Podcast Episode 4-Natalia from Skin at Heart

Tune in to the love fest special with my guest, the beautiful soul, Natália Costa. She is an inspiring former engineer who went through a very admirable beautiful shift that began with solo travel (sound familiar?!). She is the ultimate bad ass chick, just wait until you hear where her journey has taken her!

Natália and I discuss conscious vs. unconscious humans, how our culture influences unconscious behavior, the rat race of “the matrix” in Western society, and how our societies ideals and standards limit us in striving for our greater purpose.

She shares her breakthroughs in arrival to consciousness, and the revolution of her blog Skin at Heart- A World of Wellness; where she writes about multiple facets of holistic beauty from the inside out. She writes about everything from essential oils, Quigong, yoga, books, art, and so much more! Check out Skin at Heart to see for yourself. She even writes everything in English and Portuguese!

Podcast Episode 3: Matt

My friend Matt Waxman just won The World Poker Tour’s Tournament of Champions in Vegas! Yay, you go homie! I was lucky enough to have him as my first male guest on The Beautiful Shift Podcast. We recorded this the day of our teacher training graduation. 

We cover a variety of topics including poker, Vegas, and Burning Man. We discuss adult creativity, being a student of life, his competitive nature, and the true meaning of yoga. We get distracted by wild dogs on the beach, and go on many random tangents, but he has amazing life lessons to share! Check out his Beautiful Shift now! 

“I’m always thinking about the world and reality and I always feel like there’s just some big secret that I just need to know the answer to. Almost like some cheat code for a video game. So I’m always just thinking like:

‘What is it? What’s the answer? What am I supposed to be doing with my life?’ 

You know? And I get stressed out. And I think I’ve had plenty of revelations where I am just like, “Ohhh, I understand now.”….Matt and one of the dogs that was hanging around us the whole time we recorded

Matt and I looking like we just adopted a child together 

Podcast Episode 2: Nuria and Tennille 

An inspiring conversation with a couple who is working to overcome societies prejudices together. We discuss the truth about what it is like to travel with a significant other, how they have grown together as well as individually, and how they are cultivating self love and acceptance.  “Living in the moment. Don’t be attached to the past, don’t be attached to the future. Don’t be worried about what is going to happen because that is never going to happen. We’re right here.” -Nuria

“In our world we kind of said: It’s not ok to be who you are. Try to be something, and someone else. I think when you feed into that then ya, you will get insecure about things, about yourself. But, when you just take a step back and you’re like, you know what, I’m beautiful! How I am is how I am and there is an infinite power there that loves me as I am, because they made me as I am.” -Tennille 

Conscious Self vs. Self Conscious

I don’t know what age it is when women begin to feel insecure about their bodies. Some would say it is around puberty. We start comparing ourselves to others, enthralled in what the “perfect” woman should look like, and trying to be her. 

This goes on for many years, maybe even forever? Oh please, tell me it isn’t true!

Like most women, I’ve battled with feeling the need to fit an ideal, while also trying to just be myself. Most of my adult life I haven’t truly been present in my body, like an outsider looking in-wondering what I needed to do next to be happy.

Conscious body awareness has brought me to a place where I am comfortable in my own skin. But it hasn’t always been this way.

There was a time where I was always deflecting from the fact that I wasn’t present in my skin or completely happy with who I was. I’ve always been confident, but looking back I can see the periods in my life I wasn’t entirely myself. Spending so much time unaware of how to listen to my inner voice and actually do what I needed to do to be healthy.

When we are young we have a strong conscious awareness of our bodies because we are so active. Being enrolled in gymnastics, dance, karate, or basketball- I was always moving. All of these activities kept me fit and physically in tune.

College is when habits changed dramatically, especially after turning 21. This is when the mornings were for hangovers, the afternoons were for naps, and the evenings were for getting ready for the wild night ahead. I was still always on the go, but in a new way. Not in a healthy way. Eating and drinking to fill voids, Floating above myself, hoping to wake up one day and just fall into being the person I always wanted to be. Not that I had any idea who she was. 

Working in the beauty industry has been so much fun. I still love everything about playing around with fun cosmetic colors, and I enjoy making women feel like their best selves. But, there is also a duel side to working in a superficial industry. Since I was constantly being critiqued about the way that I looked, I always felt the need to be fully dolled up. I lost sight of who I was at the core, underneath all the foundation and eyeliner. My love for cosmetics got to the point where I was using makeup as a mask for my unhappiness, I wasn’t just enhancing what I already loved. It got so bad in one phase I couldn’t even leave the the house without my hair extensions and a smokey eye look. I cultivated this new “self”, but was never ok with just being the natural me. 

The truth about my hair extensions is; at first they were a security blanket. They were purchased after I ended a three year relationship that brought me about 15 extra pounds along with it. Being so unhappy with my reflection, changing up my look felt like the right move. Something about those extra inches of hair made me feel like I was somewhat concealing the weight as well as my unhappiness. I thought I was just enhancing, but was really camouflaging the parts I wasn’t happy with. I knew I had to do something to feel good again. 

Exactly one year later I found myself thinner than ever. I didn’t just wake up that way…I turned to diet pills. I was on amphetamines for probably a good six months that year. NOT ADVISED. The quick fix felt amazing, until it became clear I was depriving myself of nutrition. Not only was I crash dieting on drugs, but partying every single weekend shaking my new body wherever possible. Actions became robotic, like someone was controlling me with a remote. I just traded my old habit of overeating for a new one-hardly ever eating. Slowly becoming skinnier and skinner, blonder and blonder, as the old me disappeared completely. 

It was on my travels abroad two years ago that I was finally able to connect to the real me. Becoming comfortable with the idea that I could be Tyguenne without the hair, makeup, and wardrobe. No one I met in Bali or Thailand was concerned with what brand I was wearing. No one looked at me side eyed because I wasn’t wearing makeup. No one cared that my hair was air dried and not brushed. I felt like for the first time in a long time I could be in my own skin and not be judged.Traveling opened this door for me to be myself, because I was surrounded by people that were doing the same thing. Our surroundings are very important for maintaining our healthy or unhealthy habits. We can’t control everything in our environment, but there are factors we can influence. The people we surround ourselves with, and the choices we make every day can lead us in a healthy or unhealthy direction as quickly as a blink of an eye. 

My travels also opened me up to meditation which played a huge role in my arriving into myself again. Finally being present with the true essence of my being, not just who I imagined myself to be. 

It was at this time I also discovered yoga as a powerful tool in being present with myself. Connecting with my body in a way that made me aware of parts of me I had ignored for those few years. Attending a yoga class gave me 90 minutes of “me” time, time that I hadn’t been giving myself previously. 

Yoga and meditation have all helped me descend back into my body and be truly present. Now I see my body shifting as I continue to push through my physical edge, challenging myself to be the best I can be-for me. More recently I ditched my weave and push up bra. I still love the ability to enhance and play-but its so different now that I am finally aware of me, and welcoming her with open arms.

Every single day I feel myself arriving more present into my body. When I am getting my daily meditation, exercise, clean food, and surrounding myself with positivity I am fully in my skin. That is where I intend to stay. 

Podcast Episode 1: Vipassana Experince-The Second Time Around 

My first official full length podcast is here! Listening to this the other day I had the intense urge to re record it. Gosh how awkward can I be?! 

Hearing the sound of my voice is going to take some getting used to. I stumbled over my words, I repeated myself, I got robotic….

Ahhh, here I go with the self judgment and unnecessary insecurities. Screw it, here I am in my raw form. Take it or leave it! 

Contriving and re recording could have absolutely resulted in a better product, but it wouldn’t be real. Since I am working on presenting the authentic ME to the world….here ya go!This is an episode based off my journals from my Vipassana mediation retreat-Discussing what resonated with me the second time visiting a Buddhist monastery. 

Keeping a journal isn’t encouraged in Vipassana, but I felt it was important to track my thoughts and insights as they came to me. 

I could go on, and on about the different facets of each insight. There is so much more to discuss in terms of these lessons, but not without making this a three hour podcast! I’ll elaborate of some of these common themes throughout the progression of later episodes. I’ll also touch on the even more profound lessons form my first retreat. Until then…

Enjoy! 

Zen AF 

I am zen as fuck. Well, at least I am trying to be. Let me be clear, I will not be running away to a Buddhist monastery tomorrow to become a nun. I am working on being zen as fuck so I can live to my life as happy as humanly possible. 

The past two years have been an active mission in finding my inner peace. I have been working to create a new reality for myself after realizing my previous habits were not serving my greater purpose. I have drastically shifted my life from waiting for things to happen to me, to putting everything I have ever wanted into action. I have harnessed my inner strength, and followed my intuition to get me to where I am today. 

The event that really sparked this change for me was opening up my world to new experiences while traveling abroad. 

On my first solo international travel adventure I stumbled across something that took my personal shift to the next level-I visited a Vipassana mediation retreat in Koh Phangan, Thailand. 

Vipassana is an ancient meditation technique, and it means “to see things as they are.” It is the practice of mindfulness, being completely in the moment.I spent ten days at a Buddish monestary, seven of those days in complete silence. 

Before attending the retreat I had been dabbling in mediation. I was reading some books here, and there.

See Wherever You Go, There You Are for one of my favorite books

I had been attempting to practice my sitting mediation on my own without much instruction, thinking I was mediating, but not realizing just how deep I could really go. 

I was so green going in. After spending ten days focusing on nothing but meditation at the retreat, I finally reached new peaks I doubt I would have ever reached on my own. 

I arrived at the retreat blissfully ignorant, and I truly left feeling more awakened after a very powerful ten days.  

Since then, I have lived my life so differently after being consciously aware of my unhealthy attachments. Realizing I don’t need a lot of things to be happy. 

I learned how to take back full control over my mind, rather than letting my mind control me. I now know I can train my mind to be blissfully happy, not letting silly things affect me like they used to. I am in complete control of my own happiness. Nothing from the outside world can bother me unless I allow it.The silence part of the retreat was key in learning that I needed to consciously try to choose my words more carefully, not giving into the habit of talking just to talk. Knowing that beautiful things happen in silence, and there is nothing awkward or scary about it.

Words should be two things- true and useful. I didn’t realize how much bullshit we all really do spew on a daily basis until I spent time in silence. 

Because this place affected me so greatly the first time, I decided to try it again this month. Although I was at the same setting, I had a completely different experience, in every way possible. This was a blessing and I am so grateful for the lessons I learned this time around. 

I want to give a glimpse into what the ten days actually looked like, because I want everyone to be zen AF! I highly recommend anyone who has the chance to try out a mediation retreat. 

I attended a reatreat that stripped us down to the basics. True Vipassana centers run on a donation basis, so you are not required to pay anything outrageous. The idea is-you donate so that others can continue to experience Vipassana too. With that being said, it is key to realize that you are sacrifing any luxuries you may receive at a hotel on the beach, like an actual matress or air con, for example. 

In our group about fifteen attendees out of forty five ending up leaving early because they were not prepared for the condition of the facilities, or the difficulty of the intense structure. So this is a real look into what it was like so you can decide if you are up for the challenge! 

It looks intense. It was intense. It is not glamorous. It is not for the faint of heart (hello giant spider roommates). But it works. It is powerful. And it can get you zen AF. 

Daily schedule:

4:00 – 4:30 am Wake-up bell

4:30 – 5:15 am Sitting meditation

5:15 – 6:15 am Chanting / Mindful Yoga

6:15 – 7:00 am Sitting meditation

07:00 – 08:30 am Breakfast / Chores / Bathing

8:30 – 9:30 am Meditation instructions

9:30 – 10:15 am Walking meditation

10:15 – 11:00 am Sitting meditation

11:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch / Rest / Open Awareness

1:00 – 1:45 pm Sitting meditation

1:45 – 02:30 pm Walking meditation

2:30 – 3:30 pm Dhamma teaching

3:30 – 4:15 pm Walking meditation

4:15 – 5:00 pm Sitting meditation

5:00 – 6:30 pm Drinks / Interviews / Bathing

6:30 – 7:30 pm Chanting / Metta

7:30 – 8:15 pm Walking meditation

8:15 – 9:00 pm Sitting meditation

09:00 – 09:30 pm Q&A (optional) / Sleep

If you read that and noticed “dinner” doesn’t exist, it is not a mistake. We ate a simple vegetarian breakfast and lunch, and fasted the rest of the day and night. This was a little difficult for me both times around. I would often find my meditations turning into food wet dreams, it was definitely a distraction at times.

The first few days are difficult, but you realize food is such a habit, or social event as opposed to eating when we actually need to. This style of diet made me feel so amazing and clear, I wish I had enough willpower to implement it in my daily life. 

I also accepted the challenge of fasting for a whole day and it helped me recognize how much food really does have a hold on my mind. I was never actually starving, my mind was just telling me I was because I couldn’t go eat spring rolls and noodles whenever I wanted. I praise the few students that fasted for a full five days, I am thouroughly impressed! 

Here is what the accomodation was like:I started out in a two person dorm, which is basically a small concrete box. A few days in I was blessed with the luxury of moving into my own wooden cabin since an older woman decided to leave early because the set up was not for her. The plus side was more space. The downside was a half open roof and many holes in the structure leading to unwanted houseguests-HUGE spiders, even larger geckos, and lovely cockroaches.I had my own space for about two days until I had my favorite houseguest: Thaila. She spent a few nights sleeping on my floor, and a few nights sharing that twin sized foam mattress with me. We had some hilarious adventures together. Although, we spent most of our time plopped in front of the fan trying to keep from dying of heat stroke. Last time, I spent the entire retreat in silence. This time, my silence was broken day three when Thalia came to me for advice, and we bonded so NOT in silence the rest of the retreat. There were a few others, who will not be named, that I chatted with too. We always had deep conversations about our learnings and our struggles, and it was amazing to connect on a deep level in such an intense setting. 

I discovered that creating meaningful relationships is more important to me than my own inner silence, and I loved learning that one. This was great, because it gave me a realistic setting for mediation. In the real world it’s rare we get even two seconds of silence, let alone seven days. 

Now let’s talk about the bucket showers. Ah, the bucket showers. I have touched on this before in my previous post “Princess” Life, but there is no way I could skip over the bucket showers here. There is a need for multiple showers a day with the crazy, humid, heat in Thailand. Not to mention the dress code is strict and you must cover shoulders and knees in loose fitting clothing at all times, so you’re not in ideal clothing for the climate. There is no shower head, no running water….see for yourself. Despite the lack of award worthy amenities, when you are zen AF it doesn’t matter. The point is, nothing can phase you when you’re actively in control of your mind. True bliss is possible separate from all the fancy frills of material attachments. 

This time around we had the great privilege of joining the monk down the hill to the village for his morning food offerings. It is a monks’ duty to go down to the villagers every morning at 6am and collect food offerings and in return he offers blessings. We trailed silently behind and just observed. The food the monk collects will be the only food he consumes for the day. Usually he had so much food he would share with us or the other monks. It was cool to see the beauties in the Thai culture, and how generous all the villagers were. I could go on, and on about the facilities of the retreat. I can talk even longer about the insight I gained in those ten days. The moral of the story is-I highly recommend attending a mediation retreat. I also recommend researching and understanding the intensity of the program and going when you feel you are ready. If you have any questions please feel free to comment and I’ll answer! 

So much love and gratitude to the amazing group of beautiful souls I had the pleasure of meeting! Want to know more? Stay tuned for a podcast where I read from my journal about some of the insights that came to me during my mediation and lectures at the retreat.