Dr. Maya Shetreat is a neurologist, herbalist and astrologer who is bridging science and the sacred. Maya is a conventionally-trained pediatric neurologist but she’s also an herbalist and author of The Dirt Cure and she will be the first to tell you she’s weird. And if that’s true then I am her kind of weird and you might be too!

Dr. Maya Shetreat spent her 20s getting married, having babies, and becoming a doctor. She spent her 30s building a practice and growing her family. By the time she reached her 40s, Maya had checked off all the traditional boxes of “success” and then decided to “burn it down.”

Why? Because she knew the expectations that came from being a wife and a woman in her heterosexual marriage were no longer in alignment with her soul’s purpose and longings on this earth.

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In our conversation we dig into what it was like to develop at an early age, what it looks like to pursue non-traditional currencies of “success” instead of money and what it looks like to exercise as a spiritual practice.

Today as Dr. Maya Shetreat is approaching her 50s she has no desire to return to her former self and is falling more in love with her body, her soul and her purpose with each passing day. Our chat touches on how you can do the same.  

In our time together we also discuss Maya’s work with mushrooms and psychedelics (you’ll also learn about my first accidental experience with psychedelics) and Maya’s course on creating fun, play and spaciousness in our lives. If you need to heal from trauma, are looking to create more space in your life to pursue your true heart’s desires or would like to work 1:1 with Maya, make sure you connect on  drmaya.com.

In episode 395 of the Embodied Podcast we discuss:

  • [0:37] Maya’s complicated relationship with being a doctor
  • [2:10] Maya’s relationship with God, a creative force, the unnameable
  • [4:53] Growing up with a mom who worships money
  • [5:36] What happens when we harness ourselves to the worship of money
  • [8:13} Planning for something even when you are not attached to the outcome
  • [8:16] The types of currency that are valued in western society vs the type of currency Maya has learned to value
  • [9:14} The power of the full moon
  • [9:58] How Elizabeth is using peace and space to determine what she does and does not do
  • [10:45] Maya’s course on fun, play and spaciousness
  • [11:03] Where to start when you are searching for peace
  • [12:23] The curing abilities of mushrooms and psychedelics for trauma and addiction
  • [16:04] Finding spirituality in exercise
  • [17:16] The 12th House and why it is referred to as “the house of undoing”
  • [19:10] The main reason Elizabeth got back into exercising
  • [20:10] Why Maya learned how to twerk
  • [22:22] Balancing masculine and feminine energies
  • [24:11] Lifting as a pathway to your personal power
  • [25:13] Health benefits in exercise far beyond weight loss
  • [28:04] Blowing up narratives around femininity
  • [32:13] Fatphobia and how it is rooted in prejudice
  • [33:05] The beauty of having a “juicy” body
  • [36:12] How Maya felt in her body when she was in relationship with a man vs. being in relationship with a woman
  • [39:14] The expectations that came with being a wife and a woman in a heterosexual marriage
  • [41:25] How maturing early led both Maya and Elizabeth to protect their body
  • [42:05] Feeling sexier with age
  • [43:00] Learning to love yourself as a revolutionary idea
  • [44:22] Why Maya would never want to go back to her earlier years
  • [45:16] Why Elizabeth is eager to get to her 40s
  • [46:16] What it looks like to peacefully end a soul agreement and how that can be celebrated
  • [48:05] The beauty in non-traditional paths
  • [50:14] Learning to not be attached to outcomes
  • [52:22] Understanding that when you say yes to something you say no to something else
  • [53:33] The Sagittarius moon and its effect on Elizabeth
  • [55:01] Connecting with the sacred through nature

    Resources mentioned by Elizabeth in episode 395 “Bridging Science and the Sacred with Dr Maya Shetreat“:

    Quotes from this Week’s Episode of the Embodied Podcast:

    • “I think that we should get more used to, in our society, thinking about the currency of feeling and alignment and being in flow and feeling satisfied or nourished by what we’re doing as currency.” [08:16:27] Dr. Maya Shetreat

    • “If you want to know your heart’s desire, if you want to feel that sense of peace, or if you want to engage with that playfulness…it all starts with spaciousness.” [11:03:66] Dr Maya Shetreat

    • “It’s annoying, at times, what a total fucking inconvenience and irriating thing, that there’s all these narratives that get thrown and all these projections put on all of us when we have these sacred, beautiful containers that we get to operate in.” [33:29:60] Dr Maya Shetreat

    • “I love being someone who’s been able to make those non-traditional choices, and love being around other people who do that and celebrate that.” [48:05:03] Dr Maya Shetreat

    • “To kind of close the loop on the sacredness on how I connect with God, the divine spirit, for me is so deeply embedded in connecting with nature, the earth, the invisible through the natural world and that’s really where a lot of my gifts and a lot of my appreciation and gratitude and rituals and ceremony that I do and lead are rooted in nature.” [55:01:60] Dr Maya Shetreat

    How was this episode for you?


    Was this episode helpful for you today? I’d love to know what quote or lesson touched your soul. Let me know in the comments below OR share the episode on Instagram, tag me your stories @elizabethdialto, or send me a DM!


    About the Embodied Podcast with Elizabeth DiAlto


    Since 2013 I’ve been developing a body of work that helps women embody self-love, healing, and wholeness. We do this by focusing on the four levels of consciousness – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

    In practical terms, this looks like exploring tools and practices to help you tune into the deep wisdom of the body and the knowing of the heart, which I believe are gateways to our souls. Then we cultivate a new relationship with our minds that allows the mind to serve this wisdom and knowledge and soul connection, rather than override it, which is what many of us were taught.

    If you’ve been doing self-help or spiritual development work for a while, these are the types of foundational things that often people overlook in pursuit of fancier concepts that often aren’t practical or sustainable. Here, we will focus on building these strong foundations so you can honestly and thoroughly embody self-love. If you’re feeling it, subscribe to the show, and leave us a review wherever you listen from. You can also keep up with show updates and community discussion on Instagram here.


    Transcript for Episode 395 “Bridging Science and the Sacred with Dr Maya Shetreat:

    – Dr. Maya, you’re finally here. I really wanted to call you doctor, by the way. I know I just call you Maya as my friend, but I feel like you earned that title. Actually, the interview, the week before or after you, I forget what order they’re in, but an newer acquaintance, Dr. Catherine Lawson, I did this in the beginning too, I’m like, I’m gonna be calling you doctor, whether you like it or not.

    – Well, I have a complicated relationship at times with being a doctor. So it’s very interesting because I’m someone who I really believe in being able to include all the parts of yourself with open arms. And you would think that the more mystical parts of myself, which used to be harder for me to embrace in my more conventional life were the hard things. But actually it’s been really an interesting conversation between me and my doctor self, how does that part of me, does that part of me still belong? And very recently, in fact, I’ve had a little bit of a epiphany where I’m like, “Yeah, absolutely.” Why would I think otherwise, but it is more complicated than you might think.

    – Totally. I think everything is of course gonna be intricate, complex, and complicated. And I think this is probably why we get along so well, ’cause that’s what we love talking about. So I’m opening this season and actually I think you’re the last person I’m interviewing before summer break. So you’ll probably be the last person I ask this question to in 2022, we’ll see. It’s a three-prong question. What I’m really interested in is what do you call God? How do you relate to God? Like what’s your current relationship to God and how do you commune with God? And I know some of this about you, but the people don’t know. And I toss it out ’cause the way those things are connected and related, take it however you wanna take it.

    – Yeah. And I think that this will probably unfold and unfurl over our conversation because it’s not a glib kind of answer, but I think the shortest answer and the jumping off point for me is I see God or a creator as this actually creative force, and sacredness, and really like what I call the unnamable. And so, not really something I can or think I even should put into words, but my relationship with that, with that sacredness, that divine, that unnamable, for me is in every part of me, in everything around me, in everything I do, in every action I take. And I see my job, my role in that as having the eyes and the heart to see and recognize the sacredness in the mundane. to me, I think of Wendell Berry, I hope I don’t butcher his beautiful quote, but he said, “There are no unsacred places, “there are only sacred places or desecrated places.” So for me, it’s like, okay, like if everything is sacred, then it’s just about recognizing and tending to that, honoring that in virtually everything you do, right? Oh, right now I’m doing, I’m working out. And right now I’m making dinner for my kids or whatever. It’s like, no, each moment, everything I do, every breath I take, I mean, I’m not always successful in having that level of awareness and intention, I will say. But yeah.

    – I love that ’cause it reminds me, and I don’t remember whose quote this is at all, or if it even gets attributed appropriately anywhere, but it’s like, “We can live as if nothing is a miracle, “or as if everything is a miracle.” And these simple little adjustments, I have found to actually be life-changing, so liberating, because otherwise I was raised by very cynical untrusting people. And I could really hate everything if I wanted to.

    – Yeah. Well I grew up with, mainly with one parent. And she worships money. She thinks I’m stupid, I’m weak because I don’t make my whole life around money. So it’s interesting. And I actually, literally it’s so funny, this week had a conversation with one of my spiritual teachers about that. She was like, We always have the material in the spiritual, in the pot, right?

    – Yes.

    – It’s like, how does that, how do we navigate that? And you really wanna be careful, especially when you are a person who’s operating in the spiritual and very consciously so, because we have to make money, we have to live in the material world, all of that. But if we become too harnessed to the worship of money, which easily can happen, I feel like I see it happening all the time in the entrepreneurial world, in the spiritual world .

    – In every world, that’s dragging down this whole fucking planet.

    – Well right, but it’s just because we’re not, it’s not because money has to be bad, it’s because too many people worship money, actually. And so I don’t think it was any accident, as much as it has been a challenging relationship for me to be in. Such a close relationship with someone who does value money as one of the top, most important things, I feel like it’s no accident that we have that challenge or conundrum presented to us on a silver platter in that way. And then it’s like, okay, how are you going to navigate this?

    – Totally. I love that this is something that has sparked up right in the beginning of the conversation, because just this morning, one of my favorite astrologers, so those of you listening, I don’t always put a formal bio in the intro ’cause I usually just record what I’m excited about, that we talked about. It will be on the Show Notes page, but Dr. Maya is all the things that you are. I don’t know that you actually call yourself a shaman, but I’m gonna call you a shaman, medicine woman, actual real doctor too. Not that medicine woman isn’t a real, but you know what I mean, went to fucking medical school, astrologer. You do all these amazing, different, intricate, cool things. Herbalist, right? Did I miss anything?

    – Yeah. Also, well, I’m an urban farmer, right?

    – Urban, that’s right. With with the chickens and the growings of all the things.

    – Yeah.

    – I did, I met the chickens. So anyway, you do all these incredible things, but so one of my favorite astrologers on Instagram, she just had a post about this today. Something about manifesting, and she was like, “I no longer have money goals “because I just am in right relationship with abundance” I have what I need, my needs are met. And I kind of just trust that flow to be whatever it is. And honestly, that’s how I’ve been living too for many years. And it’s hard I actually just hired some marketing people and they need benchmarks, what are we shooting for? What are we planning for? And I’m always like, “Oh, this is so hard for me “because ultimately I don’t care.” Ultimately it’s gonna be what it is, but I’m starting to have a relationship with planning for something, even though I’m completely not attached to it and don’t need it.

    – Right, right. Yeah, I think that we should get more used to, in our society, that thinking about the currency of feeling in alignment and being in flow and feeling satisfied or nourished by what we’re doing as currency. Why do we, our main currency, is how many followers, or how big is your email list? Or how much money do you make, or what kind of house do you… Or who do you know? What if it’s so much simpler? And let me say, I mean, I actually thought about this and I sent an email recently about this Sag moon that there’s something for me, really potent in this energy of this full moon is about, it’s about knowing your heart’s desire. We so much spend time, trying to achieve and reach these things. But I find in so many of my clients, my students, and all of us, and me, honestly. I feel like I know, but then it always becomes more and more revealed with time. It’s like, actually, do we really know what our hearts desire really, really is?

    – Girl, I love this conversation. I was talking to a friend of mine, actually last night, we went to the beach to see the moon, and which, by the way, by the time this interview comes out, I think we’ll probably be on the next full moon. But I was saying, I love peace. I love peace, and I love space. Like to me that is wealth. And that is liberation for me in my life, personally, that I can have peace. It’s like, how much money do you wanna make? I wanna make enough money that I could have peace and I can have space. That I could push deadlines, if I need to, or I could bump things up, or creative freedom. Peace and space, there are so many things I don’t do that I say no to, or that I cancel ’cause I’m like, “No, it’s fucking with my peace. “I’m a no.” ‘Cause I mean, how many years of my life did I spend with little to no peace? Not even realizing peace was an option even.

    – That’s what I was gonna say is, I think, one of the programs that I offer is all about like fun, and play, and spaciousness. And what I’ve discovered is that those are completely foreign concepts to most adult people, but especially women. And that idea of spaciousness is like, that’s where your heart’s desire lives. If you wanna know your heart’s desire, if you wanna feel that sense of peace, or if you wanna engage with that playfulness, or, or, or, or, it starts with spaciousness and that is such wealth, in my mind. But who even realizes that, because we’re running to this, we’re running to that, we’re taking care of this, we’re signing up for that, we’re saying yes to whatever.

    – Or people are just in survival mode.

    – Well, right, absolutely. I think that drives that inclination. Of course it’s not always something that we have the capacity to say yes or no to, but there are ways in which most of us, no matter where we’re at in our lives, and what’s going on, we say yes to things. And allow things that we need not say yes to or allow.

    – Totally. Oh my goodness. I’m actually really curious. So you recently did this, I’m gonna call it a mushroom summit, but what is the proper name for it?

    – So it was this summit looking at how mushrooms and psychedelics can heal trauma and build resilience.

    – And so again, it’s also really funny ’cause I think you and Dr. Katherine, I think your interviews are going up back to back. And one of the things that she does is she’s really working on a course of training. Actually, I sent you something about this to help prepare people before and integrate after psychedelic journeys. So less about like leading and facilitating, but like the before and after which I so love hearing people talk about that ’cause I think so many people just wanna dive in for a peak experience with no prep, which, I did that a couple years ago by accident when I had my accidental journey and I ate a chocolate at my friend’s fridge. I literally had a burrito on my way up to San Francisco and couple hours later, ate that mushroom chocolate by accident. But so I was not prepared.

    – Right, right. Well like so many people aren’t. I mean, how many people, of the people who have engaged with psychedelics, whether it’s LSD, or mushrooms, or whatever, how many of those people engaged in their teens, in some basement, or a Central Park, or God knows where whatever.

    – Of course, just the miscellaneous forest.

    – So actually, I also have a program like that where it’s just a deep dive into all the science, all the cutting edge science around OCD, addiction, major depression, anxiety. There’s actually incredible, incredible science right now that is mind blowing. Like truly, having one dose, one macro dose with the appropriate support before, during, after, the preparation and integration, is I would argue as important as the journey itself. But seeing that one dose can basically eliminate alcohol addiction, in a durable way, meaning they’re checking a year later, et cetera. Cigarettes, looking at eating disorder, sexual trauma, even dementia, autoimmunity. The possibilities there are so profound, the sciences is so profound. And then what I share also is this sacred elements and because I’ve grown these medicines myself and I have worked with indigenous teachers for a long time, I also incorporate that because I feel like that part of it is not always as discussed as it could and should be, especially in this kind of medicalization of those.

    – Right. Yeah, this is amazing. And I actually had a facilitated experience, coming up on Saturday. It’ll actually be a month ago, like real space held for me, like you said, before, during, aftercare. And it’s just so incredible. And I’m hearing more and more of friends, colleagues, people I know are having experiences right now, specifically with mushrooms, and it just feels like the mushrooms are coming to help us. You people need something.

    – Yeah, we do.

    – It feels like our mystical allies are like, “Okay, let’s show you people beyond…” Just like you said, what you might have stumbled into in your teens or your 20s or whatever, what an intentional experience might look like, which is amazing. You and I on Voxter, I think Voxter Instagram, I can’t remember which it was, the other day. There was something that like randomly came up and I was so excited to dive into this with you about spirituality, and fitness, and exercise. You mentioned, you didn’t really start working out to your 40s, you said, right?

    – Yeah, so I road crew in high school for a brief amount of time. And then more or less was pretty physically inactive, I would say, until I turned 42, my Uranus opposition. And also, I was dealing with big transformation in my life. And at that time I was like, I don’t even know what to do. I feel like I’m literally have lightning in my veins and I need to do something. So I started running every day, actually lost like 35 pounds at that time. I started lifting heavy weights, I started boxing. So I was in a pretty, up until the pandemic, I was in a pretty assertive workout routine. And it was really, really interesting. I mean, I’ll say a few things, one is I discovered my astrology around that same time when I was 42, that I have a complicated Mars in my chart. In many ways, it’s very strong, but it’s in my 12th house, which is a very, it’s where your garbage heap is. It’s not really garbage, but it’s what feels like garbage and where you have to mine your gifts. But it’s called the house of self undoing, among other things. And so that Mars, I really need to, I would think about it like this, I need to nurture that Mars, I need to give it really good, healthy outlets so it doesn’t blow up in my face in some way of self undoing. So that was one way that I, I mean, that’s not why I started doing this, but it happens to be, I have it in the back of my mind when I’m like, “I don’t really wanna work out today.” I’m like, “Mm, actually, “I’m gonna do this. “I’m gonna do this for my Mars.”

    – I love that. I love that because I love tying, I feel like fitness, exercise, health, weight loss, if that’s what it’s about for some people, it’s almost shamed these days, on a level. As we try to undo all the systems, and the phobias, and all the things. This has messed with my own relationship with exercise. It’s like, “Why are you doing it?” And so I love when there’s a reason and even me, this year, getting back into lifting as well, I had really gotten back into it in 2019. And then obviously the pandemic comes in, I’m a gym, I need a gym. I’m not a home workout person. Unlike you, I mean, I’ve been working out since I was 12. I just loved, there were so many things about fitness and working out. And my dad was always really fit. So basically as soon as I could pick up some purple dumbbells, that my mom had, that were five pounds and get some “Abs of Steel,” VHSs and stuff, I was working out. And, but during the pandemic that went away. But the thing that really actually motivated me, reignited it for me was I’ve also really gotten back into salsa dancing and you just dance so much better with a better core. And actually being in heels, doesn’t bother my lower back when my core is strong, my legs are strong. My posture is better. My balance is better. So I’m like, “I gotta do this for dance.” And that just made it so much easier to get back into it.

    – Yeah, yeah. Totally, it’s interesting, I’m backing into dance the other way. So I realized that I was in a place where I wasn’t having as much fun, and I’d been dealing with an injury from running for the past year and a half, through the pandemic, which was pretty bad timing. And since I couldn’t go to the gym here. And I started to say no, I actually recently was like, I think I wanna start dancing because I need to do more stretching and more pelvic work because that’s where I hold a lot of tension. And so I was like, I’m gonna learn to twerk. So I will spend a couple hours on the weekends, and a few days of the week, like I just have dance parties, basically for myself. Eventually I might actually stray into more public arenas. But, and I just sit and I’m learning all these kinds of, I don’t know, I mean-

    – Are you watching any tutorials? Where are you learning how to twerk?

    – Of course I go on tutorials. I was like, who can I find that will be able to give me twerking lessons. In Miami, I know, you can get twerking lessons.

    – I’ve literally been to twerking class since I got here.

    – But here in New York city, not as easy, although I found a little bit. But yeah, and it’s been incredible actually. So if I go for a run, I basically discovered I have very little pain. But also, I’m a really deep believer, I mean, as a neurologist, and as a human and in my medicine work, in the whole idea of neuroplasticity. And a lot of this idea, which I know you and I have discussed of as within, so without, as above, so below, right? So if I wanna be strong going through whatever harrowing life/spiritual travails I may go through, and I do, at times, that feel big and difficult. If I’m lifting heavy weights, and dead lifting 200 and something pounds, it makes me feel more like I can manage the big spiritual shit that’s happening. So for one thing, and the other piece is that plasticity, right? If I want my life to become bigger, and better, and more nourishing to me, then I need to learn new things. So now I’m exploring like, okay, what martial art do I wanna start doing because I feel ready for, my boxing gym closed during the pandemic. And I haven’t really found something else where I can do that kind of work. And I’m like, oh, so interesting that on the one hand, I’m like, “I wanna do weapons work in martial arts.” And on the other side, I’m like, “I wanna twerk and do erotic dance.” I need to really balance that masculine and feminine energy within myself. And I think we all need that.

    – I pulled this up. Do you follow this woman on Instagram? I think it’s like, Nastya, it’s N-A-S-T-Y-A. She’s literally 7.7 million followers. Twerk icon is what. She actually comes in, she does tours and teachers classes. I think she had a baby, and she’s still just twerking her fucking ass up. It’s so great. Her video’s like, it looks like her butt cheeks can move independent of each other. It’s so amazing.

    – It’s a thing. It’s harder, I was like, “Well, I’m gonna learn how to twerk.” And then I was like-

    – It’s way harder than you would think.

    – Freaking difficult. Actually, I think I’m a pretty good dancer, naturally, that my body likes moving and all of that. And I love rhythm and music, but twerking has been a mission. It’s become a mission.

    – No joke. Do you remember the first time you ever saw somebody twerk?

    – No, actually. I would say I was just probably…

    – I was in the sixth grade at a school dance. I’ll never forget it. And it was like literally legs up on the wall and everything. I love growing up on Staten island. I love this. So, and this piece about, my friend, do you know Jill Coleman? My friend, Jill, I love the way she talks about, she lifts weights and she actually do, Jillie’s Workouts are my favorite workouts, for over a decade now. And I just started her Physique 40 Program and I was, literally three days ago, when you’re sore everywhere ’cause you just are getting back into things, but it feels so amazing. And I like how she talks about lifting as a pathway to your personal power. And I think you and I have talked about this before. I really didn’t know I had trauma, which is hilarious ’cause I literally have complex PTSD, until like late, late in my 20s. Maybe not even really until after I turned 30. And part of it is because I, like I said, I just always worked out. It is so regulating for my system. I was somehow, all these feelings, all these sensitivities, I have all this stuff. I was, I’m gonna put fine in air quotes. But I wasn’t. I could have been a much messier person, and I wasn’t because I was really, I worked out four to six days a week religiously. From like, I mean, I played sports in high school, but then once I went to college and had like a fitness center, truly from like 19 to 29, very rare that there wasn’t a week of my life where I was working out four to six days a week. And I haven’t been in a rhythm like that. I got back in the groove for like three days a week in 2019, but, and the intensity too, one of my mentors, when I was doing a bunch of training in 2016 and 2017 in energy medicine was like, “You need to do an hour of intense exercise a day.” And I did not listen. And it really, it totally makes a difference.

    – Yeah. I mean, it’s, there’s so many levels like on a physical level, even beyond the weight loss and all that, it’s just like moving your lymphatics, taking the deep breath and oxygenating. I think going back to what you said about all the narratives that have been put on, especially women, exercising, but I’m sure it’s true for men too, of needing to be fit or thin, or this or that. So there’s a lot of baggage around it so that if I recommend it to people, there’s all this anxiety that comes up. And it can be, literally putting on music you love and blasting it and just dancing. I mean, it doesn’t have to be like, “Oh, I’m going and lifting weights.” For me, lifting weights was a very boundary-bursting kind of experience. Back at the time I was married, I was nearing the end of my 25-year marriage. And I went to work, I went to start lifting weights, which I had so many feelings about going to a gym. I was like, “Ugh, like I don’t wanna go to a gym. “I’m not into that thing. “I don’t like, cetera, et cetera.” Lifting weights, I was like, that i don’t know what to do, et cetera, et cetera. The whole thing. And I do credit CrossFit, whatever issues are around CrossFit for a lot of people… CrossFit gyms really made, I think, weight lifting accessible to women in ways that maybe prior, it was less of a thing, like heavy lifting, power lifting and so on. And that was where I found a trainer, and I started lifting and progressed really quickly. It turns out my body’s really made to do that. I’m not like I need to be the best or the, et cetera.

    – We’re not gonna find you with the CrossFit games next year.

    – No. Definitely no. It gave me, first of all, this incredible sense of power, strength, confidence, and interestingly my, now ex, was saying, “Oh, you’re gonna be bigger than mine. “Or your muscles are gonna be bigger than mine “or you’re gonna be…” It wasn’t just him, other people, women, “Well, you’re gonna be this. “You’re gonna be that. “Or be careful you’re gonna get bulky or…” All this crap and I was like, I wanna be bulky. I don’t care. I wanna lift heavy things. It was just like this really amazing time for me of blowing up a lot of narratives around femininity and women. And like I’m supposed to have little skinny arms, which I’ve never had, no matter what my weight was, no matter what my age was. I always had strong arms and strong upper body. My family are Amazigh, Moroccan. They’re people who carry things on their backs, and shoulders, and heads. I come from that indigenous lineage on my dad’s side. And I think when I started lifting heavy things, it like activated my epigenetics. And I was like, “Here, you’re connected to your ancestors. “You’re connected to your dad’s family. “You’re connected to your indigenous lineage.” And actually not coincidentally, I developed a lot of awareness around that indigenous lineage. Beginning around that time very shameful in my family. No one talks about that indigenous lineage, because that was something that they felt held them back. This is amazing. Okay, there’s a couple different threads here that I wanna pull. So this is interesting. I was having some feelings, you’ve seen some of my posts about gaining weight over the years, and especially so during the pandemic. I love being voluptuous. That is something like, when I look back at pictures of myself in my 20s, I mean, I’ve always like, this ass and these titties have always been a thing, but when I was super fit, they were just, I don’t know. It’s funny ’cause when I look back at pictures, I’m like damn my titties were so small. They were still DDs. Now they’re just like GS or AGs, which I don’t know is like five or 6Gs, if we wanna go on that scale. But there is something about the softness that I do love. And when I start working out again, I’m always a little like, “Oh, but I don’t wanna go back to being ripped.” And the thing is at this point, I’m probably not going to, like I’m 38, not 18, or 28, but it is, I am curious, but kind of like what you were saying, I just feel like, huh! It feels really liberating to not be connected to what my body is gonna look like and more be connected to how I wanna feel, that I wanna be strong, have good balance, using my energy in this way, processing just life through this outlet that just happens to be very good for my body in 1 million different ways. I’m curious if you have any thoughts on that. And then I do also just wanna pause for a second and just acknowledge, I know we’re having this very able-body-centered conversation. And so anyone listening this is something that we’re talking about and whatever might be your access point into this is, I just wanna acknowledge that in case some people are sitting there, like, “I can’t do any of this shit”

    – Yeah, absolutely. Well, yeah. So I’ll answer the first thing and then also touch on the second thing. From the standpoint of just, I think for many, for many of us, I’ll say in general, probably, I think it’s for all of us, because we all live in this society where our body image is so front end center, and expectations around that and so on. And I certainly find that in the health and wellness world where there’s just a lot of, there’s a lot of certainly ableism, and fat phobia, et cetera. “I would never take advice from someone who…” It’s like-

    – Right.

    – Literally serious. Just, there’s so much, so many narratives that are incredibly prejudiced and just wrong in my opinion.

    – Right, rooted in so much ignorance ’cause they don’t realize someone’s body looking a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean all these actual like physical markers are or aren’t happening.

    – Well, and interestingly, if you look at the research of, I think Sabrina Strings, reading her book, which is all about how fatness is very racialized, and comes from racism, essentially. I ended up looking at a lot of the scientific literature and it turns out actually having a higher BMI to a certain point is protective. Being what they call mildly obese, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Not that BMI was even ever supposed to be used as it’s being used, but it actually turns out that’s protective. It’s protective for lifespan. It’s protective for a lot of conditions, medical conditions, et cetera. So blah, blah, blah. I mean, there’s just a lot of BS that floats out there. But beyond that, I love being, as my spiritual teacher used to call it, juicy. I like having a voluptuous body. I feel fine with that. And I feel happy about it. I mean, I feel very celebratory of it. It’s sucky going back to that, like the spiritual and the material, it’s this, like, I feel very celebratory of what I have in my body, generally, because I feel this sacredness around it. And I it’s annoying at times that like, I’m like what a total fucking inconvenience and irritating thing that there’s all these narratives that get thrown and all these projections put on all of us. When we have these sacred, beautiful containers, containers, we get to like operate in. Yes, some are more able than others. Some are more socially acceptable, all of that, all of that is true. And it reminds me actually, if I can tell this story, the first time I went to Ecuador on this trip and there was mostly women on this trip. We were in Ecuador for three weeks studying with this fourth generation . And we were traveling around the country and at one point she had us in this mud area along the Amazon. And everyone took off their clothes and had to kind of rub themselves in this special blue mud. And I just remember, I was pretty straight at that time as far… I mean, now I’m not straight in several ways, but I was pretty straight coming from a conventional, pretty conventional background in medicine and whatever. And this was one of my first big trips doing the spiritual work that I’ve come to do all of the time. But I remember just looking up and seeing, ’cause I was one of the last people covering my bag to make sure if it rained, it wouldn’t get, all the bull shit. And I look and I see like 25 or so women, all standing naked, every size, every shape, every everything. Abled, not abled. I’m just, the whole, the whole gamut. And I just remember, it felt like this divine energy, just seemed like, I was like, “Oh my God.” We are beautiful why do we spend any time hating ourselves or being .

    – Any. Yeah. I love this, and I know straight, not straight means a lot of different things for you in your life. This is a super personal question. So I don’t know if you wanna answer it or not, feel free to skip it. What you were saying something earlier, when you were mentioning being with your ex, I’m curious how body image, everything felt. Was there any difference, being in a relationship with a man versus now being in a relationship with a woman, how you felt about, or saw, or experienced your own body?

    – I mean, the answer is yes. And it’s so much to unpack. And I’ll try to answer at least someone.

    – Cool.

    – I’m very blessed that my partners have always loved my body no matter what size I was. And I never felt any negative energy coming at me from my partners in my lifetime. And I would say my experience of being, I mean, I could really go on and on about the experience of being in a relationship with a woman and my experience of it, I should say, because it is something very liberating or it was for me, very, very liberating, just being in this celebration of my own body, with someone who is similar to me in certain way, and the level of acceptance, and the level of just being able to dive into, I don’t know, it really is just a celebration of the feminine and of like that sacredness. I would almost say, there are like no words to describe that. It’s so different, which doesn’t diminish what I had or what anyone can have in a heterosexual relationship, obviously. But it was so interesting to me. Being in a relationship with women, and with the women that I’m in a relationship with was incredibly liberating, and freeing, and just created a container for me to find my own confidence. I would say, so it’s not like I got confidence from, but it was like, so many things were taken out of the equation and off the table that I didn’t even know had been there.

    – That’s cool.

    – And then just the level of acceptance in the, and I will say, in the non straight world, because in the heteronormative world, there are, not for everyone, but there are a lot of expectations. That was my experience of it. And you know, me needing to be feminine, me needing, what does feminine mean? There was this whole really unexplored, not like I didn’t exercise that masculine nature that I have, or like balance that in certain ways. But there were a lot of ways to the point of the lifting weights, or boxing or, or, or, or that I didn’t really get to experiment with or embody in the ways that I might have wanted to, or in the fullness of how I wanted to, because there are expectations, right? Like you’re a wife, you’re a woman, you’re a this, right? Like, this is how are you supposed to be? And then I was in a relationship that was also part of the observant Jewish world. So that had a lot of, also its own projections incorporated into it. So I found that, what I found for myself, also around body image and around how I could embody the fullness of who I was was, there’s no rules in the non-straight world, and the queer world, it’s like, you can be, you can be more in your feminine self. You can be more in your masculine self. I’m not talking about gender here. I’m talking just about how we all embody that, within our ourselves, no matter our gender. And there’s just so little judgment around it. And that’s really fun and liberating. And like you just get to know yourself without being like, “Oh, but that’s bad. “Or what will people think if I,” So that’s incredible.

    – Yeah. What made me think about that is even one of the cool and really fun parts for me about gaining weight has been getting to reorient my relationship with the male gaze, ’cause that’s just been such a life-long exhaust. Like since I was like 11, getting honked at on Victory Boulevard, walking to the deli as a freaking sixth grader, like, “Leave me alone.” So part of what I’m loving about getting older and being less traditionally attractive is I get left alone a little more now. There’s a full spectrum. People are still always attracted to all kinds of things. But I feel now, like I get to be a little more invisible than I’ve ever been in my life. And it’s just such a relief.

    – I totally get that. I had a lot of unwant… I looked like a woman, very early.

    – Fame, God.

    – I had lots of you know, when I was 13, had 18 year olds paying attention to me. When I was 14, had 25 year olds paying attention to me. So that was a very, and that made me feel very protective of myself. So I do think getting older has been that way for me too. And I’m 10 years older than you. So I’m in my late 40s. And I have to say though, for me, that I’ve just, my 40s have been such, and I’m not, this has not been like my easiest decade at all. As far as conventional trajectory, it’s been ups and downs, and backwards and forwards, and all of the things, but you know, I just feel like more beautiful, and sexier, and just more excited about myself, which doesn’t mean I never have body image issues or that I don’t get kind of sucked down that thing. That we get sucked down. And maybe part of this is that my partner is quite a bit younger than me too. And so I feel very appreciated in my age, but I just, even if I look back at pictures of me, I’m like, “Wow, I really love where I’m at right now.” And it’s not because, I mean, I have stretch marks from having babies and probably from like weight gain and loss, and scars and this and that. It’s not because I have some kind of perfection thing going, it’s just like-

    – You’ve lived in your body.

    – I just fucking love myself a lot more. And I just love the way I look more, and yeah. It feels .

    – That’s the thing, right? Liking yourself, loving yourself. How revolutionary.

    – I don’t know, crazy. Well, I don’t even like using that word, but it is kind of unbelievable. That will be the word that I would use, is that we could be in these beautiful bodies that truly are divine, gorgeous like containers, and that we could have this struggle. I just think getting older has been, just for anybody who’s on the way. I would like to tell you that I’m pushing 50 in the next couple of years and I feel so much happier, so much happier with who I am, including giving zero fucks about lots of things that I used to really probably perseverate about. And didn’t even realize 20 years ago. I would never go back is what I’m trying to say.

    – Girl, never. I remember. So I’m gonna be 39 this year. And I can’t tell you how upset I am that I am that I don’t get to be in my 40s yet. I’ve been saying this so much and I actually, I wanna stop. I wanna stop hating on being 39. It’s gonna be the last year of my 30s. It’s gonna be an amazing year, but I so wanna be 40 I’m so like, I wanna be in a new decade so bad, but I really do need to savor the last year of my 30s. But I remember literally where I was when the clock struck midnight on my 30th birthday. And I just started like uncontrollably sobbing, ’cause I was so happy my 20s were over. And like you like, my 30s have certainly been so challenging, and unconventional, and all these things. Back in the day before I realized that I had so many more, there were so many more things I could decide about. That weren’t just this path that everyone follows, this shit is not where I would’ve thought I would have been or anything. And it’s like a thousand times more miraculous than anything I could have possibly imagined. And so I guess, I’m just eager to get into my 40s to see like what the flavor of that’s gonna be for that decade. But I wouldn’t go back. You couldn’t pay me. I mean, for real.

    – Yeah. And I love what you’re talking about, that I never would’ve expected this to go this way or all of that. I remember when I hit 30, I remember looking back at my 20s and saying, “Well, I got married, “I had two kids “and I went to medical school and blah, blah, blah.” And then when I hit my 40s, I’m like, “well, I had my third kid, “and I grew my medical practice, “and I wrote a book “and I did…” So like, and then now when I’m gonna hit my 50s, I’m gonna be like, “Well, my marriage of 25 years ended.” Which is actually for me, I celebrate. I’m someone who thinks endings, when we finish a soul contract with someone, if we can amicably, especially if possible, or at least peacefully transition out of whatever contract we have with that person, because we’ve completed it. I feel very celebratory about that. There are a lot of things, it’s like I basically walked away in certain ways or at least transmuted my successful doctor career and… Like it was like so many things you might look at my 40s and say, wow, like, .

    – You really burned it down.

    – Yeah, right? Like you really fucked things up. So it’s interesting. Because this decade for me, and yet here I am, feeling, look, I mean, you’ve seen me in some pretty low places at times. There’s ups and there’s downs, but I think I have plenty of those in the other decades.

    – Yeah, totally.

    – More conventional trajectory. It couldn’t be like, well just you have yourself to blame because you were doing all the right things. And now it’s like, are you doing all the right things? Well then maybe you only have yourself to blame for-

    – What even is right?

    – But I think all that complexity and up and down, I just wanna say, that’s where so much magic lives. At least for me, I’m gonna speak for myself and say like, it’s so easy to judge the hardship or the difficult times, and say, “I fucked up, “I took or made wrong decisions “or did I make wrong decisions?” Or even though I tend to feel very guided through a lot of the things that I do that take me through these sort of hard places, but I know that that’s where all the action is. That’s where the lessons come and the gifts come. And so, I just, I love being someone who’s been able to make those non-traditional choices. And I love being around other people who do that and celebrate that as well, because then you don’t have all that chatter, like the chatter about, “Well, you were supposed to, “you should have.” All that stuff just is like farther away.

    – I haven’t engaged with that stuff since my late 20s. But it’s always so, what’s the word, it’s not humbling. I was gonna say like humbling, enamoring, it’s something ’cause I work with people as I’m sure you do as well all the time who are navigating that stuff hardcore. So it actually just makes me feel like, so appreciative, like two tears, that I unhooked from that ship a long time ago. Okay. You mentioned soul contracts. Let’s wrap up with this, ’cause I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love Carolyn Mace. I’ve basically been working myself through every single thing she’s ever taught or written, since last summer. I mean, many years ago, “Anatomy of the Spirit,” her book was really helpful for me in like 2012, but then I really didn’t touch another thing of hers until this summer, last summer, 2021. And I just finished listening to “Sacred Contracts” and I’m reading it now ’cause there’s always a difference between her audios and her actual physical books. And I just love understanding that there are soul contracts and basically subscribing to that. What would you call it? Like a belief, methodology, system?

    – I mean, I would say it’s a paradigm, maybe?

    – Paradigm. Honestly helps free me so much. Like when you were saying, with your husband, we completed a soul contract. That was what we came and do together. And then we get to move on because one of the things that I see in my work, and I have struggled with before, I had these concepts in my reality. It was like being attached to, “Well, why didn’t something work out? “Why didn’t it go this way? “It was going down this trajectory “and then it totally switched.” It was like, “Just wasn’t the contract.” I don’t know, that frees me so much. It also frees me when I’m seeing people behave in ways that I’m like, “Why the fuck is that person doing that?” And then I’m like, “I dunno their contract.” I dunno, what’s going on over there. And so I just, as a concept, or a paradigm, as you said, it is just so liberating.

    – Well, and I think it just helps, again, around all that judgment, self-judgment, or confusion, or whatever, is to say we did together what we needed to do. And so therefore also, it can, listen, just because I can say, “Well, this soul contract ended.” Or that I can celebrate that or appreciate that or that it can, doing it in a peaceful way, and all of those things, it doesn’t mean it’s not excruciating sometimes. it doesn’t mean I haven’t freaking cried my eyes out. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t go through all the questions and all the, but why . Those things still can exist, side by side, with recognizing this is coming to completion. For me, I know, deeply inside, that I wasn’t in a container, in that relationship that would’ve allowed, or I wouldn’t have felt allowed, in some way, to really embody the spiritual work that has been my entire 40s and will likely be the rest of my life.

    – I love that.

    – Again, it’s like, I couldn’t have tried to maintain it because really it would’ve destroyed me, I think. And I did try everything I could, actually, to be honest, but I think you always have to, right? Like it’s that idea of when you say yes to something, what are you saying no to like I’ve been saying no to, if I would’ve, in some way, shoved myself back into this . Would’ve been like saying no to maybe like potentially 30/40. I don’t know if I’m lucky or whatever. However many more years I have to embody something that is so much more meaningful, healing, embodying the fullness of myself, helping other people in a completely different way. So for me, it’s really important concept that I didn’t actually get. I don’t remember how I came to the idea of soul contracts because I don’t think I read about it and I haven’t read her work, but-

    – I didn’t, that’s not where I first heard about it, but I just, I love, she has a way of articulating and explaining things that just like nail it, for me, all the time. For anyone watching this interview, by the way, I’ve probably yawned like five times. I’ve just been yawning all day. The Sagittarius full moon. I can’t remember if we were talking about it, before or after we started recording. I know we talked about a little, definitely, but I think, you and I were just more personally reflecting on it before we started recording. This moon every year really gets me. So this is no, I am not bored, and I’m not finding you uninteresting at all, but this is literally since this morning, I’ve just been yawning all day. For me, that’s the big, there’s a lot of energy. There’s a lot of things moving and processing right now. And yawning is a big way that that just is indicated for me. Anything I didn’t ask you, that feels like a loop needs to be closed or, we knew we would have a wonderful, mystical, winding conversation, but is there anything based on what came up that you’re like, “Ooh, I wanna tie a bow on that “or say this thing.”

    – I don’t think so. It’s funny because we never really talked about the nature work or any of that kind of stuff, which is really a big way that I connect to spirit.

    – Right. Well, I thought that might come up when we were talking about how you commune with God, because if anyone follows you on Instagram, like 80% of your stories are being in nature.

    – Yeah, yeah.

    – And the magic and the orbs and the light coming through the trees, and everything. I love how you share that stuff.

    – Yeah. So, no, I mean, it’s interesting ’cause I love everything we talked about and we always have such expansive, light-filled conversations, I love it. But, but yeah, I guess like that’s the only piece and for me that’s like, maybe a nice way to end is just sort of like, that is, to kind of close the loop on the sacredness I connect with with God, the divine, spirit, for me is so deeply embedded in connecting with nature, the earth, the invisible through the natural world. And that’s really, I think where a lot of my gifts and a lot of my appreciation, and gratitude, and rituals, and ceremony that I do and lead are really centered. And just trying to think of, rooted, I guess, in nature.

    – Right. Yeah. So, and what’s amazing, I always loved your stories for that. And then once I got to visit you last fall, and actually see your woods, and see your yard, and like we said, meet your chickens when you post things, I’m like, “Oh, I think I can feel it “’cause I’ve been there.” So cool. So everyone links to all the places where you can connect with Dr. Maya Shetreats will be, that’s how you say it, right? Sometimes I realize I’ve never said something out loud before and I’m like, “Oh, was that right?” Even though you have a name that seems pretty straightforward to just sound it out. We’ll put all those links and everything in the Show Notes, you could follow her on Instagram. What’s your Instagram?

    – Dr. Maya Shetreat

    – It’s just Dr. Maya?

    – It’s just like, she and treat .

    – and Maya, M-A-Y-A. Yeah, go watch those nature stories. They’re so, you capture some amazing stuff. So thanks. Finally, we’ve been trying to have this conversation for like a year.

    – It was fun as I knew it would be.

    – Of course, all right. We’ll see you later.