7 WAYS TO TAKE A SPIRITUAL STAYCATION

Think you have to join an ashram or book a flight to Bali to get elevated this summer? Just step out your apartment door and start your spiritual staycation … Main Image: Darby Society 

How do you want to feel this summer? Kick-start your summertime spiritual journey this Memorial Day weekend with a local choose-your-own adventure that’s perfect for Gemini Season’s curious explorations …

***Want the perfect on-the-go guide to cultivating the 7 intentions below? We’ve teamed up with Jessica Caplan & Ally Bogard of SoundMind to offer Numi readers a special $11 discount on their digital meditation series with Code: numinous. 

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:: GROUND ::

Play: Find creative inspo at your local corner store.
Who says you have to journey into nature with a capital “N” to conjure earthy vibes? Meditate on the origins of all the luscious provisions in a local shop. Think about the rich dirt that the ingredients came from, the changing weather conditions the plants experienced, and the trip they took to arrive all the way here.

Taste: Host an impromptu afternoon picnic in a local park using only the shop’s ingredients or other farm-to-table delights.

Style: Earth Goddess Chic. Locally-crafted threads, flowy maxi skirts, strappy sandals, bangles, and undone locks.

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:: MANIFEST ::

Play: Let the streets become your tarot deck.
Pay attention. As you travel through your day, notice left behind objects and pieces of so-called “trash.” Let the tiny things you’ve found become tools of divination. Treat them like a tarot deck. What do they reveal about your life right now? How can you use them as intention-setting totems for what you’d like to manifest?

Taste: Bento boxes, tapas platters, buffets, fortune cookies.

Style: Modern Mystic. Body-con jumpsuits punctuated by pops of crystals, gems, and feathers.

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:: LET GO ::

Play: Travel to a neighborhood you’ve never even heard of and get totally lost.
Shut your phone off and leave the maps at home. Ride the train to the end of the line or wait at an unfamiliar bus stop and hop on the first one that arrives. Get out whenever you’re pulled towards a place name. Experiment with walking more slowly than you normally would through the streets. Smell the air. Is it different from your home turf? Get completely lost. Trust that you’ll find your way back home when it’s time.

Taste: Speak to a stranger and ask for directions to their favorite snack spot.

Style: Urban Nomad. Delirious mixes of prints and patterns, caftans, and colorful combat boots.

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:: APPRECIATE ::

Play: Do something unabashedly touristy
Suspend your ideas about “good taste” and your identity as an insider. Wait in line for a show that everyone wants to see. Snap pics at the most Insta-worthy spots. Hop on a tour bus or ferry. Get unapologetically joyous as you innocently open yourself to the experience, however corny it may seem.

Taste: Crowded, famous, family-style spots with your city’s classic dishes.

Style: Sporty Spice. High-tops, sparkly backpacks, primary palettes, and logo tees.

:: ACCEPT ::

Play: Descend into a crowded street.
Step directly into the fray and let yourself be swallowed up. Get jostled and brushed. Feel it all. Annoyance. Rage. And then … a delicious sense of your own status as a tiny speck in a dazzling whole. Notice a shade of lipstick or a colored fabric that makes someone’s eyes sparkle. Crowd surf on the crush of humanity. Let the street corner become an ocean tide as you’re lifted and carried. Accept whichever direction it takes you.

Taste: Street cart eats. Savor whatever flavors come your way without thinking twice.

Style: Beach Beauty. Raffia, halter tops, and neutral palettes perfect for drifting.

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:: FOCUS ::

Play: Look out from a vista point. 
Ascend to the top of a high-rise or trek to a viewing point, and gaze upon the kingdom. Focus in on a singular structure far down below. Think of the effort it took to build it, its history, and the people who are inside right now. And then, look beyond the structure and past the borders of your city. Imagine everything that exists beyond the edges, and your own future possibilities.

Taste: Ceremonial epicurean delights. Get fancy with foodie insider spots and a full-on feast fit for a queen.

Style: Off-duty Boss Lady. High-waisted jeans, button-down silk blouses, killer heels, and gold accents.

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:: SLEEP ::

Play: Meditate on the distant sounds of traffic.
Tuck back into your apartment at the end of the day and release completely into the white noise of the city. Bathe in the sounds of life going on without you. Let the distant shouts and rush of traffic reveal a buzzing city’s heartbeat that lives without you needing to make any effort. Let the feeling of having nothing to prove carry you to sleep.

Taste: Open the windows wide and just breathe in the crazy mashup of scents.

StylePure nakedness.

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SoundMind is the labor of love of vocalist/sound therapy practitioner Jessica Caplan and yoga/meditation teacher Ally Bogard. Both practical and ethereal, the series combines intuitive, intentional sound with breathwork, guided meditation, and visualization. 

3 ALCOHOL-FREE WAYS FOR COPING WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY

How Victoria Cox switched from Dutch Courage to Divine Courage, and learned to say “cheers” to social anxiety… Artwork: Nahu Marín Luriaud

It’s 7pm on a Saturday night in NYC and I’m getting ready to hit the town for a charity event a friend is hosting. Keeping me company as I slather on the make-up is my obligatory glass of chilled white wine.

“Just to take the edge off,” I tell myself. Give me a quick buzz so that I arrive relaxed and confident. I don’t know many people at the party and this fact alone is revving up my anxiety levels. I’ll just be completely honest and admit that on occasion I struggle with social anxiety, especially when I’m with large groups of strangers. Likely a leftover from my childhood, when I used to be crippled with an extreme case of the shy’s.

Thankfully, I left that mortifyingly awkward stage behind me as I grew into adulthood, but on occasion, my inner shy girl pops up from the deepest recesses of my subconscious to say hello. She usually makes an appearance at large social gatherings and she’s guaranteed to show up as my plus-one at networking events. Those are her favorite.

She especially enjoys it when I walk into a party, look around and realize I’m engulfed in a sea of strangers. “Look,” she whispers conspiratorially in my ear. “You don’t know anyone here, why don’t you just leave?” When I do eventually strike up a conversation with someone she’ll pipe up incessantly; “This person is bored by you. You have nothing interesting to say. This is so awkward. Just go home.”

Sometimes she gets her way and sometimes she doesn’t. But over the years, I’ve grown sick of the bitches sneaky antics, and so I figured out a way to make sure she stays her ass home. Alcohol. That intoxicating social lubricant. She hates it – one glass and I’m already dancing out the door. Two glasses and I can approach a group of strangers. Three glasses and I’m on the dance floor with said strangers, a.k.a my new best friends. Four glasses and… let’s not go there.

I’ve been feeling pretty smug about my secret weapon for many years and it’s got me through some skin-crawlingly awkward networking events that I’ve gladly suffered the hangover for.

But in recent years, as I’ve begun to focus on getting to know myself on a deeper level, I’ve begun to question my secret weapon. Is it really a weapon – or simply a crutch? Could I cope at one of these events if I didn’t drink beforehand? What was it saying about me that I could only be my “best self” when I numbed my senses with alcohol? Why did I feel I couldn’t just be me, weird social ticks and all?

These questions reverberated around my head for many months yet I had no answers. All I knew was that I had two options. Choose to keep on applying the social lubricant or get to the bottom of the matter once and for all.

I chose the latter.

And so, I began an experiment. I decided to switch from “Dutch Courage” to “Divine Courage,” and see what I could learn about myself in the process. Here’s what’s in my tool-box…

:: BREATHWORK ::
Being a long-time yoga devotee I was already familiar with the breathwork known as “pranayama.” And, one form of this is called Alternative Nostril Breathing – where you do just that. Breathe out of one nostril for a set period of time, then switch. Sounds odd but what this actually does is soothe the nervous system and equalize the hemispheres of the brain. Fancy talk for saying, “It chills you the F out.”

This practice had always worked a charm at calming down my over-excitable brain so I added it to my toolbox. But I needed more. Breath-work alone wasn’t likely to be enough to stop me running back into the arms of a perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio.

:: VISUALIZATION ::
This is where visualization meditation came in. It’s no secret that visualization can be incredibly powerful – even professional athletes are known for using it to get “in the zone” before a game. Basically, the aim is to try to see your desired outcome before it happens. So, before heading out to a social engagement these days, I sit quietly and visualize myself at the party, acting confidently, laughing, having fun, meeting new people and generally enjoying myself.

More often than not, what I visualize, or a version thereof usually comes to pass. Even on those occasions where things didn’t quite go as planned, I found I was in a much more centered space which helped me to relax and connect with people a little easier.

:: MANTRA ::
My toolbox was coming together but I needed to add one more thing. A mantra. Whilst mantras are typically used during meditation they can also be used throughout the day as a method to turn a negative thought pattern into a positive one.

Mantras can be incredibly powerful to soothe anxiety or just to give the mind something positive to focus on, thus avoiding a leap down the rabbit hole of fear and worry. My personal mantra differed for each occasion, but phrases such as “I am relaxed and confident” or “I am enjoying meeting new people” were especially helpful when I just wanted to run away and hide in the bathroom.

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Its been a few months since I began my experiment and already I’ve been noticing some improvements. While I will probably always experience an involuntary shudder at the word “networking” I no longer feel that I simply must have a drink beforehand to get through it.

Whilst my pre-party drink routine enabled me to come across as lively and fun, in actual fact I was only showing people what I thought they wanted to see, lending an air of superficiality to my encounters. The real me might not be the life of the party but it is authentic – and more often than not I’ve noticed people can sense the difference leading to a more genuine connection.

Although I’ll probably never eradicate my inner shy girl completely, she no longer accompanies me to every social event. At the end of the day I’m only human and she’ll probably make an appearance now and again but I no longer feel the need to chase her away with gulps of wine. As a result, she doesn’t hold the same power over me.

I’ll also admit that wine and I will likely never end our love affair completely, but I no longer need it in the same way I used to. Alcohol has transitioned into something I enjoy on occasion rather than a can’t-cope-without.

My experiment has gifted me the knowledge that my social anxiety toolkit is available at any time; which in turn has emboldened me with a burgeoning self-confidence. I feel that I’m now able to face an intense social situation without desperately seeking an exit route, and surely that’s something worth raising a glass to.

STRONG AS BONE: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR CAPRICORN

Facing down 2015, it’s time to move out from the transformational vibe of the past 12 months and put the new you into action. Ash Baker shares a simple yoga sequence for Capricorn that’s designed to create a solid foundation for all that lies ahead. Images: Karolina Daria Flora

December 22 to January 19

Ruler: Saturn
Element: Earth
Modality: Cardinal
Anatomy: bones (skeletal structure), joints, knees and teeth

10th sign of the Zodiac

Here comes the New Year! Glitter, gold and cheers!

This is always an exciting time because things feel raw, open, attainable, and fresh.  The Queen/King of the mountain, the Cappy goat, looks down at all the terrain to be explored in the coming year with complete determination and resilience. Never fear though, this seabeast comes with the guarantee of seeking out solid ground so you can rest assured that harnessing this energy will be planted in reality. This sign doesn’t do whimsical, fleeting or cloud consciousness.

Use the cosmic energy now to get a head start on your biggest dreams, desires, goals and, of course, for facing your challenges. Take any downtime over the remaining holiday period to write a practical yet powerful action plan, and prepare your mind for gorgeous possibilities to open your heart in 2015! Capricorn rules the bones, the skeleton, the architecture that holds up our worldly suit. The below poses are designed to help cultivate a connection to your structure, as feeling strong is the key to conquering the year ahead!

:: Tree Pose // Vriksasana :: 

Bend your right knee and draw it up towards your chest. Hold it in place for a moment. Take your foot and place it on either your inner ankle, calf or inner thigh. NEVER on the knee itself! Press your foot into your leg and your leg back into your foot to create stability. Externally rotate your right hip out and your right sit bone under. Keep a bend in the left knee. Bring your hands together at your heart or raise them up like branches above your head. Repeat on the other side. Hold for three-five rounds of breath.

:: Chair Pose // Utkatasana ::

From a standing position bend the knees and come down like you are going to sit in an imaginary chair. Keep the knees pressing together. The more you stick your butt out the easier it will be. Let the weight be in your heels. Bring your arms slightly behind you with only a slight bend at the elbow. Extend the shoulders down and back opening up the chest. Feel your collarbone expanding and your core heating up.  Three rounds of breath. Repeat three times, with your goals in sight.

:: Downward Facing Dog ::

Come to hands and knees. Tuck your toes and root down through all ten fingers especially the thumbs. Bend your knees deeply bringing your belly to your knees. Feel the length and extension being created in your spine.  Press your hips/sitting bones up towards the sky and ground your feet into the floor, at least energetically if the heels don’t reach. Your head will extend out between your arms and allow your shoulders to drop and widen down your back. Come back down and take Child’s Pose. Three rounds of breath.

 :: 2015 New Year’s Meditation :: Letting go to let it in :: 

Come into your deep, rhythmic breath while either sitting cross-legged or laying on your back. Imagine as you inhale and exhale a layer of yourself that is worn out and tired, peels away like the skin of an onion. Removing any previous frustrations, heartbreaks and disappointments from the past year. Allow yourself to shed the old skin to become new again, ready for what’s next on your path. Stay here for five-10 minutes visualizing this symbolic dry brushing of things you no longer need on this new journey ahead.

:: Monthly Mantra :: I am my own source of strength for not only myself but others around me. That way we are all lifted up.