APPLIED EMPATHY: WHAT TYPE OF BUSINESS EMPATH ARE YOU?

A new book, Applied Empathy, says it’s time for feelings to flow into the workplace. What type of business empath are you?

“Empathy” is where we are at in the Now Age. Thanks to social media, we have more contact and communication with people of all different backgrounds, cultures, and POVs, than ever before. And never has it been so important to cultivate an understanding of ALL the different perspectives, experiences, and needs, of the people we are on this Cosmic journey with.

Cultivating empathy—literally the ability to understand how life looks and feels for others—is an essential component of creating future solutions that cater to the true diversity of the human experience. But when it comes to doing business, one arena where these innovations have the power to take root, empathy is often a dirty word. A “weak” word, since it’s associated with “feelings” and “intuition,” versus profits and progress reports.

But feelings and intuition are the hallmark of the kinds of leaders we need now. It’s what we teach in Moon Club, and it is a core tenet to lean into as we set about manifesting the matriarchy. It’s also the subject of a new book, Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership, by Michael Ventura, founder of NYC branding agency Sub Rosa.

You can read more about Michael in Alexandra Roxo’s interview with him, HERE. Below, in an excerpt from his book, he shares the role of seven different empath styles in the workplace. What type of business empath are you?

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1// The Sage
Be present: Inhabit the here and now.

We discovered the Sage when we realized that deep insight can emerge when we are fully present in a space together. During one project, we had a few ground rules that helped us to remain fully present in our SoHo space: no phones, no computers, no cross talk. Those simple behaviors led our team members to be respectful, contemplative, and fully in the moment with one another. We saw how those simple behavioral adjustments created an environment in which deeper understanding could be attained.

The Sage represents wisdom and the ability to be fully in the moment, sensing truths about the mind, body, and surrounding space, examining what is brought into the moment and what is meant to be taken away. Look to the Sage when a situation becomes untethered from the present and disconnected from reality. Relying on this archetype will help you bring people and their ideas back to the here and now.

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2// The Inquirer
Question: Interrogate assumed truths.

The Inquirers on our team are deeply curious question askers who don’t stop at the first response but probe deeper, looking for more complete understanding. We saw this emerge in an assignment when we began asking why hospital examination rooms were so cold. By asking this over and over, going deeper down the rabbit hole, we eventually reached an opportunity for improvement that was a key to our success.

The Inquirer is one part reporter, another part therapist. This archetype challenges preconceived notions and pushes for deeper, more authentic truths. Inquirers neglect small talk in favor of “big” talk: deep questions that demand contemplative responses. Always intrigued by the “why” behind each answer, Inquirers dig and dig until they reach the root.

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3// The Convener
Host: Anticipate the needs of others.

The Conveners on our team knew that establishing a sense of community would bring out the truth from everyone with whom we interacted. Everything from the furnishings to the food and drink was selected to inspire a sense of safety, security, and comfort. That provided all of our colleagues the comfort they needed so they could drop into deep conversation quickly. From that we got loads of information—both verbally and nonverbally—that helped us design a better overall experience.

The consummate host, the Convener understands the importance of space and space holding. Recognizing that every detail is critical, the Convener creates a purposeful, appropriate setting for the work at hand. The space we share is an active member of the experience. The Convener anticipates what you need before you do and brings the space surrounding you to life.

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4// The Alchemist
Experiment: Test and learn at all costs.

The Alchemist emerged in a project where we built waiting rooms and prototype exam rooms. They were spaces where we were able to experiment and test different ways in which women experience a mammogram. Such behavior is prevalent in many of the projects we analyzed in developing the empathy archetypes and is a powerful tool often used in many innovation and design firms. The willingness to test and learn is an empathic behavior that delivers powerful understanding and impactful solutions.

Never afraid to fail in the pursuit of knowledge, the Alchemist tests everything, confident that the best work comes only from countless hours of experimentation. The Alchemist is curious, persistent, and patient, takes a chance on a new approach, and closely studies the results. Turn to the Alchemist when the only path to a solution lies through the brambles of resistance.

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 5// The Confidant
Listen: Develop the ability to observe and absorb.

Creating a sense of confidence is paramount to the work we do. The space we work in is covered by the Convener, but we still need to show up in the space and listen. Our team brings a sense of patience and a willingness to open up. We listen fully and absorb every ounce of information shared with us. In many ways, this is a strategist’s first and primary skill: to shut off the inner dialogue and purely listen.

Your trusted ally, the Confidant hears to listen—instead of simultaneously planning what to say next. The Confidant embodies stillness; listens, observes, and absorbs. Keeping what you hear safe on behalf of another is what gives them a sense of integrity and strength. Look to the Confidant when asked for advice or when others need to share something of importance. The Confidant provides emotional security and comfort.

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6// The Seeker
Dare: Be confident and fearless.

Seekers are daring. They are confident and fearless. The Seeker gives us the assuredness we need to take on a daunting challenge and be unafraid to do things differently. I have discovered in my own self-work that I often operate from this archetype. Entrepreneurs are inherent risk-takers, and they must dare in order to be successful.

A boundless explorer, the Seeker bravely sets out on new adventures. The Seeker lives outside his or her comfort zone, acts with confidence and self-assurance. Embody the Seeker when embracing new experiences and daunting challenges, knowing that unfettering your pursuits will eventually lead you to the answer.

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 7// The Cultivator
Commit: Nurture with purpose and intentionally grow.

Cultivators have powerful vision. They understand that we commit to things today as a way of getting what we want in the future. Most people get so caught up in the day-to-day that they lose sight of the long game. The Cultivator remembers to maintain a state of empathy for the point he or she is working toward, even if it’s far out on the horizon. In our work with GE, we constantly reminded our team that the work we were doing was bigger than selling more machinery. It was about improving the overall patient experience and potentially having an impact on the lives of those involved.

The Cultivator is committed to developing ideas and is intentional about every action. Through the Cultivator, you can connect everything you do to the development and maintenance of your thoughts and work. When something feels daunting and protracted, look to the Cultivator to provide perspective and leadership. Naturally gifted at seeing the greater purpose, the Cultivator knows what it takes to reap what he or she has sown.

**Excerpted from Applied Empathy by Michael Ventura. Copyright © 2018 by Seed Communications, LLC d/b/a Sub Rosa. Excerpted with permission by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

 

EMPATHY AND THE ART OF CONVERSATION

Want less small talk and more real talk? Show up naked, and equipped with vast reserves of empathy. This is the art of conversation, says Ruby Warrington

For the majority of my adult life, preparing for a “deep and meaningful” conversation with somebody meant stopping off en route for a bottle of wine. As if to go into the more shadowy, less well-trodden, and perhaps more vulnerable parts of our experience, some kind of anesthetic would be required. An “invisibility cloak” to keep the demons at bay, even as we sought to befriend and integrate them.

But putting on a mask and dressing up in bluster and bravado is not the best way to make friends. It’s better to show up naked.

Naked of expectation. Naked of judgement. Open to the possibilities. Armed only with our trust in own truths, and equipped with deep reserves of empathy.

These are the kinds of conversations Michael Ventura wanted to spark when he created Questions & Empathy, a 50-card deck designed to help move us swiftly beyond the small talk and dive right into the real talk. What can also feel like the scary, naked talk—and which is the talk we all secretly want to be having. All the time. No hiding, and no numbing. 

Also the kinds of conversation we don’t get too much practice at. Which is why we themed our next Club SÖDA NYC event The Art of Conversation, and invited Michael along to curate a special evening of deep connection and REAL TALK.

You can discover more and sign up HERE, and read on for more about communication and the application of empathy …

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RUBY WARRINGTON: How would you define “the art of conversation”?
MICHAEL VENTURA: All art forms, when at their best, come from a place of intuition and knowing. Conversation is no different. When we take the time to slow down our inner monologue, often confronting and attempting to subdue our ego in the process, we can get to a place where our true and authentic self begins to take charge. When in this state, conversation happens naturally. There’s a balance of listening and speaking. We connect. We see each other’s essential nature and there, in that moment, is where deep, meaningful connection is born.

RW: What was the particular situation or realization that made you want to dive deeper into this subject?
MV: For the past several years I have studied the idea of empathy, and more specifically, the application of empathy as a means to build rich understanding that can be used with intention. In this exploration, it became clear that there wasn’t a “process” or “framework” that was readily available. Very few of us receive a formal education in empathy. As a result, the ability of an individual to be empathic varies widely. I wanted to try and change this—creating tools and lessons that would ultimately help more of us build a comfort with this critical behavior.

RW: Why must we “apply” empathy in our interactions with others? Are we forgetting how to be empathetic? Why?
MV: I think about empathy like a muscle. If we don’t use it regularly, it can atrophy. It can become harder and harder for people to truly step outside of themselves and connect with another person if they don’t put in the work. I believe we are all born with the ability to be empathic, it’s just that some of us don’t work that “muscle” enough.

RW: What was your process for creating the “Questions & Empathy” card deck? What is the theory behind them?
MV: My colleagues (at my company Sub Rosa) and I began to develop Q&E by starting with the creation of 7 key “empathic archetypes.” Think of these like the major arcana in tarot. We wanted to identify certain forms that empathy takes and the behaviors associated with them. The cards utilize these archetypes—providing different empathic perspectives you can “try on” and work with. Unlike other personality tests (e.g. Meyers-Briggs), I believe each of us actually embodies all 7 of the archetypes—just not in equal measure. The point of the cards is to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and then work with the questions in the deck to ultimately “limber up,” giving you more dexterity and comfort with each one.

RW: What are some of the different ways the cards can be used—and how do you use them in your own life?
MV: There are lots of ways I use the cards. In workshop settings, we utilize the cards to help participants discover what archetypes they identify with the most / least and then work collaboratively with each other to improve their empathic skills. On a more informal basis, I’ve heard of people using them at dinner parties or as a more contemplative alternative to games like Cards Against Humanity.

Personally, one of the ways I think you can get the most out of them is to create what we call an “empathy journal.” On the first day, you’ll define empathy in the journal—describing your personal take on the topic and how skilled you believe yourself to be. You’ll then ask yourself a question each day, ultimately progressing through all 49 cards in the deck. On the 50th day, we ask that you reflect back on the process and re-define empathy from this newfound perspective. It’s a powerful exercise that can expand and empower you to be more comfortable with this valuable behavior.

RW: How have you seen people transform using the cards—over the course of an evening, or in the wider context of their lives?
MV: At the end of the day, the world needs empathy now more than ever. These cards aren’t a silver bullet, but they are a great start to the process. Using them brings new awareness to our empathic gifts and will undoubtedly aid you in not only understanding others better, but perhaps more importantly, understanding your truest self.

Michael Ventura has designed special exercises for you to practice the Art of Conversation at our next Club SÖDA NYC event. Monday November 13 2017, The William Vale, 7.30pm. Info + sign-up HERE. The Questions & Empathy card deck will be available for purchase on the night.

HOLY F*CK: HEALING THE CORPORATE WORLD WITH MICHAEL VENTURA

Think you have to drop out of the mainstream to tap into soul-deep healing? “Real world” mystic Michael Ventura chats with Alexandra Roxo about infusing the corporate landscape with cosmic creativity …

“Yes, I’d have a hard time smudging the conference rooms of some of our clients without getting some serious side-eyes, but we can ‘smudge’ in different ways … ” – Michael Ventura  

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During the height of my Saturn Return at age 29, I felt like the world was caving in on me and I sought a LOT of healing assistance. Peyote. Ayuasca. Reiki. These were dark days for me, and served as my own initiation into the underworld, into becoming a healer myself, and as a woman.

When I stumbled upon Michael Ventura during this time, I had no idea what to expect. I went into this dark ad agency late at night, empty except for a treatment table and a tall bearded man.

In the years I worked with Michael, he helped heal my own relationship to masculine energy, and my grudge against the patriarchy and my own dad, in addition to giving me courage to see myself as a healer and step into that path.

Michael models something I preach about in Moon Club and aspire to myself- by day, he runs a creative agency in the “regular” world, and by night he does magical healing work on the top floor.

Through these double worlds, he’s helping to create a new world where instead of us all quitting our jobs to become healers and yoga teachers, we bring conscious healing work to all the industries that need it.

I sat down with Michael to chat empathy, healer archetypes, and changing the corporate world from the inside out …

Alexandra Roxo: You are the CEO of a creative agency that works with mega brands and you are also a healer! What are your thoughts on the different types of healer archetypes that are awakening within so many people as they bring those practices to a diversity of industries?

Michael Ventura: One of my teachers once told me, “We don’t need more monks in monasteries, we need monks in our cities.” I’ve always loved this notion and have hung onto it.

I wholeheartedly believe that as our own intuition and gifts are awakened, we have a great opportunity to help bring our full self to the communities we serve. For me, bringing myself to a board room is no different than a treatment room. I am the same person. I have the same tools in my toolbox.

Yes, I’d have a hard time smudging the conference rooms of some of our clients without getting some serious side-eyes, but we can “smudge” in different ways. With different tools. As we learn and increase our capacity to work with energy, to work with people, and to work with the elements, all of this becomes part of our daily expression of our self.

As the saying goes, “not all heroes wear capes,” and to the same effect, not all healers need candles and sandals to work their magic.

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AR: I always describe your work as energy work that combines Reiki, shamanism, and Chinese medicine. What kind of traditions and modalities did you study?  

MV: I often refer to my work as “indigenous medicine.” My practice has roots in both traditional Chinese medicine as well as the Mesoamerican shamanic traditions of the Nahuatl indians.

But what’s also true is that part of my work is derived from that which is most indigenous to my own spirit. As I have refined my work over the past decade, I have come to trust my oldest, innermost voice, and to use that trust to help expand the work I offer.

Whether we are in the mountains of Peru, the river lands of China, or simply in the depths of our own spirit, there is powerful medicine waiting to teach us. We don’t always need to travel around the globe to find ourselves. Sometimes, our true self is right here beside us, waiting to open up and teach us something new.

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AR: I used to be very private about my spiritual work while working in the commercial directing space, but now I’m more open. How do you bring your energy work into the advertising world?

MV: Interestingly, what’s happened a lot over the years is that a mutual friend of mine and the client’s will come and see me for a session and then share their experience with the client in casual conversation. I often then get an email or text that says something like “I’m with so and so and they told me you do energy work. I want some!”

To me, those are great moments where worlds collide. And that’s how it should be. We are all living in a real world and have real lives and are trying to not just get by, but to thrive. If I can be of service to someone in that way, I can sleep well at night knowing I did something right with this existence.

More practically, I also find that some of the work we do for clients allows us to bring a sense of integrity, wellness, mindfulness, or simply kindness into their brand. And while some organizations just aren’t ready, I encourage our team to use those projects to help put more fuel in our collective gas tank to do more with the communities we serve. In some long karmic loop kinda way, I have to believe that it’s all worth it in the end.

Michael’s Applied Empathy Card Deck

AR: Do you think everyone has an inner “healer” archetype that wants to come out? Or just some of us?

MV: Everyone is a healer. 1000%. I have no doubt. It is just that many of us lose touch with – or never explore that side of – ourselves.

The capacity to heal comes from YOU. I’m just a pair of old jumper cables helping you to get your car running smoothly again. I recently read a quote from a Chinese medicine practitioner who said that he calls everyone he treats his “student.” He said that every session is an opportunity for them to learn more about themselves, for them to learn how to heal themselves. I loved this idea and think it’s absolutely true.

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AR: You’ve created a beautiful deck that displays what you call the “archetypes of empathy.” How did you create these archetypes and how do we embody them?

MV: Over the span of about 6 months, myself and a group of colleagues here at Sub Rosa (my design firm) explored behaviors that allow us to understand each other. We looked at our own habits as well as those we worked with and admired.

We started to see a variety of themes emerge. Once we felt like we had found a strong group of seven behaviors, we utilized a spectrum of questioning called the “whole self” that’s based on the chakras, among other things. These archetypes explore the physical self, the emotional self, the aspirational self, and others.

Each archetype helps us see the world from a different vantage : 

The Sage: Be Present. Inhabit the here and now.
The Inquirer: Question. Interrogate assumed truths.
The Convener: Host. Anticipate the needs of others.
The Alchemist: Experiment. Test and learn at all costs.
The Confidant: Listen. Summon the ability to observe and absorb.
The Seeker: Dare. Be confident and fearless.
The Cultivator: Commit. Nurture and intentionally grow.

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AR: I’m feeling a personal move from the “alchemist” archetype (major curious human who will try anything) to something new. Do you think we move through different archetypes as we grow? 

MV: Actually, I believe that all of us embody all seven of these archetypes – just not in equal measure. Some we feel very comfortable with, but others are daunting. That’s the point. The cards and the questions within them are meant to help you “limber up” a bit and stretch your perspective in order to make you a more well-rounded empath. Your desire to shift to another archetype is totally normal. You are all of them. Keep trying different ones on and you’ll see how all of the perspectives start to emerge from within yourself over time.

AR: What’s the role of self-work in your healing practice? What does being devoted to your path mean to you? 

MV: In the past decade, I’ve observed that more and more people are realizing that the best service they can provide to others is to start with healing themselves. Years ago, many people would be mortified if others knew they were seeing a therapist or a Chinese doctor. People’s reactions would immediately go to “what’s wrong with them that they need someone like that.” That era is long gone and self-work is no longer taboo.

But the pendulum can also swing in the other direction. It’s not uncommon for me to hear about someone doing an ayahuasca ceremony, followed by a week of intensive Rolfing, then doing a 10-day cleanse of some kind, then this, then that. It’s important to walk the spiritual buffet line from time to time, see what’s on offer and what you’re called to, but it’s also important to commit and focus on the things that work. To go deep and not be tempted to just try the next thing that comes through the door.

For me, the balance of freedom and discipline in all of this self-work is where the real medicine resides.

Listen to Michael and I chat more on his podcast Applied Empathy, buy the cards for your next date or dinner party, and book a session with him in NYC here!

HOLY F*CK: HOLDING SPACE FOR MY SHADOW SELF

“Just like our sexual self don’t have much space to roam in this world, neither does our shadow self…” says Alexandra Roxo.

Which is a mask, which is a shadow, and which is my truth?

Last week in my Holy F*ck salon I felt a heaviness as we gathered on the call, and so I asked: “How many of us are in pain today?” To which everyone replied: “Me.” Some quietly, some more boldly. We were about to do a round of storytelling around transcendental orgasms, but instead I decided: “Fuck talking orgasms today. Let’s talk shame. Sorrow. Rage.’”

I myself was in the deep throes of having let my shadow out to speak her voice at Burning Man, having been silenced for months. I’d literally called on my WHOLE healing team to help me process the experience. Coach Perri Gorman. Intuitive wizard Luke Simon. Michael Ventura, who’s been working with me on this for three years! And a psychologist I met at Burning Man, Justin Hartery.  Plus all my besties. LIKE WHOA IT TAKES A VILLAGE, and I’m so grateful I have help when I need it.

Somewhere during Eclipse season, at the Temple on the “playa”, some old wounds had gotten a fresh surface scrape. As a result I was oozing blood onto everything in my life. And as my wounds and the wounds of all the ladies of the salon were given a voice on that call, I realized—just like our sexual selves don’t have much space to roam in this world, neither do our shadow selves. But when they come knocking we have to answer.

We put on happy faces left and right and keep our shadow tucked away. We don’t want to “be a downer” at a party. So we tuck those feelings away. They get judged, while the “positive” feelings get center stage. Sometimes these are the shadow itself behind a clever mask, and sometimes the positive feeling is holding its hand over the “negative” one, creating a carefully curated dialogue.

“Who, me? No! I’m not insanely horny today! I’m great! Been meditating and doing Bikram!”  Or….”I’m fine! I’m not grieving the fact my dad forgot my birthday for the 18th year in a row. I’m a grown up. I should be over it by now, right?”

We walk around as if “doing okay” and “keeping it together” are badges that will earn us Love and Life Merits. We live by “shoulds.” I “should” be grateful. I ‘should” be strong (p.s. I have eliminated SHOULD from my vocab and I challenge you to do the same).

One shadow that surfaced in the salon was the overwhelming shame of being single. Of showing up to weddings and dinner parties alone. Of having people ask you, “Are you seeing anyone?” before asking about your work, your passions, your friends.

Another that floated into our call was about being in your 30’s and having your parents still supporting you. Many women I love deeply are supported by their families as adults, and since society says this is wrong, it creates yet more shame. When in truth their tribe is caring for them.

On the flip-side, another of my own shadows has been wearing the “Independent Woman” costume (ahem armor) that serves me so well at times, but had become hard to pull off, creating a tough barrier to deeper connections and vulnerability’—until it got ripped off at Burning Man that is.

As we gave these feelings a voice, they were like orphaned children being held tightly for the first time in a long time. How beautiful it was to each other say: “I pretend it’s okay. But I’m in pain.” As we each cried, the rest of us just listened. And I got to thinking…

What if we did this at dinner parties? What if we could eschew some of the socialization that keeps us separate and lonely by keeping these feelings—our truths—hidden away? And what if when I said: “I just feel ugly today”—instead of you replying, “Girl, you’re beautiful!” you just honored my feeling?

What if we just held space for that feeling like two wild witches on a Full Moon in the woods, and watched her fly around the room until she disappeared out the window and into the stars to be at home with all the other parts of our souls? And then we ate spaghetti with marinara sauce until it made our lips red, and talked about where we want to travel before we die and danced to Bowie.

Dancing with my shadows at Burning Man

How about we reclaim old rituals for honoring the shadows together, and make some new ones of our own? How about I just listen as you speak every fear to me…and I don’t try to fix them. I don’t offer you a solution. I don’t tell you “Everything is going to be okay.” I just hear you and see you and witness you and hold you.

After all, we came here to be wild. We came to make “mistakes.” We came to try things and fail. We came to let our hearts be smashed to bits and to carefully sew them back together. We came for glory. And we came for failure.

They tell us to keep it neat and pretty. To “be the light.” But your shadow is your asset. When you hide her away you teeter along as a half version of yourself, dragging a corpse of old, half-acknowledged feelings around. And so next time shame or grief comes calling, answer her. Make her a temple. Throw her a party. Give her center stage for once.

Will the shadow start running the ship? Most likely not. But if this fear exists, then create a container for these feelings. If you know rage could cause chaos, then take her moshing at a concert. Or give her a punching bag at a boxing gym.

In my Holy F*ck salon that day, I made a pledge to my group and we made a pledge to ourselves:

“When you cry I promise not to comfort you. I promise not to usher away your feelings with my ideas of what’s “right” and “wrong.” When you scream, I promise not to shush you and tell you it’s going to be okay. I’ll admit I don’t know if it will be, but I’ll listen and stand tall with you, and be by your side.”

I pledge this to you now and welcome you to share this with the people you call tribe.

This column is dedicated to those Wild Women and Men who are willing to go there with me and grieve and mourn and rage and laugh and cry and dream with me. Who don’t shut me out when things get ugly, and who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty in the name of growth and change. You know who you are.

Alexandra Roxo is a Spiritual + Creative Mentor, Writer, and Filmmaker living in LA.  Find out more on alexandraroxo.com and instagram.com/alexandraroxo/

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: HOW TO USE THE RETROGRADES FOR HEALING

With Pluto, Saturn and Mars all retrograde, there’s rich opportunity now to transcend deep-seated patterns and re-vamp your sense of purpose. This week showed me how to use the retrogrades for healing…

Sub Rosa’s Michael Ventura

:: MONDAY (-WEDNESDAY) ::
A healing session with Michael Ventura, who also happens to be CEO of design and branding agency Sub Rosa, which also happens to be the venue for some of NYC’s most high-vibe happenings (including our Club SÖDA NYC event in April with Biet Simkin). This is what I love about New York—everybody has a side project that’s at least as interesting as their day job. In Michael’s case, 10 years spent studying everything from Traditional Chinese Medicine to Native American shamanic healing (with Yogi Bhajan’s personal healer, no less).

“These retrogrades have stirred up all kinds of funky stuff,” I told him. “You know, like ‘who am I?’ and ‘how can my voice have real impact in the world?'” (um, anybody else feeling the existential crunch right now?) My treatment was a combination of hands-on healing and pressure-point release, with some crystals and some burning herbs, after which I practically levitated off the table, leaving with the instructions to send an update by email after two sleeps. By which time I was actually experiencing a disquieting sense of wanting to completely re-evaluate my message and my mission, in line with my personal needs.

And since I know I’m not alone in this right now, I share with you here Michael’s beautiful response:

“We all too often think of our lives across two spectrums—positive and negative. However, there is a third and powerful force—neutrality—which can serve you well in these times of reflection and integration. You don’t need to have the plan. At the same time, you don’t need to get down on yourself for not having a plan. Simply un-attaching and not identifying with an outcome will let things happen at their own pace. A flower doesn’t bloom by trying to bloom. It simply allows.”

:: WEDNESDAY NIGHT ::
So I allowed the unease (WTF am I doing with my life? How is what I’m doing actually of service in the world?) to just be there. And now enter my third sleep of the week, during which I experienced the most incredible healing dream—facilitated (in my dream) by wonderful Alexandra Derby, who appeared in my mind’s eye and told me it was time to perform a ritual.

This involved an astral visitation with my ex—a man to whom I utterly subjugated my sense of self during my late teens and early twenties. Confronted with his same old, patronizing ways, I felt his words and gross, overbearing sexual energy bounce off me, like I’d developed a cosmic force-field. “You are an insect on the sole of my shoe, and I am more powerful than you will even know,” was basically the over-riding vibe. At which point I came semi-conscious to the sound of a series of “clicks” in my brain—as if a piece of code in my internal operating system had been re-written. By morning, I awoke feeling newly and fully empowered on my path. Existential crisis averted!

So…I’ve gone into way more detail here than I usually would in this column, but my this week has been an amazing opportunity to work with the current retrogrades for healing. Pluto and Saturn, in particular, are opening up deep karmic wounds, and since everywhere I look it seems people are experiencing a similar sense of having outgrown their own skin, or are having conflicting thoughts and feelings about where they’re “at” and what they really want, it felt appropriate to share.

And so, I believe this is a perfect time to:

– Seek assistance bringing any funky energy that’s being stirred up to the surface—ideally a session with a trusted energy worker (think reiki, acupuncture, sound healing—whatever works for you).
– Allow all the weird shit you might be thinking and feeling to just be there. Don’t over-analyse it—just allow it move through you. Trust that it will find its own way out—in a dream like mine, perhaps.
– Feel it to heal it. Which means resisting the temptation to numb out from it with drink, drugs, drama, shopping (*insert your preferred method of numbing here*).
– Journal. I actually wrote a poem the morning after my healing dream, my favorite new way to purge the numinous un-namables that are screeching to be let out. Try it—I bet you like it!

:: THURSDAY ::
Mainly processing the above. While also finally finishing my book manuscript (TF!)

:: FRIDAY ::
A beautiful astanga class with Makeesha Hill of the Urban Yogis—a grass roots initiative bringing the tools of yoga and meditation to NYCs inner city communities, that we’re supporting with sales of our Designer Yogis sweatshirt collection. A fitting end to this week of self-enquiry, as one of the things that’s coming through loud and clear for me right now is that if my work (like, this platform) isn’t actively in service of helping people be happier humans, in a healthier, more harmonious society…then really, what’s the point? As the Yogis themselves would say: #peaceisalifestyle!

The Urban Yogis: a.k.a. (l-r) Raheem Lewis, Tyrell Carter, Jaytaun McMillan, Makeesha Hill, and Juquille Johnston