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BRENÉ BROWN INTERVIEW: CHANTAL PIERRAT
Dr. Brené Brown on vulnerability, authenticity, being her own guinea pig, and her conversation with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. Chantal Pierrat: I want to start by saying thank you for being so real. Your work gives people permission to be themselves, and that’s probably the greatest gift that anybody could give.
Brené Brown: Thank you, that means a lot. We teach what we have to learn. It’s been an extraordinary journey that I couldn’t have done without not only the research participants but the community, the tribe that we’ve built of people who are also on this journey. CP: Does community help with the work of vulnerability? Does it help us to become more vulnerable?
BB: I can’t even think of the right word, but it’s not “help.” It’s more like a prerequisite. I think connection is why we’re here, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and belonging is in our DNA. And so “tribe” and “belonging” are irreducible needs, like love. CP: You started as a researcher. At what point did the researcher become the guinea pig, and how did that change your work, if at all?
BB: I’m still a researcher. The best way to explain it is that I trusted myself deeply as a professional, but I did not have a lot of self-trust personally. When I started learning all of these things about the value and the importance of belonging, vulnerability, connection, selfkindness, and self-compassion, I trusted what I was learning—again, I know I’m a good researcher. When those things and wholeheartedness started to emerge with all these different properties, I knew I had to listen. I’d heard these messages before personally but I didn’t trust myself there. I wasn’t really testing it on myself as much as I was learning from other
people about what it meant to live and love with your whole heart, and then thinking, oh my god, I’m not doing that. Everything that these folks are saying that they’re trying to move away from, like comparison, perfectionism, judgement, and exhaustion as a status symbol—that all describes my life. It was more like a medical researcher studying a disease and figuring out he or she has it. CP: You’ve got the credibility of your research, yet there’s something in your delivery that’s really opening people up.
BB: I love how you frame that, because it’s helping me understand myself better. Someone asked me very recently why I have 8 million views on TED —“Your work resonates, what are you doing?” What I think I do well, is I name experiences that are very universal that no one really talks about. That’s the researcher in me; that’s really part of being a grounded theory researcher—putting names to concepts and experiences that people have. That’s the researcher part. Then I tell my own story. The two things that people really need to transform is language to understand their experience and to know they’re not alone. It’s the combination of the researcherstoryteller part. CP: For people who are new to the concept of authenticity and playing around with vulnerability and courage, actually being themselves—is it something that can be practiced?
BB: It has to be practiced. It’s a practice for me every day, sometimes every hour of every day. It is an absolute practice. When I went into the research, I really thought that there are authentic people and inauthentic people, period. What I found is, there are people who practice authenticity and people who don’t. The are people who practice authenticity work their ass off at it.
EMERGING WOMEN CONFERENCE SPEAKER • OCTOBER 10-13, 2013 • BOULDER, CO • EMERGINGWOMEN.COM
It was so scary to me. Oh my god, that’s going to be a lot of work. I thought, You either have the gene or you don’t. It was scary. But it was so liberating. This is not predetermined—I get to choose. There are some days where I have to choose five times in a day. I had to make a choice when you called and the phone rang, whether I’m going to show up and be me, or whether I’m going to say what I think I’m supposed to say and get off the phone.
What I found is, there are people who practice authenticity and people who don’t. The people who practice authenticity work their ass off at it. I had to choose this morning, when I could tell my husband was in kind of a rotten mood, whether I was just going to ignore it because I’m tired and it’s Friday and I’m packing lunches and getting kids to school and doing all this, or if I’m going to put everything down, start breakfast, and look at him and say, “Hey, something is going on. I want to hear about it.” It’s a practice. It’s about showing up. And sometimes I don’t do it. I almost always regret it, but sometimes I don’t do it. Sometimes I walk into a situation where I’m intimidated and I want to be liked and I want to fit in, and I don’t choose authenticity. And it’s always pretty miserable. EMERGING WOMEN CONFERENCE SPEAKER • OCTOBER 10-13, 2013 • BOULDER, CO • EMERGINGWOMEN.COM PHOTOS: FELIX SANCHEZ ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 13
INSPIRE OPRAH SITS DOWN WITH DR. BRENÉ BROWN, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR AND NATIONALLY ACCLAIMED SPEAKER, TO DISCUSS HER LATEST BOOK, DARING GREATLY. SUPER SOUL SUNDAY AIRS SUNDAYS AT 11 A.M. ET/PT ON OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK.
CP: What about the idea that we need to protect ourselves or have boundaries?
BB: Huge. One of the most painfully inauthentic ways we show up in our lives sometimes is saying “yes” when we mean “no,” and saying “no” when we mean “hell yes.” I’m the oldest of four, a people-pleaser— that’s the good girl straitjacket that I wear sometimes. I spent a lot of my life saying yes all the time and then being pissed off and resentful. One of the things I talk a lot about in my work that I try to practice— which is really hard—is in those moments where we’re being asked to do things or asked to take over or asked to take care of something, we have to have the courage to choose discomfort over resentment. And to me, a huge part of my authenticity practice has been choosing discomfort and saying no.
I think there would be more love in the world. I’m not talking about rainbows and unicorns and ’70s Coca-Cola commercials. I’m talking about gritty, dangerous, wild-eyed love. Radical acceptance of people. Belonging. A good, goofy kind of love.
On the flip side, I’ve also had to struggle with saying yes. Before I did this research and before I had my own breakdown and spiritual awakening around this work, my motto was, “Don’t do anything that you’re already not great at doing.” Which I think is the way the majority of adults in our culture live. Authenticity is also about the courage and the vulnerability to say, “Yeah, I’ll try it. I feel pretty uncomfortable and I feel a little vulnerable, but I’ll try it!”
the doer of deeds could have done the better. The credit belongs to those of us who are actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. We strive valiantly and sometimes there’s the triumph of achievement but at the worst, we fail, but at least we fail while daring greatly.” That has really changed my life. Profoundly changed my life.
CP: You’re talking about risk.
CP: Now it’s changing the lives of others.
BB: That’s the whole idea behind Daring Greatly. That whole phrase, “daring greatly,” is from the Theodore Roosevelt quote that goes back to your original question of, what about the critics? And when I read his quote it was life-changing. “It’s not the critic who counts; it’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where
BB: I think a lot of us are looking for the same thing. I feel very lucky to have a definitive moment where I know everything shifted in me, and it was the moment I read that quote. Because I thought, A. That’s everything I know about vulnerability. It’s not winning, it’s not losing, it’s showing up and being seen. B. That’s who I want to be. Courage is a
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value. My faith is the organizing principle in my life and what underpins my faith is courage and love, and so I have to be in the arena if I’m going to live in alignment with my values.
And the last thing is, I can’t be paralyzed anymore by the critics. My new mantra is, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, then I’m not interested in your feedback. You don’t get to sit in the cheat seat and criticize my appearance or my work with meanspiritedness if you’re also not in the arena. Now, if you’re also in the arena and you’re putting your ideas out and you’re owning them and you’re saying “I disagree with you about this and that, I think you’ve got this wrong”—then not only do I invite that, I freaking love that. I love that. I’m an academic. I’m hardwired for a good debate. CP: How would the world be different if we all learned to really embrace vulnerability and authenticity?
BB: We would solve a lot of huge problems that are causing massive suffering. Poverty, violence, homophobia, heterosexism, racism, the environment—all these things that are crippling us. We need big, bold, dangerous, crazy ideas to solve these problems. When failure is not an option, innovation and creativity are not options. In a highly critical, scarcity-based world, everyone’s afraid to fail. As long as we’re afraid to fail, we’ll never come up with the big, bold ideas we need to solve these problems. We have become this very fear-based culture, especially post-9/11. Fear is the opposite of love, in my opinion. I think there would be more love in the world. I’m not talking about rainbows and unicorns and ‘70s Coca-Cola commercials. I’m talking about gritty, dangerous, wild-eyed love. Radical acceptance of people. Belonging. A good, goofy kind of love. CP: You’re on fire!
BB: [laughing] I’m having a passionate Friday, can you tell? CP: You’ve just taped another “Super Soul Sunday” with Oprah Winfrey. How was that?
BB: Amazing. She is amazing. She’s incredible. She’s exactly what you see. She’s fierce and soft and strong and tender and real and honest and curious and wise. CP: I think that’s why she’s so loved across the world.
BB: She’s loved. I get why. CP: She embodies authenticity.
BB: Totally. I didn’t know whether to have an actual conversation with her or crawl in her lap. She straddles all those tensions and holds all those binaries that are not supposed to exist within one person, she holds all those things together. She is fierce, she is tender, she is wise, she’s curious, she’s a teacher, she’s a learner. We get into some serious conversation in this next one about shame. I’m really excited about it. Fourteen years ago I was very pregnant with Ellen, my daughter, who was my first born. I was on a walk with my husband and we were talking about how our lives were going to change and what do we want? He said, “What about your career? What’s your big goal?” And I said, “I just want to start a global conversation about shame and vulnerability.” And he was like, “Wow, that’s ambitious. People hate talking about it.” I said, “I know, but I’m going to keep trying.” So I feel weepy grateful for people like you, for TED, for Oprah—people who are willing to have these conversations. Because it’s happening. I do think it benefits the world, but I also think it’s a dream come true for me. EMERGING WOMEN CONFERENCE SPEAKER • OCTOBER 10-13, 2013 • BOULDER, CO • EMERGINGWOMEN.COM PHOTOS: (TOP) FELIX SANCHEZ (BOTTOM) © HARPO PRODUCTIONS INC./GEORGE BURNS
BRENEBROWN.COM ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 15
INTERVIEW PART I: CHANTAL PIERRAT
EVE ENSLER THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES + ONE BILLION RISING Eve is one badass warrior and champion of women’s rights all over the planet. She singlehandedly made it okay for people to say the word “vagina.” Chantal Pierrat: You are a force of nature. Let’s just start there.
Eve Ensler: Thank you. I’m happy to be talking to you. CP: You’re arguably the most important supporter of women’s rights the world has ever seen.
EE: Wow, okay! I’m doing my best. CP: Have you always felt powerful?
EE: No, I did not always feel powerful. It’s an interesting question about power, what it is. When I was younger I felt very disempowered, very disappeared. I felt worthless, like I had no right to exist. I think a good part of my life was spent recovering from that. Pulling myself out of that. What I feel now is connected to people. I feel connected and I feel a lot of love for people. I feel the possibility of what building social movements and what working together in struggle creates. Whatever that energy is, it feels a lot
better than what I felt when I was younger—which was worthless and disconnected and isolated and alone. CP: The word power, is it too masculine?
EE: What I’m really interested in is freedom. How do we get free? How do we help women across the planet be free of the burdens and the misery of economic injustice? How do we help people be free from the ongoing onslaught of violence that terrorizes people and keeps them in mental and physical prisons? We can’t walk where we want to walk or be who we want to be or dress the way we want to dress or go anywhere any time of day. I am talking about the freedom that comes with just knowing that you’re okay, and that you have value and you have identity, and you don’t have to keep proving yourself. Freedom, that’s the kind of power I’m interested in. When we help each other get free, then it’s not about anybody being on top or anybody being on the bottom. It’s about being together, in a community. One of the many wonderful things about One Billion
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Rising was to see how everybody took this energy that was circulating around the planet and turned it into what they needed it to be. To me, that’s where freedom and energy come together.
“What I’m really interested in is change that is embodied. Because political change and academic change and intellectual change are obviously crucial, but don’t necessarily change society.”
CP: Yes, that was an amazing movement. I feel the freedom in it, the authentic expression of who we are.
EE: If you look at capitalism and patriarchy, they’re both such hierarchical, competitive, oneupmanship systems. They’ve trained us all [to think] that power means having all the goods or having the most money or having the most attention or having the most fame. That’s not the power that interests me. Actually, the deconstruction of that power is what interests me. CP: Who are the women that have affected you most in your life, and how have they shaped who you are today?
EE: Definitely women rock-and-roll stars like Tina Turner and Grace Slick had a great impact on me. When I was growing up in the ‘60s, I was influenced by a combination of writers like Toni Morrison, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath. Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and June Jordan all had an enormous impact on me. A lot of women writers made me aware of the fact that it was possible to say what seemed impossible to say at that time. But I think that it was really rock-androll stars, women who were breaking boundaries with their bodies and their voices and their beings and their music. I spent a lot of time at concerts,just watching women rock out. They expressed so much of what I believed could be possible.
CP: Those are women who are filled with energy and fire— feminine fire.
EE: Exactly. I literally would go to see Tina Turner any opportunity I had because being in the presence of Tina Turner was like being in the presence of transformative energy, feminist transformative energy. I remember thinking to myself, whatever this is, it’s revolution. Whatever this is, it’s change embodied in a woman. What I’m really interested in is that embodiment of change. Because political change and academic change and intellectual change are obviously crucial, but they don’t necessarily change society. They can change a particular class and give everybody in that class great arguments, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into the body of the culture. Rock-and-roll was an example of change in the body of the culture. I think it’s really what helped bring the anti-war movement to its peak and moved people into the streets to seize the day—the movement was the embodiment of what was happening in the music. This is what taught me that it was possible to bring art and activism together. Without that piece, that
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energetic embodiment piece, the rest is just intellectual construct. CP: There’s something about the somatic experience. It’s hard to reason away what you feel in your body.
EE: Exactly. Absolutely! It’s what theater does, it’s what art does. People understood instinctively that if they could dance, if they could move their bodies, not only could they form resistance and stand against violence, but they could also heal themselves in that action, because dancing in public spaces and moving your body freely in a public space is reclaiming what was taken from you when you were violated. The energy of that— you can’t capture it, you can’t own it. Capitalists can’t buy it.It can’t be sold. It can’t be monetized. And that’s why I think it’s so powerful. Well, what exactly did dancing during One Billion Rising do? I can list a million things that it did and I also cannot express the biggest thing that it did. I’m glad I can’t express it. CP: In your new book, In the Body of the World, you talk about your journey from dissociation from your own body to connecting with it. Can you speak about that in change you?
EE: I think many of us get separated from the mothership—our body— early on. I think the mothership is also the Earth and life itself. Trauma separates us from that and dissociates us from our hearts. Trauma dissociates us from the parts of our body that are wounded, so we have to leave our whole body. It’s a journey you take your whole life, that coming back in, re-landing in your body, in your self, on the Earth. I think one of
“Trauma dissociates us from the parts of our body that are wounded, so we have to leave our whole body. It’s a journey your whole life, that coming back in, re-landing in your body, in your self, on the earth.”
the reasons it’s been so easy, in a way, for us to violate both women and the Earth is this profound dissociation that exists in everyone. I have been struggling to find my way back into my body my whole life. I’ve tried various forms and means to get in, whether it’s performing The Vagina Monologues or writing The Good Body or marching or doing actions, physicalizing my anger or my desires or sex—I could go through the list of ways I’ve tried to find a way back. But what happened with cancer was that I just became a body. There was nothing else but body for seven month. I was chemo’d and operated on and cut and poked. At first it was really horrifying and scary, and then it was just,Wow. You’re in your body. This is body! Now looking back on it, it was really very hard, but it was also such a gift. Because I came back to my body, I landed there. It also just made me so appreciative and so grateful for my body. And so grateful for the Earth, which I have felt very, very connected to since then.
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Elizabeth Gilbert BEYOND: EAT, PRAY, LOVE INTERVIEW: CHANTAL PIERRAT
EMERGING WOMEN CONFERENCE SPEAKER • OCTOBER 10-13, 2013 • BOULDER, CO • EMERGINGWOMEN.COM
Chantal Pierrat: I have to just take a moment here. I can’t believe I’m talking to you.
how much more interesting and tricky the universe is than we think in our daily lives.
Elizabeth Gilbert: Oh, you are sweet!
CP: Since you are coming from the world of memoir with your last two books, how are you represented in this new work?
CP: I just had to get that out of the way.
EG: Oh, you’re lovely. Thank you. I’m sitting here in the airport for Toronto, eating a terrible chicken Caeser salad, and feeling very unglamorous at the moment. So that’s a nice thing to say. CP: What is it right now that is stoking your passion? What perspective or practice is setting you on fire?
EG: Returning to writing fiction after thirteen years away from it. Returning to the rootstock of my whole life as a writer. It’s what I had wanted to be for my entire life, since I can remember, since my particular time immemorial. It’s how I got my start as a writer. My first two books were a short story collection and a novel. Then I took this weird, sharp left turn away from that aspect of my imagination, and very much into the world of the real. For the entire decade of my thirties and the early part of my forties, I didn’t write a word of fiction. I just left that behind, this dream of my life. It wasn’t a bad idea—Eat, Pray, Love came out of it. I moved into journalism, biography, memoir (in that order), and started to feel like I had left behind something really important. I made myself come back to it, even though it was frightening and intimidating. I wasn’t sure if I still even knew how to do it or why you do it. I felt like I had to return or else it was going to be gone forever. So that’s what I’ve spent the last few years doing and what I’m going to spend the next few years doing. It’s such a homecoming. I feel all abloom with excitement. CP: Do you feel that there’s any real in the unreal? Or vice versa?
EG: I think there’s more real in the unreal than there is in the real. I think the thing that I lost in myself when I stopped writing fiction and the thing that I rediscovered and started mining again is, for lack of a better word, magic. It’s the way you can brush up against the inexplicable and the mystical. I’ve always thought of my writing as a spiritual practice. But I think that fiction is the most supernatural kind of writing that you can do—or that I can do—because of the ways that the real and the unreal weave together to create something that feels more true than anything. It feels like a collaboration between yourself and inspiration, a collaboration between the facts upon which your book is based and the lives you invent around those facts. There’s this great kind of spooky dance that happens that I can’t access any other way. I think most of us are given kind of one pathway to that dance, and that’s why I’m a writer—it’s the only way I can get there. I can’t do it through art, I can’t do it through singing, I can’t do it through mothering, I can’t do it through invention. There are other ways that people participate in that collaboration. This is the only way I can do it. What happens and what you encounter, what you collide with—it’s so exciting and revealing about
EG: Somebody said once that when you write fiction, you’re writing memoir, and when you’re writing memoir, you’re writing fiction. When you write a novel, there’s a level at which you are much more revealing about who you are because you’re less self-conscious about how you’re presenting yourself. You are accidentally leaving your DNA all over everything in a novel because it’s all coming from you. I had a wonderful conversation with my friend, the novelist Ann Patchett, after she read this book, and she said, “It was so exciting to read that character and see bits of your hair and fingernails growing out of there! I think that what I personally know about you was showing up in this person who you invented. Who you can also embolden to do and be things that you would never do or be.”
We all have love stories that go terribly wrong; we all have horribly broken hearts. And somehow we endure. We’re not destroyed by it. We endure and go on to do interesting things and have worthy lives, even though we carry our heartbreaks with us.
It’s funny. So I’m all over this book. It’s about a 19th century botanical exploration. My character, Alma Whittaker, is a botanist who is the daughter of a great botanical entrepreneur, and she’s looking for nothing less than the signature of nature. She’s a real scientist and she’s stubborn about her quest. At the same time, this novel is a love story, and there are great disappointments in the love story. All of women’s stories in the 19th century had either one of two endings: you either had the good Jane Austen marriage at the end and you were happy; or you had the terrible Henry James savage downfall because of your own hubris as a woman, or you’ve made some great error leading you down
EMERGING WOMEN CONFERENCE SPEAKER • OCTOBER 10-13, 2013 • BOULDER, CO • EMERGINGWOMEN.COM ELIZABETHGILBERT.COM ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 21
I’ve always thought of my writing as a spiritual practice. But I think that fiction is the most supernatural kind of writing that you can do—or that I can do—because of the ways that the real and the unreal weave together to create something that feels more true than anything.
a path to ruin. One is the story of love that’s successful and the other is the story usually of reckless love that goes terribly wrong that destroys the woman.
But the reality, certainly in my life, is that we all have love stories that go terribly wrong; we all have horribly broken hearts. And somehow we endure. We’re not destroyed by it. We endure and go on to do interesting things and have worthy lives, even though we carry our heartbreaks with us. That’s a kind of personal story of mine that I don’t think I would tell in memoir but I do think I can tell in fiction.
I think I have more compassion than if I had led a life where everything worked out exactly as I had planned or if I had never been wounded or if I had never been betrayed or I had never been harmed. I don’t think I would be as good a person. CP: How has disappointment changed you?
EG: It softens me. It makes me be a more sensitive, kinder person. I know what it feels like to be bruised; I know what it feels like to carry things around with you that never totally heal. There’s closure and then there’s stuff that’s kind of like, Well, I guess it’s going to be in the minivan forever. And you carry it with you and you continue on your journey with your minivan full of stuff, which I think most of us do. All the parts of us that we ever were are always going to be with us. You make space to carry them and you just try not to let them drive. But you can’t chuck them out either. I think I have more compassion than if I had led a life where everything worked out exactly as I had planned or if I had never been wounded or if I had never been betrayed or I had never been harmed. I don’t think I would be as good a person. I’m still aspiring to be a better and better person, but I think those disappointments have made me gentler with other people and their disappointments, the stuff that they have to carry around and endure. CP: In The Signature of All Things, the character is looking for meaning through plants and nature. Is this a reflection of a connection that you might have?
EG: My mom is a master gardener and I grew up on a farm. I came back to it really late in life and discovered that despite how lazy and inattentive I was as a child, I had managed to accidentally learn quite a bit about gardening. This is a nice metaphor, too, about mothers and daughters—that when it came time for me to make my own, I was making a completely different garden than the one that my mom has. They don’t look like they came from relatives. Hers is a very
productive and pragmatic vegetable garden, and mine is a ridiculous overabundance of useless plants. It doesn’t feed anybody, it doesn’t serve any purpose. I guess it feeds hummingbirds. It’s definitely a question of following your fascination. When you want to do something creative and you want to do something new, you have to start with the thing that’s making you want to jump up out of bed in the morning, and for me that thing was gardening. I thought, this book is going to have to be about plants, otherwise I’m not going to want to spend three years with it; I’ll resent it if it’s taking me away from the garden. CP: What do you think the world needs from women right now?
EG: I think the world needs women who stop asking for permission from the principal. Permission to live their lives as they deeply know they often should. I think we still look to authority figures for validation, recognition, permission. I see women who have this struggle between what they know is right, what they know is necessary, what they know is healthy, what they know is good for them, what they know is good for the work that they
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The best and most powerful things that I’ve done in my life were when I decided that I don’t f*cking need somebody to tell me that I can do it. To just go and make it myself, do it myself, build it myself, do the project first and not bother along the way to get the requisite paperwork. That requires faith. Primarily it requires a faith in the condition that you are allowed to exist. You are here and you are allowed to be here and therefore you are allowed to make decisions about yourself and the people in your life; rather than sort of backing up and making sure it’s okay with everybody at every turn.
You are here and you are allowed to be here and therefore you are allowed to make decisions about yourself and the people in your life; rather than sort of backing up and making sure it’s okay with everybody at every turn.
CP: Hallelujah! Do you have a consistent practice or a perspective that helps you through times of contraction?
EG: I do. It all comes down to these two words: “stubborn gladness.” It’s from a poem by my favorite poet, a guy named Jack Gilbert. He’s sort of the poet laureate of my life. He has a poem called “A Brief for the Defense.” In the poem he says, “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”
I think the world needs women who stop asking for permission from the principal. Permission to live their lives as they deeply know they often should. I think we still look to authority figures for validation, recognition, permission. Which is not to edit him but I guess that’s how I took him in. He carefully put those words in the order that he wanted them, but somehow in my mind they just go into the furnace and come out like two ingots, sort of melded together, these two words that I keep together. Stubborn gladness. What I love about the line is that it doesn’t deny the reality of the ruthless furnace of the world. That God wants us to be in joy, God wants us to be happy. Because of this extraordinary consciousness and this great ability for wonder and marvel, and without denying any of the terrors and horrors of the world, we also have an obligation toward joy and toward miracle and excitement. I feel like if I were to get another tattoo, it would probably be those two words. Just stubborn, stubborn, stubborn gladness.
EMERGING WOMEN CONFERENCE SPEAKER • OCTOBER 10-13, 2013 • BOULDER, CO • EMERGINGWOMEN.COM
need to do, what they know is good for their bodies, what they know is good for their families—all too often ending that statement with the upturned question mark: “If it’s okay with everyone?” Still asking, still requesting, still filing petitions for somebody to say that it’s all right. I think that, myself included, that has to be dropped before we can take our place in the way that we need to and the world needs us to.
QUEEN NOOR: Yogi & Devoted Warrior for Peace INTERVIEW: GINA MURDOCK
Queen Noor of Jordan never aspired to be a royal, though she always dreamed of helping people. Her marriage to His Majesty King Hussein in 1978 launched her into a life of dedicated public service. An inspiration to many, she continues to work tirelessly towards peace, disarmament, human rights, and environmental sustainability.
Gina Murdock: Hello, Queen Noor.
Queen Noor: Hello, Gina. What a pleasure. GM: Are you feeling gratitude at the moment?
QN: I pretty much always feel gratitude. I thank God throughout the day. GM: I heard a Buddhist monk say, “Gratitude is the closest emotion to happiness.” People who feel the most gratitude in life are the happiest.
QN: It certainly is a step to happiness. You can see that in people around the world who struggle to survive with little or nothing. Whether they’ve been inspired by faith or by loving relationships, or whether it’s just something innate that gives them that ability to shine and inspire others. GM: Throughout your life you have been a public servant: as active queen of Jordan and in the humanitarian work you’ve done there with the Noor al Hussein and King Hussein Foundations, as well as all the different organizations
you continue to work with. What is it that inspires the work that you do?
QN: My early childhood was spent living by the Pacific Ocean. I carry with me something imprinted by that wide, limitless horizon, which I learned connected us to different people and cultures, including my own family’s origins in the Arab World and Northern Europe. I understood early that my world was only a small part of a much larger one. That captivated me. When my father began to work with
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful, determined struggle for social justice, and Sargent Shriver, who launched the Peace Corps, were early heroes. A career of public service was the ultimate aspiration.
President Kennedy, we moved to Washington, D.C. I was fortunate in my pre-adolescent years, as my social and political consciousness was developing, to live at the epicentre of that dynamic, idealistic, and inspiring moment in U.S. political history, with its ethos of personal and civic responsibility, summed up so succinctly in his exhortation: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” There were other initiatives I have remained involved with in the U.S. and in the Middle East, like the Peace Corps, which might be summed up as, “Ask not that the world serve you, but ask what you can do to serve the world.” The idea of public service was instilled in me by watching my father, who shared that he was far more fulfilled in his public service than by his former lucrative corporate jobs. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful, determined struggle for social justice, and Sargent Shriver, who launched the Peace Corps, were early heroes. A career of public service was the ultimate aspiration. In fact, those influences were part of what drew King Hussein of Jordan and I together, though our backgrounds and roles were so different. I had never imagined myself, nor aspired to be, a member of a royal family. I wanted to be in the Peace Corps, not a princess! It gave me pause, I have to confess. We came together because of a shared sense of idealism, of the value of service to a community far greater than ourselves, and the conviction that each and everyone of us can meaningfully contribute to solving even the most seemingly intractable problems. He dedicated his life—I witnessed it in his sleeping as well as waking hours—to trying to break through the impasses keeping people apart. He understood that the security and prosperity of any one of us in this world depends on the security and prosperity enjoyed by others. As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the Middle East, nothing could be more true. GM: You started the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation in 1985 to improve lives of Jordanians; it’s now merged with the King Hussein Foundation. Tell us about that.
QN: I spent the first years working in Jordan trying to learn as much as I could about what was taking place in the country, about where there were gaps in the development process that needed attention.
QUEEN NOOR WITH STUDENTS AT THE JUBILEE SCHOOL, A NONPROFIT COED SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR SCHOLARSHIP STUDENTS FROM JORDAN AND THE REGION.
QUEEN NOOR ON A REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL MISSION TO ASSESS THE SITUATION OF AFGHAN REFUGEES IN PAKISTAN DURING THE 2001 AFGHAN WAR.
Inevitably, there were certain common denominators which are fairly common to all developing societies, perhaps to all societies: that quality education be accessible to everyone, not just a limited elite few; the sustainable conservation of natural resources; the full engagement of women in national development; and the value of cross-cultural exchange and understanding
to international relations. Those were areas I began to focus on. Of course, in our country, developing in a region with somewhat conservative traditions, women were desperately needed to be more engaged—socially, economically, politically. The rights that Islam granted to women in KINGHUSSEINFOUNDATION.ORG ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 25
the 7th century were revolutionary at that time. Even into the 20th century, women were still struggling in the Western world for rights that Islam had granted women in the 7th century: equal rights to education; the right to own and inherit property; to have a voice in the decisions affecting their lives; to be active, engaged, and valued members of society at all levels. Those rights didn’t seem to be reflected in many of the societies in the region. In some extreme cases, women are constrained by what can only be described as pre-Islamic, misogynistic approaches to the role of women in society. That continues to be a challenge. I founded an NGO to encompass and develop integrated models in the areas of women, environment, education, and poverty eradication. The Noor Al-Hussein Foundation (Light of Al-Hussein) was created to complement my husband’s efforts to advance development in the country. I founded the King Hussein Foundation after my husband’s death in 1999, to build on his humanitarian vision and legacy in the country and abroad, through programs promoting education and leadership, economic
asking for help in resolving problems. He would do whatever he could, he would turn himself inside out. In the difficult times—when he was still alive and we were facing all manner of challenges in the region, but also since his death—I always remember that. In spite of all that he had to face—and he saw the worst of humanity—he was also able to see the best of humanity. He never lost his faith, no matter how difficult and unbearable and cruel the circumstances could be. I always remember that. It helps me get through everything. It’s a way of trying to keep that positive spirit alive for as many people as we can touch. I think that’s good for the world. GM: What is the overall vision for the work you are doing with Global Zero, Ocean Elders, United World Colleges, Refugees International, etc.?
QN: I have been involved in my public service career with a range of different issues, including peace-building on the local, national, and regional levels in the Middle East, and global issues that affect all of us, such as nuclear nonproliferation and
economic, social, and political marginalization of the displaced, the human insecurity, with real and potentially devastating consequences over generations, in ever-widening arenas of conflict. We can and must ensure the human rights of the displaced. That begins by making their voices heard. Refugees International is an advocacy organization whose mission is to be that voice at all levels of government, international institutions, and NGOs the world over. I have been a long-time advocate for a just Arab-Israeli peace and for Palestinian refugees. Today, as you are aware, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan and Iraq are being overwhelmed by those fleeing the conflict in Syria, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Many are severely tortured— abused women and their traumatized children whose husbands, fathers, and brothers have been killed or permanently disabled. To date, over half a million have fled and the UN estimates that figure may double by mid2013. Up to 2 million have been displaced inside Syria. So far this has been one of the harshest winters in recent years, a blessing for replenishing our scarce water sources, but a catastrophe for those struggling to survive
One thing that keeps me awake at night: I am a mother and, I have to confess with great delight, a grandmother of five girls, which gives me great hope for the future— girl power! Can I say that without alienating all of the men? empowerment, tolerance, cross-cultural dialogue, and media that enhances mutual understanding and respect among different cultures across conflict lines. GM: Your book, Leap of Faith, shows what a love affair you and King Hussein had. When you describe your work with the Noor Al-Hussein Foundation and the King Hussein Foundation, what strikes me is that you’re really honoring his legacy. Does it feel like you are expressing your love to him continually through that work?
QN: I did feel a sense of duty. His legacy is inspirational for so many, not just for me. I felt that it could be a great asset to the future of Jordan, and those continuing the process of building the country, to concentrate on that humanitarian, peace-building legacy. He was extraordinary. He was a human being of indomitable faith in humanity, in God, his fellow man, in the possibility of building peace on all levels. That’s something he carried with him wherever he went. It wasn’t just something he reserved for his work in Jordan, but also for people he met any and everywhere in the world, and those who came to him
environmental conservation. All depend upon the engagement of as many people as possible on all levels, from civil society to national leaders, to advocate for the kind of national and international commitments, legislation, and public/private partnerships that can make the difference. We have powerful films— An Inconvenient Truth, The Cove, Countdown to Zero, Budrus, My Neighborhood, and so many others—that really capture these important issues. The film and media technology that’s available today is going to be the most potent weapon in our arsenal in tackling ideological intolerance and ignorance, as well as the kind of fear and stereotyping that can dehumanize the others as the enemy, as being somehow less entitled to the privileges and the aspirations that we have. GM: Jordan has always been a safe haven for refugees. What is happening now with the current crisis in Syria?
QN: I have witnessed firsthand the anguish of this humanitarian tragedy—in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and other conflict and post-conflict zones. The destruction of lives and hopes, the emotional trauma, and the
in the camps on our borders. I have launched an appeal with the KHF and UNHCR to try to increase the number of caravans available to immediately sustainably shelter the most vulnerable families in our camps and provide them with future shelter when they return home to rebuild their country, Insha’Allah. GM: With all your work in all these different areas—education, women, environment, cross-cultural understanding—the final question I have is, what keeps you up at night? What gives you hope?
QN: One thing that keeps me awake at night: I am a mother and, I have to confess with great delight, a grandmother of five girls, which gives me great hope for the future—girl power! Can I say that without alienating all of the men? GM: Girl power is awesome!
QN: Just as anyone else, any other parent out there, what preys on my mind are a range of the issues we’ve just talked about, which are all critical to the kind of world our children are going to live in, and what we leave them, what our legacy to them will be. I don’t think
a little more statesmanship in with the political decision-making that takes place at the highest levels of government in countries around the world. Young people themselves, with an informed and intelligent commitment to these issues, will determine whether they live in a peaceful world that is providing
opportunity for people everywhere, or in an increasingly terrifying world in which one crisis follows another, all increasingly beyond our ability to reign in the damage inflicted by weapons or rising seas and extreme weather conditions. It’s young people. And thank God for that. INSPIRE
we’ve ever lived in such a dangerous time, on a range of different levels. We also live in an extremely exciting time with a multitude of opportunities for each and every one of us to engage our individual voices, to engage more effectively collectively, to tackle some of these issues that would have seemed beyond our reach just a few years ago. Today, there is no excuse for any one of us to sit back and go, “Ugh! There’s nothing I can do about it.” Because there is always something that can be done. This magazine is obviously trying to be a platform for people to talk about what avenues there are to make a difference. What keeps me awake at night is just, Am I making the best use of the time that remains for me, to both be as good an example as I can in my own daily life, and as compelling as possible a voice for the ways in which we can all work together to tackle these issues? GM: That’s good. I like that. [laughing]
QN: What makes me happy and gives me joy and inspiration: You do. Your energy, your drive—and as an aside, your yoga instruction—give me great hope and peace and sense of limberness! The limberness, limberocity—what is the word?—that is needed, mentally and physically, to get on with it. I love the way yoga makes me feel. I work out on almost a daily basis wherever I am, but yoga brings into that equation something that is ideal for me to maintain a physical and emotional and mental kind of balance, and to stay healthy—I see it as a way of investing in my future. I also join all of you who are advocates telling others that they can improve their lives and the quality of their lives and others by taking a few moments, breathing, and allowing one’s whole being to become a vessel for positivity.
HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR SPEAKING AT UC IRVINE’S CENTER FOR LIVING PEACE IN 2012
GM: I often think how different the world would be if everyone did yoga and/or practiced meditation. That is one dream I have.
QN: A more just world is possible. In most of the global issues, and also in so many of the development issues I’m involved in in our region, the young people that I am working with are seizing the tools at their disposal and trying to use them well, for issues far larger than their immediate personal benefit and concerns. That’s what gives me hope. I see it in my children. I see it in young people in Jordan and the Arab world. I see it in young people from around the world who are increasingly becoming journalists and aspiring decisionmakers at all levels—working to stem the tide of nuclear proliferation, to mobilize their communities, to take action on issues that can have a positive impact on climate change. Maybe this generation is capable of blending
QUEEN NOOR MEETING WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS AND BENEFICIARIES OF NHF’S SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM IN NORTHEASTERN JORDAN
Finding Hope. Finding Inspiration. HANA SHAHIN. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KING HUSSEIN FOUNDATION. I have found reason to be hopeful. Through the individual stories of people INSPIRE
living, working, and struggling for a better life, I am inspired. The challenges facing the world today are daunting. No matter where you look, you find poverty, poor access to education and healthcare, debilitating unemployment, and so many stories of sadness. In the Middle East in particular, our struggles have been highlighted by the Arab Spring and are exacerbated by a now constant flow of refugees. It would be easy to sink into a feeling of helplessness, willful ignorance, and inaction. In my work with and for the people of Jordan, I have found reason to be hopeful. Through the individual stories of people living, working, and struggling for a better life, I am inspired. The work of the King Hussein and Noor Al Hussein Foundations is diverse, ranging from education and culture to health and economic empowerment. I am proud to say that our reach is now regional, with programs and partnerships in countries such as Syria, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates. I want to share a couple of inspiring stories that I have experienced through this work. Bilal is a psychosocial counselor with the Noor Al Hussein Foundation Institute for Family Health. He relies on expertise in special education and early childhood development to work with Syrian refugees in Jordan. In particular, Bilal works with “separated” and “unaccompanied minors,” dry terms referring to the children aged 12 to 17 (almost exclusively boys), who cross the border into Jordan with family members other than their parents or entirely alone. They have often witnessed terrible violence and experienced excruciating journeys to arrive at refugee camps or in communities where they are safe, at least for the time being. This work is mentally exhausting, but Bilal gets up and goes to work each day. He is dedicated to improving the lives of young people and expounds the importance of a positive attitude, relationships built on trust, and constant, open communication. He is a leader among his colleagues. I find his strength incredibly admirable. Wa’el, an alumnus from the Jubilee School’s first graduating class, has found success in Jordan’s growing technology sector. In 2008, he founded a new media company,
ABOVE: HM QUEEN NOOR AND HANA SHAHIN AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 2011 INTERNATIONAL ARAB YOUTH CONGRESS IN ABU DHABI BELOW: A COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATION’S INCOME GENERATING PROJECT INITATIATED BY NHF’S COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
Kharabeesh, with four friends, including a classmate. While operations were difficult early on, the Arab Spring has put new media at the forefront of information exchange, and Kharabeesh has become a platform where rising stars from all over the Arab region share their ideas. Because of the hard work of Wa’el and his team, new and creative voices are being heard. Stories like these exist in Jordan, and all over the world. People are working tirelessly and doing truly amazing things every day to make the world a better place. A critical goal of the King Hussein Foundation in the coming months is to raise funds to support Syrian refugees in Jordan. To date, Jordan has only received 32% of funding requirements for more than 300,000 UNHCR registered refugees, and basic needs, such as shelter and healthcare, are not being met. To support our efforts, please donate today: kinghusseinfoundation.org or donate. unhcr.org/syria/jo KINGHUSSEINFOUNDATION.ORG
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RUNNING FROM CRAZY: An Interview with Mariel Hemingway INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT INSPIRE
Yogi, mother, filmmaker, author, and Oscar-nominated actress, Mariel Hemingway is a passionate advocate for holistic, balanced living. Her recent projects include Running from Crazy, a documentary film chronicling her family’s history of mental illness; and The Willing Way: Stepping Into the Life You Were Meant to Live, co-authored with partner Bobby Williams.
Maranda Pleasant: What are the causes that are close to your heart?
Mariel Hemingway: It’s hard to be specific and say, “This is the charity that we love the most,” because that can shift and change. We believe in life as a bigger picture, so it’s not just one thing. I love Healthy Child, Healthy World because I think it’s really important to have a non-toxic environment to raise a child in, to live your whole life in. We also believe in awareness of childhood obesity, because there’s a lot to know about nutrition and what it means to get outside and be healthy. It’s the first generation of people who really are so disconnected from their food and from the outdoors, and we really want to be proponents of changing that. I do a lot of work with mental health and wellness, which I also believe has a lot to do with your lifestyle as well—what you’re eating, how you’re living, what you’re thinking. How you live your life can affect your mental state. There are so many things that we love. Whatever it is, there’s a lot of really important things that affect how we live our lives, the simplicity of our life, so we love organizations that help make the planet cleaner and healthier, a place where you can be more connected. MP: Mariel, to shine as brightly as you shine is already rare. But to come from a life where there’s more trauma or a lot of challenges, and still you shine and thrive. You’re a beacon of PHOTOS: (TOP) BOONE SPEED 30 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
light. Are there ever times where you still struggle?
MH: It’s not a secret. I’ve suffered from pretty dark depressing times, and it’s probably—not probably—it is the reason why I chose to lead a healthy lifestyle. I felt a deep pull that that connection would help me through. Sometimes you can’t see your way out. The “dark night of the soul”—it’s a reality for many, many people. Mental health and mental balance is critical to leading a healthy life. It really wasn’t until I met Bobby four years ago. He’s helped me to find certain solutions in brain-state optimization that helped balance my brain hemispheres so that I didn’t suffer depression, which I suffered from every day of my life until I wasn’t depressed anymore. Plus the choices I make or have made in my life have really helped me. I speak to that. But it’s not just one thing. It’s everything you do. Even with mental health as well as physical health, it’s about taking responsibility and knowing that you’re part of the solution always. There’s no doctor in a white coat that’s going to save you, or a system or a pill—it’s always going to be you and the choices that you make. That’s been a journey to get to. It’s easier said than done. When you suffer, when you’re in it, it’s really hard to see your way out. But I think my spiritual practice has helped me with that. Years of meditation, doing the brain-state optimization—that’s been amazing for me. It’s been a journey. I really am happy now, which is kind of extraordinary to say, because I didn’t know that the kind of happiness I feel now existed until a few years ago. MARIELHEMINGWAY.COM | THEWILLINGWAY.COM
5g95ŕşŠśŞť65ōŏő65śŘŕş95 ^ōŞřō_5śŒ5ŠŔő5 śŐőŞŚŕşŠş KAZIM ALI, CARA BENSON & JENNIFER KARMIN, ANSELM BERRIGAN, SHERWIN BITSUI, JULIE CARR, RIKKI DUCORNET, LISA JARNOT, JADE LASCELLES, RACHEL LEVITSKY, ANNA MOSCHOVAKIS, JULIE PATTON, FRANCES RICHARD, CHRISTOPHER STACKHOUSE, AND LEE WORLEY 5h95őŘŘŒŕŞő65ŞśšœŔŠ65 ōŚŐ5ŞŕřşŠśŚő955őţ5 ŏś7śőŠŕŏş RAE ARMANTROUT, CA CONRAD, SAMUEL R. DELANY, ROBERT GLÜCK, HR HEGNAUER, FRED MOTEN, EILEEN MYLES, KRISTIN PREVALLET, JULIA SEKO, RON SILLIMAN, ORLANDO WHITE, ELIZABETH WILLIS, LIDIA YUKNAVITCH, AND BARBARA DILLEY 5i95šŘŏŔšŞ5 śŚŚőŏŠŕśŚş5ōŚŐ5őťśŚŐ MEENA ALEXANDER, TIM ATKINS, OMAR BERRADA & SARAH RIGGS, LISA BIRMAN, JUNIOR BURKE, VICTOR HERNÁNDEZ CRUZ, TONYA FOSTER, C.S. GISCOMBE, BHANU KAPIL & ANDREA SPAIN, M. NOURBESE PHILIP, MICHELLE NAKA PIERCE & CHRIS PUSATERI, ELENI SIKELIANOS, MARY TASILLO, AND REED BYE 5j95ŔŕŞŐ5 ŕŚŐ9 5śőŠŕŏş5śŒ5őŞŒśŞřōŚŏő65 śśŜőŞōŠŕśŚ65ōŚŐ5ŒŒŕŚŕŠť CHRISTIAN BÖK, AMBROSE BYE, AMY CATANZANO, JACK COLLOM, ERICA HUNT & MARTY EHRLICH, LAIRD HUNT, THURSTON MOORE, BRAD O’SULLIVAN, STEVEN TAYLOR, CECILIA VICUÑA, ANNE WALDMAN, RONALDO V. WILSON, AND ROBERT SPELLMAN 59 AMIRI BARAKA, BILL BERKSON, ANNE CARSON & ROBERT CURRIE, JEROME ROTHENBERG, AND TOM WHITE ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 31
The Breath of Compassion Pema Chödrön INTERVIEW: TAMI SIMON. FOUNDER AND CEO OF SOUNDS TRUE.
When many people are first introduced to tonglen, a Tibetan Buddhist practice for generating compassion, they find the technique—to breathe in pain and breathe out relief—to be counterintuitive. In this interview, Pema Chödrön explains. You see, there really is no separation between you and everyone else. Tonglen practice begins to dissolve the illusion that each of us is alone with the personal suffering that no one else can understand.
Pema Chödrön: Each of us has a “soft spot”: the place in our experience where we feel vulnerable and tender. This soft spot is inherent in appreciation and love, and it is equally inherent in pain. Often when we feel that soft spot, it’s quickly followed by a feeling of fear, and an involuntary, habitual tendency to close down. This is the tendency of all living things: to avoid pain and to cling to pleasure. In practice, however, covering up the soft spot means shutting down against our life experience. Then we tend to narrow down into a solid feeling of self against other. One very powerful and effective way to work with this tendency to push away pain and hold on to pleasure is the practice of tonglen. In tonglen practice, when we see or feel suffering, we breathe in with the notion of completely feeling it, accepting it, and owning it. Then we breathe out, radiating compassion, lovingkindness, freshness—anything that encourages relaxation and openness. So you’re training in softening, rather than tightening, your heart.
Each of us has a “soft spot”: the place in our experience where we feel vulnerable and tender. This soft spot is inherent in appreciation and love, and it is equally inherent in pain.
In this practice, it’s not uncommon to find yourself blocked, because you come face to face with your own fear, resistance, or whatever your personal “stuckness” happens to be at that moment. At that point, you can change the focus and do tonglen for yourself and for millions of others just like you who, at that very moment, are feeling exactly the same misery. I particularly like to encourage tonglen “on the spot.” For example, you’re walking down the street and you see the pain of another human being. On-the-spot tonglen means that you don’t just rush by—you actually breathe in with the wish that this person could be free of suffering, and send them some kind of good heart or well-being. If seeing that other person’s pain brings up your fear or anger or
confusion (which often happens), just start doing tonglen for yourself and all the other people who are stuck in the very same way. You see, there really is no separation between you and everyone else. Tonglen practice begins to dissolve the illusion that each of us is alone with this personal suffering that no one else can understand. Tami Simon: Many spiritual practices teach us to breathe in bright, healing light, and to breathe out our darkness and pain. Tonglen seems to contradict those teachings.
PC: So many of us start along the spiritual path because we are suffering. But you must realize that for real healing to occur, there must first be deep compassion for yourself, especially the parts of yourself you dislike or consider ugly. Many people hope a spiritual practice will let them avoid what they are ashamed of. But when you hide something from yourself, you are going to project it onto your world. You continually find it in others and it becomes the source of prejudices and dogmatic views. On top of that, you feel bad about yourself, because you aren’t the loving, openminded, “spiritual” person you’d like to be. So you close down. This is why it is so important to develop genuine compassion for yourself first. For instance, you may aspire to practice tonglen for that irritating old person, but perhaps what comes up instead is anger or fear, something painful and hard. At that point, you start breathing in and fully feel your particular fear or pain. And then you breathe out a sense of relief, for yourself and the people all over the world who are feeling that exact same hurt or numbness in that very moment. TS: Could tonglen practice be just another abstract response to the very real brutality and problems in the world? For example, maybe it would be better to feed the hungry than to do tonglen.
So many of us start along the spiritual path because we are suffering. But you must realize that for real healing to occur, there must first be deep compassion for yourself, especially the part of yourself you dislike or consider ugly.
PC: Well, you can also feed them, you see. If you see a homeless person on the street, and they need food, housing, medical attention—if you can give that, do it. But at the same time, work with tonglen, because that is how you start dissolving the barrier between you and them. This practice takes great courage. It has real impact. Tonglen dissolves your solid sense of “I’m the wise person, I’m going to help this poor, unfortunate loser.” When people are hurting, what they really need is someone who is fully there for them—not someone who is condescending or officious. The only way for you to be there for them is by facing your fear or anger, whatever feelings cause you to shut down. So no, I’ll tell you, this is not abstract. It really is practical. Tonglen is a way for you to be with people who need you—beginning with yourself. In the end, that’s what we all need more than anything else: to be there for each other, in every kind of situation. Ani Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in New York City in 1936. She is one of the first American women to be ordained as a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Pema is author of How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind (Sounds True, May 2013).
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a conversation with
Marianne Williamson INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT
POWERFUL PIONEER IN NEW THOUGHT AND SPIRITUALITY. BESTSELLING AUTHOR. MEDITATION. MISTAKES. EMOTIONAL PAIN. VULNERABILITY.
Maranda Pleasant: What are the things that make you come most alive?
Marianne Williamson: I can’t say that there are “things” that make me come alive. There are thoughts that make me come alive. Those are thoughts that take me beyond myself; that remind me that there’s a bigger game going on on this planet than simply my own existence; that love works miracles, and how much we need them now. MP: What makes you feel vulnerable?
MW: Intimacy. I think that’s true for everyone. Both the gift and the burden of real closeness with another human being. MP: How do you handle emotional pain when it comes in?
MW: I surrender it to God, knowing that the pain itself is a product or a reflection of how I am interpreting whatever it is that is causing me pain. Some pain is simply the normal grief of human existence. That is pain that I try to make room for. I honor my grief. I try to be kinder to myself. I give myself time to move through and to process whatever is making me sad. There are other kinds of emotional pain that emerge from our own mistaken thinking. As we surrender that pain, we are inviting into our thought system a guide who will lead us to different thoughts. It’s like the song “Amazing Grace”: I was blind and now I see. Often on a journey of spiritual transformation, that is ultimately what heals the pain: the veil is removed from in front of our own eyes and we see where we had been thinking thoughts that would inevitably lead to pain. Until we change those thoughts, the pain will remain.
The enlightened shift has to do with a movement from competition to collaboration, from sales to service, from ambition to inspiration, and to a belief in scarcity to a belief in abundance as an eternal spiritual quality.
MW: I’m a student of A Course in Miracles, so I do the workbook every day. I also do Transcendental Meditation. If I am disciplined about either of those on any given day, I have a far greater probability of remaining peaceful, at least until dinner. MP: [laughing] It seems like every person I’m talking to is doing TM now.
MW: I’ve had a TM mantra since 1973.
based rather than a love-based thought system. Enlightenment involves relinquishing the thought system based on fear and instead accepting a thought system based on love.
age with my resume.” And that’s really what causes the crash and burn. The fact is, there are Fortune 500 companies that have been founded during recessions.
In the area of work and money, we have one of the most intense gaps between fear-based and love-based thought. It’s not that a miracle mindset applies to work and money any more than it applies to anything else; rather, it applies there no less than anywhere else. The world we live in pictures a pie with only so many pieces, and if other people have more you have less, and you have to compete with other people in order to try to get ahead. You have to sell yourself at every available opportunity. The shift, the enlightened shift, has to do with a movement from competition to collaboration, from sales to service, from ambition to inspiration, and to a belief in scarcity to a belief in abundance as an eternal spiritual quality.
The issue of spiritual power is to meet the limited mortal circumstance with unlimited thought. As in, “Yes, this is a temporary deviation from love’s flow, but it is only happening on the mortal plane; love itself compensates for any diminishment. Much like a GPS, love re-calibrates itself if you’ve made a wrong turn.” As long as you identify with the universe—which is perfect and can correct material conditions to bring them back into alignment with that Divine perfection—as long as that is where your mind is aligned, it’s as though there were two parallel universes. You decide with every thought you think which one you’re going to inhabit. Two parallel universes of experience, as it were. I think with the economy having moved into the dark tunnels of our current situation, this is information which is helpful for a lot of people.
The Law of Divine Compensation posits that this is a self-organizing and self-correcting universe: the embryo becomes a baby, the bud becomes a blossom, the acorn becomes an oak tree. Clearly, there is some invisible force that is moving every aspect of reality to its next best expression. And the universe is not only self-organizing, it is also self-correcting. The embryo becomes a baby; the baby is born; its lungs continue to breathe—not only were they created but then they continue to breathe. The heart is not only created but it continues to breathe. If there is injury and disease that becomes present within the body, the body is also equipped with an immune system to correct that.
MP: I need to start. Let’s talk about what in you wanted to be born or said in your book, The Law of Divine Compensation. It talks about money and work and love. What is special about this book?
MW: That was born of circumstances that are anything but special; it was born of circumstances that are quite distressing. And that’s that this last recession really pummeled people. A level of anxiety and tension and outright fear that so many people have felt, not only during the recession but during this slow economic recovery since. This made me very much want to up the conversation about how miracle-minded thinking applies to that area of life. In A Course in Miracles, it says you think you have many different problems, but you really only have one, and that is your separation from God, which means your separation from loving thought. We are dominated on this planet by a fear-
The metaphysical notion here is that that self-organizing and self-correcting imprint is on all aspects of reality. So not only was your body formed by this invisible hand, not only does your body continue to work by this invisible hand, but every aspect of your life— emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually—is also programmed to thrive, is also programmed for self-organization and self-correction. Now, if we only identify with the mortal world, then we identify with a level of scarcity and lack and brokenness, and that will be our experience. But if we shift our experience of selfidentification—and this is what enlightenment is—from the body-self to the spiritual-self, then we place ourselves under an entirely different set of possibilities and probabilities. And we can invoke spiritual compensation when we find ourselves in situations of material lack. In other words, what happens for most of us is that we are tempted and we are taught, we are trained as it were, to meet limited circumstances with limited thought. If we lose a job, we are easily tempted into thoughts like, “Ain’t it awful? There aren’t any jobs out there. This is terrible. It’ll be awhile before the economy comes back. Even if they’re hiring someone, they’re not hiring someone my
The Law of Divine Compensation posits
that this is a selforganizing and selfcorrecting universe: the embryo becomes a baby, the bud becomes a blossom, the acorn becomes an oak tree. MP: What is your biggest struggle that is reflected in the book?
MW: I wouldn’t say it’s my biggest struggle, but my biggest past mistakes have been when I made decisions out of ego rather than spirit. When I acted too quickly. When I wasn’t contemplative or reflective or prayerful enough, and I ended up making what I would only later see to be unwise decisions. That’s what the journey is about—the thinking of the world leads us to think shallowly and act too quickly. The spiritual journey has to do with learning to think more deeply and take as long a time as we need. That’s the path to wisdom. When it comes to our money and work lives, most of us have had our challenges, our valleys. Most of us have a couple of files in our head. One I name “It was my own damn fault.” And the other one I name, “I don’t know how I will ever forgive those bastards.” Forgiving ourselves for all the woulda-shoulda-couldas in MARIANNE.COM
MP: Is there a practice that you have for maintaining your center, for maintaining balance in the middle of chaos?
I wouldn’t say it’s my biggest struggle, but my biggest past mistakes have been when I made decisions out of ego rather than spirit. When I acted too quickly. When I wasn’t contemplative or reflective or prayerful enough, and I ended up making what I would only later see to be unwise decisions. SUPER SOUL SUNDAY AIRS SUNDAYS AT 11 A.M. ET/PT ON OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
life, and sometimes forgiving others for actions that we feel undercut or undermine our good, can be very challenging. But forgiveness of the past and mistakes, our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others, is imperative if we are to dwell fully in the present and experience the miracles that are only available to the forgiving and loving mind. MP: I want to ask you with your time with Oprah and “Super Soul Sunday.” Is there anything particularly special to you about that exchange?
MW: It was special because that particular interview was about my book, Return to Love, which came out twenty years ago. Oprah having the book on her program when it first came out catapulted it to success in a way that would absolutely not have occurred otherwise. She opened up fields of possibility and experience for me, professionally, that I will be eternally grateful for. She reran a couple of interviews from twenty years ago, and we both had a good laugh about the hairdos and shoulder pads. It was very fun and very funny. MP: Aww, the shoulder pads. Love you both. Really excited about your new book.
[Read Part II in July/August, Issue 13]
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A Conversation with
Caroline Myss INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT
Author. Mystic. Spiritual Teacher. Medical Intuitive. Caroline Myss talks to us about prayer, suffering, humility, and her time with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. Maranda Pleasant: I want you to know, I told our designer that I was about to talk to you, and you would have thought I’d said “Mick Jagger,” the way she screamed. She said, “We’ve got some serious magic going on in this issue.”
Caroline Myss: That’s fun. MP: What are the things that make you feel most alive?
CM: Teaching. My research. Writing. I love hanging out with my friends and family. I really, really, really love articulating original thought. That’s probably my core, my biggest buzz. Because then it makes me feel like I know why I was born. Reaching original thought, where I know that I’m perceiving something that only I have seen, and I need to incarnate that. That’s it right there. MP: What is it that makes you feel deeply vulnerable?
CM: Through the years of my life, the older I’ve gotten, the more sensitive I’ve become to the suffering of people and to my inability to really fix that. I wish that proportion was different. I wish I could help more.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the equation is working out here. I can sense and feel this wretched compassion that I don’t want. But it’s there. It’s a very painful kind of compassion. It’s not one you look for. You don’t want this kind of compassion; it just happens. The amount of suffering you actually can feel, you want to be able to do something about it. You want to be able to attend to it, to change the system that is making this happen. Because you are so aware of how unnecessary it is, and therein lies the deeper pain. To feel the suffering and then to know the pain of the unnecessariness of it. That right there has me in its grip. The only way through that is serious prayer. I can’t get through it any other way. I’ve got to believe that that’s making a difference somehow. I can’t see the difference, but I’ve got to believe it does, because in some way it lets me sleep at night. My only other alternative is to become angry, and I can’t go that direction. I have to trust that there is a force greater than me that also knows and sees this, and breathes with it and knows that it’s part of a grander plan, and all the good things people do matter. MP: You mentioned prayer. Do you have any practices that help you maintain that center in the middle of chaos?
CM: I do a lot of reflection. I do. I spend a lot of time in reflection and contemplation. I guess the way the old mystics used to do. I don’t do meditation. That’s not for me. It’s not my thing. MP: [laughing]
CM: I have no use for that. Sorry, but I don’t. Get out of here. I don’t think most people know how to meditate—they fall asleep and they call it meditation. I prefer a kind of sweet, deep, rich prayer in which a person goes in and says, Take me down deep into the reason you gave me life. Take me down deep. It silences the chaos in me. Take me away from my sense. I need to go away now, because I’m in chaos—take me down deep. Hover over me, because I need grace. I say that a lot, many times a day. So that’s my practice. MP: Wow.
CM: I hold myself accountable for my contradictions. I deeply, deeply believe in the mystical laws. I know that every thought sends an eternity in motion. I mean, I know what I am capable of as a teacher; I know what I’m capable of because of my intelligence. But I also know that that’s
MINDFULNESS SUPER SOUL SUNDAY AIRS SUNDAYS AT 11 A.M. ET/PT ON OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
useless if—I have been humiliated so often, when I think that I can combat the terrors of life with intelligence. Because you can’t. It’ll bring you to your knees. I grew to understand or really grasp a sense of what the power of being humble is—that becomes a practice. Otherwise you’ll be crushed by your fear of being humiliated. It’ll control you the rest of your life. I really understood that. I haven’t mastered it, I haven’t come close to it. Someone asks me what’s my practice? I don’t want the fear of being humiliated to have authority over me. I don’t want it to come near me. I don’t want it to have a voice in my decisions. I don’t want it to be anywhere near me. What’s my practice? That one. I don’t ever want to humiliate a human being, and I don’t want the fear of being humiliated to participate in my thoughts. MP: Yes.
CM: I don’t want to ever, ever give that kind of pain to one living mortal. And I will not give that thought power in my life. That’s my practice. MP: I am really moved by this. I’m guessing you make a lot of people cry. [laughing]
CM: Stop. Stop that! [laughing] MP: If you could say something to every woman on the planet and they could hear you, what would you want to say? What is the message that you think we most need right now?
CM: Oh my god! I mean, wow! If I could say something to somebody, to humanity? Ah. Let me see. I would remind them that this day of your life will never come again. Do not use one day of your life carelessly. It will never come again. You’ll never see the person you’re sitting across from in that light or in that way. You will never see the sunset twice. This day will never come again. Knowing that every single day is so filled with potential—you cannot wait for life to give you anything. You have no right to feel entitled. You are not entitled to anything. If you really get that, if you actually get that you’re not entitled to be loved, not by one person, not by anybody, and if you get that and then you look at people who love you—who love you—who think, my life is better because you, you are in it—that they get up and think, my whole world is better because you’re in it, that for some reason they
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I don’t think most people know how to meditate—they fall asleep and they call it meditation. I prefer a kind of sweet, deep, rich prayer in which a person goes in and says, Take me down deep into the reason you gave me life. MYSS.COM ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 39
love you, and that they walk this world when you’re not around thinking, but you’re in it, and they come home and they want to call you, they want to come home and see you, your face—you can never make a person love you but somehow they do. They do. That you are not entitled to. That you have it should be your first clue that there is a God taking care of you. You cannot make a miracle like love happen. That is what I’d tell. You want proof of God? That’s it. MP: [laughing] Thank you so much.
CM: Which you also should appreciate— never, ever mistreat someone who loves you. Because you’re not entitled to that love. I put my classes online because there are so many people around the world who wanted to study sacred contracts, but they couldn’t make it to the United States six times while I was teaching it. All my material took three years to convert to an online course. It took all my lectures and all the lectures of all my faculty members, everything—we converted it to an online class, because so many people from around the world wanted to study this, want to study this. If you know your archetypes—and not just yours, if you know how to perceive the world in archetypes, through archetypes— everything changes. Everything. Because you have two things: you can see through one eye which is impersonal, and through the other, which is personal. That’s the way the game is written down here. It’s two things: it’s totally impersonal and it’s totally personal, simultaneously. That’s the nature of the mystical experience of life. Everything about life is impersonal, but you have a personal experience. And the bridge between the personal and the impersonal is called prayer. MP: I’m just taking you in. Let’s talk about your experience with Oprah and “Super Soul Sunday.”
CM: First of all, I really enjoyed that interview, because I felt so relaxed. Which is a different experience than being on the Oprah show. She has a gift to make you feel comfortable. I think that that’s just part of her charisma, part of her natural grace. She has the gift of making the person she’s talking to feel like you’re an old friend of hers. That’s a real gift. She also has the gift of always making you feel that she respects you in your work. You feel very comfortable opening up to her. In “Super Soul Sunday,” she has created an atmosphere where you can have a type of conversation that’s a bit more intimate or open than I think you would on her former television show. I think that was her intention in creating SSS.
Because Oprah is one of the rare human beings whose creative intentions truly are motivated by goodness. There aren’t a lot of people you can say that about. There really aren’t. MP: Now I’m looking at my own intentions, making sure they all come from goodness.
CM: I think they really are motivated by goodness, and I think she works with a lot of grace behind her, and I think that’s why she’s flourished and why people have flourished as a result of her being on the earth. People have benefited from her; they have healed, they have grown, they have found their lives changed. In the privacy of their living rooms, by reading books she’s recommended—she has changed the lives of millions and millions and millions of people whom she’ll never meet. I know from conversations, people will say, “Oh, I love the Oprah show, I just love Oprah”—she’s generated fields and fields of love. I know that that kind of love, though it doesn’t necessarily go to Oprah, it goes somewhere, and it goes into the collective pool of creation. It gets distributed into matter, into physical matter. It creates consequences. That kind of love has physical consequences. Maybe in some way it offsets bad decisions people are making somewhere. Somewhere, somehow. It goes into a collective pool because all energy creates matter, and it’s subject to the law of creation. Maybe it offsets all the psychic free radicals people generate with their dark thoughts.
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She’s like this big spinner of grace, of good thought and positive grace. She makes people feel good about themselves; she makes people believe they can heal; she makes people believe they can do better in life. That’s a lot to shoulder. That’s her role. And so when I think about her, I think she’s one of the great souls of our time. That’s how I see her. MP: Wonderful! Is there a current project now? A book?
CM: Yeah, I have a new book out on archetypes. MP: Well, we cannot wait to read it. Beautiful as always. Thanks for joining us.
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Soul Speaking and Truth Telling: A Conversation with
JEAN HOUSTON INTERVIEW PART I: MARANDA PLEASANT
BESTSELLING AUTHOR, NEW THOUGHT PIONEER, AND LEADING MIND IN CONSCIOUSNESS. Maranda Pleasant: We’re so excited to have you in. What is it that makes you feel most alive?
Jean Houston: Well, I could say, of course, nature, dogs, and cats. I’m very much an animal and nature person. But I think you’re also asking another order of question. I am deeply activated by a sense of history, and have been since I was a tiny child. Really feeling that these were the times, we were the people, this was the most critical time in human history. Other people thought their times were the pinnacle and this is it. This is where we really, together, make a decision of whether to evolve or perish. I wake up every morning of my life with that kind of sense. My prayer is, let me be a blessing to someone or something today. I’ve worked in 108 countries to date. I find that all over the world, not only is there an acceleration of just about everything, but that many of the old patterns are deconstructing. New ones are arising. It’s tremendously exciting, challenging, and also sometimes, well, scary. Certainly one is brought to the brink of one’s sense of who one is, what one has to do, why me, why now, why in this time in history? I am really driven, believe it or not, am awakened by a sense of being in
this powerful axis, this turning point in human history. MP: If you could say something to every human on the planet, what would that be?
JH: We have barely begun to tap into the genius of our humanity. Each person is a really a great treasure house of capacities, possibilities, energies. These are the times and we are the people. It would be wonderful if people could grow together in groups, teaching and learning communities where they empower, evoke, explore the enormous capacities of the human condition. I believe that we are stewards of a time that is upon us—but often we need the encouragement of each other to be able to wake up to this extraordinary time and possibility. MP: I just read that Buckminster Fuller said that your mind was a “national treasure.”
JH: Bucky was very sweet. By the way, I live in a house that is the last thing that he designed before he died in ’83. So I live in a double-domed house looking out over the hills. And I’m looking out at the mountains, the Cascade Mountains out in front of me in Ashland, Oregon.
MP: What does love mean to you?
JH: What does love mean? Love to me is—the final lines in Dante’s Paradiso, when he says, “The love that moves the Sun and all the stars”—it’s what draws us together, it’s why we have leaky margins with each other. It is that sumptuous, sensuous, sensitive quickening that happens when we really know ourselves as love and see ourselves as loving. We are the love, the lover, the loving, and the love. It is the Supreme. It is the deepest force in our lives. In a world such as ours, where we have to cross the great divide of otherness or we will not survive, love is perhaps the most critical aspect that is there in our humanity, to both activate and to practice. The more you love, the more loving you become. That’s just the way it works. It is a generosity of spirit. The very fact that we are—as I said on Oprah—we are all in it together. MP: You just made me cry. Jean Houston just made me cry. When you were on Oprah and you said, “we’re all in this together”—can you tell me about the conversation you all had on “Super Soul Sunday”?
JH: Well, let me talk a little bit about being
MINDFULNESS SUPER SOUL SUNDAY AIRS SUNDAYS AT 11 A.M. ET/PT ON OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
with Oprah. I’m one of those people, like many of people who you’re probably talking to now who is interviewed all the time, from one subject to another, from the nature of intelligence of dogs to how does the universe work and all the parts in between. Oprah is unique, in my experience, in being interviewed. In the face-to-face interview, certainly. She is very well-prepared. She is deeply interested in who you are and what you have to say. You find yourself deeply interested in her. It’s a communion. You find yourself in a kind of covenant, to explore mutually—whether it is lives, whether it’s ideas, whether it is the time— you are there in a co-creative relationship with her. There doesn’t appear to be any judgement. It’s an open field for mutual discovery. That’s what it’s like to be with Oprah. MP: Is there anything that you learned from your time talking and sharing with her? In that beautiful exchange we can have revelations about our own consciousness. Is there anything that you remember from those conversations?
JH: Yes, certainly. One of the things, like you do: she asks ultimate questions. She asks the essential questions of origin. So that you cannot go back—you can’t bring up your little arias. No arias! You literally find yourself soul speaking and truth telling. I’m quite astonished at what I knew! [laughing]
MP: Soul speaking and truth telling! I’ve got to write that down right now. I love that. Can you share with me the things that make you feel vulnerable?
JH: Do you mean vulnerable in a positive or a negative sense? Vulnerable is a catch-all word like “love” and “schizophrenia.” MP: I love that “love” and “schizophrenia” are in the same sentence! It all really comes down to how people interpret and frame the word “vulnerable.” Are there things that make you feel exposed or open or fragile?
JH: If you travel as much as I do—165,000 miles last year—you exist nowhere. You’re always between heaven and earth, you’re always arriving in a new place, you’re always starting from the beginning—talk about origins—and you don’t know quite what’s going to unfold. You live in the unexpected and the inexplicable all the time. That’s my kind of life. I don’t know if I’m going to be greeted as pariah or prophet and all the places in between. And because of the nature of my life, because I train a great many people, I come upon such a huge variety of human species, as well as the earth species for that matter. So one is always vulnerable. I find you have to come as litmus paper and be available to
PHOTO: © HARPO PRODUCTIONS INC./GEORGE BURNS
whatever way you can be. I’ve been around for a very long time, I’ve been around since God had baby cheeks. At this point, you’ve had a whole lot of experience, but everything is also radically new at each moment, and you have to bring a kind of childlike second-level innocence to bear upon all situations, if you are going to be of use and you are going to really learn from the situation or the people. MP: You’re just blowing me away.
[Read Part II in July/August, Issue 13] JEANHOUSTON.ORG ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 43
INTERVIEW: ZOË KORS
KRISHNA DAS KD OPENS UP ABOUT THE GRAMMYS, HIS GURU’S GRACE, AUSCHWITZ, AND THE SECRET OF HIS RED FLANNEL SHIRT
THE RECENT RECIPIENT OF THE FIRST GRAMMY-NOMINATED KIRTAN ALBUM, AN INTERNATIONALLY TELEVISED PERFORMANCE AT THE CEREMONY, AND THE SUBJECT OF THE NEW DOCUMENTARY BY JEREMY FRINDELL, ONE TRACK HEART: THE STORY OF KRISHNA DAS, THIS “KIRTAN ROCKSTAR” IS KEEPING HIS HEAD SCREWED ON AND HIS HEART OPEN.
Zoë Kors: First thing that I want to say is, congratulations on your Grammy nomination and the performance. How was that experience for you?
Krishna Das: Well, there’s the nuts and bolts of the performance, so to speak, and then there’s the actual practice of chanting. The performance was pretty interesting because we had exactly five minutes to do the song and we couldn’t go over, so we had to plan it out very particularly—what speed we were going to do it, how many times we were going to repeat it. Usually, I go on and on. Nobody can stop me. ZK: Well, right. You are bringing what is essentially a spiritual practice to the world stage and presenting it as entertainment. People call you “the kirtan rock star.” In some respects there is a little bit of a dichotomy there.
PHOTO: POPPY DEGARMO 44 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
KD: That dichotomy is in our heads, you know. We are just here, right? We are just people doing our thing. And the most important aspect of anything we do is our motivation, why we do it. ZK: And why do you do what you do?
KD: To save my ass. ZK: Say more.
KD: To save my heart. Every day. This is what I do to keep my head screwed on semi-straight and keep my heart open. Whenever I sing, that’s why I sing. Whether it’s at the Grammys, whether it’s in the bathroom, whether it’s in front of 10,000 people or three people, by my guru’s grace, my head stays in that place. ZK: “By your guru’s grace.” I’m curious about this idea. Neem Karoli
Baba devotees often use the phrase “Maharaji’s will.” So when we surrender to the guru, are we sort of abdicating our own responsibility for ourselves?
KD: Well, this is a humungous issue. It’s not easy to talk about it. Because the concepts involved are philosophical, but there is this other thing which is entirely experiential. We all inhabit our lives in different ways, to some degree. We see ourselves a certain way, and based on how we see ourselves, that’s how we see the world. Until you are fully enlightened, you can never know what another person’s reality is like for them. All we can know is our own subjective version of reality. That’s the way we go through our lives. Everybody. So when we start talking about gurus, first of all we’re starting to talk about something that can’t be talked about, in the sense that you can never really know what a guru is as long
as you are imprisoned by your own thoughts and circular ego. The true guru is someone who’s transcended all that. And we don’t know anything about that. It’s as if—how many colors are there? Red, orange, yellow, blue, green, indigo, violet. Seven colors, is that right? There is an eighth color that we don’t have the sense apparatus to see or experience. ZK: I love that metaphor.
KD: Can you imagine what it would be like to all of a sudden see another color that nobody else sees? ZK: I have goosebumps.
KD: Yeah, it’s like that. For instance, the same thing can happen to different people, and they can have a completely different reaction to it. It’s inexplicable why somebody can lose a leg and it doesn’t effect them at all emotionally; and another person can lose a foot and be destroyed for the rest of their lives. So when we start to talk about gurus, we’re talking about beings who actually know what this is all about. They know who we were, where we came from, and where we’re going. They are not imprisoned in a selfish or self-centered view of the universe. It gets so complicated so quickly, but simply put, when you fall in love, nobody has to tell you. You know what you feel. Now, when you meet your guru or a being who knows, who is no longer loving, but has become love, a being who is sitting in truth, and in compassion and kindness for all beings—you know. When I met my guru, I knew. And it was before I met him physically, actually. ZK: Really?! Tell me.
KD: Yeah, first I met Ram Dass. He came back from India. And the minute I walked into the room with him, not knowing that much about him, and without a word being spoken, I knew that whatever it was I was looking for was real. And this was a really, really, life-changing moment. ZK: Wow! And you say that you knew what you were looking for, you felt a longing?
KD: I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew whatever it was that I was looking for was real. There really was something to find. And I didn’t know what it was; I wouldn’t have been able to name it at that point. ZK: Can you name it now?
KD: I can describe it now. I can say, “unconditional love.” I can say, “unbearable compassion for every being in the universe.” I can say, “total, absolute wisdom.”
ZK: So Maharaji’s Will…
KD: First of all, let me say, everybody who says, “Oh, it’s Maharaji’s Will”—they might not know what the f*ck they’re talking about. It could be a cop out. It could be just bullshit. A way of not dealing with their own hang-ups and limitations. But it could also be a certain kind of awareness of that other color. You never know, and you don’t have to know, because it’s what your world looks likes to you that is important. It’s within your world that things will unfold and intuitive understandings will open up. Even if somebody tells us something, the hit, the light goes on inside of
the light comes on for one quarter of a second. And in that instant you see there’s a door in the corner of the room. Now you know where to go, and nothing’s going to stop you. Until that light comes on, we don’t know what direction to go. But once that light comes on, you just know. You don’t necessarily know it in your toe or your ear or this chakra or that chakra—you know it in your life, you know it. And then everything in your life mobilizes to get you through the door. ZK: You described what you are looking for as “unbearable compassion for all beings.” I know that you recently visited
Even if somebody tells us something, the hit, the light goes on inside of us, not out there. We learn and understand everything within ourselves. us, not out there. We learn and understand everything within ourselves. ZK: Where in your body does that light shine inside of you? Where’s that spark when you reach that new awareness?
KD: Everywhere. It changes your life. Everything is different all of a sudden. Let’s say you wake up in a dark room. You don’t remember how you got there. You have no clue. You might knock into the walls trying to get up, because it’s pitch black. And then
Auschwitz. Can you describe your experience moving towards a space of compassion in what was clearly a very charged place, where tremendous suffering and pain went down?
KD: Well, there’s a lot that I could say about that. But a couple of things. I went to Auschwitz with Bernie Glassman, who’s a Zen master. He goes there every year as a spiritual practice of what he calls “bearing witness.” We’re not talking about getting caught in any particular emotional version of that story
PHOTO: JOHN PHANEUF ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 45
or your reactions to it. This is why it’s such hard work. Real compassion is not emotional. Real compassion is based on the experience that all beings, which might appear separate, are actually a part of my own body, and I am a part of the body of the universe. We are not separate. So if one being hurts, I also hurt. If you stub your toe, you don’t need to dialogue yourself to be good to your foot, do you? When you see things that clearly, there’s no dialogue or emotional manipulation that you need to do to extend compassion to that being, because that being is a part of you, and if that being hurts, you hurt. Now, there’s another very important part, since you mentioned it. When I was there, at one point, it was very clear to me that if I had been born in Germany with a family of Nazis and if I had been raised with those beliefs, there was very little chance that I wouldn’t be exactly like all those guards and all those people who tortured everybody. That I was no different than those people, no better at all in any way. It was my karmic circumstance that I didn’t have to go through that in this life; I was born somewhere else under different circumstances. But if I had been born there at that time, I can’t tell you that I would have done anything differently than those people had done. You can’t prove that to me. So what does that lead to? That leads to compassion for the victimizers, also. You see, they were born into a situation, they had no control over that. They themselves are victims.
gathering that might have happened that way. We were so burnt out. I had just come back from India and then got on a plane and done a workshop for the weekend, and then got on a plane and gone to L.A. I was too busy to go at all, but when they invited me to sing, I thought, this is an opportunity that I shouldn’t pass up. An opportunity to present the chanting to people, make them more aware of it. And so I thought, well, I better go.
I chant to save my miserable ass. That’s what I do. I chant to save my heart. Every time I sit down, that’s what I’m doing. ZK: One of the things that I say: the world is my altar and life is my practice, so whether it’s the person who cuts me off in the car or the cashier at the supermarket who’s rude to me—in each instance, we are presented with an opportunity to find compassion rather than take the reactive, emotional perspective.
KD: Now, compassion is a college education. It’s a doctorate. ZK: I’ve been curious to ask you if you ran into any celebrities backstage at the Grammys who were at all interested in chanting or Neem Karoli Baba.
KD: No, I didn’t, I didn’t meet anybody. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to the one PHOTO: CARLA CUMMINGS 46 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
ZK: I’m so glad you did. And I’m so glad you wore your red flannel.
KD: [laughter] It’s not a shirt. It’s actually painted onto me. ZK: I have to confess, I picture you getting out of bed in the morning in your red flannel feetie pajamas and padding over to your altar to chant a little bit.
KD: [laughing] Something like that, yeah. ZK: What makes you come most alive?
KD: Chanting. ZK: How do you stay centered when you’re on the road?
KD: Chanting. ZK: What makes you feel vulnerable?
KD: Chanting. ZK: I love it. I love that.
KD: It’s the main thing in my life, you know. In 1994, twenty-one years had gone by since Maharaji had left his body, and I wasn’t doing anything at all to help myself, and I was in very, very bad shape. I was really sinking, really bad. All of a sudden I knew—like a lightning bolt hit me—I knew that if I did not start chanting with people, that I would never be able to clean out the dark corners of my own heart. I knew it with every cell in my body and mind. It was the only rope being thrown to this drowning man. And that’s when you asked me at the beginning—I chant to save my miserable ass. That’s what I do. I chant to save my heart. Every time I sit down, that’s what I’m doing. I’m reconnecting, I’m deepening, I’m opening, I’m releasing negativity and negative thoughts and all the limitations I carry around with me—again and again and again and again and again and again. And again! And that’s the only thing that keeps me alive. ZK: And how lucky are we that we get to bear witness to your spiritual practice?!
KD: Well, it takes two to tango! I need everybody to sing with me. ZK: It’s a privilege to tango with you, Krishna Das.
KD: Thank you, Zoë. KRISHNADAS.COM
Ram Dass INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT
MINDFULNESS Maranda Pleasant: What is it that makes you feel most alive?
Ram Dass: Being with my guru. Nature. Going swimming in the ocean. The wind. I like walking in the pool. That isn’t what makes me feel spiritual. But alive. I think it’s nature and my guru. Presence. MP: Does your guru, Neem Karoli Baba, still speak to you now? If so, do you get a message from him? Is there a memory that’s so alive it feels timeless?
RD: That’s a couple of questions, isn’t it? When I feel he’s present, I feel the presence in the environment when that feeling is happening, when he and I converse in my imagination. A man said to me, “You talk to your dead guru?” And I said, “Yeah.” He said, “That’s in your imagination.” And I said, “Yeah!” Because my guru is in my imagination anywhere. Anywhere. I remember things. He came to me. “Ram Dass, love everybody.” And I said, “I can’t do that.” And he said, “Love everybody.” When your guru gives you a command, you better listen to it. I love everybody. Even George Bush. PHOTOS: JOHN PHANEUF 48 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
I feel vulnerable because my mind—because of the stroke, my mind doesn’t focus. And then I feel vulnerable because I don’t understand the world around me. MP: [laughter] That’s not an easy one! He didn’t say it would be easy, he just said do it!
RD: That means I’ve got to love the souls of people. Because I can’t love every incarnation. To love their souls, I have to identify with my own soul. Then I’d see their soul. And then I can have such compassion for that soul who has an incarnation like George Bush. I feel compassion. That’s karma of the here. Compassion and love, that’s all. Everyone—he said everyone. Meaning souls. MP: I’ll work on that one! It ain’t going to happen today but it’ll happen.
RD: Yes, maybe today. Maybe today. MP: [laughing] I’m going through a breakup, so maybe tomorrow. What is it that makes you feel vulnerable?
RD: I feel vulnerable because my mind— because of the stroke, my mind doesn’t focus. And then I feel vulnerable because I don’t understand the world around me. MP: How do you deal with emotional pain?
RD: Pain is the mind. It’s the thoughts of the mind. Then I get rid of the thoughts, and I get in my witness, which is down in my spiritual heart. The witness that witnesses being. Then those particular thoughts that are painful—love them. I love them to death! MP: [laughing] That’s a lot of love! I know that you’re probably tired of book interviews, but we’re really excited about your new book. What is it in you that needed to be born or needed to come out or needed to be said? Why was it so important to write this?
MP: How do you maintain your center? Do you have a daily practice?
RD: No! MP: [laughing] I love you! Do you meditate every day?
RD: Oh no, no, no! MP: I will follow you anywhere. That’s so good.
RD: I hang out with my guru in my heart. And I love every thing in the universe. That’s all I do all day.
are, if they choose that transfer to the soul, then you live in an ocean of love. MP: What would you say to the yogis? What I see in my own heart and in this community of yogis and conscious people, we struggle so much with attachment to people and unhealthy relationships. What would you say to someone who is struggling so much with attachment to another human being? How can we manage breakups and shifting and letting people go?
RD: I think the question is, how do we live with change? Change in our friends, change in our lovers? Change in me and change in my body, from the stroke. Things have changed this plane of consciousness. We’ve tried to keep things the same. It causes suffering. This suffering is another step in your spiritual life, in your spiritual journey. Because that
your being by not being afraid. You’re afraid, you will just keep making the fear. If you want to change it, you change from your soul. The soul is love, joy. Joy. Peace. Wisdom. I went to a peace rally, and they say, “Peace! Peace!” They could go inside to the peace in their soul and radiate peace from their soul, and they would bring peace to the world. MP: What was it like to be with Oprah on “Super Soul Sunday”?
RD: Oprah did an interview with me. She was absolutely warm and wonderful. She was a good interviewer, she did her homework. She was a beautiful soul. And you’re a beautiful interviewer—just your laugh is warming my heart. MP: I hope to meet you someday soon. Thank you.
Many of us are fearful of this cultural moment. There are wars and poverty and so on—it’s based on fear. You can cure that with your being by not being afraid...If you want to change it, you change from your soul.The soul is love, joy. Joy. Peace. Wisdom MP: You must not be in publishing! [laughing] Can you remember one—I know you have so many beautiful moments—but one thing that utterly shifted you as a being, where you felt that utter connection with spirit?
RD: Well, I remember my first visit with my guru. He had shown that he read my mind. So I looked at the grass and I thought, My god, he’s going to know all the things I don’t want people to know. I was really embarrassed. Then I looked up and he was looking directly at me with unconditional love. Unconditional love. He saw all that in me and he loved me. And that—that was the moment. MP: I don’t even know how to speak after that. I’m just going to have to take a second on that one. Is there something in this book that you say that you have not said before?
RD: As I’ve gone into soul and soul-land, and I connect with my soul and my ego, and my life is colored by my soul—people can identify from their ego, which is who they thought they are. The soul, which is who they really
suffering shows how much you hold on. It’s just the river of thoughts: “Oh, I like him, I’m suffering. I can’t stand change. It’s all changing too fast.” The suffering is in the mind. The mind. In the mind. Witness it. From your spiritual heart. Witness your thoughts. Your thoughts are attachments. Witnessing your thoughts is a way of getting out of that. Because I’m witnessing attachments, I am witnessing my own attachments. And so I’m not identified to the attachment. I’m identified with the witness. And then the witness, if you go down into the witness, that has the spiritual being. Down there, in your soul, you’ll get far more love than you ever got out there. MP: I knew you were going to say something like that! [laughing] And I knew it would be amazing, and it would make me not want to punch any more walls! That’s great. Last thing: If you could say something to everyone on this planet, what would that message be?
RD: Many of us are fearful of this cultural moment. There are wars and poverty and so on—it’s based on fear. You can cure that with RAMDASS.ORG ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 49
RD: I have written and spoken my thoughts over many years. Now I’m on new ground and spirit. I want to bring these together. Things like karma yoga, bhakti yoga, conscious dying, conscious aging. Consciousness.
INTERVIEW: ZOË KORS
WARRIOR POSE A Conversation with Bhava Ram Brad Willis a.k.a. Bhava Ram is a former NBC war correspondent. He is the recipient of the prestigious Alfred I. duPont Award for his work inside Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Self-healed from a broken back, failed surgery, and Stage IV cancer, he is now devoted to teaching Yoga and Ayurveda. In his book Warrior Pose: A War Correspondent’s Memoir, he tells the story of his transformational journey of radical self-healing. Zoë Kors: Hi Bhava! You have a very inspiring story, but what inspires you?
Bhava Ram: What inspires me is the power of human potential, the human potential to evolve in our lives, and for profound healing. It’s always been there but it’s become somewhat obscure to us given the stressful, fast-paced modern culture in which we live. I’m also inspired by how miraculous some of the simplest and most natural aspects of life can be the greatest sources of healing and transformation. ZK: There was a time when you were on your deathbed, essentially. What was the moment of inspiration to actually heal yourself? And at what point did you realize you were out of the woods?
BR: There were a few moments that I will share with you. Just before the year 2000, I was toward the end of my life due to the Stage IV cancer. My little boy, who at that point was my only touchstone left in the world—because
I was so drugged, so sick, so depressed, and so filled with self-pity that I had basically deliberately alienated myself from the rest of the world—he was finally old enough, in his own little way, to realize that something was terribly wrong with his daddy. He crawled up on my lap, and with tears in his eyes, he looked at me and he said, “Get up, Daddy.” And those three little words hit me in a place that I didn’t know that I had. That was really the first major epiphany in my life. I knew then that I had to find some inner strength and to do something, for this child. My first course of action was to detox off of all the medications, really thinking I’m just going to die with the dignity that I don’t have right now. I went through the detox program at a hospital— which with fourteen years of heavy drugs, going cold turkey was pretty fascinating. When I came out of it, they invited me into a new, experimental clinic that used ancient Eastern healing modalities with modern Western holistic ones. My first epiphany that
PHOTO: MONIQUE FELL/MONIQUE FELL PHOTOGRAPHY 50 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
The third epiphany came about a month and a half later, when they took me for my first session of therapeutic yoga. I had never done any sort of yoga before, and this epiphany was a little more esoteric. I walked into the yoga room and there was a voice from my soul that said out loud, This is it! I just knew. I just knew in that moment—I couldn’t even straighten my legs. I couldn’t sit cross-legged on the floor. I couldn’t put my legs up the
We’ve all had those aha moments. In yoga it’s called prajna— a flash of illumination. I heard that voice. I was at a point in my life that was really between life or death, and I sort of intuitively and instinctively knew, I have to listen.
center—right behind the breastbone, and visualize it as a golden candle flame of light and spirit. There’s a much deeper knowing and deeper intelligence in this place. This is where I began the journey of listening to that inner wisdom. We’ve all had those aha moments. In yoga it’s called prajna—a flash of illumination. I heard that voice. I was at a point in my life that was really between life or death, and I sort of intuitively and instinctively knew, I have to listen. ZK: How long from that point until your cancer went into remission?
BR: Two years. I don’t think I can put my finger exactly on when remission occurred, because from that moment on, I left Western medicine and never looked back. I practiced every day for ten to twelve hours a day—spiritual studies, meditation, pranayama, yoga postures, Ayurvedic studies, deep, deep, powerful cleansings, and fasting. Each day, I would feel new wisdom and new intuition and I would follow that. Most everything I was doing was coming from that
BR: Emotional pain rarely comes up for me now. When it does, for sure, I feel it. But then, fortunately, through my life experience and my practices, I’m able to see it for what it is, and I’m able to use the techniques that yoga and Ayurveda have to offer us. I remind myself that I don’t have the ability to completely manipulate reality to be exactly what I want it to be. So now that reality is antithetical to what I want, how I can feel into it and act skillfully rather than react? How can I choose my best course of action while not pretending I don’t have the pain, or running away from the pain, or blaming someone else for the circumstances of my life? How can I look at it and say, there it is—it’s real. This is what is happening. It might even be a catalyst for more personal growth for me. It might be a blessing in disguise. It might not be. What’s my best course of action? How can I be skillful? ZK; What makes you feel vulnerable?
BR: I feel vulnerable every day to the grace of God as expressed in every living thing. I feel vulnerable to the astonishing beauty of being
BRAD WILLIS WITH TOM BROKAW IN KUWAIT CITY JUST AFTER IT WAS LIBERATED FROM IRAQ
wall in the most gentle, restorative yoga pose, and yet, I knew. There was a voice inside of me that had a wisdom that I had never deeply tapped into, in terms of my own personal transformation.
voice in my heart, which was affirmed by the ancient texts.
ZK: That touches on what I was going to ask you next, which is: do you attribute the healing to an energy that is located in your mind or in your heart? Or somewhere else?
BR: Well, for me, courage means having the courage to walk off the edge of what is known, with complete faith that you’re not going to go crashing to the bottom. Stepping outside of your own self-perceived boundaries and limitations.
BR: Definitely an intelligence in the light of the heart. In yoga, we refer to this as the heart
ZK: How do you process emotional pain, after this journey that you’ve been on?
ZK: This begs the question: what does courage mean to you?
alive and to Mother Nature. I feel positive when I feel vulnerable, because it’s another reminder that it’s not all about me and about my ego. And I actually think it’s courageous to be vulnerable, and it’s not something to be avoided. ZK: I have goosebumps. Must be so different from who you used to be.
BR: Really amazingly different from who I used to be, yet also I liked who I used to be before I got sick. I think, in a way, I’ve returned to who I used to be as a global correspondent whose BHAVARAM.COM | DEEPYOGA.COM ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 51
this might work came on my first day, when I went into biofeedback. They hooked me up to computers through electrodes, put me in a comfortable lounge chair, put an eye pillow over my face, slipped speakers onto my head, and played an audio guided visualization. This very deep, soothing voice came on, saying: “You now have permission to be strong and healthy and calm and relaxed. There’s no place else to go. There’s nothing else to do.” I could feel it in every cell of my body, and I immediately realized, there’s something here. I could feel my heart rate slow down. I could feel stress melting out of my body. I had a direct experience of the efficacy of this form of mind-body medicine. This comes from somebody who had been sort of an alpha male, highly cynical war correspondent, who had basically seen it all and heard it all, was cynical and trusted nothing.
MINDFULNESS BRAD WILLIS WITH THE MUJAHIDIN ARTILLERY IN AFGHANISTAN
BHAVA RAM ROCK CLIMBING
I now realize that a broken back, failed sugery, and Stage IV cancer are three of the greatest things that ever happened to me. life was devoted to really making a difference, illuminating what’s happening in the world, always drawn toward the suffering of peoples and cultures and exposing exploitation and injustice; but now I’m the same person in a much, much softer iteration. ZK: How do you feel about the phrase, “bad things happen to good people?”
BR: To start with, I now realize that a broken back, failed surgery, and Stage IV cancer are three of the greatest things that ever happened to me. Three of the most positive, transformative things that ever happened to me. They helped me become a vastly better person than I ever was, and I am eternally grateful for that. ZK: What was the gratitude? What were you grateful to the back pain for?
BR: Grateful that it brought me to a point of really seeing myself and really seeing where I was imbalanced, and really seeing it was a message from the Divine that changed my life. You might say that, imagine a child walking by a hot stove and touching it, and burning their finger and screaming, and being very angry and whiny and wanting to kick the stove—when it really was the Divine’s way of saying, “My beloved child, you’re acting wrong, you can’t touch me, I’m hot. So I’m going to send you this message and I’m going to make it so palpable that you’re not going to do it again.” And it was a message that my life was
out of balance. I was charging forward too hard, into too many war zones, working too long, drinking too heavily, pushing forward, pushing forward. And who knows, had this not happened, maybe I would have been one of the casualties as a journalist covering the war. Who knows, maybe I would have been captured and tortured somewhere along the line, because I always pushed things to the limit. And I went through the same process when I sort of addressed, in my practice, cancer. I began all the veganism and the fasting and the purifications. Part of that was just gratitude, expressing gratitude, thank you, thank you. When I work with private clients now, one of the first places that I try to take them to is cultivating a sense of gratitude for their circumstances. And that’s usually one of the first big steps in their healing. ZK: It’s a very powerful perspective. What is your message to other people?
BR: No matter what you’re facing in your life, what obstacles you might have, and what you feel your limitations might be, there’s something inside you that’s eternal, that is filled with wisdom and potential and possibility. There’s an inner power inside you to affect an amazing level of healing, to help you find who you really are, to help you walk your unique path up the mountain, to help you move towards manifesting your fullest potential. Whether your life is destined to be short or to be long, along the way on that
journey, if you access that inner power, not only will you change your life in a positive way, you’ll ultimately help change other peoples lives. You will be carrying something forward. ZK: That’s beautiful. Bhava, I’m going to play back this recording as a daily affirmation. In your voice. That is beautiful.
BR: That is sweet. My message is believe in yourself. Have courage in your capacity. Listen to your inner voice. And then the critical component of all this is, do the work. ZK: Gotcha. I’m going to do my practice now. Thanks, Bhava!
BR: Thank you, Zoe! Bhava Ram lives in San Diego and is the founder of Deep Yoga with his wife, Laura Plumb. BHAVARAM.COM | DEEPYOGA.COM
It doesn’t interest me if there is one God or many gods. I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned. If you know despair or can see it in others. I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back with firm eyes saying this is where I stand. I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing. I want to know if you are willing to live, day by day, with the consequence of love and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat. I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God. DAVID WHYTE FROM FIRE IN THE EARTH ©1992 MANY RIVERS PRESS DAVIDWHYTE.COM
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A 5-Day Experience of Transformation August 14–18, 2013 | Estes Park, Colorado Pre-Festival Intensives | August 12–14, 2013
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CREATING A SUPER BRAIN DEEPAK CHOPRA, M.D.
Dr. Rudolph Tanzi and I make a distinction between the everyday brain and super brain. The everyday brain could be dubbed “the baseline brain,” because it operates at the minimum functioning to keep you alive and healthy. It controls your heart rate, your blood pressure, your immune function, all of your subconscious impulses. That’s not a minor role; the baseline brain is a marvel of complexity and efficiency. But too much of it is devoted to habits, old conditioning, unconscious reflexes, and lack of selfawareness. We believe that the brain is designed to deliver much more. By removing
Here are a few of the most important practices for moving from a baseline brain to the power of super brain: Practice self-awareness. You can expand your awareness in many ways, and as you do, your brain will evolve. It will grow physically by developing new neural pathways, synaptic connections, and even new brain cells. Perhaps more importantly, it will evolve to mirror the expansion of your mind into new, creative areas. Selfawareness includes awareness of your mental realm, which encompasses your thoughts, feelings, energy, and emotions. Self-awareness is also your awareness of the world, which you experience through the five senses (sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell). Pay attention to your sensory impressions and be aware of those five ways that the world comes to you. Self-awareness also includes awareness of your body. Most people aren’t in touch with their body and tend to live in their thoughts. Yet when we’re in touch with our body, we’re attuned to our intuition, needs, and desires and will be in the best position to make evolutionary choices for our health and wellbeing.
Practice self-reflection. Every day, take some time to meditate and cultivate inner quiet. Then ask yourself what I call the “soul questions”: Who am I? What do I want? What is the purpose and meaning of my life? How can I create a better world? The more you reflect, the more your life will move into the answer. The interesting thing is that you don’t have to know the answers –simply asking the questions and your reflection itself causes the rewiring of the brain.
Meditate. A few moments of inner peace and quiet allows the brain to reset itself. You become more centered as this happens, since the brain is clearing out distractions and too much “cross talk.” So take some time each day to bring clarity to your inner world. Experiencing the silence of meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. You can lie on the floor with arms and legs outspread, paying attention to the sensations in your body. You can observe the outflow and inflow of your breath. You can also go to a park and let the impressions of nature calm your brain. You can learn more about meditation and download a meditation guide at the Chopra Center’s Meditation Resource library at chopra.com/ccl-meditation.
Practice conscious choice making. A fixed habit is supported by old, wellworn pathways in the brain. When you make conscious choices to change a habit, you create new pathways. At the same time, you strengthen the decision-making function of the cerebral cortex while diminishing the grip of the lower, instinctual brain. So without judging your habit, whether it feels like a good one or a bad one, take time to break the routine, automatic response that habit imposes. Here are a few ways to face a habit and say “no” to it: Go outside your fixed routine, turn off the computer and the television, find a new outlet for your down time, talk to someone who holds a viewpoint contrary to yours and pay respectful attention, really listening.
the obstacles that have built up over time, you can grow your brain from baseline to super brain. Super Brain provides detailed guidance on how to tap into your brain’s infinite potential and become the user of your brain. As we describe, your brain is waiting for you to give it direction. You can lead your brain and inspire it. You can actively shape new neural pathways. You can keep your memory intact, preserve your brain’s health, and minimize the risk of aging and senile dementia, things that are greatly feared as people grow older.
Survival of the fittest can take us only so far...What is needed now is survival of the wisest. You can participate in this shift by expanding your own awareness. There is a need for everyone’s brain to be imprinted with more self-enhancing impulses: the impulse to peace over violence, love over fear, compassion over selfishness. In the larger scheme, an endangered planet may depend on the evolution of consciousness. Survival of the fittest can take us only so far; competition and aggression have brought us to the brink of self-destruction. What is needed now is survival of the wisest. You can participate in this shift by expanding your own awareness. At the level of the mind, you are part of the human mind; at the level of the brain you are part of the global brain. This is a perfect example of becoming the change that you want to see. Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a bestselling author and the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. The Chopra Center offers a variety of signature programs and event, including the Journey into Healing: Super Brain workshop, taking place this August 22−25 at La Costa Resort & Spa. Join Drs. Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi and other renowned experts for an in-depth exploration of the power of the mind to heal and transform the body. For more information, visit chopra.com or call 888.736.6895. CHOPRA.COM
Almost everyone yearns for change in their lives. We all want to experience more happiness, fulfillment, and peace. We want lifelong good health and an end to fearing the aging process. By combining the fruits of modern neuroscience and timeless wisdom, you can achieve those goals. That is what your brain is designed for. The key is realizing that you are the user of your brain. If you choose, you can influence every aspect of your brain and therefore every aspect of your life. In our new book, Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness and Spiritual Well-being,
Jack Kornfield is a featured presenter at the Wake Up Festival and author of A Path with Heart, A Lamp in the Darkness, Meditation for Beginners, and dozens of other highly acclaimed books and audio learning programs.
INTERVIEW: TAMI SIMON
In an interview with Sounds True publisher Tami Simon, Jack Kornfield speaks of the many facets of awakening, what he calls the “crystal of awakened consciousness.” In any given moment, each of us has direct access to the liberating qualities of love, clarity, peace, kindness, and joy. By taking a moment to behold the mystery of this creation, we are able to become luminous vessels for these awakened energies to move out into the world.
Jack Kornfield: There’s a beautiful passage in the Dhammapada where the Buddha says, “Live in joy and love even among those who hate; live in joy and peace even among the troubled.” Yes, there are troubles in the world. There’s war and hatred, there’s sickness and difficulty. And there is also an undying spirit, an inviolable consciousness that is born in each of us. It is who we are, and it’s everything and it’s nothing. We can step out of our small sense of self and awaken to this reality. One of the reasons people get confused about freedom, enlightenment, and
liberation is because this awakened consciousness has different facets or different dimensions, a bit like a crystal. If you hold this luminous crystal up to the light and turn it, it will take a beam of white light and refract it into the many colors of the spectrum. In the crystal of the awakened consciousness, one facet is love. When you rest in presence and pure awareness, sometimes everything is experienced as love because you’re connected with all that is, and
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love is simply the nature of being. If you turn the crystal one more facet, everything is seen as emptiness, and you experience directly the transparency and tentativeness of this life, where everything arises for a time and then passes away like a dream. Each moment of every day is new and then it vanishes. Where is that day? Where is that moment? If you turn the crystal yet once more, everything becomes vast silence, a timeless silence which surrounds all activity, all words, all movement. This silence is always here. If you turn it again, there is tremendous bliss, ananda in the Sanskrit language, and everything is blissful. It’s called causeless joy. Another facet of awakening is perfect clarity. The awakened heart and mind can be experienced as clarity itself, pure knowing. Other facets can arise, such as absolute peace or purity or freedom or compassion, and so on.
It’s a mysterious thing. Nobody knows why they were born or where they come from. How did we get into this funny-looking body that has a hole at one end in which we regularly stuff dead plants and animals? It’s bizarre that we got here, incarnated into this world with these bodies. What often happens within the various spiritual paths is that a person will have an experience of awakening, and will experience and embody that awakening through one facet of the crystal, whether it is peace, love, emptiness, or joy. People get confused and think that that’s what the awakened heart is. It’s really love and it’s all about love; or it’s really about emptiness, letting go, and seeing the transparency of the world like a star at dawn; or a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, an echo, a rainbow, a dream. Some other people think that awakened consciousness is really about fullness or presence, being completely present for every moment, but these experiences are only one of the dimensions of awakened consciousness. Understanding these different dimensions as facets of awakening can help with the confusion surrounding the different spiritual paths. They’re not leading to different places, but rather reflect the luminous and liberated aspects of consciousness itself. These qualities are not far away; in fact, they are right here. TS: As I hear you talking about this crystal, I wonder, is the implication that we are this crystal?
JK: Yes, but it’s not personal. It’s not you, Tami, or me, Jack. It is who we really are. It is our collective true nature. It’s a mysterious thing. Nobody knows why they were born or where they come from. How did we get into this funny-looking body that has a hole at one end in which we regularly stuff dead plants and animals? It’s bizarre that we got
here, incarnated into this world with these bodies. No one knows how this world came into being. It is a creation of consciousness itself. It’s extraordinary, a mystery. And the point isn’t to be trying to perfect this body or personality in some way, but to step into awareness and rest in the reality of the mystery. Of course, you play the game of life because you got to be incarnated. You are the mystery incarnating itself, and it’s beautiful when you remember. It’s also painful and awesome and it contains unbearable beauty and unfathomable pain—the ocean of tears and galaxy of bliss. I don’t say that lightly, but it’s what we have. TS: The ocean, the galaxy, you can’t really say those kinds of things lightly.
JK: The Buddha said, “Which do you think is more my friend, the water in the four great oceans or the tears that you have shed on this long way of taking birth again and again?” Whatever you believe cosmologically, we all know the tears of the world. We each carry a certain measure of those tears in our hearts. And at the same time, the Buddha says to live in joy even among the afflicted. Live in joy, luminosity, and peace even among the troubles of the world. Remember who you are. We have so many different practices we can engage with to open us to this mystery: to take the time to meditate, quiet the mind, open the
You are the mystery incarnating itself, and it’s beautiful when you remember. It’s also painful and awesome and it contains unbearable beauty and unfathomable pain—the ocean of tears and galaxy of bliss. I don’t say that lightly, but it’s what we have. heart; to take time in nature, read your favorite poem, listen to music that touches and inspires your heart, watch a film that makes you laugh and gives you perspective; to be with teachers that remind you of who you are, or to teach somebody else so that you’re reminding them from your deep understanding. These are all skillful means. And then you see the areas of your life where you’re still really foolish. The beloved Zen poet Ryo Kan said of himself, “Last year a foolish monk. This year, no change!” With growing awareness, you can see where you’re caught or where you suffer or where you create suffering. You can then turn toward the difficulties that arise in your life with compassion, bow, and say, These too are part of human incarnation. Use whatever has come to awaken patience, understanding, and love. Know that the freedom you seek can be found right here where you are.
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We have so many different practices we can engage with to open us to this mystery: to take the time to meditate, quiet the mind, open the heart; to take time in nature, read your favorite poem, listen to music that touches and inspires your heart, watch a film that makes you laugh and gives you perspective; to be with teachers that remind you of who you are, or to teach somebody else so that you’re reminding them from your deep understanding.
Breast Cancer Thrivers: EMPOWER
PHOTOGRAPHY: JOE LONGO
After several years of multiple breast surgeries and cancer scares, and after witnessing my mother struggle with breast cancer, I had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. I had struggled for months with how this surgery would define me as a woman. I am forty years old, have been married for eight years, and am the mother of two children. I am an oncology nurse, I have traveled the world, and hold multiple degrees. I feel like the prototypical modern woman. Yet I merely struggled with having my breasts cut off, thinking that would change it all. To help me through this experience, I decided to document, through photos, the changes in my appearance and to write about my recovery. I asked myself what breasts meant to me as a woman. I asked my husband (only half jokingly), “What will sex be like without nipples?” I worried that I had lost a significant part of my femininity. I became outraged that breasts define women’s sexuality in our society. Largely responding to my blog posts, other women have helped me recognize my bravery to have what I once considered my womanhood electively removed from my body, and that I have actually enhanced my womanhood as a result. A recent encounter proved powerful on this point. I was at the MD’s lab getting some blood work done. The usual phlebotomist I’ve known for years had been away and didn’t know I had my surgery. She mentioned that the nurse practitioner in the office had the same surgery six years ago and had the nipples tattooed. I was intrigued. The phlebotomist ran out of the room, grabbed the gal, and hopped into my cubicle excitedly. That courageous woman hoisted up her dress, exposed her breasts, and confidently flashed those beautiful nips! We hadn’t even exchange names. Inspired, I whipped out mine with their new scars and fresh stitches. We touched each other’s breasts, got re-dressed, and hugged. I hope that woman never forgets how she affected this woman. In the end, this surgery and the responses of other women—particularly this nurse practitioner—have helped me discover how much of a woman I am.
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Breast Cancer Thrivers: EMPOWER
PHOTOGRAPHY: ROBERT STURMAN
CANCER WARRIOR As I lay in the recovery room from my twentieth surgery to correct various colon problems, I was not even contemplating the results of my lumpectomy. Of the two surgeries I had that faithful day, my focus was on completing my final colon surgery and when I opened my eyes and saw my husband I asked him how things went. He told me that the colon surgery went perfectly, but he wasnâ€™t smiling. He told me I had breast cancer. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. After everything I had been through to be diagnosed with cancer was so shocking. That moment is when my battle with cancer began, and I intended to take no prisoners. As a yoga teacher, mother of six beautiful children, and wife, I knew I was surrounded by love, light, and support. I had all the tools I needed to start a fight with cancer and win. I am a glass of water half full type, not half empty. I think having a positive attitude had a tremendous impact on my recovery. I chose to show the world, my students, my family, and most importantly, my children that anything is possible. Even as my hair fell out and I was forever scarred by my reconstructive surgery, I never gave up hope. In fact, I chose not to have nipples either reconstructed or tattooed on to
cover the scars. The scars remind me of my battle and I will never cover them. I am a true believer that beauty comes from within. The chemo made me bald. The steroids made me puffy. The radiation burned my skin. The whole process made me physically
ill most days. However, my husband told me how beautiful I was every day. He did not see my bald head, how much weight I gained, or my burns. He only saw the true me, the beautiful me. That beauty comes from inside me. That beauty comes from my inner light. Take that cancer. I am a cancer warrior.
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What INSPIRES you? SPOTLIGHTS
1. Lizanne Falsetto Founder. CEO. thinkThin. thinkThin was born in my kitchen thirteen years ago—out of necessity. I worked as a fashion model for most of the ‘90s, which was very fulfilling (unlike the food). The busier things became with career and family, the harder it was to eat real, natural, nutritious foods. So for me, my friends, and women everywhere, I developed a line of high protein, low-sugar, gluten-free bars to maintain weight wellness anywhere the day takes us. THINKPRODUCTS.COM
2. Katy Saeger CEO. Saeger Media Group If you can avoid starting an agency at nine months pregnant, do. But when the time is right to do something meaningful, go. After fifteen years working with the most renowned advertising and public relations firms and the biggest brands in the world, I followed my soul cross-country to support companies that are better for our bodies, our planet, and each other. It’s my life’s work and an honor to use great storytelling to further the reach of yoga, health, wellness, and mindful living. SAEGERMEDIAGROUP.COM
3. Marci Zaroff
Founder. CEO. Under the Canopy. Inspired by the protection of life, human health, the environment, and future generations, I coined the term “ECOfashion” to revolutionize the fashion industry, fusing style with sustainability. Through education, innovation, and collaboration, my vision is to live in a world where organic/ natural products are the norm, not the alternative. With a passion for love and global commUNITY, I am dedicated to affect positive change to drive one peaceful world. MARCIZAROFF.COM
4. Tami Simon Boulder. Founder. CEO. Sounds True. In my own life, what matters the most to me is spiritual awakening, an unfolding process that involves a radical shift of identity. We move from being an isolated person trying to accomplish a specific set of goals to being a mysterious flow of cosmic love, an open vessel through which the love of the universe can pour through. What inspires me the most is to share this process of spiritual awakening with as many people as possible. I am especially excited by the opportunities that the internet and broadcast media provide for accelerating spiritual awakening on a mass scale. SOUNDSTRUE.COM PHOTO: ANDREW YOUNG
5. Jessica Robertson Co-founder. Moksha Yoga International.
When I found hot yoga, everything changed. Not just my body, but my spiritual outlook and sense of community. At the time, there were a lot of rules about how and where hot yoga should be performed, but there are infinite expressions of yoga. So we opened our first Moksha Yoga studio in Toronto in 2004, a clean space dedicated to eco sustainability and inspiring people to give back. Today there are seventy-five Moksha studios across North America. MOKSHAYOGA.CA
6. Ashley Turner M.A. Yoga teacher. Mind/Body psychotherapist. My clients are some of the most inspiring artists, activists, and leaders in the world, and it is my deepest honor to help them cultivate their purpose. My yoga DVDs have connected thousands of people to powerful physical and psychological tools for weight loss, stress relief, confidence, and clarity. I have much to be grateful for: neurobiology, Jungian psychology, Ayurveda, tantra, Peruvian Shamanism, and the ability to take clients around the globe through Skype. ASHLEYTURNER.ORG
MAD MEN STAR: BETH HALL
ADOPTION: I didn’t always know if I wanted to have a child. When I was in my twenties, I was so busy with my own life, it was fine if I didn’t. But as I got older, I knew I wanted a child as part of my life. I thought I might be a single mother and that would be okay. My mother raised three children alone since I was about six years old. But when I met my husband, I knew I wanted to have a child with him. We waited for the “right time” to try, due to other family issues and money. There’s never a right time, and I guess we waited too long. After trying to get pregnant for a few a years, I found out that I would not be able to have my own child. It took me a couple of years to get over that, of trying to figure out what my life was going to be like if I never was a mother. I had a good life, a wonderful husband, my acting career, beautiful close friends, and a supportive family. But, for me, there would always be this empty space if I did not have a child to love and nurture. My husband had two daughters from a
previous marriage and he would have been content to have our lives just continue on as it was. I approached him with the idea of adoption and he was cautiously open to it. It was clear he was doing it for me and I loved him for that. I looked into international adoption, possibly from Russia since that is my heritage. Then I decided that I wanted to adopt locally through the foster care system. We worked with a wonderful agency called Inner Circle. We went through all the classes, safety-proofed our home, and hoped that the right child would be put into our arms. We wanted a girl and we waited for the right phone call. We knew we couldn’t take a child that would likely go back to her parents after being in our home for months. It would be too hard to part with her. Your name goes on the waiting list as soon as you begin the foster/adopt process, and you work your way up the list through time. At one point, I think we were number one on the list—for over a year. Our names were etched into our social worker’s blackboard, as other
parents were matched and their names were erased. We were a little picky, but we knew we’d know when it was right. Of course, as time goes by, we are not getting any younger. Wondering when it would happen and doing the numbers was frightening. If we got a child today, how old would we be when she graduated high school? Our life was on hold, not knowing what it would be like. We thought we would get an older child, at least two or three, but our social worker called us with babies. Then we had the opportunity to have “Darla” for a few days while her foster parents were away. A perfect test situation. She was a beautiful ten-month-old girl and we adored her immediately. We told our social worker, “Yes, we’d love to adopt her.” After all, we were number one on the list. Not so fast. After weeks of trying, she went to another family. Some county worker had decided our lives. Devastated, we thought
get nine months to prepare for a newborn. We had one night. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a wink. I cried and cried, wondering if we could do
4 1/2 Years of Waiting. 1 Day to Decide. about giving up. But as time went by, I just couldn’t let it go. I kept giving it another year, another few months. If we don’t get a child by this date, I’m done. But the dates would come and go, and I’d keep pushing it back. Yes, I was older, but I still felt like I was twentyfive. Okay, a twenty-five-year-old who colors her hair because she may need to cover gray. (Who knows what’s under there anymore?) One day, we got a call about a safe-surrender baby. A newborn! We went to the hospital to see her. She was beautiful, but this was no test drive. We’d be naming her. Most people get nine months to prepare for a newborn. We had one night. Needless, to say, I didn’t sleep a wink. I cried and cried, wondering if we could do this. Could I do this to my husband? To my step-daughters? I picked up the phone two or three times to tell my social worker, “No,” but I just couldn’t say it. My husband left the decision to me and I went back to the hospital the next day with my mom. I held this little bundle and said,
“Here is my daughter, Nina Jane!” She has been in our home from the day she was born. I had a newborn baby and was scared to death. After the initial panic and terror, she has been the biggest blessing of our lives. Everyone loves her. She has brought our whole family even closer together. We finalized the adoption nine months later, which is extremely quick. My husband has thanked me often for not giving up so we could have Nina in our lives. The emptiness I had felt for so many years has vanished. Being an actor, you never know what the next day will bring. That is exciting and maddening at the same time. It’s nice not to have that in my personal life. Meeting other parents of the kids she is around has been a nice surprise as well. The reality has turned out even better than the fantasy. I truly believe she will keep us young—so far, no one has thought that I am her grandmother! I know what my future is now. I love it.
this. Could I do this to my husband? To my step-daughters? I picked up the phone two or three times to tell my social worker, “No,” but I just couldn’t say it.
How do I heal emotionally from an abortion? How can I forgive myself? Even if I’m happy to not have a baby right now, I’m still grieving the loss of it. And it was an unwanted pregnancy. MICHELLE P.
Michelle, thank you for sharing such a highly personal experience. I acknowledge your vulnerability. The decision to have an abortion challenges us on so many levels— responsibility, relationship, religion. It can rock the core of our identity as a woman. And the nature of biology often dictates that we rush the decision, leaving us fixated in the conflictedness. After the fact, it’s easy to take up residence in the land of “what ifs.” It’s important to draw a line in the sand and step over it, creating energetic closure on the actual event and making space for the healing process to begin. Just as a stab wound won’t heal until the knife is removed, the first step in healing any emotional trauma is being ready to heal. There are three areas in which substantial healing can take place: 1 Moving toward emotional healing always begins with an exploration and articulation of our feelings. Name the pain. Often, something that shows up as grief is really anger or shame in disguise. By sorting through and detangling the emotional threads, we can begin to work through them one at a time. It’s helpful to recognize that we often feel six ways at once, like our emotions are slugging it out inside of us. The truth is, conflicting emotions can, and usually do, co-exist in us. How often do we feel joy and remorse simultaneously as we indulge in another piece of chocolate? Our inability to resolve inner conflict and find peace is rooted in our inability to allow conflicting feelings to co-exist. Stop struggling. Start allowing.
Just as a stab wound won’t heal until the knife is removed, the first step in healing any emotional trauma is being ready to heal.
ZOË KORS is a highly trained, double-certified Co-Active Coach and member of the International Coach Federation. Her work draws on the principles of Eastern philosophy and the healing practices of yoga, tantra, breathwork, and meditation. In each issue, Zoë will answer a question from one of our readers about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Please submit questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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2 Part of the healing work is looking at the stories we are telling ourselves. Our feelings are often a direct result of a perspective we have chosen or that has unknowingly been chosen for us by our family, community, or partner. It’s essential to connect with who we really are and lean into our own values. Another piece of this is noticing what expectations we have that aren’t being met. How do you think the people around you should or shouldn’t have felt about this pregnancy and abortion? What do you feel about having those expectations dashed? 3 After a heavy emotional process, I often find comfort and resolution in what I call a “Completion Ritual.” You can design this in whatever way resonates with you. One suggestion would be to find some stillness to connect with your innermost self. Write a note to your unborn baby. It can be however long or short feels right to you. Fold it up and wrap it in a red cloth. Then bury it in the earth with some fresh seeds. You will be grounding your love and gratitude in Mother Earth, while transmuting the energy of potential life into new growth from the seeds. Ultimately, true healing is deeply personal and you will arrive there over time. Emotional healing always comes down to the same thing in the end. Our capacity to navigate our lives with grace is directly related to our capacity for compassion. You ask about forgiving yourself. Forgiveness is the icing on the compassion cake. Once we find compassion for ourselves or someone who has not met our expectation, forgiveness comes easy. In the meantime, be good to yourself. PHOTO: AMIR MAGAL
Leaders for a Cause 1 Dr. Satkirin Khalsa
2 Rachelle Tratt
3 Valerie Gangas
Venice Beach/Marina Del Rey. Founder. Creator. The Neshama Project. Yoga teacher.
Chicago. Owner. Wonderlust Living.
My mission in life is to visualize, realize, and maximize the full potential of my soul, so that I may be present to teach others ready to do the same. I am a woman physician, whose goals are driven by an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an unwavering dedication as a teacher. I move forward with an open heart and compassion for the human condition.
“In every day, in every moment, find ways to make someone smile, wake them up, give them hope, and let them shine.” It is The Neshama Project’s privileged mission to have a special hamsa necklace as a tool to help support and spread the message of many organizations and people who are making this world a healthier, brighter, and more soulful place.
The David Lynch Foundation is by far my favorite cause. This foundation has changed so many lives by making the technique of Transcendental Meditation available to at-risk populations, which include U.S. veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), inner city students, American Indians, and homeless and incarcerated men. Transcendental Meditation has absolutely changed my life. Through the work of this amazing foundation, it continues to help people around the globe.
PHOTO: AMIR MAGAL
PHOTO: JAI GIRARD PHOTOGRAPHY
Shifting the Planet 4 Brooke Hamblet
5 Andréa Balt
6 Rebecca Tate
Fort Worth. Owner. Director. Indigo Yoga & Mission:Possible.
Madrid. Writer. Wellness alchemist. Co-Founder. Rebelle Society.
Boulder. Event Manager. Wake Up Festival.
When I look into the eyes of an addict, I see my mother. Even though she couldn’t beat the darkness, her reflection shows me hope and purpose. My favorite cause is teaching yoga and practicing change for Mission: Possible, an outreach program for addicts in recovery in Fort Worth, Texas.
I want to redefine our understanding of art as a way of operating by bringing it out of museums and objects, and back into every area of our humanity. Help reinstate our personal power, uniqueness, and interdependence through daily nurturing and the use of two of our most basic human needs: creativity and rebellion. Re-create a 21st century version of the Renaissance.
My life has been blessed by the opportunity to connect and transform with people who are boldly and courageously moving towards greater consciousness in their lives. My vision is to provide a gateway to this opportunity for others—a space in which men and women can receive the inspiration, knowledge, experience, and companionship to support their own deepest unfolding. I’m interested in helping people discover the tools that most resonate with their own unique path towards greater intimacy with themselves and others.
Throw the Dog a Bone JUD TYLOR
Each year, millions of animals are euthanized at local shelters because of overpopulation. Almost half of the animals brought into these shelters are euthanized because suitable homes can’t be found for them. Animal rescue, a cause close to my heart, can lead to the safety of millions of these lost souls. I had a dog growing up, and a series of them throughout my adult life. In fact, right now my closest companion is a coyote mutt mix named Harley. In my opinion, he is the coolest dog ever. He growls when he’s really excited to see me, never holds a grudge, licks himself like a cat, hates getting his feet wet in puddles, stretches out on his back across my pillow, and wakes me up every morning at 6:30 a.m.! He truly is the love of my life. I found Harley at a kill shelter in Lancaster. That day I viewed hundreds of dogs and watched more animals entering the shelter than leaving with new owners. The math made me queasy. I had narrowed my choice down to three dogs: a fluffy, affectionate golden retriever mix; a sweet, chocolate lab puppy; and a scruffy little black mutt. We already had a large dog, so more than one dog was absolutely out of the question. I decided to take the night to make my decision. Suddenly, fate stepped in. One of the employees at the shelter told me that the little black mutt would “be gone” the following morning. The other two had a few more days left to find prospective homes. The decision was made, a life long companionship created. The best dog I’ve ever had was hours away from death row when I adopted him. Almost four million dogs are put down every year—one PHOTO: CHRISTINA GANDOLPHO (LEFT) 72 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
every eight seconds—making euthanasia the leading cause of death for dogs. The good news is, it’s easy to make a difference, and there are many ways to do it. I volunteer for local shelters and rescue groups, transport dogs, and donate supplies. I find animal fosters and adoptees who can give an animal the love they’ve never had, or the safe home they’ve never experienced. Most importantly, I try to spread the word about the importance of spaying and neutering pets. I work closely with Love Those Paws Rescue, a rescue group that is truly passionate. This organization is dedicated to rescuing dogs that have been left homeless, dogs in public shelters facing a high risk of euthanasia, and those that are in danger of abuse and neglect. They place their canine friends in loving, committed “forever” homes, and spay and neuter all animals in their care. They are always looking for fosters, adoptees, dog transporters, and volunteers for adoption events. I urge anyone who’s interested to visit lovethosepawsrescue.com. Making the choice to adopt could be the best decision of your life. It was for me.
JUD TYLOR made her acting debut in the film My 5 Wives. She has starred in films such as What About Love with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Anne Heche. Her television credits include What About Brian, Raising the Bar, Mad Men, and Two and a Half Men. Tylor will appear with Harrison Ford in the forthcoming film 42.
INTERVIEW: ROBERT PIPER
Ashley Bell: Passion for a Skill Ashley Bell is an animal lover and vegetarian. Bell made her feature film debut in the thriller The Last Exorcism and is currently producing and directing a documentary film about the release of two elephants held in captivity. Her latest movies include The Last Exorcism: Part II, The Marine: Homefront, and The Bounce Back.
Ashley Bell: Hi Robert, how are you? Robert Piper: Good, how are you?
AB: I am just great. I’m in New Orleans right now. It’s Mardi Gras here, and I was on a float yesterday. RP: That’s great. One of the things that’s really incredible is to see how you incorporate so much dedication and passion into your work. Can you explain how this passion has driven your career?
AB: First of all, thank you so much. That really means a lot to me. Yes, I love my job. It’s such a privilege to be able to play such complicated characters. Growing up, I wanted to be a billion different things. I realized in order for that to happen, I don’t have to be them all because the characters I want to play require such research and such a transformation to make that work—that’s something that I love doing. RP: You really commit to the character.
AB: Yes. For The Last Exorcism, I researched a lot of real exorcisms. I watched videos of exorcisms, I listened to tapes, and I read actual accounts of priests’ logs. I also looked at a lot of the physicality. I would look into fits of hysteria and look at energies of people in manic, hysteric fits. RP: That brings up this topic of uncertainty. In life, there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty, and you experienced that by going into new territories with your acting.
AB: That’s when things get fun. I also play the devil, and when you’re playing the devil, you’re playing the ultimate evil. There are no boundaries. In doing a film in the horror genre or a psychological thriller, you’re really pushed as an actress, you’re pushed way outside of your comfort zone. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. That’s when things really get fun. Also, I did a post-apocalyptic film I’m proud of, called The Day. That required a huge transformation. I got a chance to do my own stunts. I studied Muay Thai fighting.
RP: That so cool! You direct and produce, as well?
AB: This is a new venture for me. I studied directing at NYU and also at Cambridge University, but this is the first time I’m sort of stepping behind the camera. I’m doing a documentary with elephants. I’m following the capture and release of two Asian elephants. RP: An incredible vision for a documentary. Where can we learn more?
AB: loveandbananas.com LOVEANDBANANAS.COM ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 73
Dr. Andrew Weil: On Changing the Current Paradigm in Healthcare INTERVIEW: ROBERT PIPER
Integrative medicine, something I’ve pioneered, is the way of the future. Its great promise is that it can reduce healthcare costs by shifting the whole focus of healthcare away from disease management to health promotion and prevention.
Robert Piper: You’re a true pioneer in your industry. Can you talk about how you literally opened up a new field of healthcare?
Dr. Andrew Weil: I think integrative medicine, something I’ve pioneered, is the way of the future. Its great promise is that it can reduce healthcare costs by shifting the whole focus of healthcare away from disease management to health promotion and prevention. They can do that two ways: first, by focusing attention on lifestyle medicine, which is very deficient. And second, by PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DR.WEIL.COM 74 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
bringing into the mainstream treatments that are lower cost because they are not dependent on expensive technology. RP: Early in your career you were the pioneer of integrative medicine. You dealt with criticism. Can you explain how you maintained focus on your goal?
AW: I’ve always been called “controversial.” I think if I were not controversial I wouldn’t be doing my job. I tried to change the conventional paradigm, for example, by insisting on the reality of mind-body
interaction, by stressing the importance of natural therapies, by focusing attention on lifestyle issues, by looking at worthwhile aspects of alternative medicine. Many people have been threatened by that. Doctors especially tend to think that they know everything about the human body, and don’t realize that medical education has really omitted many very important subjects. RP: What most inspires you about your work?
AW: The Arizona Center for Integrative
RP: You’re a big fan of meditation. Can you explain why a meditation practice is so essential?
AW: I think it’s useful on many different levels. First of all, it’s a very useful relaxation technique. Secondly, it trains attention and concentration, which are useful in almost any activity—athletic performance, musical performance, cooking, anything. Learning to focus attention and concentration is very useful; meditation can help you do that. Thirdly, it’s a way to restructure the mind by learning to detach attention from thinking and put it somewhere else. That’s a useful long-term strategy for optimal emotional health because thoughts and images in the mind are often sources of fear and worry.
I’ve always been called “controversial.” I think if I were not controversial I wouldn’t be doing my job. I tried to change the conventional paradigm by insisting on the reality of mind-body interaction, by stressing the importance of natural therapies, by focusing attention on lifestyle issues, by looking at worthwhile aspects of alternative medicine.
Dr. Andrew Weil is Founder and Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona, and Director of Integrative Health and Healing at the Miraval Resort. For more information, visit drweil.com.
RP: Can you talk about the role of stress in our culture? it seems to be an epidemic.
AW: I don’t think you can live without stress; I think the human life is stressful, and it probably always has been, although the forms of stress may change from culture to culture and from time to time. I think it’s worth trying to do something about obvious sources of stress in your life. But even more important is learning and practicing methods to neutralize the harmful effects of stress on the body and mind. There are many possibilities, anything from meditation and yoga to listening to relaxing music. My personal favorite is simple breathing techniques— they’re very effective, take very little time, and they’re free. RP: Can you talk about the mission behind your foundation?
AW: The Weil Foundation was created to channel money to integrative medicine educational programs both at the University of Arizona and around the country. It receives all of my after-tax profits from the sale of products that have my name and likeness on it. It has supported fellowship training at various universities and medical students’ trainings. I’m hoping that we will continue to expand and be able to give away more grants.
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Medicine has now enrolled its one thousandth fellow. These are physicians in intensive two year training, so we’ve graduated over 900 physicians from this training. They are in practice all over the country. Some are training other people and publishing textbooks. Seeing this growing number of health professionals “get it” and really represent the generation—that’s extremely satisfying to me.
TOP ATHLETES + FLORA AMBASSADORS
What Turns You On?
Scott Jurek. Ultramarathoner. Those moments when I am running and it seems effortless, when time stands still and nothing matters but the present moment. There’s a Taoist principle called wu wei, “doing without doing.” This is the ultimate goal when I go for a run. SCOTTJUREK.COM PHOTOS: LUIS ESCOBAR (LEFT), BEN MOON (RIGHT)
Max King. Ultrarunner. IAAF World Mountain Running Championships—1st. 3X Olympic Trials Qualifier. I’m an easily excitable person. I get turned on by competition, pitting myself and my fitness against others, and pushing our bodies to the brink to find out who’s stronger and tougher. I love testing my limits in the mountains and wilderness and places I haven’t been to yet. When I’m able to put those two things together into an epic new trail run or race, amazing things happen. I get excited watching youth push themselves to new levels as well, so I coach middle school cross country and track to give back to a sport that has given me so much and taught me how to feel alive. RUNNERSPACE.COM/MAXIMUS 76 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
Olympic Runner. 2012 London Olympic Finalist. 3000m Steeplechase. 8x NCAA All-American in Cross-Country 5000m Run + 3000m Steeplechase. Grinding turns me on. I love that grind when I’m just training hard, eating well, sleeping like a rock, and getting faster. All on repeat as I prepare for that next big race. PHOTO: JAMES COLE
Adam Campbell. Ultrarunner. 3X Canadian Mountain Running Team Qualifier. 2012 Chuckanut 50k–1st. 2012 Arc’teryx Squamish 50–1st. One of my greatest pleasures in running are those times when I’m running high in the mountains, and all I can hear are my footsteps on the trail, my breath, and the sounds of nature around me. During these runs, I feel most in tune with my body and the places I’m running, making the act effortless and highly meditative. That quiet effort brings incredible inner peace and gives me a deep appreciation of the places I’m moving through. I wish more people would give themselves that time for deep reflection, both inwards and outwards. The world would be a better place for it. CDAMAAMPBELL.BLOGSPOT.CA ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 77
Top Plant-based Athletes: How does diet enhance performance? ACTIVE
Leilani Münter. Race car driver. Eco activist. My performance is better because I am healthier and I have more energy. In general, I feel better because of the compassionate choices I have made for both my diet and my life. The kind of life you choose to lead is defined by the moral choices you make every single day. When I make decisions that I can feel good about, whether it be the companies I allow on the side of my race car or the food on my plate, I feel better about everything. I think that has a positive effect on everything I do, both on or off the racetrack.
CARBONFREEGIRL.COM PHOTO: CRAIG DAVIDSON
Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow. Guinness World Records™ Record Holder. Longest yoga marathon. It’s important to me to feel flexible, strong, and energetic. My plant-based, low-gluten diet is key to me being able to digest quickly and efficiently, as I practice and teach numerous classes a day. The alkaline and nutrient-dense properties of leafy greens, lentils, seeds, organic cold-pressed oils, sweet potatoes, asparagus, apples, and pears—all of which are my staples—have great benefits for athletes. These foods help stabilize blood sugar, balance hormones, and reduce inflammation. Plus, for environmental and social reasons, I think it’s imperative to source the food we eat as ethically as possible. It’s good for the soul.
YASMINYOGA.COM PHOTO: NICK RUDNICKI
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Heather Mills. Competitive Skier. Never sick in twenty years. Healed an amputated leg, crushed pelvis, and punctured lung in record time when no hospital could. Competed without tiring in Dancing with the Stars and Dancing on Ice (flying twelve hours each week). Created Redwood/VBites to satisfy my animal-eating friendsâ€™ cravings, reduce their cholesterol, and boost their energy to become top athletes. Became a ski racer at the age of forty-five, winning gold medals, sustaining nine injuries, healing at record speed, and heading to the Winter Games in Sotchi, Russia.
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Top Plant-based Athletes: ACTIVE
Hillary Biscay. Ironman Champion. My plant-based diet has greatly improved my breathing by eliminating dairy products. I can now push myself harder without gasping for air. Also, I can run almost entirely without stomach pain resulting from poor food choices. And finally, I can compete with a clear conscience, knowing that I am not using animals to fuel my activities. HILLARYBISCAY.com
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ACTIVE PHOTO: ROB CAMPBELL
Brendan Brazier. Endurance athlete. Author. Creator. Vega. Over the course of the last three years, I believe we’ve seen a greater leap forward in the plant-based sports performance nutrition world than we had in the previous ten. While it’s still in its infancy in terms of mainstream adoption, we’re on the cusp of having a high-net gain, alkaline-forming, nutrient dense, plant-based whole food diet being the new performance standard for the elite. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of these extraordinary athletes. From modern dance to yoga to the Olympics to NHL, NFL, and UFC—these athletes have shown that not only is it possible to be a high-level athlete by eating this way, but that it offers a significant advantage. And while these athletes are among the early adopters—the pioneers—believe me, in the coming years, many will follow in their footsteps. THRIVEFORWARD.COM
PHOTO: MELISSA SCHWARTZ
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Top Plant-based Athletes
Mike Zigomanis. Professional hockey player. Stanley Cup winner. My performance is better because I have more energy, I feel strong and fit, and I recover quicker. Getting the right nutrients gives me a sustained energy source that lasts through a full game or practice. My inflammation levels have dropped significantly, which allows me to play with less pain and recover quickly. A big part of my training relies on Vega products, as they give me an edge on and off the ice.
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Vibrant silhouettes and 4-way fabrics move with every stretch, every pose, and every minute of your class.
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Top Athletes: How Do You Stay Focused? ACTIVE
Ian Dory. Rock Climber. Boulderer. International Developer. Anytime I step up to a wall there is a clock that begins to unravel in my mind. My thoughts always slip to the words of my first coach/trainer, which have developed into my personal mantra: “Breathe, relax, smile, and bring it.” This phrase alters my feeling to where I can stay relaxed and focused. It reminds me of the real reason I climb, because I love it and I do it for me. I know that as long as I stay in this mindset, there isn’t an ounce of competition or challenge I cannot over come. Riding this frequency is the only reason I can complete at a high level. Having fun during high-pressure situations allows me to perform at my maximum potential and unveil my true strengths and abilities.
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Mayan Smith-Gobat. Professional Rock Climber. On a long term basis, I maintain my focus and psych for climbing by both traveling and changing up what aspect of climbing I focus on, climbing on different types of rock and with different styles of climbing. I go through phases of focusing on hard sport climbing, bouldering, and long multi-pitch routes. While actually in the process of climbing on a route, I have always simply tried to focus in on every individual move and block out the rest of the world. While on a challenging climb, it is the only thing which exists. This is something I have always been able to do, and possibly one of the things which attracted me to the sport initiallyâ€”the ability to zone out to the world and be fully immersed in the moment. Often, on a route I know well, it feels like I am not consciously thinking at all anymore.
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Jon Cardwell. Professional Rock Climber. Keeping a balanced center is one of the most important fundamentals of rock climbing. Climbing at your limit is strenuous on your body and mind, and us climbers are faced with these challenges daily. For me, itâ€™s important to stay motivated throughout the entire process and embrace these challenges. I try to do new things every day that inspire me. Sometimes itâ€™s a matter of switching disciplines from bouldering to sport climbing, preparing for a trip or a new climb, staying outdoors, or even taking a step back to recover. These things keep me focused on the end goal, and help me to never deviate from my plans. Staying motivated keeps the process fun. I will always enjoy this cycle of up and down.
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Chelsea Rude. Professional Rock Climber. I try to be well balanced physically and mentally. I find that hiking with my dog and taking a few moments to close my eyes in the sun while taking a few deep breaths helps me to maintain my center. Maybe itâ€™s the peacefulness of it all: being in the mountains, having the sunshine on my face, smelling the crisp air of Colorado, and being fully content with life. This moment of recharge helps me continue, helps me push my limits in all aspects of life. With that, I feel able to be strong and confident. CHELSEANICHOLERUDE.WORDPRESS.COM
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Nina Williams. Professional Rock Climber.
I maintain my focus through calm, positive thoughts, and careful breathing. When I’m climbing, it’s me and the rock, so clearing my head of distraction is important. My breathing allows me to slow down my heart rate and recover after spending a lot of energy on a particular move during a climb. I feel most centered when I am confident in my abilities; I’ve found that cutting out words such as “maybe” or “impossible” has been the first step towards building that confidence. It is when these factors combine that I feel the strongest and most connected to my climbing.
NINAWILLIAMS.TUMBLR.COM PHOTO: BEAU KAHLER
Benjamin Rueck. Professional Rock Climber. Depending on the situation and stress level, there are different tricks that I use to maintain focus and center while climbing, especially when it is something at my level. Some of my tricks include: listening to music, focusing on my breathing and heart rate, and reevaluating where I am at mentally to shift my expectations. On those high gravity days, I can change my perspective from red-pointing a route to hitting a high point or learning something new—this gives me the confidence to crush when I need to and not get incredibly frustrated if I don’t. BENRUECK.WORDPRESS.COM
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practice made perfect
Patagonia Yoga clothing was created for athletes who, like our own ambassadors, practice yoga to cultivate the mobility and focus required to pursue their passion at the highest level.
Above: Caroline Gleich, Patagonia snow ambassador
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From Trash to Treasure: The Hula Hoop Gets a Second Turn
My first hula hoop went straight into the trash after my fourth birthday party, still gift-wrapped. But the universe has a sense of humor and a stubborn streak, so twenty-four years later it gave me one more chance. A friend gifted me with an adult-sized hoop—and this time it stuck. ACTIVE
I’ve made hooping my career, and now travel the globe training and certifying instructors as the Lead Master Trainer for Hoopnotica, the world’s largest hoop fitness company. Yes, hooping is an outstanding workout—the American Council on Exercise proved that it torches 400 to 600 calories an hour—but benefits burn even brighter. Hoopers report relief from conditions ranging from depression to multiple sclerosis. Like yoga, it’s moving meditation: we lose ourselves in the rhythm of our hoops, and in doing so find peace, fulfillment, and a childlike joy. In short, we find ourselves. JACQUIBECKER.COM
PHOTO: ERAJ ASADI
OLIVIA HSU prAna Ambassador. Rock climber. Yogi. INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive?
whatever happens happens and everything will be fine.
MP: Any issues or causes you’re passionate about?
Olivia Hsu: When I am rock climbing or practicing or teaching yoga, I feel a greater connection to the body, mind, and spirit. Being in the natural environment makes me feel alive, too. There is something about the elements that makes you feel vulnerable and exposed.
MP: What affects your performance?
MP: How do you maintain your center in the middle of chaos or stress?
MP: How does being surrounded in nature affect you?
OH: I volunteer by teaching climbing clinics for a group called HERA Climb4Life. It’s an organization that fundraises for ovarian cancer awareness and research. I also am involved with a group called First Descents, a nonprofit that provides outdoor camps for cancer survivors. I volunteer my time teaching yoga at the camps.
OH: Being a practitioner and teacher yoga. Yoga helps me maintain a sense of calm in the middle of stress and chaos. Our attachment makes us always want to be in control. Practicing non-attachment helps me with stressful or chaotic situations because it enables me to think,
OH: It makes me feel a greater sense of a connection to the world we live in. There is nothing like fresh air, the sights and the sounds of being in nature. To see the world in its true form is otherworldly. To feel the rain, snow, sun, wind, sand on your face is an amazing sensation.
OH: The amount of sleep or lack of sleep. Food—what you put into your body is important. Our emotions can affect performance, too. I believe that we hold a great deal of emotion in our bodies.
MP: What would you like to create in the world?
OH: I would like to create greater love, compassion, and understanding in our world. OLIVIAHSU.COM
TALIA GANGINI DECOITE prAna Ambassador. Ocean Athlete. Jewelry Designer. INTERVIEW: MARANDA PLEASANT Maranda Pleasant: What makes you comes alive?
Talia Gangini Decoite: I feel the most alive when I am seeking the things that God has for me, in the ocean, surfing, standup paddling, designing jewelry, singing and dancing in creation, and when I am surrounded by people who are pursuing something greater than themselves. MP: How do you maintain your center in the middle of chaos or stress?
TGD: That is probably one of the hardest things to control. That’s when I remind myself that I am not in control, so I look to the creator of all, where I always find relief, joy, and strength. MP: What makes you feel vulnerable?
TGD: When I know I am doing something that wouldn’t be the best for me or someone else.
MP: What would you like to create in the world?
MP: What affects your performance?
TGD: I would like to be used to create Passion for the Truth, Love, and Peace.
TGD: My attitude and how I prepare are what affect my performance.
MP: How does being surrounded in nature affect you?
TGD: When I am surrounded by nature, I feel closer to God. His creation helps remind me this is not my home forever. MP: Any issues or causes you’re passionate about?
TGD: A hope to inspire people of all ages to pursue and do what they love.
DANCING THE ROAD TO HAPPINESS NATALIE DREYFUSS
It felt like I had failed and quit, but really I made the best decision of my life.
I was about six years old and watching a figure skater on TV when I said to my mom, “I want to do that.” After one lesson, I started skating before and after school, private coaching, competitions—the works. From then on, Mom knew that when I said I wanted to do something, I wasn’t going to treat it like a normal kid with fleeting interest. Even though I was winning these skating competitions, it wasn’t the skating part I was particularly good at. I wasn’t the daredevil going fast and jumping high. I was just a graceful, tiny dancer on ice. Once I figured out I could do what I was good at while staying safe and warm, it was goodbye skating, hello ballet. I took dance as seriously as skating, if not more so. It came before everything—school, homework, and friends. It was my entire identity. After leaving high school to dance on the East Coast, this childhood dream of being a perfect prima ballerina was becoming more of a nightmare. The dance world is extremely abusive. It was killing my body and my sense of self. My mom begged me to come home to California, but there was no turning back. I had to make that decision for myself. I had injured my Achilles tendon and was dancing on it against the advice of my doctors. One day at rehearsal, I told the director I was going to sit and watch the class because I was in so much pain. He looked at me and said, “I hope you know the teachers have a betting
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pool in the lounge whether you will dance or not. Thanks for the five bucks.” I was fifteen years old. It crushed me that they saw me as lazy. I was so far from home, working so hard, and had given up my whole life to be there. I walked up to him and said, “What exactly is it that I have to do to prove myself to you? The only reason I am sitting now is so that I don’t have to sit forever. I’m miserable and sick of trying to please you. I’m going home.” I threw my stuff in trash bags and got on a plane. It was terrifying. Who was I if I wasn’t the ballerina I worked most of my life to be? Ten years later, I look back and am so grateful every day that I got out. I am so proud of that little girl for choosing to be happy over success. It felt like I had failed and quit, but really I made the best decision of my life. I find acting to be the opposite of dance. In ballet you strive every day to fit a perfect mold that you are never going to fit, while acting is all about breaking the mold, being boldly unique, and standing out from the crowd. Most actors see their career as a journey to the top. I feel so blessed that I don’t see it that way. There is no top. There’s only happiness and enjoying the job while you’re in it. If it stopped making me happy, I have faith in myself that I would walk away and know in my heart that it was right. I have had an incredible experience with this business and I feel very successful. I don’t need fame or fortune to feel like I’ve “made it.” I’m making it now, and I love it.
Wear Your Diamonds on the Inside Our heavenly tarts are filled with extra virgin coconut oil to make you glow from the inside out. Come see us at the Natural Products Expo Booth #1488 March 8-11, 2013 in Anaheim, CA
Tending the Heart Fire SHIVA REA Our Heart Fire, the energetic center of our bodies, functions as a pulse of life, just as the sun functions as the life pulse for our solar system. At the center of the magnificent and elegant universe of the body is our very own sun, the heart. Within this heart burns a fire. Fire is at the core of our existence. From the original primordial fire of the Big Bang to the generative energy of the sun, all life depends on light and heat for creation and survival. Our Heart Fire, the energetic center of our bodies, functions as a pulse of life, just as the sun functions as the life pulse for our solar system. As the sun radiates the heat that warms the planet and animates all life, our hearts pump blood and nutrients throughout the body, sending electromagnetic waves outward that connect to the world around us. There are thousands of examples of how our external environment and our bodies work in unison. As such, the vinyasa, or flow, of our bodies—what we eat, when we sleep, when we create, when we rest—seeks to be in harmony with the natural rhythms of the natural world and our source of energy, the sun. Just as the length of days increases in spring and summer, releasing a great generative energy that allows for new buds on the trees and a great expanse of green to blanket the earth, our bodies experience windows of potential for creation. And just as the world around us darkens in winter, our bodies seek to move inward, rest, and reflect in the season of winter and in the night. The cycles of time are mapped in the body— and when we attune to those internal and external forces, we are able to experience enormous peace, harmony, creativity, and longevity. In the typical working world, in a life that becomes ever more mechanized and urban, we need to find a new way of being. Yet it isn’t entirely a new way of being, but a return to the ways of our ancestors, who placed the movements of the environment at the foreground of their lives. As such, much wisdom is actually a remembering of what our bodies already know to be true. When we sync our lives with fire in our hearts, we can access the wild joys of creation and manifestation, the spontaneous bursts of newness and discovery. Similarly, we can access the slowing and inward movements that allow us to fall back into the wide, spacious quiet of gestation and rejuvenation, which is critical for finding peace and wholeness in our bodies. Everything in nature, and everything in our being, goes through a process of expansion and contraction. It is the heartbeat, expanding and contracting, that keeps us alive. This living in deep attunement to the natural rhythms of the planet is what I call “living in flow with the pulse of life.”
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Nothing Unsaid SEANE CORN
My father fought and clung heroically to life, but it was not because he was afraid of death. He wanted to stay a part of the conversation and wasn’t quite ready to let go of bearing witness to all that this conscious life offered. The most challenging experience of my life was watching my father die, slowly and painfully, from kidney cancer in 2010. He was diagnosed in 2003 and given four months to live, but managed to survive for another seven years. Seven years of experimental drugs, of vomit, of spitting blood, of tumors and sores on his skin and tongue. Seven years of inappropriate cancer jokes, deep conversations, magical thinking, promises sworn, intimacy shared. Seven years of coming to terms, secrets confessed, regrets acknowledged, forgiveness asked and given, requests made, futures discussed, and a funeral to plan. In those seven years I was not only a daughter but also a soul companion aiding one of its own to transition. I experienced emotions unimaginable—unless, of course, you’ve also held in your arms the wasted, barely breathing carcass of a man still your father yet unrecognizable. Then you know what I mean. My father fought and clung heroically to life, but it was not because he was afraid of death. He wanted to stay a part of the conversation and wasn’t quite ready to let go of bearing witness to all that this conscious life offered. Dying, he let us know, sucked. But death itself was not something to fear. We spoke about it freely and openly, the same way we spoke in our house about cancer, love, sex, everything. My father wanted to talk about it all. This allowed me to process the pain, fear, grief, confusion, and anger, as well as the deep, deep love I had felt and feel to this day. This is what got me through this time. Talking it out. My father gave me the gift of communication and created the space for me to be present to all the many complicated feelings that arose during his dying and his death. Nothing was repressed or unsaid. As a result of this freedom to fully express, we were both able to let go.
WAKE UP FESTIVAL • AUGUST 14-18, 2013 • ESTES PARK, CO • WAKEUPFESTIVAL.COM
Y O G A F E S T I VA L 6 T H A N N UA L F E S T I VA L
J U LY 1 1 – 1 4 , 2 0 1 3
tias little aadil palkhivala beryl bender birch nancy stechert duncan wong pamela quinn madhuri martin allison english and many more
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YOGA& VEGANISM HOLY COW!
As a yoga practitioner with some understanding of how karma works, you have to ask the question, “If I am seeking liberation, will it serve my purpose to rob other beings of their freedom?” We ourselves can never be free if we rob others of their freedom.
Q: Don’t cows need to be milked? Isn’t it cruel not to milk them?
A: A cow, like other mammals (including human females), doesn’t give milk unless she is pregnant or has given birth to a baby. The milk her body produces is intended to provide nourishment for her baby. In our modern dairies, calves never get to nurse from their mothers longer than a few hours. They are taken away and fed synthetic formulas laden with growth-stimulating drugs and other pharmaceuticals, while we steal the milk for ourselves. Farmers profit financially from this theft and degradation. We are the only animals who steal and drink the milk from other species. Dr. Benjamin Spock, a leading authority on child nutrition, printed an apology in the eighth edition of his bestselling book, Baby and Child Care, for ever suggesting feeding cow’s milk to babies. He also advised a plant-
based diet for children, writing that children can get plenty of protein and iron from vegetables, beans, and other plant foods, and thus avoid the fat and cholesterol in animal products. Q: Aren’t cows sacred to yogis? Aren’t milk and ghee considered perfect sattvic foods for a yogi?
A: Yoga may have originated in India, where the cow has been revered as sacred for thousands of years, but times have changed since Lord Krishna played his flute for the cows of Vrindavan. There are factory farms in India now. European cows have been inbred with the native cows of India, resulting in a short-legged breed that is no longer useful in the heavy work of pulling carts or plowing fields. This doesn’t limit the ability of the cows to produce milk, but approximately half the calves born are male. What happens to all the male calves being born in dairies?
Their bodies wind up in the large black market focusing on beef and the sale of other products derived from cows. India is the leading exporter of leather to America and Europe. The tanning process involved in the manufacture of leather is highly toxic and maims or kills thousands of people every year, as well as contributing to environmental pollution. Since it is illegal in many Indian states to kill a cow, there is currently much denial and secrecy surrounding the exploitation of cows in India. Q: Is it okay to drink organic milk?
A: Cows that are fed organic food are still kept as slaves on farms, regardless of whether it is a large corporate factory farm or a small family farm. As a yoga practitioner with some understanding of how karma works, you have to ask the question, “If I am seeking liberation, will it serve my purpose to rob other beings of their freedom?” We ourselves can never be free if we rob others of their freedom. Besides, every dairy cow, no matter what she has been fed, ends up in the slaughterhouse. Milk is not a benign by-product. Sharon Gannon is the co-founder of the Jivamukti Yoga method and the author of Yoga & Vegetarianism: the Diet of Enlightenment. JIVAMUKTIYOGA.COM
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What is your favorite outdoor place and activity?
BOULDER. YOGA GUIDE.
DENVER. SENIOR JAVA DEVELOPER. UNIVERSITY OF DENVER.
FORT WORTH. DIRECTOR OF GROWTH/ SEED SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE & MARKETING SOLUTIONS.
AUSTIN. FOUNDER. ARTISTIC DIRECTOR. RATTLETREE SCHOOL OF MARIMBA.
I can combine my need for simplicity and exercise with the beauty and tranquility of St. Barths when I’m on a sailboat. Close your eyes and imagine: bright blue skies above you, electric blue water below you, the sun on your face (SPF 45, of course), and the wind in your hair. It will cure what ails you, indeed!
There is nothing I enjoy more than play at outdoor music festivals. At a great festival, everyone is there to have a good time, and the energy transmission between the audience and the stage just makes me forget all sense of time and space—it’s the best meditation!
Since childhood, much of my playtime has been backpacking and skiing in the mountains near Aspen and in the desert near Moab, Utah. On these adventures, everything I need is on my back. Silence is loud and life simply is. I am reminded what a miraculous and precious treat it is to inhabit the Earth. PHOTO: TMOPHOTO.COM
My favorite outdoor activities are walking my dogs, hiking, and yoga. The fresh air, the smell of grass, the sounds of birds, bugs, and trickling water, and the sun’s heat engulfing my body—these things bring me such peace and contentment. The soft grass is ideal for working on inversions and gives a sense of whimsy. You feel like a child again, playing in the grass.
PORTFOLIO.DU.EDU/CLORENZ PHOTO: KIM ROBBINS PHOTO: JIM CAMPBELL OMLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
What Place Means the Most to You and Why?
1. Amelia Parkison Edelman
New York. Writer. Editor. Vinyasa yoga teacher.
Although I’ve been to twenty countries, there’s nothing like Belgrade in January. Being the only “tourist” in town almost erases the tourist-ness, and I can just bundle up and blend in, find peace and quiet in cold Kalamegdan or cozy up with friends in an underground cafe. It’s a combined sense of belonging and not-belonging that’s very freeing. AMELIAPARKISONEDELMAN.COM
2. Sandy Foster Dallas. Photographic Artist.
Paris, the City of Lights, is a juxtaposition where I find solitude amongst many, quiet in the sound of chaos, historic landmarks adjacent to contemporary architecture, and crepes with Nutella. Blending my love of artistic photojournalism and yoga portraits, the urban tableaus of Paris are the perfect backdrop to create artwork rooted in the consciousness of the present moment. YOGABLISSPHOTO.COM
3. Lori Glazebrook
Batavia. Yoga teacher. Community builder. The town where I live sits along Fox River. I love spending days on my bike riding the path that winds through the trees along the river’s edge. The smells, sights, and sounds of nature fill my senses; I truly feel connected to the earth and myself. FEELFOCUSFLOW.NET PHOTO: MITCHELL MANZ
Bonnie Argo Austin. AcroYogi. Singer. Thai massage therapist. Life coach. Love is unpredictable, challenging self worth in every moment, and offering the clearest reflection we’ll ever receive. I recently had my heart broken, and used it as an opportunity to fall in love with myself in the most radical way. I unleashed my pain into recording a CD, to share my practice of healing with the world. I dedicated myself to holding space for others to interact in all forms of partnership. I embraced the truth that being in love starts with ourselves. I let go into the unknown.
What is the craziest thing you ever did for love?
BONNIEARGO.COM PHOTO: KADRIKURGAN.COM
Cortez. Yoga teacher. Studio owner.
Austin. Yoga teacher. Trainer. Designer. Co-owner. Say Om Yoga.
Telluride. Director. Telluride Yoga Festival.
The craziest thing I have done for love is to cast off all insecurities and doubts I have about myself and commit to letting my light shine as bright as can be. For love, I choose to be a beacon of hope for those who aren’t as crazy. JILLLAWSONYOGA.COM
The craziest thing I have done for love is get married. I’ve been with my love for eleven years. This blows my mind every day. Marriage, partnership—any relationship requires constant commitment, practice, sacrifice, surrender, truth, humility, and grace.
A six-minute headstand. ALLYCRILLY.COM TELLURIDEYOGAFESTIVAL.COM
PHOTO: KAT NICOLAS
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Fort Worth. Yoga teacher.
Bend. YogaSlacker. Yoga teacher. Endurance athlete.
Bellevue. Purna Yoga Master.
The craziest things I’ve ever done for love: I left a corporate career of twelve years and six figures to pursue my love of yoga and to be near my mother as she slowly died via the ruthless hands of ALS.
The craziest thing I ever did for love was be attached (literally) to my husband, Jason Magness—we had been married for four days—for seventy-four hours. We vowed to stay touching for forty-eight hours straight, to support the The Global Glue Project at the Hanuman Festival in Boulder, and to show our love and commitment to each other. It was fun and challenging. It was amazing to have the support of the whole festival—whenever we were in a yoga class or walking around, lots of people came up to us to share their own stories of love.
When I was eighteen, I fell in love. I lived in India and she lived in America. I wrote her between one and two letters every day for three years! When she finally came to meet me in Mumbai, I was so excited to meet her that I put on my best clothes, marched into the airport, and in an official way, saluted the guards at the entrance. They thought I was someone really important, did not stop me from entering the restricted section, and saluted back! I continued saluting guards and marching until I was on the landing field! I met her excitedly, right at the airplane! What we do for love!
I walked out of the abortion clinic, saving my son, even though it was a most unpopular decision. REBECCABUTLERYOGA.COM
PHOTO: BEN FULLERTON
Beryl Bender Birch Great Barrington. Director. Founder. The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. The Give Back Yoga Foundation.
Allison Christine English Chicago. Yoga teacher.
Mike Matsumura Colorado Springs. Studio owner. Yoga teacher.
Many years ago, while living in New York City, I brought a homeless person off the streets and back to our 300 square foot apartment to have a bath! My husband wasn’t surprised—the week before it was a stray dog! That’s love and that’s crazy.
While studying in Sicily, I fell madly in love. I was only to be in Italy for a few weeks, but this man I fell in love with asked me to stay. Even though we just met, I listened to the intuition of my heart and decided at the last moment to throw my plans aside and stay with him!
Resigning from working for Al Pacino to be with Charlotte, the love of my life. Dropping and selling everything to relocate to Colorado Springs from New York City, for Charlotte. Marrying Charlotte. Opening a yoga studio in Colorado Springs called Pranava Yoga Center with Charlotte. Loving Charlotte.
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Joe Longo: LIGHT Between 2001 and 2005, I did not take one photograph. I was miserable! In early 2005, I discovered my LIGHT, fell back in love with photography, and began creating art. I realized my purpose, my bliss. Iâ€™m moved by the light and my passion is to capture the light within you. joelongophotography.com
Michael Julian Berz: MOVING I am designed to express myself in dance and visuals. Every shot is a transformational healing process in a moving meditation with the camera as well as with the dancer. michaeljulianberz.com adancingeye.com
would you impart to the
Crystal Hinton SPOTLIGHTS
Denver. Yoga therapist. CRYSTALHINTON.ORG
Darren Main San Francisco. Yoga teacher. Author. DARRENMAIN.COM
Anand Mehrotra Rishikesh. Founder. Master teacher. Sattva Yoga. MYSATTVA.COM PHOTO: DEAN MITCHELL, THE HIGHEST PASS
Tabitha Farrar Boulder. Yoga teacher. Activist. ANGELORGANIC.ORG
Shannon Paige Boulder. Yoga teacher. Motivational speaker.
I’d part proclaiming the deep wisdom of the Sufi path: “I get to die for a Love like this, what a bargain!”
Breathe! When I breathe in a deep, slow, and intentional way, even the most difficult of situations becomes more manageable—even growth-filled. But when I allow the breath to become habitually shallow or strained, even tasks that would otherwise be simple or effortless are defined by varying degrees of suffering.
For it to be my last chance there would be two possibilities: this little journey of mine in this physical realm is coming to full circle, or this earth of ours is coming to a full circle. Turn your attention to that presence inside of you that knows that this moment is not the last. This moment will extend into eternity.
I would like to invite people to stop looking outside of themselves for an answer, for something wise that someone else once said, for a yoga flow that suited someone else’s body, or for words that sounded good in someone else’s voice. Because the creator is within oneself; one need look no further than that.
I would holler this quote from Joseph Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” So often we are shut down by fear, doubt, lack, and shadow. The truth is, it is these “caves” of self-wandering that are the precise places of our heroic Self, our greatest chances, our truths, and spacious, soulful growth.
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world if you knew it was your last chance? Kia Miller
Let go of what bothers you. Slow down on becoming and rest on BEING. Open your heart to that which you know to be true and stand as an example of love and compassion. Recognize your ability to be of service and be willing to share what you know with those who need a hand up the ladder.
Venice. Yoga teacher. KIAMILLER.COM
PHOTO: THEO AND JULIET PHOTOGRAPHY
Reaching the culmination of the spiritual journey is neither simple nor for the faint of heart, nor for those less than truly ablaze with the hunger to reach it. Sharing the virtues of what is found there is simple: love, love, love.
Rod Stryker Carbondale. Yoga teacher. PARAYOGA.COM RODSTRYKER.COM
Let go of the story and your fears. Be yourself and unafraid of what others may think about you. Love loudly, enjoy food, adopt dogs, and enjoy each sweet moment as it comes. We’re here to help each other and learn how to choose love even when it’s difficult. Be a beacon of that light.
Kathryn Budig Florida. Yoga teacher. KATHRYNBUDIG.COM
PHOTO: APRIL BENNETT
Tiffany Cruikshank Don’t wait! We spend so much of our lives waiting for the stars to align when everything happens now. All you have to do is take that first step toward greatness then let the momentum build.
Discover the power of being your own source of happiness and inspiration. Happiness comes from a sacred place within each of us and it can’t be lost, it can’t be broken, it can only be forgotten. Cultivate strong positive feelings about who you are, exactly how you are right now.
New York City. Yoga teacher. TIFFANYYOGA.COM
Mike Konrad Denver. Yoga instructor. OGSACK.COM
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WISDOM Cher Aslor SPOTLIGHTS
Denver. Yoga & Pilates Instructor. Owner. pH7 Pilates. PH7PILATES.COM
Giselle Mari San Francisco Bay Area. Yoga teacher. FUNKYJIVA.COM
Chris Roy Boulder. Co-founder. Tribal Chief. Namaste Interactive + NamasteLight. NAMASTEINTERACTIVE.COM PHOTO: HONG VO
Mary Clare Sweet Omaha. Yoga teacher. Studio owner. MARYCLARESWEET.COM
To forgive ourselves and then others. I make mistakes. People hurt us. That’s life. A feeling of forgiveness always feels better than a feeling of blame. In forgiveness, we release resistance and allow our vibration to be raised. Forgiveness is giving up our justification for being out of alignment with who we really are. Not always easy, but empowering that I have a choice.
Let go and put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to be messy or to crash and burn—you get much more out of life by going for it than holding back and appearing contained. Use your life for good and be kind to all beings. Every moment is your last chance to alter life’s fabric for the better.
The same wisdom I do my best to live by: Be kind. Love each other. Find silence at least once a day. Smile more. Slow down. Turn off the TV. Do yoga. Give. Support local. Follow your heart. Tell your children you love them, every day. Listen. Plant some trees. Be vulnerable. Forgive. Be grateful. Breathe, deeply. Walk on.
This life is about humans. Open wholeheartedly to the people who surround you. Always tell the truth. Smile at everyone you meet and look them in the eye. Now is the time to go have fun. How much fun can you create with your fellow humans? The fun ticket lies in the balance between adventure and inquiry. Enjoy!
Paige Elenson Nairobi. Director. Africa Yoga Project. AFRICAYOGAPROJECT.ORG PHOTO: ROBIN O’NEILL PHOTOGRAPHY
Everything we do makes a difference and has an impact. Some days this is terrifying news and some days it is completely liberating. We design our future and anything is possible when we start acting with love and compassion for others.
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Love is the real deal. Every challenge in our lives is a call to love. Vulnerability breaks us open for change and true intimacy. Each of us has soul medicine for the world. Offer it fully. Our collective power can create a world of abundance and sustainability for all beings. Love is Radical.
Saul David Raye
Love. We are all here to love each other, to learn, to heal, to forgive. We are all brothers and sisters, our Mother is earth, our father is heaven. Learn to listen to your heart. Trust yourself. All you need is within you. This is what the great ones have said. Love is the key that unlocks the door. God is LOVE.
Ojai. Bhakti yogi. SAULDAVIDRAYE.COM
Sianna Sherman Venice Beach. Yoga teacher. SIANNASHERMAN.COM
PHOTO: THEODORE KYRIAKOS
Sara Ivanhoe Be a rebel! Nothing ever got created by following someone else’s rules. As long as you are not hurting anyone (including yourself), experiment, play—find out for yourself what works for you.
Santa Monica. Yoga teacher. YOGANATION.COM SARAIVANHOE.COM
Gwen Lawrence There are few things worth the worry or time, true happiness comes with contentment of where you are, who you are with, what you give back, and when you do it. One other thing is to take the risk—simple as that.
Take time to really know yourself and, above all, BE yourself. Let go of others’ opinions of who you are or who you should be and make time to do that which feeds your soul. One of my favorite quotes (by Ralph Waldo Emerson) sums it up nicely: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Rob Loud Boulder. Yoga teacher. ROBLOUDYOGA.COM PHOTO: RICHARD CUMMINGS
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Gina Caputo Boulder. Yogini on the loose. GINACAPUTO.COM
PHOTO: RICHARD CUMMINGS
Sarah Plummer Denver. Author. Speaker. Coach. Disabled veteran. Advocate. Creator. Just Roll With It. SEMPERSARAH.COM
Rob Schware Boulder. Executive Director. Give Back Yoga Foundation. President. Yoga Service Council. GIVEBACKYOGA.ORG PHOTO: JIM CAMPBELL
Matthew Sanford Minneapolis. President of Mind Body Solutions. MATTHEWSANFORD.COM MINDBODYSOLUTIONS.ORG
Cindy Lusk Boulder. Yoga teacher. CINDYLUSK.COM
Know thyself. The greatest homage to the Life Force is self-inquiry and the dissolution of auto-pilot and regressive behavioral grooves. Engage fully in life, come what may, and fold everything into your evolutionary process. Routinely put yourself in situations where you learn something new about your Self. Begin every day with gratitude and don’t squander a single one!
SERVE: service is love, purpose, and healing in action. Serve faithfully, authentically, energetically, and persistently. We are all here to serve and love ourselves and others. You have to—there’s just no other way. It’s how God lives in all of us. Love each other, love yourself, love your god, love your work, your breath, your movement—and serve.
Much stumbling is required before our ego, always full of tricks, surrenders to a journey of self-exploration and the knowledge of God, Elaha, Brahman, or Supreme Being. Along the road of this journey, we find what this knowledge of God anticipates and what our heart can and truly open to. Full of hope, I pray we all pass through portals to see the light that shines in each of us.
My parting wisdom is to embrace the paradox of living and dying simultaneously. The energies of life and death mix within us to form consciousness. There is ache within every great love; there is a little death after every orgasm. This paradox creates the perception of beauty, the pull of devotion, and is at the core of every yoga pose.
Know God Now. Know = experience, realize, repose, become conscious, serve. God = source, essence, awareness, consciousness, ground, self, love. Now = don’t wait, life is short, moment by moment.
PHOTO: RICHARD CUMMINGS
Yuku Tsuji-Hoening Boulder. Acro Yogi.
Follow your intuition from your heart.
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BEING OF POWER: CONNECTING YOU TO YOUR BEST SELF YOGA
You have the ability to flow from your center and your power, in your being and doing, everywhere, all the time, with everyone. The answer to how is always yes.
opportunity to stand positively for what is happening. Resignation to a frustrating and depleting practice gives way to embracing what’s occurring in the now moment, being a yes for what is showing up.
In working with people on the mat, I’ve witnessed so much of what people come up against in the asana practice. Often it can be a haze of limiting mental beliefs, negative stuck energy, and real or imagined limitations, which ultimately disempower the individual and their overall experience. Chances are you know exactly what this type of resistance in your body and mind feels like. The experiences of connection, freedom, and power are missing.
second experience is one of expansion, a perfect reflection of your best self without barriers. Moving, breathing, and expressing from a place of strength, intentionality, and grace. This is Being of Power.
Before long, the sparkle in your eyes is back. Coming from yes gives forth the thought that sparks an inspiring blaze. You’ve reclaimed your center, your practice, and your vitality by shifting your context (and energy) from no/maybe/perhaps/not today/never into yes. This is where your power and best biggest self can—and will—show up.
I’ve also seen an abundance of breakthroughs, where it seems like the sea has parted, the stars are aligned, and the asana practice of a lifetime unfolds. Chances are you know what this feels like, too: freedom, ease, expansion, and pure flow. Here, your attitudes, thought processes, feelings, and actions have created a different experience—one of empowerment and full self-expression. You can see a special kind of vibrancy, brightness, and intentionality shining out from people’s bones, skin, and eyes. It’s incredible, and it’s also the path of least resistance.
Being a yes is an internal commitment that sets the platform for Being of Power. It’s the first stepping stone on your path to living as the real, honest, open, and authentic you all the time. The experiences, relationships, and adventures that light you up originate from yes. When you are coming from the energy of yes, it alters and impacts the way you see yourself, your life, your thoughts, and your feelings. It shapes your actions right here in the present moment.
The first experience is one of contraction, shrinking, and energetic smallness. The
You have the ability to flow from your center and your power, in your being and doing, everywhere, all the time, with everyone. The answer to how is always yes.
When being a yes, you begin to perceive your circumstances in a new light. The oncechallenging asana practice, fraught with annoyance and distraction, starts to shift into
There is always a dance between yes and no. Yes is bright. Yes is a commitment to aliveness. When you commit to being a yes, you create an opening. Little fragments of light begin to filter into that opening, giving access to a new kind of power. Commit to being a yes and you open up access to new pathways to your real power. Baron Baptiste is a bestselling author and internationally renowned yoga teacher. His latest book, Being of Power: The 9 Practices to Ignite an Empowered Life, was released in April 2013. Available through Amazon and other major retailers. For more information about Baron, upcoming Baptiste Yoga trainings and events, please visit baronbaptiste.com. BARONBAPTISTE.COM
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Robert Sturman: YOGA IS BEAUTIFUL I believe that if Michelangelo had known yoga, the streets of Rome would be filled with marble sculptures celebrating the poetry of asana, a poetry that longs to touch the divine and say, Thank you for this life. RobertSturmanStudio.com
SPOTLIGHTS ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 117
Drew Xeron: LIFE
Inspiration: When I capture the beauty I see with my eyes through my camera lens, I achieve inner peace. drewxeron.com
Les Leventhal: Love is Possible INTERVIEW: TRISH KING Trish King: What do you do with pain?
Les Leventhal: Well, I can tell you what I don’t do with pain: I don’t numb out anymore. I don’t dive into my addictions. Sometimes I get on the mat and I’m like, Oh, this is sadness, this is grief. There’s no pose, no sequence, no training, no retreat, no workshop, to get through it. I want the work to be to get into it. TK: What is love to you?
LL: Joe Thompson, my partner of thirteen years. We met in a very turbulent time in my life. I look at who I was during that period—I would have never stuck around me! He saw something that I wasn’t able to see in myself. I am one of the luckiest guys in the whole wide world. I was a single guy, running around the world doing my thing, and it was kind of okay, and along came this gift. Anything can happen. I want people to know that whoever they are and whatever lifestyle they’ve chosen, love is possible. It can come in many different forms. YOGAWITHLES.COM PHOTO: JOHN VADJA
INTERVIEW PART II: ZOË KORS
Rajashree Choudhury YOGA
THE U.S. YOGA FEDERATION FOUNDER + PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY OF BIKRAM YOGA
Bikram put challenge in front of me, and to overcome that challenge, that’s my education from him. And I love that. I have no problem with that. People can think whatever they think, but that’s my strength to go forward.
Zoë Kors: What inspires you?
Rajashree Choudhury: Women. I was raised by my grandmother. She had a very difficult time, raised all her kids, my father and everybody. Listening to those stories and finding her so strong, poised. Anybody who came close to her was made to feel blessed. And at the same time, it didn’t matter how strong a person was—in front of her, their head would go down. She carried through her life raising everybody. That is my model. ZK: Tell me about getting involved in yoga competition. You’re a champion.
RC: Yes, I am a champion. My mom made sure that I did yoga every day. She dragged me because that was something she was doing for herself. She would have a great time with her friends. All the mothers would sit together and the kids all did yoga. ZK: Like dance moms.
RC: Yeah, exactly. It was a social time for them. But it helped build me. Through competition, I loved yoga. I won my first Bishnu Ghosh Cup in 1982. Which was federation-based. I won several before that, but it was a private open, where men and women both were challenged together and one winner.
My teacher and Bikram are contemporaries, they are friends. One stayed back to promote yoga in India and one came here to the Western world. That’s Bikram, because he is the best salesman, you know that. [smiles]
RC: Things just happen, it will pass, it’s your learning process. You know, in my dialogue when I teach classes, I use “please.”
Bikram wasn’t big in India at that time. Here he was called, “Guru of the Stars.” I had seen his book and it was a beautiful practice but I didn’t like it. I was used to a more personal practice. So I was like, only twenty-six poses, every day, very routine. It didn’t appeal to me. And I didn’t like the heat at all, because I come from hot country. So it was like, Oh my god! But people were talking about it and feeling great benefit, so I finally gave it a try. And then I really started to see the possibilities of growing the school. I started to talk to him about teacher training. It took me ten years to convince him. Men are always right, right? I said, Well, try it, try it, try it. We did the first five teachers, unofficially, and it worked. Then we condensed the typical American three-year training into a three-month intensive. And that’s how we got to this point.
RC: Yes, Bikram. You know, nobody says “please.” Because the Bikram dialogue is a very solid drilling method. And someone says, why do you even say it? I say, That’s the way I am. I love to say “please” and you have to accept me that way. If you don’t, it’s your problem.
ZK: How do you handle criticism?
RC: I listen to my own heart, stand for only that. That’s it. Doesn’t matter. Whoever, however close to me you may be. Nobody can change my emotions. Even if I am sad, it’s my own problem, not somebody else’s.
ZK: Men and women against each other? And you won.
ZK: You take responsibility for yourself.
RC: I won. At the time, Bikram was giving the biggest trophy, he would bring the winner to America. So I came to Los Angeles.
RC: It’s much better that way. You don’t accuse people. You aren’t a victim of anything. Becoming a victim is your choice. Cry, for what?
Bikram and I, we come from the same lineage. But you know, there’s a generation gap.
ZK: We tend to take things personally...
ZK: [gasps] Bikram classes?!
ZK: [laughs] Has your husband taken your class?!
RC: My husband wouldn’t like to take my class. Any time I am up there on the stage, I think he thinks I’m the most boring teacher! No, I don’t let him. But you know, he supports me. ZK: He must support you. You are very empowered in this organization.
RC: Bikram put challenge in front of me, and to overcome that challenge, that’s my education from him. And I love that. I have no problem with that. People can think whatever they think, but that’s my strength to go forward. ZK: And you answer to your own heart.
RC: Exactly, exactly. And I don’t expect it will be easy. If it is easy, something’s wrong. But I expect it not to stop me. ZK: That’s beautiful, Rajashree.
RC: Thank you, Zoë.
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What has been your biggest personal struggle SPOTLIGHTS
Author. Energy Medicine and Energy Medicine for Women.
Teacher. Author. The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life.
I had my first symptoms of multiple sclerosis when I was sixteen years old, but by my late twenties, increasing pain and immobility were making it hard to raise my daughters. Finally, in my early thirties, as the illness progressed and was compromising other organs, I was told to get my affairs in order. But I was intent on raising the girls. Out of that struggle, I healed myself of my M.S. What I learned in the process became the basis of the healing approach I’ve now taught to tens of thousands of people all over the world.
For most of my life, I was plagued with terrible fear and self-doubt, waking up every morning with depression and heartache. Life was just too much to bear! I tried everything to rid myself of misery, all kinds of practices and therapies. Until one day, I realized that true peace was about directly facing pain, not running from it. I made it my practice to sit with discomfort, to deeply honor and befriend it, to release all judgments and labels, and directly feel its vibrant energy in my body. I came to see that my pain had not been an enemy, but an invitation to say YES to all of life.
Nóirín Ní Riain. PhD
Singer of spiritual song.
“The Golden Couple”—we were called this as college sweethearts. It was love at first sight. We married as soon as we could, traveled to America and beyond, birthed and reared two beautiful sons, and recorded music together. We were the “darlings of the media” in Ireland at one time. Then, the ruin of separation flew low and struck down our shelter of memory. “We make plans and God smiles,” according to Jewish wisdom. Prayer, the Hebrew psalms, and my deepest infinite source of strength—song—are the trio that continue to embrace and nurture my coping, fragile soul.
PHOTO: EMILY GOODMAN
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...and how did you come through it?
Qigong Master. Founder. Elixir Light Qigong. Author. Qigong Master: My Life and Secret Teachings.
MA. MMT. Composer. Vocalist. Founding director. Vox Mundi School of the Voice.
Throughout my life, I battled depression and a fear of how to survive financially. I started engaging in a spiritual practice called shamanic journeying, where I met helping spirits who could give me guidance on how to heal and improve my life. I learned how to stay present, how to remain in a state of gratitude for my life, and how to align my thoughts and attitude with the life I wanted to live. I made a clear decision to put all the energy I used to put into worry into being the most creative person I could be. This led to a joyful life and successful career.
When I was a teenager, my beloved Qigong Master, Xiao Yao, instructed me to do a one hundred day water fast in a dark underground stone chamber. My greatest struggle was the overwhelming loneliness, which felt like a ghost dragging my soul into nowhere. Each time I reached the limit of desperation, I thought of Xiao Yao’s kind smile, totally surrendered, and was rewarded with a breakthrough into greater bliss. Surrender and love gave me the courage to jump over my shadow and purify my heart. For a long time after my retreat, I experienced indescribable ecstasy and profound joy, even by just taking a few deep breathes.
I am known as a “treasure founder,” with a joyous creativity in five languages and three continents. I devoted my life to re-enchant the world. A few months ago, my husband and music life partner died from a heart arrest. We never made it to the ER. We never said goodbye. Suddenly, my whole life changed. Who am I? I tried every resource I have to cope with sadness. What seems to work is singing and rituals of passage; the memorial concert I hosted with our music community; the ceremony for scattering the ashes to resolve karmic traces. Thus, embodied and manifested spirituality is my medicine. Though, the mysteriousness of grief feels like infinity.
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SALLY KEMPTON ON AWAKENING SHAKTI INTERVIEW: NANCY ALDER
Sally Kempton has been a meditation teacher for forty years, and is renowned for her insights into how yogic wisdom can be applied to practical life. She spent many years in monastic service to her Guru, Swami Muktananda, and studying with enlightened Indian masters in the tradition of non-dual Hindu tantra. Her approach to meditation emphasizes both the heart and the mind, connecting the two to expand the awareness of the insight we all have. Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga is her second book.
Nancy Alder: What is Shakti?
Sally Kempton: The word Shakti means “power” or “energy.” Shakti is the feminine aspect of the divine, and it is the innate blissfulness and dynamism within all of us. The tantric practice traditions teach that the dynamic creative energy of Reality is feminine, while the awareness aspect of it is masculine. Shakti is the transpersonal force that manifests as the natural world, as the body, and as the mind and heart. But she also takes the form of specific subtle personalities, who manifest in meditation and in the subtle spheres of consciousness. We call these beings “deities” or “goddesses.” Each of the subtle goddess energies has a unique flavor, a particular energetic signature, that you can begin to feel when you invoke her. PHOTO: © CYNTHIA JOHNSON-BIANCHETTA 126 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
Awakening Shakti is crucial to an alive spiritual practice. The goddesses are particularly helpful when we are looking to uncover different powers in ourselves, or when we need help or blessings for our worldly life. At the same time, they can radically empower your meditation and yoga practice, and literally kindle your spiritual capacities. NA: Can you describe how you got on this path of awakening Shakti? Did you have a specific experience or a teacher’s guidance?
overwhelming love came a realization that, despite all evidence to the contrary, love is the deepest core of existence. The experience lasted just long enough to convince me that I had to find a way to live in it! Soon after that, I started meditating with a Western spiritual teacher, and a couple of years later had an awakening of Kundalini during a workshop with a Tibetan lama in California. That led me to my root teacher, Swami Muktananda, whom I traveled and studied with for many years. But from the beginning, the motivating force was that big love that surfaced out of nowhere, and which has been deepening ever since.
SK: It started with an out-of-the-blue opening into love, which arose spontaneously one evening while I was sitting in my living room in New York. Along with the feeling of
NA: Is “opening to the Divine Feminine” and an awareness of goddesses limited to only women? Is it something men can be open to doing, as well?
SK: Actually, many of the greatest practitioners in the Shakti-based traditions have been men. So it’s definitely not just for women. That said, opening to the Divine Feminine is hugely beneficial for women, particularly in our time when women learn how to work with their personal power in uniquely feminine ways. Meditating on the goddesses gives women access to aspects of ourselves that are often hidden or disowned, and helps us recognize the intrinsic divinity in them. Kali’s fire, for instance, can be a tremendously liberating force for women who feel trapped in the “Nice Girl” archetype. It helps people transform anger into creative energy. Lakshmi’s Shakti can give you the experience of genuine inner abundance. From the yogic point of view, one of the main forms these goddesses take in human beings is as the Kundalini energy. Kundalini is the form of the life force that evolves our consciousness. It is the internal energy behind spiritual awakening. And that, obviously, is beyond gender! The paradox of goddess energy is that it is both the force that grounds us in the world and the force that transforms consciousness. The tantric traditions say that when you know the secret of Shakti, both worldly success and liberation come to you naturally. NA: How do the goddesses inform your personal meditation and yoga practice?
SK: I like to invoke one particular form of the goddess at the beginning of meditation. with a felt sense of Presence. I might invoke Durga for strength and stability, Lakshmi for the feeling of harmony. I’ll dialogue with a goddess when I feel stuck or want insight. I find that this is a powerful way to access the insights of the higher self. I practice mantras daily that invoke the goddesses. I generally use the goddess Gayatri mantras that are in my book. NA: Who is your most embodied goddess currently? Has it change since writing the book?
There’s a practice I teach in the book, where you imagine a goddess in front of you, talk to her or ask questions, then imagine her blessing entering you in the form of light. After that, you imagine the goddess coming into your body and becoming a part of you. I do that practice often. When I do, it fills me ILLUSTRATION OF DANCING KALI: ©EKABHUMI
SK: I’ve always felt especially connected to Saraswati and Durga—one for inspiration, the other for sheer energy. But in the last few months, I’ve been more and more aware of the Lalita energy. Lalita is a tantric goddess who embodies playful, confident, and sensual feminine power. She’s very much about showing you your own capacity for bliss and then helping you bring a radical kind of sweetness into your interactions, and even the way you view the world.
NA: What advice would you have for someone to invoke Shakti but for whom deities are a new experience?
SK: Think of each of the goddesses as an archetypal energy. Those energies are within you, some more strongly than others. When you need to awaken one of those energies, calling on a goddess will help bring it forth for you. Each chapter of my book, Awakening Shakti, describes a different goddess Shakti, and at the end of each chapter I’ve included a list of ways to tune into that particular goddess, and to discover her energy signature in yourself and in the world. For a beginning practitioner, I’d suggest starting with the mantras. Once you’re attracted to the energy of one of the goddesses, sit with your eyes closed, bring your attention into the heart, and say one of the short goddess mantras with the feeling that you’re holding the energy within the mantra in your heart. It will have an effect.
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WANDERLUST: What place Gioconda Parker Austin.
Visiting my friend Robin Lim and her family in Bali. The island itself is magical—lush and green, epic beauty, utterly alive! Sitting in a makeshift yoga room at the Bumi Sehat clinic (bumisehatbali.org) with almost thirty pregnant goddesses, I felt life source energy vibrating in us, through us and AS us. Bali opened my heart. GIOCONDAYOGA.COM
PHOTO: ANDREA TURNER
NYC. Yoga teacher.
Last year I took a trip to Costa Rica. I fell in love with the land, the ocean, and jungle side by side. Every morning I practiced yoga to the sunrise and the sounds of nature. The people were equally incredible, full of love, joy, and kindness. Their pure love of life is inspiring. I look forward to my return. Till then, “Pura Vida!”
Oakland. Yoga teacher. Director. Global Seva Challenge. Off the Mat and Into the World.
Our Off The Mat Seva Challenge Tours to Cambodia, Africa, Haiti, and India. I have experienced firsthand the resilience of the human spirit in overcoming the most difficult circumstances. My own challenges are placed starkly in perspective and I recognize that zest for life, passion, and wild grace are often internally initiated states of being.
THEYOGIMATT.COM PHOTO: TAMAR MELEN
Aaron King Aspen. Yoga teacher.
My favorite travel destination that inspires me most is the beach in Mexico. The energy of the ocean waves allows me to surrender to the flow of life and appreciate how blessed I am to do what I love, while also helping others along their path. KINGYOGA.NET
PHOTO: ROSS DANIELS PHOTOGRAPHY
Boulder. Yogini on the Loose.
Bali is a mystical, magical place steeped in ritual. The landscape is surreal in its beauty but it’s the people that make it truly inspiring—they are so present, so open, and so quick to smile. Their generosity, humility, and devotion are unparalleled. When you’re in the Land of One Thousand Temples, you’re in the Land of One Thousand Teachers, too. GINACAPUTO.COM
Rolf Gates Santa Cruz. Yoga teacher.
Costa Rica is warm and green all the time. The forests and beaches are, for the most part, underdeveloped and demonstrate natural beauty at its most stunning. The government of Costa Rica eliminated the military and has invested in its people and environment. The result of this shift gives a sense of peace and tranquility that matches perfectly the landscape of this paradise. ROLFGATES.COM
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PHOTO: LOU JONES
inspires you the most? Justin Kaliszewski Denver. Yoga teacher.
My most inspiring travel destination: is not a place but a person. For the last several years, I’ve had the fortune to travel the globe with my grandfather, Newell. From the sandy shores of the South Pacific to the snowy expanse of America’s Midwest, I’m inspired time and again by a man who finds serenity in his skin no matter where he happens to be. OUTLAWYOGA.ORG
Solstice Canyon. Our cells are bonded with Santorini, where we return every year to to lead retreats on the edge of the one of the world’s largest volcanoes—twenty-five miles wide—filled with the Aegean Sea since an explosion in 3600 B.C. We love to go the sacred places and the tavernas, and swim inside the caldera where the water is super-charged and yoga, meditation, and life-realization flourishes. SHIVAREA.COM YOGADVENTURES.COM
Jessica Kos Birney Continuing Education Manager. Yoga Sculpt National Lead.
An endless archipelago dotted with sailboats, the Åland Islands in Finland inspire me. I find timeless inspiration provided by long days and midnight sun. I experience joy through the kind and happy people. I savor life with the sweetest strawberries and the copious ice cream consumed by all ages, at all hours, and by all types of people.
Eoin Finn Yoga teacher.
My most inspiring travel destination is the West Coast of Vancouver Island. I travel all around the world surfing and teaching yoga, but there is nothing like the rugged beauty of this area. It is a joy to practice yoga to eagles soaring overhead, the salty air, and huge waves crashing offshore. My soul is filled by surfing with sea lions, orcas, dolphins, and whales every day. It’s pure magic. BLISSOLOGY.COM
Rachael Sellars Las Vegas. Yoga teacher. Thai Yoga massuese.
The journey that has been the most inspirational is the fourteen days that I spent traveling Southern and Northern India on a yoga retreat. It opened my eyes to the true meaning of contentment. I was able to witness a culture full of love, celebration, and gratitude. This experience will always hold a special place in my heart and mind. RACHAELSELLARS.COM
PHOTO: JESSE LAI
WANDERLUST COLORADO July 4-7, 2013 Copper Mountian
Shakti Sunfire Empowerment educator. Hoopdance teacher. Yogini.
Every time I visit Bali, I am blown away. This island beckons me back into my own active and alive conversation with the world. The people and the beauty here are an invitation into the artistic creation of practices and rituals that feed more than my physical body. Not empty action, but reverence for ignited, authentic creativity, which is all the world wants of us anyway. SHAKTISUNFIRE.COM
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The Committed Life: A Conversation with Ruth Lauer-Manenti INTERVIEW: MELANIE JANE PARKER
Ruth Lauer-Manenti, belovedly known as Lady Ruth, has been practicing yoga since 1989, which included a long period of dedicated study under Ashtanga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She is an Advanced Jivamukti teacher and a student of Sharon Gannon and David Life. Ruth received her MFA from Yale, where she has taught painting and printmaking. Her beautifully contemplative books include Sweeping the Dust and An Offering of Leaves. This Memorial Day weekend, Ruth and her husband will lead a Yoga & Tai Chi retreat at Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY. Visit jivamuktiyoga.com for more information. Melanie Jane Parker: What does love mean to you?
Ruth Lauer-Manenti: Love is a holy feeling that often starts with one person who you put before yourself; you think of them more than yourself, what would make them happy, how you could take care of them. It’s great to experience that but that’s limited. The hope behind that is that that love would never stop growing. Everyone wants love. Animals and plants want love. One
sees ravaged landscapes that were disrespected and can feel that something has gone wrong. The land wasn’t loved. MJP: What does commitment mean to you?
RLM: Commitment is an inner pressure where one works without needing to be noticed or thanked. It’s close to love. The first time I went to Mysore, India, when
I was leaving, Guruji [Sri K. Pattabhi Jois] said, “When are you returning?” I was surprised, as I had been there for several months. He would never let anybody leave without a return plan. Then he said, “You come next June.” He had this beautiful way of saying the word June. I went every June for twenty-two years. I was committed. It was really powerful, him saying that. A friend of mine who is a nun is in silent retreat
for three years. I volunteered to sponsor her and gave her some money. Later, I thought I hadn’t given her enough. “No, it’s not the money,” she said. She explained that because she is going to be alone in the desert, she wants somebody who won’t forget her. She said, “You have the ability to keep me in your mind. I know that. You understand commitment.” Coming from the Venerable, that was such a compliment. MJP: What inspires you?
RLM: Almost anything could inspire me if my mind is inspired. My mom is elderly. She lost my father after fifty years of marriage. When she feels low, she listens to Beethoven and it lifts her spirits. That inspires me; the ability to pick yourself up out of sorrow. Observations in nature, watching flowers open and close, trees in cities growing out of concrete, city people having vegetable gardens on their roofs or keeping compost in their freezer and then bringing it to the farmers at the market. My friend John Dugdale is a photographer. He went blind slowly over twenty years. He creates still lifes by touch and takes extraordinary pictures. People who do good works anonymously, who repair instead of dispose of things, whose homes aren’t crowded with stuff, who don’t eat meat, who speak foreign languages or memorize texts, who make the atmosphere around them welcoming—they inspire me. My husband inspires me. He’s a nurse and he reads 16th century poetry at 4 a.m. Sharon Gannon and David Life are always inspiring me. They have saved billions of animals by teaching veganism around the world as a way of bringing peace through stopping the suffering of animals. MJP: Are there any local or global matters that concern you?
RLM: I would like to see old houses restored instead of building new, poorly made houses. I would like to see a law on chopping trees down. That might help people understand that buying land doesn’t entitle one to destroy it. I don’t eat animals. As a Jivamukti yoga teacher, I have a good platform to encourage people to appreciate and reconnect to the one spirit in all beings, and thereby to reflect on their diet. People often tell me, “I read your book and I am vegetarian now.” It makes me happy to have contributed to that in some way.
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MJP: What are the qualities you believe a teacher must have in order to train others in becoming teachers?
RLM: One: You understand and embody the method they are wanting to learn. I’m practicing the Jivamukti method. My understanding of that method is crucial. Any confusion or doubt I have about that method would interfere. Two: I have to see the potential of the student. And I do, because my teachers have seen the potential in me. It works like that. You see yourself as this inadequate person but they see, as Sharon Gannon says, “a holy being.” Over time you become what they see. I’ve had a handful of teachers who have seen something in me that has helped me, more than anything, to find out who I am. That’s all it really takes: to really be able to say, “Yes, you can do it.” Guruji, that was all he ever said: “Yes, you can.” People would come to him: “Oh, I broke my back, I never knew happiness, this terrible thing happened”—all reasons why I can’t ever be happy, strong, healthy, why I can’t ever really meditate or become enlightened. And he said, “Yes, you can.” He was convinced. He knew you could. There was no doubt. Having somebody yelling at you all the time: Yes! Three: I can’t teach the method if I don’t have the blessing of where that method came from. Ultimately, the apprentices aren’t learning from me but rather through me from my teachers. That can only happen if I have my teacher’s blessing. That needs to be acknowledged. They will say,”Yes, I am Ruth’s teacher.” I will say, “Yes, I am David and Sharon’s student.” All of that is clear and agreed upon. I can teach an apprentice because I am authorized through the blessing of my teachers.
WHAT MAKES YOU COME SPOTLIGHTS
TANYA BOIGENZAH SOWARDS
Minneapolis. Yoga and Wellness Educator. Owner. Director. Devanadi Yoga & Thai Yoga Bodywork, LLC.
Lavallette. Soul soother. Yogi.
Chicago. Yoga instructor. Actor.
Chicago. Co-owner. Director. YogaView.
I love, via the magic and mystery of yoga, witnessing the eyes of students when they connect with their soul. Their uniqueness is what lights up the universe. Helping bridge that desire to shine and serve as forces of wisdom and compassion in this world is what gets me out of bed every morning.
When I take time to appreciate these simple things in life I feel alive: Stepping in the ocean, gazing at life reflected in puddles, time spent listening to the sounds in nature, feeling the energy that permeates every nook and cranny at the end of yoga class, stepping out of my comfort zone, traveling to a new place, a smile.
I love seeing other people break through their perceived limitations. Whether I’m teaching yoga or working with my high school theatre group, I get incredibly excited when a student does something awesome! It’s a privilege to witness the moment when grace, desire, and vulnerability coalesce. When I facilitate that experience for someone else, I feel in my right place.
Simple things, like butter on toast and birds at the beach. Down dog. Music, music, and more music. Enjoying the company of close friends. Those moments when things fall into place, something clicks, something that was obscure becomes clear. Single-speed bike riding along lake Michigan in the summer can be pretty sweet, too!
PHOTO: CORINA BERNSTEIN
PHOTO: BRANDON DAHLQUIST
A L I V E ?
Cliffside Park. Owner. Soul In Motion Yoga Studio.
Evanston. Yoga teacher.
Wheaton. Yoga teacher trainer. Mentor.
Santa Barbara. Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor.
There is nothing better than helping others, by encouraging and lifting them up to their true potential and true happiness inside. I truly believe that when we love ourselves on the inside, we can truly love and help others on the outside. This is what helps create a healthy and happy world. I feel truly alive when I see the transformation in my students through the practice of yoga and meditation at my new studio, Soul In Motion Yoga.
I treasure those moments when the veil thins and I get a glimpse of the Great Mystery: in yoga, marriage, parenting, nature, reading, or simply sitting by a sunny window. Moments where the underlying order shines through, just beyond the mindâ€™s grasp. Humbled and awed, I strive to serve the sages who came before me and made my path possible.
Truth, digging deep, and letting go, softening into the wisdom and clarity of silence, time with my teacher, remaining a student, watching as my son grows into his own wisdom, Sunday mornings staying in bed late and reading the newspaper with my husband, teaching and sharing my experience of yoga, guiding students to discover their own power and go after their dreams, and messing with my cats.
Pleasure is the portal for feeling alive. I feel most alive when I am connected to my pleasure. Our five senses are a great gift to experience life with full presence. I love the feeling in me when I dance, cook, eat, touch, make love, and laugh. Feeling the pleasure in my body and heart is one way that I avoid making excuses for not living fully. Love yourself and come alive through pleasure.
Where do you find solace? Gillian St. Clair NASHVILLE. YOGA TEACHER. STUDIO OWNER.
Being into yoga, it would seem I would say my personal practice or my studio. As a mother and wife, I could say family; as a lover of nature, I could say the outdoors. But as a person who lives, I say life: the fact that I have it. For me, solace is where I choose to see the light. STCLAIRYOGA.COM STEADFASTANDTRUEYOGA.COM
PHOTO: ANDREA BEHRENDS
Amber Gean Hyland
AGOURA HILLS. CREATOR. 12-STEP YOGA.
NYACK. PHOTOGRAPHER. AUTHOR. GODDESS ON EARTH: PORTRAITS OF THE DIVINE FEMININE.
CINCINNATI. OWNER. YOGA AH STUDIO. CO-FOUNDER. THE ROCKET YOGA PROJECT.
I visit parks, beaches, mountains. I listen to birds, waves, wind. I practice yoga with candles, incense, and music that inspires. I attend spiritual gatherings, workshops, lectures, and fellowship meetings. I pray and meditate. I try to help others. Ultimately, solace is sourced from within; nature, yoga, spirituality, and service are the tools I use to return to my innermost self.
I find solace in the inner beauty of others. A graceful soul, a like-minded spirit, a righteous warrior, a wise elder. When an authentic connection is made, I am inspired and energized, and all becomes right in the world. This is why I love photographing peopleâ€”to express and share this sense of comfort. GODDESSONEARTH.COM
BRIANHYMANYOGA.COM PHOTO: MYLES ARONOWITZ
The place where I find solace is on my yoga mat. The most peaceful thing to me is unrolling my mat and beginning my Sun Salutations with no expectations of where my practice will go. My yoga practice connects me to the rhythm of life and makes me feel whole. I have faith in the blessings my practice will bring. YOGAAHSTUDIO.COM AMBERGEAN.COM
ATLANTA. YOGA TEACHER. YOGA EDUCATOR.
GRAPEVINE. YOGA TEACHER.
FORT COLLINS. YOGA INSTRUCTOR.
HARTFORD. PHOTOGRAPHER. YOGA TEACHER. EDUCATOR.
I go to my breath to find solace. I was once terrified to do nothing but listen to my breath. I feared being alone with myself when things in my life were uncomfortable or painful. Through yoga, meditation, and connecting with nature, I have learned to be comforted within the loving essence of who I am. I find that in the breath.
Real solace is within you. It is coming back over and over again to a recognition of your own basic goodness. What we so often label refuge—a steaming cup of tea, the embrace of a loved one, desperately crying ourselves to sleep—is the softening and breaking open of our hearts. In this space, we find a universal truth: a quiet, still, indestructible spirit.
I find solace by practicing connection and grounding within nature. When I encounter obstacles, syncing to the beat of the wild sprawling around me as I practice yoga helps me remember I’m one piece of a vast unfolding. Nature cultivates my sense of trust and reminds me to fall into joyful embrace with the wild unknown.
Solace is in the present moment. I find it on my yoga mat breathing deeply, creating a meditation in motion. I go behind the lens of my camera when I am searching for solace, usually in nature. Nothing soothes my soul more than snuggling up with my son for a read aloud and a goodnight kiss.
PHOTO: CHELSEA CALL PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTO: HANNAH LABOMBARD
CHELSEALOVESYOGA.COM PHOTO: EBONY CLARK
LESLIE SCHIPPER. HONOLULU. PEACE AND PARADISE.
NEW YORK CITY. YOGA INSTRUCTOR.
I find solace in the island’s breathtaking mountain ranges, getting lost in the thick of green, and the smell of Earth. I find solace in the depths of the sea, surrendering to the ebb and flow of the Ocean. My peace comes from total absorption in Mother Nature. The way she lets me expand and feel alive, while gently reminding me to stay humble and forever grateful.
I find solace through my yoga practice. By moving energy in physical asana, I remove resistance and create space within my body. Through meditation, self-reflection, and journaling, I gain clarity and ease of mind. Volunteering for charity draws attention away from myself and focuses my attention on something bigger—creating a positive experience for myself and for others.
PHOTO: PETER MUI
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James Vincent Knowles: AFFINITY It’s the beautiful mystery in you that captivates me. I see it and feel it. There’s nothing I enjoy more than showing you why, beyond any mirror or lover, you are so much more than beauty. You are truly, true love.
TELL US WHAT IS REALLY
IMPORTANT TO YOU
Blanca Beyar Staten Island. Spiritual author. Guru.
What holds great importance to me is to be able to be a vessel for guidance, healing, and empowerment, and to assist others in discovering their own divine identity, so that they can then become vessels for others who are spiritually hungry and seeking to find their own divine radiance. BLANCABEYAR.ORG
PHOTO: NATALIE LICINI
Dawn B. Feinberg
Miami Beach. Commander in Chief. YOGiiZA.
Miami. Yoga teacher.
Seattle. Co-director. Zimbags. Director of Operations & Strategy. Year Up – Puget Sound.
It is important to create a balance in life so I can honor the things and people I love most. I cherish the simple moments I share with my husband and doggie, curled up watching a movie together. The trick is to be 100% present at everything I do, giving thanks for all the gifts and people in my life.
Bringing the world closer through the practice of yoga, kirtan, art, and music. I am a co-creator of YogArt, which creates events that bring together inspiring yoga teachers, musicians, and art. I love being a catalyst for people—to help them remember to be in the moment and to approach life with kindness and compassion. Helping to build a world that I want my son, Kai, to grow up in.
A world that works for everyone. From Seattle’s South End to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, I believe people everywhere deserve opportunities to learn, to dream big, and to be successful. My work and my choices are dedicated to leaving my daughter’s generation with the inheritance of this kind of world. ZIMBAGS.ORG YEARUP.ORG
PHOTO: KIRSTEN WALTER
Salt Lake City. Yoga teacher.
Venice. Lead Creative. Partner. We Rise Creative.
Portland. Outreach Director.
Love is important to me. If there was more love in this world, think about how great it would be. We can all add a little more love to the world by doing small, simple acts of kindness every day, like smiling at a stranger in passing.
I love being able to use my abilities as filmmaker as a tool for activism, both to entertain and inspire others to be more engaged in our community. WERISECREATIVE.COM
It’s essential for me to be connected through community, advocacy, and wellness. I’m drawn to helping others and being a part of the things that knit life together. As a mother, yogi, activist, and vegan, I strive to embody positive qualities that surface on my mat and to improve the lives of others. YOGAGROW.WORDPRESS.COM
PHOTO: ADAM R PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTO: ANA WARREN PHOTOGRAPHY
Los Angeles. Environmentalist. Dancer.
Miami Beach. Punk rock shaman.
The environment and dance are both eternally important to me. I have dedicated my life to making the environment a more sustainable place to live. I have been dancing since the age of six, and dance has awakened my soul in ways that I can’t consciously do.
When I sit with someone, there is a profound ability to experience life. Simply being aware and appreciating conversation or weaving spiritual perceptions in and out of discourse. Teacher or student, connection is most important as it raises our natural harmonic vibration and we all become fully involved.
Looking at the morning sun, I feel the beauty and the love of the creation, feel the Universe inside of me, while drinking the energy of the rising Star. What a miracle it is to live and feel alive. What a blessing it is to be able to share the unconditional love with all I meet, with no discrimination. Through sharing we receive the most light.
PHOTO: DIMA CIOLACHE
PHOTO: DIANA DALSASSO
WHAT IS REALLY
Dallas. Yoga instructor.
Santa Cruz. Yoga teacher. Feminine Embodiment coach.
As abundance is brought into our lives, the more important it becomes to give this abundance back to the world. It is our duty to share this energy with others and to help put them on a higher platform. As we give back, as we continue the cycle of abundant energy, we are all lifted higher.
All the colorful ways to give and receive love. Connecting with my community. Sitting in circle with my sisters. Making love with my beloved. Teaching yoga and learning from my students. Being of service and giving my authentic gift of love are the most important things in this lifetime. ASHLEYSHANTI.COM
PHOTO: JULIA MIHO NAKAMURA
Venice. Founder. We Rise Creative.
New York City. Yoga teacher. Author.
Art. Love. Family. Nature. Life. Exploration. Process. Travel. Energy. Investigation. Sweating. Animals. Ocean. Joy. Acceptance. Silver. Helping. Giving. Learning. Design. Sculpture. Composition. Trees. Spirituality. Community. Growth. Healing. Willingness. Determination. Music. Depth. Complexity. Simplicity. Peace. Silence. Breath. Teamwork. Color Solutions. Seasons. Piano. Hands. Health. Heart. Home. Diversity. Integrity. Light. Courage. Faith.
My experience working on the ground with local nonprofit leaders in Africa changed my life. While engaging with individuals who selflessly create impact within their communities, I realized how important it is to share these stories of hope and passion. From grassroots efforts to corporate outreach, I use film as a storyteller for social change.
Showing up on my mat to become the most healed version of myself is important to me. In a society filled with so many emotionally wounded people acting out their pain, this is possibly the most important work we can all do. Heal our hurt so that we do not pass it on.
PHOTO: RAOUL BELTRAME
Steve Rosenfield: INTIMATE Being able to achieve comfort and trust has always been something I thrive on with my clients. Having them feel safe around me gives me the opportunity and ability to capture them in their most sincere moments. steverosenfield.com whatibeproject.com
MINARDI YOGA WITH JIMMY & JENNA MINARDI
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