Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant is one of the nation’s most revered inspirational leaders. Hailed by Halle Berry as her personal “shero,” Dr. Vanzant’s spiritual teachings and motivational words have encouraged millions of people. Hopefully you started 2010 off with a bang, planning and organizing your goals. For those that need the extra push (and those who enjoy jewels of wisdom), we’ve recruited Dr. Vanzant to help you maintain a vision, appreciate the sway of your hips and ultimately upgrade your mind, body and soul.
What are some ways that we can approach the rest of 2010 with a fresh start?
Iyanla: The best way to start off the new year with a better attitude is to forget about last year. Start everything new. Rather than worrying about what you didn’t do or what you could have done, just start where you are as if this is the first moment of any opportunity you’ve ever had. If you had victories last year, I say, celebrate those victories and hold the memory close to you. Start new, moment by moment. The trick is to not let the ego beat yourself down about what you didn’t do.
Can you give some tips to those who desire higher self-esteem and better body image?
Iyanla: The issue here is not self-esteem, self-value, self-worth or self-image. The issue here is self. Who is the self? What is the self? We have so many pathologies in our communities that are constantly perpetuated in front of us. The pathology of dark skin and light skin. Short hair and long hair. Fat or skinny. When there’s an issue with the self, you must begin within. The best way to improve your self-image is to have a daily spiritual practice. When you understand who you are, you can build yourself from the inside out and no longer get caught up in the physicality.
Many Black women spend too much time coveting each other’s bodies. How do we get past this?
Iyanla: Any form of comparison, whether it’s physical, financial, or whatever it is, is a form of violence. That’s another pathology that we as women have, inflicting self-violence on ourselves. We have to understand that I am not my sister’s keeper, I am my sister. I am not my sister’s competitor, I am my sister. So, whatever it is that we’re coveting about another woman, we have to do the inner work so that we recognize that it’s really about me. It’s the ego that would make you think that one is better than the other.
The celebration of a new year also brings the onslaught of new goals. Do you have some tips on maintaining your focus?
Iyanla: Every woman needs a vision for herself. The vision is what will pull you forward. Each day, remain focused on that vision. If you have a health goal of eliminating sugar from your diet, each day you have to do something to eliminate the sugar. You may not be able to do the candy and the soda and the cookie today, but can you do the soda or the cookie? Can you do that for three days and then work on something else? We try to do everything at once. I say, to be whole, healthy and complete, an inch is a cinch. A yard is hard.
What are some great stress relievers?
Iyanla: I always burn pure white sage. Sage lifts energy. It’s a purifier. It’s like Lysol from the earth. I light sage in my house every morning and evening, especially when I’ve been doing a lot of mental work or when I have a lot of mental fatigue. The best, most relaxing stress reliever I know of is Epsom salt and lavender oil. Put 3 – 5 lbs of Epsom salt in the bathtub and add 10 – 20 drops of lavender oil. It removes the toxins, and as we have stress in our lives, our bodies will produce toxins. Also, milk and honey. If you run a hot bath, you can add powdered milk and maybe 4 – 5 tablespoons of honey.
Lastly, every woman wants to feel sexy, vibrant and sensual. What would you say is the best way to change your mentality if you’re not quite there yet?
Iyanla: Sensuality is a natural essence of who we are as females. I think every woman needs to know her colors. Is it blue, purple, red? What is the color that really makes your body want to move? Each woman needs to know her scent. Just walk through the department stores and find that scent that makes you happy when you smell it! Every woman needs a slinky dress, a nightie, and a set of 400-thread count sheets. Even if you’re sleeping by yourself, when you take your bath, scent your body, put your nightie on and slide into those sheets, it’s just incredible. Once you have the feeling, you can recreate it in your mind whenever you want to and it takes you into that level of sensuality. It doesn’t require a partner. It is an inward experience that you can then demonstrate outwardly.