MY MYSTICAL LIFE: LIFE LESSONS FROM THE ROAD

From Austin, TX, to the West Coast…it’s been a week of life lessons from the road.

:: MONDAY—WEDNESDAY::
Anybody who follows my Instagram feed will know the Pisces and I have been on a road-trip the past two weeks. Schedule: Austin—Marfa—Santa Fe—Sedona—Grand Canyon—Vegas—Palm Springs—Joshua Tree—LA. And it has been a TRIP—meaning the daily checking off of bucket list items, AND the deep and thorough examination of the contents of my head / current situation.

As I’m back in NY for a few days this week (yep there’s more to come!), I wanted to take the opportunity to record a few spiritual lessons from the road. Here goes:

Even your soul project / true calling / dharma work can become a ball and chain if you let it. In fact, there’s perhaps an even stronger likelihood of it taking over your entire life than a “regular” job where you clock in and out every day, since it’s what you were “born to do.” Like breathing. And so it feels natural to do it ALL THE TIME. Getting away from my desk and onto the open road gave me some invaluable perspective on how, with so many projects bubbling (book, sweatshirt line, live events, Club SÖDA NYC, etc!) I have allowed The Numinous to become my everything this year, to the point that there was no space in my life for…ME. Let alone for it to still feel like fun. This realization hit has I found myself trying to get a WiFi signal hiking somewhere in the Sedona red rocks, and suffering extreme bouts of anxiety at the number of unread emails that were building up while I “wasted time” checking out the Grand Canyon. I mean WT actual F?

A road trip is the perfect crucible from some honest self-reflection. Since your driving buddy essentially acts as a giant mirror for all your shit—kind of like your higher self observes your ego mind running rings around itself in meditation. In my case, the Pisces was the voice of my higher self—my fretting over where to do the conference call I had scheduled in TWO DAYS TIME, my fearful monkey mind trying to stay in “control” as my external environment shifted on an hourly basis. “You don’t have to do any of it if you don’t want to,” he reminded me. “You chose all this.” And what a fucking privilege too! The key insight being, that if I chose this work, then it is absolutely in my power to un-choose any bits that are no longer working for me. Like responding to every email I get within the hour. And same goes for all of us, in ANY situation, actually. YOU get to chose where your energy goes.

I do not need any more crystals, animal totems, oracle decks, or bunches of sage. A.k.a. all the trappings of “spiritual materialism”—a term that’s come up a few times lately, and so obviously was asking to be pondered. Not to mention my go-to on every stop of our trip being to seek out the best esoteric book store in town—which began to feel a bit like bypassing the art and going straight to the museum shop. As you can imagine, my house is FULL of spiritual paraphernalia—a Ganesh here, a clutch of crystals there. And it’s all very pretty. But I can’t honestly say I feel a true connection to most of it. And what become so clear on my trip was that all that “stuff,” for me, is simply a collection of talismans for the real spiritual work (the “art,” if you like) that’s happening on the inside. What I would define as the honest self-inquiry into WHO I AM and WHAT I NEED be the most fully me—as in, the truest expression of my spiritual self. Example: a healer I worked with recently told me a could use some Malachite in my life. But as I found myself returning lump after lump of the pretty green rock to its shelf in various esoteric stores along our route, I was also coming to the realization that what I truly need to develop spiritually is less time responding to emails, and more discernment on where I’m placing my energy (see points no. 1 & 2).

My email / work addiction is way worse than my alcohol addiction. As I explained when I wrote out my sober curious story a couple of weeks ago, my path to a more sober life over the past few years has meant a lot of sober firsts. And besides a few beers at the Austin City Limits festival on the first night of our trip, this has been my first ever (well, since the age of 15 or so I guess) sober vacation. “Holiday drinking” had always been my sobriety hall-pass (“I’ll only drink on holiday”), and so stepping outside of this has allowed for plenty of opportunity to witness my alcohol cravings and where they come from. And—ta-da!—the majority of the time I find myself fantasizing about a cocktail, it’s to flick the switch from work to play mode. Or rather, numb out the constant desire to…numb out with work and email! Being off my laptop has meant being fully present with my (not always exactly carefree, vacay-ready) self—showing me the extent to which I use work / being productive and busy, as a way to NOT just be with me. Which is what vacations are all about…which is why I now see I always held booze (believing it to be the most effective off-switch from work) as a vacay staple.

Hugging trees is the best. The hippies knew it, and every time I remember to do it I’m reminded how good and grounding, how calm, regenerative, and holy it feels to put your arms around a tree and really squeeze. Cut to Joshua Tree, where I found myself doing some filming with my boo Alexandra Roxo for a VERY EXCITING PROJECT (yes, another one!!) we’re launching on your asses next month. At one point, Roxo whips off her shirt and grabs the nearest trunk—the naked part not so natural for me, but my own tree-hug just as heartfelt. Our mutual friend Madeline has got into it lately too, “and she says it’s like doing a drug deal,” Alexandra joked. “In the city, you have to look in all directions and then go for it while you’re sure no-body’s watching.” Well, I say screw that! Who cares if they see? Tree-hugger and proud. A part of me I’ve been happy to re-connect with on the road.

Scenes from The Softer Image. Behind me, there was wild dancing and kava shots…

:: THURSDAY ::
I have to make some space here for beautiful Luke Simon’s nightlife experiment The Softer Image, a substance-free “high-vibe lounge” that debuted in NYC tonight. So happy I was back in town for this!! Said vibey “highs” were supplied by the equally divine Sah D’Simone‘s alchemical elixirs and tonics, a group trance to kick the evening off by talented hypnotherapist Shauna Cummins, and THE BEST old school housey soundtrack from DJ Bryce Hackford. There were hugs, wild dancing, impromptu reiki sessions, and my clock read 11.11pm before I knew it. Held in a Chinatown loft, maybe it was the kava shots, but the feel I kept getting was 4am-loved-up-after-party—only it all ended by midnight and everybody was completely sober. Thank you, Universe (and Luke), for hearing my pleas—and delivering a new way to switch off from work and have FUN. No alcohol required!

:: FRIDAY ::
I hate the rain. But today I love the rain. Since I’m my own boss, I shall be choosing to mainly work from underneath my duvet. Which will mostly mean reading the early proofs of Guru Jagat’s new book Invincible Living, ahead of my live Q&A with her at tomorrow’s Numinous Presents event in Brooklyn. I bet she has a thing or two to say about email addiction…since Kundalini yoga was developed by Yogi Bhajan as an antidote to what he saw (way back in the sixties) as the onset of “technology sickness.” Intrigued? There a still a few spots left—click here to discover more and sign up. 

 

COMFORTABLY NUMB: JUST SAY NO TO PEOPLE-PLEASING

Used to numbing out her own needs by being hyper-helpful, Kate Atkinson has been learning how to just say “NO” to people-pleasing…

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” – Charles Bukowski

People have asked a couple of things of me this month. You know, the usual friend favors. It happens daily right? Do you think you could walk my dog? Can I borrow some cash until the end of the month? Hey, would you mind checking over my resume? I’ve done it myself plenty of times, and given these small acts of good will in return. Natural right? Favors and back-scratching are a part of life…except that recently, I haven’t felt so accommodating.

In fact, there have been a few requests in lately where I’ve felt like saying: “do you know what actually—no.” Except that I won’t. Instead, I will let the emails fester in my inbox until they’ve burned a hole in my psyche, turning them over and over in my head until I think I am going to explode.

That’s right, I’m a “yes” wo(man). As in, I really don’t know how to say “no.” Like a narcotic, I get high on my own hyper-helpfulness—every email a ping of serotonin: “I got this.” Except that running on a treadmill of responsiveness has become exhausting, and these days I don’t know who I’m running the race for.

My “yes” complex has also proven to be a useful numbing strategy, when I’ve got sucked so far down the vortex of helping and fixing I fail to see things as they really are—acting so quickly to keep others happy that my own, likely un-met, needs become irrelevant. There’s an old adage that resentment is like letting someone live rent free in your head. And if that’s the case, I’ve been letting out an entire Brooklyn apartment block to a bunch of freaks.

In my research about how to get better at saying “no,” here’s my number one discovery—the modern way of affirming negative goes something like this: say nothing at all. Repeat.

In this always-connected age, the pretend-I-just-didn’t-get-the-memo is what comes out trumps. Ignore it, and hopefully it will disappear. But what’s it doing to us, this radio silence? And like, why can’t we just be fucking honest with each other? What I want to know is, when was the last time you said “no” to someone, guilt free?

Try it:

“No, I am not coming to that dinner because I think the people are extremely shallow and self absorbed.”

“No, I won’t head over when your boyfriend’s out of town because you didn’t answer my call when I needed you.”

“No, I won’t work for you for free because actually—what the blimmin’ heck have you done for me lately?”

Feels great right?

This is because, as Melodie Beattie writes in The Language of Letting Go: “When we learn to say no, we stop lying. People can trust us, and we can trust ourselves. All sorts of good things happen when we start saying what we mean…(and) we don’t have to offer long explanations for our decisions.”

Rewind to a me watching a talk by the inimitable Marina Abramovic. The outspoken Russian and her pal Laurie Anderson both had a fair bit to say about living vs dying, and both were riffing on codes to live by…how we are to get the most out of our lives in the limited time that we have on earth.

The theme that came through loud and strong was the importance of marching to the beat of one’s own drum. To cut it with the people-pleasing, and find your own voice. Because, to put it simply: YOLO.

Words that have sunk in, this past month, to a backdrop of several people in my circle suddenly dropping like flies. No morbid details, rather to say that sometimes, suddenly, you are served a brutal reminder that our days in this life are limited.

So how can we stop people-pleasing, and spend our precious hours crafting a life we want?
By getting comfortable that you’re going to miss out. By getting down with the fact that it’s okay to not show up when people “need” you sometimes. By realizing that you only get one life, and that while friends and intimacy are important, not for one second are you here to live your life for someone else. By realizing that while some people might bitch you out, your real mates are going to stick around.

N-O. Say it. Say it louder! Time to stop pepping with the yes pills. And settle into the headspace that comes from realizing that less can most definitely be more.