GOING THE DISTANCE

Elle India|May 2020

GOING THE DISTANCE
Designer and founder of maximalist fashion label La DoubleJ, JJ Martin tells ELLE how she rose above her personal losses and pain to attain spiritual awakening
JJ Martin

A friend recently reminded me that she took me to a Buddhist centre in Milan about 18 years ago, and I was “totally not into it”. In the ego part of my head, I feel like I’ve been on Team Buddha forever, but the truth is that my own spiritual awakening was as slow as the tectonic plates currently creaking under the Earth’s surface (i.e. about a couple of measly inches per year). So slow, in fact, that I barely noticed the steps I was taking, the bridges I had crossed, and the deepest, darkest waters I had touched and survived. I was so swamped packing in the business of surviving on planet Earth as a highly productive human, that I was completely blind to what it means to slow down and connect with myself as a multidimensional being.

I’ve always been an intense person, happily guzzling the combustible gasoline of masculine energy: busy, forward-moving, ambitious, expansive, organised, and logical, but also (on the negative spectrum of this crucial energy source) critical, punishing, aggressive, unrelenting, rigid and armoured. I grew up in Los Angeles in a very athletic family with two older brothers and a kind father who took us on frequent hunting, fishing, camping, and water skiing trips. My mother was a tough-as-nails, professional ass-kicker. My entire childhood comprised of trying to keep up with everyone: be just as strong, fast, loud, and coolly emotionless. No one in my family was spiritual; in fact we all made fun of Aunt Joanne who was a Born Again Christian and Aunt Barbie—a devoted Catholic—who used to talk about Jesus as if she’d just had a long conversation with him at the supermarket. We laughed our pants off at her behind her back.

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May 2020