HEALING FROM TRAUMA WITH PSYCHEDELICS

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.

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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.

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: BURNING MAN PREP AND A COSMIC CONNECTION

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 NYC images: Katrin Albert

Hosting Club SÖDA NYC with Biet Simkin and amazing Betsy LaFae

 

:: 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!

More Club SÖDA NYC vibes: a.k.a. how it feels to get high on your own supply

:: 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.

Vinyasa shirt, $69

:: 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!

How To Survive Your First Time At Burning Man

Is Burning Man A Spiritual Game Changer?

26 Life Lessons My Burning Man Experience Taught Me

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.

YUMI SAKUGAWA: HOW TO BECOME ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE

Yumi Sakugawa’s cute illustrated books bring life’s big questions down to earth. But mastering them herself will always be a work in progress, she tells Gabriela Herstik.

If there’s one thing Yumi Sakugawa thinks you should every day, it’s meditate. And with her sweetly illustrated books, the Los Angeles based comic book artist and illustrator is on a mission – to teach the world that there’s no right way to meditate, and you should do it anyway. In fact, Yumi is leading a shift in how we approach our relationship to our consciousness – and her childlike curiosity on her everlasting search of ways to connect to the cosmos is creating some truly spectacular magic.

The Numinous: There’s an almost childlike innocence in the way you present very important spiritual and Universal truths. How do you think this helps get your message across?
Yumi Sakugawa: I want to believe that core spiritual and universal truths can be distilled to simple and profound messages that can be easily understood by everybody regardless of religious background, spiritual training or level of education / life experience. Also, I don’t think illustrated books should be limited to just children.

TN: One of the points you emphasize is that we ARE one – with each other and the Universe. How do you think living in this truth can change your life, and how has it impacted your own?
YS: This is a principle I illustrate a lot, but one I have the hardest time practicing for myself. I want to believe that in embodying this truth, we collectively awaken to the idea that other people’s suffering is our own suffering, to help remind us of our innate nature to take care of our communities and the planet as a whole.

I do feel ready, more than I’ve ever been, to really ask myself what cosmic interconnectedness means and how I can embody this more in my life and my work. Self-care and self-love must come first before extending that love to the community at large. Meditating on this truth gives me a greater sense of responsibility and purpose in the art I create and share with the world.

TN: How and why did you decide to tackle such a heavy (and worthy!) concept like oneness? 
YS: Again, I think I am drawn to this principle of oneness because I have the hardest time fully practicing it – even though I know on some primal, deep level that this is something the survival of our humanity and goodness depends upon. I spend a lot of time alone working on my artwork, which makes it easy for me to have an isolated and self-centered worldview. I am in awe of friends and colleagues who are really out there in the world interacting with more people from all walks of life every single day in very difficult, challenging situations – whether they are teachers, doctors, community activists, or work in the non-profit sector.

But at the same time I feel very lucky that my artwork has found an audience out there, and it’s so humbling to know that the work I create to ease my own mental health issues and insecurities can also help complete strangers from all walks of life, in all parts of the world. That, to me, brings a beautiful and profound sense of interconnectedness, that so many people may be experiencing the same shades of suffering, but can also experience the same spiritual relief by unshackling their minds from their own self-inflicted and self-limiting beliefs. I am reminded often that my artwork cannot exist in a vacuum and it must be seen by other people in order for the process of creation to be complete.

TN: What’s on the horizon for you in the upcoming Year of the Monkey?
YS:
I do hope to further extend my involvement with the world in 2016, though I am not sure yet what that would look like. In addition to continuing to create more artwork and comics relating to mindfulness, perhaps I will be doing more workshops and guided meditations IRL? To be continued! (Ed. Let’s talk Yumi, we’d love to create a Numinous Presents event with you!)

TN: What’s your process like for creating your art? Is there a special space that you tune into?
YS: Especially with my books about meditation and mindfulness, it’s important for me to be in an intuitive flow state where I am feeling clearheaded and not overthinking things. This is why it is so important for me to meditate first thing in the morning. Having meditated for seven years now, I cannot imagine doing my creative work without a daily meditation practice, which creates the best mental space for me to pay attention to my inner guide – the voice that tells me when something is authentic or not. It is in this space where the best creative decisions are made, and the artwork that needs to be created unfolds with the ease of a flower opening its petals to the sun.

TN: What is the one message you hope to get across to all humans who read your books?
YS: Pay attention, listen and celebrate.

Discover more about Yumi Sakugawa and her work at Yumisakugawa.com

MATERIAL GIRL, MYSTICAL WORLD: SHIVA ROSE

Meet Shiva Rose, Earth mother and holistic creatrix, and discover the fashion and beauty finds that rock her Mystical world…

“We escaped Iran when I was ten years old, one cold winter night as the country was in the throes of a bloody revolution. We traveled to Germany, then London and finally to California, where my mother and her family is from. We settled in LA.”

So speaks actress, activist and curator Shiva Rose, whose lifestyle blog and online store The Local Rose celebrates her local community of artisan makers and mystics. And it was going from “a childhood nurtured on imagination and nature to life as a refugee,” that in fact fueled her passion for fashion and paved the way for her current incarnation as a woman dedicated to promoting a holistic, healthy and authentic lifestyle.

“I was a bit shy and awkward, and the trauma of escaping a revolution didn’t help. My refuge and escape from this reality was immersing myself in what I loved best, which was old European/Hollywood films and great books. I fell in love with story telling and being told stories,” she says. “I feel today I do this with each product I create and curate. The story behind the power of the ingredients rules me.”

Shiva Rose currently lives with her two daughters, Colette Blu, 19 and Charlotte Rumi, 10, in the Santa Monica Mountains, where the family is virtually self-sufficient. In itself an important part of her evolution as a woman.

“I feel like I have only become an adult in the last five years. There have been immense challenges and yet I have so much strength now that things that I couldn’t even dream of doing a few years ago are a welcome treat now. Things like fighting off a pack of coyotes that are trying to get my chickens by the light of the moon in my garden!”

The most vital lesson of all on her life path, however; “is that i have finally realized no one is going to make me happy unless I am happy, content and fulfilled on my own.”

Here’s a peek into the Mystical World of Shiva Rose, Earth Mama and Material Girl.

:: MATERIAL GIRL ::

My label
“Clothes designed and made by my community like Awave/Awake and Rachel Craven.”

Awave Awake Fall 2015 collection

My shoes
“Celine on a fancy day. Hand made moccasins most days.”

Manitobah handmade moccasins, $149

My scent
“Faith Essential Oil (on my site shop) or Rose oil from Amma.”

Essential Faith Oil, $65

My jewels
“Tantric pearls worn through meditation to soak up the high vibrations.”

Tantric Meditation Pearls, $595, Nine Treasures

My pampering
“Daily evening goddess baths with my handmade Moon Rose Salts and then my Nectar Body Oil.”

Rose Moon Sea Salts, $50, The Local Rose

My home
“Minimal astral treehouse!”

My food
“Organic and hand picked from my garden ~ fresh salads and fruit crumble with raw cream.”

:: MYSTICAL WORLD ::

My Awakening
“I awake before my children and creatures so I can have a few cups of Living Tea in meditative silence. If I am bending time that day, I will do a few Kundalini sets.”

My sign
“Aquarius with a Scorpio Moon, thus the dance between light and dark.”

My mantra
“Wahe Guru” and “I am Love.”

My guru
“Mama Earth and Father Sky.”

My reading
“So much to devour and learn. At the moment Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams; books on bee keeping, and The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.”

My transformation
“So many, I’m always evolving and transforming ~ but the most recent when I got divorced 7 years ago, and my life broke apart and then open.”

My mission
“To raise compassionate daughters, to walk in beauty every day, to be a custodian of Mama Earth.”

Read more about Shiva Rose and shop her collections at Thelocalrose.com

TARYN TOOMEY: MOVE YOUR BODY TO HEAL YOUR SOUL

Taryn Toomey has built a cult following for her Shamanic-inspired workout, the class. She explains how it’s all been part of her own healing journey. Video and portrait: Jennifer Medina

You have to have the courage to let it all go.

THE FEAR.

I have had a very long, sticky road these past few years. Hell, let’s call it like it is – the past 36 years. From the outside it could look all rosy but, like our lives on social media, there’s always something deeper, truer.

I grew up in a very complicated family (didn’t we all in some way?) but as a child, I absorbed a lot of those unsupportive patterns and continued to think: “it always has to be this way.” I called myself names, believed them, hated myself, was embarrassed to live in my body. I didn’t trust those around me; I questioned everything; it seemed like everyone was “out to get me.”

I didn’t want it to feel that way, but I was so fearful of letting it go, because it was what I knew.

These past few years have been about breaking that cycle. For my children, for the forward of my family, and, once and for all, for me. I decided that the history I lived doesn’t need to be part of the future I continue to create. It happened. Let’s move on. Right? I wish! It wasn’t that EASY.

Over the years I worked with psychologists, analysts, plant medicines, shamans, Eastern doctors, invested in good old fashioned friendships and more. But, in the end, I realized I didn’t need to talk about it anymore; I had TO MOVE IT. But I also had to keep it simple and do it BEAT BY BEAT.

And so came ‘the class.’ I knew I would need fire, heart and soul to get this story up and out of my DNA. I needed shaking, contraction, sound, release,intention, forgiveness and stillness. And music, to help me take it beat by beat, breath by breath.

In the world of fitness I have heard way too many things pushed into people’s psyches that are FEAR based, stemming from the “guru’s” own fears, ego, and the need to make others live in fear with them.

“Don’t do THIS it will bulk you, don’t do THAT you’ll ruin your body!”

But we aren’t all made the same, and these “theories” don’t apply to us as a whole.

How about…

Move how you NEED TO.
Move so you can FEEL GOOD.
Move to CREATE NEW SPACE for YOU TO LIVE IN.
Move to wake up, be alive, present, engaged, and to come UNSTUCK from the past.
Move to get out of the EGO – the one that makes you stare at yourself and size up every last centimeter of your body, gripping the mirror with your eyes, criticizing, loving and over dramatizing the things that don’t matter.

At the end of the day, if you don’t work on the parts of you that no one can see, you can change the shape of your body all you want, but living inside of it wont be pretty. It’s time to close your eyes and go INSIDE. The body you’re looking for is not out there. IT’S IN YOU.

Set’s move, people. Not in the “right” way, not in the “pretty” way, but in the way that you need to release the fear. Let’s gather the courage to let it all go. Moving this way is what’s saved my life, the future lives of my children, their children, and hopefully a whole lot of others.

When you move, summon the courage to let it all go. And take it beat, by beat, by beat…

ONWARD.

Follow the link to book and experience the class with Taryn Toomey for yourself.

Have you experienced healing working out? Connect with us and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

GET TO KNOW YOUR VIRGO MOON SIGN

With the Sun in Virgo it’s also the perfect time to shine a light on your Virgo moon sign, says Ash Baker. Image: Prince Lauder via Behance.net

If your Sun sign describes your vitality and speaks to the way you operate day-to-day, your Moon sign is your reactionary pulse. Her phases push and pull at us like the ocean’s tides. Your Moon represents how you vibe the most authentically in the world, without time to apply logical thought or judgement. If the Sun thinks about himself, and the Moon feels herself.

You can find out your Moon sign when you do your chart for free here. And do one for your friends’ while you’re there!

So now let’s discuss what what form the Virgo moon sign takes in its fullest expression.

Being proactive is the gold standard for this spirit. People with the Sun in Virgo tend to be very organized, but with a Virgo Moon sign, being able to control (to a reasonable degree) the external chaos is key to your health and wellbeing. If your internal desire to control a particular area of your life (that area all depends on which house your Virgo Moon sign falls in) is thwarted, you will literally feel as if your whole world is out of balance.

The Virgo Moon sign is a humble creature. She wants to be seen as skilled and gifted and has a strong, deeply rooted desire to help others. Virgo is the sign of the craftsman, so to have your Moon here means you have an emotional pull towards the kind of perfectionism that is built on day-by-day effort. I always picture the worker bee when I think of the Virgo Moon sign. With each passing day she is crafting something amazing that can be of service to the world, no matter how small that contribution may actually be. Goal-oriented repetition resulting in measurable success makes your soul sign.

Virgo is ruled by logic and analytical thought. Yet the Moon is all about feeling, so bridging the gap between the heart and mind is something the Virgo Moon sign will always be working on. They will want help the ones they love tackle their problems in a practical way. Remember, this Moon nurtures by helping others heal through logic.

Hyper aware of their own flaws, they sometimes project that critical tone onto others through a simple desire to help. This may not be the best approach, so remember that constantly critiquing yourself and the people around you isn’t exactly healthy. There is a time for discernment, and there is a time for pure acceptance.

The Virgo Moon sign feels their best around authentic people who accept their flaws, because underneath they are hugely self-critical too. Their Moon cracks the whip to keep improving daily. Not only are they a worker bee for others, but that drive gets reflected a la luna back onto themselves – the feeling that they must always be working on the best version of themselves.

This can make a Virgo Moon sign your own worst enemy. Use your natural gift of hyper-awareness to improve, but don’t let it run your life to the point of feeling stifled. Your Moon has very specific gifts to offer the world when you allow intuition to get a look in!

Some ideas to put into action to assist your Virgo Moon sign tendencies.

WRITE. Making lists is an easy way to feel like you’re in control of your life. That creeping fear you may forget something and, heaven forbid, look like you made a mistake will be put to rest. Your Moon can relax while still feeling on top of her game. Also, when feeling cranky just write it all out. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the sign of communication, and is symbolized by our hands. So when emotions are overflowing, get out your pen and paper to purge what’s assailing your heart.

CREATE. Use your hands, and take a class in something that will require lots of skill. Your Moon will be put at ease by having a detailed task to perform. Your natural perfectionist tendencies will love to learn an instrument, or create photo-real pieces of art. Having a creative outlet that gives you the opportunity for others to praise you will also make your spirit sing. Cooking could be another option, because you get to work at it till it’s just right while also bringing happiness to others. Providing a delicious meal for the people you love is a win-win.

GET PHYSICAL. Virgo sign rules physical health and wellbeing, so your Moon needs to feel healthy to be happy. Whether it’s lifting weights, seeking zen through yoga or hiking out in nature, you will be more balanced once you some regular exercise to your routine. Speaking of routines, that need to control the chaos will also balanced by exercise. The Virgo Sun likes to think, the Virgo Moon wants to feel, and movement is super helpful to address this duality. Getting out of your head and into your body gives you the opportunity to just feel.

In summary, Virgo Moons make for great listeners, loyal friends and practical partners. Just keep the critical self-talk and need for control in check and all will be copacetic.

How have you learned to work with your Virgo Moon sign? Connect with us and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

#NOFILTER: HOW TO HARVEST YOUR OWN SPRING WATER

Want to feel truly ALIVE? Then it’s time to harvest your own spring water, says Alexandra Derby.

We are literally made up of water, around 60% of our entire body, just like that of Planet Earth. After breathing, oxygen, the second most fundamental element to our existence is water. And so the water we drink is one of the biggest contributors to our state of overall health, happiness and wellbeing.

The juiciness of our cells, our bodies ability to flush out unwanted toxins, the vibrancy and elasticity of our skin: all reasons why it is so important to drink the best water possible. But living in big cities we are given very little access to natural, unadulterated water. So if you are serious about pursuring the most vibrant life possible, then it’s up to you to take matters into your own hands!

I’ve been on a quest to drink the best water possible since the birth of my daughter three years ago. As a geeky Virgo, my search led me to the study of structured water – what Gerald Pollack describes as the ‘fourth state of water’ – as found in natural spring water.

We know from our science lessons at school that water can be solid (ice), liquid (water), and gas (steam). In its forth state, the molecules of Pollack’s structured water form a crystalline lattice aligned in a Flower of Life pattern.

 

And spring water is naturally structured into a coherent crystal lattice by Mother Earth, who, left to her own devices, structures EVERYTHING into a coherent crystal lattice (including us humans!) so that all living things can vibrate together in harmony.

But what does this mean for our bodies? Well, in a word, coherence. The blood and cells in your body resonate perfectly with this state of crystalline unity. In effect, this means you can program your body with unity consciousness by simply drinking water!

Some things I have tried in my quest to quench my thirst for structured water:

Drinking spring water from bottles. Glass is best as plastic leaches into the water and adds to the plastic waste pile that will only end up polluting our oceans.
Filtering tap water. I’ve tried Brita filters (downside is the jug is plastic and you have to replace disposable plastic filters); an elegant glass water filter with Japanese charcoal (sadly discontinued from Design Within Reach); and Berkey filters (excellent, but made of metal – glass is always best container for water).
Charging my water. Combined with a filtration system, this really makes a difference to how the water feels in your body. I have tried tesla plates (a tuned anodized aluminum plate that works to bring bioenergetic fields back into balance and harmony); placing crystals in my water to structure it in resonance to their crystalline field; and giving Reiki to my water by cupping my hands around it before I drink it.
Blessing my water by saying: “Thank you. I love you.” As Masaru Emoto demonstrated with his hauntingly beautiful images showing how water crystals resopond to intentions, music and specific words, the most powerful coherence and greatest beauty was shown when the water was acknowledged with Love and Gratitude – “Thank you. I love you.”

BUT the day I convinced by husband and kid to drive upstate and harvest our own spring water, naturally structured water, was the day I fully understood what the saying ‘you can taste the difference’ really meant!

I knew I really had to do something more about the water I was drinking when I kept dreaming of how I needed to drink spring water. So, following my intuitive voice I found a website with just the information I was looking for.

Findaspring.com is an amazing resource mapping all of the natural springs accessible in your area, along with detailed directions. The huge and passionate natural spring water community keeps the comments updated for each spring with information about the quality of the water, accessibility, and whether the spring is dry or not.

Typing the address of our local spring into google maps, we headed off one Saturday morning with a couple of three-gallon glass bottles and a sense of adventure. As we drove further from the City, I began fretting we would never find the spot – but we kept going, and right on cue saw a car pulled over to the side of the road with a man lifting water bottles out.

There was a small gathering at the spring. An extended Polish family were filling up about 15 five-gallon bottles that would last them for months, they said. There are no legal limits on the amount of spring water you are allowed to harvest but it is recommended to harvest five gallons at a time.

Getting my first taste of the beautiful crisp water that was gushing out of the pipe from the ground can only be described as pure magic. I knew for sure then that water is Sacred. This water was so sparkling that mini rainbows were reflecting off the droplets on my cupped hand. My body tingled with delight, I literally feel ALIVE. This water had come straight from Mother Earth, unfiltered, untouched by any processes, straight from the Source.

The first week of drinking the water we harvested, some surprising things happened. We decided to focus on using the water for drinking, as we had not harvested enough to bathe in. And so we used it in all our smoothies, nut milks and any recipe that needed unheated water.

The first thing I noticed was that heaviness that I used to feel from water sitting in my stomach was gone, as if the spring water was being taken straight into my cells. I felt light! I felt vibrant! And then… all sorts of old emotional patterns starting rising to the surface.

I realised that in drinking such pure water, all the toxins I was carrying, not just physically but DEEP emotional toxins, were being pulled to the surface to be purged. It felt like I was being guided through a process of letting go of anything that no longer served me. I felt I was being ‘cleared out’, so as to be a vessel for greater light, and greater balance. Wow. What a reminder that water is Life.

How do you make sure you’re drinking the purest water possible? Connect with us and share your tips on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

JUPITER IN VIRGO: A DREAM IN GREEN

Yesterday, the planet of good fortune and abundance moved signs. In this insightful post, the Astro Twins outline what we can expect with Jupiter in Virgo…Images: E A R T H by Gyéresi Andrea Éva

Changing of the guard! On August 11 2015, expansive Jupiter exits dramatic and flamboyant Leo, moving into clean, green and analytical Virgo until September 9, 2016. Jupiter is the planet that rules luck, personal growth, travel, opportunity and risk. Along with Venus, it’s one of the cosmsos’ two “benefics,” meaning its influence is largely positive. The biggest planet in the solar system, Jupiter represents abundance, so whatever you plant during a Jupiter cycle will grow into a cash crop.

As one of the slower-moving outer planets, Jupiter’s transits color the entire societal attitude and cultural zeitgeist. Jupiter changes signs every 12-13 months, meaning it only visits each zodiac sign once every 12 years. Its last trek through Virgo was from August 27, 2003-September 24, 2004. (Dial back to that era for themes that may arise again in your life.)

Here are few things we can expect while Jupiter tours Virgo through September 2016:

1. Walking the talk: Jupiter in Virgo.
Now that Leo’s grand speeches, public declarations and jaw-dropping debuts are over, it’s time for some follow up—the walk that goes with the talk. Jupiter in Virgo inspires us to roll up our sleeves and do the real work, to make change. In a telling pop culture example during Jupiter in Leo, Caitlyn Jenner filmed her reality show I Am Cait on the road with trans activists.

The episode revealed her ignorance about the struggles of transgender people who don’t share her wealth, fame and public support. While Jupiter in Leo brought Caitlyn Zac Posen gowns, tearful ESPY awards and Vanity Fair covers, Jupiter in Virgo will deliver the equivalent of a quick sociology degree. And we could all use some brushing up in that area, frankly.

Jupiter in Virgo cracks the integrity whip, making sure our own backyards are clean before we stand on our soapboxes. Do we wag our fingers at the world’s transgressions, then privately commit the same deeds? There will be no getting away with that while Jupiter is in Virgo. Beware the self-righteousness of this transit—change begins with ourselves.

2. Jupiter is in “detriment” in Virgo.
Jupiter is “in detriment” in Virgo, meaning it’s slogging through perhaps its least favorite shift – as if the celestial hedonist is doing community service to repent for his overindulgent ways. We just can’t act selfishly on every whim with Jupiter in self-controlled Virgo. Jupiter is the ruler of big-picture thinking and the higher mind, while Virgo is ruled by practical, sensible Mercury—Jupiter’s planetary opposite, in a way.

Jupiter and Virgo can be strange bedfellows, with the supersized planet pushing to expand, and fastidious Virgo fact-checking every little item along the way. It’s like a neurotic nanny trying to tame a hyperactive child on a sugar high. In the best situation, they will provide positive checks and balances for each other, ensuring that our grand ideas can actually go the distance.

3. Sustainability reigns: Earthy Virgo in charge.
After a people-focused year, our attention turns to our processes—and how they affect the planet. Climate change is an undeniable issue we face, and global ambassador Jupiter throws a giant spotlight here. As astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” The human race needs to cooperate with nature if we want to keep on keeping on.

We could draw some inspiration from New Yorker Colin Beavan’s film No Impact Man which documents his family’s efforts to spend one year making as little an impact as possible on the environment: no electricity, automated transportation or non-local food!

Virgo governs digestion so that rule extends to our palates. Bring on the organic produce and kale smoothies. Plant and grow food and put more greenery around your home. Vote with your dollar, opting for sustainably crafted goods that also support local business owners and keep the neighborhood economy thriving.

With Jupiter in Virgo, businesses in “green” industries could boom. You might just make time to hear your friend’s pitch on solar panels, vitamins or supplements now. Since Jupiter is the global truth-teller we can expect to hear more stories about egregious waste dumping and pollution from overseas manufacturers…and hopefully, to see policies and regulations change that.

4. Living in tune with nature, sharing our “stuff.”
No, you don’t have to trade your loft apartment for a yurt this year…but you might airbnb it out for a month while you go shack up in a tent. Jupiter in Virgo calls our culture of excess into question, and people will begin making real lifestyle changes to reduce accumulation. Jupiter in practical Virgo will fuel the cooperative economy. More and more, people are asking: Why own when we can rent, and use only what we need when we need it?

Commune-style living could make a comeback too, with a modern twist. Interestingly, the first-ever kibbutz—a collective community in Israel where people live, work, farm, grow food and raise their families together—was formed in 1909, while Jupiter was in Virgo. We can expect to see a rise in urban farming, shared living spaces and a boom in people unloading their stuff on Craigslist or eBay.

5. Drop the selfie stick; pick up the talking stick.
It’s time for more mindfulness, says Jupiter in Virgo—to put down the gadgets for an hour and get back to IRL encounters. While we don’t predict that the likes of, say, Snapchat will go anywhere, serenity could set in if we carve out technology-free spaces (both in public or at home).

We’ll be more present with the people in our midst; less worried about attracting a million random followers. We’ll find joy in being of service to our fellow humans instead of competing to be the biggest superstars. It sounds downright old-fashioned, but this wrinkle in time might just buy us another era on Planet Earth.

6. The “Internet of Things” takes over
If anything, technology will become more integrated into our lives. Virgo may be an earthy hippie, but it’s also a data-loving nerd (think: an early adopter of Burning Man going off the grid but rocking serious tech skills). The “internet of things” (ioT) could expand under Jupiter in Virgo.

More of our everyday objects will become embedded with sensors and electronics, a la “geek chic” wearable technology (an industry projected to balloon by the billions). We may even see an innovation that helps us detach from our physical gadgets while still remaining “wired.” Will our entire identities soon be stored on the cloud?

7. Taking it to the polls: Rocking the vote?
With a U.S. presidential election year falling during Jupiter’s tour of Virgo, we could be due for another “Rock the Vote” era of grassroots change and socially-aware constituents (interestingly, the splashy Rock the Vote campaign was founded in 1990, while Jupiter was in Leo).

Jupiter in Virgo will demand integrity and follow-through from any politician who hopes to make it through the rounds of debates and primaries. If we’re lucky, Jupiter in Virgo may also help to inspire record voter turnout before it leaves in September 2016.

8. Health, science and fitness industries soar.
Virgo is the ruler of health and science, so new trends in medical care and the wellness industry could arise. Buying “local and sustainable” could become more of a mainstream trend, as consumers become ever more savvy in their research about food and product safety. We may see amazing advancements in medicine, too—for example, technology that allows doctors to predict and prevent brain diseases (such as dementia) long before they reach their full-blown state.

Artificial intelligence, robots and other innovations that once seemed like grist for a sci-fi movie could become integrated into our daily lives. Geneticists are even working to bring back extinct species, such as the carrier pigeon, which died out in 1914.

9. Coaching and “how-to” businesses thrive.
Coaches and consultants might also experience a heyday, as Virgo’s perfectionism has us all in self-analysis overdrive. Analytical Virgo doesn’t skimp on the details, so people will be hungry for advice on improving their practical skills: budgeting, dressing, decorating, parenting. If you’re an expert, look for ways you can package your knowledge as helpful advice.

Jupiter rules publishing and broadcasting, so consider marketing your unique skills through a YouTube video series, a “helpful tips” podcast or a how-to ebook. For best results, focus on simplifying a difficult process or giving people basic instructions. Jobs in the service sector will also grow, since Virgo is the ruler of service. Everyone, pitch in now…

How do you think Jupiter in Virgo will rock your world? Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and share your hopes and dreams for this next cosmic portal.

THE GOOD KARMA DIET: 4 WAYS TO EAT FOR BETTER KARMA

In conversation with Victoria Moran, author of The Good Karma Diet (aka the book that changed my life – this week). PLUS 4 ways to eat for better karma. By Ruby Warrington. Artwork: Raw Vegan Blonde

When I saw a flyer for a book called The Good Karma Diet, being a good Buddhist (kinda) I had to check it out. It went on to mark a turning point in my personal food history.

I’ve been “pescetarian” for six years (fish aren’t mammals, it was different I used to tell myself), and stopped eating dairy after I started breaking out in these weird eczema-like rashes after my move from London to NYC.

And if going fully vegan sounded like the logical next step – ethically, environmentally, politically, and for my health – it was also going to be really inconvenient. I mean, have you looked at a restaurant menu lately?

But then I read The Good Karma Diet, and all that fell away. Besides the very well documented health benefits, I think it was reading this that finally swung it: ”

So I reached out to the author Victoria Moran, a vegan for 25 years years and 60-something-going-on-30. Below is what she said about the karma of going vegan:

In a sentence, how is veganism a spiritual practise?
Everything we know about spirituality or religion is a matter of faith or belief, except for one great certainty: kindness is divine; this is veganism.

What are 5 surprising side-effects of going vegan?
– A more open heart – to both human and non-human animals.
– An incredible community to be a part of – I chuckle to myself sometimes that I have so many “cool” friends of all ages, even though I wasn’t at all part of the “in crowd” back in school when that mattered so much.
– There are so many aspects of vegan living to discover beyond just food. It takes some getting used to – buying mascara at the same store where you buy nutritional yeast! – but once you do, you learn that cruelty-free and toxin-free often go together.
– Feeling better because you’re vegan makes you want to feel better still, so it inspires an interest in exercise and alternative healthcare and other avenues to ever greater wellbeing.
– The gift of simplicity comes with a vegan lifestyle. When you know your life is dedicated to the wellbeing of others, petty stresses aren’t as stressful as they once were and it’s easier to enjoy the little things.

But wait, I live in NYC.
Personally, I don’t go to a lot of “regular” restaurants since, for me, they’re not regular at all! If I go to a place that serves meat, it’s usually Indian or Italian or Mexican or Asian or Ethiopian, so there are plenty of vegan choices. If I have to order sides, I order sides. I don’t ever eat before I go out. I trust that when it’s time to eat, something appropriate will be there. I’ve never been disappointed.

And how can I be a good vegan guest?
Once people understand that this is a serious choice for you, either a moral imperative or an important health decision, most are happy to accommodate, especially is you offer to bring a dish to share. Another good tip is not to get involved in detailed answers about why you’re vegan when other people are eating their non-vegan foods. Something along the lines of “I just feel better eating this way” should suffice for mealtime conversation. If someone is seriously interested, they’ll seek you out privately and you can share all you know.

What kind of good karma have you experienced since going vegan?
The first thing I noticed was the lifting of a great burden that I hadn’t realized I was carrying, the burden of responsibility I bore for the suffering others had been forced to endure on my behalf. Then, on a very practical level, the extra weight I’d dealt with since early childhood, except for respites of “dieting,” came off and has stayed away. I also find I get happier as time goes by. I’m in my mid-60s and in good health, with a tremendous amount of meaning and purpose and adventure in my life.

Read on below for an excerpt from The Good Karma Diet, on 4 ways to eat for better karma.

The Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet (WFPB)
The Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet (WFPB) is the popular term coined by nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., lead researcher of the China Study, the largest population-based nutritional study ever conducted. In The Low-Carb Fraud, Dr. Campbell and Howard Jacobson, Ph.D., define the WFPB diet as: “whole foods…as close to their natural state as possible. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds make up the bulk of the diet. It includes no refined products, such as white sugar or white flour; no additives, preservatives, or other chemical concoctions…no refined fat, including olive or coconut oils; and minimal – or better yet, no – consumption of animal products, perhaps 0 to 5 percent of total calories at most.”

The Starch Solution
John McDougall, MD, the California internist who’s devoted his career to healing people from the chronic diseases of Western civilization, takes a very low-fat approach and celebrates the basic starches—rice, wheat, potatoes, barley, taro, and so forth—that have supported humanity for eons. Vegetables, fruits, and beans comprise the rest of the diet. He named a book for this: The Starch Solution.

The Esselstyn Approach
The Cleveland Clinic research study done by Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD, showed how an oil-free, whole-foods, plant-exclusive diet with plenty of greens was capable of reversing heart disease in patients whose cardiologists could no longer help them. He expounds on his long-term study and its results in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

His son, Rip, a handsome endurance athlete and former firefighter, takes the same approach and calls it “plant-strong” in his books, The Engine 2 Diet and My Beef With Meat. (The Campbell and Esselstyn plans are virtually identical, and the McDougall plan is very similar, all emphasizing whole, plant foods and no oil. This way of eating was showcased in the popular documentary and subsequent bestselling book, Forks Over Knives.)

The Nutritarian Diet
Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of the NY Times bestseller, Eat to Live, recommends a “nutritarian” diet built primarily around vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Whole grains are allowed, but not emphasized, and moderate consumption of nuts and seeds is encouraged. He suggests getting at least ninety percent of calories from whole plant foods, leaving up to ten percent for the occasional indulgence and for animal products for those who aren’t going to part with them entirely. In my practice as a holistic health counselor and vegan lifestyle coach, I found that clients did extremely well with this approach.

Plant-Based, Lower-Carb
A newer player on the vegan field is a higher-protein, higher-fat, lower-carbohydrate rendition of a way of eating that is still, by definition, high in naturally occurring carbohydrate because that is the nutritive property that predominates in most plant foods. If you’ve read a lot of diet books, this sounds bad (“The carbs are coming! Run for the hills!”) but it’s actually good. We’re designed to function on a diet that derives most of its calories from the naturally occurring carbohydrates in plant foods. Attempting to avoid all carbohydrates because refined sugar and white bread aren’t good for you would be like avoiding marriage because some men beat their wives.

Despite the profusion of laboratory and epidemiological studies supporting the efficacy of the approaches outlined earlier, some people feel that they do better with a little more protein and fat. Their predilection was given scientific backup by David J.A. Jenkins, MD, Ph.D. (he developed the concept of the glycemic index) who advocates for a plant-based diet favoring non-starchy vegetables, soy foods and mock meats, lower-carb beans (mung, great Northern, lima, fava), nuts, seeds, and avocado, and low-sugar fruits, such as berries. This diet has been called “Eco Atkins.”

Excerpted from THE GOOD KARMA DIET: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion by Victoria Moran, with the permission of Tarcher/Penguin, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2015

Are you vegan, or thinking about going vegan? Connect with us an share your experiences on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

WHAT LIES BENEATH: A YOGA SEQUENCE FOR CANCER

With this simple yoga sequence for Cancer, Ash Baker shares three poses to help you access the jewels of your subconscious…Images: Abby Wright for MF Jewelry

June 21 to July 22

Ruler: Moon
Element: Water
Modality: Cardinal
Anatomy: Chest & stomach

4th sign of the Zodiac

Happy Solstice lovers!

We are now entering the sign of home, our roots and the subconscious realm of lady Luna. This marks a lovely midpoint to the year, regardless of your residing hemisphere. Expect to find yourself craving security, a sense of nurturing, and the desire to be surrounded by the people you call family.

We have some heavy planetary action going on in the heavens throughout the crab’s month-long sojourn. Saturn is retrograding back into the depths of Scorpio, as Neptune also retrogrades through ethereal Pisces. This equates to a high volume of water energy, and with two outer planets retrograding there is fertile ground to go within – for the ultimate benefit of the collective.

Utilize this energy to cultivate your intuition, check in with your soul DAILY, and seek the inner jewels that make you feel nurtured. The Cancerian is always looking for treasures to make themselves feel more secure and at home. This is a beautiful time to connect your mind to your body and soul, and to enrich your own inner sanctuary.

:: Plank Pose / Creating heat within ::
Come to your hands and knees. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists and that there is a slight micro bend to your elbows. Straighten both legs out behind you and keep them zipped close together. Take a slight tuck in your tailbone and engage your lower belly. Spread the collarbones wide. Don’t let your bum/hips droop. Press energetically through your heels. Feel the strength and heat being created in your body. Hold for five breaths, up to one minute if you are more advanced.

:: Upward Facing Dog / Open the heart, collarbones and chest ::
From Plank pose lower down to your belly. Place your hands next to your ribs/torso so that your elbows are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your legs stretched out behind you with the tops of your feet on the floor. Inhaling, press your hands firmly into the floor and begin to straighten your arms. Lift your torso off of the floor while keeping your thighs firm and slightly rotated inward. Scoop the tailbone down and open the collarbones wide. Take three rounds of breath and flow back down to your belly and chest.

:: Child’s Pose / The ultimate surrender pose ::
From hands and knees, inhale and begin by bringing the big toes to touch. Gently exhale and sink your hips back to sit on your heels. Reach the arms loosely out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. Pause and breathe here for one minute. Then tent the fingers and lift up slightly. Walk your arms over to the right and sink down again. This will give the left side body a nice stretch. Stay, breathing there for a few rounds. Then tent the fingers, lift up slightly and walk the arms over to the left. Stay for a few rounds of breath before returning to center. Two minutes total.

Mantra for Cancer: “I seek the treasure only found within”

HOW TO FIND THE HEALING PATH FOR YOU

Ready to explore your awakening, but unsure where to start? Hairdresser-turned-Shamanic-practitioner Wolf Sister shares a simple formula to start you on your healing path…Images: Johnny Abegg

*Are you at a point in your life where you want to instigate some positive change?
*Are your usual pastimes or achievements feeling a bit lacklustre?
*Do you keep finding yourself back in a perpetuating rut?
*Are you curious enough to dip your toe in the pool of awakening, but not quite sure if you’re ready to dive fully in…yet?

Maybe the thought of making changes in your life seems overwhelming, and you feel like you don’t know where to start.

It’s likely you find yourself looking at others, and comparing your journey to theirs. But everyone’s path is unique, and it’s so important to find what feels right for YOU. This way, you can have what you think ‘they have’ and MORE.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my healing journey so far has been to break it all down into bite-sized goals. Think; what can you do NOW? How can you make yourself feel better today?

So write down some simple steps, and then play pick and mix, choosing one or two to start off with. Focus on what feels good for you, and at the same time be brave enough to step just outside of your comfort zone (this is usually where the juiciest life results occur).

Making significant life changes requires a certain amount of tenacity, surrender, and commitment, as well as a whole lotta self-love – these are the key ingredients for positive transformation. There follows below a simple formula to get you started…

:: READ ::
There’s a plethora of self-development books out there to help you find the healing path that’s right for you. I’ve noticed that the books we need will often find their way to us. Either by a friend’s recommendation, as a gift, the fact they appear in recurring adverts, or maybe simply by catching our eye in the book store. Books are a great and portable way of absorbing new information, and getting inspired about new ways of living.

:: MEDITATE ::
Have you been feeling anxious and overwhelmed? The quickest fix is to stop, drop (sit or lie down) …and meditate! Just a few minutes of regular meditation can help you develop more clarity and balance in times of stress and chaos. Meditation isn’t just for gurus and ‘enlightened’ beings. You can do it too, and you don’t have to sit in silence for hours to get the benefits.

:: EXERCISE ::
It’s time to get moving. If you’ve been feeling sluggish and stuck mentally and emotionally, physical activity will boosts those feel good vibes – a.k.a. endorphins. Exercise is also a great way of practising active meditation, encouraging you to focus on a single task and bringing your consciousness nicely into the present moment. Regular exercise can result in increased self-confidence, improved sleep, increased energy, and life vitality.

:: EAT RIGHT ::
What we put in our body has a great impact on how we feel. With processed food, the sugar high or full feeling wears off quickly, and will leave you feeling sluggish and low. If the old saying goes – ‘you are what you eat’ – what do you want to be? Colorful and radiating high vibrations, or over-processed and beige? You don’t have to become vegan overnight or suddenly break up with all of the sweet treats you love. Just start by adding more fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet and drinking more water. Now see how you feel and go from there.

:: SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX ::
There’s almost no avoiding our social media feeds, but is what you’re following inspiring you or weighing you down? Focus on finding feeds that light you up and inspire you and only then click ‘follow/like.’ This way you can make sure that when you’re having a bad day or just killing time, you’ve got an online treasure trove of good vibes to pick you up and keep you going.

:: HOLISTIC HEALING ::
Working with a therapist, in whatever modality you are drawn to (Counselling, Psychotherapy, Shamanic healing, Reiki, Crystal Healing, Tarot, Light Grids etc) will help you tap into unseen layers of yourself. With the awareness of your emotional/mental/energetic blocks these modalities bring, you will be better equipped to dissipate any restrictions that may have been influencing your life until now.

Having regular sessions with a healer encourages you to make time for yourself, escape from your everyday routine, and step into your soul-journey. How to find the right therapist for you? It’s easy healers on the Internet now, and lots also work via Skype, so you aren’t limited to people working in your locale. When choosing a healer or therapist, they should be someone that resonates with you. It’s VERY important that you feel comfortable with your choice, and there needs to be a strong sense of trust – so really listen to your gut.

:: WORKSHOPS/TALKS/RETREATS::
Time to find your tribe! At group gatherings such as workshops and talks, you are creating an opportunity to meet like-minded souls and honouring your journey by taking time out of your ‘real’ life to learn about more about the subjects that truly ignite your spirit. Your friends may not be on the same journey as you at the moment, but don’t let that hold you back. Be bold enough to go on your own – and be open to making some new friends!

As you embrace where your spiritual journey wants to take you, it’s likely you’ll begin to feel happier, and so the world around you will begin to vibrate on the same frequency. This is when the law of attraction kicks into action, and more magic starts heading straight for you! So make sure you surround yourself with all the things that inspire you, and people that support your healing journey. Don’t forget…THE UNIVERSE IS SUPPORTING YOU, EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!

What was the gateway to your healing journey? Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and share your story!

TURNED ON: LIFE AS A CONSTANT STATE OF AROUSAL

In the first of a regular column on sex and spirituality, Ellie Burrows explains how getting really turned on is about allowing your body to open up to the world around you. Portraits: Katie Fischer.

I’m always turned on. I walk the earth in a constant state of arousal. It’s. The. Best.

Everything turns me on: my morning ritual of almond butter and raw honey toast accompanied by black tea with a dash of milk; an episode of Scandal; a conversation about the Universe; a pair of Alaia boots; meditation dance at 5Rhythms; riding the subway listening to Beyoncé; having my hair pulled; cleaning my bedroom; practicing mindfulness; fancy lingerie; a cute puppy on the street and its hot owner holding the leash. Basically, I’m experiencing one big Lifegasm.

Last weekend, I was strolling through Manhattan with the current object of my affection. We stopped at a corner and waited for the crosswalk to change. He let his hand brush up against my ass and I felt an energetic burst in my second chakra. A simple gesture with a massive impact, my vagina actually pulsed, warmed, relaxed, and opened for him. My body sent out a physical invitation hoping for an RSVP marked “Will Attend”. An example of arousal in its most pure form (and for the record, he attended, to it, later).

If we’re most familiar with arousal in a sexual context, most of us associate it with being DTF. And frankly, I’ve come to believe that’s totally limiting. We should really consider all the definitions of “arouse”: to awaken, excite, evoke. The highest level of arousal happens when we’re alert and open to all that’s around us. It’s about the expansion of our sexual energy well beyond the confines of sex.

Turned on from sunrise…
…to sunset

In ancient Taoist traditions, life force energy is called chi and supposedly we can feel this energy moving through us. The subset of this energy that’s specifically sexual or creative is called ching, which is believed to be essential to our health and wellbeing. Well, I can definitely feel my ching moving through me and it’s absolutely vital to my existence. But somewhere along the way, through various forms of cultural conditioning, we were taught that this energy should be strictly reserved for the bedroom. I think the Taoists, Justin Timberlake and I are all agreed that it’s WAY better when we bring sexy back into everything.

So how do we do this? How do we carry that powerful energy beyond the bedroom? How do we decorate every moment with this sexual electricity? Well, firstly we need to allow it to spread beyond our penises and pussies. It needs to evolve and literally “grow up” into our hearts and minds. We need to make like an aroused vagina and feel it pulsing through our entire bodies, warming the cold parts of ourselves, thereby relaxing our insides and creating an opening in our beings.

So let’s try a simple visualization. Imagine you’re staring at a chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery on 74th and Amsterdam (if you don’t know what this is I feel mildly sorry for you, and instead invite you to just envision the moistest, most chocolate chocolate chip cookie in the world). How do you feel about this cookie? What does it look like to you? To me it’s a big, dense, delicious, warm pile of goo and I can’t wait to have it in my mouth.

Turned on by cookies…
…and being Buddha

I’m breathing in the intoxicating smell of fresh baked goodness. I can feel the desire for this cookie all over my body. I can feel my deep appreciation for the cookie in my heart. My mind is doing summersaults just thinking about those chocolate chips dancing on my tongue. Holy shit, this cookie is turning me on. I can’t stop smiling at it. But see, I don’t want to actually fuck the cookie. The experience of eating it, appreciating and enjoying just became heightened, elevated and way more awesome.

Sometimes arousal happens to me on a subway when I see someone give up a seat to a pregnant lady or a senior citizen. I feel a pulsating sensation in my chest, a sense of warmth spreading through my being. I can’t help but smile at this display of human kindness and feel a deep connection to the other beings on the train. For a moment, I am in love and energized by the small simple gesture of one human towards another.

The vagina is the mother of all gates and most people think it’s the only doorway to arousal. And yes it’s an arousal superhighway, but for me, arousal is really about accessing the heart and I use my whole being and all my senses to do that. If my heart isn’t activated and engaged, then I can’t be turned on.

Real arousal creates openings in our being. It’s a state of connectedness with the world around us, in which we let it awaken and excite us. It’s the sensation of being genuinely excited about life. This column will touch upon arousal in many different ways. Often sex will be the entry point, but ultimately it’s about elevating our consciousness around our sexual energy to enhance all our experiences. Most sex columns are about getting off. This is an arousal column and it’s going to be all about turning on.

Ellie Burrows is a storyteller, seeker, mystic and guide living in New York City. Discover more at Ellieburrows.com 
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