The third goddess diary comes from my great friend Aylen who I met in Costa Rica and who splits her time between life in the forest there, and New York. We instantly connected on battling the tricky ground that can lie between cultivating a gentle spiritual practise and path of self-enquiry, and the constant energetic demands and frenetic humdrum of city living. Her light hearted and optimistic approach to returning to the urban metropolis always gives me much hope and inspiration and here she shares her own tips for connecting to a more tantric way of living amid the pavements and skyscrapers of the concrete metropolises that so many of us call home.
6 tantric lifestyle practices for healthy urban living
I have lived in NYC for most of my adult life. Having been on a spiritual path for the past 20 years, it still baffles me to think that when I am not in Costa Rica, my respite and second home, I live amongst all this concrete and hustle and bustle.
But the truth of the matter is, I have spent more time walking these mean streets and navigating the subway and crowds than I have on any beach, boat or country ferris wheel. Having explored tantra for the past 10 years, and some sort of spiritual practice for the past 20, I have gathered some wisdom about what it takes to stay on track energetically in the midst of urban sprawl. These words and ways are informed by my life in New York life but they can apply to any urban experience across the globe; if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere – but it truly is up to you.
I make this a number one priority because living a balanced life in a city is all about remembering to enjoy it, and our emotional outlook dictates the reality we experience. If we come to a city and moan and complain that life there is too loud or dirty or over-populated, well then, it will be. In my experience, we don’t come to a city to find ourselves spiritually, and merge with tranquility. We come to a city to live out loud, express, explore, experiment and make connections. that lead us closer to our divine selves. The times I have gotten back from travelling feeling calm, present and healthy, and hit the streets complaining, uncomfortable, wishing for more sun on my face, have in truth just made me miserable.
Because when we fight with reality, we find that it really can only fight back. The first rule is to surrender to what is – whatever and wherever that may be. If we allow ourselves to open up to city life and enjoy the simple truths that we can now access things we would never find anywhere else, eat food we may never find anywhere else, enjoy the most amazing culture and meet people of all shapes and sizes, some of whom are brilliant, ambitious, well-travelled and inspiring, well being there isn’t a limitation but rather endless possibility. Being alive and aligned in the city means enjoying those aspects of it that you really dig, the restaraunts, the activities, the people, and seeking them out to celebrate and relish them. Enjoyment is the key to peace, health, wealth and distraction from the more challenging aspects of life and yet so often we feel guilty about it. It is also our birthright and, I believe, the main reason we were put on this planet. Our innate capacity to enjoy, to celebrate, to love life is a powerful healer and central to the tantric way: do not underestimate its fierce grace.
2. Seek out nature
The main challenge I find living in a city is the lack of nature. We need to do what you can to get our daily or weekly fix and stay tuned, open and in touch with our natural habitat. Often times in the frequency of the city we are so intent on doing what we are here to do, we can lose perspective on what we want from life and what is good for us. Getting out of the noise and traffic and smog is also about getting out of the collective mind that accumulates in us: our minds form a group consciousness and thoughts do travel. When we live with so many other human minds, thinking, calculating and worrying, we can take on that energy more often. So getting out allows us some space to simply collect ourselves, observe our thoughts and gain some much needed perspective. It might not be enough for a normal sane human being but you can make a huge shift in your energy and outlook through walking in city parks or simply getting out of the city into rolling nature. Even 5-10 minutes a day changing your walk to work to pass through a park and simply sitting and breathing (not sitting and checking your phone) will help ease your over-active city buzz. Try and meditate if you can in that healing green or better yet, kick off your shoes and walk through some grass and get on the earth. There are nourishing ions in the earth that travel up your feet and in to your entire system making your soul greener, you step lighter and the lines on your face soften. Nature is the master healer and what our bodies need to balance themselves. And if you can’t get to a park, add some plants to your apartment. They will oxygenise your space and make you happier, I promise; you really feel a shift when you add them and the daily routine of watering of them keeps you connected to nature even in a small way. Wherever you live and whatever you do, just make sure to break out…go to the country whenever you can. Just go – don’t even question it. Retreating from the city is so important and will make you feel so much fresher when you get back in. Or you might decide to move closer to nature… either way you have options!
I know, I know, we busy urban junkies are too busy to sit and do nothing, but that’s exactly why we need to and deep down we know it. Our minds are so over-activated in an urban sprawl that we have to give ourselves time to clean them out. I like to think of it like re-booting your computer: you just have to do it now and then and install the updates. The brain is like this: too much stimulation and it just does not run as effectively. And in the end it ends up running you. Even if you just get in ten minutes a day, it is enough. Something happens when we stop and let the universe in… things get clearer, brilliant solutions come, we remember what is really important in this life, we begin to feel our way again, rather than over think it, we stop wasting time on repetitive or circular thoughts that lead nowhere but to tension. We also calm our nervous systems and boost our immune system. Stress is the greatest disease and meditation is better than any magic pill. Even if you have to go to the bathroom to do it; even if you have to put on your head phones on the subway and close your eyes; even if it’s 5 minutes at the end of your yoga practice. Stop. Collaborate with reality and listen to what is passing through you.
While on one level we are of course breathing all day long, on another, the un-conscious breath is very different than a deeper, more mindful breath. Breathing is one of the top ways we detox toxins in the body and one of the greatest remedies for slowing down and centering. It also puts us in touch with our sensual power and both calms and energizes you if done right. I like to inhale through the nose and exhale out the mouth as a quick means of balancing my yin and yang energies, the female yin being the nostril breath and masculine yang being the mouth. The lovely thing about breathing is that no matter what situation you are in, you can do it without anyone noticing and it is one of the greatest keys to tantra and slowing down. And what I have noticed is if I am in a stressful situation with another person and I start focusing on my breath, they also seems to relax and become more at ease without really knowing what is happening. Breathwork also relaxes you into your body and helps to quieten the mind, allowing you to feel the present moment with all your senses.This can help us in both daily life and intimacy: it really is like magic.
Cry, shout, scream, laugh, shake, sing to the top of your lungs with joy… emotions are the colours of life, the key to a more connected way of living, and without them we are robots. Living in a city requires a certain amount of stimulation and taking in a huge amount of human energy each day. This can affect us on a deep level, and in many unseen ways, but because there is so much of it we barely have time to process it all, and often we are shutting down or numbing out all the stimulus we receive from the outside. This can fill us up to the brim with other people’s dramas and cold to our own deep reserve of human empathy and sensitivity. So making time for regular emotional detox sessions is a vital part of staying well, happy and connected to our inner senses – and sensuality. A great way into this is through breathwork, dance or other emotional release techniques: singing, dancing, acting, painting, writing, anything that allows expression – even if you are not an “artist” just do it for a healthy soul. In my experience, just talking about emotions does not get us feeling and moving through them. When they get block they quickly turn into unhealthy relationships, illness, abundance issues, depression and blocked soul drive. Even if you take the time to turn on your favorite sad music and spend some time alone, it’s so good to get the emotions flowing and release stored feelings and energy. Remember: emotion is just energy in motion.
Exercise the body, shake it up, sweat: movement is one of the greatest healers ever and the key to a more tantric awareness and way of being in the world. Find the thing you love to do that gets you in that zen mind. Whether it’s the gym, walking in the park or all night dancing or yoga, just find the time to connect to your body, sweat and breathe. Not only does exercise improve mood, make your body healthier and sexier, but it also releases toxins through the sweat and breath and gets you into a rhythmic state which can get close to orgasmic ecstasy if you really feel the moment. The other great thing about movement is that it’s often done to music, which as we know is a great lifter of spirits and a door to our senses and sexuality. I also find after exercise I feel smarter and more motivated. Over-exercising is not the game here, but that kind of structured movement where you feel challenged but inspired, not dragging your body into some maniacal gym instructor’s idea of fitness. Healthy movement is when you are connected and feeling your body and enjoying the pleasure of moving it, using it, dropping into its possibilities and letting it release what no longer serves it.
Remember, just because you’re in the city doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected, inspired, energised and i touch with your goddess energy and sensuality: pound those pavements with love and awareness, and bring your bright-eyed divine femininity to every meeting, shop and encounter you enter.
Aylen Lyra Doucette is Breast Health Mentor and Sexual Wellness Coach who used to divide her time between NYC and Costa Rica but is now travelling the world studying women’s healing and dance as well as mentoring and teaching women who want to learn Tantric Lifestyle Practices for Breast Health and Sexual Wellness. You can visit her site www.fiercewomanwellness.com to read more and stay connected. Or you can simply email her: firstname.lastname@example.org. She has dedicated her life to helping women find true healing through Tantric LIfestyle Practices. As an avid dancer and nature lover, her greatest thrill is inspiring women to connect to their bodies via dance, breathwork, education and community. Her support is from the heart, research backed and deeply embodied.
Illustration by Isabel Mariposa Galactica