Brene Brown, Joan Halifax Roshi Talk Women & Balance at Omega Women & Power Conference

Authors Brene Brown and Joan Halifax Roshi joined co-founder of the Omega Institute Elizabeth Lesser on stage during the opening evening session of the Omega Institute’s “Women and Power Retreat” on September 20, 2013 to discuss the strength, vulnerability and authenticity at the heart of women’s leadership today.

In discussing authenticity, Brown shared her personal mantra: ‘Don’t shrink, don’t puff up and stand your sacred ground.’

“When I first started the research I though there are authentic people and inauthentic people, but what I learned was there is no such thing … there are just people who practice authenticity, and it’s this daily practice. I wanted to have a mantra as part of my practice,” she said.

She came up with hers after taking a trip to attend a board meeting for the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Upon returning, she was confronted by a women when picking her children up from school – a women who in the past had made her feel guilty or “like she had been slimed.”

“She said who took care of the kids while you were gone, and so shrinking would have been for me to say, ‘oh, I was gone and mom had to come in,’ and puffing up would be ‘I was changing the world with the noble women’s initiative, what were you doing last week? How was the bake sale,’” she told the audience laughing. “But that would be hurtful and not authentic and not me.” Instead she discovered her mantra.

Finding a Balance
Part of the evening’s discussion covered finding balance in our lives by taking the time we need for what Halifax Roshi calls the “in breath,” and also changing our view of gender roles.

Lesser explained many of us feel concerned for the world, worry about our children and want to give of ourselves in a way that makes a difference. But in order to give, we must take time to receive.  “What good are we if we are the angry peacemaker?” she asked.

Halifax Roshi compared giving and receiving to the act of breathing. “It’s what the body teaches us – at this moment it’s an exhale and the next moment it’s an inhale. It’s just as important to have the inhale. It’s really knowing your capacities and claiming them,” she said.

Brown’s research has shown her we can’t give to people what we don’t have, and that although for many women the “in breath” time can be a shame trigger, it is necessary.

“I can’t give love and kindness to my kids or to the world or the Earth if I can’t give love and kindness to myself,” she said.

For many women, their identity is caught up in the archetype of the “do gooder,” said Halifax Roshi. “Our social approval comes from us being caregivers and that we are looked on as being self-centered and narcissistic [otherwise].”

Additionally, part of finding balance is for women to begin encouraging men to become caretakers as well, Lesser noted. “It must be a shared responsibility because humans and the Earth need care,” she said.

Brown told the audience as of Oct. 1, her husband was pulling back at work and would be home three days a week – what she called a “shared care, shared work model” – and in her research she is finding men are actually more open to this then women may think.

“What I see is men so teetering close to the edge of sheer grief about what they are missing in their lives that it is almost painful to acknowledge it. It is much easier to express it as power and rage,” Brown explained. “I think women are exhausted…we are holding our breath, not taking our deep breaths in because we want to be perceived as ‘do it all, do it perfectly, and never let them see you sweat,’ and men are holding their breath because ‘yes, we are missing out, and yes we are disengaged from stuff that we really love, but we don’t know how else to do it, and we don’t have support, not just from the systems we work in but from the female partners in their lives.’”

In fact, Brown said the No. 1 source of shame for men – according to what they have told her in her research – is women and usually the women who love them.

“I think we have a lot of healing work to do together, and I think vulnerability is that path back to each other – and the breathing.”


Omega Institute Women & Power Retreat Free Live Stream: Elizabeth Lesser, Brene Brown & Joan Halifax Roshi

The Omega Institute is offering a free live stream of the opening evening session for this year’s Women & Power Retreat on September 20, 2013 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Elizabeth Lesser, cofounder of Omega and the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, will open the evening with a very short talk about the importance of having a soft front and strong back in life.

Following this, she will lead a conversation with Brene Brown, author of “Daring Greatly,” and “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and Joan Halifax Roshi, author and abbot of the Upaya Zen Cetner. They will discuss the strength, vulnerability and authenticity at the heart of women’s leadership today, and explore whether there is a uniquely female kind of strength; how vulnerability can make us stronger; and how we can courageously walk our talk.

If you cannot join live, the program will be available on demand until 11:00 p.m. September 23, 2013.

Sign up here for the free event.


Editor’s Advice: Embarking on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Elevated Existence attended the annual Omega NYC conference a week ago in New York, and I had the pleasure of attending a workshop by the best-selling author of “Crazy Sexy Diet,” Kris Carr, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) expert Nick Ortner.

I’ll admit, I was new to Carr’s work, but was intrigued by eating an anti-inflammatory diet. I have suffered from chronic sinus inflammation for more than 10 years, and was getting tired of the antihistamines. (I’m sure many of you can feel my pain!) Also, I had recently read “Ultra-Prevention: The Six-Week Plan That Will Make Your Healthy for Life,” by Mark Hyman, M.D. and Mark Liponis, M.D., which recommends a more plant-based diet for easing inflammation and better overall health.

So I attended the workshop (read all about it in our June 2012 issue out soon!) and became inspired. Carr is a wonderful, living example for what she teaches, and as someone living with what the doctor’s call an incurable cancer, I applaud her for taking healing into her own hands – and sharing what she has learned to help others! It’s been 10 years since was diagnosed, and her cancer has not progressed at all! BRAVO!

What inspired me was her complete self-care plan, which includes physical, emotional and spiritual health. Our June article will go into more depth, but I wanted to share the small changes I am making in my diet in hopes that I will inspire you to do the same!

One of the things I love about Carr is she is NOT an all or nothing girl! She is vegan, eating an 80 percent plant-based, gluten-free diet, but encourages people to “lean into” a healthier diet. For example, start by adopting a 50/50 plan – 50 percent of every plate of food is vegetables, and the other 50 percent is dedicated to a grains, meat, tofu, etc. (and the meat amount shouldn’t be bigger than a deck of cards if you choose that option). Also, incorporate what she calls “green juice” into your daily routine (more about that below!)

So far, here are the changes I have made:

–      Dairy is the first thing I decided to eliminate since I suffer from chronic sinus inflammation. Dairy contributes to this, as well as creating excess mucus in the body. I already drink almond milk, so it was really just cutting out cheese, butter, etc.

–      Since meat has always been part of my diet (I grew up in an Italian, meatball-loving family), I decided to start slow. I’m eliminating red meat, and only eating chicken, turkey or fish no more than once per day (eventually cutting down to a couple times per week.)

–      I’ve added a PB8 probiotic supplement to my daily routine. (I also take a multi-vitamin; vitamin D3; Omega 3; vitamin C; and Calcium Magnesium supplements daily. I’m a big fan of Andrew Lessman’s vitamins)

–      Incorporating more vegetables into every meal.

–      Significantly cut down on sugar and chocolate (thank goodness those Cadbury Crème Eggs are off the shelves!)

–      I bought a brand-new Breville juicer (thank you Bed, Bath & Beyond for your 20-percent-off coupons that never expire), and am drinking at least 8 ounces of green juice every morning. (Carr recommends 16 ounces per day, and I’m going to build up to that. But I’m starting slow!)

Now a quick word on the green juice — A basic recipe using a juicer (which is different than a blender) is a combination of the following: cucumber, celery, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, green apple and lemon – and there are many variations on it. Carr advises in her book “Crazy Sexy Diet,” if your stomach tends to be sensitive, you can start with straight up cucumber juice, and then gradually add other ingredients that might be harder to digest. I started with cucumber one day, then added celery and green apple to that, and then I recently started adding a handful of spinach.

Well so far – I’ve cut down on antihistamines (about every other day from daily), and I’m feeling really good about doing something for myself and my body – or what Carr called the “God Pod.” And as of writing this blog, it’s only been one week!

I highly recommend her book “Crazy Sexy Diet” if this blog is at all interesting to you. She offers so many brand-name recommendations for replacing gluten, wheat and dairy products, as well as recipes and a wealth of information about the things we put into our body. She also offers detox tips, such as dry brushing the skin daily!

And be sure to check out her Web site, for more advice, recipes and tips!

Here’s to living a healthy, inflammation-free life! Thanks for the inspiration Kris!

Tammy Mastroberte
Founder, Publisher & Editorial Director
Elevated Existence Magazine

Omega Institute to Hold Annual Omega NYC April 20-22

The Omega Institute is heading back to New York City for its annual Omega NYC conference – and this time 16 teachers will be on hand at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, April 20–22, 2012.

Also, for the first time ever, Omega plans to broadcast live from the Women & Happiness workshop, so people around the world can watch for free online as renowned author Brené Brown presents “The Anatomy of Joy.”

Omega NYC begins Friday evening at 8:00 p.m. with a keynote talk, “With An Open Heart,” by Elizabeth Lesser, author of “Broken Open” and co-founder of Omega, as well as a special performance by musician David Wilcox.

Participants at Omega NYC dive deeper on Saturday and Sunday, when they can choose from one of seven in-depth workshops:

– Women and Happiness: The Give & Take of Finding Joy: Elizabeth Lesser, Carla Goldstein, Geneen Roth, Brené Brown*, Loung Ung, Gretchen Steidle Wallace, and Leslie Salmon Jones

– Loving What Is: Byron Katie

– Touching the Unseen World: Discovering Your Spiritual Self: James Van Praagh

– Energy Medicine: A Hands-On Workshop: Donna Eden and David Feinstein

– Breaking Through the Shadow of Fear: Debbie Ford

– Crazy Sexy Life: Creating a Daily Self-Care Game Plan: Kris Carr and Nicolas Ortner

– Meditation Skills for Life: Sharon Salzberg

To sign up for the live online event, featuring Brené Brown’s “The Anatomy of Joy,” or to register for a workshop, visit

Eckhart Tolle to Lead Retreat at Omega Institute in June

Best-selling author of “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now,” Eckhart Tolle, will be leading a workshop at the Omega Institute’s Rhinebeck, N.Y. campus, June 17-20, 2012, starting at 8 p.m. on Sunday and concluding on Wednesday.

The four-day retreat will offer attendees the chance to “come together to open individually and collectively to the silence of joy and being, and surrender to the depth and beauty of the present moment,” according to Omega.

Each day, Tolle will hold teaching sessions, but there will also be a time for personal reflection to explore the Omega campus.

For more information or to register, visit