I’m moving into 2018 feeling a bit bruised but expansively joyful. 2017 presented me with huge opportunities for mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. I know I’m not alone in this experience, as 2017 was a turbo-charged emotional rollercoaster for many others in my life.
In this post, I’m sharing five tools and practices I used in 2017 which significantly impacted my transformation.
1. I gave up coffee
A scroll through your Facebook feed may give you the impression that coffee is the ultimate superfood. I’ve seen frequent headlines promoting the health benefits of coffee, including its protective effects against type 2 diabetes, prostrate cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Each time I came across a piece of research in favor of coffee, I felt jubilant, as if I was outsmarting my intuition. Intuitively, I felt addicted to my morning cuppa and I knew I was reliant on it.
This year, my acupuncturist encouraged me to break my coffee habit. According to his energetic perspective, coffee has an effect of raising our energy to our mental functions, and inhibiting the circulation of subtle energy throughout the body. It’s not so much the caffeine but the oils in coffee that do it. I’ve heard a similar philosophy from my friend who is an Ayurvedic practitioner. Being interested in all things subtle energy, this theory intrigued me.
I knew that my daily coffee habit pushed my body aggressively and artificially. I wanted to experience the truest state of my body. If that meant feeling fatigued in the morning, so be it. I now trust my body enough to let it speak to me, and I didn’t want to mask its language with a stimulant.
I am not a petri dish in a controlled scientific experiment. So, I can’t isolate a single variable like quitting coffee and credit it with a specific result. I can, however, notice some correlations.
This year, I started my mornings with tea instead of coffee. I noticed a quieter, more grounded sense of being in my body. The shift was subtle, cumulative, and difficult to articulate. But I do believe this energetic shift supported work I did this year, which included writing two manuscripts. These manuscripts required a deep connection to my intuition, as the content came more from creative realms rather than mental knowledge or research.
Now, I have a cup of coffee perhaps once a week. I do it on mornings when I consciously choose to orient my energy outward instead of inward. This is usually the day when I attend to administrative work rather than creative work. Now, after breaking my coffee habit, I feel this distinct energy shift when I have a cup.
2. I practiced the KonMari Method
Marie Kondo wrote The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book which launched a global movement to clear clutter. This book introduces a simple practice: asking yourself, Does this thing in my life spark joy?
Many people who use the Kon Marie method transition to a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism does not mean a cold and scarce space, it means a functional and thoughtful space. I went through each corner, drawer, and cupboard in my home and realized the amount of extraneous clutter… and I am an extremely tidy person to begin with.
While the question Does this spark joy? is first applied to material belongings, it eventually becomes neuroplasticity — a new brain pathway which may become habitual. When you practice asking yourself this question of things, it can lead you to ask this question in other areas of your life.
After practicing the KonMari method, I felt the experience Marie sees with countless clients. I felt psychically, spiritually, and emotionally lighter. I also developed a deeper sense of gratitude and connection to each object in my home. This, I argue, is the opposite of materialism. Soulful acknowledgment of the beauty around us means we feel fulfilled with what we have, instead of living in the vacuum of I need more!
I believe the KonMari method offers significant humanitarian and global consequences. It provides a way to identify and end our addiction to mindless materialism. When we carefully consider each object we purchase, we move towards sustainability instead of ecosystem-destroying consumerism.
3. I got really serious about affirmations
If you follow me on instagram, you know that I go heavy-duty on affirmations. I consider the walls and mirrors in my home as a canvas for words that shape my mindset.
Nearly every wall in my home offers a reminder of how I want to feel: powerful, joyful, and creative. I consider affirmations tool for building new neuroplasticity for more effective thought patterns and emotional habits.
Affirmations are an ongoing practice. Consider them as gym equipment. You can’t buy a tredmill, never use it, and expect to tone your muscles. You have to use the tredmill.
You have to use the affirmations, too. Each time I look in the mirror and see my affirmation written in dry erase pen, I say it to myself. Saying it out loud, while looking into my eyes, makes it more powerful.
I also give myself affirmation pep talks… literally. When I feel overwhelmed with an emotion, such as anxiety or anger, I start speaking to myself like I would speak to someone I love. I consider it my soul speaking to the confused human Lauren. It often sounds like this:
Lauren, darling, I love you and everything is going to be okay. I know life feels really f-ing difficult right now, but you’re doing life so well! Everything you feel is okay. I love you. I love you so much. I’m taking care of you in the midst of this challenge.
4. I started a mastermind group
I spent much of my life feeling deeply lonely. I had always felt an arms-length away from my peers, feeling at once older and younger than them. Due to many circumstances, including a sheltered upbringing and being chronically ill, I felt ashamed by my lack of life experience and independence I saw in my peers. At the same time, I always had one foot in the soul world and felt disinterested in the shallow desires and gossip among many of my peers.
In 2017, I decided I felt estranged not because of circumstances, but because of my own actions. So I changed my actions and started finding my tribe. I wanted connect with individuals who shared my passion for entrepreneurship and soul growth.
I initiated a monthly Mastermind group to connect with these people. At first, the group consisted of three people. We met in my living room once a month and shared an area of our expertise, such as online marketing, communication, or delegation.
Now, this group has grown into a circle of powerful individuals who support each other. It’s a community of encouragement rather than competition. We continue to support each other through significant life changes and business growth.
5. I told the truth
In the last couple of months, the weight of years lifted off of me. Because I began telling the truth about a significant relationship.
I’ve spent the last few years in an abusive, manipulative relationship. But I didn’t know that until recently. I knew that my relationship felt tight and often painful, like a corset. But I couldn’t see it clearly, because I was in love with the man who treated me so poorly.
A couple months ago, I finally saw my relationship in the light. Thanks to the #metoo movement, I began to hear stories that strangely paralleled mine. I finally had words to identify my experience: power abuse, silencing, gaslighting, predator.
Now, I have a book of poetry I’m releasing soon which shares my experience with this relationship.
UPDATE: My book, Stronger Than The Master, is available here.
It also touches on the challenges of speaking up in a culture that seeks to maintain the present power hierarchy.
As with so many other women speaking out, I’ve faced significant business and legal challenges. But I am dedicated to sharing my story. I want to impact my community to make it safer, and I also want to help other women identify and leave manipulative partners.
In the process of writing my book and speaking out, I often felt paralyzed with fear. But I also felt carried by a unshakeable knowledge that the healing, for me and for other women, comes when I tell the truth.
This is my most significant transformation of 2017: I began to trust the truth to take care of me.
I look forward to sharing my poetry book with you.
What practices helped you transform in 2017? What tools or practices do you want to incorporate in 2018?