Tending to my zen-den, a modern day witch hunt, and a Skype date with Russell Brand…
:: MONDAY :: So I spent the past two weeks on vacation in Hawaii, where I had planned to switch off completely and mend my broken mind after pretty much a year of #nodaysoff. Which, for various reasons, is not how things panned out – but OH WOW, what valuable lessons and insights the Universe had in store for me instead! Why do I bring this up? Because rarely does life give us what we think we want – the Universe prefers to serve us what it knows we NEED. Basically the number one thing to keep in mind as we head into this Mercury (+ Mars + Pluto + Jupiter + Saturn!!) retro phase. So be open, be vigilant, and just watch in grace and wonder as it all unfolds.
:: TUESDAY :: Mega congrats to my beautiful friend and collaborator Kirsty, who launched the most fabulous service today – an online subscription service for high-end, hard-to-find scented candles named Scent. When you set up an account, you’ll be asked to create a “scent profile” so all the candles you receive can be tailored to your tastes. Your zen-den never smelled better – and just in time for Mother’s Day too! Discover more at Scentfrom.us
:: WEDNESDAY :: And speaking of zen-dens – can we just officially acknowledge that ritual baths are currently officially a thing? Like is anybody out there not soaking with a bunch of salts, crystals, and activated herbs? Which is timely, actually, since with all those planets currently in retrograde, the big memo from the Cosmos is to slow things TF down. So check out this ritual bath recipe from Deborah Hanekamp, or stock on House of Intuition’s genius “bath bags” (like a tea bag but for your bath, see below) – and soak it up!
:: THURSDAY :: An interview with Jessica Knoll, who’s runaway best-seller Luckiest Girl Alive is – hello – an absolute feminist classic. Do not be put off by the breezy comparisons to Gone Girl etc, this is a straight-up Medieval witch-hunt at its most gory. And in the Now Age? Girl comes out alive and kicking. It’s not giving anything away to reveal that Jessica recently came out about the rape scenes depicted in the book as being based on her own teenage experiences – in other words, took one giant leap for female kind in re-writing history from the perspective of herstory. Read it and weep (tears of fully empowered female joy).
:: FRIDAY :: Got so SO close to making an actual dream come true today, when I got to speak at an event hosted by the David Lynch Foundation with none other than…Russell Brand! Only Rus ended up being Skyped in – so near, yet so far. The topic? Meditation as a tool for addiction recovery and substance abuse, and of course Russell nailed it. I’ll share a link to the whole panel discussion when it’s posted online, but one classic RB take-away to take you into your week-end: “I used substances to access a alternate state of consciousness. Now I have meditation for that.” Amen.
Plus: healing my throat chakra, refining my elevator pitch, and conversation with the sober curious…
:: MONDAY :: Skype chats about possible future collabs with beautiful Fern Olivia turned into a mini coaching session for me, after I shared how nervous I was feeling about hosting our Club SÖDA NY event this week (see below!) Public speaking is NOT my thing you guys. So Fern gives me a beautiful meditation to do beforehand to help open my throat chakra: lying down, place a crystal (either something blue, or a Rose Quartz) on my throat, and slowly chant “haaam,” feeling the vibrations resonate through my throat. This while visualizing a ball of blue light spinning and expanding there, until it fills up my whole body – and beyond. Which I share with YOU in case, y’know, public speaking isn’t your favorite thing either.
:: TUESDAY :: My 11-year-old nephew (visiting from the UK): “What’s your book about Ruby?” Me: “Well, it’s about how I used to work in fashion, but it was really unfulfilling, and so I decided to use astrology, and things, to bring more meaning to my life…” Nephew: (looks non-plussed) THE NEXT DAY… Me: “You know what I said my book was about? (nephew nods) Well it’s really about how to be happy, by always making choices that are right for you.” Nephew: “Sounds great!” *way to work out your elevator pitch*
:: WEDNESDAY :: A delivery from shamanic skincare line Trimaran Botanicals – as in, it’s skincare made and blessed by a shaman! Made in Vancouver, products are not only vegan, toxin-free and filler-free, but are also blessed with spirit messages from the plant and crystal realms, and imprinted with transformational mantras and vibrational potencies. I’m trying out a serum, which smells heavenly and feels like magic as I anoint my (almost 40-year-old) face with it. Self-care doesn’t come much more high vibe.
:: THURSDAY :: Blown away by the beautiful souls who came out for my Club SÖDA NYC event with Biet Simkin (see main pics). The discussion was on learning to trust your body to make you feel fantastic, your life to get you inspired, the people you love to feel connected, and your SELF to stay true to a life of high integrity that supports your highest purpose. And to quit outsourcing any and all of the above to the quick fix of alcohol. We pitched the event as a social experiment for the sober curious – and our findings were that this is a conversation that’s only just getting started… Join the Club SÖDA NYC Facebook group to connect and find out about our next events!
:: FRIDAY :: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! And what a moment in time astrologically to be stepping into my FIFTH decade. Not only did yesterday’s Aries New Moon (potent intention-planting potential) conjunct my natal Sun to the very degree, Uranus (planet of breakthrough transformation) has passed over the exact SAME degree these past two weeks. Talk about the stars aligning for me to step into my future self with a whole fresh perspective on life, the Numiverse, and everything – which I’ll be shaping during a two week vacation in Hawaii. Which is a long way of saying, no Mystical Week column now until April 29. See you on the other side!
Dry January opened my eyes to how I’ve been comfortably numb, so this year I’m committing to feeling it and healing it, says Kate Atkinson.
‘Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.” Ringing an opiate bell in your psyche? If you’re a borderline millennial like me, you’re shamefully more likely to recall the Scissor Sisters version before the much more pleasant, sedate and, well, numbing, Pink Floyd original of the track “Comfortably Numb.”
But this song bears a special significance in my world right now. Having completed my first ever dry January I, like I suspect many Instagramming, Malbec-drinking, Bumble-ing, Happn-ing global citizens, have realized to what extent I’ve been moving through my life in a similarly cozy but numbed-out state.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “numb” as depriving us of the power of sensation. So to do so in any capacity means more or less living and feeling at a fraction of our capabilities. Or in Numi speak: “vibing at a lower frequency.” By CHOICE. How depressing is that?
And it’s not just the booze. NYC might be a cultural smorgasbord, but it also offers ready access to all the compulsions that can take you down a rabbit hole of distraction and, eventually, longing.
Rather than dealing with our shit, we drink. Opposed to being alone, we over engage on social media (no wonder “Digital Addiction” has become an actual “thing”). Others get high on the rush of success and pepped on promotion. There’s addiction to substances, of course – legal medications, essential oils, cocaine. Addiction to online dating. Addiction to people. Addiction to pizza. Addiction to tattoos. Addiction to solitude. Addiction to sex.
The list is endless, and the more you get to thinking about it, the more it feels like anything can become an obsession when you’d rather numb-out than feel…and deal. Then there’s the replacement of one addiction with another. Partying for yoga. Work for a relationship…and so it goes.
Without booze to cloud this revelation, I’ve only become more aware of back-to-back evenings of time wasting on Facebook; the getting obliterated after a bad day at work; the 18 nights a month I eat pizza. And many more obsessions I don’t care to list in a public forum.
And I’ve decided this is no way to live. Along with this newfound awareness, I’ve realized how sick I am of the “terrifying Tuesdays,” the hours spent staring at my phone, of saying I’ll do things I never do, and spending my precious hours on mind numbing, opposed to mind-expanding activities.
So what’s the alternative? Bottom line is it’s tough to to feel the full spectrum of your emotions. It is hard to stay at home and sit with your loneliness, when grappling with an overwhelming desire to put it all behind you, just for one night.
Personally, that social itch and need to be surrounded by others is a compulsive distraction, and when I obey it and ignore my calmer (and undoubtedly more vulnerable) intuition, generally the more disasters head my way. The thing with numbing is it becomes a cycle. Drink too much. Make bad dating decisions. Attack your liver again with Advil. Waste $40 on breakfast. And so it goes.
With this in mind, I’m accepting you have to “feel it to heal it” – which means, for now at least, I am committing to a time of being UN-NUMB. And what this will entail exactly I don’t know, since I’ve been living comfortably numb for well over a decade.
Nonetheless, I want to commit to it this year. I have no idea what I’m doing – and already I’m finding myself interested in activities I would have laughed at this time last year. So welcome to my blank canvas of withdrawal…which right now seems to be manifesting into this column.
Signing off until next time, with one of my favorite quotes from Anais Ninn:
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book…or you take a trip…and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating.
The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death.
Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”
Don’t know what to wear? Make your own fashion energy oracle deck for some divine style guidance, says says collage artist Monica Ruiz…Images featured are a selection of cards from Monica’s handmade deck
We were sitting on our friends lanai one evening last summer, listening to a single gal pal say what she was looking for in a partner, including good “fashion-energy…”. To which I replied, “omg yes! I am such a believer in fashion energy!”…to which she replied; “Oh, I said passion-and-energy…”
But what is “fashion energy?” I believe fashion goes beyond how an outfit or accessory can make you look, and taps into how we want to feel. Why do we gravitate towards a certain color (black), material (modal, denim) or print (snow leopard, moon-phase)? I believe it’s because we emit different energetic vibrations with what we choose to dress up in.
Our choice of outfit can cause us to feel nostalgic, sexy, modern, rebellious…We might wake up in the same body every day, but we become a different being through the way we spend our time, the moods we encounter – and the clothing choices we make.
On my “lazy” days I’ll put on a cropped tank, some high-waisted denim cut-off shorts and my converse, with my hair in a top bun and my Numinous Chakra sweatshirt tied around my waist.
Other times, I’ll wear my Urban Outfitters Kurt Cobain t-shirt as a dress, with black shorts underneath and my old Costume National moto boots. Last week I wore an old flannel from the ‘90s with my Isabel Marant sneakers. I had to be at work at 5am and was too tired to think – but I knew my Marant’s would make me feel like less of a slob.
The key is to get familiar with how different aspects of fashion make you and your spirit tick. Stay inspired by trying new things of course, but staying true to your personal fashion energy means always looking and feeling your best.
There are definitely certain brands out there that I legit salivate over. Rodarte, Balmain, Liberated Heart. The sleeveless tops by the Wild Unknown, and the quartz crystal jewelry from aletheia & phos. But in the last year I have become entranced with Free People, to the point that I even started re-purposing my older FP catalogs to fashion my own “fashion-oracle” deck!
Inspired by a friend’s yoga workshop, these soul-cards help me tap back into my unique fashion energy whenever I’m having a nothing-to-wear moment – when this happens, I simply pick a card to help guide me through my closet or dresser drawers.
Feeling blah? When I look at my NATURAL or FREE card, this may simply translate as a no makeup or jewelry day, and instead I’ll my two favorite crystals in my pocket and wear cherry-flavored Chapstick along with my high-top leopard print wedge Vans sneakers.
My WILD AT HEART card reminds me to keep having fun in the concrete jungle, while my WILD ONES card reminds me of my sacred sisterhood, and the magic of long summer days feeling some tie-dyed bandeau vibes!
Over a Skype session, I recently pulled the I AM A TRAVELER card for a friend traveling through Europe for the summer. She’s also a believer in fashion energy, and this card reminded her that she is able to re-create herself through different fashion cultures and tap into another side of herself.
Now it’s time to make your own fashion energy deck – here’s what you’ll need:
A selection of fashion and travel magazines, and catalogs Exacto knife (key item) Glue stick or rubber cement Cardstock Scissors
1) Search the magazine and catalogues for images (clothes, background images and words / phrases) that resonate with your personal “fashion energy.” 2) Use your exacto knife to cut out your image as perfectly as possible. Breathe and stay zen for best results, cutting along the edges of the image as closely as possible. When you put your figure against your backdrop, it will/should look surreal! 3) Measure out the cardstock to the size and shape you desire for your deck, and cut into equal-sized pieces. 4) After cutting your cards, choose a background image for each and glue them onto one side of each card. 5) Now glue your main model / fashion image onto the background. 5) Finally, find a space on each card to glue an inspiring phrase or word. The only rule when combining background / image / words is to not over-think this process. This is about YOUR energy and celebrating all the elements of fashion YOU love.
You are now ready to start using and sharing your cards as your very own fashion oracle – have fun with it!
Looking for an alternative New Moon manifestation ritual? Artist Monica Ruiz makes prayer flags for herself and her friends as a way of reppin’ her love for the life she gets to live. Main image: Larry Louie
When I think of prayer flags, fabric panels ranging in sizes and colors with spiritual images, hanging and swaying in a breeze in a secret garden or a cute storefront, I always see and feel peace, wishes fulfilled, Universal love and freedom.
I had given to friends and also received the mini-squares from Tibet that represent light and all the elements, thus bringing health and harmony to all. After the panels naturally fade away due to the elements, it is believed that the mindful loving intentions within the flag fade into the Universe, contributing to an ongoing cycle of the flag’s blessings.
I wanted to re-create my own using images I had already saved from magazines, old books and stamps, and even just cool paper that felt special to my heart. After I made a quick one just to see if my vision was as easy as it seemed (it is!) I kinda went prayer-flag crazy. I made them for everyone around me, including many for myself.
The two that hang in my studio today represent the surfing elements for my Pisces ocean-loving soul-surfer boyfriend, along with some “Marie Antoinette/ French masquerade” vibes pour moi!
And then I have one hanging up in my vanity room / lounge reppin’ my love of books, writing, and my job at the library that supports my life and allows me to live out my daydreams. While I’m putting on my mascara in the a.m. I can glance up and give thanks with a smile.
My flags are small pieces of art that I feel serve as sacred reminders of the simple things that make us smile and lift our spirit. While I like to hang ours on our year-round blue fairy lights in our bedroom, doorways and windows are fun too. I have also hung them up on bulletin boards on my desk at work and on a huge collage at home. There was even one point they were nicknamed “Purr Flags,” by a friend who felt all warm and fuzzy on receiving hers.
Having got such a great reaction gifting them to people I know, I decided to make a special one as a birthday gift for my spiritual teacher Gabrielle Bernstein a couple of years ago. I’ve written about my gratitude for her before, as she’s kinda been the vessel for many hardcore lessons I’ve needed to start receiving, and for learning more about forgiveness, love and how to listen to my heart and angels.
I felt compelled to make a prayer flag a la Gabby, with images that included her love of street art, the cosmos, her recent engagement in Paris, sacred Buddha statues, mystical silhouettes, powerful words, vibrant energy and of course just lots of LOVE.
Only Love is Real is Gabby’s motto, and I felt like I wanted this flag to have my love and appreciation for Gabby literally bursting through because of the gifts she has shared with me. It took all day, but it was so enjoyable and groovy to create. I was also happy and excited to put many of the images I’d save for future flags of my own on my guru’s flag, because I actually felt the transfer of love: it felt good to give away something beautiful that I loved. It was a true gift of appreciation from the heart.
Because of Hurricane Sandy that year, Gabby didn’t actually receive my flag until May 2013, while her birthday was November 1st! Regardless, my birthday/gratitude gift cosmically made it to her six months later. The morning I woke up and saw it unexpectedly on her Instagram feed, I felt like I was lucid-dreaming. She had it hanging up already and was allowing the magic and love from my home into hers. She loved my gift and I loved making it for her, and the prayer flag looks so cool in Gabby’s “zen den”.
Are you inspired to make one now? Let’s do this…
Here’s how to make a prayer flag for a sweet soul in five simple steps.
Paper images (magazines cut-outs, computer graphics, old books, saved stamps, cards, clip-art, etc)
Twine (pre-cut to the length you want your flag)
Card stock or construction paper
Paper clips (optional)
Think about how many panels you’d like to work with. I’d start small at first with either three or five (odd numbers work best and the traditional flags come in sets of five, but remember there are no rules!) However many you choose you will need enough images to cover both sides.
You can either pre-cut your card-stock and then alter your images after or cut your card-stock around the image leaving about an inch as a border. Remember, this is not about being “perfect” or having exact straight lines – you’r e creating something from the heart to bring joy into your heart and home!
Glue one image to each panel’s center, one side of the panel only.
Grab your double-stick tape and twine. Lay the panels down in a row, with the image just glued on face down with a little space in between each panel. Now along the top, lay the twine across about one inch below the top edge and place a piece of double-stick tape in the center of the twine on each panel.
Glue the remaining images in the center of each panel, on top of double-stick tape/twine combo.
Voila! Your flags are ready to be shared and invoke feelings of peace, spirit, strength and magic.
Sacred and simple, have fun bringing the tradition of prayer flags into your home. Tie some little loops at the end and use a couple of twisted paperclips if needed and they can be draped wherever you like. Enjoy the process of making each panel personal but keep the process simple.
Whether you make a prayer flag for yourself or for someone special, just remember to use images that make you feel good, because whatever is made with your heart is your art. And don’t forget they are reversible! Switch ’em up depending on your mood or needed inspiration. Sometimes I will do an opposite theme on each side, like maybe sweet dreams contrasted with powerful sun energy. Use your intuition and just pick art and pictures you like! Be whimsical.
When I commented on the prayer flag I made for Gabby the last time I saw it on IG, she sweetly replied; “I look at them every day and I love them!” Wishes-fulfilled and blessings received, Amen.
Island dweller Monica Ruiz is a collage artist, hardcore daydreamer, HayHouse book reviewer, bloggess, burrito lover, cat enthusiast, librarian assistant and wanderluster who is obsessed with good hip-hop beats, Lana Del Rey and Paris, France. She owns way too many black clothes, swoons over Sofia Coppola films and loves the concept of protecting your magic with an open heart.
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.