In this episode I welcome back Diego aka Yung Pueblo. We discuss what it takes to share your story with the world, how to overcome fear + shame, and the blocks encountered throughout the creative process.
We cover everything from past lives and universal laws to navigating relationships on your spiritual journey. We dive into Diego’s well-known poetry and he gives an inside look on his insights and the experiences.
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Episode #472: How To Be In Relationship While On A Spiritual Journey + Overcome Fear Of Sharing Your Story with Yung Pueblo
By Sahara Rose
You’re living in a way where you’re trying to, like, map out your reality in this, sort of, concrete manner. It really stops the flow of this, like, you know, nature itself. It’s like a river, it’s constantly flowing forward, constantly moving and changing. And what we do with our attachments, we do it, specifically this attachment to perfection, is that we constrict that flow, we, like, constrict it so much that we actually start to move against the flow nature, which will only cause hurt, which will only cause misery. So, I think we have to be really mindful of “What am I building an attachment around?”
Welcome back to The Highest Self Podcast. My name is Sahara Rose and this is a place where we discuss what makes you, your soul’s, highest evolvement.
I am so excited to have Yung Pueblo, aka Diego, on The Highest Self Podcast. He’s a dear friend of mine and was on this Podcast actually, back in 2018, which feels like a lifetime ago, and since has blown up more so than he was at that time (if possible).
He’s written two more books, which are both New York Times’ bestsellers, and really, what he’s known for is his approach to making poetry about healing and meditation, mindfulness, overcoming trauma, relationship, friendship. He approaches a wide range of topics but makes it so approachable.
And it’s funny because we didn’t know that we actually grew up very close to each other, in Boston, and both come from immigrant backgrounds where it’s sometimes hard to write about your story and share about the difficulties that your family has overcome because of the shame and this idea of like “I don’t want my friends to read about this”. And we discuss all of the things that it really takes underneath writing your story.
So, the creative blocks that you might experience, feeling like “How am I ever going to write like I used to?”, a feeling of not knowing how to share your story, if your story is even worth sharing. And on top of that, we get into all of the spiritual aspects as well, we kind of just go straight in, in this Podcast.
I ask him about his past lives and whether he feels like he was a monk in his past lives; we go through various of his poetry pieces; and he shares his insight of what was going on behind that; we address relationships and being on a spiritual growth journey, and it looking different sometimes than your partners. And this conversation really feels like one between two friends and I know you’re going to love it!
So, without further ado, let’s welcome Yung Pueblo, aka Diego, to The Highest Self Podcast.
So, there’s a lot of talk about morning routines, and if I have to be honest, there is one practice that I really stick to every single day, it’s my non-negotiable, and that is breathwork.
It really just helps me open up the channels in my body and allow me to receive more creativity, insight, which really supports me in my Dharma. And I have been loving the app Open, I actually had the founder Manoj, here on The Highest Self Podcast (incredible Episode, I’ll link it below). And this App is really just a modern approach to breathwork, I mean, picture doing breathwork to Berlin house music, and you basically got the vibe. And I also love that they have meditation movement classes and it’s all in under 10 minutes.
So, I love doing their breathwork in the morning, but also their sleeping breathwork at night, because it really just helps me calm my mind.
So, they’re actually giving Highest Self Podcast listeners 30 days free. So, you head over to withopen.com/sahara to get your 30 days free, and you can find that link in the show notes, and I’m super excited to see you in class!
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Welcome back Diego, to The Highest Self Podcast, it’s so great to have you here!
Thank you for having me Sahara, I’m overjoyed that we get to do this again! The last time was so long ago, so it feels special to be here again.
Yes! Here we are, world is in a different place, yet, still, the soul, the same! So, I want to ask you this question again, what makes you your highest self?
I think it’s meditating two hours a day. I spend an hour in the morning meditating and an hour in the evening. Not always at the same time, but you know, some time after I wake up and some time after dinner I’ll meditate, and that always brings me back to just, like, getting rid of all the nonsense that gets clogged up in the head during the day, all the narratives that are unnecessary, all the, sort of, tension that I’m causing myself, and just coming back to that truth of change, helps me come forward as a better version of myself.
Do you feel like you were a monk in a past life?
That’s a good question! I definitely wouldn’t rule it out. I mean, I’m really, when I’m in those long meditation courses, like, the first few courses, it was very, very hard, but then I kind of – it’s a deconditioning process, so, once you get rid of a lot of the heavier things and you just start working on deepening your understanding of impermanence, I just feel very comfortable in that environment of being totally alone, so, possibly, for sure.
Yeah. I ask this because when I hear – there’s very few people in the world that meditate two hours a day, right? It takes just so much, just, like, internal strength, but it’s also such a specific pathway and I wonder how many lifetimes you’ve probably spent doing this, to be able, in this lifetime, to even sit and meditate for two hours, and that being your path. So, it makes me curious to think, maybe, in previous lifetimes, you’ve been doing this and you needed to go through the journey of forgetting it.
We were actually talking about how we both came from the same place outside of Boston, so our souls are like “Let’s go somewhere that’s totally not meditation vibes and forget and come back”.
I’m curious, because I know you’ve really doven into Buddhism, what is your take on Past Lives and Reincarnation and Karma?
I think it makes a lot of sense to me. I think having one life seems too short, you know. A lot of people just sort of appear into life with identity, you know, they’ve obviously taken a lot from their parents, from society, but they also, like, come in with their own flare.
I think a lot of that has to do with the nature of arising and passing that is viewable everywhere in the Universe, everything is constantly changing, things are constantly arising and passing, and when something passes, it arises again, and not in the same form, but it will keep coming back.
So, to me, I think it seems, from my direct experience, it seems like it’s definitely real. And in terms of Karma, in terms of the Law of Cause and Effect, I definitely believe that that’s real. I feel that that has been so evident in my life and you can just, sort of, take a look at the fact that if you do something, there’s an effect, there’s always an effect, so it’s not just like a one-way thing. I think learning and embracing the fact that your actions have, you know, not necessarily repercussions, but they have these effects that move forward, you don’t know when these seeds will sprout. I think it actually can be, it doesn’t need to be something scary, it can actually be something really beautiful and powerful. If you put a lot of positivity into the world, it will come back to you in some way or another.
Yeah. It’s so fascinating looking at Karma and Dharma from both the Vedic perspective and the Buddhist perspective, and they’re a little bit different, right? Like, connected, but different. And it’s so fascinating because I do feel like all humans, we do feel this cause and effect, that our actions, our decisions, our vibrations, our preferences, are all going to create our reality, and now it’s a matter of how.
And I think the hard thing with that is then the blame that sometimes we do on ourselves or someone else, like “Oh, something bad happened, it must be my Karma, I must’ve done something bad in a past life or repaying”.
So, for you, when something challenging happens in your life, how do you look at that? Do you see that as “Okay, this is the lesson for me to learn”, or do you see it as, like, the Universe has random experiences and sometimes things just happen?
I think every effect has a cause, right? So, the Buddha has this saying that even the leaf blowing in the wind, there’s a cause that created that. So, you can’t really say that everything is random. But at the same time that that’s true, you know, there are simultaneous truths where that’s also true, there is also Karma playing out in my life, but there’s also free will. So, in this moment, how am I going to receive the situation? I’m not pre-destined. Some situations may be bound to happen, but how I’m responding to these situations is totally how I’m acting out and I’m creating new Karma in helping the future be designed in a whole different way.
And it’s funny, I wanted to, you’re making me think of the way the conversation is going, there’s a story where my wife and I, like, we had been together for about six years before we started meditating, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why I believe in Past Lives, is because our connection was always so strong, but I wasn’t sure why, because the two of us are so different, but it wasn’t until we started meditating, and meditating in this particular tradition, where it, like, clicked, and it was like “Wow, we’ve been doing this before”. This is where our connection is, it’s so strong, because we took to this one particular tradition, to this teaching by Guanca and by Siagi Ubakin, it felt like you were arriving home and it was like “Oh, this is what I’m supposed to do and we’re supposed to do this together”. I think that, like, overall, is like why I really believe in those Past Lives.
That’s so beautiful to hear. And I feel like so many listeners, they yearn for that with their partner, to have a shared spiritual practice, a shared, even practice in general. And I’ve read some of your poems, but one of them you wrote was:
“Find a partner who is ready to build with you. It is not about finding perfection in another person, it is about realizing, when you come across an undeniable connection that nourishes your being and matches the type of support you are looking for. Getting lost in the idea of perfection is a hindrance. Being with someone who is committed to going through the ups and downs of life together is truly priceless. When two people embrace their imperfections and commit to growing into better versions of themselves, it will naturally enhance the happiness they share in their relationship”.
Can you talk a little bit about what inspired this?
Definitely! I think, like, to summarize that piece, it’s all about embracing growth, right? Like, we understand we’re imperfect beings, that’s why our healing can never be linear, but when we are able to find someone that we can grow with, like, of course we can grow alone, but a lot of the beauty of life is, it comes out through our connections, through our friendships, through our relationships, through our relationships with our parents, so, that’s, you know, this urge to have a life-long partner. I think a lot of people have that because it’s not only a form of safety, but it, like, sort of intrigues our intuition because our intuition is really pushing us to grow. That’s something that I’ve been reflecting on a lot in the past year, is like, my intuition, it’s not just trying to point me in the right direction, it’s trying to point me in directions where I’ll be able to develop different qualities that I’m lacking currently, and while I take steps forward, outside my comfort zone, so I can continue blossoming.
I find that when you’re able to find another person, that not only is that connection there, but you can potentially grow together and heal together and overcome trauma and learn more about your own emotional histories together, I think it just speeds up that evolutionary process in a lot of ways because there’s this thing that happens. When human beings are together, when we’re in close proximity, it creates tension, right? It’s like, it makes tension happen so easily because in proximity, the egos can rub up against each other and that causes friction. And obviously, we’re going to be in proximity with each other because humans need community to really thrive, so it helps us learn how to coexist in more peaceful ways, through the challenges.
This is such an important point because it’s really easy for us, on our spiritual journeys, to, kind of like, ostracize everyone around us, because we can’t control them, we can’t control whether they’re going to be annoying to us or grow in the same way that we are. And of course, there are, for sure, people who can bring down your energy and have toxic behaviors etc., but ultimately, the spiritual path is not about being in isolation. It’s not about being in your tiny bubble where you can control every single little thing. And I do think it’s an important stage, maybe, to learn how to be alone and learn how to be with yourself, which, you also write about in your book, but I realized, like a few months ago I was like “Yeah, all of my problems come from other people”, and then how funny that reflection was, of like “It’s because it’s the mirror of me”, you know.
So, our relationships are our ultimate pathways, and we’re so quick to, the moment a relationship, whether it’s a friendship, romantic relationship, co-worker, the moment it’s not serving us, we leave and we’re like “Okay, like, put up my boundary and go on to the next one”, and there’s a huge difference between boundaries and walls, you know.
And I think a lot of us, we put up these walls and it’s like our form of self-protectionism, but we can only grow in relationship, friendship, work, everything, when we are able to overcome the discomfort that comes with conflict and being able to stay in our integrity in that space.
Yeah. And it’s all a balance, right? I feel like one tendency of human beings is to sway from extreme to extreme, so it’s like “Oh, I learned this one lesson and then I’m going to take it all the way to the extreme and always be alone”, or “Any time I have trouble with someone, they’re not the right one, because it should be easy”, but no, that’s not life. Life is not meant to be super easy, there are going to be challenges, there are going to be ups and downs. And I think there are probably, like, a lot of relationships that have ended early because there wasn’t enough space to accept the fact that we should grow and learn conflict resolution, right? Like, we should accept the fact that, like, you know, that this love isn’t going to be pristine all the time, it’s not going to be a summer of love all the time, there are going to be winters. But if the connection is strong enough and if both people are in a safe enough environment, then sure, let’s try to figure out how to keep making this work if we both feel committed to it.
But I think, with that said, obviously, there are definitely going to be situations that you do have to walk away from, but it’s all about, you know, you communicating with yourself and your intuition, and finding “Okay, what is it that feels right for me in this moment?”, and not this short moment, but the long moment, the long, sort of, long-term view of what works best for us.
And that’s why being on that healing journey together is so important. You have another poem you wrote:
They asked her: “How do you build harmony in a relationship?”
She answered: “You both have to be serious about your healing and open to growth. When tension arises, you focus on understanding each other’s perspective, instead of trying to win.
As your self-awareness expands, it will make it easier to find a middle path that you both feel good about. Harmony blossoms when your primary intention is love, not control”.
Yeah. I think they thing that stands out for me in that piece is, like, that great switch from winning to understanding, because it’s so hard, because our ego wants dominance. Like, our ego wants control and it wants that of other people too, but if you’re going to create a safe environment, if you’re really going to build a home with another person, then you can’t just try to dominate, you can’t try to manipulate, you can’t try to control, you want to create a space of freedom and a space where we can be honest with each other.
So, I think that’s something my wife and I learned the hard way, was, you know, after so many years, with the both of us fighting with each other, trying to win, we slowly, over time, switched into trying to understand each other, “Tell me why you’re upset. What is going on in your mind that I’m not aware of? Tell me from your perspective how these series of events moved”, and then once I take the time to listen, selflessly, which is hard, it’s hard to listen to someone selflessly because you want to immediately interject and say “Okay, I see it this way”, but it’s like no, if I really respect and love you, let me give you the space for you to tell your story, and then I’ll tell you my story, and if we can both really understand where we’re coming from, then the conflict seems senseless, it’s like “Okay, I get it. I see you and I see how we can do this better in the future”.
You know, I’ve been spending a lot of, like, looking at the part two, three years, thinking about sympathetic joy and literally the joy that arises within you when you see another person happy, when you see another succeed. So, sympathetic joy is sort of like the opposite of envy or jealousy.
I find, like, that has been a lot of the answers to the squabbles that the two of us may have because it’s like, you know, I also know that giving myself, everything I want, all the time, it’s not good for me, it’s really not. It should also be developing, you know, being able to be more selfless and in those moments, what I see is that, when I do act selflessly towards my wife, I do end up getting a lot of joy because I’m like, I love seeing her being with happiness. I think we have to be really aware of what we’re asking our partners of, that we’re not trying to put them in the line of fire or like decrease their energy in any way.
And what I’m mindful of is, you know, I’ve been traveling a lot, the past four, five months, you know, with doing book tours and just like a lot of different things that I’ve been up to, especially around “Lighter”, and it’s been a grueling sort of traveling itinerary that we’ve had. And I’ve been mindful of “Do I do more things?”, because I enjoy the traveling, but I also know that my wife, it kind of wears her out and she doesn’t love it, she wants to spend more time at home. So, even just recently, I was like “Oh, you know, we could go to Miami and go have fun at the end of the December”, but it was like “You know what, that seems unnecessary”, because if I ask her to do that, yeah, I would have fun, she would have fun, but then the effect of her, you know, she would just end up being more tired and I’m, like, asking too much of her, so I realized, I was like “Oh, I’ve got to pump the breaks”.
So, in my own spiritual journey of really honoring the sacred feminine energy within me, I realized that we’re not all the same and we all have different pathways that we can take, that I put together in creating five archetypes, which I call The Rose Gold Goddess Archetypes. They are The Embodiment Queen, The Womb Whisperer, The Intuitive Oracle, The Expressionista and The Joy Priestess. And I’ve put together a free quiz so you can find out what your unique combinations are.
So, The Embodiment Queen is the person who is always in her body, dancing, moving, very connected to her nervous system. The Womb Whisperer always knows where she’s at with her menstrual cycle and probably has a yoni steamer in her bathroom. The Intuitive Oracle has three oracle card decks, on them a pendulum, and knows about their past lives. The Expressionista is creating art through everything, through singing, dancing, writing poetry, everything for her is an opportunity to create art. And then we’ve got The Joy Priestess who wants to laugh, dance and not take herself super seriously. You can find her doing karaoke at an improv class or twerking it on the dance floor (you can guess which one I am).
So, you can head over to rggquiz.com to learn what your unique Rose Gold Goddess Archetype is. Again, that’s rggquiz.com and you can find that link in the show notes. And I’ve created custom graphics that you get in your results so you can share which Rose Gold Goddess Archetype you are. I’m super excited to see!
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Yes. So, how do you cope with, now, traveling all the time (and kind of indefinitely)? Is it sort of an agreement that your wife is going to travel with you or is it just based on places that she only wants to go? Like, how do you even manage the time to even spend time together?
It’s interesting because she’s not only my wife, she’s also my manager, so we work together and we’re a great team together. So, I think for a lot of the more important things, she will come, and she wants to come, but one thing I’m learning too is that, success is not dependent on, like, grinding. And I’ve, like, really been, kind of, thinking about, like, for my future book releases, you know, what can I change about them so I’m not, you know, exhausted at the end of it, or flying too much? Because I’ve been learning too, like, if I’m on a plane all the time, I just get sick, I don’t feel good. Like, I go on a plane and I come down and I can literally feel inflamed, you know, so, all that inflammation is just not good for you. And realizing that, you know, I can keep tweaking things so that I can travel when it’s necessary, but not make my work dependent on travel.
Absolutely! I feel like so many of us – and it’s that fine balance of like, you’re living your Dharma, you’re living your truth, and like, how beautiful you have these opportunities to share. And then, sometimes you have to ask yourself “Well, what is my version of success?”
Yes, exactly! And developing your own version, yeah!
Yeah, and I’m curious for you, like, New York Times’ bestselling author, for an author, that’s the ultimate version of success. And I think, now, this is now your second book that is New York Times’ bestselling, how did that feel, how did that change you, did it change you?
I think I’m still processing it. I think I’ve been, sort of, you know, just like on the go and I’ve just started slowing down for December. And what I’m realizing is, like, it was just a shock you know, like, especially because when “Lighter” debuted, and it came out the first week, the debut was the number one New York Times’ bestseller, and it was just like, totally unexpected because I knew there were other people on the list who had, you know, sold like 60,000 books with pre-release, plus the first week, and they got number two. And I’ve also heard of like, that was Ryan Holiday, who I just mentioned, and I also the story of Tim Ferris, who sold 100,000 copies and got number four. So, it really is like a, you know, you don’t really know what’s going to happen, it’s not just on raw books sales.
So, when I realized that I was like “You know what, whatever happens, happens”. But when my editor and my agent called me and they were like “It was number one”, I was like “What!?”, I could not believe it! It was great! You know, it feels like, I don’t know, they give you like a medal, like, you don’t actually get a medal, but it’s just like, dang, that’s a real big achievement for an author and it’s probably one of the best things you can achieve as an author.
And I think, to me, it feels very, like, I’m grateful that it happened, but also it feels very fleeting, like, you’re there, you’re on the New York Times bestseller for a few weeks, and then it’s not, and then your eyes sort of shift to, you keep promoting your book because you love your book, but you start working on another one. And yeah, life keeps moving.
Ryan Holiday, actually, in one of his books wrote about the moment that one of his books hit New York Times, and it was like this ecstatic moment and then he gets the phone call from the editor “So, what’s your next book?”, and then that pressure of like “Oh, shit, I have to do this again!”. And that, for him, it’s like, he had to just become numb to both the praise and the criticism.
Oh, totally! Totally, yeah!
You know, if you have one, you’ve got to take the other, right? And it’s like, when your book, when your work, sees a lot of eyes, and I feel like that’s the thing that holds most people back, is the judgment that might come with it, the bad reviews that you might get, the negative comments that you might get. I think just the thought of that paralyzes so many people, that they don’t even try.
I’m curious, in your own process, how have you navigated that? Do you even read reviews or do you just kind of put your blinders on and focus on creating?
I put my blinders on and focus on creating, that’s totally me. I’ve learned, over time, that if I’m, like, reading all the reviews, reading all the comments, trying to respond to all the comments, respond to all the DMs, I’m just badly affecting my mental health. And I feel like, with all creators, like, if you’re a writer or a painter, if you make movies, there are going to be some people who love what you did, and it changed their life, and there are going to be other people who don’t like it. And that’s just what it is. And that’s totally fine, that’s just life, people have different preferences. And I think accepting that and then also realizing, like “I really don’t need to read the reviews”, so I just keep focusing on creating and do my best.
And it’s funny, from that you just said too, it’s so true because after a “Lighter” was out for two weeks, my editor was already reaching out to my agent about the next book. And it was funny because I didn’t think we were going to start talking about it until a few months after, but they, like, immediately started talking about it. And it was like, you know, the book had barely come out and I was already putting together an outline for a book that comes out, like, two years from now.
And, like, the beauty in that is, you keep the momentum going, you keep creating and you don’t, like, stay in one thing too long, but then it’s also like, where’s the room for celebration and acknowledgement, you know. And I think it’s like, it seems like you have a healthy balance of doing so, but for a lot of people it might just be like “Oh, shit!”
Like, I know in “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, she writes about that pressure she felt of like “Okay, I’m realistically never going to write another “Eat Pray Love” again”, so then feeling like “Is my creative career over because I have to match that?”
Like, in writing these multiple books, do you ever have that pressure of like “Oh, is it going to top my previous one?”
I’m really inspired – there’s this one line that Jay-Z said, he said “Treat your first like your last and your last like your first”. So, every time I make something, I treat it as if, like, it’s the first thing I ever made, and I want to be clear, you know, reach people, make something that. So, to me, my measurement of success is like “Did I create something that people actually find useful?”, and if they find it useful, not only will it touch them, but they’ll want to share it with their, you know, their family members, their friends and what not, and the book will spread. So, to me, that’s like my primary aim in trying to reach people, is hopefully trying to make something useful for them, and I try to keep that mentality for each book. But at the same time, I know that, like, different books are going to reach people, they’re not all going to be the same equivalent of success. And even, like, with the “Eat Pray Love” thing, for an author, if they have an “Eat Pray Love” at all, in their roster, you know, that’s incredible, that’s massive. Even thinking about Pablo Coelho. Pablo Coelho’s really big book “The Alchemist”. So, “The Alchemist” sold 150 million copies worldwide and all of his other books together have sold like another, sort of like, a 100 million or so. So, none of them have reached that level of “The Alchemist”, that was so expansive, changed so many people’s lives, but they still affected tons of people.
So, I think trying to constantly outdo yourself isn’t the best, and just realizing “Okay, I’m just going to create and keep trying to make things that are useful as much as I can really do for myself, personally”.
Yeah. Like, Eminem still releases music, most people don’t know that, but like, he’s still going out there, putting music out and it just shows it doesn’t need to be like another like 8 Mile, you know, but he’s doing it.
He just loves it, he just, yeah. Too, something I learned the other day was that Eminem is still constantly writing, he constantly has a note pad and has so many rhymes that will never make it out, but he keeps going and keeps writing, just to keep that part of his mind open.
So, that’s one question I really want to ask you – what does your creative process look like in writing? And when you’re writing a book, are you kind of writing it all in one go, like you’re spending a few months in this book, or are you just sort of like writing a certain about of time per day and it’s over a long period of time?
Oh, that’s a good question. I think it’s choppy, it’s really choppy. I know when the ultimate deadlines are, but on the way there, especially with “Lighter”. “Lighter” was so different from my first two books, from “Inward” and “Clarity and Connection” because “Inward” and “Clarity and Connection” were poetry and prose books and “Lighter” was a non-fiction book that just goes deep into all these topics regarding personal development, relationships and self-love, you know, I really go into all of it. But not only does it do that, but I tell my own story in that book.
So, one difficulty of that was like, as I was writing “Lighter”, I, you know, had a few chapters and then I kind of had this big moment of writer’s block where I didn’t write anything for a month or two, and my editor was like “Hey, what’s going on? We’re running out of time”, and I realized I was just, I was afraid of telling more of my story in such depth because I’ve been, sort of, unconsciously, enjoying the fact that I’ve been writing under this penname Yung Pueblo, and I sort of just sit quietly behind that penname, like, I really enjoy putting a lot of writing out there, but my goal is not to make my face famous, you know, I’m not, like, interested in, like, people knowing what I look like and all of that. I like living a quiet life.
So, when I started putting together “Later” and I realized that these themes that I write about, they, to be able to fully express them, I need to share the arch of my own story to make it clear where this is all coming from. And I really just had to, basically, step up my vulnerability and share my own story, which slowed the process down.
But normally I write in chunks, like, I’ll have these moments where I’ll feel the creativity, and I’ll respond to it by acting on it because I’ve noticed that if the creativity goes away, that feeling of creativity goes away, then it’s hard to capture the same essence of what the original idea was. And I don’t, like, I don’t write every single day, I’m more so in just writing waves. When I feel the creativity, it could be for a whole week or two weeks or a month, and I’ll just write a ton of stuff in that period, and then when I feel it’s sort of subsiding and relaxing, you know, I can go a few weeks or a month or so without writing anything new.
Yeah, it’s so interesting to hear different people’s creative processes. Do you have any, like, rituals, is it always after your meditation, is it always in the morning or is it just sort of whenever the muse hits?
I feel like it’s more, like if, I’m like playing baseball or something, I’m trying to catch the ball within it, it’s just like, when it comes, it comes. And sometimes I feel like a lot of that energy, like when I knew that it was time to write the book, like, I wanted to do it and I felt all of the energy kind of aligning, and now I just sit all day and write, and keep writing until my wife is like “Yo, we’ve got to go to bed, you’re done”. Other times, it could be, like, at midnight, it could be at 10:00am.
And it’s interesting because then, when I meditate, I don’t meditate to be more creative, that’s sort of a byproduct of meditating, where it’s like, you know, when you decondition the mind, the mind gets lighter and it’s able to have energy and it’s able to make connections that weren’t there before, and that’s where that creativity emerges. But I really, I meditate to liberate myself.
So beautiful! It’s, yeah, for me as well, I feel like there are time periods in my life where it’s almost like, I have this soul contract with the book and it’s time, and you know, the baby’s coming through, you have no choice, you have to surrender to it. And then other times where I’m just like, it’s like you’re writing and then line done, the river has gone dry, done. And other times you’re like so in it that you can’t sleep and it’s like 16-hour days. And it’s so fascinating because you really are in relationship with these books and then once you open up that channel, it’s almost like you’re just being in service to it and it can almost be hard to live other areas of your life because you don’t know when it’s going to come through and you, like, always need to be available for it.
Yeah! I’m really grateful to, especially to my family and my wife, like, sometimes I’ll just like get something and it’s like I just I disappear into, like, pen and paper or my laptop or my phone, because I put a lot of things in my notes, especially a lot of the short poems. You know, I’ll take like 30-40 minutes to put it together and then it is what it is, but I’m grateful to get the time and space to do it whenever it happens.
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When you have a creative block, do you take that as “Okay, I’m done writing now” or do you, kind of, just, like, keep writing and muster through and then the inspiration hits you again?
As soon as the block comes or just the river dries up, what I do is, I start reading or I start watching movies, like, I do something to strike inspiration. And it could take weeks but I go back to, like, Interstellar or that 1997 Romeo and Juliet and just like a bunch of different movies that meant a lot to me growing up, or Great Expectations, which, I think it was also 1998. There are these movies I watched as a child, it’s like I was 10, 11, 12 years old, watching these movies and they just, like, something about them just like fills me with so much inspiration, then it kind of brings it back.
That’s so funny, I would’ve never guessed that watching movies would’ve been the thing that inspires you. And it’s so interesting, everyone has their unique thing.
Yeah, it could be movies or “Siddhartha” by Herman Hess, or “Narcissist and Goldman” by Herman Hess, those books are like…
At first, I thought you were going to say Narcos, I’m like “Wow! Who watches Narcos and writes a book about poetry?!”
Oh, that’s funny!
Yes! I think that it’s so fascinating too, like, I have some friends that, when it’s time for them to write, every single day they’ll wake up an hour before and write for that hour, no matter what, that’s their routine.
And then, for myself, I feel like I go through like this period of time, like a few months that I’m like so focused on the book and I kind of write the book in that period of time. And I have other friends who like, in one week, will just channel that whole book through. And I think every single book, also, when it’s your story, that’s the hardest part, right? Because it’s like, there are so many ways that you can tell the story, there are so many other people involved.
So, how do you navigate telling your story when other people are involved, like your family or people that knew you before, might read it, they might not want you sharing it, they might have different understanding of things, or even be telling you you’re lying about that, that that never really happened? How do you navigate this?
That’s a great question. I think, I give people a heads up, what I’m writing about, if I’m writing, because most of the stories are about me and what’s happening inside of me. And sometimes that’s in relation to other people, but I’m not, like, dogging anybody out or anything like that, like, in my books, so it’s not that type of memoire, it’s more like – I think the hardest one was talking to my parents, checking in with them and just, like, telling a lot of their story to sort of show where I was coming from.
And I know like – so, I was born in Ecuador, and we have a culture of – like, a lot of people in Ecuador struggle with poverty, but a lot of people sort of keep it to themselves. And I was talking to my mom and dad and I was like “Hey, I was like, for me to be able to do this really well, I have to tell our story, which is your story, and I have to talk about how…” You know, my mom, when she came to the United States, like, she had a job cleaning houses, and my dad, he worked at a supermarket, and we, like, struggled with poverty, immensely, while my brother and I were growing up. And it was, you know, we were stuck in this American poverty trap and my parents, they were so courageous to allow me to tell that part of our story because I know, if they had a preference, they would just keep that to themselves, they’re not trying to air that out. So, it was more so like, just asking my family if, you know, if we could all just open up a little bit in hopes of serving other people.
For sure, because they’re worried about what will their friends think. And especially when you come from another country, you want to show like “I’m successful, I’m here”.
And I think, part of it too is, you see yourself as one of the lucky ones, like “We’re the ones who made it to the US, we’re the ones who made it. I’m not a pity story, I don’t people to feel bad for me”.
So, the same thing with my family too, and that’s why I couldn’t even write their full story in my book, because it’s just, like, too much for them that they don’t want out there, but it’s hard because it is your story as well, it’s your lineage’s story and you have to honor the people who are living and how much they want to share it as well.
Yeah, true. And it’s like, yeah, it’s a balance of, like, how vulnerable we can get, but also, I want to respect, like, you as an entity, as a being and not, like, cross any lines, especially with my mom and dad, my brother, my sister, they’re my life, so, I want to treat them well.
Yeah. I have some students, recently, we were talking about writing your story, and for them it’s that fear of their family members saying that you’re lying, you’re making this up, because of the guilt that they have for playing a part. And I think that that’s tough because it is, ultimately, your story and it can open up a can of worms from your past, to go back to those wounds and to retell it.
And sometimes, you know, even parts of my story were about that, of just the things that my dad said to me, and even though our relationship is a lot better now, that deeply affected me.
So, do you have any advice for someone who, telling their story might trigger someone into saying, like, you know, putting up a wall and being in denial?
I think it’s just some, it’s a common response, right? Because we have the way that we see things and we develop our own, sort of, narrative of what happened, but other people can experience the same exact moment and just see it a whole different way. And we often don’t realize how, in those moments, the person who may have hurt us or what not, or said something to us that we didn’t like, like, what their motivations were, what was affecting them in their own, sort of, emotional history that created these words that had so much heaviness that really affected us. So, there’s a lot of factors that go into creating a moment, and like, not just within us, but in the other people around us. And on top of that, memory is really fickle, that’s the one thing I’ve been realizing, it’s like, even in putting the story together, without trying to leave things out, leaving things out. Like, if I sit down and I’m like “Okay, what happened in my kitchen table when I was 10 years old, watching my parents fight because they didn’t know how to pay rent”, but then there’s just like, there’s so much about like “Okay, I’m actually writing it down, but by writing it down, I’m leaving things out”, because moments are very complex and they’re expansive. So, that’s one thing that I’ve been thinking about too with, when I put together a story, like, I’m doing my best to capture the moment, but the moment, it passed, like, it’s going to be really hard to, like, fully bring it together in its full brightness.
So, I think, when people do want to write their stories and feel they need to, and want to do it in service to others, obviously I encourage it, because you have no idea how many people you would help or how many lives you would save. So, it’s really important to, like, if you feel that creative flow coming, to do it, act on it and share because you can be helping so many people. But also know, one side of the story is not final.
Yeah, I would, sometimes, write my story and like, write it with the anger that I had and all of it, as if I’m writing in my journal, and I would write it that way, and then I would come back to it and I write it really with like my dad’s perspective and his fear and his uncertainty, and of course, he was acting this way, and write it like that. And I just, kind of, kept rewriting the story until I was able to find as much as possible a balance, of honoring how I felt in the experience, and also acknowledging his background and why he would behave the way that he did. But like you said, you know, I could’ve written the entire book just on, you know, that story. And you also have just a limited amount of words and pages, and I think that’s also the hard thing about writing a book, is like, you think “Oh, it’s a huge book, I’m going to be able to dive into this, and have so long”, but it’s like, every word is like realistic on the page and you have to be so specific with it and you’re never going to get to the bottom of it.
So, yeah, after writing my story, especially the fighting with my dad and him disowning me, I was, I knew if I asked for permission for that story, he would say no. So, it was like that “Well, it’s going to be printed and he’s going to read it eventually”, it was the most distressing thing that I have ever dealt with in my life. And you know, eventually it came out and he actually handled it way better than I thought, like, he’s just like “Okay, well…”, he was sort of just removed from it. It was my mom who had just the embarrassment, you know, of like, people that we know are going to read this. And it’s like, I can have so much compassion for that because, like, especially when you come from a tribal background, it was so much about, like, what the tribe and the village thought about you, and that’s engrained in so many, you know, different cultures around the world. And, like, in this lifetime, we are safe, even if the people in the village talk bad about us or whatever else, like, we are still safe.
Yeah. All the power to you, because I think those really formative experiences that we have, that other people are a part of, I think there’s a lot of positives to sharing them because it just normalizes the fact that, like, we’re, like, incredibly imperfect and we hurt each other through our imperfections. Something that I’m constantly trying to write about, often now, is this attachment to perfection that we all have, that it’s just like, it’s a sickness and it is causing us so much mental strife, and if we’re able to let it go and not allow this attachment to perfection to dominate our lives, I think we’re all be better for it. But by showing our stories, we show, like, you know, we’re incredibly imperfect and we can move forward from that, and we can build new relationships, even with the people who we once had conflict with.
Can you talk a little bit about this perfectionism that you’re seeing? Because I think a lot of people, they hear that and they’re like “Oh, I’m not a perfectionist, I don’t like perfect”, but it’s still showing up in their lives. So, it doesn’t always look like you are perfect and pristine and proper, but it’s more this subtlety. So, can you dive into it?
Yeah. It’s subtle, exactly, that’s the key word! And I think it’s the nature of attachment, right? It’s wanting things to exist in a particular way and that is a craving for perfection because you have this idea of how you want things to exist or how you want people to talk to you or how you want people to treat you, and if it doesn’t happen in that way that you have already dreamed up, then your mind hurts, you literally feel tension in your mind, and living in a way where you’re trying to, like, map out your reality in this sort of concrete manner, it really stops the flow of this, like, you know, nature itself. It’s like a river, it’s constantly flowing forward, constantly moving and changing. And what we do with our attachments, we do it specifically in this attachment to perfection, is that we constrict that flow, we, like, constrict it so much that we actually start trying to move against the flow of nature, which will only cause hurt, which will only cause misery. So, I think we have to be really mindful of “What am I building an attachment around? What am I trying to make happen here, that isn’t already here?” And this is very different from having goals or having desires, right? An attachment is something that is built with tension, and having a goal is something that is a lot more, it’s intentional, it feels light, it will direct you into a better version of yourself, but even if you don’t immediately get it, you don’t get super upset that you don’t have it or that you don’t, you know, when you don’t get your goal, you go back to the drawing board and you figure out “Okay, what did I do wrong? What can I do better? How can I keep moving forward to try to achieve this?”, and you keep working at it. But if something was an attachment, then you know that when you don’t get it, your mind is just so upset and it’s rolling with tension. So, they’re very different things.
Absolutely! And I feel like that perfection is linked with judgment. We feel like “If I don’t get it that way”, and like you said, perfection is more about your preferences. And I also think there’s something beautiful about striving for excellence and for wanting things to be authentic and for putting in the extra care and the touch, and, like, that is coming from a really pure place.
The way that it gets out of control is when we’re like, not even paying attention to everything that’s working in our lives and we’re so fixated on the thing that’s not, and we feel like we’re going to lose everything if that thing isn’t working, you know. Especially as an entrepreneur, it’s like “The link on the website didn’t work” and it trickles into this, you know, this fear that you have of like everything is going to be taken from me now, you know. And I think that it does come from this, like, nervous system, hyper-aroused state that our urgency culture often leaves us in, of like “You’ve got to be producing all the time and it’s always got to be best quality and if not, like, you’re shit and you’re over and you’re canceled!”
Yeah. I feel like, too, that it’s also part of our, like, survival mechanism that’s built into us, where it’s like, you know, the ego, the purpose and ego, it’s here for you to not just interact with reality, but to help you get from today to tomorrow. And that becomes really difficult when you live in civilization, and it’s not that hard to get from today to tomorrow. And you have these higher goals that become more available to you, where you want to develop happiness, you want to develop peace, but if you keep living from an ego state, that is just focusing on survival, focusing on dominance, focusing on control, which is like what different forms of attachment, then it’s going to be very hard to develop any sort of peace or develop wisdom. So, as opposed from living from a place of ego, I have found that it’s been much more productive to try to live from a place of compassion, a place of compassion to myself and to other people.
And I think it’s the fruits of these practices, meditation, contemplation, personal growth, when you can notice the shift in yourself, when the emergencies happen, when the link isn’t working, when the client is not satisfied, whatever the thing is, and to notice how much more peaceful you are, even in your response, you know. It doesn’t mean that you, like, don’t care, it doesn’t mean you don’t do anything, but it doesn’t trigger you the same way that you once used to be.
Like, I’ve noticed in myself, like, when I started my business, it’s like one little thing, it was all I could think about, you know, and now I’m like “You know what, I’m still going to try my best and respond, but, like, it’s okay at the end of the day”. And it’s moments like that, that you’re like “Oh, this is why we do the work”, you know, it’s not about, like, being in the meditative state only in your meditation, but it’s about cultivating that state in your day-to-day actions, and that’s the…”
I couldn’t have said it better! I think that’s, like, literally the reason why we practice, is like, when the thing that you love breaks, you’re like “Okay, it broke, I’m alright. You know, like, I’ll figure out how to fix it or I’ll get another one”, or “That was it, it’s over”, like “This one distant thing I enjoyed is no longer available and I’m totally fine”. And I think being able to respond to life like that, as opposed to reacting in the ways that we’ve reacted in the past, with a lot of anger or a lot of, you know, a lot of tension, that’s how we know we’re making real progress, is when the intensity of our reaction, it’s decreasing, then we know we’re winning.
So, a question that I have for you, and this is kind of, even, a big question, but, you know, the Buddhist perspective is very much about this feeling of, like, equanimity and neutrality, or at least this is how I see it, so I’m curious on what your take is, but more about, like, the neutrality and to not be affected and to be in that, like, Bodhi Sathwa, peaceful nature. And then you see a lot of, also, the trauma healing space and it’s about like “Feel your feelings”, like “If you’re angry, let yourself be angry, have an anger practice”, you know, “If you’re sad, let yourself cry on the floor”. I see you dabble in both spaces, so what is your take on this?
I was going to say there’s a middle space there. In the tradition that I’m a part of, because, you know, all these different Buddhist traditions, they’re so expansive and so different, and it’s great, great that they’re different.
I think, in the tradition that I’m a part of, it’s really important for us to allow ourselves to feel. But when we try to feel whatever’s arising, we’re trying to create a situation where we let that fire burn, that fire of sadness, that fire of anger, whatever it is, but we simultaneously don’t try to feed that fire or fuel that fire, right. So, if you’re feeling sadness, you feel it, but you’re not going to let it overcome you or govern your actions or make you say things that you later regret. You try your best to ty to create space for it and feel it.
So, for a lot of people, you know, sometimes that may bring on tears, for other people, they just feel that dense energy of, you know, whatever it is that’s coming up, anxiety or what not, but they’re sitting with it, as opposed to becoming it. And I think that’s that middle ground around, in this practice of Vipassana, that I find so attractive to me, like so, because it’s giving me space to really be with the tough emotions that come up, but at the same time it’s helping them burn away, as opposed to getting accumulated. So, just creating space for them to come up has been like, it’s really just been God sent, just grateful to be able to have such a practice.
Yeah. I love the different stations of the different kind of Buddhist paths because, I think we all think of it in this like more, I don’t know, like stereotypical way, that it’s all about being peaceful or Zen. I don’t know if it’s Zen is the Buddhist tradition, or Tibetan Buddhist tradition, I’m not sure which one we’re all thinking of, but it’ this feeling of like, just be calm. And I think what a lot of science is showing us is the importance of going into the feelings, otherwise they get, you know, stored on somatically and how important it is. However, I really like this concept of Titration, I don’t know if you’ve heard of this before?
Tell me more.
But, to titrate is to allow an emotion to kind of bubble inside of you, without exploding. So, let’s say you’re angry, instead of being like “Okay, now I need to go punch pillows and break things and scream at top of my lungs and letting that just…
You just – I’m my view, you’re just multiplying the anger.
Right, right! So, instead, letting yourself have that. I think of it like a little parrot on your shoulder and it’s there and it’s bubbling, and you’re using it as a tool. You know, maybe it’s to assert your boundary and stand up for yourself, or create art from it. And you’re not saying “Oh, I need to be calm, I need to be peaceful all the time”, but you’re also not practicing it, because the things that we practice, might show up more in our lives.
Yeah. And that’s why I really like that sentence, where it’s really about feeling it, as opposed to becoming it. And it’s, sort of, kind of, aligns with what you’re saying, where you can just make space for what’s coming up without letting it become this, like, blazing fire where you just, you know, act in ways that you’ll regret later on.
So, I think there’s a middle path for it, for sure, because, ultimately, like, you have to let yourself feel it, for the unbinding to occur, for the letting go to occur, because if it’s going to stay deep down in your subconscious, then you’re just going to carry that heaviness wherever you go. But if you allow whatever is there, in the subconscious, to arise to the surface, and you feel it, literally in your body, you can create just enough space for it to dissipate, as opposed to go back inside.
Yeah. My wonder is, for someone who hasn’t felt their anger in so long, maybe they do need to go into this very cathartic practice and like feel it and let themselves be in that experience because it’s built up for so long and that can, like, remove the lid off of the tea kettle and it can diffuse.
Yeah, I think it’s very situational. Like, this is something I’m always trying to, like, hammer away at people, is like, what works for you, may not work for me, and what works for me, may not work for you. And we have to understand that, like, we are so unique. Like, I love what Jido Kristamarti says, you know, where he says “We think that we’re different, but we’re very similar”, like, you feel sadness, I feel sadness; you feel anger, I feel anger. But at the same that that is true, right, so the structures of our mind may be the same, but the condition of the mind, what the mind carries, what these emotional histories, what they’ve shaped out to, what they’ve become over time, they’re very different, right? Like, I may have this complex of anxiety and sadness, you may have a complex of, like, anger or what not, we’re so different. So, that means that the tools, the practices that are going to help us navigate our own internal force, they may need to be very different, especially if someone’s experienced really severe trauma, they may need, like, you know, lighter tools that are not going to take you super, super deep at first, because it just may be too much and you don’t want to do the work. That’s why I really think, I’m so grateful that we live in this time where there’s just vast amounts of practices available to us. And I think it’s historically unprecedented, like, there are all these western modalities that have been, different western therapies, that have been available, different eastern forms of meditation and practices that have been around for thousands of years, that are now become global, indigenous practices, there’s just so much out there. So, it really is about finding something that meets you specifically, you, where you’re at, and it’s the thing that you feel like is the best thing ever, that has helped you so much, it may not work well for your friend, it may not work well for your brother and sister, they may need their own thing.
Totally! And I wonder if it is that Karma or Past Lives, of like, why are certain emotions more prevalent with certain people? You know, like some people in this lifetime, it’s about really knowing sadness or anxiety, or whatever else. And you know, I think it’s a combination of, maybe, Past Lives and childhood, and you know, DNA, and all of the things together.
So, I’d love to end the conversation with, how do you cultivate more joy in your life? Because, I feel like, right now, we’re in such a, kind of, joy-void time, and I feel, sometimes, we even feel guilty about feeling joy, because there’s so much suffering in the world. So, how do you bring more joy in?
I bring more joy in, like, simple and mundane ways, like, really enjoying the ice-cream that I’m having, like, really enjoying the, sort of, like, mundane reality tv that my wife and I are watching, or like, just these moments where there are no pressure situations, where, you know, there’s no work to be done, we’re just, like, relaxing, like, those are the moments that by far bring me the most joy, where’s it’s just like, there are no objectives to get done for the next two or three days, no emails to be sent or anything like that, that feels like, to me, it’s like so joyful. Because I’ve had such busy days lately, so, not working, just, like, bubbles up joy for me.
So interesting how, like, it’s like who you were as a kid, you know. Like, being able to have the ice-cream and watch tv.
Like a little taste of summer is joy, yeah.
I love it! And we make it so complex, you know, and we think “Oh, I need to have, like, everything in my life figured out, and then I can be joyful”.
Oh no, it has to be now! Like, there’s no other moment beside now, it’s literally the eternal now, like, that moment past but now we’re back in now, again, so I have to be able to experience, like, the most beautiful parts of life. They all happen in the now, like, wisdom occurs in the present moment, joy occurs in the present moment, compassion, love, all these things happen in the present moment, otherwise they’re just memories or desires for the future.
And that’s why I love your book subtitle “Let Go Of The Past, Connect With The Present, Expand The Future”. And it’s so true, because when we connect with the present, we really do expand all of the possibilities for the future.
Yeah, totally! And, yeah, I hope, you know, if people pick it up there, I hope it really serves them well. And you know, it’s quite different from the first two books, but it’s still a book where, if there’s a particular chapter calling to you, you can just open up and read it.
Beautiful! Well, thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom with us today, I’ll have the link for your books and your social media blow, and so grateful, always, to reconnect with you, brother!
Yeah! Thank you so much Sahara, this has been such a joy! I’m always so inspired by the way you move in the world, so thank you!
[58:51] End of Interview
That Episode felt like a nourishing cup of tea with a friend! Thank you for being out third in this conversation and I hope you loved it!
And if this Episode sparked any revelations within you and you feel inspired to share it, I would absolutely, deeply, appreciate that, it helps get this message out to more people.
You know, what I love about his work is that, people who aren’t really into spirituality, per say, tend to still resonate with it. So, I would love for you to share this Episode on your story, I will reshare it as well.
And as a free gift for writing a review on the iTunes Store, which is the ultimate way to support the Podcast, I will gift you my free Womb Meditation. So, this is a meditation to connect to your sacred feminine energy, stored in your womb space, and in just 8 minutes, you can tune in and receive the wisdom that she has for you.
So, all you’ve got to do is leave a review for the Podcast on the iTunes Store, take a screenshot before hitting submit, and email it over to me at [email protected], and you can find that link over in the show notes.
So, thank you so much for tuning in and I’ll see you in the next one!
Episode #472: How To Be In Relationship While On A Spiritual Journey + Overcome Fear Of Sharing Your Story with Yung Pueblo
By Sahara Rose