My self-care tips are all about balance, and it doesn’t have to cost a thing. PLUS the best self-care books of 2018 reviewed …
When Kelley Hughes of Philly-based apothecary brand Wilde Gatherings offered to show me her signature facial, it was a no-brainer. Right, you say. But being on book deadline while overseeing a total Numinous re-brand (coming v. soon!) and somehow juggling all my other projects means zero space in my diary for heading up to Midtown on a random Thursday afternoon. I don’t even really like facials.
But. Right now, anything to get me BACK INTO MY BODY is a no-brainer. With a chart that’s all Fire and Water and a work life that runs on Air (elementally and literally, since my Macbook and me are inseparable), Earth is what’s lacking. Grounding. Which means it’s on me to make sure I make space in my iCal for it. (And thank you so much Kelley it was divine! I like facials again!)
Meaning, for practices that invite human touch. For IRL conversations with hugs and vibes I can feel. That remind me of my physicality from the inside out. Without this WEIGHT to balance me out I may as well just float off into the Cloud.
Kelley’s line is based in Ayurvedic principals, which is also a science of balance. On a daily basis we can feel we’re too much of this, too little of that. The same imbalances that find us reaching for a quick fix. Coffee, sugar, booze. Mindless TV. Things to liven us up or calm us down. When often all we need is some time away from our phone, a nourishing meal, and a decent night’s sleep. Inviting in what brings us balance is the essence of self-care to me.
Here are four of my surprising self-care tips (which also don’t cost anything):
1 // Journaling in the middle of the night. When I get too Airy, my head gets full of crazy thoughts. They get so loud they often wake me up, and since SLEEP is my ultimate self-care rule, I will do anything to protect it. The best way to stop the thoughts? Get up and write them all down, IN THE DARK (turning a light on only makes the thoughts think they’ve won), on a piece of paper. Works like magic.
2 // Taking Instagram off my phone at night and on weekends. As an entrepreneur, I used to go around bitching / bragging about how I was always ON. How doing what I love means my work is my life, and how this is great, but can also feel relentless and like its own kind of treadmill. Then I realized I could create my own “office hours” by just simply IG off my phone! Game-changer! Of course I still work evenings and weekends, but in the peace and quiet of my own mind.
3 // Not drinking. The morning I began writing this post (including the “not drinking as self-care” tip) my friend Mia from @thesoberglow put a comment on Insta that basically said it all. Which is this: “No workout. No juice cleanse. No spa visit. No massage. No colonic. No vacation. No meditation. No dry scrub. No salt scrub. No detox. No wheatgrass shot. No hike. No manicure. No smoothie. Nor will any of the million things I could do to take care of myself ever be more potent, more radical or more important than my choice not to drink..” Alcohol is only fuel to my already raging Fire. A flood of Watery feelings where I already have plenty of those floating about. An ejector seat into the Airy ethers. My Sober Curiosity, above all, is what keeps me cool, dry, and with my feet planted firmly on the ground.
4 // Giving myself an extra hour in the morning. For drinking lemon water and meditating, yes, but mainly to give myself time for a proper poop 🙂
Want more pro self-care tips? Below, Lisa Kjellsson reviews 5 of the best self-care books for 2018 …
Recharge: A Year Of Self-Care To Focus On You, by Julie Montagu (Piatkus) When yoga teacher and nutritionist Julie Montagu’s husband became seriously ill, caring for him and their four children soon left her drained of energy and she realised she had to make some changes. Her book is a one-year commitment to self-care, split into monthly chapters focusing on topics such as mindful eating, stress management, digital detox and self-esteem. The chapters on finding your truth and living with purpose are especially inspiring. This refreshingly jargon-free book is essential reading if your intention for 2018 is to put yourself first, but will the format work for everyone? Most of us want to feel better now.
Self-Care For The Real World, by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips (Hutchinson) The long list of celebrity endorsements had me wondering whether this hyped title would be all lifestyle shots and hot air, but my initial scepticism was soon replaced by true book love. The Narain sisters touch on everything from body confidence to heartbreak, and share their strategies for navigating life with self-love and kindness. The tips on how to inject more self-care into the workplace, for example, might just make all the difference if you work in a high-pressure environment. This is a beautifully crafted book and, like Kate Moss, I want to give it to everyone I know.
The Self-Care Revolution: Smart Habits And Simple Practices To Allow You To Flourish, by Suzy Reading (Aster) As a psychologist specialising in stress management and healthy lifestyle change, Suzy Reading certainly has the credentials to write about self-care and her book draws on lots of interesting research as well as her own life experience. The ‘vitality wheel’ she has devised to help readers diagnose which areas of their life need more attention is particularly useful as it illustrates just how multifaceted a full life should be and how easy it is to neglect any one aspect. This practical guide to wellbeing also has excellent tips on goal setting and developing strong coping skills and will perhaps especially resonate with busy parents.
The Self Care Project: How To Let Go Of Frazzle And Make Time For You, by Jayne Hardy (Orion Spring) Having struggled with her mental health for most of her twenties, Jayne Hardy often wondered which came first, her lack of self-care or her depression. Her account of feeling too low to leave her bed or brush her teeth highlights the need for support for those in the same situation, and Hardy now runs a social enterprise in aid of those affected by depression. Her advice is to form a ‘self-care squad’, a group of friends to rely on for different types of encouragement. Sadly the good points she makes – about people pleasing and overcommitting, for example – are somewhat lost in a writing style best described as a stream of consciousness. Overall this is more of an insight into the author’s mind than a source of self-care inspiration.
The Little Book of Self Care: The Tiny Everyday Habits That Will Transform Your Life, by Mel Noakes (Ebury Press) Despite enjoying professional recognition and a social life filled with travel and parties, Mel Noakes had always battled with low self-esteem and for years used food, exercise and work to numb herself. After reassessing her life during a year of travel, she changed direction and became a life coach. Her book may be small in size but it packs a punch – covering everything from decluttering your home and nurturing your relationships to getting more sleep and managing your money. Financial self-care, as Noakes calls it, is not just to do with budgeting but also tackling the beliefs and values that may be holding us back from prosperity. The bite-sized chapters with actionable advice make this a great little book to refer to for a dose of mindful transformation.
For more book recommendations, check out @thelkedit on Instagram, where Lisa shares inspiring non-fiction reads.
Want a more meaningful beach retreat this summer? Colleen Kelly, Bret Caretsky and Madeleine Murphy of the Montauk Juice Factory, share their guide to spiritual Montauk…Images: Elayne Safir
Montauk: it’s the energy vortex of the East Coast summer. The air is special up here, charged with a cosmic energy that engulfs and transforms you the moment you cross the stretch. So if you’re planning a visit to The End, make the most of the vibes with our top 7 ways to elevate your mind, body and spirit—allowing the blend of salty air and sacred land guide you on an inward journey to the deepest part of yourself.
1. Ground down. Meaning kick off your shoes (and socks) and feel the earth. Enjoy a long, barefoot beach walk is gonna feel extra special since the sand between your toes in Montauk is made of small fragments of clear quartz, leaving you feeling instantly clearer and stronger. Let the negative ions seep into your skin, and balance out the positively charged toxins in your body.
2. Be a litter picker. During your stay, if you see any loose litter blowing down the beaches pick it up and recycle—to give Mother Earth the signal to continue to give back to you throughout your visit.
2. Get salty. Visit the Montauk Salt Cave for a holistic and rejuvenating wellness experience surrounded with the healing energy of pink Himalayan sea salts and rocks. Designed to clear toxins from our lungs and nasal passageways, this magical place is deeply restorative for the respiratory tract and spirit. Check out their website to see what salty healing events they have going on. If you’re lucky you may even stumble upon a Kundalini class with our good friend and gong queen, Jen Frasher.
3. Salute the sun. Watching the sunrise or sunset can lessen anxiety, stress and depression, since it encourages us to slow down and be conscious in the moment, as we observe every streak the sun has painted in the sky. Soon your mood will match the colors—bright and vibrant—and you will naturally have less headspace for irritability and worry, and more for beauty and joy. We recommend checking out the beaches at Navy Road where you can watch the sun set over the water in the summer months. Visualize the energy from the sun spreading from your crown to the rest of the body while letting the sounds of the water relax your inner being.
4. Get tribal. Weekly drum circles are held on the beach, but you’ll have to ask around to try to attend one. It’s worth the legwork to connect to the rhythmic beat, tap into your primal side, and unleash your inner wild.
5. Unplug and create. If you’re looking for a place to get quiet and seek inspiration, try the walking labyrinth—a hidden gem built by a local community group. Overlooking Fort Pond Bay, this intricate path of stones is a beautiful spot for walking meditations, contemplation and mindful moments. Every step is a chance to remind yourself of something to be grateful for; to let go of something that is holding you back; or to just be fully present in the moment.
6. Get your flow going. Yoga is obviously a yes in Montauk! Our favorite is Yoga Lila (which means “divine play” in Sanskrit) for creative classes in a beautiful, inspiring studio—or try their SUP yoga classes if you are a drawn to the water.
7. Make some magic. A definite date for the diary is the Montauk Magic Retreat. Hosted by Numinous contributor Fern Olivia and rockstar shaman Alyson Charles in a private home by the ocean, you can enjoy daily movement and meditation, beach hikes, chanting, chakra and aura cleansing accompanied, by plant based cuisine and MJF cold-pressed juices. July 20-25 2016.
8. Pay us a visit. This isn’t just a shameless plug! Swing by 12 South Etna Avenue to fuel your body and your high-vibe vacay with high-integrity juices and smoothies. Our organic, nutrient-dense juices are made with intentional, purpose-driven recipes to make every cell in your body rejoice.
Inspired by our cosmic surroundings and natural environment, we also offer the MJF Apothecary—a rad self-care line of botanical beauty formulas that are holistic, gentle and effective. Drawing on the wisdom of the earth, the power of the ocean and the magic of the same functional ingredients we use in our raw kitchen, every product is 100% organic and handcrafted in small batches—all designed to keep your Montauk glow shining even longer.
Join The Montauk Juice Factory and Kalisa Augustine for a special Spirit Animal 101 workshop July 16 2016. Learn what a spirit animal is and how to connect with yours, followed by a shamanic journey with sound healing crystal bowls, guided visualization, served up with high vibe raw food and juices. All the details are at this link!
There’s a new kid on the holistic healing scene: floral tapping.
During sadhana a few months back, I received the “download” to work with flower essences topically. It’s not often that I get such clear cut, specific instructions from The Universe. And so when this happens, despite any resistance, it feels like I’d better follow through at some point.
And so I’ve been using the flowers in both my private sessions and workshops, and while people aren’t quite sure what’s happening, what they do know is that they feel different. A shift is happening.
Flower essences are the energetic imprint of the flower/tree captured in water. Subtle energy medicine. They do not have a scent and are mixed with grain alcohol or brandy as a preservative. The essences are vibrational remedies that work on the emotional energy body. When we use flower essences, we get attuned to the healing frequency of the flowers – which is essentially about raising our own vibration.
Since this is subtle energy work, it can take some time to recognize the shift that is taking place. It’s not like popping a pill for instant relief – although in this Aquarian age, as more and more of us are waking up and tuning in through energy work and practices like Kundalini Yoga, we may feel the effects faster.
As for floral tapping? It’s a technique that combines these vibrational essences with various tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) modalities. In fact, think of it as EFT – super-charged. By delivering the vibrational essences along several acupuncture points around the ear as we tap, we are loading up on energetic goodness.
And with the swirling energy of Eclipse Season on the way, here’s a grounding floral tapping ritual for extra vibrational support.
What You’ll Need
A grounding flower essence such as Walnut – which is excellent for grounding and protection, to help with change and transition. Also to be used as a shield during an epic sample sale, or the subway at rush hour. Bach flower essences are available in most health food stores as well as at Whole Foods.
A small cup/bowl of spring water or filtered tap water. To prepare, hold the bottle and tap the bottom into the palm of your opposite hand eight times to activate, holding your intention for your ritual in your mind. Add two drops of the essence to water.
Floral Tapping :: The Flower Power Tap – Right Side Only
Prepare a short, simple grounding affirmation expressed in the positive. Some examples you might use: “I am grounded and calm” / “I am grounded and sovereign of my energy / “I embody my truth” / “Sat Nam” (which means “truth is my identity”)
Now bring the fingertips of the right hand together, bunched loosely. Dip your fingers in the activated flower essence water.
Begin solidly tapping with the fingers, starting at the right temple by the opening of the ear. Continue to tap, circling the right ear, while saying the affirmation. Take a deep breath in and out. Tune into the rooted, grounding energy.
Do this three-five rounds at least five times a day, and at least 30 minutes apart.
In the midst of our busy lives in our glorious urban jungles, tap into the essence of the flowers to ground you back to earth. Vibrational medicine works to support us, to allow us to live our life in the full technicolor sensory system of our very human being.
The February 22 Virgo Full Moon is our annual opportunity to ground our wildest dreams into our everyday reality, says Hannah Ariel.
“When you are far away from reality, your fantasy won’t work.” – Yogi Bhajan
February 22 there will be a Virgo Full Moon, a sign that is exacting in its every endeavor. Virgo energy works out of necessity. This mercurial sign is the very fabric of our reality; Virgo does exactly what makes the most sense based on the current circumstance – and yet, acknowledging that circumstances are always changing, can change its mind accordingly to fit each twist in the tale with masterful perfectionism.
A Virgo Full Moon is precious in its ability to clue us right into the heart of the matter. It reveals what works to make our lives a better experience while clearly showing us also, what is obviously not working. Keeping an ever so discerning eye on the lookout for where an adjustment is needed, with the ability to point out any singular detail that may be otherwise overlooked, Virgo can be our BEST FRIEND when it comes to manifesting.
Opposite to the moon, the Sun will have just entered Pisces where we can also easily experience the fluidity of our imagination and tune into higher realms of consciousness. This in turn can inspire us to follow our intuition as we take action to adapt to all that is changing in our lives. When it comes to actually manifesting anything of lasting value, once a year we tap into the most formidable tool in our cosmic toolbox – the VIRGO/PISCES axis – an inspired balancing act between the mystical and the material.
While Pisces can foresee and imagine all possible outcomes, Virgo takes direct action, focusing on what can be clearly understood in plain daylight, here and now. Together they are masterful co-creators of an ideal reality. One cannot exist without the other. This week, find how they can come together in synergy. Create your own divine intervention in one form or another. Fine-tune the details of your reality, your relationships, to work with our most outrageous visions.
Coming off a brilliant New Moon in Aquarius, this Virgo Full Moon will bring us down to earth, deepen our integrity, help us take practical step-by-step measures to keep us committed to making changes we may have been inspired to embark on during the past two weeks, strengthening a realistic resolve inside of us.
Virgo in its full capacity knows well that no matter how cosmic your vision, no matter how revolutionary your realization, or how noble your intention; it amounts to nothing without both feet on the ground, managing the details, managing the outcome. This week we will be shown how things can really come together for us in our everyday lives.
So much of this is about simply adjusting what we do and with whom we do it. Every circumstance that has outstayed its welcome will complete itself now. Every circumstance that needs to be salvaged will begin to be fixed. You will know which is which because at this time, our intuition will express itself as simple common sense. We find what FEELS out of alignment and we have a golden opportunity to get CONSTRUCTIVE about it. Also be mindful that this Virgo Full Moon means we will feel every nook and cranny of our current reality.
We will be pulled into our bodies. Our nervous systems will speak to us clearly. We will receive acute signals that have the power to change everything. Pay attention to ALL your interactions and all your experiences this week, and listen to how they make you feel. This will be as simple as noticing what is really happening and what really needs changing – for good, for the future’s sake.
Though the moon has moved on, Mercury and Venus will be lingering just a few degrees from one another in Aquarius, still coordinating the futuristic intentions of the last New Moon. This adds to a cosmic scene that’s allowing us to experience unmistakable lucidity. It will suddenly be obvious how things can and will come together at this Virgo Full Moon, if we stay rooted in reality.
So keep your feet on ground, but remain flexible. Breathe deep. Tune in. It’s the little things that will make a MASSIVE quantum difference at this time. Expect your every fantasy to be served well and moved into the future.
December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Ruby Warrington has a simple ritual to mark what some see as our Astrological New Year…Video: Christel Chaudet feat. The Unseen
I first came across this simple winter solstice ritual several years ago, when I was working at the Sunday Times Style magazine. Our editor had arranged for our office Christmas dinner to take place on December 21, the winter solstice, or shortest day – and longest night – of the year.
Excited, I told my boss I thought we should mark the occasion. “Great idea! You can lead a ritual,” she told me – as my stomach dropped through the floor, and I broke out in a cold sweat. My passion for astrology had already got me the office nickname “Mystic Ruby” – but this was taking things to another level…
Determined to do things properly, I reached out to a designer I’d recently met – who also happened to be a practicing Druid. He gave me the following simple winter solstice ritual (which can also be used to mark the summer solstice, as well as the spring and autumn equinoxes), and for the event itself I also invested in a vintage black fur cape, as I figured it would also help if I dressed the part (it does).
:: WINTER SOLSTICE RITUAL ::
Begin with a short meditation to connect to the energy of the Earth element. With eyes closed, visualize roots growing from the soles of your feet and your tailbone, down to the molten crystal rock at the core of the Earth, winding around this three times, and pulling snug. Breathing deeply into your core, allow your body to relax and experience the sensation of being completely supported by the Earth.
Meditate on the year that has just passed, allowing memories to surface effortlessly. Now take a pen and paper, and write down all the things that come up that you would like to bid farewell or move on from this year.
Take a lighter or match and burn the paper, to symbolize these energies being transmuted into creative passion for your adventures to come.
Now meditate on the year ahead, allowing yourself to visualize everything you would like to come to pass. Take your pen and paper and write down all your hopes and dreams for the coming year.
Fold this paper and bury it, to symbolize the seeds of these intentions being planted in your future path. (This can be done up to a week after the ritual).
The Book of Shadows notebook by The Unseen is bound in calf leather, and hand-dyed with environmentally reactive ink to respond to your touch as if by magick…Theunseenemporium.co.uk
Hello Libra moons! Yours is the reflecting Moon, the mirror of the heavens. If our Sun sign is what others see in us, our Moon sign is what we feel within ourselves. As such, partnerships are big for the Libra Moon sign – you need to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. You don’t have to be glued to a mate, but having close friends, colleagues and family to bounce ideas, attitudes and emotions off is a necessity.
Represented by the symbol of the scales, this Moon feels a deep need for harmony and balance in all areas of life. You are the peacemaker of the zodiac, and sometimes to a fault, going to great lengths to keep things copacetic at home or work. You are a firm believer in fairness and can genuinely feel like you’ve failed when emotional waters get choppy – even when it’s not your fault!
The Libra Moon can be guilty of going against your authentic needs and desires to make the people around you happy. Libra Moon so dearly wants to be loved and accepted, but it’s of no use if you’re not being authentic. You want others to love you for who you really are, so there can be an internal struggle to keep the peace. Even worse, the people in your life can feel mislead if you’re always being a “yes woman/man.”
So how do you find balance? You focus on YOU. You get honest with yourself about what you want in any given situation and build from there. People who really love and care for you will accept your truth even if it’s not what they want to hear. Your soul will only feel heavy and burdened if you always end up doing, feeling and being what you think others want.
So keep the order, but not at the expense of your soul. Focus on showing others how to treat you, by how you treat yourself. Also, practice the art of saying “no.” It sounds simple but for the Libra Moon it can be torture. It’s worth the effort though. It will show you and others you can create healthy boundaries.
Ruled by Venus, planet of beauty, the Libra Moon also has an eye for the aesthetic. An artistic flair. You will probably find symmetry, composition, and the skilled use of negative space extremely appealing. So make an effort to spend time getting artsy. Painting, photography, or even creating vision boards will fulfil the emotional need for visual harmony.
Since the Moon also rules our home environment, Libra moons need a safe, nurturing space without clutter. And with such a sensitive Moon, you really need a place that’s peaceful. Hectic energy will only drain you.
:: CHILD’S POSE :: You will know your Libra Moon is off if you find yourself plagues with indecisive thoughts. My suggestion for those moments is to go within with a simple Child’s Pose. Feeling confused and stressed about a situation is usually a signal that you’re not listening to your heart. Get grounded by connecting to the earth. Let go with your breath. Give yourself the time and space to really listen to your inner teacher. Really think about what you want, and make your decisions from that solid, still place inside.
:: GET GROUNDED :: Libra is an air sign so this also an intellectual Moon. Your thoughts and feelings can move like the wind, and you can get quite ahead of yourself! When things get a little too breezy it’s a sign to get grounded. Create a habit that you do everyday – maybe it’s warm lemon water in the morning, or writing in your journal at night. Just pick something simple and do it without fail. Keeping a routine will help calm some of the nervous energy that comes with being an air Moon sign.
In short, take time to honor yourself and the rest will fall into place!
The coming month is a time for rooting your dreams in reality. Get grounded with this yoga sequence for Taurus, says Ash Baker. Image: Anthony Maule and Carine Roitfeld for Harper’s Bazaar.
Ruler :: Venus Element :: Earth Modality :: Fixed Anatomy :: Throat, neck, vocal cords, tonsils, thyroid, tongue and mouth
2nd sign of the Zodiac
We are now heading into the mid-spring month of the Bull. Think earthly sensuality and grounded, focused qualities. Perfect timing for meditating on what you would like your summer to look like. What can you create in your life with precision right now that will bloom into something magical in a couple of months? Taurean energy is what to embody wherever you need some stability in your life. Our practice this month will help cultivate empowerment through pressing into the earth and opening our hearts.
:: Lions Breath :: Take a deep inhale through your nose, and as you exhale, open your mouth and stick out your tongue. Curl the tip of your tongue towards your chin. You will make a “Haaaa” sound. Give your tongue a good stretch and really push the air out of your throat. Inhale through your nose and repeat. Go through three-five rounds.
Now bring your hands to your heart and think of something you would like to offer to yourself or another person. Yoga can be seen as a moving meditation so what would you like your intention for this session to be?
:: Tabletop spinal extension :: Come to hands and knees. Tuck your tailbone slightly and firm your abdominals. Inhale, reach the right leg out behind you and press through the heel, firing up all the muscles of the leg and giving you more support. Fully exhale.
Then with your next inhale reach the left arm out in front of you. Keep your palm facing inward. Looking down feel the length being creating in your spine as you reach in opposite directions with arm and leg. Release the arm and leg back to the floor. Repeat with the left leg and right arm. Hold for three rounds of breath. Complete two rounds on each side.
:: Low Lunge :: From a standing position step the right leg/foot towards the back of the mat. Drop your right knee down onto the floor, tucking the toes under for more balance. Exhale and bend the front left knee. Make sure the knee is bent directly over the ankle. Tilt the pelvis slightly under and lengthen up through the spine.
Squeeze the inner thighs towards one another to get a little lift and then release slightly and let the pelvis sink down towards the floor allowing some opening in the right hip flexors. Inhale the arms up overhead and reach through the fingers. Hold for three-five rounds of breath. Repeat on the other side.
:: Triangle/Trikonasana with arm circles :: From a standing position, turn to face the left and take a wide stance with your legs. Take your front right foot and point it forward and take the back left foot and point it to a 45-degree angle. You can have heel to heel alignment or wider depending on your hips and what makes you feel stable.
Reach your right arm out over that front leg and begin to reach as far forward as you can. Once you reach your edge, take the same hand to your shin, foot, a block or the floor. Take the left arm and gently reach it upwards. You can look up towards your hand or, for more stability, down to the floor. Add some flow by sweeping the left arm down towards your hip and back up creating a full circle. Take a few circles and repeat this pose on the other side.
:: Grounding Meditation :: This meditation can be done anywhere you have the ability to place your feet on the ground or any other supported surface. I kid you not, some of my best meditations have been on a public city bus, feet planted on the floor and eyes lightly closed. So just find a space you can sit or even stand for a few minutes and begin to simply feel your breath move around your body, flowing in and out of your nostrils.
Now begin to focus on the feeling of your feet against the ground. Take time to connect with that support. Feel how strong it is and apply those qualities to the areas in your life that need more stability. Stay there breathing, feeling those focused, strong, and stable qualities within yourself. Know that you are always supported. Divinity is designed that way.
Monthly Mantra: I am supported, secure and strong in all my actions.
Empowering women’s movement, or de facto sex cult? Dani Katz gets intimate with the practise known as Orgasmic Meditation…
“I hate LA, and I hate my life,” I sputter in a flurry of tears, snot and spaz-out, as I drop my purse on the floor of Jamie’s kitchen, and freak way out.
“And my favorite pants are ruined,” I whine, gesturing to the stains dotting the hem, remnants from this morning’s explosion of glass and green at Moon Juice, where my Kundalini teacher dropped an eleven-dollar bottle of algae on my Birkenstock while lamenting the torment of her beloved’s non-monogamous tendencies. “…and everything would be easier if I were dead.”
“And how late is your period?” Jamie smiles, perpetually unfazed by my dark, melodramatic tendencies.
Why I can’t seem to remember that my every twenty-eight day despondency/bad hair day combo is related to the onset of my moon remains one of the more confounding mysteries of being woman. Well, that and our tendency to totally abandon ourselves for the crumbs of affection half-heartedly proffered by the man-children who don’t deserve us.
I reach for my iPhone, and pull up my Period Tracker app.
Period is 1 Day Late.
“I had a feeling,” Jamie nods. “Let’s get you stoned; let’s get you fed; and, let’s get your pussy rubbed.”
While this last zinger might seem wildly inappropriate coming from anyone else, Jamie is a One Taste devotee, an adept in the cult of orgasm, and – as such – her answer to pretty much everything is: Get your clit rubbed.
For those not yet hip to the casual stroking craze that equates orgasm with meditation, and mindfulness with turn-on, Orgasmic Meditation (OM) is a practice focused on female orgasm. It involves two humans, at least one vagina, a timer, a dash of lube, a tightly held container comprised of a very specific configuration of pillows and limbs, and a very (very) precise stroke – a gentle, vertical petting atop the surface of the upper left quadrant of the clitoris with the tip of the left pointer finger, for fifteen minutes.
“Okay,” I sniff, wiping an errant strand of hair from my face. “Can we make that happen?”
“Pfft,” Jamie snorts. “Duh.”
I should probably mention that all three of Jamie’s roommates also OM. Like, religiously, and even then, fanatically, as in several times a day. It’s but a symptom of the One Taste organization’s culty-er aspects – outcroppings of community houses packed tight with pussies keen to be rubbed, and fingers eager to rub ‘em.
“Hey, Dani,” says Jamie’s roommate, Josh, walking into the kitchen all of two seconds later.
While Josh and I exchange greetings, Jamie – not one for subtleties – mimes a diddling motion with one pointer finger, while directing the other one my way. She’s a Capricorn; she makes shit happen.
“Wanna OM?” Josh blurts.
For those not living in houses populated exclusively by Orgasmic Meditators, most folks go about finding vaginas to rub, and fingers to rub ‘em on the OM Hub, a private online network available to those who qualify (i.e. throw down the cash for the online course, pass a quiz, and then throw down more for network access; oh, and who aren’t registered sex offenders).
“Anyone near Mar Vista wanna come stroke my pussy today between 3 and 5:30?” reads a sample posting.
The community operates on an any finger/any pussy/anytime philosophy, and the extent to which the randomness of the OM hook-up icks me out has proven prohibitive in my developing any regularity around the practice. To this end, I barely even qualify as a practitioner. Dabbler is probably even pushing it.
“Oh, hi honey,” Jamie said, meeting me at the top of the stairs back when she was first inculcated into the Grand Order of Holy Diddlers. “I’m just gonna squeeze in a quick OM, and then we’ll go.”
I took a seat on the futon in the loft, and texted our friends to let them know we were going to be late for dinner. It wasn’t long before the telltale sounds of turn-on started seeping forth from the backside of Jamie’s bedroom door.
Ew, I thought, scrambling to untangle the earbuds I couldn’t get out of my purse and into my ears fast enough.
It’s not that I’m prude, or shy, or at all delicate when it comes to erotic expression. Still, I just don’t really want to know what my friend sounds like when she’s getting off, much the same way I’m not interested in smelling her used tampons. TMI – way (way) TMI.
Minutes later, a man wearing glasses and a Pokemon t-shirt came strutting out of Jamie’s bedroom. “You next?” he asked, waggling a finger my way – a finger I could only guess was coated in vagina slime.
“Ew,” I snorted, thoroughly put off by the creamy digit aimed in my direction, but moreso the assumption that my holy vag was this random guy’s for the stroking.
When it comes to touching my vagina, the list of those who qualify for the privilege is short, and contained – lovers, gynecologists, the occasional nurse practitioner, and the Russian lady who waxes my bikini line. Hired tenders aside, it’s a highly restricted area, reserved for those I deem special/worthy enough to handle both the sacred wonderfulness that is my labia, as well as my heart, because – like so many people in our culture and maybe on the planet in general, I am programmed to believe that the regions are inextricably bound. As such, unless I’m in a relationship, my pussy doesn’t get much play.
Thus is the beauty of the OM – once she who is grossed out by the culture figures out how to meander her way around its ickier aspects. Hanging out at Jamie’s, as I’m now realizing, is a fantastic method to this end.
“Yes, please,” I say.
“When?” asks Josh.
And so it is that I’m dropping chlorella-stained trou in Josh’s room, while he places a washcloth in the center of “The Nest” – which is really just a yoga mat surrounded by half-moon meditation cushions strategically placed for my head, my thighs and his ass, but which will be honored as holy, and thus entered with the implicit understanding that while so cradled, there will be no canoodling, and no reciprocity. Just pussy-stroking. For fifteen minutes, no more, no less.
“Are you comfortable?” Josh asks, pulling my leg over his thigh, and arranging his foot so that it’s flat against mine.
I catch myself before asking How are we defining our terms? Because, while sure, I’m enjoying a semblance of ergonomic ease, I am also naked from the waist down, lying with my legs splayed to reveal my six days un-groomed pussy as a relative stranger dangles his arm over my thigh. Which – while fine – has me feeling more than a little vulnerable. Plus, there is the matter of warm-blooded man hands touching my inner thigh, of palm against flesh, and – um – the novelty of the connection and the alchemy on this unique, raw and dense plane of purely physical exchange. Which is all to say, comfortable isn’t the first descriptive that comes to mind.
“Uh-huh,” I chirp, because now is not the time for heady unravelings of my mental state, and because Jamie got me stoned while Josh arranged the pillows, and I’m just blitzed enough not to give a shit what he thinks of my spread eagled lady bits.
“Okay, I’m going to ground you, now,” Josh says, mashing his palms along the surface of my thighs.
It’s standard, The Grounding, as is the practice of announcing whatever touch is about to happen. It lends a sterile, business-like vibe to the exchange, which I happen to appreciate. As impersonal as we can keep our interaction, the better, I say. Josh is not my lover. Josh isn’t even a friend. Josh is the guy attached to the hands that are right now mashing my thighs, and my pelvis, and is getting ready to—
Oh fuck, I think, just now remembering the sequence of events, because it’s been a while.
Please don’t do The Noticing, I think, suddenly observing mild sensations of panic. Please don’t do The Noticing.
It’s my least favorite part of the practice, The Noticing, wherein the stroker ogles the vag in front of him and then shares his visual observation. Out loud.
“I’m noticing that you have one pubic hair that’s really straight, and poking straight up towards the ceiling,” a stroker once told me, as I wished a hole would open up in the ground beneath me, and swallow me at once.
“The outside of your lips are, like, a really dark pink, almost like cranberry juice,” noticed another, as my cheeks turned a similar shade, and I stared at the ceiling and wondered why any and all references to my vaginal “lips” creep me out so hard.
Please don’t do The Noticing, I psychically beg/command.
That Josh actually skips The Noticing is as much a testament to the anti-Noticing trend Jamie will later tell me is sweeping the community at large as it is to my psychic authority. No matter. Noticing isn’t happening. I’m golden, I think, grateful to have escaped the humiliation of Josh’s take on the whitehead lodged inside my inner thigh crease, as he starts the timer on his smartphone, snaps on a pair of latex gloves, and goes about sliding a hand underneath my ass.
“I’m going to touch your introitus now.”
Safeporting, they call it, the resting of the stroker’s thumb against the vaginal opening. I guess it’s supposed to help the strokee to feel held, to quell any lurking fears of floating up and toward the ceiling, of slipping through the cracks of an air vent and being forever lodged in the crawlspace with no pants on. Jamie has developed this annoying habit of rolling the term into her everyday lingo to reference any sort of safeguarding.
Like the time we were invited to our friends’ house for dinner, after a particularly awkward series of texts and naked hot tub gropings, and she said: “I know Michael and Katrina keep trying to fuck you, but don’t worry. I’ll be right there, safeporting you the whole time.”
I appreciated the sentiment, but, the languaging? Um…ew.
“I’m going to touch your pussy, now,” Josh announces as his lube-globby finger makes contact with my clit.
They’re big on the P-word, these Orgasmic Meditators. On the one hand, it’s refreshing, especially given how many Tantra intensives I’ve attended wherein the words yoni and punani are tossed around like so much New Age-appropriated Far Easterly exotica.
Still, if one more soft-eyed dude wearing three-day beard scruff and a rudrakshra mala wrapped around his sacred geometry tattooed wrist greets me by mashing his hands together at his curiously hairless heart chakra, bending at the waist, and purring Namaste, I might have a stroke. To this end, I’m all for the P-word. And yet, I find something slightly confrontational about its ubiquity, as if those who OM are wielding the word in the hopes of inspiring discomfort, verily daring those within earshot to take issue with their languaging, and their lifestyle.
“Okay,” I sigh, narrowing my focus of attention to the point of contact between Josh’s finger and my clit, while expanding my awareness around all the sensation said contact is generating.
“Why can’t you just do it yourself?” my mother prods when I meet her at Pilates a week later, wanting to not be disturbed by this, yet another comfort zone-challenging ritual in which her daughter is dabbling, and yet still not getting it.
It’s not that I can’t; it’s that I don’t. I tend to forget that a) I have a bundle of nerves in my vagina that tingle when stimulated; and b) I can stimulate them whenever I want to. I’m a heady gal – “an upper chakra creator” as Trish, my go-to psychic, likes to say. More often than not, I forget I even have a body, let alone that caressing it is an option. But, even if I chose to remember, OMing and masturbating are not the same thing.
“Ooohh…” Josh groans, clearly navigating a surge of arousal as the tip of his finger waggles up and down and up and down and up and down along the top of my clit.
OMing is an exchange – of trust and vulnerability, and of grunts and desire, but mostly of the electro-chemical polarities that attract masculine and feminine.
“I felt this electrical jolt – like a lightning bolt – shooting out of your clit and into my finger, where it traveled up my arm, across my chest, into my heart, down into my cock, and out my other arm, like a circuit, and then it just kept circulating for the rest of the OM,” said Lance, a guy who once stroked me while I was crashing at Jamie’s, and we were Sharing Frames after the stroking part, which isn’t quite as cringey as The Noticing, but is sort of in the ballpark.
The point is that something larger, magnetic and infinitely more mysterious happens when fingertip strokes clit in this specific way and inside of this container – something that doesn’t happen when I’m jerking myself off.
It’s the electro-chemical exchange that inspired me to try Orgasmic Meditation in the first place, back when I was cozy in a monogamous love thang, and my partner and I read Slow Sex together at a Colorado hot spring, and thus grooved on Nicole Daedone’s whole down with stimulation, up with sensitivity/awareness philosophy, and took to a daily OM practice.
“Achoo!” sneezed then boyfriend.
“Wow!” I said, shivering, because I felt his sneeze in my own body as palpably as if it were my own.
I liken it to Vipassana meditation, wherein the prolonged practice of scanning the body for sensation strips away the walls and shadows that obscure our hearts and our light and our genius. The practice of OMing strips away the walls and the density that obscure not only our connection to our own feeling nature, but to the shared feeling nature that conscious sexual exchange inspires when we know how to work with it.
“Ooh,” boyfriend said, when he hit a particularly sweet spot with his tongue during a post-OM canoodle. “I felt that one in my toes.”
“Do…more…that…” I instructed, palming his skull, trying to catch my breath, “…hnnnh!…”
But, it’s not just instances of Freaky Friday-like feeling-sharing that differentiates OMing from diddling myself. Orgasmic Meditation isn’t goal-oriented – there is no race toward climax. In fact, it’s not even a destination. Sure, it happens; I hear. I’ve yet to climax during an OM, and I have all of zero interest in doing so, and not just because I think it would be thoroughly embarrassing.
The magic is at the edge, which is where all magic lies, and – for me – OMing is the perfect set-up to play with that edge, to redirect the energy that threatens to undo me in a fit of trembles, spasms, shrieks and sensation, and to instead redirect it up my spine and into my head, where it dances between my third eye and my crown, and animates my entire body with a thousand and one lightning bolts exploding behind my eyelids and across my every meridian in fractalized bursts of psychedelia.
“UNNHHH!!” Josh sucks in his breath at the very same moment a jolt of electricity explodes in my upper cervical spine, and then mutters a thoroughly floored: “Whoah.”
“And, what’s in it for the guy?” Mom presses.
I can’t really say, not being a guy or having ever stroked, but that doesn’t stop me from rolling my eyes, and snorting, and saying “Mom, I already explained this,” because even though I’m a grown woman, there’s something about sharing time/space with my mother that inspires adolescent histrionics. “It strips away the layers of calcified density, and renders them more sensitive and available to experience their own sensation through less and less stimulation.”
Also, a lot of the guys in the community are spazzy dweebs who, if it weren’t for One Taste, wouldn’t likely see much pussy, let alone get to touch any, unless they were paying for it.
“Two minutes,” Josh says, alerting me to the impending close of our session with a pronounced shift in his touch – Downstroking, they call it, which is totally applicable when spread eagle and doused in coconut lube in The Nest, but kind of annoying when chatting with my friend over kale smoothies.
“You probably want to downstroke her before telling her you don’t want to work with her anymore,” Jamie advises.
I roll my eyes and vomit just the tiniest bit in the back of my throat, not because it’s not good advice, but because I’m still having a hard time getting used to my friend’s tendency to talk like a cult initiate.
“Time,” Josh says with a massive exhale, removing his hand from very, very tingly pussy, despite my clit’s silent pulsing pleas for him to come back, to stay awhile, to keep doing that thing he was doing with his finger for – like, I dunno…ever?
I exhale as Josh grounds me back into my body, and into the room, again mashing his hands atop my only slightly trembling thighs. He helps me up to a sitting position where I drape the now damp washcloth over my lady bits, and avail myself to the grand finale – the Sharing of Frames.
“There was this moment, when I saw, like, a drop of – um…well, your juices on the edge of your pussy, and – uh, well – when I did, I felt a lot of sensation in my cock.”
I think the point is to get us in the practice of communicating our turn on, and our feeling experience. It’s gotten easier, the Frame-Sharing, minus the moments when I realize, mid-OM, that I’m going to have to do it, and then I retreat to my head, scanning the practice for something noteworthy to speak to. That, and the fact that I don’t love talking to strangers about my turn-on, but – whatever – I’m a grown-up; I can deal.
“There was a moment when you pulled back on the pressure, and I found myself wanting to chase it, but instead chose to inhale into my clit, and found the connection I was craving through my own breath.”
And with that, we are complete.
It’s actually my favorite part of the whole experience, the leaving, the absence of lingering eye locks, of nervous heart flutters, of carefully couched farewells that may or may not allude to a deepening intimacy, and to future dalliances that so often never come to pass. I love the none of that. It’s honest. It’s clean. We have accomplished the business at hand – the touching of my pussy – and now that we are finished, I will be on my (way merrier) way.
Back in Jamie’s kitchen, dinner is ready – kale salad with pumpkin seeds and tons of nutritional yeast.
“How was that?” Jamie asks, knowing smile hijacking her perpetually radiant face.
“Best. Friend. Ever.” I gush, proffering the world’s most grateful hug, feeling infinitely less suicidal and – dare I say – pretty darned good.
Dani Katz is the creator of the I Am Calendar 2015, a total astro/affirmation/badass birthday fest of all ’round awesomeness. You can find out more about her work here.
As Virgo brings its back-to-school energy of diligence and efficiency, Ash Baker shares some grounding poses to bring purification and clarity. PLUS a meditation to purge your fears ad connect you to the innate gifts within.
VIRGO August 23 to September 22nd
Ruler: Mercury Element: Earth Modality: Mutable Anatomy: Intestines, upper bowel. gallbladder, liver, pancreas and nervous system
6th sign of the Zodiac
The pure and curious creatures of the skies come out from the Cosmic woodwork to say hello this month. As we enter the earthy sign of Virgo, you may feel the winds of change begin to beckon. This month is about an ushering in of the first feelings of Autumn, and a deliciously crisp edge to the atmosphere reminding you to harvest what you’ve been working on.
Virgoans are all about service, purity, analysis and self-containment. All of which characteristics can be used to our utmost advantage. Being in service is gratitude in action and a much needed practice for living in the present. It inspires us to be grounded in a system of a high moral code. Analysis is POWER when used to discern what your heart and soul needs most. Just be careful not to over analyze yourself! And this sign teaches us that when we use self-containment to fill ourselves up with that which we need (gratitude, self love, and truth) we become an unstoppable force of light.
In honor of the Virgo energy that infuses our existence now, here are three poses to detox your whole body, strengthen your liver and calm your nerves. If you have time, flow through a few rounds of Sun Salutes to warm up the body before you move into the more static postures below.
Half Lord Of the Fishes // Ardha Matsyendrasana
Find a comfortable seat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Begin to draw your knees up and drop the left bent knee down to the left. Your left foot should be tucked just under your right seat. Then cross the right foot over the left leg and place it down next to the mid outer hip. This leg will stay upright with the knee towards the ceiling.
Inhale and reach the right arm up, exhale with a slight twist and place it behind your right seat. Take the left upper arm and elbow either around the outside of the right knee or to the outer right hip. This is a deep twist so use your inhales to gather length in your spine and twist deeper on the exhales.
Remember, the twist should be happening in the mid to upper spine. Think ribs up! Hold for five rounds of deep breath and then repeat on the other side.
*Gratitude practice: Inhale and think of something you are grateful for. Exhale and energetically let it surround you.
Bridge Pose // Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This asana offers specific benefits to your liver by strengthening the core muscles that support it. Come down to lie on your back and bend your knees. If you have neck issues take a folded blanket under your shoulders to assist in creating a natural cervical curve.
Make sure your feet are directly under your knees. Rest your arms at your sides. Take a deep inhale through the nose. On your exhale begin to tuck your tailbone, activating the glutes and press your lower back down against the floor. Allow the exhale to lift your hips off the floor. Bring your shoulder blade tips closer together creating space in the front shoulders and collarbone.
Take your arms underneath and clasp your hands together. Press the forearms, hands and feet firmly into the floor. Release on an exhale and slowly wave your spine to the floor. Stay with this pose for 30 seconds up to 1 minute.
*Do not turn your head in this pose.
Supported Shoulderstand // Salamba Sarvangasana
Begin by folding two blankets into a rectangle shape about one-foot by two-foot. Come to lie on your back with the knees bent and your feet on the floor. Make sure the top two-foot edge of your blanket is lined up with the tops of your shoulders. Your head should be resting on the floor. Inhale, and on your exhale place your arms at your sides.
Firmly press your arms down into the floor as you draw your knees up and your thighs in towards your chest. Take a bend at the elbows making sure they are in alignment with your shoulders and place your palms on the small of your back for support. Begin to really curl your tailbone and extend the legs straight up towards the ceiling while simultaneously walking the hands up the back towards the floor.
Reach up through your toes and focus on bringing your chest towards your chin. Maintain a nice curve to your neck and do not turn your head. Hold this for 30 seconds if you’re a beginner, or more advanced yogis can hold up to five minutes.
To come down, exhale while gently bringing your knees towards your chest and roll the spine out long.
*Allow your body to relax and soak up the benefits of these poses!
You are a jar of stars meditation // Cosmic canned goods
Find a blissful space to sprawl out under a blanket. Maybe even under the moon and stars. Take an inhale for the length of five seconds, hold the breath in for five seconds and exhale for the length of five seconds. Go through 10 rounds of this more controlled breath. Then find a nice, soft rhythmic breath that suits you and place both hands on your belly.
See yourself laying there in your mind’s eye. Understand your body as a container for anything you wish to either get rid of or cultivate. Virgos are masters of discernment and can be an example when it comes to weeding out what we do or don’t want. As you inhale find the positive strengths you possess and view them expanding within you. You are your own cosmic universe.
As you exhale, visualize letting go of the negative junk that makes you feel sad or insecure. Allow your body to be a vessel for change. Lay here as long as you wish.
Monthly Mantra: I am the master of my own domain and I honor my truth.
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