MY MYSTICAL LIFE: 5 REASONS WE ALL NEED STORY MEDICINE

#throatchakraproblems making it hard to share your truths? Here’s why Story Medicine is a way for us all to feel seen …

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

When I first started regularly attending healing circles, I would always be holding my breath until after the “sharing” part. The part where, once everyone is seated and before you get into whatever teaching is about to happen, you’re invited to share with the group what brought you to the workshop, or some other detail from your life / healing journey.

Well, here’s an impression of me waiting for my turn—*sweaty palms, heart-racing, trying-to-work-out-what-I’m-going-to-say, if-I-can-get-it-out-past-the-lump-in-my-throat.* Sometimes, I would even fid myself choking back tears as I voiced whatever my “thing” was.

I know I am not alone with my #throatchakraproblems. When the importance of speaking up is not something you’ve ever been taught, if you haven’t been listened to when you do, or if you (or you mom or Grandma, for that matter) have ever experienced a period in your life where it hasn’t felt safe to use your voice, then there could be a serious blockage.

One that must be dissolved with love, become tears, before you can speak confidently from your heart again.

Which is what was actually happening in all those awkward moments. Why else would it feel so frightening to share my stories with these lovely humans, who had also just shared their stories with me? Each time I spoke, no matter how painful, I was chipping away at a lifetime (several lifetimes, actually) of the internalized belief that my voice, my story, did not count.

But the truth is, all our stories matter. They matter to us, because without the experiences we have lived we would not even be “us.” And they matter to others, because other people’s stories are how we fill in the gaps. Are a mirror in which to witness our reactions and judgements, and to become aware of our own blind spots.

And because of what I’ve learned about myself and others, about human nature, in those uncomfortable sharing circles, they’ve become my favorite thing. To the point I now co-lead workshops with Alexandra Roxo where the sharing part IS the workshop—where the stories are the medicine.

Our next Story Medicine circle will be in NYC on March 19. You can check out the details HERE.

Read on for five more reasons why we all need story medicine …

1 // All our stories need to be seen. We live in a world where certain people’s stories are deemed more important than others. Where some voices are louder, while others go unheard. But this does not create a full picture of our experience as one human family. Sharing our stories out loud, having our perspective, our suffering, our joy, be seen and heard by others, goes some way towards redressing the balance.

2 // Stories help us become whole. But not the social media kind of stories. We’ve learned that it’s good to be “vulnerable” and “real” online-but when you don’t know who’s listening and whether they are truly holding space for our highest good, it’s actually not 100 percent safe. As Brené Brown reminds us: “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: ‘Who has earned the right to hear my story?'” We know this instinctively, and so we edit and hold back. At our ritualized Story Medicine circles, Alexandra and I create a conscious container for us to see and be seen in our wholeness. We banish judgment, and place the emphasis on deep, empathetic listening. This is where the medicine lives.

3 // Stories take away shame. It’s the stories we think make us “weird” that it feels least safe to share. In her work, Brené Brown teaches that this is because we’re terrified of being perceived as “other,” for fear of being cast out of our social groups. And yet when we practice Story Medicine, we begin to understand that nobody is weird, or other-because everybody is. We begin to understand that it’s our quirks and differences that make our human jigsaw puzzle so multi-faceted and beautiful.

4 // Stories help us heal ourselves. We all love the way movies paint a picture in our minds, transporting us to whole new worlds. But this isn’t just “escapism.” I recently learned from hypnotherapist Shauna Cummins that watching a movie puts our brain into the same trance state that shamans use. In this state, our “imagination” helps us access our own healing powers, in the form of messages from our subconscious. When we practice deep listening, allowing ourselves to sink deeply into the colors, textures, and emotion of other people’s stories, we go to the place in ourselves where self-healing happens.

5 // Our stories are our art. How we see the world is utterly unique to us. And like all the most moving works of art, Story Medicine allows us to see the world through the eyes of others. Broadens our perspective and helps us see into the shadows. But making art isn’t just for painters, and musicians! When we paint a picture with our words, our stories offer those listening a window in to our world, as we get to process the path we have walked and make our life into our art.

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Story Medicine is also the heart of mine and Alexandra’s teachings in Moon Club, and our Moon Ambassadors regularly host FREE Story Medicine meet-ups for members and their guests all over the world. Click HERE for more info and to join our growing tribe.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: USING INSTAGRAM AS A TOOL FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

With awareness and the right intention, we can use Instagram as a tool for spiritual growth. Here are four new practices to start today, says Ruby Warrington

Photo: Caitlin Mitchell

1//We all want to be seen
Scratch that: NEED to be seen. One of the most basic human survival mechanisms is making others aware of our presence. Babies do it by screaming their heads off. As grown-ups, we got all kinds of ways—selfie culture / vulnerable social media shares being one of them. But it can be such a double-edged sword, man. Where does the human need to be acknowledged, witnessed and appreciated for our unique contribution end … and insecure attention-seeking begin?!

As I wrote about in this post, literally being seen on my feed does not come comfortably to me. And yet, when the same post got more comments and likes than I’ve ever had, it felt really good. Like goosebumps good. Which is pretty messed up. Getting this kind of validation from what is essentially a big room full of faceless strangers is exactly what makes IG so addictive—and also potentially damaging for our self-esteem. If, that is, we begin to rely on being seen and heard in IG world versus doing the often much more complex work of forging truly supportive connections in IRL.

The lesson: look at the places where you feel ignored or perhaps have not dared to speak your truth, and find ways to practice asking that your actual, offline needs to be met.

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2//People are feeding on your feed
You’ve probably heard the term “energy vampires”, which is used to describe emotionally immature people who literally “feed” off the energy of others. Lacking in empathy and often believing that the world revolves around them and their needs, these individuals believe they must take everything they can get from others and that giving anything in return will only deplete their own resources.

Since it can seem like energy is literally quantified by numbers of followers and likes on IG, the platform is essentially a big old buffet of delights for anybody feeling “less than” and looking to fill their tanks. Those perceived as both energetically stronger AND open and vulnerable become fair game, and the feeding frenzy can take many forms. Overly familiar love-bombing. Demanding DMs. And at the scarier end of the spectrum, trolling and overt bullying.

The lesson: boundaries, basically. You do not “owe” anybody a response in the online space, especially if you’ve never even met them. In the words of Gabby Bernstein: “forgive and delete”.

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3//Life is not a competition
Except when patriarchal hierarchies make it feel that way. We’re basically brought up being taught to compete: at school, at work, in looks, in love. In a society based on the belief that there is only “X” amount of wealth, success, beauty, etc. to go around, thus designed to keep a small percentage of the population in positions of power, the internal narrative goes: if I want my share (of wealth, success, beauty, etc.), I must fight for it.

Sadly, since it is literally a numbers game, Instagram has the power to suck us back into this narrative—subtly feeding our insecurities (see points 1 &2), and fueling the belief that if one person has “more” than us, we don’t have / are not “enough.”

The lesson: notice when competitive feelings come up, and use them as a prompt to give gratitude for three things you love about YOURself and YOUR life.

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4//Not everything is for everyone
I recently found this quote from Zadie Smith about why, as a novelist, she’s not on IG or Twitter: “it gives me the right to be wrong … I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it.” Because none of us have all the “right” opinions and answers all the time, and, as Smith is pointing out, it’s the complexities of human nature that make the best art.

Complexities we need to feel safe to explore for ourselves—and which, if expressed on social media, can cause some pretty intense reactions when taken out of context. Meaning out of context of us being whole, imperfect, sometimes confused, very much still learning, human beings.

The lesson: use your journal to work out more conflicted feelings about news stories, relationships, and elements of your own personal growth. Turn these words into poetry or stories that are just for you—THEN decide if you want to share.

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I realize this post kinds of makes it sound like I am anti-Instagram, which I am definitely not! It CAN BE an amazing tool for discovery, connection, entertainment, spreading love … and, as with everything in life, it carries a high and a low vibration. And can benefit from being approached with care.

Essentially, IG and other social media platforms are like the wild west of human consciousness, as they’ve opened up whole new ways of interacting with each other and being a person in the world.

So be vigilant, keep your integrity high, and above all, focus even more time, energy and love on the people you actually “like” in real life.

GO FIRST! 7 WAYS TO LEAP INTO FEARLESS VULNERABILITY

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

The author’s Leo season collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiss’ “face, her gorgeous face.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Kiss collage

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

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

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

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

HEALING FROM ABUSE WITH TRUTH AND YOGA

“To me, yoga is about deep, honest listening and truth-telling,” says Nina Endrst…who shares her story of healing from abuse for the first time.

I’m pretty fucking scared right now. I’ve never written about what I’m about to share, let alone shared these experiences with the world. It takes courage to be vulnerable and stand where we truly are, exposed. But it’s time to tell the Truth.

And the Truth is, I’m healing. Aren’t we all?

When I was nine years old, I was sexually abused by my babysitter’s son. I felt broken. Deeply ashamed and frightened. And for a long time, like many others, I remained silent, in fear. It took months for me muster the courage to even tell my parents—who were in the middle of a messy divorce at the time. Then I saw a Nick News segment on sexual abuse. Shit! What happened was really fucking bad, I thought.

And I felt even more guilty, the lump in my throat growing. I wanted to run as far and fast as humanly possible, but I was paralyzed. After what seemed like hours, I walked to my room, locked the door, and cried until I had nothing left. I was struggling with so many questions intertwined with intense emotions. Why did he do this to me? Why do they do this to us? I realized I had to talk.

I don’t remember much after that day, but I remember his parents called me a liar. After that, I just wanted stop talking about it, to forget it and go outside and play and try to reclaim everything I felt had been taken from me. So we back-tracked. Charges were never brought against him and I was once again, silent.

It took years to realize that this was not only the root of the profound anger and anxiety I have experienced in my adult life, but also would also prove to be the root of my subsequently developing Crohn’s disease. I can see now how my body and soul went into survival mode—how all the anger, sadness, and confusion went straight to my belly and rotted there, for years.

***

But in the beginning, I was a resilient kid and simply went on living my life. I had loving parents and an incredibly special group of friends (most of whom are still in my life) but deep down I remained a little girl, suffering in silence. I presented myself as tough and a little rough around the edges, when in fact I was incredibly sensitive and lost. When I got dressed in the morning, it was as if I put on an extra layer—a suit of armor to “protect myself.”

By 13, my hormones spun this carefully constructed regime out of control. My temper was explosive, and I made it my business to give my parents hell, regularly. It had all become too much to handle. One night, I took handfuls of pills and hoped that would be that. Thank god, it wasn’t. But the truth was, my soul knew I needed help and was screaming for it.

At 19 I had my first panic attack, on a plane. Everything, I’d spent my teenage years avoiding came rushing to the surface. My heart was racing, breath stuck in my chest, my belly as hard as a rock. Anybody who struggles with anxiety will know this feeling all too well.

Only, from the outside, my life looked pretty damn great by this point. I was attending college, I had amazing friends, and managed to maintain almost straight A’s alongside a busy social life. I was fucking happy! So where the hell was this coming from?

The Truth is, I had been avoiding my pain for so long, I didn’t even recognize that I had been living a lie.

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At 21, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s (a chronic intestinal disease). I believe this was a direct result of the emotional and physical stress compacting in my stomach over the previous decade. I had tried to survive it. I had made it my mission to ignore the pain—to suppress it, push it down, deep into my belly. But here it had seeped into my cells, my tissues, my spirit.

No one knew the Truth about what had happened to me. My dearest friends only knew bits and pieces. I’m not sure I even knew the whole story, back then. Sometimes we have to make choices, and I had chosen over and over again not to acknowledge the shadows, leaving a patchwork of half-truths.

At 29 (my Saturn return) everything changed. I had a flare-up and became very ill, ultimately meaning I had to take medical leave from my job in fashion. I found myself facing some harsh realities that I couldn’t ignore any longer.

At this point, I’d been practicing yoga on and off for years, but it was in this moment that I started to live my yoga. To begin healing my body and spirit, by fully living my Truth. I left my job, signed up for yoga teacher training and took a huge leap of faith—inviting my heart to crack wide open.

The Truth is I gave myself ample time and space to be alone during that year. To cry uncontrollably. To talk, to listen, and to forgive. This is because, to me, yoga is and always will be so much more than back-bending and headstands. It is about deep, honest listening and truth-telling.

Through my practice, I learned that the way to the healing light is found when we sit quietly in darkness.

***

 

At age 31, I wake up every single day, grateful for my mind, body and spirit. The smile on my face is not permanent but it certainly is genuine. My mental and physical health are better than ever, as are my relationships with everyone—from my loved ones, to strangers I encounter on the street.

My story is that our stories do not define us. But I do believe everything we experience on our path—bright and shiny or painful as hell—is to lead us to where we are meant to be.

The Truth may not be easy to say, or to hear, but my god is it the only way to heal.

Nina Endrst is a yoga teacher based between Tulum and NYC. She creates a safe and nurturing environment for students to explore themselves honestly. Her vinyasa sequences are thoughtfully designed to strengthen and soften the mind, body, and spirit. She lives her yoga and is inspired by traveling to places outside her comfort zone both physically and emotionally. You can discover more about Nina and her work at Ninaendrstyoga.com, and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

SENSITIVE SOUL: WORK WITH A CANCER MOON SIGN

Tips and practices to help understand and work with your Cancer Moon sign from Ash Bonelli. Artwork: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

The Moon represents the inner subconscious world that we usually only share with those we love and trust. It can show us our needs and how we care for others—and as such, our Moon sign (where the Moon falls in our birth chart) shows the style in which we express this softer side.

Work out your Moon sign, when you do you chart for free here.

The inner world of the Cancer Moon sign is a gentle, vulnerable and emotional landscape. The Moon rules the sign of Cancer so she feels quite at home in this sign making it easy to fully express her archetypal nature. When we think of the crab itself (the symbol for Cancer), we see the hard protective shell on the outside but know there is nothing but softness on the inside. A small being that carries its sanctuary on its back so it can feel at home wherever it goes.

These themes symbolize the Cancer Moon sign. You can put on a brave face, but deep down you feel EVERYTHING. You usually cry easily and really experience the emotions of any particular situation or environment you happen to be in. This Moon is very in tune with its intuition, thoughts and feelings—so much so you sometimes forget that not everything is always about you. Being sensitive is great, until it isn’t and you become resentful and hide away in your shell. There is a fine balance to be found with the Cancer Moon sign.

Taking care of others usually makes you quite happy, but when it goes unappreciated or the care isn’t returned you can get quite hurt. And so Cancer Moons are often working on expressing their needs. Working on being vocal about this is really important, as you can get so lost in taking care of others that you end up with the short end of the stick.

Fear of getting hurt is very real for you for you, mainly since being hurt in love, for example, you may feel it more deeply than others. Honestly, unless you live under a rock, you will be familiar with this pain and what it can do to you. So this is a genuine fear, but not one that should stop you from receiving love.

Often times the Cancer Moon sign is associated with the mother, and rightfully so—since both Cancer and the Moon represent this energy. But not every Cancer Moon sign wants to be a parent. The mother archetype is actually about nurturing and caring for others, offering tender love and support, and this can be applied to anything in life. Your career, your pets, your friends, your home or your hobbies. You can channel this inner need to love into anything and it will be fulfilling, just as long as you let others love you back so there is a sense of balance in your life.

Below are some suggestion to connect more to your sweet Cancer Moon sign, and make the most of its intuitive expression…

:: ACTIVE LISTENING ::
The Cancer Moon sign has a tendency to feel first when engaging with others. This can go badly if you what you intuitively pick up about someone is incorrect, which can shape the relationship in the wrong direction. You can get your feelings hurt because you feel you know what they “really meant.” But assumption is really dangerous, since it can lead to un-founded resentment which can turn into distance.

This can be easily avoided if you work on listening to what they are actually saying, rather than simply feeling into their energy. If assumption-based feelings occur take the time to ask questions to gain further insight. Use your nurturing nature to engage in a more open conversation. This way you aren’t incorrectly just reading (or rather feeling) between the lines.

:: SANCTUARY ::
All Cancer Moon signs need a place to retreat. They need a space to feel safe and secure where they can let all of their emotions out without judgement. This doesn’t need to be an entire home or apartment either. It could be one room, or even a space within a room. Maybe a meditation pillow with a small altar if this practice speaks to you.

It could also be a certain location, such as your favorite park or beach. For some it could be a place from your childhood. The Cancer Moon sign can be very nostalgic so places that awaken happy memories really warm your heart.

:: NURTURE ::
Find something to nurture in your life that isn’t another person. The need to express care is innate, but you can get burned out if this means attracting energy vampires. Needy people love the sweet lunar crab, for you will always try to help solve the problems they should be dealing with on their own. And so learn to be selective.

Finding a hobby that will reward your nurturing with feelings of worth and accomplishment is such a good idea. Think gardening, or cooking, working with animals, or becoming a beekeeper. What do you want to be good at that requires time, nurturance and patience? Find something that makes your heart feel good and you will bring some emotional balance back into your life.

:: INTUITIVE PROTECTION ::
Being that you are such an intuitive, maybe even psychically gifted person, you need to work on protecting your energy. Otherwise it’s likely people will energetically take from you until you are totally drained. This can make you feel vulnerable in an unhealthy way.

Begin by taking time each morning to visualize yourself being cleansed by white healing light. Just a simple shower before (or even during!) your regular shower. Then imagine a bubble of light surrounding you, which people can only enter into when invited by you. It can be any color that you love.

These are your mental and energetic guards for the day ahead. You could also burn some sage in your space before your start your day or make a healing spray with essential oils to mist yourself with. Anything that  creates an energetic boundary between you and the world will help.

Also, be present to when you feel depleted. What was going on? Who were you around? Sometimes the best defense is creating literal space between you and the people or situations that take advantage of you.

Above all, may you find comfort in your innate ability to be vulnerable—and use it to show others the strength in letting down our guard in a world that needs it more than ever before.

CURIOUS COMMUNICATOR: WORK WITH A GEMINI MOON SIGN

Tips and practices to help understand and work with your Gemini Moon sign from Ash Bonelli. Artwork: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

The Moon represents what we need in life to feel safe, secure, and how we need to be nurtured, and understanding your Moon’s requirements can help you connect deeper to your more private self. When you have a bad day or are just feeling “off” you want to tap into your Moon. She is the cosmic mother and learning more about the sign where she sits in your birth chart, can reveal so much about your internal landscape.

Work out your Moon sign, when you do you chart for free here.

The Gemini Moon sign is forever curious. She wants to learn about anything and everything. This Moon loves to engage and communicate, since Gemini is a mutable air sign that needs mental stimulation and variety. When things become stagnant the restless demons set in—and so keeping things moving in life is key.

Depending on the rest of your chart, these behaviors/tendencies may express in a need to always have light and breezy conversations. You enjoy gathering data, processing it and then moving on to the next interesting person, subject or experience. This flitting about keeps things upbeat and interesting yet can have a downside.

The Gemini Moon sign is learning to also go deep. It’s about finding some balance between superficial experiences and really getting to know yourself and others on a more intimate level. Because of this Moon’s voracious appetite for new information, you can come across fickle or insincere if this expression is out of balance.

This analytical moon usually symbolizes a gifted speaker, writer or teacher. Since you are always gathering information you put it to good use by sharing it with others, and this exchange of thoughts, ideas and insights can be quite soothing for you. The give and take is the thrill that propels you forward to find more.

This is a delightful quality that makes you fun to chat with, as well as being able to turn a negative emotional situation into a happier one. The Gemini Moon sign is clever and witty, so having an innate emotional tie to these abilities can bring true fulfillment through expression.

Just make sure to keep the input and output in check or you will never be able to get to your deeper self. There can be an avoidance of darker undercurrents if you don’t allow yourself time to really feel your feelings, which may mean missing out on the beauty of vulnerability.

Below are some suggestions to bring some balance back to your energetic moon as well as ways to emphasize it. These are meant to empower and bolster your emotional wellbeing to be at your best!

:: FOCUS ::
Zero in on a project that you have to stay committed to—anything that will require you to stick to it long enough to actually become proficient at it. Since Gemini is placed in the linguistic camp you could learn a new language. Mercury being Gemini’s ruler is associated with dexterity so you could learn to play an instrument. The other benefit of this for you emotionally, is that once you’ve mastered this new interest you then get to share it, creates a beautiful cyclical effect for your heart, and your Gemini Moon sign.

:: BREATHWORK ::
Learning to control your responses in more hectic situations could be very healing—and one way is with the simple art of breathing. Try practicing the 2:1 ratio breath, in which increasing the length of your exhalation helps to relax your parasympathetic nervous system. Start by breathing through the nose in your natural way without counting. Then after a few rounds begin to breath in for a count of two, and exhaling for four. Work your way up to deeper breaths from there, and try doing 10 rounds the next time you begin feeling the frazzled.

:: MINDFULNESS ::
In the simplest terms, this simply means being aware and in the present moment without judgement—actually quite hard, since the Gemini Moon sign is often stuck between wondering what the future holds and dwelling on the past. Finding a meditation practice that works for you is key, and if sitting still is just too much for you try doing a walking meditation, which will burn up any restlessness through mindful movement. You could also try Qi Gong—which covers practices from the gentle Tai Chi to the more fierce option, Kung Fu. Potentially a healing double whammy, helping you to focus and be more in the moment while still satisfying the need to learn and grow.

10 WAYS TO BE A UNICORN

Bring forth the most authentic you and basically BE a Unicorn, says George Lizos

“They said I could be anything, so I became a unicorn!”

What if I told you this popular Unicorn quote actually has a literal meaning, and your fascination with Unicorns is your subconscious way of expressing that?

The Unicorn represents happiness, fulfillment, and abundance—and paradoxically, the Unicorn’s strength, purity, and poise are also qualities we possess already, and through which our talents, abilities, and personality are expressed.

Elsewhere in our world, the Unicorn is said to refer to something that’s different and unique. Yet, different and unique are not the same as authentic. And it is authenticity that leads to happiness, abundance and fulfillment, not uniqueness. Uniqueness needs to be manufactured. Authenticity comes naturally.

Lightworkers’ fascination with Unicorns shows that we’re finally in the process of getting this! We’re in the process of reclaiming our Unicorn souls. To complete this, we need to replace our desire to be unique, with a desire to be authentically US. Which in turn holds the key to following and fulfilling our life purpose.

Here are 10 simple ways to reclaim the authentic, awakened, balanced unicorn you really are:

  1. Wear your imaginary alicorn: The alicorn, or Unicorn’s horn, symbolizes awakened intuition. By visualizing yourself wearing an imaginary alicorn, you work with the Unicorn energy to clear and empower your third-eye chakra. This is the portal through which spirit flows, to guide you in taking a balanced approach.
  2. Breathe into your heart: Your heart is where your Unicorn soul resides. Found between your masculine lower-body and feminine upper-body chakras, your heart chakra acts like a control centre, monitoring the information emitted by your other chakras and feeding it to your Unicorn soul, to help it provide accurate guidance. Consciously breathing into your heart clears blockages here, and helps facilitate this process.
  3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable: Vulnerability breaks down walls of pretense, and allows your authentic self to surface. Have weekly vulnerability dates where you consciously encourage yourself to get real with what’s going on in your life, express suppressed emotions, and allow yourself to feel them fully.
  4. Shower yourself in rainbow light: Rainbow light contains all the colors of your seven chakras, thus showering yourself in rainbow light is a quick and easy way to clear both your masculine and feminine chakras, to find balance. Do this while literally in the shower, and use the flow of water symbolically to empower your visualization.
  5. Schedule blank space: Most people are imbalanced towards their masculine side. We’re all about going for it, working it, making it happen, and have forgotten how to chill out, take it easy, and trust the Universe to take care of things. To rebuild your feminine energies, consciously schedule time in your day, week, month, and year, to mindfully plan yin activities (i.e. “do” less and “be” more) to cultivate more balance.
  6. Take uneasy action: If you’re imbalanced towards your feminine side and tend to procrastinate a lot, schedule time to take uneasy action towards your life purpose. This is action that is attainable but feels uncomfortable, meaning you must push yourself to grow.
  7. Dance: Don’t let the simplicity of this one mask its effectiveness in reclaiming your Unicorn soul! Your body is a physical extension of your Unicorn soul, and by shifting your attention out of your mind and into your body through dance, you encourage the flow of your soul’s energy, letting it move you into a balanced state.
  8. Drink alicorn water: In the Middle Ages, the Unicorn’s horn was believed to help neutralize poisons and purify water to create antidotes to most ailments. While wearing your imaginary alicorn, use it to channel sparkling white light into a glass of natural mineral water. Drinking this alicorn-infused water will infuse your body with Unicorn energy, allowing your balanced Unicorn soul to rise naturally.
  9. Do authenticity checks: To check if you’re faking uniqueness or being authentic on a particular decision, check in with your heart. Visualize yourself following through with a decision while having your hand on your heart. If your heart expands in agreement, you’re being authentic. If it contracts in disapproval, you’re faking uniqueness and need to take a more authentic approach.
  10. Create a unicorn altar: Honour your newfound perspective of Unicorns by instilling it in your everyday space. Having a physical reminder of your Unicorn soul in your house is a powerful way to train your subconscious to living the Unicorn way. Use Unicorn statues, flower essences, and candles to add texture in your altar, and celebrate finally capturing your Unicorn self!

George Lizos is a Spiritual Life Coach, the author of Be The Guru and the creator of Unicorn Bootcamp: Find Balance, Discover Your Gifts, and Fulfil Your Life Purpose. George empowers people to stop idolising spiritual teachers and become their own gurus. To learn more visit www.georgelizos.com 

SOBER CURIOUS: GET HIGH ON YOUR OWN SUPPLY

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– You want to cultivate a healthier relationship with booze

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

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

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

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

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

COMFORTABLY NUMB: AN AMNESTY ON COOL

Enough with the hiding your real self behind your artfully composed selfies. It’s time to call an amnesty on cool, says Comfortably Numb columnist Kate Atkinson.

 

I want to declare an amnesty on modern cool – realizing this is one of the most uncool statements I could write, and more than aware that several people will probably be cringing reading this. If you are, call me anti-millennial and grind away. But if you’d have hoped we’d left it behind in high school, it seems like “cool” is an extremely contagious epidemic no thanks to the digital revolution.

What exactly is cool anyway? It’s an intangible phenomena that you can’t really touch, a state of being that defines the way you walk and talk, what you wear, the music you listen to, where you’re eating, and whether something is on trend – that is, worthy of likes on Instagram. It’s visceral. You can just feel it. And when it comes to true self-expression, I have to say, the modern version is a straight-jacket.

I also want to preface this story with the fact that while, yes, I do have tattoos, by no means am I an expert on cool. I was on the debating team at school – enough said. But I have got up close and personal enough with this insidious contagion to know how it works, and the more I examine its motives, it’s beginning to feel like cool is the root of an identity crisis that’s plaguing our generation.

A girlfriend put it perfectly when I asked what it means to be cool: “it’s the desire to be accepted, the need for validation, the urge to seem radical, despite longing to fit in.” And so it goes. Oh, the dichotomy of being human. Our narcissistic tendencies AND our insecurities are fuelled by cool, especially at a time when platforms for inclusion and exclusion are at an all time high.

Are you aspiring to be an “influencer?” This breed is all about being seen and accepted, “liked” on the interweb. For them, Instagram is basically a digi-friendly version of the high school cheerleading team. Things are sold to us now by “seeding” them with cool people. Brands, celebrities, and destinations are made by their manufactured “cool factor.” What I want to know is, what happened to under-the-radar cool of yesteryear?

In his 2013 book “The Cool School”Glenn O’Brien talks about the new tastemakers. But his cool  “squad” were, put simply, incredibly creative weirdos. Homeless Jazz beatniks, bohos and roaming beat poets. Anyone who made people uncomfortable basically. Something tells me that they wouldn’t be invited to Kim and Kanye’s dinner party.

We live in an age of such style over substance that it’s incredibly hard to rage against the machine and do your own thing. In fact, a study commissioned by smartphone maker HTC late last year revealed that 52% of the approximately 1000 Brits surveyed admitted to posting images of possessions and items with an intention of making their “friends” jealous. What the hey?

Wasn’t this cool thing supposed to be people going against the grain? Rather than just sticking up photo-shopped images captioned: “I ate, I pooped, I wore Celine!” Now pardon my French, but WTF? If this isn’t numbing what’s going on in our down and dirty daily human reality, I don’t know what is.

Because cool these days is about hiding the “sad” half of your life and projecting the best bits. Ambivalence is also key – pretending not to care, even (especially) if you do. Which is basically saying to your soul that your true hopes and aspirations count for nothing unless they fit with whatever’s trending this month. And yet, as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character puts it in cult classic Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

A moment please to consider this: when the cool castles in the sky come crashing down around you and you’re left with the reality of your life, who out of your carefully curated online “tribe” will actually be there to help cushion the fall? Because what you’re really doing when you shield the real you with a glossy veneer of cool, is construct a bulletproof force field that deflects true intimacy.

So beside a total social media detox and cancelling our memberships to Soho House, how can we wake up from this aspirational bullshit existence that we’re creating for ourselves? By taking the time to get conscious to how we while away our days, and creating meaning in every interaction. By walking our talk, with our roots firmly entrenched in reality.

It sounds so obvious, but social media is the great distractor when it comes to following your own expressive intuition….and it’s there for seeking approval when you do actually create something. The old greats weren’t preoccupied with showcasing their creativity, they just did it.

It’s a mythic delusion and a safety net to communicate and earn accolades in this way – as well as a way to mask what’s actually going on. Surely giving away change on the subway is also worth a few “likes” – so why aren’t we posting on Instagram about that? “Saw a nice guy dish out change today on the subway – what a dude!” Shouldn’t he be the real “influencer?”

These stories DO come up on social media – and when they do it’s meaningful, the positive slant on modern technology. But too often, they’re engulfed in a stream of exclusivity: “I ate this, my bae wears that” – with resulting countless digital high fives and @s to follow.

I know my feed rarely delves beyond the aesthetics. And yes, fashion week happens, and friends stay in epic mansions. There are days at the beach with the clearest water ever. Again, I am not counting myself out of ANY of this malarchy, I am as partial to a well-posed selfie as the rest of us. But the lack of reality is what’s wrong with this whole picture, and it’s beginning to be all I can see.

Can’t somebody invent “Unstagram” for the days you’re feeling a bit off? For when you get dumped, you spent the last two days in tracksuit from Target, or you have an embarrassing medical problem?

Because you know what’s really cool? Being real. Not some projection of me me, me, me, I’m so fabulous, watch me eat, watch me sleep! Watch me break my arm! Look at me tagging historical references to show how tapped in and culturally aware I am.

Are we really this dumb? Is there no end to our ridiculous need for validation? This is the worst kind of cool that there is, and what’s more, this culture of exclusion is not social by any means. It’s actually scientifically proven to be making people chronically depressed.

So in a recent discussion with a friend on a rather significant life choice that involved making a potentially un-cool move, when she advised me to: “Fuck cool” – I decided I whole-heartedly concur.

NOT by Ernest Hemmingway

You are not your age,

Nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight,

Or the color of your hair.

You are not your name,

Or the dimples in your cheeks,

You are all the books you read,

And all the words you speak,

You are your croaky morning voice,

And the smiles you try to hide,

You’re the sweetness in your laughter,

And every tear you’ve cried,

You’re the songs you sing so loudly,

When you know you’re all alone,

You’re the places that you’ve been to,

And the one that you call home,

You’re the things that you believe in,

And the people that you love,

You’re the photos in your bedroom,

And the future you dream of,

You’re made of so much beauty,

But it seems that you forgot,

When you decided that you were defined,

By all the things you’re not.

AN HONEST RELATIONSHIP: HOW TO LOVE AND BE LOVED

Step fully into your light for an honest relationship that shows you how to love and be loved, says Hannah BierArtwork: “Lovers” by Marina Gonzalez via Behance.net

They told me that true love was sweet and sticky. They told me that if I manage to stay obedient and pure, a Prince will come and save me. He will wear tight-ass leggings and put me in a castle, where we will have mediocre sex until the end of time.

Well, my dating life used to be land mine after land mine and I know all too well about the brain fuck of modern societies’ views on romantic love. And it’s time to stop shitting ourselves and get real about what truly enlightening love looks like.

Here’s what you need to know if you want a mindful relationship where you’re free to love fiercely and be loved rapturously:

1. LOVE THEM SO MUCH THAT YOU PISS THEM OFF
Relationships that are either dysfunctional or incredibly boring share one common trait: the lovers dance around one another trying not to piss each other off. The truth is, the best thing you can do is to be your wildest, most obnoxious self, especially around the people you want to keep in your life.

We’ve been through tremendous amounts of family programming, plus the societal conditioning that piles a ton of limiting beliefs on top of the unhealed trauma we’ve amassed over the years. As a result of our lived experiences, we develop vices and behavioral patterns for dancing around our true fears and desires. It becomes easier to surround ourselves with people who join in this dance with us, and to never even try to get off auto-pilot.

Being your awakened and audaciously high-maintenance self means dancing in the way of your lover, and interrupting their pattern. It means being the one who loves them enough to not enable them to keep re-living their past. So do not restrict your own beautiful range of expression to accommodate their sleep-walking.

Just being you, you are going to piss people off who’d rather not wake up—especially those closest to you. But it is an act of fierce love to make them deal with their shit instead of trying to make it easy for them.

It is your business to love, not to look the other way. But too often this is misunderstood, and people make it their business to keep the people they love comfortably numb. If you want to support the spiritual evolution of a person you’ve come to care deeply for, let yourself be difficult and speak your truth.

2. TELL THE TRUTH
The #1 reason relationships end is because the lovers prioritize their own sense of comfort over the relationship. The glue for any mindful relationship is emotional intimacy, for no intimacy means no connection, and therefore no point to the partnership.

In order to keep the juices flowing, you need to continuously gather the courage to say the things you almost daren’t. You have to have the courage to be vulnerable and to make yourself look like an idiot. You have to value the relationship more than the desires of your own ego.

You can either be comfortable or be loved. Because if you don’t step up and show yourself in all your messy glory, it is simply hard to love you. We need to see you, to be able to love you. Don’t blame your shallow conflicts about who bought the wrong toilet paper for the deterioration of your relationship.

Every conflict is an opportunity to stand up and tell the real truth. To throw your lover on the bed and to show them how deeply you want to be with them. Fuck them until they know how much you love them. Or to keep screaming and making up stories, so that you can stay comfortable and lonely. It is completely up to you to show up and give it your all.

3. HOLD THEM THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO HOLD YOU
It is your job to see people for who they truly are. We all have a tendency to downplay our brilliance, to dim our lights, so that we can keep living within what feel like safe boundaries of being. If we never reveal our true nature, we will never make ourselves vulnerable, and we won’t be subject to any criticism.

But you know this won’t work.

By covering up what we really want and settling for something less, we are directing our creative force against ourselves. Playing small is lethal, because every heartfelt dream contains the energy to make it happen. If we pull back instead of going full blast, the energy intended to help you take massive action ends up being trapped in your body where it will slowly kill you.

Don’t let the people you love hurt themselves like that. See them for the genius they truly are. Remind them of how you see them and make a vow to only speak to their higher selves.

How do you want the people you love to show up for life? Don’t you want them to be empowered as creators, infinitely brilliant artists, and deeply loving souls? Hold them the way you want them to show up. Humans are forgetful, make it a habit to remind people of what they really need to understand about themselves.

This, is fierce love.

HOW TO WORK WITH THE 10/10 NUMEROLOGY

10/10 bring a double dose of Karmic energy. How will you use it to wipe the Cosmic slate clean? By Felicia Bender.

Here comes October 10.

10/10

The Universe has been packing some punches lately, hasn’t it? Between all that “Moon” business – Blood Moon, Super Full Moons, Blue Moons – then the Eclipses, Retrogrades, and (need I go on?), we’re getting a big shake up and wake up.

And as with this kind of Cosmic activity, when we see repeating numbers there’s a message to be gleaned. When repeating numbers show up through dates, it’s a sign to pay attention to what the “code” reveals to you.

In Numerology, there are numbers indicating intensities related to karma – as in “you reap what you sow.”The number 10 is a Karmic number. And these numbers appear in our path, it’s an invitation to look at what you’re “paying back.”  The art and science of Numerology is posited on the idea that we’re all souls in a human body, and that we’ve “come back” in human form to learn what we need in this lifetime.

Karmic numbers can point more clearly to why we might be experiencing more intense and recurring issues around certain matters in our lives. In turn, this can give us the courage to move through the issues rather than succumbing to more destructive tendencies we might have when it comes to these challenging themes.

There are numbers indicating Karmic Lessons and Karmic Debts – similar, but with a very different message.

The number 10 is the only Karmic number that indicates a release of karma. A new door opening. A clean slate.  A rebirth.

As such, 10/10 is a day when we can all push the “reset” button if we so choose.  It’s a day where the energy is aligned with new beginnings – free from the accumulated “debt” of the past. It’s a moment in time to forgive, release, make amends, and chart a brand new trajectory.

10/10 is an opening to focus on with positive optimism and – as Abraham-Hicks would say – by blasting clear “rockets of desire” into the Universe.  And then we must consistently align with those desires and follow up with the action it takes to make it happen.

Destiny is indicated through the 10.  It’s a starting point and a launching pad for us to tap into our individuality, independence, creativity, and leadership.  The number 1 encompasses all these traits – plus self-confidence, innovation, and failing forward.

In Numerology, the 0 is the intensifier. Whatever the 0 is grouped with, it amplifies. So when we experience this 10/10 day, the energy of the number 1 is magnified. This is an invitation for us to take a stand, claim all aspects of ourselves, and boldly go forth into uncharted territory.

The 10 is considered lucky – or at least quite fortunate. It promises supportive energy toward everything new and forward thinking. It’s not an energy that enjoys hanging on to the past, nor does it thrive in taking the back seat. So even though the 10 promotes good fortune, it demands a certain amount of focused effort and stamina to achieve the end goal.

On a microcosmic level, this means committing fully to embracing our individual identity, and then living, breathing, and feeling it fully.

Brenè Brown asserts that “vulnerability is the best measure of courage.” 10/10 supports us in taking the leap into full-frontal vulnerability and opens the door to start with a clean slate.

Here are a few practical ways to take advantage of the “clean slate” energies of 10/10:

1. Write a list of your “transgressions” and go through a burning ritual to release and clear them.
2. Write a list of the significant people you feel have “transgressed” against you, and go through a burning ritual to release and clear them.
3. Start to rewire your brain by writing down – and thinking about – three specific things for which you’re grateful (three different things each day). Do this for a minimum of 30 days. You might love it so much you just add it to your daily routine.
4. Make a commitment to yourself to replace one “bad” habit with one “good” habit.  Give it a minimum of 30 days to see results.

Understand that 10/10 isn’t like a magic wand that zaps you and “wa-la!” everything is done. It’s not a lightning bolt. But this is lovely because…have you ever met someone who was actually struck by lighting? Not a particularly subtle nor painless event, if you live to tell about it. Rather, 10/10 offers an energetic opening to those willing to step through the doorway. And once you make the decision, there’s no turning back. It’s like those photos you can’t “un-see” or the Truth that you can’t “un-know.”

10/10 can turbo-boost you on your spiritual path, IF you choose to take a ticket and pass through the turnstile.

ANIMA RISING: MAKING CONTENT TO RAISE CONSCIOUSNESS

Harper Cowan and Jessica Eve Wakins are Anima Rising, and together they’re committed to making content to raise consciousness – starting with their documentary, Ways of Living. In this rad interview, they share an uplifting call to action and an inspiring vision for humanity.

YOU MET WORKING AS INTERNS AT NYLON. DO YOU STILL READ MAINSTREAM FASHION MAGAZINES OR DO THINK THE CONVERSATION HAS MOVED ON WITHOUT THEM?
Harper: I don’t read mainstream fashion magazines any more, they don’t feel relevant to me and the world that I am trying to create. It feels like two different paradigms, I think there’s the potential for them to be a great thing if they’re inspiring and empowering people, but for the most part the messages they seem to be trying to send are not ones I am interested in receiving anymore.

Jess: I haven’t bought a fashion magazine in a couple of years. When I read them I end up wishing I was more sexy and less human than I am in reality. I love style and contemporary culture, I adore clothes and getting dressed, but I don’t appreciate the message that fashion and make-up are the be-all-end-all of Goddesshood. It makes me uneasy and angry, because I bought into it myself for a decade. It’s a tiny percentage of the bigger picture of what it means to be a woman, and unfortunately it’s the portion that gets 95% of the shelf space. If there isn’t enough heart involved it makes me bored.

HOW DO YOU THINK MAGAZINES AND THE MEDIA IN GENERAL COULD BE DOING MORE TO RAISE CONSCIOUSNESS?
Harper: Jess happened to watch some TV at a friend’s house the other day, and when she came back we were talking about how very strange it is to see TV now. Media and magazines could be helping to wake people up, to empower them, enlighten them, connect them to each other, teach them better ways to live and communicate, and giving us more powerful tools to interpret our lives. A lot of mainstream media feels to me like it’s trying to keep us either scared or placated, and it’s just not the way I see the world.

Harper and Jesse are Anima Rising Productions

Jess: TV today completely depletes me of creativity and connection energy. It’s dangerous – it’s sucking the raw life force out of us all, and should be mostly avoided in my eyes! I remember reading this Eckhart Tolle quote about the powerhouse that television is, and how it’s such a shame we don’t put it to better use, because we could be blasting every household with messages of pure love, every evening. But the media seems so dumbed down, so patronizing to the complexity of the human spirit. It’s 2014: we can handle a bit more soul than a close up of sizzling meat, a fast car, and a sexed up woman, can’t we?!

I don’t want to buy in to an industry that promotes perfectionism. For me this year has been about trying to tear my own perfectionism down, and embrace the human. I think humaneness inspires us because it’s real, and it’s time to start promoting our vulnerabilities, our flaws, and weaknesses in the media. Promoting our inter-connectedness with one another and the universe. Reassuring each other that we are powerful creators, we have so much potential and mightiness in our bodies and bones and blood. I wish the whole industry would try a hell of a lot harder, right now it’s irresponsible.

HOW DID YOU BOTH GET SO INTERESTED IN ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF LIVING, AND WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT LIVING SITUATION?
Harper: Right now we’re doing an artist residency at an amazing communal farm in North Carolina. We live in a beautiful, small, cold barn on 60 acres with lots of amazing artists and kind people and animals. I feel so grateful to be here, surrounded by such beautiful nature and open hearts. I think part of my interest in alternative ways of living came from realizing I wasn’t going to just grow up and pick a job and do it.

Harper: “There is more potential for magic than we are being led to believe”

I haven’t taken a linear path to where I am, my parents haven’t taken a linear path, nor have my role models… I’ve always had a sense that there was more potential for magic out there than we were being led to believe. I know there are other ways of living, and it’s been incredible to get to unfold a few of them.

Also, when I became vegetarian in 2008, I realized I had been doing a lot of things unconsciously for a lot of my life, and I suddenly wanted to wake up and investigate them, to make sure I was making intentional choices – my love of animals extended to the environment, and to people, the way I hope to treat others and myself, and all living things.

Jess: My parents are artists, and always taught me to think outside the box. There was no pressure to be conventional. I grew up scrutinizing books about bohemian culture – The Razor’s Edge, Trout Fishing in America, On the Road, The Diaries of Anais Nin, The Teachings of Don Juan, Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. Such rocket fuel to a dreamy teenager’s mind!

What we’re doing feels contemporary and responsible (there’s that unsexy word again) to me, more than alternative. I hope one day it’ll be the mainstream, to be submersed in nature, playing tunes by a wood-burner, meditating on hills, sharing meals, opening hearts to strangers, creating art, singing, crying with the plants, heeding the moon cycle.
It gets difficult when I start to realize I’m not rooting anywhere, and suddenly friends are buying houses or earning a bunch of money. I get jealous sometimes.

Jess: “I grew up scrutinizing books about bohemian culture”

IF 2014 HAS BEEN A LOT ABOUT “SURRENDER” FOR THE PEOPLE I KNOW, “VULNERABILITY” FEELS LIKE A FITTING THEME FOR 2015. IN WHAT WAYS ARE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR DOCUMENTARY MAKING THEMSELVES VULNERABLE?
Jess: It’s vulnerable to follow your heart. It’s vulnerable to say ‘no’ to leading the life you’re ‘supposed’ to. It’s vulnerable to stand in front of the world and tell them you believe in something different than they do. It’s vulnerable to tell someone you love them to their face, or that they are hurting you. It’s vulnerable to let yourself wake up spiritually. It’s vulnerable to trust in goodness – everyone we film does all these things, just by believing this world is worth fighting for.

They speak loudly by living from their hearts. When I stop feeling vulnerable I stop believing in my art, and stop making it, too. It’s like a disconnect, where I’ll suddenly feel all what’s the point? We have to stay present with ourselves to let the fragility in, because it’s the essence of humanity, and it’s what connects us all to a higher source.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE IN YOUR LIVES THAT HAVE BEEN HELPING YOU “WAKE UP”?
Harper : We’re so thoughtful, it’s almost silly. Mindfulness is a big, big part of waking up. It’s just about paying attention, trying to be and stay present. I think everything is a choice, we are always making choices – from how we let someone make us feel, to what food we choose to eat, where we spend our money, etc. I think being honest and communicating honestly is a radical change. Recognizing the power of manifesting, and the power that we have over what happens to us – if you expect something to go badly, or go swimmingly, you’re making it much more likely that it will.

It kind of means taking a step back from being so easily swayed by emotion or first instinct, and when you do step back, like you do when you’re meditating and watching your thoughts float through your head, you can be more objective and realize, okay, this is energy that’s coming up in my body right now, and it will come and go and it only has as much control over me as I let it. Trying to love yourself more, and give and make and offer and expect more love – that can’t hurt!

Jess: The first step that I significantly noticed happened when I read ‘A New Earth‘, after a very unconscious period in my life. I had fallen out irreconcilably with a best friend, and I was like a lost scrap of fabric blowing around without purpose. That book opened a gateway somewhere in me. The second lesson came when I completed Reiki level 1, and some parts of my life that weren’t healthy started to drop away.

Then the steps started coming thicker and faster, because I recognized what they looked like. I’m starting to see I have the power to wake myself up now, and Anima Rising has been rooted in that thought. Meditation is key, that’s for certain. Time alone. Woman power! Speaking your truth, even when your voice is shaking. There is nothing more important than your own spiritual path, even though it fucking hurts sometimes.

YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELVES AS SOUL MATES – WHAT DID YOU FIRST CONNECT OVER?
Harper : A cucaracha! The first time we ever spoke it was because Jess had seen a cockroach for the first time in her life! I’m SO grateful to that cockroach!!

Jess: I freaked out at the size of it, and ran right into Harper in the Nylon offices. After bonding for a few weeks over The Kings of Leon and photo-booths, I flew back to the UK. She followed soon after, and stayed with me and my then-boyfriend, Jake. She lived on our sofa. She helped us put on an experimental play written by my brother. She made us mix CDs. I made her cheese on toast when we were ‘drungry’. We went out every night and had so much silly fun. There was a weird unspoken knowing that we had found a kindred spirit, a soul mate.

Harper: I knew very quickly that I wanted Jess in my life, I was immediately inspired by her in many ways, and she has only continued to impress me in the eight years since. Now she’s a spirit-sister that I just wouldn’t want to imagine my life without! The first things we connected over were music – Bob Dylan – an interest in travel, in creativity and joy. It was definitely written in our stars to meet each other, and because it changed our lives so much I owe so much of my growth and gratitude to our friendship.

“Let’s all just be really sweet and kind and listen to our hearts and to nature and do good things!”

WHAT’S THE ONE MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SPREAD AMONG YOUR PEERS ABOUT CREATING A HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, MORE CONSCIOUS FUTURE FOR HUMAN BEINGS AND THE PLANET WE INHABIT?
Harper: Choose role models that inspire you to be good. I’m excited to be good! So let’s all be good together – good to each other, good to ourselves. Enough with hatred, insecurity, shyness, let’s all just be really sweet and kind and listen to our hearts and to nature and do good things!

My high school boyfriend’s mom told him before he left the house every day – ‘Make good choices!’ So let’s also make good choices, let’s help each other make good choices and work together to take care of us and our world. We’re in a really exciting place right now. I feel the world’s at a tipping point and we have the opportunity to influence which way it goes, there’s all this potential, and I trust that humans are good and we can and will do good things, the best things, together!

Jess: Love is always the appropriate reaction. Loving fully extends to yourself, your friends, family, lovers. It extends to ambivalent relationships and difficult relationships. Love the environment and spaces around you. Love animals. Love trees and the moon and the Cosmos. Love it all, because you’re a part of it and it’s unspeakably magical. When you’re damaging any part of it you’re hurting yourself because we’re all connected. And then don’t beat yourself up when you’re not perfectly loving. That’s okay too, we’re all learning!

Check out the Indigogo campaign to support their documentary, Ways of Living, here. You can follow Harper and Jesse @animarisingproductions and Facebook.com/animarisingproductions

www.animarising.com