7 SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS OF MY NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

What you really get from a near death experience is a numinous new perspective on life, the Universe, and everything, says Worthy Stokes  …

The last thing I remember before leaving my body was the U2 song playing on my iPod shuffle: It’s A Beautiful Day. I was out for a morning jog wearing headphones and stopped at a crosswalk to wait for the signal to change. When it turned green, I turned up the volume and raced straight into Death.

A van had run a stoplight, and at the very moment it crashed into me, the world disappeared. Instead of memories of my skull breaking against pavement, I remember only that song and an image of wide, open sky. Thus, U2 serenaded my departure from this life; the ensuing brain trauma erasing everything except for Bono’s voice. So, when I tell the story of my Near Death Experience (NDE), I always think of him.

Five years have passed since my harrowing return to my body, during which time the nuts and bolts of universal intelligence have emerged in waves and codes. During this time, seven spiritual teachings have emerged — to inform my life and work here on Earth 

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1. Consciousness is not religious, humans are. When I dropped into the vastness of the primordial, cosmic soup, I came face-to-face with infinity. I was lucid in my perception of an elegant, fluid order, and, at the same time, the experience felt wholly incomprehensible to my human brain. I felt neither shock, or distress. I floated about leisurely, as I noticed, rather abruptly, that religion simply does not exist beyond the human mind.

Having previously “believed” in Buddhism, I came back into my body with a transfigured cosmology for which I have no translation. My faith rests instead in a mysterious beauty that remains unencumbered by mortal bias, dogmas, or doctrines—all of which, I see now, are highly destructive to human beings. Religion perpetuates guilt. Consciousness activates possibility.

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2. Death is a choose-your-own-adventure experience. If you like Jesus, he’ll be there. If you love practicing meditation, maybe you’ll see a monk. If you are tired of patriarchy, perhaps a fierce Goddess or tree spirit will greet you. For atheists or stoics who think this is nonsense, the journey into Death is destined to unfold in a way that is relaxing, uneventful, and not at all weird. Each of us naturally transitions from one state of consciousness to another without the slightest bit of pain—which brings me to the idea of Hell, which isn’t real, so everyone can relax. There is no darkness in that final exit, and if there is, it’s probably because you wanted it that way.

3. We are all as connected as we are separate. There is an individuated blueprint in each of us describing multiple portals to other dimensions, but how this system mechanically functions is beyond us. Invisible points of contact, layers of free will, shifting realities, and elements of destiny all move and meld in ways that are too complex for us to ever name. In the popular TV series about NDEs (OA), there are gestures coupled with movements to be found in the afterlife, which combine in an eerie combination of breath and choreography.

This hints at an interlocking system we all share and must sort out together, because each of us carries a vital piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fully work until connected with others. In other words, the success of our collective matrix depends on its parts functioning as coherent, interactive particles engaging consciously. So yes, your healing journey is valuable to all of us. My NDE showed me that we are linked, and we are separate. We have shared paths, and we engage singularity. We are interdependent, and we are alone.

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4. Some things do not heal. Consciousness is not just for manifesting a Ferrari or a mate or healing a primal wound; it is not a spoon we can learn to bend with our minds. We do not have as much control as we wish we did, and we do not get to know why some things heal and others don’t. Asking why X still hurts (despite having done all the Work), as so many of us like to do, leads nowhere. Let’s ask each other instead, “What happened? What can happen next?”

Our job here is to hold each other’s fragility, alongside qualities of strength, power, purpose, and possibility. Even after having seen in my NDE how vast we all are, and how very little control we have in our lives, I returned with a belief that wanting to heal something was enough. Over time, I learned I was wrong. I learned instead to make peace with hundreds of things I cannot fix. Now, I pay close attention to what IS possible here, in the realm of the living. I find enormous solace in my understanding that on the other side, there is no pain.

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5. Transformation is your birthright. We have the right to change what we do not like, need, or love, in this wakeful, transient life. Further, we are spiritually and neurologically wired for transformation. I’m not saying transformation is easy, and I am also not saying it’s going to be an affordable, realistic, or linear process. Nor is it a test or an experiment. There are no grades, or getting it “right” or “wrong.” Showing up and exploring is what counts. Dreaming, breathing, building, evaluating, noticing, and repeating what works. Getting into your carpe diem flow while motivated by visions of awesomeness is a very good place to start. Find mentors, make revisions, and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.

Photo: Ameen Fahmy

6. We need our people guides more than our spirit guides. We are each like turtles bringing houses of consciousness from oceans of possibility to this shared, changeable world. Like turtles, we carry pieces of our primordial homes on our backs, which means we are all, always, “at home.” From this space, we can choose to be fiercely, tenderly present for each other, right here and right now. Yet I see countless seekers hitching rides on decorated spaceships to visit fancy vortices in search of “answers” and healing. The irony is we already boarded the most cosmic spaceships of all, our bodies, and we traveled a very long way to reach this life. Meeting each other in the flesh is a fantastic, holy, and healing event, in and of itself.

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7. Being human is the ultimate spiritual path. As spiritual beings, we are elements of unified consciousness, and as physical beings, we are connected by way of our neurobiology. Being human and being here in this life IS the ultimate path; regular meditation or devotional practices that nourish our relationships with each other are simply ways to maintain our connection with the Divine.

The task at hand, truly, is to care for each other in the physical domain, as creatures who age, break, triumph, and fail, through moments of tragedy and ecstatic, heart shattering joy. There is no need to look beyond this reality. Presence is what we are, and life inside of these beautiful days IS the messy, sacred experience we came here for. When we look outside of ourselves for truthful meaning, we shut down access to the very miracles we seek.

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Worthy Stokes is a healer, seer, and sage. Learn more about her work at thisworthylife.com, get her free meditations on Insight Timer, and follow her on Instagram @thisworthylife. Get on her mystical frequency with code NUMINOUS and a 20% discount: HeartMind: A 10 Day Meditation Journey for Sensitives and Survivors on the Path of Spiritual Awakening

MANIFESTO FOR AN INCLUSIVE WELLNESS INDUSTRY

After discovering that there was nothing “wrong” with her body except conventional health messaging, Jillian Murphy shares her manifesto for a more inclusive wellness industry …

Photo: Samantha Santy

I had put on 40lbs in my second pregnancy and they seemed to have nestled in for good. I was eating well and moving my body religiously but I just couldn’t lose the weight.

Every well-intentioned health care professional I worked and interacted with as a naturopath was happy to offer up advice about what must be wrong with my adrenals, thyroid, hormonal health, sleep patterns, food combining, mindfulness, sugar intake, etc. etc. etc. and I had worked on it ALL. But to no avail, and I was exhausted from the effort.

Frustrated, I hired a body image and emotional eating coach and, after explaining my long and convoluted health and weight story to this new mentor, she told me something I was wholly unprepared to hear:

“There is nothing wrong with you except for your belief that your body is wrong. You are exceptionally healthy: you don’t have a food problem and your body is exactly, happily, where it needs to be.”

It was one of the strangest, most revolutionary things I’d ever heard. It simultaneously crushed and liberated my soul. Crushed, because, OMG! All the lost time I’d spent trying to “fix” my body. Liberated, because I’d finally been given permission to shed the physical expectations of our culture and just live my life.

The mere suggestion that my body weight and shape may not dictate my health nearly blew up my brain. It set into motion a 7-year journey of critical thinking, self-discovery, and research that would ultimately serve to heal my relationship with food and my body and revolutionize my understanding of health.

What I realized was:

Conventional health messaging flattens beautiful, complex, and biodiverse individuals into 2D facsimiles. Squishes us into mathematical equations, diets, and wellness checklists that promise abundant health and complete control over our bodies.

This messaging makes us believe that if our bodies don’t fit, we are at fault – too lazy, not enough willpower, intelligence, or effort. And in our attempts to conform, we offer up our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, our peace of mind, and sometimes our sanity.

Now, we in the wellness industries are being called to dismantle and challenge outdated, oppressive, and limiting beliefs about food, movement, weight, and health. To present a model for inclusive wellness that is respectful of ALL bodies; critical of information that leaves us feeling confused and in lack; and that offers alternatives to restrictive and prescriptive health ideologies that ignore the lived experience and values of the individual.

This is my manifesto for a more inclusive wellness industry ….

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1// Pursue physical health without compromising your mental, emotional, and/or spiritual self.

When we exercise though our body is asking for rest; when we cut carbs or calories despite our body begging for sustenance; when we skip dinner out for fear of not having the “right” food options; when thinking about food and health consumes our every thought – we sacrifice our sense of peace, connection, and joy in the pursuit of physical “health.” The outcome is a feeling of depletion despite doing “everything right.”

The shift: Put physical health back in its place, as one piece of the health puzzle and not the whole picture.

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2// Respect and appreciate the diversity of human bodies. 

All bodies deserve access to quality healthcare and health resources without judgment or shame. Current body type and weight ideals are problematic and unscientific (including the Body Mass Index or BMI). They negatively impact our relationship with food and movement, and encourage the stigmatization of all but a small percentage of bodies deemed “appropriate.”  Those in bigger bodies are judged harshly and mistreated in every sphere of society, from the workplace to medicine.

The shift: We must shed the belief that losing weight is the #1 path to health and wellness and work instead to pursue behaviors that have been proven to have a positive impact on health – whether we lose weight or not – while developing a much broader and inclusive definition of bodies we deem healthy, attractive, and worthy.

Photo: Samantha Santy

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3// Define “health” and “wellness” for yourself. 

These terms are social constructs that differ across communities and cultures. It’s also important to recognize that many people don’t have the privilege of prioritizing wellness, even if they want to. We can own our own investment and interest in health and wellness without projecting it onto others. Imagine how many hours a day/week could you free up if you let go of food, body control, and worry.

The shift: Consider what aspects of health and wellness actually light you up. Can you think of moments when you’ve judged the health and wellness choices of others? Begin to think about how our narrowly drawn ideas about these concepts impact the overall health of our society.

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4// Become the leading expert on YOU.

We have been taught that we must rely on externally devised, highly moralized food plans telling us how much to eat, what to eat, and when to eat. The Now Age way is to turn to models for nourishing ourselves that put us back in touch with our innate ability to regulate food variety and quantity. These models consider the needs of our physical bodies, while also taking the mental, emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of food, movement, and health into account.

The shift: Promote eating based on our bodies’ internal cues instead of following fad diets or parroting somebody else’s food rules. (ED: read Jillian’s tips on using body positivity to unlock your intuition).

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5// Cultivate a sense of purpose and worth beyond your physical form.

The exhaustion, digestive issues, inflammatory processes, and body concerns I see in so many of my patients are one part physical, two parts spiritual/emotional. We feel disconnected and the stress of floating through the world unsure of where we belong, what makes us worthy, and what our purpose is shows up as dysfunction in our thought processes and bodies. We then cling to the rituals, routines, and ideologies of wellness and weight that serve as the ultimate distraction.

The shift: Replace diets and health “regimens” with rituals that connect you to the moon, meditation, talk therapy, dance parties, ditching toxic relationships, eating mindfully, speaking up, saying no, walking in nature, swimming in the ocean, lighting a candle, giving back. Anything that reminds us that our worth is inherent, we are more than our bodies, and we are connected to everyone and everything.

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6// Work to change the systems in place that deeply affect the health and wellness of our culture and community.

Socioeconomic status is the leading determinant of health. Accordingly, we must work to shift these issues on a systemic level if we truly care about our health and the health of those around us. There are systems in place that can’t be “love + light”ed away, and we all have a responsibility to pull apart our own oppressive beliefs and work toward amplifying the perspectives of those who experience this system differently.

The shift: Realize that representation matters – if we want to feel normal and acceptable in our various forms, we need to SEE those forms and diverse paths to health. Start with your social media feed by including a wide range of body shapes, sizes, races, abilities, and gender expressions, and enter into those spaces with the intention of listening. As you learn, commit to engaging those who share your social identity in conversations that question your current health and wellness beliefs. Be an active catalyst for change.

HOW TO MARRY YOURSELF

Want to take self-love to the next level? Find out how to marry yourself with poet and activist Lisa Luxx’s guide to pledging your solo spiritual commitment …

In 2016, I married myself. Legally taking the name of my higher self, I became Lisa Luxx, had the initial of selfhood tattooed on to my ring finger, ‘I’, and vowed to always come home to me.

It’s been two years since then, a period of time that has burgeoned with political chaos, which continually leads us back to ourselves to question our position within the greater whole. So in 2018, I decided it was time to re-meet my commitment in ceremony, an act that I intend to re-visit every couple of years to steer the course of my affections for both myself and the wider world.

Here are my top tips on how you can hold your own marriage to your self, because 2019 just might be the year for that … 

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1// Pick a date that’s meaningful
When I initially planned to renew my vows it was due to be on the 7th of December. But I hadn’t had my eyebrows done in time and I figured if I’m not going to start turning up for myself now, what chance does this marriage stand? It wound up being on the 21st, which has been my favourite number since I was a young child. An auspicious one, at that. Actually 7 is a number I always associate with my ex; now I’m sure my lazy beauty routine was actually divinity intervening.

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2// Choose your witness/es
The idea to renew my vows in a ceremony came up during a therapy session. My therapist/life-facilitator is one of the few people who really speaks my language, so I asked her to be my sole human witness. However, I also had the four elements present to witness. I filled a very small corked jar with soil from my parents garden, placed two green candles on my Tata’s old gold candlestick holders, took a homemade smudge stick to bring forth the air and lashing of local Yorkshire water. I sat the elements on a mirror in front of me as I read my vows.

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3// Get yourself sexy
On the morning of my ceremony, I soaked myself in a rose water, almond oil, lavender, and sandalwood bath. Rubbed coconut oil into my warm skin. Danced with myself naked in front of the mirror before spritzing my fave Diptique perfume and slipping into my Dalmatian suit. Serve the best of yourself to you. Your beauty is for your pleasure first and foremost.

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4// Write your vows in the mirror
My vows were a mix of everyday bona fide daily lifestyle choices, such as always putting my actual body before my mind’s desires; ‘I will not finish catching up with Whatsapp’s or reading to the end of my page when the rumble comes, when the thirst coarsely reminds me of my physical needs.’ And commitments for how I’ll manage to make myself a better person in community; ‘I’ll actively practice unpicking and dissipating insecurities, as my duty to our world. So that I can see the world as it is, not as it could hurt me. So I don’t hurt myself through my fear of being hurt. So I don’t hurt others through fear of pain.’

While rehearsing my vows, I caught my reflection, laughed and said “hey, you’re not supposed to be hearing these yet” – getting so used to spending time with my reflection until I reached a point of comfort where I could have fun with it was a melting point.

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5// Say the vows in the mirror until it sinks in
Loving yourself in front of a witness won’t always come easy. It will feel awkward at times and you’ll be in head mode rather than heart mode. That is to say if you’re like me you’ll be feeling so self-conscious at times, you’ll notice you’re not embodying your words. To counter this I repeated a vow numerous times, looking directly into my own eyes in a mirror, until I felt what I was saying sink in. Take your time, speaking your promises to you until they become a physical sensation. The unexpected outcome of this is that now, whenever I’m feeling low or anxious, if I can find my reflection I can bring myself back to a place of loving comfort.

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6// Find a charitable cause to support
I requested wedding gifts from friends and family in the form of donations to The Syria Campaign, an organisation that means a lot to me. Marrying yourself is not an insular act, it’s about mobilizing yourself to be a better link in the chain of ‘we.’ A very overt way of setting that in motion from the get go is to encourage your friends and family to support your love for you and your simultaneous commitment to them all by making a donation to an NGO, delivering bags of shopping to a food bank, or volunteering at a local grassroots initiative for a day.

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7// Prepare for pain
I’d love to say that since the ceremony I’ve been doing exactly as I promised in my vows and ‘never forgetting how much I love to dance with you [me].’ But no, it has been uncomfortable. I cast my mind back to that day and sometimes feel an urge to delete it all from my therapist’s memory and mine; I feel shame, I feel pain. No good rebirth comes without a death. Let yourself feel that, let it exist within that day as much as the joy will.

In becoming the best of you, you are becoming a human complete; this is about owning your responsibility to the world through commitment to self-observation. See yourself without interfering. Don’t cling on to the parts that are breaking off.

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8// Consummate the ting
I have a practice that I like to call ‘astro-masturbation,’ whereby I make love to apparitions of myself. It can be me as I am, me with a better haircut, me in my trans dreams, but it’s always me. Sometimes there’s two of me, sometimes there’s three, four, five of me, but they’re all visions of me making love to me. I get to switch between giving and receiving endlessly and equally, and they’re the best orgasms I’ve ever had.

Lay down your favorite blankets, light that incense, and make sweet love to yourself while listening to Banks sing ‘I fuck with myself more than anybody else.’ My vows promised, ‘I will make love to you not because I want to use you as a tool of pleasure but because I love you, because you turn me on, because your body, my body, is my favorite body of all the bodies on earth.’

If you feel moved, Lisa asks for wedding gift donations to The White Helmets, unarmed volunteer rescue workers operating in Syria’s most dangerous zones, risking their lives daily to save the lives of others.

HOW BODY POSITIVITY CAN UNLOCK YOUR INTUITION

After a lifetime of food issues, Jillian Murphy discovered that living fully in her own skin was the key to her magic. She shares how body positivity can unlock your intuition …

Photo of Jillian by Wild Little Hearts Photography

“Before you can hear, much less follow, the voice of your soul, you have to win back your body.” – Meggan Watterson

I remember the day I first abandoned my body. 

I was 8 years old and visiting the mysterious temple my mother escaped to every evening when my dad got home from work—she called this evasive place of worship “the gym.” It was a Saturday open house and I was an immediate convert. The place was magical – dusty rose carpet, slick chrome and mirrors, George Michael pumping through the speakers, and LYCRA. So much lycra! (It was the 80s, k?)

I could tell right away that this was the place for me—a space of transformation, potential, and movie-worthy —this was a place where life happened. I grabbed a pop and a hotdog and then I naively hopped up on the scale where they were weighing everyone. And that’s where “It” got me.

As I scarfed my lunch, the two staff members in charge of weighing me began sniggering. Whispering about something clearly “adding 5 pounds” while looking at my body.

I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on but I knew the joke was on me. And I knew it was bad. Bad enough to remember but never ever talk about, until 25 years later, when I finally started to heal my relationship with food and with my own shape and size.

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Coming face to face with “it” … 
“It” is not that creepy clown from the Stephen King movie you’re picturing. No, no, the “It” I speak of is much worse—its name is diet culture and it spews a thin-is-best, fatphobic, classist, able-ist, racist, gender-biased rhetoric where the gold standard of beauty, body, and more recently “wellness,” is blatantly clear, objectively unhealthy, and unavailable to most.

Beyond the gym, there were many other moments when “It” got me, some that obvious, highlighted in Technicolor and frozen in time—a mental photo album created to prove my lack—while others were so subtle I internalized them without realizing, recognizing the damage only in hindsight.

From health messaging at school and dieting advice from teen magazines, to negative looks from boys and the admiration of “beautiful” girls in front of me, the signs were everywhere.  

Once, I remember hearing an older male cousin condescendingly laugh about the shape of a specific woman – stating that “to be attractive to men your shoulders needed to be at least “X”cm wider than your waist. Though I thought it harsh, I internalized the comment as though it were about me. In a diet culture with rigid beauty ideals, no woman is left unscathed.

Everywhere, the message I absorbed was: you are not good enough. More specifically: your body is not good enough.  

Even more specifically: your body is not good enough and, as a female, it’s your personal responsibility to take charge of your weight and beauty and behavior and do what it takes until you fit the ideal lest you remain unworthy forever. Also, hot sticks of processed meat are un-ladylike.

Photo of Jillian by Wild Little Hearts Photography

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Your intuition lives in your flesh …
It might look like a criticism, a comment, a side-eye (sometimes much worse), and it makes you gasp, the foul gas of “you’re not good enough” filling your lungs and seeping into your tissues. From that day on, the myth of diet culture is no longer just a story around you, it is a story about you.

You disconnect. You abandon your physical self. You override your female knowing that your curvy, lumpy, bumpy body is beautiful and normal and you do your best to crush the voice that says “I’m hungry” or “carbs would be nice” because that voice is clearly an idiot that doesn’t know bikini season is coming up.

The result? Food issues, yes. But diet culture doesn’t just destroy our relationship with food and distort our body image—it separates us from the most powerful ally we have—our inner knowing.  

Your intuition lives in your flesh and speaks to you through your body. She is nourished by pleasure, abundance, approval, and desire.

When she has been dampened and starved into submission, you are left living a storyline that keeps you doubtful, unsteady, competitive, and unsure. An ideal that keeps you distracted from your most important work in the world and suggests your worth is up for debate.

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Amplify the whisper …
When we discourage (read: flat out ignore) the whisper of biological feedback that tells us we need more calories or carbs or a day of rest—we simultaneously diminish the whisper that helps us discern and decide in all areas of our lives.

These whispers are one in the same. Learning to hear and trust the signals from our very intelligent, self-regulating, female appetites is a super-powered short cut, reconnecting us to our broader inner knowing. It amplifies the whisper.

I lost so much time sacrificing my wellbeing and connection to self in the pursuit of worthiness via weight loss and superficial beauty. I made bad decisions. I was distracted. I lost time. I learned slowly that, in order to write a new storyline for myself, I would need the power of my intuition and that the first step in rebuilding a connection with my soul voice was winning back my body.

Photo of Jillian & family by Wild Little Hearts Photography

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Here’s how to start amplifying the whisper and winning back your own body …

1// Give up the pursuit of weight-loss. The pursuit of weight loss is THE thing that disconnects us and keep us looking outside of ourselves for shoddy solutions. Weight-loss attempts fail over 90% of the time, long-term, and the collateral damage is your relationship with food and your connection to your inner knowing. Start by pretending that you aren’t in control of your weight (because you really aren’t) and that your only goal is to feel vibrant and energetic and joyful in your body.

2// Counter the deprivation narrative. Tuning into our hunger and reliably feeding our bodies is the first step in repairing the collateral damage of deprivation and moving towards a more intuitive relationship with food.

Start the process of consistent nourishment by connecting with your hunger signals. See if you can rate your hunger on a scale of 0-10 (0 = not hungry at all, 10 = “hungry,” low blood sugar, shaky). Can you notice the subtle differences between a 4 and a 7, or do you regularly swing from overstuffed to starving?

3//Discover your delicious. The basics when it comes to nutrition and movement have been well understood and unchanging for generations – move your body regularly, get fresh air, drink water, eat lots of plants and unprocessed foods – not too little, not too much, and honor your mental/emotional need for pleasurable, celebratory foods.

Now, from this magical place—without all the rigid rules, “shoulds”, and fears—what do you feel like eating? How do you feel like eating it? How do you want to move your body and for how long?

*Note: There is a good chance you have NO IDEA. Start by asking the questions and experimenting. Follow your curiosity and see how it goes—maybe you hate plain raw carrots but you love them roasted or with dip (Hot tip: DIP IS DELICIOUS). Allow yourself to try new things and neutrally observe how your body feels.

4// Fully live with the beautiful bod you’ve got. When your physical appearance stops representing your entire worth and is, instead, just a fun outward expression of your personality, the game changes. Start living the life you aspire to have when you are in the perfect body and watch the shift!

Make a list of all the activities you are waiting to do when you lose the weight, get more toned, have your nose fixed, are more perfect, etc. Make the list as exhaustive as possible. Next step? Start doing all of those things IMMEDIATELY. Wear the red lipstick, rock the shorts, eat the gelato, show your navel, go on the date, try the tap class, climb a mountain, go back to school. Do it all!

Dr. Jillian Murphy is a registered, licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. She has dedicated the past 8 years to studying intuitive eating and body image, and works with diverse, smart, health-conscious, women who are DONE WITH DIETING, and looking to get out of their heads and re-connect with their bodies. Follow her on Instagram, listen for more wisdom on her Podcast, and join The Food Freedom/Body Love Collective, her monthly membership space that provides you with the tools, strategies, support, and community you need to live healthfully in the body you are IN! 

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE THIN FROM WITHIN?

When I agreed to co-host the launch of a book called “Thin From Within,” it was because I wanted to talk about what makes that word so triggering—and to confront our collective conditioning about body-image, weight, and food …

When I announced that I was going to be co-hosting the launch of my friend Robyn Youkilis’s new book, Thin From Within, I was expecting something of a backlash. This platform, which is so much about healing and self-acceptance, promoting a weight-loss program? Only one person actually reached out on Instagram to voice her concerns, to which I replied: “I hear you, thank you. Because we really need to talk about this.”

*Since writing this post, many more people have also let me know that my supporting Robyn’s book has been disappointing (at best) and / or been triggering for them. Over the past week, thanks to conversations sparked by this incredible, conscious and loving community, I have learned so much about the issues with promoting thinness and the thin ideal—even when approached from a holistic angle. Conversations that have been uncomfortable, confrontational, and absolutely VITAL. Not only for me as I grow into my role as a leader in the wellness space, but also as a human being with all my own messy and imperfect feelings about body-image. 

In response, I have decided to add some of these key learnings to my original piece—which I am including in bold below. Inclusivity and integrity are two of the core values of this platform. I am aware that the layers of complexity and shadow surrounding this issue mean I cannot possibly speak to each and every reader individually with my words here—but my hope is that sharing my own journey towards cultivating more awareness about the issues herein, may help others to do the same. 

Yes, it seems counter-intuitive. My own eating disorder history aside (more on that in a minute), the whole message of my book is that true health, happiness, confidence and wholeness, is the result of peeling back the layers of conditioning we’re subjected to from birth. Including, for example, the toxic message that to be beautiful, valued, and loved, our body must look a certain way and never exceed a certain number on a scale.

But the fact that our thinking about “thinness,” as women and as a society, is so fraught and so emotionally charged, is exactly the reason it was a HELL YES when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. Anywhere there is a stigma, a taboo-the places our pain points are most easily triggered-is exactly where we need to be focusing our awareness.

*The HELL YES came from deep in my Soul—because it knew I still had so much to heal from personally when it comes to body image. That there is so much shadow work for me still to do here. They say you are not in a position to teach from your experience until it has been fully integrated and healed, and it was only after posting this article—which made me sick with nerves—that I realized how far I still had to go …

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Thinness, and what that word means to me, had also been on my mind the past year. The stress of having my book come out had led to me losing weight “naturally” for the first time ever. Meaning I was so frantic juggling everything (extreme feelings of vulnerability about sharing my most personal work to date included), I would literally forget to eat. When I had an appetite, that is. Whereas lately, it had gone the other way—meaning when things got chaotic I saw food as both pleasure and fuel, a comfort and a way to nourish and get back into my body.

This mentality is one of the reasons I’d considered myself fully “healed” from my teenage eating disorder. An anorexic, I spent the ages 16 through 20 living mainly on apples, milky lattes, and the occasional muffin or handful of dried prunes (I was chronically constipated, of course). For those who know my story, these were the “Capricorn” years.

After I left him, I found a way of eating just enough of certain “safe” foods to maintain a consistent size 2 frame. My body a tool to help me gain favor with my new fashion industry friends. As far as I was concerned, this meant I’d “got over” my issues. I never had any therapy or even really acknowledged to myself that my ongoing obsession with thinness was problematic. Not least because, as far as I could tell, my body image issues were nothing out of the ordinary.

*I have bolded a key line here. The fact I had never dug into the root of my issues—or acknowledged the “thin privilege” that I have benefited from as a result of my body shape, natural or as a result of disordered eating—makes me absolutely under-qualified to speak on this issue. Writing this post was a clumsy first step towards educating myself—since my aim was to spark a conversation that I and my readers could learn from. I am committed to educating myself fully on body-image going forward so that I can speak to this from an empowering and inclusive place. However, I also acknowledge that my own thin privilege makes me not the best spokesperson. Means that whatever my own issues, I cannot know how it feels to have been shamed, name-called, or discriminated against because of my size. And I so am also investigating ways to invite people representing all different body types to share their stories here instead.

I also found this great article on thin privilege, which everybody needs to read.

Being in an abusive relationship, coupled with my Aries competitiveness, meant I might have taken things a little further. But as far as I could see, the vast majority of women I knew (and plenty of men) felt exactly the same about thinness as me—that it was our desired / required body shape, and one which invariably meant constant, careful monitoring of our calorie intake.

A war against weight we were all obediently waging together, without ever questioning how we even came to be enlisted.

*Questioning the reasons for society’s and my own obsession with thinness has been painful and humbling—as I can now see clearly the inherent fat phobia in the pursuit of the thin ideal. Fat phobia that is RAMPANT and that goes largely unchecked in our society. I’m handing over to Jillian Murphy from Food Freedom Body Love here, who helped me understand this better: “THIN is not an ideal. It’s also not shameful. It’s just a state of being that is available to some humans but not others. Unfortunately, especially for women, THIN has come to mean superior (smarter, more together, more in control, more desirable, healthier, more fit, etc etc etc) and women are consistently encouraged to do things that are detrimental to their physical mental, emotional, and spiritual health in order to achieve the thin ideal—which may or may not ever even be possible, and most definitively does not directly result in any of those aspired qualities.” (Jill’s full comment on this post is below)

But over the years, as my career progressed, my self-confidence grew, and I began to value my peace of mind over the number on a scale, I slowly let go of all that. Including the scales themselves. Began to focus on eating “healthy.” Without thinking too much about it, my weight steadied out at where it had been after my 16-year-old body first began to bloom into womanhood. A comfortable size 4-6.

*There was no reason for me to include a “number” here—especially since I just shared how part of my healing was letting go of scales and mirrors. Numbers just create more comparison which is sheer poison when it comes to body image pride.

My “disordered” history with food was firmly in my past. Or so I thought.

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Cut to the summer of 2016. At the age of 40, I have purchased my first ever pair of denim hotpants … and I feel fucking GREAT in them. Sexy and strong and sassy. For the first time in my life, I even like the way my legs look in short-shorts and flat shoes. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I got weighed when I went for a health check and discovered I was 10lbs heavier than I had ever been.

*More numbers—ugh, this is my old magazine industry conditioning showing. It makes me so mad when magazine interviews always list a woman’s age, but rarely do the same with men. And I just did it here. Again, ugh.

It was in this moment that I truly understood what always felt like kind of a lame cliché-that “thin” (or rather, the desirable attributes we have attached to what is actually just an innocent adjective) is a feeling. Sexy, strong, sassy. How I felt at my heaviest weight ever. This was a cause for celebration, surely!

*Thin IS just an adjective—but not such an innocent one thanks to the layers of meaning we have learned to attach to it. I also can see now how sharing my personal experience of being “thin” or “heavier” here is problematic, as it further emphasizes the dangerous messaging that feeling a certain way is a result of being a certain size.  

No. Seeing that number on the doctor’s scale, my immediate reaction was “WTF. That can’t be.” Meaning, that is not a number that my body is allowed to be. The ancient conditioning hadn’t gone anywhere. I’d just got so confident and happy in myself (having shifted my career in alignment with my purpose and done a shit-ton of healing work on myself, for example), that it no longer had any hold over me.

The weight I went on to lose the following summer, following my book launch? Part of me, the part that never actually healed after all, welcomed the nausea and the insanity. Was secretly stoked that the intense heat of my anxiety appeared to effortlessly melt those extra 10lbs from my frame. There was even a certain Angelina Jolie-style glamor to it; as if this was how brave women let the world know we still had some fight in us, despite our suffering.

*This is where I began to think more deeply about WHY we are so afraid of fat. Why fatness is equated with laziness and self-indulgence, while thinness is upheld as virtue. I think this ultimately comes down to control. We, women in particular, have internalized the message that to control our appetite, our desires and our needs is “good,” while to acknowledge our hunger / needs (for food, recognition, to say no, to claim space, to relax, to come, to create), and to demand that our needs be met, is not only unacceptable—but something to be afraid of. I posted about this on Instagram a few weeks back, after I first agreed to help Robyn with her launch, along with this quote from Naomi Wolf: “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history. A quietly mad population is a tractable one.” 

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Looking at pictures taken then, I see a thin woman. Meaning, a weak, fragile, undernourished woman (just some other adjectives for “thin”). A woman that I am ALSO learning I must love and accept as part of me, as much as I do her sexy, sassy, strong, 10lbs heavier counterpart. The past year has taught me that healing my weight and body image issues cannot mean locking the thin me away in the past and throwing away the key. Impossible, since the key—the shame and vulnerability that unlocks her padded cell—is also a part of me.

And so, it was a “YES” when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. I even had her use one of my “thin” pictures in the artwork for the event (above).

*I have removed this image. I had thought that explaining how I really felt at my thinnest (weak, fragile etc.) would expose how this “look” is NOT ideal—but ultimately I was just sharing another picture of a thin white woman, and perpetuating the problem. In the words of one reader: “If I’m to be brutally honest, viewing that poster my thought was, ‘easy for them to talk about eating healthily and loving yourself when they’re both skinny.’ It made me feel less-than.” This has made me think much more carefully about how I can create a more visually diverse platform that is truly inclusive and empowering to all. 

The title of her book may be triggering, but without acknowledging the part of me—of us—that loads the word thin with generations of personal and societal pain, it will always be there, starving for our love and attention, and silently screaming to be heard. To give that part of us what she (or he) needs in order to be nourished, we first have to learn to listen—to find out what it is she believes “thinness” will fix. 

There is nothing inherently evil or wrong about wanting to lose weight. People will buy Robyn’s book for all kinds of personal reasons, some from a place of deep self-love, and some from a place of weakness and fragility. But what they will find within, is a program designed to help them: “finally feel the lightness you’ve been searching for on the scale.” Meaning, a way of thinking about food that has nothing to do with numbers and targets, and is all about addressing the emotional and physical dis-ease of traditional dieting (yes, especially supposedly “healthy” juice cleanses and Whole 30s).

*Robyn is a smart, loving, and inspiring voice in the wellness landscape. Yes, she too benefits from her thin privilege, and in deep conversations we have had this past week about what’s come up for her since bringing this book out, she has acknowledged her own naiveté in thinking that the title would not elicit such a charged response. At her launch, she shared how she initially said “no” when her publisher asked her to write a weight-loss book—but then realized she could use this as a way to talk instead about how to shed emotional weight. Problematic, still, as it still implies that “less weight” is “good.” But also, considering the dominant mainstream messaging about weight and body image, a step in the right direction. Robyn has also thanked me (and the Numinous community!) for helping take this conversation deeper than perhaps she ever intended—as her Soul intention is also to help end our collective fucked-up-ness about body image and food. 

As leaders, and as humans, neither of us are perfect. The best we can do when we make a mistake, or discover a blind spot, is to see it as an opportunity to become stronger and wiser. I’m going to end with this quote from Anne Richards, the second female governor of Texas, as shared by the IG account @words_of_women: “I believe in recovery, and as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.” Not only that, but to use we’ve learned to help us all to heal.

I also acknowledge that this is a complex and multi-faceted issue. This post in itself may have been triggering for some, and it contains generalizations that are a reflection of my personal experiences—also that I have my own blindspots about this issue, which I am seeking to overcome. But wherever you are at in your personal journey with food, weight and body image, know that we are all in this together—and that more honest we can be with ourselves and each other about it, the more resilient to our thin-conditioning we will become.

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Thank you, my Numinous community, for your conscientious, intelligent, and ultimately loving feedback on this piece. I wanted to start a real conversation about these issues, and you have stepped up to the plate! I am expecting further comments of course, and welcome those which are in service of the core values of this platform—which center around healing and growth through awareness. I love you. 

HOW TO MAKE A BEAUTY VISION BOARD

Aquarius Season is the perfect time for radicalizing our routine and reimagining reality. Start manifesting the magic with a beauty vision board, says Eunice Lucero. 

Photo: Our Satellite Hearts

Everyone from Olympic athletes to Wiccan high priestesses has acknowledged the power of visualization for manifesting your heart’s desires. What we constantly pay attention to gets charged with energy, and we align with that energy, for better or worse.

Harnessing this energy for our beauty manifestation can be particularly potent—just watch as your visions materialize before your very eyes!

Being of mixed heritage, I had a touch-and-go relationship with my looks as a child. I always felt my “halves” were the wrong kind of each, and like a puzzle walking around with pieces that didn’t fit right. My skin wasn’t “Asian enough”, my nose wasn’t “white enough”, my abnormally light green eyes reminding my Catholic schoolgirl classmates of “the lizards on the street.”

It wasn’t until I saw pictures of Kate Moss’ first Calvin Klein campaigns in the ’90s—gawky and lost, with her trademark bird-like street urchin quality, quirky nose and stringy hair—that I really felt it was okay to not look like the rest of the world.

As I began plastering all my notebooks in cutouts of Obsession and cK one ads, my outlook started to change. My face—my strange, strange features—now suddenly made sense! And eventually, I became a beauty editor, hired on the spot after a detailed email on how makeup should enhance your quirks and not mask them.

Think of your beauty vision board as a constant reminder of your life map—your soul’s North Star. Look for photos of women you identify with, and ask yourself why you admire them. Chances are there’s something in them that reminds yourself of your own beauty, your own potential. Let’s get started … 

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1// Clear your photographic space.
 Alongside other forms of detox, visual clearing is key to manifestation. Light up your incense of choice, and still your mind as best you can. Then, start deleting any images of yourself that aren’t aligned with how you want to feel, and empty the Trash Bin immediately. For actual photos, thank them and keep them for posterity in storage. Get rid of any photos that are particularly painful, hurtful or traumatic, and dispose of them outside your home.

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2// Free-fall towards your vision
Take a pen and paper, and begin writing as fast as you can about anything that pops into your mind about your beauty visions. Stop as soon as you’ve filled the entire page—and be surprised at what jumps out at you.

I started one of my free-fall sessions with an emo entry about how my eyeglasses kept people from seeing my true self (hello, 15-year-old angst!), and then ended up rambling about how, in fact, I wanted to be free to see the beauty in the world without any hindrances. Quite a change in perspective, right?

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3// Tap into the tingle
Speak in present tense, internalizing the feeling of already having or being what you desire. I personally love the phrase “I adore myself”—it sparks images of the Star Tarot card, a.k.a. the card of self-care (and ruler of Aquarius), as I instantly get flashes of being immersed in a divine spa session of some sort.

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4// Collect in white heat. 
Applied to your journaling—“write in white heat; revise in cold blood”—means any form of self-censorship or judgment is not allowed, especially in the beginning. Same goes for vision-boarding.

Whether you’re going digital (Pinterest, Instagram) or old school (magazines, newspaper clippings) doesn’t matter; choose the media that speaks to you most clearly and let yourself get lost in that judgement-free zone!

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5// Curate in cold blood. 
Now that you have a good pile, or have mentally and emotionally exhausted your intuition in the gathering process (in a good way), you’re ready to edit and map these images out.

Take a look at your images and see if there’s an underlying theme, color or concept. You can title them after certain events or occasions but even more powerful is to give them a state of mind. One I’m absolutely loving right now? “Why I’m a 2018 Beauty Icon.”

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6// Display it!
Make sure you see your vision board at least thrice a day. Make it your iPhone wallpaper, display it on top of your work desk, tape it on the inside of your closet or gym locker. Infusing it with daily energy helps strengthen your alignment to these goals, and puts you deeper in sync with your personal road map. You can also prop it up on an altar and surround it with manifestation crystals (clear quartz, rose quartz, carnelian) for an added energy boost.

Finally, thanking your board when you first see it in the morning will realign your neurons into a gratitude mindset, opening you up to a constant flow of positive energy. 

13 MAGIC SYMBOLS AND WHAT THEY MEAN FOR YOU

When we know how to listen, the Universe has a message just for us. We enlisted the help of mysti-cool, eco-conscious jewelry line Alex + Ani to help us tune into the magic symbols sending us cosmic downloads right now …

“Let go of coincidences and believe that the Universe is constantly trying to communicate with you”—Alex + Ani founder, Carolyn Rafaelian

The Universe speaks to us through signs + symbols. 
It could be a repeating number, a chance encounter, or seeing the same piece of graffiti everywhere you go. The first step to hearing the message, is to believe that this is true … 

Having based her (pretty freaking incredible) career creating powerful magic symbols infused with pure intent, Alex + Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian’s vision is to help her customers tap into this cosmic conversation.

“If you quiet your mind and look around you,” says a spokesperson for the design team, “you’ll notice the signs. Sit with them. Let them resonate. Use them to course correct, or to be assured in your direction.” 

And to ensure accuracy, the company even employs a “Chief Symbologist” to research each new or redesigned symbol used in the collections. This can be a lengthy process—for example, the team’s new Buddha symbol was sent to Buddhist monks across the globe to verify the correct alignment.

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So what message does the Universe have for you RIGHT NOW? 
Whether you’re drawn to the physical form of any of the symbols below, or by its intent, check out the descriptions of 13 magic symbols from let Alex + Ani’s navigational “meaning” wall help you work out the symbol that’s speaking your Cosmic language …

*Want to explore further? Use this personal blueprint tool, which uses astrology, numerology, and your intentions to curate a personalized jewel prescription just for you! 

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TRUTH
The Feather: Ancient Egyptians believed a pure heart weighed as light as a feather. This symbol asks you to keep your heart light and pure, and let truth be your guide. Be honest with yourself, is there somewhere in your life where you haven’t been one hundred per cent upfront? Now’s the time to come clean.

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INTUITION 
Crescent Moon: Ruler of watery cycles of change and transformation, this bright celestial body reminds us that light will always come, even when we feel like we’re totally in the dark. As we teach in Moon Club, life is about cycles, and the Moon symbol is asking you to trust that when you follow your intuition, you’ll be led into the next phase of your personal evolution. What is your gut guiding you to move towards in your life right now?

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PRIMAL POWER
Wild Heart: Tap into animalistic intuition and fearlessness with this symbol for antimony, a silver crystalline element used in alchemy, emblazoned on a panther’s forehead. Where in your life does fear keep you small? What would it mean to take up some delicious space in your life and seize your power?

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DIRECTION
Compass: North represents home and wisdom. South embodies passion and creation. East signifies new beginnings and inspiration. West symbolizes introspection and reflection. This symbol asks that you clarify what you’re seeking so the path becomes clear. Are your actions in alignment with what lives in your heart? What is your soul mission and how are you taking steps each day to achieve it?

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POTENTIAL
Unexpected Blessings: Symbolized by an acorn, never forget that the mighty oak grows from this tuny seed—and that sometimes miracles come when you least expect them and often in the smallest packages. Are you comfortable with experiential, process-based learning? What tiny steps could you take each day to start moving towards your larger dreams?

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ROOTS 
Tree of Life: Like the tree’s powerful branches, we are all connected in an ever-evolving, mysterious cycle of life. This symbol encourages us to feel the eternal bond between mankind and Mother Earth, and to root down in order to grow towards the sky. What is your support system? What relationships and habits do you have in place that can let you grow wild and free?

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DESTINY
Endless Knot: Embrace love that defies time and space, and trust in the unfolding, with this eternal pattern. What is everlasting to you? This could be a relationship that’s endured, but could also be a part of your self, or your world, that you deeply believe in. What would it look like to recommit to an enduring belief in life as an eternal process?

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UNITY
Healing Love: Harness the healing power of love for yourself and humanity with this symbol that makes the world go ‘round. What does healing look like to you? Have you been spending enough time on self care? Are you balancing between giving and receiving? How could you bring this exchange of self love and external love into greater equilibrium?

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FRIENDSHIP
Pineapple: A symbol of hospitality, New England sea captains traditionally placed a pineapple outside their homes as a symbol of a safe return. Let a genuine sense of welcome forge lasting connections. When is the last time you gathered your tribe close? Or smiled to a stranger? Feel into moments during your day when you can open the doors wide rather than shut down.

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SERENDIPITY
Fortune’s Favor: Find yourself in the right place at the right time with a symbol that fuses the horseshoe, heart, and shamrock, and channels the Roman goddess of good luck, Fortuna. How would you act differently if you truly believed that life was on your side? What chances would you take right now?

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ADVENTURE
Godspeed: Channeling the Old English blessing for the start of a journey, this symbol’s magical sincerity protects you on your path. What kind of journeys are you ready to take? Review the great adventure you’ve been on thus far and don’t be afraid to project that into the future. Mood board it and get excited about all of the paths not yet traveled!

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ALIGNMENT
Cosmic Balance: Manifest your dreams by integrating the masculine and feminine symbols of the Sun’s light and Moon’s reflection. What does a balance of yin/yang, masculine/feminine look like in your life? How can you find a healthy equilibrium between acting and intuiting, between shining your individual light brightly and listening in to the subtler rhythms of the world as it is?

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ABUNDANCE
Hand of Fatima: Originating from the Hebrew word hamesh, which literally means “five”, this ancient talisman channels feminine power and fosters miracles by deflecting the gaze of the evil eye away from the wearer. Where do you operate from scarcity versus an abundance mindset in your life? What kinds of “negative” influences sap your energy? Get crystal clear on where energy is leaking and how you can redirect it.

Want more magical messages? Check out Alex + Ani’s customized cosmic jewels HERE, and follow them on Instagram.

ANDRE J ON SELF-EXPRESSION AS A SELF-LOVE PRACTICE

A-gender trendsetter and spiritual mentor Andre J shares how a lifetime of fearless self-expression has been the ultimate self-love practice …

I was raised by a single parent in the Projects of Newark, New Jersey. Our building was a shambles and the hallways had a foul odor, but the interior of my apartment was always spotless. I was a late baby, my mother was in her forties when she had me, so I was truly conceived out of love. However, I’m also an incest survivor, molested repeatedly by my older male cousin for years.

Raised by my mother I had feminine tendencies, and growing up I was called a fag and a sissy. When you live in the Projects, it’s easy to become engulfed by this air of unhappiness. People are always nipping and pulling things apart, because unhappiness only breeds more unhappiness, or hopelessness. But that was not my story.

I didn’t see people the way that they saw me. I only saw them through the eyes of love, because that’s what I received at home, despite the abuse I suffered from my cousin.

It was aged around 10 that I remember catching sight of my reflection in the bathroom mirror, and the words just fell from my mouth, effortlessly: ‘Andre, I love you.’ In that moment that I understood the importance of loving myself.

It was almost like the Universe was saying to me, ‘Baby, you have a choice. Either you will be an evil man, probably a pedophile yourself, a repeat offender. Or you are going to find an inner peace within yourself, and you are going to take this journey, and you are going to live your best life.”

I always had great style, even as a kid. My first job was in corporate America, and I would wear a twill blazer that fit really well, with high-waisted pants and snakeskin shoes. An ascot around my neck. But it was working at Patricia Field, in sales and then as the PR director, that Andre J came about, with the facial hair and the women’s garments.

It’s what the Native Americans call “two spirits,” to identify beings that embody a balance of masculine and feminine. It’s only Western culture that tells us that these things are taboo, that gives us these labels and names.

There was one point in my life where there was no one, in New York City or in the world, who actually looked like me. I had created a whole new idea of beauty. The British stylist Joe McKenna saw me and put me in V magazine. Then I was cast by Bruce Weber for the cover of French Vogue.

But I wasn’t trying to get on the cover of a magazine. Dressing the way I do is truly just about me expressing myself. And what I have found, is that to stick out like a sore thumb no matter where you are, walking down the street, or taking the subway to the airport, takes courage. It takes strength, it takes tenacity, and it really takes self-love.

You don’t really notice how many people are on the street, until all eyes are on you, yelling at you from a taxi cab, coming at you from every angle. ‘The fuck?’ ‘Oh my God.’ ‘Faggot.’ ‘Sissy.’ ‘Your father must hate you.’ ‘You must have disappointed your mother.’

To still walk with dignity, peace, and courage, and kindness—instead of building thick skin, it actually really softened me, because it taught me how to love others. It was because I was so happy and so free, that BS coming from some strangers didn’t matter.

And I began to realize, not only are you not free, you’re a hater, and I feel like I really just need to give you a hug! I saw that the fear was not of me, it was of whatever was going on within themselves. As I learned in the projects, if someone is unhappy, they want you to be unhappy too.

My journey has led to me working with LGBTQ youth, who are not getting acceptance from their families. A lot of them cannot look at themselves in the mirror. When they do, often they will sob, to the point where they have no control. And if there are eight kids in the room, and that one child is crying, we rise and we console this individual, and build a community around them. Because schools are not teaching how to build community.

To see everyone console this young lady or this gentleman who is going through this emotional imbalance, not only is it teaching them how to share their pain in community, but it is also teaching them how to feel empathy for someone else. An understanding of what compassion is.

My work is to have them look in the mirror, and actually acknowledge themselves for the first time as an individual, as an adult, as a person taking responsibility for their own life. To say to them, ‘Too many times we seek love outside of ourselves, and well guess what. If your parent hasn’t told you or if you haven’t heard it from anybody else, today you are going to give love to yourself.”

Most of them are closed, and frigid. The only emotion they have is anger. Anger, anger, anger. And I want these kids to understand that the anger is not going to get you anywhere. The anger is only going to kill you. That you cannot receive anything if you are closed. I want for them to understand that they can feel love.

For me, this work is helping to transmute all the name calling, and the incest from my past. It is dissolving. I have been able to show these kids that I am as loving as I am, BECAUSE I know what it feels like to be hurt. To be ridiculed, and to be truly counted out. To be disregarded, as if you are nothing. And that when you learn how to shift it, it is possible to realize that this has never been about me. This has been about what everybody else is going through.

The message I am passing on to them, is that my job is to focus on my journey. That my job is to focus on my path, and to focus on what my purpose is. And that not only do I need to focus on it, I need to live it. And not only do I need to live it, I need exude it from every crack and crevice of who Andre J is. I choose to give this service back to those that do not know. And I sleep very well at night.

Andre J will be speaking as part of a Numinous panel discussion on “Inner vs. Outer Beauty” at Soho House NY on December 4 2017 (members only, 7pm). Discover more about Andre and his work @andrejworldwide

ARE BODY VIBES STICKERS THE NEW CRYSTALS?

Forget your middle-school collection of holograms. Body Vibes are grown-up, Now Age magic stickers designed to change your frequency for optimal health …

Body Vibes Sacred Six “Energy” stickers

What if you could tap into the mind/body connection with just one touch? 

When we first heard about the new sticker collection from Body Vibes, we could not have been more intrigued. The stickers have been designed to invite more self-love, soothe anxiety, or up your creative game. All you need to do is apply one of their super sexy stickers, emblazoned with unicorns, mermaids, third eyes, and more.

And then just let the sub-harmonic signals do the rest …

Wait … WTF?! 

Uh yeah, we needed to get the full low down on how these babies work, too! So here’s what we learned when we sat down to chat with the babes behind Body Vibes …

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Science meets magic: Because you’re electric, baby 
Just like all of nature, every part of our bodies exists in a state of vibration. When we’re healthy, the body broadcasts overall harmonic health. But when an unhealthy frequency sets up shop in our body, it creates a disharmony we call “disease.”

Similar to crystal healing and Reiki, Body Vibes “Sacred Six” Smart Stickers are designed to bring us back into optimal frequency, based on the basic belief that we are electrical and energetic beings, and that it’s possible to move blocked energy.

How? The stickers have been programmed by scientists with actual frequency signatures taken from organic and living botanicals in a form that our body’s own electricity can read and mimic.

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The actual science part
Bio engineers capture frequencies found in nature. These are then condensed into the same unit of frequency found in the human body, and imprinted into special Mylar material that can hold an energetic flux for two years.

Each sticker is then embedded with up to 33 distinctive vibration patterns, including one of the “Solfeggio” frequencies. With roots in the Gregorian chants of the early Middle Ages, Solfeggio frequencies come from the pure tonal notes that made up the ancient musical scale, and are said to have harmonizing effects on the body as they unite us with Divine.

Oh yeah … science + magic= energetic nutrition for your cells

The Sacred Six “Beauty” Sticker

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The back story
Body Vibes founder Leslie Kritzer was first introduced to the technology when her husband’s naturopathic doctor gave him a bio-energy disc to help manage his arthritic pain. After his pain was dramatically reduced with no apparent side effects, she immediately started to utilize them to manage her own chronic anxiety.

After a month, she became aware of the little things—less road rage, more patience, more relaxation and ease. The big “aha” moment came when she decided to quit for a few days. By day 3 of sticker-free life, she was feeling much more anxious again and able to identify her “OCD” thinking in a brand new way.

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How do I tell if they’re working for me? 
Since all of our bodies are different, the technology can affect everyone differently. For example, the more energizing blends may leave you feeling immediately stimulated, while others may not notice the change until after they remove their sticker and realize how productive and energetic they felt. The same goes for the calming frequencies—the effect for most people is immediate and for others, becomes apparent after the sticker has been removed.

*Read Numinous Founder Ruby’s Body Vibes verdict at the end of the post!

The Sacred Six At the Beach Sticker

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The Sacred Six: Stick to how you want to feel  
Leslie and her partner Madison DeClercq (who also own hip LA skincare line Skin Worship) designed the different Body Vibes stickers based on the chakra system.

Each of our chakras vibrates at a different frequency—from the lowest, deepest, slowest at the root to the highest and fastest at the crown.

So, how do you want to feel? Pick it and stick it! 

Less Anxious (Root Chakra): Stick this lightening-bolt-emblazoned Anti-Anxiety hummingbird on to liberate guilt and fear, and reduce feelings of nervousness.

Empowered (Sacral Chakra): Create lasting change with the endurance and empowerment of the open-palmed Energy sticker

Loved (Solar Plexus Chakra): Transform your self-care practice and summon miracles with this gilded heart Self-Love sticker.

Connected to others (Heart Chakra): Heal conflict and harmonize relationships with a lounging mermaid At the Beach blend.

Focused (Throat Chakra): A golden pyramid and third eye imprint on the Focus sticker increase productivity, and enhances expression, creativity, and problem-solving.

Gorgeous (Third Eye): Unicorn power restores spiritual order, and reflects light, beauty, peace, and strength in the Beauty sticker.

 

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MY WEEK GETTING HIGH ON (BODY) VIBES by Ruby Warrington

Obviously, we had to put Body Vibes stickers to the test—and so I decided to wear a different one for each day this week. Read on for the verdict!

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell for A Wild Dove

MONDAY
Mondays have been coming around WAY too fast lately (anybody??) and I kind of wanna carry on the weekend vibes, so I go straight for the new Flower Power stickers—designed to promote “relaxation, coping skills, and muscle relaxation” (and emblazoned with a cannabis leaf). My afternoon is pretty chill, and that evening I find myself giggling all the way thought Mindhunter. Huh? I also have to eat an extra piece of avo toast before bed. #Munchies?!

TUESDAY
A busy day of meetings means time to up the ante with the Energy sticker. Notably, my usual afternoon dip doesn’t happen and I’m able to stay super chatty and … energized … for two back-to-back podcast interviews. That night I wake at 4.30am and can’t go back to sleep, and find myself peeling the sticker off in an attempt to stop my mind whirring with tomorrow’s to-do list.

WEDNESDAY
A bad night’s sleep is not gonna help me ace the first promo push for our New Year, Nu You retreat, followed by a 2-hour in-depth business call, another podcast interview, and cooking dinner for a friend this eve. What I need is some Focus! I slap the sticker featuring a pyramid with an evil eye right above my heart. WOW. Not only do I power through all the above, I also create a super-detailed 20-story IG promo for the retreat, and manage to fit in a yoga session before dinner. That night … I wake up, mind racing, at 3.30am! I feel like I spent the day downing espresso.

THURSDAY
Chatting with Numinous assistant editor Bess about our Body Vibes post, she tells me that the “strong coffee” effect is apparently a common way some of the stickers are described—and on the pack, “sensitive types” ARE advised to wear the stickers further away from the heart. That must be me. Feeling exhausted from two nights with no sleep, I opt for the Anti-Anxiety sticker today. Perfect for back-to-back meetings with three of my favorite women. I find myself focusing 100% on enjoying the moment with them, and barely thinking about the emails I know are stacking up in my inbox.

FRIDAY
I still didn’t sleep great last night, and woke up with a stiff neck—so it’s back to Flower Power for me (which I place on my left shoulder right where it hurts). It is Friday, after all!

THE VERDICT
Some of it could be psychosomatic, sure, but I have definitely noticed subtle shifts in my energy using the stickers this week. And that word is always key when it comes to energy work: subtle. We live in a world of such sensory overload, it can be hard to hear the gentle messages we’re receiving from our energetic body day-in-day-out, and it’s like wearing these stickers helped remind me to tune in. Plus the energy surge I felt using the Focus was undeniable! I’ll definitely be using them again …

Discover more about Body Vibes stickers and shop the collection at Shopbodyvibes.com

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***How to stick ’em 
Place the stickers on the left side of your chest, close to your heart—or on the left side of your arm, back, or shoulder. For those who are more sensitive to changes in their homeostasis, place on the lower inner arm above the wrist, or on the right side

And for magic multiplied, you can also create your own “cocktail” with more than just one. The Third Eye and Solar Plexus stickers are particularly good for adding an additional positive well-being frequency to any other vibe.

*Please be advised that once the sticker is removed, it loses its adhesive property and a new one will need to be used. 

WHY DANCING IS THE ULTIMATE WITCHY WORKOUT

In his latest column, resident fitness witch Russ Marshalek shares how to make your next dance party a witchy workout—whether you’re dancing solo or with friends …

Photo: George Bohunicky

Last weekend, the Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic threw a rave for hurricane relief with her activist group W.A.F.T (Witches Against Fascist Totalitarianism).

What are a bunch of witches doing throwing parties and DJing? While using the adjective “spiritual” to describe a dance party might seem cliche, sweaty, unconscious movement to raw primal beats IS a magical thing.

Dancing raises our energy, loosens inhibitions, connects the physical body with the earth, and creates a feeling of “in-between” where anything can happen and creation is limitless. And a great DJ commands a crowd and uses song selection to cast a spell.

As Alkistis Dimech of Sabbatic Dance told me in an interview on the New Jack Witch blog, “For me, [dance] is to do with crisis and transformation. I hurl myself into the unknown, I encounter the ‘other’ in my body. In this way I remember and invoke the witches, demoniacs, ecstatics, hysterics, whores, the mothers who came before me.”

Ultimately, it’s the alchemy of all of this—joy, pleasure, connection to body and spirit—that makes dancing the ultimate witchy workout. An act of spiritual rebellion. Particularly in these times when legislation on and regulation of the body, particularly the female body, is at an all-time dangerous high.

This is reflected in the “radical softness” movement that empowers sensitivity and the body, and in media like Brit Marling’s stunning reflection on dance as resistance on Netflix’s “The OA,” and in the canonical “body as a tool of magic” essay Forging The Body Of The Witch.

So if your dancing body can be a weapon of resistance—be it against that jealous witch in the corner or the modern fascist regime—how can you put it to work? Read on for the Numinous rules of rave …

Ana Matronic and friend at the W.A.F.T Witches Howl hurricane relief rave

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DANCING AT A PARTY

So you’re out dancing. This is the physical work, congrats! There are a few ways you can subtly alter your reality or tweak your consciousness to bring a ritualistic element to your night out.

1) When you first enter the venue, set your eyes on the dance floor/dance area. Imagine it being circled in a ring of white light, ideally one white candle at a time encircling the dance floor. Guess what? You’ve just done a moonshine version of casting a circle! Expect to feel more protected and in control of your dancing body from just from this simple act. (If you can, on your way out, imagine the lights going out one at a time, or fading away.)

2) At the start of the night/party, set an intention, however major or minor, for something you’d like to achieve relatively soon. This could be as simple as finding your favorite flavor of seltzer at the store tomorrow, or more complex, like getting a new job. As you dance, imagine all your movements infusing  that goal with positive energy, grounding it in the here and now.

3) Close your eyes. No, really, close your eyes. Allow yourself to merge with the beat of the music and become one with it. This is harder than you think, and a rapture that seasoned ravers have come to treasure as a way to touch the ekstatik (which, coincidentally, is also the name of the next New Jack Witch dance party!)

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DANCING ON YOUR OWN

1) If you live by yourself, great. If not, kick everyone out for the night, or shut yourself in your room. Take off your clothes. Turn off the lights. Sit with yourself for a moment. Think of something you need release: a care, a concern, a shitty thing your boss said, a voice inside your head saying heinous shit about yourself. Meditate on this for a moment, and recall how it made you feel. With this in your mind, say aloud “Do. Not. Need”. Believe it and feel it in your core.

2) Now, feel your feet touching the floor, whatever that surface is for you. Let yourself feel your feet, the ground, your spine, your body. Take one or two slow forward folds. Then, with your intention firmly set to rid your body of whatever needs to get the fuck out, crank up some music and let your body move. To paraphrase Twin Peaks’ Agent Cooper, don’t plan it, don’t overthink it, just do it, allowing the music to flow through you and your body in whatever ways feel right in the moment. Allow any emotions that surface to pass, acknowledging them but not dwelling on any feeling overlong.

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CHOOSING YOUR MUSIC AND YOUR MOVES

Depending what you need and how you’re feeling, one song might be perfect, or nowhere near enough. I’ve chosen 4 songs, one for each element, as a guide …

For instance, for Earth, try rolling around on the ground. For air, make wispy moves. Fire can be big, bold leaps, suited to the drum beats of the track chosen here, and water should be fluid, rolling your shoulders and limbs like a stream (but not necessarily gentle).

Air: Sky H1, “Huit”—think wispy moves and swirling shapes.

Water: Apollo 440, “Liquid Cool” —get fluid, rolling your shoulders and limbs like a stream.

Fire: A place both wonderful and strange, “Hex and the City”—go for some big, bold leaps.

Earth: Corbin, ICE BOY—try rolling around on the ground.

Again, these are just suggestions. Ultimately, this is about you and your body, and what it needs and wants to express. When you’re done moving, sit quietly with yourself for a moment, and offer up a silent thank you to the Gods, Goddesses, and spirits guides that have been your silent dance partners.

HOLY F*CK: DATE NIGHT AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

While our solo work is oh so vital, Alexandra Roxo tells us that colliding with another can take us even further. Date night can even become your soul’s mirror …

Whether you’re in partnership or single, when you’re able to clean the dirt of old stories and receive your truth, you can let your relationships be a clear mirror for your soul.

And a date is a perfect way to see where you are on your journey on any given day, in any given moment …

It can be with your husband. A stranger. A boyfriend or girlfriend. If you walk in with intention and clarity, you can see how much you are accepting all of yourself: where you are tight and holding, where you are closed, where you have grown. Treat it like a ritual. A ceremony.

Whatever stories cloud your mirror, here’s how to start to scrubbing and seeing yourself without the scar tissue, warning labels, and caution signs …

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3 DATES + A HOMECOMING 
After some soul searching and radical up-leveling at Burning Man, I returned to L.A. and decided to hop back into the dating scene to see what I attracted …

Date 1: Sacred Sluts & Shadow Work
My first mirror was a director, Reiki healer, and angel speaker, who told me stories of BDSM clubs in Europe, had erotic poetry on the walls, was kinda Goth, had been to Burning Man, and fed me banana pudding.

I was staring at a mirror of an old version of self, the hipster meets healer meets artist who likes to party but talks to Angels. But the difference was that this man was accepting ALL these parts of himself, especially his kinky side. Though I am happy the “hipster me” was put to rest, colliding with him made me realize that I was still struggling to mix my BDSM side with my Mother Mary side, my Goth side with my sacred side.

I left the date, cried for two days, and never heard from him again.

But what I’d learned was that it was time to accept and love my Sacred Slut, Radical Queer, Kinky Freak … who is also creative, deeply spiritual, pious, artistic, and a Spiritual Teacher.

I felt like a part of me had come home out of the shadows … 

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Date 2: Wood Chopping & Clear Channel Intensity
I arrived at a beautiful house, and a man began to chop wood and made a fire for us in a ceramic fire pit.

As he then lead us through breathwork and we journeyed through the elements, I wondered if he’d Googled me. Did he know I loved to practice ritual?! It didn’t matter. It felt good nonetheless.

As we laid on an oriental rug by the fire, turned on our sides and gazed into each other’s eyes, my body shivered and shook. And then we danced. We prayed. We sang. We painted.

WOW. This is how I LIVE. Ceremony, ritual, intensity, intention. And because my mirror had been foggy and not reflecting out my whole self, I had rarely been met by the people I dated in that fullness.

Seeing the beauty of my life reflected in this person was moment was a gift and a miracle for myself. My fave books on his shelf, my anthem “Higher Love” playing, an arrow tattoo on both of our left ribs.

I understood that I wasn’t seeing my wounds anymore because I was accepting myself. With all my flaws and stories. And so he was able to be a clear mirror for me.

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Date 3: A Man Named “God” 
I didn’t think my new picture of myself could get any sharper. But as we change, our mirror changes too. After doing a 3-day intimacy intensive, something shifted in me, and my capacity and definition of intimacy and love expanded even further.

During the following week I met three men whose names meant “Who is Like God,” and decided to go on a date with one of them. 

This person was consciously devoted to spiritual practice, and our date became a moving meditation of connection, not even a date at all. Few words were needed. Clothes stayed on. But we went into ecstatic states.

He saw where I was holding back and invited me to share my Fullness. I saw where he wasn’t trusting himself and I helped him to trust.

We spent our time in a fluid dance together, a type of date I never thought was possible! Putting it into words seems silly. Like describing the shape of raindrops. Or trying to gift someone a jar of laughter.

And this is where my soul is now. 

4 STEPS TO TURN YOUR OWN DATE NIGHT INTO SOUL WORK 

STEP 1. Work on radical self-acceptance. This means stop trying to change and fix yourself. Be willing to see yourself fully so you can be met in your Wholeness. With all the mess.  All the trauma. Cellulite. Credit card debt.

Write the Mess a Letter: What do you HATE about yourself? What is hiding in the shadows that you think isn’t socially acceptable? Bring it all up to the surface and then LOVE it so so so hard. Write it love letters. Affirmations. Make it an altar. Buy it an outfit. Treat that part of you like a Queen.

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STEP 2. Resource yourself. If you’re single, get clear about what is of value to you and bring it to yourself until you are completely “resourced.”

Fill Your Own Cup: You want safety? Make a list of what makes you feel safe and do those things. You want someone who texts back? Start being more consistent with your own communication skills. You want more sexy fun? Bring it to your SELF. Fill your own cup.

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STEP 3. Be clear about what you want. Own it. Claim it. And be ready to attract a few “Mirror Cleaners” —a.k.a. free teachers! Just be safe and take care.

Say it Out loud: Clear shame about what you want by telling yourself aloud. You want your hubby to role play doctor with you? Or your date to meditate with you? GREAT. Get comfortable with it by writing it down, saying it aloud to yourself, and lastly, sharing with friends—but only when it feels solid for you.

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STEP 4. Be ready to step into practice. When you are on “the path” EVERYTHING is practice. This doesn’t just happen in yoga or kundalini class or meditation time. LIFE becomes your daily yoga.

Gauge Your Presence Level: Start giving yourself a 1 to 10 in terms of Presence Level on every coffee date, work meeting etc. Then at the end of the day ask yourself “How could I have gotten more present?” Did I need to scream, nap, dance, cry? Bring more rage? More warrior vibes?  Start practicing.

And most of all, remember that “the work” of being fully met doesn’t have to be laborious (and it doesn’t have to conform in the least bit to society’s ideas about partnerships or an outcome driven process—years of birthdays and cuddling and make outs and camping trips are all extra).

The GIFT is being met in a moment. And then being able to see the reflection of how far you have come.

Alexandra is a writer and spiritual teacher who works with clients one-on-one in person and remotely. Join her in LA next week on 10/11 at Free People Santa Monica for a Practical Love Magic Workshop, and on 10/14 at Saje Wellness for Love, Sex, and Other Things (use CODE Alexandra for $10 off!)

WHY YOU SHOULD BE CHANNELING THE GODDESS FREYJA

Channeling the fiercely feminine ancient goddess Freyja in her brand new collection, YCL Jewels founder Fabienne talks ritualistic adornment, powerful women as modern muses, and the non-negotiable practice of self-love …

“Everything that we put into our body is literally the makeup of ourselves and our being. It’s equally important to think about what we put on our physical body (clothing, jewels), and to choose these items with just as much intention as what we eat”—YCL Jewels Creative Director, Fabienne 

The Numinous: How did Freyja become the muse for the collection—who is this ancienct goddess and what initially attracted you to her? 
Fabienne: Each collection is inspired in such different ways. Sometimes it will be a place, a feeling, or a person. In this instance, it was the name itself—Freyja. The name reflects great strength in women who are also able to trust in and embrace the feminine essence. 

Freyja represents a woman who is passionate, beautiful, and enjoys the finer things in life. This applies to our YCL women—they’re fierce, diverse, and passionate about life and the causes they support. They have an inner-strength, know who they are, what they stand for. This is real empowerment to me.

I feel like Freyja lives within all of us, just waiting to be activated. This collection caters to a woman whose days may be full and active, but who has a deep spiritual life that is meant to heard, trusted, and unleashed. 

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TN: When did you first feel a personal connection to her?
F: While I was taking a holiday in Japan and able to step away from the daily running of the business, I started thinking about the powerful and passionate women in my own life, and in particular my mother and her influence on me. The “Mother hoops” in the collection are an ode to similar hoops my Mum always wore when I was growing up.

But I guess you could say the connection to Freyja in concept and name was an amalgamation of all the wonderful, wise, and powerful women I know in my life. 

YCL’s Mother Hoops

TN: So how do you think can women channel the Goddess Freyja in their day-to-day? 
F: Channeling the Goddess Freyja means prioritisizing time for ourselves, every single day. When we’re able to cultivate a peaceful and loving relationship with ourselves, so much abundance flows from this space.

It doesn’t matter what form this takes—it’s about sitting in a space of awareness, so that all areas of our lives have the room to flourish and bloom. This allows us to adapt, and to pivot quickly and with ease through all of life’s wonderful opportunities for transformation.

I practice this through non-negotiable morning meditation, and rituals that include drinking rose quartz-infused water for unconditional self love. I also spend time doing what the Japanese call “forest bathing”—which means taking long meditative walks that actively engage all five senses in the forest near where I live.

Fête for Freyja

TN: What other powerful feminine idols are most inspiring to you?
F: Being a business woman is not something that comes naturally to me—I’m completely self-taught, and even four years in I’m learning to take charge in new ways and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone.

In this effort, I’m inspired by all women who are following their vision with strength and conviction. Whodon’t just follow what they may have been taught, or a path society has led them to follow.

This could be the women I spend my day with, who I get to work with, the woman who serves me coffee with a smile, or a local woman creating art that’s completely unique to her own vision. I am also my own inspiration.

Woman in the Sky Necklace for your heart chakra

TN: Why is jewelry such an important conduit to the mystical realm? 

F: I’ve been making jewelry since I was 13 years old but it wasn’t until I got older that I began to realise the jewelry I wore held a deeper meaning for me. At that time, however, I found it hard to find jewelry that was both intentional, but also modern in design. From this space of searching, YCL was born.

Everything we put into our body is literally the makeup of ourselves and our being. I believe it’s equally important to think about what we put on our physical body (clothing, jewels), and to choose these items with just as much intention as the food we eat.

Is there anything more magical than choosing to wear an intentionally designed and crafted treasure that sits right over your heart?

The Numinous collaborated with YCL Jewels to create this post. Discover more about their pantheon of mystically modern pieces HERE. 

IT’S MESSY: A CONVERSATION WITH AMANDA DE CADENET

With her new book It’s Messy, photographer and media-preneur Amanda De Cadenet is inviting women everywhere to abandon the quest for perfection—and get real about the flaws that make us fearless. She sat down with Ruby Warrington to talk self-love, creativity, and why fame is the biggest head f*ck of all …

RUBY WARRINGTON: I love the title of your book—and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I feel like we’re really seeing that the world is damn messy! Like, no matter how things look on the surface, there’s a ton of crap going on underneath. Was there an epiphany when you were just like, “I’m not gonna fight this anymore. I’m just gonna embrace the mess, and see its beauty”?
AMANDA DE CADENET: There’s no way you can do any serious self-reflection if you aren’t willing to be honest with yourself about your own messiness. The biggest danger is the lies we tell ourselves, and to recover from the trauma I’ve experienced in my life, I’d be dead if I wasn’t willing to get honest about who I was a long, long time ago. For people who really haven’t done that kind of self-reflection, it can be like, “Oh, my God. How can you accept this stuff about yourself or say that about yourself?” But there’s just no way you can progress and evolve otherwise. We would’ve found a way around it if there was.

RW: People try to avoid going there do through substances, shopping. All the stuff …
ADC: Right? Which is fine until all that stops working, and then you’re like, “Right. Fine. I guess I’m going to have to deal. Okay.” To get really brutally honest about who I am was not my first choice. I did try everything else. Clearly!

RW: It also takes so much energy to pretend everything’s “fine” when it’s really not. And there just isn’t time, especially when you get on any kind of a mission in the world!
ADC: I keep showing up to interviews looking kind of … messy. And I’m like, “Well, this is who I am!” I haven’t got time for hair and makeup. I’m running a company. I’ve got three children. I’ve got another book out with #girlgaze in two weeks. So, I look a bit messy and I’m okay with that. That’s the whole point. I don’t have a problem with it. If someone else has does, that’s their problem.

RW: How about in your work life? How do you let yourself off the hook when you “mess up” publicly, or something doesn’t work in a professional sense?
ADC: Hosting live TV in the UK as a teenager, I learned fast that there was no safety net. You just got on and did it. And that’s how I made (Amanda’s chat show) The Conversation. I knew enough about cameras and sound equipment to be like, “Right. We’re just going to do it.” And the sound on the first ones was so bad because I didn’t know how to do it properly and I couldn’t afford anyone else to do it. But the important thing is, I made the thing.

And by the way, every successful woman or person I’ve ever interviewed has talked about the difference between having a good idea, and actually acting on it. They’re not like, “Oh, I’m going to wait until it’s all perfect.” No. I’m launching. I’m putting it out in the world, and then we’ll clean up whatever we need to clean up.

RW: I really like when you talk in the book about how the biggest head fuck of all was becoming famous at age 18, and learning at a really young age that you were loved and adored for being that person. You go on to describe how: “real and lasting self-worth comes from consciously creating a life that you’ve earned and that is authentic.” It gives me chills, because I think it’s so where a lot of people are at right now.
ADC: The thing is, unfortunately, the way we look and our level of fame are the biggest commodities in the world. Never more than now do we live in that culture. And it’s extremely dangerous, because it means people have zero investment in the internal self. How do you raise kids or encourage people to develop anything else, when they can point at so many people who are basically famous for being famous, and say, “Why do I have to develop myself as a person? This one didn’t and that one didn’t.” It’s like, what’s the upside to developing yourself?

RW: So, what is the upside of developing yourself?
ADC: Well the downside to NOT, is that you’re constantly relying on external sources to validate you, whether it’s how many social media followers you have. Whether it’s how many pictures of you are published in magazines. Whether it’s how many paparazzi are outside your door. Whether it’s how much free stuff you get. Whether it’s what you get paid to do an ad. It’s all about other people validating your self-worth, and that is a very, very dangerous place to live, because you’re constantly relying on outside sources to feel okay about yourself.

RW: And when that all goes away, where are you? Literally, what’s left?
ADC: Exactly, you don’t exist because there is no mirror. There’s no one to reflect back at you that you exist.

RW: You mention many years of therapy, but in terms of, like, “Who is Amanda, and what am I here to bring into the world?”—what are your practices for staying connected to that place of authentic self-worth?
ADC: It’s been different things over the years. For a period of time, it was yoga, and kundalini yoga specifically. At another, it was Buddhism. Then 12-step. Another time, it was simple prayer and meditation. I’ve taken bits and pieces from everywhere and now I’ve kind of got my own thing going on. My own tool kit. I also practice TM, and nature is a fail-safe for making me feel grounded and connected to myself.

RW: I think sometimes when you’ve been using a practice for a while, you may have realizations that can create a permanent perception shift. Like you learn to recognize, “Oh, I’m in this kind of behavior pattern. I know where that leads me.” And so you no longer need the practice, because you’ve learned how to bring yourself back.
ADC: You’ve got the years of experience, and that’s what growth is, right? The most painful place to be in for me, has been to know that I needed to stop a behavior, to observe myself doing it and know the pain on the other side of it, but not be able to stop myself. I just had this upstairs just now, where I was like, “Gosh, why do I keep going to this person for proof that I’m not good enough?”

There’s a certain person in my life who’s the least responsive, the least enthusiastic, the least excited to have anything to do with me, and yet I keep going there. Out of the 10 times I might have gone to them in the past, I probably do it two times now. The eight times I don’t, I’m really proud of myself because I’m like, “Well done. You didn’t ask for more proof that you’re not good enough.”

RW: I obviously looked at your birth chart, and your Moon is in Leo, which suggests a real emotional need to be seen and celebrated. Out of balance, this can manifest as things like the love addiction you talk about in the book, for example. Have you come to a place where you can recognize the sorts of situations that will flip you into your pain body?
ADC: I do know those people and those situations, and impulse control has been something I’ve had to work on a lot, to not tell people what I think of them.

RW: Interesting … Addiction to drama is another trait of Leo Moon out of balance. Like, “Let’s stir things up so you can pay me more attention” kind of thing!
ADC: So interesting. I come from a lot of neglect, so it makes sense that I would do that. However, I also know now that it’s just a way of creating a distraction from what I actually need to deal with in myself. I recently abstained for a year from telling someone what I thought of them. Someone I’m really close to, one of my best girlfriends. I did it as an experiment, and wrote all these emails and letters and just never sent them. Over time I learned that I just don’t need to go there, and I probably would have taken the situation to a completely different place if I had.

RW: Lastly, I want to talk to you about self-love, and specifically self-pleasure. Both our books mention the taboo around female masturbation, and you talk about how, as girls, we’re not taught that sex is meant to be pleasurable. It’s basically something to be feared, because it’s what gets you pregnant or in trouble. I draw the connection between our sexual pleasure and our creativity. How does the fact that we’re not taught to pleasure ourselves impact women’s view of ourselves as creators, as leaders, and our confidence about putting ourselves out in the world?
ADC: It’s all connected. If you’re oppressing or suppressing any aspect of yourself you’re prevented from having a full life experience. Whether it’s your sexuality, your intellect, your creativity, your spirituality, if any aspect of you is closed down, you’re not living authentically and you’re not living to your full capacity. It means you’re limiting your experience of life. Creativity does come from the same place as sexuality, and I’d actually be very curious to know about the sex lives of the women who are considered to be successful in that area.

RW: It would be a very interesting study to do actually. And a really good interview series …
AC: Yeah, right? There you go. One of us will have to do it!

It’s Messy: On Boys, Boobs and Baddass Women by Amanda De Cadenet is out now.

GO FIRST! 7 WAYS TO LEAP INTO FEARLESS VULNERABILITY

As Leo Season builds towards its fiery Eclipse finale, don’t wait another second to make an unapologetic leap into your power.  How?  Simply “Go first” says Mercedes Kiss … 

The author’s Leo season collage

You see those mid-summer waves rising high in the distance and crashing to the shore, tenaciously, without apology? That’s Leo energy standing tall, asking you to meet her height, to match her show-stopping power.

If we channel Leo energy into a real-life lady goddess running through the surf, she’d look strikingly similar to the muse for this article: 90s pro vollyball phenom Gabrielle Reece. Despite practicing this ethos for a long while, the actual term “Go First” was brought to my attention most recently by Reece in her interview on The Tim Ferriss podcast.

“Go First” is a mantra to offer kindness (courageously) by harnessing our power of vulnerability (fearlessly). 

Here are 7 ways to become lionesses of light, as we leap into fearless vulnerability and “Go First” …

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1// Smile because they’re there.
You see them coming from a block away … a person … walking their dog … towards you … on the same side of the street. The debate starts in your mind: Do I look away? Search my bag for a nonexistent chapstick?  Fake frantically typing a text?

If it were 3,000 years ago and you were in that exact same spot, chances are strong you’d be scavenging for berries or bugs, and the sight of another human would be HALLELUJAH-RAISE-YOUR-HANDS-TO-THE-SKY glorious!

Go first instead! While you certainly shouldn’t risk your safety and maniacally pounce on said dog walker, you should certainly honor your shared humanity with eye-contact and a genuine smile, simply because they’re there.

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2// Reach out and touch (somebody’s hand).
According to research led by Apple, Americans access their smartphones 80+ times per day. But our ability to PHYSICALLY connect is fundamental to our sanity. So listen to the wise words of Diana Ross and “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand, and make this world a better place, if you can.”

Go first! At your next rooftop pool party, play a little game called “How Hard Can I Channel Miss Ross?” Stack on those sparkly bangles, slide into conversation like you’re on the Studio 54 dancefloor, and make your rounds. Reach your hand and yourself out there. Your moxie is what good parties are made of, and what people will remember.

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3// Be attracted.
Every morning we make a choice: put on the glasses with dark grey lenses that turn the world into a sad fog OR the glasses with rose-colored lenses that make the world look dayyyum fine (bonus points if they’re heart-shaped).

The latter turns us into love-machines: attracted to the spiraling Fibonacci pattern of a sunflower, the bursting-ripe tomatoes on a roadside stand, the sweat dripping down a frosty La Croix in the scorching sun, and certainly to the shy smirk of your cute waiter/waitress.

Go first! Whether you’re single (or not), extraverted (or not), share a heartfelt compliment by telling someone they have breathtaking eyes, wicked cool style, or a delightful aura. They will feel fantastic. You will feel fantastic. It’s a win-win-rocket to the karmic stratosphere!

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4// Boo boos and tattoos. 
Remember when you were born? Guess what you weren’t wearing?  Any makeup (much less clothing).  And everyone thought you were perfect. Then, somewhere along the journey, we discovered creams and colors to shield other people from seeing us. Honestly seeing us. Joys and triumphs and hellish heartbreaks- such are the things that a full life is made of. And they are often written on our skin.

Go first! Revel in the stories your body tells. Wear the bathing-suit glimpsing at that scar; sport the sandals showing off those nine toes.  Celebrate your patina in your own magical way.

Pick a day this week where you say into your mirror: “This is my face.  This is my gorgeous face.” Then honor your face with some SPF, leave the rest bare, and depart. If anyone at work has the gall to ask, “Where’s the mascara?,” you’re equipped with the most powerful, two-sentence response.

Kiss’ “face, her gorgeous face.”

5// Do I want to live in the arena?
In the words of Brené Brown, channeling Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech, “Dare greatly!”

This is no easy feat. We all feel the presence of critics in our lives- the loudest, of course, being our own internal judge. And we allow them the power to block us from our loftiest ambitions.  

Go first! See the critic as nothing more than a beefed-up bouncer standing outside of the disco dance arena of your dreams. He might seem big and scary, but he’s simply a veil of smoke between you and your hottest hustle.

Throw him a polite smile as you strut on past, because the arena awaits you! Who cares if you get messy while you’re in there; you’re living loud and proud and having too much fun to hear his nonsense.

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6// A lion-hearted love letter.
Often, our deepest and truest feelings are the hardest to utter face-to-face. If we let them slip through the safe grasp of our inner world and out into the air, they have to face being accepted or rejected by someone else.

But acceptance and rejection are bi-products beyond our control!  They shield us from granting our emotions full formation and clarity.  Our lion heart yearns for expression above all else, and it grows stronger not through validation, but by purely being set free.  

Go first!  Let the cat out of the bag and put your purrs to paper.  Write your truth in a lion-hearted love letter … let the pen roar without filter, suppression, or critique. It’s up to you, and not a measure of success, whether you sign, seal, and deliver this note to the object of your affection.

A Kiss collage

7// Pride #1 vs. Pride #2.
The lioness is queen of her kingdom- capable of tackling any Saharan obstacle with her singular strength. Yet she travels, hunts, and lives in prides. She knows that her greatest victories will be won with help from her fellow felines.

Go first! Ask for help. What are you struggling with at the moment (extra gold star if it’s something you thought you’d already mastered)?  Seek the guidance of friends and gurus (your Pride #1), stripped free of your armor (your Pride #2).

Vulnerability is often mistaken for weakness, but turn the tables and make it a catalyst for unleashing fiercer and fiercer layers of your self!

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Mercedes Kiss is a Boston-based designer, writer, and holistic health coach. After rocking her 20s as an architect of fancy buildings, she jumped tracks and became an architect of the soul. Follow her on Instagram and discover more about A STAND OUT, her sparkly biz devoted to serving a growing tribe of babes through high-vibe articles, personalized wellness coaching, and a line of hand-crafted organic skincare.  

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.