I am so excited today to be interviewing Emma Loewe and Lindsay Kellner. They are co-authors of the book ‘The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self-Care.’ I am so excited for the release of this book. It’s something that really speaks to my soul.
Ashley: As many of you know, I’m a huge advocate for self-care. This is something that’s so important in our lives and that not many of us really take the time to do like we should in modern times. So, I want you to take some time to sit back and listen to this interview. Take it all in because I know that these amazing ladies will be sharing some phenomenal advice with all of you. So Emma and Lindsay, thank you so much for being here today.
Lindsay Kellner: No, thank you for having us, we’re so excited!
Ashley: Well, I am really grateful that you wrote this book because I think it is so needed in the world. I’m also just grateful that you are taking time to be here and share it with everyone.
Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourselves and how you got started on this spiritual journey of self-care, and also how that inspired you to write this book?
Lindsay: Yes, that’s a great question. I am the beauty and wellness editor at MindBodyGreen. It’s actually interesting – I’m in a little bit of a transition phase at work, so by the time this episode comes out I will be a contributing editor for MindBodyGreen and I will also be continuing my own blog and podcast called ‘Well Aware.’ I live in Brooklyn, New York. I’m a Leo, my mom is a Cancer. By trade, I’m a writer and editor, but I’ve always been interested in wellness, which I feel is such a weird word to use right now because it’s so ubiquitous and it can mean so many different things.
For me, the way I got started with wellness was actually through yoga.
I started doing yoga when I was 13, which was quite a while ago (I’m 31 now!). I registered for a class at my town’s recreational center and it was me and a bunch of senior citizens [laughs]. Yoga really did bring me into myself and into my body. I wasn’t somebody who loves sports. I guess, I never really developed that hand-eye coordination that you need to really succeed in sports. There was something about the solitude of yoga that really took the pressure off. It gave me the time and the space that I needed to come into myself.
So I think, for me, my journey started certainly when I started taking yoga classes – even though I didn’t really know it at the time. It was a physical release for me. In high school and college I had eating disorders, so like many of us who come into wellness because of some kind of illness, I think my spiritual journey began when I truly started to heal from that.
Ashley: How does that translate for you into shifting into this appreciation for self-care, and how did that kind of tie into the creation of this book?
Lindsay: I think that I’m somebody with a tendency to be a perfectionist. I think that’s a character trait that goes along oftentimes with having eating disorders and a certain personality type. So a lot of the time I see things as very black-and-white, and developing an awareness around that was really the first step in my journey. I started to do a lot of different types of healing modalities on my own. I also engaged in many years of therapy and one-on-one counselling – spiritual and non.
For me, I really notice when I’m not doing enough self-care. Even as I’m talking to you now, I’m going through a huge transition that I feel like is a radical act of self-care. I’m leaving a full-time job to give myself more time, because I’ve started to go through a personal health crisis, and that’s manifested in a lot of ways. I’ve had a lot of symptoms over the last few months of heart palpitations and dizzy spells and all of these kinds of things that you can’t really trace – or I haven’t yet been able to trace. I’ve been to so many doctors to try and get some sort of specific diagnosis.
Ultimately, I think a lot of it comes down to, how are we relating to ourselves? How are we taking care of ourselves? How are we listening to our own bodies?
I think that it’s one thing to be in this industry and to talk about self-care and to think about self-care and have it on your mind all the time, but we need to be actually practicing it as well. I can certainly say that for me, sometimes it felt like enough to just have it on my mind all the time, but when I wasn’t actually practicing it, when I wasn’t taking ten minutes at the beginning or the end of the day to meditate, or when I wasn’t going to yoga (which is still a huge act of self-care for me), I would definitely notice. When you don’t take that time to recharge – whatever that means to you – I think that for me personally, I start to notice that deficit, and I know a lot of others who feel the same.
I also think that self-care has a direct relationship these days with how we’re interacting with our devices.
I think that our devices are addicting – at least for me. It’s fun to be on Instagram and its fun to have access to podcasts, and to be able to use the Internet at any time in any place to figure out literally anything. However, we’re only just starting to see the effects of how it’s really messing with our minds and with our propensity to just be. So for self-care, moderating that has been a huge focus of mine in the last few years.
Ashley: I’m so glad that you touched on this because I think you’re absolutely right about how much our devices are really influencing us.
For example, I’m sure that for many people who are listening right now, the first thing you do when you wake up is you check your phone, right? I recently had a friend of mine tell me she found herself in this habit where every day when she got up, the first thing she did when she opened her eyes was reach for her phone, check her email, and look through social media to see what she’d missed overnight. She’d spend about the first 10 to 15 minutes of her day in bed looking at her phone. She said, “I realized that this was such a huge problem, and kept wondering how I had gotten to this point. I went how many years of my life without that being part of my routine, and I just noticed that it was really affecting me.”
So she made a conscious effort to wake up and not check her phone straight away, and it made an amazing difference to her whole day.
Instead, she would get up and go make a cup of tea, have a little tiny something, just a little bite of something for breakfast, and then she would actually get back in bed for about 10 or 15 minutes, not to go to sleep but just to lay there and relax into the day and allow herself to come into that present moment of consciousness and really think about what it was she wanted to do that day. Kind of mentally plan, mentally set some goals, think about things that were important to her so that she could really be conscious about the actions she was going to take. Then she got up and started her day. She said it made such a huge difference for her feeling that disconnect from the compulsion to go check her phone first thing in the morning.
It was such a small change yet such a big change for her.
Emma Loewe: Yes, totally. I think just making time for all things like that can be so powerful. I kind of used to do something similar. Every morning I’d wake up, I’d either check email or social media, and I started to feel a similar feeling. I would get out of bed and not feel 100% and not really feel like myself. Recently I’ve started to try to instead of doing that, I will think about a few things that I’m grateful for. I’ve found it’s a nice way to set the tone for the day. I am not a morning person at all, so I found that it helps me to get a little bit more excited to roll out of bed.
I think just pinpointing those moments in your life where you can set aside a few moments to take time for yourself, and tune out the rest of the world, is so, so powerful and important.
Going back to my interaction with self-care, I think that I came to it similarly to how Lindsey did, in the sense that it’s helped me through a lot of anxieties. I feel like it really helps me come into my body.
Ashley: Yes. I’m so glad that you brought up this topic of anxiety. I think a lot of us grew up in a time where things were shifting so rapidly, not that previous generations didn’t have this also, obviously modernization has been going on for a long time. But the rate at which things in our world have changed and the rate at which social interactions have changed is so rapid. A lot of things that are valued about wellness and self-care have also changed, which I think has left a lot of us feeling a little bit disoriented. When it comes to what is necessary with self-care, a lot of us push this idea of self-care down somewhere, where we don’t pay attention to it because there are so many other things going on and happening in our lives.
I think finally now, people in our age group and younger are feeling this return to self-care.
A lot of times, Millennials get a little bit of crap for this, right? [laughs] People make us out to be kind of self-centered and things like that. Really, I think that what we’re doing is placing greater importance and greater value on things that have real meaning in our lives.
So, I’m really excited to kind of dive into the book a little bit because it really focuses on taking that time to nourish yourself. It does this through some little rituals and things that people can do every day, because you’re all about making it accessible and easy for people. So, I would love to know a little bit more about how this came about.
How did you create some of these little rituals in this book?
Lindsay: Yes, thank you for saying that. I have a lot of feelings about the way Millennials are treated in a societal context, I think it’s so interesting. I’m right on the cusp of Millennial. I think I’m a little bit old to be a Millennial, but I think I do still fall squarely in that Millennial space.
It’s funny – our parent’s generation, or even the generation right before us, our older brothers and sisters, can look at us and think that we’re so soft and that we’re almost a little selfish. I think that the reason there’s that perception is because we’re really the first generation that has grown up with a digital native sensibility. We’re the first generation who had computers growing up. At some point, in grade school, a computer was introduced, and we were young enough to absorb that and sort of absorb it as a second language. Everything has evolved so quickly from there.
Now it’s really easy for you to scroll through your Instagram feed and to like a few inspirational quotes and to think that’s self-care. I would like to argue that its part of it, certainly, but it’s not it.
Introducing yourself to self-care through a digital lens is one step in the right direction. But I think one of the reasons why I wrote this book is because we want people to return to the physical. There’s a reason it’s a book and it’s analogue. That meant a lot to us.
So, to answer your question about how we came up with these rituals…
We divided the book into the seasons, so each chapter is a season.
So we picked different holidays within each season and different moments within each season that were meaningful to us or that were lost or forgotten. We imagined what we might do ourselves to celebrate these seasons in a way that honors the ancient traditions behind those seasons and in a way that honors the Earth. Nature plays a huge part in our book. Also, the reality is that Emma and I are journalists. So it’s funny, we talk a lot about how in our book we consult with experts. We have probably a dozen and a half experts that we have consulted across all different healing modalities, whether it’s Reiki, meditation, yoga, theology or astrology. We don’t claim to be experts in any of them.
We’re curators of modalities that we have experienced ourselves or heard about and wanted to introduce in a broader context.
We’re the experts in writing and researching. So, there is an enormous amount of writing and research that went into this book. For each season we give the reader context of what it means from the point of view of Ayurveda. What this means, is from the point of view of somebody who believes in a traditional Chinese medicine system, and also what it might mean for different cultures around the world that are different from our own.
So, we really wanted to show a broader context and a different perspective on ritual and we thought that that sort of tangibility and information might inform the types of rituals that we may want to do. This also gives meaning to the rituals, because I think that at the end of the day you can do almost anything and call it self-care if it’s analogue. I think infusing it with meaning and infusing it with that rich history is what’s special about the book.
Ashley: So, let me ask you both this…
Was it that need to connect to the physical that actually inspired the methods of self-care that you’re discussing in this book? That practice of ritual, of getting physically involved?
Emma: Yes, definitely. I think that it was like Lindsey said – we’re journalists by trade, so we loved learning more about everything. It was really fun to dive into those really physical, tangible ways that people throughout history have used ritual and used it as a way to connect with themselves and connect to the Earth. I think that another huge part of the book is that we do consult with experts for a lot of the rituals. Basically, the way the book is laid out is there’s one ritual given for different holidays throughout the year. There are holidays like Christmas, as well as more esoteric ones – like we consider the full or new moons. So, it’s divided into those categories and then we choose one ritual for each one, and we consult an expert.
The book is really meant to be visited and revisited throughout the year, every year, and kind of be more like a handbook.
We really imagine someone writing in this book and marking the pages and just coming back to it year after year to celebrate these different points and come back to themselves.
Ashley: One thing that I really love about the way that you’ve organized this is that a lot of us don’t consider that around the times of different holidays can be the times of greatest stress in our lives, and we really need to work to make time for more self-care. It’s almost like this amazing tool or resource that people can turn to when they’re caught up in the midst of it.
You know how sometimes you’re super stressed out, you’re go, go, go, but you’re not present enough in your body or in your mind to realize what’s taking place until it’s too late? Until you get sick, until you’re totally depleted. I like this book as a reminder.
This is something people can keep on their bedside table, keep on their desk, keep somewhere where it can be a physical reminder to take time.
I like that at any given time of year you can flip open this book and get a little guidance from people that sound like a friend offering this collected knowledge, this collected wisdom, that you’ve both really done the groundwork to collect from all these experts. I think that what you’re sharing here is just so beautiful that way, so thank you both.
Lindsay: Well, thanks for loving on it. The way you speak about it is really exciting. Do you have a copy by the way?
Ashley: I don’t, but I’ve already pre-ordered. [laughs]
Lindsay: Oh, thank you.
Ashley: Yes, so I’m just a couple of weeks away from my copy arriving in the mail, and I can’t wait. The book is actually being released on October 16th of this year and it will be a hardcover book, it’s absolutely beautiful.
I would love a little sneak peek into one of your favorite rituals or practices that you share in the book. Without giving everything away, do you have an example of one of the rituals you share?
Emma: Yes, totally. So, there’s one holiday that we’ve called out that’s of special importance to me because I’m the sustainability editor at MindBodyGreen. I’ve always had this really deep-rooted appreciation for nature, and it was really important for me to have a lot of rituals that get people to go outside and connect with Mother Earth. So, this is a ritual for Earth Day, and it also it incorporates crystals, so we thought it’d be a good one to share.
Ashley: Oh, perfect.
Lindsay: Yes. So, the idea for this one is to get some kind of talisman, which could be a crystal, or it could be a necklace – just something that you don’t mind parting with. The idea about this Earth Day ritual is to return something to Mother Earth. Emma and I, we try our best, but we both live in New York so it can be really hard sometimes to get out into nature and to experience nature. But we both also grew up in Connecticut and we’ve spent enough time by the water and in the trees and the forests to really understand its ability to heal us.
Emma wrote this one, and it really revolves around the idea of returning something and thanking the mother…
You take a crystal or a stone, or something of significance that was once of the Earth, and go to your favorite spot in nature. This could be the ocean, a clearing in the woods near your house, whatever. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can even be a cemetery, it doesn’t matter. You sit for a moment and really ground and get quiet with nature, and hold this object in your hand, and think about the ways that you’re grateful to the Earth. You infuse that object with meaning as you’re meditating. After you do that, you take the object and you bury it. You bury it into the ground beneath you. Or if you’re at a body of water you can throw it into the water. Return it to where it came from, and spend a little more time there thinking.
We’re both big journalists so we both really like to write, so that’s something natural that we would then do after. You’ll have a very special connection with that place from here on out.
This is something you can do every season, or it’s something you can do once a year, or something you can do just once. Either way, I think that it really can strengthen your connection with the Earth.
Ashley: I love how accessible this is, because really any of us can do this. Like you said, even the two of you who live in New York where it can be really difficult to find that connection to the natural world, this is still something that’s totally doable for you. It might take a little bit more effort but it’s still totally within grasp. I think that this connection to the Earth is so important to our wellness and our well-being in our self-care practice.
I love that you said that this can be something that you do once a year, once a month or just once. It’s just about getting out there and doing it and having that experience. This is actually something I’ve done many times in my life, something very, very similar to what you’re describing. It is such a powerful experience to feel that connection to this planet that you’re a part of and that you share with billions and billions of other creatures and beings. It’s just such a powerful experience. I’m a big writer too, so for me I’ve definitely journaled about this experience several times, but as you were talking it made me think about it as “Well, we do that because we’re writers.” I imagine for other people you could sing or you could dance, or you could drum or you could paint, or you could draw.
Ashley: I just I love that you’ve shared that, so thank you both so much for being here today.
Tell us a little bit about the book itself… Where people can find it? How it’s going to be released? What we can expect? I’m sure people are really anxious to hear all about it.
Emma: Yes. So, like you mentioned, it comes out October 16th and it’s available online. Again it’s called ‘The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self-Care.’ Lindsay and I are also planning a few events for it in the New York City area, so stay tuned for those. People can follow the book on our website which is just spiritalmanac.com and then we have an Instagram which is also just @spiritalmanac.
Ashley: Perfect, and of course we will have links to those in the show notes as well to make it really nice and easy for all of you who are listening. So, again, Lindsey and Emma, thank you so much for being here with us today, really appreciate you sharing everything that you shared today.
Lindsay: Well, thank you for having us and thank you for such a thoughtful conversation.
Emma: Yes, thank you so much.