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Spirituality for Gender Non-Conforming People?

By Hollis Taylor

When I first began on my path of gender-bending, drag, and general queerness I consistently would feel that connections lacked depth. I was desiring something much deeper than how to apply a beard with spirit gum, walk like a man, or find a supportive community. It was great that we could connect into safe communities yet I was still seeking something deeper. I found myself reading articles about how ancient and indigenous cultures treated their gender-variant people as shamans or spiritual guides! I often found myself wondering how my friends in the queer community felt about spirituality. When I asked them I was disappointed by what I heard. Some would take the time to explain that most religions see us as evil, that by bending gender we are essentially ‘the evil ones’. Some of my friends even celebrated their desire to ‘corrupt’ and would make tons of jokes about it. Then I began to distinguish the difference between religions and spirituality and some queer friends got it right away.

I would find myself in sad conversations with other spiritual gender variant people. It would turn out that a lot of us felt like we had no place in the world, much less no right to claim any spiritual path. When I spent time in prayer about this I found that my call to spirituality was for a very important reason. No, I didn’t need to get on hormones to change how my body appeared and nor did I need surgery. NO, I needed to write a book! I resisted and self-sabotaged for years and eventually with a community to support me I was able to finally produce a book that would hopefully empower gender-variant people to explore their spiritual path. The book, Divine Androgyne: A Sacred Path for Gender Variant People, outlines the steps that can be taken over time to help us get in touch with our authentic path. That was my first step and now as I pray more I get that I must do more to bring us all together, now.

There is a spiritual meaning to all gender variant people that have lived and will live. It is likely much deeper than I have come to understand over time. In my lifetime I have constantly noticed gender variant people in my world and I have been called to them like someone gets called to the mountains. Ok, so I was called to the mountains, too! (Giggles) Some of us don’t really understand why we are called to this identity, we just know its deep down inside like a bubble that must come up! The reason is many-sided I am sure but the reason I have come to understand is that the future of all humanity depends on the abandonment of gender roles. We must abandon gender roles because it hurts everyone! It forces us into a box we don’t necessarily need to be in and in that we are revolutionaries. We are here to change how humanity interacts in the world. Its a necessary evolution for the human race. I am sure there are other deep reasons for our existence and I would love to hear them! I know for me this means that regardless of what religion has ever done to any of us or our ancestors, that today we are all meant to develop our own relationship with the divine. Authentically and completely ours as we see it, know it deeply to be real and meaningful, and to follow that as our guide. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all came together as a group and validated each other, supported each other, and listened and learned from each other? As a group of authentic beings to spiritually support each others growth and yes we likely will influence each other. I think we are supposed to influence each other, yet right now it comes out as control and submission. Eventually, we will evolve away from that dynamic into a more harmonious connection. I believe gender variant people are here to walk that path, to carve it out of our future. Why gender variant people? Simple. Many of us are truly connected to our most authentic selves, and in that its harder to control us. The more you walk authentically the less likely you are to tolerate or allow manipulative control tactics, even the subtle ones. Then what happens is that forces the controller to re-evaluate their own behaviors, therefore becoming more authentic. When you’re authentic you become aware of what really resonates with you and what doesn’t. Even if something doesn’t resonate with you, its easy to shrug it off as ‘not for me’ and move on. So YES we can influence each other and YES in a healthy intentional way!

As I walk my own path I am sometimes overwhelmed, sometimes I trip and fall, sometimes I even step off, sometimes I celebrate and dance, giggle and laugh. Sometimes I cry and scream and sometimes I whimper in pain. Other days I smile and breathe in peace, some days I even breathe OUT peace. All the while I feel held by something bigger than myself, something larger than life, larger than the universe itself. The divine to me is all energies together and none of them singularly. To me, the divine embodies all I need in the world. When I connect to the divine, I get clearly what I am to do next. When it turns out a mistake, I ask for the lesson I needed to learn and inevitably I find it. Simply because we are all divine, we are all connected to a whole that is divine and in that we all deeply know exactly what is good for us. When I ask the divine, ok the book is out there, now what? Promote it & create retreats for your readers! A safe place for them to be them – and explore their spirituality in depth. Of course, I resist with “Who me?” and “Why me?” and I am reminded that there is no choice I must just keep moving forward.

When I do dive deep with another gender variant person I am often moved to tears of joy and release. It’s like something overcomes me when I connect with a gender variant person and I want to see them grow, succeed and bloom. I suppose that’s for all people I meet, regardless, I find deep satisfaction to hold the hand of a person looking to walk their most authentic path. It’s as honorable as holding the hand of a person on their death bed!

I want to dive deeper with other gender variant people and support each other on a deeply authentic and spiritual path. There is a strong chance that I might do a retreat, Costa Rica 2020 – specifically for Gender Variant or Questioning people. It feels scary, maybe more scary than sharing my personal story in my book yet I still feel pushed at it. Creating safe space to express authentically, creating a ceremony to help us truly integrate our own authentic spiritual path, and creating lifelong bonds with each other as a community of gender-variant people.


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Music- Healing Vibrations for the soul!

I have always been a huge fan of music, as long as I can remember. At the young tender age of 4-5 years old I loved to dance to the song, Fre’re Jacques. Over and over again on my record player this song would play. I had my own routine and dance for the song. I spent a lot of time listening to records when I was home alone. My memory is of me finding something to do while I was home alone. My mother was never home and my older brothers were often left responsible for me. They were of no age to be responsible for themselves and of course they left me home alone, regularly. These were traumatic times in my life and from the very beginning I used music to heal my wounds. I was afraid and wouldn’t it make sense to dance and sing to get through it. I knew all the words and my brain would just follow the song, over and over. I remember crying at the repeating record as it skipped on certain pieces of the song. My tears had nothing to do with the lyrics, they were of fear and rejection. Interestingly, now I realize the song was about “Brother John”. My brothers were at the age of drug experiments and partying all night. They were both into trouble at the time and I remember standing at the side of their bed wondering if anyone would wake up to interact with me. I was a very lonely child, usually home alone.


Later in life I fell in love with happy, positive music like the Monkees. I found their music through a television show, it was my best friend for most of my youth. I watched a lot of sitcoms, I felt like they were often my friends and family. I loved family sit coms but with the Monkees it was fun and comforting. I could identify with the music, the characters, and the goofing off. I managed to obtain the tapes for the Monkees, The Beach Boys, the Turtles and some other music similar. This was the 1980’s but I was in love with the old music of the 60’s. Through exploration of that genre I was even presented with a familiar voice, Janis Joplin. The music of the 60’s comforted something inside of me that I now recognize as the peace keeper wishing and dreaming of peace. At the time I just thought I might be a bit of a hippy or “free spirit” as one of my stand in “moms” calls me. All of the women that stood in my life to mother me when mine was absent would listen to music from that era. So this type of music tends to sooth me in a way a mother’s lullabye does. When I discovered the Monkees deeper and discovered songs like “I wanna be free.” I found myself dreaming of something far and away from my lonely and sad situation at home. My struggles were lost in the soothing music – like the vibrations soothed my heart. I often felt heart broken as a child, abandoned by my mother and siblings. I was convinced I wasn’t worthy of love.

With a childhood of sexual abuse, physical abuse and obviously severe neglect I was lead to anger in my teenage years. There is no surprise as rebellion is part of our local culture in America and the 80’s and 90’s were certainly no different. I was drawn into music again, it defined me in my coming of age years. I became a bad ass with a leather jacket and satanic T-shirt. Dark clothes, suicidal tendencies, drugs, alcohol and I was a regular smoker at age 12. I went deep into the darkness and hated the world. I met my boyfriend, who later became the father of my child and my husband. Long Hair, dark eyes, over 6 foot tall, and a bad ass to stand in front of me while I expressed my anger a the world. I started with Guns N’ Roses – Call it my gateway to metal. I later dived into Metallica, Slayer, Danzig, and Suicidal Tendencies. This became the music in my ears every day, all day at school – if I went. At home I played it so loud on the stereo my mother would freak out, now that she was home. My blind father bought me the stereo, he didn’t live with us. My walls were plastered with posters and articles about the musicians that created the music. I mean every single space was filled with their images or words about them. I had framed photos of Axl Rose and worshiped them, like most teenagers do.My metal phase branched out into Punk and Death Metal. The music took me to the dark places that had been created by my childhood and helped me really get into those places. The music took me to the dark space I needed to be in to feel it fully and then heal. Again and again I would play songs to either piss off my mother who had suddenly taken an interest in my life, after 12 years of absence o. She found AA and was trying to make up for the time she missed while she was drunk and stoned, frankly it was too late. I hated her thoroughly and was even driven to attack her. We were often physical and my teenage years were full of rebellion, anger, fights, running away, drugs, alcohol, and later teenage pregnancy. My pregnancy ended the relationship with my mother until my son was 8 years old. The music did something for me and I felt it as I began to raise my son, after several years away from my mothers presence. I recognized it emerging inside me and realized that I had moved away from it. I used anger as a defense to keep people away from the person I was afraid they would reject. I was angry that I had experienced what had happened to me as a child. Why did other families have experiences like the sit com “Family Ties” and I was left to eat peanut butter and jelly or cereal every day cause that was all I knew how to cook.

Later as a mother and young adult I fell in love with music that had gorgeous voices like Janis Joplin, whom I still love. I fell for singer after singer, later I will notice they are all females or gender benders. Loving George Michael, Prince, and Elton John I was lead to the LGBTQ community through music. Then I heard Cher and that was all she wrote. This music roused something inside me that is a big piece of who I am today, a GenderQueer Transman. This music got into my soul and the culture around it made it okay for me to be ME. This was profound and sparked tons of change through my life and even today when I do an Elton John or George Michael piece in a drag performance I find it to therapeutic. These are my elders who has carved a way for feminized males. Regardless of they personally identify they went on stage in a more feminine way and celebrated their masculinity. They celebrated being fabulous men, an inspiration to who I truly am. I became involved with the Radical Faeries who also supported my desire to be a fabulous man. I came out as transgender soon after being involved in their spiritual trainings. Cher of course took me to Drag Queens on and off stage, they became my sisters. We understood each other in a way that has been special ever since. People assigned male were wearing dresses in clubs and I bonded with them right away. Later the people that bent gender became my closest friends, because I could identify with them. Thank goodness I knew them because they really helped me out of a very tough closet. Being a gender bender is no easy place and its very complicated. I need the family and community of drag and transgender people, without them I would be lost and alone again. Thank you Cher for being THAT musician.

Today music still plays a big part in my personal healings. Songs stand out to me and I find myself repeating them. As if the vibrations have some sort of effect on our soul, as if the vibrations heal the wounds. Music’s magic is a mystery to most of us but most of us have some sort of healing piece associated with music. Today I use music to increase the effectiveness of healing. In Yoga, I listen to MC Yogi, Nahko & Medicine for the People, and even special vibrational music like the Hang PANArt music from Bright Hawk’s work with Sacred Side Project. I am more aware today, at 40 years old and my experience with music has brought me to an understanding. Music speaks to our souls, our values, our history, our pains, our joys, and is celebratory in most cases. Celebrating relaxation should never be underestimated, hang music does that for me. I was inspired by the Sacred Side Project to create a business that would both fullfill my needs to travel and heal as well as provide a solution to the needs for more music, validation and touch in long term care facilities. I was inspired to create and now am partnered with Bright Hawk for Let’s Dance Activities. A program that uses music to heal and uplift the communities it visits.

I find myself revisiting all sorts of music from my past as tools to get in touch with what I am feeling. Even the negative emotions need to be visited – anger, sadness, self loathing, and even feeling sorry for ourselves. Whatever comes up I use music to help me feel it fully. I sit in it long enough to be sure the feeling is felt then I find inspiration out of the darkness.

When I am ready to be inspired I listen to the prayers of some of the most unified music and progressive evolved music available today with Nahko and Medicine for the People, MC Yogi, Franti and Polish Ambassador. That’s my medicine now. Learning to DJ right now feels like the obvious evolution for Izzy Ahee – my masculine performer and music lover. I am grateful to support Bright Hawk as she evolves as the newest positive singer/songwriter with her Hang PANArt.

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Music the artistic expression that heals, what music is in your head? Why? Let’s Sort it out – Let’s Talk! Call me at 1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094

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Weird? Strange?

Ever stop yourself from doing something because its weird? Strange? Often the judgement of weird and strange come up for me. Although I realize that I am the one judging myself at the same time I am aware that people also have this judgement of me, they use those words! Some of us that are more unusual often feel this way and find ourselves holding back from our communities because of the judgement. Why do we need to conform like everyone else? Is it necessary to be “normal” – the opposite of weird? There are times being weird can be dangerous, like male bodied people that wear dresses could find themselves in a very dangerous situation. Of course, its dangerous for most gender benders in the world. Also people on the spectrum and other unusual expressions are called “weird”. This judgement mostly arises when someone has done something that everyone else is not doing, whatever that might be.

First, we must deal with our own judgement. I find myself often not saying anything about my gender expression to strangers out of fear of being seen as weird. Why am I afraid to be weird? First I stop judging myself because my gender expression brings light to the world in a variety of ways and to hide it from the world will leave me feeling oppressed. When I do bring it the the world is blessed with  gender diversity. Diversity does a very special thing, when we can move past judgement we can instead celebrate each other. When I catch myself judging myself, I instead move to a space of celebrations. I find all the reasons why its good to be a gender bender, a bug lover, sex positive person, or a herp fan. I assure you I have a dozen other “weird” traits. I try to find a way to celebrate these traits, for instance being a Drag King helps with my gender bending, because its a way to celebrate my gender bend. I also express the bug lover through environmentalism, the planet certainly needs more allies. As for being sex positive, having a female body makes it even weirder, but instead I celebrate that even for all I have been through sexually I have found healing. As a result I can express myself sexually and be proud of my sexuality, not ashamed. Sex is a natural expression of the human being.

Once I get past judging myself I move into expressing it outwards. I usually start with safe communities but eventually I will be so busy celebrating my “weird” that I forget people are going to judge me. So, at some point, someone will give me the “weird” look or tell me how I am not anything but a WOMAN! The other way some people judge me is that I am just so “out there” that everything I do is dismissed and considered ridiculous. In this I challenge them, when its safe. I ask about their judgement and when confronted almost no one will admit to it, naturally we all know its not a peaceful act. Simply, they know they have judged me and its likely unfair, therefore they let it go and deny it ever happened. This is a typical human response. Other times the more I explain my side of things the more the judgement falls away and understanding is found. The ones I respect the most are the ones that, even though they did judge me at first are willing to admit they were wrong and apologize. This is the easiest way to earn respect after judging someone.

I know that changes must begin with me so I try not to judge a person. This has been a real challenge for me as a sun sign Virgo, we often struggle with self judgement and judgement of others. So when I find myself judging someone I try to stop immediately an then find the space to apologize. If I simply judge in my mind I try to explore why I judged. Does this person scare me? Do they threaten me? What am I judging – them or their behaviors? Once I am clear I can apologize and move past it quickly. I subscribe to karma theories and feel that the less I judge others – the less I will be judged for my so called “weirdness”. In this lack of judgement I have made many unique friends and am blessed with their “strangeness”.

Like in the song from the Doors “People are Strange” when we are judged, we are often judged by others and ourselves. Therefore we often judge others and our perspective of the world ends up being very dim and dark. Although the Doors might have been categorized as strange, and I assure you Jim Morrison was very strange for his time. He was constantly judged for his “weirdness” maybe this is what lead the genius to an ending with drugs. I feel like our culture lost as a result of his death but gained with what he left behind. Whatever is strange in us is likely to light up the world once we arrive authentically.

When someone arrives completely authentic some of us might be quick to judge, but often those of us that have found ourselves judged are likely to pull back from the judgement. We have realized that when we bring our “weird” things out we can actually improve the space, improve the togetherness, improve understanding, improve gender choices, improve unconditional love among the human race. When we celebrate others those things are increased around us. We all want peace, safe space, togetherness, understanding, and unconditional love…..right? So the next time you hesitate with that so called “weird” thing remember you are likely depriving us all of your bright new light on something. So wear the dress, wear the bow tie, wear that silly shirt, wear the make-up, and don’t be afraid to purrrr outloud. Call me at 1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094

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Clearing the Clouds

“I don’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking!” This is such a hilarious excuse that it tells me the person hasn’t really done their research. This is so funny to me when people say it for one very critical reason, meditation is the practice of clearing our thoughts.  One of my favorite teachers, Pema Chodron, teaches with a visual aid of clouds which happens to work perfectly for many of us.

When you begin to meditate imagine a clear blue sky and each time a thought enters the brain simply visit it, for just a moment, then let is float away. When I meditate I like to have a pen and paper beside me because inevitably I have forgotten to do something and want to remember to do it. The easiest way for me to let that cloud go is to write it down. The other thoughts I get are a constant banter of what I might have done wrong or what might go wrong. I also analyze what I have said and then criticize myself to a point that is not helpful or productive. I tend towards perfectionism and often will expect nothing less of myself. As a result I am often beating myself up. This behavior is not productive although at times it can be my drive. Many of us have a double edged sword like this.

When people say to me that we can be our own worst enemy I know exactly what they are talking about. Simply, my self analyzation and criticism is often incredibly loud and I work hard to keep it down. This ends up creating a sensitivity to criticism because I am often in the defensive mode. If I believe I am to blame for something I will twist the knife in my soul deeper than anyone else is capable. I am capable of truly hurting myself. In the past I have used this same behavior pattern to cut myself as well as suicidal tendencies. My battle scars are enough to remind me that if I let this go on too long I could end up there. I must tell myself something different otherwise my thoughts and mind will take over my life.

Today, I practice meditation and in that I used Pema Chodron’s advice. I image a clear sky and usually a cloud would appear. Today I visit it a little bit and then often with my breathe I blow it away. In my visualization, I put words or symbols on the clouds to represent the thought. I simply breathe it in, look at it, feel it, and then blow it away. Make sure you feel it, otherwise your just suppressing your feelings. I learned that suppressing the feelings todays means explosions tomorrow. Instead, allow yourself to feel the pain, frustration, anger, or sadness – then simply blow it away. I will have cloud after cloud come in and if I don’t stay on top of it I find myself lost in thought rather than concentrating on the clear blue sky.  Quickly a cloudy sky becomes a storm of depression. I know that I must return to meditation. There is no perfection in this. This is why its a practice! I simply breathe in deep and blow all the clouds away so that I can once again have a clear blue sky.

Over time things change and circumstances change. Different issues will arrive and when I begin to have second thoughts, self criticism, or worries I simply feel them and let them go. Usually I like to blow them away with a big breathe, leaving me to feel like I have room for the good stuff in me. Even when I am not in meditation and something enters my brain I chew on it a bit and then simply blow it away. The practice becomes easier in time and the clearing of the brain becomes an essential way to exist in this world.

One of my favorite places to clear my mind is deep in the forest. I love to be way up high or beside moving water. I like it to have as little human interference as possible. The more natural and remote the deeper I can go in my mind clearing. I love to practice as deep into wilderness I can find. In urban spaces I have found that walking up to a big tree, putting my hands on the trunk, and looking straight up at the underneath of the leaves will help me clear my mind. Nature is the ultimate healer and is always ready to bring healing for us. So when we are open to connecting in this way we will find instant healing. Being open to it and seeking it out is most of the work.

As a result of this practice most of us find that we can function in our worlds better. We don’t make up stories about how someone might be mad at us. We don’t self criticize and take the fault for anything. We don’t worry so much that we become frozen. Using MC Yogi’s music to support a clearing another effective approach. “Heaven is here when the mind is clear.” This lyric helps me remember to clear and often I will listen to this song in my yoga practice/meditation to help me stay focused on the clear blue sky. I encourage you to try whatever music you like and to even experiment with silence. Clearing the clouds is a simple practice that can bring great relief to anyone’s brain!

Let’s Talk! Call me at 1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094

Alternatives Healthy Holistic Inspired Permanent Change ReWiring Your Brain Yoga

Let it Go! – Rewiring the Brain

By Hollis Taylor

Let it Go! Letting things go is a lifelong exercise. Attachment seems to creep up even for people that are not suffering with mental illness. Those of us that have come through some so called “mental illness” and challenging times often find ourselves attached. We could be attached to a medication after surgery, sugar, alcohol, or video games. We could be attached to Facebook, Television or YouTube. These attachments form and the next thing we know we are dependent on them in a way that was never intended. I have found myself with many addictions including nicotine, alcohol, sugar, video games, internet, television, sex, fast food and even shopping. There are many levels to addictions and its different for many of us, but in the end we must “Let it Go!”.

Attachment can lead us to depression, bi-polar behaviors, and other ‘not so fun’ emotional expressions. The attachment to things is how we find ourselves in a state of these emotional expressions we don’t care for. Many of us reach out and are faced with quitting something that gives us comfort and pleasure. Those moments we realize we have become attached to something. What were we reaching for? Most of us need comfort, release or an outlet, often I need all these things when I reach for my addictive substance. I understand that in myself and recognize that I am always finding another way. Finding even something else to focus on that is healthier than being dependent on things we know are not good for us. This is how yoga showed up in my life. I want to say though that for you it could be something else, maybe some other exercise or possibly meditation.

I used yoga to focus me away from the things I had been using to comfort myself. I managed to use yoga to help me quit everything and it still helps me stay unattached to things. As I said, its a natural human experience to get attached, we think we want safety hence change is dangerous. In this transformation we can realize that the things we had been reaching for are not good for us. We need to instead reach for other things that boost our confidence like Tree Pose. Practicing Tree Pose can boost our confidence. Also accepting when we fall out as fact, letting it go. Some days we will be deep in tree pose like we always do and suddenly fall out. This happens to keep us humble. This happens to keep us grateful. This happens to helps us “Let it Go”.

During meditation we experience a similar “Let it Go”. The practice of meditation is to simply clear our mind. We constantly practice letting go of our thoughts, hence why meditation has been such a deep emotional healing tool that has last through time. I hear excuses like “I can’t meditate because I can’t sit still or I can’t stop my brain from thinking” but when you truly want peace in your mind almost all of us find our way to meditation. The point of meditation is the practice of clearing our mind. So everyone experiences “thinking too much”. In the practice of letting go of the thoughts we are practicing for our everyday life. As a result in our everyday life, when we find ourselves attached to something, we can simply “Let it Go”.

A great meditation focus is to image the sky blue and clear. As a thought moves it is a cloud. Read the message on the cloud and then slowly let it disappear. Each time the cloud comes in be sure to visit the emotion or thought for just a moment, then watch it disperse into your clear sky. The practice of touching it will allow us to feel the feeling and not oppress things deeper, instead we just Let it Go! Like a balloon to the sky just let it go. There are tons of practices and approaches to letting it go. You can even write your thought or emotion on a piece of paper, burn it, and then meditate to let it go. Once you experience the peace on the side of letting it go, we want to get there quicker next time, hence bringing us to a daily practice of Letting Go!

When practicing Yoga we can experience life on our mat and recognize our thought patterns. Are we holding on tight to a pose or how the yoga is done? When we flow in life and yoga we find better results in the end. We know when we should let things go, deep in side we know we should be letting things go. When you are ready, when its time to “Let it Go” – reach out to your community for support or Call me at 1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094


Alternatives Healthy Holistic Inspired Love Permanent Change ReWiring Your Brain Transitions Yoga

Rewiring the Brain to Receive Comfort

My history is horrific including extreme neglect at an early age. Of course I don’t remember but many psychiatrists and psychologists have informed me that it would be next to impossible to overcome the neglect I suffered as an infant. This explained most of my insecurities and needs for affection, including the seek for sexual attention as a sex worker. This is the message I heard in my teens and twenties regarding my mental health. I received diagnosis and medications as a result.

I was highly disappointed in the medications! I found them to certainly cure me of my ills but slowly they seemed to suck all my creativity, spice for life, and even personal awareness. I noticed first becoming more and more “Eore-ish” on the medications. Then the things I normally cared about seemed to have less meaning and after a while I didn’t care about those things either. My personal awareness became non-existant until finally I stopped trying “new medications”. In the end they all lead me to the same place. I refused to see any type of professional guidance as a result of feeling pressured to take medications.

Years past until finally it was time for me to revisit professional help. Again, I heard how my past would define my tomorrow and that without medication it would be very difficult if not impossible to overcome. After a few trials I finally landed with a counselor willing to try something different, even after he tried to convince me to medicate. When I refused all medications, including synthetic hormones, he began to really think about how to help me. He researched new techniques and came back to me with Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques for General Anxiety Disorder. I was able to blanket the techniques as a tool for a large piece of my mental anxieties.

I took those techniques and I began to use them in my yoga practice. I was and am still determined to continue to rewire my brain from unhealthy to healthy. The techniques helped me get centered into myself through breathe work and an awareness to our bodies, mind and spirit. Then I apply the same techniques in my practice with a simple gentleness. Since I can be extra hard on myself I must practice being gentle with myself. I must find a way to practice gently in order to heal myself, especially during my monthly feminine cycle.

Taking our time during yoga and really becoming centered in our selves is our intention. We move in sun salutations focusing on only breathe, allowing the mind to clear. Then finding ourselves in child’s pose we take a full rest. We really settle into our breathe in order to fall completely into our most authentic selves. On the days I know I need extra gentle care I use pillows to support various positions in order to fully rest in them.

A good place to start with this practice is to end each of your yoga sessions with just a few minutes laying flat on your back. Place your right hand on your heart in order to fill your heart with self love. Your left hand empowers your third chakra by holding that spot just below your belly button. Then while holding your hands repeat to yourself or outloud “I am a good person. I deserve all my love. I love you!” or whatever you think is good for you! The intention is simply to empower the third chakra to bridge the gap to the next chakra – to encourage self love, empowerment, and a compassionate self opinion. All the while working on steading your breathe. If anything enters your mind, simply let it go. No need to hold onto it since meditation will often fill our brains with 100 domestic distractions. Instead let them drift out like clouds and focus on the clear blue sky.

I find that music is empower for me and I particularly enjoy hang music, kirtan, or even inspiring music like MC Yogi. I would highly recommend this as a daily practice to solidify your ability to not only give yourself gentle kindness but also to be open to receiving it. Comforting ourselves is our own best medicine! Rewire your brain, nothing is impossible!

We don’t need medications, a lover, or our family to comfort ourselves. The one person in the world that is most reliable is ourselves. With that understanding we can conclude that we are responsible for comforting ourselves and often the best at it. In comforting myself I have found my prescription. Its called self-love!

I would love to teach you the techniques! I want to empower you to take care of your own health! Let’s Rewire your brain!

1-888-INGENIO Ext. 05051094

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Rewiring your Brain – Choosing Happiness

Many of us suffer great trauma in our lives. When we suffer greatly in our childhood and youth we are faced with a habit, of chaos & trauma. As a child I was usually alone, since I suffered intense neglect. Neglect means there was no adult around to watch over me and keep me safe. That experience lead to profound sexual abuse including incest and rape by the age of 8 years old. I suffered greatly from emotional, mental, and physical abuse as well. These traumas made a mark on my mind, they left me with a habit of suffering. Many of us have different levels of this, some of us suffer greatly, but most of us have some habit of suffering.

Even though the traumas that we suffered were many years in our past we still hold onto them, they still haunt us. Many of us suffer with PTSD which can easily lead to depression. In suffering we learn that if we focus on the horrifying things in our past we are faced with a pretty dismal outlook. If we are to take a different perspective we must first understand that it is a choice. In my personal experience I have stepped back, realized I am no longer in those unsafe situations and then reassured myself that I am safe. Once I realized that these old feelings of suffering and so forth are from my past I am very ready to let them go. I desire good health, happiness, & peace for myself and pray to be surrounded by love. Most of us want this for ourselves.

When your in a pattern and habit of suffering though, you can find yourself finding ways to be unhappy. Choosing to see the stuff in life that sucks, its not hard, just read the news. We can find more suffering, which has become a habit from our trauma filled past, by focusing on our past, seeing only the horrible news, and losing all hope for the future. This behavior creates more suffering for ourselves and many of us find that we are comfortable here. Have you ever felt yourself want to laugh when your upset and crying? That resistance to laughter is exactly what I am referring to in this article.

In my experience, when I realized my attachment to sadness I was horrified at myself. How could I continue to keep myself from happiness, this is stupid! I want to be happy why do I keep myself suffering. Simply, I discovered it was a habit. I learned it from my family members and even my lovers. I had to find a way out of this habit since it served no greater good in the now fairly safe world I live in today. In the past it served as a defense from constant disappointment, preparing me for the worst situation. This defense served me well when my life was full of trauma but now I had grown up, changed my environment, and was focusing on a healthy mind, body, and soul. Although my world is not perfect I no longer live in conditions that I am a helpless child or confused teenager. I have control over who is in my life, how I spend my days, and who has sexual contact with me. Today I am safe. Its time to shed this old habit of suffering, I have zero desire to suffer anymore. I have suffered enough! I am done!

Letting this go proved to be harder than I thought. This habit lingered in my mind like pre programming from my childhood. No surprise that I ended up this way but how do we reverse it? Psychiatrists have been trying to medicate me since medications became the main form of treatment for behavior like this. As if treating me for the depression I suffer from is going to retrain my brain to choose happiness. I understand their urgency and fear to rectify my depression as I suffered from suicidal thoughts. I spent my entire youth as a cutter and drug user. I understand the need for medication in these extreme cases but I don’t want to be medicated. My medicine is Yoga. As I defy modern day medicine and rewire my brain I offer those of you that also have this habit of suffering,  an alternative “medicine”.

I want to include that I also discovered that artificial flavors, preservatives, alcohol and sugar easily triggered my depression. This became more apparent as my happiness practice continued to go deeper and deeper. I found that certain foods in my diet greatly increased my suffering and made it harder for me to achieve happiness. Although I don’t have a perfect diet, extremes are not necessary, I do try to keep these 4 things out of my daily diet. I now suspect that some forms of wheat could be addictive and possibly also contributing to my depression. If your suffering from depression regularly just be aware if these things are in your daily diet.

My first step was to find a visual piece for happiness. I found this necessary for happiness because of the simple fact that smiles are contagious. At the time my home life wasn’t exactly filled with happy people, in fact most of them suffered from depression. I was gifted a “Happy Buddha” after expressing my desire for one. I deeply appreciated the gift and began to use it almost immediately. I created a daily practice of smiling back at the Buddha, whom was happy to always smile at me. I would place my prayer beads on him every night before I went to sleep, kiss him good night, and go to sleep with the best smile I could summon. Then each morning when I rose I would remove the beads, kiss him, and smile back. I would try to wear the beads all day in remembrance of the importance of a smile. Just the act of smiling has beneficiary effects on the brain and its contagious! By healing ourselves, we heal others in the same turn.

Then I took my smiling to the mat. Even after this daily practice for weeks and weeks I still found myself entering depression. One of my most sensitive times is the week before I experience menstruation. I do believe that male bodied people and even trans men on synthetic hormones still experience a fluctuation in hormones and therefore mood. There are so many triggers its hard to to say just one thing that gets us there. Even in the best daily practice we can fall off the happy wagon! When I find myself lost or seeking comfort I find my yoga mat. I have found that I can re-wire my brain in order to reach my emotional goals. I want to overcome this habit of suffering and choose happiness, instead. So as I breathe and go from pose to pose I focus on smiling. Even if it’s fake or I am uncomfortable I push through and smile anyway. Sometimes I have to cry or scream before I can smile, but by the end of my practice I am smiling. When I am done crying and screaming I then step in and ask myself, “Well now that we have honored all that is terrible by crying our eyes out…what can I smile about?” When I am honest with myself I can find reasons to smile. Even if its “Well I am no longer living in unsafe conditions and I can take care of myself.”

In my regular practice I work to prevent these “falling off the wagon” episodes. I use “Happy Baby” in my daily practice and I focus on the most important part, smiling! I also add smiling to all of my rest poses such as “Mountain Pose” – “Child’s Pose” – “Downward Dog” “Lotus” and “Corpse”. I simply rest in these poses and try to remember to smile as I regulate my breathe. Often, I regulate my breathe and smile simultaneously. I also smile after I fall out of a balance pose or don’t follow my plan in yoga. As if I am finding humility in my practice. Laughing at ourselves when we fall out of “Tree Pose” can really help us learn to choose happiness. When I am in my flow I try to smile through it, this is not a chore to do yoga, this is my medicine. This medicine feels good and I am grateful for the tool. Happiness easily sets in when these types of conditions are set up. Even when life isn’t easy, even when we fail, even when life sucks – We SMILE and therefore choose Happiness as a result.

Happiness has brought me great strength to overcome big things. It has seen me through some very hard times and in that I am grateful. I have learned a lot about smiling and happiness over the years that I been practicing this way. It has greatly improved my overall health, my stress levels, my relationships, my mental health, and it even increased my connection to the divine. The practice of smiling in yoga regardless of what pose I am in, fell out of, struggled to achieve, or worked hard to flow in and out of has rewired my brain. Although I am not perfect, my habit of suffering has been greatly reduced, instead I have a habit of being happy. So even in the hustle and bustle of my life when I forget my daily practice of happiness I no longer slip into depression as easily as I did when I first started. Today, I recognize when the old habit of suffering creeps up. I also realize that the regular creeping up of suffering is the human condition talked about by many buddhist monks and spiritualists. I smile because I have rewired my brain by simply smiling through my yoga practice and creating a daily habit of awareness. I no longer allow any of the perpetrators of my past to create more suffering for me today, they have no rights to me. They never did and never will. I am grateful to be responsible for my own choices.

Alternatives Healthy Holistic Permanent Change Uncategorized Yoga

Why do I avoid what’s good for me? Exercise? Yoga?

Did you get to your mat this week? Why do we avoid what’s good for us? Why when we really desire good health do we still avoid things like yoga and healthy food? Is the human condition to keep us from avoiding what’s good for us? I have spent much time meditating on why I procrastinate my yoga, walk, or healthy food choice. This has been a struggle for many of us for a very long time. It seems to me it comes directly from the reward we receive afterwards or even during the activity.

This explains why sugar keeps us coming back again and again. Our brains reward us for it because from its perspective we should be rewarded for eating so many calories. The brain knows you normally eat 2500 calories before 4pm and will help you remember to do so. The brain programs itself to reward you for eating, but doesn’t understand when those 2500 calories are McDonalds or some other empty calories. Then when the body desires certain nutrients it will ask you to eat again and when you reward it with another 1000 empty calories it rewards you again. The reward center for the brain works this way with a lot of things. Sex, alcohol and drugs are great examples of high reward behaviors. This is part of why addictions usually fall upon these behaviors and can lead to dangerous places. Sugar gets a lot of us in trouble and I get into the details of that in my article “Sugar in an Addictive substance

Also exercise rewards some of us and some people seem to be more stimulated by that reward than they are for the alcohol or sugar reward. I was NOT one of those people. Exercise for me has been a horrendous feat. I hated it in high school and could care less about sports. I just don’t care to exercise. As a young person I was usually left to my own devices to get food, so you can image my choices were not ideal. In fact there were several years I lived on Doritos, Pepsi, and Slim Fast. As child and through most of my early adult hood I ate calorie dense nutrient defficient food and my 260lbs was a direct result. No one exercised in my house! We watched TV, most of the time. I was a child of the 80’s I never learned that exercise can reward us.

When I hike I am not driven by exercise I am driven by the adventure and inspired by nature. That is how I exercise, gyms are boring and severely lack in the reward department. Its easy for me to skip over although I have tried so many times out of pure desire for better health. At times I could keep streaks but my dirty secret is that I hate the gym. So I had to find some other reward for my exercise because it was not always a rewarding experience when you can’t breathe and your muscles hurt so bad. When I was exercising at 250 lbs I hated it with such a passion. I had no idea how I was ever going to figure out this weight loss thing. I had no interest in competition or vanity, these are not my values. I had to find the rewards for exercising and doing yoga, tough to compete with things like sugar and alcohol. I experimented with lots of rewards – buying something can lead to shopping habits, so I don’t recommend that reward system. Shopping, gambling and sex habits are just as addictive as sugar and alcohol. The addiction process lies in the addiction to those rewards. My rewards were something else… they were adventure, geocaching, and trees. This spoke to my values.

Yoga was something else for me. I found the classes, although educational, to be lacking in something. I started using some yoga cards someone had gifted me to remind me of what moves to do next. Time passed and I began to do classes enough to learn how to get in and out of poses then I simply took what I learned and brought it home to my daily practice. I could have a free class, not just financially but I could do whatever I wanted without feeling like a rebel. I didn’t feel pressure in the class to get into this or that pose. I hated thinking of people looking at me when I was 260lbs with tight clothes but feeling like a roley poley marshmallow man trying to do yoga. I wanted to listen to my own music and create my own space. I sensed something in yoga but I didn’t want that classroom effect. I began to build my own practices occasionally returning to classes to learn more. This is how I fell in love with yoga and how it came to be the main reason for my weight-loss. Yoga stretched my muscles and helped me recover from the tough workouts I was trying to do at the gym, hating every minute of it. Yoga gave me a space to be gentle with myself and a place that I could gently challenge myself at my own pace. However I was comfortable doing yoga, and that changed every day. I found an inner knowing that became what I used to decide how to move my body next.

At times, often in the winter, I would stop doing yoga for a little while and begin to notice all the crap habits I had before, return. First I would skimp on my yoga, then eat mindlessly, and more and more habits would return leaving me to wonder what happened. I was back to eating crap food, snacking on sugar, skipping my workout, and so on. We have all done this! Then I find myself with an excessively dramatic menstrual cycle or suddenly coming down with a cold or muscle pain. I feel good when I eat right, exercise and do yoga/meditation, how did I get here? Why did I stop?

I haven’t been rewarding myself properly, that’s the problem. I must find a reward for the practice. The easiest reward is, when you find a yoga routine that is good for you, to simply take a moment laying on your back in a nice relaxed manner and noticing how you feel. At the end of the practice how do you feel? Most of us feel refreshed, relaxed, and often our pain has dissipated. Our souls feel at ease and our minds are quieter. If this is not your experience at the end, try a different style of yoga or maybe Tai Chi would be better for you. When I feel that sense of complete relaxation and positive rewards I bookmark the feeling. I try to highlight it for myself. I want to remind myself just how good it feels to do my yoga routine and in this reward I can easily remember when it comes time to arrive on the mat. I can move through the procrastination bone and instead arrive on the mat with a knowing that at the end I will feel refreshed, relaxed, and rewarded.

This reward method has worked for me in a variety of ways. One thing I want to point out here though is to avoid rewarding yourself with sugar, alcohol, or drugs simply because they don’t support a good healthy holistic life. Not that you can’t have them but to exercise for 30 minutes and then reward yourself with a milkshake later is counter productive. I did it for years, this is how I know we all do it! Instead find other ways you feel rewarded that are healthier rewards. I reward myself with relaxation, adventures, music, and nature.

Many of us that grew up on McDonalds, TV, and sugar as the main ingredient find it hard to be filled with the reward system we have not experienced before. The reward for these addictive things are so high its hard for us to understand how exercise or healthy food is rewarding. It feels like a chore to many of us. Exercise, yoga, and eating healthy feels like a chore – especially when we are new at it. We have to retrain our bodies away from these controlling substances that stand to suck the life right out of us. We must use some other reward just like a drug addict must find some other way to party! Partying is a great reward I love to invite my partner to dance with me. I love to dance with others, the reward of connecting with another and moving our bodies is as addictive as sex for me. When I say dancing I mean the free expression of oneself to music that you enjoy. Everyone has rewards that align with their values but finding them can be a bit of a process. I was so deep that I first tried sugar as a reward for exercise and we know how effective that can be. Then I tried shopping only to find that it wasn’t financially sustainable. Eventually I began to celebrate the more subtle rewards like cuddling, dancing, nature, relaxation, a quiet mind, and fun adventures. Next thing I know my reward system shifts and I can simply notice that these rewards go much deeper than sugar, shopping and beer. These rewards keep on giving and provide other healthy habits. Although I still slip sometimes I notice its much less often as time goes on and the “fall off the wagon” doesn’t last as long. Also I began to bookmark my stomach aches from eating too much sugar or my hangover from too many beers. Although I will say here that when I was very large and had a huge tolerance for alcohol and sugar I did not feel the “sick” feelings. I did not experience these until I detoxed and then returned to the substance. Changing my habits has been most successful with this bookmarking effect and noticing how things effect me. This reward system will help you rewire your brain so that it WANTS to bring you to the mat and WANTS you to exercise.



Alternatives Food Healthy Inspired Love Permanent Change Starting Uncategorized

The Hobbit Diet

By Hollis Taylor

I tried every diet. I tried all the plans and weird combinations. I watched my mother try them growing up. I spent a lot of time with my little friend at Weight Watchers in the 80’s with our overweight single mothers in a meeting. I ate McDonald’s several days a week and the other days were things like Wendy’s and KFC. I grew up eating the sugar drink mix with NO WATER! I loved colored icing in the tube at my son’s soccer game, yup the whole tube at once!  I spent my 20’s eating like a 5 year old along with my 5 year old. Slowly I found myself in the same situation I witnessed my mother in as I grew up. As I explored the diets I found them to all claim the same thing with little success! Eventually I learned that my only hope was to change my lifestyle. In my exploration I fell in love with the Hobbit Diet and later the entire spirit of the Hobbit.

The hilarious thing was that I was just surfing around on my Facebook page and one of my nerdy friends posted the image.


I loved it! My first Hobbit moment! I figured out how many calories I should be eating to lose weight with (1200 Calories) and divided that by 7 which ended up leaving me with 175 calories per meal. There were times I had to combine Elevensies or Luncheon but I found that this worked for me. As I began to embody my inner Hobbit I was called to also be sure that everything I ate was something a Hobbit might eat. So that meant no to prepared foods and more of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and my personal baked goods. Maybe the occasional chunk of cheese. I actually began to store these things in my pocket. This habit became easy to embody. Soon my body adjusted and my hunger pains were aligned with when it was time to eat and any more than 200 calories in a meal felt like stuffing myself.

I still found myself struggling with normal life like my ugly past, my current family situation, a lifetime of poverty, and the plenty of things one can find to be depressed about. I often found myself binge eating and suffering with emotional eating. When I eat because I am upset and then get depressed because I ate too much. In my meditations and downloads on my yoga mat I explore compassion and kindness. Something that is learned but I was never taught. So I took the time to teach my little child that there were gifts in acting kind and in that I was experiencing compassion. I learned compassion heals not only my heart but the hearts of those I have compassion for. The Hobbit heart was born and my name emerged as “Tobi Longbottom“.

As I struggled with my anger at the ugly in our world I found peace in the pure of heart Hobbit lifestyle. I began to Give Love to Everyone and fully take on a Hobbit Heart, attitude, and lifestyle. Nerdy? Maybe! But I have lost over 75lbs with the Hobbit Diet and its various forms. My Elf friend and snake handler is credited for these awesome photos and introducing me to the power of nuts! I continue to shed pounds and always come back to this diet. Another great benefit is how embodying the energy of the hosting Hobbit I had several chef adventures this summer and really enjoyed them.  I am grateful for the experience, the story, and the love for nerdy things! Tobi Longbottom