10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SOBER DATING

Leo season means the romance AND the party vibes are in full force. How to navigate the love landscape sans booze? Caitlin Cecil shares 10 things you need to know about sober dating …

Photo: JD Mason

Once upon a time, my favorite part of dating was getting ready for the date: mixing myself a rum and Coke to take the edge off, jamming to some Blink 182, choosing my outfit and make up, and sipping on my beverage to alleviate the first date jitters. Even if the date turned out to be a bust, I really enjoyed having a drink with myself in anticipation of a night out …

Two years ago, alcohol having wrecked havoc on my health through migraines, anxiety, and the occasional total melt down, I chose to go booze free. But I’m certainly still dating. And as a 29-year-old single woman in Texas, the constant go to when I’m asked out is, “Do you want to grab a drink?”

How to navigate this new terrain? Whether you’re sober or just sober curious, here are 10 things you need to know when it comes to sober dating …

>>>

1// Know what you want. Whether you want to date a fellow non-drinker or don’t mind dating someone who drinks, make a clear decision. This takes some research. Go on some dates and see where you fall on the spectrum. I’ve done both and discovered that while I don’t need to date someone who’s also sober and can handle a partner who enjoys a drink, dates who get blasted over and over again are certainly not for me.

2// Reveal only as much as you want. Decide ahead of time how much you want to give away. When I first quit drinking, I was still a little embarrassed to tell people I didn’t drink. In a dimly lit bar with an attractive man, I’d feel silly saying, “Oh this? It’s a Shirley Temple.” It’s your call if you want to obscure the truth while you get to know somebody. Or if you’re totally vibing with the person and want to reveal your alcohol free lifestyle, go for it … any judgement is on their part.

3// Know your secret drinks. The magic concoction that got me through the early stages of my new life was a little drink called bitters and Coke. Bitters has an orange flavor to it, most people do not know what it is, a lot of my dates just assumed it was a type of alcohol, and bartenders would never charge me much for it. The truth is, it has a teeeeny bit of alcohol in, it but not enough to cause any sort of difference in your BAC. And the more comfortable I got, the more I was able to move away from dependence on sugary sodas.

Photo: Matthew Henry

4//Take the lead suggesting date ideas. If you have a date coming up and he or she asks you if you have any ideas about what to do, suggest something that doesn’t involve alcohol. Coffee, bowling, hiking, dog walking … one time I even visited a wolf sanctuary! Once you open your mind to what a date “should” look like, the possibilities are endless. Check your local listings and start exploring.

5// Find your time zone. I used to say yes to dates at 8 or 830pm. Now? Heck no! Too close to my sober life bed time. If someone wants to take me out, they’re going to get my best self earlier in the day. Let your date know your best time zone, give them some options, and don’t be afraid to suggest earlier times if your alcohol free lifestyle has your schedule shifting.

6// Do NOT feel pressured. A big part of dating alcohol free is remembering that you are a ROCK STAR for choosing to live the way you want to live in the face of social pressures. You are making a choice that goes against the grain and yes, many people will be confused. I recently went on a bowling date and ordered a beer for my date, but he felt really uncomfortable because I wasn’t drinking too. I assured him that I wanted him to enjoy himself and that my not drinking was a choice I made for me—nothing to do me with judging him.

7// Craft your answers. When people have serious addiction problems and enter into AA or other treatment programs, others seldom ask why. But choosing to be alcohol free for other reasons often leaves others confused and asking a lot of questions. Never feel pressured to respond in a certain way. Sometimes, I reveal medical information and talk about my migraines. But other times, I choose to keep it short and simple. You can simply say “I’m doing a cleanse,” or “I’m alcohol free to support others who cannot drink.” Say what you want to and what feels right, and remember that if somebody’s weirded out, they’re probably not for you.

8// Feel for real connections. Dating is a two way street and sober or not, you have to actually get along. When you’re sober and really connecting with someone, you’ll have even MORE amazing conversations about the universe, TV shows, animals, political drama … and guess what? You’ll actually remember them the next day!!

9// Irish goodbye if you need to. The Irish goodbye stems from the idea of an Irish person being so drunk they just leave a social event without saying goodbye, but in this case it’s a reverse Irish goodbye. While this may seem like regular dating ed 101, for the newly alcohol free it may be harder to do. If your date is drunk or you are uncomfortable for any reason, Irish goodbye on out of there.

10// HAVE FUN! Do not let the disappearance of alcohol hold you back from meeting people, discovering fun activities in your city, and trying new things. Remember, being booze free and feeling healthy will actually liven you up—not the opposite!

Caitlin Cecil is a Houston-based wellness coach who focuses on helping people with stress, burn out, anxiety, and finding balance. She has a degree in Rtvf, a NESTA wellness coaching certification, teaches barre, and loves coaching women to their highest potential. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram, sign up for her newsletter HERE, and check out her “Cruise from Booze” wellness program. 

10 WAYS THE WOMEN’S MARCH INSPIRED ME

Written on the bus back from DC, Kate Atkinson shares 10 ways the women’s march inspired her…

Kate on the bus to DC

It’s been a hell of winter. As revered actress and feminist Meryl Streep so accurately said, opening the floodgates for women world wide: “In the last few months, at times, I’ve felt as if I “lost my mind.”

Melodramatic much? Not for me. I’m a news media professional. I thrive on absorbing information and understanding people, brands, and causes. And since 11/9, I’ve spent late nights burrowing into internet rabbit warrens. I have spent anxious hours trawling the web and raging with friends via text, levels of research I never conducted when I was at University studying for my BA in journalism.

“Why do this to yourself?” I have repeatedly asked myself. But for some reason, the outcome of a Trump victory stirred me up deeply. It awoke a furious sleeping anger I never even knew burned in me. I have psychoanalyzed it and self-helped it to death. Answers have been hard to come by. And as if my own mental struggle wasn’t intense enough, friends have come forward and told me they aren’t okay either. Some told of to sexual assaults they’d buried for years. Men who’d groped them as teens and made them feel insignificant—which they’d shrugged off as just another teenage learning curve.

The day after the inauguration, a friend and I got up at 4am and got on a bus to Washington DC to march in solidarity for not only women, but for all whose freedom and human rights feel at risk under the incoming administration. We were joined by 3 million marching globally, all of us saying: “ENOUGH.” And actually, “fuck you” to the patriarchy.

In the lead up, I read a media stories talking about this being a “flawed” protest, questioning why it was just for women, asking what purpose it would serve. I’d partaken in aggressive social media discussions and been reminded over and over (at times on a personal level) about the futility of protesting.

Well, this weekend was the most inspiring of my life. Read on for 10 reasons why:

Kate and her bus mates

1. HUMANITY = POWER
The reason the current state of affairs is so alarming, is that the bad guy appears to to be winning. Sexual assault and quite frankly, basic human values, are second to power.Or are they? The marches reminded me that WE are the power. Throughout history, we have been reminded of this by figures such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou. Collectively, we can move mountains. The only thing holding us back is self belief.

2. CREATIVITY AS CATHARSIS
I saw a woman brandishing a giant crocheted reproductive system. I saw giant moveable sculptures. Puppets, a tribe of Donald Trump horses. Paintings that could have been at MoMA. I made a new artist friend who GAVE me a sign, because she’d painted several to deal with her inner turmoil. I saw people on stilts, rappers, instrumentalists, singers. All using their talents to support the same cause. As well as the funnier signs—”WE SHALL OVERCOMB” being a fave—some really pulled my heart. A two-year-old with a sign saying “I love naps but I stay woke.” Creativity helps us heal. I will be painting, paper mache’ing, croche’ing and dancing more in the future.

3. OPEN CONVERSATIONS
So forgive me if I’m oversharing in my post-protest bliss, but I’ve had two pre-cancer operations on my cervix. And yes it was scary as shit. A while back I would have been ashamed to share this, now, absolutely ZERO fucks given. Why? Because why is that shameful? I’ve been lucky enough to milk my healthcare system at home in Australia. Other women in this country would have turned to planned parenthood. It’s a lottery of luck I wasn’t born in a red state. Just today, the NY Times reported that the death rate from cervical cancer in the US is considerably higher than previously estimated and the disparity in death rates between black women and white women is significantly wider.

This whole shit show has opened a dialogue for issues that matter. Who cares if you’re depressed? We do. Who wants to hear about your time feeling ashamed for that? We do.

4. REALITY IS UNDERRATED
Ever found yourself writing rants at a computer screen, diving deeply into the lives of people you don’t know? A few days before Obama left office, he said: “tired of having arguments on the internet? Try speaking to them in real life.” We CAN connect in person. In groups. We are not our computers and our phones. Make a friend. Have coffee. Share. Talk. I am overwhelmed by the blowing up of my phone by women in the last few weeks. Launching fashion brands, needing help in connecting people to do so, media professionals trying to create their own movements and how to all not normalize any of what is going on.

5. NEW FRIENDS
I went to a group pre-march meeting – sober – and I met new people I’m now emailing about doing more “good stuff.” Including Elizabeth Azen, one of the nastiest women around with new kickass brand The Dynasty @thisisdynasty. I also made two new artist friends on the bus and spent all day with them, cracking jokes with one common cause – equality . Repeat: we are not designed to be digital humans. One side effect of standing up for what you believe in is the rad new people you will meet.

6. YES WE CAN
It’s so easy to be a hater. It’s so much easier to say: “this is pointless, we are outnumbered, we can’t make a difference.” As the march showed me—we damn well can, and it starts with you! Show up. Read up. Stay woke. Get nastier.

7. FEMINISM ISN’T JUST ABOUT NEUROTIC BRA-BURNING BULLSHIT
Some men still struggle with feminism. Well—newsflash—I’m not really into some of the things those people “hate” about feminism either. I’ve accepted that being a woman means I’m expected to smile and flirt through life. I use this to my advantage and love it when it means I can get something for free. It’s like Madonna said, “I’m a bad feminist.” But equally, I’ve been shamed many times, personally and professionally, for being too outspoken. For not being “refined” enough. And feminism in 2017 is about an end to that BS. In our lives, in our careers. It’s fine to sexualize women. Women are damn sexy. But don’t patronize us. Like Carrie Fisher said: “Some women play hard to get, I play difficult to understand.”

8. SOBER STREET PARTIES ROCK
I’ve been to my fair share of bars and clubs. I’ve been a drinker many years. And you know what? This was the best dance party of my life. What could have felt like a wake, a day for tears, was the best “straight” high of my life. Need substances to lose your mind? Try raging down the street to the beat of a gazillion strangers from all over the country singing in time: “We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” or: “This is What Democracy Looks like!” with glitter, and signs, and animals, and carnival performers, and megaphones, and parked cars with their own dance parties. Try screaming from a place you never knew you had, a guttural cathartic place you used to roll your eyes if people even told you existed.

9. REMEMBER TO RAGE
The systems are broken. They are not working. People will tell you to cooperate. But it’s time to rage against the machine. The mantra: “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.” The media aren’t cooperating—neither should we.

10. IT BEGINS WITH ME
I’ve been on my own journey with self-care this last while. Not always easy. I’m not just talking about eating right and SoulCycle. I’m talking about that breaking that feminine perfectionist tendency for blaming myself, and giving myself a goddamn break. Move towards this, I am finding, and the whole world becomes more accepting of me. I haven’t mastered it. But none of us can participate fully, until we believe in what we are here to give.

So please keep marching girls who just wanna have fun(damental rights). I’m with you every step. Get nasty. Be nastier. Read, write, CREATE, and stay woke. And like the most badass feminist ever, the Wicked Witch of the West, once said: “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.”

MY MYSTICAL LIFE THE NOW AGE IS…NOW

A manifesto for change; a new Moon Club cycle; self-care for the soul; Club SÖDA NYC; and what will you donate to Standing Rock?

With Biet Simkin, Fern Olivia and Valerie Oula at our OFF THE RÖCKS event. 

:: MONDAY ::
Finished reading an advance copy of maverick philosopher Daniel Pinchbeck’s new book, How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation. Part memoir, part manifesto, Pinchbeck basically lays it on the line—either we actively choose to participate in facilitating a radical global consciousness shift, or we’re headed for social, political, and environmental armageddon. Which, as he tells it, is not nearly as scary / daunting as it sounds!

I defy anybody not to feel super inspired by Pinchbeck’s vision for a new Earth, and one which truly is within our reach. IF we all get on board—and fast. Reading this against a backdrop of the 2016 Presidential election / Standing Rock, two inter-related situations which, for me, represent the two sides of the current doomsday we find ourselves facing, there’s only one answer to the question he poses in the title: the time for action is NOW. Which is why I call it the Now Age!

The book is out Feb 21—please pre-order your copy NOW, since I just decided we’ll be reading it together for the very first Numinous book club. Click here to get yours.

:: TUESDAY ::
Sagittarius New Moon…which means the first official Moon Club cycle begins! All our members received their Moon Mission PDF for this moon cycle (11/29—Dec 29) today, with an overview of the cosmic climate, what this actually means for us as human beings, weekly coaching exercises for each moon phase, and a reading for each moon sign. But it’s actually totally fine to sign up at any time during the month—as all new members receive a link to the current Moon Mission, and there’s some kind of scheduled activity every week.

For example, for next Tuesday’s first quarter moon in Pisces, Moon Club members will be invited to a LIVE interactive webinar with Thinx founder Miki Agrawal. One of our favorite entrepreneur activists, Miki is all about starting the kind of conversations that are an essential part of Daniel Pinchbeck’s utopian vision for the future. You can learn more about Moon Club and check out a sample Moon Mission PDF here.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Favorite, favorite new pampering / self-care treat: the Crystal Ritual Cleanse from colorist-stylist duo Lauren & Vanessa. Which is essentially a wash + blow-dry…with added reiki, crystals and essential oils! Designed to balance and activate the upper chakras (heart, throat, third eye, and crown), the treatment begins with me laying back at a hair washing station and Lauren asking me to select the essential oil I want her to work with. She then places crystals in each of my hands, and proceeds with a reiki treatment and head massage—working the oil into my crown chakra…with more crystals!

The treatment ends with a blowout from Vanessa, and I leave feeling deeply revitalized. And something has obviously worked on a “material girl” level too—literally every person I encounter during the rest of the evening tells me how great I’m looking.

Which, if I’m honest, feels kind of frivolous to even mention against the backdrop of the election / Standing Rock. I’m getting a crystal head massage, while people are (literally) freezing on the front lines? But I think meditation artist Biet Simkin made a great point in a FB post today also: “I almost feel like there is a shame now to post anything that isn’t completely depressing. But if you kill our spirit, how will we stand against these dangers!? For what will we stand!? We must remember light! We must remember the spirit inside us!”

As well as time with loved-ones, nurturing our bodies with delicious food, and feeding our minds with inspiring words, it’s self-care and pleasure rituals like the above that help keep us connected to our sense of spirit. To what we are fighting for. Yes, the time for stepping into our roles as global change-makers is now. And can’t we also feel really great while we do it? Click here to read more and book a treatment with Lauren & Vanessa.

:: THURSDAY ::

Club SÖDA NYC. Another amazing turn-out and crowd for mine and Biet’s “sober curious” event—which also made Well+Good’s list of top wellness trends for 2017! Top tip from our panel on sober party pre-gaming? Write a gratitude list. I also had the realization during Biet’s meditation, that what we’re really craving in alcohol is a shift, an “escape,” into the right side of the brain—the intuitive, feeling, feminine side, versus the logical, linear left brain. We live in such a left-brain world (deadline-driven, progress-focussed), we’ve been left with a collective yearning for transcendence  that can often manifest in substance mis-use.

And yes, this shift to a more balanced brain state—where left and right, masculine and feminine, thinking and feeling—work in tandem, is also part of Pinchbeck’s Now Age vision. The challenge: investigate ways to get there that are also physically restorative, mentally enlivening, emotionally supportive, and spiritually fulfilling.

:: FRIDAY ::
Making plans to head to The Deep End Club community gathering tomorrow, and donate a bunch of Numinous sweatshirts to Standing Rock. They’re super cozy, after all. What have you got to give?

THE SOFTER IMAGE: HIGH VIBE NYC DANCE PARTY

The Softer Image is a new NYC nightlife experiment from hip healer & mystic Luke Simon. On a mission to help folks “get turnt while staying woke,” we needed to know more…

 

The Softer Image is an exploration of new ways to party. Imagine, nightlife that expands your consciousness and improves your health. Let’s get wild without getting sick. Let’s get turnt up while staying woke. Let’s get psychic not blacked out. People want to let go and feel the Spirit so they turn to spirits. Our pop up party uses healing and holistic cocktails to open the human energy field to fun on a cosmic level.

THE NUMINOUS: What was the idea behind A Softer Image? Why do we need a party like this?!
LUKE SIMON: I wanted to start hosting a high vibe party because so many people in the city now are doing healing work and are no longer drinking. Or maybe just don’t like the spooky energy at bars, but still want to go out, dress up, dance and basically celebrate life.

We have so many amazing workshops, sessions and classes now, but there was this reservoir of vibes building up in me that just wanted to be free and have fun! Spirituality doesn’t have to be about serious self-cultivation and restraint. My higher self constantly urges me to DANCE through life. But when I try to do that at a club in NYC, it doesn’t even really start ’til 1am, and then I have to take off the next day of two to recover my sleep. Not to mention if there are drink and drugs involved.

TN: What’s your vision for the night?
LS: As I’ve honed my vibrational sensitivity, I’ve been dreaming of people hanging out in a beautiful space with great music and an elixir bar. The idea of Portals fascinates me—they say Stone Henge was one, and many cultures have used physical spaces and group energy to open up to the Universe. I was also intrigued by the idea of group trance, rituals and spells in the context of a party. Because a party basically is a ritual—the intention is FUN, and everyone brings their energy to the ritual in their own way. Partying is sacred!

TN: As you know, with our Club SÖDA NYC events we’re encouraging people to get high on their own supply. But nightclubs still feel flat to me without alcohol! Is it really possible to go wild on the dancefloor totally sober? 
LS: The Softer Image comes after a lot of personal experimenting with how to feel good in a healthy way. It’s a gathering for people to explore this question for themselves: can they have fun without alcohol? And also, what are the other, softer substances that can also help us let go of our inhibitions and have fun?

Softening has been a huge theme on my personal journey: softening the mind and trusting the flow. But also, letting go of the aggressive reaching for things that make me feel tense. Yoga has taught me about “arriving” to every moment, and “abiding” in my body and in my heart. The deeper healing I have done in the past years is all about softening the edges and releasing all that still tries to leave this moment—which alcohol, ultimately, facilitates.

TN: What’s the music policy? Have you got a theme song for the night?
LS: The song “Now that we’ve found Love what are we gonna do with it?” keeps coming to mind! I am so amazed by all the spiritual energy in the air and how much people are transforming. But I feel there is still this seriousness and strictness that we can integrate with a little celebration and release. What do you do with the Love and the Freedom once you get it?! You want to celebrate, but where? The Softer Image will be popping up around cities to give people a place to be their high vibe self and have fun in a beautiful, playful, temporary zone.

TN: So what can we expect on the night?
LS: Kate Falcone is creating a beautiful pink tinted interior, and the first gathering features Shauna Cummins leading us into a group trance to manifest our desires. She calls the work “Wish Craft”! Light being and wellness coach Sah D’Simone is manifesting the high vibe bar with balancing and softly altering herbal tonics, superfood snacks and juice blends. And I will DJ, along with Bryce Hackford.

The Softer Image is happening October 20 2016 from 8pm at a private location in lower Manhattan (TBA to ticket holders). Entry is $20—but Numinous readers get $5 off with the code “NUMI” Click here to get your ticket and follow @thesofterimage on Insta for more info.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: SHARING MY “SOBER CURIOUS” STORY

WTF does “sober curious” mean anyway? Allow me to explain…

Shiny sober people—pre-beers at Austin City Limits

:: MONDAY :: (and basically on my mind all week)
So the Pisces and I have embarked on a fuck-off road trip for the majority of October (planned very last minute, but totally fitting for my Aries Tarotscope this month)—and we kicked things off seeing LCD Soundsystem at the Austin City Limits festival last night. Coincidentally our favorite band just happened to be playing in the first city and on the first night of our trip. Thank you, Universe!

Those who follow me on social media will also know that I had a couple of beers at the festival (three, to be precise), which in turn led to a couple of comments from people asking “erm, what happened to #highsobriety?” Comments that were quite justified, since having begun hosting my Club SÖDA NYC events this year I have been talking a lot about my journey leading a more sober life.

These comments also made me realize I can’t then just randomly go drink a beer without properly explaining myself! As such, I have decided to share my sobriety story here this week—which I have done in person at my Club SÖDA NYC events (stands for Sober Or Debating Abstinence btw), but never in a post on this site. So here goes.

***

Having been a habitual binge drinker for the majority of my 20s and 30s, I have spent the past six years slowly but steadily unlearning the habit of reaching for a drink on autopilot in any and all social situations.

Why? Well firstly the hangovers had become pretty fucking unbearable as I entered my middle 30s, and never really worth the short-lived buzz of the night before. But on a more sinister note, I had also been able to pinpoint alcohol as, if not exactly the cause, then a major contributing factor to the daily anxiety and overall sense of doom that had begun to cloud my days.

I only made the connection recently, but this coincided with me first learning to meditate back in 2010—and subsequently having my first ideas about creating The Numinous. And stepping deeper onto my spiritual path over the following months and years, I began to question the nature of the “high” that I (we?) got from alcohol.

The more I worked on healing my emotional wounds (much of which is documented elsewhere on this site), and the deeper a connection I forged with what felt like my whole / true / spiritual self as a result, the more I began to feel naturally high a lot the time. The question became; why did I (we) even “need” alcohol, anyway?

But no way was this process proving to be a walk in the park. Booze was (is) everywhere, not to mention it being a highly addictive (in fact the most addictive) drug. They say the definition of madness is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different outcome—and considering I spent the next few years resolving not to drink, drinking anyway, then feeling like shit and hating myself for it, it could also be said that alcohol was beginning to drive me crazy.

So eventually, a little over a year ago, I asked a friend to bring me to a couple of AA meetings. By now I was only drinking maybe once or twice a month (versus what had been three or four times a week). But if I was still having a hard time saying “no” in certain situations—or else obsessing over the next time I would “allow” myself a drink—I must be in denial about a more serious drinking problem, right?

And while I could immediately see what an amazing source of support AA is to the people the program resonates with, sitting among these brave souls I felt like an imposter. When it came time to introduce myself with the classic: “hi, I’m Ruby and I’m an…” the word “alcoholic” stuck in my throat like a puke-inducing tequila slammer.

Some people might say I was (am?) simply in denial, but I had already made so much progress cutting back on my drinking by this point, it was hard to swallow the idea I was “powerless over alcohol” (the way they frame alcoholism in AA). I also knew from conversations I’d begun having with other friends that no way was I the only one who felt this way. And so I got a bunch of us together to talk about it over a pot-luck dinner at my apartment. Which was essentially the first Club SÖDA NYC meet-up.

We shared our stories, along with our conflicted feelings about booze (could be so much fun! but at such a high price…), and it felt good, and right, to shine a light on the shame and confusion most of us felt about this. Questions that came up were along the lines of: does continuing to drink even when life is generally better when you don’t make you an alcoholic? If so, does this mean total abstinence is the only answer? Or is it possible to be mostly sober, and still drink in a high-vibe way from time-to-time?

***

These questions are at the heart of a conversation I’ve since been having a lot, not to mention a subject I’ve been doing more and more research on. And besides plenty of soul-searching and at times painfully honest self-inquiry, discussions at Club SÖDA NYC events and a few great books (listed at the end of this post) have led me to draw the following conclusions:

1. Our brain chemistry is designed to a) seek pleasure and b) avoid pain, causing us to repeatedly seek out anything that ticks these boxes. And so, since alcohol is a substance that a) provides pleasure by b) numbing pain, human beings are essentially pre-disposed to become addicted to alcohol.

2. Since we are old enough to understand that certain behaviors lead to certain outcomes, we are conditioned to believe(by society, media, and relentless marketing) that drinking alcohol a) provides pleasure and b) numbs pain. Also, that it is a necessary component to any and all social situations, celebrations, dance parties and first dates, and that it makes miserable days feel more okay.

I’ve billed subsequent Club SÖDA NYC events as being for the “sober curious,” which basically sums up the way I feel about my journey with sobriety today—much of which has meant getting curious about the above findings, in both my thinking and my life choices.

It has meant questioning the nature of addiction, and the stigma we attach to alcohol addiction in particular. For example, you’d probably be happy telling people you’re addicted to coffee…but alcohol, not so much. But if evolution (not to mention a lifetime’s social conditioning) has pretty much set us up to believe alcohol is the answer to…let’s see…the existential crisis known as “being human,” then where’s the shame in simply acknowledging this?

After all, as Brené Brown teaches in Daring Greatly, shame-breeds-secrecy-breeds-stigma-breeds-shame—and shining a light on that shit is the only way to end the cycle, as any AA advocate will also tell you. (Despite the whole “anonymous” part kind of playing into the secrecy-stigma-shame game in my opinion…which is also NOT to dismiss how invaluable the support provided by AA is for many millions of people! Jeez. This can be such a slippery conversation.)

Living sober curious has also meant facing a lot of sober firsts. If my journey thus far had got me comfortable with sober dinners and sober networking events, say, now it was time to attempt my first sober wedding, first sober vacation, first sober nightclub, first sober family visit. A.k.a. the drinking occasions I had held onto as sacred (read: not going to be much fun / even doable without a drink).

And turns out that some of these things are amazing—if not waaaay better—sober, and that some are not as much fun / even worth doing without alcohol. Which I basically see as my soul telling me to a) either not do those things, or b) accept that life is simply not endlessly entertaining / enjoyable!

Because last but by no means least, living sober curious has meant getting super comfortable with the fact that being human is not—and is not supposed to be—comfortable. We are designed to experience a whole range of feelings on a daily basis, some “good,” some “bad,” and all in service of keeping us in alignment with the choices that are in our highest good. Feels good? Do more of it. Feels bad? Either don’t do it, or do something to make it feel better (like, maybe actually have that “difficult” conversation with your mom versus getting wasted on rosé next time you have to see her). Option three? Simply sit with it, feel it, and allow it to pass. (It will pass).

The way I see it, alcohol momentarily overrides the “feeling bad,” thus providing a fake “feeling good.” The problem being that we then never get around to addressing whatever it was that was making us feel like shit in the first place. And so another soul-destroying cycle is perpetuated.

And well, at this point on my sober curious journey, I can tell you that consistently choosing not to drink feels fucking GREAT. Feels confident, calm, safe, focussed, enthusiastic, engaged, and energized. And that it’s also great when it feels awkward, sad, angry, lost, or lonely—because it turns out all these feelings are just part of my human experience, and so choosing not to numb them out feels like choosing to be fully ME.

***

So then why drink those beers at ACL? Why not show up fully “conscious,” fully myself, to an experience I could pretty much guarantee would be awesome without alcohol?

The short answer is that dancing under the stars to my favorite music is still one of the very few (if not the only) drinking occasion I still hold sacred. Sacred as in…a way to connect to the undefinable, numinous, part of me that is pure sensation, pure experience. Yes, there are other (low and high-vibe) ways to attain this state—but as humans have known since the dawn of civilization, one other use for alcohol is to get there fast. Like, in the 90 minutes LCD Soundsystem are on stage. If (and it’s still an “if”) I choose to keep alcohol in my life at all going forward, it will be solely for…dancing under the stars to my favorite music. Like a Pagan.

Which is about where this becomes a tricky conversation again.

Because the sober stalwarts might say this is just my addiction talking…and to be fair, I might well agree with them. Is it fucked up that I’m also kind of okay with that? Yes…I guess…because they might also say that it’s irresponsible of me to be preaching the joys of #highsobriety, and then go drink a beer (or three)! Even if it’s only once or twice a year. And I take this on board whole-heartedly, since I know that my path to semi-sobriety is unique to me—and that, for many, alcohol poses more of a serious if not a deadly threat.

If this is you, then I bow to your sobriety, and to your spiritual resilience. You are an inspiration.

For now, this is who I am, and this where I’m at on my sober curious journey. I’d love to hear where any of you reading stand on the issues it’s brought up—since the more sharing, and the less shame, secrecy and stigma about alcohol and the slippery, slippery subject of alcohol addiction, the better.

FURTHER READING – 

The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease

This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol: Find Freedom, Rediscover Happiness & Change Your Life (Volume 1)

The Sober Revolution: Women Calling Time on Wine O’Clock (Volume 1)

The next Club SÖDA NYC event will be on December 1 2016 in NYC. Sign up for our newsletter for more details as they are announced.

GABBY BERNSTEIN: “SOBRIETY STARTED MY SPIRITUAL AWAKENING”

For Gabby Bernstein sobriety played an important role in her spiritual awakening. Ruby Warrington asks her, could we all benefit from a more sober life?

I received my copy of Gabby Bernstein’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back, right when I was in the middle of organizing our #TuneInPeaceOut initiative for World Peace Day. Translation: I had zero time to sit down and read it. But an interesting thing happened.

Flicking through the pages, every time I stopped Gabby was riffing on how her sobriety had played such an important part in her spiritual journey. And experimenting with a sober life myself right now (check out my Club SÖDA NYC project here) the message that this is exactly the right path for me came through loud and clear (thank you, Universe!)

It was also clear that for Gabby Bernstein sobriety had played an important part in her spiritual awakening. I decided to sit down with her, to talk about the link between sobriety and spirituality, and get her advice on living sober.

(And p.s. the day I’m running this post—October 02 2016—is her 11 years’ sober anniversary!)

Ruby Warrington: So the reason I’m trying to be sober is because the way I feel when there’s no alcohol in my system is like, “Fuck, this is who I AM.” And honestly, I no longer feel like I can show up and properly serve on my mission these days unless I’m 100% myself.

Gabrielle Bernstein: I love that, and I think you should be sober then. That’s part of the reason I’m sober. This is the only consciousness I want to have. Although of course sometimes I’m like, ‘bye bye, get me the hell out of here’!

RW: That’s the thing, sometimes that still sounds nice! Especially when, and I know you’ve had issues with this too because you’ve written about it, I end up replacing alcohol with work. I fucking love what I do, so that’s okay. But then, where’s the release, where’s the escape?

GB: I have had to find that in the last five or six months. I realized I had become severely addicted to work, because I’ve been running for so long from these fears that I didn’t want to see. In the beginning stages of healing from this, I would find myself going to my desk and sitting down and literally numbing out with work. I was like, “Oh my God, that’s how I’ve been hiding.”

RW: I do that too. There’s a sense of relief when I can say, “Oh good, I’ve got like three hours of solid emails now and I can’t think about anything else.”

GB: Exactly. So what I’ve done is freed up a lot of that space for meditation. I meditate a lot longer.

RW: More meditation than your two TM sessions?

GB: I’m doing this Doreen Virtue chord cutting meditation in the morning, and then a TM meditation in the afternoon. It’s super good, I’m going to send it to you. As a result, I’ve been feeling more connected than ever. It also has to do with not playing into the word addiction, and being willing to heal.

Carrot juice on our interview date

RW: So on the sobriety thing, one reason I created Club SÖDA NYC is because I don’t feel like I identify the word “alcoholic.” As somebody in recovery, do you believe there is a middle ground when it comes to alcohol addiction?

GB: Absolutely. And it’s so good that you’re doing that. There’s some people that don’t find their way to AA but they want to have a way to get out of alcohol.

RW: When do you remember first finding an escape with alcohol and drugs?

GB: I guess in college, when it was uppers that I liked. I didn’t really even like alcohol that much, it was more like the snorting things.

RW: You mean uppers like Adderall?

GB: Yeah that’s what I was in to. I never liked alcohol, I just needed it to balance myself out. But by the time I hit my rock bottom in 2005 I was doing drugs and drinking every day.

RW: Were you fully aware of that being a problem?

GB: Yeah everyday I’d be like, “Shouldn’t do that again.” And then do it again. It was probably only seven months that it was really bad. The really bad didn’t last that long.

RW: So how did you seek help?

GB: I went to an addiction specialist who helped me understand that I was an alcoholic, because at the time I thought that I was just a drug addict. He was like, “No, you have an alcohol problem.” And I was like, “what do you mean?” He’s like, “Well what do you do every time you have a drink?” I was like, “I do drugs.” He showed me how this meant I was drinking unmanageably.

RW: I recently read an amazing book on alcohol addiction called “This Naked Mind.” And based on the teachings of this, plus my personal observations, I feel like a lot more people than will ever admit—even to themselves—are in a similar situation with alcohol and drugs. Do you believe this to be the case?

GB: I think that people definitely struggle…but it’s hard for me to comment because most of my friends today are sober. Well not “sober,” they just don’t really drink because they’re really health conscious. So I don’t see that much abuse of substances in my day to day. A lot of people come up to me and say, “Oh I got sober because of Spirit Junkie.” I hear people’s sobriety stories, but I don’t see people in their addiction anymore. But overall, I think it’s an epidemic. I mean addiction is an epidemic.

RW: And actually alcohol still kills more people than all prescription and all illegal drugs put together…

GB: Even more heroin?

RW: Insane, right? And in tests it’s the only drug that falls into the “extreme risk” category for addiction. Yet it’s the one that’s pushed on you from every direction the minute you’re old enough.

GB: Right. And I do think that from a spiritual perspective, if you want to have a closer connection with God then you can’t be muddying your consciousness.

RW: Which leads me to my next question. Do you believe that anyone who identifies as being on a spiritual path or who is seeking in that way, would benefit from at least trying an extended period of sobriety?

GB: Absolutely. I don’t want to say that if you’re on a spiritual path, you have to be sober. There are plenty of people that I know that are fine with a glass of wine. They have it once a week and they’re fucking fine. But I do think that it will only benefit you spiritually to have a sober life.

RW: My experience of this has been feeling truly “whole.” I think this is because as much as alcohol is about numbing out from fear, it’s also about hiding the parts of yourself that you don’t necessarily understand. That you find it hard to love and accept.

GB: Yes, that you don’t want to admit to, and you don’t want to feel.

RW: Totally. So I think for me, that sense of wholeness has been about accepting that even if I don’t really like myself today, that’s still me. It’s all part of myself. You know? So what about the plant medicines that everybody’s doing now, like ayahuasca?

GB: Well, I think sober is sober, and that’s a mind altering substance. You know my spiritual teachers do it and I’m not going to judge anybody, but I would definitely say that’s a relapse if you think you’re sober. Most sober people wouldn’t even take NyQuil!

RW: I hear you! So I’m kind of at this point where I’m experimenting with trying to experience each situation I would normally associate with drinking sober…

GB: You want to know how you quit drinking? You no longer give yourself permission. We all have permission giving thoughts—and, for example, I’ve been off sugar for three years now because I no longer give myself permission to have sugar. if you were like, “I’m no longer giving myself permission, any more, to have alcohol,” then interesting things could happen.

RW: Vacation are the really tough one for me…

GB: I feel like that’s okay! I think you can maybe not give yourself permission unless its a vacation. Except you have to be really strong, like, “When I come back I have to stop this.” Because even eating things on vacation that I wouldn’t normally eat, like cheese or bread. I come home and I want those things!

RW: Well I’m ready, because the more I commit to not drinking, the more I feel like this is a part of the consciousness shift that’s occurring right now. Like people are really invested in the idea that you can get high by tuning in, not numbing out. I think you’ve helped to spearhead this, and it’s actually been a really important part of your story, you know?

GB: There’s no doubt that getting sober was the catalyst for my spiritual awakening. I’ve had many, many more since that day, but that was the turning point for me. It was when I chose a life of deep connection rather than a life of numbing out. It was when I chose to wake up.

Gabrielle Bernstein’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back, is out now on Hay House. And we’re giving away one signed copy!

To win, tag your next Instagram post with #NumiUniverse. Make sure to follow and tag @The_Numinous and be sure to add the hashtag #NumiUniverse—otherwise we won’t see your post! Winners will be picked at random and notified via direct Instagram message.

Deadline for entries: 1 p.m. (EST) October 5, 2016.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: THE SCIENCE BEHIND MOON MAGIC

More evidence of real Moon magic, the argument for “oracle abuse,” and why there is no 13th zodiac sign…

 

:: MONDAY ::
Fittingly for Moon day (yes, Monday is named after the moon—which, in my opinion, is why/because Mondays are often so moody…nothing to do with the post-weekend blues) I found myself reading an article on new scientific research that showed how the phases of the Moon are linked to major earthquakes and tsunamis. This after Japanese scientists analyzed more than 10,000 earthquakes, and found they were more likely to occur during Full or New Moons.

It’s all linked to the tides, which are controlled by the Moon, since even the teeniest extra water pressure on the earth’s tectonic plates can be enough to trigger a major quake-causing shift. Which I read as yet another example of the scientific and the mystical coming (back) into alignment! Think about it. In astrology, the Moon is said to govern our emotions—which, in turn, are represented by the element of water. And if fluctuations in the ocean’s tides (as dictated by the Moon) are behind tectonic shifts in the natural world—then it is swings in our emotional states that often lead to the big evolutionary shifts in our lives.

Which is why I’m soooooo into Moon sign astrology. For me, our Moon sign is the one to pay attention to when it comes to connecting to our most deeply-rooted (like core-of-the-earth deep) human needs. Plus, if we want to surf the waves—opposed to being dragged down and under by emotions that can feel like a tsunami sometimes—here’s yet more (scientific!) evidence that it pays to pay attention to the phases of the Moon.

:: TUESDAY ::
Book launch for Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back, where Gabby shared how while writing it she had actually been feeling utterly disconnected from spirit. Her answer—spoken like a true #spiritjunkie—was to go deeper into her spiritual practice. Which got me thinking, since earlier today I also heard the term “oracle abuse” for the first time—meaning an over-reliance on messages from “the other side,” versus trusting our own voice and intuition.

It’s a subject Numi contributor Victoria Cox covered brilliantly in this article, and for me, there’s a fine line between tapping IN, and using spiritual tools to “escape” from what’s going on in the here and now of our human existence. And…you can read more from Gabby on the subject of tuning in vs. numbing out in an interview I’m running with her this Sunday—which also happens to be her 11-year sober anniversary…

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Since the whole world is freaking out about NASA and the 13th zodiac sign, I commissioned this excellent piece which explains the whole sitch perfectly. PLUS will make you lol HARD over just how accurate regular ol’ astrology really is!

:: THURSDAY ::
First ever vitamin drip at the Ash Center in Manhattan—an upscale functional wellness clinic that is emerging with a new-found optimism following the tragic passing of founder Dr. Richard Ash. What struck me as I sat with the IV feeding me a mega-dose of vitamins B and C, new MD-in-Chief Anthony Lyon’s little dog Champagne on my lap and sipping from a cup of green tea, was the family vibe of the place. It’s a huge testament to how loved Dr. Ash was that his former colleagues have banded together to continue in his name. And honestly, the atmosphere up here is a panacea in itself. As for the drip? I walked out SO. BUZZED. Favorite new healthy treat.

:: FRIDAY ::
Prepping for a ROAD TRIP!!! The Pisces (husband Simon) has wound up with a whole month off in between jobs, and so we’re heading South to tick a few Numinous must-see travel boxes. Here’s where we’re headed—please comment below with any sights, studios, esoteric stores, and mystics we should try to visit! And follow along on IG for adventures from on the road…

AUSTIN
MARFA
ROSWELL (for the aliens, lol)
SANTA FE
SEDONA
GRAND CANYON
JOSHUA TREE
LA
BIG SUR
SAN FRAN

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: WEEDS AMONG THE GRASS ROOTS, AND MEETING MY MINI ME

Big up to the grass roots entrepreneurs, an infrared detox, meeting my Mini Me…and the lies we buy about booze.

Witchy vibes in the streets of Sibenik with Alexandra Roxo and Jayne Goldheart

:: MONDAY ::
Massive shout out to the organizers of Obanjan, the Croatian music and wellness fest I returned early from today. Early because a gnarly confluence of eco-operational-political factors meant they had to postpone the opening…the night before the opening, having already flown artists and contributors in from all over the world! And with close to 300 guests and press arriving for the big reveal to boot. A.k.a. every entrepreneurs worst. Freaking. Nightmare.

And here’s the thing. It’s fear of monumental s*it like this hitting the fan that keeps most of us from stepping up, pursuing our dreams and truly doing our dharma. From putting our heart, soul, balls (ovaries?) and life savings on the line to create something we truly believe in. Anybody who’s built a business or launched a project or product will have experienced similar setbacks—falling somewhere on the sliding scale of devastation. I know I have. And it feels HORRIBLE. And I keep putting my heart, and soul, and ovaries and life savings into my projects anyway.

We all say we want less corporate, less branded, more DIY experiences, right? Well down in the grass roots, there are also gonna be some weeds.

Sure, it was an inconvenience to fly half way across the world for nothing. (Although it wasn’t for nothing really, since I got to brainstorm with my boo Alexandra Roxo, hang out with Shauna and Morgan from Unlimited, FINALLY bond with brilliant Jayne Goldheart, and meet the magical Gail Schock). And yeah, if the holiday I’d booked got cancelled/delayed at the last minute, I’d be pretty pissed off too. But really? Fairly minimal annoyances compared to what the organizers were going through.

All I kept thinking as I witnessed the fallout, was: Good for you. Good for you for feeling the fear, and doing it f*cking anyway.

AND latest update is, Obonjan opens for business Friday Aug 5 (yes, that’s today!!) Keep following their Twitter and Instagram accounts for more updates.

:: TUESDAY ::
Shout out to another badass entrepreneur, Henry Holland, who I watched set up his label House of Holland from scratch out of the fashion cupboard of the magazine we were working on together 10 years ago. Wow, a whole decade! And with PLENTY a “character building” road-bump along the way. Anyhow, this rather special sweatshirt (below) from his latest collaboration with Lee arrived in the mail today. #COSMIC!

Sweatshirt, £102, House of Holland for Lee

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Infrared saunas, anybody? It’s a big YES PLEASE from me after my first visit to HigherDOSE today, a new spa offering private infrared sessions in Manhattan. I kind of never got the sauna thing, but secluded in my little wooden hut, my own music on the speakers, sweating tennis balls of toxic travel stress (see: Monday), I found myself thinking: well this feels like it’s REALLY good for me. Kind of like Bikram, without the pain part. Maybe it’s cuz I was also reading their info pack—”decreases cortisol, increases serotonin; detoxifies heavy metals, radiation, and environmental toxins; stimulates collagen, reduces wrinkles; burns 600 calories a session (!)”—and maybe it’s cuz Kate Bosworth was in the booth next door. But I’ll be back. Discover more: Higherdose.com

:: THURSDAY ::
Got the actual date my book will be published next year…which meant I could finally do her birth chart!! (Yes, she’s a she). AND, it turns out we have the same Rising (public image), Moon (emotional center), Mercury (communication style) and Midheaven (professional path). How freaking rad is that?! Talk about Mini Me. She also has her North Node (karmic destiny point) at 0 degrees Virgo—which says she’s destined to be of service in the world, but colored with some unbridled Leo North Node self-expression. I want to be her friend already 🙂

:: FRIDAY ::
Will be mainly spent spreading the word about my next Club SÖDA NYC event with Biet Simkin and special guest Betsy LeFae, Sex, Lies & Alcohol. Turns out summer (not to mention toxic travel stress: see Monday) is a major drinking trigger for me (anyone?)—the “lie” my inner booze demon spins, that day-drinking in the sunshine is what August is made for. My personal truth being that nothing feels as blissfully free (my core desired feelings from day drinking) as…never being hung-over! It’s been getting super down with my intuition—simply, what feels right and what feels wrong for me—that’s helped me truly connect to this, which is why I’m so happy intuition coach Betsy is joining us for this event. Read more and get your ticket here.

5 SIGNS I NEEDED A SPIRITUALITY DETOX

When your practice becomes a crutch it could be time for a spirituality detox, says Victoria Cox. Artwork: Elayne Safir

I’ve been fascinated with the esoteric side of life since I was a little girl, but in recent years I’ve been delving a little deeper. Kundalini yoga, tarot, energy healing, astrology, crystals, meditation. You name it, I’ve probably tried it.

And lately I began to notice that whenever life got more intense, I would lean a little harder on these practices.

I’d pull a tarot card every day (okay, sometimes several), check five or more astrology sites religiously, and my morning meditation schedule became a non-negotiable. To the point I began to wonder if, instead of utilizing these practices to gain a deeper meaning of life, I was using them to numb out. After all, I was no longer experiencing the blissful results and striking insights I’d encountered initially. Simply put, the whole thing was starting to make me feel neurotic.

So, what was a girl to do?

In a twist of irony, my question was actually answered during an energy healing session. After listening to me whinge about how I was working so hard on myself yet my anxiety levels were creeping higher, I was informed I was being put on a month-long “spirituality detox.” In short, it was time to cut the woo-woo and get grounded.

Here are the five signs that showed me I was in need of a spirituality detox. If anything sounds familiar, you might decide to join me…

A daily practice becomes a daily obsession
For me this was Kundalini meditation. At first, the results were impressive; I was calmer throughout the day and found myself less likely to get sucked into life’s dramas. Yet, as external challenges mounted, I became more rigid about my practice. I had to do it no matter what.

There were mornings where I woke up tired yet pushed myself through the practice, counting the seconds until I was finished. My morning “meditation” was beginning to feel more like bootcamp, and I was no longer enjoying it. As a result, the benefits I’d experienced when practicing from a place of reverence, began to ebb away.

Pursuing spirituality for personal gain
Over time I’d acquired a toolbox of sorts to deal with life’s rough patches. If was feeling anxious, I journaled about my feelings. If I was feeling uninspired, I meditated. If I wanted to create something new in my life, I would use visualization techniques.

These tools were extremely helpful in getting me through hard times, but I was starting to use them in the good times too, to satisfy my ego desires—opposed to spiritual yearnings. And then when life didn’t go exactly the way I wanted it to, I became angry. I realized that in using these practices this way, I was buying into the idea that the the Universe somehow “owed me”—and was mystically designed to reward selfishness, when actually the opposite is true.

Self-helping vs. self-medicating
I noticed a pattern of behavior that went something like this: waking up after a boozy night out I’d feel a familiar sense of self-loathing about having drunk too much. To alleviate these feelings, I would head straight to a yoga class to clear my head.

Feeling better about myself, I would then come home and have a glass of wine—undoing all the good work I’d done in class! I was essentially using my practice as a quick-fix means to feel better in the moment while ignoring the real issue (why I’d drunk too much again)—instead of a way to learn about myself on a deeper level.

Searching for the next spiritual fix
Living in New York, there are a classes and workshops offering every spiritual answer under the cosmos. Energy healing; Chakra cleansing; Past-life regression. You name it, it’s here. While this is wonderful in many ways, I noticed how the sheer abundance of choice made it feel like there was always one more thing to try.

I began to convince myself that I needed to do every treatment, attend every event. I was treating these revered spiritual arts like a mass consumer, always looking for more instead of stopping and simply asking myself what I was trying to heal.

Spiritual neurosis
I discovered that my motives were becoming completely anti-spiritual, as I indulged in a sort of metaphysical materialism. Over time my beloved practices had morphed from a source of comfort into a supposedly mystical way to manifest my worldly desires.

Instead of wanting to go to a sound-bath at the end of the week to relax, I felt I had to go—or I would be missing out on some great revelation about myself. I wasn’t. I was living my life wrapped up within my ego’s neuroses instead of living from my heart.

***

Once I saw clearly how I was misappropriating my spiritual practice, I asked my energy healer what I needed to do.

Her prescription?

No mind-altering substances (i.e. alcohol) for 30 days. Stop reading or engaging with all esoteric information. Cease all meditation. Stop all energy practices or group healing

Instead?

Spend time on grounding activities such as house-cleaning. Practice intense cardio exercise. Sleep and rest. Spend time in nature. Take plenty of salt baths to detox the body and drink lots of water.

Initially it seemed like too big of a pill to swallow. But as I deleted my astrology and tarot apps from my phone I already began to feel lighter. When my alarm went off at 7am for my morning meditation I almost squealed with pleasure at the thought of sleeping for an thirty extra minutes. I relished the empty weeknights where I didn’t have some class to attend.

I knew it was the right thing to be doing simply because it felt so damn good. I felt like a child taking a month off from a very strict boarding school. Admittedly the hardest part for me was not drinking alcohol; I didn’t partake during the week, but I’ll be honest and admit that I still dabbled, albeit lightly, some weekends.

And once the thirty days were up? There were some practices, such as Kundalini yoga, that I was dying to get back into—simply because they made me feel better. But there were others, like my incessant tarot card pulling, that no longer held any appeal.

Most importantly, my experience taught me far more about myself then I’d learned in my obsessive pursuit of all things Now Age. I learned that the spiritual path is a long and meandering one; that there are no quick fixes or shortcuts.

Most importantly it taught me to listen to my heart instead of my head, and to always ask myself if what I’m seeking is in service of enlightenment or egotism.

Have you had a similar experience to Victoria? Share your thoughts with the Numinous tribe Instagram and Facebook, or in the comments below…

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: WHY WE ALL NEED AN INNER WORK BREAK

Taking an inner work break is fun—and also give you space to BE the transformations you’re experiencing in your life…

Fresh off my #innerworkbreak

:: MONDAY + TUESDAY ::
A month or so ago I noticed that my friend Valerie Oula had tagged a couple of her IG posts #innerworkbreak. There was one about a night in with Pretty Woman and some fro-yo, another simply titled: “Jenga + beer.” Valerie is the brains behind these beautiful intention candles and mists and works as a kundalini yoga teacher, meaning she’s usually up at 4.30am for sadhana (her daily spiritual practice), meditates with the best of them, and generally lives about as “clean” an NYC existence as you can get.

But, a fashion industry veteran like me, her posts showed that embracing a more mystical path has not meant totally forsaking her inner “material girl.”

And I can totally relate this week, having just come off a similar “inner work break” myself (also a break from this column, you might have noticed). Two weeks visiting friends and family in Europe found me setting aside my usual Numinous tools (besides my morning TM session) and dipping a toe back into my old life—which essentially became an exercise in honoring myself as a unified, material-mystical woman.

And fuck it’s been FUN! Not just the eating a bunch of pizza, drinking a bunch of beer, dancing until 7am at an outdoor rave in Poland, or investing in a new pair of summer kicks from Alexander McQueen (see below). But also the giving my numinous soul an opportunity to just be, for the inner work I’m so invested in to settle into my physical body, and to witness how my internal transformations are impacting my outer experience of the world.

Yes, they’re from Alexander McQueen

A lot of what we cover on this site—and therefore what I’m invested in personally—is about excavating the depths. It’s about investigating who “I” am, with the aim of bringing this “true” self to the world. BUT please please not to the extent that we forget we’re still human-freaking-beings!

Human beings who are here to forge meaningful relationships, to do meaningful work, and to hopefully be of service in some way—easy to forget if we spend so much time looking “in,” diligently monitoring our progress on our personal journey, we’re never “out” there, shining our light in the world. Which might look a lot like eating pizza, drinking beer, and simply being a loving daughter, sister, auntie and friend to people who don’t necessarily give a fuck what planets are conjunct your moon this week, since they’re got more pressing “real world” concerns they need to talk to you about.

Because: all this against the backdrop of the devastating news of the Orlando shooting, and frankly medieval talk of Britain’s potential exit from the EU. If ever there was a moment to simply embody the changes your inner work has brought about, then NOW could be a good time to step away from the crystals—and be out there living the changes our world needs to see.

My beautiful brother and his beautiful family…let’s make a more beautiful world for baby Henry!

:: WEDNESDAY ::
In love with Alexandra Derby’s new four-part gem + flower essence system, which is designed to support your system holistically during every stage of your moon (yes menstrual) cycle. The idea is you take one of four tinctures depending where you’re at—Visionary for week one, Manifestation for week two (ovulation), Serenity for week three (a.k.a. PMS), and Womb Wisdom when you’re actually bleeding.

My cycle is generally pretty irregular (something I’ve been working on with Aly for a while now), so I just made a note in my diary what days I should perhaps switch up this past month. And wouldn’t you know. Coinciding with my touch-down back in NYC, today I began to bleed as the “Womb Wisdom” notification popped up. I might have felt like I was on an inner work break in Europe—but something inside is working. The Cosmic Cycle Elixirs go on sale Monday June 20 at Alexandraderby.com. A percentage of proceeds will go to Femme International—supplying girls in east Africa with reusable menstrual cups.

Cosmic Cycle Elixirs by Prophetessa, available June 20 2016

:: THURSDAY ::
Planning details of a FREE virtual Full Moon + Summer Solstice ritual I’ll be hosting with Numi contributors Alexandra Roxo and Elyssa Jakim next Monday, June 20. You can join anywhere in the world, and the idea is to celebrate and give thanks for the manifestations we are brining into the world, and set a solstice intention for the summer. Think: an overview of the current cosmic climate, self-inquiry for the Solstice, and a guided meditation connected to like-minded spirits around the world. Spaces are limited—click here to sign up

:: FRIDAY ::
And looking forward to our Club SÖDA NYC Solstice Picnic in McCarren park in Williamsburg this Sunday too! As mentioned above, there’s been some (very high-vibe) beer-drinking going on these past couple of months, but I’m now almost two weeks into my latest EPS—my dad’s term for the “extended periods of sobriety” I launched Club SÖDA NYC to help people navigate—and FEELING IT. The feeling of being high on life, that is, that I get when I get booze out of my system for a while. The picnic is gonna be a super low-key “friends of the Numinous” type thing, but if you’re in the hood, swing by and say hi!

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: OBONJAN DREAMING, AND A SOLSTICE PICNIC

Getting excited for a summer of healthy hedonism…

 

:: MONDAY ::
I’ve been pretty upfront on here about my journey re-framing my relationship with alcohol—a.k.a. to treat it (and use it) like the powerful psychoactive substance it is, rather than a knee-jerk way to feel “good” quick. And crystals have played a major role in this—namely amethyst, the “sobriety stone.” I’ve been carrying a piece on a key-chain for the past year or so, a pivotal time on my path to semi-sobriety. A key-chain which actually broke the week I launched Club SÖDA NYC our meet-up group for the sober curious—signaling that its work with me was done!

And you know, I’ve felt myself slip back a few steps in the months since…so I bought a new one last week ahead of the Memorial Day weekend (PRIME day-drinking danger zone). And yes I had a couple of beers. But literally two, thus achieving the ever-elusive but perfect “2-drink high”—opening the doors of perception just enough to land some killer insights about my life and my path going forward, but closing them tidily up again before drunkenness (and hangover / self-doubt territory) set in. Yay AMETHYST!

Amethyst clusters from $18, The Hoodwitch

:: TUESDAY ::
Which also got me in the mood to plan our next informal Club SÖDA NYC event—a sober solstice picnic in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, June 19. Invite below—come!

 

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Last week amazing Alexandra Derby posted on the subject of “Cash and Consciousness” in her new weekly vlog A Beautiful Answer—after watching a new doc called The Beginning of Life at the UN (yup, she got invited to a screening at the United-freaking-Nations, which is how important important people think the message of the film is). You can watch Alexandra’s take here, but the overall theme is: “money” = how grown ups frame “nurture” (since money provides for all our needs) = lack of nurture in childhood = poverty consciousness in grown ups = the poverty we see in the world (since our perception shapes reality). Are you with me?! And so the call to action is: time to invest (love / support / and or money, as needed) into the nurturing of the next generation, globally. To tackle poverty consciousness—and therefore a society that creates the poverty we see—at source. The Beginning of Life came out today.

:: THURSDAY ::
Getting super excited for…Obonjan! Booked my flights today for this summer-long private island festival in Croatia (yes you read that right), where I’ll be giving a talk on healthy hedonism July 29. Full report PLUS details of a Numinous discount coming on next week’s newsletter. Here’s the link to sign up!

:: FRIDAY ::
In Berlin for some hang-time with my fam

SOBER CURIOUS: GET HIGH ON YOUR OWN SUPPLY

Join The Numinous & Guided By Biet for SOBER CURIOUS, a social experiment to discover what it means to get high on your own supply…

 

“Numbing vulnerability also dulls our experience of love, joy, belonging, creativity, and empathy. We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light” – Brene Brown

There’s a reason sobriety is in, and it’s because it feels amazing. Blissful, even. Within days of alcohol leaving your system, you become aware of how much more at peace you feel in your body. A little longer, and you’ll notice how even a friendly text sends a tingle of physical pleasure along your limbs. Give it a few weeks, and you may find yourself breaking into spontaneous laughter at the sheer ecstasy of being alive.

This is what it feels like to get high on your own supply. But modern drinking culture makes it easier, often way too easy, to choose booze as our go-to method for feeling good (by simply numbing the “bad”). The price? We’ve all been there.

And so SOBER CURIOUS is a social experiment from The Numinous and Guided By Biet – a new space for the sober curious to investigate just how good life can get when we re-frame our relationship with alcohol. Far from “boring” (an accusation they love to levy against non-drinkers), what if choosing sobriety meant being “high” all the time?

This might not mean total abstinence from alcohol, either. The power of positive drinking can be a beautiful thing. A sacrament, even. But an occasional cocktail to celebrate life can also be a slippery slope into the kind of habitual drinking that becomes a substitute for sustained, self-generated joy; that dulls our awareness; that only exacerbates feelings of anxiety and emptiness; and that ultimately separates us from a true sense of self.

A proposed series of meet-ups, talks, workshops, and other events, SOBER CURIOUS could be for you if:

– You drink to feel good, but it often leaves you feeling worse (and it helps to talk about it)

– You want to drink less, but think this will mean the end of your social life

– You want to drink less, but think this will mean the end of DATING

– You want to cultivate a healthier relationship with booze

– You want to attend high-end, high-vibe events where alcohol is off the menu

– You love how good life feels when you don’t drink, and want to connect with other people who’ve discovered this too

– You want to experience getting crazy high on your own supply

Sign up for the Numinous newsletter to see how the conversation unfolds.

And a caveat: SOBER CURIOUS is NOT an addiction recovery program – although it may be a stepping stone to AA for some people. If you think you might need a higher level of support to address a drinking problem that’s negatively impacting your life, or in dealing with any underlying emotional issues that may be part of this, we also have the resources to connect you with people who can help.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: CHATS WITH GURU JAGAT, AND THANK TM FOR THAT

Also the week of 5am wake-up calls (thank TM), a cosmic soup diet, and a message from Mother Mary…

Aries Arise sweatshirt: standard issue book-writing attire

:: MONDAY ::
Skype time with the one and only Guru Jagat, kundalini queen of the Ra Ma Institute in Venice. We were talking all things yoga for some research for MY BOOK (have I mentioned I’m writing a book? Only 2 more chapters to go *wipes sweat from brow*), and her parting piece of advice for anybody getting serious with their spiritual practice is to set your alarm for before sunrise (“any time from 3-5am is great”) to do some kind of meditation. Well…as the cosmos would have it, I’ve been waking at 5am on the dot (no alarm needed) for the past few days. I’m blaming the TM.

:: TUESDAY ::
So I’ve been eating a lot of soup – because basically the Universe said so. As in, a few days ago I overheard 4 different conversations where people were talking about soup and how great it is (seriously – like in the yoga studio, on the subway, in the street), the same day I saw some thing about this book called THE SOUP CLEANSE. Had to be a sign, right? So I had soup that night and it just felt so GOOD! And so nourishing, and so and right for my nutrition needs right now. And so not fancy, I’m getting mine from Amy’s Organic. The Universe delivers her guidance in mysterious ways.

:: WEDNESDAY ::
Got my first Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards! Yep, more book research, and also because I had a mini Goddess reading with lovely Erica Wiederlight of We The Light last week and the cards that came out were SO inspiring I was like, yes I’ll have more of you in my life thanks. Funny thing is, Mother Mary keeps coming up – which is weird for me since I don’t connect with the myth of Christianity on any level. But I do like her message – “Expect a Miracle.” As as for the immaculate conception…well it does feel like I’m currently birthing a #bookbaby (did I mention I’m writing a book?)

Scenes from my desk

:: THURSDAY ::
Got the first peek at samples of the sweatshirt line we’re launching on the site next month! So so good, I literally can’t wait to get share them. Even better than my Aries Arise “Don’t Be Square” shirt (see main pic), which has become my standard book-writing attire (did I mention…?) Also, something strange. I’ve always been majorly selfie-averse (upcoming 40th birthday etc), but for some reason I had no qualms whatsever posting this “make-up free” pic today. It honestly feels like something has shifted in the way I see myself this past week. Again, I think I’ll blame / thank the TM.

:: FRIDAY ::
So this is the year I’m really, fully, embracing sobriety. Not in a total abstinence sense, more of a “this feels like the healthiest choice for me and actually it appears to be making me really happy” kind of way (p.s. I’m also working on a really exciting project to further this conversation – watch this space!) And so today I’m on my way to the left coast for…a sober Las Vegas weekend! I used to have this thing about certain destinations (Vegas, Ibiza) being off-limits if I wasn’t drinking, but how lame is that? I’m excited to see what the bright lights look like through the lens of absolute clarity. Oh and ALSO it means I’ll finally get to visit Vegenation – the downtown Vegas vegan joint I’m totally obsessed with on Instagram… #sobervegas!

Taco time at Vegenation

GODDESS TRIP: DIARY OF A PSYCHEDELICS ADDICT

And almost ten years sober, her experiences inform her work as a healer to this day, says former psychedelics addict Jesse Heid.

Jesse Heid celebrating her 39th birthday earlier this year

My six siblings and I grew up in what I can only describe as a mellow and small Christian cult, created by my parents. Their worship centered around a Buddha-Christ figure and I took it very literally when they taught me, ‘Jesus lives in your heart.’ To me, Jesus was the most gorgeous, the most beautiful hunky guy. I had that classic ’70’s portrait of him on my bedroom wall, the one where he’s sexy Jesus with the beard.

I had always felt that I was Christ’s favorite kid. I really thrived on the sense I developed early on that I was sacred and Beloved to the Divine. He did everything with me, ballet classes and tea parties. He also was also the compassionate witness to all my childhood traumas. As a result, I had a very intimate, loving, and positively romantic relationship to the Divine.

But when I first altered my consciousness with marijuana around age 21, I started to hear a new voice guiding that Divine dialog, and it was the voice of a woman. This Great Feminine presence was the raddest experience of my life. Beyond words, beyond what I could describe as Love and Wisdom. When I started using various psychedelics and entheogens this Divine female voice took on a great authority – such authority, it made Jesus look like your super casual, chill best friend.

Goddess I call her, and her voice commands deep loving RESPECT. And, while in hallucinogenic and other altered states, I was in constant dialog with her. Mostly her talking to me while I tripped on this miraculous communion with her.

Although I certainly partied, I was intentionally using psychedelics and plant medicine as sacraments. I didn’t necessarily differentiate the “party” from what others call “temple” or “ritual.” Basically, I was in it for the transcendent, mystical experiences. And while I experienced deep healing on my adventures, of course this way of exploring consciousness can have tremendous consequences. Especially in a culture where as a trippy young healer, I had no mentors or sacred container for this unusual path.

For seven years, from 1999 to 2006, I tripped often, and was rarely truly sober – the time I was “landing” from one trip I was getting ready to take off on another. It’s important to note that I believe I was able to carry on like this for so many years because I was generally micro dosing – imbibing very small doses – of the highest quality substances. This enabled me to function well in my daily life, but still get Divinely freaky. I also think my severe allergy to alcohol has been a blessing really. I’ve never been able to drink, so I was never taxed physically that way.

But I was a psychedelics addict. I ate mushrooms almost every day for over a year. I would pop them in my mouth like people pop breath mints. I did psilocybin until they stopped having any effect, a tragedy when it happened. Other years, the pattern went something like: Molly on a Monday, Tuesday, some pot cookies and coffee, Wednesday, maybe a day off, LSD for Thursday, and bit of Foxy on Friday. The weekends would be a surprise mixed bag.

During this period, I was also running a Pilates studio in the East Village of New York City. I had a very robust clientele with a waiting list. I was a very popular teacher, and was frequently teaching while on psychedelics. Beyond surviving as a young women in the City, I was thriving.

And all the time, I felt the Goddess was teaching me the nature of the Universe. What I saw was a matrix of loving energy weaving through everything, and how the negative space between objects is perfect. That everything is whole, and also interconnected. Whenever I laid hands on my client I was able to see the matrix inside of us, the fascia system, and the way this extends outside of us to connect us to everything. That these filaments remain unbroken, and cannot be broken.

Jesse Heid today

If this sort of Divine Matrix can be an abstract concept to even the most dedicated “believer,” I could visually see this in a psychedelic state. And this is really what I was working on with my clients all day.

People would come to the studio to get a Pilates lesson, and then they would tell me their neck hurt. So I would put them on the Pilates Cadillac and work on their fascia, in a psychedelic state, and then tell them it was “Pilates.” And even while they were talking to me about their stressful lives, the Goddess was whispering instructions in my ear the whole time about what they needed for healing. It was all very mysterious and magical, and it really worked for me for a long time.

Goddess also revealed to me everyone’s true voice. That was consistent on every trip, no matter what I was on.  No matter what medicine I was dosing with, everyone I encountered spoke to me as an extremely vulnerable, innocent five-year-old. It even seemed like the more serious someone was, the more of a heartbreakingly precocious child they were inside.

I was working with CEO’s, neurosurgeons, film producers and their stars, and all I could hear was the innocent child, just trying to navigate and negotiate the suffering of this world.

Now remember, I am completely, 100 percent, not a rebel. I am a good girl, a product of my environment. I was doing what I was taught; “you talk to God. You do loving kindness and make art. You take responsibility for your Divine nature, as Jesus lives in your heart.” And I was never criticized by my family for doing drugs of any sort.

But I don’t think they knew how much I was doing. I don’t think anyone could conceive of how much I was doing because I was so highly functional. But in the end, I started mixing in cocaine. Not because I ever liked cocaine, it was never my drug of choice. But I rarely slept from doing psychedelics, and I had to go to work in the day, so it became like coffee to me. Plus, people were giving me coke for free. The East Village of NYC was different beast back then, and it’s how my clients would tip me sometimes.

With this harder substance in the mix, my lifestyle was finally taking its toll physically, and very quickly. I went down to 95 lbs. I also started to lose any and all respect for society’s rules. Everywhere I went, I was smoking a huge, fat joint.

I started to see a Jungian psychoanalyst, and it was clear to him, I think, that here was a talented young healer, going too far on her mystical trip. He was like, “Are you smart? I think it might just be the drugs that make you feel smart.” Soon I wanted to know if I WAS talented, if I WAS creative, if I had any value, if my friends even liked me (which it turns out they didn’t really), without drugs.

At the same time, the Goddess was telling me; “I’m bringing the hurt if you ever do cocaine again. And by the way, you have to take THIS much acid because it won’t work anymore…” I couldn’t do Molly anymore. Everything was just giving me a headache. When it finally ended, I had taken drugs for 92 days straight, just a few days over 3 months.

That last trip, I mixed a lot of cocaine with acid. Do not EVER do cocaine and acid. I felt as if every single fiber of connective tissue in my body was having a migraine. For days, I could feel my nail beds. I lay on my back for about seven hours to protect my spine. I was in full head to toe spasms. Every single part of me was throbbing with the message; “It’s over. It’s over. It’s over.” And I needed that brutality. Pain is my greatest teacher.

When I quit drugs, I went through the terrible loneliness of feeling disconnected from the Divine. I went from a Universe that was beyond Technicolor and blissful joy, to a world that was grainy, fuzzy black and white. Food didn’t taste good. Music sounded like shit. People lost the innocence in their voice. And my friends were very, very angry at me. Very angry at me for quitting drugs, because, I realized, they had lost their best curator for trips. I had curated fantastic trips.

Jesse in her psychedelics heyday

I felt like I had been kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and kicked out because I couldn’t handle it anymore, and had abused the sacraments. But I also had faith that things were unfolding as they should. I quickly figured out that not only did I have a drug addiction, but almost an addiction to spiritual epiphanies. Now I needed time to digest, to integrate the massive insights I acquired. The Jungian analysis was really fundamental to this. I saw my therapist three times a week for six years.

Physically, I went from one hundred to zero by myself. I swore off absolutely everything that could alter my consciousness, including several years without caffeine. I was being penitent. And there was no 12-step group for psychedelics. I would piggyback on Cocaine Anonymous and AA, but that didn’t work out for me very well. I was dropped by every sponsor, predominantly because they weren’t a psychedelics addict. They were alcoholics, and it’s just a very different vibe to recover from.

I feel very blessed that my body had an easier time dealing with withdrawal than most, and that I was able to fully quit on my own without medical assistance. But my mind and spirit was in hell. I also had to get over the shame of being a psychedelics addict. It was hard work to do that, and it was hard work to participate in life and to show up for people.

On another level, I also had to participate more spiritually. I couldn’t just take the medicine and have Goddess come to me. I actually had to do the work to get into a mystic state. I found myself studying meditation, ritual, and ceremony to try to integrate the wisdom I sourced on my trips into my daily life, but also simply because I missed my communion with Goddess. This period of recovery was a cocooning stage really, where I withdrew from the world to work on myself.

I consider it a miracle that my ability to understand spatial relationships on a very deep somatic level, my understanding of inner space, remained with me through sobriety. Psychedelics taught me everything that I use in my career as a healer now, and these days I just tell my clients the truth when they ask about my methods. That this is something I developed when I did psychedelics regularly, and explored inner space. I often say that once you peak behind the curtain, you can’t “un-see” what you found there. However, integrating that wisdom into daily life is a whole other trip!

I also know that for my spiritual evolution, I needed to know the real darkness of addiction. I relate so deeply to the path of the Wounded Healer, and so many of us are battling addictions of every sort. I’m much more of service as a healer having had to heal myself from my addiction to hallucinogenic drugs. I look back, and rather than deny that part of myself, I feel blessed I got experience it. But I’m far more grateful I got to recover from it.

I do not recommend MY path to anyone else however, and I consider myself very lucky to be here. But witnessing the renaissance for psychedelics unfolding around me now, and the healing aspects of non-ordinary states of consciousness in general being celebrated, actually makes my heart sing. I’m also thrilled to see real support for the appropriate research into the healing properties of these substances, as well as social support for people exploring consciousness through hallucinogens.

For anybody who is choosing to experiment, I’m also beyond stoked to see all the resources out there for people to educate themselves and stay safe and healthy. Check out the awesome organizations below that are helping us evolve towards cognitive liberty and safer inner explorations.

As a healer, teacher, and artist, some of Jesse Heid’s most passionate work is introducing people to their fascia connective tissue and exploring the tensegrity of the fascia matrix throughout our entire form. Jesse holds a BFA in modern dance and composition from CalArts and has been a popular NYC Pilates teacher since 2000. Find out more about her and her work at Alignedspiritpilates.com, and follow her on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest.

For more information about the safe use of psychedelics for healing:

MAPS: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Women’s Visionary Congress

The Cosmic Sister Women of the Psychedelic Congress