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“Every time you experience a change, you experience a death.” – wise words from my guest, Death Dominatrix Brionna Ned :-)

In this episode of the Fireside Chat series, we speak about the death experience every person goes through multiple times throughout their life. Because whenever change occurs (whether forced upon us by outside circumstances or emerging through our constant evolution as human beings), an old version or part of us dies to make room for a new version to be born.

The trouble is that we often live in societies that are death-averse, so we haven’t learned to tap into the medicine of intentional endings. We are afraid of the unknown outcome of the change and don’t dare to carve out the necessary space to sit with the intensity of emotions like grief and fear and maybe even excitement.

But change doesn’t always mean your whole life is going to be turned upside down, sometimes all that’s needed are a few little tweaks and you’re good to go and navigate the transition on your own.

More about Brinna and her work:
Website | Instagram | Twitter

If you’ve got any comments, questions or ideas, send me an email or use my contact form to get in touch!

I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

[00:00:45] Lisa Jara: Hi, and welcome everyone to another episode of the Fireside Chat series, which is a series of conversations I have with different people about topics that I believe aren’t enough talked about in our society, that may be considered taboo very often. And today I’m going to talk with Brionna Ned about the Death Cycle.

[00:01:10] Just a little heads up, we are not talking about actual death and the dying of a person, or of a physical body, but rather the death that every one of us experiences every now and again in life when we go through transitions, and also, which every woman and/or menstruator experiences once a month. Because we all go through the death and rebirth process often in our lives. So let’s begin with a quick cycle check in. Brionna, would you please share the day of your cycle, if you track, and three words that describe how you are in this moment, today?

[00:02:00] Brionna Ned: So I’m on day 21 or 22 of my cycle and I am feeling, I think energised, a bit emotional and, what’s the third word? Settled.

[00:02:22] Lisa Jara: Thank you. I’m on my day 19, so we are very close. And today I feel calm, focused and also a little critical in my mental state. And I just love to have these little check-ins to show that we are different each day and we can bring however we are to the table of what we are here to do. And today we have this beautiful conversation. But before we start, Brionna, would you please introduce yourself, who you are and what you do in this world?

[00:03:06] Brionna Ned: Yeah, so my name’s Brionna, as you said, and I work as a death dominatrix, which is all about guiding and supporting people through the Death Cycles in their life.

[00:03:19] My philosophy is that every time you experience a change, you experience a death. What was, no longer is. And so what I really focus on is, what do you need to do, basically, to create an intentional ending, so you can have a fruitful beginning? Because I think in our society, we are very bad about cultivating a relationship with death, even though it’s a really important part of the life cycle.

[00:03:54] And because we don’t like to talk about death, we think it’s, as you said, a taboo topic, we tend to try to speed right past the moments of death in our actual lives. And I think it creates a lot of baggage. And what I see a lot in my work is that things that people thought they were finished with or were over, they come up over and over again and we end up repeating the same cycles individually and collectively.

[00:04:24] Because we try to skip over this really big part of our life cycle, which is death. And we don’t tend to it in the way that we ought to. And so, my work is all about that tending.

[00:04:41] Lisa Jara: I love that you speak so openly about that, because for some people it’s even hard to say the word death. And I mean, we are all of nature, after all, and nature has winter as well, which is a death because the leaves are falling down, everything is dying. And at the same time, something new is preparing itself and you’ve hinted at that with your work. So, I know that you work with the Death Cycle. Would you maybe explain a little bit about what the Death Cycle is, what your thoughts on that are? And I believe you have got some tips on how you can find out whether or not you are in a Death Cycle right now?

[00:05:30] Brionna Ned: Yeah, so I think the biggest thing is that a Death Cycle always initiates when you experience a change, right? And so, what that means is that we actually constantly have Death Cycles going on, it’s just that some of them are much larger than other ones and impact us in bigger ways than other ones. And sometimes a few or a couple of them actually intersect and that can make a big impact. But usually what happens is that you’re living life and then you don’t notice right away. It takes a minute to catch on, where you’re like “Oh, I think everything might be completely different.” And what I always say is, what that feels like and how you might start to notice or get some clues that you’re really in a bigger Death Cycle and it needs some of your attention, is that your anxiety is going through the roof. I think that’s the number one thing I always see, is that people are like, “I just have been really anxious, more so than usual, and I don’t know what that’s about.”

[00:06:44] And what it’s about is that underneath the anxiety is a lot of fear. And the anxiety is coming from this desire to keep things the same, because you don’t know what the outcome is. Essentially, if you submit to the change that just happened in your life, if you surrender to that change, you don’t know what the outcome is. And so that’s really when people meet me.

[00:07:09] I coin it as like there’s four stages of the Death Cycle. And I always say the first stage is denial. You’re pretending whatever change happened didn’t happen and trying to go about life as usual. And the clue about that, is that your life, the way you approach life as usual, isn’t working for some reason and you’re deeply uncomfortable and usually have a lot of anxiety.

[00:07:35] The next stage is an ego death. From my teaching and my lineage of teachers, the ego is really the part of you that makes decisions and perceives the world based on past experiences. And so, the ego death is critical, because until you can get beyond that stage, it’s just saying “We don’t know what’s coming! We don’t know what’s coming! We don’t know what’s coming! And so let’s focus on the past and trying to see if there’s something from our past that we can align with and now mould our life to, instead of embracing the change and what possibility comes with that.” And so when you’re in ego death, usually the anxiety shifts to predominantly fear, you get underneath the anxiety, into the fear.

[00:08:32] And you know, when I work with my clients, they’re supremely scared. They’re supremely scared to say the truth about whatever’s happening in their life out loud. And something that is interesting and that I usually do with a lot of clients, is that I will ask them questions and I will annotate. I’ll take notes on what they’re saying, because they will eventually say the truth, but even when I read back what they have said to them, they’ll be like “I don’t know. What do you think that means?” And they’re like, “I don’t, I don’t know.” and they’re still afraid to say it out loud, even though they have already talked about it. So, that’s what it’s like to start moving through a Death Cycle. And I think the predominant feelings that people have are definitely fear and anxiety, when people find me, they’re in those states.

[00:09:38] Lisa Jara: Yeah. And one thing I want to maybe dive a little deeper in is, of course sometimes life happens and you clearly know, “Oh yes, life happened.” I don’t know, you get fired or you get a baby – it doesn’t have to be something difficult or negative, it can be something positive – but something happens and it’s kind of visible. You can’t really deny it. But to me it seems that for many people that come to you, it’s more these subtle changes that you don’t quite realise have happened. Do you have some examples of what your clients come to you with, or what kind of changes and deaths are happening in their life?

[00:10:18] Brionna Ned: Sure. I think that a big trend right now is for a lot of people who have their own businesses, just over the summer … you know, I work a lot with astrology as well, and so over the summer with the astrology weather, if you will, a lot of people started to realise that they were feeling trapped by their business. And felt like in some ways they were outgrowing it or that they could be more expansive. But what did that mean for their business? And so I was having this conversation over and over again, where people were just in this state and having to deal with really tough things like, oh, maybe the service that they offer in their business is a trauma response and it’s harming them and they knew something was off, but they didn’t really understand what was off, or they didn’t want to necessarily face what was off, if that makes sense.

[00:11:36] So I have a container right now called Rebirth Your Business, where we’re kind of walking through that process really slowly, of “Let’s talk about it. Let’s have a conversation about this discomfort and uneasiness that you’re feeling in your business, that just has to do with the fact that you are becoming a more expansive person.” I think that entrepreneurship is one of those journeys where it’s like as you grow personally, then your business has to grow and you sort of have to recalibrate with your business and create new calibration points along the way. And that just happened to be a thing that was happening with a lot of people in my orbit this summer, myself included.

[00:12:29] And so starting to recognise that and creating space for that, where it’s like nothing specific happened, it just starts to be a feeling like something is off. “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.” or “This is taking more out of me than it used to take out of me.” and everything from “I procrastinate a lot.” to “I’m having anxiety or panic attacks over trying to get this work done.” You know, it was a lot of different versions, but all underneath the same theme.

[00:12:59] Lisa Jara: Mm. Yeah. And what it made me think of is, we often think when something like that happens and it doesn’t feel quite so aligned or not as it used to, we have to make a major shift in our world. It has to flip, make a 180 or something, which feels even more daunting and adds to the anxiety that we already fear or feel. And sometimes all that’s necessary is to make little adjustments here and there, so that it can flow again, into a different direction. Did you experience that with your clients as well?

[00:13:40] Brionna Ned: Yeah. I think sometimes, you know, sometimes what people need is just like a small shift, or sometimes what people need is context. I try to meet people where they’re at, and it tends to be that people who are already working with some sort of processor, whether it’s a therapist or a coach or something like that, sometimes they don’t have the context, meaning the language to describe or understand what’s happening.

[00:14:28] And so like I have a 30-minute introduction to Death Cycles course you can watch and I’ve had a bunch of people take that course and be good, because all they needed was just context to understand what was happening. And then, you know, going back to the “rebirthing your business” example, there are people in that container whose businesses are going to look completely different at the end. And there are people in that container who are just tweaking, as you said, making some little shifts to create more space for themselves, to maybe explore this new thing that they’re interested in. But their business model and how they run their business as a whole isn’t really changing that much. They’re just carving out space for this new, more expansive version of themselves to expand into. So it looks different for everyone.

[00:15:37] Lisa Jara: Yeah. And while you say carving out space, I think that why we resist for so long and let the fear and anxiety build up, is often because we think maybe it’s not important enough. We don’t take this space for ourselves, or we don’t dare to ask for support. But having these dedicated containers can be so powerful. And as you say, there are business owners at different stages and from different backgrounds and they can see how different we all are and how valid we all are and that everyone’s change process is unique.

[00:16:20] Brionna Ned: Well, and I think what’s important is just getting people to slow down enough and release the societal conditioning of always forward, progress, keep moving forward. And something someone said in our last session last week was just “I’m really starting to appreciate the idea of intentional endings, because it’s not something that I’ve done before and I’m seeing the medicine in it.”

[00:16:51] And to me I’m like, “That’s great. That’s the whole point.” That’s the whole point of this work is that we have to put this thing back on the map, because this is something that, you know, in every culture, it doesn’t really matter what culture you’re from, our ancestors were better about intentional endings and there were rituals around it and all of these things. And maybe the knowledge has been lost, but there are things that we can remember, and then maybe we can create rituals anew around intentional endings and see what that opens up for us in terms of possibility. Because I think a big philosophy or a big belief behind my work, is that we cut ourselves off from our own potential and our own possibility because everything’s so messy and we don’t like to tend to messes. We like to pretend that they’re not there. And so we have to dive into the mess because that’s where the nuggets are. That’s where the information is, that’s where the breakthroughs are that are going to open up new possibilities and new ways of being, not just for individuals, but for the collective as well.

[00:18:21] Lisa Jara: Yeah, and, I mean, the mess or just the unknown, right? This blackness that we all fear, this darkness, some call it void, whatever you call it, this something that seems so daunting when we look at it? When we are accepting it and are in it, it becomes more like potentiality. This opening up into, “Okay, yes, I could call it a darkness. I could call it the mysteries. And the mysteries hold potential for something new.”

[00:19:00] Brionna Ned: Yeah. And all life comes from that space as well, you know. And so we have a real fear of that mystery, but it’s where the genesis of all life forms comes from as well. And we have to remember that.

[00:19:15] Lisa Jara: Yeah. One thing that I remember from what you said before is this moment, and I know that from myself, this “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what I want.” This building up of tension when you just look back and as you say, the ego or our brain draws from experience and as long and it hasn’t made a new experience, it can’t continue or doesn’t want to. How do you support your people to make the leap of faith basically, and jump into that and over this threshold of “I don’t know, I’m afraid.”?

[00:19:56] Brionna Ned: Yeah. So in that space, what I really teach is, essentially, nervous system regulation tools. I call it tending to your physicality, tending to your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual experience. And I have a bunch of tools. I love to learn, I’m constantly learning about some new health, wellness, mental wellbeing tool, and so I kind of lay them out on a platter and intuit which ones I think will resonate with which clients. I use different tools with different people and just introduce them to their physicality, because one of the biggest things is that a lot of people just don’t have – I was writing about this actually the other day on a blog post or something – a lot of people just feel like they don’t actually have the tools to be able to surrender and flow with that kind of change. And you can’t ask someone to make a leap without giving them the tools.

[00:21:11] So the first thing that I do is to give them the tools, right? Well, that’s the second thing. The first thing is, I give them context. I’m like “This is a Death Cycle. This is what it is, this is how it works, this is where you are.” The second thing is, “Okay, now that you know where you are and you’ve located yourself, now we have to talk about tools regarding tending to your physicality, so you can self-soothe, so you can create the spaciousness in your nervous system to actually embrace the Unknown.” Because if you don’t have the spaciousness, you can’t do it.

[00:21:51] And so let’s talk about how you settle your nervous system, let’s talk about the truth of what’s happening for you mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. Where are you at with those things? Which of those four components of your physicality do you have the easiest access to? Which one feels the most difficult to access? And then let’s start implementing some tools and exercises for you to cultivate a relationship with those parts of you. And that’s where people start to create the spaciousness and settle their nervous systems, so that they can actually shift into that next stage, which I call resolve. Which is where you really start to accept where you are and surrender to what’s happening, and maybe you don’t know what’s going on, but you also know it’s going to be okay. It’s going to get figured out eventually.

[00:22:53] So that’s the biggest thing that I do, is that I equip them with tools that I want them to take with them beyond our work together, so that any time they find themselves in a similar situation, they know what to do, they know how to tend to their physicality so that they can get to resolve faster. Because all of the suffering happens in those first two stages and so it’s about how we can minimise the suffering. And it’s about really knowing how to tend to your physicality and having that relationship with yourself, because once you’re there, you can really minimise your suffering, get to resolve faster and get essentially on whatever your new path is faster as well.

[00:23:45] Lisa Jara: Yeah, you are also helping them to develop this deep trust that many of us in the ways we have been raised, or just the messages we get from culture, we don’t trust ourselves and that we do actually have everything we need already inside us. And you help them tap into that trust again, trusting themselves and trusting the process. Which of course can be hard and I love that you are doing so much nervous system healing work, because I, too, believe that in order to expand or evolve, we need to come from a place of feeling safe.

[00:24:31] You can’t evolve and expand when you are already agitated in this state of fear. We always have to come back to a place where we feel “Okay. Here, I’m safe. Here I belong.” And then we can take a step out of that comfort zone. But we always know we can go back into it and we have the tools and resources in us, with us, to have us feel safe.

[00:24:58] Brionna Ned: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And you know, just for me, I’m always like, you just can’t push someone to get to the next step until they get to that place of safety within themselves. It’s just not going to happen, neurologically, scientifically, it’s not happening. They can do their best to fake it for you. But, you know, as a practitioner, that is something that I’m always looking for, where I’m waiting, and it takes however long it takes. Some people are really quick, some take a much longer time, and you just have to wait because you can’t force someone to get there, they have to get there on their own.

[00:25:45] Lisa Jara: Yeah, totally. And in a world that tells us we have to get there faster, best yesterday, they have these beliefs in them as well. And for me, my whole work is also based in this, going at the pace of your own body, of your system, of your nervous system. The slowest part of you, THAT’S the pace you need to move at. And you will arrive where you want to go faster if you go slower. Sounds paradoxical…

[00:26:22] Brionna Ned: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s so funny that you say that, because I always talk about the slowest part of a person, and one of the most important tools that I arm people with, is having a relationship with their slowest part, because usually with all of our conditioning, we’ve been conditioned to bury that part of us. And so most people don’t have a relationship with that part of them. And a big part of the tools in tending to your physicality is actually locating that part of you and tuning in and doing some work with your psyche of repairing that relationship, and then tuning into what it has to say and how it wants to move. And that’s usually a pretty big adjustment for a lot of people.

[00:27:28] Lisa Jara: Yeah. In case there is someone listening and wanting to get in touch with you and have you help them move through their death and rebirth cycle, where can they find you? How can they contact you or what’s your preferred way of being contacted?

[00:27:50] Brionna Ned: Yeah, there’s a lot of ways, my favourite way is probably a contact form submission on my website. I’m sure you’ll include it in the notes, but my website’s brionnaned.com and I have a contact form submission for anyone who has questions. If you’re looking for one-on-one programming, you can browse through my website and I have some applications for one-on-one programs or you can get a session.

[00:28:22] But I’m also just death dominatrix on all platforms, so you can find me on Instagram or TikTok or Twitter. I don’t know where DMs are on TikTok, so good luck with that, but you can DM me on Instagram and Twitter and I’ll usually respond. I don’t even know if that’s a thing on TikTok, but you know, I’m learning. Yeah, so all of those are ways to contact me.

[00:28:53] Lisa Jara: And I just love this name, Death Dominatrix. It’s a “Yes, I want that!”

[00:28:59] Brionna Ned: Yeah. Yeah. It’s really fun. I had a friend actually, who when I was forming this or becoming this, she was actually like, “Oh, you’re like a spiritual dominatrix. You’re for people who need to be slapped around spiritually a bit.” And it just stuck. And then I was looking through some old journal entries and I was talking a lot about death and rebirth cycles, and I was thinking, maybe it’s the death dominatrix. So that’s kind of where it came from.

[00:29:32] And all of my astrology, the numerology of my birthday, all of it weirdly aligns with this title. Everything, the numerology, and my birthday is September 19th, which is a cycle of death, rebirth death with nine one. So I have all of these strange synchronicities, in my numerology of my birthday and all of my astrology. So yeah.

[00:30:07] Lisa Jara: And we haven’t even touched on the astrology side of your business, which would be very interesting to explore in a different conversation maybe.

[00:30:17] Brionna Ned: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. But the main takeaway is that I use astrology. I look at everybody’s astrology charts to see what’s been going on. It’s my cheat code for how and why this person is arriving at my doorstep. There are a few things that I look at, and then I also use it to help people with that context idea of “This is what’s going on, and this is how these things in your natal chart are interacting and what’s been happening for you.” just to validate what they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing.

[00:30:54] Lisa Jara: Yeah, totally. I do that too. Not that extensively, but looking at where is the moon, the sign the moon is in, and the full moon and the new moon, and what kind of themes might be coming up. So that definitely sounds fun to me.

[00:31:15] Do you have some closing words, for example, your message to the world or something that you feel needs to be shared today?

[00:31:25] Brionna Ned: You know, my work is really motivated by the latent great bell hooks, who is a huge inspiration to me, and a belief statement about love, which is that I believe that life is a series of choices between fear and genocide and life and love. And what my work is really about is that I think if our life was one big decision tree, we’re missing the love and life side of the decision tree. We’re very far down on the fear and genocide and we’ve been conditioned to choose genocide or death for ourselves in these fast and slow ways.

[00:32:14] And so my work is just about awakening people’s consciousness to the fact that there’s this whole other side of the decision tree that’s all about choosing love of self and others and life, that we have to put back on the map. And so that is what drives me, that’s what my work is about, that’s the philosophy that I always come back to. I am really teaching people, helping them awaken to this other side of the decision tree, so that as a collective, even if it’s just one person at a time, we start to recognise and understand what it is to be living in love and be choosing life over and over again as opposed to what we’ve been conditioned to choose for so very long.

[00:33:12] Lisa Jara: Wow. Yes. Yes to that!

[00:33:19] And then I will close with coming back to the cycle check-in we had in the beginning: If you, dear listener or watcher, do these cycle check-ins for yourself, and say these three words that express you today, let the last question be “And what is one loving thing I can do for myself to honour that in my day today?”

[00:33:46] Brionna Ned: Yes, I love that.

[00:33:49] Lisa Jara: Thank you so much, Brionna, for being here. I will definitely link all of your website and social media handles below this video or below this episode. And thank you!

[00:34:03] Brionna Ned: Thank you for having me. It was wonderful to be here.

[00:34:08] Lisa Jara: You’re welcome. Bye

If you want to journey the death and rebirth process every month with greater ease and awareness (no matter if you still menstruate or have already crossed over into menopause), sign up for Soul Mail, my weekly-ish personal letters to help you get back in touch with your body and live your life powerfully from within:

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