Wife and husband Vienna Pharaon and Connor Beaton have made careers out of improving the quality of people’s relationships to themselves, to the world around them and to their partners. As a licensed marriage therapist (Vienna) and the Founder of Man Talks (Connor), the two entrepreneurs are constantly and consistency helping their clients — and an online audience of almost half a million people — confront their shadows and transform the quality of their relationships. They are interested in helping people surrender to resistance, meet their potential and live better, starting with themselves.
And after spending some time with them, it’s safe to say that as individuals and as a couple, the two embody the ethos of their work and missions in their everyday lives. They practice gratitude by expressing out loud what they are grateful for (about life or one another) everyday; they intentionally incorporate scent and sound when they wake up to bring a sense of grounding to their morning; they use breathwork and meditation as tools for balance and vitality.
We sit down with Vienna and Connor for a conversation about rituals for self-care and longevity, their romantic synergy and love languages, and what it means to live in their full potential.
Simone Spilka (SS): What does your typical morning look like?
Connor Beaton (CB): We love waking up a bit early so that we can spend a few extra minutes in bed together before the day gets started. It's a nice slow start to the day. From there, I do breathwork and meditation, and Vienna uses scent. She’s a big fan of Palo Santo, as well as getting the Saje diffuser and blends going to set the morning off right. We also make our coffee, sit down, and connect for about 15-20 minutes. We’ll chat about what's going on, what's happening in the day ahead, or just connect about anything that might be happening in our lives.
Vienna Pharaon (VP): One of the things we've made time for first thing in the morning is to express some gratitude for something, whether it’s for one another or for life. When Connor goes off to meditate, that’s when I start my practice with scent and put on piano music. Scent and sound are very grounding. We've also brought into the practice just pulling up two chairs, having coffee, and talking about whatever is going on in our lives before we start moving through the energy of the day. We have mindful mornings.
We're both strong observers of ourselves. We pause often to connect to whatever is happening in our internal experiences.
SS: I love the concept of creating mindful mornings together — how do you carry that mindfulness throughout your day?
CB: We're both strong observers of ourselves. We pause often to connect to whatever is happening in our internal experiences. This is a daily practice. Vienna stretches and dances throughout the day, and I check in on a regular basis between clients and come back to breathwork, sometimes just for a minute or two. I’ll also intentionally sit in silence for a few minutes throughout the day without being distracted by social media or tasks.
SS: So you feel like you’re able to practice everyday self-care everyday?
CB: I equate self-care to discipline, so every morning for me is about breathwork and meditation and bringing awareness into my body, into my mind and into my heart. That disciplined practice is one of the most self-loving things I can do because it becomes a practice and a training.
VP: Self-care is listening to my intuition and practices that keep me grounded and internally at peace. It's closing my eyes and putting my hands on my body and figuring out what I say yes to and what I say no to, not necessarily going into the quickest, easiest thing. It’s the practice of zooming into my own experience and connecting to what it is that I want and really practicing that. We are all so used to self-abandoning in small, medium and large ways so self-care is just about listening to myself everyday.
Rituals are an integral part of our lives. The main way we choose to create them is by asking ourselves what we need in order to expand ourselves.
SS: What are your favorite products for self-care?
VP: Everything and anything Saje Wellness. No joke, we have diffusers in every room at home and in the office, and we use all of their blends. Connor uses a CBD balm from Plant People that he loves. He also uses Lions mane and Chaga supplements, along with a variety of nootropics. If we could choose only one thing to take with us everywhere it would be palo santo. We burn it morning, day and night.
SS: It seems you make time and space for ritual...
VP: Rituals are an integral part of our lives. The main way we choose to create them is by asking ourselves what we need in order to expand ourselves. We look at what would help expand our relationships, careers and well-being, and then look for a ritual that will compliment that growth. We’re both quite disciplined in creating order around that.
SS: How do you create balance in the business of NYC?
Vienna: I have a ‘de-role-ing’ practice: when I come home it’s really important for me to set the tone and the mood when I get out of the business of the day. When I walk into my home, I light a scent (again), take the clothes off (metaphorically or physically), take off the cap, and start to move into a space thats filled with a different energy. Both Connor and I do a really good job of leaving things after the day. I want connection with my partner when I get home. There’s a lot of output that both of us do during the day, so when we see each other, it feels important to embrace, whether that’s a hug or a kiss or just something that brings us back into balance. For me, it’s about touch.
SS: What does internal happiness mean to you?
CB: To me, Anthony de Mello said it best. It’s about spirituality; spirituality is about waking up and the first rule of waking up is that you don't want to. So its a constant practice of bringing awareness to the parts of my myself that don’t want to wake up and that dont want to step further into the light. It’s also about bringing awareness back into my intuition, into my heart and into my mind—and finding that peace within.
SS: How did you two meet?
VP: We met through a mutual best friend who asked us to speak at a conference. We had met twice before but only briefly. It wasn’t until that weekend where things started to align. It wasn’t easy for many reasons, but we committed to seeing our way through the many obstacles that presented. The pull and bond was so strong that all of the constraints were things we chose to rise above. We started off long distance when I was in New York and Connor was in Vancouver. Connor did almost all of the trekking back and forth and eventually landed himself in NYC.
SS: Is there a secret to the health of your relationship?
VP: There’s no secret and no hack to healthy relationships, unfortunately. The work is required for all of us. What we really honor is our own individual health and well being mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. We do plenty of things together that benefit both of us (like boxing, yoga, and meditation), but we both agree that in order for us to really show up at our best, we need to be responsible for our own individual maintenance of self. We prioritize our own individual exploration and awakenings, ask for what we need, and are continuously looking out for one another when one person seems to be struggling. We’re happy to hold up that mirror for each other when it’s necessary. To simplify it, we prioritize self and relational awareness and check in with ourselves and each other often.
SS: What does living in your full potential look like?
VP: Living in my full potential is really about noticing where I have resistance. Even though I consider myself to be a very hardworking, determined individual, I have noticed and been able to name what my limiting beliefs are and what is attached to that story. It’s important to invite feedback from people I trust and can listen to. Sometimes there’s resistance to people showing you your blind spots. Ii have certainly found and pushed further into my potential through Connor, having someone who is willing to be a mirror. So who knows if I’ll ever achieve living in my full potential,’ or if we ever get there, but it’s a constant state of process of checking in.
CB: Living is the process of remember that I’m it. I’m the problem, I’m the solution and both of those things reside within me. When I forget about that, I’m lost. So as Ram Dass would say, it’s about remembering that I’m causing all of that or resisting the parts that are outside of me.