Beauty Crew book club: Startups and Self-care
Sodashi’s founder shares her favourite methods of looking after herself mentally
There’s so much to love about Sodashi products: they’re made with only natural ingredients, they’re incredibly hardworking and nourishing, and they’re so highly-regarded - they’re only found in the best spas around the world, such as the Four Seasons in Paris and Burj Al Arab in the UAE.
This is no mean feat, and all the credit must go to its founder Megan Larsen. She’s a specialist in Ayurvedic medicine, biochemistry and natural healthcare, and started making her own natural products in the 1990s.
The latest product that Larsen has launched is her own book called Startups and Self-care, where she shares what it was like to start her own brand, the lessons she learned along the way, and her clever advice for anyone that’s looking to do the same.
As for our favourite section? We loved learning about Larsen’s techniques for practicing self-care. Here’s an extract of the book. We hope you find it as insightful as we did!
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
‘Transcendental Meditation opens the awareness to the infinite reservoir of energy, creativity, and intelligence that lies deep within everyone.’ – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
I first learned the TM technique 23 years ago. I’d been in the company of some people who had a calm and centred approach to business and life that I really admired. They credited their calmness to their daily TM practice, so I found my way to a TM centre in Perth and attended an introductory lecture. I must admit I wasn’t convinced at the time. Interestingly, it was only after having a TM teacher talk to us at an introductory lecture on Ayurveda that I decided, ‘Yes, I want to learn this technique’.
And I know the exact day I learned it—11th November 1995.
TM is often dropped in the ‘hippie, trippy’ category of things I do, but I’ve never seen it that way. And I have to say that after trying different forms of meditation, the TM technique was refreshingly easy. Unlike other forms of meditation, TM is a mantra-based, effortless technique.
Setting aside 20 minutes twice a day for the practice does take discipline in the beginning. But I’ve always noticed once people feel the health and general wellbeing benefits, it becomes very easy to set aside that time.
I can do TM on my own (sitting in a chair) or in a group with other TMers. I can do it when travelling (especially on planes), and have found it definitely limits the effects of jet lag.
In business, my mind and surface level can often feel tumultuous, but deep inside is a beautiful sense of calm and centredness. I’ve lost count of the times TM has helped me make valuable decisions from a place of calm.
I’m not saying I don’t get overwhelmed occasionally, or that things don’t upset me. But TM (in conjunction with my other self-care practices) does give me the tools and ability to assess and process issues and challenges and bounce back quickly from setbacks.
I’ll never forget Jessica, Sodashi’s first GM, coming to my office door in 2001 and asking to speak to me. She said that even when everything appeared chaotic and crazy I always exhibited a sense of calm, and she wanted to experience that feeling too.
Jessica’s request inspired me to offer all Sodashi staff who’d been with the company for at least three months the opportunity to learn TM. It’s always a personal choice if they decide to learn. For the people who have learnt, we get together every afternoon to do a group meditation in the office. I’m such an advocate of this practice; so many of us get the afternoon slump so this is a great pick-me-up. The other benefit is that the Sodashi team members don’t go home at night exhausted, so it supports them in their personal lives too. I really missed the Sodashi group TM session each afternoon when I moved to Sydney.
As I write this, one of my stepdaughters has just learned TM and is also doing her final school exams this year. I always love observing someone who has recently learned TM and practises regularly. The benefits are visible in a beautiful and subtle way.
While I practise other acts of self-care, I believe TM is the modality that’s provided me with a strong foundation to build on. If you’re interested in learning more about TM contact your local certified TM teacher via tm.org.au for Australia, or tm.org if you’re international.
The Invisible Effects Of TM
In 2016 I was nominated for the InStyle Magazine Women of Style Beauty Award.
There was a photoshoot, interviews, a Q&A, and then InStyle came to my house and shot a short video. All of this would be presented to an esteemed panel of judges who’d decide the winners in each category.
It was wonderful just to be selected as a nominee, but I went on to win the award and it was a total thrill to be recognised for my dedication and commitment to making a difference in the industry and creating natural, safe, nurturing skin care.
While writing this book I came across some of my answers to the Q&A I did for those awards. In there was the question, ‘What do you want to achieve in the future?’
I said, ‘I’d like to create more beautiful products, working with some new ingredients I haven’t used before. But also, something that is really close to my heart is helping other people in business. I’m keen to write a book about my story and my approach to wellness for personal and professional success. With success comes more and more opportunity’.
It blew my mind seeing those words because it’s exactly what I’m doing with this book, even though I’d totally forgotten my answers in the interview.
But that’s one of the powers of TM for me. It takes the deep yearnings of your subconscious and works subtly in the background to make them a reality.
Kinesiology is based on the fundamental premise that the body has its own innate healing energy, but sometimes needs help accessing that state.
Kinesiology also recognises there are flows of energy within the body—in our muscles, tissues and organs—all supporting the body to live. Kinesiology evaluates these energy flows by testing the muscles, which reflect the body’s overall state of structural, chemical and emotional balance.
I’ve used Kinesiology for years to address and care for the imbalances in my body’s energy. I often refer to my Kinesiology appointment as my ‘body tune-up’. While it’s very relaxing and comforting, I always feel fabulous after Kinesiology. And I feel it supports the other wellbeing modalities well.
I also use Aromatic Kinesiology, which combines aromatherapy and Kinesiology, and it helps me develop skills and emotional openness to lead a successful, loving and joyful life.
This is another holistic, balancing treatment for the body. Bowen restores balance to the body via the autonomic nervous system.
As a startup founder, at times my mind and body were in a high stress state. This meant I was operating on my sympathetic nervous system—the fight-or-flight state. If you spend extended periods in this high stress state, the autonomic nervous system gets overstimulated. While this can lead to other health concerns, it most often appears in disrupted sleep patterns (trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep, insomnia, etc.).
A self-care modality that facilitates rest, relaxation and repair allows healing to occur because you’ve shifted from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance.
While I’ve always practised TM, there were still times where I’ve experienced very high stress levels. Or I was travelling so much my body was confused about the time zone it was in.
When I have Bowen Technique treatment, it not only alleviates aches and pains but also triggers a deep state of relaxation. My Bowen therapist says it’s because my body is releasing stress and shifting to a state of parasympathetic influence.
Acupuncture is a traditional method of medicine developed over thousands of years in China.
In the body, health relies on the constant circulation of blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to every tissue, and remove waste materials. Acupuncture plays an important role in regulating circulation in the body.
By inserting fine needles into specific points on the body, acupuncture can release tight muscles, trigger the release of natural pain killers, increase circulation, and regulate the autonomic nervous system (i.e. fight-or-flight, rest and digest, sympathetic/parasympathetic). With these effects, it can treat a wide range of conditions including pain conditions, sleep disorders, digestive issues, and mental/emotional symptoms.
My body benefits greatly from this modality, especially when I combine it with the other self-care modalities I use. Together they really support my wellbeing and allow my body to rest and repair.
When you’re in startup mode every dollar counts. So recommending you spend money on what you may consider an unaffordable luxury may seem completely unreasonable.
But here’s the thing. If you’re not giving yourself care and attention, you really can’t expect to look your best. Stress not only affects us internally, but also affects the health of our skin. While I advocate nurturing and nourishing it every day, a relaxing spa or facial treatment will relax your muscles, support your wellbeing, nourish your skin, and reward you with a healthy glow.
I have a friend who found it hard to justify spending $200 on spa treatments. But she knew how beneficial they were and how great she felt afterwards. So she got a big jar, and now puts all her $1 and $2 coins in the jar. Within two to three months she always has enough in the jar to pay for most of her spa treatment, which she now has at least four times a year.
Because of the industry I’m involved with, I make facials a regular part of my self-care regime, along with regular spa treatments. Consider taking a best friend or your partner with you so you can both relax and spend quality time with each other.
Aromatherapy + Essential Oils
All the way back in 1991, there was a beauty wholesaler in Perth who I could purchase things from because I was a qualified beauty therapist. I remember going in there one day and noticing a small selection of essential oils available for purchase. They were also offering a talk on aromatherapy by a renowned Perth aromatherapist.
I went along to the talk and, as with my first exposure to Ayurveda, what I heard both excited me and made perfect sense.
I remember thinking after the talk, wow, these little bottles of essential oils are medicine for our wellbeing, since they work holistically on the mind, body and emotions.
I immediately immersed myself in learning everything I could about their power and ability to work at those levels to help uplift and restore. What I discovered through my own experience was how wonderful they were for the skin as well.
By 1995 I’d studied aromatherapy and become an educator for one of Australia’s leading aromatherapy companies at the time. It was also the year I went to Provence for the first time.
Today, essential oils are still a key foundation of each Sodashi formulation. But while it’s important for Sodashi formulations to have a beautiful and natural smell, I’ve never used essential oils purely for fragrance. Instead I select each essential oil for its specific benefits for the skin.
I love how the physical benefits of the oils in our skin care products are so well augmented by the emotional benefits of a beautiful smelling formulation. Our sense of smell is linked closely with our limbic system (the one responsible for emotions, motivation and memory), which is why aromatherapy can be such a powerful self-care tool.
Extract from Startups & Self-care by Megan Larsen, published by Samhita, RRP $30
What’s your favourite way to unwind or practice self-care? Let us know in the comments below.
Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinot noir, she has a healthy obsession with fake tan smell, wispy false lashes and CND Shellac in the shade Romantique. Her words and styling can also be found in previous issues of SHOP Til You Drop, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health.