HOW I BECAME MY OWN REBOUND RELATIONSHIP

Rather than indulging in a post-break-up rebound with another person, engage in a fling with yourself says Emma Whitehair…  Artwork: Maja Planinac

The first thing that “rebound relationship” googles up is: “an attempt to fill a hole in your life… to avoid the pain of a breakup.” And there’s few of us unfamiliar with that visceral craving to have something, or someone, fill the void left by the ending of an intimate human connection.

Even though my last breakup didn’t involve a breakdown, letting go of a lover often leaves me feeling bereft. That special closeness lost, gone forever, with them having known me so intimately.

So I grieved a little, before my gut suggested—actually shouted pretty loudly—that I needed to treat this hole as space for growth. This was my time to face my fear of being single, pack up my emotional baggage and elope. With myself.

Unlike the quick fix of a fling, or a replacement insta-relationship, rebounding with yourself is about so much more than simply avoiding heartache. No one else can offer the same level of security, unconditional love or acceptance, as a divine relationship with yourself.

As I have discovered, this kind of self-generated love allows your life to flow with joy, and for things to start magically falling into place. In the words of Oscar Wilde: “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance”. So, how about a three-way with mind, body and soul; be part of the self-love revolution!

There are many routes to saying a passionate yes to yourself, and while each person’s path is as individual as them, here are a few things that helped ignite a romance with the soul mate under my very nose. Literally.

:: TUNE IN TO YOUR INNER WISDOM ::

A.k.a. your intuition, as only it knows what your true needs are, and how to go about getting them met.

‘Focusing’ was a technique I learned on a course at the West London Buddhist Centre. A reflective practice that involves taking a curious awareness into your body and listening for messages, simply close your eyes in a quiet place, as you would to meditate, but instead, sense what needs your attention.

Describe out loud what you are experiencing. Is your chest tight? Stomach heavy? As I described my constricted throat the words resonated deeply, and the words that followed flowed, like a stream of consciousness. with my body, not my head, leading. “There is so much sadness I need to release…talk about….to heal…”

Then the visuals came. I saw an anxious, pining Wolfhound—frantically scratching at a locked door and whining to be let out. It took a few days to process this but eventually it dawned on me: this was a clear message to step away from the door to the outside world, and deepen my meditation practice.

:: UP YOUR MEDITATION GAME ::

As Einstein said: “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”

Although I previously had a vague meditation practice, I wanted to try a new technique in order to get a better connection to my inner self, and Transcendental Meditation was the gateway.

From the first session, I noticed how effortless it was to meditate using a mantra as a stepping stone. And a few weeks in, I had my first experience of transcending, which will stay with me forever—I was hardly using the mantra at all, my breathing became shallow and I felt a melting sensation, like I was disappearing into unboundedness. My head become weightless, like a helium balloon before I felt an an ecstatic rush. It was the feeling of falling in love, with myself. Grinning from ear to ear, I was hooked.

The more I meditate, when negative thoughts and emotions inevitably creep up, I have the tools to observe them with curiosity and acceptance. So regardless of what’s happening in my life experience, I can get to some serenity. Not quite cosmic consciousness yet, but slowly and surely getting a little closer.

:: DEAL WITH THE JUNK IN YOUR TRUNK ::

And I don’t mean sorting out your loft, although that of course can help too (just speak to Marie Kondo). Most of us have issues holding us back in one way or another, and a breakup is the perfect time to find the right professional to help with some emotional sat nav.

For me that person was Fiona Arrigo. With a background of 30 years in psychotherapy, Fiona runs haute holistic healing retreats in rural Somerset, where she carefully assembles a crack team for bespoke programs. Orchestrated treatment by treatment, the therapists all compare notes to ensure the next session works with the discoveries from the one before.

Checking in with me each day of the retreat, with just a little guidance during our chats, Fiona helped me untangle my past, understand some of my triggers and shift a lot of the sadness I have been carrying around since the ‘dark ages’.

Note: aside from Fiona’s healing retreats, she also has clients from all over the world she ‘sees’ for skype therapy sessions.

:: EXPERIMENT WITH HOLISTIC HEALING ::

Be open to finding multi-discipline healing techniques to help you feel more integrated. The investment in yourself is worth it.

My The Arrigo Programme retreat gave me the opportunity to try everything from Acupuncture, Kinesiology and EFT to Soul Fragment Retrieval. Astrological Counselling being the biggest eye-opener—helping me understand recurring obstacles, life lessons and talents.

On this retreat I also hit a sweet spot with Tibetan Pulsing—an energy work using a diagnosis from the iris of the eye, which gives a feeling of such deep peace. Transformational Breathwork was another game changer, and Matrix Re-aligning allowed me to have a conversation with my deceased mother’s spirit, releasing some of the grief I’d been holding on to for years.

:: HAVE A SING-ALONG ::

From Kirtan Kriya to church choir or karaoke, the benefits of singing are scientifically proven. Encouraging deep breathing, it uplifts your spirit and gives a sense of well-being

Personally, I prefer warbling along into a hairbrush at the top of my voice, in the privacy of my own home. Get it all out by wallowing with Adele or having a rage-along with Alanis. Then move on by creating a feel good playlist of songs such as State of Independence, Ch-Chng and Love Me. Or take the anthems of co-dependence, and change the object of the lyrics adoration to Self. Let It Go may or may not also be on repeat. Sorry neighbors.

:: TALK TO YOURSELF ::

Not like a crazy lady, but like you would talk to your lover—using words of self-appreciation not depreciation. Develop an affectionate conversation with yourself and respond to any negative thoughts with compassion, acknowledging them but not letting them linger.

Be reverent, congratulatory and give compliments regularly. Look, really look at yourself in the mirror, hush the critical voice and observe with the eyes of love. Thank your body. Be your own cheerleader.

Deepen your self-love practice at out next Club SÖDA NYC event, Sex, Lies & Alcohol, August 23 in NYC. Details and ticket info here.

HOLY F*CK! MAKING AMENDS WITH MY EXES

In the first installment of her column Holy F*ck, Alexandra Roxo decides making amends with her exes is the next step on the path of awakening…Photo Credit: Louise Androlia

In the last nine months of being “single” I have done a LOT of work trying to figure out my love life/self/astro chart/addictions/blahblah. Some of that “work” was on Tinder but no need to get into that…yet. Anyway, I decided that in order to move on and clear the slate I would make amends with all my exes. I was having a John Cusack in High Fidelity moment where he’s like, “What’s wrong with me? Why did all my relationships ‘fail’? I should probably seek out and bother everyone I’ve ever dated in order to figure out what it is about me!” Which seems pretty narcissistic, I know.

But the way I saw it, this wasn’t about narcissism or figuring out what was wrong with me. I don’t believe in relationship ‘failure’ anyway. It was about wanting to neutralize our energy, so I wasn’t carrying around a bunch of ‘eugh’ and ‘agchk’ vibes towards a bunch of people that I once loved, had sex with, and maybe even told that I wanted to have their babies…Plus the fact that in order to really move on to new love, I feel it’s important to unpack any potential baggage that is weighing us down. Justin Bieber’s words “Is it too late now to say sorry?” kept echoing through my mind.

No one taught me how to do this and I was just going off intuition, though I had heard it was a part of AA and some program called Landmark that sounded trés culty.  So I consulted my teachers. Marianne. Jesus. Marianne again. She says many things about making amends, but this stuck with me: “Forgiveness is the choice to see people as they are now. When we’re mad at people, we’re angry because of something they said or did before this moment. By letting go of the past we make room for miracles to replace our grievances.”

So at first I thought, should I write everybody a letter? Hmm, it felt kind of like a wimpy way out, like I could just get something off my chest without hearing their (potentially not so charitable) side of the story. So instead I reached out to what had been my biggest primary relationships individually, and suggested we sit down for a drink.

Now yes, it is a little tricky to suggest “just a drink” with an ex – I mean what happens if two vodkas in, the romance spontaneously rekindles itself and you find yourself making out?! #RiskyBusiness. I knew this was a possibility, and yet “coffee” seemed sooooo formal. I mean these are people that have held you at your darkest hour / made you cum many times. Wine, my friends. Wine.

So I sat down with my first ex. This was someone I’d only dated for about six months after having sex on her NFL sheets where she kept saying: “You’re such a dime” while she came. After that she wooed me with a Jaws movie night complete with steamed crab legs and champagne, and we fell in love. She was the kind of person who danced with me to Motown in the kitchen, ate gluten free because I did, and gave me orgasms where I legit saw rainbows of light. (FYI this is called “synethesia.”)

So it was real RUDE of me to ghost on her. When we sat down three years later to reconnect at a mediocre spot in Williamsburg, I apologized first, went into my spiel about being grateful for all of the wonderful things she did for me, all the ways she put up with my neuroses, and how much I’d grown up…while she gulped down some rosé, looked at me and said: “You really fucked me up.”

To which I replied: “I am NOT going to own that, because whatever expectations you put on the relationship are what made you feel that way. I PERSONALLY couldn’t make you feel that way.” But then I remembered this was not about patting myself on the back or being right.

So I said “I am really sorry for my actions. For yelling at you. Being mean. And for checking out when things got tough. I am truly sorry.” We walked through the park quietly after that and haven’t spoken since. She seems happy, I like her Instagram photos on the reg, and I’ll probably text her on her birthday. CHECK.

Next I saw the guy who was my last boyfriend before I somehow gave up men and dated women for six years. With him, I was a little bit nervous. I had dumped him in cold blood for my first girlfriend and…blamed it on the fact he wasn’t spiritual enough. He was an atheist, and I knew I couldn’t date an atheist or raise children with an atheist, so why bother, ya know?

We met at a dive bar. I was nervous, and he’s still hot. Even hotter now. I fondly remembered a time we had sex in the pool at my dad’s condo and the security people taped it and bribed my dad with it. Cut to my internal dialogue: “What if I’m not strong enough? Should I wear lace panties just in case? No. Don’t even shave. Ugggh. Okay. Fine.” When I told him, “Hey, I’m sorry for how much of a crazy diva I was,” he just gave me a cute smile and said: “Don’t worry mama” in that way that had always made me melt. Then he scooted off to help another ex gf move house. THIS IS EASY RIGHT? Hmm, not so fast…

Next was the hot, fast, love affair that happened the summer I was living very gypsy-like, i.e. out of a suitcase and on an air mattress. She showed up at 3am at the place I was house sitting with a bottle of tequila, told me she was dying, cried, fucked me, and I was like “SIGN ME UP!” Then things got really bad between us. She was going through some dark stuff, I was going through a rough patch with my family. I was also living in my creative partner’s office, trying to make art, struggling with addictions, chain smoking…

I recognized that I had to get it together which I thought meant cutting her out. When I told her “No mas!” she cried and told me she vomited for days and had to go to the doctor for an IV, and I basically couldn’t deal. So I blocked her. And from then on, anytime people said her name it was like horror film music started to play…

Needless to say I was VERY nervous to meet up with this one. But I did my energy protection ritual, marched in, drank only half a glass of wine for safety and told her I was sorry and that she caught me when I was in such a dark place. She smiled a really cute smile and was like “It’s okay. We both were.” And we proceeded to talk about our mutual friends and though I lustfully admired her long sinewy fingers I emerged from the bar thinking: “Oh. My. God…we’re friends, we’re friends!” But soon she started texting me and asking me out again to which I politely declined, repeatedly. Eventually she caught on.

The upshot of making amends this way, has been that I’ve realized it’s never too late to take responsibility for your actions, and create a different ending to your story with an ex. You might think: “Oh, what’s done is done is done is done.” But what if you could make something else, something better, the last thing that happened between you? It could even be something random like sending them a box of chocolates or a bottle of champagne, with a note like: “Sorry, I was awful.” No two making amends are alike.

I didn’t need to see my most recent ex (Yogi_Vegan_Lez Orian) since we made amends in semi-real time. It felt and still feels like a MIRACLE OF GOD. Painful, but evolved. We Facetime a lot, often while I’m driving in LA and while she’s on a toilet in Brooklyn. And when I came to NY last we karaoked our song “Islands in the Stream” from Youtube like old times.

I hope from here on out I can try as much as possible to make amends in real time. Which means a) not numbing out from feelings when the going gets tough (umm hi marijuana / alcohol / sugar) and b) Stepping up and taking responsibility for my actions quickly and not stuffing anything away.

When I think back on my exes now no more waves of darkness descend upon me, and no more sob stories about how they were assholes etc run through my mind. Now when I think of them I smile and imagine them saving the planet, curing cancer, etc etc.

Next making amends I’m doing is with myself – because it’s my longest and most important relationship, and arguably the one I need to forgive the most. But for now I’ll take Obama’s apology.

GET DOWN AND GET GOD: A DANCE PARTY WITH THE DIVINE

What if the way to enlightenment wasn’t through your crown chakra…but your feet? Nadia Noir heads to the nearest dance party to find out.

Prayer and meditation are awesome tools for channeling moments of introspective clarity. But as a spiritual species that spends an unfathomable amount of time psychoanalyzing ourselves through mantra apps, self-help books on Audible.com, and grounding ourselves through following our favorite guru via social media, channeling a primal version of Miley Cyrus while gyrating to Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” can be a bridge into unbridled bliss. We live in our heads enough already. Enter the body-purifying sweat of a good old-fashioned, orgiastic dance sesh.

It wasn’t just the ancient Greeks who encouraged the human iterations of their gods, goddesses and muses to get down and get God through song and dance. The Torah calls for dancing, not only as a celebration of God or as a way to worship, but as a way to create the frenzied, supercharged atoms between two lovers in Song of Solomon. In Hinduism, there are the Apsarases, 23 celestial gods that dance to “express the supreme truths in the magic of movement.” Sufis twirled themselves into ecstasy and the Ancient Egyptians thought of everything they did in life as one eternal dance. They even danced at funerals, ready to dance their way through the darkness of death and into the afterlife.

If you’re still perpetually feeling low-grade anxiety or self-abusing your ten pound weight gain, maybe that’s because the answer isn’t in your crown chakra. Sure you can keep seeking a connection to a higher power, but you might never understand what true liberation is until you strip away your sins at classes like Sheila Kelley’s S Factor, talk up to yourself at Patricia Moreno’s Intensati, bump-and-grind your way into a state of Bhakti at Yoga Booty Ballet, or the spiral-sensationalizing of Buti.

But about just hitting up a dance club and twerking shamelessly to a raunchy Nicki Minaj song, feeling the sensation of strength and pleasure crawling up your root chakra, through your core and into your heart. You could stomp it out to some metal like the world’s sexiest Kali, destroying the earth below you and incinerating any doubts you have in yourself. Or, if that’s too hardcore for you, if you’re one of those supple, gentle souls that drowns in tears and whiskey, go sing some old country songs by Patsy Cline at your local karaoke dive bar. Studies even say that moderate drinking accompanied by karaoke is super good for your health.

And in case you’re like, “When am I going to have the time to do any of this stuff? I’m a super woman trying to be a spiritual being having a human experience and those bills don’t pay themselves,” here are four easy steps to just sing when the spirit says sing and twerk when the spirit is like, “Work it girl.”

GET OVER YOURSELF
That’s right. Who cares if you’re flabby or ungraceful or if you’re hailing a cab on a busy street. The minute negativity starts creeping into your psyche, do a little dance on the sidewalk or belt out some Beyonce. The only person who is embarrassed by what you’re doing is you. Maybe other people are jealous or hating, but a majority of people will feel inspired by your little performance. They might just join in. Spontaneous soul-healing flash mob? Sounds awesome.

PLAY ON, PLAYA
Keep a playlist on your iPhone for those times that you really need to really play. Songs you can dance to in the mirror while dripping wet from the shower or to encourage anyone around you to join you for a slow dance. If that sounds awkward, ABBA usually works.

RECORD YOUR POSTERIOR FOR POSTERITY
Have you ever looked back at pictures of yourself when you were in high school or college or some other time you were mired in angst and depression and went, “Damn. I looked hot. What was my problem?” It’s always good to keep visual reminders to yourself that sometimes your pain can be blown out of proportion by your own psyche. There’s no better way to document yourself than at the height of some fun time; dancing, singing, glowing. You might grimace, but guarantee you, when you’re 70-years-old, you’ll be thinking, “I was having the time of my life.” Like me in this video singing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” I kind of hate it, but in five years I’ll love it. Don’t shortchange your future with how you feel about yourself today.

GRAB YOUR PARTNER BY THE HAND
Mix things up in your relationships with some Sir Mix-a-lot and a mixed beverage of your choice. Or just let the wild nymph out to play and make up some songs in the middle of  a hike or something. Start a fake band. Create a fake dance. In fact, keep faking on it ‘til you make it. Let your fake persona, the confident and sassy one, override your warped internal programming to bring out the “real” and really dope damsel and dimepiece that is you.

But you know, some things work for some people and other things work for other people – a really simple and trite statement, but it’s true. If you hate something, you’re not going to keep doing it. If meditating and mantra-repeating doesn’t work for you, you’re not broken. You’re not spiritually unevolved. It’s just up to you to find out what you vibrate with. And maybe, just maybe, what will really reshuffle your chakras and shake up your soul is a sultry striptease in front of one other living being who will never judge you—your cat.

Read more from Nadia Noir at Illuminadia.com

@NadiaNoir