Last month, Lenéa Sims joined us on THE FULLEST Podcast and we were blown away by her personal brand of joyful evolution and her fun-filled path to spiritual growth. Honestly, after this year, energy work disguised as cat cuddles and craft afternoons sounds as potent a healing portal as any mantra or meditation practice.
Lenéa leads workshops through her members-only space Inner Play that focus on removing limiting blocks through more playful modalities and tools. And let’s just say, for those of us that can over index on the shadow work side of spiritual development, it is a welcomed change. After the death of George Floyd, Lenéa has also created Outer Work, a separate platform that focuses on building community and connection with the most marginalized members of society.
Lenéa truly is a modern-day wisdom keeper that manages to playfully bring us back to the most important things in life. And because one podcast episode wasn’t enough — we sat down with her again to answer a few of our biggest questions about spirituality, anti-racism tools, building community, and the sacred medicine of singing in the shower.
Rachel: You’re an energy worker, a group healing facilitator, a community builder, an activist, and a camp counsellor (the list goes on, but we’ll stop there). Clearly, you’re a woman of many hats — but if you had to define yourself — what is the word you’d choose?
Lenéa: Guide. My mission in life is to guide people towards a vision where they care for themselves and for others with enthusiasm, reverence, and fulfillment!
Often we think of healing modalities as an ancient practice, like Reiki or Vedic meditation. But in a way, through Inner Play, you’ve reframed joy, as its own spiritual tool to powerfully shift energy. How did the idea of formalizing fun as healing dawn on you — and how has it changed your life personally?
That’s it! “Reframing joy” — I might steal that, lol. Anyway, the aha moment was really a series of moments (as it usually goes). First, an Ayurvedic practitioner I went to for my depression literally wrote me a prescription that said “have fun for 30 minutes a day.” I kind of took her seriously but was also like ‘umm what no thanks, I’m a busy person with busy-person stuff to do.’ But then, my second aha moment came when a friend from college came to visit and we ended up at the beach on a whim, smoking a joint, giggling our asses off, and singing obnoxiously all the way home. It dawned on me that day that I hadn’t had fun in FOREVER and that it was truly the missing piece to my wellbeing.
Since I’ve adopted a “have more fun” mindset, I’ve noticed that I feel less pressured in my work life. I feel more grateful and yearn to live more simply. I never ever get bored. And I know myself better than I ever have. It’s truly the greatest gift.
Your platform has a two-pronged approach: Inner Play and Outer Work. Can you tell us a little about each of these?
Of course! The platforms are totally separate, linked only by the fact that I lead and teach within them. Inner Play — which came first — is a members-only group coaching space where I guide people on how to move through internal obstacles so they can live on purpose. And because I have experienced firsthand the profound value of fun, we use a lot of “unconventional” techniques for moving through these blocks like craft parties, dance classes, interactive workbooks, and soon our own intentional toys and games!
Outer Work — founded after the death of George Floyd — is a members-only place to practice community care. So, where Inner Play is focused on creating an intentional relationship with the self, Outer Work is focused on creating intentional relationships primarily with the most marginalized members of our society. Until now, we’ve been building a library of educational resources and cultivating deep reflection with our members. In 2021, we will begin hosting workshops that teach non-BIPOC folx how to show up better in community gatherings and small group circles for further reflection. We’ll also be launching our Community Care Exchange — an ongoing mutual aid project that will allow BIPOC members of the group (who can join for free!) to make mutual aid requests — time, skills, or funds — from the non-BIPOC members of the group. At the end of the day, I want Outer Work to be a place where people can learn to do their part better. And to do that, we need to cultivate a practice of empathetic education, critical reflection, and direct action — something all of our offerings provide!
Do you think it’s important for people to cultivate their inner self before branching out into community activism? Or can the paths exist in tandem?
They can — and absolutely should — exist in tandem. We are communal creatures and to deny that by refusing to own our individual role in community not only does a disservice to others, but also to ourselves. I truly believe that fulfillment in life comes from being in the right relationship with ourselves — our needs, true desires, and true purpose — and being in right relationship with our global community. Showing up for ourselves and showing up for other people is, quite literally, all that we can do. When we spend all of our energy caring for ourselves, we not only miss out on the opportunity to find true fulfillment, but we also throw our own energetic balance out of whack. With so much input and no output to match, we struggle to escape our ego, find groundedness, or real purpose.
Anti-racism work is incredibly important, but it is — understandably — a heavy subject matter. How does Outer Work create sustainability to help people make lasting change?
When I started Outer Work, my primary goal was to make a commitment to anti-racism as sustainable as possible. I knew then — like we’re all seeing now — that our newsfeeds would return to “normal” and then what? So, I wanted to create a place that is compassionate in it’s approach — I don’t believe in demonizing people for not knowing what they’ve never been taught — and also a solutions-focused approach — no one wants to be dragged down by problems all of the time, there has to be solutions to focus on. So, in our new offerings next year, we’ll continue making every effort to create a space wherein people can actively participate in the SOLUTION to anti-racism: community care in the name of uplifting BIPOC folx and their visions.
Personal healing work can also often be mired in difficult and often dense practices such as shadow work? Do you think this plays a role in self-inquiry and growth?
I think shadow work is a super important part of showing up for yourself, but similarly, I feel that we need to focus more on the solutions than the problems. Sure, I know that part of my shadow is over-giving in relationships where I feel most insecure, for example. But what good is it for me to focus ONLY on that problem rather than making an active plan to overcome that obstacle? At some point, we have to choose to push past the obstacles we face and, instead of deciding that they make us broken, decide that they make us who we are so our solutions should reflect a celebration of those tendencies. To continue my example, celebrating my tendency to over-give means redirecting that giving energy towards myself or towards disenfranchised folx. That’s how I celebrate myself — joyfully — without giving into being dragged down by my “flaws.”
Joy is a huge part of your unique healing modality — can we ask what are some of the things that bring you back to your definition of baseline happiness?
Ahhh my favorite question! First and foremost, I keep a practice of checking in with my energy on a moment-by-moment basis. I have the immense privilege of making my own work schedule so that allows me to take breaks as needed and to really ask myself if what I’m working on is what I want to be doing in that given moment. In those moment-to-moment check-ins, I turn to practices that satisfy what I believe are the key elements of a fulfilled life: community, creativity, spirituality, recreation, movement, nourishment, and learning. On a given day, that could mean anything from reading my tarot cards, jogging, cooking a meal, making jewelry, reading an incredible book, watching a shitty TV show with my partner, cuddling with my cats, playing Yahtzee or Dominoes, making mood boards, or getting stoned and dancing in the shower.
As with all things, my personal practices are less about what I’m doing and more about HOW I’m doing them, though. And, at the root of all of these practices is a desire to be present, be playful, and to be connected with myself and with others.
Feeling ready to transform into your highest self through the lens of fun and also benefit the collective in the process? We thought so. Check out Outer Work and Inner Play for more info on the group sessions. Plus if you’re looking for Lenéa’s daily guidance in the form of colorful and refreshing Instagram posts — make sure to follow her on the ’gram.