HOLY F*CK: IN CONVERSATION WITH DANIEL PINCHBECK

Alexandra Roxo meets radical thought leader Daniel Pinchbeck, to talk spiritual materialism, future planetary solutions, and the rise of the extreme right…

Photo: Alexandra Herstik

Daniel Pinchbeck is a writer, thought leader, speaker, and one of few modern radical voices that come from a grounded, realistic, and holistic perspective. Today we are in dire need of leaders and thinkers who can articulate and envision a path towards union and healing that includes our political, environmental, cultural, AND our spiritual state. Daniel speaks of the whole picture, with a balance of right/left, masculine/feminine, science/art.

His new book How Soon is Now REALLY resonated with feelings I’ve been having for years about the nature of the world we live in, which I have explored in my own writing here on The Numinous and in some of my films. This includes the need to make a shift from focusing on the personal, to focusing on the global. To overcoming spiritual materialism. To escaping hyper-individualism and coming together.

Also, how plants may be aiding in our evolution on multiple levels. How our approach to love and sex is so heavily politically guided and conditioned. The need for rites of passage and the need for ecstatic connections to the cosmos and to each other, through experiences like Burning Man, with psychedelic experiences, and a reconnection to the Earth.

Beyond all this, Daniel’s book reveals to us how we can engage with the planetary shift and initiation that we all know at soul level is in progress, and in doing so be a part of the healing of our planet.

Even better, Daniel is going to be LIVE with us for Moon Club this Sunday Feb 5, which means you can join and ask him questions too! Click here to sign up.

I sat down with him for a little prelude to Sunday’s talk…

ALEXANDRA ROXO: So you’re an author, a TED speaker, a radical thinker, a writer. You wear a lot of hats in terms of your work. What’s the common thread?
DANIEL PINCHBECK: I think that the core of my work is a philosophical quest for the nature of reality.

AR: Word. Was there was a clear point at which this search began?
DP: I had a major spiritual crisis in my mid to late 20’s. I’d been writing for magazines, and it just began to feel very nihilistic. I felt this kind of total emptiness. I also realized ultimately that when people believe conscientiousness is only based in the physical hardware of the brain, then life has no particular meaning. I was like, ‘okay, how can I actually inquire into this?’ I remembered my psychedelic experiences in college as having suggested that there were these other layers of psychic reality that I didn’t really understand.

So I went back to them and went to West Africa, to do Iboga and I went to the Amazon to work with a tribe in Ecuador with ayuasca and so on. These travels informed my first book Breaking Open the Head, and then new questions kept opening up—because these experiences had completely transformed my world view.

AR: The subtitle of How Soon Is Now? is: “From personal initiation to global transformation.” To me it feels like that is what we’re all being called to now, on a micro and a macro level.
DP: I came from a leftist background, and I always had this uneasy feeling about our culture and the direction our society was headed. And then when I looked more into the ecological disaster that we’ve constructed and the amount of poverty and inequality that the system creates, I also saw this whole “new age” spirituality thing, with the meditation and the yoga, as kind of like a trap—because I felt that people were using it as just another distraction, getting so obsessed with their own little healing journeys.

AR: There is definitely the idea of: “I’m entitled to my healing and my enlightenment and I gotta just focus on that.” Healing individually is very necessary too—but how do you see us then finding a way to integrate this into healing the Earth?
DP: It would require for those of us who’ve been on this evolutionary initiation path to reach another level of our capacity to…hold a new frequency, to express it to people who are out of the loop. One thing that really began to upset me overtime was Burning Man. When I first went I was like ‘oh of course, this is the model for this new society. The point is to now bring this out into the world.’ But overtime I saw it become more like another entertainment complex. I saw the people who run Burning Man being really kind of pleased with themselves because all these rich people wanted to hang out with them.

But I think a shift is actually happening, because of this geopolitical emergency that we’ve unleashed. For example, I saw a really good thing on Facebook—this guy wrote that he used to have three different groups of friends that didn’t really integrate very well. One was artists, one was meditators, and the other was activists, and he was, like, thanking Donald Trump because now they’re all in the same group. We’re basically confronting a very, very severe existential emergency with this situation, that I think people are beginning to comprehend in kind of waves.

AR: In the book you use Burning Man as an example to show how if society praises you for good behavior, like cleaning up your own trash for example, and if we praise each other for good behavior, we can start to rewire the conditioning that says it’s somebody else’s responsibility to ‘do the right thing.’
DP: I feel that what Burning Man reveals and why it was such an ‘aha’ moment for me is that our social nature is extremely malleable and changeable, and humans will conform like putty to whatever reward system presents itself. So, say you get laid by becoming a Neo-Nazi and hating on the Jews, a bunch of people will do that. If you have lots of lovers or one lover or whatever you need, as a result of being generous, altruistic, and sharing your gifts open heartedly, you’ll do more of that that.

AR: So how did things tilt so far to the extreme right?
DP: Unfortunately, the extreme right has managed to marshal a lot of collective intelligence by expert use the media system, whereas the progressive community has been much more slow and much less strategic and tactical.

There’s actually been a phenomenon of people on the coasts in LA and New York having greater freedoms, better lives, more opportunities, but we haven’t really taken care to transmit these benefits to the rest of society. And, rightfully in a sense, the rest of society realized they were just being shafted and got extremely angry. I think that theoretically, the more conscious we are of this, we have to bear the blame when things go this wrong.

AR: That’s a tough wake up call for people. If you’re living in light and love all the time, you don’t want to hear “hey, this is your fault, take responsibility, step up to the plate.”
DP: But this awareness is spreading rapidly right now. In a sense, what I am trying to show with the book is that the progressive mystical counter culture hasn’t done a good job of articulating the world that we want to bring into manifestation, beyond our individual process.

For example, let’s take The Beatles at their word: “All you need is love.” But how do you actually create a society centered around altruism and sharing and empathy, what does that look like? In the book I am pretty rigorous looking at this in terms of love and relationships, in terms of monetary systems, even questioning whether private property is good for us. I’m sure many people will disagree with some or many of my conclusions but that’s good. At least we have something to disagree about, which can lead to debate and innovation.

AR: I write about sexual healing quite a bit and you share an anecdote about the community, Tamera, in Portugal, that’s so moving—how a young man’s first lovemaking happens with all the group gathered around the house, celebrating and holding space for him. I cried. There is so much internalized sexual shame in our society. I grew up in Georgia in a very, very Christian space and I was totally shamed from a very young age. When I heard that story, I was able to envision people not “losing” their virginity, but embracing this as a rite of passage—leading to us totally flipping the way that we approach love and sex.
DP: One of the founders of Tamera in Portugal said that sexuality is a superpower that radiates throughout all different facets of society, and we can totally see that with this last election. We saw it with Trump and the grabbing of the pussy, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Roger Ailes who was the Fox News head who was taken down in a big sex scandal, and all of their connection to Jeffrey Epstein, the pedophile…

In a system where sexuality is oppressed, alpha male types seek power and wealth (versus creating a system that spreads wealth evenly) so they can have sexual access, you know? Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, society is more open about sexuality, but it’s actually been reintegrated into a system of domination and control. So it becomes MTV Spring Break or Sex in The City, that type of vibe.

AR: Yes, those pop culture markers reveal that on one level we can “have sex” and “be sexy” but on another level it’s absolutely not okay as a culture to accept our sexual nature. 
DP: Rupert Sheldrake writes about the idea of “morphogenic fields” or “morphic resonance”—that actually, when a small number of a species is able to fully discover or integrate something new it can become generally available to the collective sort of non-locally. So if there’s a small number of communities that have shifted into this different frequency of collective care and responsibility and kind of a truly liberated Eros,  or attitude to love and sexuality, then that could really propagate quite quickly. I mean Neo-Nazism didn’t seem to exist two years ago…and now it’s all over the place. Or look at something like Facebook, and how quickly everybody began using it. Ultimately, I think it’s fully possible that positive shifts towards empathic and responsible social system could also happen rapidly.

Discover more about Daniel and his work at Pinchbeck.io. His new book, How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation, is out February 20 2017.

A SENSORY EXPLORATION OF AQUARIUS SEASON

The future looks bright, with Mojave Rising‘s sensory exploration of Aquarius season…

Aquarius season shoots us straight into the starlite stratosphere as we radically reimagine the tiny landscape far below. The zodiac’s eccentric astronaut invites us to helicopter above our assumptions and to birth entirely new worlds from a bird’s eye perspective. What would it mean to travel so lightly that you develop a deep faith in your own futurism, no matter the shifting weather patterns back down on earth?

Can you open the windows wide on this cosmic mission and let the fresh air buff your sparkling skin until you feel brand new? Can you show yourself in all your idiosyncrasy, and harness this beautiful bizarreness to find other like-minded loonies? Strap on your moon booties and and trust that your survival depends on your capacity to get a little bit crazy. Cuz baby, you were born this way.

The keyword: Electricity.

The song lyrics: “Somehow the wires uncrossed, the tables were turned/Never knew I had such a lesson to learn/I tidied up my point of view/I got a new attitude”—Patti LaBelle, “New Attitude”

Check out our Aquarius season playlist, complete with aural quirks, radical rallying cries, and interstellar explorations.

The color palette: 60s futurism and chic chemistry labs—neon citruses, white vinyl, clear plastic, and platinum.

The style: Ziggy Stardust meets Willy Wonka at Burning Man—stripped down space suits or over-the-top dandy leisure wear, rainbow brite booties, androgynous cuts, and bombastic bohemianism.

Gareth Pugh 2010

The scents and flavors: invigoratingly bright and ingeniously innovative—soapy cilantro, wasabi, starfruit, pop rocks, lickable wallpaper, and edible flowers.

The healing: it’s all about maverick maneuvers and cosmic communities—flashmobs, sober raves, ayahuasca ceremonies, ecstatic breath, and experimental art.

Want more juicy cosmic insights and sensory explorations? Arrange an astrology reading or private event with Mojave Rising here or follow them on Instagram

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Sensuous Invitation of the Month: Retro Futurism. With the out-there Aquarius sun colliding with Venus and Mars in smoking-hot Aries, it’s a month for empowered eccentricity and fantastical futurism. Aquarius season 2017 calls each sign to explore the unknown possibilities that exist at the periphery of our habitual perspectives. Slough off the old, shake up your stars, and prepare to go where you’ve never gone before.

ARIES
Aquarius season invites you to harness your capacity for groundbreaking perspectives to serve more than just yourself. Futuristic Flick: Alien—red-hot leadership, feminine prowess, and courageous muscularity.

TAURUS
Aquarius season invites you to discover a new sense of comfort and stability through mental focus, even as your material world shifts. Futuristic Flick: Barbarella—excessive pleasure, earth girls, and Venusian exploits.

GEMINI
Aquarius season invites you to channel your curious information gathering into a larger life vision. Futuristic Flick: Vegas in Space—strange sights, outer space androgyny, and gender-bending slumber parties.

CANCER
Aquarius season invites you to crank your clam shell open wide and to find belonging in the broader world. Futuristic Flick: Back to the Future—reimagined roots, familial explorations, and the power of love.

LEO
Aquarius season invites you to let your glamorous glow lead others towards their own forms of specialness. Futuristic Flick: The Apple—shameless sparkles, interstellar disco balls, and juicy fruits.

VIRGO
Aquarius season invites you to experiment with the vast range of potentials without having to refine or commit. Futuristic Flick: The Incredible Shrinking Woman—divine detail, fantastical feminism, and behind-the-scenes action.

LIBRA
Aquarius season invites you to express innovative opinions, even when they’re unpopular. Futuristic Flick: Weird Science—idealized aesthetics, radical romanticism, and out-of-this- world heroics.

SCORPIO
Aquarius season invites you to cultivate a loving detachment in relationships that takes your intimate encounters even higher. Futuristic Flick: Ghostbusters—paranormal removal, spook central, and dealing with darkness.

SAGITTARIUS
Aquarius season invites you to race straight into the future as you celebrate all that is unknown. Futuristic Flick: Zardoz—passionate outlands, unbelievable beliefs, and expansive animalism.

CAPRICORN
Aquarius season invites you to challenge tradition and sample structures that can shelter your most radical self. Futuristic Flick: Labyrinth—dangers untold, hardships unnumbered, and the fight for the kingdom.

AQUARIUS
Aquarius season invites you to revel in the full flair of your eccentricity without having to tone down your wackiness one bit. Futuristic Flick: Fire Walk With Me—Lynchian lunacy, unsolvable mystery, and places both wonderful and strange.

PISCES
Aquarius season invites you to open yourself to the entire world of energy without having to feel emotionally drained. Futuristic Flick: The NeverEnding Story—eternal enchantment, the impossible made possible, and the unshakeable belief in a dream.

Want more juicy cosmic insights and sensory explorations? Arrange an astrology reading or private event with Mojave Rising here or follow them on Instagram

HOLY F*CK: HOLDING SPACE FOR MY SHADOW SELF

“Just like our sexual self don’t have much space to roam in this world, neither does our shadow self…” says Alexandra Roxo.

Which is a mask, which is a shadow, and which is my truth?

Last week in my Holy F*ck salon I felt a heaviness as we gathered on the call, and so I asked: “How many of us are in pain today?” To which everyone replied: “Me.” Some quietly, some more boldly. We were about to do a round of storytelling around transcendental orgasms, but instead I decided: “Fuck talking orgasms today. Let’s talk shame. Sorrow. Rage.’”

I myself was in the deep throes of having let my shadow out to speak her voice at Burning Man, having been silenced for months. I’d literally called on my WHOLE healing team to help me process the experience. Coach Perri Gorman. Intuitive wizard Luke Simon. Michael Ventura, who’s been working with me on this for three years! And a psychologist I met at Burning Man, Justin Hartery.  Plus all my besties. LIKE WHOA IT TAKES A VILLAGE, and I’m so grateful I have help when I need it.

Somewhere during Eclipse season, at the Temple on the “playa”, some old wounds had gotten a fresh surface scrape. As a result I was oozing blood onto everything in my life. And as my wounds and the wounds of all the ladies of the salon were given a voice on that call, I realized—just like our sexual selves don’t have much space to roam in this world, neither do our shadow selves. But when they come knocking we have to answer.

We put on happy faces left and right and keep our shadow tucked away. We don’t want to “be a downer” at a party. So we tuck those feelings away. They get judged, while the “positive” feelings get center stage. Sometimes these are the shadow itself behind a clever mask, and sometimes the positive feeling is holding its hand over the “negative” one, creating a carefully curated dialogue.

“Who, me? No! I’m not insanely horny today! I’m great! Been meditating and doing Bikram!”  Or….”I’m fine! I’m not grieving the fact my dad forgot my birthday for the 18th year in a row. I’m a grown up. I should be over it by now, right?”

We walk around as if “doing okay” and “keeping it together” are badges that will earn us Love and Life Merits. We live by “shoulds.” I “should” be grateful. I ‘should” be strong (p.s. I have eliminated SHOULD from my vocab and I challenge you to do the same).

One shadow that surfaced in the salon was the overwhelming shame of being single. Of showing up to weddings and dinner parties alone. Of having people ask you, “Are you seeing anyone?” before asking about your work, your passions, your friends.

Another that floated into our call was about being in your 30’s and having your parents still supporting you. Many women I love deeply are supported by their families as adults, and since society says this is wrong, it creates yet more shame. When in truth their tribe is caring for them.

On the flip-side, another of my own shadows has been wearing the “Independent Woman” costume (ahem armor) that serves me so well at times, but had become hard to pull off, creating a tough barrier to deeper connections and vulnerability’—until it got ripped off at Burning Man that is.

As we gave these feelings a voice, they were like orphaned children being held tightly for the first time in a long time. How beautiful it was to each other say: “I pretend it’s okay. But I’m in pain.” As we each cried, the rest of us just listened. And I got to thinking…

What if we did this at dinner parties? What if we could eschew some of the socialization that keeps us separate and lonely by keeping these feelings—our truths—hidden away? And what if when I said: “I just feel ugly today”—instead of you replying, “Girl, you’re beautiful!” you just honored my feeling?

What if we just held space for that feeling like two wild witches on a Full Moon in the woods, and watched her fly around the room until she disappeared out the window and into the stars to be at home with all the other parts of our souls? And then we ate spaghetti with marinara sauce until it made our lips red, and talked about where we want to travel before we die and danced to Bowie.

Dancing with my shadows at Burning Man

How about we reclaim old rituals for honoring the shadows together, and make some new ones of our own? How about I just listen as you speak every fear to me…and I don’t try to fix them. I don’t offer you a solution. I don’t tell you “Everything is going to be okay.” I just hear you and see you and witness you and hold you.

After all, we came here to be wild. We came to make “mistakes.” We came to try things and fail. We came to let our hearts be smashed to bits and to carefully sew them back together. We came for glory. And we came for failure.

They tell us to keep it neat and pretty. To “be the light.” But your shadow is your asset. When you hide her away you teeter along as a half version of yourself, dragging a corpse of old, half-acknowledged feelings around. And so next time shame or grief comes calling, answer her. Make her a temple. Throw her a party. Give her center stage for once.

Will the shadow start running the ship? Most likely not. But if this fear exists, then create a container for these feelings. If you know rage could cause chaos, then take her moshing at a concert. Or give her a punching bag at a boxing gym.

In my Holy F*ck salon that day, I made a pledge to my group and we made a pledge to ourselves:

“When you cry I promise not to comfort you. I promise not to usher away your feelings with my ideas of what’s “right” and “wrong.” When you scream, I promise not to shush you and tell you it’s going to be okay. I’ll admit I don’t know if it will be, but I’ll listen and stand tall with you, and be by your side.”

I pledge this to you now and welcome you to share this with the people you call tribe.

This column is dedicated to those Wild Women and Men who are willing to go there with me and grieve and mourn and rage and laugh and cry and dream with me. Who don’t shut me out when things get ugly, and who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty in the name of growth and change. You know who you are.

Alexandra Roxo is a Spiritual + Creative Mentor, Writer, and Filmmaker living in LA.  Find out more on alexandraroxo.com and instagram.com/alexandraroxo/

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: BURNING MAN PREP AND A COSMIC CONNECTION

Seem like everybody is deep in Burning Man prep? I’m getting ready for next week’s super intense Virgo New Moon Eclipse… Club SÖDA NYC images: Katrin Albert

Hosting Club SÖDA NYC with Biet Simkin and amazing Betsy LaFae

 

:: MONDAY ::
A reiki session with Jessica Brodkin—an energy healer I met recently who used to work for the CIA, and does stand-up comedy on the side. My kinda Material / Mystical gal! And as well laying like a TON of crystals on me (including a perfectly clear quartz Ganesh on my second chakra), what I loved about the way Jessica works is that she also provided a running commentary about what was going on. I really love the concept of reiki—a mystical healing energy that we can all learn how to channel? Yes please!—but since the effects are so subtle I can often leave a session wondering, did anything just happen?!

But as Jessica got my chakras spinning (fave takeaway: “I’m not sure how to describe this except to say your sacral chakra is now looking on fleek”), she also spoke highly intuitively about issues I’m currently facing, gave a cool book recommendation, suggested some crystals for me to work with, and helped me say a forgiveness prayer. Overall, I left feeling like I’d had a total energetic tune-up. Find out more about Jessica and book a session at Loveandlightservices.com

:: TUESDAY ::

Club SÖDA NYC! Biet Simkin and I had an amazing turn-out for our second big Soda event, which (of course) we had timed specifically to coincide with the Sun’s move into Virgo—sign of health, wellbeing, and service. This is the month to really connect to the concept of how a healthy body and mind allows us to most efficiently show up and do our dharma. And, as we head towards next Thursday’s Virgo New Moon, now is the perfect time to let any and all unhealthy habits (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual!) just fall way.

The 9/1 New Moon is also a solar eclipse AND Mercury will have just gone retrograde. Add in a formidable T-square (the Moon, Sun, Mercury and North Node in Virgo will square Mars and Saturn in Sag, and oppose Neptune in Pisces) we are talking some intensely karmic and unpredictable REBIRTH energy out there. I for one intend to be clean and clear and fully on my A-game!

More Club SÖDA NYC vibes: a.k.a. how it feels to get high on your own supply

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Some of my most mystical moments are found in the experience of deep, soul connection with my fellow humans. Doesn’t it feel like MAGIC when that chemistry happens? In love, at work, and in our most precious friendships. I took two hours out for lunch today with a friend who makes me feel that way—and time stopped, the cosmos aligned, and it fed me more than a thousand hours of reiki. Heaven on earth.

:: THURSDAY ::
OMG. Got news that Cara Delevigne and her sister Poppy have ordered two of our Vinyasa sweatshirts to take to Burning Man. That is all.

Vinyasa shirt, $69

:: FRIDAY ::
In fact, for all you Burners out there, may I point you in the direction of some Numinous reading for your journey to the Playa. See you there next year!

How To Survive Your First Time At Burning Man

Is Burning Man A Spiritual Game Changer?

26 Life Lessons My Burning Man Experience Taught Me

HOLY F*CK: IS MODERN DATING ALL ABOUT SECOND BEST?

Is second best enough when it comes to modern dating? Alexandra Roxo breaks her six-month self-love and celibacy regime to find out…

Over sushi last Friday with my friend Kristina, she suggested that perhaps it was time for me to dip a toe back in the dating game. I’d taken a six month break from sex and dating in the name of self-love and self growth, and, Jesus, that felt like long enough. But as Kristina recounted her latest dating exploits, I wanted to run for the hills—a.k.a. bury myself back in Doreen Virtue videos in my muumuu, with nothing but some Coconut Bliss in bed with me!

Okay, so maybe dating isn’t all that bad. I have a handful of friends that have found their “life partners” in the past year. Hopelessly in love. Soul mate status. One couple met on Tinder. One at Burning Man. Two other friends who just passed a decade met their loves out with friends, and just felt instantly “at home.” And these couples keep me full of hope.

But the rest of us perhaps fall into two categories:

-Those of us in a string of casual romances, engaging with people that seem exciting but just aren’t available or right.

-Or those of us sitting it out and waiting/minding our own business (a.k.a. dancing and having fun and meditating and sometimes feeling bored and starved of love).

So what’s best while searching for true love? Keeping on dating people who don’t seem “in it to win to it” (i.e. are always busy, “wanna keep it chill” and “low pressure with no commitment” blah blah) Or waiting it out? I feel like the easiest thing when it comes to modern day dating and sex is to accept what’s there: perhaps someone hot and fun who meets some of our needs, but not all. Especially since: “You can’t have it all.” Right?

Last week in our first Holy F*ck salon I heard a lot of this. Women accepting half loves. Or a morsel of connection. Or a lot of drunk sex with regretful mornings but fun nights. I’ve talked to friends too who are torn about this. We ponder “Should I go on casual dates? Spend that time on dating apps? Is it worth it if you know your heart’s not in it and neither is theirs?”

I’d been a serial monogamist for ten whole years, and last year upon being single and freshly in Los Angeles I found myself busy but not really satisfied. There was the hot writer who was in a failing open relationship (a.k.a. still in love with someone) but who would stare into my eyes with such passion when we had sex and orgasmed in tandem, and put cinnamon in my coffee.

Then there was the high school teacher who wanted to be called “Daddy” in bed and didn’t tell me he was engaged until date four. The friend of six years who professed his love and then confessed he had a new girlfriend. The Hollywood director who wined and dined me and wrote a part based on my life in his T.V. show, and then mentioned casually on date three he was in an open relationship of two years after ordering me an Uber town car home.

Not forgetting the famous musician who told me he wanted to meet my mom and refused to wear condoms, and who my friend saw on a dating app the next day. All. Unavailable. (And three out of five of these men meditate daily and do plant medicine or Buddhist retreats btw!)

There were women too. And at least they were more forthcoming and told me on date two they were just in it for fun casual vibes or what not. But overall it was a lot of kiiiiinda fun things that didn’t add up to one great thing.

So when I met someone earlier this year mid dating cleanse, who seemed amazing and into me, but who was also in an open relationship, I was like “Nope! I wanna be someone’s number 1!” I’ve had plentya number 2 status in the last year, and I honestly don’t know how I got demoted. So I also said: “Let’s be friends.”

But yes, I’m currently back to dating. And there I am, naked in a bed in a state of post orgasmic bliss, that cool Los Angeles breeze sweeping through the room, after a day having my feet massaged by the very same previously mentioned person. Because after six months of celibacy, I’ve somehow I’ve managed to I convince myself I can adjust my needs and be more progressive—a.k.a. share my lover with his two to three other lovers.

And then he stepped away to take a call. The primary partner of five years. Oh yeah…right. The magic spell lifted and I was reminded of the bigger picture. I was not Queen Bee.

This Rumi quote has echoed in my ears for over a decade: “A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.”

And I’ve decided this is true, for me. And that it applies to EVERYTHING. Not just love, but work. Friendships. Sometimes something is so close, but just not 100% right. And if you say yes to it anyway, you’re telling your self that you will always settle for less. Worse, in lowering your standards, you could also miss that the thing you really want because now you’re vibrating at a half mast frequency.

As my new friend Andi reminded me on the beach last week: “If it’s not a hell YES it’s a NO!”

When you’re hungry for something, sometimes it’s hard to resist whatever comes along that’s almost what you want. It’s like you know that it’s not quite going to satisfy you, but you eat it anyway—then wish you’d waited for what you really want. And yes, sometimes healthy compromise is key—and only YOU can decipher where the line in the sand gets drawn.

Since my recent experience of making a commitment to loving my SELF, I’ve also found myself inspired and in love with art, nature, friends, my work, all of it. As I was up late the other night, deep in celebration of this, I found this quote by Bjork, whom I’ve loved since I was 18:

“I never really understood the word ‘loneliness’. As far as I was concerned, I was in an orgy with the sky and the ocean, and with nature.”

I hope whether single or attached you can commit to finding your own inner orgy—and I believe that from this place it’s impossible to accept half loves, or half jobs, or half friends. You just smile and wink and mosey along if it doesn’t feel right. And by holding space for the most magnificent YOU, all the other stuff will just begin to filter in.

Alexandra offers one on one mentorship and coaching and her Holy F*ck group salon, which was just featured in Amuse/i-d Magazine. The next session of the Holy F*ck salon will begin September 6th for 6 weeks of chatting/deconstructing/and tuning in around love, sex and spirituality. Sign up here!

FACE YOUR FEARS…AT A SEX, DRUGS AND DEATH RETREAT

Personal development can sky-rocket when you decide to face your fears—as Rose Surnow discovered on a sex, drugs and death retreat…

Here’s me facing my fear of looking fierce AF.

I’m afraid of… basically everything. Swimming in a dark pool? What about sharks? Even though that’s impossible. Cute guy asks me on a date? He probably just wants to murder me and sell my pubic hair on Craigslist. Amazing job opportunity falls in my lap? It’s obviously a Ponzi scheme run by terrorists. So many fears, so little time!

Raised by intelligent but pathologically anxious parents, I was taught that the world is a land mine where nothing is safe. Wear a sweater! Wear a helmet! Wear a hazmat suit! Better yet, just don’t go outside. SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN. “Being Jewish is so relaxing,” said no one, ever.

So, it goes without saying I’d be terrified of things like sex, drugs and death. My greatest fear is probably having sex on drugs, and then dying. So, when I was invited to a mindfulness retreat called “The Taboo Weekend” to discuss these exact topics, I jumped at the chance. It was time to face some fears.

Organized by bohemian power-couple Michael Hebb and Angel Grant, the event is meant to help people open up about difficult subjects in order to live a more meaningful life. Hebb and Grant started the company Death Over Dinner, where they host dinner parties all over the world, to get people talking about death.

Held at a beautiful luxury retreat center in Atlanta, called the Inn at Serenbe the event was three days of discussion, meditation and reflection. And it was an incredible. I felt my heart break open a little more, my walls come down a couple inches, and my spirit get lighter and more free.

If you ever find yourself at the Taboo Weekend (which I highly recommend) or any retreat at all, check out my tips on how to get the most out of it. Because if I can get out of my fears and be present, literally anyone can.

:: PARTICIPATE FULLY ::
It’s easier to be a Skeptical Susan, judging life from the sidelines, than a Participating Pam. But Pam always wins in the end.

On the last day of the retreat we had a “sex lunch” which meant we sat in randomly assigned groups, ate fried chicken and took turns answering really personal questions about our sex lives. A dude in recovery confessed that sober sex was really intimidating. A beautiful blond talked about how her anti-depressants made climax impossible. And a hot German guy admitted that he didn’t like casual hook-ups and needed an emotional connection.

Everyone just spilled their insecurities like it was no big deal, and it was kind of an epiphany. Maybe our biggest insecurities aren’t that big of deal. Maybe we’re all just people doing the best we can trying to figure it out. I left that conversation feeling lighter than I have since I was a kid.

This was our bangin’-ass hot tub where I met my retreat boyfriend.

:: GET IN THE HOT TUB ::
I think it was Shakespeare who said, “Hot things happen in hot tubs.” So get in already! (And, if your retreat doesn’t have a Jacuzzi, what the fuck are you even doing there?)

On the first night of my Taboo weekend, I ended up in a Jacuzzi with a group of cute, young people because, doy. Slowly, everyone left to go to bed until it was just me and this hot guy named Brian. HOW CONVENIENT. We looked at the stars for a while and pretended to ignore the implications of being the last ones left. Then he walked me to my hotel room where we made out until the sun came up.

The point is you could die at any moment, so get in the hot tub of LIFE and make-out with Brian. Sidenote: straight men who go on mindfulness retreats are amazing lovers. Slow, sensitive and sensual it almost makes up for every single dude you slept with in college.

:: INTERVIEW A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR BUT, SOMEHOW MAKE IT ABOUT YOURSELF ::
The speaker who gave us a lecture about drugs was best-selling author, addiction expert and Holocaust survivor, Gabor Mate. Even though he’s 72 years old, he’s still fine as hell in that tormented Eastern European way. He looks like if Adrien Brody melted.

Gabor spoke a lot about the mind-body connection and if I can reduce his two-hour lecture to one sentence, it would be: Every problem in your life stems from not getting the love you needed as a child.

Obviously, that’s incredibly simplistic, but I can’t summarize his entire lecture here (but you should definitely watch his Ted Talk).

After hearing Gabor talk, I interviewed him about his life. I asked about his experience in Budapest during the Holocaust and then somehow we ended up talking about depression. Gabor has been on and off Prozac for decades, and I’ve been on Lexepro since I was 19. Then Gabor started asking me all these really personal questions about my life, my childhood, my family. Suddenly, I found myself crying about my parents’ divorce…when this motherfucker SURVIVED THE HOLOCAUST.

I’ve never felt more millennial: “Oh, your grandfather was murdered by Nazis. That sucks. My dad didn’t support my art!”

By the end of the conversation, Gabor had me smiling and laughing. “How do you feel now?” he asked me.

“I feel great, relaxed,” I said.

“That is your true essence,” he replied. “That is who you really are.”

Gabor thinking deep thoughts.

:: STAY CALM WHEN A WOMAN GETS POSSESSED BY KUNDALINI YOGA SPIRITS ::
Weird things happen at New Age retreats. I was sitting in a small lecture with Gabor Mate when all of the sudden this woman started violently convulsing. Gasping for breath, jerking, and shaking, I thought for sure she was having a panic attack.

Apparently, she was experiencing some kind of “Kundalini episode.” Whatever it was, it was scary to watch. I was starting to feel a little panic-by-proxy, when Gabor started to calm her down.

“What’s going on, right now?

“I can’t control it,” she said.

“That’s okay. How are you feeling?” he asked.

“I’m embarrassed. I feel like I’m being too dramatic. I feel like I’m too much for people,” she cried as she flailed around.

Then Gabor asked us all to stand up and get out of our chairs and imitate her movements. “We will do it with you, so you’re not alone.” We started jerking and shaking and it was kind of fun. We looked like a group of white people trying to dance. Finally, she calmed down.

It was like magic. Gabor turned this weird, edgy experience, into a supportive, playful exercise. Everything was okay. She was okay. She just needed to feel like she wasn’t alone.

***

If there’s one thing I learned over and over again on this retreat is that we’re all WAY TOO HARD ON OURSELVES. I spent three days having radically honest and open conversations with all types of people, from all types of backgrounds. And the thing I heard most was how much pain people were experiencing at their own hand. And I’m no exception.

All our problems are rooted in not feeling loved enough. And it starts with ourselves. I realize this article vacillates between sarcastic and cheesy, genuine and silly, but that’s me. I had no idea what to expect on a sex, drugs and death retreat. But what I got was compassion. A real sense of compassion for other people, for myself and for life.

When you face your fears, maybe the world’s not such a scary place after all.

LIKE A VIRGIN: HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FIRST TIME AT BURNING MAN

Into the final prep for your first time at Burning Man? Look no further than our total guide to life on the Playa…Words and illustrations: Dani Katz. Photography: Soul on Fire series by Victor Habchy via Behance.net

You’ve been wanting to go for years. Your biggest regret is not having gone back in ‘97, when those two surfer dudes offered you a free ticket and a ride in their VW bus. You almost went in 2003, but ended up at an Iyengar retreat on Maui instead. Whatever. No one cares. You’re a newbie, a Playa virgin, and you’re (finally) heading to Black Rock City to party like a fifth dimensional rock star, and see what all the fuss is about. And you only kinda, sorta know what you’re doing.

Not to worry, dear Burner-to-Be. I am a seasoned Playa veteran, and I have some tips for you:

MAKE ACTUAL CAMP
While paying to crash at an established camp with showers and a meal plan and maybe even hot Tantric hookers seems to be all the rage these days, if this is your first Burn, please, please, please resist the urge to go the princess route. Burning Man isn’t just a ritual, it is an initiation, and there is something to be said for driving yourself to Gerlach with a carful of water, kale chips and camping gear, and finding yourself a spot. Hammering rebar into the hard desert earth, pitching your tent, and fashioning your shade structure. Spending the week getting dirty and staying dirty, and being responsible for keeping your nest clean and safe and welcoming.

It’s grounding, the act of making/maintaining your own camp, and it connects you to the Playa and to the festival in ways you’ll otherwise miss if you pay someone else to do it for you. Radical self-reliance (a foundational Burning Man tenet) doesn’t actually mean: Pay people to do shit you can’t be bothered to do yourself. Just sayin’…

DO THE GIFTING THING
For starters, Burning Man is a gifting economy, so be sure to bring offerings for your fellow Burners – the heartfelt kind that make people smile, and laugh, and feel delightful. Gifts are a great way to break the ice with strangers, as well as to seed the Playa with your energy. So, make sure your offerings are thoughtful, and high-vibing –handmade key chains, gluten-free hash brownies, extemporaneous odes to noteworthy brow arches – that sort of thing.

HYDRATE
The desert has an unquenchable lust for moisture, and thus spends her time sucking every possible drop out of your system. Dehydration can sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention, and slurping steadily. Plus, you have to factor in the toll the drugs and the alcohol are taking on your system, as well as the exertion from so many cross-town bike rides. Commit yourself to following the cardinal rule of hydration: if you’re not peeing A LOT, you’re not drinking enough. Period.

BRING A BIKE
And lock it – even if you think you’re only darting into Center Camp for a quick chai. Time isn’t ever linear, but it’s especially un-so at Burning Man, where fourth dimensional synchronicities trump your iCal…and some people just suck. Oh, and be sure to put something glowy and instantly recognizable on it so that you can find it in the dark, while tripping your face off.

CLEAN UP YOUR S***
Literally. Take pride in helping to keep the Port-a-Potties clean, and don’t throw shit down the hole that didn’t come out of your body, or isn’t toilet paper. If you sprinkle and splatter, clean it up. Don’t squat on the seat with your Playa filthy shoes and not wipe it down after. Think of the person stepping in after you. Are you leaving the port-a-pottie cleaner than you found it? If not, what can you do to tidy up? This is your festival, Black Rock City is your town. Show some pride. Participate in its maintenance. Lead by example.

CARRY SUPPLIES
Carry a bag with you at all times. Put these things in it:

Water
Sunscreen
Lip balm (with sunscreen)
Electrolytes
Aromatherapy spray (You. Are. Welcome.)
Offerings for others
Snacks
A ziploc bag for trash
Enough drugs to share with those in your immediate vicinity
Goggles
Scarf or hankerchief

BE A DUSTBUSTER
Prepare for Playa dust. It is everywhere and unavoidable, and will turn anything and everything white, including your hair and your car. This is what the goggles and the scarf/hankie are for – to cover your face during those impromptu dust storms that blind you in an instant. It is also why you must tie down everything in your that could possibly blow away. It is your responsibility to keep the Playa pristine. It is your responsibility to keep your fellow Burners safe from flying water bottles and feather boas.

WARDROBE
Nights get cold. Wear layers. And shoes you can easily/comfortably dance/ride/leap/skip/run/dance/dance/dance in.

HAIR AND MAKE-UP
Don’t even try to brush your hair. It will dread, and be disgusting. Sunscreen is your friend, as are wide-brimmed hats and daytime sleeves. I know plenty of gals like to go the naked/lingerie-clad route, and that’s just dandy, but do be mindful of the intensity of the sunlight on your skin, and take the necessary precautions.

Slather your feet in Dr. Bronners every morning to stave off the dreaded Playa Foot, and don’t even think about walking barefoot on the earth. Playa Foot is essentially a chemical burn caused by the very alkaline dust that comprises the hard, crackly desert floor. It hurts, and is gross; and you, my friend, want nothing to do with it. Trust me.

Bring biodegradable baby wipes with which to bathe yourself. Use them daily. Share them freely. Bring more than you think you need. Abundance rocks.

THIRD BASE ONLY
Even if you’re sure he’s your soul mate (or at the very least your twin flame) and every cell in your body is screaming Put it in!!!, you are still wise to avoid penetration during the festival. Even if you’re sharing a tent with your husband, and you’re both totally in the mood, you’ll still probably want to avoid penetration, because Playa dust mixed with sex goo is just straight up gross. Stick with foreplay. Plus, it’ll make the sex you have once you’re back in civilization all the better.

 

SEE THE SIGHTS
Spend some quality time with The Man, The Temple, and the art. Traditionally, we give The Man those energies, patterns and thought forms we are ready to release. Keep this in mind while paying him a visit. Carve out some time to acknowledge the things, people and energies that are no longer serving you, and offer them up; that’s what he’s there for. The Temple is a deeply mystical, feminine structure in which we honor our friends, colleagues and loved ones who have passed on from this realm. Do participate in these rituals. They are real. They are meaningful. They are the energetic architecture of the entire Burning Man experience. And the art? Well, the art is just rad. I mean, where else can you engage (i.e. poke, lick, caress, climb) a giant, flaming animatronic snake skeleton underneath a starry, full moon-lit sky?

DON’T JUDGE
Watch your judgments. Look at your contractions. Commit to assuming the best and focusing on the wonderful. Your every thought, gesture and comment absolutely shape the collective experience. So be your best. Radiate that stuff far and wide.

BE AUTONOMOUS
As long as we’re on the topic, if you happen to be going to Burning Man with your lover, do not stay glued together at the hip the whole time. Make proper Playa dates instead. Also, create clear agreements as to what sort of extra-relational canoodling is fair game. Arm yourself with emotional/relational tools to deal with what comes up. Jealousy happens, but it certainly doesn’t have to ruin your Burn.

LOSE YOUR CREW
Be sure to have some solo adventures – this will open you to experiences you might not otherwise attract/brave in an insulated communal cluster. Wander into the deep Playa by yourself. As well, take some quiet time to yourself each day. Allow yourself to receive and to integrate the magic you are co-creating. Rest. Replenish. Nourish.

BE YOURSELF
Finally, remember that what makes Burning Man so amazing is that it is a safe and expansive playground in which you get to be you. Your favorite you. Your most open, authentic, real-deal you. Remember that this is who you really are – always – and that you don’t need to wait for a week-long freak fest in the desert to be it. So commit take this you home with you, and amplify it out into the world where it inspires others to be their own best, most authentic thems, as well. In the name of planetary service ‘n all.

I think that about covers it. Godspeed, my friend. Here’s to your best Burn ever!

What advice have you got for a first time Burner? Connect with us and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

 

THE NUMI YEAR IN REVIEW: BEST OF 2014

2014 has been a year of SELF-EXAMINATION, TRANSFORMATION and ADVENTURE! Here are 11 posts that made us laugh, gasp, cry…and take a good long look at our lives from the inside (listed in no particular order of awesomeness).

1. YOGI VEGAN LEZ: DIARY OF A DETOX A DEUX

The yoga was the fun part…

When Alexandra Roxo decided to embark on a hardcore nine-day Ayurvedic cleanse, she had no idea her girlfriend would decide to come along for the ride. Cue tears, tantrums and an ocean of emotion.

2. TURNED ON: THE TANTRA OF ONLINE DATING

Dancing between masculine and feminine…

Ellie Burrows is pretty sure she’s discovered the secret to online dating. And it’s Tantra. Not super-connected, total body orgasm, tantric sex – rather the energetic concept that makes that kind of sex possible: a balance of the masculine and feminine energies.

3. NEED-TO-KNOW: YOUR SPIRIT POWER ANIMAL

Feel so much more powerful knowing he’s on my side…

Dealing with a situation that had left her feeling vulnerable and alone, when Ruby Warrington met her spirit power animal last year…it got emotional. Here’s how to connect with your own beast of the wild unknown.

4. TO SKINNY DIP OR NOT TO SKINNY DIP: KNOW YOUR YOGA RTREAT ETIQUETTE

No hiding behind your hair all week…

Yay, you’re going on a yoga retreat! You want to get the most out of your experience, right? Who better than Heather Lilleston and Kumi Sawyers fromYoga For Bad People to lay down some summer retreat etiquette. We’re talking less freaking out, more more F.U.N.

5. KUNDALINI CALLING: HEAVEN ON EARTH WITH GURU JAGAT

Guru Jagat shot in Venice Beach by Lisandra Valazquez

Guru Jagat is the outspoken face behind the Ra Ma Institute, the only all kundalini yoga studio in California’s Venice Beach. She talks to Madeline Giles about her vision for the Age of Aquarius, life on the 33rd parallel and outsmarting the Global Elite. Conspiracy theories or conscious debate?

6. DARK FAIRY DELIRIUM: WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE A GEMINI

Image by Bela Borsodi for Document Journal

Right after a powerful New Moon in multi-faceted Gemini, gifting us an opportunity to embrace the quicksilver side of ourselves, Nadia Noir gives an insight into a life spent searching for “the other me.”

7. THE NU RULES: ATTRACT THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIP FOR YOU

See yourself through your lover’s eyes…

Can’t seem to attract the right relationship? It’s not him, honey, it’s you. Jennifer Kass re-writes The Rules, beginning with a lesson in self-love…

8. 26 LIFE LESSONS MY BURNING MAN EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME

Ruby and her husband Simon on the Playa…

Connfession: My Burning Man Experience was too full-on to be called fun, says Ruby Warrington. But when it comes to life lessons, a week on the Playa delivered pure gold.

9. SPIRITUAL AWAKENING: THE REBIRTHING OF BROOKE CANDY

Image: Brooke Candy’s Instagram account

Lessons in Kabbalah with Madonna and a “little spiritual trip to Hawaii.” Brooke Candy tells Ruby Warrington how following a more “soulful” path has been a lesson in self-love…

10. BEYOND BFFS: HOW TO CREATE A COVEN

Cara and her coven, photographed by Richard Bush for i-D magazine

Something very special happens when women come together in ceremony. Erin Telford explains how to create a Coven – and bonds that run deep as blood.

11. ORGASMIC MEDITATION: INSIDE THE CULT OF CLIT

Orgasm as spiritual exchange…

Empowering women’s movement, or de facto sex cult? Dani Katz gets intimate with the practise known as Orgasmic Meditation…

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: RUBY WARRINGTON

Regular new post alert! Every Friday we’ll be featuring a different Material Girl, and the things in her Mystical World. To kick things off, it’s me! Your Chief Numi Ruby Warrington. Plus a round-up of what’s been rocking my Universe this week. Portrait: Thomas Giddings

Just chillin’ at home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Chakra shirt…coming back soon!

Has this been the weirdest week or what? On Monday I posted about how I like to use Mercury retrograde to revise and re-evaluate key areas of my life. But man, it’s been like scheduling spaghetti out there – for pretty much everyone I know. Head-spin!

I’m gonna blame my inability to concentrate on anything useful for the fact I had a total retail therapy moment on Matches Fashion. New Isabel Marant jacket, check. New Marant sheepskin-lined booties to match, check check (see below). I don’t shop that often since I found a more spiritual path to fulfilment, but when I do, I do it properly 🙂

This was also the week I totally cried at Under The Electric Sky, a documentary about EDM mega-rave the Electric Daisy Carnival (WTF) :: discovered THE most beautiful “intention setting candle” (and fell in love with it’s creator – watch this space for a collaboration!) :: picked up my lapsed meditation practise :: finally watched the Vagina Monologues :: and got stuck into Launch by Jeff Walker – essential reading for anybody running or starting a business online (thank you Gala Darling).

So what have you tried distracting yourself with while Mercury does it’s thing? I actually do wanna know, so Tweet me or connect on Facebook!

Isabel Marant Knowles bootie, Matchesfashion.com

So here it is – all the things that make me a MATERIAL GIRL, living in a MYSTICAL WORLD…

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My Look When I went to get a hug from Amma with Gabby Bernstein, I wore Lululemon yoga pants, a vintage rock-chick tee, biker boots and a Marc Jacobs bag. Gabby described my look as “rock ‘n’ roll yogi” – and I’ll take that, thanks. So lots of yoga pants from brands like Teeki, Vie Active and Vimea, and lots of fashiony, grungy tops. And I love a good Helmut Lang blazer.

My current fave Sacred Feather yoga pants made from recycled materials, Teeki.com

My Shoes Isabel Marant shoes (specifically boots, actually) consistently make me feel pretty special. My friend Psychic Betsy has this meditation where you meet your highest self, and you’re meant to visualize “the best version of yourself”. That’s how I feel in my Marant boots – sexy, cool and powerful.

My Fragrance My ego hates the fact it’s not “cooler”, but the one that gets me the most comments is Sensuous by Estee Lauder – I think it just mixes well with my pheromones. I also love stealing a squirt of my husband’s Patchouli 24 by Le Labo.

My Jewels I always wear the Numinous necklace my husband got me, and this summer I also acquired a pretty special ‘Lemurian’ crystal from Vega Jewelry. Buying myself my first pair of diamond studs (they’re about a millionth of a carat, but still) at ABC Home last year was also a pretty special moment for me.

‘Dem jewels…Charging up the Lemurian crystal at Rockaway beach this summer

My Pampering I have one of those bodies that “needs” a monthly massage, and I go to Lorraine at Greenhouse Holistic in Williamsburg. She does the best deep tissue and barely speaks a word the whole time. I’m also deeply into my Theraputic Balancing Oil by Vered Organic Botalicals right now, which feels super special and nurturing.

My Movie Anything that makes me cry. Most recently that Electric Daisy Carnival docu (seriously, WTF…)

My Food I could eat salmon and avocado, prepared every which way, for days. Ditto the Montana salad at the Jivamukea café in Union Square. And a scoop of vegan peanut butter ice cream from Lula’s in the East Village for dessert.

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My Awakening I wake up with my cat’s meow at about 6.30 or 7 am, make myself a HUGE mug of hot water with lemon and then “try” to meditate for ten minutes. After that I get right onto my machine to write, while my brain is still clean of email static.

My Sign Aries Sun and Sag rising with a Cancer Moon thrown in to cool things down a little. I read it this way: Sun = mind (self-directed and impulsive), rising = body (outgoing and active) and Moon = soul (super sensitive and security oriented). #confusing.com

My Mantra “You’ll never know unless you ask.” And most days, at some point: “I forgive myself.”

My Healer Acupuncture with the amazing Lisa Levine at Maha Rose in Greenpoint, custom flower remedies from very special Kerri Aab, and, recently, breathwork with Numi contributor Erin Telford. But some of my greatest healings have happened on my yoga mat, if you subscribe to the belief (as I pretty much do) that all healing begins at a spirit / emotional level.

Burning Man 2014. Image: Simon Warrington

My Reading I wish I could say there was one book that really shifted my perspective, but maybe I just haven’t found it yet. I read every night before I go to sleep though, preferably fiction. It helps my mind shift gears from the material to the mystical realm (where sleep happens).

My Transformation The second half of 2014 has been ALL ABOUT transformation. Beginning July on a retreat with Taryn Toomey in Martha’s Vinyeyard, I then hit up Burning Man for the first time, did the Landmark Forum and also just completed Gala Darling’s Blogcademy. Each of these experiences has made me stronger and more resilient, more certain of myself and my place in the world, more comfortable expressing myself and more confident about my goals.

My Home Is wherever my husband Simon is, something I became aware of from the moment we first met. Past life connection for sure…

Facebook.com/thenuminousmagazine

@The_Numinous

AFTER THE PARTY: HOW TO HOLD ON TO YOUR SPIRITUAL HIGH

Who says there’s no comedown from a spiritual high? Erin Telford has some advice for rolling out the high vibes even once reality bites.

Illustration: Cate Parr

You know the feeling. You’ve been living in a bikini and cutoffs and braids for a week, meditating and practicing yoga every day, eater cleaner than you’ve ever eaten before and you might even have broken your tech addiction.

You’ve been living off the land, having “paradigm shift” experiences. Who cares about showers? You woke up like this. You’ve got the glow that comes from roaming, discovering, and connecting with wild, uncharted territory ALL DAY.

You’re full of vitality and big plans! Fired up and high on life, your routine is completely revamped before you land back home. You’re totally getting up at 6am every day to move your body. You will finally commit to juicing! Your relationships are going to be so Zen.

And then…wah wah wahhhhh. Reality. Back to the grind. It feels almost like you never left, except for those great photos you keep flipping through on your phone.

We’ve all been there. The post yoga retreat/Burning Man/revolutionary healing session that feels like it will catapult you into a completely new existence. And then you return to “real life” and it feels so hard to hang on to all of those incredible insights.

Illustration: Lauren Albert

What happens when we have new experiences is that we’re flooded with dopamine – a.k.a. the pleasure center chemical, the neurotransmitter of DESIRE. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that chases rewards – and as new things fuel us with perspective and possibility, it’s a thrill and a half to get your mind blown. We thrive on the sensation of every fresh beginning.

So how do we hang onto the high vibes as we return to life as we know it?

Here’s the deal, everything you’ve felt, transformed, and learned is still within you. There’s nowhere for it to go. The ecstatic dance, the peaceful quiet morning, the Reiki session that turned your world around. The after-effects are contained and imprinted into your psyche.

In Chinese medicine, they say every time your heart beats, it’s like a camera click taking a picture of your moment-to-moment existence. Your sweet heart stamps every bit of beauty and love that you move through into your blood!

Routine is a killer and can make us feel complacent and uninspired. Novelty stirs our souls and our creative spirit. So, to keep yourself in the groove, do something you’ve never done before every week! When they say that life begins outside of your comfort zone, they aren’t kidding.

Illustration: Belinda Chen

Grab the most beautiful vegetable you see at the green market and build a meal around it. Round up some friends to watch the leaves change at Storm King. Go all the way up to to Washington Heights to have dinner. Revel in a Gong Bath. Visit the Dream House.

When you decide to look at life through a new lens, this beginner’s mind can apply to literally anything. Can you use your newfound courage and sense of self to share your fears and insecurities with a friend for the first time? Can you translate the feeling of peace in your body into a more harmonious relationship with your parents or partner? Infuse your transformation into your daily life and extend the feelings of bliss indefinitely.

And remember, you also have no idea how different things would be if you’d just stayed home – because you didn’t! And you can apply this theory to every experience, every day of your life.

Every time something shifts one teeny tiny degree in your perspective, even if you only make the most infinitesimal change in your outlook…you will still be walking an entirely different, an entirely NEW path.

Illustration: Kelly Smith

So you really can’t ever go back to the way things were because you are different now. And now. And now…The wisdom you’ve gained about yourself, your desires, your ideals, and your truth will inform every choice you make for the future. It’s impossible for you to go backwards.

In other words, what goes up doesn’t always have to come down.

Erin Telford is the founder of Radiant Heart Acupuncture.

@RadiantHeartNYC

NOTES FROM THE NUMIVERSE: 26 LIFE LESSONS MY BURNING MAN EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME

Confession: My Burning Man Experience was too full-on to be called fun, says Ruby Warrington. But when it comes to life lessons, a week on the Playa delivered pure gold.

So I wasn’t planning to write about my Burning Man Experience (BME). And not because ‘what-happens-on-the-Playa-stays-on-the-Playa,’ but because I have been embarrassed to admit that I didn’t have THE MOST AWESOME TIME OF MY LIFE. I feel like this is the response my friends all were all expecting when they asked, with the utmost and cutest enthusiasm, to hear my tales; ‘OMG how was it?!?!?!?!’ Because ‘I had the time of my life,’ is pretty much the standard response when you ask people about their BME.

But Burning Man is HARD. It forces to you face yourself in ways we have devised so very many modern distractions (television, the internet, flushing toilets, retail therapy) to avoid. It is also a hot, horny, fear-and-loathing-inducing humdinger of a festival, and considering the only way I could ever do Glastonbury was by staying in a local B & B where the owners gave us a glass of chilled Chablis before we headed into the fray each day, I should perhaps have guessed that my BME would kind of be a challenge.

But if I’ve learned ANYTHING this year (thanks to this lady in particular), it’s that challenges are what we human beings are here for! And that a fully textured life is always about the road less travelled. So friends, followers, here are the vital and sometimes evolutionary lessons my BME taught me:

We are hopelessly addicted to stuff: Witness hundreds of Burners buying up literally the entire contents of Walmart in Reno in preparation for a week of ‘radical self-reliance’ in the desert. Next year (oh yes, there will be a ‘next year’) I pledge to make ‘minimalism’ my motto.

Enforced fun can still be fun: We’d been on the road for pretty much 40 hours straight (give or take a whiskey-infused power nap) by the time my friend Sophie and I made it through the gates to hunt down our fellow campers – leaving my husband Simon in what was shaping up to be an 8-hour wait in ‘will call’ for his ticket. As a BM ‘virgin’ it was the greeters’ job to make me lie down on the Playa and make a ‘dust-angel’ to mark my entry. I was not in the mood, but getting to lie down for a minute did put a smile on my face.

Anticipation is the mother of the anti-climax: Even if you haven’t been to BM, you know what BM looks like, right? This is because we live in the information age, goddamnit, and sites (like this one) won’t stop publishing pictures of Black Rock City and its freaky-deeky population. I actually kind of hated myself for not being ‘in awe’ of what I saw out on the Playa my first day. Was I that jaded? But I basically saw exactly what I saw in the images and YouTube clips I’d GORGED on before the event. In fact, if you haven’t been to BM and you think you might go at some point in the future, maybe stop reading now. The joy of discovery is a beautiful thing.

Just follow the signs…

But nothing can prepare you for the TRIP that is your first night on the Playa: Thankfully you can’t photograph a feeling, and here’s a sensation you’ve never got to experience before and will never experience anywhere else. It’s just you, your bike and a sea of LEDs. No roads, no rules, no edge separating Earth from the rest of the Universe.

Being an Aries with Sag rising and Cancer Moon makes for a very conflicted camper (see above re. Glastonbury): The Aries and the Sag want PARTIES, PEOPLE, ADVENTURE! The Cancer needs ALL MY CREATURE COMFORTS, INCLUDING LOTS OF PRIVACY, ALL THE TIME. Yikes.

And…if you have a Water Moon, try to camp with at least one other Water Moon: My gift to my beautiful fellow campers was a personal astro reading, so I had all their chart information ahead of time. And wouldn’t you know, I was headed into a desert storm of pure Fire and Earth. Which of course made for the most incredible camp set-up (fully functioning kitchen, hand-washing station, outdoor shower – with curtain, evaporation pool for our grey water) and a consistent party vibe (mushrooms for breakfast, a carefully calculated six cans of beer per person, per day, plus a seemingly limitless supply of spirits). But my goodness, the outpouring of emotions when I finally managed to track down my friend Tali, and her blessed Scorpio Moon.

I am a total music snob: Tali says it’s because I’m an Aries, who she always admires for our “discernment” (erm, I believe “arrogance” is another adjective associated with my sign). But I also blame (again) my Cancer Moon. To make me move, music has to have soul. Worse, anything that can be loosely categorised as dubstep, breakbeat, trap, minimal techno, EDM or drum ‘n’ bass actually causes a physical reaction in my body that feels a lot like anger. WFT? Even if I’ve taken really amazing drugs (not that I necessarily think drugs are amazing, see below). Unfortunately, these seem to be the preferred genres of most DJs manning the art cars and sound systems at BM, providing a 24-7 soundtrack to life on the Playa straight out of my worst musical nightmare. But thank f*** for a camp called Basshenge!!! Pumping out a soulful, heartbeat bassline that kept me dancing in the dust ‘til dawn, I <3 Basshenge.

Sound clash is sleep deprivation for the soul: The only thing worse than waking up to a full on trap set happening right next to your RV at 9am, is a full on drum ‘n’ bass set happening 10 feet away at the same time. Note to organisers: my friend Gina had a lovely idea – “an hour of silence” every day. (Note to self: add a set of noise cancelling headphones to the minimal ‘must-haves’ list for next year)

“Love is Love”, especially in the desert

“No critters live in the desert”: How cool is this – apparently there’s a special camp in BRC for people to drop off random animals and bugs they find in their camp. This is because, seeing as the desert conditions are too harsh for any living thing to survive (erm, no shit), any “critters” have to have travelled in with you. Even better, there’s some kind of Dr Doolittle animal sanctuary outside the Playa where they all get deposited after the event. What a fun time we had imagining how that little man-made ecosystem is progressing year-on-year!

But BRC is actually a very safe place for humans to live: Discussing the medical room stats listed in the Black Rock Gazette one morning, our camp-mate Bryan (a professional anaesthetist – which, yes, makes for some very interesting conversations about recreational use of ketamine) was able to confirm that the incidence of accident and injury is way lower than the average American metropolis. Despite the lack of rules and policing, and the disproportionately high incidence of all-day intoxication in BRC.

A mini torch makes the best MOOP: Okay, I might have fallen off my bike riding over it out in the deep Playa, but having a mini torch to strap to my Vega Jewelry crystal necklace was a revelation – literally! Mainly down to no more hold-your-breath-and-guess moments in the porta-potties in the dead of night. Yay PERSONAL ILLUMINATION!

The Playa is not a beach: It is a beautiful, uncompromising, arid, dust-bowl. Not to be confused with somewhere to kick back, relax and sink a few cold ones before cooling off in the surf.

Hedonism is one of the deepest expressions of human spirituality: Since when did hedonism get such a bad name anyway?? In the dictionary, it’s defined as – the belief that pleasure or happiness is the most important goal in life. The fact that people will go to so much effort in the pursuit of this ideal, suggests to me a serious pleasure/happiness-unbalance in our daily lives. And being happy means being better equipped to want to contribute to other people’s happiness. This is one of the best BM lessons of all.

Men, even gay men, think very long, wavy hair is sexy. Even if it’s green: I have never received more compliments from the opposite sex than the night I donned this wig. This must be why women get addicted to hair extensions. And doesn’t it say something interesting about gender representation? No matter how progressive the humans, the Disney Princess vision of female beauty still holds sway.

“Radical self-expression” = a lot of costume clichés: See top hats, striped meggings, faux-fur moon boots, leather bras…and green wigs. Turns out most of us humans actually prefer to conform, and a couple of days into the 80kg dressing up box of sequins, wigs and fake tattoos I’d lugged from Brooklyn, I too became acutely aware that I was actually putting together a series of ‘Burning Man outfits’ that were less about an expression of my own personal style than a desire to fit in. I worked in fashion for a long time, I know what that is. Next year I’m just gonna pack a bikini, some Teeki yoga pants, and my boiler suit (below), which is what I ended up feeling most ‘me’ in.

Basically, the best boiler suit ever

I might have had my Burning Man moment a decade (and a half) ago in Ibiza: Between the ages of 24 and 32, I made a twice-yearly pilgrimage to the ‘spiritual’ party island of Ibiza. And daytime dancing at Distrikt, downing shots of Whisky with old gay dudes in leather skirts, riding out at night into a sea of LEDs, allowing myself to merge with the Cosmos out on the edge of the Playa…was basically flashback central to then. What I got from ‘the Ibiza years’ was a sense of connection to a tribe of likeminded hedonists, a deep respect for the numinous beauty of nature and a lot of dancing in the sand beneath the stars. Sound familiar? So now I know I’ve ‘been there, done that’, time to set some new intentions for my BM experience next year.

The best Bloody Mary’s are frozen Bloody Mary’s: But what you don’t get in Ibiza, is some dude named Dave serving up the most incredible frozen Bloody Mary’s (just freeze the mix and stir in lashings of vodka as it melts) in exchange for a sweaty hug. In Ibiza the Bloody Marys will set you back $25.

In no way, shape or form do drug highs measure up to spiritual highs: I first took E when I was 14, and it helped me understand a whole other plane of human existence (not to mention get out of facing my feelings about my parent’s divorce). It took about 20 years for me to realize that seeing as that veil had already been lifted, I would never experience the same sense of ‘enlightenment’ from drugs again – and that in fact, taking drugs is kind of like opening the door to your soul to an unknown entity and handing over the controls (which is why a lot of drug highs feel so scary). There are lots of drugs at BM, and part of my brain (the drunk part) still believes in those kind of highs. But experience – mainly experiences of the numinous variety – has shown me that when your soul is allowed to navigate its own route to bliss, there is no fear, there is no comedown and there is UNLIMITED POTENTIAL FOR PERSONAL GROWTH.

But take enough and you might experience time travel: So my friend-who-shall-remain-nameless met a ‘medicine woman’ dancing at Robot Heart, and asked; ‘what can I learn from you?’ They spent the next 24 hours together out in the deep Playa, during which time the medicine woman gave my friend ‘more drugs than I’ve taken in my life – cocaine, LSD, mushrooms, molly’, and my friend claims she experienced time travel and understood that immortality is entirely possible. Those are the kind of drug experiences I guess I would like to have, but am basically scared s***less of.

Even in the deepest of Playa, where you literally feel like you are on the edge of the Cosmos, a tweaking raver from Liverpool will hunt you down and try to fill your head with her relationship problems: Know that you do not have to let this totally kill your mushroom buzz, and that it is always within your power to simply stand up, kiss her goodnight and ride away.

Sunset: navigating the duality of night and day

Life is an exercise in duality: Clean, dirty; give, receive; high, low; hot, cold. All of which it feels like BM is set up to make ABUNDANTLY CLEAR.

Whiskey Flats RV park (Hawthorn, NV) is the Park Hyatt of RV parks: Okay maybe our perspective was somewhat skewed…but man, I could have kissed the pristine, floral-scented toilet when we stopped off here on our way back to Vegas to clean our RV and empty the putrid ‘black water’ tank. Oh and they also have free coffee and a Laundromat!! I’ve always loved doing laundry. Doing it here was like doing laundry on ecstasy. This is the website in case you need it for next year.

Digital cold turkey isn’t difficult: I’m addicted as the best of us, but I can honestly say I didn’t miss social media or email ONCE during my BME. I even found it hard to let it back into my life, like I’d got a newfound respect for exactly how DICTATOR-LIKE it is. The sense of serenity that comes from being offline is blissful, and observing my online life from the other side I was able to witness the physical, emotional and intellectual hold technology has on us. But, you know, now I’m fully back on the juice and loving it.

I am actually obsessed with the Body’s Ability To Bounce Back (BABB): Okay it’s taken a week to muster the brain cells and the discipline to get this post together, but that’s a lot to do with the fact I’ve also spent a lot of time marvelling at how GOOD IT FEELS to inch my way back into the healthful, spiritually aligned, fully embodied state I usually seek to maintain (a.k.a. get over the comedown). Bryan (the anaesthetist) said he still marvels daily at the BABB, how our organism is consistently seeking to bring itself into balance. Seriously, gotta love the BABB.

Even in the most Mystical of Worlds, I am very much a Material Girl: But I’ve always been pretty upfront about that one, hey.

My life is really freaking awesome: Since my return to the ‘default’ world, I’ve been feeling THE IMMENSEST AMMOUNT OF GRATITUDE FOR – in no particular order of wonderfulness – being clean, fresh water and the sewage system, work that brings me so much satisfaction and helps me define my ‘edges’, electricity, the bond I share with my beautiful husband, groceries, my cat purring, blowdries, the Internet. And an event like Burning Man, for helping me TRULY appreciate the fact.

Burningman.com

ESCAPE TO EDEN: IS BURNING MAN A SPRITUAL GAME CHANGER?

Is making the pilgrimage to Burning Man a spiritual game-changer, or can that change only occur within? The conscious party scene can be a portal for sure, but there’s no fast track to enlightenment, says David H. Wagner. Homepage image: Elena Kulikova via Behance.net 

Recently, I shared an email exchange with a young seeker in our community. She was considering making it to Burning Man this summer. I have to preface this whole thing by saying I have nothing against BM. I have dear friends and colleagues that go every year, I think it’s actually pretty cool. Overall, I’m glad it exists.

This could just as easily be written about a South American Shamanic Retreat, or a hot new weekend workshop, or someone signing up for a Yoga Teacher Training. It just so happens it’s about BM. That aside, I think there are valuable points in here about the cross pollination between yoga, spiritual disciplines, partying, and consciousness expanding drug use. Here’s a snippet from the email:

“As an elder in this spiritual scene I’ve seen so much of this over the years. I’m not against partying – and the kind of partying at Burning Man is probably a lot more positive than other party scenes you’ll find. But if you choose to go – just be clear what you’re getting into. Many people will talk about it like it’s a spiritually ‘game changing’ experience – but in many ways it’s just a slightly spiritualized party.

You might experience a little anarchy, or get naked in public, or take some E or some acid, or smoke some weed, or dance all night, or have ‘deep conversations’ with people while doing any of the above. And if you were TOTALLY closed before that, or TOTALLY uptight or TOTALLY un-awakened then it’s true that any of these experiences could be profound…”

True. If I could send my conservative Kentuckian cousins to Burning Man, they might come back transformed. But the young seeker I was writing to was already very open-minded and in the process of awakening, and looking for training and a deepening of her experience. Here’s some more:

“Anyone can FEEL free taking E and dancing naked at Burning Man. But feeling free and learning to BE free are two different things.

And…too much of the former actually can hinder the experience of awakening. In all my years working on a spiritual level with people, there have been only a handful of people I really couldn’t help. Among them the ones who’ve burned their neurotransmitters out on E, or built up a whole quasi-spiritual identity based on these external experiences. In my experience, getting high prevents people from learning to be high.

These sorts of experiences are good doorways – if the doors are stuck. But the idea is to then walk through them. You don’t hang around the doorway, or deify the door, or the openers. You move forward, you find your vision for life. You live your vision.

Ram Dass has awesome teachings about all this. Once he asked his guru Neem Karoli Baba about using drugs as a spiritual means. The Maharaji said; ‘You can use it to see Christ. But you can’t use it to become Christ’.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all into experiencing new things. The thing is, when people rave about the experience (pun intended), I think that’s more about the raver than the rave. People can have deep experiences even at super hokey things. It’s the same when people have been in the presence of great masters and have been exposed to great practices and teachings, but only a handful get the deep benefits. It’s what’s going on inside that counts.

More from the email:

“A sincere seeker will get benefit from even the stupidest bullshit. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. If you haven’t already, you’ll hear about ayahuasca, and Ecstasy, and all sorts of substances that people have found to be the key to their awakening. Or you’ll have people try to enroll you into some new coaching method, or a radical health approach they found to be the ‘answer.’ And often times you’ll hear about these things from really goodhearted people. And for them, in this snippet of time, it may have been the answer.

But over the years I’ve seen that things come and go. Even if, in the moment, they are THE THING for a group of people, like all things, they then move on. What remains, hopefully, are the seekers and their sincere intention to live in wisdom and freedom. All the long-term yogis and path-walkers I know have cycled through dozens of different ‘game-changers of the moment.’ And as we have, we’ve seen countless good people get swept up and lost in these things when they lost their sense of self and perspective.”

On the spiritual path, we need to know what we’re after. And know ourselves well enough to know whether or not we’re on the right track. It also helps to have some elders around. People who have some seasoning and can offer some perspective. Even after 26 years on the path, I feel like I barely qualify – but none the less, when someone like this person has a question, I feel it’s our duty to answer, even if I sound old and lame.

As a young seeker, your beauty, your sincerity and your light are all qualities that people are going to lust after. And not just in a sexual way, I mean organizations lusting after your enthusiasm and your brightness. I mean “scenes” lusting after your awesome energy and vitality. If you’re getting into all of this at a young age, you will likely have a lot of different ponds to swim in.

It’s all good. Swim in them.

But listen to your gut before you dive in, heart first. Just know there are a lot of blind people out there leading other blind people, and some straight up jackals too. So stay alert. Stay in touch with your heart. And you’ll be good.

Read more from David and learn about his work at Davidhwagner.com

COUNTDOWN TO BLACK ROCK CITY: 51 BURNING MAN ESSENTIALS

Here it comes…the countdown to BURNING MAN 2014 is on! As the final preparations take place, we canvassed the most seasoned Burners of the Numinati to compile the ultimate pre-playa check-list…Images: Reka Nyari and Michael Chichi

:: JANA PINCHBECK, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR PLANETARY CULTURE ::

Friends. I am coming with my two best girlfriends from London and a few from New York. I cannot imagine BM without a court of fabulous sexy friends

Masha Lunara Feather Hair Clips, $98. Expect to have lucid dreams if you fall asleep wearing these!

Sun protection. Heliocare Ultra SPF 90 Cream 50 Ml. is the best ever non-greasy natural plant extract that protects your skin from burning sun on the playa

Shannon Shiang Phoenix Wings Pendant, $225. Shannon’s pieces take inspiration from sacred geometry and nature

The Doors of Perception: Heaven and Hell (Thinking Classics) by Aldous Huxley. The only book that I am taking this year, recommended by a friend James Oroc who is the author of Tryptamine Palace

:: CLOSET – DRESS FOR THE EXPERIENCE AND THE ENVIRONMENT ::

Religion Insignia Faux Fur Coat, $328.90
Feather Junkie Earrings, $80
JADEtribe Cross-Body Bag, $198
Teeki Capri Leggings, $52
Bandana, $88, Marc by Marc Jacobs
River Island Biker Boots, $69.95
Magenta Anime Curls Wig, $16.99
Touchtip Tie-dye Gloves, $26.99

:: TALI EDUT, CO-FOUNDER, ASTROSTYLE.COM ::

Interactive giveaways. These are great icebreakers, like these Metallic Jewelry Temporary Tattoos. People love to adorn themselves there, so when you can help them channel that, all the better

Fresh food. Forget what you heard about only eating out of cans or Tasty Bites. This woman’s suggestions have kept me well fed on the playa

A comfy chair. There’s a lot of time to lounge when the Sun is out and a sturdy camp chair like this Telescope Casual Cabana Beach Folding Chair is a godsend

Battery operated costume lights. A strand of Ultra Thin 30 Micro LEDs with a little battery pack are great. I love to drape them over my faux-fur coat (another Burner essential)

No Rinse Bathing Wipes. Kind of like a baby wipe on steroids.

:: CAMP – MAKE YOUR HOME THE SWEETEST HOME ::

Bubble Inflatables Blow-up Couch, $51.88
Boombotix Boombot Portable Weatherproof Speaker, $26.97
White Magic Room Spray, $16
First Aid Kit, $29.94
Espiritus Del Ande Palo Santo, Wiraqoya and Copal Incense, $20

:: VICTORIA KEEN, DESIGNER ::

An offering for the temple. Think, photos of loved ones that have passed, a significant object, or simply some heartfelt words to leave there

Teeny glass vials with cork stoppers to collect some playa dust in. Some people make them into necklaces

Vega Jewelry Aqua Aura Quartz, $325

Proper eye wear. The sun is serious out there

Raw organic energy bars. To keep with you at all times in case you are having an adventure and don’t want to be bothered by finding food

Gaia Goddessa Head-dress, $400

:: KITCHEN – NOURISH YOUR BODY, NOURISH YOUR SPIRIT ::

Cider vinegar (your all-purpose cleaner) – Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar by Bragg (1 gallon) $19.09

Aloha powdered greens, $40

Aloe Force (to keep things flowing on the go) – Herbal Whole Raw Aloe Vera Juice 32 fl. oz. $35.60

Veev Sustainable Acai Spirit, $34.99

Coconut oil (for your food and your face) – Barlean’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 16-Ounce Jar, $12.99

Urban Moonshine Organic Digestive Bitters, $7.99

:: COSMETIC – ALL HAIL THE EMBODIED BODY BEAUTIFUL ::

Lulu Organics Jasmine Hair Powder (dry shampoo), $30
Living Proof No Frizz Leave-in Conditioner, $24
Lotus Wei Joy Juice Perfume, $45
Suti Fabulous Organic Foot Balm, $30
Soapwalla Deodorant Cream, $14
Remee Lucid Dream Enhancing Eye Mask, $100

 :: ERICA JAGO, FOUNDER, JAGO YOGA ::

An old journal to burn in the temple. Time to say c’est la vie to the past and bring good fortune to the future

Socks. Cleaning my feet, moisturizing, then putting on a new pair of socks = heaven! (Happy Socks, $12)

An open heart. Can you love everyone the same, without holding rank and expand your limits on love?

A fanny pack. Filled with gifts to hand out to special people I meet during the ride (Pendleton, $119)

K-Y Jelly. The bike seat gets brutal after day five, especially when all you wear are bikini bottoms. Just a little bit can smooth things out. You can thank me later 🙂

www.burningman.com

NEW YEAR, NU YOU: DESIGN YOUR OWN YOGA SEQUENCE

Over six years of teaching yoga, Erica Jago has developed her own practical yet deeply intuitive methodology for designing a sequence that will heal the body, open the mind and touch the soul. She shares her process here – which can be used to design a group class, or a solo sequence just for you.


YOGA BY DESIGN: STEP-BY-STEP

sankalpa – Begin by writing three to five sentences in the form of a sankalpa that can be used at the opening of your sequence to set to the mood.

anatomical focus – Next, define the anatomical focus in a short bulleted list. For example, if I want my class to land in the heart, I would instruct this: “Lengthen the sides of your waist upward,” “Fearlessly move the heads of your arm bones back,” “Bring the tips of your shoulder blades to the back of your heart,” “Expand your collarbones.” This becomes the alignment you will cue in every pose.

sequence – Next comes the sequence. By drawing out the sequence using Asanaglyphs you can record the progression of poses you want to flow through over the course of the class.

three wave grid – That progression of poses is mapped out over a three-way grid that 1) warms you up, 2) takes you to the peak pose and 3) winds you down for shavasana.

peak pose – consider what you want to be the point of highest activity.

talking points – Lastly, I further develop the theme by writing down bite-sized talking points that can be used sporadically to help deepen the meaning of the poses.

DO YOU USE THE SAME PROCESS WHEN YOU’RE DESIGNING A SEQUENCE FOR YOUR PERSONAL ‘USE’?
Yes. I don’t teach a sequence unless I’ve fully embodied the language of those truths within myself. This has taught me how to listen to the tone of my voice, remix inspirations and to choose themes based on what has momentum in my current situation. The themes I choose come from a deep desire to master a concept more fully.

DO YOU SPEAK THE ORAL CUES TO YOURSELF WHILE PRACTISING THE SEQUENCE?
Hilariously, yes. And I’ve even filmed myself, which was horrifying! But this methodology ensures a sense of clarity for me, even before I step into the classroom, because I’ve contemplated it, practiced it, and experienced it first hand.

WHAT IS A ‘SANKALPA’ AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BEGIN WITH THIS?
A Sankalpa is the  mood you want the experience to be infused with. This feeling and intention is what you return to again and again as you design your own yoga sequence, to reiterate the teachings at the cellular level.

WHAT’S A GOOD WAY TO GUAGE WHAT KIND OF THEME IS GOING TO BE MOST USEFUL FOR YOU AT ANY GIVEN TIME? 
The chakras. Feeling for what’s happening at these energy centers in our bodies that will bring about magic every time. Concentrate on one of these channels at the start of your sequence and continue to tune into that frequency, pose after pose, and you’ll find that you are opened up to deep seated memories and even spiritual experiences.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GO ABOUT DEFINING THE ANATOMICAL FOCUS YOU WANT TO WORK WITH?
I believe setting an anatomical focus is a methodical and logical way to learn how to serve and nourish our own hearts. Using a series of arm balances or backbends, for example, with simple, relevant cues, grants us access to those areas of the body that can otherwise be merely esoteric. The clichéd concept of “love yourself” is more easily grasped when you align the architecture of your body and attention of your mind with the latitude of the body that’s known for generating and broadcasting love.

DO YOU HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT ARTIST TO DRAW THE ASANAGLYPHS?
Absolutely not. If you can draw a straight line you can draw them, while grid paper will help with the scaling. The Asanaglyphs are scaled three squares wide by four squares high. Most yoga poses are set at 90°angles, and I’ve learned over time that the figures look better when you keep the heads small (no pun intended!)

HOW MANY POSES SHOULD YOU AIM FOR IN A 30-MINUTE SEQUENCE?
That depends on the style of yoga you’re practising. Vinyasa will include more poses, with cues to “pulsate” between them, while Restorative or Yin will feature less. I’ve begun to study and value a slower, more cooling practice. A 30-minute flow that I do before bed includes forward and backbends that stimulate and nourish the kidneys and adrenal glands. Sphinx pose, Saddle pose, Seal, Butterfly, Half Butterfly, Caterpillar, Reclining Twist.

IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO DECIDE YOUR ‘PEAK POSE’ BEFORE YOU BEGIN? 
Occasionally, if this is what inspired you to design the sequence. The peak pose traditionally happens in Wave Two and gives you a starting point to work backwards from to create Wave One. Think; what needs to be open in order for you to come into the full expression of the peak pose? And with Wave Three; how can I counter the peak pose and gradually bring myself back down? After some thought and contemplation, notice if these series of expansions and contractions change your perception of the pose and how you practise it.

IS THE PEAK POSE THE MOST DIFFICULT OR CHALLENGING POSE, OR THE POSE THAT GETS DEEPEST INTO YOUR THEME? 
Traditionally, Peak Pose means the most challenging, but I would love to think that by using this creative process, it would allow for both options to be true.

IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO PRACTISE THE SEQUENCE AS IT DEVELOPS TO HELP IT EVOLVE MORE NATURALLY?
That is the only way to do it! Spread your mat on the floor, grab a cup of water, your Jambox, your timer, your source of inspiration, a pen and two sheets of 8.5 x 11 grid paper. On one sheet sketch out the three wave grid and keep the other sheet for writing out your talking points. Begin by moving your body and breath, stopping to take notes as you go, and recording the poses with Asanaglyphs. Give yourself one hour of uninterrupted time, meaning no getting up to check your mail or do dishes, but staying close to the earth, candle lit, and letting the design of your sequence be an intertwined act of creativity and spirituality.

The best part is that by recording it this way, your sequence becomes a work of art. I can come back to the sequences I’ve designed again and again, and so eventually each one becomes part of my DNA. You can find some of these drawings on my Pinterest and Instagram accounts: @Jagoyoga.

Contemporary Yoga Sequencing will be held at Noelani’s Studio in Haleiwa, Oahu on January 31. Erica Jago will be speaking at Wanderlust Oahu on Feb 27th.

Jagoyoga.com

DESERT ROSE: ERICA JAGO ON SPIRIT, SEX AND CREATIVITY

Jago Yoga founder Erica Jago talks to Ruby Warrington about finding her freedom at the Burn and creative collaborations her her twin flame. Images by Michael Chichi.

I first came across the work of Erica Jago and Michael Chichi in Art of Attention, the book Erica co-authored with NYC yogini extraordinaire Elena Brower.

The book opens with instructions for a fast-paced flow sequence to Reduce Tension and Find Forgiveness, and I was blown away by Michael’s accompanying images of Erica and Elena, set against the backdrop of Burning Man’s Black Rock City.

This was yoga FROM ANOTHER PLANET. One where fierce postures were infused with fashion, sex and a powerful and raw femininity. At the time, The Numinous was still in the very earliest phases of conception – but; “look,” I would tell people, “THIS is Numinous.”

When I reached out to Erica and Michael about creating some images for the site, I was beyond psyched when they said yes. Here are the results. And here is Erica on her yoga, her man and how she believes “my spirituality, sexuality and creativity” are one and the same thing.

ERICA, I FIRST CAME ACROSS YOUR WORK IN ART OF ATTENTION. HOW DID YOU AND ELENA FIRST CONNECT?
Elena’s poetic yoga classes came into my life right when I needed support and inspiration. I was transitioning out of a 13-year relationship, my job had just laid me off and I had no choice but to take my dreams seriously. Terrified of failure, I reluctantly sent her a pdf of my book and within days she responded with; “Could we / should we work together?” DREAM COME TRUE! Our relationship since has completely changed the course of my life. Not only did Elena bring me into her world, but she encouraged me to elevate mine on every level.

AND HOW DID YOU AND MICHAEL FIRST MEET?
Michael! My twin flame. I was kind of stalking him online, because his photography and artwork made me swoon. It’s like he spoke the language of my heart through his visuals. Again, it came down to ASK and you shall receive. When I first reached out, we agreed to met in person about web design and photography. What I thought was a “business meeting” turned quickly into a discussion about relationships, spirituality and…Burning Man!

AH, THE BURN. IT’S IS OBVIOUSLY A SPECIAL PLACE FOR YOU TWO…
When I finally started attending these transformational festivals with Michael, I found myself moving my body and expressing myself ‘wildly,’ in a way that used to invoke caution to be careful, to be realistic and remind myself of my own limitations. Instead these experiences liberated and revolutionised my self-confidence. After years of putting out the request to learn self-love, I believe the Universe conspired the union between Michael and I that brought me to the Burn through the spiritual law of attraction.

WHAT ARE YOUR SIGNS, AND WHAT PART DOES THIS PLAY IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
Michael is Sagittarius, I am Leo. Both Fire signs! I believe Michael appreciates the way I’m not afraid to shine and take the lead, and I respect his outward focus on the world.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER ON A CREATIVE LEVEL?
Michael’s favorite line is; “When two people are saying YES, anything is possible…”

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THIS PROCESS TO ME?
You can count on me to take the lead in many, if not all of our creative projects. Michael shows up with a willingness to work as a team and there is a clear understanding on both our parts that there is something much larger at work here. We both know our place in the process, and our fiery passion to express beauty is magnetic to the type of work we attract. Hence working with The Numinous!

 

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE PROJECT YOU SHOT FOR US?
Our inspiration for this shoot was really the sculpture. Michael knows both the artists, so we sought their pieces out specifically. Also, we always tried to shoot at 6am or 6pm, which we call ‘magic hour,’ that cinematic time of day with its soft luminosity.

YOU REALLY KNOW HOW TO PUT A LOOK TOGETHER. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR CLOTHES AND HOW DO YOU STYLE YOURSELF?
My favorite designer is Lurdes Bergada. I found them in Barcelona while biking near the Rambla Catalunya. The window display stopped me in my tracks; feminine in nature but with that REVOLUCIÓN androgynous feel. I seek contemporary clothing with soft lines, clean shapes and natural fabrics for practicing yoga in, but which still have a sensual side for bopping around town and meeting friends out. The saris women wear in India are a huge inspiration for me and I love to adorn my body with bangles and bracelets…and body paint!

ANY RULES FOR THRIVING IN THE DESERT ENVIRONMENT?
Love your camp. Have a cushion for your bike seat. Plenty of baby wipes

SO WHAT’S THE PHILOSOPHY OF YOUR YOGIC PRACTICE?
When we meet on the mat, I believe we are doing the work to become whole. This is an act of remembering who we really are, when all the outside programming and input is brought to a minimum and we resolve to stay present in the heart. In fact, the heart breath is an excellent way into our wholeness. Keeping our awareness right above the heart and below the throat is how we align all aspects of ourselves with love. It means seeing this life as a gift that we are the caretakers of.

AND DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL LIFE PHILOSOPHY?
I think everything we say, do and think has to be a “win, win” for all concerned, otherwise it’s not worthy of the heart space. And that if we practice together, we are in it together..

WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR NATURAL AFFINITY FOR SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS?
My grandmother was one of the first evangelical women preachers in Ohio and my father has saved cassette tapes of her voice in church. When I listen to those teachings I can hear the same inflection in my voice when I’m guiding a group. So there’s a lineage here that my soul signed up for, and it’s like my body is equipped to further the universal messages of love through art and design. I know my grandmother is very proud.

FINALLY, IN WHAT WAYS IS ‘BEAUTY’ AN EXPRESSION OF THE SPIRITUAL?
I love this question. I see no difference between my spirituality, sexuality and creativity. All three are working to evolve us into the next level of love through beauty and attraction. Beauty drives the feeling of peace and until each one of us knows how to find that place in ourselves, and to align with it, we will never have world peace.

Art of Attention by Erica Jago and Elena Brower is out now.

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@jagoyoga