Forget everything you know about the Windy City—there are plenty of high-vibe happenings in Spiritual Chicago, says Andrea Kasprzak…
The Windy City may be better known for the Cubs than the cosmic, but it’s not all deep dish pizza and boozy baseball fans. When it comes to tapping spiritual Chicago, you just have to know where to look. Here’s our itinerary for a day of crystals, yoga, and high vibrational cuisine.
9AM :: Kundalini Yoga at Sat Nam Yoga The second you step into this cozy, sanctuary-within-the-city you’ll want to curl up on a white sheepskin rug and never leave. Take a kundalini class in the sun drenched front room, shop for sage and crystals in the store, or book a treatment with some of the area’s most sought after healers. Not to be missed: lunar tune-ups in the outdoor courtyard during monthly new and full moon rituals and cosmic vinyasa (yoga and symphonic gong immersion under the projection of the stars).
11 AM :: Soak at Float Sixty Whether you consider sensory deprivation tanks a spiritual experience or a just a slightly trippy way to spend an hour, you’ll never regret the experience. Head to this River North haven to soak in style. The industrial cool space features tons of tubs, a meditation room to hang out in post-soak, and a grooming area. Try the Samadhi Tank for a super cool intergalactic womb-like vibe.
1PM :: Juice and Crystals at Infiniteus Kill two birds with one (high energy) stone at this Wicker Park rocks and juice shop. First, hydrate with a cold-pressed juice or purified alkaline water amidst massive amethysts and orange calcite covered tables in the cafe. Then, hit up the back room to shop for gems and crystals. Owner Alex Drummond is super knowledgable and on hand to help. Bonus: they’ll even deliver your gems and juices to your door.
2PM :: Gong Therapy with Mason Pain Transportive, elevating, and a little bit other-worldly, getting gonged by sound therapist Mason Pain offers deep release on a higher level. Surrender to the healing vibrations of three gongs, as well as singing bowls and chimes. Sessions begin with Yoga Nidra to open you up to maximum receptivity.
3PM :: Nut Milk at Owen + Alchemy Think you’re over juice after too many cleanses? This gothic cool Logan Square juice bar from Anne Owen and Jared Van Camp may change your mind. Try the nut milks. We suggest the dessert-y 54 (raw hazelnut, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla bean, raw local honey) or the fresh and creamy 59 (young raw coconut juice and young raw coconut meat).
4PM :: Tarot Reading with Laura Gonzalez Laura, a self-described Mexican witch, has felt a true connection and psychic insights since childhood. Tarot card reading is her passion and it shows. Sessions are meant to offer guidance and clarity. Go deeper by asking specific questions. Laura’s hyper presence makes it easier to digest tough truths.
5PM :: Reiki with Jerry Mikutis Clear energy blocks and connect with a like-minded sensi soul during a session with Reiki healer and yoga instructor Jerry Mikutis. Her warm personality and magic touch puts clients at instant ease.
6PM :: Vegetarian Dinner at Green Zebra Bar and ballpark snacks may get first bill, but there’s still plenty of high vibe, creative and veggie-centric places to grab a bite. Case in point: Green Zebra. Fresh, local, and elevated, the West Town restaurant is a standout not to be missed. Small plate dishes like the Hen of the Woods mushroom pate and fermented beet tartare with borscht yogurt, candied pistachios, and dill pickles are plated to impress.
8PM :: Crystallsage Massage atRuby Room Cap off the night with a Crystallsage Massage at this Wicker Park healing hybrid space. Sessions start with a flower and gem essence spray and reading. Move into a treatment room for an intense 90-minute massage featuring Himalayan salt crystals for serious grounding. After, shop for crystals and spend the night in one of the upstairs rooms.
Our #TuneInPeaceOut initiative is an invitation to choose peace, every day and in every way…
:: MONDAY ::
Got to see Deepak “the don” Chopra speak live for the first time, at the launch of his Radical Beauty book with nutritionist Kimberly Snyder. TOTALLY get why he is who he is. The charisma! The effortless way with a deeply spiritual insight! A fave takeaway were his quotes about our relationship to our bodies: “Your body is an activity, not a thing. It’s not a sculpture it’s a river.” And how, since our cells are in a continual process of rejuvenation: “I’ve had this jacket longer than the body I’m wearing today.”
:: TUESDAY ::
Another day, another book about feeding our body right with Nicole Centeno’s Soup Cleanse Cookbook. Nicole is the founder of Splendid Spoon, one of our sponsors at Club SÖDA NYC, and she’s all about the healing power of soup. As Nicole tells it, souping changed her life (a low-calorie way to stay fuller for longer, the mindfulness of making soup, AND a totally practical way to cook and eat big batches of seasonal veg). All I really need to know is, my body just sort of gives me a big, cozy hug from the inside just looking at some of her recipes—which feels like an intuitive “yes” to a lot more souping this fall to me.
:: WEDNESDAY :: (Lots to say here, you might want to go make a cup of tea first…)
So roughly three weeks ago, I had the idea for #TuneInPeaceOut—an initiative to celebrate the UN’s International Day of Peace. This following some work I did with my coach Cherie Healey, when I was thinking about the big, underlying message of The Numinous. “If I gave you the loudest megaphone in the world, and put you on top of the highest mountain, what would you say to the world?” she asked. The words came immediately: “Can everybody just stop fighting. We’re all human. We all have the same needs, and the same fears. Please can we remember that we’re here to help each other work it out?”
Because essentially (besides me just being a massive pacifist), all the practices, philosophies, and ways of healing that we cover on The Numinous are about forging a deeper connection to our true nature—and therefore a deeper sense of connection to ourselves, and to each other. Two things I believe are fundamental to any conversation about creating more peace in our (inner and outer) world. This since a) connection to self is what fosters the resilience needed to respond to life’s trials in a calm, non-reactive way; and b) it becomes pretty much impossible to want to harm somebody once you recognize that we are all part of one big human family!
And then “Summer 2016” happened. Week after week we were slammed with reminders of the rampant divisiveness, hatred and violence in our world right now, and often stemming from a place of separation, of “us” v. “them.” Which is not exactly anything new. Bombings, shootings, rape, hate crimes, and other acts of terrorism are happening all over the world, every day. But what struck me was the emotional charge in the way we responded to the events of this summer. How personally we all took each heart-wrenching episode of violence and injustice.
I think this is because we’ve reached a tipping point in how we consume our news. It used to be that we first heard of such inhumane acts as mass shootings and racist police brutality from people in suits, reading from scripts, in newsrooms far away. Now, this information first reaches us via our social media feeds—the same place we connect with our family and friends, and share our own lives with those we love. As a result, it has become impossible not to empathize with the people being violated against as we would our own brothers and sisters, parents, friends, and colleagues. The veil of separation dissolves…and we are reminded that we are all part of one big human family.
And with this, comes the remembrance that it is all of our responsibility to look out for one another. To speak up. Literally. Like, “WTF, that’s not how we do things in THIS family!!” No matter how scary, or how uncomfortable this might feel. And to take whatever (non-violent!) action we can to change up the status quo.
The above is pretty much how I introduced my event in NYC for #TuneInPeaceOut, which ended up being one of 20 or so IRL gatherings held by the Numinous tribe globally. Earlier in the day I also hosted a live webinar with Bri Luna from The Hoodwitch and my dear friend and collaborator Alexandra Roxo (you can listen to the recording here), in which we spelled out what this initiative is really all about—empowering all of us to use our voice and take action to choose peace, and help create more peaceful communities from the ground up.
After all, as a friend in the UK pointed out on one of my posts about #TuneInPeaceOut, since it was inaugurated in 1981, it would not appear that the UN’s International Day of Peace has actually done much to end—or even lessen—violence. Since September 21 was subsequently declared a day of of ceasefire and non-violence in 2001, US military spending has increased dramatically—rising from under $400 billion to almost $800 billion in 2011 (there has been a slight drop during Obama’s presidency, but spending is projected to increase again in 2017). I see this as yet another reminder that it is actually on YOU AND ME to demand a different way of resolving conflict. That the power, truly, must be claimed by the people.
This message is why I partnered with the amazing Urban Yogis for my event tonight, since here are some people who are walking the freaking talk. Based in Jamaica, Queens, a neighborhood where violent street crime fueled by prejudice and lack of opportunity is a way of life, the courageous and progressive human beings behind this initiative are bringing the tools of yoga and meditation into their local community. The results? Less reactivity. Less violence. More listening. Increased feelings of self-worth, leading to more empowered and empowering lifestyle choices.
And, most importantly, the slow chipping away of stereotypes (about the “kind of people” who do yoga, for example—or who perpetrate violent crimes) that are the sick, Monsanto seed of so much separation, fear, and hate.
“Real change needs all year round effort, not just a day,” my friend noted. And I could not agree more. Which is why it is my sincere hope that the conversations sparked by #TuneInPeaceOut will continue today, tomorrow, and every day going forward. That we will continue to choose peace every step of the way. On our webinar, we asked people to share what this looked like in their lives, and what they do to bring more peace to their communities, so we could all be inspired by each others efforts. I’ve created a post with the transcript from our chat. Check it out here—and add your feedback in the comments, so we can keep the conversation alive.
:: THURSDAY ::
Pulled the above card in a mini meeting oracle deck reading with my girl Lisa Barner. Thanks for listening, angels.
:: FRIDAY ::
And all that said, with the Moon in Cancer today, sign of nurture and self-care, I shall be mainly tuning in…and peace’ing out.
Working with metaphysical text A Course In Miracles has helped Gingersnaps Organic founder Jamie Graber enjoy every step of her journey – anxieties and all. She shares how…Images: John von Pamer
It can sometimes feel like all roads to spiritual awakening lead back to A Course in Miracles – a channelled, self-study workbook perhaps made most famous by the likes of Marianne Williamson and Gabriel Bernstein, who both reference the teachings of ACIM heavily in their own work.
Most recently, the classic text popped up on our radar thanks to a weekly study group that meets at chic West Village juice bar Gingersnaps Organic. Inspired by founder Jamie Graber’s own journey with the teachings of ACIM, here she shares how the Course has helped her re-imagine her relationship with food and step fully into her life purpose…
The Numinous: When did you discover A Course In Miracles? Jamie Graber: I discovered ACIM three years ago through Gabby Bernstein, who I met when she used to come and get juice when Gingersnaps was in the East Village, near her apartment. I was questioning a lot of stuff in my life at the time, and the Course helped me realize I could see things a different way. In turn, this helped me see that I had power over any situation.
TN: What inspired the ACIM study group at Gingersnaps? JG: Because it was always my vision to have my restaurant be a place of community. I also noticed that the more I talked about ACIM, the better I felt, so I thought having the weekly meetings would be a beautiful way to start giving back. An amazing woman name Anne Marie Imperiale leads the class, an incredible coach who uses the Course in her work. We meet every Monday from 8-9pm, the class is free, and people come early to gather and connect. I love it.
TN: Why do you think the teachings of the Course resonate with so many people? JG: Because because they give YOU the power. It’s not about idolizing or following rules, it’s about remembering that ultimately we hold all the power over how we see things. If we accept this and choose to really live in it, we begin to see that we have the answer for everything within us. The Course really teaches how to live in love and not fear, and who doesn’t want that!
TN: Can you give an example of this from your own life? JG: My journey with Gingersnaps Organic actually began with a massive fear around food. I was extremely uncomfortable with my body, unable to embrace or love it, to the point I would actually say I say I hated my body. But out of that, I found raw food and plant based living, which in turn led me to discover my passion in life and to really be able to experience joy around food. I even married a meat-eating chef, and my favorite thing these days is to travel the world eating amazing food with him!
TN: So how has the Course helped you heal your relationship with food specifically? JG: The lessons helped me realize my illusions about food were just that: illusions. For example, the idea that eating food would automatically make me fat and grotesque to everyone around me. At the time, I was 5 7″ and 85lbs, but when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was fat. In hindsight, I can see this was insane – but at the time, the the illusion felt very real to me.
TN: What’s been your key take-away from the teachings? JG: That when I’m uncomfortable or going through something tough, I know it’s because I’m in a place of transition and that I have to make a change – and there’s an incredible sense of ease that comes along with that. Also that while often healing hurts, and feels uncomfortable at first, the more you’re willing to push through discomfort, the faster you will come out the other side to a place of joy and freedom that you didn’t even know existed.
TN: And what’s your very favorite lesson from ACIM? JG: There’s one I love so much I actually set it as a reminder on my phone every night:
“Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait and wait without anxiety”
We often think we know what’s best for us, and have an idea of exactly what that should look like. We give a lot of power to this vision, and when things don’t go exactly as we “wanted,” we can lose faith and become anxious that we’re never going to get what we want. True faith believes that we are taken care of. We have to understand that we can’t always see the path ahead – but that if we have faith that everything we encounter is actually a gift, then we can enjoy every step of the journey.
Reaching the “destination” isn’t worth it for me any more if the journey is filled with anxiety and fear, so when I’m stressing about something, I will often read this lesson and mediate on it, remembering I am protected, and that everything is for my best interest. When I first opened the space in the East Village, I was a ball of fear and anxiety, so every day there was torture. I had no faith, and only frustration that things didn’t look like I thought they would.
Having Gabby and The Course in my life really took me back to my childhood, when I believed and trusted. I was the little girl waking up early before school to clear my crystals and talk to Spirit, and when I first opened up Gingersnap’s Organic, I had forgotten that. Opening up in the West Village has been completely different. I’ve done it with ease and trust, and chosen to just let things play out. Even when anxiety sets in, using my tools from ACIM, I am able to release it and actually enjoy waiting for how I want things to be.
What’s up with the Beyonce vegan backlash?! Body image expert and spiritual healthy eating coach Heather Waxman responds to the haters – and talks to Ruby Warrington about diet and spiritual development
Beyonce’s fans were mad because they expected a tour or album announcement (to which I say, “Give her a break and get over it, people!”). Meanwhile, many in the vegan community are angry because they think she’s a hypocrite for wearing fur and “posing with captive elephants and tigers” as one person commented.
Here’s the thing: judgment doesn’t get us anywhere. And since I don’t know Beyonce personally, I don’t know her heart and I don’t know her lifestyle, so it’s not really my place to comment. But what I can say is that we need to appreciate how much publicity eating vegan is receiving as a result. Let’s celebrate that! It’s awesome.
But let’s also focus in on what she said in connection to veganism and positive body image. Here’s a direct quote from Beyonce’s interview on GMA: “I am not naturally the thinnest. I have curves. I’m proud of my curves and I have struggled since a young age with diets and finding something that actually works, actually keeps the weight off, has been difficult for me.”
From what I understand, Beyonce started to eat vegan after she had her baby as a way to lose the baby weight in a natural way – opposed to a quick fix. As a result, she said she experienced many other beneficial side effects – like better sleep quality, improved digestion, and a positive feeling that her vegan choices could effect the people around her and the environment.
Which is all great. But I will point to the contradictory of saying you love your curves, but also saying things like you’ve tried everything to stay a certain weight.
If we have true BODYpeace, we don’t feel the need to do something to “keep the weight off” because we can naturally live and eat in a way that allows us to experience peace with our body. As a result, weight becomes a non-issue. It’s just not something you’re concerned about anymore.
This has got to get way harder living in the public eye, and I’m not sure if this was just a poor choice of words or if she actually does still struggle with body image. But either way, I hope that we can all agree that a.) this is great for the vegan movement and b.) pray that Beyonce (and all women for that matter!) is peaceful and happy in her body and continues to make choices from an authentic and ethical place for her.
Read on for Ruby Warrington’s interview with Heather Waxman about spirituality, diet and body image…
I feel like starting to eat ‘healthy’ like Beyonce is the beginning of a lot of people’s spiritual awakening. Do you agree? Why is this?
I absolutely agree. As we let go of foods that are not serving us, we notice that those foods were doing a really good job at numbing out a bunch of stuff we didn’t want to feel. So as we start to eat cleaner, our thoughts and feelings become cleaner too – and that can feel amazing and joyful, but also very intense depending what we were avoiding dealing with. And that’s usually when people turn to spiritual practice for help.
We also see a lot of ‘extreme’ diets in spiritual + self-improvement circles – why is this?
Whenever I see or hear the word ‘extreme,’ the concept of perfectionism instantly comes to mind. And that’s what causes problems, isn’t it? We’ve all heard the cliché “perfection doesn’t exist” – but we don’t live by it as a society, as Beyonce knows only too well. I think most people opt for extreme diets because they think looking a certain way will help them truly love themselves. But that’s not how it works.
I want to add that I actually think that the word “self-improvement” is also damaging, particularly for sensitive souls, because it implies we’re somehow not good enough, which only perpetuates the quest for perfection. What I’ve come to conclude lately is that we’re not necessarily here to improve ourselves. It’s more that embarking on a spiritual path the aim is to become more of ourselves. It’s more about an unfolding, a peeling back, layer by layer, of who we thought we were, only to allow who we really are to be revealed. Which can be messy, beautiful, and terrifying! But, I believe, it’s what we’re all called to do.
But discipline and asceticism have long been associated with spiritual development – do you see echoes of this in things like juice cleansing, etc?
I do, but I think we need to define “discipline” before we dive into this. The word has the same root as the word “disciple” – which means to be a devotee of a certain philosophy. But the word discipline has been turned into something that’s just not fun – so, I prefer to use…devotion.
I think when we lean into our spiritual development with a strong air of devotion…that’s when the miracles unfold for us. And so I also think we need to be disciplined with, or devoted to, things that we have discovered we need to do so we can show up for life ready to give love, receive love, and serve those around us.
This can include juice cleansing, if that’s what you feel called to do! But as every individual body is different, I think it’s important to first get to know your body and also to consider your own mental / spiritual relationship with the concept. I tried (and failed) so many detoxes and cleanses. So, when it came time for me to want to consider detoxing for spiritual purposes, I had to first heal the mental issues I had with cleanses and learn the real “why” behind them, before I was ready to check it out.
What are the warning signs for you as a coach that healthy has tipped into obsessive?
There are a bunch of warning signs, but these are the most common ones I have seen, and they’re always present in my clients.
– You know things have turned obsessive if you’re doing one or more of these:
– You’re constantly thinking about your next meal and counting calories
– You’re obsessed with counting your macros, or avoiding certain foods or food groups because you’re afraid they’ll make you gain weight
– You’re avoiding certain foods or food groups because you want to “fit in” with the fitness / spiritual community you’re a apart of
– You restrict your food all day and then binge eat at night
– You have to work out for a specific amount of time or you have to do a specific type of workout because you’re afraid of gaining weight…and if you don’t have a chance to do that work out, you feel depressed and like your day is ruined
So what do you think a healthy and spiritually aligned attitude to food really looks like?
Our definition of health and spirituality is very individual, but I do believe there is a common thread tying every version of a healthy relationship to food together, and it sounds something like this: “I eat for vitality, freedom, and pleasure.” (Notice how I said vitality – not vanity).
This is definitely where I’m at now, and it’s allowed me to feel the happiest in my body I’ve ever felt. Vitality, freedom, and pleasure are not exclusive, though! I went on vacation last week and vitality went out the window for me. I wanted to eat for freedom and pleasure. So, I ate a bunch of things I normally don’t eat when I’m home like frozen yogurt, sweet potato fries, and chips and guacamole. It was great! When I returned home, I couldn’t wait to return to feeling that vitality. It’s a constant dance.
And what role does taking pleasure in what we eat play in our spiritual development?
Do you have a year to talk about this?! I think one of the most volatile things we’ve done as a society is completely neglect food as a source of pleasure. For example, some of my clients – even though they enjoy eating healthy meals – still equate healthy eating with it being stripped dry of pleasure. Or they think of making meals as another annoying chore on their to-do list instead of an incredible act of self-care and self-pleasure. We’ve lost touch with our feminine relationship to food – which means that for a lot of us, our bodies and our souls are screaming at us, “I just want to feel pleasure!” Enter those “guilty” vegan ice cream binges.
When we hear the word “pleasure” we instantly think of sex. But to me, pleasure is about actively engaging all my senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, and intuition. When we can become devoted (there’s that word again!) to bringing all our senses to every meal, that’s when we really start to feel pleasure and come to a place of BODYpeace that allows to finally feel spiritually and physically nourished.
Has changing your diet connected you to your spiritual practice? Connect with us and share your story on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
If this conversation resonates with you, you can read more from Heather Waxman in her and Kasey Arena’s book BODYpeace: Release Shame and Discover Body Freedom
– a 30-day guidebook marrying the spiritual and the practical side of food and body discovery. To book a 1:1 session with Heather, click here.