Before she ever became a teacher, healer, and author, Lalah Delia was someone who desperately needed healing herself.
“I remember my mentors and teachers telling me ‘you’re one of us,’” she explained when we spoke over the phone last week about her journey into a career in wellness. “I was like ‘there’s no way on earth I’m a teacher, are you serious? This young girl, do you know what I’ve been through?’ And they were like ‘that’s exactly why you’re a teacher. You had to go through all of that, because you’re going to be able to help people who went through similar things.’”
It’s easy to look at everything that Lalah’s accomplished now, and be intimidated, or envious of her success. But before you take in her beautifully-designed website, Vibrate Higher Daily —or a recently-published book of the same name based on those same principles — and before you get a glimpse of her 300K+ Instagram followers or glowing co-signs from the likes of Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams and fellow author Alexandra Elle, take a moment to learn just what Lalah has gone through to get to where she is now.
Growing up in South Central LA during the ‘90s in what was then called “the war-zone,” Delia lost eight close friends in the span of a year, and remembers attending a funeral “every other week” one summer. Aside from being surrounded by violence, she also suffered not one but two sexual traumas early in life, first an assault as a child and then later suffered rape as a teenager. “That trauma really took a toll on me, as we know so well now that it does,” she said. “And I just didn’t know how to process that. I didn’t have the language to even express it to my family. I didn’t have the confidence and I just felt like it was my fault — I fell victim to that whole mindset.”
After those early experiences and a self-described series of friendships based on “trauma bonding,” she ended up falling into a cycle of domestic violence that put her in the hospital several times. Strangely enough, one visit to tend to injuries sustained from a recent fight with her partner led to different news from the doctors: she had a condition called diverticulitis, her colon was rupturing. On the advice of her sister, Delia began working with an herbalist and changing her whole lifestyle instead of facing a difficult surgery to address the condition, and that’s when the work of healing — both her body and her mind and spirit — really began in earnest.
“I allowed plant medicine to come into my life, and that was when everything started changing,” she remembered. “I started saying yes to going to therapy — just taking this medicine of these herbs was changing my mindset, it was giving me strength. I was detoxing from all the foods I wasn’t supposed to be eating, and that also helped detox my body and my mind. So a new me was literally bursting and forming from this, and that was one of the greatest awakenings.”
Even after her initial encounter with breaking cycles of pain and trauma, there was still a lot of brokenness lingering. After healing from diverticulitis, Delia attempted suicide. “I still felt hopeless and didn’t know how to even show up in the world,” she said. “I felt really shameful, and like my life didn’t have any purpose now that I was healed. That was another low. Now I teach in my work about these terrains, these highs and lows in vibration, highs and low of terrains and weather. But I’m grateful that my life didn’t end where it was trying to — I kept going. And I had another awakening after that, after I survived.”
After moving through her physical healing, and working to heal her internal perception of self, Delia spent the next four to five years studying with mentors and teachers to figure out what her purpose and calling really was. She began to get her certifications and coursework, preparing to become a voice in the wellness community who could share — from her own experiences — how to survive trauma, silence fear, and vibrate higher.
“Really following your passion and purpose is always part of your deepest healing,” Delia explained. “I started seeing where I was being called, and now the passion was there to help other people. I moved through the fear, and not feeling like I was good enough to teach or to be on a stage speaking. I just worked through all of that as another mountain to climb. And it was the one of the best things I’ve ever done, to trust my own process of continuing to move through the fear as part of the ultimate healing. My healing wouldn’t have been complete if I didn’t step into this line of work, because this was part of the healing as well.”
After fully tapping into her work with vibrational energy, Lalah created her website and opened up a membership portal for those interested in joining her teaching community — and the growth there was almost immediate. Interest in her online teachings turned into a book deal, and Delia moved to a small town in Texas, where her mother was living at the time, to be “celibate and single” while she wrote her first book, Vibrate Higher Daily.
Published in December of 2019, little did Delia or any of the rest of us know just how relevant her teachings on energy, vibration, and highs and lows would become as a global pandemic hit just two or three months later. Adapting some of her teachings on emotional and spiritual terrains for a course on Conscious City Guide, Lalah has been teaching a weekly live class on emotion for those who could use a little extra support managing during this global crisis.
“We think everything is solid, but it’s moving, it’s vibrational energy,” she explained of her teachings. “We’re in communication whether we realize it or not. We’re in communication energetically and vibrationally with the foods we eat, with the people around us in public, with the people we live with, and whatever we see online, and it’s having an impact on us. When we take it back to just the pure science of the physiological part of our nature, this is who we are, and every part of the universe is made up of energy and vibration.”
As opposed to some of the other more “woo woo”-style teachings that seem to have popped up everywhere during the peak-wellness era of Instagram elixirs and manifestation hashtags, Delia’s work is grounded in moving energy within the self and operating on a higher level personally — not attaining things or bringing stuff into your life. “In the woo woo community sometimes it can be focused on doing things to bring stuff into your life and to attain more, versus reaching a higher attainment of self,” she said. “For me, that’s the difference between spirituality in the woo woo realm and what I’m doing. It’s a different focus — for them it’s about attracting more, but for me it’s about finding a higher essence of myself, showing up more mindfully, in a more meaningful way in the present, and being more compassionate.”
Finally, as a woman of color working within the wellness industry during a time of boom — Delia is mixed African American, Native, and Spanish — she encourages everyone to be mindful of the original cultures where these popular spiritual modalities have been formed. She understands the appeal of connecting to ancient spiritual practices, and the power that they hold, but encourages the community not to focus on generating wealth while, at the same time, hosting paid events that are potentially inaccessible to people from those original cultures.
“In a time when many people are walking away from typical religious communities and looking for something more spiritual, it’s tempting to say ‘let me take this on instead,’” she observed. “I don’t ever get offended when I see that. But the thing to avoid doing is making it less accessible to the people who these practices come from. I’ve seen so many sweat lodges or healing retreats that are appropriated — but then the price is so high that many people can’t afford it.”
“Either have a discount where it’s free to people of this culture and this lineage,” she continued. “Or, make it very accessible to people in general, where no one is trying to get wealthy in a way that’s taking from this community. There’s no way indigenous communities should still be impoverished given how the wellness movement has continued around the globe. Because so much of the world is using their teaching, healings, and their medicines.”
With all she’s overcome to become the teacher she is now, and the propositions about vibration and energy her book and courses focus on, Delia is quickly rising as one of the most fascinating figures within the next generation of the wellness industry. And if anything she discussed for this piece has resonated with you, check out Lalah’s website and membership portal here — with a free/donation-based option for those currently unemployed or impacted by COVID-19 — get a copy of her book here, and check out her most recent course for Conscious City Guide here.