MY MYSTICAL LIFE: 4 SURPRISING SELF-CARE TIPS

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 …

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

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 …

Product’s from Kelley’s line, Wilde Gatherings

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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.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: USING INSTAGRAM AS A TOOL FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

With awareness and the right intention, we can use Instagram as a tool for spiritual growth. Here are four new practices to start today, says Ruby Warrington

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

1//We all want to be seen
Scratch that: NEED to be seen. One of the most basic human survival mechanisms is making others aware of our presence. Babies do it by screaming their heads off. As grown-ups, we got all kinds of ways—selfie culture / vulnerable social media shares being one of them. But it can be such a double-edged sword, man. Where does the human need to be acknowledged, witnessed and appreciated for our unique contribution end … and insecure attention-seeking begin?!

As I wrote about in this post, literally being seen on my feed does not come comfortably to me. And yet, when the same post got more comments and likes than I’ve ever had, it felt really good. Like goosebumps good. Which is pretty messed up. Getting this kind of validation from what is essentially a big room full of faceless strangers is exactly what makes IG so addictive—and also potentially damaging for our self-esteem. If, that is, we begin to rely on being seen and heard in IG world versus doing the often much more complex work of forging truly supportive connections in IRL.

The lesson: look at the places where you feel ignored or perhaps have not dared to speak your truth, and find ways to practice asking that your actual, offline needs to be met.

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2//People are feeding on your feed
You’ve probably heard the term “energy vampires”, which is used to describe emotionally immature people who literally “feed” off the energy of others. Lacking in empathy and often believing that the world revolves around them and their needs, these individuals believe they must take everything they can get from others and that giving anything in return will only deplete their own resources.

Since it can seem like energy is literally quantified by numbers of followers and likes on IG, the platform is essentially a big old buffet of delights for anybody feeling “less than” and looking to fill their tanks. Those perceived as both energetically stronger AND open and vulnerable become fair game, and the feeding frenzy can take many forms. Overly familiar love-bombing. Demanding DMs. And at the scarier end of the spectrum, trolling and overt bullying.

The lesson: boundaries, basically. You do not “owe” anybody a response in the online space, especially if you’ve never even met them. In the words of Gabby Bernstein: “forgive and delete”.

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3//Life is not a competition
Except when patriarchal hierarchies make it feel that way. We’re basically brought up being taught to compete: at school, at work, in looks, in love. In a society based on the belief that there is only “X” amount of wealth, success, beauty, etc. to go around, thus designed to keep a small percentage of the population in positions of power, the internal narrative goes: if I want my share (of wealth, success, beauty, etc.), I must fight for it.

Sadly, since it is literally a numbers game, Instagram has the power to suck us back into this narrative—subtly feeding our insecurities (see points 1 &2), and fueling the belief that if one person has “more” than us, we don’t have / are not “enough.”

The lesson: notice when competitive feelings come up, and use them as a prompt to give gratitude for three things you love about YOURself and YOUR life.

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4//Not everything is for everyone
I recently found this quote from Zadie Smith about why, as a novelist, she’s not on IG or Twitter: “it gives me the right to be wrong … I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it.” Because none of us have all the “right” opinions and answers all the time, and, as Smith is pointing out, it’s the complexities of human nature that make the best art.

Complexities we need to feel safe to explore for ourselves—and which, if expressed on social media, can cause some pretty intense reactions when taken out of context. Meaning out of context of us being whole, imperfect, sometimes confused, very much still learning, human beings.

The lesson: use your journal to work out more conflicted feelings about news stories, relationships, and elements of your own personal growth. Turn these words into poetry or stories that are just for you—THEN decide if you want to share.

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I realize this post kinds of makes it sound like I am anti-Instagram, which I am definitely not! It CAN BE an amazing tool for discovery, connection, entertainment, spreading love … and, as with everything in life, it carries a high and a low vibration. And can benefit from being approached with care.

Essentially, IG and other social media platforms are like the wild west of human consciousness, as they’ve opened up whole new ways of interacting with each other and being a person in the world.

So be vigilant, keep your integrity high, and above all, focus even more time, energy and love on the people you actually “like” in real life.

ASK A SPIRITUAL CEO: 5 RULES FOR CONSCIOUS SOCIAL MEDIA USE

Addicted to likes … while practicing non-attachment? In her first “Ask a Spiritual CEO” advice column, Maha Rose founder Lisa Levine shares her top 5 rules for conscious social media use …

Lisa gets social at Maha Rose. Photo: Annie Forest.

Q: “I know that to grow my business I need to be active on social media, but the more time I spend on Instagram the less connected I am to my deeper spiritual experience of life – which is also vital for my work. How can I reconcile both worlds? Instagram in particular is so addictive! It’s easy to get sucking into living from a place of what to “share” next. I also find myself distracted from my spiritual process by wondering which parts of my own journey will also make a good post, rather than being fully present with it. Help!”

Lisa Levine: Social media is such an amazing tool for small business, incuding independent healers, teachers, and artists. What people are able to grow through connecting in this way is inspiring!

But it can be a double-edged sword. Here are my top 5 rules for navigating the social media wilds while having fun, staying grounded with ourselves and each other, and preserving some of the mystery …

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Rule #1 Use it, Don’t be Used by It. Remember that social media is a tool. As spiritual seekers, our goal is freedom. Attachment to anything is the opposite of freedom.

When you know (or just suspect) you’ve had your fill, get off the screen and meditate, draw, dance, spend time with real live humans. When I find myself overstimulated and overstretched, I slow down, make extra eye contact, and focus on listening. During staff meetings at Maha Rose, we ask that people don’t have their phones open so we can be as present as possible with one another.

Photo: Annie Forest

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Rule #2: Know Your Triggers. Social media allows us see every aspect of people’s lives, and this information can trigger feelings of jealousy, competition, and feeling less than or left out.

I’m not exempt. If I feel myself getting triggered by things I see in social media, I stop engaging and spend some time with that emotion. I ask myself: where is this coming from, and what do I need to address in myself?

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Rule #3: Let the World Move On. The challenge of having your own business is deciding when and if you clock out. And social media is a 24 hour, 7 day a week medium. If you’re not on it, it keeps moving without you, and this can trigger a feeling of needing to be on it all the time.

Practice letting the social media world move on without you for some hours of the day, or even a day or two out of the week. I take regular hiatuses from social media, whether it’s just to disconnect for the second half of the day, or when I’m hosting a retreat, so I can create a bubble of magic space and healing and preserve that energy.

Notice the difference that break makes in your life. Also, notice if it is hard as hell. Social media addiction is REAL. Soon, there will be support groups helping people to get off social media. It’s designed to be addictive. More breaks!

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Rule #4 Recapture the Magic. Nowadays, we share EVERYTHING! And it feels good to share our revelations, and our “a-ha” moments with others.

But let yourself preserve a little bit of magic and mystery. There are revelations that might just be for you, or to be shared in an intimate setting with people who have signed up fully to receive this information, rather than anyone and everyone who happens to be scrolling by.

I love to share, but I do keep some things out of the spotlight. We generally don’t photograph in our workshops because we want them to feel really super sacred. And there are things in my personal life I don’t share. It’s good to keep a bit of mystery.

Photo: Annie Forest

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Rule #5 Pay Attention to Your Intentions. As healers and teachers, our business is US. What are you using to sell yourself? Your beauty, your sexiness, your children? Is that connected to the work you do? If it is, great. If it’s not, maybe question why you are posting it.

Really ask yourself, with every post, what your intention is. To uplift and inspire? Or something else? Everything has a vibration—even social media. Pay attention to the subtle underlying nuances.

Got a question for Lisa’s monthly “Ask a Spiritual CEO” column? Email [email protected] with the subject line: “Spiritpreneur Questions”

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: CONNECTIVITY CONSCIOUSNESS AND A CALL TO SHAKTIVISM

Is it enough to “be the change we want to see”? This week’s call to “shaktivism” got me asking…

Photo by Natalie Reyes, Mexico

:: MONDAY ::
SO MUCH LOVE for the 90 beautiful souls who joined from all over the world for our Virtual Full Moon Ritual, with Alexandra Roxo and Elyssa Jakim. We cast a circle of love and light, got the lowdown on the current cosmic energies, did a journalling exercise to get into our deepest desires for the next Moon cycle, and sat in a guided meditation to light the fire in our solar plexus. The vibe was ELECTRIC—but above all, in a week where the divisiveness and separation in our world has been brought yet again to light with the UK’s deeply saddening vote to leave the EU (more under “Friday”), it was a small example / reminder of how, beyond politics, we ARE united, and how connectivity consciousness is alive and thriving. Our virtual Full Moon rituals will be happening monthly—watch our Instagram for links to sign up.

:: TUESDAY ::
A delivery from lovely Bri Luna (a.k.a. The Hoodwitch), who collaborated with artist Robin Eisenberg on this rad collection of pins. Um, could they get any more Numinous?! My fave is the palm tree crystal ball, the perfect talisman for, say, manifesting a move to LA?

Crystal Baller enamel pin, $10, The Hoodwitch

:: WEDNESDAY ::
When I got invited to a Full Moon comedy show, I really had no idea what to expect. But what I GOT was a night of whip-smart laughs from an all female line-up of comics, united by the theme of la luna. Hosted by Sara Armour and Jessica Brodkin, an actual life coach and energy healer, there was also an appearance from brilliant/hilarious astrologer Kristina Belich (who also managed to include some actual real life astro insights!) FUN. And gonna be a regular happening in NYC, so sign up for our newsletter where we’ll post details of the next event.

:: THURSDAY ::
Launch party at comprehensive health clinic The Ash Center for Rebecca Gordon and Stephanie Marango MD’s new book on astrology for wellness, Your Body And The Stars. Surprise / fascinating insight of the night—until only a couple of months ago, Stephanie had been living the wrong chart—i.e. not knowing her real Moon and Rising signs. She claims discovering “the truth” of her chart has given her a whole new perspective on her life path, and obviously we’re planning a tea date to discuss this in more depth. But I was also kinda distracted by the results of the Brexit referendum rolling in, which leads me to…

:: FRIDAY ::
“Shaktivism” is the name of one of my favorite new Instagram accounts, and it’s a term curator Jessica Fish describes as “spiritual practice + activism…the power of the divine feminine to heal, empower + transform individuals + society.” A huge theme for this year, since world events occurring in real time can make it hard not to feel like what’s the freaking point of yet another heart-opening guided meditation, when what’s really needed is campaigning and direct action.

But what does this really look like, in our everyday lives, in the now? What are the actions we as individuals can take TODAY to keep building towards the “consciousness shift” we hear so much about—the shift to a more open, loving and accepting global society? I’m asking because these are questions I am constantly asking of myself lately.

So what do the answers look like in my life? Constantly returning to the idea that a true “shift” has to happen one mind at a time (even if this means many minds awakening to the damage animal agriculture is doing to the planet / humanity after watching Cowspiracy, for example); consistently promoting the concept of self-healing as the way past limiting beliefs that foster feelings of fear, otherness, and even hate; and starting initiatives like Club SÖDA NYC to encourage people to stop using alcohol and other ways of numbing out to hide from the truth—that it is our human responsibility to be the change we want to see.

But I want to do more. Don’t we all? And so I want to hear from you too—what would you have a platform like The Numinous do?

If you didn’t already, check out the below poem by spoken word artist Lisa Luxx, which I commissioned to inspire the light-worker massive after it became evident Trump would win the Republican nomination. In it she states: “If politics show us the apex of hatred, there is equal measure in the depths of love.” In other words, if current events are shining a light on the fact this is, and by the laws of nature always will be, a planet of polarities—then in the name of the cosmic balancing act we all walk in this life, the time to embrace the path of the shaktivist is now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPNLoF4e3Kw

HOLY F*CK: HOW TO FIND YOUR EDGE

Only in the places of discomfort can we experience true healing, says Alexandra Roxo. PLUS 5 ways to find your edge…

Goddess power earrings by Marcia Vidal. Non toxic lipstick by Ilia Beauty.

“There must be something deeply disturbed about a person who wants to be flogged or spit on.” As my friend said this I nearly spit out my kombucha. It was a sunny day and we were sitting on a blanket in the Bay area, having some girl talk, munching on goji berries, having just completed two nights of plant medicine ceremony together.

I started to feel sweaty and hot which means my deep soul was having a freakout. I put my cup down, took a deep breath summoning massive courage and said: “I disagree. It can also be about a person wanting to push their edges. It can be a game, power play, fun, and a vehicle for catharsis. Something beyond the human polarities of ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ Just as enlightening as any other medicine that pushes you to your edge and into a place of expansion.”

Let’s be real, in a lot of spiritual circles we tend towards the light and white, the higher chakras, high vibes…And well, usually as far away as possible from the dark, scary underbelly of things. Be it talking about BDSM or deep wounds, many of us shy away. After all, IG posts that are dark/revealing and heavy, usually get a lot less likes than the ones that are bright and all “I’m floating up here with my Spirit team!”

Well I say…Fuck. That. In the past few years I’ve found the scary bits—the “nevers,” the edges, the parts that make my heart beat fast—to be possibly my biggest teachers. Lately I’ve been wanting to talk about them more and more among circles of women whose faces might go white as an angel’s wing if I said something about squirting being transcendental. But ladies, the time has come! (And yes squirting, and even fisting, can be transcendental. But more on that another time. Or just DM me, lol.)

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You know those friends who push you to your edge? Usher you out of your cozy wozy comfort zone full of sheepskin rugs and Palo Santo, into a scary dark place you cannot control and force you to pull down your “Everything’s okay!” mask? I LOVE those friends. In the moment, I hate them for “making” me hitchhike with a creepy Mexican man on a beach in Oaxaca into the jungle.

Or for saying: “I saved you a spot on the three-day plant medicine retreat where we’ll be fasting and sleeping under the stars. Bring a poop bucket!” Or for calling me out on my shit. HATE THAT. But I really LOVE it. Thank Goddess for the friends that help you to your edge.

I recently signed up for an online course called a “Relationship Detox” with Perri Gorman. On Perri’s intake form you get to say to what level you want to be pushed. I checked off “HOT ORANGE” or something. Basically as hot as possible. (#overachiever!) So in class the other day, when I had to say what conclusions I had come to after making a relationship chronology, and I started rambling, “Well, we were dating and he said some really mean things but you see I’ve been meditating and doing a lot of WORK on this for months. Many healers. I really feel great about it now!” She stopped me mid-sentence.

“No you don’t. Pull off your mask, get in your pussy and tell me the story again!” I was taken aback but I knew immediately what she meant. I breathed through my mask, told the story again, deeply rooted into my truth, shared all the embarrassing parts, tears running down my cheeks, feeling such a huge catharsis: the feeling of being grounded deeply into my body. And then Perri told me: “Ultimate kindness is to risk saying something the ego may detest but that the soul is craving.” Which a wonderful teacher like that can make happen.

So forget smiling pleasantly with a namaste! Let’s get messy together. Hold space for each other to WAIL. Ask real questions to women who have birthed many babies. Talk about fucking. Sob until snot is running into our mouths. Have multiple orgasms that make us scream uncontrollably and then weep in a puddle of our own fluid. Not be afraid to pull down our masks.

“Thank Goddess for friends who call you out on your shit!”

Be it a paddling to the ass, or a projectile purge into a bucket in a room full of people or simply allowing yourself to feel anger, it’s only at the edge that we’ll find the collective catharsis we are looking for—a massive reconnection into the present of our bodies. And especially into our pussies. Into the force which creates life. Pushing us past our edges into a new land, the land of growth.

I try to push an edge every day. Last week I drove for an hour while still on mushrooms. A few days ago I admitted to a room full of people choking through sobs my deepest darkest shadows in love and relationships. I kissed a snake on the lips a few weeks ago. Just finished 40 days of chanting to Kali. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

:: 5 WAYS TO FIND YOUR EDGE ::

1. Make a list of all the things that make you uncomfortable, or that you said you would never do or say or be or admit. This could be getting naked in front of someone. Crying in front of someone. Admitting to yourself your heart is closed off and you need help. Going on a vision quest. Camping alone. Now get to know that list. Put it on your altar. Start to allow it into your consciousness.

2. Break it into steps. Maybe it’s opening a Tinder account and asking someone out. Or spending time alone. Maybe it’s working out in a sports bra instead of a t-shirt. Signing up for a primal screaming course. A tantric sexual healer. Not exercising for a few days. Everyone’s edge is different! Start small and BREATHE through it. If it’s not making your heart beat fast, then it’s not an edge.

3. Ask for help. I could not have done this alone. Find a friend who helps you find your edge. Or a coach. A teacher. A witness. Someone to keep you accountable and help you and hold you when you cry.

4. When it starts getting tough do not abandon ship! There is a point in the work where we wanna say “Okay cool! I think I’ve got this and I’m gonna take a break.” Don’t do it! Push yourself just a little more. When you make it over that hump it is going to be glorious I tell you!!!

5. When in doubt go back to your pussy and breathe into your roots. Dance alone naked. Shake it off. Keep going. Cry through it. Do not give up. Umm, yeah, Earth hasn’t given up on us though we’ve pillaged her. Our bodies keep going after disease and childbirth and self-hatred and eating disorders. We owe it to ourselves and to the grandma’s that came before us to not give up and get too comfortable.

And P.S. Remember your edge is your own. Do not compare to the friend who did ayahuasca 366 times in Peru. Do not worry about your friend who saw Jesus when she was cumming. Your journey is about YOU. And in your dark personal corners, you could find something so magnificent…you really have NO idea!

If you wanna go deep and investigate your patterns with love, sex and relationships, join us for The Numinous: Re-write your Love Story Retreat July 15-17th in upstate New York! We’re offering an early bird special while Venus is in Gemini of $50 off EACH if you bring a friend (#healinghangdate time!)

HOLY F*CK: IN SEARCH OF A SMILF…

“I want to date a spiritual guy who doesn’t LOOK spiritual, you know?” In the latest installment of her column Holy F*ck, Alexandra Roxo goes in search of a SMILF…

I was recently discussing relationships with my friend Loulou, and I admitted to finally being ready to surrender to my desire for a “spiritual partner” in love and life.

Lou, like many other friends of mine has a diff take on me about this. As I waxed poetic about Hawaiian yoga retreats with a lover she stopped me, saying: “A big block to finding a partner is putting a limit on who they have to be. Whether it’s the type of clothes they wear, or their career – let’s not throw spirituality into the mix, too.” And I toooootally get it. But if we share our spiritual work with our friends how can we not with a partner?

Over the last 15+ years of dating I’ve mostly stayed away from “spiritual types.” I’ve also spent years sneaking out of bed to meditate in bathrooms in the a.m. Praying silently over my food alone. But while keeping your practice sacred and personal can be beautiful, it can also get old. Most people I dated looked at my altars like I was doing voodoo. (Ok fine, there may have been a snake skin and some bones on there from time to time). A few even made fun of my “woo” at dinner parties – and, well, we DID NOT last.

In my show Be Here Nowish my character Sam goes to a Spiritual Speed Dating event at a place based on Maha Rose in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. After a few too many guys wearing patchouli offer to take her back to their place for an “aura photo” she says to her bestie Nina: “I wanna date a spiritual dude. But not a guy who looks spiritual, you know?”

Since I wrote this line I MEANT IT at the time, and have been casually “researching” this “species” ever since. My findings? There’s the spiritual guy who meditates, but still wants to call you a slut in bed. (Over it.) The spiritual guy who is spiritual by day and does molly all night. (I think this one is called “Burner”?) Then there’s the spiritual guy who dresses in all linen and calls your cooch a yoni. (I may be okay with this, but pls know I may giggle and will DEF group text all my friends about it.)

But I have faith that the “spiritual dude” who isn’t drowning in hemp and OM bumper stickers is out there – and here are 10 of my fave SMILFS to prove it! By SMILF I mean “Spiritual Masculine Identified Person I’d Like to…Follow!” Because following someone and their work and passions is a great way to “get to know them” right?

So thank you, SMILFS, for giving us hope in a world where finding someone vaguely attractive to date that also inspires your spiritual path can feel harder than doing 10 days of Vipassana followed by the Master Cleanse!

:: Kyle Gray ::
Okay, any man that works with Angels wins my heart. Enough reason to FOLLOW. Loulou just got me his book and I’m excited to read it. Not only does Kyle have the most adorable Scottish accent and is a one of few out queer spiritual teachers, but he is also covered in inspirational tattoos and obsessed with Vivienne Westwood.

:: Jesse Israel ::
I found out about Jesse through my friend Steph Simbari and her podcast with Elizabeth Kott “That’s so retrograde” where she talked to him about his project The Modern Man Experiment which I think is important work. Jesse also organizes HUGE and hip group meditations and things and I’m excited to see what’s next from him.

:: Nick Krieger ::
Nick is a trans/queer activist, writer, and coach with goals of de-colonizing and queer-ifying yoga. (Praise Goddess!) He won my heart with this article. He also wrote a book called “Nina Here nor There” about his journey with gender.

:: Light Watkins ::
I discovered Light when he taught meditation to someone I dated who then kept saying: “Oh Light this and Light that.” I may have unfollowed that person on social media, BUT in turn I followed Light! Besides his obvious physical beauty, Light brings Vedic meditation to the masses and has cute snapchats featuring his pug.

:: Michael Trainer ::
Michael founded the incredible Global Citizen project and has a new project called Peak Mind. I happened to go to his gathering in LA and witness his devotion to the Dalai Lama and how he is helping the planet with an open heart. Very genuine stuff.

:: Spiritual Stoner ::
I may have quit marijuana for now, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate this guy. My friend Carlen Altman intro-ed me to his insta when I was in a “conspiracy theory/illuminati K-hole” last winter in NY. Radical Instagram activism is the real deal and his posts range from poignant anti-racism memes, veganism support, worshipping women as Goddess incarnate, conspiracy theory reveals…The kinda stuff I could geek out for hours on.

:: Michael Domitrovich ::
Michael claims to help make “The power of the Spiritual plane as accessible as a bag of chips!” That’s kind of light worker I gravitate towards- anyone who isn’t afraid to use junk food in a metaphor! He uses all kinds of modalities and teachings and does a lot of workshops in LA and NYC.

:: Ryan Cropper ::
Ryan does real fun work, deep but with just enough esoteric to keep things fun and not too woo woo: astral projection courses, shadow integration, memory improvement and more, all with a cute British accent and a great YouTube channel.

:: Patrick Beach ::
His Instagram feed speaks for itself. What else can I say about a shirtless hot man in various yoga poses? “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” are the only words I have.

:: Forrest 44 ::
Okay, so we may have no idea what this dude’s REAL name, is BUT his Instagram feed is full of Goddess and Nature imagery AND he makes beautiful crystal pendants and rings. Big blue eyes, crystal grids, and visionary art?! Sign me up.

For all of us single ladies I will leave you with the wise Miss Lou said as we finished our coconut “Cream Party” juices: “How about you just choose to seek out a partner who has a practice of love. They might get high from joy when watching their favorite sports team, connect to mother earth via love for their dog.”

I LOVE that, and she is right. However! I’m not giving up on my fantasies of meditating naked in Bali and getting matching Archangel Michael tattoos with someone yet. A girl can dream, right?

I want to hear your opinion! Are you looking for a SMILF? Do you have one to add here? Or are you in a spiritual partnership? Please write in the comments your story with any SMILFS! I’m going to go deeper into this next month and interview some of my fave conscious couples so stay tuned…

INSTAPOETS: AN INTERVIEW WITH MARKUS ALMOND

In a new series celebrating our favorite poets of IG, Kiran Gill talks to Markus Almond, author of Motivational Quotes To Get The Blood Moving, about the intersection of creativity and spirituality…

 

The Numinous: You’re both a poet and a musician, how do these two worlds intersect? Is the creative process similar or different?
Markus Almond: They are pretty similar I think. Writing feels more natural to me. With music, I would have to fit a certain number of syllables into a melody and then sometimes make it rhyme. But with writing prose, I’m able to say exactly what I wanted to say without making it fit into an existing format.

TN: Where do you get the inspiration for your writing?
MA: The inspiration comes from different things depending on what I’m writing. Sometimes I’m just writing thinly veiled notes to myself or people I love. Other times, I’m telling a story or trying to pass on some sort of advice.

TN: What is your definition of spirituality?
MA: It’s that unexplainable power that you feel when you close your eyes and let go.

TN: Do you have any daily rituals or practices to aid you in your writing?
MA: I meditate every day. And I listen to music in my headphones when I write. I prefer to write with the lights off and my office locked. It helps keep me focused on the task at hand. And I can usually only write at night after everyone else has gone to sleep.

TN: What was the impetus for putting your work out onto the Internet and becoming a published author?
MA: I was going through some personal stuff a few years ago. And I was so over-worked and tired of looking at a computer. So I bought this little manual typewriter and made a limited edition zine with some scissors, a glue stick, and a copy machine. It was the first thing I ever published. And people seemed to like it so I published some more, built a website and started writing books.

TN: What life experiences have had the biggest impact on your work?
MA: Being a musician has probably had the biggest impact on me. That journey took me to so many different places (both spiritually and geographically) that there is just so much material to write from. I’ve got enough stories floating around in my head that it will take me the rest of my life to get them all down on paper.

TN: We love your existential take on self-help – are you a fan of any traditional self-help authors? Who and how has their work impacted you?
MA: Yeah, I read self-help books all the time. Right now I’m reading two books by Thich Nhat Hanh and also The 12 Week Year. I think books are like software for our brains so it’s important what we read. It can have a great impact on our lives if we read helpful things.

TN: What do you hope your writing will inspire in people?
MA: Honestly, I hope that they’ll just email me once in a while and tell me I’m doing a good job. I don’t really write books for mass appeal or with the intention of selling a million copies. I write them because I enjoy writing. But still, it’s nice to know that people like them from time to time.

TN: What are the biggest challenges of being human? The greatest joys?
MA: Fear can be one of the biggest challenges. It can manifest itself in all kinds of weird ways. I think if you can learn to spot fear and get through it without stopping, you’ll go far in the world. The greatest joy of being human is probably different for everyone. For me, it’s those happy things that happen by accident. Sometimes lucky magic just crosses our path for no reason and that can bring a sense of joy.

Read more at Brooklyntomars.com and follow Markus on Instagram @markusalmond

COMFORTABLY NUMB: AN AMNESTY ON COOL

Enough with the hiding your real self behind your artfully composed selfies. It’s time to call an amnesty on cool, says Comfortably Numb columnist Kate Atkinson.

 

I want to declare an amnesty on modern cool – realizing this is one of the most uncool statements I could write, and more than aware that several people will probably be cringing reading this. If you are, call me anti-millennial and grind away. But if you’d have hoped we’d left it behind in high school, it seems like “cool” is an extremely contagious epidemic no thanks to the digital revolution.

What exactly is cool anyway? It’s an intangible phenomena that you can’t really touch, a state of being that defines the way you walk and talk, what you wear, the music you listen to, where you’re eating, and whether something is on trend – that is, worthy of likes on Instagram. It’s visceral. You can just feel it. And when it comes to true self-expression, I have to say, the modern version is a straight-jacket.

I also want to preface this story with the fact that while, yes, I do have tattoos, by no means am I an expert on cool. I was on the debating team at school – enough said. But I have got up close and personal enough with this insidious contagion to know how it works, and the more I examine its motives, it’s beginning to feel like cool is the root of an identity crisis that’s plaguing our generation.

A girlfriend put it perfectly when I asked what it means to be cool: “it’s the desire to be accepted, the need for validation, the urge to seem radical, despite longing to fit in.” And so it goes. Oh, the dichotomy of being human. Our narcissistic tendencies AND our insecurities are fuelled by cool, especially at a time when platforms for inclusion and exclusion are at an all time high.

Are you aspiring to be an “influencer?” This breed is all about being seen and accepted, “liked” on the interweb. For them, Instagram is basically a digi-friendly version of the high school cheerleading team. Things are sold to us now by “seeding” them with cool people. Brands, celebrities, and destinations are made by their manufactured “cool factor.” What I want to know is, what happened to under-the-radar cool of yesteryear?

In his 2013 book “The Cool School”Glenn O’Brien talks about the new tastemakers. But his cool  “squad” were, put simply, incredibly creative weirdos. Homeless Jazz beatniks, bohos and roaming beat poets. Anyone who made people uncomfortable basically. Something tells me that they wouldn’t be invited to Kim and Kanye’s dinner party.

We live in an age of such style over substance that it’s incredibly hard to rage against the machine and do your own thing. In fact, a study commissioned by smartphone maker HTC late last year revealed that 52% of the approximately 1000 Brits surveyed admitted to posting images of possessions and items with an intention of making their “friends” jealous. What the hey?

Wasn’t this cool thing supposed to be people going against the grain? Rather than just sticking up photo-shopped images captioned: “I ate, I pooped, I wore Celine!” Now pardon my French, but WTF? If this isn’t numbing what’s going on in our down and dirty daily human reality, I don’t know what is.

Because cool these days is about hiding the “sad” half of your life and projecting the best bits. Ambivalence is also key – pretending not to care, even (especially) if you do. Which is basically saying to your soul that your true hopes and aspirations count for nothing unless they fit with whatever’s trending this month. And yet, as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character puts it in cult classic Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

A moment please to consider this: when the cool castles in the sky come crashing down around you and you’re left with the reality of your life, who out of your carefully curated online “tribe” will actually be there to help cushion the fall? Because what you’re really doing when you shield the real you with a glossy veneer of cool, is construct a bulletproof force field that deflects true intimacy.

So beside a total social media detox and cancelling our memberships to Soho House, how can we wake up from this aspirational bullshit existence that we’re creating for ourselves? By taking the time to get conscious to how we while away our days, and creating meaning in every interaction. By walking our talk, with our roots firmly entrenched in reality.

It sounds so obvious, but social media is the great distractor when it comes to following your own expressive intuition….and it’s there for seeking approval when you do actually create something. The old greats weren’t preoccupied with showcasing their creativity, they just did it.

It’s a mythic delusion and a safety net to communicate and earn accolades in this way – as well as a way to mask what’s actually going on. Surely giving away change on the subway is also worth a few “likes” – so why aren’t we posting on Instagram about that? “Saw a nice guy dish out change today on the subway – what a dude!” Shouldn’t he be the real “influencer?”

These stories DO come up on social media – and when they do it’s meaningful, the positive slant on modern technology. But too often, they’re engulfed in a stream of exclusivity: “I ate this, my bae wears that” – with resulting countless digital high fives and @s to follow.

I know my feed rarely delves beyond the aesthetics. And yes, fashion week happens, and friends stay in epic mansions. There are days at the beach with the clearest water ever. Again, I am not counting myself out of ANY of this malarchy, I am as partial to a well-posed selfie as the rest of us. But the lack of reality is what’s wrong with this whole picture, and it’s beginning to be all I can see.

Can’t somebody invent “Unstagram” for the days you’re feeling a bit off? For when you get dumped, you spent the last two days in tracksuit from Target, or you have an embarrassing medical problem?

Because you know what’s really cool? Being real. Not some projection of me me, me, me, I’m so fabulous, watch me eat, watch me sleep! Watch me break my arm! Look at me tagging historical references to show how tapped in and culturally aware I am.

Are we really this dumb? Is there no end to our ridiculous need for validation? This is the worst kind of cool that there is, and what’s more, this culture of exclusion is not social by any means. It’s actually scientifically proven to be making people chronically depressed.

So in a recent discussion with a friend on a rather significant life choice that involved making a potentially un-cool move, when she advised me to: “Fuck cool” – I decided I whole-heartedly concur.

NOT by Ernest Hemmingway

You are not your age,

Nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight,

Or the color of your hair.

You are not your name,

Or the dimples in your cheeks,

You are all the books you read,

And all the words you speak,

You are your croaky morning voice,

And the smiles you try to hide,

You’re the sweetness in your laughter,

And every tear you’ve cried,

You’re the songs you sing so loudly,

When you know you’re all alone,

You’re the places that you’ve been to,

And the one that you call home,

You’re the things that you believe in,

And the people that you love,

You’re the photos in your bedroom,

And the future you dream of,

You’re made of so much beauty,

But it seems that you forgot,

When you decided that you were defined,

By all the things you’re not.

MOVE, SIT, WRITE: 10 REASONS TO WRITE AND MEDITATE EVERY DAY

As she prepares for her Move, Sit, Write tour of the US, Tatum Fjerstad explains how learning to write and meditate every day is about sparking a conversation with your higher self. Artwork: Brian Lynch

Call it an exercise in trading comfort for terrifying uncertainty (she does, in this brilliant blog post), but when something broke in Tatum Fjerstad in December last year, the only option was to pretty much quit what she’d been doing and start again. Which looks a lot like setting off across America to teach her twin (okay triplet) passions of yoga, meditation and writing – a.k.a. her Move, Sit, Write tour, which will take place in 15 studios in seven states, beginning March 3 in Portland, Oregon.

Up until this point, Tatum had been making her life / career decisions a lot like: If I do this, people will think it’s cool. If people think it’s cool, then I’m cool. If I’m cool, people will like me and then I don’t have to work so hard to like myself because everyone else will be doing it for me.” And if you too suspect, on any level, you might also be living this life: “Get out now,” she advises. “It will bring you to a very dark place where you will feel so very disconnected with your own wants and desires that you’ll start to have bleak feelings about how we’re all just atoms bumping into each other and everything is meaningless so what’s the point.” Our point, in general, precisely.

It’s been through her own move, sit, write practice that Tatum has learned to re-connect to and value her sense of self – and since it’s often our own wounds that lead us down the path to our dharma, who better to guide others to do the same. Here, she shares 10 reasons to write and meditate every day…

For more details of Tatum’s Move, Sit, Write tour check out her Go Fund Me page  or book tickets at Tatumfjerstad.com

1. Take An Inventory: When you create the space to listen to your patterns by meditating on and writing down whatever is bouncing around in your head, you (and only you) can decide what you want to keep and what you want to release. This doesn’t happen after one go at it. You have to do it every day.

2. Own Your Shit: When things are rough, this practice can help you get super clear on your hand in the matter. All of us are walking around with a LOT of baggage, no matter who you are, and we can’t unpack it by ignoring it.

3. Sleep Harder: I started meditating twice a day everyday and journaling once in the mornings almost a year ago. Since then, I have had some of the best naps, dreams, and deep sleeps. When you give yourself the time to slow down during the day, your body settles much easier when it’s time to do so.

4. Deeper Connections: When you become a better listener to yourself, you become a better listener to others. It’s a lot easier to put your phone down during a conversation and make eye contact with another person if you know how good that feels when you do it for yourself.

5. Forgive Freely: This soft quiet practice initiates the nurturing of your inner teacher, who happens to be pretty benevolent, empathetic and compassionate. You’ll start to be more lenient on yourself and that will trickle down to others because you’ll realize that we’re all doing the best we can with the tools we have.

6. Treat Yourself: So many of the people I teach think this sort of work is too indulgent or they say they don’t have time. If you have time to scroll through your Instagram feed in bed in the morning, or wash your hair every day, you have enough time to get up a little earlier and do yourself this favor.

7. Increase creativity: When you sit and watch your thoughts and freely write them down you are sitting at the seat of creativity. You can’t force that shit. It has to come on its own with space and sweetness. What better space than writing and meditation?

9. Inspire Others: The longer you do this, the more your friends will want in. They will see your softness emerge and they will ask for your secrets. Share them.

10. Get it Out: Omg, it feels so good to write a bunch of shit about someone who is pissing you off. It feels WAY better than telling them this stuff and then immediately regretting it. I’ve solved entire friendship dramas without speaking a word to them and having the conversation with myself until I was done with it. Sometimes that takes a few days, sometimes much longer.

11. Be Your Own Best Friend: You know that feeling when it’s whatever-night-of-the-week and you don’t have any plans and everyone is doing cool shit and you feel like a big loser full of FOMO? That goes away because you’ll start to really love those cuddly moments with yourself when it’s just you, a good book and some great music.

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: ELLA GRACE DENTON

Uber-blogger Ella Grace Denton uploaded her first YouTube video in 2011; five years later, she has become a compassionate Vegan with a mission to inspire us all to LIVE MORE. We got an invite into her mystical world…

THE NUMINOUS: What inspired the name for your blog – why do “we need to live more”? 
ELLA GRACE DENTON: We Need to Live More originally started as a kind of statement to our generation. The online world can be very overwhelming, face-paced and all consuming, and I believe it’s stopped us connecting to the natural world around us and each other in deep ways!

So much of the online world, Instagram and Twitter, for example, allows young people to get lost in the seemingly incredible lives of others and disconnect from their own passion, purpose and life. And so my blog truly started as an online space to inspire others to live more meaningfully, to follow their passions and dreams and to live for themselves, rather than to aimlessly follow and get lost in the material world.

TN: Your site is dedicated to womankind – which women are you most inspired by and why?
EGD:
Yes, in the last year my focus has shifted slightly and I’ve really found an interest in exploring womankind, the constraints and pressures we feel, why we compete with one another, and our power when we come together and learn to love ourselves again! I love nothing more than being with strong, free, natural, women.

Some women who inspire me:

Tavi Gevinson:  total babe, actress, and founder of Rookie Mag, an amazing online space for females to share and create collectively. Just an incredible advocate for womankind.

Elizabeth Gilbert: writer of the recently published Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. For me, she represents womankind in such a strong way. She actively creates ideas and pursues her dreams whilst empowering other women to do the same. 2000% living in her truth, and that’s inspiring.

Elle Luna: artist, designer and author of The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion –another must read. ALSO listen to her Do Lecture called ‘The Importance of Doing What You Love’, it made me cry!

TN: We know you love astrolgy, how do you work with the cosmos in your everyday life?
EGD: I’ve just come into astrology! I’m religiously watching and learning from Kay Pacha and his YouTube videos. I’ve also become fascinated by the different stages of our moon cycles as females and what that means for our bodies and energy.

TN: Which crystals are you working with currently and why?
This week I’ve been working with a beautiful white agate, a new amethyst and a golden spirit healer quartz:

– White Agate: for purifying and calming
– Amethyst: for grounding
– Golden Spirit Healer Quartz: for aligning and bringing me back to the sun energy in my solar plexus

TN: What does a truly well-lived life look like to you?
EGD: Being surrounded by a community of people who care about me, pursuing my dreams and ideas passionately and openly, and making positive change in the world.

Now a look into the mystical world of this material girl…

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My label
Anything second-hand

Vintage Chanel Jacket, Nasty Gal

My shoes
A pair of boots made of silver satin I found in Oxfam…

My fragrance
A mix of seabuckthorn, jojoba, rose otto, geranium, immortelle, neroli, lavender, palmarosa oils.

Lavender Essential Oil, Do Terra

My jewels
My YCL Jewels hand crafted crystal choker, a crystal necklace I was given for my 21st by my mum, an ‘E’ necklace from my dad and my great great grandmother’s ring

My pampering
A hot bath, with candles, incense, and essential oils

My home
The island of Ibiza

Es Vedra, Ibiza

My food
Mango!

Ella’s Beetroot and Mango Salad

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening
My awakening was always rumbling in my soul, it started in 2012 but came into full swing when I watched the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’ exactly a year ago (trailer below!)

My sign
Scorpio

Scorpio Necklace, Laura Lee Jewellery

My mantra
“I am exactly where I need to be”

My healer
Nature

My reading
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

My transformation
Going vegan – which means living compassionately, by killing and eating no other beings

My mission
To empower others to live openly from their hearts

To read more from Ella Grace Denton visit Weneedtolivemore.com 

COMFORTABLY NUMB: WHY ARE WE ALL AFRAID TO FEEL?

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.”

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: LULU BRUD

A.k.a. Lady Lu of The Wolves, Pretty Little Liars actress, storyteller, and interior designer Lulu Brud is the most mystical of material girls. Here’s a peek into her world…Portraits: Taren Maroun

WE’RE STARTING A NEW EVENT SERIES CALLED “STORY MEDICINE.” AS A TELLER OF STORIES YOURSELF, WHAT DO YOU FIND HEALING ABOUT STORYTELLING?
Stories are mirrors, reflectors of humanity that can reveal the great archetypes throughout history. They can awaken a connection to seemingly far away lands, spirits, and forgotten or imagined times. Stories are teachers and invokers. They lend us the words when we have gone silent or inspire empathy where perhaps before there was none.

WHERE DID THE NAME OF YOUR BRAND – “OF THE WOLVES” – COME FROM?
I dated a man a long time ago who gave me this book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. It was as if he had been sent just to give me this important thing, because I never really heard from him again after that! Later that year, for my 25th birthday, my best friend gave me a Wolf Ring that has become a talisman in my life. I joined Instagram the same week I got the ring, and as I was searching for my moniker, the name just sort of came to me. I didn’t go out looking for the wolves, the wolves came looking for me.

AS AN INTERIOR DESIGNER, WHAT MAKES A HOME A SANCTUARY?
We spend a lot of our lives out in the world, sharing space and entangling ourselves with the energy of strangers. It’s important to have a home to return to that feels like a calm and grounded sanctuary of our own making. My personal approach to interior spaces is inspired by natural and warm elements like plants, crystals and wood, different patterns and colors in textiles and tiles, and up-cycled/repurposed pieces. I love bringing inside living, outside, and outside living, inside…in other words, I don’t like such hard defined lines between the inside of one’s home and the wild outdoors.

WE LOVE THE SOUND OF YOUR “PICNICS OF THE WOLVES” GATHERINGS! WHAT INSPIRED THIS IDEA AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
I love gathering with women (and sometimes men too!) over food, drinks and chats doing crafts and/or at lectures. Working with our hands, healing through laughter and shared stories, that’s what it’s about. I’ve done a few of my own gatherings now, and they are organically growing into something really special. There will be several coming up in 2016 – Lindsay Mack of Wild Soul Healing will be in LA in May for a Tarot focused Picnic, and I’m hoping to get a Cob Oven building workshop on the books too, things like that. The sign-ups will be listed on my website as they become available!

ACTORS ARE EMPATHETIC SOULS BY NATURE – HOW DOES ONE KEEP YOUR ENERGY FIELD CLEAN OPERATING IN A CUT-THROAT ENVIRONMENT LIKE HOLLYWOOD?
To be honest, I struggle with it a lot, but Of the Wolves has saved me in many ways. My days are filled with storytelling in many forms, and I go to bed feeling creatively fulfilled at night. I have had the opportunity to work more this year than I ever have before, with a small arc on Pretty Little Liars and an appearance on Ray Donovan, but for now, it’s all quiet again on the acting front.

The ups can be really exciting and thrilling, the downs can be pretty heavy and dark, and rejection is an everyday occurrence. The trick, for me at least, is staying balanced and grounded through it all, keeping my hands busy, telling good stories, and not pausing for too long to dwell on things that are so out of my control. At the end of the day, it’s just a job. It’s hard not to compare my path with that of those around me, but I just can’t do it…their story isn’t my story and my story isn’t theirs.

:: MATERIAL GIRL :: 

My label // Reformation or vintage finds from old closets.

Bordeaux dress, $278, Reformation

My shoes // Black vintage lace up Justin boots (that I’ve had resoled 5 times), PFKaufman Mules, Minnetonka Moccassins.

Mules, $350, PFKaufman

My fragrance // Jiva Apoha 1967 Body Oil or if I’m feeling fancy D. S. & Durga Freetrapper.

Body oil, from $53, Jiva Apoha

My jewels // Alkiemie Wolf Ring, Communion by Joy Eye of the Warrior Ring, my wedding ring with a family crest that my husband and I designed together, and Native American vintage turquoise pieces

Eye of the Warrior Ring, $1985, Communion by Joy

My pampering // A quiet solo night at home with a good playlist, candles, bath time, and a glass of wine.

My home // Rustic + Bohemian + Cabin feels nestled into a hillside on the east-side of LA.

My food // I love cooking any foods with good people and high-vibing ingredients

The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My awakening // Waking up slowly and cuddling my husband and our eight-year-old tea cup poodle. Then lighting candles in our meditation room, burning Juniper Ridge incense, and sipping coffee until I need to face the music and get the day started.

White Sage Incense, $12, Juniper Ridge

My sign // Sun: Scorpio | Rising: Taurus | Moon: Cancer.

My mantra // “I am enough.”

My healer // The colors and the quiet of Momma Earth – deserts, oceans, mountains.

My reading // “Women Who Run with the Wolves” – “The Anthropology of Turquoise” – “Just Kids” – “A Handbook of Native American Herbs”

Just Kids by Patti Smith

My transformation // When I stopped limiting myself to just being a storyteller through acting, and opened myself up to all of the other ways I tell stories – home designing, sharing stories on my blog, making goods, and curating my online shop.

My mission // To awaken and connect people back to one another and their wild sides, and to instill a new paradigm of protectors for the sustainability of this planet.

www.ofthewolves.com

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: RUSSELL BRAND’S BIRTH CHART, A SUPER SELFRIDGES COLLAB

Why this was the week I had to read Russell Brand’s birth chart, and I’m counting down to a big London launch…

I read Russell Brand’s birth chart. I kind of can’t get enough of him, and after watching the new documentary Brand: A Second Coming, which follows his personal evolution from addict to anti-establishment political commentator, I could no longer contain my curiosity about what kind of crazy-ass astrology the dude’s got going on.

And it’s all just SO there. With both his Sun and Mercury in Gemini, expressing himself with words is like breathing to Rus, and whether you agree with what he’s got to say or not, couldn’t you just listen all day long? Then, there’s his Moon, Mars, and Jupiter all in Aries. Oh man! This guy is massively passionate about ALL the things that turn him on. But yes, he needs sex, and lots of it, as well as total autonomy over his life.

Which doesn’t exactly peg him as marriage material – no surprises there – especially so when you also consider that both his Venus and Saturn are in Cancer. Yes, Russell loves (Venus) women (Cancer). Especially his mum (also Cancer), as the new documentary highlights. But perhaps his biggest karmic lesson (Saturn) is learning to express this in a way that works for both parties. With Uranus in Libra, he no doubt makes for a confusingly attentive/distant partner, and any long-term relationship will certainly be unconventional!

But most interesting to me, is Russell’s South-North Node journey, which falls on the Gemini-Sagittarius axis. Charting the path of Russell’s past life karma and cosmic destiny in this lifetime, the overarching theme is of a pure intellectual being. Russell’s Gemini South Node (past life karma) suggests somebody easily distracted with superficial things, spreading his many talents too thinly for them to have any impact. The Sagittarius North Node meanwhile (destiny point), is about finding a meaningful focus for his agile brain and unparalleled capacity for learning.

Since reading his book Revolution earlier this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about – well – “revolution” (which in turn, got me wanting to bust out this rad Isabel Marant sweatshirt from last year*). The standard dictionary definition is: “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system,” which is a lot of what he talks about. But it strikes me that Russell’s focus on the concept of external revolution, is a reflection of the internal revolution he’s experienced in overcoming his ego-led addictions – to drugs, sex, and fame.

I see Russell’s journey this way, because since stepping onto my Numinous journey I’ve experienced a similar revolution inside myself. Different addictions, similar shift in worldview to incorporate a life that’s less about taking and accumulating, and more about sharing and being of service. Russell, thank you, you passionate, strange, addictive creature, for helping get the message to the masses.

*Yes, it it possible to live a more mindful life, and still get excited about fashion.

I’m counting down the days. Until the launch of a majorly exciting project I’ve been working on with Selfridges department store in the UK! For Christmas 2015 the team have created a mystical concept store the Astrolounge, featuring all kinds of cosmic gifting goodness. The Numinous has been on hand to help curate the product offer, as well as a super fun Shop by Star Sign selection for Selfridges.com.

It all goes live October 22 – which is also the date we’ll be launching THE coolest Numinous collaboration with on-demand t-shirt printing company YRStore. Keep watching our Instagram account for more teasers over the following week. You will NOT want to miss this!

 

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: RAW VEGAN BLONDE

Amber Locke, a.k.a. @rawveganblonde has gained a cut following for her beautiful and unique farmers’ market art. We meet the woman behind the phenomenon, and ask her…what vegetable would you be?

The artist at work…

How long have you been a Raw Vegan Blonde, and what drew you to the lifestyle?
I’ve always been blonde, but only discovered the concept of raw food about 18 months ago! I first read about it on the blog of Ralph Lauren model Valentina Zelyaeva and decided to try it out as an experiment, but I was so blown away with how amazing it made me feel after just a few days, I carried on.

Eating raw gives me incredible energy, improved mental clarity and a general feeling of calmness, harmony and well-being. I’ve become far more in tune with my body and very aware of how what I eat can dramatically affect how I feel both emotionally and physically.

What makes you so passionate about vegetables?
For me it’s the fact that fruit and veg not only taste amazing, they’re visually fascinating and have the power to nourish and heal our bodies too. They really are super foods.

Zucchini Shadows print, £180 from Ambaliving.com

And why do you think they’re so beautiful to you?
I love the beauty of natural elements, and I’m constantly amazed and delighted by their different shapes, colours, textures, and character. So my designs aim to showcase their unique qualities and reflect the changing seasons of the year, as well as being a celebration of living a healthy lifestyle.

If you were a fruit or a vegetable, which would you be and why?
I think I’d probably be a candy beetroot. They look pretty much like a normal beetroot on the outside, but when you slice them, they reveal their amazing pink and white striped flesh and it never ceases to make me smile.

What’s the most out there plant-based experience you’ve had to date?
I’m not sure I’ve had an ‘out there’ experience…but I always get a sense of something greater at work when I’m composing my designs. I sometimes stand back and wonder how I did it.

:: M A T E R I A L  G I R L ::

My label
I love Hermes and although I only own a few pieces (mainly leather goods and scarves) they all have special memories and are so exquisitely made they will last a lifetime.

Hermes Zebra Pegasus scarf, $1175

My shoes
I’m addicted to Belstaff boots as they’re so comfy, look great and fit my narrow shins well! I have several pairs and wear them almost all year round.

My fragrance
I’ve worn ‘Un Jardin Sur Le Nil’ by Hermes for years. I think the top notes are green mango but I love it as the smell reminds me of tomato leaves which are one on my favourite fragrances along with orange blossom. I’m still pursuing my quest to find the perfect orange blossom perfume and the closest I’ve come across so far is by Jo Malone and I wear this sometimes in the Summer.

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil by Hermes, $131

My jewels
I don’t wear much jewellery apart from my boyfriend’s old Breitling watch which I love as it’s so big and chunky on my wrist, and an antique silver fob chain given to me by my Mother which I wear as a charm bracelet.

My pampering
A trip to the hairdressers! I recently took the plunge and had 10” chopped off by the brilliant team at Richard Ward Salon in London, their colourist David Viner is a legend too!

My home
I live in a quirky house in a small countryside village. Its part Tudor, part Georgian, part Victorian and part Medieval so it’s a real mix of architectural styles.

My food
I love to eat a mainly raw diet so my kitchen is always full of fresh fruit and vegetables and I eat this way at least 90% of the week. I love green smoothies, as well as my beloved high-speed ‘Blendtec’ blender makes them super smooth, rich and creamy.

Blendtec blender, $649.95

:: M Y S T I C A L  W O R L D ::

My awakening
I have a very simple morning ritual; I drink a large glass of water (warm water and lemon if I have time) then take a walk with my dog before making a big green juice for my boyfriend and I. We’re really into stronger flavoured spicy juices now the weather has turned colder so I use a lot of ginger, lemongrass, whole lemons and sometimes a bit of green chilli for an extra kick.

My sign
I’m a Capricorn

My mantra
I don’t really have a mantra as such but I love the line in the Baz Luhrmann song ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’ which goes: ‘Enjoy your body… it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own’. I think so many people live unhappily with their body but if you can learn to love it and feed, nourish and exercise it properly the rewards of such team work can be incredible.

My healer
I think a balanced diet of fresh, natural food can be a great healer – physically, medicinally and emotionally.

Hermes-esque print, £180, Ambaliving.com

My reading
I’m fascinated by food so for me it’s any book related to the subject (I have hundreds!) and I really love searching out vintage cookbooks and out of print titles.

My transformation
Trying out a raw food diet was a big transformation for me as I had no idea eating this way had the ability to make you feel so good. I think it should be renamed the ‘Happiness Diet’ as it’s almost like nature’s happy pill.

My mission
I love to share my passion for fruit and vegetables (through my designs and recipes) and if that encourages or inspires others to eat more of them then that makes me very happy!

Purchase one of Amber’s limited edition prints at Ambaliving.com, and follow her on Instagram @rawveganblonde

WHY TOO MUCH SOCIAL MEDIA IS BAD FOR THE SOUL

We know, we know…too much social media can be a recipe for the dreaded “compare & despair”. Life coach Lucy Sheridan shares why it’s so easy to fall for the filter factor, and how we can all fight back.

Supermodel selfies found on Harpers Bazaar

This NU digital age means it’s easy for us to take for granted the power at our fingertips and how technology can make our lives more streamlined, where before there might have been effort and chaos.

Increasingly though, the “power couple” that is technology and social media, presents an interesting and complex counter dynamic to the no-brainer benefits of the digital world.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I think social media is amazing. It’s one of the best ways to keep in the loop with people we know and love (and people we don’t for that matter – ex stalking, anyone?)

It feels like geography and time zones no longer matter. There’s the arrival of a baby in one feed, and a stack of amazing paleo pancakes in another. The significant and the small sit side by side as we consume the constant updates we allow to flood our lives.

We’re also more accessible than ever. I’ll bet you’ve been found by, and searched for, your school buddies from your distant past as well as that cool girl you sat next to at that workshop last weekend. These connections have evolved our networks and with this our feeds fill with more and more “news”.

The irony is that these increased connections can create a feeling of acute and uncomfortable separation. There’s a sense that there’s lots going on “over there”, and yet when we look at our own lives it’s crickets and tumbleweed.

Cue the “compare & despair” phenomenon that’s so aggressively on the rise.

We can’t all be Beyonce getting a private tour of the Louvre…

If you’re like me, you may have looked at your feeds and thought everyone is basically:

• Having loads of amazing sex
• Building businesses overnight
• Living more spiritually than Gabby B
• Raising beautiful, perfectly behaved vegan children
• Moving into a home from MTV Cribs (Google it kidz)
• Eating only the most delicious food in exclusive VIP restaurants
• Enjoying luxury as standard when it comes to going on vacay

I fell deep into a pit of compare & despair after a high school reunion a couple of years ago, when my online habits and perceived place in my digital world began to have serious effects on my offline life.

More and more I felt disconnected from other people and, more worryingly, from myself. And I was supposed to be the Zen “life coachy” one in my gang? Uh-oh #Fail and #FML.

In short, my ego had been having a field day fixating and obsessing over all the areas I appeared to be falling short.

According to my feeds I wasn’t thin enough, clever enough, entrepreneurial enough, interesting enough – basically, just not “enough”. How that ego magpie pecked away at my confidence.

But waking up to what I call the “filter factor” snapped me out of my downward spiral.

Miranda Kerr posts a selfie with her new diamond encrusted watch…

After sitting uncomfortably with my negative feelings, I realized I was as much a perpetrator as I was a victim. After all, if I was over-thinking the angle, tone and words to use in my posts, then surely others were too?

Starting to notice, hone in on and stare my insecurities in the face was a difficult but necessary process to free me from my distracted ego state and make friends with myself again.

For me, this meant tuning back into the things I’d found it all too easy to tune out – i.e. my spiritual practice, spoken conversations and daily non-events that actually kept me grounded and in tune with myself.

Real connection happens in the spaces between our online and offline lives. The moments with #nofilter, where the failures, the poor choices, and the average, regular days are. Where nothing that interesting happens, and yet you still smile at someone in the street, laugh at a joke you heard or move your bag to let someone sit down on the subway.

I may still apply ‘Amaro’ to all my Instagram pics to make my skin look awesome but, when I do, I know I’m consciously tinkering with what people will see on the surface…just like everyone else is.

Supermodel selfie found on Harpers Bazaar

Here are six things to think about when fighting the filter factor:

Life is not a zero sum game. That is, just because you see someone else winning or succeeding does not mean you’re missing out or failing. Trust that you’ll get back what you’re putting in, whether that’s your parenting style, yoga practice or the new blog you’ve started. Stay focused on your own goals and remember there’s more than enough success to go round!

You never know the full story. What we see posted on Facebook and other channels is a snapshot of a result and does not show the hard toil and ugly tears that are part of the process of success.

Fine is fine: Most of the time life is fine. Only fine – and that’s okay! I can’t remember the last time my Wednesday afternoons were particularly epic, amazing or unforgettable. They’re usually just…fine.

Reality can have bite. Sometimes I make a point of posting stuff about the little things that make a day extra fine. A chalk drawing on the pavement in a not-very-cool-part-of town, a feather landing at my feet or finding the EXACT change for the parking meter in my pocket. Those little wins are the ones the prove the Universe has your back, boo! You don’t need to dress them up – they’re beautiful in any light and happen much more regularly than you realize. Be brave and post those every day miracles on your social media.

The power of an actual digital detox. This doesn’t mean deleting your Facebook STAT. How about just turning down your exposure to what’s distracting you, and reframing how you use your time. For example, if you’re rocking up to a job you hate day after day, instead of just scrolling Twitter on your way, perhaps use your commute to search job sites or tweak your CV. Or even stare out the window and be present, giving yourself the gift of a peaceful moment to help you decide what you really want.

Go back to basics. A “like” here and a retweet there can make us feel present and included in the lives of those we love. In fact it’s easy to forget that feelings of real connection are created and nurtured face to face. Taking the time out to really connect with those you love – whether it’s a meet up planned nine months in advance or a Skype call at the weekend – you’ll not only get the big news first hand and in detail, but you’ll feel the love of supporting your friends on their journey and vice versa.

Lucy Sheridan is a Life Coach hell bent on helping Gen Y girls overcome the comparison caused by social media and get what they want OFF-line.  Find out more at www.proofcoaching.com

Facebook.com/ProofCoaching

Twitter & Insta: @lucysheridan