Spiritually Sassy: Sah D’Simone

Ahead of hosting a wellness retreat with Balance Holidays in Ibiza in July, the spiritual guide and wellness practitioner talks to Brummell about the importance of breath, the Sah Method and creating a space for everyone in the wellness industry

Travel and Wellbeing 10 Jun 2021

Sah D'Simone

Sah D'Simone

What can people expect from a Sah D’Simone wellness retreat?

My goal for retreats is that they’re a profoundly transformative and absurdly fun experience that leaves my students feeling refreshed, awakened, and alive… ready to move beyond the trauma of the past and strut confidently into a joyful future!

And what are your expectations for the wellness retreat in Ibiza with Balance Holidays in July?

Through experiencing The Sah Method (my super popular “spiritual workout” practice) on an intensive level in such an idyllic and serene environment, the retreaters will intimately experience their spiritual heart, and create a deep memory of their own human potential and be able to activate this wisdom in their daily lives going forward. The retreat is taking place at the epic Oku Hotel and will feature sunrise meditations, daily breathwork and mantra, philosophy workshops, evening purification meditations, time in nature and organic field-to-fork meals. Retreaters will have plenty of down time to enjoy the hotel too, which has two swimming pools – including an Olympic-size pool – the biggest in Ibiza! Åmy K. aka KYMÅ, who is an amazing multi-dimensional and sensual music producer, DJ and sonic wellness consultant will also be joining us from New York to provide the all-important sound waves.

OKU Ibiza, the location of the Sah D'Simone retreat in July
OKU Ibiza, the location of the Sah D’Simone retreat in July

How did you move from a career in publishing to become a spiritual guide and wellness instructor?

Despite living out what I always viewed as the American Dream, I found myself addicted, anxious, depressed, and terrified of what might happen to me if I continued down that path. Achieving the American Dream had become my biggest nightmare. Desperate for physical and mental recovery, I left my position at the magazine and walked away from the fashion world in 2012, leaving everything I had worked so tirelessly for behind.

In 2014, I embarked on a voyage of self-discovery and a quest to heal my body, mind, and open my heart. I journeyed to Nepal, India, Thailand and Indonesia to study with great masters while living in ashrams and monasteries. I took a deep dive into silent meditation retreats, committed to healing myself. Cut to three years later: my life had changed so completely and so profoundly as a result of my diligent practice and studies… I was really motivated to share that same potential with the rest of the world.

How did you develop your own wellness practices and ideas, and how did you discover you have a knack for communicating them to other people?

In my early studies in India and Nepal, I fell into a stereotypical mindset that suppressing my quirkiness to convey an image of “peace” and “calm” was the path to freedom. But it all felt clumsy and fake to me.

Then the more I studied, I had an epiphany: the key to a true awakening isn’t the stuffy seriousness or “zombie zen” we often incorrectly ascribe to the “spiritual seeker”. (You know, that ubiquitous idea of the monotonous, super-serious, quiet-as-a-mouse bald monk with robes.) In fact, it’s quite the opposite! My most profound experiences with my teachers overflowed with joy, laughter, playfulness, and fun. I, in all my queer, brown, fabulous glory had to let my uniqueness shine. I didn’t have to “fit into” the wellness space; I had to find how it fit into me.

Spiritually Sassy, Sah D'Simone
Spiritually Sassy, Sah D’Simone

The more I moved forward in my spiritual education and practice with this new perspective – living in radical authenticity – the more my teachers encouraged me to become a teacher too. They had never steered me wrong before, so who was I not to heed their wisdom?

So, I took the formula that worked for me and made it more accessible and efficient to share with others. And the rest, as they say, is history!

What does sassy spirituality mean to you and your students?

Spiritually Sassy is about entering the world as a permission slip and saying no to “zombie zen”. It’s understanding that spirituality doesn’t have to just look like mala beads, crystals, incense and yoga studios. It’s a seat at the table for everyone who has ever felt like “too much” or “not enough”. It’s committing to feeling better, and doing better, while looking your best. It’s leaving the holy cave in the mountains and taking the wisdom of practices into the streets – making everywhere your church, everything your practice. It’s about dismantling the notion of “normalcy” and celebrating our differences, our fringe elements, our skin colour, our gender expression, our sexuality. It’s cultivating your own personal brand of magnetism. You can be fierce, loud, joyful. You can wear make-up and heels and strut the streets like your own personal catwalk. By living authentically, you’re dismantling the notion of what “spirituality” should be. It’s making spirituality inclusive and rooted in joy.

Why was it important to you to create a space in the wellness community that was safe and welcoming to LGBTQ and POC?

Because I am that demographic, honey! And for years I struggled to find a space in wellness that felt welcoming, where I felt included, seen and celebrated. It’s getting better now, but when I hit the scene there were very few teachers of colour who were also members of the queer community.

Not only that, but my LGBTQIA+ and POC families need spiritual support that comes from, and with, a safe space. Living marginalised lives causes serious trauma that spirituality can help heal. It saved me, that’s for sure.

The Balearic beauty of Ibiza, the home for D'Simone's upcoming retreat
The Balearic beauty of Ibiza, the home for D’Simone’s upcoming retreat

Mental health and wellness have been a struggle for many throughout the past year, what have you found to be the biggest challenges?

I notice a lot of people feel overwhelmed by how big of a project “getting spiritual” or “fixing their mental health” seems to be, so they get paralysed and never even start the work. That’s why I teach about approaching mental health and wellness as daily hygiene.

The same way we take a shower, brush our teeth, and eat… we need to tend to our minds and inner lives – because our inner world dictates how we relate to our outer world.

The same effort that I invest into presenting myself to the world in a clean, healthful, relatable, fashionable way… I do similar maintenance between me and my inner life. Some days my mental hygiene practices take longer; just like some days, I want a long soak in the bath instead of a power shower.

Think of caring for your mental hygiene the same way you care for a garden. You can’t go a week without watering the soil if you want to see fruit on the branches. You can’t neglect the weeds if you want to ensure the plants you love most have space to blossom. The goal is to become the master botanist of your mind. Then mental health will bloom sustainably.

Our readers are extremely time-poor – what one small thing a day can they do to start making themselves feel better?

I always tell people, that before digging into meditation and everything else, you must intimately experience your breath in your body. Acquaint yourself with a healing breathing rhythm: your gateway to the present moment, which is where all your inner wisdom and creative potential live.

Focused breathing helps you tone your vagus nerve, which connects to and plays a crucial role in your body’s ability to regulate nearly every physical and emotional function. The stronger your vagal tone, the more resilient your mind and body become. Some scientists call the vagus nerve “the love nerve” because of how closely its functions mimic the experience of love. I have a whole meditation practice dedicated to vagal toning – it’s that important!

The better your vagal tone, the more you can control how you relate to your thoughts and moods, withstand more physical pain, as well as reduce your stress response, and the likelihood of suffering from many physical and mental illnesses.

What you’re passionate about, you’ll make time for. Get passionate about your breath, honey! It will always bring you back to your centre.

What can you recommend as a first step for those who want to start their own wellness journey?

I may be a bit biased, but I’d say, “start with my book, my love!” But the honest truth is first you have to find a teacher who you vibe with, whose style suits yours, who makes you feel seen. Rather than dabble around, doing light practices with many teachers, find one you connect with and really dig into your inner work with them. Read the books. Do the practices. One small step a day, one day after the other. That kind of consistency is what helps you build a routine and results in real change.

What’s next for Sah D’Simone?

Right now, I’m just so super hyped for the upcoming Balance Holidays Joyful Awakening retreat in Ibiza next month. It will be my first in-person retreat in a year and a half… and the first intensive I’m offering of this homegrown spiritual workout practice. After that, we’re continuing to bolster and grow our membership platform, The Spiritually Sassy School, and I’ve got some epic guests lined up for The Spiritually Sassy Show podcast. It’s an exciting time, honey! Lots of magic in the making….

Sah D’Simone is hosting the Balance Holidays Joyful Awakening at Balearic Island Retreat 7-11 July in Ibiza. Bookings close 15 June.