THE YEAR I UN-BRAINWASHED MYSELF

After a lifetime of swallowing the societal pills of so-called security, 2017 was the year Sushma Sagar officially “un-brainwashed” herself and began living straight from her radical core …

Sushma starts to see the light

It was pretty much drilled into my generation that the path to success and happiness was getting a secure job, getting married, and having kids. For a long time, it didn’t even occur to me that there was an alternative way to live. But when I found myself coming out of the spiritual closet in my corporate career, it started a chain reaction that led to me starting a full-time healing business last year.

And beyond my working life, reassessing my professional priorities also found me re-thinking my personal goals. Did I need to be married with a family to be happy? Did the people “in charge” know what was best for me? Do I want to be motivated by fear, as at seems some of our leaders would prefer? What do I actually think, need, dream of, once familial, societal and social conditioning is removed?

Seeking to learn the answers made 2017 the year I officially un-brainwashed myself … 

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I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions … 

I attended a private girl’s school in the 80s, whose mission was to prepare their students to be strong independent females who would make it in a man’s world. We were educated to be career motivated, and highly successful, be it in law, finance, medicine etc. As I was a daughter in a high achieving Indian family, it was an ethos that was also echoed at home.

It was a challenge for somebody creative like me, as I didn’t see where I “fit” into this model. And anyone who didn’t fit was very much on their own. 

I found a way to smooth the edges of my artistic leanings, studying textiles instead of dance and fine art, for example. Then working in marketing instead of designing. My need for approval and acceptance was so strong, that I gradually convinced myself to become someone else entirely. Eventually, I forgot who I was underneath.

For years, I remained blissfully ignorant. But in 2016, with the country divide on Brexit, I was galvanised to think about politics and how it affected our everyday lives. I began to think about the karmic consequences of our decisions. I began questioning what I was being told in the media. I became aware of a world order at play, and found myself dismayed by the lies and corruption being unveiled.

This “awakening” spilled into my own life, as I began questioning if I was living my truth. Was I living with integrity for myself? 

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I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling … 

Our education system drills us to follow those in charge, and not question authority. But when it becomes clear that those who lead us often don’t have the answers themselves, it’s like realizing that your parents are only humans after all. A sign of maturity, that brings with it the freedom and the duty of taking responsibility for your own choices.

At times this transition felt good, my creative juices started flowing after so many years of being frozen. But at other times it was disorientating and extremely uncomfortable. The eggs had been broken, but the omelette wasn’t quite coming together yet—as I felt the very fabric of my existence unravelling.  

The biggest belief to crumble, was do with identity and purpose, and my definition of “success.”

If I’m not a superwoman in a highflying career, married with four adorable children, then who am I? What am I? Why am I here? What will my legacy be? My self-worth was tied up with a traditional viewpoint, but I felt alienated from the values I’d grown up with. It was on me to rewrite a definition of success that felt congruent with my inner knowing. 

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There were two milestones along the way … 

In 2012 I fell head over heels for someone who was everything I ever dreamed of. Handsome, intelligent, devastatingly charming. Finally marriage, children, and the life I hoped for seemed to be rolling out just like in the story books. Then after a close death in the family, the relationship deteriorated, and I fell into a grief spiral. The dream plan went awry. 

A few years later, I found myself working as a resident healer at the Obonjan festival, doing intensive healing sessions in a pine forest. During one session, I had an incredible spiritual experience where, among other things, the trees began communicating with me. It broke me down and I found myself weeping tears of joy. Life suddenly felt very different, and I was aware of my soul evolving. I had tasted something profound that my current existence had not been giving me. I suddenly understood that success to me involved service and connection.

I have continued with this very deep, personal healing work. Shamanism, sound healing, meditations, acupuncture, family constellations, womb work, goddess work, inner child … you name it, I’ve done it! The need to connect with Spirit became all consuming, leading me to live a higher vibrational lifestyle. 

I became very sensitive to the things that affected my connection, such as meat and alcohol, and naturally reduced them. Of course, my own reiki practice has supported me from the beginning, and I’ve used this to navigate life and heal.

I’m lucky in that my family and friends have always been supportive of my healing work, in spite of them never fully understanding what I do. However, the more work I do on myself, the more I am able to understand what makes us all tick, and the more my relationships with others have improved.

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How to undertake your own “un-brainwashing” … 

In order to unlearn deeply ingrained patters, I believe you have to:

1// Examine your beliefs. 
Identify and becomes aware of your beliefs about key areas of life. For example: self, love, sex, family, religion, faith, society, culture, right and wrong, how life and the universe actually work etc.

Then go back and consider how you learned that belief, where it originated from. Was it from a teacher at school, or a family member for example?

Now ask yourself: if that origin were removed, and there was no judgement from anywhere, would you still feel the same way? Consider whether the belief makes you feel happy or obligated. 

Physical sensations will often occur when an idea resonates with you: goosebumps, chills or even a prickly feeling. Your body knows what is true for you and what is not, so look for the signs. How do different concepts, and beliefs about how to live your life, make you feel?

For example, after the breakdown of my relationship, I realized that part of my grief was to do with the loss of a life path I thought I wanted. I had blindly trusted that I needed to be married with children to be happy. However, under deep scrutiny, I realized this idea originated from my culture and society in general, and I hadn’t really thought about my needs as an individual and a healer.

I concluded that being a parent might bring satisfaction, but may not actually make me “happier.” Besides, wallowing in mother-fomo was bringing me down. So I determined that it wasn’t going to be a deal-breaker and have felt a lot better since.

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2// Find new teachers.  
Trying to unlearn everything, pick it all apart and work out who I was under all the conditioning, has been incredibly challenging. Listening to teachers, in particular Shaman Durek, has helped and continues to help me navigate this process.

However, my biggest teachers have actually been my personal spirit guides, accessed through deep Shamanic work. I learn and continue to learn more from them more than anyone else, and they have helped me to discern what “I” think and want.

Finding your teachers is about using your intuition. Ask around for recommendations, Google subjects of interest, and see what authors you’re attracted to. Be guided by synchronicity. Whose face, voice and attitude resonates with you, or charges you up? Find people who challenge your status quo and make you think twice. 

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3// Honor your natural talents.
You were given your talents for a reason, and it’s your duty to nurture them—and, when you have mastered them, to share them with others. In the sentiment of Oprah Winfrey, speaking and living your truth is the most important thing you can do!

I launched my own healing brand, The Calmery, so that I could create something in my own vision, and not be answerable to anyone, but I’m still sometimes plagued with a “be nice, be liked, head down” corporate hangover.

There is certainly more work for me to do, to be living in my full wattage power. But my un-brainwashing is well underway, and I’ll get there soon enough.

 

Sushma Sagar is a former global fashion brand director turned Reiki Master Teacher, and is the founder of London based healing practice The Calmery. She offers private reiki sessions, tuition, and workshops by appointment. Join her for Reiki Level One Training on Sunday, February 18th in London. 

HOW TO DEAL WHEN YOU GET YOUR DREAM JOB … AND YOU HATE IT

What do you do when your “dream job” turns out to be a nightmare? Jamie Graber tells Ruby Warrington how she finally realized it was okay to just walk away …

When Jamie Graber launched Gingersnaps Organic, the NYC restaurant and juice bar that became a favorite of raw foodies, celebrities and media alike, it felt like her dharma. Born and raised in NY, she felt it was working for Rawvolution on the West Coast that had helped her heal from a collage eating disorder, and finally develop a healthy relationship with food. Now she was helping others learn about the healing joy of food, too.

As a venue for regular high-vibe events (like Jamie’s weekly salons on the teachings from A Course in Miracles), her business also became a place to curate a community of like-minded seekers, while a move to a chichi West Village location in 2015 sent the signal that business was booming. A book, Juice It, Blend It, Live It, published later that year, cemented Jamie’s position as a leading figurehead of New York’s healthy eating scene.

So when she made the snap decision to shut up shop this summer, friends and industry figures alike were left reeling. What business disaster or personal tragedy could be behind her sudden move?

In reality, it had been a long time coming—even if Jamie herself didn’t see it. On the surface, she had built a life and a career that looked like a dream come true. Behind the scenes however, the relentless daily grind of managing a restaurant business had left her strung out, back in her eating disorder, and feeling like a prisoner in her own life. And yet, “I never even entertained the idea that I could just walk away.”

Sitting down to chat about her transition to a full-time coaching business this fall, she told me how: “part of the problem was that Gingersnaps had become my identity. Closing it would mean starting over, on every level.” Because where do you go, when the career you thought was everything you wanted, turns out to be the opposite?

Outside Gingersnaps West Village location

I found myself asking this question before I left my “dream job” on the Sunday Times Style magazine in the UK. And I’ve also found myself asking it since creating The Numinous, at times when my passion project has begun to feel more like a ball and chain. My point being that co-creating (with the Universe) a career that truly lights you up is a constant work in progress. Not to mention a privilege that deserves your full commitment.

As our own lives and needs shift, so will the work we find inspiring. And as we grow and develop as individuals, so will what we have to offer. When it comes to our profession, this will likely require multiple course-corrections as we seek to stay true to our path—even if it means “giving up” things we feel we’ve worked so hard for.

For anybody facing a similar career-crisis, Jamie’s story brings up several key areas for some honest self-enquiry. Read on if you’re ready to quit hitting snooze on living the life of your dreams—you owe it to yourself and those you seek to serve …

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QUESTION: DOES MY WORK MAKE ME FEEL POWERFUL?
“Looking back, I can see how I created a business where I wasn’t feeling powerful, because I didn’t actually want to be making food. Could I make the food? Absolutely. But I am not a chef. I’m amazing at tonics, I’m amazing at smoothies. But what people wanted to order at my restaurant was not necessarily that. What Gingersnaps was known for was not really what I wanted to be doing.”

QUESTION: IS WORK STRESS HAVING A KNOCK-ON EFFECT ON MY HEALTH?
“And then the eating stuff came back. In 2016 I had a book out, and it was all juices and smoothies. Writing it meant I gave myself the excuse to go on all liquids, because I had to recipe test. That summer, that is all I had. I probably lost 20 lbs. Eating disorders are all about control, and I felt completely out of control at Gingersnaps. So I chose to control my diet instead.”

QUESTION: WHO IS YOUR ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING’?
“I met my coach, Lacy Phillips from Free and Native, at a lecture. She wasn’t all sparkles. She talked a little bit about the darkness, and I liked that. In our first session, she asked me, ‘Who is your seeing is believing?’ And I told her ‘No-one.’ She asked again, ‘So you don’t see anyone doing what you’re doing that you can aspire to be like? Amanda from Moon Juice? Marcus from Juice Press?’ Again, I told her, ‘No.’ I realized that what I was doing did not exist as my dream job.”

QUESTION: WHAT IS IT THAT TRULY LIGHTS ME UP?
“So I wrote a list. What is it that lights me up? What is it that makes me happy? And then I wrote another list of the things I was doing every day. And it became very, very clear to me, that these were two completely different lists. That even in my best-case scenario, even on my very best days at Gingersnaps, this was still was not it. When Lacy asked me, ‘so what if Gingersnaps is not it?’ I realized for the first time I could actually just walk away. It felt like a 50lb weight had been lifted from my chest.”

QUESTION: WHAT IF IT WASN’T ABOUT THE MONEY?
“When I told my landlord, he offered me a 50 per cent rent reduction for six months. For a restaurant in New York’s West Village, that is a substantial amount of money! I could have taken this as a sign to stay, but actually it meant nothing to me, because it wasn’t about the money. I realized I wasn’t doing it for the money—and that wasn’t even important to me. It was when it became a really solid no.”

QUESTION: ARE YOU IN IT FOR YOUR EGO?
“Part of the problem was, Gingersnaps had become my identity. Lots of celebrities were doing our cleanses, and as the owner of Gingersnaps I got invited to everything, you know? I was going to have to deal with the fact that I would have to start over, in a sense. I had to really wrap my head around the idea that I no longer had an answer to, ‘so, what do you do?’”

QUESTION: WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT MY CURRENT JOB?
“One thing I did enjoy on list of daily tasks, was talking to the customers. It would wind up coaching them, and I loved seeing the change I could have on people. That I could get them to see things differently. Ironically, food was rarely part of those conversations. I think what I really wanted was a community, and a learning space. After all, I was a philosophy major at college. Clearly, this was where I was supposed to be going.”

QUESTION: WHAT WORK DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK TO ME?
“I actually have a lot of guilt now, because the work I do doesn’t feel like work. We live in this paradigm where work and play are separate, which reinforces the subconscious belief that we’re not supposed to ‘enjoy’ our work. My husband reminds me that the fact my work no longer feels like work is because I’ve finally aligned with what I’m supposed to be doing. And I think that’s so important. Really recognizing that our work can absolutely be something we truly love to do.”

A Certified Reiki Healer, Certified Yoga instructor, Gabrielle Bernstein Spirit Junkie Coach and Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) graduate, Jamie now works with clients on a one-to-one basis. Discover more about her and her work at Organicallyjamie.com.

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!

ADORNMENT AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: COMMUNING WITH JOY SMITH

Channeling the Divine through the decadently bejeweled, artist and mystic Joy Smith is raising the mystical-material vibration ever higher with her transformational talismans.

Sculptress and seer Joy Smith believes that adornment is an intimate conversation—between the creator, the wearer, and the Divine.

Inspired by nature’s potent mysteries, and the light of Divine beauty that resides in every being, the artist’s ethically sourced, recycled gold pieces spark an emotional exchange between the the universe and each of us.

For Smith, connection to the Divine is always available, and through our talismans we can bring our personal conversation with the heavens all the way down to Earth.

With her newly-launched Light Sessions, Smith is raising the material-mystical vibration even higher. During these custom experiences, she uses song, meditative chants, and Reiki to channel a one-of-a-kind talisman that supports your distinctive transformation and growth.

Spirit is absolutely everywhere. Why not dress her in radiant gold?

(Hint: Start decking out your Divine with some inspo from Joy’s jewel-drenched Instagram feed!)

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Ruby Warrington: What are your own personal talismans?
Joy Smith: I wear pieces according to what I need—so I can beam my light out everywhere. I have different pieces that embody different feelings for me.

For example, I have a custom piece I made for myself that’s super special. In Milan, on a retreat with Deborah Hanekamp, we hiked to a pagan ritual place, where I found what looked like a piece of a ceramic vessel glinting in the grass. I could feel that it was infused with a spirit that wanted to help me with my healing work, and so I set it into a ring, which I wear when I’m creating pieces, and during my Light Sessions.

Even talking about it takes me back to that place. In the future, I’d like to go on pilgrimages to sacred sites to source similar pieces as part of my work.

 

My Moon, My Light Necklace

RW: Your pieces have a strong spiritual essence. What’s your relationship to organized religion?
JS: The dogma of different religions can get messy, but the essence of spirit is what’s precious to me. I connect to the idea of the Holy Spirit, which I think of as our connection to the Divine—the spirit in us. My work is about activating that in others. I’m also super interested in world religions. I see the common thread and that’s fascinating to me. All the stories are the same, just different characters.

Having grown up Catholic, I still connect deeply to the iconography. I see the etchings in my designs as radiating light, and my goal is to elicit the idea of “heaven,” which I define simply as the place where great spirit lives … bliss.

 

Guardian Rustic Shield Ring

RW: What do you see as the intersection between spirituality, craftsmanship, and art?
JS: I never thought I’d make jewelry. I knew I loved art history, and wanted to be a painter. I also connected to artists, as I felt they were connected to something spiritual with their work. I wanted that connection to come through in my work, too. I also love fashion because I see the spirit of the designer in it. It’s like art to me.

I fell into jewelry through the sculpture of making it. I initially wanted to be a fine painter, but didn’t think I was good enough and I couldn’t relay my message effectively at that time in that medium. Now, I express myself spiritually through my pieces as they relate to how I feel on the inside. I want them to be infused with feelings of beauty and light, and for this to be reflected in how I adorn myself on the outside.

I believe God, spirit, etc., created us as an expression of the beauty of the Divine. I make it a point to meditate and pray before I make my work. When we work in this way as creators, that’s spirituality to me.

The artist at work

RW: What do the concepts of God and the Divine mean to you?  
JS: I believe God and the Divine are forms of the highest spirit, a spirit greater than ourselves that also lives within us and is part of us. That guides and protects us and loves us unconditionally. Neither are religious terms for me- I see them as a universal Spirit.

My own spiritual breakthrough came in my early twenties, when I had a very severe panic attack, and found myself debilitated by anxiety. My first teacher asked about my spiritual practice, and she gave me my first spiritual book, Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Prayer. I still read it every day. It helped me remember how to pray—how to connect to God—in a spiritual way.

RW: “Light Language” is such a glorious phrase—tell us about learning to speak this language, and how clients experience it during your “Light Sessions.”  
JS: “Light Language” is how I describe my conversation with the divine, something that comes out in channeled melodies, or prayer. The term came to me via my guides during an Akashic records reading—and this really is how I feel about my conversations with God. The Light Language also comes through as automatic writing, which I carve into my talismans and artwork.

I came up with the Light Sessions since my work can be very solitary and I knew I wanted to connect with people on a deeper level. And my Light Language becomes vocal, as if I’m speaking in tongues, during one-to-one with my clients. I see it as the language of love, as expressed in my creations.

The Light Sessions are about channeling creations for transformation. We talk about stones and the style of the piece, and then my clients give me their intention and lay on my table, and I’ll either sing melodies of prayer or do Reiki and channel messages that come to me.

Afterwards, we create an intention candle together and they go home with their candle to pray / meditate with their intention in mind, and I go home and channel that energy while creating the piece for transformation. The plan is to also make this available to couples as a custom ring engagement ceremony.

RW: Who is the “Communion Woman”? 
JS: Women who wear my jewelry have a strong sense of self. The common thread is that they have a connection to spirit, and that they’re all powerful in their own right. A lot of my clients have often been through a lot emotionally.

Having experienced challenges in their lives, they have been led to work on themselves spiritually, in order to connect more deeply to themselves and to the Divine. They’ve already found this connection, and want to explore more deeply what it means for their lives. A lot of their work is in service of the greater good. They have that depth.

Discover more about Communion by Joy’s sumptuously sacred jewels HERE, and book a custom Light Session with Smith in LA. 

WHY WE ARE ALL HEALERS IN THE NOW AGE

We are all healers in the Now Age, says Nicole Adriana Casanova—and self-healing is the first step towards discovering your unique medicine for the world …

If you are being called to the healing path, recognize that this has come from deep within you. That you have stilled yourself enough to hear a voice that has always spoken. It’s not that something within you is awakening, but that your awareness is awakening to a part of you that was never not there.

Every human being on this planet is a Healer. We are all Pacha: a word that speaks to the essence of being, that is the most pure and distilled part of ourselves and unique to only us. For some of us, Pacha may express through art, through writing, our ability to connect people to other people or opportunities that benefit them; for others, Pacha manifests through music, or the way we prepare food, our ability to hold space for others, maybe even the crafts: oils, jewelry, the way that we appoint our homes, the clothing that we make or wear…

One thing is certain, when we are working with our soul, our fundamental truth, with a desire to marry our will to the divine will, our Pacha radiates through everything we touch and brings great healing to the world. To our own lives, and the lives of those around us.

What this means is, we all carry medicine. We are all healers. Just think about it for a moment. Think about the last time you really connected to the creative spark and answered that unique calling in your soul, allowing it to ignite you from within and light up what you put out there. Feel it. Feel it deep in your bones. And remember the impact that it had on your community, your home, even your own consciousness.

Remember the permission that you created for yourself and others by actually allowing yourself to embody your Soul. This is a very potent medicine. A subtle silent medicine that influences everything around you and inspires it to open.

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Expressing this is part of the grand design of our human race. We are not meant to be exactly like each other, which is why we exist as separate beings. But within this separation we are united. And if each of us were to consciously decide to live our Pacha, the world would transform. It would become much more interesting and rich. Rich with love, courage, and the fire of our innermost passion. Fire that brings transformation and clear vision, an ability to see how we are all unique and how that uniqueness is needed in order to illuminate the human experience here on Earth.

Pacha is not solely reserved for gurus or masters or teachers, it is within each and every one of us. And when we came to this life, the Earth provided everything we would need in order to thrive. All of the food, the shelter, the elements, the terrains, all of the teachings, the animals, the plants, the minerals, the vegetables, the family, the friends, the art, the songs, the medicines…

All of this is just a metaphor for how we truly need a diverse landscape in order to remember ourselves. Within the gift of this remembrance is the understanding of natural order, and how we must continue to carry our inborn essence and bring it outward to share, to provide for others, to honor the sacred traditions of the humanity, the Earth, and our Souls.

We close the circuit by being who we truly are, by accepting others as they are, and by understanding the divine order within this sublime diversity. It is an undoing of false identities that leads us to this truth.

Imagine the incredible healing that would take place on this planet if we integrated this ancient wisdom and let go of scarcity, competition, jealousy, fear, rage, comparison, separation. How would our entire experience level up if we were simply able to accept what is? Our selves, our Souls, each other.

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So, are you committed to awakening the healer in you?

Before you embark on this path, self-healing is an extraordinary and necessary part of learning how to be of service to others. Self-healing helps us strip off all the false identities, the false masks, social constructs, familial inheritances, etc., that clog our minds, hearts, bodies, and spirits from being able to truly hold and express our Pacha. Because Pacha takes space and commands a level of integrity with ourselves in order to hold it. 

Eventually, the realization dawns that our own self-healing is actually the most beneficial offering we can give to the world.

Why?

Because we are all connected. By healing ourselves, by being in truth, we become as gardeners creating a beneficial environment for everyone in our lives to also embody themselves authentically. Like the metaphor of the Earth, we begin to thrive in our interrelation and interconnection.

The seeds we plant today become the food of future generations—the systems of this planet teach us through simply being how we can regenerate as humans, and how to live in harmony. So, begin by looking at what you are taking in. What do you feed yourself, literally and figuratively? And then look at what you provide for those you love? And then look at what you feed your garden. Is it struggling? Is it thriving?

This is your Pacha. Tend to every part of it with fierce compassion, the world awaits your medicine. 

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Nicole Adriana Casanova is a student if Maestro Manuel Rufino, Taino elder and founder of Golden Drum cultural center in Brooklyn, New York. Nicole is a writer, poet, and storyteller, a 200 RYT Yoga Alliance certified, a certified Reiki Master in the Usui and Karuna Reiki Riojo, a Shamanic Practitioner, a Human Movement and Meditation teacher, and Magical Awakening Practitioner. Discover more about Nicole and her work HERE and follow her on Instagram.

WHY YOU NEED TO DISCOVER YOUR “IKIGAI”

Want to discover exactly why you are here and what you’re here to do? The Japanese art of “Ikigai” can lead you closer to your soul purpose, says Sushma SagarMain Image: Samantha Wills Foundation 

Why are you here? What is your reason for being? This is THE critical question of human existence and many of us spend our whole lives seeking to address …  

The simple Japanese concept of soul purpose, or “Ikigai,” is designed to help you begin to uncover the answers by exploring the intersection between what you can be paid to do, what you love to do, what the world needs, and what you are truly good at.

All it takes is a pen, some paper, and a sprinkle of curiosity … 

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:: THE FOUR CIRCLES :: 

Draw a venn diagram with four empty circles that intersect in the middle, one for each of the elements below, and write your thoughts in the corresponding section.

CIRCLE 1 – PROFESSION 
Inside this circle ask yourself: What are you doing that pays the bills and are there any parts of your job that you particularly enjoy?

Your profession is what you are paid to do. It could be something you always wanted to do, or something that you were encouraged to do. It may have evolved from a subject you studied. Or perhaps you just fell into it.

You may be one of the lucky ones who loves their job, but if you still feel like something is lacking, you’re not alone! I began my studies in textile design but ended up in fashion brand marketing because textile design opportunities were scarce. While marketing kept me in the industry I loved, it always felt like a compromise …

Photo: Garrhet Sampson

CIRCLE 2 – PASSION 
Inside this circle ask yourself: When do you feel you are totally in the “zone” and time stands still? Are there any activities that you become so engrossed in that mean you don’t reach for your phone? 

Your passion is the thing you love, regardless of whether or not it has a commercial end. Passions excite us. They make us feel whole and consume our attention. Perhaps it’s something you used to do as a child but let fall by the wayside. As a child, I was obsessed with art and legos, and had a very specific vision for “weird” color combinations. Sadly, as my corporate life continued, these creative outlets eroded. Returning to our former hobbies can often shed light on our true passions.

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CIRCLE 3  – MISSION 
Inside this circle, ask yourself: How do you want to be remembered? What do you feel is your duty to the earth or mankind? What do you want to contribute to the world?

Your mission may feel more serious and involves the legacy you want to leave that inspires you to act. A mission doesn’t have to mean becoming a peace envoy or starting a charity! It could be that your mission is as simple as caring for your own family and friends. As a sensitive and quiet child growing up in a loud Indian household, I often took on the role of the diplomat. As an adult, I continue to strive to keep things peaceful and this mission has become the backbone of the healing work I have gone on to do since leaving my corporate career behind.

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CIRCLE 4 – VOCATION 
Inside this circle ask yourself : What aspect of your life, or things that you do, will be there no matter what? What thoughts or actions will you never tire of? What activity would you get metaphorically tattooed on your skin? 

Your vocation is a calling—something that you feel deeply compelled to do AND are suited for, and it’s often connected to your mission. Maybe you can get paid to do it, but money is not your motivation. Your vocation is not a fad. It is not something you try and then leave. It is something that is deeply embedded in your sense of self. It’s a bit like that favorite jacket you’ve had for years and you will always wear because it really suits you.

When I discovered that energy healing was my vocation, it felt like a soul calling—a commitment I had unconsciously made. The innate empathy and sensitivity that were less useful to me as a child, and in my former profession, finally had a raison d’etre. My desire to keep the calm now had a methology.

Photo: Sasha Freemind

 :: THE CENTER OF THE CIRCLE—YOUR IKIGAI ::  

As you look at the contents of the 4 circles you’ve sketched, ask yourself … Are there any threads that link all four parts of your life? What common themes or activities come up? Could there be something that connects them together? Something that simultaneously gives you joy, satisfaction, life purpose, and reward? This could be your Ikigai. 

Don’t worry if nothing comes up, or if you find that you’ve found some intersection but it’s not perfect. My Ikigai is only just starting to emerge after A LOT of soul searching and some recent alignments in the stars. Over many years, my quietly growing healing practice has gone from a vocation to a passion to a mission … that has now also become a profession. Aha, Ikigai!

The journey to Ikigai is the ultimate in self-realization; it involves experience, analysis, and a life lived. And always remember, the journey itself is also part of your Ikigai … 

Sushma Sagar is a reiki master and teacher, and founder of The Calmery—an energy healing practice based in London. Follow her on Instagram for more magic! 

MOONERS & SHAKERS: WHAT IS A PHOTOGRAPHY HEALING SESSION?

With her Embrace The Light photography healing sessions, Moon Club member Tanya Alexis is helping others share the beauty of their energy with the world …

A photography healing session is …
The aura adventure begins at a location where feel you are your most authentic self: in your home, at the ocean, in the woods … anywhere you feel joy! We will find a quiet spot and you will spend 15 to 20 minutes receiving Reiki channeled through me.

After your healing session, we will spend the next 40 minutes photographing you at your most peaceful, at your most joyful—meditating, dancing, twirling, moving your body in any freeing manner that makes sense to you in that moment. During this time, I will shoot 36 frames of film.

Following the session, you and I will sit together while I rewind the film, holding an intention of authenticity and love. When the time is right, I will open the bottom of the camera to let the light in, to let your light in.

One to two weeks following our session, you will receive three to seven beautiful color photographs. A completely unique mixture of film, you, me, and light, they are not to be photoshopped. They will be yours to keep as a reminder of who you truly are, your vibrant spirit.

The inspiration for the idea …
My partner passed a few years ago, and on the anniversary of his death I went to the place we spread his ashes to pay my respects, to take photographs, and to grieve. The next day when I went to drop the film off at my lab, I opened the bottom of the camera thinking the film was rolled up. It wasn’t. I quickly closed the bottom, heartbroken that the images were going to be ruined. But they weren’t. Instead, I discovered something new to me, a way to create beautiful effects that expressed how I felt inside.

It would be another year before I used this technique intentionally. I was photographing a dear friend who happens to be a healer in Los Angeles. I felt compelled (as my intuition strongly suggested) to expose some of her film to light, to see if I could mix her energy visually onto the film. It created some incredibly powerful images, and I knew I wanted to create more work like this, perhaps find a way to incorporate photography into a healing session.

About nine months later, I photographed another incredibly powerful Los Angeles healer. This time, I wasn’t worried I was going to ruin the film. I just went for it, and after I saw her images—even thought my belly was filled with butterflies—I knew it was time for me to create a way to share this experience with others. It was time to encourage others to see their inner beauty, strength, and abilities, and to help them share these numinous aspects of themselves with others.

The work as a reflection of a personal healing journey …
When I received a phone call telling me my partner had been in an accident and had not survived, I was heartbroken. But even during the earliest days of grieving, I knew his passing was meant to break me open. The love we shared was palpable, and I chose to honor him, to honor us, by putting in the work to heal from losing him, and perhaps more importantly to heal all the aspects of myself.

I began meditating more. I wrote to him every day. I began having weekly energy work. I began being kinder to myself, making self-care a priority. During this process, I would take photographs to work through the various emotions that arose. I was just getting to a point where I thought everything would be okay, and then … my father passed. And my heart broke again, but it was different this time. I knew from the beginning of grieving his loss that it was in my power to heal myself.

Not long after my father passed, I took a Reiki 1 and 2 course, followed later by more advanced and Master Reiki training. I intended to use it solely as a way for me to continue to work through all that needed to be released and sifted through in me.

But the more I healed, the more I realized healing myself AND healing others was always meant to be a part of my path. And then, one day, I had lunch with an incredibly vivacious 91-year-old, and she asked me what I would want to do with my life, if I could do anything. I smiled, and in that moment, I accepted that this is my path.

The big mission …
Others judge us, we judge ourselves. If I can offer people a space to feel love and support for who they truly —solely from a place of love—and leave them with a reminder of how beautiful they are on the inside as well as the outside, my heart will be happy.

The Moon Club inspiration …
Moon Club is one of the reasons I feel so comfortable sharing my Embrace the Light project with the world. Knowing that like-minded souls are here to cheer me on and support me allows me to step outside my comfort zone with confidence. It’s invaluable to me as a creative, but also as a human. I am so grateful to know that I am not alone in my experience on this Earth!

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Tania Alexis is currently booking Embrace the Light sessions in Los Angeles, and building wait lists for sessions in NYC, London and everywhere. You can email here here and follow her on Instagram here and here. Sign up for Moon Club and join our tribe of cosmic change makers at Moonclub.co

THE TRUTH ABOUT SOULMATES

Think love should be like a screening of “The Notebook”? The truth about soulmates is dutch ovens, stretch marks, and past life pacts, says comedian and energy healer Jessica Brodkin. Main Image: Mariano Peccinetti.

 

Want to learn the truth about soulmates? Then listen to a psychic healer who’s had two divorces and a broken engagement. Trust me—I’ve met a lot of soulmates. But after massive heartbreak, and seeing my own clients through theirs, the same patterns and solutions have begun to emerge.

And I’ve discovered that real soulmates aren’t like the people you see in The Notebook. They’re more like my Mom and Dad, who believe they are soulmates…and who make fun of each other. “I must have been a real jerk to your father in a past life to have to put up with him now,” my Mom frequently quips.

With Venus retrograde until April 15th, we have an opportunity to re-examine our relationship with love, and to determine what is and isn’t working for us. Here are the five things I wish I’d known about soulmates ten years ago… 

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1. Your Soulmates are Not Just Your Lovers 
I think of incarnating (being born into your current life and body) as traveling with a plane full of your friends to Cancun, with only a few vague plans. “Marissa—see you on Tuesday in Tulum. Mark—save the last night for me, we’re going dancing and I wanna make out in the sand. ”

As someone who has always believed in past lives, I was one of those creepy kids who remembered how I died. I have a strong conviction that we travel throughout our lives with some of the same people in order for our souls to grow. Your mother, your siblings, your nephews, your boss, and even your roommate can all potentially be your soulmates.

Reading List: Carolyn Myss’ Sacred Contractsand Michael Newton’s Journey of Souls. 

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2. The Person You Think is Your Soulmate is Probably Healing Your Parental Issues
If you feel that your partner is tormenting you, he or she is probably helping to heal your parental issues. According to a lot of psychological theories, we choose partners based on the hurts we either experienced or witnessed as children.

In the summer of 2015, my then husband and I were planning on having a child. Two healers had something to say about this—the first that things weren’t going to work out as planned, but I wasn’t ready to hear that my marriage was going to end soon. However, the second healer convinced me to do a detox in order to have a healthy baby and halfway through, I realized I could not have a baby with this man. His issues, and our issues, were unresolved stuff from my childhood. He was definitely one of my soulmates, if not necessarily “the one”…

Reading List: Harville Hendrix’s Getting the Love You Want

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3. Love the One You’re With
We all like to think we’re royalty, but we’re more like Princess Fiona—expecting some charming prince or princess, but falling in love with Shrek instead. While Fiona became a green ogre in order to love him, when I got married and ruined my credit rating. Which is to say, your soulmate may not come in the package you expect, and he or she may be more into dutch ovens than you’d like.

What if the imperfect partner you have right now is your soulmate, and what if soulmates didn’t have to be forever? All of our partners are teachers—and some are here to show us our shadow side. If we abandon our current partner without doing the inner work they ask, we’ll find ourselves repeating our relationship patterns over and over again.

Reading List: Deepak Chopra’s A Path to Love

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4. Love Yourself, Too

There’s nothing more important than loving yourself. Trust me—I’m trying to get a crystal sex toy company to sponsor my radio show. This isn’t about arrogance, or attention-seeking behavior. It’s about accepting yourself where you are, and seeing the perfection in your imperfection. So love yourself so a partner can meet you where you are in life—the partner in your life is always a vibrational match for how you feel about yourself right now.

Write a gratitude list of all the awesome things about you. Talk to your stretch marks and scars, and tell them that you love them. Think of all the fun you had creating them! Practice self care. What makes you feel like a queen? What brings you bliss? Follow that joy.

Reading List: Gala Darling’s Radical Self-Love and Louise Hay’s How to Love Yourself

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5. And Finally … Trust Your Intuition
I once went to a psychic who told me I had a ghost baby living inside of me…and that I needed to pay her $700 to have a ghost abortion. I told her that for $700, I was going to keep the ghost baby. When I was in the middle of my divorce, another psychic told me that a new suitor was my twin flame (a.k.a. super soulmate). After being stood up multiple times, I started to think differently.

If I could give only one message to people who feel any sort of fear or insecurity about their love lives, I would say “Don’t go to psychics!” Even though I’m also a psychic and medium, I work primarily as a healer because I want my clients to develop their own intuition instead of relying on something outside of themselves.

People usually go to psychics to calm their fears. But one of the most difficult (and beautiful) parts of being human is to embrace your life despite those fears. To live your life, and love with reckless abandon. If your heart gets broken you will survive, eventually heal, and then learn to love again!

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Jessica Brodkin is a Reiki energy healer and stand up comedian based in New York City. She is an MIT and Johns Hopkins graduate who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for 11 years, and has been featured on the cover of the New York Post, and on TruTV, AMC, and SiriusXM radio. She also has a weekly radio show on Journey Into the Light. Follow her on Instagram and discover more about her energy healing here.

SPARK JOY: A STYLIST-TURNED-SHAMAN GETS KONDO’D

Is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up really a book about energy healing? As Marie Kondo publishes her follow-up, Spark Joy, stylist-turned-shaman Colleen McCann gets kosmic with her possessions purge…

Colleen in her fashion stylist days

As the founder of Style Rituals, a biz that celebrates our closets as gateways to the cosmos, I was well attuned to the connections between the mystical and material world. And a recent move from Brooklyn to Venice Beach and back, means I am also very familiar with the process of packing and unpacking.

For my latest move back to NYC, I had gotten a personal ping from the Universe that I needed to ‘go light’ this time. Accordingly, I picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s now infamous The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and got to work. Overnight, this went from a cross-country move to a total life enema! But I figured if anyone could lead me through the jungle of my beloved belongings to minimalistic bliss, it was Kondo.

I had barely made it to page four when I realized that this wasn’t just a guidebook for spatial cleanliness, but was also an under-the-radar handbook in energy healing. Marie’s discussions about holding items close and thanking them for their existence was directly connected to the Shamanistic belief that every object carries an energy or vibration. Perhaps, I thought, Ms. Kondo is a secret Shaman. 

Inspired by this discovery, I combined Kondo’s teachings with my energy healing know-how to bring you this guide to navigating the spiritual wilds of your own material treasures …

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NUMBER 1 // There Is a Universal Method to the Madness, aka Memento Meltdown 

The Closet Cleanse: According to Ms. Kondo, one must sort possessions in the following order—clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and, lastly, mementos.

The Secret Shamanism: Shamans believe that working with fire allows release. When I do closet cleanses with clients, sometimes, we literally build a bonfire of emotionally-charged items and let it burn. While Kondo-ing my own closet, I discovered that Marie’s method was perfectly constructed to inspire a similar emotional release. With a background in fashion, I assumed clothing would be the most challenging step for me and wondered why she’d put it first. But I soon understood why mementos went last. I started reading old love letters from boyfriends, thumbing through my high school yearbook, and doodling with coloring pencils from my college fashion illustration class. I eventually found myself on the floor cry-laughing in ‘someone’s’ sweatshirt that I had un-accidentally kept after a weekend rendezvous. I couldn’t believe how many memories had been holding space in my abode that just weren’t part of my life anymore. Time to go!

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NUMBER 2 // Sartorial Reiki, aka Thank Your Lucky Clothes 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you hold each item in your hands and thank it for how it has served you in life.

The Secret Shamanism: Is Kondo also a secret Reiki Practitioner and Psychometrist? Psychometry, aka Token-Object Reading, is a form of extrasensory perception that allows us to “read” the energetic blueprint of objects, even if we know nothing about their origins. Similarly, Reiki infuses universal energy into people and items. Kondo’s approach fully acknowledges the spirit present in objects, and the necessity of honoring this energy. As I blended her recommendations with my intuitive skills, it became quite emotional. I remembered sights, sounds, and smells associated with each piece and channeled this energy to facilitate release.

‘Shaman Kondo’ giving reiki to a sweater?

NUMBER 3 // The Art of War with Yourself, aka Plunge into the Pile 

The Closet Cleanse: When purging your closet, Kondo commands you to throw everything in a giant heap in the middle of the room.

The Secret Shamanism: Sun Tzu’s teachings in the The Art of War state that “in the midst of chaos, there is also an opportunity.” For this neat and tidy (perhaps OCD spectrum) Virgo, creating a messy clothing monument was a Xanax-worthy endeavor (Céline and Chloe definitely didn’t want to be wrinkled, snagged, dirty, or stepped on). Yet my chaotic heap allowed me to push my personal limits. As I split my clothing commune into two smaller tribes of “keep” and “discard,” I excommunicated parts of my past life that no longer fit my current lifestyle. And, surprisingly, throwing things about and jumping into the pile of clothes made me feel like a kid again.

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NUMBER 4 // Everything Changes (Even Joy), aka Swapping Fashion School for Fortune Telling 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests that you ask yourself if an item truly brings you joy BEFORE deciding to keep or discard it. Do not try it on or even think about how often you use it. Just hold it in your hands and ask this simple question.

The Secret Shamanism: Guess what I realized? Joy evolves. And the things I wanted to keep were energetic fortunetellers of the life I wanted to lead right now. My transition from the fashion world to the healing world was anything but seamless and I was still in the throes of figuring it all out (going from styling, designing, and brand consulting to seeing ghosts and hearing voices was never gonna be comfortable). While sorting, I realized I was casting aside old items from the fashion world in favor of mystical mementos that fit my current and future vision of myself even better.

 

NUMBER 5 // Come Back to the Present Moment, aka Boyfriend Jeans are Real! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo states that people are unable to let go of certain items because they are either attached to the past, fearful of the future, or unwilling to live in the present.

The Secret Shamanism: This is for all the girls out there who are still holding onto college sweatshirts, worn-in t-shirts, or anything else that belonged to “the X.” Wonder why a former lover still lingers in your head? Because you’re still sleeping, lounging, and working out while wearing those memories on your sleeve, literally. During my Kondo-ing, I was going through a major breakup and the practice of purging catapulted me from the past to the present. I realized that it wasn’t about “him,” it was about me. I needed to be proactive about doing everything I could to move forward, and holding onto his belongings was definitely not helping.

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NUMBER 6 // Say Yes to Your Life Right Now, aka Magic Rocks Are Heavy but Old Memories Are Heavier 

The Closet Cleanse: When you look at an object and say “I might use this one day,” remember Kondo’s warning that “someday” means “never.” You don’t have room in the house-of-me for “perhaps one day.”

The Secret Shamanism: I carry around lots of heavy crystals in my bag of tricks, but the energy of old memories that no longer served me was WAY heavier. Why was I keeping mementos of people and things that weren’t aligned with my happy-place? As I bid adieu to objects associated with energy vampires from my former life, I severed the cord so that both parties could move forward.

Shaman McCann at work

NUMBER 7 // Repurpose with Your Love Language, aka Mermaids for my Roomie 

 The Closet Cleanse: While Kondo warns against unloading your purged belongings onto unwilling participants, finding new homes for past treasures can be an act of love.

The Secret Shamanism: In Shamanism, when we receive a physical or emotional gift we refer to it as “receiving medicine.” You are getting the “medicine” that you need at exactly that moment, no matter what form it comes in or where it comes from. Mid-purge, I started leafing through Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, and remembered that my love language was gifting. The result? A friend got all my old-life high-heels. One of my favorite adventure buddies is now enhancing her metaphysical talents using the giant crystal I moved from my alter to hers. And my former roommate discovered her passion for sea spirits through my houseplant decorated with a collection of plastic mermaids. Show love and pay it forward.

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NUMBER 8 // Spiritual Smoke, aka Burn, Baby, Burn! 

The Closet Cleanse: Kondo suggests removing discarded possessions from your apartment as soon as humanly possible.

The Secret Shamanism: After following Kondo’s practices on how to sort, I decided to insert some of my own Shamanic practices to release any dense energy that can quickly adhere to people, places, and things. Sage what you decide to keep—with the windows open or in an open area outside. As I burn my bundle of herbs, I like to say out loud: “Any energy that is not mine or of my highest and greatest good, get the f*** out … with love, but seriously, it’s time to go.” Even though the purge scared the hell out of me, as I moved the energy I felt like the shackles had been taken off my ankles—I was light and free!

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NUMBER 9 // That Elusive Equilibrium, aka Stilettos & Sage 

The Closet Cleanse: Après cleanse, I was NYC bound with two suitcases of clothing, and one small suitcase filled with the contents of my Shamanic practice (crystals, feathers, tarot cards, sweet notes from clients, sage, sound bowl, etc.).

The Secret Shamanism: Marie Kondo always asks what brings us joy. I’d recently experienced a full moment of joy when I was hired by a former fashion client to speak about the power of rituals and manifestation. As I waved a sage stick around a room full of execs while wearing fake eyelashes and stilettos, I was so joyful I could have cried. Fittingly, while purging, I realized I had to make a conscious choice to let my worlds collide. I wasn’t willing to give up all my high heels or my signature pink nail polish, but I did need to make space to bring back a bit of California in the form of a stack of yoga pants and a massive collection of crystals. To be in my “joy,” I needed to marry the sparkle, fun, and creativity of the fashion world to my personal promise to recharge in nature often, keep a devout meditation practice, and embrace a newfound love for juice.

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NUMBER 1O // The Transformation Cycle, aka Meeting Kali in the Closet 

Did I mention that this was also one of the most traumatic weeks of my life? Within five days, I had ended a relationship with someone I truly love, my beloved aunt died and, oh yeah, the cross-country move was in full swing. In Shamanism we speak about embodying the energy of an archetype. Post-purge, I felt like the Goddess Kali had hung me by my ankles and shook all of the change loose from my skinny-jean pockets.

In other words, f***ing great and completely naked at the same time. With three suitcases to my name, I was a full-on gypsy. I was light, free, mobile, and personified. And while I know that I’ll need to shape shift again and again, as of today I’m bouncily nimbly between New York and L.A. with only my most joyful possessions. All I’d needed to do was step through that closet door. 

Colleen McCann is a fashion stylist turned Shamanic Practitioner with practices in NYC & LA. She realigns the energetic with the visual through Intuitive Crystal Readings, Shamanic Hands-On-Healing, and Feng Shui Space Balancing. Make sure to follow her on Instagram, and pick up one of her new Energy Healing Kits  and Medicine Bags on Goop to jumpstart your cleanse!

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HOW I FOUND A WAY TO BE OF SERVICE

Looking for a way to be of service? Look to your natural —and keep it simple, says Kerri Aab

In spiritual communities, it’s often believed that at your lowest point, to be of service to someone else can turn your entire situation around. That looking past our own suffering for ways to alleviate the suffering of someone else is a key to happiness and fulfillment.

No time like the present to test the theory, right?

And if the phrases “alleviate suffering” and “being of service” bring to mind images of volunteering for the Peace Corps or doing mission work in Africa, it’s worth keeping in mind that an act of service can include anything from smiling at a stranger, to complimenting a struggling mama at the grocery store, to baking some cookies for your neighbor.

Being of service doesn’t have to mean some grand act of self-sacrifice. It simply means reaching out. And sometimes the actions that have most impact are the simplest.

Case in point: late last year I was deeply depressed. Not un-common for me during the time of year we’re supposed to be making merry. I’m used to the holiday blues.

But last year was different. There was an ache and an emptiness that none of my go-to spiritual or healing practices seemed to be able to reach. I looked for guidance and sought all kinds of remedies to take the pain away—but the more I grasped, the worse things seemed.

I felt hopeless, helpless, and adrift.

Then, one morning during my daily self Reiki practice, I felt compelled to turn my Reiki hands not towards myself, but rather, to send the Reiki out. I did so and there I sat for the next hour with a vague intention of sending Reiki to “anyone in need.”

No, there were no unicorns swooping over the horizon, and no rainbows suddenly appeared— but I noticed how my sense of despair had lifted. Enough for me to send distance Reiki out again the next day. And the next.

Within a week, I’d decided to make a daily practice of sending out Reiki to others. Shortly after which, brief little messages of hope or inspiration would come through during my morning Reiki time, which I texted to a few friends. These messages began as subtle little thoughts that I attributed to my mind regurgitating information from years spent dedicated to learning about spirituality and energy medicine.

I quickly came to believe however, that these messages, which were growing in length and intensity, were the work of a much larger energy that I was somehow tapping into. God? The Universe (what I call “The Big U”)? Who knows. I’ve come to refer to the bearers of these messages as my “etheric pals” though, as I now palpably feel their energy in the room with me and they feel like friends.

Within a month I had a consistent daily practice that I was being guided to share further. So I sent out an email to friends and family, offering free distance daily Reiki, plus an optional inspirational email, to anyone who requested it.

To my surprise and delight, almost every single person replied with a resounding “COUNT ME IN!” and the list has continued to grow ever since. People come, people go. But, no matter what, I sit down every morning, send Reiki, and write an email about the message I heard during the session.

Has my depression lifted, and I been living in Reiki bliss since then? Here’s where I disappoint you. This isn’t one of those “and then my whole life changed and everything is love and light” type stories.

But here’s what did happen. 

This simple act of using a gift I have been given, to help others, has confirmed for me the importance of being of service in the world.

My daily act of service has given me an anchor to hold onto on days when depression hits so hard that I don’t want to open my eyes. It does this by providing the focus and energy I need to get through to the other side.

My act of service has given my life a foundation of consistency. Rain or shine, I know that people are counting on me and looking to me for the support I pledged to give them. This is the best motivator for sticking to any practice.

My act of service has gifted me with humility and perspective. That people trust me with their stories and with a small aspect of their personal growth is humbling and something I take very seriously. These stories continually remind me of how freakin’ blessed I am when there’s so much suffering in the world.

And, during this very trying post-election week, showing up for the Reiki crew has, at times, felt like the only thing giving me a flicker of hope. When I have felt useless and truly despairing, sitting down to energetically uplift others has reminded me of why I’m on this planet. Which is to anchor the human experience in goodness. To help others find their inner power.

I am also so grateful for the replies I receive each day from people all over the world, about how a particular message changed them or inspired them to go out and spread some joy of their own. The benefits of service are contagious!

So, are you in?

We’ve all been given different gifts—and they are not ours to hoard or hide away. But to give away, inspiring others to do the same.

If you’re feeling plunged into darkness at this time, my advice is to simply give of yourself in whatever way you can. There are endless ways to be of service in the world, so find your gift and share it. Take action. If you want to make the world a better place, then go out and do it. When in doubt, look out.

Do you sing? Bring your voice to the elderly.
Make a mean lasagna? Cook for the hungry.
Love spending time with children? Babysit for a mama who needs a break.
Have a green thumb? Help start a community garden.

And if you think you can’t do this, I would like to gently remind you that you can. After all, a man was just elected to the highest office in the land with zero experience. And if he can believe in himself and his abilities, so can you.

So can you.

I was reminded the other day of a great quote from Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent: “The opposite of war isn’t peace. It’s creation.” 

It’s time to create the world in which we wish to live. It’s time for us to use our gifts to create beauty, peace, unity, love, acceptance and hope for all. One simple act of service at a time.

Kerri Aab, BFRP is a Bach Foundation Registered Practitioner, a Reiki practitioner, quantum biofeedback practitioner, Kundalini yogi, dancer, singer and group fitness instructor. Click here to register for FREE DAILY DISTANCE REIKI with Kerri, and discover more about her healing work at Seedtoblossom.com.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: BURNING MAN PREP AND A COSMIC CONNECTION

Seem like everybody is deep in Burning Man prep? I’m getting ready for next week’s super intense Virgo New Moon Eclipse… Club SÖDA NYC images: Katrin Albert

Hosting Club SÖDA NYC with Biet Simkin and amazing Betsy LaFae

 

:: MONDAY ::
A reiki session with Jessica Brodkin—an energy healer I met recently who used to work for the CIA, and does stand-up comedy on the side. My kinda Material / Mystical gal! And as well laying like a TON of crystals on me (including a perfectly clear quartz Ganesh on my second chakra), what I loved about the way Jessica works is that she also provided a running commentary about what was going on. I really love the concept of reiki—a mystical healing energy that we can all learn how to channel? Yes please!—but since the effects are so subtle I can often leave a session wondering, did anything just happen?!

But as Jessica got my chakras spinning (fave takeaway: “I’m not sure how to describe this except to say your sacral chakra is now looking on fleek”), she also spoke highly intuitively about issues I’m currently facing, gave a cool book recommendation, suggested some crystals for me to work with, and helped me say a forgiveness prayer. Overall, I left feeling like I’d had a total energetic tune-up. Find out more about Jessica and book a session at Loveandlightservices.com

:: TUESDAY ::

Club SÖDA NYC! Biet Simkin and I had an amazing turn-out for our second big Soda event, which (of course) we had timed specifically to coincide with the Sun’s move into Virgo—sign of health, wellbeing, and service. This is the month to really connect to the concept of how a healthy body and mind allows us to most efficiently show up and do our dharma. And, as we head towards next Thursday’s Virgo New Moon, now is the perfect time to let any and all unhealthy habits (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual!) just fall way.

The 9/1 New Moon is also a solar eclipse AND Mercury will have just gone retrograde. Add in a formidable T-square (the Moon, Sun, Mercury and North Node in Virgo will square Mars and Saturn in Sag, and oppose Neptune in Pisces) we are talking some intensely karmic and unpredictable REBIRTH energy out there. I for one intend to be clean and clear and fully on my A-game!

More Club SÖDA NYC vibes: a.k.a. how it feels to get high on your own supply

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Some of my most mystical moments are found in the experience of deep, soul connection with my fellow humans. Doesn’t it feel like MAGIC when that chemistry happens? In love, at work, and in our most precious friendships. I took two hours out for lunch today with a friend who makes me feel that way—and time stopped, the cosmos aligned, and it fed me more than a thousand hours of reiki. Heaven on earth.

:: THURSDAY ::
OMG. Got news that Cara Delevigne and her sister Poppy have ordered two of our Vinyasa sweatshirts to take to Burning Man. That is all.

Vinyasa shirt, $69

:: FRIDAY ::
In fact, for all you Burners out there, may I point you in the direction of some Numinous reading for your journey to the Playa. See you there next year!

How To Survive Your First Time At Burning Man

Is Burning Man A Spiritual Game Changer?

26 Life Lessons My Burning Man Experience Taught Me

SELF-CARE: A RITUAL BATH FOR REIKI HEALERS

Healers and empaths – sometimes you gotta give yourself some TLC, as recommended by Deborah Hanekamp… Artwork: found on Pinterest

This bath is medicine for the empath, some healing for the healer, and a way to soak up the power and presence of your own energy.

Taking a ritual bath combined with the self-healing treatment of Reiki has been a gift for me over the past 15 years working as a Medicine Woman and Reiki Master. And my heart is fed by sharing it now, for it is essential for Reiki Practitioners to regularly balance our chakras, clear blockages and call in our abundance as light workers.

I believe that the more people there are practicing Reiki, the more peaceful the world will be. To effectively share the enduring magic of Reiki, we must strengthen our “Reiki muscles” – beginning with self-healing, self-care, and personal ritual.

:: INGREDIENTS ::

Fresh pink roses, rosemary, and basil, to cover the surface of the bath water

Baking Soda: 1 TBSP
Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 TBSP
Epsom Salt: 1 Cup
Crystals of: Peach Moonstone, Fluorite and Amethyst
Cedar Wood, Jasmine and Rosemary essential oils: A few drops each

Combine all ingredients in a tub of water as hot as you can stand

:: RITUAL ::

Clear your energy by smudging your body with sacred Palo Santo smoke, including the soles of your feet and back of your head

For practitioners of Reiki 2 and up draw Se Hey Ki over the tub water

Step into the bath and dunk your head under the water

Place the Peach Moonstone crystal on your solar plexus, the Fluorite on your heart chakra, and the Amethyst on your third eye

Begin a self-healing treatment, combined with deep, rhythmic Ujjayi breath

When your self-healing treatment is finished, dunk your head under the water again and chant the sounds of the seven chakras from root to crown; LAM, VAM, RAM, YAM, HAM, AUM (the crown chakra’s sound is silence).

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION, AND MORPHING INTO TRUDIE

I finally tried transcendental meditation, hit up a NYFW zen-den, and decided we must be morphing into Sting & Trudie Styler…Main photo: Ruvan Wijesooriya

:: MONDAY ::
This week has been A LOT about meditation, beginning with a visit to Numinous writer Ellie Burrows’s MNDFL meditation studio in downtown NYC. Ellie and her business partner Lodro Rinzler opened up shop in November, offering New Yorkers in need a space to come breathe – that also looks and smells divine, and has Rishi tea on tap. “But when are you coming to Brooklyn?” I whined, since as beautiful as the MNDFL experience is I can’t see myself getting on a subway to go meditate. Or maybe I should take a leaf out of one member’s book, who travels in from Willamsburg to attend two classes per day – now that’s what you call a dedicated practice.

Ellie Burrows and Lodro Rinzler of MNDFL

:: TUESDAY ::
Speaking of which, having dabbled with various meditation techniques over the past five years, I have yet to find one that’s stuck. Mindfulness, zen Buddhist meditation, the Headspace app…I’ve lasted a few months with each at best. And then there was transcendental meditation (TM), which I always figured had to be the real deal since it demands two 20-minute sessions per day, but was always totally intimidated by for the same reason. Until I met Bob Roth from the David Lynch Foundation, who tried to convince me that actually TM was an effortless technique. Well this was the week I took him up on his offer to teach me and…WOW. Effortless IS the word (who knew?), and even a few days in I’m like: why would I not maintain this practice in my life? It’s like I can literally feel my body being de-programed of stress at a cellular level while I sit.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
The limited edition astrology collection by Christian Louboutin for Moda Operandi. That is all.

:: THURSDAY ::
A blissful start to New York Fashion Week at the Serene x Bandier pop-up SereneHouse – a totally high-vibe zen den at fitness fashion store Bandier’s new Fifth Avenue space, Studio B. Oh who am I kidding, I don’t do NYFW (TF), and basically swung by to say hi to beautiful Serene Social founder Millana Snow, who curated the space, get me some reiki and grab a juice from The Butcher’s Daughter on the way to my next TM session. And if you’re in NYC this weekend, I suggest you do the same. The full event line-up is at the bottom of the post and you can RSVP here to reserve a spot.

:: FRIDAY ::
So when the Pisces (husband) and I first got it together BACK IN 1999 (see main pic), we were basically Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue in this music video. Then we got married and went through a kinda David and Victoria Beckham phase (mainly me helping him work on his look). As for our latest incarnation? Well we’ve given up booze and eat mainly plant-based, and we meditate together when we wake up. Our plans for V-day: “fancy trying tantric sex?” he asked last night. Which can only mean our metamorphosis into the next Sting ‘n’ Trudie must almost be complete 🙂

GET TO KNOW YOUR CAPRICORN MOON SIGN

The Capricorn moon sign is tougher than most – a balance of tender and tough, says Ash Baker. PLUS 8 lifestyle tips to help you manage your Capricorn moon sign. Artwork: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

Fellow sea goats, gather around and learn about your personal take on the Moon. You project an emotional character that is sparkling with strength. Even your aura is made of resilient stuff. Capricorn Moons get a bad rap though because the qualities of this sign are the exact opposite of what the Moon stands for.

This means it’s a tougher Moon than others, but not impossible. I too have this Moon so I’m really speaking from the heart with this article. And it just means we have to work a little more mindfully at achieving the Moon’s needs via our sign’s attributes.

Capricorn stands for power, control, success and ambitious achievement. The Moon, our heart, wants to nurture and support through being soft and gentle. So this Moon’s purpose is to understand how to be vulnerable while still feeling safe. To not be too controlling. To let go of the ice queen/king tendencies. This placement can feel a bit dark side of the Moon. We stay cool and detached so we don’t get hurt. Learning to bridge that gap is key.

Capricorn does have something in common with the Moon though, they both enjoy taking care of needs. What those needs are varies but possessing the ability to help fulfill them is strong. This can be a very realistic Moon in that Capricorns see the logic in emotions. They can come across insensitive due to being so grounded, conservative and stoic.

The Capricorn Moon sign needs independence and to prove that it can do things on it’s own. So working towards the goal of embracing independence while asking for help every once in awhile would be beneficial. Just watch out for being too controlling of others to get what you want. You really take it to heart if you think someone sees you as unable to fulfill certain functions. Therefore you can become too rigid and bossy just to hide the fact that maybe you are not so perfect at everything you set out to achieve.

It’s okay. You are human. Our flaws bond us. Allowing those who love you to take care of you is HUGE. You want to remain in a place where you feel dignified and composed, but also open enough to depend on someone else. This is where true intimacy is born and your Moon can fully blossom. We each have an area of life where we feel the need to get the job done. The Capricorn feels respected, nurtured and fulfilled in doing so.

Below are a few suggestions to work/benefit your Capricorn Moon sign’s higher vibes.

:: Strength ::
Pick an exercise that makes you feel strong. One that gives you a feeling of power over your body yet humbles you at the same time. This sign rules the bone structure so if yoga suits you try this yoga sequence…

High Lunge :: Alanasana
From a standing position step the right leg/foot towards the back of the mat. Come up on the ball of the right foot with an inhale. Exhale and bend the front left knee. Make sure the knee is bent directly over the ankle. Tilt the pelvis slightly under and lengthen up through the spine. Inhale and reach the arms loosely into the air. Reach your upper body towards the ceiling and press the lower body down towards the floor. Come back to standing and switch legs.

Warrior 2 :: Virabhadrasana 2
Come back to Tadasana. Step the right foot back 3-4 feet. Turn your right foot to a slight angle with the toes out and the heel in. The left foot should be pointed forward. Inhale and reach the arms up and out in line with your shoulders like wings. Exhale and begin to bend the front knee directly over the ankle. If you are a beginner, lessen the bend in the knee but never take it further than your ankle. You should see your 1st/2nd toes. Make sure your torso is directly above your pelvis. Reach your arms out wide and feel them lengthening. Press your feet down into the ground gathering energy back into the body. Hold for 30 seconds up to 1 minute. Come back to Tadasana and switch sides.

Reverse Warrior :: Viparita Virabhadrasana
From Warrior 2, drop your back hand down to the back of your back leg or on your hip as you lean backwards from your side and reach your front arm up and over your ear, creating length in your ribs and side waist. Keep the knee bent directly over the ankle. Look up towards your hand as long as you don’t have any neck pain.

:: Time alone ::
You need solitude to plot, plan and stay on top of all the goals you want to achieve. Being such an independent Moon you emotionally benefit more from private time than some other signs do. If this is something that feels difficult to add into your life, really start to make it a priority. Put up some boundaries if need be. This quiet time will really benefit your heart in the long run.

:: Lighten up ::
Now, following the tip on alone time you also need to balance. Be sure to add fun, and silly experiences to your life. This sounds easy to most people, but it’s something you actually have to work at. This Moon sign is serious from birth. We enter the world like little adults. So going out of your way to go out and play is actually quite therapeutic.

:: Life coach ::
Being such a goal-oriented sign is a good thing, but it can get a little too controlling. So why not ask for some help? Hire a life coach to help get things in order so you’re not constantly obsessing over your never ending lists. This actually is a double whammy for you because it allows you to work on asking for help while still achieving goals piece by piece.

:: Bodywork ::
Massage. Reiki. Shiatsu. Any modality that helps ease the rigidity of your body from stress is going to do wonders. We all hold tension in our bodies but due to this sign being so prone to stress, a healing release is necessary. You may be guilty of only feeling comfortable when worrying over a deadline. If this is you, go treat yourself.

Happy healthy climbing Cappy Moons!

COMING OUT OF THE SPIRITUAL CLOSET

Sushma Sagar pursued a high powered career in fashion, but always practiced reiki on the side. She shares how she finally found herself coming out of the spiritual closet at work.

 

“I’m a closet hippie” I used to jest to my close friends. “She’s doing her witchy stuff again” they would say, all tongue in cheek, making a silly joke. It was no joke.

I’ve been practicing reiki healing on the sly for around 16 years, and only now do I feel like I can admit it freely. It’s not the middle ages, I’m not going to get burned at the stake, so why has it taken so long to come out?

Of course you must always look back to look forward. As a kid, I played with the other children and got along just okay, but was always a bit on the outside. A little misfit who would hang around with other misfits to fit in. Fitting in, being what you thought others wanted, was what you did. A child of Indian doctor immigrants, with success and achievement drilled into us from an early age, assimilation was the most important thing.

Childhood passions were quashed one by one – dance, theatre, art, textiles- and I grew up to find myself working in marketing for well-known fashion brands like Diesel, Ted Baker and Ben Sherman. It was fiercely competitive, and as for fitting in…well that goes without saying. I was so desperate to prove myself and to get along, shape shifting became natural.

But quietly, outside of work, I was developing other interests. The catalyst of heartbreak saw me visit a healer who used acupuncture and reiki to calm my heart and make me smile, when I believed I could not. Astonished and intrigued, before I knew it I had done a course and had been initiated into this, then secret, world.

And as anyone who’s experienced their reiki initiation will know, once on the path, it slowly changes you; your trajectory shifts and, whether you want to or not, you move towards your personal truth. As did I…but on the weekends only!

So my double life continued. By day, corporate world, shallow dreams, and fickle desires. On evenings and weekends, I was back to my private world, filled with magic, loving energy, and heart opening activities. As far as I was concerned these worlds were mutually exclusive, and I felt more comfortable keeping them that way too.

But then holistic therapies began to gain interest; LA’s healthy living and New Age thinking was becoming popular in London. Celebrities and their holistic entourage were being reported in the press, spa and yoga retreats were all the rage. I ploughed on, reading and practicing until I finally completed my master reiki training. Simultaneously, my corporate life was also going from strength to strength.

And all around me, I could feel attitudes changing, judgments becoming less harsh, and ideas about “alternative” healing finally entering the mainstream. By now I had also joined a wonderful fashion brand, that celebrated interesting women. And yet still I didn’t let on to anyone about my “interesting” side.

But then, heartbreak yet again, and some serious healing was needed. I called in the big guns and found a shamanic practitioner in London. Together we journeyed back in time, healed some karmic contracts and made my soul whole again. Delighted, I trained with him to learn these skills for myself. As a result, I now felt so fully and completely me, that hiding “myself” seemed impossible.

Life was improving fast now on every level. My heart was healing after all I’d come through romantically, and I felt whole, settled and happy in my skin. I got promoted at work, felt inspired again, and began working on all the creative side projects I’d been afraid of starting.

The last piece of the puzzle was to find a way to bring my two separate worlds together. To cause a synthesis of my spiritual self and my life in the fashion world – something I’d never felt a need to do until now.

Then, when I was invited to give reiki taster sessions to professional women on a retreat hosted by a friend, the fact I understood their life turned out to be an empathetic advantage. I realized you can have one foot in the material and one in the spiritual!

Monday morning at the office following the retreat, the conversation began as usual: “so what did you do last night?” asked my boss. Me: “OH, I did a healing exchange, I gave a friend some reiki and he did some energy work on my knee.” “You do reiki?” she cried, “That’s amazing, you never said.” Me: “Didn’t I? I’ve been doing it for years, I must have mentioned it. Anyway about that budget…”

And just like that, I came out the spiritual closet. I haven’t looked back.

To book a shamanic reiki session with Sushma contact [email protected]

How did you come out of the spiritual closet? Share in the comments below!