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The Moon Times

a monthly letter released around the full moon
sharing thematic teachings, news & affirmations
to cultivate psycho-spiritual study, reflection & wellness
this 10th cycle of the Moon Times is on:

allowing mindful pleasure
for self-empowerment & social change


"when i am happy, it is good for the world.
folks who are rooted in sensing and seeking pleasure,
and bring that energy into their work and relationships,
are shining a light for others – there is another path that
isn’t full of stress, self-doubt, pain, victimization and suffering.
there is a path in which everything is learning,
playing, practicing, doing things anew."

- Pleasure Activist, Adrienne Maree Brown
Dear reader,

Thanks for welcoming the Moon Times into your inbox and life <3
We've been releasing this digest for a year now and have explored so many important themes for our wellness like body wisdom, healthy boundaries in relationship, and re-centering from social anxiety. The topic of "allowing mindful pleasure" felt significant for this one as we go into the holiday season, celebrate the abundant harvests (however they come) in our lives, participate politically to bring more brightness to our administration, and honor festivals like Diwali and the practice of shedding light on dark, especially as the sun disappears quickly in the day and the temperatures get colder here on the northern hemisphere.

There's a difference between hedonistic pleasure and mindful pleasure; that's up to you to decide for yourself consciously and intentionally. There's a difference between pleasure, and misnaming pleasure as harming yourself or others (like Trump misnaming a blazing town called Paradise, pleasure); for me, there's a difference between partaking in a ceremonial joint with mindful pleasure, and engaging so frequently that I'm avoiding, suppressing or denying my responsibilities. I need to be conscious of this difference; recognizing my power of choice when I decide to allow this pleasure, and when it's not actually pleasurable (paranoia-inducing) for me or others around me. We have to intentionally recognize where our boundaries are, and notice what's actually pleasurable to us and what's not.


Photo by Anita Poushan, a healer and Moon Times reader <3

To start, I'm setting intentions on how to allow more mindful pleasure in my day to day. I've written a list and invite you to do the same; and to practice the open-hearted allowance of micro and macro-pleasures every day, so that we may be more empowered, grateful and happy citizens of the world!

i will allow myself the pleasure of:
  • dancing how my body wants to- my mind wants to dance like I'm beyoncé, nicole laeno or on "dancing with the stars"... my body wants to move in other kinds of ways, often strange and quirky. I will allow it to move how it wants to, in freedom. In solitude, with others I trust, and at times even down the soul train
     
  • holding eye contact with people I want to know more- this feels so scary and vulnerable sometimes. I  know too that it increases confidence in self and perception of confidence, and creates connection, all of which are so incredibly pleasurable
     
  • forgiving myself- there's so much pain when I'm harping on a mistake, I can learn from the mistake- take from it what will serve me, and choose to forgive My whole body feels the pleasure of forgiveness
     
  • lighting up a ceremonial joint- cannabis is plant medicine and I will honor the times I choose to partake, and make sure my responsibilities are met for the day when I do, because that's when it feels the best
     
  • laughing at my shadows- it feels good to not take myself so seriously, to not be striving for perfection, and to just lay off and laugh at shit, even what I tend to be ashamed of
     
  • enjoying intimate touch - seeing and feeling it in the moment, attuning to the micro-sensations and breathing into it, noticing when my mind wants to rush to something in the future or get wrapped up in a past moment; and recenter on the pleasurable energy I give and receive through intimate touch with self and in partnership
     
  • being joyful for no reason- if I choose to be joyful, that's enough of a reason to be. I don't need an excuse or explanation. I don't need to reflect the sadnesses of the world in my world-view. I can be aware, compassionate, and joyful all at the same time
     
  • savoring the holiday feast- with all the sweet and savory indulgences available during this time of year, I intend to savor a little bit of everything I want, and take my sweet and slow time in doing so and giving specific time and focus at least for a portion of my meal to notice the varied and intricate flavors separate and together, and checking in with how it feels in my body
- Chetna
The Healing Power of Pleasure
By Maisha Najuma Aza

Social justice participation and action require that we sure ourselves up, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually for the important collective work that needs to be done in the world.  It also requires that we connect with one another for support, solace, camaraderie and pleasure.

Social change makers can support ourselves individually and collectively by taking time to engage in healing pleasure. Sometimes, we don’t always notice when we’re experiencing pleasure, as we move through our busy, complex lives; but it’s time we start taking notice.  The power of pleasure feeds our spirits, and in turn, radiates out to the world around us like a healing beacon.



Pleasure is a key component to a life of balance.  Yet pleasure is something that is not often a conscious part of our individual and collective world, as we are often taught to deny it when it does come; especially if we are activists and advocates. But what if we push back on that notion of denying ourselves pleasure and begin to feel pleasure fully, rather than feel shame or guilt?

Each moment that we deny ourselves the happiness that pleasure can bring, is a moment that we deny ourselves healing. It is crucial that we take time for ourselves, to be still, meditate, breath, and move our bodies consciously. And to experience pleasure through love, compassion, touch, or intimacy from those we are connected to - platonically, emotionally, romantically, or sexually.

What if we gave ourselves permission to feel sad, angry, alone even when surrounded by others; to grieve, to be human and to learn the difficult lessons that our shadow-selves provide?  And what if, with that same vigor, we gave ourselves permission to feel forgiveness, erotic energy and pleasure with total awareness, even in our mundane experiences?  What if we choose to dive into the depths of consensual pleasure with the same enthusiasm and gusto that we dive into the depths of our misery?

Try the following pleasure tips:
  1. Stretch your body like a cat, loving each moment
  2. Take a delicious herbal bath
  3. Enjoy someone’s touch on your skin
  4. Take a deep erotic breath in and let it out with a generous moan
  5. Open your heart wider, to someone you deeply trust (even if it’s scary)
  6. Make love/have sex with the lights on and eyes open
  7. Try something new, wild or taboo
  8. Engage each of the senses you have access to (taste, sound, touch, sight, smell, intuition)
  9. Allow pleasure to vibrate throughout your body
  10. Laugh, cry, weep, scream, moan
Two of the seven principles in my lineage of Tantra Sacred Intimacy is, “the healing power of pleasure” and “everything is an experiment”.  It is a practice in living consciously. The world is set up in a way that makes that difficult but not impossible. So, be conscious of what you are feeling and experiencing, when you can; and don’t judge yourself for the times when you just do not have the capacity to be conscious, loving, or compassionate to yourself or others. Forgive yourself and give yourself the gift of feeling your emotional, physical, erotic, sensual, feelings completely, whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Pleasure and pain are at the ends of a very wide and complex spectrum of human emotions that we are rarely taught to access consciously or responsibly.

It is essential that we make space for opportunities to access pleasure in our social change circles.  A strong focus on pleasure, intimacy, body awareness and emotional intelligence, can help shift the paradigm of activism from self-sacrificing martyrdom to loving interdependence.

We must invite pleasure to play just as big a part of our individual and collective lives as the difficult parts. Social justice warriors strive daily for change and balance in unjust systems and harmful circumstances around the world.  So, we must strive for healing, for peace within, for conscious embodied pleasure and transformation for all. We must do this for the sake of those we support, fight alongside, and love.

---
Maisha Najuma Aza is a queer black healer, teacher and spiritual mentor, co-parent of two teens and ecstatic lover of life.  She erotically weaves her social justice roots, spirituality, shamanic practices, and energetic bodywork, to co-create comprehensive, intuitive healing sessions for all bodies.  Her work impacts the multidimensional aspects of each person's social, sexual, spiritual, emotional, physical and energetic world. Maisha’s light-hearted, deeply accepting, down-to-earth and empathic nature, makes her private consultations and public engagements especially powerful and deeply transformational! Maisha’s calling is sharing the erotic integration of spirituality and erotic embodiment with others through her healing sessions, consultations, experiential classes, workshops, and speaking engagements around the world.

Maisha is a Reiki Master Teacher, certified in Integrated Healing Arts, Tantra Sacred Intimacy, Shamanic Reiki, and Massage Therapy; and holds a master’s degree in Social Work.  She is the Founder of "A Life Alive Consulting" and “Black Girl Tantra”, in Atlanta, GA.
Reclaiming Joy, Pleasure and Space: Finding Yourself after Trauma
 by Zabie Yamasaki

The body remembers. I carry my most painful experiences in my body; there are still some places that are so fragile and tender that they require extra nourishment, support, and intentionality. Each day is a re-commitment to loving myself more fully and paying attention to what my body is communicating to me about what I need. Living with trauma can make it really difficult to access parts of ourselves that may feel frozen, numb, or even too painful to explore. But our inner wisdom is powerful. It speaks loud and it’s hard to ignore. Trauma-informed yoga has been one modality that has helped me find a safe home within myself.

When we suppress what we truly feel, our body responds. And by rejecting our inner voice, we tend to get sick, we feel small, we might engage with people or work environments that do not serve us, etc. As a survivor and a woman of color, it has taken me years to unpack all the ways I would shrink. I share this information from my personal journey to support and inspire you in whatever way feels best for you.

Little joys and pleasures. Self-care is a loaded and even triggering word for many. In fact, overworking and busyness is a trauma symptom and it can make having a relationship with rest and pleasure really complicated. Think about resourcing yourself in an ongoing way is by asking yourself: what brings me joy? For me, sometimes it is the first sip of coffee in the morning, holding my son’s hand, appreciating a smile with a stranger, watching the sunset, exercising my boundaries, making time just to show up to my yoga mat. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Sometimes the little joys can make the biggest impact.

Connection, Intimacy and trust. You are worthy and deserving of supportive, positive intimate experiences after trauma, to experience sexuality on your own terms and at your own pace and to be empowered in your choices. A few things:
  • You’re not alone in what you are feeling. Think about your boundaries both in general and regards to intimacy. Talk with supportive people in your life or a therapist to help release the stigma around pleasure after trauma.
  • It’s okay to not share your trauma history with a sexual partner. You can take things at your pace, set your own limits, say no at anytime, and express your needs.
  • One of your most powerful recovery tools can be mind-body connection + resourcing yourself through sensual experiences/self-care. It’s a chance to practice experiencing sexual pleasure on your terms, and you can work through triggers before taking the next step with a partner.
Cultivating supportive relationships and protecting your energy. Sometimes grief and trauma help us get really clear on what is no longer serving us- especially as it relates to relationships that are adding vs. subtracting from us. Spend time paying attention to the way your body responds to certain people and environments in your life. Use that as a guide to attract those who remind you that you are enough exactly as you are.

Resilience lives in you. You have all of the tools within you to support your healing (although you do not have to journey alone). Healing is nonlinear. Be gentle with yourself through the many ebbs and flows that it brings. Resilience is a powerful thing and each day we prove it to ourselves just by showing up. Remember that your light is far brighter than any of the darkness that was done to you. You deserve to stay in the light.

---
Zabie Yamasaki, M.Ed., RYT is the Program Director of Trauma Informed Programs at UCLA and the Founder of Transcending Sexual Trauma Through Yoga, an organization with the mission of empowering survivors to heal through the practice of yoga. Her work has been highlighted on CNN, NBC News, the Huffington Post, OC Register, Elephant Journal, and in a variety of online publications. She has created a model therapeutic yoga program and curriculum which is now being implemented at 20 colleges campuses trauma agencies. By focusing on a holistic approach, Zabie is helping to change the way our world responds to trauma and provides support to survivors at various stages in their healing.

Reach out to her to learn more and access 20% off her online courses.


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Stay tuned around the first full moon of the new year
on January 20th for The Moon Times - Issue 11
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