times just the memory of that connection—brought a cherished light into the darkest nights of my soul. It also provided the motivation for my subsequent spiritual and emotional journeys: remembering that mental landscape, and knowing that if I stayed on the spiritual path then that sense of peace and connectedness would eventually feel like home.

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Meg Hartley is an Alaskan artist and writer happily replanted in wonderfully weird Portland, Oregon. She loves really great trees, cashew ice “cream”, mysticism, and is totally obsessed with mindfulness. Her new book is called How I Lost All My Fucksa one-month experience that will have you losing all yours! Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  

EMBODY YOUR POWER: A MESSAGE FOR AMERICA

Welcome to a collective wake-up call for us to embody true power. As the dust begins to settle on the 2016 presidential election, Molly Burkett has a message for America…Portrait: Najva Sol 

 

Election night I’ll admit, I checked the coverage with feigned interest. As the daughter of a Marxist and a Neo-Pagan, I’ve grown up removed from any type of rousing faith in our political system. Beyond what Bernie represented. When he spoke in Washington Square Park in New York, I cried. (And I’ve never been moved to tears by a man in a suit, with the exception of Don Draper).

Nonetheless, of course I assumed Hilary would win, and that would be that. I went to sleep.

I was shocked, along with the rest of you, to wake up and see how things had unfolded. The following essay immediately began coming through. So I started typing, and I share it with you here to offer comfort in this time of grief, confusion, and fear, and to offer my perspective to the question we’re all asking: “Is this a joke?”

:: A MESSAGE FOR AMERICA ::

The process of spiritual awakening, often referred to as “healing,” is actually a great clearing—as all that is NOT love is released from the body. This is cathartic yet painful, like venom being drawn from a snake bite. All your fear and selfishness is often revealed to you in dramatic ways. Emotional trauma held in cellular memory begins to come up to be dissolved. Painful personal histories flash before your eyes like it happened yesterday. Anxiety, panic, anger, inflammation and PTSD-like symptoms are common as part of this process.

Sensitivity grows both psychically and physically. You are more attuned to the needs, feelings and wants of others, because you are coming to the realization that you are not separate, that serving them serves you. You also become less numb to the effects of toxins in food, drink, conversations, movies and TV, and are forced to update your lifestyle accordingly. The catalyst for awakening as individuals is often a great tragedy or sudden injury that humbles us and forces us to reevaluate our lives and commit to making changes. No wonder we call it a “wake-up call.” I believe Trump is a collective wake-up call for us to change our ways as a nation.

Deepak Chopra says Donald Trump is an example of someone who holds so much trauma within him it has kept him infantilized, forever remaining in the lower chakras: reactive, survival-based, and deeply, deeply afraid. He rests in narcissism, never evolving to the higher consciousness where compassion is awakened and our interdependence is felt, known, and acted upon. It is from this injured place of fear and illusion that all violence stems. All violence towards others is ultimately a form of self-hatred and self-destruction, an attempt to mend a hurt in a way that regrettably, only causes more pain for ourselves.

So where do we go from here? I see a pathway.

Trump is a wounded child with a loaded gun. He will mirror to us in America our own wounds: our fears, our hatreds, our prejudices. His presence will draw out the darkest elements of the American collective being, and force us to bear witness to the ways we too have justified violent behavior, violent speech or violent thoughts in our lives.

Micro-violence in the form of gossip, complaining, judging, assuming, insulting and demeaning each other are among the seeds of large-scale violence in the form of systemic racism, misogyny and sexual assault, and abuse of natural resources. There will be a proliferation of this violence and it will be painful. There will be more terrible, vitriolic hate speech. There will be lives sacrificed. But there will also be redemption. There will be resistance, and activism. For women, for minorities, for immigrants, for the LGBTQ community, for the rights of all people to live a healthy and happy life. For nature, to heal and to be honored and ultimately be recognized as the source of all life and healing.

I believe in the power and potential of the American people, starting with you. I suggest you use this as an opportunity to embody the character traits that you wish you were seeing in the American president. What is your image of power that is also power for the people, and power for Mother Nature? What is your image of a divine protector or a sacred warrior who will protect our food, our water, our children, and lead us all to greater cooperation and peace?

Practice all the qualities of a great leader today in your own life. Envision good triumphing over evil. Do not embrace defeat. Love does not necessarily prevail in the space and time and the form that you expect, want or understand, but it does indeed prevail. Love is the first and the last word. This is the trajectory we are on, our shared destiny, and it cannot be un-written.

Witness the horror and shock of this moment from a place of deep knowing within yourself. Keep yourself attuned to the fundamental truth that beyond the dramas of the past and projections of the future, all is well now. The sun rose today and it will set this evening. The air gives us oxygen, and with every exhale we encourage the flowers to bloom.

3 ALCOHOL-FREE WAYS FOR COPING WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY

How Victoria Cox switched from Dutch Courage to Divine Courage, and learned to say “cheers” to social anxiety… Artwork: Nahu Marín Luriaud

It’s 7pm on a Saturday night in NYC and I’m getting ready to hit the town for a charity event a friend is hosting. Keeping me company as I slather on the make-up is my obligatory glass of chilled white wine.

“Just to take the edge off,” I tell myself. Give me a quick buzz so that I arrive relaxed and confident. I don’t know many people at the party and this fact alone is revving up my anxiety levels. I’ll just be completely honest and admit that on occasion I struggle with social anxiety, especially when I’m with large groups of strangers. Likely a leftover from my childhood, when I used to be crippled with an extreme case of the shy’s.

Thankfully, I left that mortifyingly awkward stage behind me as I grew into adulthood, but on occasion, my inner shy girl pops up from the deepest recesses of my subconscious to say hello. She usually makes an appearance at large social gatherings and she’s guaranteed to show up as my plus-one at networking events. Those are her favorite.

She especially enjoys it when I walk into a party, look around and realize I’m engulfed in a sea of strangers. “Look,” she whispers conspiratorially in my ear. “You don’t know anyone here, why don’t you just leave?” When I do eventually strike up a conversation with someone she’ll pipe up incessantly; “This person is bored by you. You have nothing interesting to say. This is so awkward. Just go home.”

Sometimes she gets her way and sometimes she doesn’t. But over the years, I’ve grown sick of the bitches sneaky antics, and so I figured out a way to make sure she stays her ass home. Alcohol. That intoxicating social lubricant. She hates it – one glass and I’m already dancing out the door. Two glasses and I can approach a group of strangers. Three glasses and I’m on the dance floor with said strangers, a.k.a my new best friends. Four glasses and… let’s not go there.

I’ve been feeling pretty smug about my secret weapon for many years and it’s got me through some skin-crawlingly awkward networking events that I’ve gladly suffered the hangover for.

But in recent years, as I’ve begun to focus on getting to know myself on a deeper level, I’ve begun to question my secret weapon. Is it really a weapon – or simply a crutch? Could I cope at one of these events if I didn’t drink beforehand? What was it saying about me that I could only be my “best self” when I numbed my senses with alcohol? Why did I feel I couldn’t just be me, weird social ticks and all?

These questions reverberated around my head for many months yet I had no answers. All I knew was that I had two options. Choose to keep on applying the social lubricant or get to the bottom of the matter once and for all.

I chose the latter.

And so, I began an experiment. I decided to switch from “Dutch Courage” to “Divine Courage,” and see what I could learn about myself in the process. Here’s what’s in my tool-box…

:: BREATHWORK ::
Being a long-time yoga devotee I was already familiar with the breathwork known as “pranayama.” And, one form of this is called Alternative Nostril Breathing – where you do just that. Breathe out of one nostril for a set period of time, then switch. Sounds odd but what this actually does is soothe the nervous system and equalize the hemispheres of the brain. Fancy talk for saying, “It chills you the F out.”

This practice had always worked a charm at calming down my over-excitable brain so I added it to my toolbox. But I needed more. Breath-work alone wasn’t likely to be enough to stop me running back into the arms of a perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio.

:: VISUALIZATION ::
This is where visualization meditation came in. It’s no secret that visualization can be incredibly powerful – even professional athletes are known for using it to get “in the zone” before a game. Basically, the aim is to try to see your desired outcome before it happens. So, before heading out to a social engagement these days, I sit quietly and visualize myself at the party, acting confidently, laughing, having fun, meeting new people and generally enjoying myself.

More often than not, what I visualize, or a version thereof usually comes to pass. Even on those occasions where things didn’t quite go as planned, I found I was in a much more centered space which helped me to relax and connect with people a little easier.

:: MANTRA ::
My toolbox was coming together but I needed to add one more thing. A mantra. Whilst mantras are typically used during meditation they can also be used throughout the day as a method to turn a negative thought pattern into a positive one.

Mantras can be incredibly powerful to soothe anxiety or just to give the mind something positive to focus on, thus avoiding a leap down the rabbit hole of fear and worry. My personal mantra differed for each occasion, but phrases such as “I am relaxed and confident” or “I am enjoying meeting new people” were especially helpful when I just wanted to run away and hide in the bathroom.

***

Its been a few months since I began my experiment and already I’ve been noticing some improvements. While I will probably always experience an involuntary shudder at the word “networking” I no longer feel that I simply must have a drink beforehand to get through it.

Whilst my pre-party drink routine enabled me to come across as lively and fun, in actual fact I was only showing people what I thought they wanted to see, lending an air of superficiality to my encounters. The real me might not be the life of the party but it is authentic – and more often than not I’ve noticed people can sense the difference leading to a more genuine connection.

Although I’ll probably never eradicate my inner shy girl completely, she no longer accompanies me to every social event. At the end of the day I’m only human and she’ll probably make an appearance now and again but I no longer feel the need to chase her away with gulps of wine. As a result, she doesn’t hold the same power over me.

I’ll also admit that wine and I will likely never end our love affair completely, but I no longer need it in the same way I used to. Alcohol has transitioned into something I enjoy on occasion rather than a can’t-cope-without.

My experiment has gifted me the knowledge that my social anxiety toolkit is available at any time; which in turn has emboldened me with a burgeoning self-confidence. I feel that I’m now able to face an intense social situation without desperately seeking an exit route, and surely that’s something worth raising a glass to.

MODERN FAMILY: A HIGH-VIBE HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE

In her holiday survival guide, Erin Telford has some tips for staying zen when you’re home with the fam… Images: Ofir Abe via Behance.net

 

“If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.” – Ram Dass

Nothing is truer than this statement, since THIS is the real spiritual work. Take it off the mat, take it out of the personal development book, take it off the cushion – family time means time to walk the talk.

If you are mentally steeling yourself for holiday family time this year, know that you are not alone. We always revert to children when we go home, no matter our actual age. And this inner child will always re-experience the same unmet needs for attention, affection, allowing, acceptance or appreciation.

This inner child may even be coming into a family gathering with an expectation of feeling old hurt. This child may unconsciously be watching and waiting for familiar signs that he or she is inadequate, unwanted, or less than.

And if these wounds haven’t been addressed and healed, even if there isn’t an overtly toxic situation to navigate there will always be people present that push these buttons.

The trigger might be a casual remark about your job or relationship status, your parenting style or appearance. The deeper the wound, the more power these off hand comments can have to throw you off your game, creating a spiral of anger and insecurity. Happy holidays!

And we’re talking deep, subconscious stuff, the kind of stuff it’s hard to see coming. One minute you’re “fine,” the next, an insecure little girl who wants to lash out teenage rebel style – or else go hide in her room.

With this in mine, here are a few tips to keep in your back pocket while you navigate…

:: EVERYONE IS FEELING IT ::
And truly doing his or her best (even if it doesn’t look anything like it from where you’re standing).

What if everybody was overtired, over sugared, feeling small, feeling ugly, feeling overweight, feeling anxious, feeling insecure, nursing old wounds, hurt by something that was just said to THEM, grieving, feeling lonely, feeling sick, trying to stay sober.

There are any number of reasons that people don’t act the way we wish they would, especially when our usual routines and coping mechanisms are taken away. They are trying with everything they have just as you are.

:: FORGIVE YOURSELF FIRST ::
If you lose it, if you feel petty, if your buttons get pushed, if you respond exactly the way you didn’t want to, if you fall into old unhealthy patterns of relating, if you get sucked in…you are ALSO doing your best. Here is my prayer for you: A Prayer to Release Your Burdens

I forgive myself.

I will no longer be held hostage in my own mind.

I will no longer replay events and wonder if I could have/should have/would have done more/been more.

I did all I could do.

I gave it everything I had.

I acted with all of the tools that I have and to the best of my abilities.

My intent was always love.

I forgive myself.

Say this in the bathroom when you sneak off to get away. Say it into your pillow at night.

:: WE CAN’T CONTROL HOW WE FEEL BUT WE CAN CHOOSE HOW WE DEAL ::
You are not a victim. You are an adult who has created a cozy little corner of self-love, proud achievements, acceptance for your authentic self, and emotional stability back home. HOLD ONTO THIS VISION.

If we walk into a situation feeling insecure and anxious, we are already poised to get knocked off our center. No wonder, then, that first obnoxious or critical comment already feels like the famous Last Straw.

It’s important to remember that what’s been said is magnified by the open wound we’re already re-experiencing. It’s like the salt jar accidentally fell in. So we can pick up the gauntlet and do battle, we can withdraw, or we can decide to eat/drink our feelings, depending on our personalities.

Or we can pause, we can breathe, we can excuse ourselves, and we can physically shake it off with a jog around the block or a brisk walk. Our call.

:: FOCUS ON GOOD SLEEP, EXERCISE, WHOLE FOODS, MEDITATION, PRAYER :: 
…but since it may not feel that easy to maintain your usual high-vibe routine, you can also ground and own the holiday space with this simple visualization. It will help shift the energy wherever you are to support you and help you feel comfortable:

Imagine a column of golden light in the center of the space you will be in. This column extends from the center of the Earth to the heavens.

Place a golden rose at the top of the column with three words that signal your intention for your experience. These can be words like Stable, Peaceful, Relaxed, Strong, Joyful, Happy.

Imagine writing your name on all of the walls in the space or hanging pictures of you smiling and having fun.

This exercise helps you to set the energy of the space to a vibration that supports your highest good. And I wish you the absolute loveliest holiday season and strength for any challenges that come your way!