Home » Wellness

Category: Wellness

How to Build Your Spiritual Wellness Team

How to build a spiritual wellness team — another thing no one teaches us in school (!)

We grow up going to whoever our parents selected for us. But once we get into adulthood, we’re the ones responsible for finding our primary care doctor, choosing a therapist, and picking a gyno or whatever kind of specialist we need to see.

And that’s just concerning our physical and mental needs. Oftentimes in our culture, the needs of our spirit are never even considered.

This leaves us ill-prepared to find someone who practices energy work, reads natal charts, or communicates with spirits. And it makes us wary, especially if we’re not even sure why we might want to work with someone who offers those services in the first place.

As someone who is 1. frugal and 2. skeptical, I also wondered why these providers and these services might benefit someone like me. It’s hard to grasp paying $120+ for a Reiki session when you’re not even sure what it is.

So how do you go about finding a provider to work with? How do you even know which modality to choose?? I’ve put together a few ideas for you below (based on my own experiences of trial and error!):

Assess Your Needs.

I know, I know. We all want someone to just tell us what we need and where to find it (at least I do!). But the secret to finding the practice or provider that’s right for you, is by figuring out what you’re even looking for from the start.

In my last blog post I talked about an exercise called the Life Pie which I definitely recommend here, but I’d also recommend doing some journaling with the following prompts:

  • List all the questions you need answered. Trying to figure out your life’s purpose? Unsure if you should move? Wondering whether your side gig could become your main gig? Write down all your questions, big and small to identify the most pressing ones.
  • Next, list the areas of your life where you do feel supported, and the areas in which you could use a little more help. Maybe you have a great mentor who provides career advice, but you have no idea how to tap into your intuition. Or maybe you see a therapist who supports your mental health, but you’re still struggling to figure out your greater purpose. See what themes arise.
  • Finally, match the themes with the questions (chances are they will be very similar to each other) and then organize them by how urgent they feel. For example, my big questions were around my life’s purpose, and if a higher power actually exists (?!). No surprise that I was feeling very unsupported when it came to spiritual needs.

By knowing the questions that are knocking around in your head and the areas of your life that are feeling less than fulfilled, you begin to identify where you would actually like to find some support… And not fall victim to someone’s persuasive marketing copy that promises to fix every single problem you never knew you had.

Do Your Research.

Okay so you’ve identified your questions and the areas of your life you’d like to nurture. But there’s SO much out there, how do we even begin to find what might work for us?

One thing I want to make clear here is that wellness, and especially spiritual wellness is VERY subjective. What works for someone else may make you want to run the other way. So if you give something or someone a try and it doesn’t resonate with you, that is wonderful. You’ve gained very important information about yourself that will help you make future decisions, and you can always give it another go or never pick it up again, it’s completely up to you.

Alright back to the research. So I’m a little biased here because I created Three Moon Collective and our community membership to help with this exact problem (be the first to learn about it here), but I also recognize that we will not vibe with everyone, so I’m committed to offering you a range of options so you can find what works best for you.

For Finding Practices:

  1. Holisticism. One of my all-time favorite wellness resources & digital communities. Michelle, the founder, is one of my teachers and writes about all the different facets of wellness in a way that feels like it’s coming straight from an in-the-know BFF who wants to share all her secrets with you. She also has over 50+ FREE virtual wellness workshops hosted on their website right now, so it’s the perfect way to dive in and see what catches your eye.
  2. Head + Heart. A mindful calendar with a virtual wellness guide that includes their tried and tested picks. The founder Monica is a friend and collaborator of mine who always has the pulse on what’s going on in the wellness industry as well as super solid recommendations.
  3. Goop. It kind of pains me to recommend this, but I can’t deny the impact they’ve had on bringing fringe wellness practices to the mainstream. It’s also a very aesthetically pleasing site to explore, so feel free to click around… Just remember that you don’t need to buy any of their products to be “well.”

For Finding Providers:

  1. Kindred Medicine. A truly beautiful directory for BIPOC, this resource defines itself as a movement of healers & people of color, remembering and healing boldly in community and from the roots. Browse the directory, listen to the podcast, and see what might be awakened within.
  2. Three Moon Collective. I had to add us in here! We’ve assembled a trusted team of heart-centered providers over the past 2 years who I personally stand behind and recommend.
  3. Om Mama Co. A partner of ours who also has a wide range of providers hosted on their site. They specialize in supporting mamas, but almost anyone could benefit from the services offered.

Dip Your Toes In.

Now you might have an idea of the practices or people you’d like to explore working with. I’d recommend writing them all down in your journal (you could even get real nerdy and create a google sheet), so you have a starting point to track from.

Pick a practice that feels like it could serve your most pressing need. Let’s say it’s Reiki because you want to cultivate your connection to your spiritual team, and from your research, it’s the practice you’re the most excited about. Maybe you’ve also identified a few Reiki providers who seem like your kind of people. Here’s what I would do next:

  • Start following these providers on Instagram and browse their websites. See if they have any blog posts or free content where you can get a deeper understanding of who they are and how they practice.
  • Tune into their IG lives or attend one of their workshops. This will give you a pretty clear idea if the provider is for you or not, and you’ll get to benefit from hearing their knowledge either way.
  • Reach out to them and ask questions! Most providers are so excited to share the practices they are passionate about and love being able to connect with curious people. As long as you aren’t asking them how you should solve your problems for free, this is another great way to create connection.
  • If they offer mini-sessions, take them up on it. This is an easy way to try on working with someone at a lower cost and time commitment.

spiritual wellness is personal

Be an Empowered Client.

So you’ve finally landed on someone to work with, congratulations!!!!

Now the question is, how do we prepare? I think it’s always a good idea to enter a session with a very open mind and little to no expectations. Especially if we’re new to a practice.

Journaling before your session or taking time to set an intention of what you would like to work on or receive can be helpful prep too. Accompanied by the understanding that the outcome of the session might not always be what we want, but instead what we need.

For example, the first time I tried breathwork I did NOT like it. I knew it was intense and I was going to have feelings, but I was caught off guard by my emotional response and didn’t totally connect with the facilitator.

I ended up feeling worse after doing it and swore it off… Until my therapist pointed out to me that it had caused a major mindset shift (that I would have never realized without his reflection).

Recently, I gave it another go with facilitator Brittany Wilson, and I’ve not only found a new healing practice, but a teacher I will return to over and over again.

The moral of the story? Approach it all with an open mind, but if something or someone ever makes you feel bad, unworthy, or broken, you have permission to draw your boundaries and walk away.

Reflect, and then Spread the Word.

After your first session, I again recommend journaling. It’s very cool to look back at the thoughts I had or the messages I received from my sessions that ended up resurfacing in my life later on. Here are a few quick prompts:

  • Describe the overall experience, from beginning to end.
  • What messages did you receive from the provider or your spiritual team?
  • How did you feel after the session?
  • Is it something you would want to do again? How often?

Everyone is different when it comes to frequency. It could be quarterly, monthly, or whenever you feel like you need a tune-up or extra guidance. I used to be very sporadic when it came to booking sessions, but I now prefer consistency so I can work on things over time and be able to track my “progress” (which is never linear).

Finally, if you loved your session and the provider you worked with, spread the word! Post about it on social media and tag them. Share your experience in the group chat. Write a glowing testimonial and post it to Google, their Facebook page, Yelp, or send it to them so they can use it on their website or social media.

Everyone is an “influencer” these days and your recommendations matter. Plus, you just went through a lengthy process to find someone amazing, so make it easier for the rest of us and shout it from the rooftops!

So there you have it, my guide to building your spiritual wellness team!

Lucky for you, my personal faves are featured on our Collective page as well as in our downloadable virtual wellness guide. Know someone amazing to recommend to us? Still have questions about how or where you should start? Send an email to hello@threemooncollective and I will personally follow up with you!

Virtual Wellness Offerings For The Times

Below are a selection of virtual offerings from our Collective members, designed to support the community during this difficult and ever-evolving period of time. Most of our providers can adapt their work to be offered virtually, so feel free to browse the Collective for the support you’re looking for if you can’t find it below.

Movement

  • Virtual 1-1 pilates sessions with Tiffany Lodes. Explore her services here and book by sending her an email (discounts available for venmo payments)
  • Virtual yoga sessions with Brenda Umana. Explore her offerings and book here, sessions start at $35/hr.

Mindfulness

  • Intro to Meditation in 8-weeks with Brenda Umana. This has been the curriculum she uses with her in-person one-on-one clients, and she’s offering it exclusively online now. Prices are reasonable with 3 different tiers, explore them here.

Guidance

  • Free 45-minute Mom’s Strategy Video/Call sessions with Aga Lawrynowicz to support mothers and caregivers with some useful tools and ideas to get through these uncertain times. Schedule a session here.
  • Virtual Astrology readings with Trista Dedmon. Learn about the different types of readings she offers and book with her here (use promo code TMC30 to get 30% off your reading!).
  • Akashic Record reading with Hannah Exner. Learn about the Akashic Records here, and book a reading by sending her an email. $30 for a 30 minute reading (3-5 questions), free for hourly workers and those in the service industry.

Nourishment

  • Holistic Nutrition Coaching ($60/hr) or Menu Planning ($45/week) via Zoom or phone call with Chelsea Fechtner. Book a free 30-minute clarity call here.

Energy 

  • Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy (One-on-One) with Emily Wittenhagen. A heart-centered hypnotherapy session is meant to help you explore your subconscious — where 90% of our emotions, long-term memories, beliefs, habits, patterns, and intuitions reside — helping to reshape, rewrite, and reframe emotions, beliefs, and patterns to serve yourself in kinder and healthier ways.  (60-90 minutes by video chat.) Suggested donation = $40.
  • Intuitive Coaching or Reiki Energy Sessions with Maria Muñoz. Tune inward for guidance, with support of energy medicine tools and techniques. 60 minutes by phone/video $60 with coupon code: COMMUNITY – Discounted rate through April 3, 2020.

10 Ways To Weave Inclusivity Into Your Wellness Work

As Hannah and I began to meet together a few months ago, we almost immediately started talking about ideas of inclusivity* and how they could be brought more prominently into the collective and into wellness work in general. We knew that these conversations weren’t isolated to us. We were having them with friends, seeing them in the form of articles, podcasts, and events popping up, and wondered how best to take action and bring them into the larger conversation of the collective.

Ideas of inclusivity being delicate, ripe with feeling and opinion, and crucially important, our main concerns were how to handle them both thoughtfully and actively. Interestingly, as it turns out, this is the pathway — first thought, then action. So the ideas below have been divided first into thought, and then into action.

This is an ongoing journey by nature, and while the following practices will not necessarily apply to all types of wellness work — and we certainly have much to learn ourselves — we thought we’d share some ways we’ve tried weaving these ideas into Three Moon Collective and our own practices.

*Inclusivity is used here as an umbrella term for considerations of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and intersectionality

THOUGHTS

1. Begin With Yourself

When you weave a philosophy into your business, it has to come from within the people involved. To be cultivating these ideas within yourself is necessary for bringing them into your chosen work. So it involves a lot of internal work, which then flows into the actions you decide to take.

Read books, attend events, listen to podcasts, talk through ideas with trusted friends and communities, and if it helps, take notes and write out what you’re thinking, learning, and questioning — whatever ways you can continue to resource and educate yourself and figure out where you and your work fit into the picture. These are not new topics, and luckily there is a huge abundance of wisdom out there to draw from.

At the sacred center of this work is listening to and trusting the voices from groups who have faced marginalization and have chosen to share their lived experiences in advocating for growth and change — the key being those who have chosen to share. Meaning, it’s of crucial importance to put the time and energy into educating oneself as much as possible before, for instance, going to someone from that population and asking them to do the heavy lifting. While it may feel intuitive to do so, this is not their job. An ally’s work should be centered on putting in that time and energy.

We’ve been sharing resources that we like through The Intersection content in the newsletter and social accounts and will continue to, but we also want this to be a collective effort. Please email your favorite resources to emily@threemooncollective.com with the subject “Submission for the Intersection.”

To receive a free PDF of this article with a bonus collection of suggested resources (books, articles, podcasts, videos, and organizations), enter your email in the form below:

2. Move Through the Fear


This is not always easy or comfortable work. At first it can be woven with a lot of fear — fear of saying the wrong thing, of being misread, of bringing up a kind of squirm. But the truth is, we’re all squirming. And while it may feel uncomfortable at times, this squirming also comes from a place of knowing, where we desire to evolve and do what’s right and also know that doing so involves vulnerability. We fear messing up.

The hardest truth is, we have to be willing to mess up and keep on learning and owning up to our own fallibilities, forever, if we’re actively trying to unlearn our implicit biases. But the beauty of it is that once you accept that, you are ready to drop into this work and see where it takes you.

3. Be Ready to Question Everything

Much of the internal work of weaving inclusivity into our life and work involves unraveling beliefs that are threaded into us sometimes so intrinsically by the fabric of the societies and families we were born into that we may hardly even detect they are there. That’s the tricky thing about internalized biases is that they often develop without conscious intention and therefore easily hide in plain sight.

Encountering our own biases through this work can be upsetting to say the least — no one loves realizing they might be carrying around beliefs that are sizeist, ageist, or any of the other -ists — but it’s also proof that the work…is working. Awareness is the first step. Admitting that we not only have much to learn, but also much to unlearn is crucial to being able to examine our own internal doctrine of beliefs with a critical eye.

ACTIONS

4. Honor Your Clients and Your Role in Their Process


As a collective, we all desire to lift up and empower others. I know this because it’s such a part of the work that we do. As guides, nourishers, space holders, etc, we care deep down about the state of humanity, and that comes from within. This alone should make us uniquely suited to bringing genuine inclusivity into our work.


On top of that, and most importantly, actively pursuing inclusivity in wellness work is a matter of ethics, given the tenderness of the work we’re so lucky to do, working with people who are coming from a diversity of backgrounds and deserve to be honored in all their uniqueness, especially when they’ve chosen to trust us with their healing process. The vulnerability they so bravely bring deserves to be met first and foremost with a sense of security that they can be safe with us and within our spaces. 

Honoring the role we are in and those we are working with means bringing a thoughtful eye to things like the language we use, the accessibility of our offerings and our space, and the outward ways we communicate our values through our work.

This can take shape in many ways, some of which are included below.

5. Acknowledge the Power of Language

Words are one of the most significant ways we can empower our clients and our practice. Some ways we can bring attention to this include:

  • Recognizing preferred names and pronouns and being sure to use them. This is an ongoing issue with standardized healthcare and other types of forms that omit these details or only give space to a person’s birth name and gender, which may no longer be appropriate or safe identifiers. Beginning meetings, sessions, and events by allowing people to share their preferred names and pronouns is another great practice to ensure people are being referred to appropriately. 
  • Adding language to our websites that express our values and how we aim to uphold them in our practices. This can go far in letting those in your audience know that they can feel secure in your space, especially those coming from underserved populations who don’t have the privilege of feeling comfortable in just any old wellness space.
  • Reading up on culturally appropriative language and continuing to educate ourselves on this topic. As language is constantly evolving, so are the associations people have with them. This is one area in particular where we may mess up inadvertently. Roll with it and be willing to continually evolve with language. If you’re not sure about a word, read up, ask around, and trust those from the population who view certain words as unique and sacred to their culture.

6. Consider Accessibility


Accessibility is about placing emphasis on being welcoming to a diverse range of people, whether financial, physical, or otherwise. Some ways you can bring attention to accessibility include:

  • Considering sliding scale pricing or scholarships for offerings to help to dissolve exclusion and allow access to people of a range of socio-economic backgrounds (while honoring your own financial needs, of course!).
  • Examining the ADA accessibility of your space, renovating where possible, and clearly communicating limitations of the space. If there are stairs leading into the building, for instance, clients with mobility challenges deserve to know this and will appreciate you communicating this information.
  • Accommodating sensitivities people may have to scents, food/drink offerings, and even potentially triggering topics where you host people. On the latter, an example would be warning attendees if a topic like sexual trauma is going to come up in a workshop.

7. Examine Your Own Areas for Growth and Take Action to Address Them

If you sense a lack of knowledge in a certain area, such as best practices for working with transgender clients, don’t ignore it until they’re sitting in your space. Do some reading, attend a workshop, talk to other providers, or whatever you feel you need to do to ensure your clients’ unique qualities and needs are being recognized and that you’re not inadvertently doing anything that makes them feel less seen, heard, and secure.

8. Acknowledge the Land and Traditions You Use


It also feels especially important that we consistently acknowledge, honor, and act upon ideas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, given how much wisdom many of us pull from different cultures and traditions in the work that we do, not to mention the fact that no matter where we practice, we are doing so on occupied land.


One way to do this that’s increasingly being practiced is offering a land acknowledgment at the beginning of meetings, events, and sessions. As many of us who bring energetic work into practice by “setting containers,” a land acknowledgment is a beautiful thing to weave in at this time. I’m incredibly grateful to those in my community who taught me this practice.

To do this, do some research to know which First Nations occupied the land where you are gathering and offer a moment of recognition and gratitude in your own words. A typical acknowledgment may be along the lines of, “We acknowledge that we are here on occupied Coast Salish and Duwamish land, we honor the original inhabitants of this beautiful land, and we thank them for allowing us to be here.”

And if like so many of us, you use and receive monetary gain from practices that pull from the traditional wisdom of cultures that are not your own, such as acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, yoga, reiki, qi’gong, and tai chi, explore ways you can express gratitude and recognition for the cultures these have come from. This is a big topic of conversation in the wellness world and one we plan to explore further in ongoing conversation within the collective.

9. Support Organizations Centered on Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Intersectionality

If financially possible for you, consider donating proceeds to organizations in your local area and beyond that are working to uphold these values. Even a little can go a long way and is a wonderful gesture of support.

If it’s not possible for you to support them financially, support them in other ways, such as spreading awareness of their work, attending their events, and making contact with them to see if there are other ways you can be of service.

10. Bring It Into Community


When you feel ready, give these ideas the room they deserve to breathe! Bring them into the light! While you may at first have some discomfort with bringing these topics from small talks with friends (and your own brain) into larger communities, it is absolutely worth it. Yes, there may be squidgy, squirmy bits, but remember this is all part of the process — they are signs of growth. And the only way we can hope to really evolve is to evolve
together.

How can you do this? Bring up these topics with coworkers, co-collaboraters, and other communities you’re involved in. It can be as small as questioning the lack of gender-neutral restrooms in a community space to intentionally planning talks that address these topics and inviting people to come and dialogue in a safe setting. Be sure to emphasize respect for your fellow humans as you navigate together. Remember, no single person is an expert or a perfect example — me especially, I will say!

We appreciate you reading this and welcome any feedback, thoughts, or ideas you might have on how to make wellness more inclusive. For a free list of resources, enter your email into the form above! We truly believe that each of us has the power to make a difference.


Emily Wittenhagen is the Director of Community & Inclusion for Three Moon Collective. She is also the creator of CobwebMD and a certified nutritionist, herbalist, and trained hypnotherapist (currently doing sessions toward certification) who offers whole-person care that brings in dietary and herbal interventions as well as forest, sound, and hypnotherapy.

winter wellness retreats

5 of the Most Magical Winter Wellness Retreats

I don’t know about you, but around this time of the year I start craving an escape. Thankfully we don’t have to go far to reset or renew. Below are some wonderful opportunities to stave off the winter blues and create connection outside of our homes at least once this season.

Jan 23 – 26 | Realistic Ritual Retreat

During this weekend away at Gig Harbor with Hannah, Carmen, & Monica, you will gift yourself a deeply holistic experience, focusing on Self-care, Self-love, well-being, and bringing realistic ritual into your everyday. Surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, you’ll honor what our bodies crave this time of year through daily yoga & meditation, workshops, connection circles & intention setting, ritual spa baths, private reiki, and delicious plant powered meals.⁠

Jan 24 – 26 | Lunar Living Live // Urban Retreat

This is the first of four retreats by Chelsea of Luna Rasa Yoga which combines all the in-person depth, connection, and restoration of a retreat, with the comfort + accessibility of sleeping in your own bed each night. You’ll begin the retreat series in sync with the beginning of the lunar month, at the New Moon. This phase is dark and receptive, a perfect time for new beginnings. Taking your cues from nature, this weekend is all about slowing down, connecting to your inner stillness, and dreaming up a vision for the coming cycle. 

Jan 31 – Feb 2 | Nourished Soul Retreat

Nourished Soul is a curated retreat on the Olympic Peninsula created by Jen Minnich, Lisa Lunsford, and Jennifer Whitaker for YOU to embrace your unique gifts and awaken to your greatest potential. It is all about stepping into your power at a level that feels appropriate and expansive for you. Through guided meditations, energy workshops, contemplative exercises, private coaching, and healing sessions – this retreat is all about empowering YOUR personal journey.

Feb 22 | Energy Activation Day Retreat

This day long retreat with Three Moon Collective and Danielle Kurtz is a self initiation of knowing yourself as an energetic being and experiencing your very own unique frequency & vibration. By taking a single day to up-level and fine tune our personal frequencies, we can have a positive impact on our own lived experience, as well as everyone around us.  Think of this retreat as the starting place for the “choose your own adventure” path that is energy healing.

And here’s a tropical treat to look forward to…

The Bali ImmersionJul 1 – 12 | The Bali Immersion

Awaken & Flow is a 100-hour foundational immersion for The Craft of Teaching Yoga. You’ll study yoga philosophy, history, sequencing, anatomy, chakras, and so much more. This Bali experience can serve as the first half of your 200-hour yoga teacher training certification with The Craft. Alternatively, this immersion offers 100 hours of continuing education credits if you are already certified. Not interested in teaching? No problem. Fascinated practitioners are welcome to join as well. Here, you are bound to unfold, unwind, nourish, explore and expand.

Want to be the first to learn about upcoming retreats and other local wellness events? Subscribe to our newsletter using this link to get a curated list delivered to your inbox every Monday morning.


Written by Hannah Exner, founder of Three Moon Collective. Hannah occupies the space between wellness seeker & provider, and founded her company to help people find the practices & providers they resonate with. 

yin yoga, reiki & aromatherapy

Review: Yin Yoga, Reiki, & Aromatherapy

As I breathed into the second minute of the twist, I felt the stress of the day slowly melt away. The air rushing through my nostrils carried the scent of the essential oils we rubbed on our hands and feet at the beginning of our practice. The dimmed lights and the blankets only added to the aura of comfort that filled the room.

Earlier in the day, I had agreed to help my sister move into a new apartment. Hours of working around broken elevators, lifting dressers into moving trucks, and finagling couches through doorways left me drained. A small part of me regretted I had signed up to do yoga that night. I just wanted to go to sleep.

But when I passed the curtain and up the stairs to the yoga studio, I knew I was in the right place. After leaving my belongings in a cubby, I sat down on a perfectly positioned yoga mat near the front of the room. The owner of the mat politely informed me that I was supposed to get my own mat from the stack at the side of the room. Whoops! After a short laugh, I got myself together and waited for the class to begin.

The room was calm yet energized as Danielle Kurtz led us through a series of relaxing asanas. Yin yoga is a peaceful practice where poses are held for three to five minutes each. You enter a meditative state as your body begins to unwind.

Occasionally, Danielle or Hannah would come by and place their hands on us, transferring healing energy as we relaxed just a little more.

Finally, Danielle turned down the lights, and we entered a ten-minute Shavasana. Flirting with the edge of sleep, I was completely relaxed, breathing in the energy around me.

Somewhat reluctantly, I sat up for the final seconds of our practice. After a collective Namaste, I thanked Danielle and walked back down the stairs to the Seattle night. Thoughts of moving couches, beds, and dressers were far from my mind. I was entirely at peace.

Yin Yoga, Reiki, & Aromatherapy is hosted on a monthly basis at We Yoga Co. Check out upcoming dates and buy tickets here.


Michael Bjorn Huseby is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness, and travel. He loves practicing yoga, writing music, and attempting to speak foreign languages. If you want to learn more, visit bjorn2write.com

Manizales

Mindfulness in Manizales, Colombia

Lessons Learned From Attempted Robberies, Graduation Parties, and Letting Go of Love 

If you’re anything like me, staying mindful sounds easy when you read it in a book. Of course you’ll slow down and take a deep breath when faced with a challenge. What else would you do? 

Well, the “what else” commonly involves panicking, ruminating, and watching your mind get out of control. When things get tough, staying mindful can be challenging. 

I’ve faced many such challenges over the last eight months. After selling all my furniture, quitting my job, and stuffing my life into a backpack, I’ve been living in Latin America since March. Most of my time has been in my new adopted home of Manizales, Colombia. 

In this article, I’ll bring you into a few of my more unusual Colombian experiences. I faced difficulties, but each hurdle came with a valuable lesson. 

March 15, 2019: The Colombian Graduation Party

colombian graduation

My very first Colombian Graduation

On my second full day in Colombia, I found myself at a graphic design student’s graduation. Specifically, I was one of three guests at the ceremony. Even more specifically, I was seated directly between the other two guests: the girl’s divorced parents. 

I was rather nervous. Sweating with impressive consistency, I attempted to make conversation. Back in March, my Spanish was pretty lackluster. Filled with anxiety, I didn’t know what to do. 

But then, all of a sudden, I realized everything was going to be ok. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I took a deep breath, and I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I got my sweating under control (though that may have been because someone finally opened the doors to the auditorium…it was quite hot). 

Often, we find ourselves in situations where we’re afraid of how we’ll appear to other people. One way to calm ourselves down is to realize everyone else is human, just like us. They’re unlikely to judge us, condemn us, or even notice if we’ve made a mistake. By taking a step back and realizing it’s all going to be ok, it usually is. 

July 12, 2019: The Broken Computer 

mindfulness in manizales

My Spanish replacement computer

After spending a couple of weeks visiting family in the United States, I was back in Colombia. During my time back home, I had bought a new laptop. I was very pleased with this laptop—that is, until it broke on my third day back. 

I’m a writer. That’s how I make my money. No writing, no income. Unfortunately, I now had no way to put words on the page. My initial reaction was to spend a few hours running around like a chicken with its head cut off. 

What am I going to do? How could the computer break so soon? Why is this happening to me? 

I was planning on being in South America for another four months, so this was quite the problem. I created nightmare scenarios about how clients would fire me and how I wouldn’t get a new computer quickly enough. 

You know what happened? I walked back into my apartment and realized there was a desktop computer I could use. It was sitting right there. I had even used it before. How could I forget? 

When we’re in a state of panic, we’re often blind to obvious solutions. We spend so much time worrying about the problem that we can’t find the easy fix, even when it’s sitting right in front of us. 

Since then, I bought a $200 laptop that I use when I travel. Neither the apartment’s desktop nor my new laptop is an impressive machine. Plus, both computers have Spanish keyboards (it took me days to find the apostrophe key). Nevertheless, the world kept turning. I kept writing, and now I have a story. 

It’s natural to let the mind race when you encounter a challenge, but try to take a moment and calmly evaluate the situation. It will all work out eventually. It always does. 

July 31, 2019: The Attempted Robbery 

manizales, colombia

The scene of the crime

I was on my way back from a concert when I felt the man jump on my back. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised. I was told never to walk by the soccer stadium after a match, but I thought I could make it home. 

Walking through a red sea of Cali supporters, I felt uneasy. Eventually, my fears came true. While one man was one my back, another stuck his hand down my pocket. My phone pocket. Bad news. 

I managed to push them both off me and directed a stern “No!” at them. It was the best warning I could muster. I promptly speed-walked away until I found some policemen to use as cover. After about a minute, I continued my power-walking back to my apartment. Luckily, the prospective thieves came away emptyhanded. 

When I got back to my apartment, I reflected. I wasn’t angry at all. Why wasn’t I upset? It was strange. 

After a few minutes, I started to feel compassion for the attempted robbers. Perhaps they needed money to feed their families. Maybe they wanted to look cool in front of their friends. Regardless of the reason, I realized they wouldn’t have tried to steal from me if they were happy and secure. 

When others try to do us harm, it’s usually because they’re in a bad place. Instead of vilifying them, try to see things from their perspective. When you try to understand their side of the story, you realize they aren’t terrible people. They’re trying their best, just like you and me. 

Today: Saying Goodbye 

nature in colombia

The country that stole my heart

As I write this in November, I can’t help but look back on these experiences with warm nostalgia. My time in Colombia has taught me more than my formal education ever did. After months of meeting new people, speaking Spanish, and attending yoga classes where I was the only man, I’ve grown to love this country. 

For a variety of reasons, I’m leaving Colombia in a week. As a side note, none of the reasons have to do with Colombia itself—this country is filled with magic and warmth. 

While I’m excited for the next chapter in my life, a big part of me will miss this place. The small buses that cost $0.70 and don’t have actual stops. The lush green hills that surround the city. The amazing friends I’ll remember forever. 

But this is all part of the process. If we cling to the things we love without ever moving on, we’ll never be happy. All good things must come to an end. 

And so, at this very moment, Colombia is teaching me my last lesson. With everything being impermanent, we must be grateful for every moment. Gaze out your window. Smell the flowers. Smile at a stranger. I’ll always look back at this experience with a warm glow of love. Gracias, Colombia. Te quiero. 


Michael Bjorn Huseby is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness, and travel. He loves practicing yoga, writing music, and attempting to speak foreign languages. If you want to learn more, visit bjorn2write.com

frankly eq

The Body Knows

Our #1 emotional intelligence rule: The body knows. 

In a culture that loves to explain everything, we forget to feel our bodies. When we think about emotional intelligence, we think about strategies to have effective conversations, we think about becoming aware of our patterns, we think about defining our needs. The truth, none of this is possible if we don’t listen to and FEEL THE BOD.

How your body feel lets you know if your needs are met. How you react to your bodies needs creates your emotional patterns. And, if your body isn’t relaxed, you can kiss that effective conversation.

Before developing great emotional strategies, you need to build a relationship with your body. What does it need? What does it crave? How can you take care of it? 

When that person asks if you want to do that thing, does your body say “heck yes!” or “heck no!” How do you know? 

Here is our favorite tool for listening to your body, it’s called Clench/Unclench. 

Clench/Unclench

Step 1) 

Ask yourself a question. I.e. Do I want to eat ice cream right now?

Step 2) 

Notice your bodies’ response. Does it clench? Or, does it unclench? Unclenching is a sign to go for that thing, it’s a sign that your body wants it. Your body relaxing around that thing is a deep, embodied yes. Clenching, on the other hand, is a sign that your body does not want that thing. It’s a pushing away, a closing, an embodied no. 

Step 3) 

Follow your bodies’ yes. Listen for the unclench and follow it for one whole day. What do you end up doing? How do you feel? How is it different from your normal day?

I bet you’re thinking, if I always follow my unclench, I’m going to be a lazy hedonist who never does anything productive. You’d be surprised. Following the unclench often leads people to do their laundry, go for a walk, and eat green stuff. It might also lead to a cookie or a nap. 

Consider this article encouragement for you to follow your unclench and see what happens. At the very least, you’ll start to get acquainted with… YOUR BOD!


Mieka Briejer is the founder of Frankly EQ; brain based emotional education which gives you the knowledge, tools, and hands-on practice you need to become an emotional genius. Got questions for Mieka? Reach out to her here.

emotional genius

3 Steps to Becoming an Emotional Genius

To learn more, check out Frankly 101: Become an Emotional Genius, a blended learning program designed to use hands-on practice and neuroscience based concepts to build emotional genii. 

Step 1: Understand your system.

To become an emotional genius you need to understand your emotional system. Emotions are one of our bodies many tools designed to keep us safe and connected to other people. Their function is to guide us toward actions that meet our needs. 

Over time your body learns to produce habitual emotional responses that have a high likelihood of getting your needs met. For example, when I cry, mom comes to get me. When I appease, people accept me. When I’m aggressive, I win. These responses are shaped by our unique biological system (aka ‘the bod’), our identity within a particular historical context, and our current context.  

Emotions are made of:

  1. Your body doing it’s best to take care of you. 
  2. Your historic conditioning.
  3. Your current context.  

Understanding our system opens the door to more agency. 

Step 2: Treat emotions as information.

Once we understand the function of emotions, it’s time to listen to them. Emotions are information. We should treat them as useful data sets that help us understand and take care of ourselves. 

So what exactly are you listening to when you listen to an emotion? Frequently I ask my clients how they feel. Then I ask them what let’s them know they feel that way. Then they look at me quizzically. 

Emotions like sad, happy, angry, and stressed are concepts. Underneath those concepts are physical sensations that we make meaning of and eventually give a name like happy. When we can tap into the sensation beneath the emotion concept, we are much less likely to get trapped in old stories and much more likely to address core needs.

There is endless information available when we listen to our emotions. At the end of the day, taking in that information enables us to make conscious decisions about how to respond to emotion and meet our needs. Listening to emotions and meeting needs is a whole book. More on how to get what you need next week. 

Step 3: Take things a little less personally

Simple, right?! It can be easy to take what’s going on for other people and make it about us. The reality, just like your emotions are the product of your body, history, and current context, theirs are too. Realizing this frees us from taking emotions personally.

The first step here is separating your feelings from the other persons. When you think, “Oh no, they didn’t call me back.” Rather than going straight to, “They hate me,” notice that you feel stressed, worried, and sad. Care for that. Once you recognize and care for your emotions, then you can begin to consider what’s going on for them. 

Remember: Everyone’s behavior makes sense in their system. 

Some good questions to ask to explore this are: 

  1. Q) What is that behavior/emotion so smart? 
  2. Q) What need does it meet? 
  3. Q) Why does it make sense? 

Questions like these help dig into the needs, history, and context beneath feelings, starting us down the road to curiosity and toward increased agency. 

That’s all for now folks. If you want to learn about any of these skills, check out Frankly 101: Become an Emotional Genius, a blended learning program designed to get you up and moving so you can learn EQ skills that stick.


Mieka Briejer is the founder of Frankly EQ; brain based emotional education which gives you the knowledge, tools, and hands-on practice you need to become an emotional genius. Got questions for Mieka? Reach out to her here.

Perms Gone Bad – A Picture of Perfect Imperfection

At my parent’s house in Cle Elum, there are boxes of old photos from the last 40 years of our lives, waiting to be sifted and sorted.  My prom pictures from 1996 are piled next to my parents wedding photos from 1975.  

Last weekend we were there for a birthday and I came across this little gem sitting near the top of one of those boxes. 

I picked it up and had a quick laugh before being overtaken by a wave of generalized shame and embarrassment… the signature feeling of most of my life between the ages of 11 and 15. I felt an urgency to burn the photo. 

Being averse to drama, I instead tossed it back into the pile, shook it off, and resumed what I was doing.

The next day, as my husband and I were packing the car to go home my big sister came spilling out of the house toward my car, laughing hysterically. She had just found the offending photo and was clearly enjoying it more than I had.  

Before long, my whole family had gathered around.  Soon we were all laughing with tears as my sister pointed out the comedic perfection of our deeply mis-guided style. (Thanks, Mom.) 

The matching striped bunny shirts, the pleated acid washed denim, the popped collars, the loving sisters pose, and yes, THE HAIR.  Perms gone bad…oh so bad.  

Suddenly I was so grateful I had not acted on my instinct to incinerate the picture.  

I realized that on the day of this particular photo we were still young enough that we actually believed our mom when she exclaimed in her classic mom way “Girls. You. Look. SOOO Gorgeous!!”  

You are seeing pure confidence here people.  No shame.

Now when I look at this photo I feel nothing but love for my naive little self.  I want to tell her “You rock that bunny shirt, Cam. You look great.”  I feel grateful for my big sis, whose hairstyle is arguably way worse than mine, and yet she is beaming. And thankful for my mom, who took the time to feather our bangs and put blush on our cheeks because she loved us. 

One of the concepts that has been coming up repeatedly in my life and in sessions with clients is what Melissa Joy Jonsson calls “Perfectly Imperfect”.  

This is the ability to embrace and appreciate the parts of ourselves that make us cringe a little.  Bad decisions, mistakes, shameful habits, insecurities, fears, regrettable hair-do’s. 

It’s the ability to understand that we didn’t come here to be perfect.  We came here to have this messy, hair-sprayed, sometimes awkward, painful, confusing and often amazing human experience. 

Glennon Doyle Melton, author of “Carry On Warrior – The Power of Embracing your Messy, Beautiful Life” says that it is our imperfections not our perfections that connect us to each other. From battles with multiple addictions, depression and many, many drug-fueled bad decisions, “Carry on Warrior” contains the most honest, hilarious, heart opening stories about things most people would save for a very trusted therapist. 

The result is that you want to be Glennon’s friend. You actually like her MORE than if she had lived a perfect life. You also see how our worst mistakes and shortcomings are actually a gold mine of wisdom, perspective and humor.  

It’s up to us to dig that gold out of the dirt. Sift it, sort it, and make it shine.

So go ahead and mine for gold in your own life. Do you have your own version of my bad perm picture that you’ve been hiding?  Bring it out. Love it. Hug it. Kiss it, and make it breakfast.  Then share it with the people you know will also love it. Have a good laugh. 

Even bad perms can turn out to be good. 


Camron Momyer is a Reiki Therapist and Intuitive Healer based in Seattle, WA. By accessing more joy and less worry, she helps others easily step into their life purpose. You can learn more about her and book a remote reiki session on her website, www.soulsourcedenergy.com

transition to fall

How To Navigate Seasonal Transitions with Ayurveda

According to Indian lifestyle and medical science – Ayurveda – each season of the year has its own dominant elements, energies and qualities. Seasonal living is one of the cornerstones of Ayurveda and one of the foundations of health. Just as we switch wardrobes for each season, we are encouraged to switch daily routines, foods, herbs and supplements to support our health and well-being.

Ayurveda views seasonal junctions, Ritusandhi, as inherently vulnerable periods. During these times, usually lasting for 2-3 weeks, we are more prone to get out of balance as the weather shifts and qualities of the seasons change – and, once our immunity or resilience reservoirs get low, more prone to getting sick. 

There are two key aspects to navigating any seasonal transitions with grace: mindfulness, and refilling the resilience reservoirs. Good news is that the seasonal transition is not coming up for several more weeks, so you have time to prepare!

Mindfulness

Staying balanced during seasonal transitions requires a deeper connection with ourselves, the needs of our bodies and our changing environment. Are you starting to crave warmer and heavier, or colder and lighter, foods? Are you taking in raw foods well, or are they starting to overload your digestive system? Are you warm or cold? Is your skin getting drier or oiler? Do you have more or less energy? Are your sleep patterns shifting? Our ability to notice what is happening right now, today, vs. continuing what has worked for us through the previous season is key. You need to mindfully pay attention to what’s working for you and what’s not.

Seasonal shifts are rarely abrupt – and that’s what makes them tricky. We are phasing out foods and routines of the old season and gradually starting to incorporate the new ones, constantly testing, experimenting shifting and adapting. That is why mindfulness is key to navigating the transitions. Continuing with the seasonal wardrobe analogy: during the shift you might still keep the summer dresses out, but also pull out a light jacket and a scarf and start carrying your umbrella along with your sunglasses. 

Meditation practice is training our “mindfulness muscle”. If you already have a meditation practice, it could be very supportive, especially for the early Fall. If you haven’t tried meditation, but have been curious – now is great time to start.

Resilience

Our resilience/immunity are not just physical: viewing individual as a whole, Ayurveda stresses the importance of mental and emotional resilience (more on how to refill your emotional resilience reservoirs below).

To support your physical immunity Ayurveda recommends Chyawanprash: a traditional Ayurvedic herbal jam (yes, it does have sugar) of Indian gooseberry (Amalaki) and 45 other herbs and spices. I really love this one (https://www.tattvasherbs.com/wild-crafted-chyawanprash-12-oz-why-settle-for-less-than-the-best-45-herbs/), from a local Seattle company. I eat a teaspoon a day straight out of the jar. But you can use it on toast, in your oats, with yoghurt, basically, the same way you would use a jam.

Summer to Autumn Transition

If we are looking specifically at the Summer to Autumn transition, we are moving from the fiery, active Pitta (Fire + Water) season of doing and achieving to a more introspective season of Vata (Space + Air), a season of subtle, dry, rough, mobile qualities. Subtle quality of Vata is our source of creativity and connection to the world around us, but light and mobile qualities of this season could also make emotionally brittle: prone to nervousness, anxiety, feeling of being untethered and ungrounded (think of a dry autumn leaf in the wind). Our sleep can get disrupted: lighter sleep that can get interrupted in the early hours of the morning. Often we also become more sensitive to sounds and wake up at the slightest noise.  

Here are some ways you can start laying the foundation for a healthy Autumn:  

Food

Start integrating more warm, cooked foods: soups, stews, curries, and other one pot meals. Add warming spices: ginger, turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg (there is folk wisdom to the pumpkin spice blend!). As we move further into the Fall, plan for these foods to become the majority of your meals, as you slowly transition the smoothies, cold and raw foods out.  For more ideas, you can read my blog post on foods for fall & Vata season.

Hobbies

Schedule some time for creativity. If there was a class you wanted to take/skill you wanted to learn, schedule it for this Autumn! Pitta season is all about doing and planning, Vata season would be more conducive to creativity, but hectic Vatas tend to have a hard time following through, so use that organized Pitta energy to schedule everything in advance and get the supplies. Vata season could also bring up a lot of anxious energy – creative hobby or making something with your hands is a wonderful way to channel that energy into a slightly different direction.

Self-Care

Start a self-care list. Autumn can be exhausting and depleting (especially once we get closer to the holiday season), leaving you more brittle and less resilient. Refilling your cup becomes incredibly important. However, we often don’t know what actually refills us and fall back on the standard routine of bubble baths and massages. Wonderful as they are, they might not be what fills up and restores you. So start an actual, physical list in your journal or on your phone. If you notice that something has left you feeling rejuvenated, built up your emotional resiliency, write it down. Follow the smallest pings of joy and over time you’ll build up a larger picture, small piece by small piece. More importantly, make sure you do things from your self-care list regularly – better yet, schedule them. Don’t fall on them during hard times, make sure to refill your resilience reservoir regularly. 

Abhyanga

A warm oil massage; Abhyanga is the classical Ayurvedic treatment that could be performed by an Ayurvedic massage therapist or you can do it at home by yourself. 

Warm the bottle with oil under running hot water and standing on a towel (to catch any spills) apply the oil with long strokes along the bones and circles around the joints. Allow the oil to sink in (if you are a multitasker, you can use this time to brush your teeth or put a face mask on). Take a shower in 10-15 minutes, but do not use soap, just rinse the oil off.

You can also do an express abhyanga – massage your feet with warm oil, put the socks on and go to sleep.

Traditional Ayurvedic practitioner will use oil infused with different herbs, but you can use whatever high quality oil you have at home. Sesame will be the best for Autumn, but sunflower or olive will also be good. You can add your favorite essential oils to the base oil, about 10 drops of essential oil for an oz. of carrier oil. 

Traditionally Abhyanga is a part of the morning routine; however, I often recommend my clients, specially those who struggle with sleep, to do it before bed. Give it a try and see how you feel and sleep!

If this sounded like a fun dive into the lifestyle side of Ayurveda, these are exactly the subjects we discuss at an Ayurvedic Wellness Consultation. But we dive deeper into the details of how your individual constitution (combination of doshas) plays into the energy of the season and look closer at how recommendations could fit into your life, so that you actually implement the changes. E-mail me (valentina@venetyoga.com) to enquire about an individual consultation (in-person or online) or book an Ayurvedic treatment with me at Embrace Ayurveda

Enjoy a happy and healthy Fall!


Valentina Komarova is a wellbeing practitioner based in Seattle, Washington. She helps her clients explore relations between their mind and their body through yogaAyurveda and Massage.