Myths + Healing

Lingering Pain & What Science Has to Do With It

Aries. The first sign of the zodiac. 

Known for it's courageousness and fearlessness. The energy of initiation and sometimes self centeredness.

The feeling of growth isn't always joyous. 

Just because a warrior pushes forth doesn't mean she isn't scared.

I will never forget the first time I met Nicole Adriana Casanova at a workshop.

She looked at me, and said, "The information is going to be a little different, because it's being channeled," and while I was crying in a group of mostly strangers, about how lost I felt and how sure I was that I was an alien, she said,

"What you are doing now isn't that different from what you would be doing if you weren't scared."

That was about two years ago. 

I have a really selective memory, but this was something that stuck with me, and still rings in my ears when I am habitually beating myself up.

As I look around my community, I notice that the main impetus for starting deeper relationships with my customers is the moment they realize they can experience relief and comfort.

I have rather painful social anxiety. If you knew me when I was growing up, or even met me in the shop, you would never guess the flutter of emotional chaos that happens while I am sitting at my desk. The list of things to do. The partial awareness of others' feelings mixed with a bad habit of guessing what someone might expect of me. It's akin to watching  a movie, reading a book and listening to a podcast while trying to have a conversation. My body goes into a fight or flight response (which has resulted in a hip socket issues) because somewhere my brain inherited this idea that my likeability or ability to be of service, to make 'the other' feel better would make me valuable ...

Would keep me from being outcast or thrown away.

And so, this contentious moment of stress happens each time a person walks in my door. I have to get past this chatter, start to juggle whatever task my one-woman operation of a business requires that I do, and find a way to say hello, how are you?

And that's the moment when something really beautiful happens.

I'm not sure why, but I have three guesses:
a) Because I have spent time and money working on calling really beautiful energy into my space,
b) something about me personally, or maybe
c)  it's just the nature of a space in which women's bodies interact with objects...

Whatever it is, it creates a dynamic in which women feel they can talk to me. 

Feel they can let down the protective drawbridge they have around themselves.

Feel like they can put down a weight they didn't even know they were carrying because they've been holding it so long they don't remember life without the weight of it.

(Like when you're in yoga class and they suggest you that you relax your jaw and you suddenly realize the nearly imperceptible stress suddenly leaving your body.)

Why is the way we feel in our beds sitting alone so different from how we feel walking on the sidewalk?

Why does it feel like we have to hold our bodies and faces and emotions together when we are outside. What are we projecting and protecting? Who are we presenting and more importantly, who are we hiding?


This mutual assumption that we must hold everything together and hide ourselves away or we will somehow reveal to everyone around us that we don't know what we are doing makes me sad. 


It's like being in a room full of people being afraid that some evil authority figure is going to get us if we aren't Stepford Wives and not being sure who or what this "authority" figure is or what he/she looks like.

Imagine living with all of that tension, one day realizing there was never anyone there to punish us. That nothing was ever going to happen if we relaxed and found out what was on the other side of control. Control of our image, our expression, how we emote. 

It is fucking exhausting to be out in a world full of rules we all blindly accept that no one necessarily agreed to. 

And scientific studies about epigenetics have shown that we can store memories of our ancestors in our bodies; so that our fears, traumas, ideas of carrying ancestral burdens or past-life memories is more than just a New Age theory. It's a biological reality. 

In the post-colonial world, this makes it highly likely we have the memories of  either committing or suffering from acts of violence, terror, and oppression stored in our bodies or that in our DNA we have stored the skill of repressing our own needs, own beliefs, own gut instincts so that our ancestors could survive the times we lived in. 

Are we ready to heal this trauma so we don't continue to hand it down to our sons and daughters?

Are we ready to take responsibility for the ways in which we change our cultural norms?

Will we be the generation to question ideas of what it means to be strong? What it means to serve our communities, to have success, etc?

This plays out for me a lot in business.

Often I find that I operate with an understanding of deep loyalty to those around me, a communal spirit of sharing and communicating with my fellow + sister local businesses, the implicit responsibility that we all have for on another to discuss what the rules of conscientious competition are, to be able to discuss how we function as  small business community, how we can hold each other up or live in a world without support.

I have often been met with the phrase: "It's just business."

Nothing exists in a vacuum. It is precisely the nature of thoughts like "It's just business," that allow systemic exploitation, poor ethical practices and disjointed communities to view one another as competitive threats rather than band together in solidarity against entities that are holding more resources and power than we can even wrap our brain around as small businesses and members of the working class.
 

It is never just business.


It is always about love, courage and creativity. It is always about deciding what's important to you: your relationships, your neighborhood, your community of artists and business owners, or your survival.

And sometimes the needs of yourself and you community run counter to one another... at first. But with a little heart opening, the willingness to engage in what are sometimes awkward uncomfortable conversations, and the courage  to be vulnerable, to relax those fight or flight muscles and say what's really on your mind,
beyond the spiritual bypassing, love and light fluffiness, by engaging in the grief and pain that we have inherited and lies beneath the barriers of polite society, that is where the creative alchemy has limitless potential beyond your wildest dreams. 

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Myths + Healing

What is "Going Within?" Like Actually

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Do you ever just forget about yourself?

Like actually, love other people so much, and get so excited about life that you find yourself forgetting to drink water, eat lunch on time or haven’t started any of your own projects because you’ve been answering your texts, and scrolling through your feed and you’re under the spell of being in your mind and outside of your body?

I have. I probably spent about ten years in that space. I just wanted to be the best at my job (bartending and retail) and I wanted everyone else to be happy (going out, and making people laugh, and drinking and smoking) and make sure my house was acceptably clean.


I gained twenty pounds once and did not notice.

I just forget about myself.

I forget about my body and I forget about how this is all feeling for me. I am really good at understanding how to create an experience for others. I know exactly how and why it unfolds.

Maybe it’s from watching all the women in my family stay up all night cooking and cleaning so that during the party they’re too tired to actually enjoy it. Or maybe it’s some other innate quality, but I AM OVER IT.

And if I don’t start paying attention to myself my body is going to betray me.

How do we end this cycle so that we don’t suddenly realize that the tiny itchy spot on our ankle has turned into a bizarre rash we need to go to the doctor for (yes this really happened), or that maybe we have been working out with a pulled a muscle for the last year and a half.

Well I can think of six ways:

  1. In the moment, if I notice I have started to rush myself for no reason, or if I have been in zombie scroll mode, or if I start to get anxious and begin to do too many things at once, I say to myself, (outloud if I can). Shhhh... Or I’ll say, Stop. I take three deep breaths to return to my body and then move on. It’s easy for this one moment of anxious energy to snowball out of control. Practicing this purposeful pause has helped me immensely. It’s a practice, but it works.

  2. Don’t wait. When you’re hungry. When you need to use the bathroom. When you’re super tired. Just don’t wait until you’re feeling sick. It sounds super common sense but the deepest practices you will ever have will be minute changes you make in the moment that slow down how you are doing things, not what you’re doing. Have you ever paid attention to the way you walk and how your feet hit the ground, and if your heel touches first or the ball of your feet? This is a remarkably different experience than staring at your phone while trying to catch the subway. Listen to your body. If it gets boring, then even better. That sort of restless feeling we have when we slow down is just our repressed feelings and pains trying to tell us something and then us trying to run away. Don’t run away!

3. Eat or drink something that anchors you. I had a beautiful session with the talented Filipina Medium Angela Angel, (yes that’s her real legal name), and during our session, I was repeatedly asked to take a drink of water or have some food to ground myself.

I forget to drink water all the time. So, I bought a copper cup I really love and the first thing I do when I get into my shop in the morning is to fill the cup up. No matter what. I cannot open the door or turn the lights on until I fill up the cup. The second thing I do around 3 PM (because I know at 4 I will be dizzy from hunger) is to fill boil water and make a cup of Rose City Chocolate tea (with rooibos, honeybush, raw cocoa nibs, rose petals & rosehips) so I can have a little bit of sweetness and absorb the medicine of the rose: love, subtle sweet unconditional love, and also return to my body.

4. Seek community where self care is the goal. Maybe it’s yoga class. Maybe it’s breathwork. Maybe it’s just a tea date with your friend who is an amazing listener. Maybe it’s therapy. Use your people-pleasing habits to please yourself. If I schedule something for myself, I will keep pushing it back, but if I have committed to another person or place, I will show up. It’s a little way to trick myself into taking care and dedicating time to myself. (Making a massage, acupuncture or manicure appointment definitely counts by the way).

5. Seek counsel. This could be traditional psychotherapy, but it could also mean sitting quietly and asking your guides, your higher self  or whatever belief system you have- maybe it’s just your subconscious or the universe-, for answers.

I have friends who are talented tarot readers, astrologers, or mediums. Whenever I check in with them it helps me take a much longer view of my life so I can return to my center. When I’m always looking left and right to what everyone else needs I can veer into a place I didn’t mean to go to. And while I believe that our narratives aren’t linear at all, I also think that looking up once in a while, or getting to a really high up place where you can see all the scenery or to a really quiet place where you can see what is going on underneath or within is extremely necessary for fulfillment and self knowledge.

6. And Lastly, CLOSE THE POSE! This is something I taught myself last year but still have to practice. Astrologically speaking, I am a cardinal sign (Aries), what this means is I am a starter, I love the beginning, I love to start things. Sometimes I start three things at once. And the wrapping up of things feels boring and difficult and it’s hard for me to pause in between projects.  But one day during yoga, I really started thinking about how all energy is a series of motions and to create a “flow” you need to finish the pose you are in, fully express it before transitioning into another. Maybe I don’t need to have thirteen tabs open on my computer at a time while I am text messaging someone and listening to music. Maybe, sometimes, I can look at one thing at a time, I can fold all the laundry and put it away before checking my email. I can wrap up an event and think about what I learned from it, where it felt really aligned and places that I would rather do a different way.

Give yourself the time and space in between activities to acknowledge what you just did. This is part of what ceremony and ritual is about. Creating a habit of noticing who and what we are. But rituals and ceremonies don’t exist in a vacuum. The experience of being grateful, being quiet, and thinking about what has just transpired is something you can take with you in your everyday. When you get home from the grocery store. Write a paper. Throw a party. Whatever it is. Sit in the quiet trail where the motion has petered off and soak it up.

 

 

As I write this I am thinking about all the ways I need to follow the advice of my own higher self, need to have a day where I can actually do nothing, receive the beautiful input of my dreams, and balance my naturally yang energy, slowly becoming comfortable with the fact that the stillness of the moment is its own reward.

Myths + Healing

Deep Heart Work: Who Am I Part 1000

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Around October of last year, I was one-class deep in my Astrology 101 Course, raring to go into deep study of birth charts so I could understand and share this ancient wisdom tradition with the people I love, and the community I serve.

But then....

A week into astrology school I found out I was admitted into an entrepreneurial program called 10,000 Small Businesses, and I had to immediately make a decision: Was I going to study the stars, which I intrinsically know would be part of my path just not exactly how or when... or was I going to get the business education I always wished I had for free. 

I decided I wanted to go through the business program. It was not only something that couldn't be deferred but also was something I got into by the skin of my teeth. (I'm pretty sure I was the last scholar admitted into the program.)

I had a lot of ideas about what business education is about, and at the time it felt like I was choosing to take the rational more materialistic *less risky* and more "responsible" path when I got to this fork in the road; what I am learning, or perhaps more accurately, what I am remembering, is that all work is energy work, all work is spiritual work, if you are doing it from that place.

Part of what they ask us to do in our class is define what it is we do, who we serve, and exactly what it is we offer in as few words as possible. 

This is painstakingly difficult for me. 

When I was kid I had to write a book report on Matthew Henderson, the Arctic explorer and I had to redo it because it was 18 pages longer than the 3 page suggested length. I was a fourth grader. Editing down has never been my thing. 

In parallel to my entrepreneurial education, I have been deep diving into psychotherapy (at the suggestion of a karuna reiki practitioner, Radical Reiki) and I have found that much of my people-pleasing and empathic awareness of others' feelings and what they need is something that I had developed as a child, because for whatever reason, to be liked felt like something my very survival depended upon. 

These two practices (and I use this word because both business school and therapy require showing up with full presence and having the attitude that there is much to be discovered) have both brought me to the same question: What do I have to offer that is both fulfilling to me and something I feel brings value to my community? What I have learned is that running to be "of service" to your loved ones is a way to run away from yourself, and also at times, can be a way of taking away someone else's lessons to be learned. (That friend of yours who always has to borrow money might figure it out if you would just stop coming to their rescue.)

What I am learning at the age of 34 is that without being beloved by others, nurturing them, being of service to them, listening and guiding, using myself as a research laboratory so I can share what works with them, reading different books for them, I am not entirely sure who I am. I have become so good at feeling other people's feelings and trying to make them feel better that I never made space to feel my own.

Recently my psychotherapist suggested I read the book, The Drama of the Gifted Child, (which my psychology major friends think is passe but which I find endlessly enlightening and impactful.) 

"At first it will be mortifying to see that she is not always good, understanding, tolerant, controlled, and, above all, without needs, for these have been the basis of her self-respect."  
"The Drama of the Gifted Child" - Alice Miller

I am learning to have my own needs met. Being in service of others is completely natural to me. It's unsettlingly easy. What requires much more effort, much more discomfort, is thinking about my own needs and prioritizing them. I have been repressing and suppressing anything that causes conflict for so long that it feels foreign to actually figure out "how I am." On top of that, because I am highly sensitive but so good at hiding my own feelings from myself when they're just too much to deal with, I have spent decades creating a false division between people who can 'control" their feelings and people who can't. (And feeling a subconscious disdain for people who throw tantrums, burst into tears or scream with joy without reading the room.) 

I think part of the reason why I can't decide on any one task, identity, business or job description is because it involves the risk of failure, the burden of success, and perhaps most tenuous of all things, it involves removing identities I have built to please certain kinds of people. Shedding these identities means possibly losing some of my friends, some of my protective personas, and actually having to figure out what's beneath. 

It involves the unknown. 

I love to think about things. (Two out of three of the most important components of my astrological chart are air signs... )

I love to be theoretical. Theoretically I am progressive, experimental, rebellious and brave.

In practice, my palms sweat in group situations, my heart races when I think about doing something for the first time, I feel embarrassed when I push on a door and then realize it says pull, if I walk into a restaurant where I don't know if I am supposed to seat myself. I am riddled with anxiety faced with the smallest possibility that I might "mess something up."

What is true in theory is not often true in practice. The body provides information, the social interaction provides information that the brain thinks "makes no sense." But it's still true information even if our rational mind doesn't know what to do with it. And the irrationality of it suggests that there are other valuable metrics for information besides logic.

So what is Myths of Creation. What is my value to my community. 

This where things get hairy. 

Myths of Creation is a retail space that disagrees with most tenets of poorly-regulated modern capitalism. (But a company spawned by an individual who knows what it's like to want things and to love to collect things.) 

Myths of Creation is a space in which we negotiate with great empathy. Where we connect to one another upon the basis that above anything else, I plan on looking at you exactly as you are, without social pretense, without wanting anything from you and that if I treat you that way you will make intelligent decisions on your own, that will empower and guide you to learn about yourself, and show parts of yourself to the world that you never even knew were there.

Myths of Creation is a space intent on filling gaps in the education system: about the history of spirituality, about how our ancestry might impact us on a genetic level, about what a sense of self is, about what to do with emotions, about how to "de-condition" yourself. About navigating spaces so you can imbue your everyday actions with meaning and beauty. 

Myths of Creation is a clothing store where you can actually afford something. 
Myths of Creation is a curatorial service and an experience generator. It's a social experiment. It's a living art project. It's a subtle performance art piece constantly happening. It's creating a business that aligns with spirituality. It's a balance of scientific inquiry and deep narrative digging. It's the energetic equivalent of golden drapes hanging from the ceiling enveloping and wrapping you up until you feel golden. It's someone actually seeing you and asking nothing of you. It's someone giving you space if you don't feel like being seen. It's a place to take a deep breath. 

What do we offer? Who do serve? What do we envision?

We envision lightness in your heart. We envision finding your inner light and learning how to brighten it, change it's color, dim it, and then setting you out into the world to shine it as only you can.

 It's a poem your neighbor wrote. It's someones five years of experience looking at the palms of strangers hands and distilling their knowledge into an hour. It's a place that allows you to drop the nonsensical limiting beliefs we inherit from our parents (who inherited it from their parents) and replace them with something you have invented, something you can intentionally agree to. 

I envision Myths creating a communal way of educating ourselves. Where we each learn and each teach, without hierarchy or the necessity of degrees but with great humility and a sense of responsibility. I envision interviews and media. Art and sound. I envision making music with my friends and constant experiments in courage. Facing fears together without pretense or the need to be famous except from among one another. I envision the greatest revolution of our time being in learning how to grow our own food, make our own clothes, make our own art and trading it among one another so we can begin to remember how objects come to be. Remember patience, remembering texture, remember seasons, remember working with what's in front of us. So we won't buy them so impulsively and trash them without a second thought. 

What does this mean for us as of today? It means reaching out to folks to host workshops, curating more ritual tools and books and creations that will enable you to need what is outside of you less and discover what's inside of you more. It means (and this is the big one) a few less of the things I have always been good at finding: clothes, shoes, etc. It means being really really picky about what hangs on these hangers and sits on these shelves and perhaps not offering the immediate euphoria of ever-changing objects at the pace that I have in the last three years, but slowing it down to rebuild the core of who I am and what we need. 

I'm rebuilding the home inside myself and rebuilding the home that this store has been for me. 

Stretching out to offer reiki, tarot and sometimes teaching what I know about astrology has been the utmost rewarding part of my business in the last six months. This in addition to writing has awakened a part of me that I told to be quiet for the last six years, and I'm letting her have a much bigger say in what goes on from now on.

Happy Full Blue Blood Moon Eclipse. 

Til next time,
Xenia





 

Myths + Healing

Experiments in Ritual and Science

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When I was in school, I wanted to be everything: I wanted to be pretty and popular and smart. I wanted to be a complete individual but also felt if people didn't understand me or accept me, or weren't enthusiastic about me and my ideas, then there was some sort of misunderstanding or injustice involved. 

I wanted to be authentically me and also needed universal approval.

I went to school for writing. Reading and writing and music were and are my first love. If you want to write fiction, imagining events as if you are watching them from above is a really beautiful and useful skill. If you are trying to figure out what you want, having that "omniscient" viewpoint as your own is debilitating and confusing (not to mention, prone to false ideas, because, you are after all, not looking at anything from some detached perspective, you are a person with a singular point of view.)

I have recently returned to talk therapy, where I have learned that I'm so in my head that I can easily dissociate from my body when I am not comfortable. (I could write an entire article about how this all coincides with my birth chart, but that's for another day). So l have been practicing being in my body with its sensations and not running away from it when there is discomfort, anxiety, etc. (I want to note that the person who referred me to talk therapy was a very powerful reiki healer, Shannon, or Radical Reiki. I mention this because I believe that it is to our great benefit that we not compartmentalize our spiritual, artistic and scientific faculties or create competition between them.)

This past year I got really into Abraham Hicks, and her clever and straight-forward way of explaining the Law of Attraction. I know there are a lot of people who criticize the law of attraction, and I definitely think there is a danger of washing over difficult subjects, and systemic historical justice when one works with the idea that we are all attracting the energy that we are putting out there, but in general, I very much believe that it is worth asking yourself, what your energy is. And it's not a simple process at all.

So before we get into the criticisms of the Law of Attraction, which generally states that the Universe delivers our reality by matching our energetic vibration, let's suspend our disbelief and really dig into how to find out how to examine your energy.

On an episode of The Unmistakable Creative, I recently heard Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Srini Pillay, discuss the importance of the subconscious with goal setting. In particular, he discusses money. He talks about the idea that he dislikes that political narrative that the "rich get richer" because it ingrains in our subconscious that having money is something that a bad person does, or that having money is not a noble goal, and that if someone has money, there is some sort of injustice involved. 

I bring this up, not to talk about politics, but to bring up an example of how our cultural subconscious beliefs go so deep, and are absorbed passively from our early childhood in such a way that working with "our energy" is an incredibly long process. For me, I know that before I really learn to work with the law of attraction, I have to examine what it is I think I deserve, why it is that I feel responsible for everyone else's feelings (often putting mine on the back burner) and how to reprogram my own heart to understand that when I receive positive things, that I am not taking them away from anyone. 

I could go on and on about this topic but the most beautiful realizations of this past year for me have been that the spiritual work I have been doing and the scientific inquiry I have around learning the ethics of business, the psychology of worth, the habits of people who live in countries with the longest lifespan, how to make human connection, all point to the very same truths, no matter which lens you decide to put on: that we all very much need to feel like our authentic selves, and that this involves facing that which makes us feel scared and uncomfortable and learning to share and connect with others so that we feel like we aren't sleep walking through life or living in order to avoid fear of the unknown, because let's face it, every single thing we have done that has brought us fulfillment, joy or the nurturing and sharing of our gifts, has been scary, and unknown before we did it. 

Some really interesting easy things I learned in this last year:

  • Gratitude lists work. Training yourself to find positive gifts in your life sets off the happiness circuitry of your brain.
  • Talking to yourself in the second person works! Brendan Burchard and Srini Pillay, both did academic studies where they found that those who address themselves by their first names in self talk, saying, Xenia, you're going to to have a great time sending this newsletter, actually experience positive neural activity and better results from their positive self talk.
  • Gay Hendricks, a renowned psychologist, recently said in an interview (again on The Unmistakable Creative), that when he talks to all of the highest paid, CEO's and asks what is the one thing they all want, it's simply ten minutes to think quietly, and the time to be completely alone to just think.  I mention this because over and over again, from spiritual teachers to behavioral psychologists, ten minutes of meditation is said to make shifts in consciousness and life quality that are profound and long-lasting. If you don't have time to meditate, simply sitting in ten minutes of non-distracted present reflection also causes positive benefits.
  • The Law of Attraction recommends the same technique some psychologists call "Distraction Therapy." If there is a thought you have that recurs, ask yourself, "Is this helpful?" Most worries about subjects you cannot control or about people that ultimately have to handle their own growth challenges, actually aren't helping. If a thought isn't helpful, Gay Hendricks suggests distraction therapy. That means if you are worrying about getting a promotion obsessively and there's nothing you can do to sway it, go outside and take a walk, eat a piece of chocolate, listen to music. Abraham Hicks similarly discusses that if you are worrying about something you can't change and it feels like it's lowering your vibration, to simply not think of it. Whatever that subject is, has attached itself to a negative energy, whether that be lack, unfairness, helplessness or anger. *I say this with a gentle understanding that it won't jive with the activist part of your soul, but I would say, that if it's something you feel you can help with activism, then it doesn't fall under this category. Because calling your senators and giving helps, whereas crying about the state of the world in general, (while I have done it) might not want to be the place you want your heart to land every day for days. 


I will definitely explore more on this topic in the future. If you have read this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart.