Red, Hot, and Holy

The picture on my homepage, the one you see every time you visit Benshen. It's my favorite. There's something in my eyes, in the way I carried myself that day, the way I felt more confident and in my power than ever when Maya and I did that shoot. 

I had just launched the Art of the Radiant Woman, excited and empowered to bring these ancient practices to the modern woman in a way that could combine my creativity with spirituality. I was in demand in my career: workshops sold out at the drop of the pin, Goop had just asked me to teach meditation at In Goop Health,  press reached out left and right. I was having a whirlwind, passionate, bi-coastal LA-to-NY and back again romance with The Photographer (see here), where the Scorpio-meets-Scorpio passion, desire, and sex was hot enough to start a fire. 

For the first time, maybe ever, I felt a sort power from this emerging sensuality that I hadn't felt before a rush of excitement from desiring and being desired by the world more than ever, especially romantically and financially.

I had heard before that sex, creativity, and money were the same chakra but never experienced it so clearly in my own life how the three connected. I wanted to learn more, I wanted to know everything about sexual energy and creativity and how mastering it helps to bring in more abundance. 

In order to learn more, I knew I had to first start by surrounding myself by the women who embodied the energy that I wanted to learn about. As I began to reach out to my most powerful, sensual, and successful female friends, I noticed one common factor: the more in their bodies, in their sensuality, and in their power they felt, the more their creativity and careers flourished.  

And in all honesty, once that steamy love affair ended, I felt lost. I had lost my connection to what inspired those feelings of sensuality and sexuality, which made it a clear indicator that my power and my self-worth was still NOT coming from within, reliant upon external factors. This equally meant meant I was still giving my power away, waiting for opportunities or men or money to come in to make me feel powerful rather than feeling powerful and attracting everything I desire.

Chris once told me to rephrase my spiritual practice not as something to fix myself but as "A Study in Power." And I thought that meant doing, healing, fixing as much as I could as fast as possible. I became obsessed with fixing myself for I thought fixing myself was the means to gaining more power.  

I tried all the meditations, the mantras, the early mornings, the diets but it was all starting to feel more forced than ever. That excitement, that passion, that fire that I briefly experienced during those few months... I craved it and sure as hell wasn't getting it from my matcha latte. 

One morning about six months ago I went to my girlfriend Allison Rapson's house, co-founder of We are the XX. Do you know the story of how we met? I'll tell you. Allison and I dated the same man about four years ago, I first, then she.  When I found out he was dating this elegant, exotic, graceful, powerful, sensual beauty, a strange thing happened: I wasn't jealous at all. In fact, I was intrigued. I wanted to meet her, know her, be around her, learn from her. There I was just setting foot on this path of becoming a woman at the ripe age of 24 and there she was, a fully embodied woman who walks the streets with such elegance it's as though she has Aphrodite's blood running through her veins. Over the last four years, Allison has not only become a close friend and confidant but my most trusted sister when it comes to all things spiritual, sensual, and divine feminine. 

As we sat in her stunning apartment nestled across from my favorite French cafe in Williamsburg, I felt battered, confused, and lost, especially after this breakup. With her jet black hair and red lips, she sauntered over in a blue, silk slip carrying a fresh cup of coffee and a warm smile. We spent the next hour talking, sharing, listening, brainstorming about this idea of sensuality, the embodied feminine, beauty rituals, romance, money, love, sex, spirituality. As someone who wholly practices what she preaches, I wanted to learn everything I could from her, and she wanted to do everything she could to support my newfound curiosity of all things Divine Feminine (I'm talking about the real Divine Feminine - not the crunchy granola kind...). She leaped from the couch and handed me a book. The jet black cover was sprinkled with red rose petals and  a beautiful woman lay across the velvet with come hither eyes. 

Red. Hot. and Holy.

Harvard scholar. Seeker of Truth. Unabashedly curious. Wildly hilarious. 

That night I went home and took a long, hot shower. I put on my own silk robe, massaged my fave and body in the most expensive oil I own (hello, Lapis). I lit one million candles in my room so it felt more sacred and beautiful that it ever had. I brushed and braided my hair, as it's said in yogic teachings if a woman braids her hair at night it draws in the lunar energy into her body (hello, feeling very Avatar). And I picked up this book to find a woman who, within the first two chapters, I almost cried tears of relief when I read that she was asking all the same questions I had buried inside of me, about spirituality, about sensuality, about desire, about passion, about doing things that feel good and dropping what doesn't...

For the last ten years I have been studying spirituality. From yoga to tibetan buddhism to Chinese Medicine. I've searched high and low for answers on how to heal so many physical conditions that were arising. Louise Hay in her book said Acne is a dislike of the self: I never, ever had acne when I was in the fashion industry, wearing the clothes I desired, feeling beautiful and sensual wherever I went. I never had autoimmune when I was doing what I loved, writing for magazines and publications like Refinery29 and BlackBook. I never had allergies when I wasn't worried about whether or not I was attractive enough or good enough when I was in power sexual and creative power. Every mentor I've had has urged me to step into my sexual, feminine power, especially with that volcanic Scorpio energy waiting to emerge, and I avoided their advice at all costs. 

Why? To be honest, I don't know. Maybe I didn't have the right role models or women in my life who showed me that I could be deeply into spirituality and still throw on those thigh high black boots and wear my favorite red lipstick. Who could teach me that the more I actually practiced self-care rituals that were done with the intention of wanting to experience beauty and sensuality rather than engaging in them because I needed to fix something. Who could mirror to me that not only was it okay to want to live a life of desire, passion, and sensuality, but that it was my birthright as a woman to do so.  Without women like Allison in my life, I would be left lost, confused, and without answers to questions that were burning inside of me. 

As a pay it forward, I wanted to jump off my proverbial couch and share this book with you too, to all the women who are also asking these kinds of questions and don't know where to turn. I'll be reading this book this month and would love for you to join me by reading Red, Hot, and Holy with me. Excited to hear your thoughts, questions, and revelations as the story unfolds....

 

 

 

The Magdalen Manuscript

Many of you have been asking what book I am reading as I share tidbits and glimpses into Egyptian Alchemy. An acquaintance of mine handed me the Magdalen Manuscript a few years ago and I wasn’t interested in reading it as it was a channeled book and I thought that stuff was only for crunchy hippies. Over the past year my meditation practice, or spiritual practice if you will, has changed radically - what I once approached as a means to fix myself slowly became an experience to get to know myself, my real self, not the many layers and personalities and personas I have acquired, consciously and unconsciously. 

 

At first it was an awkward unfolding that left me feeling very confused and conflicted about how I was / am to show up in the world. But I continued to meditate and continued to let things unfold. As Esther Hicks once explained this perfectly, “You feel like you’ve lost yourself but you’re really finding yourself and you’re discovering that who you thought you were is not who you really are."

 

For an entire year, I had to remove myself from people, experiences, trainings, circumstances, and social media in order to captivate the essence of the change that was happening. As time went on, I realized what I was really trying to do was take my power back and decide what was for me and what was not. And I realized that how I had been approaching yoga, wellness, and meditation for the last eight years was NOT working as I rarely saw lasting changes, only the roller coasting of floating high on cloud 9 only to come crashing down a few days or weeks later. Exhausted by the ups and downs, something inside of me kept urging me to slow down, to be still, and that through this stillness would come tremendous expansion. 

 

But of course I didn’t listen. My spiritual and wellness practice began to feel endless, like a to-do list, and if I didn’t get it done, I experienced a lot of guilt and shame. I knew I needed to change after hitting a hard rock bottom. 

 

Almost a year ago, the sun was shining for the first time in weeks, so I decided to take a book and sit outside to read in the fresh air, grabbing the Magdalen Manuscript without even thinking. As I sat down to read, I was transported to another world, something that has only happened once before while reading The Master’s Touch, a collection of teachings by Yogi Bhajan. 

 

The Magdalen Manuscript is a channeled personal story of Mary Magdalen's tantric relationship with Yeshua ben Joseph, who later became known as Jesus Christ. A story buried beneath the patriarchy and Catholic Church for 2,000 years, her words emerge like a flower finally breaking through concrete. 

 

The manuscript is Her story of her time as an High Initiate of the Temple of Isis in Ancient Egypt, something I had never heard of before. It was She who was the Holy Grail and spent her training in the Egyptian High Alchemical practices used to transform consciousness, through the path of tantra but also through simple, beautiful, soft, and generous meditations that can be done alone. It teaches, finally after years of being buried in the darkness, the Alchemies of Horus and Sex Magic of Isis.

 

That book changed me. Something happened just as I read the words from front to back in one sitting under the sunlight. It felt akin to Venus emerging from the depths of the sea, rising in grace, power, royalty, and sensuality. 

 

I closed my eyes and  imagined what it would be like to walk through the High Temples of Ancient Egypt, wearing white clothes draped along a tanned and toned body. I imagined that my hair would actually be the same, but maybe longer, and the bangs slightly shorter, for this haircut I wear always made me feel part of something different and more exotic. I imagined that if I was an Initiate in a circle of High Priestesses, how would I go about the world? How would I walk? Talk? Stand? Engage? Just from reading this book, my consciousness shifted into a new perception of what beauty and wellness looks like to me: a woman stepping into her royalty, power, grace, sensuality, sexuality, and spirituality. 

 

As I started to incorporate some of the more simple meditations into my daily life, like sitting in the sun for a few minutes a day to draw in solar energy, which is essential for vitality and radiance, I was reminded how powerful it is to slow down, how it’s actually in slowness that beauty emerges.

Beauty cannot be cultivated in hustle, in rushing, in forcing ourselves to do things we don't want to do, in starving ourselves, in depriving ourselves of the arts, of reading, and writing, and learning, and lounging, and laughing. 

Beauty is cultivated in slowness, that richness of taking time for ourselves. In leisure. In loyalty to finding out who we are, not in the obsession of running away from ourselves. Real beauty and real power means stepping into the embodied feminine which means we cultivate and embrace the essence of beauty, the essence of what it means to be a Woman, which is so much more powerful than we are told. 

And through practice and embracing more of that slowness I began to realize how much magic we miss that exists within practices that we relate not to cultivate beauty and power but try to use them as a means to fix ourselves. When we can approach our practices with the intention of finding magic, within them and within ourselves, that’s when the real, lasting shift begins to unfold. As Roald Dahl once said, “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Comparison Diminishes Our Power

I think comparison should be the 8th of the deadly sins. It’s one of the most toxic things we can do yet we do it all the time, especially with the rise of social media. There’s such a fine line between following people we love because they inspire us to live a bigger and fuller life to also comparing ourselves to them, which can lead to feelings of “I’m not good enough, I’m not doing enough….”  and so on. 

As Benshen has grown over the years, I’ve become exposed to some of the most successful influencers across various industries who have inspired me to want to live a bigger life, one beyond anything I could image. And at the same time, I’ve also started dating men who have higher levels of success than I have ever seen, with gorgeous, massive apartments and jet-setting lifestyle to boot. I’ll never forget the time I was dating one guy in particular who used to run one of my favorite magazines. The first time we went back to his place, smack in the middle of the hottest streets in the LES, the elevator doors opened to his apartment. We both took off our shoes and I looked down I saw his were ACNE and mine Steve Madden. Let alone the fact that the apartment jaw dropping, I never dated a guy who had nicer shoes than I. 

I wanted more growth, more success, more traveling, more money. I, from a distance, saw how others were living their lives and I could see and feel like I could live a big life too but could never quite get there. It was like there was a glass wall between me and my success.

It took me a very long time to realize and accept that the glass wall was put up by yours truly. As I continued to compare myself to others, the wall got thicker and thicker, and I felt more and more stuck, guilty, and ashamed of my life, 

Especially lately as I feel myself getting clearer and clearer of what I want my brand and my life to look like, I’ve had to learn how to manage my urge to compare myself to others in a way that leaves me steady on the path to feeling the best version of me possible. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things on how to stop letting comparison f*ck up life and what to do about it when it starts to creep up. 

CLARITY | One of the most important things for me was to really get clear on what I want, not what I think I want or how I think I should live my life. I always said to myself and to my friends, “If I could write the way I wanted to write I would be so successful and it would be EASY.” I said this for years and never wrote the way I wrote because I was comparing myself to others in the industry, worried what people might think if I wrote authentically and honestly rather than sprinkling fairy dust on every topic and topping it off with a green juice. The big hit came when I recently ended things with someone I really liked and it hurt like hell. That rock bottom sent me sky rocketing towards clarity: I wanted to write about dating, about insecurities and how to deal with them, about how to feel beautiful, about how to increase self-worth, and all the other topics that go along with being a single woman living in a big city in 2018. These are all topics that I talk about on end with friends, loving every minute of laughing and/or crying over the stories and our challenges in our careers, conversing about modern dating and how to feel like an empowered woman, but I never wrote about it. After that relationship dissolved it hit me like a truck that that was what I needed to be writing about and to stop dancing around it. Once I had that immense clarity I felt a newfound sense of power because I knew what I wanted vs. what I thought I should do. 

 

RESPECT THE TIMELINE | One of the biggest things that’s missing from Instagram is a timeline. Take Taryn Toomey for example. She has mega blown up in the last year and for damn good reason (my god, have you ever taken The Class?). So it’s easy for many to look at her level of success and say, “Wow, she’s killing it. Why am I not at her level?.” What I adored was a Instagram post the TT team shared a while back about how they spent a long time carrying the yoga mats themselves up and down many flights of stairs to make The Class happen. Now, they have the most beautiful studio in TriBeCa (yoga mats included). It was such a reminder that any dream takes work. It takes time. It takes blood, sweat, and tears. Other people’s success, the success we see in the present moment, could have taken them YEARS to get to. Whenever I find myself comparing myself to someone else’s success I take a second to look back and see how far I have come rather than looking outward to see where they are at. I look at what I have accomplished, who I have met, what I have done, how many goals I’ve surpassed. If we keep looking forward we’ll never have that gratitude and appreciation of how much we have already done, which makes life feel like a never ending rat race. 

SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX | A few months ago, one of my Kundalini Yoga teachers Guru Jagat advised me to do a month off of social media and it was one of the best things I have ever done. I continued to post to Benshen and share content but I stopped looking at other peoples feeds because I was subconsciously copying their work. It also reconnected me with my own creativity and how I wanted to show up in the world. Once I stopped looking at how other people were doing things to get to their success I could start feeling what my own success would look like. This is so important because it get us out of the comparison cycle so quickly and we can begin to actually live our lives rather than trying to live someone else’s life. I remember when I took a break I was able to stop and say, “Holy shit, my life is pretty fucking good. I may not have the biggest apartment, or biggest paycheck, or travel around the world all the time, or _______ but wow, look at what I’ve done, look at how much I am doing, look at how much I’ve accomplished on my own.”  I also noticed that comparing ourselves to others and worrying about what others think about us is the quickest way to fuck up our hormones but that’s another blog post for another time. 

LEAN INTO THE FEELING | This is so, so important and it’s taken me a very long time to realize this so I hope I can save some time for you. Rather than using the word compare for this part I’m going to use envy. Envy in small doses can be used as a tool for us to see what we want. I’m not saying that envy is a good thing, I’m just saying that its a natural human tendency to feel envious. But rather than holding onto the envy, which is extremely detrimental, we can say, “Oh hello envy, thank you for showing me what I want. Now I’m going to drop you cause you’re drama and I’m going to figure out what I need to do to get what I want.”  Let’s say someone is having a lot of success. Their business is blowing up, they look amazing, things are really taking off for them. You take one look at them and boom, there comes the envy. But really, what is it that you’re envious about? That they are stepping into their power, their confidence is radiating, they’re showing up bigger into the world. So take that insight of what it is exactly that you want and in your meditation practice visualize yourself as having it already, in your own version that’s authentic to you. What would power look like in your life? More money? More confidence? A successful relationship? So often we look at others and see how they are living that we have absolutely no idea how it feels to us. Once we practice feeling it ourselves, we can begin to attract what we want more easily when we match that feeling rather than fighting an uphill battle trying to make things happen based on other peoples success.