In a lull at work I researched hikes, and decided to go once I got off the morning shift. Since I passed the six-month mark and got promoted to assistant manager, the shop started feeling like a normal job. The initial learning hill and uphill climb had been realized. Now the high-maintenance customers and their dietary restrictions annoyed me.
I was tired of talking up the benefits of natural beauty products and balancing herbs. I wanted to be in Nature and get the direct experience. Maybe what was making us imbalanced was our total disconnection from Nature and obsession with work?
The shop was empty and I looked out to the endless passing cars. Everything in America was enclosed in glass, air conditioned, and divided up into single portions. Everybody was working to get theirs. I wanted to take all the herb jars on the hike and liberate them back to the land. I wanted to pour myself out of the jar of who I thought I was or should be.
I got stuck in traffic on my way to the mountains and was disturbed by how few cars were in the carpool lane. All of us were alone in our own cars. Finally we started flowing and I could see the San Gabriel Mountains in their full glory. If you can withstand the frustrating slow downs, the roads will lead to pristine places. The thought cut through my crankiness and I snapped back into faith that synchronicity was still guiding me.
I had started working five days a week at the Juice Shop since I’d been promoted to Assistant Manager. I had been proud of the achievement and pay raise, but now I was feeling drained and lost. I had been too exhausted to work on music or promote myself as a healer online.
Why was I giving so much time and energy to this job that wasn’t my life purpose? This was a familiar struggle I’d had at other jobs. Doing something just for the money always feels soul sucking.
The new American dream is making money from your passion. I was tired of serving rich creatives. I wanted to be a rich creative. I wanted to get paid to be myself. I parked and breathed the higher elevation air. Nature is a relief because you don’t have to be anybody or anything. I saw footprints in the dirt, someone had been hiking barefoot. We all need a break from human society.
I followed the bushy, dirt trail that zig-zagged down the side of a mountain. White sage bushes burst with their sacred, purifying leaves. I was glad no one had picked it to bundle and sell. I sent the sage protection prayers as I passed and stroked it.
The plant has been over-harvested in our struggle to rid the world of negative energy. I don’t ever use the words “negative energy,” though. For me, the problem is ego, and I can detect when I’m trapped in my head, my sense of self struggling to assert itself, to make sense.
Nature is the healer’s healer: wild and pristine in harmony with the Divine. We fall in and out of tune with that rhythm, but being in Nature helped me reset. As I hiked, the bay laurel smell was potent, like mint soaked in whiskey. I wondered if I could make a cologne from it and sell it?
I caught myself again in the constant search for how to make money off something. Why wasn’t it enough just to exist? I wanted to learn to value things in their natural form, when they haven’t been packaged and promoted. I snorted in the bay laurel and brush smells to re-wire myself back to Nature.
The guidebook said there was a stream in the canyon. I could discern the distant sound of the stream, and got quiet to listen. I could notice the difference without my noisy intellect. I walked the rest of the way down in an observant, walking meditation. The plants were more lush down by the creek, like a happy trail, guiding me to the source of life.
A flat meditation rock on the side of the creek beckoned me. I sat down crossed-legged and closed my eyes. The constant gurgling sound guided my meditation. As thoughts fought for my attention the river sound kept bringing me back to just sitting. I blinked my eyes open and took in the lush creek bed around me. The Sun was glowing through the pine and laurel trees.
I kept practicing letting my worries go, feeling the breeze on my t-shirt. As I let myself be influenced by the vibration of Nature, it tuned me like a guitar, out of the ego chatter. I didn’t have to hold on so hard, I could be drawn like the creek, finding its way to the ocean. The thought sent me into quiet stillness, feeling the inter-relatedness of things.
At the end of my meditation I asked what my life’s purpose was. The feeling in my heart made me laugh. Like my soul was tickling me from inside my heart. “Bringing new energy to Earth” were the words. I realized, sitting there, that I got to do everything I loved at the Juice Shop—talk to people, make smoothies and tonics, listen to music, counsel people, stare out the window.
I could feel God laughing at me. When would I learn to trust the flow of life? I felt ready to go back and enjoy my life, armed with this new understanding and reconnection to my purpose and my essence, my vibe. It didn’t matter where I was, I was going to keep being myself and grow this energy that made me feel happy.
I stood up, sent Reiki to the water and thanked it for healing me. For holding space for me to let go and clarify my mind. I had never felt Nature so alive, and wondered if it was the herbs in my system from the Juice Shop? Walking back, the bare earth felt so much softer than concrete.
I took off my sneakers and walked barefoot. I felt in awe of the Sierra Anita Ridge plants, river and hills, as well as the juice and herbs in my system, their magical ability to realign us to the Earth. The biggest mystery is under our feet.
Venus Juice: When I Tried to Live in LA is out now. Find all the links to get your copy HERE.
After discovering that there was nothing “wrong” with her body except conventional health messaging, Jillian Murphy shares her manifesto for a more inclusive wellness industry …
I had put on 40lbs in my second pregnancy and they seemed to have nestled in for good. I was eating well and moving my body religiously but I just couldn’t lose the weight.
Every well-intentioned health care professional I worked and interacted with as a naturopath was happy to offer up advice about what must be wrong with my adrenals, thyroid, hormonal health, sleep patterns, food combining, mindfulness, sugar intake, etc. etc. etc. and I had worked on it ALL. But to no avail, and I was exhausted from the effort.
Frustrated, I hired a body image and emotional eating coach and, after explaining my long and convoluted health and weight story to this new mentor, she told me something I was wholly unprepared to hear:
“There is nothing wrong with you except for your belief that your body is wrong. You are exceptionally healthy: you don’t have a food problem and your body is exactly, happily, where it needs to be.”
It was one of the strangest, most revolutionary things I’d ever heard. It simultaneously crushed and liberated my soul. Crushed, because, OMG! All the lost time I’d spent trying to “fix” my body. Liberated, because I’d finally been given permission to shed the physical expectations of our culture and just live my life.
The mere suggestion that my body weight and shape may not dictate my health nearly blew up my brain. It set into motion a 7-year journey of critical thinking, self-discovery, and research that would ultimately serve to heal my relationship with food and my body and revolutionize my understanding of health.
What I realized was:
Conventional health messaging flattens beautiful, complex, and biodiverse individuals into 2D facsimiles. Squishes us into mathematical equations, diets, and wellness checklists that promise abundant health and complete control over our bodies.
This messaging makes us believe that if our bodies don’t fit, we are at fault – too lazy, not enough willpower, intelligence, or effort. And in our attempts to conform, we offer up our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, our peace of mind, and sometimes our sanity.
Now, we in the wellness industries are being called to dismantle and challenge outdated, oppressive, and limiting beliefs about food, movement, weight, and health. To present a model for inclusive wellness that is respectful of ALL bodies; critical of information that leaves us feeling confused and in lack; and that offers alternatives to restrictive and prescriptive health ideologies that ignore the lived experience and values of the individual.
This is my manifesto for a more inclusive wellness industry ….
1// Pursue physical health without compromising your mental, emotional, and/or spiritual self.
When we exercise though our body is asking for rest; when we cut carbs or calories despite our body begging for sustenance; when we skip dinner out for fear of not having the “right” food options; when thinking about food and health consumes our every thought – we sacrifice our sense of peace, connection, and joy in the pursuit of physical “health.” The outcome is a feeling of depletion despite doing “everything right.”
The shift: Put physical health back in its place, as one piece of the health puzzle and not the whole picture.
2// Respect and appreciate the diversity of human bodies.
All bodies deserve access to quality healthcare and health resources without judgment or shame. Current body type and weight ideals are problematic and unscientific (including the Body Mass Index or BMI). They negatively impact our relationship with food and movement, and encourage the stigmatization of all but a small percentage of bodies deemed “appropriate.” Those in bigger bodies are judged harshly and mistreated in every sphere of society, from the workplace to medicine.
The shift: We must shed the belief that losing weight is the #1 path to health and wellness and work instead to pursue behaviors that have been proven to have a positive impact on health – whether we lose weight or not – while developing a much broader and inclusive definition of bodies we deem healthy, attractive, and worthy.
3// Define “health” and “wellness” for yourself.
These terms are social constructs that differ across communities and cultures. It’s also important to recognize that many people don’t have the privilege of prioritizing wellness, even if they want to. We can own our own investment and interest in health and wellness without projecting it onto others. Imagine how many hours a day/week could you free up if you let go of food, body control, and worry.
The shift: Consider what aspects of health and wellness actually light you up. Can you think of moments when you’ve judged the health and wellness choices of others? Begin to think about how our narrowly drawn ideas about these concepts impact the overall health of our society.
4// Become the leading expert on YOU.
We have been taught that we must rely on externally devised, highly moralized food plans telling us how much to eat, what to eat, and when to eat. The Now Age way is to turn to models for nourishing ourselves that put us back in touch with our innate ability to regulate food variety and quantity. These models consider the needs of our physical bodies, while also taking the mental, emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of food, movement, and health into account.
The shift: Promote eating based on our bodies’ internal cues instead of following fad diets or parroting somebody else’s food rules. (ED: read Jillian’s tips on using body positivity to unlock your intuition).
5// Cultivate a sense of purpose and worth beyond your physical form.
The exhaustion, digestive issues, inflammatory processes, and body concerns I see in so many of my patients are one part physical, two parts spiritual/emotional. We feel disconnected and the stress of floating through the world unsure of where we belong, what makes us worthy, and what our purpose is shows up as dysfunction in our thought processes and bodies. We then cling to the rituals, routines, and ideologies of wellness and weight that serve as the ultimate distraction.
The shift: Replace diets and health “regimens” with rituals that connect you to the moon, meditation, talk therapy, dance parties, ditching toxic relationships, eating mindfully, speaking up, saying no, walking in nature, swimming in the ocean, lighting a candle, giving back. Anything that reminds us that our worth is inherent, we are more than our bodies, and we are connected to everyone and everything.
6// Work to change the systems in place that deeply affect the health and wellness of our culture and community.
Socioeconomic status is the leading determinant of health. Accordingly, we must work to shift these issues on a systemic level if we truly care about our health and the health of those around us. There are systems in place that can’t be “love + light”ed away, and we all have a responsibility to pull apart our own oppressive beliefs and work toward amplifying the perspectives of those who experience this system differently.
The shift: Realize that representation matters – if we want to feel normal and acceptable in our various forms, we need to SEE those forms and diverse paths to health. Start with your social media feed by including a wide range of body shapes, sizes, races, abilities, and gender expressions, and enter into those spaces with the intention of listening. As you learn, commit to engaging those who share your social identity in conversations that question your current health and wellness beliefs. Be an active catalyst for change.
Spiritual and queer? It’s on us to create places to practice that reflect every shade of spiritual pride, says Alexandra Roxo … PLUS 3 ways to create more inclusive healing spaces.
Some of my favorite summer memories were in my first Pride month in New York City in 2009. I was falling in love and my girlfriend was ecstatic to be bringing me into her community. It almost felt cliche to fall in love during Pride! Finally coming out as bisexual/queer, after years of closeted same sex encounters not deemed appropriate in Marietta, GA where I grew up, I finally was able to be the whole me.
During this time though I veered away from some of my spiritual growth. Not because I actively thought I couldn’t be in a lesbian relationship and also be spiritual, but on a subconscious level I had internalized this belief. Why? Because none of the spiritual traditions I’d studied said anything positive about same sex partnerships or sexuality. When I asked some of my yogic teachers about this, they frowned and avoided the question.
There also weren’t any spiritual leaders I looked towards who were openly queer. So in a sense, during those years I shunned my own spiritual devotion in order to express my true sexuality.
It is difficult to stay committed to a spiritual practice when your leaders and teachers don’t reflect your experience. Deepak wasn’t queer. Yogananda wasn’t. Marianne wasn’t. The tantra books I was reading all featured hetero couples so I stopped reading them. In spiritual circles or in yoga communities and retreats I felt out of place. So I nixed them for a while and made plant medicines and gay nightclubs my church.
As I matured however, I realized that just because Krishna and Radha aren’t gay, or Jesus and Mary Magdalene, that being queer doesn’t make me less devoted. I turned my attention inwards and began to focus again on my practice. Even though the retreats and spiritual communities I was in remained mainly straight and white, I stopped giving a fuck and showed up anyway without looking for a validation of my experience there.
When teachers assumed hetero preference as we discussed sacred spiritual sex practices, I would get hot and nervous and want to speak up. It always took me a moment to raise my hand and say I was bisexual/queer identified, but it was always worth it. And not only for me, but also so the teacher could consider including diverse experiences in the class.
On my path, I’ve also been deeply inspired by every other person who shows up to retreats, yoga classes, and ceremonies despite not seeing their experience reflected in the people there. Who raises their hand and stands up for their experience, too. Not to prove a point. But to feel seen. To begin to shift an outdated paradigm and create change. It takes a brave soul to willingly highlight your difference, but it is worth it—for each of us personally, and also as a collective.
The below queer leaders and teachers are going one step further by shifting the face of wellness to open the gates for way more inclusion and love in the spiritual scene. Here they are offering some words of wisdom, spiritual teachings and personal experiences for you this Pride month …
BUNNY MICHAEL. @bunnymichael. They / them. “When I think about it now, coming out queer at age 15 in Texas was probably one of my first spiritual experiences. It was the first time I had to trust what my heart was telling me, not what I was conditioned to believe in. It was the first time I had defined for myself what Love was. It was the first time I was truly afraid. Afraid to lose the people who were most close to me. It was the first time I questioned my worth. Being queer gave me an early insight that the spiritual path isn’t always easy … and it’s not supposed to be. It shows you your limits and how to break free of them. It challenges your foundations and builds a bridge to step into a peace within yourself. It shows you that in every space you walk into it is your responsibility to stand up for Love.” Bunny is a healer, writer, musician, activist and artist.
SAH D’SIMONE. @sahdsimone. He/ his. “A little residue of the collective prejudice [on being queer] still creeps up in my mind once in a while, and in the past it would leave me with a knot in my throat, followed by thoughts of guilt and shame around being myself. Now after 6 years of spiritual work I can see that unconscious reaction taking place and I can pause the downward spiral — breathe it out, and wish myself and everyone that could be getting hooked in this collective trauma to heal and be okay with being themselves so fully! Truth I stand by is that when we are truly ourselves without the baggage of shame that was passed on to us, we are actually inviting other people to be themselves fully too. And wow that’s a powerful spiritual gift you’re sharing with everyone around you.” Sah is a gay identified meditation teacher and transformational coach.
DANNY BRAVE. @hellodannybrave. He/his. “Spiritual practice allows me to get into alignment with my soul, and sexuality is my favored way of embodying that soul with the fullest pleasure and power. Being queer, as it turns out, means just being me. It means I don’t follow the ‘rules’ with gender, with relationships, with clothing, or with essentially anything. It means I am just me.” Danny is a trans identified healer, writer and activist.
LISA LUXX. @luxxy_luxx. She/her. “My sexuality IS my spiritual position: I’m daughter of our elemental earth, all my relationships are seasonal, and I desire women who view all levels of intimacy as a conscious practice where we can exercise our subconscious and unconscious paradigms, ultimately making every connection a space to grow in …” Lisa is a queer writer and activist and poet living in the UK.
AARON ROSE. @aaronxrose. He/him. “My gender & sexuality have been evolving my whole life. The more I heal, the more I develop my spirituality, the more me I become. These days I identify as a gay trans man. When I was 7 years old I was obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio and I always wondered: do I want to be him or date him? Turns out the answer is both!I feel deeply that there is a very specific reason that I am a man who experienced socialization & abuse as a child who the world saw as a girl. Those experiences have allowed me to grow up into a healed and whole man, with a deep capacity for nurturance and emotional presence. I am called to celebrate both the divine feminine and masculine within myself and lead from that place of integration.” Aaron is a gay trans identified coach and leader who works on diversity and inclusion strategies for businesses and individuals.
Ultimately, it’s up to us to revolutionize the modern spirituality scene to become more inclusive, diverse, and celebratory of healthy sexual and creative expression, dialogue, and freedom. Regardless of your own sexual, political, or romantic preferences, here are a few things we can all do to make spiritual spaces more inclusive:
– No assumptions! You can’t assume someone is male or female or gay or straight. Ask! If they wanna answer then great, if not all good. Respect the boundaries.
– Take out gender referential language. You can still honor masculine and feminine of course. But saying directly “hi ladies!!” Or “hey guys!” Or “hey goddess!” Can hurt hearts if this does not speak to the experience of someone in the group. Claim what works for you.
– Update for the Now Age. If you’re leading or teaching from ancient texts consider modifying language for 2018 to be more inclusive.
Thank you to everyone out there stepping up, stepping out, shining bright, risking, shouting, asking questions, listening, and shifting the old paradigm of spirituality and wellness into more inclusivity and diversity to reflect the world we live in.
When I agreed to co-host the launch of a book called “Thin From Within,” it was because I wanted to talk about what makes that word so triggering—and to confront our collective conditioning about body-image, weight, and food …
When I announced that I was going to be co-hosting the launch of my friend Robyn Youkilis’s new book, Thin From Within, I was expecting something of a backlash. This platform, which is so much about healing and self-acceptance, promoting a weight-loss program? Only one person actually reached out on Instagram to voice her concerns, to which I replied: “I hear you, thank you. Because we really need to talk about this.”
*Since writing this post, many more people have also let me know that my supporting Robyn’s book has been disappointing (at best) and / or been triggering for them. Over the past week, thanks to conversations sparked by this incredible, conscious and loving community, I have learned so much about the issues with promoting thinness and the thin ideal—even when approached from a holistic angle. Conversations that have been uncomfortable, confrontational, and absolutely VITAL. Not only for me as I grow into my role as a leader in the wellness space, but also as a human being with all my own messy and imperfect feelings about body-image.
In response, I have decided to add some of these key learnings to my original piece—which I am including in bold below. Inclusivity and integrity are two of the core values of this platform. I am aware that the layers of complexity and shadow surrounding this issue mean I cannot possibly speak to each and every reader individually with my words here—but my hope is that sharing my own journey towards cultivating more awareness about the issues herein, may help others to do the same.
Yes, it seems counter-intuitive. My own eating disorder history aside (more on that in a minute), the whole message of my book is that true health, happiness, confidence and wholeness, is the result of peeling back the layers of conditioning we’re subjected to from birth. Including, for example, the toxic message that to be beautiful, valued, and loved, our body must look a certain way and never exceed a certain number on a scale.
But the fact that our thinking about “thinness,” as women and as a society, is so fraught and so emotionally charged, is exactly the reason it was a HELL YES when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. Anywhere there is a stigma, a taboo-the places our pain points are most easily triggered-is exactly where we need to be focusing our awareness.
*The HELL YES came from deep in my Soul—because it knew I still had so much to heal from personally when it comes to body image. That there is so much shadow work for me still to do here. They say you are not in a position to teach from your experience until it has been fully integrated and healed, and it was only after posting this article—which made me sick with nerves—that I realized how far I still had to go …
Thinness, and what that word means to me, had also been on my mind the past year. The stress of having my book come out had led to me losing weight “naturally” for the first time ever. Meaning I was so frantic juggling everything (extreme feelings of vulnerability about sharing my most personal work to date included), I would literally forget to eat. When I had an appetite, that is. Whereas lately, it had gone the other way—meaning when things got chaotic I saw food as both pleasure and fuel, a comfort and a way to nourish and get back into my body.
This mentality is one of the reasons I’d considered myself fully “healed” from my teenage eating disorder. An anorexic, I spent the ages 16 through 20 living mainly on apples, milky lattes, and the occasional muffin or handful of dried prunes (I was chronically constipated, of course). For those who know my story, these were the “Capricorn” years.
After I left him, I found a way of eating just enough of certain “safe” foods to maintain a consistent size 2 frame. My body a tool to help me gain favor with my new fashion industry friends. As far as I was concerned, this meant I’d “got over” my issues. I never had any therapy or even really acknowledged to myself that my ongoing obsession with thinness was problematic.Not least because, as far as I could tell, my body image issues were nothing out of the ordinary.
*I have bolded a key line here. The fact I had never dug into the root of my issues—or acknowledged the “thin privilege” that I have benefited from as a result of my body shape, natural or as a result of disordered eating—makes me absolutely under-qualified to speak on this issue. Writing this post was a clumsy first step towards educating myself—since my aim was to spark a conversation that I and my readers could learn from. I am committed to educating myself fully on body-image going forward so that I can speak to this from an empowering and inclusive place. However, I also acknowledge that my own thin privilege makes me not the best spokesperson. Means that whatever my own issues, I cannot know how it feels to have been shamed, name-called, or discriminated against because of my size. And I so am also investigating ways to invite people representing all different body types to share their stories here instead.
Being in an abusive relationship, coupled with my Aries competitiveness, meant I might have taken things a little further. But as far as I could see, the vast majority of women I knew (and plenty of men) felt exactly the same about thinness as me—that it was our desired / required body shape, and one which invariably meant constant, careful monitoring of our calorie intake.
A war against weight we were all obediently waging together, without ever questioning how we even came to be enlisted.
*Questioning the reasons for society’s and my own obsession with thinness has been painful and humbling—as I can now see clearly the inherent fat phobia in the pursuit of the thin ideal. Fat phobia that is RAMPANT and that goes largely unchecked in our society. I’m handing over to Jillian Murphy from Food Freedom Body Love here, who helped me understand this better: “THIN is not an ideal. It’s also not shameful. It’s just a state of being that is available to some humans but not others. Unfortunately, especially for women, THIN has come to mean superior (smarter, more together, more in control, more desirable, healthier, more fit, etc etc etc) and women are consistently encouraged to do things that are detrimental to their physical mental, emotional, and spiritual health in order to achieve the thin ideal—which may or may not ever even be possible, and most definitively does not directly result in any of those aspired qualities.” (Jill’s full comment on this post is below)
But over the years, as my career progressed, my self-confidence grew, and I began to value my peace of mind over the number on a scale, I slowly let go of all that. Including the scales themselves. Began to focus on eating “healthy.” Without thinking too much about it, my weight steadied out at where it had been after my 16-year-old body first began to bloom into womanhood. A comfortable size 4-6.
*There was no reason for me to include a “number” here—especially since I just shared how part of my healing was letting go of scales and mirrors. Numbers just create more comparison which is sheer poison when it comes to body image pride.
My “disordered” history with food was firmly in my past. Or so I thought.
Cut to the summer of 2016. At the age of 40, I have purchased my first ever pair of denim hotpants … and I feel fucking GREAT in them. Sexy and strong and sassy. For the first time in my life, I even like the way my legs look in short-shorts and flat shoes. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I got weighed when I went for a health check and discovered I was 10lbs heavier than I had ever been.
*More numbers—ugh, this is my old magazine industry conditioning showing. It makes me so mad when magazine interviews always list a woman’s age, but rarely do the same with men. And I just did it here. Again, ugh.
It was in this moment that I truly understood what always felt like kind of a lame cliché-that “thin” (or rather, the desirable attributes we have attached to what is actually just an innocent adjective) is a feeling. Sexy, strong, sassy. How I felt at my heaviest weight ever. This was a cause for celebration, surely!
*Thin IS just an adjective—but not such an innocent one thanks to the layers of meaning we have learned to attach to it. I also can see now how sharing my personal experience of being “thin” or “heavier” here is problematic, as it further emphasizes the dangerous messaging that feeling a certain way is a result of being a certain size.
No. Seeing that number on the doctor’s scale, my immediate reaction was “WTF. That can’t be.” Meaning, that is not a number that my body is allowed to be. The ancient conditioning hadn’t gone anywhere. I’d just got so confident and happy in myself (having shifted my career in alignment with my purpose and done a shit-ton of healing work on myself, for example), that it no longer had any hold over me.
The weight I went on to lose the following summer, following my book launch? Part of me, the part that never actually healed after all, welcomed the nausea and the insanity. Was secretly stoked that the intense heat of my anxiety appeared to effortlessly melt those extra 10lbs from my frame. There was even a certain Angelina Jolie-style glamor to it; as if this was how brave women let the world know we still had some fight in us, despite our suffering.
*This is where I began to think more deeply about WHY we are so afraid of fat. Why fatness is equated with laziness and self-indulgence, while thinness is upheld as virtue. I think this ultimately comes down to control. We, women in particular, have internalized the message that to control our appetite, our desires and our needs is “good,” while to acknowledge our hunger / needs (for food, recognition, to say no, to claim space, to relax, to come, to create), and to demand that our needs be met, is not only unacceptable—but something to be afraid of. I posted about this on Instagram a few weeks back, after I first agreed to help Robyn with her launch, along with this quote from Naomi Wolf: “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history. A quietly mad population is a tractable one.”
Looking at pictures taken then, I see a thin woman. Meaning, a weak, fragile, undernourished woman (just some other adjectives for “thin”). A woman that I am ALSO learning I must love and accept as part of me, as much as I do her sexy, sassy, strong, 10lbs heavier counterpart. The past year has taught me that healing my weight and body image issues cannot mean locking the thin me away in the past and throwing away the key. Impossible, since the key—the shame and vulnerability that unlocks her padded cell—is also a part of me.
And so, it was a “YES” when Robyn asked me to co-host her launch. I even had her use one of my “thin” pictures in the artwork for the event (above).
*I have removed this image. I had thought that explaining how I really felt at my thinnest (weak, fragile etc.) would expose how this “look” is NOT ideal—but ultimately I was just sharing another picture of a thin white woman, and perpetuating the problem. In the words of one reader: “If I’m to be brutally honest, viewing that poster my thought was, ‘easy for them to talk about eating healthily and loving yourself when they’re both skinny.’ It made me feel less-than.” This has made me think much more carefully about how I can create a more visually diverse platform that is truly inclusive and empowering to all.
The title of her book may be triggering, but without acknowledging the part of me—of us—that loads the word thin with generations of personal and societal pain, it will always be there, starving for our love and attention, and silently screaming to be heard. To give that part of us what she (or he) needs in order to be nourished, we first have to learn to listen—to find out what it is she believes “thinness” will fix.
There is nothing inherently evil or wrong about wanting to lose weight. People will buy Robyn’s book for all kinds of personal reasons, some from a place of deep self-love, and some from a place of weakness and fragility. But what they will find within, is a program designed to help them: “finally feel the lightness you’ve been searching for on the scale.” Meaning, a way of thinking about food that has nothing to do with numbers and targets, and is all about addressing the emotional and physical dis-ease of traditional dieting (yes, especially supposedly “healthy” juice cleanses and Whole 30s).
*Robyn is a smart, loving, and inspiring voice in the wellness landscape. Yes, she too benefits from her thin privilege, and in deep conversations we have had this past week about what’s come up for her since bringing this book out, she has acknowledged her own naiveté in thinking that the title would not elicit such a charged response. At her launch, she shared how she initially said “no” when her publisher asked her to write a weight-loss book—but then realized she could use this as a way to talk instead about how to shed emotional weight. Problematic, still, as it still implies that “less weight” is “good.” But also, considering the dominant mainstream messaging about weight and body image, a step in the right direction. Robyn has also thanked me (and the Numinous community!) for helping take this conversation deeper than perhaps she ever intended—as her Soul intention is also to help end our collective fucked-up-ness about body image and food.
As leaders, and as humans, neither of us are perfect. The best we can do when we make a mistake, or discover a blind spot, is to see it as an opportunity to become stronger and wiser. I’m going to end with this quote from Anne Richards, the second female governor of Texas, as shared by the IG account @words_of_women: “I believe in recovery, and as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.” Not only that, but to use we’ve learned to help us all to heal.
I also acknowledge that this is a complex and multi-faceted issue. This post in itself may have been triggering for some, and it contains generalizations that are a reflection of my personal experiences—also that I have my own blindspots about this issue, which I am seeking to overcome. But wherever you are at in your personal journey with food, weight and body image, know that we are all in this together—and that more honest we can be with ourselves and each other about it, the more resilient to our thin-conditioning we will become.
Thank you, my Numinous community, for your conscientious, intelligent, and ultimately loving feedback on this piece. I wanted to start a real conversation about these issues, and you have stepped up to the plate! I am expecting further comments of course, and welcome those which are in service of the core values of this platform—which center around healing and growth through awareness. I love you.
How often do you tend to your emotional wellness? A new program I designed for The James Hotels puts the spotlight on emotional and spiritual wellbeing as part of a holistic approach to health … PLUS four ways to boost your emotional wellness today.
This week saw the launch of Four Bodies Wellness, a program I created for The James Hotel group here in NYC. The brand approached me when they realized how important the concept of wellness was to their guests; could I create a program that spoke to the needs of a busy, city traveler, who wanted to feel their best?
Around the time we began this conversation, I’d been diving deep into the philosophy and practice of shamanism, as research for my first book. And one conversation I’d had with modern shamanic practitioner Marika Messager had really resonated with me: “Shamanism is very holistic. It’s working on your physical body, your mental body, your emotional body, and your spiritual body,” she told me. The idea being that perfect health is the result of all four bodies being in alignment.
This spoke so hard to something I’d been preaching since I launched The Numinous—which is that the ancient human technologies for emotional and spiritual healing that I cover on this platform, are often the missing piece in the wellness puzzle.
So many people come to “wellness” because something is off physically—they’re overweight, have digestive issues, or are fighting some other chronic illness. The next tier of entry is often mental stress and anxiety—what leads many people to meditation, for example. But it’s always been my belief (based on my intuition, my experience of “curing” my own disorders, and my extensive research into alternative healing practices), that the root cause of so many physical and mental issues is often an emotional and / or spiritual imbalance.
It’s a theory that’s been proven to me yet again as I dig into the research for my next book, Sober Curious, which is a look at ways to reframe our relationship to alcohol and other addictive substances and behaviors (out January 2019). How a deficit of emotional and spiritual care and understanding is at the root of the majority of addictions—now widely recognized as one, if not the, leading health crisis in the US.
This is conversation that obviously goes way deeper. Addiction, and the myriad health issues that spin off of it, are by no means reserved for those privileged enough to be staying in fancy hotels in a luxury city like New York. Addressing the lack of access to alternative, holistic options for the millions of low-income and working-class individuals in this country living with chronic disease is something I feel super passionate about—and if anything, I’m grateful to The James for giving me a platform to talk about this.
To bring the Four Bodies Wellness program to life, we partnered with fitness studio Aerospace NYC (Physical) to create an in-room workout that uses body-weight alone; meditation studio Inscape (Mental), who are offering all guests one-month’s free access to their app; and kundalini yoga leader Guru Jagat (Spiritual), who’s recorded three kundalini meditations to beat jet-lag and boost radiance for the in-room TVs.
And for the Emotional body? The Numinous has curated a special menu of “Readers on Room Service” for each property (The James NoMad, The James SoHo, and The James Chicago), which allows guests to book 1-2-1 sessions with some of our favorite holistic wellness practitioners: astrology readings with Bess Matassa; tarot with Alessandra Calderin; happiness coaching with Sah D’Simone; hypnosis with Shauna Cummins; sound healing with Gian Arjan Singh; and reiki with Sydney Wippman.
So how can you tend to your own emotional wellness today? Here are four of my favorite practices that don’t cost a thing:
1//Make friends with your feelings. We’re generally taught that “good” feelings are, well, good, and “bad” feelings are to be avoided at all costs. Worse, that feeling bad means there’s something wrong with us. This is what creates shame, often the fuel for numbing out with addictive behaviors, for example. But guess what: ALL your feelings are part of you, they are all equally valid and deserving of your love and respect, and they all have something valuable to tell you. It’s when we ignore or disavow the more difficult or painful feeling states that they “act out” to get our attention (perhaps manifesting as mental distress or even a physical ailment). How to befriend your feelings? How about literally talking to them? Like: “Hello again fear, what are you here to warn me about?” Or “Disappointment, it’s you! How could I have managed my expectations better?”
2//But don’t be ruled by them. Big feelings can feel super overwhelming and be quite bossy, making out like we have to act on them RIGHT AWAY and do everything they say. And while, yes, our feelings are literally the messengers of our soul, it is also in our power to digest the information they have for us, that then for their assistance, and choose the most empowered action for us in the moment. Talking it out with a true and trusted friend can be super helpful with this one.
3//Practice cognitive resonance. In psychology, the term “cognitive dissonance” is used to describe the mental anguish that comes from acting out of alignment with our belief systems—or you could say, “going against our nature.” And it’s amazing how many situations we actually compromise our beliefs in order to fit in, do the “right thing,” be liked, etc. Cognitive RESONANCE on the other hand, is when we align our thoughts, our words, and our actions, so that, ultimately we are living in truth and harmony with who we truly are.
4//Listen to your dreams. Speaking of shamanism, Marika Messager also reminded me how: “(in shamanism) there is no doubt that there are many realities, and that the reality we live in is equally as valid as the dream reality.” Our dreams (also the state we access when we go into a trance, with hypnosis or deep meditation, for example) is literally where our subconscious mind speaks to us. Meaning our emotional and spiritual self. Keeping a dream diary and noting the FEELINGS attached to different images etc., can give deep insight into situations you feel confused or overwhelmed by in your waking life.
To celebrate the launch of Four Bodies Wellness, Numinous readers can also get up to 20% off rooms at any James Hotel! Just use the promo code “COMMUNITY” when booking. Click HERE to discover more.
Ysanne Spevack learned early in life that food is medicine. But we must also consider how our food choices impact the wellbeing of our planet …
When I was 22 I went backpacking around India for three months. I visited the river Ganges and saw the burning bodies and the dolphins and Shiva temples in Varanassi. I went deep into my own process and traveled far off the grid. To prepare for my return to London, I went to Delhi for my last week. To see some other Westerners. Check that I was still myself.
In 1993 there was one German café in Delhi, where they had coffee and croissants. It was a big deal, all the travelers went there. And that’s where I got sick. I’d been eating street food for months, lots of deep fried lentils and rice, all very safe because the deep-frying killed any bugs, and I was actually quite plump. But on the plane on the way home I got intense diarrhea. The decline in my health was very quick, very intense. It continued this way for months.
I was really, really sick. Super skinny, with no energy and a distended belly, like a famine victim, and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. They gave me round after round of antibiotics. But I was getting worse. Skinnier and skinnier, no energy at all. Finally someone recommended I go to see an herbalist. At first, I was like, “the doctors can’t fix it, what are herbal remedies going to do?” But I decided I had nothing to lose.
I found myself at the London Clinic of Phytotherapy, an extraordinary teaching hospital. I was seen by a doctor and his ten students. It turns out I had something called Shigella, a bacterium related to E. Coli, and the remedies they prescribed were a herbal tincture, a serious boiled herbs tea, and a bottle of pure undiluted garlic juice. Just pure, squashed garlic, and very, very strong. I remember knocking back the first round. As I felt it going down, there was a sensation of relief. I could literally feel it healing my esophagus as it went down. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced that feeling since.
It was this experience that taught me the healing power of food—a philosophy that has informed my life and my work ever since. But in our current climate, adopting a healthy diet is as much about healing our planet as it is our bodies. I believe the term “mindful eating” is absolutely meaningless if this is not also considered.
We tend to focus on diet as it relates to our own health and happiness. Our digestion, and how our skin looks. But I believe we should be experiencing these benefits almost as a bi-product of caring for the Earth. Which also means caring for the people far away who actually produce our food. People who are often exploited by our desire to have beautiful bodies and lots of energy, and to live high-performance lives.
There’s currently lots of focus on a plant-based diet as the least harmful to the planet. But it’s more complex than that. It’s true that a vegetarian driving a Hummer has less environmental impact than a meat-eater riding a bicycle. Beef is so impactful to the planet, it’s the most harmful single ingredient.
But a coconut, for example, comes from very far away. It comes from a place where workers are exposed to pesticides, and paid a pittance. I see these issues the same way some vegetarians see meat. It’s about looking at the whole story, not just the ingredient, but how it gets to you, and where it comes from. It’s about seeing the reality. That’s my main thing really. Increasing people’s perceptiveness, supporting them to see the truth about food, and about how everything else is connected from there.
You could say I promote a macrobiotic diet—which basically means seasonal and local. People think of macrobiotic as Japanese, because the diet and the word were coined in Japan. But there it just means eating stuff that’s grown locally, and which resonates with where your body is at.
So, if you live in New York for example, rather than like hitting the coconut oil really heavy, it might mean choosing local sunflower oil, since sunflowers are grown here. Olives grow in California, so olive oil is the way to go there. When you begin to really research it, it’s also creatively much more exciting when you can eat truly local.
For example, come January there’s no fresh food in New York City. The fruit and vegetables are all imported from miles away. But if you’ve got some sprouted alfafas seeds that you’ve been growing in a canister on your windowsill, you’ve always got fresh food in New York, whatever the weather.
I take this very seriously because I know food is medicine. And with the healthcare situation in the US the way it is, eating to prevent illness is another important conversation to be having, especially for lower income people. Another reason to eat local, too, because it’s less pollution. Yes, it’s all these fashionable little potions and powders. But it’s also the main ingredients of your dinner.
There’s a lot of perceived elitism in the healthy eating scene, but the poorest people can also have a really solid diet—like I did when I was 17 and living in a squat in London, making nutritious meals for no money out of lentils. There’s also only so high of a price point you can put on locally grown plants. Cabbages are amazing!
While I’m not a fan of some of their ideas, I’m quite protective of the women who are attacked for talking about how food is medicine, Gwyneth Paltrow and Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice being the two most often assaulted. It’s massively gendered. Because we’re not seeing Alex Jones of Info Wars being attacked. We’re not seeing Tim Ferriss being attacked. And they’re all recommending similar stuff, but aren’t attacked at all.
It’s important we separate the conversation on food and localness from elitism and medicine, and take it out of the context of gender.
And anyway, when you look at it, it’s often people who are broke who are eating the processed food, which is the expensive stuff. From my perspective, they’re eating meals that have been prepared by servants in factories. Not to mention paying a premium for the truck that brought it to the store, the marketing campaign, and the shiny box it comes in.
Ysanne Spevack is a composer, private chef, and the author of 13 books. Ysanne is available for talks, cooking classes, personal chef and consultancy projects, and to create private dinners and mocktail events. Discover more about Ysanne and her work HERE and watch her recent TEDx Talk HERE.
Want to mix your magic with your mojo? Lisa Levine, founder of renowned Brooklyn healing mecca Maha Rose, shares her top 9 tips for running your spiritual business …
I’m an artist and a healer who fell deep into the magic, challenges, and medicine of running a spiritual business. My path was anything but straightforward. After graduating from art school in 2002, and setting myself up as a massage therapist in my hometown of Pittsburgh, I decided to dive headfirst into the fashion world making jewelry.
This dive brought me to my knees and I searched for tools to maintain my sanity- yoga, then meditation, then Amma. My path with her and the practice of devotion brought clarity and a different sense of purpose. I closed my jewelry store in Williamsburg, completed acupuncture school, and officially opened Maha Rose in 2013 (though the roots date back to 2007). It’s been a wild ride and a beautiful one, ever shifting, quickly evolving.
I’m always learning and seeking to be of service to others in finding their path and purpose in this life. Read on for my top tips to keep your spiritual biz magically real …
1// Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind. When we sign up to serve the divine, we are signing up for a lifetime of school. The Universe is always asking us to evolve, and the uncomfortable places are the places of learning and growth.
2// Commit to the Dirty Work. As a healer, the most important healing work we do is our own personal work. Do your spiritual and healing work, and everything else will radiate out from your own heart and fall into place.
3// Lean Into the Fear. Running a spiritual business is a calling- an agreement between you and the Universe. When you offer your life in service to the divine, opportunities will present themselves. If they make you feel excited and a little nervous, you are probably on the right track.
4// Find the Thing That Gets You Hot. My teacher David Elliott says, “The holy spirit is hot.” You can tell when you are in alignment with your path when your temperature rises, the hair on your arms and legs stands up, your senses sharpen, and your heart flutters: you’re on your path.
5// Head In the Stars, Feet On the Ground. Many of us healer/artists have resistance around legal, governmental, and financial structures. But if we signed up to make magic in the earth realm, we have to play by the rules of that realm. Free up the rest of your energy to make more magic by doing the work, calling the lawyer, buying the insurance. When the foundation is solid, then you can play and dance and heal for the rest of the day and night.
6// Trust Your Social Media Intuition.When you’re overwhelmed with how and what others are doing on social media, go inside and listen to find your unique expression. Play with social media and interact with it if it is uplifting and inspiring, but walk away if it is making you feel down or depressed.
7// Receive. Receive. Receive. Many healers are very comfortable in the role of giving but less comfortable in the role of receiving. When we are giving we are in the position of power. To receive we need to be open and vulnerable. This is challenging. But we must have this sacred exchange so we don’t get burnt out. Know that you don’t have to do this work alone. Who are your advisers? Who are your mentors? Who’s done this before you who can help you on the path? Let people support you.
8// Treat Money as Energy.My first massage teacher said to us, “You’re all going to have to get used to exchanging love for money.” It may feel weird at first, but we must charge for our time and because this is our life’s work. Figure out what works for you- this could be keeping your day job and doing work on the side, or bartering. But know that there must be an exchange. Otherwise, there is an imbalance in the Universe that leaves people owing you. And then things get super funky and weird in the energetic realms …
9// Don’t Push the River. When I first starting giving Reiki treatments, I still had my jewelry company and if I had immediately started pressuring myself to make rent and pay all my life expenses, it would have taken a lot of magic away from my sessions. You can’t push spirit. Let is grow organically and keep the magic as things evolve.
And remember, we are channels. Just like healing energy comes through you, let your business do the same. Rather than thinking “I have to [fill in the blank],” think “We (the Universe and I) are [fill in the blank] together!” Just show up, and be available for the magic, healing, light, and love to move through you …
From January 2018, Lisa Levine will be writing a monthly “Ask a Spiritual CEO” column for The Numinous, in which she will respond to readers’ spiritual business Qs. Got a question for Lisa? Email [email protected] with the subject line: “Spiritpreneur Questions”
Can meditation and visionary medicine break cycles of addiction, trauma, and poverty? Elyssa Jakim sits down with the makers of new documentary Curato talk alternative healing as a tool for empowerment …
“When you find this disciplined practice, you discover that you can support yourself—you can be a sovereign being. That’s the big takeaway from medicine work or any of these other modalities: they help you find a way to stand up for yourself and to know when to ask for help”—Yolanda Frausto
Cura is a feature length documentary in progress that tells the story of Yolanda and Donny, a Mexican-American mother and son breaking cycles of addiction, trauma, and poverty using community, meditation, and visionary and alternative medicine. When Yolanda loses her younger son while in police custody, she strives to save her other son, Donny, from addiction and the possibility of suicide.
ELYSSA JAKIM: You call Cura an “An evocative soul portrait of a mother and her son healing generations of family trauma with natural and alternative medicine.” What is a soul portrait?
ISMAIL ALI: With this film, we want to show people that there are methods to healing that are beyond the body; that require a relationship between the body and the mind, and even the spirit. As a form of soul portraiture, the film is a snapshot of the lives of Yolanda and Donny. So, it’s about their lives in a mundane way, but it is also about them as spiritual beings—a portrait of their spirits. We’re saying this is a look at who they are at their core, framed by them living in Oakland and coming from poverty.
EJ: How did the title “Cura” come about? It seems like a word with multiple meanings. What does it mean to you?
YOLANDA FRAUSTO: To me “cura” means “here’s how we heal together. Here’s how you can find healing in yourself through my story.” There’s no one cure. It’s like the grief process—it’s a fact of life that we all go through it, but nobody can tell you exactly how it’s going to happen, you have to figure it out. I come from a background where it’s common for somebody to get stabbed or shot, overdose, or commit suicide and we don’t talk about it. So to be able to talk about grief is where the name “cura” helps. It means “let’s heal from what’s too hard to deal with and let’s do it together.” It plants the seed for healing.
EJ: How did you discover natural medicine, Yolanda?
YF: I got sober from drugs in 2005. I needed to change my life because I was headed in a really bad direction and I just stopped using. Three years later, I was working in a hotel in San Francisco and I learned about yoga from a woman doing a teacher training there. I started practicing, eventually up to six days a week. Then I got really serious about meditation. About a year later, I found plant medicine and I was like “Oh, this is my jam!” I felt that my whole life happened the way that it did so that I could find this as a spiritual practice. All of these things fell into my path, I didn’t seek any of it out, but inside of me I knew I was ready.
EJ: How has plant medicine helped you work through a trauma?
YF: It allowed me to have that one-on-one communing time with spirit that people can also find in prayer or in a deep meditation practice. I found the medicine around the time my mom became sick with ALS, and when I lost my son, I was already in the medicine community. Both times that I lost family members, I found that I had this community of people praying for me, showing up for me, bringing me food. I’d never had that kind of support before and they really taught me what it is to be supported. Also when you find this disciplined practice, you discover that you can support yourself—you can be a sovereign being. That’s the big takeaway from medicine work or any of these other modalities: they help you find a way to stand up for yourself and to know when to ask for help.
EJ: Do you believe that you have this kind of medicine work or curandera work in your ancestry?
YF: I hear the land where my great grandparents come from is peyote lands. So somehow I have a funny feeling that my great grandmother has been guiding me throughout my life and brought me home to the traditions by showing me a path. I believe strongly in the spirit world and how they lead us back to what’s home for us. When I was a kid, my grandma would cure us with folk remedies. And now I’m that person. I know the recipes and natural remedies, I know what to do. I feel like it was something that was instilled in me, but that no one taught me. I’m always saying “There’s a tea for that!” My sons would say “Oh, you’re just a witch.”
EJ: As plant medicine gets more popular, what kind of responsibility do people need to be taking when they take the medicine or administer it? Is it something you believe can find a place in a more Western medical mindset?
IA: Donny and Yolanda have experienced a tremendous amount of trauma as a result of simply being Mexican-American people who grew up in a place with huge amounts of drugs and violence, and which was not set up for them to have access to power or influence. I believe the strong pushes to decriminalize or medicalize or otherwise create access to pant medicines are in many ways responses to that harm.
So how can you leverage this harmful system to bring about some sort of benefit to the people who have suffered this exact kind of trauma? We need to take an honest look at what will be necessary to make this possible, and I think that during the next five or ten years we’re going to really crystallize what those systems look like.
EJ: Does the film speak to the phenomenon of wellness practices and techniques being inaccessible to people who aren’t of a particular ethnicity, or of a particular socioeconomic background?
IA: That’s actually why I started working on the film. These beautiful practices often require you to have resources—at the very least to be able to afford to take time off to care for your own mind. So many people are limited in this way. So accessibility is real, colonialism is real, and being aware of all these concepts and then shifting our behavior in line with addressing them is really important. The film is really about two people who are deciding to do some really serious work to break the cycles of their lineage, despite the fact that they don’t have the time and resources.
EJ: Did you find the process of filmmaking itself to be a kind of healing?
YF: I was able to process grief in a way that I did not know was possible. I reenacted the scene when I was driving and got the phone call from the coroner about my son. After we shot it, I cried for about an hour and then felt so much relief. I only got to process my grief in that visceral way because I was part of this film-making process. How else could you act out something in your life? Whenever things become challenging to film, I know it is creating space for me and my family to process. It’s hard to have these conversations but we’ve also found a way to communicate differently while filming.
EJ: What would you most like to see for the film?
IA: We hope people will be inspired to involve their own communities in it. We want people to watch this and to talk to the people in their lives about what all of these themes mean to them. We really think that yes, all of these healing modalities themselves are great, but part of the reason that Yolanda and Donny are where they are now is because of the community in their lives.
YF: I believe it will speak to specific people, who find something in it to help them. Maybe it just means they’ll find a way to say, “I can talk to my family, this isn’t so hard.” Quite a few friends have told me, “for you to come out and tell your story really gives me hope, trust, and faith in a future for myself and my family.” The goal was for my story to help other people heal.
On the brink of opening a brand new studio in Harlem, SHAKTIBARRE co-founder Corinne Wainer confronts the status quo, and shares 5 ways to get real about diversity in the wellness industry right now …
When I read that 77% of yogis are white, and that in New York roughly 44% make over $75,000 a year, I was astonished. Also, like I had been de-naïved. Seven years ago I founded a yoga and literacy non-profit for 7th-12th grade girls called YoGirls Program, but I had not assumed that the lack of access to wellness education my young students experienced would follow them into adulthood.
I started YoGirls Program because I knew the shameful feeling of being excluded from this often elitist world. Though I’m not a cultural minority, I didn’t grow up with money, and wellness education is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. And there was the one time I was told not to come back to a barre class because my shoulder injury, which necessitated modified moves, would make their sequencing “look bad.” Given this minor “image” infraction, you can imagine what other exclusionary practices exist.
Soon, I began to realize that theses issues needed to be tackled in the wider world. At first, I pitched articles to wellness editors along the lines of: “Hey, I see you have many articles written about elitism in the wellness industry but none that really discuss how to solve the problem … can I write about that?” My “idea” became SHAKTIBARRE, the yoga-barre studio and community space I opened with my partner in 2016.
Our mission was to actually DO SOMETHING about the aforementioned wellness injustices. So we implemented a sliding-scale pricing model, offer classes that emphasize body, cultural, and spiritual inclusivity, and dedicate 10% of net profits to YoGirls Program. As my friend Robyn from The Babe Collective says, it’s been about building a biz without becoming a superficial a**hole! This is all the more imperative because the yoga industry is 82% women. Change starts with us.
In an industry that profits from your self-doubt, any wellness initiative that supports you liking yourself is a healthy rebellion—but amazingly, we’ve gotten explicit push back for this, and been told we should just “stick to exercise and stop caring so much.” Or haven’t been invited to things where our mission wouldn’t be popular with those who are after more glitter-worthy press.
Because good intentions are one thing—making real change at a grassroots level requires GRIT. It’s not enough to hope our overall vibe and messaging would magically erase a deeply ingrained and capitalist-motivated lack of diversity in the wellness industry.
So if you too desire to create tangible change—in wellness or any industry where there is a lack of integrity and action—then read on for 5 ways we turned feel-goods into do-goods, and let the SHAKTIBARRE story be your guide …
1.When we took a survey. So far we’ve had over 10,000 students and achieved a 4.9/5-star rating. Exciting. But we couldn’t help asking: “what’s up with that missing 0.1?” So we created a survey asking direct questions on everything from mat quality to cultural equality, promising to implement response-based changes within six weeks. We discovered that real empowerment comes from dynamic conversations, and thousands of our members were more than happy to share their honest insights when asked. The learning: In an industry where “exchange” has become the creepy synonym for “money,” make direct inquiries and practice active listening.
2. When we said “no” to big opportunities that would compromise our integrity. We’ve been asked countless times to partner with corporate brands and been offered 6-12 million dollar investment deals; and it was a memorable magazine moment that taught us early on the power of staying true to our SHAKTIBARRE selves. An incredible article was written about us, but the title used a pic of a supermodel as click bait. The feedback from some new students was that they’d been afraid to visit because they felt nothing like the famous woman portrayed in the piece.
From that moment on, we’ve refused to film or do interviews with anyone unless they use inclusive pictures and dialogue. We also decided to fundraise for our second location instead of taking on investors who may prioritize financial gain over our community efforts. The learning: Always emphasize your mission over money and fame. And be honest: if your mission is money and fame, reevaluate your mission.
3. When we got totally transparent online. Originally, we thought SHAKTIBARRE was just going to have local impact, but we realized our responsibility on-site and online. We take time each week to individually reply to reviews and Instagram comments, and pay extra special attention to tense conversations. For example, a woman recently challenged our fundraising campaign in response to a post we wrote with Alexandra Roxo, arguing that we’re “a for-profit company who can just go to the bank.”
We created a whole newsletter on it and asked for input from our community, ultimately opening our Quickbooks and telling the whole world exactly what we make, why, and how, all in the name of transparency. We even invited her to tea! The learning: Every criticism is a chance to unveil a deeper truth for both parties.
4. When we empowered our OWN community. We have about 30 people on our team at any given time, and in order to help them bring their gifts to the world, we extend our services inward. This means we’ve raised salaries twice before paying ourselves more, provided free coaching when asked, generated promo codes and worked out various continuing education opportunities (marketing seminars, teacher trainings, and attending outside classes, benefits, and performances together). The learning: When your team gets to experience your mission first hand, your foundation becomes rock solid, and your impact will be true.
5. When we became socially … awkward or awesome (you decide). We are a trendy, boutique fitness spot that also promises to create large-scale sociopsychological shifts in the way women experience wellness. That is why we sometimes post (with permission, of course) really provocative shares from teachers and students about racism, sexual assault, vaginal health, chronic illness, family dysfunction, learning disabilities … you name it. That is why we create SHAKTIPOPS (SHAKTIBARRE classes with a theme) that take deeper looks at how wellness is more specifically experienced by people of color (there’s a class coming up on December 3rd!), queer populations, Latina heritage, Judaism, morbid obesity … again you name it.
These subjects can be super triggering, and are NOT necessarily gonna get us all the likes on Instagram. But we see it as our responsibility as role models to go there. The learning: With every second you have in the limelight, say something consciously disruptive to exclusive wellness industry statistics. Want to get ridiculous right now? Post our crowdfunding link on your Instagram and start a conversation about real change through wellness.
The biggest challenge you’ll face with our 5 tips? That you’ll have to let go of being accepted and step into being accountable. The greatest reward will be a loyal, lasting, and long-term impact on an industry ripe with opportunities for equal-opportunity empowerment.
As I build more and more studios over the next 5 years (where do YOU wanna see one?!), more and more adult women will get inspired to become activists, and more young girls will have a fully-funded after school program. Meanwhile, my co-founder Shauny Lamba will continue expanding our Shakti Teacher Trainings all over the globe which is where this dream gets even more real because every year the YoGirls design a service project where they visit a city in need and learn alongside their local peers! And this all starts in our SHAKTIBARRE empowerment hub home-bases …
Shaman Durek is a visionary for the Now Age. In this excerpt from a talk he gave at the Obonjan wellness festival in summer 2018, he why spirituality is simply Common Sense—and how, with loving interrogation of our darkest places, it is within all our power to heal ourselves …
The spiritual path is not how many times you go to yoga class. It’s not how many workshops you’re doing, or how many healing sessions you got. It is found in the loving interrogation of the places you are vulnerable to the dark intelligence of “the system,” and how much Love you are willing to let into your being instead. Spirituality is actually a matter of Common Sense. Of tapping into the intelligence, the common knowing, of Spirit, of all that is.
This is what makes each and every one of you a powerful pastor, a teacher, a healer, an artist, a creator, an innovator, an edge maker. Someone who’s here to bring forth something that I need to learn, that we all need to learn.
I believe that we all have power. There is no hierarchy here. I don’t believe in gurus. And one of the things I’m here on the planet to do is to educate other spiritual leaders to stop playing their power games. To start delivering the truth and the teachings that have been made available to all by Spirit. To share the knowledge about how to access and use these tools.
I’m about, “Here it is. This is it. Take what you want from it. Go ahead. All the stuff in this box from the ancestors, all those tools over there. Just take it all, and use it because you’re powerful.” Because these are not the times to be playing small. You gotta be a rebel if you’re going to survive what’s happening at this time on the planet Earth.
We Shamans call the Earth a “type two” planet. Meaning it’s a slave planet. That the species has been conditioned to work against itself in its own process of evolution. Has been enslaved by the idea that it needs to be validated, loved, appreciated, and seen, as its reason for functioning. Instead of knowing that it is already loved, and that the embodiment of this Love is what will drive the species forward. If we truly knew this, we would not create bombs. There would be no war. Because Common Sense tells us that this would only hurt the species.
And yet we accept this paradigm because we have been abused.
When I say this, people often reply, “but I had a perfect life, nothing ever happened to me.” Well bullshit. It did happen to you. It happened to all of us. We have all been treated like dogs and trained in the idea that if we’re not acting a certain way, passing a test, getting good grades, doing something useful, we’ll be punished. That we will not be loved. This creates the belief that there’s always something to prove. That we must become something else and that we must accumulate certain things in order to be valuable as a human being. This in itself is abuse.
And the “dark intelligence” that created this system, is smart. It knows that if it can suppress the feminine, feeling part of you, you will become disconnected, from yourself and from each other. You will become disconnected from your intuition. Disconnect from your ability to recognize yourself as a Creator. Meaning you will keep looking for validation from the outside to acknowledge your power. Keep producing, keep consuming, versus knowing that all you need is in you, always.
We’ve been programmed to believe that our safety is based on how much we collect. How much we have. How much we hold on to. But these things only tie us down you down. Because you start to believe that your personality is tied to all these things, when in fact the only thing that matters is in the way you give someone a hug. The way that you sit and look someone in the eyes and you’re there for them.
We are living in a system that did not provide us the emotional intelligence to feel safe to simply be ourselves. But we must rebel against this conditioning. Meaning we have to rebel against every single thing that we sit in judgment about.
When I asked Spirit: “Why is there so much suffering and pain on our Earth?” she told me that all suffering is the result of a malfunction in thinking. I asked, “What about war?” A malfunction in thinking. “Sickness?” A malfunction in thinking.
And our whole system is built to keep our thinking, our creative energy, and our powers of manifestation, focused on the suffering of the world. So that we will keep getting more of it. And it will never stop.
For example, if you see someone who’s sick and you focus on their pain, you’re accepting this reality and you’re locking it in. It will make it harder for that person to get better. You will recognize your power when someone tells you, “my God, I’m going through such a hard time.” And you don’t go into that story with them. You choose instead to see them where they need to be. Within this simple shift, you’re pulling the negative energy out of their life. You’re doing powerful energy work on them.
You see, you think these negative thoughts are yours. They are not, but you don’t question them. Because that’s what the system wants. That’s why they tell you if you talk to yourself you’re crazy.
But when you hear a voice that tells you, “You are an idiot,” it’s your turn to ask, “Why am I an idiot?” The voice may reply: “Well, because you did this when you were at school.” And again, you can ask: “But that was a long time ago, and why does it mean I’m an idiot?” The voice will continue to try and convince you … “Well, you know, because blah blah.” But if you keep questioning it, after a while you’ll show the voice that you’re not going to accept it. Soon, the same negative voice will appear in your head, and you’ll be like, “nice try, thanks for calling. Click.”
So start questioning. I call it loving interrogation. You lovingly interrogate yourself when confronted with that nonsense. You lovingly interrogate the voice about the lies you have been told that are limiting you from realizing your ultimate power as a Creator.
Because every time a negative thought comes into your head and you let it ride its course, you’re drinking poison. Every time a doubt enters your being and you accept it and let it affect you, you’re drinking poison. Every time you get into a negative conversation with someone and you sit there and just continue listening, you’re putting poison in. I don’t care how much green juice you drink. I don’t care if you’re meditating twice a day. As long as you’re letting negative thoughts come into your mind, it’s all cancelled out.
It’s not enough to say, “I am spiritual because I do this or that.” The very things that we don’t like, the very things that make us the most uncomfortable about ourselves, the very things we are most afraid of in the world, are the very things we must learn to interrogate with Love.
We each embody four elements—the spiritual, the mental, the emotional, and the physical. But there is a fifth element, which is Love. When all four elements are working in alignment, all your visions, your dreams, are within reach, and all that’s required to make them manifest is love. And when Love happens, oh my God, then let’s talk about power. This is what we have come here to move into. Then there will be no more playing small in your life. This is it. This is the end of it. It’s done.
Numinous founder Ruby Warrington will be in conversation with Shaman Durek and Maestro Manuel Rufino for Emergence: Building Shamanic Communities in the Now Age on November 10 2018 in NYC. Click HERE for more details + to sign up.
Paralyzed by Tarot-noia, astro dates, and constant cleanses? You might be having a wellness overdose, says Mercedes Kiss …
With planet of spiritual abundance, Jupiter, now in insatiable Scorpio, it could begin to feel like we’re caught up in a zodiac discotheque of wellness … knocking back the ‘booch and dusting all your friends in Astragalus to keep the party going strong.
But watch your step in those Bulletproof platforms, disco minx, because too many sips on this cosmic mix could tip your Health Hustle into the Overdose Zone.
When it comes to wellness, here are 9 ways to tell you’ve gone from “Hot Stuff” to “Le Freak” …
1// You intro yourself as an 80/20-Intermittent-Fasting-Lacto-Keto-Paleo-Vego-Juicing-(Nutso) What started as a simple way to alert restaurants of your dietary preference has ballooned into a multi-hyphened food-entity.
The labels began as a way to help you to become THE BEST YOU. The problem is, so many of life’s glories—adventure, experimentation, spontaneity, surrender—require busting through those Bulletproof walls.
2// You’re stuck in analysis paralysis You went to the drugstore for eye drops. After sitting on the itchy carpet comparing ingredients lists for 45 minutes, and diving deep into online review forums, you ultimately leave empty-handed (deeming it utterly irresponsible to put such chemically-laden toxic waste on your precious peepers).
When every purchase has become a debilitating tug-of-war between this-or-that-or-DIY, I dare you to just pick something by the count of three. If you hate it you can return it … but, babe, your free time isn’t meant to be spent under nasty drugstore fluorescents.
3// You’re so “cleansed,” your digestive tract sparkles brighter than Martha Stewart’s silver Yes Martha is the original #girlboss and nearly everything she does is “a good thing.” But constant cleansing is not.
I certainly champion for a diet loaded with green leafy veg, where snacks aren’t shackled in crinkly plastic bags. But adopting the philosophy that certain foods are “clean” and others “dirty” can make a mess of both mind and body. The stress we place on ourselves for crushing that WHOLE movie theater box of Sour Patch Kids can be just as gnarly to our overall health as its nutrient (non)density or caloric hit.
4// D stands for Detox, Dharma, Dulse … and Debt After a recent super-natural shopping spree of powdered adaptogens, a highly-touted jade yoni egg, and a year’s supply of organic Jojoba oil, I crashed down with an ego-breaking thud when I checked my bank account.
Take a lesson from a gal who’s been there: all the green products in the world aren’t worth finding your finances in the red.
5// E stands for Exercise … but also Exhaustion and Escape I love running for long stretches out in nature with fabulous company … like Blondie or Donna Summer’s greatest hits! But I knew I needed to ask myself why I was craving those daily 2-hour jaunts when no amount of sleep left me feeling rested and I was procrastinating on other obligations.
The warning signs were obvious but I pushed to the physical and emotional breaking point before admitting, “I’m a savage for sweat who’s literally running away from reality.”
So sure, go after the high. But listen to your body’s wisdom and keep your intentions honest.
6// You have more dates with your colon-hydrotherapist than with your lover Or your acupuncturist/Reiki Master/cryo chamber, and your best-friend/sister/mom …
Checking in with your tribe can bring tremendous satisfaction and healing all its own. The relief sought from your bevy of external therapies could mask other areas of life, and the relationships that really count, being swept under the rug.
7// The stars. Must. Align Your astrology newsletter said the 1st would be a “compromised day for business relationships,” so you called in sick to work. The 14th is forecasted to be lucky for romance, so you triple booked Tinder dates (swipe right! – swipe right! – swipe right!).
The zodiac is many things: magical, intriguing, guiding, telling. But it is not a guarantee. We might be handed a roadmap with highlighted routes, but it’s up to us to fill up the tank and drive responsibly.
8// You’ve turned into “Sage On The Stage” You find yourself in a social situation (a catchup over hemp milk lattes or dinner at that new “farm-to-upcycled-tablecloths” joint), and suddenly you morph into Gwyneth Paltrow meets Tony Robbins meets Anderson Cooper.
Sharing your wellness wisdom is a noble cause. Just remember, Your Highness of Health, that friends are equals and not a paying audience. They want to hang with you, not necessarily your monologue on ceremonial Matcha.
9// “Wellness” just isn’t juicy enough Do you ever say a word so many times that it loses all meaning? It dissolves into syllables, then elemental sounds, then POOF! It’s gone.
Wellness is, well, one thing … and it doesn’t get to the heart of all we sumptuous creatures crave. With expansive Jupiter stoking our transformational fires through November 3 2018, how about we also go after GREAT-ness? FIERCE-ness? Some Scorpio SEXI-ness? When it comes to disco-diva FABULOUS-ness, I’ll take a strong hit everyday.
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.
In a world where we’re starved of genuine connection, Kumi Sawyers is a passionate advocate for the healing power of touch … Intro by Ruby Warrington.
A few months back, I had a “High Times Massage” with Kumi Sawyers, an NYC body-worker and yogini who’s work I’d be following for a while. Kumi uses a CBD massage oil in her sessions, and it’s fair to say I was feeling literally zero pain (or even all the edges of my being) when I floated off her table. But it wasn’t just the cannabinoids.
Kumi is a natural born healer; there is magic in her hands. And she believe the missing piece in many a wellness journey, is that we all need to be touched. When we sat down for her to tell me more about this, here’s what she had to say:
“A client will come to me and say, ‘I have this pain that doesn’t go away. I’m doing yoga and I’m seeing this physical therapist. I have my acupuncturist, I have my healer. I eat this and I eat that, and I’m doing all these things, but I’m still in so much pain.’ And it’s because there is blocked energy in their body.
All healing modalities talk about it, just with different names. Kundalini, Shakti, whatever you want to call it, it’s this energy that gets trapped. And it doesn’t matter what you eat. It doesn’t matter whether or not you talk about it with your therapist. You have to move the energy around. You have to recognize it, you have to feel it, and you have to associate with it as part of your body. It has to become alive, it has to join you. As soon as we connect to this, is when things begin to transform. To become beautiful, and vibrant, and alive, and abundant.
And the touch of another human hand is often the catalyst for this.
Touch is extremely powerful. There are even studies that show how what’s called ‘touch deprivation’ stops babies from growing and developing properly. I know that when I feel anxious, in order for me to calm down I need someone to hold me. Just hold me for a second. And yet we live in a world where people are afraid of touch. Where loving touch it is reserved for romantic partners; and in other situations, it can create a closeness we do not feel comfortable with.
People are choosing to rely on this false sense of connection instead. We think that because we’re friends on Instagram, it means that I care for you. But it doesn’t mean anything. It is a beautiful thing to feel connected to all these people, but the reality is we’re not. At the end of the day, we can go home and still feel very alone.
It should actually be: ‘I care for you because I show up for you. And when I see you I put my hand on you, and I listen to you, and I support you, no matter what.’ This is the currency, this is the energy exchange, that’s really healing and important in our development as human beings. Physical affection isn’t only sexual. Touch is another way of feeling. Of going beyond the superficial, and dropping down into the deep layers. Yet so many people are afraid to feel, and much of my work is to guide people comfortably into the depths.
Often people show up to my table very armored, guarded. The reason they can’t feel what’s going on in their bodies is because they don’t want to. To then come to me and to lie naked on my table and let me touch them, that is real vulnerability, real trust. And not everyone is ready for it, right away.
So I have to work with the nervous system. I have to prepare the body. I have to let them trust me, which means using really firm, but soft and consistent contact. To allow my touch to say to them, ‘I am here.’ And then slowly the body softens. And then people will let me in, and I can do the deeper work.
If I try to force my way, the body will just lock up. And then they’ll feel sore and agitated, and it’s a bad experience for everyone. The way you work with the body is the way you work with people. It’s the way that you work with your personal relationships. You can’t ever force somebody to be in a place where they’re not ready. There is a way of just being with people where they are, and guiding them through whatever experience they’re having.
When I go into somebody’s body and they’re like, ‘it’s too much, it’s too much,’ I tell them that I understand. And I ask them to breathe with me. I tell them that the only way to move this out of their body is to move through it, and that as soon as we get through this, there will be an opening. To trust me.
And that’s life. I can’t think of one thing I’ve done in my life that’s been meaningful that didn’t mean going through some really intense initiations. Beginning with the birth canal. That’s the work, and you can take this work and you can apply it to anything. You can apply it to body work, and to relationships, to careers, to politics.
People will try to bypass it. Like, ‘actually let’s skip around that. I’m going to just turn right.’ And you can keep turning right, and you’re going to arrive at a place where you look at your life, and you are not fulfilled. Where you’re suffering physically because you’re holding all that energy inside your body. Where your body can no longer move. Where you’re retaining water, your joints are not fluid, your skin is most likely doing some weird shit. Where your relationships are empty. And it’s sad. I see so many people make these decisions, and all because they weren’t ready to do the deep, uncomfortable work.
Ultimately, everybody wants to feel love, to feel happiness. They just don’t want to feel the discomfort. But anybody who thinks they can live without turbulence, that’s just not how it goes. You actually want the bumps, because it shows you’re feeling more. To really feel deeply about something is a gift. You want the turbulence, because the scarier it gets, the closer you know you’re moving towards something really beautiful.”
Virgo season 2017 is a time to lay claim to your most pristine values, and show up with utmost integrity says Bess Matassa. PLUS a solo wedding celebration for each Vesta sign … Homepage art: Lexi Kendall
Lay out your laciest lingerie, private dancers. The zodiac’s mystic mami of self-possessed sexuality invites us to bow down at the altar of our beautiful bodies in all their intricate integrity, and to delight in the divine essence of our own, solitary unfolding.
This unmarried siren of self-containment lives with fierce fealty to her internal code, and simply will not give it away for free. As she sifts, assesses, and refines, the zodiac’s everyday alchemist moves in rhythm with the world that surrounds her, working her mettle to transform her metal into 24-karat gold.
It’s a season for deciding exactly what you will stand for, and what you won’t fall for anymore, vestal vixens. Descend into your very own witchy desert land, and marry yourself to the wind and the night and the shifting sand. Wed yourself to the wildest, untamable places inside yourself. Pledge allegiance for life.
The keyword: Integrity
The song lyrics: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror/I’m asking him to change his ways/If you want to make the world a better place/Take a look at yourself and then make a change”—Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”
Check out Bess’ Virgo Season Playlist, complete with witchy women, singular anthems, and ladies of the canyon.
The color palette: 1970s land art and film noir: tumbled stone silvers, cameo creams, copper wheatfields, and herringbone patterns.
The style: Georgia O’Keefe’s open-air Santa Fe atelier meets Elizabethan regality—high ruffled necks, gilded patterning, buttons on sleeves, impeccable tailoring, open-toed sandals, and broad-brimmed hats.
The scents and flavors: careful concoctions, earth goddess essences, and sovereign tastes. Baguettes and subtly spiced soups, herbaceous pestos, harvest grains, dried apricots, frisée, strained labneh, and lavendar pillows.
The healing: everyday alchemy, considered corporeality, and self-governing sexuality. Food and beverage pairings, lingerie shopping, ayurveda, ritual baths, ant farms, and herb gardening.
Sensuous Invitation of the Month:Solo Wedding Ceremonies for Your Vesta Sign
The zodiac’s unwed woman is inherently tied to asteroid Vesta, whose streamlined acts of devotion teach us how to activate singular focus and creative containment.
This month, marry yourself to exactly what lives inside of you with a solo wedding ceremony fit for a badass bride …
New to your birthchart? Discover your Vesta sign by looking at your birth year and month HERE.
Vesta in Aries Virgo season invites you to temper some of your usual no-holds-barred aggression with more calculated maneuvers. Wedding Party: Tossing the bouquet. Strategize your leaps as you catch petals with both ease and assessment. Wedding Anthem: “You Shook Me All Night Long,” AC/DC.
Vesta in Taurus Virgo season invites you to let your work in the world feel both pragmatic and pleasurable. Wedding Party: Cutting the cake. Let determining the contours of your feast fully fuel your self-sufficiency. Wedding Anthem:“Let’s Get it On,” Marvin Gaye.
Vesta in Gemini Virgo season invites you to release into body knowledge and speak straight from your gut. Wedding Party: Toasting. Carefully planned words meet instinctual, emotive sharing of what lives in your heart. Wedding Anthem: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” Stevie Wonder.
Vesta in Cancer Virgo season invites you to let your own past lives lead you home to your core beliefs. Wedding Party: Photo booth. Delight in candid, historical snaps that capture the nostalgia of this very moment. Wedding Anthem: “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” The Four Seasons.
Vesta in Leo Virgo season invites you to assess your creative contribution so you can fully ignite your eternal flame. Wedding Party: Conga line. Hone some structured dance moves without losing one bit of the party. Wedding Anthem: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper.
Vesta in Virgo Virgo season invites you to soften your inner-critic without surrendering your high-quality standards. Wedding Party: Tailoring the gown. Cloak yourself in careful couture that’s both intricately crafted and drop-dead gorgeous. Wedding Anthem: “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” Beyoncé.
Vesta in Libra Virgo season invites you to romance yourself fully without needing a partner, and fall back in love with your private dreams. Wedding Party: The honeymoon. Re-up your faith in fairytale fantasies and endlessly unfolding beauty. Wedding Anthem: “Wonderful Tonight,” Eric Clapton.
Vesta in Scorpio Virgo season invites you to let your intensity inform your integrity as you unapologetically claim your power in the world. Wedding Party: Bachelorette Weekend. Channel the stripped-down wilding of a “don’t ask don’t tell” weekend in Vegas. Wedding Anthem: “Lady in Red,” Chris De Burgh.
Vesta in Sagittarius Virgo season invites you to wed yourself to pure wildness and channel your intrepid inner voyager who knows no bounds. Wedding Party: Destination wedding. Channel the wide-open spaces of solo tripping. Wedding Anthem: “Footlose” Kenny Loggins.
Vesta in Capricorn Virgo season invites you to unabashedly celebrate your desire for structures that endure. Wedding Party: White wedding. Channel long-standing traditions and regal ritual. Wedding Anthem: “At Last,” Etta James.
Vesta in Aquarius Virgo season invites you to crack open the status quo and re-envision what it means to be committed to your cause. Wedding Party: Civil ceremony. Draw clear boundaries between church and state as you birth your humanitarian visions into being. Wedding Anthem: “Respect,” Aretha Franklin
Vesta in Pisces Virgo season invites you to revel in your need for retreat as you get in touch with your own secret touchy-feelies. Wedding Party: Elopement. Pull a delicious disappearing act and relax into checking out. Wedding Anthem: “I’ve Had the Time of My Life,” Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes.
Bess Matassa is available for private readings and astro-themed events. Connect with her at Mojaverising.com
Leo season means the romance AND the party vibes are in full force. How to navigate the love landscape sans booze? Caitlin Cecil shares 10 things you need to know about sober dating …
Once upon a time, my favorite part of dating was getting ready for the date: mixing myself a rum and Coke to take the edge off, jamming to some Blink 182, choosing my outfit and make up, and sipping on my beverage to alleviate the first date jitters. Even if the date turned out to be a bust, I really enjoyed having a drink with myself in anticipation of a night out …
Two years ago, alcohol having wrecked havoc on my health through migraines, anxiety, and the occasional total melt down, I chose to go booze free. But I’m certainly still dating. And as a 29-year-old single woman in Texas, the constant go to when I’m asked out is, “Do you want to grab a drink?”
How to navigate this new terrain? Whether you’re sober or just sober curious, here are 10 things you need to know when it comes to sober dating …
1// Know what you want. Whether you want to date a fellow non-drinker or don’t mind dating someone who drinks, make a clear decision. This takes some research. Go on some dates and see where you fall on the spectrum. I’ve done both and discovered that while I don’t need to date someone who’s also sober and can handle a partner who enjoys a drink, dates who get blasted over and over again are certainly not for me.
2// Reveal only as much as you want. Decide ahead of time how much you want to give away. When I first quit drinking, I was still a little embarrassed to tell people I didn’t drink. In a dimly lit bar with an attractive man, I’d feel silly saying, “Oh this? It’s a Shirley Temple.” It’s your call if you want to obscure the truth while you get to know somebody. Or if you’re totally vibing with the person and want to reveal your alcohol free lifestyle, go for it … any judgement is on their part.
3// Know your secret drinks. The magic concoction that got me through the early stages of my new life was a little drink called bitters and Coke. Bitters has an orange flavor to it, most people do not know what it is, a lot of my dates just assumed it was a type of alcohol, and bartenders would never charge me much for it. The truth is, it has a teeeeny bit of alcohol in, it but not enough to cause any sort of difference in your BAC. And the more comfortable I got, the more I was able to move away from dependence on sugary sodas.
4//Take the lead suggesting date ideas. If you have a date coming up and he or she asks you if you have any ideas about what to do, suggest something that doesn’t involve alcohol. Coffee, bowling, hiking, dog walking … one time I even visited a wolf sanctuary! Once you open your mind to what a date “should” look like, the possibilities are endless. Check your local listings and start exploring.
5// Find your time zone. I used to say yes to dates at 8 or 830pm. Now? Heck no! Too close to my sober life bed time. If someone wants to take me out, they’re going to get my best self earlier in the day. Let your date know your best time zone, give them some options, and don’t be afraid to suggest earlier times if your alcohol free lifestyle has your schedule shifting.
6// Do NOT feel pressured. A big part of dating alcohol free is remembering that you are a ROCK STAR for choosing to live the way you want to live in the face of social pressures. You are making a choice that goes against the grain and yes, many people will be confused. I recently went on a bowling date and ordered a beer for my date, but he felt really uncomfortable because I wasn’t drinking too. I assured him that I wanted him to enjoy himself and that my not drinking was a choice I made for me—nothing to do me with judging him.
7// Craft your answers. When people have serious addiction problems and enter into AA or other treatment programs, others seldom ask why. But choosing to be alcohol free for other reasons often leaves others confused and asking a lot of questions. Never feel pressured to respond in a certain way. Sometimes, I reveal medical information and talk about my migraines. But other times, I choose to keep it short and simple. You can simply say “I’m doing a cleanse,” or “I’m alcohol free to support others who cannot drink.” Say what you want to and what feels right, and remember that if somebody’s weirded out, they’re probably not for you.
8// Feel for real connections. Dating is a two way street and sober or not, you have to actually get along. When you’re sober and really connecting with someone, you’ll have even MORE amazing conversations about the universe, TV shows, animals, political drama … and guess what? You’ll actually remember them the next day!!
9// Irish goodbye if you need to. The Irish goodbye stems from the idea of an Irish person being so drunk they just leave a social event without saying goodbye, but in this case it’s a reverse Irish goodbye. While this may seem like regular dating ed 101, for the newly alcohol free it may be harder to do. If your date is drunk or you are uncomfortable for any reason, Irish goodbye on out of there.
10// HAVE FUN! Do not let the disappearance of alcohol hold you back from meeting people, discovering fun activities in your city, and trying new things. Remember, being booze free and feeling healthy will actually liven you up—not the opposite!
Caitlin Cecil is a Houston-based wellness coach who focuses on helping people with stress, burn out, anxiety, and finding balance. She has a degree in Rtvf, a NESTA wellness coaching certification, teaches barre, and loves coaching women to their highest potential. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram, sign up for her newsletter HERE, and check out her “Cruise from Booze” wellness program.
What’s worse, a broken healthcare system or the elitist wellness industry? One thing is clear—it’s time for a healthcare revolution, says Ruby Warrington …
Seeing these two articles next to each other in my news feed this week really struck a nerve. The wellness industry comes up for yet more criticism and ridicule in a lengthy article in New York magazine … while mainstream America continues to medicate itself to death over conditions that can very often be treated successfully with diet and lifestyle changes.
As reported by PBS Newshour, over 50% of opioid prescriptions go to people with depression and mood disorders—prescriptions which have contributed to the incidence of death from opioid overdose having quadrupled in the USA since 1999. Of the 33,000 who died from opioid overdose in 2015, nearly half involved an opioid prescription.
“We’re handing them out like candy,” says an MD in the PBS piece. Candy, or rather poor diet in general, being another leading contributor to chronic conditions in this country. Heart disease still kills more Americans than any other illness (1 in every 4 deaths). Worldwide, 350 million people now live with diabetes—with 1 in 10 healthcare dollars spent on managing the disease.
All particularly resonant RIGHT NOW, as this was also the week that the American Health Care Act was predicted to raise healthcare premiums for the most at risk populations—in the name of reducing taxes for the wealthiest few.
With this in mind, I can see why it still feels cool to take Amanda Chantal bacon to task for peddling extortionately-priced miracle wellness “dusts.” But beyond the OMG-she’s-peddling-snake-oil witch hunts, Amanda and wellness industry pioneers like her are actually the forerunners in what basically HAS to be a healthcare revolution.
After all, if those increased health insurance premiums are only going to cover yet more prescriptions, isn’t the real “solution” to work on providing alternative “wellness” options to America’s most vulnerable?
Yes, $65 is a lot of money for powdered mushrooms that may or may not make your hair shiner. The fact the Goop Summit in LA last month appeared to be attended exclusively by white women with expensive blonde highlights and time on their hands to get high on vitamin drips also leaves a nasty taste (kinda like Stevia).
These people are not necessarily “at risk” of developing the chronic conditions that keep millions of low-income Americans enslaved to a healthcare system that does not serve them. (Although, let’s also not forget that “depression and mood disorders” tend to be pretty indiscriminate when it comes to the size of your bank balance.)
But rather than waste more time, cynicism, and column inches decrying the “haves” for making choices that, frankly, a lot of us might make if we had the resources—the time is surely NOW to dedicate more of our precious life force energy to figuring out ways to make the conversation about wellness more accessible to all. After all, if being “well” is all our birthright, then isn’t it also all our responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of the collective? (Yes this includes you, cynical lifestyle editors.)
If you want to get inspired, check out what Numinous contributor Eddie Stern is doing bringing the tools of yoga and meditation to schools. Or my friend Jessica Murnane, on a one-woman mission to get America eating at least one plant-based meal a day.
And The David Lynch Foundation, who have taught transcendental meditation (proven to help with PTSD, for example) to hundreds of thousands of veterans, at risk kids, and women survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. (The part that gets overlooked when they’re “accused” of ripping off rich white people by charging those who can afford it for tuition.)
But you don’t have to be a celebrity or have a million-dollar fund-raising operation to do your part.
On a peer-to-peer level, one reason Alexandra Roxo and I started Moon Club was to make the sisterly emotional support and self-healing tools we had found at moon circles and workshops in NYC and LA available to everybody, regardless of location.
Meanwhile, a lot of our members are also awakening to their own innate desire to work as healers within their local communities, and are using the group to support them as they build their own businesses and side projects to bring this work to life. So beautiful to witness!
Bottom line? Taking responsibility for your own wellbeing, and modeling the positive effects of whatever choices this means you end up making to your own family, friends and colleagues is really where it’s at. To quote Rha Goddess from Monday’s post on spiritpreneurs: “To tip the world, it will take all of us.” Same goes for healing the world, too.