Living a genuine, purposeful and unapologetic life with Dana Balicki
HAVEN wants YOU to focus on YOU this month - yes, you can love someone or someones else - but how do you show yourself love?
We asked Transformational Coach (and former NY'er) Dana Balicki to give us a few ideas on how to connect to yourself this month and onward...
A bit of "this and that" - We don’t make a lot of room for self-love because we’re all moving too damn fast, multi-tasking our little hearts out. And we get addicted to problem solving mode. It’s our cultural pathology where everything looks like a problem -- your job, you life, your love, your body, your sexuality, your feels, your spirituality, your money. The inner judge is the big boss, applesauce, and we're all just trying to not to crumble under the weight of "wrong".
It’s exhausting and really nowhere in the fixing is there room for self-love, self-trust, clarity about your life, creativity, or enjoying the journey. Vision suffers too. What's left at the end of this fix-it obsession is just fear and the haggard-ass look of clinging to or resisting it. (Hint: eyecream won't save your life, you will.)
You have the opportunity in every moment to shift the orientation from this cultural pathology of fixing to one of vision. A new way of being with yourself, looking at your life zoomed out with the question of “How do I want to be alive right now? How do I want to feel everyday? What do I really want to bring to the table?” vs "What must I achieve or get in order to feel whole, meaningful and worthy?"
To cultivate the conditions for self-love (and ultimately clarity for your beautiful life) we have to slow down. Slow down the thoughts, the actions, the harsh reactions we have to ourselves. Slow down so we can truly engage the mind, the body, the heart. I give some tips below...ultimately, this is part of your journey! Your becoming!
Desert or City? I did the city for years and absolutely loved it. I consciously traded the open sky for living in a vibrant entanglement of people, culture, and energies. Living in the East Village was the first time I really felt like I was home and I'll never regret a moment spent there. And if you'd told me that ten years later I'd be living in the desert, I would've fallen over! After over a decade in the city, my partner and I were simmering on what was "next" after NYC. I'm from LA, so that was a no-go. Berlin? Paris? Baja? We couldn't settle on a place, so instead we thought about what we wanted our lives to be like on a daily basis. I wanted to be hot. He wanted to see wild nature from his art studio. We wanted magic, romance, expansion. I started dreaming of the desert. I'd ask my guides, "Really? The desert??" and they were all "Yup. The desert." So when we finally got out to Joshua Tree for a trip in 2015, we realized it was home. I've never looked back. Not for one second.
Incense or Candles? I've become a major incense-head since living in the desert. My husband and I burn lots of cedar, juniper and sage. In my office and in ceremony I burn a special crafted blend to support transcendence (yes, there's incense for that) from the most magical secret-garden apothecary in San Francisco called The Sword & Rose. Our ability to be in vision and ignite our creativity are triggered by sensual experiences. Also, I'm doing more work with Medicine Wheel teachings with a teacher here in the desert, and plant medicine (aka working with the Plant People) is a powerful catalyst for spiritual work. Sage honors the West. Cedar, the South. Sweet Grass the North and Tobacco the East. Juniper and sage grow all over my property and I feel so grateful to be in constant relationship to these medicines.
Yin or Vinyasa? It was always Vinyasa. Yoga was about sweat, muscles, and body power. For so many reasons, I'm moving much more slowly now. It's part of the teachings I'm here to share with the planet. One of my teachers calls it my 'ministry of slowdown'. So Yin is way more my speed now. I do a class at my local yoga spot that moves at about 1 mph followed by a soundbath. Dreamy. Our society is moving too fast and our bodies can't digest the pace...anything you can do to slow down and get in your body is ideal. For me, Vinyasa was training wheels to get where I am. I'm no yoga body, yet I know when my adrenals get shook and how to check in, slow down, realign and heal.
Freud or Jung? Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Abraham Hicks, Diane Stein, Eckhart Tolle, Clarissa Pinkola Estes...and yes, some Jung. Jungian metaphysics, the undiscovered self, and shadow work?? Awesome. But honestly, he was just tapping in to what many ancient teachings and societies have been instructing for time immemorial. That being said, Active Imagination is one of my favorite healing tools that I use for myself and my clients.
Where do you come from, where are you now and where are you going?
Literally: The Valley (born and raised Valley Girl) > NYC > Joshua Tree (now) > Into the mystery.
Psychically: For over ten years, I was a radical activist and political organizer -- from the anti-war movement during the Bush years down to Zuccotti Park during Occupy Wall Street > now, I'm a transformation coach, healer and modern mystic > growing my community, reaching as many ever-evolving humxns as I can, so I can help guide to leap into the mystery together.
Tell us what is a Transformational Healer? For me, I'm so very clear that I'm here to help us see how we belong to each other. I've learned that inner transformation is necessary if we want to change the world. That we can't get internal change through external manipulations. So, whatever we want for the world we have to give ourselves. Whatever we want to feel and experience won't come by the right job or the right relationship. My work is to help people summon the courage, cultivate the self-awareness/love/trust, and embody the empowerment practices to become who they truly are, not just who they were taught to be. I'm just a few steps ahead of some, and a few behind others. I don't need to have all the answers, I just have to know how to source them from my soul. That's what I have to teach -- how to source your own divine clarity, courage and confidence.
Loving yourself... where do you even start? Right here, right now. All your power to change is in the present moment. We're so much better at being harsh with ourselves, than gentle and loving. It's a by-product of a culture fixated on achievement, goals, and a sped-up timeline. We've been taught that the Hero's Journey is the way...a journey of conquering and vanquishment (often it's our own connection to intuition crushed).
1) Know that we're shifting to a Heroine's Journey -- it's undulating, less defined, all about the wild process and not the specific outcome. You're a constellation of experience! Honor your journey. Celebrate what has brought you to this moment. Literally, I want you to do something to celebrate yourself within the next 2 days. Whether it's a bath, taking yourself out to dinner, or picking up something nourishing and sweet, state that you're celebrating yourself and set the intention of deep honoring. Celebration is necessary for growth.
2) Notice the inner judge. The one who pipes up and says, "Hey, that's a dumb idea," or "You're totally screwing this up," or some version -- you know who I'm talking about. When they come up see if you can pause instead of launching into unconscious agreement. Take 3 breaths. Acknowledge the voice, but see if you can hear a softer, more expansive voice. One that will feel more like a sensation or great song playing int eh backgroud and less like a command. That's your intuition. Wave at her! The louder one is your ego. Start differentiating. Start tuning into the quieter one. Oh, and feel free to talk to the judgey one and ask them why they are so harsh. Talk them into supporting you. Practice being gentler with yourself.
3) Slow down. You cannot hear yourself if you're hurtling through life at warp speed.
On a practical level:
- Get quality sleep (Need a new pillow? A new bed? New sheets? A white-noise machine? A salt crystal lamp? Do you.);
- Avoid toxic food, environments and people (you know what/who they are...and if you're not sure, ask your body and your inner guide);
- Let go of caffeine if you have to (you'll be ok) or try a little less of it, so you can be in your body more;
- Make time to be alone, still and quiet;
- Pick your top friends who really make you feel loved, nurtured, seen and take a pause with the rest;
- Set boundaries based on what you know you really need (not just from old hurts and fears);
- Look in the mirror every morning and tell your reflection how beautiful you are (Louise Hay's "Mirrorwork" is a real gem)...it'll be weird at first to be so kind to yourself, stick with it;
- Connect to the earth and connect to spirit (there's no wrong way) and you're body (you're perfect);
- Let your calendar breathe if you’re always back to back; and
- Discover “off time” -- that means no phone, no DOING of anything, just being. It might be new and scary, but you’ll figure it out.
What are 3 practical ways we can take care of ourselves daily? I love me some practical tips, and I REALLY LOVE me some practical magic tips. You're welcome.
– Slow down. Maybe that means starting off with meditation, prayer, self-pleasure, goddess cards, self-pleasure, talking to plants, stretching, cat time, a little dance around the room in your undies, no phone or inbox your first hour (a must!), or just a few deep breaths and setting an intention for the day. Slow down to love up on you.
– Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate. The unique folds of your body, a tree or cloud on your way to work, the feeling of the earth under your feet as you walk, the air in your lungs, this opportunity of being alive right now. Whatever it is, let the appreciation snowball.
– (Re)connect with your inner guide. Get quiet and still, ask, listen, trust what you receive and act from there.
– BONUS: Remember that you already know what’s best for you (aka trust yo’self).
Three books that we should read and re-read? Just three??!! I have a rotation, but here are some all-stars. Rebecca Solnit's "A Field Guide to Getting Lost", Clarissa Pinkola Estes's "Women Who Run with the Wolves", and "Fierce Conversations" by Susan Scott. One is about getting lost (literally and psychically) in order to lose everything you've been taught about yourself and the world so you can write your own story. Another is about all the stories we've been fed and the rediscovering the wildest aspects of our truest nature in order to bring individual and collective liberation. And the last is basically the communication bible for how to powerfully transform your relationships with every conversation. I've been shifted deeply by each of these. If I could squeeze in one more (er, two!), it'd have to be Abraham Hicks Ask and It Is Given or Pam Grout's E-Squared as primers for change-your-reality energy work. Oh, and Alyssa Vitti's Womancode (a total hormonal balance game-changer)!
What’s your guilty pleasure? YA sci-fi shows on Netflix, Grey's Anatomy (says my husband), and blockbustery superhero movies. I love unsweetened chocolate, too. Gross, I know. And I used to practically inhale sheets of nori, like I'd bring it potlucks, and now seaweed snacks are everywhere! I'm clearly a flavor pioneer. Give me baker's chocolate, some sea vegetables and an Avengers movie = I'm in heaven.
Tell us, what inspires you right now? I hope this doesn't sound too ooey-gooey, but EVERYTHING inspires me right now. The land I have the honor of living on and all the little quails, bunnies, snakes, hawks, coyotes and wild creatures and plants who inhabit it. The miracle of prayer-making, being in divine focus, and then watching my greatest desires come to fruitiion -- not always exactly HOW or WHEN I asked for them, of course. My body and her regenerative and communicative powers! My husband and his commitment to his own transformation, surprisingly becoming one of my great teachers. My clients and their willingness to be vulnerable and afraid but committed to living their best lives. My sister tribe and their courage to break systems down and build new ones.
A long time ago I committed to understanding my greatest challenges as opportunities and lessons, so they're inspiration to pay attention. I'm my own living workshop -- everything I do for others I have to do first with myself. My life has to be a constant source of inspiration, otherwise, I wouldn't be authentic to my teachings.
And anything else you would like to share -- I think I hit a lot of stuff here. If there's anything else you want from me, let me know!
Learn more about Dana Balicki at http://danabalicki.com