Happy new year! Yes, this episode has been timed for the first week of January—and is for anybody who may be embarking on a month off drinking as a way to kick-start a longer reevaluation of their drinking habits. What I call, getting “Sober Curious.” Since I began using this term, Lee Tilghman (a.k.a. @leefromamerica) is one person who’s been very vocal about her own sober curiosity, and I wanted to hear the full story.
Turns out, Lee’s story (which she writes about HERE) is very, very similar to mine. Is, I suspect, very similar to MANY of our stories, when it comes to the complex and not always healthy relationship we have with our bodies, our feelings, and the behaviors and substances we use to manipulate both with. In this episode, we discuss …
– Lee’s experience of getting Sober Curious and what the term means for her
– Problem eating as a precursor to problem drinking
– Drugs and partying as a way to feel validated, and play a role that’s been sold to us by society and the media
– The root of feelings or even the Self we’re often hiding from with booze
– Feeling the FOMA (Fear of Missing Alcohol) and how to make new Sober Curious friends
– How to be present with what we don’t want to be feeling
– The importance of knowing your “why” for getting Sober Curious
You can learn more about Lee and her work HERE and follow her on Instagram @leefromamerica. You can also read more about her history with eating disorders HERE and her thoughts on “Body Checking” HERE.
Psychiatrist Will Siu, MD, is an advocate for healing from trauma from psychedelics. Currently a therapist on clinical trials using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD, he shares his insights into a very human way to heal …
When we think about trauma, we often go straight to war, physical, or sexual abuse. But as important, are the traumas of neglect, of feeling un-safe, of feeling un-loved. People think: “I don’t deserve to say, ‘I’ve suffered trauma’. But that’s BS. All of us have suffered numerous traumas in our lives.
When this trauma is unhealed and unresolved, this manifests as suffering—in our bodies and in our beings. And so we find strategies to cope. Depending on our genetic make-up, our family history, and our place in society, this might look like a cluster of symptoms that we call OCD, PTSD, or addiction. I don’t think about these as disorders. They are simply what our body and mind are doing to try to protect us. There’s nothing wrong with us—these symptoms just show us that there is a trauma to be healed.
We’ve been throwing medication at this for years, and it doesn’t work. When it comes to mental health, Western medicine has seen most success with SSRIs like Prozac for treating depression, for example. But they only work slightly better than a placebo. It’s silly when physicians say this is the answer.
In contrast, the data from trials on MDMA for PTSD, psilocybin for alcoholism, psilocybin for end of life anxiety, and MDMA for social anxiety, is better than anything else we’ve seen for mental health. But there’s still a lot of resistance to integrating these therapies, which I believe stems from a fear of these being dangerous or addictive drugs.
I also want to emphasize that the studies being done are using these substances to facilitate the psychotherapy process. It’s not the molecules themselves that are doing the healing. Rather, they are assisting the interpersonal healing process that we call “psychotherapy.”
When it comes to healing trauma, I think of the concept of “catharsis”—and old psychology term for the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. And three things need to happen for our bodies and our minds to release us from our traumas. There is a need for the intellectual memory of the trauma to be coupled with the emotional memory of it, and for this to happen in an empathic setting. Empathy is different from sympathy, when we might hear: “oh, that must have been hard for you.” It’s about really feeling that the person in front of you understands your experience. In many cases with empathy, there isn’t even a need for words.
What you’ll notice in my recipe for catharsis is that psychedelics are not in the equation. That a therapist is not in the equation. That a shaman in white linen a warehouse in Brooklyn is not in the equation. This is because we’re capable of doing this work by nature of us being human. Not that these things can’t be helpful, but thinking that one or more of these modalities themselves is going to heal you, is a mistake.
I believe that because of the way that Western culture has developed—with the breakdown of community, the breakdown of family—we’ve created the need for mental health professionals. It is possible to do this work on our own. When people are trained, there is a higher chance of healing the deepest wounds, but I don’t think it’s necessary. There are people who’ve been doing underground therapy for a long time—not that everybody does it well, including people who are trained to do psychedelic therapy. The key is to trust yourself and the way you feel when you are working with someone.
A psychiatrist named Stan Grof, who was friends with Albert Hoffman, who discovered LSD, has said: “The full experience of a negative emotion is the funeral pyre of that emotion.” This is an important way to think about healing from trauma. With psychedelic therapy, we’re talking about enhancing “negative” emotions and memories, whereas the Western approach has focused on suppressive therapies. Look at the categories of medications we use: anti-depressants. Anti-anxiety meds. We’re really doing the opposite of trying to feel every emotion through to its “funeral pyre.”
Western medicine and psychiatry are not to blame for this. It’s also an approach that represents our culture and where we are as a society. The emotions that we tend to suppress are sadness and fear. Interpersonally, and in self-help memes on social media, they’re thought of as signs of weakness. Something to be ashamed of, as if there’s something wrong with us for feeling or expressing them. I think the way we treat them medically is a result of this cultural treatment of them. Emotions like joy and anger, meanwhile, are very, very acceptable. We need to shift this if we’re going to do any real healing.
Using psychedelics as part of the Western medicine approach in doing this work is also going to take a change in society. These are evocative therapies. They’re the opposite of suppressive therapies. They evoke emotions, they evoke memories, they evoke physical symptoms. Hopefully in an environment that is conducive to healing. The term “set and setting,” coined by Timothy Leary in 1961, speaks to where you’re at personally, who are you with, and what is the physical space like. All of these elements have an impact on your overall experience.
Of course, some of these consciousness altering molecules can also be used to escape from our problems, including ketamine, marijuana, alcohol, MDMA, and nicotine. Again, it comes back to set and setting as to whether these things can be helpful or harmful. I’m also not saying these substances can’t be used for recreation, for fun, for creativity. We just need to not be fooling ourselves when we’re trying to do healing work with them.
The final piece I want to mention is integration. People aren’t focusing enough on this part of psychedelic healing, which I think of as the work that is done in the days, weeks, and months after the experience itself. In my opinion, the majority of the long-term benefits of psychedelic therapy is in the sober work that follows.
Real bravery doesn’t come from taking a third of fourth cup of ayahuasca, or five or six tabs of acid. It’s really about going back to work the following week and seeking to make peace with the coworker that irritates you. It could be calling a sibling you haven’t spoken to in nine months because you felt they aren’t as “enlightened” as you, and choosing to love them anyway. These healing interactions are truly where we find the long-term benefits of this work.
Will Siu, MD , DPhil, studied medicine at UCLA, the National Institute of Health in Washington DC, and Oxford University. In addition ton addition to his private practice in NYC, he is a therapist on clinical trials using MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat PTSD. Learn more about Will and his work HERE and follow him on Instagram.
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 …
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.
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.
Can you balance unhealthy compulsions without losing your appetite for pleasure? Emma Whitehair wrestles with the demons of alcohol, love, and sugar addiction, and asks herself: “What are you really hungry for?”
“Could I continue to sink my teeth into life with enthusiasm while learning balance around an unhealthy compulsion?”- Emma Whitehair
Ughhhh … Krispy Kremes. Never something I’d choose to put in my body. So why, when a colleague turned up with a box full of them, did my inner werewolf rear its head? A demon who was frothing at the mouth to demolish the lot, while my sensible side tried to argue the case to “go-halves” on one.
The demon won, leaving me to contend with a toxic dose of self-loathing.
My sweet tooth kicked in with a vengeance when I quit booze over a decade ago, and I felt that this new appetite was part of my continued search for escapism and relief. Love, too, came under this dopamine-inducing umbrella. My hunger for gratification also showed up in romantic fantasies of that one magic person who’d be capable of making me happy forever after …
However, unlike sobriety, going cold turkey on sugar (and love for that matter) didn’t feel like the right approach. Isn’t fruit sugar? Not to mention nutrient rich blackstrap molasses and antibacterial raw manuka honey? Where to draw the line? I’ll admit that my justifications sounded a bit like the arguments I used to have against quitting booze. “I just want to be able to enjoy a nice glass of Rioja with tapas, or champers at a wedding.” I know where those odd glasses can lead me though—the tail end of a two-day bender.
With an addictive personality, could I become moderate in this one area? And how not to lose my wildly passionate side and my appetite for pleasure in the process? I set out to discover if I could continue to sink my teeth into life with enthusiasm while learning balance around an unhealthy compulsion …
:: BELLY BACTERIA BALANCING :: My first step was to go into my gut. An overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract can manifest as fatigue, a foggy head, anxiety and, most noticeably, sugar cravings. Overdoing it with alcohol, refined carbohydrates and sugary foods commonly causes this problem. Perhaps this was my werewolf’s lair?
I consulted Nutritional TherapistClaudia le Feuvre, who placed me on a course ofDida supplements and probiotics to tackle any pathogenic bacteria and to re-inoculate my gut with antimicrobials.
A few months later, I noticed my urge to bury my head in a bag of Haribo had disappeared. I now had the confidence that the issues were not tied to gut health. It was time to take my journey even deeper.
:: IT’S ALL A METAPHOR :: Claudia prescribed a reading list as a key part of my healing, and I consumed each title with gusto.
After living with the patriarchy for thousands of years, we’ve literally been starved of our divine feminine. The result? We’re now going wild with addictions and disorders as we fill our bellies to fill the emptiness in our hearts. Women Who Run with the Wolves andEating in the Light of the Moon both have this concept at their core, and show how cravings can be metaphors.
The Gift of Our Compulsions inspired me to meet my compulsions with curiosity rather than resistance in order to get at what lived underneath them. By cultivating detachment from my thoughts, feelings, and sensations, I could witness my cravings.
When I declare ‘I’m hungry,’ I am identified with this experience. Whereas ‘this is hunger’ creates space for me to relate to what’s really happening, and ask if the statement is true. And in most cases, it’s not true at all. It’s more like ‘this is boredom/procrastination/loneliness,’ which I can either try to remedy or simply observe without needing to ‘fix.’
:: A SESSION WITH THE SPIRITUAL NUTRITIONIST :: The final part of my work with Claudia involved a 1-2-1 session where she called upon her spirit guide to help us “recode inner conflict” and used kinesiology to identify a potent mantra.
During our session, my arm suddenly gained strength from the words: “I am in tune with my body’s nutritional needs, and have no hunger for food beyond them.” This was then used as a mantra in a kind of Psych-k self-hypnosis meditation, where after about 10 minutes Claudia was shown by her guide, with a shiver through her body, that our work was done.
Although, I didn’t feel a bolt of lightning during the session, it’s like a spell has been broken. I feel relaxed around my usual triggers, and noticeably more tuned in to the intuitive whispering of my body.
Now, when I get the urge to eat when I’m not hungry, I often seem to instinctively know what tactic will help me ride it out. A few deep breaths, a drink of water, or a big stretch is usually all it takes.
:: THE FAST OF ENLIGHTENMENT :: My newfound gut feelings also told me that the next step in this journey was to introduce a fasting practice to help me regain a sense of the true nature of my body’s hunger. Fasting is the most natural way to rest the body, giving it the chance to do the “housework” needed to repair cells and cleanse the itself, while improving immunity.
When I started losing my appetite for a meal in the evening, I took it as a sign that my body wanted the benefits of some regular light fasting. So from around 5pm to late morning, I often stick to water and herbal tea. And although I sometimes go to bed feeling hungry, intuition tells me my digestive system needs this rest. I’m now sleeping more deeply and I wake feeling light and much less hungry than if I have a meal the night before.
I’m also committed to fasting at least a couple of days per month, usually over the New Moon—my version of the “Lunar Diet.” Near the Full Moon I often crave extra calories because of my cycle, whereas during the New Moon I feel more like hibernating. It’s also the ideal time to go inwards and set intentions for the coming astrological season.
:: WHAT AM I TRULY HUNGRY FOR? :: Using tactics to pause when I’m tempted to grab a substitute for what I really need has been a total (third) eye opener!
It’s given me the sense that my appetite is primal. We’re first comforted as babies through sweet breast milk and so sweetness will always be associated with mother love. An absence of that kind of nurturing can show up in dysfunctional relationships with comforting substances like sugar, alcohol, or the dopamine hit you get with the first flush of ‘love’.
So what to do in the present about a void from the past? Some sweet ass self-loving of course! We all have the chance, right now, to be the parent we needed growing up. Allowing feelings that have been buried in the past to move through us is how we evolve …
My epiphany about my constant low-level hunger? There’s fulfillment to be found by relishing my appetite, rather than chasing gratification. It’s summed up in this quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, Take This Waltz: “Life has a gap in it. It just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it like some lunatic.” I simply need to accept, and even celebrate, the fact that there will always be this hunger within me.
So when Krispy Kreme (a.k.a. my Soul Challenge on this journey) announced their new flavor (Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème, in case you were wondering) by sending a truckload to my office, I met my inner wolf with curiosity. I saw that she wasn’t a “demon” at all, and just a part of me wanting to be comforted. “Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance,” says Epicurus. So I enjoyed half a donut. Leaving enough room to still be able to taste the sweetness of life.
Emma Whitehair is the founder of London based boutique lifestyle PR agency, WHITEHAIR.CO, which specialises in fashion, beauty, and wellbeing communications.
Get inspired by this month’s Mooners & Shakers, the Moon Club members making waves and fueling their passion projects!
HEBA TALLAH, LUMINOUS FEMME “The medicine is in the remembrance. Cutting through the BS and the noise – going straight to the truth, and calling on it.”
The Project A Luminous Femme is a woman who has remembered that her greatest power, beauty, and strength, have been within her all along.
She knows that her trials and tribulations are opportunities for more self-awareness, growth, and compassion. And she jumps into this journey of deeper and deeper self-love and self-awareness with gusto and no apology. She cultivates a deep love and respect for her Femmebody, for the way she waxes and wanes, and for her inherent superpowers along the way.
The Medicine I have been called here to anchor the Light and the Divine Feminine (in the Middle East, no less) and across all borders on Mama Earth. I feel the deepest honor and gratitude for carrying this calling. And such reverence for this life!
Being a woman (or a human, for that matter) in today’s world can feel so draining, confusing, and sometimes downright infuriating. Claiming who we inherently, truly are—and our connection to Source that is right here, in our heart space, in our every cell, at any given moment—is the fast track to inner peace. The medicine is in the remembrance. Cutting through the BS and the noise—going straight to the truth, and calling on it.
The medicine is also in knowing that the divine feminine that is within us all is awakening en masse—and she is not to be tamed, or quieted, any longer. I created Luminous Femme as a container to facilitate a woman’s return to her inner core, which is already perfect and whole, and to remember how to live from that space on the daily. Because there’s nothing juicier or more healing for the world than a woman in her divine feminine element!
The Birthing Process It has been at least five years (more like my lifetime really) since I’ve had this luminous gift and voice pulsing inside, wanting to be expressed. This has meant healing myself and my blocks, my stories, and working through them all. It’s been knowing I had a message to share but having life keep throwing me curveballs to fill in all the blanks and help me get over whatever held me back in the past.
Discovering yoga at age 18, becoming a teacher 12 years later, and the journey it takes me on a daily basis is humbling and so fulfilling. My mat is my healer, my sanctuary.
The Moon Club Inspiration It really feels like the coolest place to hang out on the web. I’ve been a Numinous reader for years and a lover of all things Moon related, which is a big part of Luminous Femme philosophy—cyclical living and connecting to the Moon phases.
When I see how this conversation is so normalized in the club, and the presence of all the women in the group who are so strong and healing and brave, it fills me up with so much juice and passion for this way of life. We’re all so connected and willing to do the work—to show up, to accept, and to self-realize. It’s not only deeply informative, it’s also so much fun, like a cosmic pajama party! It’s such an honor to walk this way with you all.
What does spiritual activism look like? We’re so inspired by our change-making Moon Club members and their passion projects! Our Mooners and Shakers this month are Danielle Russell and Rachel Hanberry…
“Basically…we leaped. We saw an opportunity to use our passions and skills to serve a cause we valued.”
The Project “The Women’s March on Washington Archives Project began with a group of archivists inspired by the massive political and social importance of the January 21st Women’s Marches. Taking into account both the marches’ historical context, and the new wave of grassroots activism that fueled it, we’ve dedicated ourselves to ensuring the preservation of women’s voices in this intensely controversial contemporary political climate. Our end goal is to create a digital aggregate that documents this diverse, women-centric, political resistance with the eventual hope that these materials will become publicly available.”
The Breakthrough “After volunteering my skills to state-level organizers, I reached out to a group of professional archivists to explore both what they had done for similar protests in the past and how they were currently responding to this event. I was pointed towards Documenting Ferguson and the Baltimore Uprising Archive, but there hadn’t been any efforts yet for the Women’s March. My co-administrator created a Facebook group, and we just started planning from the ground up. I sent out cold-call emails and she collaborated with her mentors to collect oral histories on a national (and now global!) scale. We started laying the groundwork for photographs and physical materials to have homes, and we reached out to state and city-level organizers to lend legitimacy to our team’s efforts.”
The Wider Mission “I firmly believe that archivists actively shape documentary heritage to reflect the broad spectrum of human experience, and that marginalized voices and experiences have been overlooked in the archival record. We have to pay attention to ‘hot spots,’ where people object to or suggest variations from the official narrative of state or societal structures. Ideally, the culmination of these documentation efforts is a comprehensive image of society that includes public hopes and dreams, frustrations and failures, and activities and movements, all preserved in their original voices.”
The Inner Work “As archivists, we are not impartial caretakers, but socially conditioned, subjective humans who are trying to be very transparent in our work. While my co-administrator and I are both women who deeply feel the importance of this next wave of feminist activism, obviously we can’t, and the WMW organizers do not, speak for all feminists or the entire Feminist movement. While this next wave of feminism aims to be truly intersectional, we also recognize the controversy that surrounded the Women’s March on Washington having been conceived by white women, and we are beginning to hear more from voices that complicate and enrich the narrative. Acknowledging this personally, and within the scope of the Project, is so important to the growth of the movement, but also to my own growth as a scholar, a feminist, and an activist.”
Moon Club Inspiration “This project was conceived because of my participation in Moon Club, and is directly born out of my quarterly journaling exercises. After we worked in Moon Club on the idea of developing a service practice, I started looking into archival activism. I wanted to figure out how my skills could be used in the causes and movements I supported. In addition, the open and varied discussions with diverse women (and some men!) have expanded my practice of deep listening. Listening to their voices talking about their lives needs to be a fundamental part of my activism.”
The Project “The Sobriety Club is a subscription club that supports and provides connection for people who have consciously decided to quit any kind of addiction. In this Age of Awakening, negative addictions make us less conscious. When we are free from addiction, the fog dissipates and we can clearly see the light-filled path towards our true selves. The Sobriety Club’s mission is to support individuals on that path. I know all too well that this can be challenging, and understand that connection to others on the same path can ease the pressure to conform to social norms of negative addictions.”
The Breakthrough “Before finding my true calling, I lived the London party lifestyle—consuming copious amounts of alcohol and participating in occasional drug use. At first it was fun, but it quickly became a coping strategy and a way for me to survive my own life. I was drowning in despair, self-loathing and hatred. I knew that alcohol didn’t serve me or my purpose in life, but found it hard to separate fun from the substances. I was so conditioned to consume and often felt boring if I didn’t drink.
Yoga transformed me, and I discovered I was born to be a yoga teacher and coach. Through teaching and coaching, it became clear to me that others were suffering from the same issues. Yet even after many years away from my former London lifestyle, I would have periods of drinking, and gradually lose my own light the more my alcohol consumption increased. The Sobriety Club was born to help me keep my word to myself and to support others who want to be clean, light-filled, and focused but find themselves trapped in this cycle.”
The Wider Mission “My wider mission in the world is to help others to evolve their own lives. Through yoga classes, meditation, coaching programs, workshops, retreats, and teacher training courses at Yoga Beach House I give people the tools to learn to live in the present, fully and abundantly without the constraints of the past or future. I enable other people to be their best selves.”
Moon Club Inspiration “During the last Moon Salon, I was really inspired to reach out to Ruby after hearing her talk about alcohol. As we come together to share ideas, resources, and ourselves, it’s been so inspiring to witness Moon Club members encourage each other’s enlightenment and growth of consciousness!”
Want to join the cosmic crusade? Sign-up for Moon Club, our monthly membership and coaching program where astrology, community, and activism combine to help you create a life of passion, purpose, and pleasure!
Brand new sweats, getting sober curious in London, walking the human tightrope, and saying “goodbye 2016″…
:: MONDAY :: Got interviewed by badass yogi Guru Jagat for her RaMa Radio show “Reality Riffing,” which was really kinda cool because usually I’m the one interviewing people! And luckily the moon was in Gemini and I was feeling extra chatty. We got through a bunch of stuff about spiritual activism, walking the wellness talk, and how “being in a human body feels like walking a tightrope right now” (her metaphor, but who isn’t feeling this one??). But guess what? Maybe the tightrope is the only way across the abyss. In which case, let’s keep calm, clear, centered, and never quit cheering each other on. You can listen to the full interview here.
:: TUESDAY :: First virtual Full Moon ritual for our Moon Club members, and we had people attend from Belfast in Ireland, Toronto, London, Mexico, and all over the United States. YES, this community is global! Since this week’s Gemini Full Moon was the last full moon of 2016, it has felt like a good week to take stock of a year that has brought so many harsh lessons, so much anguish (the tightrope, remember?), and, as a result, such tremendous opportunity for growth. What have you been through this year, and who have you become? This was the theme of Alexandra Roxo’s moving guided meditation, in which we journeyed to meet the different “selves” of 2016, and ask for their lessons, and their blessings. Intrigued? New members can access a recording of the session via the private Moon Club Facebook group any time you sign up.
:: WEDNESDAY :: Finalizing details for Club SÖDA NYC, the new name for my “sober curious” Club Soda events—which I am bringing to London on January 11 due to popular demand! And speaking of previous selves…when I left my home town five years ago for a new life in NYC, I was a full-on party girl, using alcohol and other drugs as a way to bridge the fulfillment gap (the abyss…?) that has since been bridged by creating The Numinous, and all the offshoot projects of this platform. London is also the kind of town where saying you don’t drink is often met with eye rolls and extreme pressure to “just have one,” followed by intense gossiping about how you must be a) in AA, or b) pregnant.
So to say I’m apprehensive about how my new attitude to booze will go down, is kind of an understatement. But it seems that even in the UK, the conversation is changing. Ever since I announced the launch of Club Soda on this side of the pond, I have received messages from Brits asking me to bring the events to the UK—”because we really need something like this.” Not to mention loads of newly sober (and sober curious) friends offering to help me stage a London event. Which means…it’s happening! Read more and get your ticket here.
:: THURSDAY :: New sweatshirts, new sweatshirts! A couple of months back, Urban Yogis co-founder Eddie Stern approached me with the idea of creating a limited edition print of his Broome St. Temple tees (worn by people like, oh, Russell Brand and MADONNA). The Temple was Eddie’s iconic ashtanga studio in Soho, which he vacated earlier this year to set up the equally beautiful Brooklyn Yoga Club—the tees a riff on the logo for punk band The Ramones. Our version? Went went kinda glam with gold foil! As with our Chakra and Vinyasa shirts, a percentage of proceeds will go to the Urban Yogis, to help fund the amazing work they do bringing peace to marginalized communities in the city. You can check them out and shop the collection here.
:: FRIDAY :: And speaking of Madonna, if you didn’t already then please, please watch her acceptance speech for the Billboard Woman of The Year award she collected this week. So many truths, such powerful vulnerability, and what a fearless statement about the need for true sisterhood. But above all a reminder, fitting in the final days of 2016, that: “in life there is no real safety, except self-belief.” The tightrope is real. You’d better believe.
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?
:: 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?
From Austin, TX, to the West Coast…it’s been a week of life lessons from the road.
:: MONDAY—WEDNESDAY:: Anybody who follows my Instagram feed will know the Pisces and I have been on a road-trip the past two weeks. Schedule: Austin—Marfa—Santa Fe—Sedona—Grand Canyon—Vegas—Palm Springs—Joshua Tree—LA. And it has been a TRIP—meaning the daily checking off of bucket list items, AND the deep and thorough examination of the contents of my head / current situation.
As I’m back in NY for a few days this week (yep there’s more to come!), I wanted to take the opportunity to record a few spiritual lessons from the road. Here goes:
Even your soul project / true calling / dharma work can become a ball and chain if you let it. In fact, there’s perhaps an even stronger likelihood of it taking over your entire life than a “regular” job where you clock in and out every day, since it’s what you were “born to do.” Like breathing. And so it feels natural to do it ALL THE TIME. Getting away from my desk and onto the open road gave me some invaluable perspective on how, with so many projects bubbling (book, sweatshirt line, live events, Club SÖDA NYC, etc!) I have allowed The Numinous to become my everything this year, to the point that there was no space in my life for…ME. Let alone for it to still feel like fun. This realization hit has I found myself trying to get a WiFi signal hiking somewhere in the Sedona red rocks, and suffering extreme bouts of anxiety at the number of unread emails that were building up while I “wasted time” checking out the Grand Canyon. I mean WT actual F?
A road trip is the perfect crucible from some honest self-reflection. Since your driving buddy essentially acts as a giant mirror for all your shit—kind of like your higher self observes your ego mind running rings around itself in meditation. In my case, the Pisces was the voice of my higher self—my fretting over where to do the conference call I had scheduled in TWO DAYS TIME, my fearful monkey mind trying to stay in “control” as my external environment shifted on an hourly basis. “You don’t have to do any of it if you don’t want to,” he reminded me. “You chose all this.” And what a fucking privilege too! The key insight being, that if I chose this work, then it is absolutely in my power to un-choose any bits that are no longer working for me. Like responding to every email I get within the hour. And same goes for all of us, in ANY situation, actually. YOU get to chose where your energy goes.
I do not need any more crystals, animal totems, oracle decks, or bunches of sage. A.k.a. all the trappings of “spiritual materialism”—a term that’s come up a few times lately, and so obviously was asking to be pondered. Not to mention my go-to on every stop of our trip being to seek out the best esoteric book store in town—which began to feel a bit like bypassing the art and going straight to the museum shop. As you can imagine, my house is FULL of spiritual paraphernalia—a Ganesh here, a clutch of crystals there. And it’s all very pretty. But I can’t honestly say I feel a true connection to most of it. And what become so clear on my trip was that all that “stuff,” for me, is simply a collection of talismans for the real spiritual work (the “art,” if you like) that’s happening on the inside. What I would define as the honest self-inquiry into WHO I AM and WHAT I NEED be the most fully me—as in, the truest expression of my spiritual self. Example: a healer I worked with recently told me a could use some Malachite in my life. But as I found myself returning lump after lump of the pretty green rock to its shelf in various esoteric stores along our route, I was also coming to the realization that what I truly need to develop spiritually is less time responding to emails, and more discernment on where I’m placing my energy (see points no. 1 & 2).
My email / work addiction is way worse than my alcohol addiction. As I explained when I wrote out my sober curious story a couple of weeks ago, my path to a more sober life over the past few years has meant a lot of sober firsts. And besides a few beers at the Austin City Limits festival on the first night of our trip, this has been my first ever (well, since the age of 15 or so I guess) sober vacation. “Holiday drinking” had always been my sobriety hall-pass (“I’ll only drink on holiday”), and so stepping outside of this has allowed for plenty of opportunity to witness my alcohol cravings and where they come from. And—ta-da!—the majority of the time I find myself fantasizing about a cocktail, it’s to flick the switch from work to play mode. Or rather, numb out the constant desire to…numb out with work and email! Being off my laptop has meant being fully present with my (not always exactly carefree, vacay-ready) self—showing me the extent to which I use work / being productive and busy, as a way to NOT just be with me. Which is what vacations are all about…which is why I now see I always held booze (believing it to be the most effective off-switch from work) as a vacay staple.
Hugging trees is the best. The hippies knew it, and every time I remember to do it I’m reminded how good and grounding, how calm, regenerative, and holy it feels to put your arms around a tree and really squeeze. Cut to Joshua Tree, where I found myself doing some filming with my boo Alexandra Roxo for a VERY EXCITING PROJECT (yes, another one!!) we’re launching on your asses next month. At one point, Roxo whips off her shirt and grabs the nearest trunk—the naked part not so natural for me, but my own tree-hug just as heartfelt. Our mutual friend Madeline has got into it lately too, “and she says it’s like doing a drug deal,” Alexandra joked. “In the city, you have to look in all directions and then go for it while you’re sure no-body’s watching.” Well, I say screw that! Who cares if they see? Tree-hugger and proud. A part of me I’ve been happy to re-connect with on the road.
:: THURSDAY :: I have to make some space here for beautiful Luke Simon’s nightlife experiment The Softer Image, a substance-free “high-vibe lounge” that debuted in NYC tonight. So happy I was back in town for this!! Said vibey “highs” were supplied by the equally divine Sah D’Simone‘s alchemical elixirs and tonics, a group trance to kick the evening off by talented hypnotherapist Shauna Cummins, and THE BEST old school housey soundtrack from DJ Bryce Hackford. There were hugs, wild dancing, impromptu reiki sessions, and my clock read 11.11pm before I knew it. Held in a Chinatown loft, maybe it was the kava shots, but the feel I kept getting was 4am-loved-up-after-party—only it all ended by midnight and everybody was completely sober. Thank you, Universe (and Luke), for hearing my pleas—and delivering a new way to switch off from work and have FUN. No alcohol required!
:: FRIDAY :: I hate the rain. But today I love the rain. Since I’m my own boss, I shall be choosing to mainly work from underneath my duvet. Which will mostly mean reading the early proofs of Guru Jagat’s new book Invincible Living, ahead of my live Q&A with her at tomorrow’s Numinous Presents event in Brooklyn. I bet she has a thing or two to say about email addiction…since Kundalini yoga was developed by Yogi Bhajan as an antidote to what he saw (way back in the sixties) as the onset of “technology sickness.” Intrigued? There a still a few spots left—click here to discover more and sign up.
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 NYCevents 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 2016from 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.
WTF does “sober curious” mean anyway? Allow me to explain…
:: 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.
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.
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.
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.
Seem like everybody is deep in Burning Man prep? I’m getting ready for next week’s super intense Virgo New Moon Eclipse… Club SÖDA NYCimages: Katrin Albert
:: MONDAY :: A reiki session with Jessica Brodkin—an energy healer I met recently who used to work for the CIA, and does stand-up comedy on the side. My kinda Material / Mystical gal! And as well laying like a TON of crystals on me (including a perfectly clear quartz Ganesh on my second chakra), what I loved about the way Jessica works is that she also provided a running commentary about what was going on. I really love the concept of reiki—a mystical healing energy that we can all learn how to channel? Yes please!—but since the effects are so subtle I can often leave a session wondering, did anything just happen?!
But as Jessica got my chakras spinning (fave takeaway: “I’m not sure how to describe this except to say your sacral chakra is now looking on fleek”), she also spoke highly intuitively about issues I’m currently facing, gave a cool book recommendation, suggested some crystals for me to work with, and helped me say a forgiveness prayer. Overall, I left feeling like I’d had a total energetic tune-up. Find out more about Jessica and book a session at Loveandlightservices.com
:: TUESDAY ::
Club SÖDA NYC! Biet Simkin and I had an amazing turn-out for our second big Soda event, which (of course) we had timed specifically to coincide with the Sun’s move into Virgo—sign of health, wellbeing, and service. This is the month to really connect to the concept of how a healthy body and mind allows us to most efficiently show up and do our dharma. And, as we head towards next Thursday’s Virgo New Moon, now is the perfect time to let any and all unhealthy habits (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual!) just fall way.
The 9/1 New Moon is also a solar eclipse AND Mercury will have just gone retrograde. Add in a formidable T-square (the Moon, Sun, Mercury and North Node in Virgo will square Mars and Saturn in Sag, and oppose Neptune in Pisces) we are talking some intensely karmic and unpredictable REBIRTH energy out there. I for one intend to be clean and clear and fully on my A-game!
:: WEDNESDAY :: Some of my most mystical moments are found in the experience of deep, soul connection with my fellow humans. Doesn’t it feel like MAGIC when that chemistry happens? In love, at work, and in our most precious friendships. I took two hours out for lunch today with a friend who makes me feel that way—and time stopped, the cosmos aligned, and it fed me more than a thousand hours of reiki. Heaven on earth.
:: THURSDAY :: OMG. Got news that Cara Delevigne and her sister Poppy have ordered two of our Vinyasa sweatshirts to take to Burning Man. That is all.
:: FRIDAY :: In fact, for all you Burners out there, may I point you in the direction of some Numinous reading for your journey to the Playa. See you there next year!
Discover the truth about you and booze at Sex, Lies & Alcohol…our next Club SÖDA NYC event with Biet Simkin and special guest Betsy LeFae.
“Sober isn’t lame. Sober is brazen, hilarious, kingly, free; Sober is a spiritual quest riddled with madness, authenticity, and true love.” The Sober Life
What are the stories you tell yourself about booze? About why you drink, when you drink, and what people will think if you don’t? About how alcohol makes you feel? About the role drinking plays in your friendships, your career, your dating life, and in the bedroom?
Our collective myths around drinking are ancient, worn smooth like old money. Learned from watching our parents drink, our peers at college drink; from how they drink in books and movies, from Cosmos in Sex and The City. New York is a drinkers town, right? Work hard, play hard. Alcohol a stimulant, a way to relax, a marker of sophistication, of camaraderie, the key to connection in a crazy world.
But what if some of the stuff what we thought we knew about booze, some of the stories we just swallowed, was a lie? What if we were actually more confident, more relaxed, funnier, sexier, and a better friend…sober?
Sex, Lies & Alcohol, the next Club SÖDA NYC event from The Numinous and Guided By Biet, will begin with a group discussion to debunk some of our most deeply ingrained drinking myths—including one of the big ones: that you have to drink when you date, and that sober sex lacks passion.
Celebrated meditation coach Biet Simkin will then share her favorite sober flirting techniques, before bringing the group together with her signature Center of the Cyclone meditation experience.
To finish, intuitive coach Betsy LeFae will guide us through some simple exercises to help us tune in to the voice of our intuition, of our TRUTH, to help us navigate beyond the half-truths we harbor around booze—leaving us free to approach our future drinking choices with more clarity, confidence and integrity.
Club SÖDA NYC 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”, what if choosing a more sober life 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 series of meet-ups, talks, workshops, and other events, Club SÖDA NYC could be for you if:
– You drink to feel good, but it often leaves you feeling worse
– 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
And a caveat: Club SÖDA NYC 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.
ABOUT BETSY LEFAE
Intuition Coach Betsy LeFae holds a BA in psychology and has nearly two decades of combined experience in social work and intuitive consulting. An expert educator in intuitive development, she teaches that our body is the tool through which we can learn to hear the messages constantly streaming from our intuition and, as a facilitator of the mind-body connection, how maintaining regular practices is an effective way to keep the channel clear. She has been featured on Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, NPR, Vice and Refinery 29, and was named one of the top psychic mediums in New York City by Time Out New York.
Plus a moment of swap-shop glory and a meeting with the mind behind Shaktibarre…Numinous founder Ruby Warrington shares her Mystical Week
:: MONDAY :: Still buzzing from yesterday’s beautiful Blessing Way ceremony for my dear Victoria Keen. We gathered, we ritualled (yes I’m making this a word), we created an altar, we shared memories and we set intentions. My favorite part of ALL? When we took an actual bone-fide cauldron (purchased by our host at a Brooklyn junk yard) filled with fears and sage, out into the street to be burned away. As Victoria lit her fire, we stood around her in a circle of sisterhood, playing drums, shaking rattles, and singing. At the height of the Williamsburg brunching-hour. YES we got a lot of stares, and YES it felt so right to be bringing this kind of s*it out from behind closed coven doors!
:: TUESDAY :: A l’il psychic moment in my favorite clothing swap-shop the Buffalo Exchange (first introduced to me by Goddess Gala Darling). I’ve been taking my cast-offs there for the past two years or so and have racked up a serious amount of store credit, so I stop by whenever I’m in the area for some guilt-free retail therapy. Today, as I’m browsing the racks, this little voice goes; “some Isabel Marant shoes would be nice, right?” I’m like, “yeah, higher self, sure would!” And YEP, found these beauties (below)—boots not sandals, BUT, my size, UN-WORN, and FREE (cos of my store credit).
What a beautiful lesson in the all-abundant nature of our Universe! Namely: when we just listen to our intuition, everything we desire is right in front of us; when we give freely of ourselves (or our old clothes), not necessarily expecting financial pay-back, we will get it back 10-fold; and when we don’t attach to the details, is when we grant the cosmos permission to surprise us in all kinds of magical ways.
:: WEDNESDAY :: A lesson in boundaries. My first reaction when a friend in need texts to say: “I may need somewhere to stay the next few nights, can I have your sofa?” is to reply with a straight up “no.” Some things are a non-negotiable, and my sacred morning alone time is one—as such, I usually only have family stay over in my home. Sorry-not-sorry, but I’m also a believer in strong boundaries as a marker of self-respect.
But THEN I’m like: woah, here I am preaching (check out my IG account etc.) about how we need to create a world that looks after our most vulnerable first, and how the current political climate change is giving me a new depth of compassion for the displaced people in the world…like my friend who’s being kicked out of her apartment! And the first time I’m asked to walk the talk, I stumble.
Humbled, I text her back—”shit, of course, mi sofa es tu sofa, ANY TIME.” By which time she’s found somewhere, and actually goes on to tell me how MY strong boundaries are a lesson for her in cultivating the same in her life. HOWEVER, it was a moment of pause for me in terms of what it means to be a good Now Age hippie global citizen. #bethechangeyouwanttosee
:: THURSDAY :: A meeting with incredible, inspiring Corinne Wainer, founder of the new Shaktibarre studio that’s coming to Williamsburg in August. Reasons I love this woman No.1: She’s all about the shaktivism (spirituality + activism), and so her studio has sliding scale pricing to make classes + workshops accessible to ALL, with the underlying mission of uniting women in the fight against body fascism in the yoga community. No.2: She’s a total no-smalltalk zone. No time + no interest = no holding back. No.3: She guessed that my spirit animal is a black stallion (which he is, I write about how I met him here). So suffice to say, watch this space for some Shakti-Numi collabs coming your way later this year.
:: FRIDAY :: Regular readers will know all about my path to raise my overall vibe with sobriety—which has meant totally re-framing my relationship with alcohol. Which basically means treating like it’s as powerful a mind-and-heart expander as, say Ayahuasca, and thus only imbibing with extreme reverence and caution. And then along comes a big fat trigger like JULY 4 WEEKEND.
And you know, I likely will have a couple of cocktails Sunday, since I booked tickets to this super high vibe event (flyer below)—high vibe as in, it’s outside, it starts at 2pm, it’s on the West side so there will be a sunset situation, and it’s alllll my favorite DJs so I can be guaranteed an afternoon of truly emotionally resonant tunes.
And here’s another reason to maybe raise a glass (but really, how about just one?) this weekend. It’s America’s birthday—and America could really use some truly intentional toasting rn, and some reminding that far from broken, she’s just going through a rough patch. As a Cancer country, I think this weekend’s reading from Strong Eye Astrology resonates for the good old US of A pretty darned hard:
Cancer :: Cancer Rising Taking a horse over jumps. You are sitting in the driver’s seat. But where do you want to go? We can so easily get caught in an image of ourselves. But who do you want to be? This is a fresh start. Now is the time to visualize about who you are becoming. Get very, very specific in your intentions.
*NB: read the weekend forecast for your sign here!