~On becoming a Woman

A story of how individual healing can help us embody a more conscious & pluralistic society

I felt really connected to the celebration of International Women’s day this year, as I’ve taken the quest of becoming a woman really seriously. To write about my own psychology in challenging moments, is perhaps an attempt to explore the conflicts that the feminine role encounters in the reconstruction of the world. By finding my own language and articulation of the dilemmas of embodying my shifting values, I reclaim our feminine story and allow for my personal story of healing, to become a pathway for others to heal themselves and their relationships.

We are entering an era of relational spirituality. Persons become persons through relationship with other persons. One can develop emotionally, interpersonally and psychosexually, only when engaging in mutual co-inquiry: two people discussing options and deciding actions to transform their personhood, their society and their planet.

This is the story of how I’ve learned to navigate the complexities of individuating as a creative woman in the 21st century. I ask myself these questions frequently, and as a social being in the path of becoming, I ask them to every person I engage in deep conversation with, and it’s in this mutual inquiry that I begin to find the answers within me.

How do I become myself? Now that I have the freedom to choose my own path, liberated from the past conditioning and excited about affecting the future in positive ways, what do I need to do to fully embody my essence?
How to begin the construction of a new life chapter after a conscious separation? How do I find my role in the transformation of the world? and how do I make sense of the complex multi-cultural world we are living and find coherence inside of all the dimensions of my life?

As someone who works in the field of transformation (both at the personal and spiritual level, as well as the cultural and systemic), I feel a certain duty to share my personal journey of healing and maturing. It’s in the process of writing that I make meaning of it. And my hope is that by sharing it with you, I contribute to the global awakening of conscious leadership. By examining our collective shadows and embracing our full humanity (both light and dark), we can begin to evolve towards a more pluralistic and integral version of our futures, as men and women trying to thrive in our multicultural, secular, digital economies.

In this article I write about navigating the juicy dilemmas of being a human: love, power & spirituality. So grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and read me till the end please, as my exploration of our shifting values is complex and quite intimate. Also know that I acknowledge I am still in process of becoming. These words, which have cost me tears, do not represent my ultimate truth, and are simply an attempt to make meaning and open a conversation with you who read me with care.

Last year I traveled the world alone, without a plan, little savings and weak emotional and mental health. If you follow me on social media it might’ve looked like golden adventures, but deep inside, I was mourning my divorce, struggling with existential crisis and rebelling against the pressure to mature, settle down and commit to my path. My adventurous self wanted to continue experiencing life outside of the conventional and sniff the edges of global culture, meet wonderful new people, and feel alive again after a painful separation. I had been too immersed working in a field not aligned with soul’s path, consulting to create meaningless products in the pervasive alpha male driven tech bubble in San Francisco, which slowly crushed my artistic self and made me too masculine and heady.

So what to do when everything you felt was a foundation in your life, all of a sudden falls apart? How do you begin a new chapter of your life story?

So I gave myself ‘the gift of space and freedom’ to go wherever I wanted. I adventured into the world to reconnect with my passion for the sacred arts, attending conferences and music festivals, visiting museums and meeting artists, healers and activists. I took massage, dance, yoga and tantra workshops, read dozens of books and dedicated my time to write poetry, do art and host embodiment workshops. Yes, I was having a blast and cultivating my fragile heart with novelty, wisdom and social encounters, yet my soul was aching. I was terribly lost. The heavy desperateness of not knowing who I was anymore, immobilized me every morning with bloody tears and tormentous anxiety attacks.

After leaving the creative business my partner and I had built together, I found myself completely alone in the world, without a home, a plan and a vision. I was deeply missing the relational creative dialogue that kept my sense of self going. In past relationships, I used to operate under the old paradigm, where I adapted my personality to meet my partner’s demands. Like a chameleon, I took on his vision and his dreams as mine. I moved cultures and changed language. And even adapted my wardrobe to meet his personal aesthetics. This time I had gone too far. And had to leave the relationship to find my true self.

Spiritual authority is found in the exercise of a deep kind of inner discrimination, where human autonomy and divine animation marry.

For the first time in my life, I had to really examine my life values and find my purpose, my motivations, my reason to exist. But how would I do this on my own, if I felt a raw hollow void inside my heart? I lacked the clarity to formulate myself a plan and begin constructing a life of my own.

Could I remember who I really am? Would I be able to recognize my essence? How would I learn to listen to my soul’s desires?

This is when the journey towards my essence began. After experiencing a complete darkness of the soul, I reconstructed little by little my sense of self and collected the pieces of a broken heart. This is when the real spiritual work began for me. When I got rid of all the pre-constructed facets of my personality and the masks that the ego had built to navigate society. I let go of the crystallized identities of calling myself a ‘designer’, a ‘yoga teacher’, an ‘innovation consultant’, a ‘Mexican’ or a ‘loyal wife’. Instead, I traveled the world with one bag, presence and a smile, trusting that my higher self would be able to emerge, guiding me throughout this miraculous path of self-healing.

Humility and acceptance allowed me to find in moments of stillness, the unique essential qualities that make me who I am. It was in this darkest period that I learned to develop a close relationship to spirit, to my guides and the universal elemental patterns present in nature that guide our evolution.

~Embracing my shadow after divorce

Unpacking the heaviness inside of me was the only task I could focus for several months. There was shame, anger, guilt, regret and fear implanted deep inside my emotional body. My mind was foggy and my soul weak. I couldn’t think clearly, so how could I even dare to envision a new chapter of my life in the midst of all this emotional turmoil? There was very little creative fuel left inside of me. So I went back to my body and listened within. Aided by the intuitive resources that I cultivated in my 10-year path of practicing yoga, meditation and studying psychology and the human mind, I deconstructed my own shadow and trusted I was beginning to rebirth. I engaged in a myriad of healing and coaching modalities. And it was also through engaging in conscious relating with different partners, exploring the subtle energy body, psycho somatic awareness and spiritual inquiry that I regained perspective and insight into my true nature.

The natural thing to do after a breakup is to blame ‘the other’ for what went wrong. Thanks to Caroline Myss’s book Energy Anatomy, I was able to recognize the places where I had to assume responsibility for my actions in order to mature and heal, as things are not done to us, but in fact we create our own reality. I began the study of my energy body, the psychology of the chakras, particularly focusing on healing my sexual energy center (second chakra) and my center of conscious will or power (third chakra).

~ Mourning ~ | Photo by Daniel N. Johnson

~Center of Willpower (third chakra)

I had been living like an addict in a codependent relationship. It was shocking to read in Caroline Myss’s book the description that showed how needy, manipulative and controlling I had been. As I tried to figure out how to make our fragile relationship work, I was repeating the same mistakes I saw my mother and other traditional women do: I merged all aspects of myself with him, and worked under his authority without room for clear co-operation in decision-making.

I didn’t know how to set healthy energetic and emotional boundaries with him in order to protect my sense of individuality and self-reliance. So I had to assume my own immature behavior and began to write my new code of honor, releasing myself from the old beliefs and the traditional mentality and social conditioning that no longer served me.

It was painful to acknowledge that all along, I was unconsciously driven to get married influenced by my familial-socio-political circumstance, more than my own willpower. We adopted the role of the traditional marriage archetype due to pressures of the external system, instead of from a deeply autonomous spiritual alignment.

The guilt for having rushed our young love into marriage, to comply with my mother’s religious guilt pressure, as well as with the immigration requirements that the system imposes on foreigners living in the US, was an issue so above my will at that time. I was acting from mere unconscious inertia. Paralyzed in victim mentality, I didn’t have sovereignty over my own destiny, and had to comply with my situation as it was. And it was truly painful. The worst anxiety was felt in the top of the stomach, right where the lungs meet the diaphragm, the center of the solar plexus. I would feel like the weight of an elephant sitting on top of me, obstructing my capacity to breathe; or worse, that a vacuum cleaner was sucking all my healthy life force.

During my travels, I interviewed many multi-cultural couples in their late twenties and thirties about their shifting values. We are all asking similar questions: What is the role of a life partner? Do we heal together or separate? How to continue developing a healthy sense of self while committing to partnership? How to lead flourishing open relationships? What is the way to radical love, when we have different worldviews?

We have so many dimensions of ourselves, it’s a bit absurd to think that only one partner will satisfy all our needs forever and that we will do the same for our partner’s fulfillment, yet navigating the terrain of open relationships and polyamory requires a lot of conscious communication and a strong sense of self, with the capacity to set emotional and energetic boundaries.

I truly wonder, how can we construct new types of social agreements that are peaceful, based on trust, respect, love and expansion?, not on constraint, guilt or shame, clinging and controlling.

Listening from within | Photo by Daniel N. Johnson

~Second Chakra (Center of Sexuality & Creativity)

One of the toughest parts of this process has been to deal with the shame and pain of acknowledging that my ex-partner suffered from pornography addiction. It caused tremendous insecurities in me, as I felt like I wasn’t enough. It also made me question my role as a healer and life partner as I inherently believe in transformation and trust in the power of therapy, spiritual coaching and establishing healthy habits, but with him, I got triggered and couldn’t be of service.

For years I tried to helped him heal, researching the topic at length, identifying therapists in the field, documentaries, books and online forums. My moral support seemed to weigh on him more like a burden, and my demands to be treated like a goddess were perceived as an imposition, and not as a tantric invitation for authentic and sacred relating. I detached from the role of the healer, and let him take action at his own rhythm and choice. Of course, I felt sad that I couldn’t help him, as addiction requires the help of a professional therapist; I was angry at him for not meeting his word when he relapsed, and frustrated because I was not being intimately met the way I knew it is possible.

But as we know, our partners are mere mirrors of ourselves. I had bonded with someone who was mentally sick, because I was also suffering from a split inside of me. I was way too much in my head and in my masculine and had very little knowledge on how to live from the heart center.

We shared fleeting glimpses of sexual chemistry and didn’t speak the same language of embodied love, what united us was merely the mental realm.

With him I created beautiful things and he expanded my mind in many dimensions. He exposed me to scientific thought, spiritual philosophy, astronomy, design theory and cultural anthropology, and at that point of my development, that seemed to have had more significance and served my personal and professional growth in enormous ways.

Looking back, now I see that investigating his addiction through societal and spiritual perspectives, has helped me empathize with him as a man who’s been a byproduct of the first generation of humans to have access to uncensored internet at all times since he was 9 years old. Today, millions of Millennials are suffering not only from pornography addiction, but technology addiction. This is a serious epidemic in America and the world, and we need to start talking about it. “We are making extensions of our beings, like remote ears, eyes and voice and expanded memory; the world of information online is available all the time in our fingertips, with no censorship or moral filters.” So do we ever ask ourselves if we have actually understood the psycho-spiritual effect our technologies have in people’s lives?

Becoming | by Daniel N. Johnson

Being a person is a quest, a mystery, a leap of faith. And having ideals is important in the world of technology. I’ve been personally impacted by the technology addiction phenomenon, and I can only imagine how awful millions of women must feel, who live with partners or children who are also addicted to their devices and the invisible universes embedded within them. Devices that take over the attention of our loved ones, their brains possessed by instant gratification, and not the warm touch of a hand in the skin or a simple eye gaze in silence. I am sure that the rise of embodiment and meditation practices is an ancient antidote to this modern epidemic, and I will continue to research this topic in my practice.

One year later after our separation, my ex-partner and I have a respectful friendship. I’m happy to see that he’s making serious progress towards healing. Taking on therapy and with a conscious intention to be more in his body, by meditating, dancing and looking at his body as a sacred temple. He’s even started a project to help other men overcome their addiction to porn. Check out The Ulysses Pact. His persistence and courage is deeply inspiring to me and gives me strength to continue sharing this path of conscious sexuality and embodiment.

Healing the womb | by Daniel N. Johnson

Somatic investigations of the energy body

Healing our relationship to our sexuality is an essential part of becoming whole and mature. And yet, talking about sexual trauma is still a taboo in many aspects of our society, and there are very few spaces where we can explore and heal these issues openly.

After the separation, my body was slightly traumatized. The lack of subtle energetic awareness that was present throughout our intimate life had left my body tense and in pain, yearning for deeper sacred connection. So I made my healing my utmost priority, as one of my main life values is to treat my body as a sacred temple.

I consciously explored my sexuality through multiple dimensions (psychotherapy, ancient tantric philosophy, bio-energetic massage, sensuality and diversity of conscious and fun relationships). I encourage you to investigate with care and awareness, as it is indeed a very vulnerable and courageous exploration that requires trust, respect, communication and high ethics. These are some of the practices I engaged in, may they serve your expansion.

Tantric perspective of feminine — masculine evolution

While my time in SF, Bali and Berlin, I researched the best communities to learn with:

These practices liberated me into a blissful state of presence and they influenced the way I understand the energy frequency of authentic relating from a healthy second chakra.

There was a fundamental shift in my inner dialogue. I switched from being a victim, to being an active creator of my everyday reality. And I began to trust again in the power and intelligence of my sacred body. I began to recognize the flavor of faith and the blessings of prayer. By leaning into the raw emotions inside of my womb with somatic investigations and meditations, I unraveled and released many of the stock emotions and psychological patterns hidden deep inside my energy body.

~ Healing and creating, one same path

I’ve been blessed to also explore this healing path through the work I do, my service to the world. Next to Erica Jago, my soulful friend and co-creator, we’ve partnered to create LA MAR to investigate together the depths of the second chakra, as a means to understand & heal our relationships, our sexuality, our emotions and clear the confusion and pain that our past relationships had caused us. For both of us, Yoga is not just the asana poses, Yoga is a path of transformation, and we are drawn to create a safe space for our students to dive deep within, and heal our physical, emotional and subtle bodies together.

In preparation for La Mar Yoga retreat Erica and I would write to each other really long emails sharing our own views around sexuality, childhood memories, things that made us uncomfortable about ourselves, traumas and desires that we held deep inside. We also created the blog Cultivating Spirit Flow where we deposit links and inspiration around healing the second chakra, psychology of creativity, sensuality and pleasure.

“Every time I open up sexually, I get the deepest insights back, they are divine moment of raw sacredness and I love giving myself, sharing my presence in the flesh. Yet it is rare that I have true delicious orgasms. I feel as if I still have some sort of blockage I need to break through….”
“… My blockage is not the orgasm, my blockage is with understanding my own sensual self and letting go of shame and giving myself permission to feel deeply.”
“… While we are together in retreat, we will promise to love each and every imperfection of our sacred bodies, your wrinkles and my cellulite, your bootie and my stretch marks, because that is what shows that we are alive and thriving in this ever unfolding life mystery. And as much as we embrace our age, the sexier energy we will exude.”

Now that I’m planning the second retreat around of the same exploration, it feels like a completely different facet, I feel I’ve transformed enormously and I’m at the peak of my womanhood ❤ ! I feel radically alive, inspired, healthy, confident, sensual and free. And very much empowered to continue spreading this with other women.

~Embodying the Divine

I now experience deep soulful connection with full body orgasms, mind blowing conversations and heartfelt intimacy. A very important part of this journey of becoming a woman has been to reconnect with the divine goddess energy inside of me. Through this practice I’ve been able to enact my feminine power. Devotional meditative states helped me realize that I am a vessel for the physical manifestation of the goddess, and that I can invoke specific archetypical qualities to live through me, elevate my energy frequency and attract only conscious individuals to relate with that will respect me and add positive lessons to my journey and become active co-creators of magic with me. For visual inspiration see the collage I created on Embodying the Goddesses.

A collage on Archetypal visions: The Future is Female by SierrayMar

I began by connecting with Yemanja, the afro-Brazilian goddess of the sea, who cleanses the heart and balances the earth with the heavens, then Nefertiti & Isis, the powerful ruler, alchemist, farsighted creator of the universe, then Durga & Kuan Yin as the healer, soft, compassionate frequency & Coatlicue, to invoke my native roots, close to nature's rhythms.

Invoking Yemanja, Brazilian Goddess of the Sea | photo by Daniel N. Johnson
This practice has given me back the power that I needed to heal and step out of depression, trust in life, step into my higher creativity, my healing capacities and essentially, feel back the joy & bliss of being alive in this beautiful body. I’ve opened the ‘well of wellbeing’ inside of me that comes from the waters of the second chakra.

I came to a point of clarity that I am indeed a healer, an artist, a teacher and visionary. Through my practice I want to help others remember the sacred vehicle that we inhabit: our bodies. I am committed to continue living my life as laboratory for consciousness and spiritual expansion:

  • To create practical pathways for living a spiritual life in the digital era.
  • To discover the diversity of healing techniques, and integrate disciplines and expose people to my learnings.
  • To heal myself and share my healing journey to help others awaken to the creative life.

As a free-spirited woman, single at 30, in complete ownership of my energy, in balance of my feminine and my masculine and eager to continue investigating the depths of our human evolution, I hope that by sharing the synthesis of methods and experiences I’ve used to heal, can help you and others in this path of becoming whole and authentic.

May these reflections inspire you to own your truth and begin to lead a life that is free and soulful and creative, and sexually healthy, no longer surpassed by religion, by social conditioning, by men that impose their rules, or women that project their shame and their guilt, or a society that limits your expression. The better future starts now.