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“Fear of being alone may especially come up for those who compartmentalize their feelings, bypass their pain, or habitually feed off of distraction.” with Aarona Lea and Sasza Lohery

Fear of being alone may especially come up for those who compartmentalize their feelings, bypass their pain, or habitually feed off of distraction. Many of us likely struggle with this at times in our life, especially with the overload of information that has become an intricate part of modern culture. With all of this at […]


Fear of being alone may especially come up for those who compartmentalize their feelings, bypass their pain, or habitually feed off of distraction. Many of us likely struggle with this at times in our life, especially with the overload of information that has become an intricate part of modern culture. With all of this at play, being alone can reveal the baseline anxiety that lives within us, so we want to medicate it with distraction. Yet if we keep running from being alone and filling that hole, eventually it will catch up with us. Loss and change is a part of life, which is typically a time that is asking us to go within and be with whatever arises so that we can evolve. The relationship we have with ourselves is the most intimate one we will ever have.

As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Aarona Lea. Inspired by 23 years of yoga, 14 years as a yoga teacher and wellness adviser, an array of alternative therapies, and a love of writing and travel — Aarona is influenced by several personal-development roadmaps. What started as a personal need for survival, eventually became a passion turned profession. 
As a teacher, speaker, author, business owner, and intuitive oracle reader, Aarona helps to demystify self-love and personal growth while encouraging others to create more wellness in their life through a commitment to daily practice, even if they only have three minutes a day. Starting her own healing journey as a child, her curiosity led her on a life-long journey of study, practice, and ritual where she explored the shadowy depths of healing trauma, fully recovered from chronic cycles of bulimia, and continues to help normalize conversations around emotional health. As the author and co-creator of the healing oracle set ‘The Moon Deck’, Aarona teaches practices and rituals to help bring balance and perspective to life’s greatest breaths so that each individual can transform and grow with more honesty, intuition, and ease. Aarona also facilitates empowering workshops and retreats worldwide, offers private and group Intuitive Oracle Readings, teaches yoga classes at Wanderlust in LA, and runs The Moon Deck biz full time. She’s been featured in Mind Body Green, Gaia, Free People Blog, New York Times, Self Magazine, National Geographic Traveler UK, Teach.Yoga, The Beauty Book, Well+Good, The Weather Channel, Wall Street Journal, Fréttblaðið of Iceland, Times of India, Origin Magazine, the cover of FitYoga, NBC, Elephant Journal, Yoga Journal, and various podcasts. You can learn more about Aarona’s offerings at
www.aaronalea.com and www.themoondeck.com


Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s Get Intimate! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

The main project at the moment is expanding The Moon Deck’s reach to more people worldwide (a healing set of 44 cards + guidebook that ritualize self-love and daily practice with beautiful art, affirmations, rituals, and bite-size insights). We already have a global presence, however, we want to reach more people plus translate in other languages (starting with Spanish!) so we can continue to demystify well-being and how it can start with simple self-care actions. When we commit to even the smallest acts of consistent self-love, we begin to feel more at home in our body and strengthen our intuitive center. This replenishes our self-worth and our ability to give and receive; all of which deepens our intimacy and connection with those we care about most.

You only need three minutes a day to make using The Moon Deck an impactful self-care routine, and then you can dive deeper on the days you have more time and need more guidance. We are also expanding our shop, working on an interactive Moon Deck Journal companion, and creating more opportunities to teach about Ritual Wellness.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

I always say that for me, what started off as a need for survival became a passion turned profession. Deep self-love and understanding is a work in progress, however, I believe that any yearning to move forward out of the gunk and into more balance or happiness is already a clear sign that you are loving yourself. Otherwise, you wouldn’t take those first steps or feel that inner pull towards growth. Whether you listen or not is another story.

For me, the journey of self-love and discovery started at a young age due to the circumstances I grew up in and inherent spiritual curiosity. It’s more than I can write about here. Yet a pivotal time was during a ten-year struggle with bulimia that started at age 13. It was a depressing, confusing and painful time that snowballed into major self-loathing and body dysmorphia — basically the opposite of self-love. I vividly recall when I was on the rooftop of my old Brooklyn apartment, eyes swollen as I took in the sky, tears spilling out, and I dropped to my knees in deep prayer. I finally admitted to myself that I needed help and prayed for the willingness to choose wellness over sickness. Although it took time and a lot of work, my prayers were answered and I fully recovered as my road to radical self-love deepened.

A few years before my recovery I started practicing yoga and meditation which further laid the groundwork and planted the seeds for the work I do today. Getting into my body and breath showed me that I had the power to make a different choice. It taught me how to practice being in the right relationship with my body and spirit, and how to better listen to my intuition. I’m of course still learning, yet the addiction to perfectionism has softened, which has strengthened my ability to learn rather than run from what life reveals while also allowing more of life in.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

This is a systemic issue that has been passed down from generation to generation, largely due to the standards that the media, marketing, modern culture, and misinformed peers or authority figures place on us directly and indirectly. If we think about it, the economy as we know it would crumble if we were all deeply satisfied with our body and our life. We are sold the idea that we need to be more, have more, do more, and look different to be desired and happy. It’s a lie. And unfortunately most of us have to unlearn and unpack a belief system that we’ve been force-fed for a lifetime. Thankfully, in knowing this, we can instead contribute to a brighter cultural landscape where a more body positive and authentically human perspective can shape our future and leave a healthy legacy.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Imagine each and every individual on the planet truly and deeply loving themselves — we would see a very different planet. When we feel good, we do good. When we feel beautiful, we see beauty. This has nothing to do with external standards of good or beautiful. It’s about how we feel on the inside, which is shaped by our habits, routines, thoughts, and choices. If we see the world with stress, fear and anxiety running the show it’s a sure sign that something is out of balance, and this energy will taint our vibe and our perspective. When we continuously neglect to show up for ourselves with love, we feed into a perpetual state of low self-worth and exhaustion, which impacts our relationships, our work, and our health.

Self-love is an ongoing life-long practice of progress and not perfection. It’s when we feel instead of flee from what is coming up for us, and then do our best to tend to our needs and fill up our reserves so that we can be more present to life and those we love. Self-love is a practice of softening the harsh inner critic, following through with our health practices, resting when we need rest, creating when it’s time to create, forgiving so we don’t have to lug resentment around, acknowledging when our actions hurt another and growing from it, breathing deeper, being more grateful, respecting our boundaries…and the list goes on. For some of us, self-love begins with the body. For others, it may be your emotional or mental health or a deeper spiritual practice. Wherever you put your focus is up to you, as one will eventually lead to the next. I trust that when we pause to listen (another self-love act), we then have the ability to better understand which part of our system is crying out for more support or balance. This too is a practice, one step and one day at a time.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

This is a pretty big topic for me at the moment because I recently got divorced and have been moving through some personal healing and reflection. I will likely have more to share about this down the road. However currently, I see this in two parts. On one hand, I believe we stay in mediocre relationships due to fear of the unknown, a scarcity mindset, and gripping onto a sense of security outside of ourselves. We fear we may end up alone, never to find someone who is more aligned. This operating system is perpetuated by a lack of self-worth and impacts who we attract into our lives. Yet on the other hand, in a convenience culture of swipe and unfollow, we give up on one another far too easily. We may let go of a good partner because they don’t meet our unrealistic expectations. We get swept into love, and when the road bumps appear we fixate on the problems rather than seeing them as a massive opportunity to grow and dissolve barriers to intimacy together.

Whether you’re in a partnership or single, my advice is to clean up the relationship you have with yourself with as much honesty as possible. This includes looking at the ugly parts and taking steps to change it while practicing self-love daily, even if you only have a few minutes a day. Speak to yourself more kindly, practice appreciating yourself the way you want a partner to appreciate you, and nourish yourself in ways that are meaningful to you. Additionally, if you’re in a partnership appreciate your partner before trying to fix them. Continue to acknowledge what is most beautiful between the two of you (especially when life gets busy) as opposed to taking what is comfortable for granted. If you’re single and ready for love, slow down a bit, notice where your expectations are driving your connection, be honest with yourself about what you really want, and trust your gut.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

I totally agree with you. Self-love is steeped in a willingness to grow, to be teachable and curious through the ups and downs, and to cultivate a deep commitment to one’s well-being which will include setting up new boundaries when needed.

I’m currently going through my own fair share of reflection and realization — a divorce, losing a parent, and moving across the country will do that to you. I’m sifting through some hard truths and beliefs that I’ve carried since childhood and that have shaped some of my relationships. It’s clear to me that much of the harsh judgment and anxiety that I can sometimes operate from is a product of how I grew up. Yet it does not serve me as an adult nor reflect my big heart and free spirit, which is a valuable part of my nature and therefore my success. The sooner I step fully into my own ‘formula’ for thriving, the more I can contribute from a place of unapologetic creativity and love.

Some important questions we can ask ourselves:

  • Is this what I really want or what someone else wants for me? Get to know what is truly yours and what is someone else’s expectations of you that you’ve adopted as your own. We will never be happy if we are trying to live someone else’s life or allowing the pressure of their opinion to hang over our head.
  • Am I truly happy in my life? If the answer is no, look at which areas are suffering — relationships, career, health, self-worth, spirituality, overall outlook, finances, etc. Do you feel peace or do you feel stress mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually? Then take a closer look at what actions (or lack of) and choices have added up, revealing where you are not feeling fulfilled or happy. Take one small step towards bringing more balance and a fresh perspective to the area that is needing the most support.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

Learning to be alone and actually enjoying this time is hugely beneficial emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Assuming we aren’t scrolling our phones for hours on end, our alone time can be filled with so many beautiful moments of insight and epiphany and is a way for us to better understand and get to know ourselves without the input or pressure of another. When we drop into our own personal downtime, we have an opportunity to explore what is most authentic in that moment — whether that be healing, creating, honest observation, stillness, cooking, reading, or anything else that feels right.

Fear of being alone may especially come up for those who compartmentalize their feelings, bypass their pain, or habitually feed off of distraction. Many of us likely struggle with this at times in our life, especially with the overload of information that has become an intricate part of modern culture. With all of this at play, being alone can reveal the baseline anxiety that lives within us, so we want to medicate it with distraction. Yet if we keep running from being alone and filling that hole, eventually it will catch up with us. Loss and change is a part of life, which is typically a time that is asking us to go within and be with whatever arises so that we can evolve. The relationship we have with ourselves is the most intimate one we will ever have.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

I don’t believe that self-understanding or self-love ever reaches a plateau or endpoint. It is a life-long practice that gets richer and ideally easier over time. The sooner we can practice self-love + explore self-discovery, the sooner we can experience true acceptance towards our circumstances and our relationship with ourselves and others — which in turn empowers us to choose what is most aligned for our wellbeing. As we learn to genuinely love and understand ourselves, we transfer this love and understanding onto those we are in relationships with. We get to know what we truly need and how to ask for it without guilt, we respect our own and one another’s boundaries without feeling abandoned, and we transform codependency into interdependence. Different relationships will spark different lessons, just like spending time alone will spark a different awareness. And right when we think we’ve figured it out, life will certainly reveal another layer to dive into. The learning never stops!

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

Be kinder and more gentle with yourself. Teach this in school, teach this in families, and commit to turning this into a daily practice. How we judge and speak to ourselves is often a reflection of how we judge and speak to those we are closest with. Observing your inner dialogue and shifting gears towards a more loving language is a game changer. Additionally, notice when you’re unfairly judging, criticizing or gossiping about others because doing so zaps your magnetism and continuously pollutes the present moment. Lastly, recognize where you are the common denominator in your struggles with relationships or various scenarios in your life. Lovingly use this information as clues for where you can grow and expand into a healthier and more present version of yourself. It’s not about getting it perfect, many of us have a stubborn habit of judgement or control in some area of our life. Think of it as an inward practice that you get to weave into your day in even the simplest interactions.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

  1. Meditation — I’m a long time meditator, yet had been in and out of it over the years. It became a non-negotiable a couple years ago with the start of the divorce, the loss of my mom, and when I moved across the country all within the same 6 months. With so much chaos and change, I needed a constant in my life. It was like the eye in the storm. Anyone can meditate, even if you only have 5 minutes a day. Personally, I meditate for 20 minutes every morning and once the timer goes off I spend a few minutes in prayer, blow out the candle, and then move into my day.
  2. Ritual — every couple of months I choose 1–3 new self-care rituals or actions to work with. I may reintroduce something I’ve slipped up on (i.e.: nightly flossing or drinking more water) or bring in something new that I want to awaken in my life (i.e.: a prosperity meditation or an intention candle). I like to choose something that feels like a big yes in my body and commit to a time frame I know I will do. A great and accessible 15 minute morning practice is to hold a forearm plank for 5 minutes, meditate for 5 minutes, and then write in your journal for 5 minutes. Set your timer for each round. If you know you won’t commit to that, then do a minute of each — I know you can spare 3 minutes!
  3. Self-talk — Observing how I speak to or about myself is a huge practice for me right now. Even just noticing the inner-dialogue more often today than yesterday is a huge step. I’m learning that when I verbally beat myself up, it’s a sign that I’m taking things for granted. When I catch myself doing it I change the language to the exact opposite statement so that I can turn a negative into a positive and reprogram my thought process towards a more loving one. As silly as it sounds, sometimes I’ll even turn it into a song and it works like a charm!
  4. Breathe — When I’m leading my team meetings or conversing with friends and family I’ve been practicing mindful breathing whether I’m listening or speaking. I have a lot of energy, can sometimes interrupt, and at times deal with anxiety, so this has been a really important practice for me. I need to consciously choose to do this over and over again because I can easily forget (yes, even as a yoga teacher!). Slow down, feel your body, and take in the moment. Even if you only remember to do this once a day, it’s a huge step and will add up by the end of a week.
  5. Ride or die — It’s crucial that we have a couple of ride or dies in our life who love and accept us through the ugly and the beautiful moments. I can’t express enough how this literally saved me over the last two years with so much unraveling taking place. Keep a few people close by, who really get you and embrace all of you (and vice versa). It’s such an important piece of the pie when it comes to remaining in love and connected with yourself. Not to mention it gives you an opportunity to practice being in a healthy and evolving relationship through thick and thin.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

Honestly, I have to include my own oracle set here. ‘The Moon Deck’ cards and guidebook have thoroughly helped me during transitional times, not to mention the overwhelming testimonials we get from women who have been greatly supported by the supportive wisdom of this deck. The words of the guidebook and cards continuously guide the reader back to self-love, intuition, ritual, the power of practice, and emotional health.

I also recently enjoyed ‘Love Warrior’ by Glennon Doyle. I could really relate to her story and how she had this inner world and outer world simultaneously playing out as she got to know who she really was through life-changing trial and error circumstances.

‘Soulcraft: Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche’, by Bill Plotkin. This book goes deep into understanding ourselves on a soul level while investigating our own blueprint nature. I love how closely he works with the elements and how he invites us to explore our shadow and our light while learning from the full spectrum.

Since moving from NYC to LA and driving more, I’m really into podcasts right now! A few of my favorites: “IGNTD” because of its raw and honest look at relationships and personal growth, “Woke & Wired” and “The Tim Ferriss Show” for the conscious entrepreneurs out there, and “Reality Riffing with Guru Jagat” and “Ancient Wisdom Today” for the spiritual seekers.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

#ForgiveYourself — Resentment, shame, and blame feed off the idea that we are not good enough. They’re like poison, clogging the flow of life and silently suffocating our relationships. When we forgive and let go, more love and gratitude can flow in.

We all make mistakes and we have all been dealt our own hand of sticky lessons and quirks to maneuver through in life. Forgive yourself for not being or doing it perfect for screwing up that opportunity, for neglecting a relationship you cared about yet taken for granted, for going too fast or too slow, and for not having everything figured out yet. Ease up on yourself, trust the wisdom of your path, show your naivety some love and understanding, and then be accountable and willing to grow from the mistakes.

We are all learning what it means to be human on this busy and full planet. No matter how it may appear, nobody has all the answers. Love and forgive yourself with the same sweet tenderness you crave from another. Give it to yourself so that you can embody it enough to let go and forgive others. Resentment is a heavy invisible sludge that can find its way into every area of your life plus taint future relationships if you’re not careful. Let it go, move forward, and get support if needed so that you can have some guidance for the really tough stuff. This is not a dress rehearsal, life is happening right now and you hold the reigns.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I have two:
“It takes discipline to be a free spirit” — Gabrielle Roth

This is one of my favorite quotes because it brings together the yin and yang of life. I used to think that I had to choose between security and spirit, the magical or the mundane. Yet I’ve learned that it can all co-exist. Discipline and devotion creates consistency and rhythm, which in turn opens up space for full creative expression. It is the dance between form and freedom — one serves the other.

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are” — Brené Brown

During a time of great transition in my life, this quote (and many of her quotes) served as a powerful reminder that I can define what authenticity means to me personally, as I unpack the misaligned ‘shoulds and should nots’ that I adopted over the years. This quote gives us permission to embrace our many shades and helps us to understand that living from an authentic place is a practice that we get to visit daily. As a recovering perfectionist, I find that to be a relief!

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

About the Author:

Sasza Lohrey is the Founder & CEO of BBXX, a digital platform for intimacy and wellbeing. She is also the host of the BBXX podcast, “Let’s Get Intimate!” which hosts provocative and entertaining conversations with experts in order to challenge the way our culture conditions us to talk about sex, intimacy, and healthy relationships. BBXX was created in order to help people better understand themselves, so that they then can form deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others. Sasza is a former D1 athlete with a background in psychology and digital media. She is a member of the Women of Sex Tech collective, the co-mentorship community Dreamers and Doers, and a regular columnist for several online publications. Originally from the Bay Area, Sasza founded BBXX during a Stanford entrepreneurship program in Santiago, Chile. Learn more on our website and listen to more interviews with experts on our top-rated podcast!

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