Shasta Townsend and Ian Lavalley: “Value Wholeness ”

Value Wholeness — We need to include sexuality and sensuality in our conversation around mental wellness and invite both the therapeutic, wellness, spiritual and health communities to expand the dialogue and embrace this in their own practice, and self. But, as individuals we must also understand that we are WHOLE beings. As much as we wish to […]

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Value Wholeness — We need to include sexuality and sensuality in our conversation around mental wellness and invite both the therapeutic, wellness, spiritual and health communities to expand the dialogue and embrace this in their own practice, and self. But, as individuals we must also understand that we are WHOLE beings. As much as we wish to silo ourselves off, we really can’t. Consider the last time you had an argument with your partner or spouse. It likely interfered with your work day, how you talked to your employees or children, and maybe just bothered you all day. Your life does not happen in isolated experiences, and yet we try to compartmentalize ourselves. This leads to a fracture and a sense of alienation.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shasta Townsend and Ian Lavalley.

Shasta Townsend and Ian Lavalley are best-selling authors, married, BIPOC sex and relationship experts and are leading a global love movement based in ancient eastern thought, indigenous wisdom and cutting edge science. Learn more at

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Shasta — I grew up in a poverty-stricken and mixed-race neighborhood in Canada, where daily fights took place between “whites” and “natives” in the school yard and in the back alleys. I saw first-hand the effects of poverty, racism and the feeling that there was no way out.

People don’t often think of Canada as having racial issues or poverty, but we might just hide it better or be politer about it, but I’ve experienced it first hand as a Metis, Indigenous and “low-income housing” born woman, and yet this is what has also made me the woman I am today so I am grateful.

I left home at the age of 15 when the physical and emotional abuse from my alcoholic, rage-aholic stepfather nearly killed me, and my complacent mother did nothing to stop it. I had the good fortune of having a friend’s mother who took me in for a little while until I got a full-time job at a Dairy Queen to support myself and move into my own bachelor pad.

Most 16-year-olds would dream of that kind of independence and freedom, but it actually felt crushingly lonely and massively overwhelming. Figuring out how to pay rent, get your own grocers, get straight A’s in high school and work full time making ice cream sundaes forced me to grow up fast, and yet it also taught me how smart, self-reliant and innovative I could be. This was a skill set and sense of self that served me well my entire life.

This is not a poor me story. That early experience made me want to be successful and not continue to repeat the patterns of my family or my culture. It drove me to seek out solutions and mentors to become financially, mentally, relationally, physically and even sexually successful.

It also taught me to find compassion, love and forgiveness — skills that serve me well in the work I now do.

Ian — I grew up straddling two cultures, two paradigms and two ways of living.

On the one hand, as a child I had perhaps a typical middle class Canadian/North American life — playing hockey, going to school and living with two loving parents doing their best for my sister and myself, and on the other hand I was part of a cultural tradition of hunting, gathering, harvesting and living off the land — that celebrated my Indigenous heritage as an Algonquin.

From my adult perspective, I see that it also meant navigating a conflicting value system.

On the one hand, I was raised to both respect my Indigenous heritage in a family that valued self-reliance, living off the land, and feeling connected to Nature and at, the same time I was raised Catholic with its guilt, self-denial and at times what felt like racist and condemning attitudes towards my cultural heritage.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Shasta — There are catalyzing moments in all our lives. One of my first has to do with a long blue Cadillac and a white phone. In the area I lived in, few people owned a car. We all knew the bus routes like we knew our best friend’s phone number.

When I was around nine or ten-years-old riding on the white leather seats of my friend Shannon’s Mom’s boyfriend’s long blue Cadillac and using his car-phone, this was the 80s and only the Ewings on Dallas had car phones, was a brain explosive experience. I remember thinking “How did this man do this?” Why did he have this when it seemed so many of us did not? And how do I get me more of this?”

I think it was one of the earliest desire inspiring experiences for more. It planted a seed that life could be radically different — more fun, luxurious, elegant and beautiful. It opened a desire in my wee mind “for more”, and that desire has never stopped.

Perhaps it initiated my nearly 40-year journey as a student and later teacher of human potential and fulfillment, which is ultimately what my work is all about.

Ian — I married my soulmate, and I almost lost her.

Our near- divorce ten years ago was the doorway to look at myself — how I viewed Masculinity, love, marriage, intimacy and who I was being, as a man, in a deeper way.

We don’t often think of relationship breakdown as an opportunity breakthrough, but it was for me. It was the catalyst for a massive shift in my marriage, myself and my Purpose.

We had become more like roommates, and often arguing ones, than friends and lovers. We tried everything; couple’s counselling, therapy, relationship coaching, but it only made us MORE frustrated, MORE unfulfilled and lonelier than ever! We thought our love was over. Until we finally discovered the secret to relationship bliss that changed everything — which was to prioritize our intimate life, appreciate each other and to cultivate a deeper connection.

Because we had such a profound shift in our marriage, and our methods worked so well, we had people asking for help.

Our methods worked for them. We realized that we were not only here to “save our marriage”, but to lead a revolution in the realm of love, intimacy and marriage. I would have never guessed this when I met Shasta over 20-years-ago — that our relationship would be the catalyst to help me grow so deeply as a man, and to help others step into the power of Love and connection and overcome the programming of toxic masculinity, separation and fear in our culture.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Shasta — I have been graced with many amazing teachers and mentors. My hungry mind also sought out knowledge and I’ve been blessed to receive so much.

But one of the early teachers who I still think of with great gratitude today, and who also helped direct the course of my self-image and thus my life, was my Grade Six teacher, Mr. Panaciuk.

Again, I grew up in an economically depressed, mixed race and often violent neighborhood, yet Gary Panaciuk had the ability to see past the second-hand clothes, the sometimes-battered bodies and minds and call out the greatness in each of us.

Mr. Panaciuk had a practice of speaking to every single student in his Grade Six class, I’d estimate 36 kids at the time, about our individual capacity for greatness. He would take each student aside at his desk in class and speak to us as though we were the Divine in human form.

I still remember his words:

“Shasta, it won’t always be like this for you.

I know your home life is rough. I know it can be hard to be a smart girl in a world that doesn’t value smart girls. But, someday you will be far from here. Someday you will change the world — that’s what you can do. You have a brilliant mind, and you can do anything you want. You are one of the most well-spoken young women I’ve ever taught. You have a lot to say, and you should say it. Don’t ever forget who you are — you are Shasta Townsend, and you will be a success.”

Remember, to a 12-year-old girl who’d only ever felt criticized and demoralized these were life changing words. This experience not only was a mantra I’d use through my life in times of self-doubt, but it also caused me to want to be the kind of “Sacred Mirror” to other people’s greatness.

Ian — “From the moment I first saw you I knew I was through with bar girls and…strippers, and motorcycle chicks…and…when we first started talking I was smitten with you,” as Roy Mc Avoy says in the movie, Tin Cup.

This is exactly my experience of meeting my wife, and the redemptive power of love and connection.

It may sound cliché or cheesy, my wife and our marriage was the inspiration to change “my rowdy ways”, and see myself in a new light.

When I met Shasta over 20-years ago I felt an instant recognition and an overwhelming attraction that was not just physical but a soulful desire.

I never thought I would be a committed, faithful man, and meeting her literally changed my life — my sense of self, and my Purpose.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Ian — The funniest thing is that I am actually doing this work.

As an Indigenous country boy and spending 20 years in the construction industry with its implied “masculine” rules, this is probably the least expected career trajectory ever.

I did resist this at first. I could not see myself as the man who could talk about love, sex, marriage and masculinity as I was still falling under the idea of what I was allowed to have or be from generational stories.

The most interesting mistake is that I ever denied that this is my Purpose, and that I can embrace my own voice, experience and authenticity.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Shasta — I have over 3,000 books so this is tough…The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder is by my bed, and I often take it with me wherever I go. It is so underlined, dog-eared and highlighted and yet every time I pick it up I learn something deeper about prosperity, love and living in harmony.

Ian — The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is the #1 book that made the most impact on me.

His four agreements just made sense to me. They are simple, and profound, but the agreement “Don’t take things personally” made me really think.

Before reading this book, and doing the deeper work with my wife, everything seemed to be a personal attack — either on my character or as a betrayal. I felt defensive, and reactive.

After reading that and really considering it, I decided to just drop this story and not take things personally. This meant a vast change in all the relationships in my life, but also changed the way I felt about myself.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Shasta — “I want to sing like birds sing, not caring who’s listening or what they think.” — Rumi

I wrote this quote on all the walls at one of our brick and mortar businesses, and then painted over it so that the energy of this quote would remain in the space. I have it on a post-it note, and I think about it often.

It resonates with me so much as a reminder to share my voice with courage, authenticity and resonance because it is part of my Purpose, and part of my gift. It reminds me to not censor myself, seek approval or pander, but to be a loving and hopefully, powerful voice of Truth, Beauty and Love.

Ian — “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

I love this quote because all of our success is based in our own belief, and our view of what is possible as well as our own sense of self. Over the years, literally seeing myself in a new way, and helping thousands do the same, has resulted in magnificent outcomes. Human potential is unlimited — the potential for vast love and success or the potential for vast destruction and unhappiness — it is up to us to choose and begin to harness our own minds and hearts to create what we do want.

I also love this quote as it is fundamentally true, and reflects my sense of humor:

“Sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you’re not good at them,” Roy Mc Alvoy, Tin Cup

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The most interesting and exciting project is the work we are doing in 7 Star Love ( We teach “successful” individuals and couple to have TRUE fulfillment by having Love that transcends time and space, and a sex life that not only wakes the neighbors but is deeply satisfying, passionate and fulfilling, even if they’re single, “on the rocks”, or have been married for decades.

We are so passionate about living well and feeling alive and we know first-hand the power love, intimacy and relationship has in that and living a truly successful life.

Even the great Warren Buffett admitted that letting his marriage to Susie Buffett fall apart was “his greatest mistake” and “95% his fault” thus demonstrating the power of love in a truly satisfying life.

So many people live lives of quiet desperation, loneliness and regret — even at the highest financial levels, and we want to change that.

We are living in a time that is a Sacred Profound Invitation. We have a chance to experience our greatness and potential, but it must include LOVE and INTIMACY.

For our lives to be truly whole and meaningful we must step forward to experience the deepest Purpose of our life — to love and be loved fully.

This is the essence of conscious, powerful 7-Star Love, and I am so passionate about how this can transform people’s lives at all levels, and creating a legacy that is truly rich for their kids.

We love to see individuals awaken to their birthright and experience life as a potency of pleasure that’s beyond their wildest dreams for when they do they also do even greater good in the world.

We’re also so excited about this because we combine a powerful mix of neuroscience, ancient wisdom, Indigenous practices, Success Laws and grounded practice that gives clients unparalleled and rapid results in their intimate life and their income. It’s so thrilling to see it all come together and how it affects not just one person, but families, businesses and even culture.

Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Shasta — The jungle peeked its head over the corrugated steel roof. It was hot as hell, and the sun was shining right on the road, reflecting off the blazing asphalt. It was the briefest glance and a chance encounter. When I caught her eye at that roadside bus stop, she held my gaze. It was not a look of scorn or resentment, nor was it a look of friendship or joy. Her look was simply, “This is me.”

I was struck by how beautiful she was — not because of her thin, reed-like body; in fact, she was shorter than I at five feet four inches, and was curvy with a slight potbelly that she did not try to suck in. Her hair had gone quite frizzy in the humidity, but her makeup was flawless. She was wearing short shorts and the highest suede boots I had ever seen. “Boots, in this heat!” I thought. The contrast of the shorts and the boots was very sexy.

I wondered how I would feel standing in that same outfit. It was a ten-second glance, but this woman reminds me every day to stand in my own beauty, and sensual power with no sucking in and no apologies.

Any discussion on female sexuality seems to inevitably bring us to body image. I am asked about the dicey relationship of body image and female sexuality all the time.

Does body image affect mental health?

Does our sense of our own sexuality and sensuality affect our self-esteem and thus if we feel good?

The answer is yes, how we feel about ourselves does matter, and much of it is coming from our self-image.

As much as we may loathe media images, they do affect our psyche and self-image.

Rarely talked about in the realm of mental health, we must begin to consider the role sexual self-esteem plays in feeling alive, confident and happy if we are to move this conversation truly into wholeness.

Value Wholeness — We need to include sexuality and sensuality in our conversation around mental wellness and invite both the therapeutic, wellness, spiritual and health communities to expand the dialogue and embrace this in their own practice, and self. But, as individuals we must also understand that we are WHOLE beings. As much as we wish to silo ourselves off, we really can’t. Consider the last time you had an argument with your partner or spouse. It likely interfered with your work day, how you talked to your employees or children, and maybe just bothered you all day. Your life does not happen in isolated experiences, and yet we try to compartmentalize ourselves. This leads to a fracture and a sense of alienation.

Examine the Voices — A huge amount of our happiness, and satisfaction, AKA mental wellness comes from the feeling we have about ourselves. Yet, most humans are walking around with massive amounts of self-loathing and guilt and shame. Guilt says: “I did something wrong.” Shame says: “There is something wrong with me.” Just like in that moment of seeing a woman at the bus stop free and unfettered, it made me pause to consider the story I had about what I was allowed to be and have. To create a sense of wholeness and happiness, we must begin to examine the, often unconscious, voices of guilt and shame. Who’s voice is this? What does it tell me? What do I fear?

Watch Your Language





Ask women (and a lot of men) to describe themselves, and these are often the words they use. These words are tragic. They demonstrate the level of self-loathing that we carry around about ourselves and project onto other women.

“I have heard men say some nasty things about women but women are far harder on other women. We are either unconscious about it or don’t like to admit it. It’s like, ‘You can feel good but not too good and don’t [get] too big for your britches,” said thirty-eight-year-old Erica who I interviewed for Happy, Sexy, Shameless — What Our Mothers Didn’t Know About the Birds and the Bees.

A big part of feeling good about our self and overcoming insecurity and mental suffering is monitoring our language, especially the language we use about ourselves.

Practice: Take Note — Taking Inventory

For one week, take note of the messages you give yourself.

Do you call yourself ugly, unattractive, old, fat, or imperfect? Would you ever say these things to another person?

Notice how you feel when you tell yourself this. Are you full of shame and loathing? How does that feel?

Embrace Your Beauty — For many years, I resisted my naturally curly hair. I had it chemically straightened, blow-dried it to flatness, and fought its every kink. It was not my idea of beauty. I wanted straight, shiny bobbed hair. This may seem like a trifle of an example, but today, my curly hair is sort of one of my signature qualities. Hair, of course, does not define me, but when I just accepted it and began to see it as beautiful, I began to see myself as more beautiful. This had all kinds of far-reaching effects including an increased sense of self, improved confidence, and feeling more attractive.

To truly see our own beauty, as well as the beauty of our lover is one of the most transformative and powerfully connecting practices available to us. It also feels good to celebrate beauty, and we are drawn to it. Our beauty is a unique gift to others. We feel alive in the presence of beauty. Think of the last time you saw a glorious sunset or a blooming flower or maybe looked into the eyes of a child you love. I bet you felt moved by this. Whether it is something as simple as our curly hair, we can choose to radiate our beauty and stand in our authentic self. This in turn adds to the level of permission for women to be powerful, beautiful, and sexual in the world — in whatever form that takes for them.


Discover Your Joy — Find out what really makes you happy, and do more of it even if it does not make you money or change the world. It changes your world. For me, I love cooking. I find great joy in it. I am not classically trained. In fact, I am probably more of a “bush cook” or downhome cook than a Food Network French chef, but I love experimenting and also seeing people experience joy from my creations. It feels good to feel as though I am bringing more joy in such an easy way — to myself and others.

Reconnect with Nature — The quiet and solitude of an early morning canoe ride. The beauty and gratitude I feel at bringing up a fresh lake trout, and the joy of walking onto a deer in a forest trail — these are some of the most powerful experiences of mental wellness I can recommend. Even during the pandemic, it’s important to get outside and connect with Nature. My favorite mental wellness practice is to be in Nature — fishing, gathering, harvesting. Not only, is this a way of connecting to Nature and all the amazing gifts and bounty, it is also a peaceful practice. In a world that craves more peace and authentic connection, being in Nature and connecting to the land is one of the most powerful ways to create mental wellness.

Examine Relationships in Your Life — Sociologists say we are the culmination of the five people we spend the most time with, and we know that our “environment” is creating our internal world and happiness so relationships need to be considered as an important tool to mental wellness. We can’t blame others, but rather we must take responsibility for who we have allowed in our life and how they may not be enhancing our life. We need to examine who enhances and who detracts from our lives, and be diligent about clearing out toxic relationships. I have released many relationships — friendships and family relationships once I realized that they were toxic or codependent. This is not always easy at first, but it is necessary to ensure we are choosing and surrounding ourselves with people who can celebrate us, love us and lift us up and we can easily and joyfully do the same for them.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

Shasta — Again, so many of us, male or female, have been shamed, traumatized and estranged from our own bodies, sensuality and power.

We feel ashamed of our most precious aspects — our individual expressions of Life, Beauty and radiance.

Reclaiming this allows us to access deep wholeness, potential and greatness. The time to integrate all of ourselves is upon us, so I practice and teach a unique meditation/reflection on celebrating and feeling good in our skin.

My Beautiful Self — An Inventory and Celebration Practice

What aspects of you are beautiful, lovely, and powerful?

Name them, and let them shine. It’s OK to feel a little uncomfortable with this, as many of us are not well schooled in honoring ourselves, having been taught that we should be humble or self-deprecating, but this is a wonderful reflection of your truly beautiful self.

Start with the easy stuff and just let it flow.

Physical Qualities

My example:

  • Great hair
  • Full lips
  • Beautiful almond-shaped brown eyes
  • Curvy figure
  • Fit and fabulous at forty
  • Strong and flexible
  • Great style

Emotional Qualities

  • Laugh easily
  • Compassionate to others
  • Look for the best in others
  • Love to see people shine
  • Extremely loyal
  • Great in a crisis
  • Always looking for a solution
  • Special gifts
  • Make people feel at ease
  • Create rapport easily
  • Love to laugh
  • Make friends easily
  • Highly flexible and adaptable

What are your gifts? What is your true beauty? Pause for a moment and allow that to radiate in your cells, and your whole being.

When we stand in our beauty, we allow and call others to do the same. We add more wonder, inspiration, and light to the world and call it forward in others.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

1.) Definitely Move Daily — Shasta: Vinyasa Yoga, Barre and Salsa are my favorite physical practices. Not only do these activities provide great physical wellness exercise and endorphins but they also allow me to feel alive in myself.

Ian: Playing hockey, walking a golf course and my own workout routine including rowing and lifting weights helps me feel alive and feeling youthful and fit. Not only do these activities provide great physical wellness exercise and endorphins but they also allow me to feel alive in myself.

2.) Shasta: Have Sex — Seriously, the role of sexual connection is missed in maintaining physical and emotional wellness. Great sex not only releases feel good hormones that improve immunity, cardiac function and overall mood, but studies have shown that individuals who have a robust and satisfying sex life live longer, are more financially successful and categorize themselves as happy.Ian: Get Outside — Your ancestors, regardless of culture, knew the healing power of Nature and were in commune with the Natural world. There is something deep inside all of us that longs for a sense of wildness, connection and freedom, and it comes from shedding the concrete on the souls of our feet, listening only to the geese calling, and tuning into the great WIFI signal of Mother Earth. In my years of providing transformational experiences, connection to the Land is one of the most beneficial physical (and emotional) experiences I’ve led.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Shasta: Eat local, seasonal and with gratitude.

We believe in the 100 Mile Diet, ethical harvesting and having great gratitude for all your food. It’s not that complex or hard. In Indigenous culture we respect the time of year, the source of the food, and always give thanks for it whether it’s ethically and wild-harvested meat or locally grown carrots. When we are in a place of gratitude and eating local, the food tastes better and is better for us.

Ian is an Indigenous hunter and harvester, so he feels deeply connected to our food source, and honors the life-giving nature of all. He always offers gratitude and sacred tobacco to his harvests so that the cycle of life and also the Law of Giving and Receiving is honored.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.


  1. Look for the Good + Be Grateful — There is a part of our ancient reptilian brain called the amygdala that seeks out “trouble”. It’s scanning for potential issues and is easily triggered by outside reality, and we certainly have a lot of reasons to feel triggered lately. One of the most powerful practices we can do to maintain emotional wellbeing is to intentionally look for the good. Look for things going well in your life. Someone held the door for you. You lead a fabulous zoom meeting. Your partner made dinner. These are all small things that add to a BIG sense of wellbeing. It is so easy. Say thank you. And every morning when you wake up find 3 things to feel grateful for. Before you go to bed say thank you for 3 things that day.
  2. Look for the Opportunity — everything in life is actually an opportunity. This is also a powerful mindset and emotional wellness hack. It can be easy to fall into victimized thinking or stay stuck. Often when we are not asking what’s the truth we will not see the opportunity.
    -As Napoleon Hill said in Think and Grow Rich, “When opportunity came, it appeared in a different form and from a different direction. That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps it is why so many fail to recognize opportunity.”
    -In my own life, my marriage breakdown led to a breakthrough not only in my own personal development and sense of self, but also led to the clarity of my Purpose. I would have never seen this if I had not been in this mindset and emotional set point.
  3. Open Your Heart, Cultivate Intimacy + Prioritize Sexual Connection — As we mentioned, satisfying sex is so essential to physical wellbeing and emotional health as well as a satisfying life, yet sexual connection is often the last thing people consider to feel alive. We don’t mean to use someone to boost your self-esteem. We mean really open up. Open your heart. Learn how to be completely present. Expand your skills as a lover. Look at your partner as a radiant Divine being and sex will be one of the most emotionally positive things you can experience, and share!!

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

Shasta: We love to smile and smile at others. Even when wearing a mask, you can still see someone’s eyes light up or their face change. Sharing a smile with a stranger, especially now, can feel so intimate and so powerful. We recognize this shared humanity and space.

Ian: I think my wife’s smile is the most beautiful and radiant thing on the planet.

Seeing her smile makes me ridiculously happy. It’s not about codependency. It’s inter-dependency — this inter-relationship between me and someone else’s joy. How beautiful and powerful that we can receive that and give that.

Smiling is a choice — it gives us the power to positively affect someone else without even saying a word.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each. Shasta:

Look for the Divine / Good in Everyone — In Indigenous Wisdom as well as Tantric Philosophy, it is said that The Divine is in all things and everywhere. Quantum Physics proves this with the Unified Field Theory — that we are all truly One and connected. This may be hard to grasp in a day-to-day experience but if we begin to cultivate the eyes to see the good it gets easier.

I practice this with my partner also.

I noticed how beautiful green his eyes are.

I love how wide his back is, and how I love to feel his hands on me. This made me think of how kind he is to our elderly neighbor. I also remembered the times he was nice to my friends and how great he looked in that suit when he met them for the first time.

I started to remember what a kind man he is, and it made me feel that I could trust him and be safe with him. Thinking about his eyes and his strong back and hands made me want to jump all over him. I thought about what a strong and kind man he is and that made me feel excited to be with him.

Think of the last time you saw a beautiful sunset or a majestic tree; you felt love and light surge through you. Beauty makes your heart open and soar, so look at your lover — really look at him. See what is beautiful and what turns you on. Beauty, true beauty, is not cosmetic or plastic; it is radiance, an inner knowing, a deep connection, and light — one that we all share, in fact.

Look for something to feel good about. Look for the Divine in another. Look into your friends or lover’s eyes, and truly see what lies within.

Remember: What Looks Like a Setback Is a Set Up for a Come Back — also an Indigenous and Tantric view — what looks like a setback is actually a set up for more…more success, more greatness, more health, more wealth, more love always follows a setback. We also see this again and again in human history. I remember this spiritual premise during challenging times, like this pandemic. I find it helps me and my clients stay in the now, maintain optimism and keep moving forward. I don’t always know why things are unfolding as they are, but I am willing to trust that Life is always moving forward.

See Love, Intimacy and Relationship as Spiritual Practice — Opening our hearts and allowing a deeper state of intimacy with our lover is THE most profound spiritual practice, and yet one that is not often considered spiritual. My relationship with my husband has been one of the most catalyzing, challenging and rewarding spiritual journeys of my life.

There’s a lot of religious dogma as well as shame and trauma that we need to heal and move away from, but what’s profound is that relationship, intimacy and sex can actually be a way, if not THE WAY, to do so rapidly and holistically. The Ancients saw love and intimacy and the most robust gateway to spiritual fulfillment and a happy life, yet we have been led to believe that these are distractions or worse, sins instead of the rich, ripe and gorgeous path to Spiritual Wellness that they are truly.

We come into intimate relationships to expand and grow, yet few of us think of partnership as a spiritual practice.

The truth is our lovers can annoy us, irritate us, anger us and even make us wonder what we are doing with them.

But all relationships can be a spiritual practice AND they are a value-added project; everyone adds value by what he or she brings, including the annoying stuff.

We can recognize that intimate relationships are challenging because we are different, and, though that difference can be beautiful, it also brings friction.

We often seek to mold our lover into our versions of them or what we see as their potential, and this can only cause strife.

Of course, we want to help each other grow, heal and expand and not push major issues under the carpet, but accepting beauty also means accepting what is not beautiful. We want to destroy all that is troubling, irritating, ugly, or just plain unattractive but the truth is we don’t want too much eHarmony or we are just dating ourselves. The differences, and even the friction between people can be a beautiful means to polish each other — that is to bring out the light. This is big work. It is the deeper power and gift of sexual intimacy. The gift is that our lovers desire us and we desire them with all our beauty and all our “ugliness”. If we can create a sense of radical acceptance for our lover, we are creating unconditional acceptance and belonging; what we all crave deeply.

For example, I adore my husband but at times he has a strong reaction to things. On the up side you always know what he is feeling, but I do find it a little challenging at times and as I said kindness actually turns me on. However, I can keep seeing, pushing and nagging him about this or I can bring my focus to what is true and powerful about him — that he is a loving and generous person and the infrequent angry reactions are not his truth. I told him that I am challenged by his reactions and that they do not reflect how loving a man he is, but that they also remind me to stay calm, non-judgmental and non-reactive. I think this gave him space to reflect on who he was and who he wanted to be in the world. It also gave him an image of himself to live up to that was powerful rather than condemning.

“I want to be the man you see me as,” he told me. “Thank you for always letting me be me. I have not been with a woman who was not trying to change me. I want to be a better man because I know you see me as one already.”

That meant a lot to me, but more than that, this was my opportunity to love unconditionally. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we accept poor behavior, abuse or disrespect, but rather that we claim clearly what we want and call people to it, including ourselves.

It was also a powerful reminder that we all want to be truly seen, accepted, and desired for ourselves. Too often we don’t feel good enough. Too often we are quick to condemn, criticize and push away. I want to feel loveable for my great qualities and even my not so stellar ones.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

Ian: Again, in Indigenous Wisdom teaching all was One with the Creator, and all was an expression of the Great Spirit. Nature was not something separate — to be feared or controlled — it was the Garden, and we were its stewards and children. So, when we approach Nature this way, regardless of cultural background, there is something deeply resonant. It’s like Coming Home to a place inside ourselves that we suspected was there but perhaps could not quite glimpse. We often feel rapturous, expansive and yet somehow small in the vast beauty of Nature. I see this as an essential Spiritual experience.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Shasta: We are hoping to inspire a movement — the return to the place of Sacred Love, Union and Connection where we allow the power of our bodies, hearts and minds to unite and we experience Life as a Divine, blissful experience even during challenges, and moreover, we know ourselves as the Powerful Creators we were born to be, leaving a legacy of human potential, love and vast unity in our lives, and on the Earth.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Shasta: It sounds a little fangirl but I’d love to have a conversation with JLo (Jennifer Lopez). She is such a force of feminine sensuality, power and love, and has so much influence in the world. If I could speak to her about our mission, experience and tools, I feel like we could help so many more people…people who are truly ready to experience their Power, Passion and Possibility.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Read more at and check out our podcast, Sexellence.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you for the opportunity to share, and for all the work YOU all are doing. Truly grateful xx

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