When I have trouble sleeping, I think of Donna D’Cruz. Or rather, I hear her whisper in my ear, in her incredibly sexy Australian accent: “Breathe in, breathe out…”. It works, every time. Meet the real life goddess who uses music, meditation, and the magic of sleep to reawaken women’s true power. “We are human beings, not human doings.
“Magic to me has wonder, mystery, beauty; it is the divine feminine.”
— Donna d’Cruz
Marlies: Donna, you are such a phenomenon: an international DJ, meditation guru, record-label executive, mother of 2 step children. And you do it all with such grace! When we first met I asked you how you do it. “I’ve invited magic into my life,” you answered. Can you explain that?
Donna: I am a big believer in magic. Magic to me has wonder, mystery, beauty; it is the divine feminine. By the way, I think that this is one of the reasons you and I have such a strong connection: you are not just selling lingerie, you are selling a doorway to the divine feminine!
Marlies: Thank you! Yes, feminine feminism is much more than a design philosophy, it is a movement.
Donna: You have created something out of nothing, Marlies. And that is perhaps the most important thing about magic: it makes you believe in the impossible. It invites infinite possibilities into every moment. I live like that everyday, with the idea that anything is possible! But you do have to invite it in. You have to believe that you deserve it, something that women sometimes still seem to have a problem with.
Marlies: I believe women especially can get so close to magic. Why then are we so worried about coming across ‘witchy’ and not down-to-earth enough?
Donna: When you look at women throughout the ages, from the oracles of Delphi to modern women like your current muse Julia Child, we have always been the wisdom keepers. But our device dependency and the pressure to keep running and fighting and do things in a masculine way have steered many of us away from the divine feminine.
Marlies: You make a good point about device dependency. We are completely addicted, aren’t we? How is that affecting us as women?
Donna: We used to come together to tell stories. Our human condition is such that we need to share information; to talk, to listen, to participate in each other’s stories. As wisdom keepers, women played a very big role in that. But somehow we have allowed multidimensional media like television and the internet to become the go-to for our stories. What is your fashion story? Well, how easy is it to surf to some blog and mindlessly copy a style? Or, what is your love story? Well, you can swipe for love at 5 o’clock and meet up someone 2 hours later, eschewing the importance and joy of real, emotional intimacy. We think our electronic devices inform and inspire us, but they actually distract us to the point that we forget our own story.
Marlies: Absolutely! That is exactly why I am trying to tell a story through my lingerie.
Donna: Yes! Your story is about embracing your own beauty. It’s about looking at yourself with the eyes of love, instead of the eyes of self-criticism. And if you refuse to do that, don’t be sad or whiney if someone else doesn’t see your beauty! The main task we have during this 5th wave of feminism is to understand that WE hold the power. If we have given away that power, don’t cry about it, take it back!
Marlies: Do you have any practical tips and tricks for inviting the magic back into our lives? How can we get started on that journey?
Donna: The most important thing is to really listen. The only person that we don’t tend to listen to is ourselves! On a superficial level, we have an internal dialogue that goes on and on, but I’m talking about going beyond that, about listening to your soul. So, the first step is to sit, close your eyes, and do nothing. Except breathing. I will be honest with you, it can be uncomfortable, it can be yucky! The trick is to not try to shut down your thoughts, but to gently sit with them. In just a few breaths, your other senses shut down and you start to listen. You start to eavesdrop into your own thoughts! I call this the place of Self Discovery.
Marlies: You have developed a ‘meditation 101’ called ‘Dip Into Bliss’ which I had the pleasure of experiencing with you. I was amazed at how powerful just a few minutes of silence could be!
Donna: People often say: “I don’t have time to meditate, there are too many rules.” So, I created an experience with beautiful music and a simple guidance to get you started. There are no rules! Even if you just meditate 5 minutes a day, you will find that small things start to change in your daily life. Is someone cutting ahead of you in line? Instead of automatically getting into a fight, you may think: “My anger is not going to help that person, I am going to give them an opportunity to just walk away.” You will see: eventually this will allow self love. It is the most divine process!
Marlies: You came to New York about 20 years ago, but were India-born and Australia-raised. How has your background shaped you?
Donna: I came from Australia with 2 telephone numbers, 300 dollars and 5 didgeridoos. (laughs). Being Indian, I started meditating as a teenager, so I learned at a young age to go into silence. I always had a huge passion for music, and one of the defining moments in my life took place when I went on the road with these aboriginal musicians I was working with in Australia. They taught me all about the concept of ‘Dreamtime’. We think that when we go to sleep, we dream. But what if it is the other way around? Are you having the dream or is the dream having you? Right now, I am sitting still, having a conversation with Marlies, right? But at the same time, I am not sitting still; this world is spinning around the sun! So what part is my reality? In Australia, I realized: I am much more than I ever dreamed possible! And it changed my life in the sense that I no longer thought: what am I going to do? But: who am I going to be? What is my greatest passion, what fans my flames? That’s when life really becomes interesting.
Marlies: What role can music play in the process of coming home to ourselves?
Donna: That is such a beautiful way of putting it, Marlies! Beyond it being our most primordial sense, sound is the thing that also brings incredible healing and connection. You don’t have to understand my language, I don’t have to understand yours, but I can meet you on the dance floor and we can dance our asses off together. When I DJ, I like to wear these fabulous Swarovski-gem studded headphones that I designed myself, to show how glamour, music, wisdom and healing all come together in this thing called ‘love’.
Marlies: Let’s talk about sleep.
Donna: My favorite subject!
Marlies: It’s so funny; when I’m out with people I’ll say: “Sorry, I have to go, time for my special 8-hour anti-ageing program.” Meaning, of course, that I’m going to get some sleep!
Donna: Exactly! There is great power in sleep; it heals us in the emotional, physical and spiritual realm. But did you know that 1 in 3 people in this country have sleep issues? Especially among young women, we see a drastic rise in the use of drugs and alcohol as self medication for this problem. That is alarming! Like you said, your body needs 8 hours of sleep. We have the REM cycle during which we dream and sort out our issues. After that, there is another state, beyond memory, time and space. Magical things happen with your body there; you create more human growth hormones; your brain does its job as the ultimate processer. But most people don’t even get to that state of deep sleep!
Marlies: With your ‘Sleep Beditations’ you combined ancient wisdom with modern technology to help people have a deeper, more restful sleep experience. What other things can we do to invite sleep back into our lives?
Donna: We are time-starved, hyper-stimulated and heavily device-dependent. (I admit it, I have 2 phones myself). So, it’s very important is that we turn our bedroom into our sanctuary. Set your phone to airplane mode. Take a lovely, soothing tea, read something beautiful to yourself, look at a photo of a loved one. Have a bath to get rid of all the toxins you have collected throughout the day -from that extra wine at dinner to that stressful phone call- and while you watch the water go down the drain, thank the toxins for the lessons and say bye to them. Be sensuous with yourself! Massage your hands and feet, then enjoy the feeling of your body sliding between your sheets. These are all simple practices, but they are about understanding the power we can have in our stillness. A power that still frightens a lot of women. “What do we do with all this power?”, we wonder. Well, maybe you don’t have to do anything. Just receive it! It will guide you, it always does.
Marlies: Thank you, Donna!
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