As Danielle LaPorte, author of 'The Desire Map' and all round spiritual bad ass, walked on to the stage in Sydney last week - I couldn't help but notice her shoes. Not only were they edgy and elegant (two words I would also use to describe her), she used them to walk around with such infectious confidence and purpose. It was as though they would come to form the very foundation of her building for the night - and it began with the word 'hungry'. She opened by asking us, her audience, what we were hungry for. One woman responded "conscious men". I couldn't agree more...
One of the reasons this woman has become a mentor and spirit animal to me in equal parts is her raw authenticity, matched with practicality. Early on she warned us against keeping laundry lists of self-help tools that we needed to purchase and hide behind. Furthermore, she confessed her reliance in the past on placing too much power in the hands of 'gurus', having sat at the feet of many monks and shamans. It's long been a concern of mine how in the wellness/personal development space there is an over reliance on external approaches such as juicing, colonics, and apps to cover up other addictions. Danielle invited us to pay more attention to our why, rather than who we are trying to please. She summarised beautifully the never ending quest we seem to be on with one of my favourite quotes of the evening:
"The best self-help is self-compassion"
Her talk then took a turn into breaking open two great lies that we are facing as conscious women:
1. The Lie of Inadequacy
Both Danielle and I were born and raised as Catholic school girls, so I really related to her referring to original sin as a ridiculous concept, when in fact we are all an original blessing. As such, from the time we are children who come to believe that they are inadequate, a strain of self-hatred runs through everything. This would certainly explain why when I left high school, I spent many years treating myself worse than I would anyone else! Danielle referred to a summit where many spiritual leaders attended, including the Dalai Lama. Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg asked His Holiness about self-hatred, and after a long discussion with the translator, really struggled to understand the concept and responded with "what is that?".
I feel that many of my friends and clients (ok, myself included) feel this inadequacy so much at times, that we give our power away often to someone who seemingly knows what is best for us: the media, bosses, partners. Her advice to combat this? It's never about the teacher, it's about resonance. Never allow someone else to make you feel less than, and begin by placing much more value on your own brilliance and worth.
2. The Lie of Affiliation
I've never been a huge believer or supporter of interventions in front of hundreds of people as a method to coach or bring about true healing in people's lives. It's true, I run events such as my upcoming talk The Nourished Woman, where women have the chance to ask questions of me and engage in group discussion. I make it my aim to ensure that no one ever feels pressured to share more than they'd like to or before they're ready. Danielle confirmed what I believe to be true: some wounds are meant to be shared in a safe and sacred space. Coercion and peer pressure have no place in spiritual work.
A few years ago, I attended a weekend workshop that promised to 'change my life and make me a millionaire'. The days were long, the speaker a seemingly charismatic Australian businessman who pressured and prodded everyone present and managed to get all of us to break down at least once. By the end of the weekend, I was excommunicated from the 'group', because I didn't want to pay $8k for a 1 week retreat that would 'change my life and make me a millionaire'. I believe it is this sort of experience Danielle was referring to when she said that "We have to get through some lies to get to our truth. We have become excessively tolerant, foolishly compassionate and stick things out way too long".
The key to taking charge of this lie is boundaries. By standing up for ourselves, even when we feel we want to die, we are rooted in self-compassion. It's also a concept that is over talked about and underused.
The juiciest part of the evening is when she opened up the floor for a Q&A session.
I've summarised into #truthbombs the nuggets of wisdom that flowed freely from this brilliant mind:
The State of the Planet:
The more awake and mindful you become, the more pain you feel.
Spiritual activism is a commitment to being informed.
Share your truth on a regular basis.
Silence makes us complicit.
The boss ain't always right, but the boss is boss.
Give the person a 'shit sandwich': "I love you, you f***ed up, I love you".
Silence equals self-betrayal.
Don't allow it to mess with your self trust.
Guiding Young Women:
Talk openly to young teens about sex and their bodies.
Watch the documentary Embrace with the young women in your lives.
How Does Love Reward the Brave:
Love is the cousin of generosity.
It feels erotic to give.
Goals With Soul:
Get clear on how you want to feel.
Avoid core desired feelings that rely on other people making you feel that way e.g. adored, honoured, supported.
Calling Your Power Back:
Detox from the life of authority.
Have a real relationship with your spirituality.
Leave the things you are devoted to to really find out what you're devoted to.
Narcissism is a disease from lack of self-worth.
Unbotherability is the fruit of the spirit.
Forgiveness (my favourite one):
It will set you free.
Forced forgiveness derails your healing process.
Be grateful that they shat on you, and be especially grateful for your strength in the situation.
How to Forgive When You're Not Ready:
1. Admit that you don't want to forgive, you'd rather be right.
2. Forgive yourself for not wanting to.
3. See what happens.
As she waxed lyrical on the above topics, you got a palpable sense of just how much the audience was captivated by her every word, myself very much included.
Her passion, conviction and warmth made her all the more relatable and easy to be inspired by. Adding poet to the long list of her attributes, she ended the night with one that I unfortunately could not jot down the entirety of. But I will share with you the lines that summarised so beautifully my deepest wish for every woman reading this:
"May your beauty dawn on you...
Slow down if you need to, but don't ever stop."
In love and gratitude