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....