I didn't fully grasp the power of intention up until recently. I didn't understand that the most simple act of entering into my heart, could change my entire life, or rather, change the entire trajectory of my life. I have always been a person who wanted meaningful experiences—true friends, a consistent and real spiritual practice, a job that made me feel fulfilled. You know, a life that not only looked good on the outside, but felt good on the inside. I acted as though this was my reality, and to an extent, it was. But deep down, I wasn't actually content. My happiness was ALWAYS attached to something. I didn’t know what it was like to experience joy, unbounded,
I moved to Boulder, Colorado two and a half years ago to pursue a career in Holistic Nutrition. Immediately, I felt home. I was happy. I was doing what I had dreamed of. I lived in a beautiful place. I was taking full advantage of everything Boulder had to offer—yoga, hiking, healthy food, farmers markets. . . all the things I loved. I was working out daily, biking as a primary means of transportation, eating the best food, and feeling good. This was my identity.
Being in the field of health and nutrition, in addition to being active on social media as a means to showcase and inspire this lifestyle, has presented many personal challenges. Primarily, I've been faced with immense pressure, whether that be societal or self inflicted. The pressure to "look the part", to "embody the role" of a person who exudes health, is something I've allowed myself to fully subscribe to. "Healthy" to most means thin, beautiful, clear skin, a fit/strong body, etc. Whether that’s real or not, that’s what people expect. Being an extremist means I go all in. This can be good. . . heck, if I wasn't like this, I wouldn't be living the life I am today. That said, it can also create major imbalance and destruction. ’Holistic' living is nothing short of a trend at the moment. Everyone on social media seems to be promoting this lifestyle, which is cool! But it often lends itself to comparison, feelings of inadequacy and self judgement.
In 2015, I became very sick. Essentially, I had unknowingly stressed my body out to the max, and finally, I was experiencing the repercussions. A past history of an eating disorder and extreme exercise addiction, in addition to watching my dad become debilitated from a nearly fatal stroke, and living in an apartment that had been contaminated with toxic black mold—it was the perfect storm to wreak havoc and imbalance in my body. I no longer felt like myself.
My identity had been placed in my seemingly "perfect" healthy lifestyle. When this no longer felt like the case, I broke down. One of the symptoms that came with my state of health was severe insomnia and anxiety attacks. Let me just say, this takes a lot out of a person. Especially someone who thought she had it all figured out. I did everything "right." I felt like my work andÂ my career was all fake. The fear of people finding out about my health struggles was terrifying. How could I help clients, when I couldn't even figure it out for myself? The hardest part of it all was that this switch from health to sickness seemed to occur overnight (it was a long time coming, but that’s not what it felt like). I clung so hard to the "old me," healthy, strong, energetic, radiant me. I looked in the mirror and felt like I didn't even recognize myself. The light in my eyes had turned into dark under eye circles. I felt shame.
I began to undergo healing via bio-identical hormone replacement and acupuncture, as one of the side effects of my past eating disorder was extremely low hormone levels; so much so that I hadn’t menstruated in nearly 5 years. A huge part of that healing meant putting on some weight. Essential and healthy weight, but nonetheless, weight. You can imagine that this was a terrifying process for someone with a history of body image issues, coupled with extreme exercise and an eating disorder. I had to remind myself daily that this was a crucial aspect of my healing. The health issues I had been experiencing, however, were so debilitating, that my greatest fear of weight gain, or better said, not being the person people expected me to be, was minuscule in comparison. It wasn’t just the weight. I felt like I was losing myself. Everything I had worked for was being taken away in my eyes. I placed so much of my identity in being the girl who would always kickass in every single workout class I went to. When I had to stop being an extremist with my workouts, that also took a toll on my confidence. I had to slow down in allÂ areas of life. The girl who used to be able to do it all was now having to take a step back and reconsider what I had been doing to myself for the past 6 years.
This healing process lent itself to lots of yoga, as this was the safest form of movement for my body.Yoga brought me into to my body. It helped me connect with myself in ways I could only seem to access on my mat. This process then directed me to my first cosmic women’s tribe, led by my now meditation teacher, Yashoda Devi Ma. Cosmic Women’s Tribe is essentially women coming together on the full moons to love and support other women. During this evening, major healing occurred. Far more healing than any treatment I could ever undergo. I stepped into this place, not knowing what to experience, slightly nervous, but also excited. I was greeted with a genuine hug by each woman present.
I had never experienced other women in this way. No competition. No judgment. Just l o v e. That’s all. I felt fully accepted by not only every woman in the room, but by myself. I experienced my own beauty and the beauty that each woman held for herself, unlike ever before. The whole evening was experienced from the heart. The only place truth really exists. The lies that had been playing through my mind on and off for the last year and aÂ half had died. Victoria, founder of, Sankalpa, was also at this event. She led those who wanted to through an intention setting ceremony with her naked gem line. After truly abiding from the heart for the 2 hours leading up to this, my intention was clearer than ever.
I wanted to let go. I wanted to let go of who I think I should be, and to fully embrace who I am. No expectations. No unrealistic standards. I went home that night and cried, both tears of joy, and sadness for the way I had been engaging with myself since this sickness had set in. The way these women looked at me, and everyone else there, was as if I was the most beautiful enchanting being in the room. I felt that.
Victoria explained that with intention setting there is no need to strive or cling to your intention. The intention had been set, and that’s all that needs to occur. She told me it was relevant to let go and witness opportunities to embody my intention as they organically arose. I watched the trajectory of my life take a major turn. Since that night, I have experienced more healing in the last 7 months, than I have in the last few years. The process hasn’t been easy. In fact, it's exposed many deeply rooted patterns that I thought were no longer a part of my life, when actually, they were only being suppressed by other things. I now have a daily practice that allows me to transcend all of these things, with vedic meditation. But, had I never set the intention of self-acceptance in the first place, I would have continued in my destruction.
Part of this intention ceremony is picking a gemstone that resonates with you, tying it around your neck, and letting that be a symbol of the seed planted. When the gem falls off, the intention has been fully embodied, and that intention is no longer relevant for it has reached manifestation.
Many people have a profound experience when their gem falls off. My experience is profound in its own way, as it never really fell off. Actually, I was posing for a photoshoot for Sankalpa, in which the consensus was that topless shots would be the best way to capture the essence of embracing your natural bare self. Exposed. Raw. Naked. A nude body is beautiful, simple and pure.
The shoot took place at the base of the flatirons in Boulder, CO. As I stripped down to nearly nothing, and posed for these shots, I realized that in that moment I had fully embraced myself as I am. Simple and bare, in the open space, in the midst of nature, nothing to hide behind. Nothing to fake.
It didn’t matter what the photos looked like, in that moment, I felt myself fully love and embrace every single part of myself. I completely let go of all expectations. I felt innocent and free. No self judgment. I experienced myself unlike ever before. Of course, we needed to cut my naked gem necklace off for the sake of the shoot. It was saved for me to tie back on when we were all finished but I didn’t want it. I witnessed myself completely surrender that day, all the while fully accepting every part of myself. That’s all. It is no longer relevant.
written by Erika Elizabeth
Adaptogenic Elixir Alchemist + founder of Wellness Platform Adeptist