HOW BODY POSITIVITY CAN UNLOCK YOUR INTUITION

After a lifetime of food issues, Jillian Murphy discovered that living fully in her own skin was the key to her magic. She shares how body positivity can unlock your intuition …

Photo of Jillian by Wild Little Hearts Photography

“Before you can hear, much less follow, the voice of your soul, you have to win back your body.” – Meggan Watterson

I remember the day I first abandoned my body. 

I was 8 years old and visiting the mysterious temple my mother escaped to every evening when my dad got home from work—she called this evasive place of worship “the gym.” It was a Saturday open house and I was an immediate convert. The place was magical – dusty rose carpet, slick chrome and mirrors, George Michael pumping through the speakers, and LYCRA. So much lycra! (It was the 80s, k?)

I could tell right away that this was the place for me—a space of transformation, potential, and movie-worthy —this was a place where life happened. I grabbed a pop and a hotdog and then I naively hopped up on the scale where they were weighing everyone. And that’s where “It” got me.

As I scarfed my lunch, the two staff members in charge of weighing me began sniggering. Whispering about something clearly “adding 5 pounds” while looking at my body.

I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on but I knew the joke was on me. And I knew it was bad. Bad enough to remember but never ever talk about, until 25 years later, when I finally started to heal my relationship with food and with my own shape and size.

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Coming face to face with “it” … 
“It” is not that creepy clown from the Stephen King movie you’re picturing. No, no, the “It” I speak of is much worse—its name is diet culture and it spews a thin-is-best, fatphobic, classist, able-ist, racist, gender-biased rhetoric where the gold standard of beauty, body, and more recently “wellness,” is blatantly clear, objectively unhealthy, and unavailable to most.

Beyond the gym, there were many other moments when “It” got me, some that obvious, highlighted in Technicolor and frozen in time—a mental photo album created to prove my lack—while others were so subtle I internalized them without realizing, recognizing the damage only in hindsight.

From health messaging at school and dieting advice from teen magazines, to negative looks from boys and the admiration of “beautiful” girls in front of me, the signs were everywhere.  

Once, I remember hearing an older male cousin condescendingly laugh about the shape of a specific woman – stating that “to be attractive to men your shoulders needed to be at least “X”cm wider than your waist. Though I thought it harsh, I internalized the comment as though it were about me. In a diet culture with rigid beauty ideals, no woman is left unscathed.

Everywhere, the message I absorbed was: you are not good enough. More specifically: your body is not good enough.  

Even more specifically: your body is not good enough and, as a female, it’s your personal responsibility to take charge of your weight and beauty and behavior and do what it takes until you fit the ideal lest you remain unworthy forever. Also, hot sticks of processed meat are un-ladylike.

Photo of Jillian by Wild Little Hearts Photography

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Your intuition lives in your flesh …
It might look like a criticism, a comment, a side-eye (sometimes much worse), and it makes you gasp, the foul gas of “you’re not good enough” filling your lungs and seeping into your tissues. From that day on, the myth of diet culture is no longer just a story around you, it is a story about you.

You disconnect. You abandon your physical self. You override your female knowing that your curvy, lumpy, bumpy body is beautiful and normal and you do your best to crush the voice that says “I’m hungry” or “carbs would be nice” because that voice is clearly an idiot that doesn’t know bikini season is coming up.

The result? Food issues, yes. But diet culture doesn’t just destroy our relationship with food and distort our body image—it separates us from the most powerful ally we have—our inner knowing.  

Your intuition lives in your flesh and speaks to you through your body. She is nourished by pleasure, abundance, approval, and desire.

When she has been dampened and starved into submission, you are left living a storyline that keeps you doubtful, unsteady, competitive, and unsure. An ideal that keeps you distracted from your most important work in the world and suggests your worth is up for debate.

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Amplify the whisper …
When we discourage (read: flat out ignore) the whisper of biological feedback that tells us we need more calories or carbs or a day of rest—we simultaneously diminish the whisper that helps us discern and decide in all areas of our lives.

These whispers are one in the same. Learning to hear and trust the signals from our very intelligent, self-regulating, female appetites is a super-powered short cut, reconnecting us to our broader inner knowing. It amplifies the whisper.

I lost so much time sacrificing my wellbeing and connection to self in the pursuit of worthiness via weight loss and superficial beauty. I made bad decisions. I was distracted. I lost time. I learned slowly that, in order to write a new storyline for myself, I would need the power of my intuition and that the first step in rebuilding a connection with my soul voice was winning back my body.

Photo of Jillian & family by Wild Little Hearts Photography

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Here’s how to start amplifying the whisper and winning back your own body …

1// Give up the pursuit of weight-loss. The pursuit of weight loss is THE thing that disconnects us and keep us looking outside of ourselves for shoddy solutions. Weight-loss attempts fail over 90% of the time, long-term, and the collateral damage is your relationship with food and your connection to your inner knowing. Start by pretending that you aren’t in control of your weight (because you really aren’t) and that your only goal is to feel vibrant and energetic and joyful in your body.

2// Counter the deprivation narrative. Tuning into our hunger and reliably feeding our bodies is the first step in repairing the collateral damage of deprivation and moving towards a more intuitive relationship with food.

Start the process of consistent nourishment by connecting with your hunger signals. See if you can rate your hunger on a scale of 0-10 (0 = not hungry at all, 10 = “hungry,” low blood sugar, shaky). Can you notice the subtle differences between a 4 and a 7, or do you regularly swing from overstuffed to starving?

3//Discover your delicious. The basics when it comes to nutrition and movement have been well understood and unchanging for generations – move your body regularly, get fresh air, drink water, eat lots of plants and unprocessed foods – not too little, not too much, and honor your mental/emotional need for pleasurable, celebratory foods.

Now, from this magical place—without all the rigid rules, “shoulds”, and fears—what do you feel like eating? How do you feel like eating it? How do you want to move your body and for how long?

*Note: There is a good chance you have NO IDEA. Start by asking the questions and experimenting. Follow your curiosity and see how it goes—maybe you hate plain raw carrots but you love them roasted or with dip (Hot tip: DIP IS DELICIOUS). Allow yourself to try new things and neutrally observe how your body feels.

4// Fully live with the beautiful bod you’ve got. When your physical appearance stops representing your entire worth and is, instead, just a fun outward expression of your personality, the game changes. Start living the life you aspire to have when you are in the perfect body and watch the shift!

Make a list of all the activities you are waiting to do when you lose the weight, get more toned, have your nose fixed, are more perfect, etc. Make the list as exhaustive as possible. Next step? Start doing all of those things IMMEDIATELY. Wear the red lipstick, rock the shorts, eat the gelato, show your navel, go on the date, try the tap class, climb a mountain, go back to school. Do it all!

Dr. Jillian Murphy is a registered, licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. She has dedicated the past 8 years to studying intuitive eating and body image, and works with diverse, smart, health-conscious, women who are DONE WITH DIETING, and looking to get out of their heads and re-connect with their bodies. Follow her on Instagram, listen for more wisdom on her Podcast, and join The Food Freedom/Body Love Collective, her monthly membership space that provides you with the tools, strategies, support, and community you need to live healthfully in the body you are IN! 

HOLY F*CK: LIVE AT THE MOTHERSHIP FESTIVAL

Ahead of her appearance at the MOTHERSHIP festival in Joshua Tree, Alexandra Roxo chats to founder Laura Wise about feminism, kundalini, and kink…

High vibe festivals are everywhere. From Wanderlust to Symbiosis to Spirit Weavers—there’s a festival for ever breed of seeker. Or is there? MOTHERSHIP—happening November 4-6th in Desert Hot Springs, CA—is unique in that it’s feminist AND queer AND spiritual. You can do yoga , celebrate sacred adornments, and then go to a Kink workshop. Amazing, right?

I sat down with the founder (who is also an activist and therapist) Laura Wise to get the deets.

ALEXANDRA ROXO: What can we really expect at a festival like MOTHERSHIP?
LAURA WISE: Women are so typically the caretakers. It is engrained in us to be sweet/kind/giving and that is why self-care is so important. Mothership is full of healing elements and ways to explore your spiritual side. Sierra Dowd is running a “Circle of Release” exercise in which participants can work to release negative aspects of their lives. We have reiki healers, chakra aligning yoga, punk rock yoga, meditation, nature hikes, stargazing (there will actually be a meteor shower during this time!) and lot’s more…

AR: How did the idea for Mothership emerge?
LW: MOTHERSHIP is the event I’ve always wanted to attend. After visiting some pretty magical festivals and gatherings and learning that the pool of women’s festivals is teeny-tiny and nearly extinct, I knew that this was a need I wanted to meet. Women thrive when we unite and work together. We learn from each other and we empower one another. I knew that if I created something fun—with a side of empowerment—there would be an audience for that. This is the era of a fresher, more inclusionary feminism, and I really want to have a hand in building that.

AR: How is it different from other female-focussed festivals or retreats?
LW: One thing I knew was crucial in the creation of MOTHERSHIP was that it was trans and gender-queer inclusive. If you take a look back at the history of women’s festivals—the most established being the Michigan Womyn’s Festival which ended several years ago—there was a clash in new and old thinking. They didn’t allow trans women to attend and the younger generation wasn’t okay with that. We wanted to correct that and update the idea of a women’s festival.

AR: What kinda gal is your typical attendee?
LW: She doesn’t exist! The MOTHERSHIP crowd is  diverse and forward-thinking. But our participants all have an appreciation for idea exchange, art and letting loose. We have a lot of interesting, smart women involved and the thing I’m most excited about is seeing all of these great minds culminate & celebrate!

AR: What are your wildest hopes for the weekend?
LW: My personal goal is that everyone leaves with a little less shame and self-doubt, and a little more personal pride. I hope that MOTHERSHIP can serve as a reminder to us all to celebrate & empower the women around us. I hope that the gal who thought the event sounded fun, and didn’t know much about feminism, leaves saying “yeah I’m a feminist and I have every right to be proud of that.”

AR: Any must-see workshops?
LW: Gosh I really want to brag about everyone involved, I am stunned at the level of awesome-ness!  We have a lot of unique workshops happening, including a self-adornment area with tons of free costumes, accessories and body paint/glitter etc. paired with a Self-Love Photographer, to help you get just the right photo to document your experience. There’s also an intro to kink and BDSM sex workshop, which I know a lot of people are curious about. Late-night we will be having a silent disco…and then there’s the musical lineup—which is also pretty epic!

 

PLUS our very own Numi Alexandra Roxo will be speaking on Saturday night at the HER Talk: Women’s Sexuality in the Media panel. Get your tickets at this link—Numinous readers get 10% off with the code “MOON”!

UNDER THE ARMOUR: WHY MEN FIND IT HARD TO FEEL

Why men find it hard to feel is a case of nature and nurture. But when the new empowered masculine is invited to express himself, relationships become a catalyst for healing, says Darren Austin Hall. Images: HANs via Behance.net

“The rule of patriarchy demands that men armor themselves, not only to impose force upon the world, but to resist the Feminine externally, and deny or conceal its presence internally, in themselves. On the path of the hero…the genuine hero is a man who develops his power against patriarchy, rather than in support of it. He overcomes armor in the cause of amore.” – John Lamb Lash

I once had an insightful conversation with a female friend about her romantic struggles with men who perpetually shut down emotionally, a common dynamic in many relationships. I’ve also seen this complaint broached in neo-feminist articles online, often reading something along the lines of: “If you haven’t got your emotional shit together you don’t deserve me,” OR “I’m a queen and if you can’t handle intense communication then hit the road.

Firstly, I want to affirm that the kind of Kali fury women feel when their male intimate won’t communicate with them and/or shirks emotional connection altogether is totally valid – and can, when appropriately utilized, actually compel a lazy King out of his benumbed emotional doldrums into attractive action.

But what many women don’t understand is WHY men shut down, and how they can support us with compassion when we do.

I’ve been interested in developing the “healthy masculine” ever since a life-changing trip to India, where I met a beautiful soul brother who introduced me to several inspiring texts on the subject. The insights of the King, Warrior, Magician, Lover series by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, and the raw, brutal truths of Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly, shone a light on the struggles facing men in the modern world. Things I had always vaguely felt, but never knew how to express – due in part to my own emotional dullness.

And as I delved into these studies deeper, I began to feel a tremendous sense of compassion for my brothers and myself.

Foremost, men are conditioned to shut down emotionally by society itself. Men are taught that to express emotions is “unsafe,” because it makes our masculinity appear weak and soft. For so long, we’ve been taught that to be masculine is to be “hard.” And if you’ve ever given a modern man a massage, you’ll know this hardness is tangible, our emotional armoring manifesting as layers upon layers of muscular tension.

Here’s a massive truth that I want us all to pause for a moment and reflect upon: that hardness in the body is actually layers of ice-cold frozen tears.

My own inner-work has been about reimagining my masculinity in a patriarchal world which conditions an immature and dysfunctional masculine identity that doesn’t know how to feel. Along the way, I have been shocked at how reading about the pain of male warriors going to war for corrupt political aims provokes massive grief in me.

And also how reflecting on this subject awoke the realization in me that every time I got my heart broken, I did my best to bury the wounds so deep that only through psychic scuba-diving in my meditation practice years later would I be able to excavate and process them.

It soon became clear that I’d been carrying around a hospice of old wounds, waiting to be healed and transmuted into wisdom – since every feeling I liberated held its own insights and revelations. One reason I’ve come to believe women, as I’ll explain, often seem wiser than men.

Women are at advantage in the emotions department for a couple of reasons. One, women are encouraged to be emotional. As a result, while many women still struggle with how to process emotions skilfully and use them as tools for alchemical transformation, they are usually more comfortable than men in this realm.

Secondly, diverse ancient traditions purport that women are at an advantage to men spiritually. I didn’t really understand the rationale behind this until I studied Chinese Medicine, and realized some important facts about our physical differences.

In Chinese Medicine, a person’s shen, or spirit, expresses itself as our sense of conscious awareness. It is said that this spiritual force is housed in the Heart and travels in the blood. And when women have their menstrual cycle and bleed they are actually cleansing this shen; their spirit!

Furthermore, I was taught by Native American elders that the sweat lodge was actually created to help men cleanse in a similar way, to help them keep spiritual pace with women! Totally mind-blowing.

Could this be why men are more vulnerable to being murky of spirit and emotional awareness than women? If women’s blood, or spirit, runs more clear, it comes as no surprise to me that women are able to feel more clearly and thus exhibit more emotional wisdom than men – for as I’ve learned, feelings are the catalyst for spiritual revelation.

Moreover, menstrual cycles mean women are energetically connected to cycles of the Moon, which in turn is energetically linked to our unconscious. This is why the cycles of the moon can inspire utter wildness of feeling in women! The moon is literally prodding their unconscious to come to the surface to be integrated into the light of consciousness.

A final stunning detail on this note: I was told by another wise teacher that women traditionally would intention their menses to cleanse not only themselves but the spiritual nature of the world at large, using their moontime to help bring the unconscious of the collective into the light of consciousness to be integrated. It’s no wonder women can feel so heavily burdened during their moontimes: they are cleansing so much more than themselves!

In saying all this, I’m not trying to excuse men who refuse or don’t know how to acknowledge their emotions. I know first hand from my own relationships how difficult for women this can be. My intention is simply to create a space for compassionate understanding of our differences, helping us pave the way for better relations in the future.

Ultimately, when it’s understood that women are by nature (and nurture) better feelers than men, this can be integrated into not only romantic but all relations between men and women, as well as utilized as a dynamic tool for healing.

In the past, I used to fear the way women seemed to know my pain even if I didn’t express it. Now I understand that female intuition is a great power that needs to be honored – but that we also need to honor how scary it can be for a man that she can usually tell when something is up no matter how hard he tries to hide it, for fear of appearing weak.

In the ancient romantic culture of the Troubadours, there’s an old adage: amore over armor. Men are constantly armoring themselves to fit an outmoded idea of masculinity, and while some protection is useful to buffer us against the trials of the world, most men are carrying way too much (which actually goes for women too, as we’ve all been conditioned by the patriarchy).

So the next time a man, either your partner or a friend, exhibits this kind of emotional armoring, instead of falling into frustration and even anger, choose compassion. Allow space. Ask tender, loving questions. Use touch and the beautiful arts of seductive love to tease out the truths from his tense body in a safe space that welcomes vulnerability.

Women’s gifts of sensuality and feminine beauty can entice the masculine to drop its defenses and open its overly guarded heart. In the ancient romantic traditions, this was seen as one of the great powers of women: to disarm men and invite their innermost essence to be expressed. Imagine if the women of the world used this power against all the war-mongering tyrants, to draw out the wounds that are at the root of so much violence!

When a man starts to feel openly, sharing his tender truths with women, then intimacy can blossom exponentially. Women will see, perhaps for the first time, the beautiful innocence that men hide in our hearts, and have been too afraid to show to a world they felt would demean them for it.

Further, perhaps we’ll realize that there’s a profound context in all romantic relationships for cultivating the balance between the masculine and feminine; for these two cosmic polarities to dance finally and ultimately in unison, fusing in the beauty of the divine.

Darren Austin Hall is a sacred musician, sound healer and spiritual teacher. His empowering music entails diverse, salving instrumentation, across crystal singing bowls, Indian tanpura, mystical guitar and shamanic singing. His new album, The Tantra of Truth, is a collection of ecstatic songs inspiring the evolution of consciousness and deep transformation, and he is one of the headlining musicians for The Yoga Conference in Toronto. He is also trained in Chinese Medicine and shamanic healing and is a gifted teacher and facilitator of a wide array of workshops on new paradigms of spirituality and healing. His writing appears on the blog The Druid, and is published online on sites such as Elephant Journal. Darren also co-facilitates a men’s group in Toronto devoted to raising the consciousness of the masculine and is a devotee of the wisdom of nature. Darrenaustinhall.com

AM I AN EMPATH? THE STORY OF HER

Have you ever asked the question “Am I an empath?” Lisa Barner shares an insight into what it means to be that girl…Images: Via Animhut.com

This is the story of a girl-and the woman she’s embraced becoming.

In her earliest memories, with films to prove it, they shook their heads at her. They’d say “Where could she have possibly gotten that from?” She told stories of places she didn’t know and things beyond her scope of cognizance. It wasn’t just a child’s imagination nor a dose of adult television, she was an old soul they’d say. She spoke with conviction. Her eyes were bigger and more penetrating than most – they took you by surprise and held you there. They invited you in, made it so that you were fully seen and offered great love.

She was adamant about things that mattered to her-to which she held close. She was the one others confided in and looked to for advice and nurturing. Whether or not by her choosing she often became the rock – the steadfast, grounded, reliable one, on which others could visit for their own replenishment. They came because she witnessed them fully. She allowed them to be stripped of any masks or concerned with judgments – she provided space for them to be. She spoke to their souls, sometimes with words and other times simply by being present. She was their remedy.

Extremely sensitive in nature, often sporting her heart on her sleeve, she always gave without thinking twice. And only now, with the awareness of the strength it takes to do so-does she recognize how brave the gift of giving is. For now that she understands fully who she is, it is a choice she must carefully consider – for her own wellbeing.

 

She’s a lightworker, an empath, earth angel and healer. She’s hyper sensitive to her surroundings – colors, textures, scents, physical conditions, energies. She feels emotions on a deeper level and a wider spectrum than most can relate to, and has given up trying to explain why or how she experiences this. She just knows its okay – no matter how trying some of the patterns are. It’s how she knows she’s not only alive but awakened 

She may not vividly remember choosing this course of life but when presented with it in gentle nudges, intuitive callings, serendipity and synchronicity, somewhere along the way she recommitted. She agrees to the purpose of her life, the value and power to influence this world for good. She embraces her gifts without fully knowing how they “work”.

She needs time alone. As a magnet for people’s physical energy, she literally can feel the worries, anxieties and concerns of others. She doesn’t always elect to hold them – especially not at the market, the gym, or at the end of her day. Nonetheless they find her. She has rituals to center herself. She sees nature as a sacred place and connects to the elements as a life source. She considers her word the clearest contract and expects that others treat is with the same sanctity. It is here she has been let down.

She knows of her divinity. She finds way to practice and celebrate it within or without traditional religious sanctions. She is always aware of its presence around and through her. You’ve heard it too- that you were created in the image and likeness of God, or the Divine. But that kind of duality of being, the power of an omnipresent force and the eradication of fear and limitations, isn’t for everyone. She though knows, deeply within, that she is infinite. She is brave enough to hand over her struggles, to surrender her doubts and to trust blindly the truth to unfold before her.

She struggles with the human stuff. She has trouble connecting to money, to sitting under florescent lighting in a cubicle. She doesn’t date well either because she sees love so differently. Though like others she desires connectedness and intimacy, she knows rather that she IS LOVE. That only a partner who is willing to meet her on all these levels can be a true match. She is patient because she has much else to keep her days busy and her heart beating with joy.

She struggles to remain relatable to her peers and her family – conscious of how different she feels yet how deeply she yearns for their acceptance. There may be times she disconnects from her spiritual self in order to appear“normal” – but in those times she is lost to herself. She retreats and is sad, knowing her authenticity is being compromised. She isn’t of much use to anyone in that place. Only when she reawakens to her reality can she thrive. She bravely chooses her higher self.

When she is with her tribe she can rest.They know what she’s carrying and silently give her permission. Their eyes are the same safe place. There she dances and plays, creates and sings from the depths of her soul. She laughs wholeheartedly from her toes up. She is protected with them, she is wiser because of their influence and deepened in her own knowing. She can stand in her power unapologetically. It is with them she is home. She is them and they are she.

A wide eyed dreamer, brave believer.

I am her.

Do you recognise yourself in this story? Connect with the Numi tribe on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and share how you bring your light to the world

Find out more about Lisa Barner and her work at Souspeaklife.com