"So often in life, we put on these masks of what we are conditioned and expected in society to be and I did that. I let myself get lost in the collective story, rather than holding true to my story."
I've been reflecting lately on what it means to have an ego death. I think that I'm finally coming out the other side of mine and it's been a massive three-year journey just to get to this place when I can start to feel again.
For me, the drive into my "death" was multi-faceted; I had just started my Chakra Cards business, I met my partner, I hurt my neck in a headstand, my daughters were proving very challenging teenagers to parent, I started working full-time and I had started my yoga teacher journey which ended with me dropping out of yoga altogether and questioning why I was adopting a belief system that COMPLETELY belonged to another culture and another time.
Without yoga, I didn't know who I was - it had become my identity both on and off the mat - and in it my ego felt grand and important, and superior to others. Looking back, it was inevitable that I would crash with those belief systems. What followed was the surrender of care for my health and ceasing all exercise, increased apathy about my future and complete despondency about life.
For many months I wallowed in grief about losing my home, my new life as a partner and my changing role as the mother of three almost-adult children, not little ones. Then those months turned into years and only now, after months of psychological help am I able to see my way out of this existential or mid-life crisis or however you want to label it.
Some of the things that helped me during this time was self-reflecting through journalling and the Chakra Cards, returning to the things that had helped me in the past like alternative healers and strangely, looking at photos of me as a child. When I looked into my eight year old eyes, I could see her hopes and dreams and I could see how I had surrendered those because of life's circumstances. So often in life, we put on these masks of what we are conditioned and expected in society to be and I did that. I let myself get lost in the collective story, rather than holding true to my story.
I had completely forgotten who I was. I was metaphorically standing there naked with all aspects of my "self" as puzzle pieces - waiting for me to put them back onto my body. I didn't. I chose to stay in that hollowness for many months until the first piece of who I really am became apparent; that I am Tasmanian. It is my home and my birthright. It is my story and my heritage and it is embedded so very firmly into who I am that it brings tears to my eyes to feel that ownership of identity within me.
I have the first piece of myself back.
Every day I try on different things and see if they fit, but nothing has given me that same emotional, primal feeling of that first puzzle piece, and so I keep exploring who I think I was and who I might be. I'm very aware now of how easily our egos can lead us down paths that we THINK is the right thing and I'm cautious in not going down that path again.
This morning I saw Russell Brand talking about his own crisis, and I realised that I'm not alone in this - others have had it happen before and you might be going through your own crisis right now or in the future - but it's a really important phase in our spiritual development. I wouldn't ever want to live through the past three years again, but you never know, This re-birth might be just the best thing I've ever done.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2019
"Crying is universal - across all cultures. It appears in folktales and mythology and across ages, from babies to the elderly and even animals. Given this, why is there so much shame in it?"
You know when your face is all red and swollen, that heaving - almost vomiting - sadness that wells up from deep inside us and there are no more tears left? That moment when you couldn't possibly cry anymore because you have nothing left inside?
It's similar to the space between asleep and awake, an inhale and an exhale, the moment your foot leaves the ground ready to step forward, or backward.
When you're completely exhausted from sadness.
That is the moment that sits in infinite potential of our being. It's that moment that we are raw and vulnerable and our beingness sits in possibilities - the possibilities of awakening, the possibilities of exhaling, the possibilities of changing direction and the possibilities of allowing joy to bubble up inside us.
We have so much power in that moment.
Crying is as natural as breathing. But just like when we hold our breath or when we hold our tears and sadness in, it is us that suffers. We choke. We drown in our emotions. We are unable to live fully. Borgquist suggests that before we cry, we have an accumulation, where emotions build up until they can no longer be held by the physiological system. And yet, as awful as it feels sometimes, crying is good for us. It is hard for science to measure a good impromtu cry in a lab, but overwhelmingly (60-70%) of people found psychological benefits in having a good cry. Crying is universal - across all cultures. It appears in folktales and mythology and across ages, from babies to the elderly and even in animals. Given this, why is there so much shame in it? Why do we hide our raw, emotional feelings?
According to psychosomatic therapy, tears shouldn't be wiped away. The energetic release allows for the tracks of the tears to fall away along with the reasons for the grief. The Communication Queen Carmel Murphy suggests they should be allowed to flow past your chin "You simply must allow your tears to flow to allow release. Pschomatically your spirit does not register that you have released the emotion until your tears reach your chin. So cry freely and heal quicker." So let them flow. As my girlfriend rightly said yesterday "maybe it's about accepting...and not fighting it." Her wisdom was a timely reminder of loving what is, diving fully into the sadness, to sit in it, to sit with it - without judgement.
Life is not about our achievements or popularity or the stuff we collect, it is the moments. It's the moment before sleep or awakening, the pause between the in-breath and out-breath, it's the momentary pause between steps and it's the moment that sits between sadness and joy. Life is made of these moments. And in every one, we have a choice - to suppress our feelings, or to allow ourselves to BE in that moment, until our face is puffy, our stomach muscles are aching, the tears are exhausted and we feel empty. It's in that emptiness we have choice and that feels empowering.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2019
 Borgquist, Alvin. “Crying.” The American Journal of Psychology, vol. 17, no. 2, 1906, pp. 149–205. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1412391.
 Rottenberg, Jonathan, et al. “Is Crying Beneficial?” Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 17, no. 6, 2008, pp. 400–404. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20183331.
"If we just sit at home and aspiring for some self-serving nirvana state but allow the world to fall around us, is that spiritual? No, it's irresponsible."
It's all very well and good for the "Love and Light" brigade to spread love and light, after all the world needs more of it, but where's the line between spirituality and activism? Can the two co-exist or do they have to be separate entities?
By definition spirituality is often the surrender of some "greater force" than us driving our destiny and activism is a "means of achieving political or other goals."
Our world is dying; climate change, animal extinctions, plant disappearance, the death of ecosystems such as Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. The science is in, our ecosystem cannot continue this human-driven march towards its and our extinction. What greater goal could we have than the protection of our planet? But is sitting in meditation in the privacy of our privileged, Western lives going to change anything apart from ourselves?
I see great value in self-work, don't get me wrong, I've even created a line of products designed to help people see how they can be better humans but at some point we need to get off our butts and take action. Agreed, it makes us feel good about ourselves when we devote our time to yoga, meditation or other forms of spirituality - whatever that is for you - but what is the POINT of spirituality if our planet is dying?
The Zen quote: "chop wood, carry water, enlightenment, chop wood, carry water" is so pertinent here. No matter how "spiritual" you think you are, there are human needs that still need to be undertaken. We are still human beings on this planet and our bodies require a healthy ecosystem to survive.
I see the work of Abraham-Hicks often in my newsfeed with trite comments like: "Just remember that you want your influence to always be what you ask for and never be about what you are against because as long as your influence is what you're for then you have the backing of Universal forces." I deeply desire a peaceful, sustainable, loving planet and I can sit in my comfortable home for as long as I want desiring this thing but if I don't take daily actions alongside these thoughts, nothing will change.
Life isn't about the self! It's about the collective. We need to start seeing us as US and not ME.
We are part of an ecosystem and events do not exist in isolation and one of the reasons I moved away from the yoga community was this self-isolation built in ego. We do not exist in isolation on a yoga mat on the floor of a studio as we do not exist in isolation as a human being on this planet. Sean Corne's Off the Mat project is one example of taking yoga spirituality out of the yoga studio, and I'd love to hear about more if there is any you know about.
What is the point of loving compassion if it's not shared with the world? How can we both protect and nurture the Earth and the mechanisms that sustain life; air, water, food, diversity and yet keep our spirituality intact?
The answer is simple: action and service.
There comes a time when we have to take action.
If we just sit at home and aspiring for some self-serving nirvana state but allow the world to fall around us, is that spiritual? No, it's irresponsible. We have to put all of our love and compassion into the wider world. What better way than making a stand to protect our precious water from fracking. Water is life. No amount of chanting or green kale smoothies will prevent this toxic sickness from leeching into our ecosystem.
It's time for us to be the spiritual activists we were born to be.
In love and action,
©Alyssa Curtayne 2018
"The role of women is changing from the traditional maiden, mother, crone to a time where any woman can be whatever it is she wants to be. A Goddess doesn’t have to be a young woman, or a mother, and she can age as gracefully (or disgracefully) as she wishes. It’s about women having choice; it’s about women feeling beautiful, powerful, confident and sensual in their own skins."
The internet has been awash with blogs, Instagram images and articles about being a Goddess, yet, unless you have experienced it, many women do not know what a Goddess is, or indeed, how to be one. And what on Earth does it mean to be Empowered? In the interests of full disclosure, this article will be my truth about what being an Empowered Goddess means to me.
For many years, I was plagued with self-esteem issues and it wasn’t until I did an online course with Leyolah Antara at Kundalini Dance that I felt the pulsing of energy that is the feminine energy of the Goddess that I fully understood the sensation of being an Empowered Goddess. I guess for me, I had to experience it to understand its power.
I could start by writing about how women were revered in many ancient cultures (and some modern ones), however, I think that it will detract from the issue. Such powerful women as the goddesses of early Pagan (Diana, Hretha), Hindu (Kali), Sumerian (Ishtar, Ereshkigal), Egyptian (Isis), Norse (Freyr, Bil), Irish (Dana, Brigid) and Greek (Aphrodite, Artemis) societies, not to mention those from China, Africa and the Americas as well as Indigenous ones and those in the Biblical stories, such as the divine Mary Magdalene.
I could talk about the other terms like embodied woman and Shakti that are used interchangeably about the Goddess in the early 21st Century but for the ease of the article, let’s just stick with the Goddess. Historically, women were revered as they carried children and the burden of both life and death through the process of childbirth. Thankfully, maternal deaths are decreasing and less women are dying in this important stage of life, and more interestingly, many women are choosing not to have babies. The role of women is changing from the traditional maiden, mother, crone to a time where any woman can be whatever it is she wants to be. A Goddess doesn’t have to be a young woman, or a mother, and she can age as gracefully (or disgracefully) as she wishes. It’s about women having choice; it’s about women feeling beautiful, powerful, confident and sensual in their own skins.
Women have only had the right to vote for about 100 years and the Goddess has risen historically in periods when misogyny was at its worst, such as when the Inquisition tortured and killed thousands of men and women who stood up to the church. Women who rode “cowboy” were considered witches (I kid you not!) (Stay tuned for my first novel, Matilda, based on this crazy misogynist culture in 2018). The Goddess brings us back to balance when the masculine energies become too dominant and unfortunately, we need the Goddess energy now more than ever.
Women are tired of being told what we can and can’t do by men and the institutions that run the world. We are all powerful, we know it and men know it and when they see us in our full power, they know who really wields power; and it’s not men or women, it’s a balance between the two.
The word “empower” means to “to give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means.” By its definition alone, being empowered means that we give permission to ourselves to feel the power of ourselves. By extension, an empowered person also aids and empowers other people, particularly women, ethnic minorities and those who are in some way disenfranchised by society. Putting others down, does not empower the self, and it certainly does not empower others.
An Empowered Goddess is not the antithesis of men, she lifts up the men in her life as much as she lifts the women and herself. It doesn’t have to be duality; that is dominance by men OR women, it’s about balance. The more the Empowered Goddess taps into her inner self, the more that she can empower others to be the very essence of who they are, raising us all up in a collective empowerment.
To me a Goddess is a woman who has embraced and accepted all of who she is, that is, her darkness and her light. We all have the capabilities to be a great healer or leader or indeed someone who is capable of murder, given the right scenario. A Goddess sees and acknowledges those parts of herself that reflect both the primitive parts of humanity and the full goodness of it.
A Goddess is a woman who has done a lot of self-reflection and owns all of those parts of herself that at times she doesn’t like and at times she loves. When she looks into a mirror a Goddess will sometimes see a frightened little girl, or a vulnerable woman, other times she will see a wild woman ready for anything and other times a sensual, sweet seductress.
A Goddess is a woman who is assured in her sexuality; she has no guilt or anxiety around masturbation or sex and honours each and every lover with every ounce of her being. She can see her lovers’ vulnerabilities and knows just when to support him/her and lift them up. She is able to walk away if it’s not bringing her satisfaction, yet she is happy in the moment, knowing that she is exactly where she is meant to be.
She is not afraid of men, in-fact, she knows just the right ways to disarm or seduce a man should it please her. This is not something that she shows off, but if she wants someone or something, she will get it, she knows of her power to manifest her desires in a way which is loving but not manipulative. An Empowered Goddess feels into her body and she knows it, inside and out. It’s a feeling of being connected to something greater than all of us; a flow of femininity if you like that completely honours and respects the masculine and feminine balance of life.
May you find and honour your inner Goddess and those around you.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
Note: In 2015, I created tools to help people become self-empowered; Chakra Cards. Unlike traditional tarot and other divination tools, these tap into our intuitive self and allow people to clear all that no longer serves for them and help them to become an empowered Goddess or God with the power of looking within. Chakra Cards Empower yourself; look within.