Did you know that women with a fuller spiritual life also report a more satisfying sex life, and score higher on well-being indices? As a traditionally trained doctor I was taught to focus on vital signs and physical symptoms, ignoring my patients’ feeling of holistic wellness. But being well is much more than having a healthy body and good “numbers.” It requires a mind-body connection and discovering that our “heart feelings” or “gut feelings” may contain our greatest sources of wisdom, contentment and connection. We all want to be happy and to live in peace and harmony, but for many of us, it’s not working. We might feel stuck in wondering why the world is happening “to me,” instead of feeling empowered that our world is really happening “by me.” While most of us are focusing on eating right and going to the gym, what are we doing to exercise and grow our spiritual being? The truth is, happiness is not dependent on external circumstances. It requires sitting still and examining ourselves with love and compassion, abandoning old habits that are harmful and adopting new ones. It’s a lifelong journey. Join me on my mission to optimize mind-body wellness and deepen your connection with your higher power.
“ Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected by a power greater than all of us, and that connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.”
Why do some women over 40, or over 60, have the joyful sexual energy of a 20-year-old, while most of us feel our libido slipping away? Our culture tells that women over 50 are not sexy, not relevant, and are on a sexual downhill march to the grave. My own experience as a menopausal woman combined with extensive research blows the lid off this harmful cultural myth. Let me introduce you to the “Sexually Woke”- women in midlife who are having the best sex of their lives- and teach you how to wake up to the time of your life as well.
Talk of the week
The Three Secrets to Understanding Life
A lot of people ask me what the tattoo on my left foot means. I’m proud to say that I designed this myself after several months of considering what would be important enough to put permanently on my body, for the purpose of reminding me about my Northstar whenever I forget.
As you can see from the graphic of the design there are three similar sounding words surrounding a tree with a separate phrase at the base of the tree supporting it all.
At first I think it’s important to tell you that I did not invent this wisdom and as my teacher Vinny says “All wisdom is plagiarized only your ignorance is original.” and I also want to mention that it makes absolutely no difference what spiritual tradition you resonate with or if you resonate with one at all I believe that these words are just true no matter what background you come from.
In the Buddhist tradition there are a lot of lists since it was an aural tradition and lists made it easy for people to remember and pass things on. One of the lists is translated as the “three marks of existence” or in other words the three things that are indisputably experienced by every human being. I have never really resonated with the common translation of these three things, which are often described as “suffering, impermanence, and not Self.” To me these particular translations felt quite dark and confusing, but on a meditation retreat last year led by Vinny Ferraro he proposed a different translation of the three truths of being human -which are that life is
Imperfect, Impermanent and Impersonal.
Why is this important? To me it’s because deeply understanding these three truths sets us free from the endless hamster wheel of wishing things were different than they are and denying reality- which is an exhausting and fruitless process that most of us spend the majority of energy on.
First, the understanding that life is inherently imperfect and comes with an unavoidable amount of suffering or discomfort might initially sound negative or pessimistic …but only if you have been conditioned to believe that life should be some other way. It’s undeniable that life brings various levels of discomfort or suffering- whether it be something as simple as traffic or as complicated as sickness old age and death. I spent most of my life thinking that if things weren’t going just right then I was doing something wrong. Someone had to be to blame because life was supposed to be perfect and if you did everything the right way then problems could be eliminated. Deeply understanding that this is just not true brought me a great deal of peace, which does not mean laying down like a doormat and accepting all the suffering that comes your way, but rather dropping the idea that the world should be any certain way, and particularly dropping the idea that the universe cares one way or the other about the way I think things should be. Whenever I hear myself using the word “should” it reminds me to come back to this idea and challenge my own thinking.
The second truth of life is impermanence, and we all know on some level or other that nothing in the world lasts forever and that every single thing is in a constant state of change, yet we still fight against the knowledge by attempting to construct a future that denies impermanence. We have trouble accepting that we’re getting old, we deny when we’re sick, we can’t believe when relationships end and seems surprised when elderly people die or when our children grow up. A deep insight into the reality of impermanence doesn’t eliminate grief or sadness when things change, but loosens the attachment to the unrealistic idea that we can keep anything at all from changing. We can’t.
A recent example in my life that brought this to my attention was when several doctors from our group decided to leave and start their own practice. I realized that I had the strong belief that no one from our group would ever leave and that everybody would want to work here for the rest of their lives until they retired or died and I heard myself saying “it’s not supposed to be this way, and why did this happen and something must be wrong.” What actually happened is what always happens- which is that businesses change and relationships change and people’s agendas start to deviate and there’s nothing wrong or unexpected about any of this. So quickly bringing myself back to that knowledge changed a situation that could have been devastating into something that was just mildly sad and disappointing but also in it’s own way a beautiful new beginning.
The trickiest one for me to understand is the reality that nothing in life is personal. It’s pretty easy to come up with an argument that a lot of things are personal …but the wisdom comes from the knowledge that we truly are not separate and self-reliant beings and that we are deeply and inherently interconnected and depend on each other for every element of our lives. Another way this comes up for me is that when people judge me or have a negative opinion of me, or even when the opposite is true, this has very little to do with me and almost everything to do with the other person. I know when I judge another person that I am most likely to be judging some things that I have rejected in myself. And the people whom I admire the most generally have qualities that I wish that I had more of. So my opinions about other people have very little to do with them and almost everything to do with me. It’s not personal when somebody flips me off on the freeway and it’s not personal when one of my children does some thing that I am personally ashamed or proud of. Another way of putting this is that the world is not happening to me. The world is just happening and I am taking in the information that is available to me through my senses and creating meaning out of it- which is completely different than the meaning that another person standing right next to me would create. Understanding that life is impersonal doesn’t disempower me, rather it has the opposite effect because it moves me from the victim position to a position of co-creativity with the universe where I can feel connected with others and take responsibility for myself and not dwell in the stress that everyone is out to get me or that I need to impress others.
Recently at a leadership meeting we were asked to go around the room (before we even got to know each other) and based on first impressions were asked to pick out the one person in the room that we would like to kill. To my surprise somebody picked me, and I immediately felt like I had been personally kicked in the chest and picked out as the worst person in the room. Later when we got to know each other, my colleague who had picked me as the one he wanted to kill explained that was based simply on the fact that I reminded him of a coworker that he was really angry with. Similarly the person that I picked to kill sat in a certain way that I perceived as being arrogant and I really hate it when I am perceived as being arrogant. It had nothing to do with the person over there – it was all about my projections.
Coming back to the tattoo, the tree in the middle is a common graphic sometimes described as the tree of life or the tree under which the Buddha was enlightened (in Buddhist mythology.) To me it represents a combination of these two, and the leaves shaped like hearts represent the springing up of love and new life that occurs when these words are fully understood.
At the base of the tree I added the words “let it be” which to me feels like the prescription for all of this reality checking. Once I understand that life is imperfect impermanent and impersonal-then the prescription is just to let things be and not to circulate negative thoughts, judgments and stories but just to leave them alone. In the past I used the term “let it go” but I found out that many things that I had “let go” of we’re still hanging around and they hadn’t gone anywhere. So “let it be” feels more in line with my truth which is that stuff doesn’t always go away, but I can choose whether or not I interact with it in my mind and I can make a conscious decision to drop certain lines of thought that are harmful, stressful or delusional and pick up a different train of thought that is more likely to lead to peace and harmony.
I”ll end this description of my tattoo by telling you that one of my favorite definitions of happiness is not wanting anything to be different. It’s those little breaks in wanting that feel like peace and contentment to me, and so getting my mind aligned with reality and dropping the constant need to make things different than they are just makes me happy.
I invite you to try this on and see how it works for you, and connect with me to share your experiences! And you’re welcome to use this graphic and get your own tattoo. I would love to see women throughout the world celebrating life with this image on their body!
Talks to awaken your sexy-self and challenge the status quo.
The Body as a Slave
Spirituality and Sexuality
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