Wow. What a shit show. Have you become more desensitized to chaos, like I have? Did 2020 really happen? Did QAnon Trumpers REALLY storm the White House, threaten to assassinate people and kill a cop? (AND implicate themselves live on social media???!!!)
Can you believe we are still in a pandemic? I remember in March someone asked me how long this would last and I said 6 months to a year and they thought I was crazy…but here we are and I can barely believe it.
I tried to write this blog so many times the last few weeks, but honestly I just wasn’t ready. In my body, it felt like the whole world was holding their breath until a peaceful inauguration day came and went.
Well, halle-fucking-lujah! Strangely, even when I take that huge exhale and celebrate, still part of my nervous system is waiting for the next jolt of insanity. But damn, the world is a much sweeter place without the narcissistic idiot whining on Twitter constantly.
So, let’s at least allow ourselves to enjoy that for a few minutes. My hope is he will soon be forgotten, along with Q. May they fade peacefully into irrelevance (or jail…wouldn’t mind that either).
And may the utter devastation that this President caused, at the very least, be an irrefutable turning point. A moment in history when we collectively decided to begin the arduous tasks of dismantling systemic racism and corporate-interest corruption in our government. A moment, where we finally begin to do everything and anything possible to save the Earth for future generations. I pray that this is that moment.
I also pray for those experiencing the untimely deaths of loved ones, whether due to COVID-19, police brutality, or the suicides and overdoses brought on by too much isolation and financial hardship, and of course to those who have and are struggling with this virus itself. I feel so much sorrow that our government and culture has been less than helpful to all of you. You deserve better. We all deserve better.
And for what it’s worth, my witchy intuition points toward things getting better soon. Extroverts, I think your day in the social sun is coming soon. I really pray for ya’ll too, I know it’s been rough.
But this introvert, would like to celebrate something with you. I actually had a really phenomenal year. And, I get how blessed and privileged I am to say that.
I was lucky to find myself in a very sweet, supportive corner of the universe to ride out this storm. Surrounded by kind, communicative friends, by generosity and abundance.
This year allowed me the incubation I needed. 2019 was rough. Like midlife-existential-crisis-move-across-the country-and-stop-everything kind of rough. 2020 started on a hopeful note with a beautiful ritual with friends, a few laughs, a few speed bumps, and then….DAMN, the whole world stopped.
I stopped seeing clients, traveling, leaving the house. My world became very small and very quiet.
However, for me–the timing was right.
Usually when I’m trying to pull myself out of a depression and reinvent that next iteration of my entrepreneurial identity and sensitive soul, I have to do so, while keeping pace with the world. This time, I was given the gift of spaciousness.
Hundreds of times this year, when I wrote my daily gratitude list, spaciousness would be the first word to appear on the page.
I also often found myself grateful for my amazing housemates: James, Sharmila, Jenna, Matt and our furry companions: Wanton, Lulu, Sugar & Bella. It was delightful to be surrounded by thoughtful, mature, kind people. People doing their best to support one another during the craziest events of our generation. We definitely made the best of it.
Well, without further adieu, I take a deep breath, cathartically exhale all of 2020 with you, and present my 10 most potent learnings of the year…
I am Home
I am at home in my body and my mind. I feel more grounded, joyful and capable than I ever have. There’s a new nourishing quality to my aloneness and much more confidence in my body.
I cherish my peace. I protect it fiercely and gracefully. I know my worth and I revel in my creative flow.
I have finally, deep in my core, gotten how important it is to help myself first, before helping others. That was a hard fought and won lesson. And it’s a tricky one. Several times over the years I thought I had this one down, only to find it kept biting me in the ass.
I love to serve people. It gives me so much joy. But, I can do it to my own deficit. I can attach too much self worth to it. I can let it take up too much headspace, heartspace and time. I sometimes also find myself serving people that aren’t so deserving of my support.
The good news is that it became so obvious to me that when I consciously take space and nourishment for myself first, my service and guidance to others actually improves, even if it isn’t as speedy or extensive as before. So, this is a win-win. I LOVE win-wins. Add “improved discernment on who I’m willing to help” to that equation, and it becomes a huge milestone in personal development for me.
This year, I write to you from my best friend’s home. On a beautiful hillside in the Bay Area with an infinite vista of the whole bay. It’s been amazing to spend so much time here over the past few months.
We watched the election results and the inauguration together, and saw some epic fireworks from the balcony on New Year’s Eve. More importantly, I got to celebrate her freedom from a toxic relationship and bond with my niece and nephew. I got to help her remember her magic in a pivotal moment and have had so much fun doing it.
As a bonus, she allowed me to help her decorate her house and play wifey, doing all the cooking and cleaning so she could have a bit more spaciousness in her being. It’s been such a special part of this year that we got to spend this much time together. It’s been a long time coming!
So, I celebrate her new home, how welcomed and honored I feel here, and this precious time together, regrouping as we venture into the next chapters of our lives. I’m even starting to entertain the idea of moving back to the bay again…only time will tell, but I always listen to my body when it tells me to relocate.
I Love Camping
I camped a good bit as a child, but other than a few yearly group camping trips, it hadn’t been a priority in my adult life. Well, when COVID said “no major travel or indoor activities for you,” I built a bed in the back of my SUV (well actually my awesome housemate, Matt, did) and headed off on a three week road trip with my dear friend, Mallory. We camped in a couple of magical places near Tahoe and enjoyed soaking in lakes and rivers.
I found the most serene little lake. It made me understand the beauty of silence on a profound level. I experienced being above a lightning storm, which was a fascinating sight and sound to behold. It was unreal to hear thunder coming from below and sparks of light illuminating the thick clouds all around, yet clear, silent, starry skies right above me.
Unfortunately, it turns out that was the lightning storm that started a huge fire in Northern California. Fortunately, Mallory and I we able to do an epic photoshoot the day after. We kayaked to a remote part of the lake. There were bear paw prints everywhere and the sky was an eerie orange from the smoke. Luckily, we were scheduled to leave the next day before it got too smokey out there.
A few weeks later, I did my first solo camping adventure about an hour east of San Diego. I’ll never forget, getting comfy in my portable hammock for the first time, under a huge oak tree, nothing but me and nature and even a few phone clients.
If there’s an opportunity to combine work and play, I’ll find it. Working from a hammock in the woods felt like a massive accomplishment. I’ve already got campsites reserved this summer. I appreciate the pandemic for pushing me out into the woods again and remembering the joy of road trips.
Financial Freedom is Afoot
This learning feels like a miracle. It took me so long to learn how to manage money and invest in my future. I did most of this with the help of apps like Digit, Acorns & PocketGuard (use code 52F5Q to get a month free), and the financial gurus on TikTok. (Don’t knock it, until you’ve tried it!)
Having so many different pots of gold…aka “diversification,” relaxes my nervous system in a way I couldn’t have predicted. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m a millionaire, or that I never worry about money. But I have a regular savings account, a high yield savings account, a retirement account, a brokerage account, and stocks and bonds. Next goal is to figure out crypto.
I share all of this because, as a person mostly focused on spiritual endeavors, I often let my finances run loose because they were too overwhelming and I wasn’t taught anything about them as a kid or young adult. It’s taken a loooooong time to turn the ship on this one, but I’m delighted I have.
I am Supported & Celebrated
It’s been almost a year and a half now that my closest friends and I (The Brujas) have been having weekly Zoom rituals to stay caught up, as well as anchor in our goals and intentions with a meditation. This beautiful little ritual has blossomed into all kinds of rituals.
We work with a 90-day journal/planner. So at the beginning of a new journal, we gather to mastermind our goals and trade stickers. Yes, stickers. Each week, we create sticker collages to ground into the creative spirit and focus on what we truly want to create.
I’ve discovered that stickers are by far the most inexpensive material thing that bring me joy. You can find some of my favorites here: Wasi Clothing and HarlanRuby, and I hope to be producing my own within a year. I also love these super thin stickers from Amazon, click below to join in on the sticker fun.
Anyhow, in addition to the sticker-high, this was a big leap in intimacy and cohesion for a group of friends that was more accustomed to just going on one or two camping trips a year. We’ve always provided each other cosmic inspiration, but this weekly, feet-in-the-ground, support is very enriching. I’m so grateful for it.
I also love celebrating with these witchy women! With our handy list of COVID-precaution agreements, our little bubble united for many (mostly outdoor) events this year: Pony’s birthday in Joshua Tree, Mia’s parkour birthday, my birthday boat in Mission Bay, Panda and Kai’s Idyllwyld wedding (including an impromptu bachelorette party), and Mo’s beachside birthday staycation surprise a-thon. It was also sweet to celebrate Grandma (or Bad Grandma, as she prefers) and Hoochie’s birthdays with Mo this year too! (Yes, people in my life have nicknames! Why? Because I love them sooo much.)
We are Growing
All of this togetherness, really pushed my beloved Brujas to grow a lot this year. Each of us improved speaking into our boundaries and desires with more vulnerability, having the courage and patience to clear old patterns and conflicts, and accept one another’s differences with more compassion. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it.
Grace and I were even in therapy together for a while this year. And, while I know that may sound odd to many, I’m not the only person in my community that went to “friend” therapy this year. It’s becoming more and more common. Why? For starters, I think people are valuing deep friendship more (perhaps because our bodies sense the collapse of civilization and are encouraging us to tribe-the-fuck-up for survival, lol).
I also think that as we age, heal our childhood traumas, learn how to manage relationships, build careers, and accumulate wisdom, that we often forget to pay attention to the up-leveling of our communication skills.
Communication is a full-contact sport with so many more nuances than we appreciate, and it massively impacts the health and longevity of our relationships. And yet, very few people have taken a class on it. Well, for many, therapy and coaching end up focusing on communication skills, I know that is the case with my clients.
Even as a communication geek though, I have to constantly uplevel my skills. Why? Because even if I think I’m doing a “good” job of communicating…that is “good” by my standard, not another’s. This made me dig deep into understanding how attunement could improve my communication.
Attunement is Fascinating
Attunement is one of the subtlest nuances of communication. It relies heavily on listening, body language, tone, energy, empathy, pacing–things that people really struggle to control, especially when they are upset or just not present to the unique needs of the person in front of them.
Attunement is closely related to attachment and is often talked about as one of the more important things that children need to thrive. Think about it, did you feel attuned to by your parents? How did they respond to your emotions and needs, spoken and unspoken? Did they, as Dr. Dan Siegel says, “allow their own internal states to shift, to come to resonate” with your inner world? For babies it is easier, but often as kids age into teens the parental attunement fades. I see a lot of pain in people that have experienced this.
And in a year where I was kicking ass on my continued quest to defeat codependency in my life, I realized that in adult relationships, attunement is also critical, but a bit tricky. I see attunement and codependency on a spectrum. For example, if we were in a disagreement and I put myself so far into your “inner world” that I only focused on having the demeanor and language that is best for you, I probably wouldn’t feel too connected to myself, my truth or my emotions.
In fact, I’d be codependent by over-caretaking you and probably feel resentful at some point for invalidating my own needs to fulfill yours. However, at the end of the day, the goal of all communication is to be understood and MANY, MANY people are not being understood because they are failing miserably at attunement.
They simply can’t control their communication style enough to get into the range of “workable” for every given individual. Which isn’t surprising given the diversity of people’s emotional needs and communication preferences. However, we often totally skip over the attunement element of communication, and just blurt out whatever makes us feel best (best here meaning: gratifying, cathartic, or self righteous). We put so much emphasis on how to say things perfectly, we forget all the ways in which we need to lead with listening.
So anyhow, I spent a few months of 2020 obsessed with attunement. I hope to study and write about it more at some point, but for now I can offer this:
When you find yourself in a conflict with someone, slow down and take a deep breath. Take another breath to tune into your current emotional state. Take another breath to cultivate empathy for that emotional state. Then, repeat those two steps on your friend’s emotional state.
Next, consider: Given both of our emotional states, is this an effective time and environment for this conversation? (Hint: If you struggled to empathize with them, IT IS NOT.) If yes, ask yourself: Will I be able to get my point across and feel heard without triggering them significantly? Am I available to hear and process things that might be challenging to digest? What adjustments can I make to my communication for it to be the most effective and attuned to this particular person in this moment?
If you find yourself stuck on that last question, you may not be aware of your friend’s emotional or communicative needs and preferences, and I’d highly recommend you ask them. Perhaps not in that moment, but at some point down the line, so when you meet a moment like this again, you’ll feel more confident.
You may also not be aware of all the communication nuances available to you: increased emotional vocabulary, communication protocols and sentence starters to help you say difficult things, pacing, tone, body language, touch, and reflective listening are just a few examples.
If you are already an energetically sensitive or empathic person, you may be naturally gifted at attunement, but that has its unique challenges too. I realized this year that I am even more sensitive then I gave myself credit for.
Perhaps it was because everything slowed down so much, but I became acutely aware of how sensitive I am to other people’s pain, anxiety, discomfort and anger. When I literally feel someone else’s anxiety in my body, it makes attunement a bit easier because I have a visceral understanding of their emotional state. However, this also makes emotional self-regulation much harder. But like anything, it becomes easier to manage with more awareness and practice.
If you find yourself fascinated with communication or struggling with it, or challenged by your empathic nature, I recommend:
Psychedelics are Therapeutic
Okay, now on to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll…otherwise known as the Tantra, kink and psychedelic areas of Lalita’s life.
Throughout the years I’ve spoken about the many ways that doing psychedelics has improved my mental and spiritual health. I’ve sometimes done them in official ceremonies with a leader or doctor, and many times led my own rituals with friends. But this year, I got to significantly deepen my study of one-on-one psychedelic coaching & tantra sessions.
The Quarantine Gods were kind enough to provide me with one amazingly skilled psychonaut guinea pig and we did a series of fascinating sessions together. I also started to research all of the developments in psychedelic medical research and best practices of psychedelic therapy.
While each medicine has its specialties, I can say that I haven’t found one that isn’t beneficial in some way. Psychedelics have the profound ability to make our brains function, in what feels like a much faster, deeper and more holistic way. LSD, DMT, and Ketamine are showing to increase neuroplasticity, which is at the very core of both learning and mood disorders. MDMA has proven to help significantly with PTSD.
Psychedelic therapy or coaching can also be amazing for people who are curious about the personal and spiritual development these medicines have to offer, but have fears, and desire a very safe, supportive environment to try them for the first time.
And while, every individual is unique and NOT everyone should take psychedelics (as there are some conditions and medications that are contraindicated), in general, I consider this the ideal order of exploration:
- MDMA or MDA (half or full dose)
- MDMA or MDA with (half dose) LSD
- LSD (full dose)
- LSD (increased dose)
- Psilocybin or Mescaline (half dose) (Way too many people start their psychedelic journey with a high dose of Mushrooms, freak the fuck out and never come back. They are, however, readily available. I just find them to be less predictable and enjoyable than LSD.)
- Psilocybin or Mescaline (full dose)
- Ayahuasca (DMT & MAOIs) (Ideally at least a 2 day experience with integration coaching or group.)
There are numerous places on that list where Ketamine could fit and it can be particularly helpful for treatment-resistant depression. Though, I don’t think it should be used frequently because it is quite dissociative. The only other major player I haven’t tried, but am very curious about (in an awe-struck terror kind of way), is Iboga.
Because of Iboga’s intensity, it is best done in a clinical setting and would therefore fall last on my list. This West African plant is mostly used for treating severe alcohol and opioid addiction. Imagine the relief of an opioid addict that goes to a 6-day Iboga retreat and comes out with no chemical dependency and a new sense of self? It’s actually already happening, Watch this if you care to know more.
Hopefully we will soon see these medicines reclassified, so more research can be done. And for those seeking the neurological and biological benefits, but aren’t so sure of the psychoactive aspects, scientists are busy at work separating out these properties. However, I’m pretty convinced the psychoactive aspect is a quite important part of the healing they provide.
I’m so grateful that we are now in the midst of a global psychedelic research renaissance. If you care to explore further, my favorite websites are: The Third Wave and The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
Additionally, MindLeap is an amazing new resource geared toward helping people find psychedelic guides and therapists. I hope to be listed there soon. And here are a few of my favorite books on the topic:
On a more personal note, I can say, I’ve seen in myself, my friends and clients that these medicines paired with other therapeutic methods increase self worth, sense of purpose, and ability to empathize and be emotionally vulnerable.
They have a profound ability to help a person feel both utterly unique and individual, and deeply connected to humanity, divinity, and nature as a whole. In my experience, they also allow people to feel things that are too painful or difficult to access otherwise. Most importantly, they increase our minds’ ability to form new understandings about the traumatic events of our lives.
Kink is Healing
As I read over the last nine years of my review blogs, I was a bit surprised to see psychedelics and BDSM were both steady themes in my growth, constantly assisting me to stretch and grow, even if they weren’t center stage in my life. And it sucks to say, but I think BDSM is even more misunderstood than plant medicines are.
It seems that the stereotypical image of the leather-clad, whip-toting, stone cold dominatrix is seared into everyone’s brains. Many automatically associate BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism) with brutality, pain, cheesy role play scenes, and scary dungeons.
I’ve come to like the term “kink” better as it is a bigger umbrella that includes BDSM and pretty much everything non-Vanilla in sex. As a professional, I’ve started immersing more in the kink community and taken a few steps away from the Neo-Tantra community. This has been a huge breath of fresh air.
While no community is perfect, I much prefer the anti-racist, inclusive, consent-focused, intellectual vibes of the kink and sex educator community, in comparison to the rampant white male privilege, spiritual bypassing of logic, and iffy-at-best consent practices that still plague much of the Neo-Tantra and New Age communities.
While I’ll never stop being a Tantrika or Dakini, it simply doesn’t feel growthful to associate with much of that community at this time. I do hope this changes because Neo-Tantra can be a powerful tool in a person’s development, but in the wrong hands, it can also be very traumatizing. To go deeper on this topic, I recommend my friend Dave’s article: Spiritual Gaslighting: Why Sexual Predators Love Tantra.
Luckily, I’m not the only one who has seen the light on this issue. If you care to be more informed, I recommend the Tantra Not Trauma group on Facebook (and though some predators will have you believe this is a toxic place where rumors get spread, I assure you it is not).
And, more importantly if you have had a consent violation or traumatic experience with a Neo-Tantra, sacred sexuality teacher or “shaman,” please report it anonymously in these two places: TantraNotTraumaTellonym and The Association of Tantra Practitioners Complaints Center, the latter of which also publishes a list of teachers who are not recommended due to a pattern of complaints.
Nashville is in my Heart
Well, precisely two years after I ended my three year stint in Nashville, I finally returned to close down my apartment that I had been subletting. It wasn’t exactly ideal timing to have to do so in the middle of a pandemic or the day after a conspiracy theorist blew up part of downtown, but the trip was truly magical nonetheless.
I was reminded of how loved and supported I am by my dear Nashville friends and how much I adore that place, especially my favorite waterfalls! In my opinion, it is the perfect sized city (for now, at least). It is surrounded by lush rivers, lakes and waterfalls and a growing population of down-to-Earth woke folks, despite its red state status.
As soon as the pandemic is under control, I hope to make twice yearly visits there, in the spring and fall to visit friends and clients. Southern charm is a real thing, if you haven’t explored it yet, I highly recommend it.
I also definitely recommend taking yourself on a snowmobile adventure. An unexpected 2020 highlight was a quick work trip to Wyoming, where I had one day free to snowmobile in the Grand Teton National Park.
I love being a Witchy-preneur
Being a spiritual solo-preneur has been an intense path. Because my identity, spirituality and financial security are intertwined, I have to be very careful not to burn out or get lost. Keeping my businesses in alignment with my values, as I grow and evolve, isn’t the easiest. In fact, it became so challenging the last two years, that I flirted a lot with becoming an employee again, just to relieve some of the perfectionistic pressure I put on myself.
I’m happy to report that I’ve come out the other side, re-dedicated to my path of service. This year I created two series of online classes: The Witchy Wisdom Circle and Mantra is Medicine, and while both are on break while I focus on my kink and coaching businesses, I plan to revive them by the end of the year. Beyond that, I do hope to deliver you a Witchy Wisdom (goal setting and habit tracking) Planner within the next five years.
I’ve also realized that just like people pick up harmful habits and patterns in relationships, the same thing goes for entrepreneurship. A person’s relationship to their business is intricate and delicate, and without proper guidance and support, many solo-preneurs find themselves developing a whole host of ineffective coping mechanisms.
So, with that being said, I dedicate this year to upgrading my business practices, with a focus on sustainable pacing and financial planning. I’m also excited to be a student again and have found amazing teachers to help support my mastery in specialized areas of psychedelic therapy, vocal meditation and kink.
Well, I think that about sums it up. I appreciate you so much for joining me on this year’s journey. It’s always a deep process for me and a delight to share with you. I’m so excited that next year will be my 10th anniversary of this practice.
I know my 2020 wasn’t typical, and I am SO grateful for that miraculous blessing. And, I know I’m publishing a month late, but guess what…that was the sustainable pace for me to do my best work! Perfectionism be damned. See that? I’m already learning!
If this is the first year in review you’ve read, I invite you to scroll back a few years and see what it took to get here: 2019/2018, 2017, 2016. And while those who know me best could tell you I’ve come to embrace “Priestess” as my most accurate job description, I’ve taken a liking to this updated bio: I am an authentic living and communication coach, meditation teacher, psychedelic guide and integration specialist, classical Tantra philosophy geek, playlist enthusiast, Neo-Tantra and kink expert, and witchy entrepreneur.
May 2021 treat you and yours well! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support. As a token of my appreciation, I’ve added a little glimpse into my playlist-making obsession below. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: If you found yourself being triggered into judgement, fear or envy that I was able to gather with friends or travel at all this year, I get it. However, I assure you that in being associated with the poly community for many years, my friends and I are quite skillful with complex negotiations around risk tolerance, testing, and safer-gathering protocols. We put a lot of time, research, debate, integrity and trust into making each of these events happen safely. Everywhere I went I followed every CDC guideline plus some, and was always tested before seeing anyone immuno-compromised or high risk.