Growing up in East L.A. in the nineties, Rosie Acosta dismissed spirituality and wellness as something people like her didn’t do. But after being arrested at age fifteen, she knew that only a radical change would lead her away from debilitating anxiety and self-doubt. As she puts it, yoga offered her a ladder and she began to climb.
In this empowering and accessible guide, Acosta leads readers through the essential spiritual practices she uses to create a radically loved life. With the arc of her own journey as a framework, she presents meditations, journaling questions, and practices for identifying and honoring our own radical truths.
With grit and grace, this heart-filled guide makes spiritual practice accessible to everyone and helps you become the person you are truly meant to be.“You Are Radically Loved will gently guide you through surprisingly powerful practices to reclaim your body, energy, and truth.”
--Melissa Urban, best-selling author, and CEO and founder of Whole30
“Rosie is the true definition of an authentic leader--vulnerable, grounded, courageous and compassionate. You Are Radically Loved will open your eyes and remind you that transformation is possible--through love."
--Sahara Rose, best-selling author of Discover Your Dharma and host of the Highest Self Podcast
“Rosie delivers authentic and practical wisdom that guides us to return to our most essential truth- We are Loved. These teachings are a balm for the feeling of being lost in the world; Rosie's words lovingly guide us toward reclaiming our truth.”
--Tracee Stanley, author of Radiant Rest and creator of Empowered Life Oracle
“Rosie's story inspires us all to be more resilient, realistic, and creative at the same time. Her journey becomes yours through the universal experiences of fear, mistakes, and the road to self-discovery.”
–Ryan Harris, Super Bowl Champion
“You Are Radically Loved teaches us how to be the unconditional best friend to ourselves. Rosie is the friend that we all need in our lives to help us realize that we are enough and that we are never alone. Rosie’s story is not only inspiring but also teaches us that who we are is exactly who we should be.”
--Mike Bayer, bestselling author of One Decision and CEO of CAST Centers
“Rosie Acosta is a caring host who keeps looking for how love can matter in the world. It is a joy to be in conversation with her. She is a welcome voice in the next generation.”
–Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Soul
“Rosie is an author that has the ability to fill each word on each page of her book - with rivers of kindness and vulnerability. You immediately feel less alone! You Are Radically Loved is an invitation to love ALL of you in a deep and profound way.”
--Christine Gutierrez, therapist and author of I Am Diosa
“In You Are Radically Loved, Rosie reminds us that on our journey to self-love we often need a guide with a ‘flashlight’ brighter than our own. Rosie—with her rare magic blend of vulnerability, honesty, and humor—is that flashlight. If you've ever felt out of place in your life or in the world, this book will help you change your relationship with yourself so that you can live a life full of connection, love, and authenticity.”
–Tracy Middleton, Brand Director and Editor in Chief, Yoga Journal
"Rosie, has lived through a life of adversity; she has the unique talent of helping you to personally transform your whole life through practice and exuding more love."
--Candice Kumai, best-selling author of Kintsugi Wellness and host of the Wabi Sabi Podcast
“With You Are Radically Loved, Rosie writes honestly, mindfully, and with purpose. She offers genuine insight on ways that we can feel more radically loved.”
--Ethan Nichtern, author of The Road Home
"So many of us are in the process of healing our deepest wounds at this moment on the planet. Radically Loved is a soothing balm for that process - replete with the wise, girlfriend-next-door vibes of the inimitable Rosie Acosta. Her spiritual insights come from a place of deep realness, personal practice and an unwavering commitment to the best of all paths - radical love. I am a massive fan of both the author and the book, and will be reading and re-reading these love-soaked pages."
--Katie Silcox, best-selling author and founder of The Shakti School
“You are Radically Loved is nectar for your mind, body, and spirit. Wise, funny, and striking in its truth, this book calls us into more honest, whole, and real love within ourselves through both deeply spiritual and practical means. It is a courageous offering to anyone who is determined to love themselves no matter the depth of hate they’ve experienced, internalized, or witnessed. It is for those willing and ready to answer the potent call Acosta puts forth within it, a call toward radical (self) love.”
--Octavia Raheem, founder of Starshine & Clay Meditation and Yoga for Black Women and Women of Color, and author of Pause, Rest Be and Gather
“In the pages of You Are Radically Loved, you'll feel Rosie guiding you into a journey to uncover your self-love. As she shares her experiences from growing up in the midst of gang violence in East Los Angeles, to teaching and speaking all over the world, she inspires us to overcome our challenges and return to our strength, resilience and love. The gift of her wisdom infuses these pages to enrich our hearts.”
--Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of Speaking with SpiritRosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. She hosts a weekly conversational wellness podcast called, Radically Loved. Rosie has traveled all over the world leading workshops, retreats and yoga teacher trainings. She works with a wide range of students, from those in her East Los Angeles community to Olympic athletes, NFL champions, NBA All-Stars and veterans of war. A first-gen Mexican-American, Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love. She’s been featured in Yoga Journal, Well + Good, Forbes, The New York Post. She currently lives in the greater Los Angeles region known as The Valley.
You Are Radically Supported
Radical Truth: Life makes no sense, but you can still find meaning if you try.
A shark in a fish tank grows up to eight inches, but in the ocean, it will grow to eight feet or more. The shark will never outgrow its environment, and the same is true about you. Our environment has a direct impact on how we grow and develop. What we believe, what we achieve, and how we go about achieving it are all dependent on what we've been exposed to. I always knew I would be a product of my environment. I just never imagined I would do anything about it. So, what's radical love got to do with it?
Radical love requires a courage unlike any other. It calls for us to believe in and become devoted to something that keeps us in this world. Devotion to our own self-worth creates a level of self-trust so that we can make better choices and live more fully.
Among the many reasons we practice yoga, mindfulness, and meditation is to cultivate more discernment and to understand ourselves, our choices, and others on a deeper level. We practice so we'll know what to do when we are not on the safe space of our mat or cushion. Feeling safe is the key, and at times our history can keep us from feeling that safety. When we understand how our history has influenced our mind and shaped our reality, we can begin to understand why we are where we are. If able and willing, we can reframe our thinking, change our internal dialogue and take the necessary action to change our lives. We can reframe our thinking and create a different environment even if, for now, it's only internal. We can change our perception and have a clearer understanding of what is best for ourselves, so that we feel more secure and supported in our actions.
What we think, what we say, and what we do matter. If you want to change, it's your responsibility to make that happen.
For me, changing my environment started when I got arrested. I knew that whatever decision I made after that point would set the tone for the rest of my life.
I was fifteen, standing with my public defender in the Eastlake Juvenile courthouse in Los Angeles. My mom sat behind me in the gallery, and I could feel her eyes burning into the back of my neck.
It was 1999. I was a sophomore in high school and awaiting my sentence for trying to steal a cop car. With a simple stroke of a pen, the judge would decide my fate. He was short and stern and flipped endlessly through case folders. He seemed indifferent, like the job was run-of-the-mill that day. He'd judged boys all day long and seemed confused by what I was doing there. I was a girl, all cleaned up, dressed in my mom's nice clothes, and looked nothing like the teenage gangbangers crowding the benches, two of whom I recognized from our neighborhood. He began listing my failures with the enthusiasm of reading a grocery list-the truancy, my previous arrest, my bad grades. I knew he had the power to decide whether I would be another statistic, because up until that point, that's what I was. This moment would determine whether I would live my life in the system or get a chance at creating a better one.
I realized that I didn't want to be sentenced to a life like the ones I had seen so many of my family members, neighbors, and friends live. A product of my socioeconomic inheritance. Growing up in East LA in the 1990s showed me plenty of examples of heartbreak, hopelessness, and despair. Every family on our street and all of my mom's friends had kids in trouble with the law. Every. Single. One.
Standing in that courtroom at fifteen years old, I knew this moment would define who I would be for the rest of my life. I also knew that if I was actually going to do better, I would have to swim upstream or I'd become another fixture in juvenile hall. I would have to be radical.
We were instructed that we would break for lunch and that I would get my sentence at the end of the recess. I went into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I thought about the worst-case scenarios, which all resulted in the same restricted life. I would go back to my friends and hear the celebratory "Welcome to the club, homie." As much as this scenario matched my environment and even felt normal, I knew in my heart that it wasn't where I wanted to be. Doing what was normal, what was routine wasn't resulting in anything that benefited me. If anything, it had only resulted in problems. We each see the world we are taught to see. Maybe if I could see the world differently, I would be able to see myself differently too.
Cracks in the Foundation
Learning about where you come from is your first foundational step toward creating the framework for your path. Our roots tell us a story about which lessons we are here to learn and how we can use these lessons to create a deeper connection to who we are. Whether our upbringing was pleasant or not can be irrelevant to the way we decide to live our lives, because we do get to choose how we live.
Somewhere along the way, you make a decision that takes you off course. In order to make a change, you need to get to the root of the dysfunction. Most often, you must go all the way to the beginning. To learn why your decision-making is out of order, you must go back to the environment where you first developed and what shaped your perception of the world. If you grew up in a fish tank, you don't know any better. You know what you know.
For me, the view of the outside world came in the form of movies, TV shows, and the posters in our garage, which doubled as my uncle's room-a small, dilapidated space where the floors were lined with food crates of Thrasher magazines, empty tequila bottles, and oldies records. A collage of images covered one single wall-Guns N' Roses, N.W.A, Kid Frost, The Doors movie poster, and a flag for the Los Angeles Raiders. Magazine tear-outs with images of sunsets and bikini-clad women and stickers with sayings like "Live Life Radically, Surf" and "Stay Rad" were what I might later refer to as an unconscious effort to build a vision board.
Radical comes from the Latin adjective radix, which means "root." In Southern California, rad or radical is slang for "excellent" or "impressive" or "something that is true." Telling the truth wasn't something that came easy, especially when one of my first memories as a child was lying to a police officer. This was contrasted by my family, who were devoutly Catholic and often talked about the importance of honesty, integrity, and hard work.
My entire life was a contradiction. It was no wonder that studying a practice like yoga made sense later. Yoga is the study of paradoxes. Contradicting ideas designed to understand different aspects of the same truth. They are aspects of a greater whole.
Childhood is complex. On the one hand, you can see that perhaps lying to an officer is a bad thing. Lying to an officer at the behest of your parents can seem worse. However, if I told you the reason for the lie was to help save someone's life, would that make it better? Does it justify teaching a child that omitting the truth is okay? A child doesn't have the tools for discernment of this magnitude because they lack experience. Lying made me feel like I was all alone, disconnected from everyone and everything. I knew lying was wrong, but I was told to do it anyway. This isn't a call for listing all your parents' mistakes; it isn't about judgment either. We all falter in some way, but that's part of our learning process. This is about identifying the foundational cracks in your own experience that have kept you from feeling deeply rooted and supported in your life. Truth-telling is the foundational support we need to be and to feel radically loved.
Even as a child, the truth feels different from a lie. Can you think of a time in your life when you told your first lie? What was that like for you? It's confusing to be told one thing and feel another. Perhaps the fracture to our own self-trust begins here.
I became a disgruntled and troubled kid. I felt disconnected, hopeless, and often crippled by fear. I felt small, unseen, and insignificant. As I stood in that courtroom, I held on to an idea that I knew to be true in some deep and fundamental way-that maybe the support I needed was beyond what little knowledge I had.
My home was small and overcrowded. This made me seek out open spaces, and whenever I found them, I would feel a deep sense of relief. Maybe because I felt so much internal clutter. Going outside, being in nature, was the only thing that ever made me feel like I mattered. I would think about how the same force that created this planet may have also created me. The palm trees that lined the streets, the rare green space in a city park, the ocean-all felt like there was something bigger at play.
We were raised Catholic, which meant obey the rules or go to hell. If you don't go to church, you'll suffer. If you are mean to your abuelita, you'll suffer. If you don't go to sleep when your parents tell you to, you'll suffer. If you don't eat all your tortillas, you'll suffer. Suffering is the cornerstone of life.
My mother and father were both raised in Mexico. They lived in different areas of East LA before landing in a two-bedroom housing project. It didn't take long before it was overrun by drug dealers, gangs, and low-level pimps. It was during what is now called the "decade of death," when LA's yearly homicide rate was one thousand. Our single-story apartment was shared among ten people: my parents, sister, cousins, aunt, uncles, and abuelita. We experienced tragedy after tragedy. People losing their lives over senseless crimes, turf wars, and drug abuse. I had a tenuous relationship with God because of it. The reason why religion didn't make sense to me, despite the best efforts of my elders, is because of what I routinely saw in our neighborhood. Hell was something that existed out there if you were a sinner, not visibly on the streets of Los Angeles. Why would I try to be good if nobody else was abiding by the rules? I guess you could say I became spiritually bankrupt at a young age.
On a side note, I will use the terms "God" and "higher power" many times in this book. (I invite you to choose other words if you identify with a different source.)
As far as my parents were concerned, my sister and I were always being cared for. My abuelita saw to that. Roof over our heads-check. Food in our bellies-check. In some parts of the world, that's a feat in itself. Encouraging emotional stability, stress management, and making sure we felt safe wasn't part of their "how to raise a family" agenda. You can't transmit what you don't know. How are you supposed to teach something you've never been taught?
My abuelita hosted weekly rosarios (prayer circles) where all the neighborhood matriarchs would gather and pray for their families. The women would bring pan dulce (Mexican sweet breads) and hot chocolate. Although rosarios were the highlight of my week, they weren't always joyous. Increasingly, the women would ask for God's help, in tears for their children, some already in the throes of gangs or drugs.
I saw that my abuelita's faith never wavered, no matter how tragic events unfolded around her. Her morning ritual began at the crack of dawn. Her morning started in the kitchen to cook our meals for the day. Midmorning, she prayed before her altar in front of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and a magazine tear-out of President Reagan. Her fingers moved through each rosary bead as she recited the Hail Mary and Our Father.
This was when I began questioning my faith. I asked her if she thought that God loved me.
She would reply, "Claro que si, mi amor" (Of course he does, my love).
I asked, "If God is so great, why did so many bad things happen? Why is he punishing all of your friends?" I quickly got scolded and was told that asking questions would make Jesus mad. Got it, questions equal wavering faith.
The final crack in my foundation came during my catechism incident. I was preparing for my First Communion. At a certain point during Sunday Mass, we headed to a nearby classroom to begin our lecture. Our teacher was a nun who I'm pretty sure hated children. On this particular day, the lecture was on the Eucharist, the wafer and the glass of wine. You confess your sins, take the take the wafer as a representation of God, sip the vino, and all your sins are forgiven.
The nun began the lecture, and I knew this was going to be off the hook. "Okay, children, when the priest raises the body of Christ at the time of the Eucharist, watch as God's hand comes in and touches it."
We filed back from our lesson to the church pews and our respective parents. We arrived as everyone inside the church was on their feet reciting the Our Father prayer. Expectantly, we fixed our eyes on the altar. As the priest raised the sacred wafer and recited, "Behold the Body of Christ," I looked at my friends as they all intently lasered into the empty space above the priest's head. I looked at my mother who was watching the priest and at my father who was half-asleep.
Wow, not one person realized that they were about to experience a freaking miracle right here at St. Anthony's church! I squinted my eyes so I wouldn't miss one single second. I saw nothing. Just empty space. I sat in silence and with a surge of anxiety as the sermon continued.
Our second meeting with the nun was called once parishioners filed in line and all the children made their way back to the lecture room. The nun was filled with joy. "Did you see it? Did you see God's hand come down and touch the Eucharist? Raise your hand!"
|You Are Radically Loved