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Conscious Community Podcast
36 minutes | 5 months ago
The Oneness of Giving and Receiving – An Interview with Dr. Linda Howe
By Janae Jean On November 9, 2020, I had the honor of speaking with award-winning author, teacher, speaker and Akashic Studies expert, Dr. Linda Howe. Dr. Howe has written several definitive books on the Akashic Records, including How to Read the Akashic Records: Accessing the Archive of the Soul and Its Journey, Healing Through the Akashic Records: Using the Power of Your Sacred Wounds to Discover Your Soul’s Perfection, and Discover Your Soul’s Path Through the Akashic Records: Taking Your Life From Ordinary to Extraordinary. Additionally, she has created guided practices available in audiobook or eBook format, for those who wish to dive further into their spiritual awakening and transformation. Her latest book, Inspired Manifesting Through the Akashic Records: Elevate Your Energy and Ignite Your Dreams will be released January 1, 2021, along with a live, online class, Manifesting Your Soul’s Purposes Through the Akashic Records, beginning on January 20, 2021. Dr. Howe has been working as a spiritual consultant for more than three decades and began working with the Akashic Records in 1994. In 1996, she was certified as an Akashic Records Teacher. Dr. Howe is the originator of the Pathway Prayer Process,© to Access the Heart of the Akashic Records, and founded the Center for Akashic Studies in Chicago in 2001. Since 2010, she has taught a variety of online and in-person courses to students from around the globe. For more information about Dr. Howe’s work, including her classes, books and more, visit www.LindaHowe.com. The following is just a portion of our conversation. To hear the entire interview and learn more about Linda’s books, work, and spiritual journey, visit www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com or subscribe on your favorite podcast provider. Janae: You’ve written several books on the Akashic Records and have another book coming out next year, Inspired Manifesting Through the Akashic Records. What inspired you to write this book now? Was it due to the pandemic or were you planning on writing the book before the pandemic? Linda Howe: I’ve been working on this book for five years. I’ve been working and traveling a lot for a couple of years now. I realized that I could not write a book in an airport or a hotel. Last December I made this prayer to the Universe, “Oh my God, I need a break, so I can get this book done.” I had all this urgency in my heart. Lo and behold! The pandemic hit and all travel ceased. One of the silver linings in the great clouds of COVID for me is to have the time and the space to finish this book. With my first three books, I took the traditional publishing approach through Sounds True and Hay House. With this book, I realized that if I took the traditional approach, it would take a couple of years, and I don’t know that we have that kind of time. So, I’m self-publishing this book so it can be available quickly. We are in times of urgency for good guidance and wisdom. This pandemic has pushed me to do so many things I swore I was never going to do. I was never going to self-publish or do a teacher training online. Now, I have an international teacher training program all online. I have to laugh! Who knew the world was going to change in this way? JJ: You mentioned how the world has changed. Thinking about that and with the holidays coming up, how can we sincerely connect with our loved ones this holiday season even though we may be physically further apart? LH: You know what we’re doing in my house? This year, we are having a virtual Thanksgiving. Everybody’s going to be in their own house and we’re going to put the laptop at the table. We’re going to do a Zoom Thanksgiving. We have to take care of one another and make the connections when we can but not put anyone we love at risk. JJ: That’s a great way to think about it! Staying home is not just about keeping yourself safe, but it’s an act of love. We’re so lucky to have the Internet as an option right now. LH: I’ve been teaching online for a long time. About 12 years ago, we started doing these conference calls. It was a little clumsy, but it worked out. We went from that, and it’s just been one step after another. Technology just keeps on; every time we have a moment of inner awareness, the outer world says, “Well here, try this!” In the ‘90s, the head of the Astara Foundation likened the Akashic Record to the “cosmic internet.” It is like this superhighway of consciousness, of truth. It’s a vibrational archive of every soul and their journey. The opportunity for secular people to work in the Record consciously, deliberately, responsibly, for our own growth and transformation, is unprecedented in the history of human consciousness. We are in the time of awakening spiritual awareness where each one of us is challenged. We have the opportunity to make this connection in a conscious way and to live from the place of awareness of the truth in the goodness of our own soul. We are the bridge generation. We have a responsibility to ourselves, and to those we love, to learn how to use the spiritual resources that life is giving us. JJ: Speaking of giving, how can we be both generous givers and gracious receivers this holiday season? LH: First comes the giving. If you think about breathing, I exhale, then I have room to inhale. If my lungs are full, there can be pure oxygen, but there’s nowhere for it to go. So, what I want to do is give first. These are simultaneous processes. As I give, there is now room for receiving. Most of the people I work with have a little anxiety about receiving. As we allow ourselves to receive, it’s not just for us. As we receive, we are then in a position to give even more. Understanding the giving and receiving process is really what places us in the circle of life. There are things that I have that you don’t have, and if I give them to you, you have them. Then someone else can give to me. We are interdependent creatures. We’re all responsible for our own giving and receiving. It’s an independent experience, however, through this independent, autonomous experience of giving and receiving, we then find our natural relationship with other people. We give to people who need what we have and want what we have, and we receive from people who have what we want and need. Then we’ve found our harmony with other human beings. One of the great opportunities of our time is to experience our oneness with each other, with ourselves, with one another, and with life. It is by consciously giving and receiving that we are participating in the unity of human consciousness, the unity of the human family. It takes the idea of “oneness,” a very popular spiritual idea, and puts it into action. So, as we’re going into the holidays, we want to be thinking about the fact our giving and our receiving are ways that we can experience our oneness with all of humanity, and the great light that is being birthed at this moment in human development. Janae Jean is a professional music instructor, composer, sound artist, web designer, blogger and writer. She is the founder of Perennial Music and Arts and is passionate about sharing her love of music and arts. Visit www.PerennialMusicAndArts.com and www.JanaeJean.com for more information and to subscribe to her blogs.
38 minutes | a year ago
Listening To the Voice of Love – Interview with Corinne Zupko
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter We had the pleasure of speaking with Corinne Zupko, Ed.S., author of From Anxiety to Love: A Radical New Approach for Letting Go of Fear and Finding Lasting Peace. Zupko has coached, counseled and educated thousands of people at national and regional conferences, in classes and workshops, and one-on-one. She co-hosts the largest virtual conference about A Course in Miracles through Miracle Share International, an organization which she co-founded. She also hosts the podcast From Anxiety to Love Radio. Zupko also serves as a corporate consultant for mindfulness practices, and she teaches mindfulness and wellness at the College of New Jersey. You can connect to her through fromanxietytolove.com . The following article only contains a portion of our conversation, listen to the podcast on our website to hear much more and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and/or YouTube. — J.J Janae: What inspired you to write this book? Corinne: I was pretty much born anxious. I received my first psychiatrist diagnosis at the age of two, separation anxiety disorder. I was always an anxious child, but once I got to college things got really intense for me, because that was the time I broke down with really debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Those [attacks] were triggered by the death of a student on campus. I didn’t know this student, but it was a very sudden death. It really freaked me out. After I learned that news, the next morning, I woke up at about three o’clock in the morning in an all-out sweat. My heart was racing. I thought I was dying, and it turns out it was my first panic attack. Then for years, I had out of the blue and out of control panic attack…a high degree of anxiety. Through the help of a number of things, including counseling, and talking a lot with my mom because she was a true spiritual mentor for me. But, the thing that helped me the most was a spiritual pathway called A Course in Miracles. Through all those things, I found my way into really wanting to give back. I ended up becoming a therapist and working with one-on-one clients for many years, but I still had some degree of anxiety that followed me. In 2009, I had another really debilitating episode of anxiety. When I say debilitating episode, I mean I couldn’t really function. It was hard for me to get off the couch. My stomach was in such a physical knot that it was hard for me to eat because it was spasming all the time. It was at that point that I started to really dive in deeply into my spiritual practice, and I started finding relief. I started noticing that a lot of my anxieties and my fears were falling away, and I knew at that point in time that I had to start writing about what was helping me. The results, from a total of six years, are in the pages of From Anxiety to Love. Spencer: It’s really interesting that your spiritual practices helped you with that. For hundreds of thousands of years humans used spirituality as a coping mechanism. Now people don’t have that outlet. They go on a medication…stay on it for years… and sometimes, it doesn’t even help them. JJ: I liked that in your book you pointed out that it’s sometimes necessary to have that medication. It saves people’s lives, especially in crisis situations. CZ: I’m so glad you brought this point up about how society as a whole has moved away from spirituality and has gone to this strict medical model. Whatever your spiritual practice is, it’s all about coming back into your being, your true self. For me, I truly believe that love is at the center of everything. Learning how to reconnect with that myself, and trust that voice of love within me was huge. Like you said, a pill is not going to take us into ourselves; it’s just like a bandage. For me, it was temporary. I needed it during the very acute debilitating times, but I trusted that my need for it would fall away as I was ready to let it go. A lot of my anxiety was existential. Why the heck are we here? If God is love then how can all this crazy stuff be happening in this world? So, I needed a spiritual remedy; there wasn’t anything medical that would answer those questions for me. JJ: I like that, in your book, you use the term “Inner Therapist.” Would you like to elaborate on that? CZ: This Inner Therapist is part of our very own mind that heals, that remembers the truth that we are all united, that we are made of love. A Course in Miracles calls your Inner Therapist your Inner Teacher, Holy Spirit. You can call it your Higher Mind, your Inner Guide, or your Inner Guidance System. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but it’s the idea that there is something outside of this limited, fearful thought system (that we all know so well). As we get connected with this part of our own mind, with our Inner Therapist, we are able to use it for healing… This process (that I write about in my book) is about finding your willingness to do differently and bringing your willingness to your Inner Therapist, to your Inner Teacher, asking for a miracle which is this sort of shift in perception. This ability to perceive and to experience love again is to hand it over and just trust that you handed it over. That shift is going to come when you’re ready to receive it. This Inner Therapist, for me, has been a key part for me. As I have become better and better at listening to it, which I also call the “Voice of Love,” or your intuition within you, the more I’ve come to identify with that, and the more I’ve found the anxiety issues just fall away. I feel so connected to my sense of being and the Divine Love that’s within me. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an M.M. in Computer Music Composition from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Music/Education from Judson University. Janae is actively researching using electronically generated sounds for healing. Visit janaejean.com and perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner. Podcast Theme Music: Sublimation (Theme from the Conscious Community Podcast) Janae Jean Almen and Spencer Schluter, composers SpindriftGreenMusic Publishing ©2017 SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave
74 minutes | a year ago
The Greatest Gift – Interview with Lama Surya Das
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter For this interview, we had the honor to speak with Lama Surya Das, affectionately called “The Western Lama” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Surya Das is the author of 15 books, including his most recent book, his first children’s book, The Yeti and The Jolly Lama: A Tale of Friendship. His other books include the best-selling Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Modern World and The Snow Lion’s Turquoise Mane: Wisdom Tales From Tibet. He is also the host of Awakening Now on the Be Here Now network. Surya is a highly sought after teacher, mentor, speaker and lecturer, translator and writer and has spent over 45 years studying Zen, meditation, yoga and Tibetan Buddhism. He is the founder of the Dzogchen Center and Foundation. As founder of the Western Buddhist Teachers Network with the Dalai Lama, he helps organize its international Buddhist Teachers Conferences. Connect with him online on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube @LamaSuryaDas. Visit AskTheLama.com, Surya.org and Dzogchen.org for more information. Janae: You’ve written over 15 books, but this is your first children’s book. This is really a book for children of all ages with themes like lovingkindness, reaching out and turning a monster into a friend. What brought you to write a children’s book? Surya Das: I’ve published in different genres, but mainly I’m known for my non-fiction work, especially Awakening the Buddha Within. I’m also a translator and collector of Himalayan folktales. I have a book of them called The Snow Lion’s Turquoise Mane: Wisdom Tales From Tibet. I didn’t write that for children, but some of them have been adapted into children’s stories. I’ve noticed that the younger generation today is not as exposed to Biblical parables, moral stories, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables—instructional, edifying and amusing stories like those. I wanted to put forth some of these universal principles and Buddhist principles like lovingkindness and friendship across species. There’s a lot more children in my life now that I have grandchildren, grandnieces and nephews and that my godchildren have children. I’m really enjoying telling stories to children. Spencer: What drew you to Tibetan Buddhism and led you to become a Lama? SD: Health is a big part of the spiritual life in any tradition, some emphasize it more than others. Buddha said his teaching was like medicine. He was like a doctor and the students were like patients, and it’s up to the patient to take it or not. Nobody can do it for you. This is my life, the Buddhist path, which I met in college in the 60s and then pursued in the Himalayas in the 70s, 80s and 90s. I learned Tibetan and studied these things as I translated Tibetan teaching tales. I’ve been studying this my whole adult life and been helping to bring mindfulness and yoga to the Western countries, as well as translating for the Dalai Lama and other people of Tibet. I teach and write full-time. I have the Dzogchen Center for retreats, and I offer personal spiritual guidance. I got into this when I was young, and it healed me of my afflictions. I was a seeker and became a finder. I’m just here testifying that these ancient and timeless—yet very timely—traditional practices, spiritual self-inquiry, mindfulness, healthy living, balanced eating, yoga and exercise all conspire together to make one a better person, and for spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational health. It can help with societal health too. SS: We’ve been getting the house ready for the winter. It’s going to be cold here in Illinois, and we want to make it as cheerful, warm and pleasant as possible. It’s very hard to gather data on how that affects quality of life, but I feel like that’s the elephant in the room when there’s so much anxiety and depression. You have to consider how you spend your life and all those intangible, beautiful things. There’s no replacement for that beauty. SD: I’m from the Middle Way school. Balance is probably the most important thing. The Middle Way does not mean a razor’s edge that you have to follow on the middle of the road. It means there are many lanes on either side of the central line. Let’s just try to stay out of the ditches on either extreme, like Nihilism or materialism. The Middle way is about balance and appropriateness. We are under the spell of progress, as if newer or bigger is always better. We know that’s not true. These things are good servants but poor masters. The problem is we are too much under their power. Do we own the possessions in our houses, or do they own us? What are we really occupied with? These are very important questions to look into. Values trumps material. Any parent or pet owner knows that. If we are conscious, pets, wild animals and the whole environment are part of our community. The community of all beings, the circle of all beings is our true family; it’s not just our nuclear family, not just who we look like or are related to. I think this is very important. These teaching tales told by wise Tibetan lamas have to do with these kinds of morals. “Think globally but act locally.” I think the community of all beings is very important here, and not to get too siloed as many do in this over-information era. JJ: You mentioned materialism is a problem; as we move into the holiday season, it becomes a big issue. What are your thoughts on healthy giving and receiving? SD: I think it’s incumbent to look at ourselves in the mirror and be very honest with ourselves. If we’re truth-seekers, we need to see what parts greed, clinging and fear play in whether we can give or even receive. Some people are always giving, giving, giving and are burnt-out helpers and not able to receive. The essence of generosity is a transcendent virtue. It’s like what you do with your children, you do the best you can. Of course, we expect results, but you keep doing the best you can and keep being a loving parent—even when they’re in their terrible teens and give without expectation of anything in return. It comes back eventually; it’s hard to measure or quantify. In the spiritual world, there are many ways of explaining this. It’s the essence of the Bhagavad Gita, where God, in the form of the Lord Krishna, says to Arjuna, “The Chariot’s here. Do your duty and let go. I take care of the rest.” In other words, do what you need to do and don’t be attached to the results. That’s a hard lesson to learn. We are all attached to the results. JJ: As you mentioned, some people are givers, who give, give, give but have a hard time receiving gifts or even sincere compliments. What advice would you give them? SD: It’s like breathing in and out. You can’t be breathing in only one way all the time. Mutual reciprocity is very important to keep the balance. Otherwise, you become a burnt-out healer. I’ve said to someone, “You give, give, give. You say you are burnt-out, but you’re hijacking all the giving from that equation. Maybe you can let someone else give to you and revitalize yourself that way.” It’s beyond sharing; it’s really acknowledging our interconnectedness and interdependence and that we are all in touch with the Source of Infinite Abundance. There’s a Buddhist saying that non-attachment is the greatest offering or gift and contentment is the greatest form of wealth. This article is a brief excerpt taken from our in-depth conversation. To hear more about how ancient wisdom can heal today’s world; the spirit of giving and receiving; living the Middle Way; as well as how to let your inner light shine, listen to the entire interview at www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. Janae Jean is a professional music educator, musician and healing sound artist. Visit www.JanaeJean.com and www.PerennialMusicAndArts.com. Spencer C. Schluter is a consultant with experience in visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com.
52 minutes | 2 years ago
Interdependence Day – Interview with Megan Griswold
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter For this month’s interview, we had the pleasure to share in conversation with author Megan Griswold. Megan grew up in California in a family that embraced New Age Californian culture. She studied at Barnard College, earned an MA from Yale and later went on to earn a licentiate degree from the Institute of Taoist Education and Acupuncture. She trained in many modalities and has received certifications as a doula, shiatsu practitioner, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and in wilderness medicine, among others. She has worked in many diverse fields including as a mountain instructor, a Classical Five element acupuncturist, a freelance reporter, a commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered and an off-the-grid interior designer. She currently resides primarily in a yurt in Kelly, Wyoming. Megan is the author of The Book of Help: A Memoir in Remedies where she shares personal recollections from her experiences with many different healing modalities, wellness techniques and spiritual practices. Visit www.MeganGriswold.com and www.LittleMovingSpaces.com for more information about her work. Follow her on social media on Instagram @MeganEatonGriswold, on Facebook @TheBookOfHelp and on Twitter @Megan_Griswold. The following is a brief excerpt of our in-depth conversation. To find out more about community, acupuncture and alternative medicine, off-the-grid living, how to decide if a healing modality or practitioner is right for you, as well as Megan’s personal healing journey, listen to the entire interview at www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. All 36 episodes of the Conscious Community Podcast are available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Player.FM, YouTube and other popular podcatchers. Janae: You describe your book as a memoir of remedies, would you like to elaborate on what that means to you? Megan Griswold: Yeah. I had a rather unusual upbringing. My family was very immersed in “New Age stuff.” When I was born I was assigned a Christian Science practitioner; by age seven, I asked Santa for my first mantra for Christmas and got one; and by age 12, I was taking weekend workshops. So, I’ve done over 15,000 hours of spiritual and New Age practices organically—not as an experiment. Then I was married, my husband got arrested for soliciting a prostitute who was an undercover cop. That experience put enough pressure of a certain kind that I dove into what I knew to do when I was in pain or having a challenge. That was these alternative experiments. The book reads more like a novel; it starts on the night of his arrest. Every chapter kicks off with the name of that therapy, purpose, cost, equipment needed and humiliation factor (that is my favorite). The book mentions over 200 healing practices, and there are about 100 that provide the lens to tell the story. Spencer: You mentioned the “humiliation factor.” Are you talking about opening up to your vulnerabilities? MG: Yeah. I think in a lot of times, whether it’s in a group setting, one-on-one or even with just yourself, you can be embarrassed. I’ve been embarrassed with just me watching. During a silent retreat, the meditation teacher sent me up in the woods to do this stick-mashing exercise alone. I was just so embarrassed to do the whole thing with just myself. Now, however many years later, I had to do this trailer for the book where I had to reenact some of the activities in the book. So, I had to do the same exercise. I was in the middle of Grand Teton National Park, and I stamped out this little place in the snow and did the stick-smashing exercise. I had to raise sticks over my head and yell like a lunatic. My friend was photographing, and she had an assistant with her who was doing the steady-cam. There was this funny moment when she looked at her assistant and said, “I think I should have told you more about the book.” [Laughs.] I had started in and went berserk, and I thought, “Oh my God! I’ve obviously changed!” This had mortified me years ago by myself, and here I could do it in front of people. Tourists were driving by and filming it; it was ridiculous! In a different moment, I would have definitely been more embarrassed. JJ: I could see the humiliation factor being a valuable part of the therapy by helping you to get over yourself. MG: Exactly! I like to name it as humiliating, rather than pretend that it’s not a little uncomfortable to do these types of things. SS: It is difficult, if not impossible, to go through life totally independent from other human beings. I think the root cause of toxic masculinity is how our culture socializes men not to talk about their feelings. In order to find spiritual engagement, emotional growth, a therapist that works for you, or any of these things that are going to help heal you as a man, you have to acknowledge that you need other people. This applies to women equally. If you want to be independent, not co-dependent, you need to know how to find the right people to help you. MG: I definitely think that culturally women are encouraged to be curious and looking for insight. I think it’s absolutely true that men aren’t encouraged to do that. Certainly, the challenges I’ve dealt with have to do with being around a wonderful man who wasn’t given the tools he needed to deal with the hand he was dealt. JJ: Besides writing this book, your website says you reside in a yurt, and you’re an off-the-grid interior designer. Can you tell us a bit about that? MG: One thing that I find particularly nourishing is being outside in the back country. (I used to be a mountain guide instructor.) While I was working on becoming a full-time writer, I was cultivating other income streams. It turned out I was good at making pretty places and turning them into Airbnb type businesses. I had the opportunity to rent a yurt and then another yurt, in this unintentionally intentional or intentionally unintentional community in the middle of Grand Teton National Park. It’s a little bit like living in New York and stumbling into a rent-controlled apartment. So, after renting a couple yurts in this community, I got to build one. That developed into its own design project, separate from the Airbnb operations that I started. I started to be able to merge my interests and spend all this time outside and erect this beautiful space that’s affordable. The project turned into an online resource for other people who want to curate beautiful places for themselves that are essentially off-the-grid. JJ: Are you part of a community there? MG: I knew myself well enough that I knew that I did not want to be completely isolated. I like that we have this interaction in the bathhouse doing dishes or laundry, or that we’re looking out for each other. Somebody will look out for my solar panels or clean them off or vice versa; or I’ll look after somebody’s pup. I think something interesting happens when we don’t have much insulation. I think with very thin walls, you feel what is going on under the other roofs. It’s like when you sleep outside in tents and you cycle up with the moon. I think you are cycling up with your neighbors and what’s going on with them. You become sensitive to that. Janae Jean serves as an editor and media consultant Conscious Community Magazine. Visit her blog www.janaejean.com for more about her music composition and sound healing, as well as her tea and ceremony writing. Visit www.perennialmusicandarts.com for about music lessons and arts education. Spencer Schluter serves as an advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
43 minutes | 2 years ago
The Intentionally Happy Life – Interview with Edith Hall
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter For this month’s interview and podcast, we spoke with renowned author and lecturer, Edith Hall. Edith is a Professor in the Department of Classics and Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s College in London, England. While she originally specialized in ancient Greek Literature, her work has expanded to include ancient Greek and Roman history, society and thought. She has published over 20 books. Her most recent book is Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life, in which she explains how studying Aristotle’s ancient philosophy can help all of us live more fulfilling lives in the modern world. When Edith is not writing or teaching, she frequently broadcasts on radio and television, consults with professional theaters and lectures internationally. She publishes in academic and mainstream magazines, publications and newspapers. You may follow or contact her via Twitter @EdithMayHall. Visit www.edithhall.co.uk. The following is a brief excerpt of our in-depth conversation. To find out more about relationships, parenting, happiness, grit, and why it’s not too late to start achieving your dreams, listen to the entire interview at www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. All 35 episodes of the Conscious Community Podcast are available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, TuneIn, Player. FM, YouTube and other popular podcatchers. Janae: How did you discover Aristotle? Was that at the university? Edith: Yes. I was at Oxford studying classics and had to write a paper about making decisions in Greek tragedy. My great tutor told me to read the third book of Nicomachean Ethics series. It blew me away. For the first time in my life, I heard a voice that seemed to be describing exactly how I felt about moral dilemmas and my position in the world relative to other people, animals, ethics and everything. So, I got very excited and started to read the rest of this great mind. I was so amazed at how he developed a whole system of thinking; he’s actually the father of logic. It isn’t just about your personal life—your subjective self—everything interconnects. He’s very encouraging; the whole thing is written as if you apply this to your life, you will get happier. It’s a system of secular ethics. There is no god in it, but that doesn’t mean that he was an Atheist. He thought it was completely up to humans to create their own happiness. This spoke to me at that age in a very powerful way, because I had been very lost since I was about 13. JJ: Your father was an Anglican priest, and growing up you were interested in astrology, Buddhism and Transcendental Meditation. How does Aristotle fit into all of that? EH: For me, he was the non-mystical answer. He’s very modern. He doesn’t think you will ever be happy if you act out of accordance with your emotions. You’ve got to find a way for reason and emotion to go together at all times. It’s all part of the same system. He’s very holistic. This, for me, was extremely liberating. JJ: In your writing, you talk about the importance of planning and how planning can lead us to happiness yet many people would think it’s the opposite. SS: We have a very “instant gratification” society when it comes to self-improvement. EH: It’s really about how you define “happiness.” Aristotelian happiness is not a passing mood that can be brought on by a “happy meal” or “happy hour.” It can only come from within yourself. It comes from that feeling of being able to look in the mirror and know that you have tried to do your best. If you’ve tried to be the best possible you, worked on your not-so-nice characteristics, recognized what you are really good at, and recognized your strong personal qualities and enhanced those further, then you get a really firm, really Teflon, sense of contentment, even if you have unbelievably bad luck. Aristotle says that he sees that people who are ‘bad’ are almost always really unhappy. The other thing is Aristotle thinks that everybody is good at something, and that’s absolutely true. It may be parenting, gardening, making other people happy, cracking jokes, violin playing, Ancient Greek literature; it may be (you) discussing deep issues that make them accessible to the public. Happiness is being the best version of you and exercising it, and that’s what you want to do with your whole life. It’s a verb, not a noun. It is a way of doing everything with an approach. SS: I heard a discussion on public radio about IQ and success. They said that most successful people have high IQs but having a high IQ does not mean you will be successful. The difference between somebody who is successful and one who is not is grit or determination. EH: The crucial thing here, and this is why I think Aristotle is so helpful if you are a parent or in a job that has parental aspects, is helping the young discover what it is they are very good at. There is no greater gift than someone taking that seriously and talking about that with you. The key to it, if you are an Aristotelian, is what gives them the most pleasure. SS: But, not in the Hedonistic sense? EH: No. What I tried to do with my kids was to let them do what they wanted, but I exposed them to as many things as I possibly could. For example, my youngest has just gone to university to study Japanese, and there’s no study of Oriental languages in my family. I thought, “Where on Earth did she get that from?” She told me, “Mummy, don’t you remember you took me to see that manga film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, when I was eight?” I had completely forgotten that. But she said that was a moment she realized she loved everything about it. When she said that, it really moved me. This is where I can get a little bit mystical. One of the wonders of the human race is that we seem to have been given such a diverse range of abilities. There is nothing better for me than watching someone who is really excellent at something; anything from cooking to parenting to driving a car well, seeing them enjoying being excellent at what they do. That is where Aristotle says you are getting nearest to God because this is what animals can’t do. Animals are driven by their instincts. Aristotle invented the idea of the “Hive Mind,” which is why he thought democracy was the best system. He said it’s like a public feast where everybody brought the dish they were best at. He said that’s what an ideal society should be. I think it is miraculous what diverse things excite people. I genuinely get excited by going to a library and reading some old Greek book. Weird, isn’t it? But I do. I’m very lucky that I get to do that for money. Getting to do what you’re really good at is the happiest you can possibly be as a human. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.janaejean.com or www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about her other projects. Spencer Schluter serves as an advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
43 minutes | 2 years ago
Embracing the Feminine Archetypes – Maiden, Mother, Crone – Interview with Danielle Dulsky
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter For our May interview, we had the pleasure to share a conversation with author Danielle Dulsky. Danielle explores the wild feminine, humanity’s deep and embodied connection to the natural world through writing, multimedia art, motherhood, witchcraft, yoga teaching and energy–healing. Danielle’s most recent book, The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman, invites readers to create their own spiritual path with the elements—Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether, as well as the feminine archetypes of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. For more about Danielle’s fascinating work, visit DanielleDulsky.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter@WolfWomanWitch. You can support her work at www.Patreon.com/DanielleDulsky, and “like” and “follow” her work on Facebook@WolfWomanCircle. The following is only an excerpt from our interview. Listen for more insights about the Divine Feminine, archetypes, the importance of rituals, motherhood, living in harmony with nature, and more. Subscribe to the Conscious Community Podcast on your favorite podcatcher or listen on www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com. Find the Conscious Community Podcast on Twitter@TweetCCPodcast or on Facebook@ConsciousCommunityPodcast. Janae: In your book, you talk about the feminine archetypes of “Maiden, Mother and Crone.” Do you feel that as women we need to embody all these roles? Danielle: Yeah, I think that’s it. We are all three, maiden, mother and crone, all the time, even irrespective of gender. We have these masculine and feminine energies that cycle within us. It doesn’t even bother me If you call them by those labels or call them something else. What we are really talking about when we talk about the maiden is our sensuality, the way our emotions cycle, and our kinship with nature. Then the mother archetype is two things. In my book, I talk about the idea of the mother’s twin. There are socially acceptable aspects of the mother archetype because she’s a “doer.” She’s generative; she’s productive. So, she’s very good for capitalism and our existing socioeconomic structures because she’s very busy. But, the mother’s twin is the flipside of the mother, which are the less socially acceptable aspects of the mother archetype, which would be righteous rage, will and activism. She also thinks very holistically. While the masculine equivalent, the Father archetype, thinks very individualistically. So, the mother is very holistic; she’s a creator of community and a storyteller. Finally, the crone archetype is very intuitive. She thinks in terms of the cosmic web. While the Sage archetype, which is the masculine equivalent, will fragment and separate in order to examine, the crone will look at the bigger picture. JJ: Not to distract us from the discussion of the feminine, but what is the male equivalent of the maiden? DD: I usually call him the Hunter. Spencer: In popular culture, as Janae points out, women are often only valued when they are under 25 and for their physical appearance and reproductive qualities. This is toxic for young women and especially toxic for women as they age. As younger people, we need the help of elders and their guidance. DD: We take the maiden’s power away by oversexualizing her. She’s valued until she’s 25 but valued in this limited physical way. The maiden archetype is much broader. She is very sexual, but she’s also an artist and very present, versus the mother who is a forward thinker. As I said, she’s the one who socially acceptable because she’s always creating something, whether it’s children or something else. She’s “mothering” something. Our crones and sages are locked away in nursing homes or whatever and not valued for all that wisdom they have, so we are in a society where we don’t have access to elders. It is difficult to embrace our inner crones and sages because they are those aspects of our psyches that have been socially devalued in every way. We live with that and see it all the time, so it’s difficult to get past it. SS: You mentioned that the crone is intuitive, which is something that our society smirks at. I think that leads to a lot of our problems. DD: Like I always say, “Even witches want proof.” Proof that our intuition is right. When we listen to our intuition, and we were totally right, then we have this incentive to keep listening to it. But, if we don’t even get that chance to listen to our intuition because we are trying to be so logical, then we don’t have the proof that we need! Right? It’s taking those first few steps where we say, “Maybe I should go with my gut and go against the logic and the numbers and just see what happens.” JJ: What do you think is the significance of ritual? Do you think it’s innate in us? DD: I do. I think ritual is absolutely everything. I think we need little, mini, what I call “micro–rituals” or “root rituals.” But then, we need larger community rituals where we are acknowledging one of the big holidays, like Yule. Rituals make things important; they mark transitions from different life stages; they are very holy ceremonies, even if they don’t come from some archaic understanding or knowledge. They can be just as important if they are something you co–created with your friend. I’m not raising my two sons to be witches because I don’t want them to be indoctrinated into religion the way that I was when I was younger. However, I do co–parent with their father, so they do have to go to church on Easter Sunday. So, there’s this majesty that they get from that ritual that they don’t get from these tiny practices that they might be doing with me in our home. That’s not something that can be competed with—the golden candlesticks and the majesty of the Easter celebration in a Catholic Church, right? So, I do think that there is this hunger for ritual and ceremony, particularly in people who may have been raised in religious traditions, and then they come away from it. We still need that ritual container, and it is innate and a human hunger. JJ: You mentioned that you have sons. How does a mother include this idea of the feminine when raising boys? I think it’s really important for both girls and boys to understand the masculine and feminine. DD: It’s getting harder! My sons are 9 and 12. When they were younger I didn’t even think about it. They are certainly closer to you when they are younger. So, they knew how to cast a circle and do things that I do in my own practice. I think that my simple answer to your question is to have them outside as much as possible, which is getting more difficult the more screen–based our society becomes. I think that we all have the feminine in us, and it’s just honoring it as much as possible. It’s taking them outside to see these things that they shouldn’t take for granted—the flower blooming or that strawberry you grew. SS: What is your intention for The Holy Wild? DD: My biggest intention for the book is to say that the reader’s story is important. There are a lot of opportunities in the book to look at the elements; Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Ether, and the way those elements resonate and resonate with the Divine Feminine, or with certain Goddess archetypes and how that relates to your personal story. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.janaejean.com or www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about her other projects. Spencer Schluter serves as an advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
51 minutes | 2 years ago
One World, One Breath – Interview with Bill Douglas
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter Recently, we were joined by Bill Douglas, founder of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. Bill is the tai chi expert for Dr. Weil’s websites, the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tai Chi & Qigong, as well as the host of the DVD, Anthology of Tai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future. Bill gives presentations worldwide and currently teaches tai chi at the University of Kansas Health Systems and the University of Kansas Medical Center. The 20th Anniversary World Tai Chi and Qigong Day is on April 27, 2019. In the Chicago area, it will be held at the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, IL. Visit www.worldtaichiday.org. The following is only an excerpt from our interview. Listen to the entire conversation by subscribing to the Conscious Community Podcast on your favorite podcatcher or by visiting www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com. Find the Conscious Community Podcast on Twitter @TweetCCPodcast or on Facebook @Conscious CommunityPodcast. Janae: You are the founder of World Tai Chi Day, correct? Bill Douglas: Yes, me and my wife, Angela Wong Douglas. JJ: What inspired you to create this day? How did you get the word out to tai chi practitioners around the world? BD: Originally, we were teaching tai chi and qigong in yoga studios. Then we got an offer to teach tai chi at a major medical center in the Kansas City area, the Shawnee Mission Medical Center. During the first eight-week session, we had a bunch of medical professionals who started seeing really amazing results. The pharmacologist saw his high blood pressure go down very significantly. In fact, he got his general practitioner to write him a prescription for tai chi. The surgeon had a whiplash injury that caused chronic pain and limited mobility. After the eight-week session, she not only didn’t have chronic pain but regained full mobility. This was 20 years ago before I was internet savvy. These medical professionals used their database to look up tai chi medical research and handed me the research. At first, I didn’t know what to do with this research. As I started to see the potential of tai chi and qigong for what the mass of society is dealing with on a physical level, we started sending out this medical research to the media. We thought that the media would pass it on to their readers and viewers. We were stunned that they weren’t interested. One day, I was sitting in my backyard meditating and had this idea of creating a mass tai chi exhibition that would be so big and visually unusual that it would be hard for the media to resist it. So, we spent several months getting as many people as possible to meet on the south lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum here in Kansas City. Then we spent several months doing media work to inundate the local TV and newspapers with press releases to get them to come and cover it. We showed up that day with no idea what was going to happen. When Angie, our two kids and I pulled up, there was nobody there. Then suddenly people started walking in from all different directions. Within fifteen minutes or so, there were 200 people there. We had 200 people spread out across this beautiful lawn in front of this majestic museum, and we did tai chi. The media showed up in droves—three tv channels and five different newspapers. When we got home, I got a call from one of my assistant teachers who said, “We were on CNN today!” Then we started getting contacted by other tai chi groups who had seen it who said, “We want to do this too!” So, we reserved worldtaichiday.org and decided to make this a world-wide event. That next year, it was in 12 countries and 12 US states. Angie and I wrote the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tai Chi and Qigong, and we got the publisher to include a chapter called “World Tai Chi and Qigong Day” with this vision. We didn’t know if it was going to take off or not. That chapter got the word out through people who were reading the book and a lot of them were tai chi teachers. Now it’s in hundreds of cities in over 80 countries on the last Saturday in April. Spencer: Tai chi and qigong are often regarded as spiritual practices. It has that aspect to it, but it’s also physical exercise. You can get the cardiovascular benefits as well as the benefits you get from seated meditation. BD: Tai chi and qigong can do those things you mentioned. They can set the stage for really profound spiritual experiences. Over the last 20 years, we’ve been collecting all the breaking medical research on tai chi and qigong. What you find when you immerse yourself in that data is that these mind-body practices have profound health benefits. Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard wrote The Relaxation Response, which was really the first medical research on meditation. He said that between 60 and 90% of the health issues that bring people to the doctor are caused by stress and are best treated by mind-body practices. Over the years, I came across a study by Kaiser Permanente. They determined that 70% of illnesses sending people to their doctors were caused by stress. So, I contacted Dr. David Sobel at Kaiser Permanente. He was very familiar with that study and had been interested in mind-body practices. He said that depending on how you looked at that data, it could go as high as 85% of the health issues sending people to their doctors were caused by stress. When you consider that, you realize that we could literally save trillions of dollars, if we move these mind-body practices into society at all levels. One of the places that it’s insane that it hasn’t already happened on a massive scale is in public education. Every schoolkid, from kindergarten to university, should have a mind-body practice taught to them through health science or physical education. It would literally save trillions of dollars over time and that has the potential of changing the world. If you look it up, you’ll find that ending world starvation would only cost about $30 billion. So, these practices have the potential for changing the world on many levels including that one. JJ: You’ve also written fiction books and so has our previous guest and tai chi teacher, Monk Yun Rou. You mention in your DVD that there is a relationship between tai chi and creativity. Do you find that you become more creative the more you practice? BD: This segues with the Taoist concepts of tai chi. If we relax out of the way, there is great possibility waiting to expand through us and part of that is creativity. There was a well-renowned concert pianist from Scotland who had read my book. He was doing a tour of the United States and was going to perform at a university near where I live. So, he contacted me to see if we could get together. He talked about how tai chi had profoundly increased his creativity. I’ve been contacted by various authors with the same comment. When we practice these mindfulness techniqx ues and practice relaxing out of the way, we let go of everything that we are so there is space of this newness to expand through us. In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.janaejean.com or www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about her other projects. Spencer Schluter serves as an advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
46 minutes | 2 years ago
Seeking Connection – Interview with Justin Roberts and Scott Erickson
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter For this interview, we had the honor of speaking with the dynamic and engaging Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson. Justin and Scott collaborated together on the book Prayer: Forty Days of Practice, which features images interspersed with reflections and practices to inspire connection. We spoke with them about how prayer is part of the human experience, uniting and connecting us to the Divine and one another, as well as the arts, sacred spaces and building community. Justin McRoberts is a musician and songwriter, as well as an experienced speaker and teacher, giving workshops and leading retreats across the country. He has recorded 15 music projects since 1999 and is also the curator and host of the @Sea Podcast and @Sea Events. Justin has also authored two books about the creative life. To learn more, visit www.JustinMcRoberts.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @JustinMcRoberts. Scott Erickson is a touring painter, performance speaker and creative priest who mixes autobiography, mythology and aesthetics. His touring one-man show, We Are Not Troubled Guests, is a multimedia storytelling experience. Scott has been a working artist for more than a decade and his work has appeared on CNN, in National Geographic, as well as on Tyler Perry’s Passion Live on Fox TV. Scott draws from his background as an educator and visual communicator in all of his endeavors. He speaks at workshops and retreats across the nation. To learn more about his artwork, current live appearances and to access his downloadable art show, Spiritual Practices, see www.ScottEricksonArt.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ScottThePainter. The following is only an excerpt from our full interview. Listen to the entire conversation by subscribing to the Conscious Community Podcast on your favorite podcatcher app or by visiting www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com. Janae Jean: To start off, can you tell us a bit about your backgrounds? Scott, you are a visual artist, and Justin, you started in music. How did you come to write a book? Scott Erickson: I’ve been a practicing visual artist for over a decade. When I tell people I’m a visual artist, their first question is usually, “How do you make a living?” So, I respond, “I do a lot of little things to make a little something.” I’m a painter, illustrator; I do art shows; I sell work. I’ve started doing more performance pieces, these multimedia storytelling events. Now I’m an author. So, it’s a lot of projects going on at the same time. But predominantly, I would say a lot of our language and ideas are based in imagery. When we want to have a transformative experience, we have to deal with the inner images that we have that we’re rooting our narratives and conversations in. Justin McRoberts: I’ve always talked a lot, and since I was a teenager I’ve been using words in some way, shape or form to create moments. I started playing music professionally in ’98. A lot of what would happen is the storytelling element of the shows would just take off. People would comment that they were enjoying the storytelling just as much as the music, and I recognized that I was enjoying that more than the music. Then I started putting things down in blogs…and then on paper. Spencer Schluter: Are you both coming from a Christian background? Scott: Depends on what you mean by ‘Christian.’ That can stand for a lot of things in the world that I wouldn’t align with. Spirituality is making what’s invisible visible, and religion is the rituals, rhythms and practices that we develop around that visualization. So, the framework of Protestantism is what I grew up in. It still works for me, but there are aspects of it that I had to let go because those practices didn’t work anymore. I’ve found a renewed depth in a Franciscan spirituality; I’ve found some really helpful practices through the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. Justin: Within the context of my Christianity, my more informative voices have been predominantly on the Catholic side, voices like Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton. Beyond that, some of the more informative texts have been the Tao Te Ching and The Tao of Pooh. The Tao of Pooh was a tremendous book for me, spiritualiy. Depending on what you mean, I will identify as a Christian. JJ: On the cover of your book, you have this image of a rowboat with hands in the shape of a heart holding it. Where do you find this ‘heart-space’ in prayer and connect to a general sense of love? Scott: I was having a particularly difficult season financially. It’s not like when you decide to be an artist the Universe is like, “Here’s all the cash you need!” I had anxiety. When you’re self-employed, it feels like every day you should be hustling because you are holding this all together. Take a day of rest? That feels insane in our modern culture. I think visually, so my prayer was, “How should I think about working?” This image came to me. My interpretation of it is: You can waste every day. You can distract yourself and not deal with your life; you can be lazy and not get anywhere. There is work. It’s a rowboat, not a sailboat. A rowboat needs your effort to get going. Also, consider the context you are in; it’s not all up to you. I think a great paradox of any great spiritual or wisdom tradition is that your life is your practice and your formation, but it’s also resting in your becoming. The Sabbath is a rest to say, “it’s not all up to you.” There are other unseen forces helping your life transform. It’s a detox from the opiate of self-employment; I need that detox to approach the next six days. So, that image helps me to remember that. That image is like a doorway, or as we like to say an excavation tool, to that conversation of my life, and that’s what our book was trying to be. Traditionally, prayer books are five paragraphs to read in the morning that are telling you what prayer is. This book is a one-sentence prayer and an image. These are excavation tools to get to the content. The content is the internal conversation you are having with reality, existence and the Giver of Existence. Our premise is that prayer is not a religious thing; it’s a human activity. We have friends that come from a religious tradition and friends who don’t come from any tradition at all who were telling us, “I have this inclination to pray and I don’t know how to do it.” Our work became putting that together and that’s where the book came from. Justin: Foundationally, what we hear in prayer is the voice of love. I think that’s actually what the human heart seeks in spiritual practice, seeks in prayer, seeks in meditation. It’s a matter of just “being.” I don’t think anyone just wants to “be.” I think you want to know that it’s more than okay for you to be, that there’s a joyful belonging to the Universe, the world and those around you and that kind of loving reception. Before Jesus did anything that we recognize traditionally as the life of Christ, he’s baptized and he hears the voice of God say, “You’re my son, I love you and I’m proud of you.” I think that’s the essence of prayer. It’s the voice of the Divine saying, “You’re mine, I love you and I like what you’re about.” Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.janaejean.com or www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about her other projects. Spencer Schluter serves as an advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
37 minutes | 2 years ago
Clearing the Way for Love – Interview with Susan Wisehart, M.S., LMFT
by Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter This month, we had the privilege to speak with Susan Wisehart, M.S., LMFT. Susan is a holistic psychotherapist and author of the book, Soul Visioning: Clear the Past, Create Your Future. She has trained with psychiatrist Brian Weiss, M.D. and with Jungian analyst, Roger Woolger Ph.D. She also is a professional speaker and presenter and will be giving her Soul Visioning workshop along with her husband, David Birr at the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, IL, on Feb. 21 and 23, 2019. This following is only a short excerpt of our conversation with Susan. Subscribe to the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher to hear the entire conversation. Visit www.SusanWisehart.com for more information on this workshop, scheduling a session with Susan or learn about her book. Janae: Carl Jung is famous for saying, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” It seems to me (from your book) that you try to help people find these unconscious blocks that have been making decisions for them. One of the first tools you mentioned was learning to trust your intuition. Do you have any advice for people who are trying to learn how to trust their intuition? Susan: That’s definitely true. There’s a lot of myths of programming that leads us to disbelieve or mistrust intuition. Ninety-five percent of the mind is unconscious. One of the reasons that I wrote the book, Soul Visioning, is that I saw that a lot of the manifestation models show the power of the mind to manifest and create your life, but there were some things that were missing. One of them was what part of the mind is doing the manifesting—what part of the mind is in charge. If it’s not the soul, then the ego can manifest all kinds of things but not necessarily happiness or peace of mind. The second thing that the models were missing is that they do not address the unconscious mind, those programs that are running in the background and hold us back. The language of the soul is the intuition. The more we clear the baggage, the more we remove the blocks to our soul, the more we are in touch with our inner GPS. In my book, I have methods to identify what these sabotaging beliefs are and ways to release them. The clearer we are, the more our personality is aligned with our soul, the more in touch we are with our intuition. JJ: Yes! I think the first step is learning to love yourself and finding selfless self-love. Do you have any advice for tapping into that part of ourselves? SW: Our true nature is love. Our true self is our soul. We are each a spark of the Divine. As we become more aware of our patterns and programs that have affected our sense of ourselves and blocked that sense of self; the more we are aware and conscious of these patterns, the more we can clear the blocks to love, because that is our true nature. I do past-life regressions with people to help identify what some of those limiting beliefs and patterns are; hypnotherapy helps to get to the root of that. I think self-awareness is what helps us to understand what’s holding us back. When those are cleared and the sabotaging parts are set aside what’s left is our essence, that sense of connection to the Divine within us. Spencer: I think sometimes people misunderstand manifestation psychology and think all you need to do is think positive thoughts. The way I look at it is if you’re beating yourself up, you don’t love yourself, you don’t believe in yourself and you don’t have confidence, then you won’t get the things in life you want to get. Once you get the point of self-acceptance and self-love and find your purpose, you have to do the physical steps to reach those goals too. SW: Yeah, like magical thinking, if I say the affirmations and think positive thoughts and do those kinds of things it’s magically going to show up, and that’s not necessarily the case. If you are in touch with your soul’s guidance, with your intuition guiding you, it will guide you to the steps you need to take. Then you have to follow your soul’s guidance and direction. You can’t think, it’s going to magically show up without me doing anything, so I think that’s absolutely correct. JJ: It seems like sometimes people will have an experience during therapy or a spiritual or meditative experience and think they can skip doing all of the shadow work, but that doesn’t seem to be true. Can you tell us how you incorporate that into practice? SW: I think you raised a really good point. I’ve noticed that some New Age thought systems skip steps, focusing on the positive, and sweeping the disowned parts of ourselves under the rug and not really owning those parts. The problem with that is that it affects us unconsciously; it comes through whether we are aware of it or not. If we’re willing to look at the parts of ourselves we don’t like that are hidden and buried, and we do that with compassion, it helps us to be fully authentic and present and to reconnect. Sugarcoating it is like putting deodorant on a garbage pile; eventually the stench is going to come through. A lot of people are afraid to look at their shadow, and feel ashamed of it, but we have to have compassion for ourselves. JJ: Absolutely! I think what you are getting at is the first step to self-love is loving all the parts of yourself. SW: Yes. The more you have compassion for disowned parts of yourself, the more compassion you can have for others and their shadow parts. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.janaejean.com or www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about her other projects. Spencer Schluter serves as an advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
67 minutes | 2 years ago
Go With the Flow – Interview with Monk Yun Rou
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter Taoist Monk Yun Rou (formerly Arthur Rosenfeld) was ordained a Taoist monk at the Chun Yang (Pure Yang) Taoist Temple in Guangzhou, China. His writings and teachings promote Taoist philosophy and focus on environmental conservation as well as political and social justice. He hosts the Forbidden Rice Podcast. Additionally, he produced a documentary series about the science behind acupuncture, tai chi and meditation as well as the PBS show, Longevity Tai Chi. We spoke with him about his latest book, Mad Monk Manifesto: A Prescription for Evolution, Revolution and Global Awakening; Taoist ideas, martial arts, movement as a teacher, healthful living and more. This is an excerpt from our enlightening interview. To listen to the entire conversation, subscribe to the Conscious Community Podcast on your favorite podcatcher app. Visit www.MonkYunRou.com. Janae: What is Taoism? Monk Yun Rou: American people are actually more familiar with Taoism than they know they are. They know it as the “philosophy of the Jedi masters.” If you are familiar with Star Wars, you know that there is a band of rebels. They are nature-loving people in robes who live in the forest. The battle portrayed in the Star Wars franchise is very much like the battle that gave rise to Taoism in China. George Lucas presumably drew that conflict from the relationship between two major philosophies of Early China, Confucianism and Taoism. Confucianism believes in very fixed relationships, familial piety, a great number of rituals and prescriptions for how we should live—rules that must be followed. Taoism says, “No, let’s be bacchanalian revelers in the forest and love nature. Let’s go party for six days in the woods. Then let’s step into a cave and meditate for a week or a month. Then we’ll come out and have some more wine.” Very different ideas! The Taoist ideas are also familiar to Western people in the California surf culture. Surf culture came from Hawaii and was popularized in the ‘60s and ‘70s. When people talk about “Going with the flow; being in the groove (or the tube;) Tubular dude.” All that stuff is from Taoist thinking. Spencer: I have a martial arts background. What I think is really interesting is how the physical movements teach hard to grasp, vague and abstract concepts. MYR: Martial arts being the physical embodiment of philosophical ideas is probably the most important takeaway here. To understand philosophical ideas, you have to integrate them into your life. You have to try them like a recipe. You have to cook it; see how it tastes; see how you feel after eating it and whether it sustains you with good health and longevity. If you do all those things you will have a better understanding of that recipe then somebody who read it in a book. It’s just not the same. There are a number of Taoist arts, which range from divinatory practices to ritual arts that are mostly about devotion to one deity or another in the religious Taoist pantheon. Philosophical Taoists, like me, don’t necessarily have any supernatural belief. So, we don’t pray to anyone, although we cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the sages that went before and taught us these things and left us these lessons. The most famous and well-known of the Taoist arts is battlefield martial art we call “tai chi.” I have tai chi students who say, “This is not a martial art. I came for peace and love—and to meditate. I heard it was meditation in motion.” I say, “It’s medication in motion.” All of those things are actually true about tai chi and how it is used in our culture now. But, the truth is it’s very clearly a martial art. Tai chi arose in the 1600s as a way of fighting, primarily on horseback, but also on foot—but always in the pitch and fever of battle. The very greatest practitioners of tai chi are absolutely the pinnacle of the Chinese martial arts pantheon. They are formidable fighters. But, the majority of people who “play” tai chi in the world are doing it for the health aspects or to better understand philosophical principles in a physical practice. SS: One aspect of Taoism is the I-Ching. I understand that Bagua is a martial art based on the I-Ching with movements built around the I-Ching hexagrams. MYR: Let’s talk about the I-Ching for a second; there is some confusion about what it really is. Maybe 3,000 years ago, a duke and his son were involved in some battles and they lost. The father was incarcerated. During that time, the father spent time making a list of all the things he had noticed nature could and did do. A river could flow and then turn on itself; the Earth could shake; seasons change—and on and on and on. He made a catalog of all the different things that the natural world did, and he used certain symbols as a shorthand for the descriptions. It was an exhaustive, brilliant and absolutely stunningly beautiful list. It lent coherence and clarity to the natural world in a way that nobody anywhere on planet Earth had ever done. It was a work of great genius and beauty. The Tao Te Ching, which came about 500 years later, is a commentary on this list, but the commentary is applied to human beings. It takes a large body of information and narrows it greatly to apply it specifically to people. If you make a catalog of all the things that can happen in nature, you have essentially a lusciously specific deck of cards. Some people would use these characters [the hexagrams] in a divinatory ritual. They would take this purely philosophical work and try to make it practical and use it for fortune-telling. Originally, it was a catalog of nature. The I-Ching was a work of philosophy—not a work of fortune-telling. JJ: How can we make a better future for our world using these Taoist principles? MYR: Think of it this way. If you drop a stone into a pond and you watch the ripples spread from that impact and watch those ripples go all the way to the edge of the pond, this is what Mad Monk Manifesto is about. Start with that central point, that change you make in yourself, and watch the effect as it ripples outward. For example, if one person in your family decides to become vegan and everyone gets together once each year for Thanksgiving, when everyone gets together next year that person will look fitter, healthier and happier than everybody else. At first, everybody else rolls their eyes. Now they’re looking and going, “Boy, I’d like to have her figure. Or, I’d like to have his energy. I wonder if there’s something for me there. I’d like to get off these medications or lose a few pounds.” So, they try a little bit of that for themselves—like starting by only eating chicken—a baby step. The point is we make changes on an individual basis. When enough of us do that, we can change the world! Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.janaejean.com or www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about her other projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
Loving Kindness for the Holidays – Interview with Bhante Sujatha
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter Bhante Sujatha is a Theravada Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka. He has made it his life’s work to share the teachings of the Buddha and the message of healing through loving kindness. This mission has taken him around the world. When he was only 10 years old, he told his parents he would throw himself off the bridge in his hometown of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, if they did not let him become a monk. Since that time, he has remained certain and determined to live a life dedicated to adding more love to the world and helping people heal their wounded minds. Bhante has always known he was born to serve humanity and he wakes up every day committed to this cause, teaching meditation and helping people access deeper parts of themselves so they can feel radiant joy and peaceful happiness. With a single robe and some leftover food, Bhante left his home country and eventually found his way to America, where he learned a new language and culture and discovered the aching desire people have for a more meaningful life. Bhante’s book, Empty, Empty. Happy, Happy, written with Tyler Lewke, is available at www.emptyemptyhappyhappy.com. His biography, My Wish: The Story of a Man Who Brought Happiness to America: The Life Story of Bhante Sujatha by Mary Gustafson, is now available on Amazon. You can learn more about Bhante at www.bhantesujatha.org and find out more about the Blue Lotus Temple at www.bluelotustemple.org. Bhante is also a frequent contributor to The Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple Podcast. The following is only a small part of our in-depth conversation with Bhante. To hear the rest of our conversation, download or stream the episode. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher app. Janae Jean: Was coming to America and living with an American family your first time experiencing American holidays? Bhante: Yeah, actually, I enjoyed Halloween with those two children because I almost became a babysitter. Also, those two children were my first English teachers. That’s how I learned how to speak English. Every holiday, we celebrated. The pumpkin carving, Easter egg hunting, and all that. We really enjoyed Christmas together as a family. Because of that experience I had with them every year, I’m making the Christmas tree here in the temple. We call it “Buddhistmas.” [All laugh.] Spencer: Is there a festival or holiday in Buddhist tradition every year at this time? BS: Yeah, we have a few holidays. Every Full Moon in Sri Lanka is a public holiday. That’s the people’s spiritual day. People go to the temple all day. Also, we have the Buddha’s birthday celebration. The three significant things, his birth, his enlightenment, and his death, we are celebrating that same day. SS: When do you celebrate that? BS: The Full Moon in May. SS: One of the things we’ve talked about with several guests is that they have a Day of the Dead, Halloween, at Autumn Harvest time. In many cultures all over the world, there’s a Spring Festival, there’s a Fall Festival, there’s usually a Midwinter Festival and often a Summer Solstice Festival. BS: Because it is based on the weather—where we live on this planet. But, in our country, we have rainy season retreat for the month. We have rain or hot. That’s it. SS: Aha, so you don’t have seasons. BS: We don’t have seasons. We have hot or rain. Monsoons. JJ: So hot rain? BS: Right, hot rain. That’s it, we have different holidays independently, but those are the major holidays. JJ: You do the Loving Kindness Meditation here. Would you explain how someone can incorporate this in their life when they’re in a stressful time such as the holiday season? BS: We have to think, why is stress coming to us? Because we exist. We all exist. As a family, as a husband, as a wife, we have some conventional guidelines in the society we have to follow. If we are not following them, we are excommunicated, separated from society. That’s what Buddha said, it’s a painful experience. But you exist. If you want to exist, those are the things you have to do. It’s okay. Now we exist in this world, so how are we going to live? Now we live with those ideas of expectations because life is full of expectations. “Oh, the holidays are coming, I have to give all of those gifts to my family members.” Why? Now people are trying so hard to give. Then they question, “How much? How big? Is it $20 or $30?” So, it’s very confusing. People are worried. I think everything is materialistic in this society. The value is the material. That’s the problem. How much money you spent is the quality. If I give free meditation, people don’t come, because it’s not “quality.” In this society, quality means “how expensive?” So, I think that’s not the theme of the holiday. Holiday means your heart, how you feel. Also, I think that’s the best gift I can give to somebody. Making them feel better, not giving them a big gift. And so, I go and spend time with them. You can tell, I don’t have that much money to give, but I want to spend time with you. Sometimes, some poor people have one nice meal to enjoy for the holiday, sharing their ideas and thoughts. When the world becomes so materialistic, then people stress out, then they don’t enjoy the holiday. JJ: How do we get out of that, how do we find real authentic joy? BS: We have to be in the middle. The nature of our life is always our emotions pulling us in two different directions. That’s why we have imbalance. Sometimes like, sometimes dislike. That’s how from birth to now we are living our life. So, that’s really bringing us so much stress. We are always in this modern world. Scientists, doctors, medical professionals, everyone is encouraging people to meditate. When you meditate you will learn how to balance your emotions and keep calm. We call it “The tranquil state of mind. Equal state of mind. Keep even.” That’s why meditation is important. Then we understand the nature of this life, and that everything is subject to change. Everything is impermanent. Now we have a good time in our life, just enjoy it without complaining. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but we know what is happening now. All these people are worrying about the future, “What will happen to me?” You can think about your future, but what is the nature of your future? What you plan may happen, or it may not happen. After you understand that, you can plan for your future. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
41 minutes | 2 years ago
An Unlikely Healer – Interview with Brent Michael Phillips
By Janae Jean & Spencer Schluter – For this podcast, we have a pleasure of speaking with Brent Michael Phillips, a successful M.I.T.-trained engineer who experienced a miracle when his arm (that had been immobile at the elbow after a surgery) healed in an instant after a single session of energy healing. This life-changing event sent him on a journey where we studied with various master healers and spiritual teachers to discover and reverse engineer the scientific laws and principles underlying healing. He is the author of The Formula for Miracles and the creator of Awakening Dynamics, a healing method. Brent is also a speaker and master teacher. Find out more about him and his work at www.AwakeningDynamics.comor on Facebook at Facebook.com/AwakeningDynamics. The following is only a small part of our conversation with Brent. We spoke to him in detail about his personal road to becoming a master healer, the relationship between science and spirituality, the latest brain research and much more. Scroll to the bottom of the page to play the podcast of the entire interview, or listen and subscribe to the Conscious Community Podcaston your preferred podcatcher app. Don’t forget to like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast. Spencer: Could you tell us a little bit about your profession? Brent:I want everyone to know right off the bat that I am the world’s most unlikely healer. I never thought I’d be doing anything like this. I grew up as pretty much your typical computer nerd. I loved video games, technology, Star Wars, Star Trekand all that kind of stuff. For me, going to college was a simple choice because I wanted to go to M.I.T. and become a great software engineer. I saw computer programming as my talent; my great gift to the world. Long story short, I spent a bunch of time at M.I.T. At M.I.T., I discovered something incredible, something I never expected that totally changed my life, it’s the internet which sounds kind of funny, especially to those who’ve grown up with the internet. But, back in the ‘80s, nobody had ever heard of it. I found this worldwide computer network, and I thought “Wow! This will change our lives.” I made that the focus of my studies. I went on to graduates studies. In 1994, it was my group who sent the first ever video over the web. We were doing some really cutting-edge stuff. Janae:Cool! Brent:And then, the internet boom hit. Long story short, I left M.I.T. and moved to California. Things got off to a pretty good start. The first year I was with my start-up and I did a whole bunch of high-profile websites…but there was a problem. The problem was I was working 80 to 100 hours every week. After a couple years of this, my body started to break down. It started with little pains in my wrists and elbows. One day it hit me like a ton of bricks. I went out to open my car and my hands were shaking so bad that I couldn’t get my car open. So, I went to the doctor. After three years of conventional treatment and therapy, I didn’t get better, I got worse. I was in a lot of pain and I could barely work. That’s when I went through what they call “the dark night of the soul.” That’s when I was told about this lady named Terri. She was an old friend of mine. Terri had been very successful in finance. She was Morton School M.B.A., made tons of money and super successful. She had almost died and found this crazy New Age therapy involving the theta brain wave state and subconscious block clearing that saved her life. She quit her job in finance to go be a healer. Honestly, I thought she was nuts! But, I went to see her. I booked a session, and she sat with me and talked about the power of the mind, how we’re going to access the subconscious and use the theta state. She spent about an hour with me doing this block clearing thing. We talked about God, my parents, my childhood, my best friend and all these things that happened, right? I’m there going, “What does this have to do with my arm?” At the end of the session she says, “We’ll see if we can take care of your arm now.” She goes into this healing process and about a minute later I feel this pop in my elbow. I was like, “Oh my God!” I could move my arm again. Terri opened her eyes, smiled and said, “Well then, that was easy.” That was a huge turning point for me. Janae: What do you think about the role of the internet, A.I., “The Singularity” and how that would affect healing? Brent: I think this is one of the last things touched by A.I. There is a fundamentally intuitive aspect to it. I have turned healing, as much as one can, into a by the numbers process, but the truth is that’s just the foundation. Most people would think that becoming a master healer is the end of the journey. It’s not! In the old days, it would take you 10, 20, 30 years to get there. For me, it took seven years. Seven years, full-time, doing nothing but that. Over $300,000 spent, and I got certified as a master healer. I have my students now doing it in as little as three weeks, but six months is average. That’s just technology. With better technology, it’s faster, better and more powerful. Developing that metaphysical skill to clear blocks and do healing, honestly, that’s just the entry point, the foundation. We used to think that was the end of journey, it’s actually not. This led me to awakening. After 10 years as a healer, I realized I hadn’t actually progressed spiritually at all. The experience of awakening completely transformed me and started to really deliver what I had been looking for all along. Spencer: Have you brought this into a lab setting? Brent:I would love to as I am very familiar with that world! The challenge is the ones who have the money to do this are the pharmaceutical companies, and they are never going to research this because this would cut into their profits. If people could learn to heal and manage their illnesses and pain without needing expensive pharmaceuticals, well then, their bonus might get a little bit smaller. We can’t have that. [Laughs.] There is fascinating research being done, but very little is being done in this country. There’s a lot that being done in Germany. There’s a lot being done in Russia. There’s even some really interesting stuff being done in Israel. So, it is happening, but it’s not happening here. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
49 minutes | 3 years ago
Gatherings and Gratitude – Interview with Sally Quinn
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter For this interview, we had the honor of spending an hour conversing with author and journalist, Sally Quinn. Sally was a longtime Washington Post writer, columnist, television commentator, Washington insider, legendary hostess and founder of the website, On Faith from The Washington Post. Sally and Benjamin Bradlee, executive editor for The Washington Post, were married from 1978 until his death in 2014. Her son, Quinn Bradlee, is a filmmaker, author and advocate for disabled people. Sally currently writes for several publications and has authored several books including The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining and her recent memoir, Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir. We spoke with her about gatherings, authenticity, gratitude, labyrinths, and more. To stay informed about Sally, follow her on twitter @sallyquinndc. The following is only a small part of our in-depth conversation with Sally. To hear the rest of our conversation, download or stream the podcast episode. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher app. Janae: What do you feel that magic is? In past interviews, we’ve discussed how magic is a word for things we don’t understand yet. What do you think about that definition? What is your personal definition? Sally: The title of my book is Finding Magic: A Spiritual Memoir. The reason that I called it that was that I think that there is magic everywhere in our lives. People think of magic and they think of witches, sorcery, spells and hexes and that sort of thing. That’s a part of magic. Then there’s magic tricks and magicians. I think of it as something transcendent. Magic is an idea, and it’s also a frame of mind. It’s exhilarating. You find magic in all the things that happen in your everyday life. Spencer: This reminds me of a past guest, Ian Simkins’ ongoing project, “Beauty in the Common.” It’s all centered around the really beautiful, simple things, such as sharing a meal with your family. So, they will come together and share a meal or have a sing-along. The meaning of life, if there is one, is celebrating little, simple things. People overthink it sometimes and miss the forest for the trees. It’s those little moments of beauty that give life magic and meaning. SQ: I did a column for The Washington Post a number of years ago that I only did for the holidays, starting with Halloween, then Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, I called it The Sacred Table. For me, the table is sacred. There is nothing that I think is more magical and more wonderful than gathering your close friends, people you really love. I try not to have people who I do not like at my table. [All laugh.] Sometimes that’s hard, but I try really hard. I always have candles because I think candles create magic, and if it’s in the winter, I have a fire. I have lots of good wine. The food does not have to be spectacular. Often people will say, “Oh, I can’t entertain. It makes me too nervous; I don’t have the confidence to entertain.” I say to them, “Look, have you ever had a friend come over for a cup of coffee and sit in your kitchen?” “Well, yeah.” “Well, that’s entertaining!” It doesn’t have to be a grand dinner. I’m not a great cook, and a lot of times it’s carry-out. People don’t care. You put it on the buffet or pantry and people serve themselves. What matters is the conversation and the sense of community and camaraderie. So, in terms of entertaining, I love having people over. I really love it, and my friends like coming to my house, because they know they are going to have a good time. They know that it’s a safe house. I always want my friends to leave my house feeling honored and exhilarated. I want them to levitate. I want them to fly out of the house thinking they’re great, wonderful and have been honored, featured, loved, cared about, that there’s so much affection for them, and that there’s been laughter and tears sometimes. They’ve been enriched in some way by sitting around a table and exchanging ideas, thoughts and feelings. JJ: I think that what you’re hitting on is how important it is to be authentic with your friends or others. Authenticity is what makes someone connect with a book or a newsperson. You want to know that they are sincere and it’s coming from their heart. Have you noticed this as a journalist? SQ: I used to do a lot of interviews for the paper. I mean written interviews. Now I mostly do interviews in front of live audiences, and you can smell a phony a mile away. [Laughs.] When people start telling you things about themselves that aren’t true, you just know it and the audience feels it too. The audience gets it. I can almost feel myself backing away from someone who is not being authentic. One of the things I do when I’m doing interviews is to try to figure out who the person is. A lot of times when people have this mask, it’s not as much that they are phonies, but they are afraid to show who they really are. What I consider my job when I’m doing an interview is to get them to take that mask off and show who they really are. JJ: At Conscious Community Magazine, we often focus on mindfulness, and you have a mindfulness practice that we both enjoy, walking the labyrinth. Would you like to share your experience with labyrinths? SQ: People call it a “maze” because it looks like a maze. But, it’s different from a maze because in a maze, you’re supposed to get lost, but with the labyrinth, you get found. God knows, there are so many people who have terrible problems in this world. Sometimes I feel guilty about talking about ever feeling depressed, sad or stressed, when there are people getting killed or raped or other problems all over the world. My problems are nothing in the scheme of things. But, it doesn’t mean that we don’t suffer because other people suffer more than we do. I feel grateful, and I know that gratitude has gotten to be a cliché now. Everybody’s grateful for this or grateful for that. But, it really works for me. When I go to bed at night, I always think about what I have to be grateful for—even if I’m sad about something or upset about something that happened to me. And, in the morning, I wake up and think “What do I have to be grateful for?” If you really think that way about being grateful and being peaceful, it works. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
45 minutes | 3 years ago
The Language of Connection – Interview with Jonathan Robinson, M.A., M.F.T.
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter — Jonathan Robinson, MA, MFT For this interview, we had the honor to speak with psychotherapist, best-selling author, speaker and podcaster, Jonathan Robinson. Jonathan’s books have been translated into 47 languages, and he has reached over 250 million people worldwide with his practical methods. He has made numerous appearances on Oprah and CNN, as well as other national television shows. To connect with Jonathan, visit his website and blog at www.findinghappines.com to get more information about his books, articles, speaking engagements and more. The following is only a snippet conversation with Jonathan. We spoke to him more about the power of communication and healing in today’s divided world. To hear the entire interview and hear previous podcasts, go to www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher app. Janae: Your background is as a psychotherapist. How does that relate to your work with couples? JR: I became a psychotherapist very young, partly to heal myself. I was blessed to grow up in a totally dysfunctional family. When I was a teenager I was depressed and suicidal, so I was looking to see how to help my own situation. I read self-help books, got into psychotherapy and became a psychotherapist. I was a lousy psychotherapist. So, instead of doing that I started to write books. I wrote books in the genre called “books that Oprah likes.” If you’re going to be a writer, I recommend that genre! [Laughs.] For my first few books, I got on Oprah. Then I was speaking to large groups. One thing that always interested me is that people experience a lot of difficulty in their relationship. So, it’s a good place to intervene with people because they feel the difficulty there. If you can give them simple thing that helps them get to a place of love quickly, they become hooked on self-help. They become hooked on personal transformation. So, that’s where I put my energy. Spencer: Can you tell us a little bit about this book, More Love, Less Conflict? What were you trying to accomplish with it? JR: Something I’ve noticed is that the quality of our life is very much based on the quality of our relationships. In real estate, they say what’s important is “Location, location, location!” In happiness research, they have a similar thing where they say what is important is “Relationships, relationships, relationships!” Most people may think they are good communicators, but they really are not so good. Therefore, they have a hard time working through problems; they have a hard time having happy relationships; they have a hard time creating love wherever they go. I saw that if you can improve somebody’s communication skills, which you can really do quite dramatically in an hour, their entire life transforms. Most people were simply unaware of these simple techniques that can really make their communication a lot better. So, I decided to steal all the best communication techniques from all the people I had talked to—whether It be Oprah, the Dalai Lama or whoever—and put them all in one book. So, the book is these really simple methods that take less than 20-seconds to do that will immediately help to resolve conflict or get to a place of more connection, rapport or love with people that you care about. JJ: In your book, you talk about the “four horsemen of the apocalypse of relationships.” Can you tell us about those? JR: When things are going poorly, people always resort to these four things. I call them “The Four D’s.” One is denigration, which is really blame. When we’re upset with someone, we always blame them and blame never works. I’ve never had a time when I blamed my wife and told her what she was doing wrong where her response was “Oh my gosh! You’re right! Now I see what you’re talking about. I’ll have to change that.” That never happens. Blame never works. So that’s one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Another one is distraction. We all have these WMDs—not Weapons of Mass Destruction, but Widgets of Mass Distraction. People are always relying on these things for communication, but actually texting, smartphones and email are actually very superficial forms of communication. I think what people want is deep communication. Another “D” is denial. That doesn’t help. When you have a problem in a relationship, hoping it goes away doesn’t do anything. The last one is dismissal, meaning you don’t take what your partner says seriously, especially their feelings. I hear it all the time. “Oh, you’re making a big deal out of this.” “It’s not that big of a deal.” “You shouldn’t feel that way.” All of those are just dismissing people and nobody likes being dismissed. JJ: Do you have any recommendations for how communication can be used in this very polarized world right now? How can we start a dialog between diverse worldviews? JR: It’s a great question because our nation is obviously very polarized. One in three couples actually belong to different political parties. So, they have this issue in their marriage. What I find is important is to understand people. If you show people that you understand them and you have empathy for their point of view, they will then be able to listen to you. But, they won’t be able to listen to you until they feel really “gotten.” JJ: One of the things in your book that I thought was really beautiful was this mantra that you went to India to find out what it was. Would you tell us that story? JR: One of the things I saw in people who were expert communicators—and really happy couples—was that they have a feeling of gratitude to each other. Your partner gets whether you take them for granted or whether you feel grateful for them. So, a friend of mine came back from India, and he said that he’d learned this special mantra for helping him feel incredible gratitude for his wife. So, I asked him if he would tell me what that mantra was, and he said, “No, you’re going to have to go to India and get it directly from the guru.” So, I go all the way to India, and it’s a long, hard slog through India. I finally get to this ashram and finally get a chance to talk to this guru. I say, “Can you please give me this mantra to help me feel gratitude for the people I love.” He says to me in an India accent, “My mantra is the most powerful mantra on Earth!” He gets ready to whisper in my ear, and I’m very excited. I’m holding my breath. I don’t want to miss a word. He says, “Whenever possible repeat the following words: The mantra I give you are the words ‘Thank you’.” So, I look at him, “That’s it! I traveled 20,000 miles and to get ‘Thank you,’ that’s it!” He says, “No, ‘That’s it’ is the mantra you have been using and the makes the people you love feel like they’re never enough. My mantra is ‘Thank you’. ‘That’s it’ will take you nowhere.” So, I was pissed off and I give him a snide, “Well, thank you.” And, he looks at me and says, “’Thank you’ is not the mantra. You must say it from your heart many times per day. Every time you see your partner, child or pet, say ‘Thank you,’ and soon you will feel overwhelming gratitude.” And, it actually does work! Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
72 minutes | 3 years ago
The Community of Communities – Interview with Gary Gach
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter – For this interview, we had the delightful experience of speaking with author, editor, translator, mystic, teacher and poet Gary Gach. Lay-ordained by Vietnamese Buddhist and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh in 2008, Gary has authored, translated, and edited numerous books, including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Buddhism. Gary lives in San Francisco and has worked as an actor, stevedore, typographer, legal secretary, editor-in-chief, webmaster and teacher (most frequently of late at Stanford Continuing Studies.) Besides Buddhism, he teaches haiku and mentors in English composition (most recently for doctoral students at Sofia University (California.) We spoke with Gary about the meaning of community, mindfulness and about the intentions he set for his latest book, Pause, Breathe, Smile: Awakening Mindfulness when Meditation is Not Enough. The following is only a small part of our in-depth conversation with Gary. To hear the rest of our conversation, download or stream the episode. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher app. Spencer: We’ve talked with a lot of different guests about the meaning of consciousness from their individual perspectives and from the traditions they practice. We haven’t spent as much time talking about what “community” means in general and what “conscious community” means. What does community mean to you? Gary: Right now, you and I, the three of us, are an energy field that represents the whole universe. And, we have listeners, who themselves are being drawn in to this community at this moment. I’d start there. [Laughs.] We’re always in relation to ourselves, other people and the universe in a way. If it is conscious, it becomes larger than ourselves, so that we can commune with all of life within us and all around us. Speaking from my personal experience, for a long, long time, I was yearning for and resistant to community. Janae: I think that’s something that we find a lot actually in people who engage in contemplative lifestyles—contemplative practices. They’re kind of resistant to community. SS: Yeah, I don’t really like being around other people. [Laughs.] Gary: I was offering practice at lunchtime for people who work in a Catholic charity group. They invite lunchtime speakers. I’ve done this a couple of times, and I’ve noticed that everybody comes in, gets their meditation and goes out without any sense of what you might call in leadership terms, “teambuilding.” They’re offering mindfulness now in sports because it’s not only about being able to focus. If you look at these basketball players now, they don’t even look at who they’re throwing the ball to because they’re so connected. They’re working as a group. They’re going as a river. Even though they’re tremendous superstar egos, when they’re on the court and they’re in the zone they’re part of this organism. That’s a tough one, for most of us I think, it has been for me for various reasons. When you find a community, it’s the greatest thing. My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says, “There’s this idea of the Buddha coming again and if the Buddha were to come again it would take the form of a community.” I think we don’t have any disagreement that these are precarious times. These are challenging times. In order to meet the challenge, we need community. Otherwise, we become isolated like some tiger on a hillside that’s all alone or some bird that’s left the flock. But, if we can come together as a community, the magnification of consciousness in a community is something in and of itself that has a presence. When a human being is up in front of more than a hundred people there’s something in us that goes “Ooh, a lot of consciousness there.” You’re playing the consciousness there. Once when I was in front of a thousand people, whoa, I was the focus, I was the lens. That was like another order of magnitude of that feeling. Also, I have been with a thousand people on a retreat, and we spent all day walking up a mountain, looking out from the top of a mountain and coming down. Being part of a thousand people on a narrow trail, that’s kind of winding, requires this sense of conscious community. It’s not just, “Here I am with 999 people on this retreat, and I want to get mine, so I’ve got to make sure I don’t step on other people’s toes.” No, something else happens, and you go as a river. JJ: I feel that applies to musicians particularly. When you’re in front of an audience, even a small audience, you have this connection with people in the room. Even if you’re shy, and standoffish, and terrified of being onstage—but you feel that consciousness when you’re on the stage. JJ: I feel that applies to musicians particularly. When you’re in front of an audience, even a small audience, you have this connection with people in the room. Even if you’re shy, and standoffish, and terrified of being onstage—but you feel that consciousness when you’re on the stage. Gary: I also go back to when I started on this path, which was when I was very young. I came to Buddhism, meditation and consciousness at the same time as I came to writing. The early form of writing that really struck me was haiku. Everybody knows haiku, the shortest form of literature. What we’re learning now is that haiku originally wasn’t conceived as individual units. They were links in a group poem that people would get together in a great celebratory manner and practice observing this evolutionary group mind composing this group haiku called renga. It was only later that they said, “Oh, you can take the individual links and frame them unto themselves.” I say this because I’ve practiced renga with people online, and they’re just as good as renga that I’ve practiced with people face to face. That you’re aware that this is taking shape this was as a group mind, I don’t know what else to call it. SS: Kind of like that party game where you each write a sentence and then the person who writes the next sentence has to start with the word you ended with or whatever? Gary: The surrealists called it “exquisite corpse.” In the ‘20s, in France, that was very popular to do. One more thing that I wanted to say, is that the world is largely a product of community. Everything I see right now is a product of so many communities of people and living beings and whatnot. And, to form “conscious community” in these times is an opportunity to address imbalanced situations that have come about through collective community effort that might have been unconscious but are there. To give you an example, that I don’t think you would disagree with, is our climate. It’s not just that one person has done this. It’s not just one individual at the head of a company that’s responsible. It’s everybody. I have never owned a car because at an early age I got the message that oil is the drum that everything is going to be dancing to. So, I just said, “Ok, I’ll let other people do it. That’s not part of my karma.” You know I haven’t stopped global warming by one hair’s breadth. I’m just conscious of all that consciousness of which I am not a part, unless I use somebody else’s oil and I get a ride from a bus driver or somebody else. In order to make any change in our climate, it will take community—a community of communities. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
41 minutes | 3 years ago
Running Towards Transcendence – Interview with Sanjay Rawal
Running monk from “3100: Run and Become” By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter – For this conversation, we had the pleasure to speak with film producer and director, Sanjay Rawal. Sanjay is the creator of the new documentary film, 3100: Run and Become (2018), as well as his previous works Food Chains (2014) and Challenging Impossibility (2011). 3100: Run and Become tells the story of the world’s longest distance race, held each year in Queens, NY, organized by followers of Guru Sri Chinmoy and lasting 3,100 miles. Participants run in search of spiritual growth, enlightenment, and to become better people. The film also explores the history of running as a spiritual practice, relating the stories of Navajo runners, the hunters of the Kalahari Desert and Buddhist monks in Japan. The following is only a small part of our 40-minute conversation with Sanjay. To hear the rest of our conversation, download or stream the episode. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher app. 3100: Run and Become will have its Chicago premiere Sept. 21 – 27, 2018 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Sanjay will appear Friday and Sunday to participate in a discussion with the audience. Visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org/3100run for ticket information and more. SS: Running as a pastime in America only dates back to the ‘60s and ‘70s. I was curious if you know, did it originate in the spiritual community and then spread as far as being a popular thing? JJ: You mean reemerge through the spiritual community as a popular activity? SS: Yeah, because I was thinking of yoga and how that started as a spiritual practice and has become a fitness craze. Sanjay Rawal. Fillmmaker Sanjay: Well, to go way back we’ve only been agrarian as a species for the last 10,000 years. Which means that prior to 10,000 years ago we didn’t even domesticate animals. We evolved as animals through our feet. It’s one of the points our movie, 3100: Run and Become, makes as we follow these groups of men and women who are trying to run the world’s longest race, 3,100 miles. We explore the possibilities, the spiritual connections, through civilizations and cultures that still maintain a connection to these ancient practices of running. One the most profound examples are the Native Americans of the southwest, the Hopi, the Zuni, the Navajo. For them, they’ve always looked at running as a form of prayer. Your feet are on Mother Earth, you’re breathing in Father Sky. You’re running, you’re praying to become a better person. They feel running is a teacher, running is a celebration of life. So, one might say that running, along with dance and other forms of movement, is the oldest form of spiritual practice. You brought up yoga. Hatha yoga, the idea of physical practice, is not that ancient. Some people say it’s less than 1,400 or 1,500 years old. At the same time, Hatha yoga was developed as a martial art. The yogis who brought it over into China taught it as the precursor to Tai Chi, which was initially a formal martial art. So, yoga was very much about moving the dynamic energies through the body. Not just for aggression or self-defense but for strengthening the physical body. You can say it’s evolved or progressed into something that’s much more leisurely, in terms of the way it’s practiced in the west. Although many people who have gone back to India to study from Hatha yoga teachers have understood that’s there’s a deep layer of energetic physical fitness. SS: I used to dance four to six hours straight or do martial arts for six hours straight without a problem. When you do that as a routine it doesn’t even feel like a big deal but you tell someone what it’s like and they can’t believe it. A lot of people go to the gym and run on a treadmill or an elliptical for 30 minutes or an hour a few times a week and it’s a lot of work. Sanjay: Back when we were hunters and gatherers, they might spend 30-35 hours per week in the practice of foraging or in the practice of hunting, and those 35 hours are pretty darn active. You’re talking five, six, seven hours per day. People would think nothing of that. In fact, if you did less than that you became dis-adapted to your environment. So, what we look at as intense physical activity is really looking at the basic state of our physiology as mammals. SS: Modern life is particularly sedentary. If you look at the SAD (Standard American Diet), it diet gets a lot of flak for being unhealthy but going back just a couple generations ago when we were mostly subsistence farmers, eating a three or four-thousand calorie breakfast was absolutely necessary. You were going to be going from five in the morning until ten o’clock at night doing very strenuous activity. One of the problems with the current diet is we’ve shifted from eating like that and then being very active to eating like that and being very sedentary, and that causes all kinds of problems. I think, it’s probably healthier to increase our activity level to the point where we’re burning what we eat than it is to reduce our caloric intake. Sanjay: I agree, in the film, we show runners circling these blocks for days and weeks and months on end and they’re taking 10-12,000 calories a day. At the same time, they can’t process that much in two or three meals, particularly because of the level of activity, so they’re almost grazing all day. When you look at most omnivores, they’re eating all day long, and they’re storing calories all day long because the reality of existence with that constant motion and work requires a big calorie expenditure. So, in this particular race, runners are doing one hundred plus laps a day, every lap they’re taking 100-200 calories. It works within their digestive system. JJ: We were wondering, why is the race around one block? It could be from Seattle to Miami or something like that. Is it philosophical, like a mantra that you repeat over and over again, or is it just for logistical purposes? Sanjay: I think it’s a little bit of both. There is the Transcontinental Run which goes usually from San Francisco to New York. But, if you can imagine, they’re going up the Sierra mountains, up the Wasatch mountains, up the Rockies. They might get hit with a headwind from Denver to Columbus, Ohio. At the same time, they’re running on roads so you have to be constantly aware of the traffic around you. Secondly, you don’t have access to aid, to restrooms, to calories, to liquid every half a mile like you do with the 3,100 Race in Queens. That said, when you strip away the logistics and you’re circling a block over and over you can enter a flow that allows you to basically transport yourself, transport your mind away from the physical environment. You can focus on trying to become a better person, focus on feeling joy and bliss and happiness. These things sound like dictionary words when it comes to running, most of us who run don’t necessarily run to experience a sheer sense of bliss. Running is hard, it’s painful. But, with these ultra-distances, each of the runners in this race experiences a kind of release after about three, four or five days—a release of the mental aspect of running, a release of the energies of the heart and experience a deep sense of joy. People come and do this race summer after summer after summer, and they’re very normal people. These aren’t people who are trying to prove anything to themselves or to the world. If they were they’d just do it once. When people come over and over and over to do this race, we see that they’re getting something very deep from within. It’s a sense of joy, a sense of spiritual progress, that they’re able to harness through these rightfully extreme distances. 3100: RUN AND BECOME. Trailer from Sanjay Rawal on Vimeo. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
33 minutes | 3 years ago
The Inner-Child Knows – Interview with Andrew Newman
By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter – For this conversation, we had the pleasure to speak with therapist, healer, speaker, life coach and author, Andrew Newman. Andrew has published a dozen books as part of The Conscious Bedtime Story Club, with two more coming soon. He graduated from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing as a Non-Dual Kabbalistic healer and has been involved in men’s work through the Mankind Project since 2006. He has published over 2,500 poems through PoemCatcher, acted as a volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity in South Africa, directed Edinburgh’s Festival of Spirituality and Peace, and spoken at engagements around the world. The Conscious Bedtime Story Club is intended to bring parents and children into deeper connection with one another. Visit consciousstories.com for more about Conscious Bedtime Story Club, including information about two new books. The following is only a small part of our 30-minute conversation with Andrew. We spoke to him more about teaching conscious living to children, the reception of mindfulness in schools and the healing power of creativity. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher app. Janae: What brought you to write stories for bedtime? Andrew:Those last 20 minutes of the day are super precious. The stories started coming in a way by themselves. I was simply following my own journaling practice and my own creativity. A Little Light was the very first story that I wrote, and it was nothing more than a little poem that needed some pictures. Because I see the world through images in my mind, I thought that I could show you my world if I put into a form like this. I could show you things that I have learned, seen, journeyed or crept over and recovered from. So that was book one.Then all of a sudden, I had four! I was like “What am I doing here? Who are these books for? Why do I keep writing books?” That’s when I held them up against my own therapeutic training and my work as a healer. I could see that there were some narratives coming through me through these stories that were healing, useful and missing in the world, and that all of the grownups are dealing with problems that started before they were six years old. So, that’s how I got into this work in this format with kids. Spencer: Even though they are written as children’s books, they lay out these philosophical concepts. Whether you are talking about prayer, meditation, breathing, the healing power of a hug, or any of the other ideas that you cover in your books, these concepts are really not that complicated. Whether you are an adult or a child, I don’t think you need a huge, thick book to explain these things. They are simple concepts. AN: These are fairly common human dilemmas that we face at different times. The Fish Who Searched for Water, he is out looking for love. We all go looking for love at some point; we all lose sight of the fact that love is right in front of us. The Hug Who Got Stuck, he’s coming out of the hug factory, but his heart gets caught in the web of sticky thoughts—his negative self-beliefs like “No one loves me. There’s something wrong with me.” When our heads are running those loops, we back away from the world and the flow of love gets blocked. I’d like these things [philosophical concepts] to be accessible; I’d like them to be spoken about. They certainly were not spoken about in my childhood. I wasn’t given any narrative on how to be in the world. The narrative I got was about preparing me for what I was going to do. At a very young age, I was worried about choosing my subjects in school right, so I’d get into the right college. We’re in trouble, if we haven’t embedded values and morals at that point. Those foundations get formed very strongly by the age of eight years old. SS: I feel that someone who was looking for answers the would be much better off reading your children’s books than they would be reading a 600-page self-help book. JJ: Is that one of the things you were trying to do with these books? Were you also trying to relate to the parents as well? As the parents see their kid learning these things then they can re-remember. The parents start to connect to their inner-child as well as help their child with the child’s development. AN: I don’t know that I set out for that to be a goal, but I do see it happening. It’s interesting because it’s my work, but it’s also a spiritual body of work that is coming through me. I don’t yet fully understand its impact, but I’m learning and I’m seeing that impact as I put things out in the world. I see it as a resource for parents and teachers to communicate some of their internal world. They fall back into the innocence of their own childhood and that remembrance. That’s exactly how I experienced my own healing journey, I un-learned and I found myself back where I started—in my innocence. The starting words on your [Conscious Community’s] mission statement are “To unify.” This is right. We want to create a unified human experience. Regardless of the different languages, we’re pointing towards the same thing. This state of Oneness. Whether we talk about it as “Oneness,” “Reality” or “God,” those are different languages and pathways. But, what we’re pointing to ultimately, for me, is the same—the same unified field of consciousness out of which we arise and that expresses through us. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluteris the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
42 minutes | 3 years ago
Vital Warriors: Mindfulness for Veterans – Interview with Mikal Vega
Interview By Janae Jean & Spencer Schluter – Vital Warrior Logo For our latest podcast interview, we had the pleasure to speak with Mikal Vega who is the founder of the Vital Warrior. Mikal is also a former Navy SEAL, an actor, a director, a producer and a musician. He currently serves as the military advisor on NBC’s The Brave and is recording an album of mantra music. During this conversation, Mikal touched on the causes and long-term effects of trauma, reclaiming our creative power, coming from a place of service and the importance of being true to yourself. Vital Warrior aims to treat PTSD, fight stress and accelerate healing without pharmaceuticals for military veterans, first responders and their families. Their mission is to “restore military and civilian veterans to their inherent state of health and vitality by providing access to a unique fusion of therapies that focus on the mental, emotional and physical spectrum of stress and trauma recovery.” You may reach Mikal via Instagram and Twitter @MikalVega and on Facebook @MikalAVega. You can connect with Vital Warrior at VitalWarrior.org and on Facebook @VitalWarrior.Org or by phone at 310-529-9175. They encourage you to connect with them to learn about free Kundalini Yoga (in-person and online) and other healing modalities available to you if you are a veteran, first responder or family member. The following article is only a brief part of our in-depth conversation. To hear the full interview, scroll to the bottom of the page, or subscribe to the Conscious Community Podcast on iTunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher, TuneIn and YouTube. Spencer: To start off, would you like to tell us about your background? Are you a military veteran yourself? Mikal Vega Mikal: I am. I didn’t start out on a typical path for the military. I wasn’t a giant jock in high school. I was a glee club type guy with a hot pink vest and top hat. I got bullied a lot, but I was just like pure creativity. That’s all I wanted to do throughout junior high and high school. I sang, I danced, and I performed at a national level with the school. I did what I knew from my father; he was in the military and I wanted to be like him. So that’s what I did. I joined the military when I was 17 and stayed for almost 22 years. I spent the first nine years of that in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (E.O.D.) community and became a senior E.O.D. technician, that’s the Bomb Squad. From there, I went into the SEAL team. I did multiple tours to Iraq. It was great; the experience was great. I wouldn’t change it for anything and because of those experiences, I wound up back in that creative space. Due to combat-related injuries, I was medically discharged in 2012 from a roadside bomb in Iraq. The irony is not lost on me; the bomb squad guy got hit by a bomb. But, I’m fortunate, it was all these internal things that I was initially over-medicated for. The bigger danger was that they were just trying to figure out what this whole PTSD thing was. It was a lot of experimentation…and it led to me almost being killed by over-medication. So, after the medications almost did me in, I revolted against that system, and I started to do things that helped me feel better that I remembered using for performance reasons—one of which was myofascial release or Rolfing. It’s tissue work that’s kind of like torture, but they don’t ask you any questions. S.S.: Deeply penetrative work… We actually interviewed a gentleman [Everett Ogawa] who learned from Ida Rolf who does a variation, Integral Bodywork. M.V.: It was highly effective. I kind of like the intensity of it. So, I started doing that and from that, I found acupuncture; from that, I started learning about the meridians and chakras; and then I found out about yoga and this Kundalini energy and the meditations I could do. Ever since I found Kundalini Yoga and a lot of things came through that have always been there. It’s something that we all have; this awareness and this ability to integrate life’s experience. Janae: I wanted to ask you about what they are doing now in the military to deal with PTSD. I know they with a resilience program with Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement. They were testing it in the Army to avoid drug use, they were using gratitude. Are you familiar with that? M.V.: There’s a video on YouTube called Let There Be Light (1946.) It’s a video from World War II and how they discovered in the military then that the pills don’t work. That psychiatry isn’t effective. These guys who were completely frozen up, and they use creativity to heal themselves. J.J.: So, they were using music and art? M.V.: All that stuff. So, absolutely, we are doing that. S.S.: There’s an interesting story I heard in another interview with you. Is Mikal the name you were born with? M.V.: No. I was born as David Fritsch. I did a legal name change, and it’s a spiritual name for me. So, when you go through SEAL training, you have a swim buddy that goes with you. My first name, Mikal, is a contraction of my swim buddy’s name, Michael Koch, who was the first person to ever put their dreams secondary to mine to be able to help me. He was killed in Iraq doing what he loved to do. That was to protect people. He was one of the most talented people I had ever met. My last name Vega… Vega was the North Star. The star that guided the Three Wise Men to Christ, and it will become the North Star again once declination shifts. Aurora is my middle name and that means “light.” It’s inside the two names signifying inner light. This name change came from this practice and this ability to meditate. It came through loud and clear that I was supposed to do this. I didn’t even understand it really at the beginning. It was really awkward for me. It was just a change. Like any spiritual name, it was the milestone of changing purpose in life. Now that purpose is to use my creative talents to uplift and inspire others to discover theirs and do the same thing for others. That’s it; nothing more, nothing less! Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
43 minutes | 3 years ago
Let There Be Light – Interview with Dr. Jacob Liberman
by Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter – For this interview, we had the honor of speaking with Jacob Liberman, O.D., Ph.D. Dr. Liberman is an optometrist, vision scientist, author, speaker, mentor and consultant. His most recent book, Luminous Life: How the Science of Light Unlocks the Art of Living, blends modern science and philosophical wisdom. Over his more than four-decade career, he has worked with over 40,000 people and has developed numerous light, color and vision therapy instruments. You can find out more about his work, books, upcoming events and more at www.jacobliberman.org. The following article is only a brief snippet of our conversation. Subscribe to the Conscious Community Podcast on iTunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher, TuneIn and YouTube, or go to www.ConsciousCommunityMagazine.com to hear more insights from Dr. Liberman and listen to previous podcasts. Spencer: Could you tell us a little about your background? Dr. Jacob Liberman: I was trained as an optometrist and a vision scientist. I began doing that work in 1973. I had a series of profound experiences that really shifted my way of looking at and understanding what it meant to see. In 1976, I had a sudden shift in eyesight while in the midst of a meditative experience. That change in eyesight resulted in a 300 percent improvement in my ability to see, which has now lasted for 42 years. So, I have not worn glasses since that day 42 years ago. What’s interesting is that that 300 percent improvement in eyesight occurred with no change to the eyes. In other words, the prescription in my eyes didn’t change at all, yet I was seeing significantly better. So, it caused me to recognize that we don’t see from the eyes. There is some aspect of our humanity that is actually having this experience. The journey for me over the last 40-plus years has been about investigating the integration of light, vision and consciousness. What began as a miraculous shift in my eyesight got me into the area of light and color-therapy and to the realization that light is far more than the brightness that we experience when we look out during the day. Light is actually the intelligence of life, the foundational energy from where life emerges. When light interacts with the eye, it is literally looking for the eye, moving it toward the next thing in our life that we’re supposed to attend to. We often hear the expression “It caught my eye.” But, we rarely ask what is the it that caught our eye. Having looked at this both as an eye doctor and as a scientist for 45 years now, I’ve come to realize that what catches our eyes is actually looking for us and guiding our life’s journey. Janae: We’ve talked a lot in our interviews about the integration of science and spirituality. In your book, you discuss the Biblical phrase, “Let there be light.” It seems like we’ve boxed in the definition of what light is. Were ancient people more open in their understanding of light? JL: Whether you look at it from spirituality, hard science or religion, they all converge to exactly the same point. One of the things that the book is really speaking about is that most people confuse consciousness or awareness with the “mind chatter” that we experience throughout the day, which is something totally different. When people experience thoughts going on within them what most of them don’t realize is the reason we are aware of this phenomenon is because our true essence is actually observing it. If there wasn’t an “Internal Witness” or “Observer” that sees with no point of view, we would never be aware of the thinking, worrying or the internal rehearsal that most of us experience throughout the day. That “Internal Witness,” that does not speak, is the source of the seeing. It is actually what is experiencing this reality. What I discovered over the years is that vision improvement is not about exercising the eyes or changing your mind, it is about recognizing both physical phenomena and what we call mental or conscious phenomena and that the “Observer” is actually the source from where all this originates. JJ: You talked a lot about color in your book. When we talk about chakras and color, do you feel that those are literal colors? Is it related more to our cultural associations with color, or is it related to certain wavelengths specifically? JL: I’ve been working in this field for 45 years, and one thing I notice in the 1970s, is that everyone responded to colors. They had certain colors they felt comfortable with and certain colors they felt less comfortable with. It’s totally different from person to person. I discovered that the colors that people were comfortable with were vibrationally related to the aspects of their lives that they were at ease with, whereas the colors they were uncomfortable with related to unresolved issues in their lifetime or unresolved issues that were genetically passed on from their lineage. At that time, I was also introduced to chakras, but I could not find any scientific evidence having to do with chakras. So, I just put it aside. Over many years of working with more than 40,000 individuals, I’ve found a very interesting correlation: the colors that people were uncomfortable with seem to be related to where people develop physical issues in their bodies. When I compared those two, it was in fact the same idea as chakras. So, in response to your question, yes, I do think it’s literal. In the book, I share how I work with people with color, and I actually allow the reader to go through a process where they can see the colors they are receptive to and the colors that seem to trigger discomfort for them. In the process, they can use a simple visualization at home to work on these issues. I’ve also developed a system that can be used at home with a series of filtered glasses. The system helps people to become comfortable with the colors they used to feel uncomfortable with. SS: That’s interesting! While you were talking I looked at a picture of the chakras and their colors. The color red has always bothered me, and I have problems with my lower back. That’s really weird! JL: I didn’t come to this because I read about it or it sounded like an interesting idea. I literally, over time, started seeing this relationship. What’s interesting is this, your body runs on light! If I said, “A plant depends upon light.” You’d say, “Of course! Everybody knows that!” What I want to share with your audience is that all plants, all animals and all humans are inseparably connected with light. Every function of your body is light dependent. All of the functions of your body have to be in harmony with Mother Nature. Most disease and chronic illness is because we are chronically out of sync with Mother Nature. Most of us are not living life according to the patterns of light and darkness in nature. Most of us are living according to ideas or beliefs that we have. Beliefs have nothing to do with life. Ideas are continually changing. What happens in Mother Nature is pretty consistent day-to-day. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
43 minutes | 3 years ago
The Story Only You Can Tell – Interview with Matthew Dicks
Interview by Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter – For this mid-month podcast, we spoke with engaging storyteller, Matthew Dicks. Matthew is the author of several books, including the recently released, Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through The Power of Storytelling. He is a thirty-six-time Moth StorySLAM champion and a five-time Moth GrandSLAM champion. He is also a teacher, workshop leader, a minister, a life coach, a blogger and a podcaster. He is also the co-founder of Speak Up, a Hartford, Conn. based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England. Connect with Matthew via www.MatthewDicks.com or Twitter @MatthewDicks and watch him in action on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4K0fcEJkzJLso5h6CN00LQ. The following is just an excerpt for our in-depth conversation. We talked even more about the importance of vulnerability, honest communication and relating to others on a human level. We also discussed how stories can direct our future, relate us to our past and have the power to facilitate healing and changes lives. Listen to the podcast below and subscribe on iTunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher, TuneIn and Youtube. Spencer: I’m quite familiar with The Moth; I’ve been listening for many years and heard many of your stories on there. Could you tell us about The Moth for people who aren’t familiar and your involvement with it? Matthew Dicks Matthew Dicks: Sure. So, The Moth is an International storytelling organization. Essentially, they put people on stages to tell true stories live without notes. Some of those people are famous people; some of those people are not so famous people. On any given night, you can put your name is a hat at a story slam. If your name is pulled out of the hat, you get to tell a story. If it’s a slam, it’s a competitive situation. You get judged by a team of judges in the audience. At the end of the night, someone will be determined the winner. Then they also produce main stage shows that are curated. So, they will choose people from the community or people that they see on stages who they enjoy. Those are more of a formal situation. I’ve done both of those quite a bit. I started telling stories for The Moth in 2011. This friend dared me at a story slam. My plan was to tell one story and never do it again. I had no intention of becoming a storyteller. I didn’t really think I should be. But, I went to that first slam in New York City, dropped my name in the hat and was chosen last that night. I was hoping to escape without having my name come out of the hat, to be honest. I hated every minute of it until I started speaking into the microphone. Then I instantly fell in love. Janae: You’re also a teacher. Do you feel that the best teachers are storytellers? MD: I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but I do think that if you are a good storyteller and you’re a teacher, it’s a great asset. I teach fifth graders, 10-year-olds, and they’re pretty much the worst audience I’ve stood before. So, if I can keep them entertained with a story that’s going to teach them content, that’s a great thing. I do think that the more effective teachers are people who share bits of their own lives with their students and tell stories to keep them engaged along the way. JJ: Why is a book about being “story-worthy” is relevant to those who don’t consider themselves storytellers? You even say you can change your life through storytelling, how can you do that? MD: In terms of changing your life through storytelling, I have yet to meet a person who I can’t convince that storytelling will make their life better. When I teach workshops, there really isn’t a profession that can’t benefit from storytelling. I work with hospitals teaching patients how to tell their stories so that the doctors and nurses understand what the patient’s experience is like. I work with rabbis, ministers and priests to help them be more entertaining from the pulpit…and teachers and professors. Storytelling for dating has kind of taken off. People come because they can get the first date, but they can’t get the second because whatever they say no the first date is so terrible that no one wants to spend any more time with them. I like to say I’m a fundamental un-likable person who tells a good story. My wife says that’s not entirely true, but it’s kind of true. So, you can change your life in terms of your relationships with other human beings. Doors open when you can tell a good story. SS: There’s a cultural norm in our society that showing vulnerability is showing weakness. You’re supposed to put on this façade of “Everything’s fine.” When you’re hiding really toxic elements of your life it allows those things to fester and grow and get worse and worse. I think that the storytelling aspect is saying, “Hey, look, I’m not perfect. I’ve been through this; I’ve been through that.” Showing that you have those vulnerabilities and that you’re human too is healthy. I think it’s very validating when someone successful, like on some of these Moth stories, relating their human relatable moments. MD: I think the strongest people are the ones that show the most confidence are the ones who are willing to talk about their failures, their bad decisions and their moments of embarrassment. If I’m thinking about The Moth and I’m going to a story slam competition, I know my chance of winning one of those events rising exponentially, if I have a story when I can talk about a failure, embarrassment or humiliation rather than any success that I’ve had. The last thing I even want to talk about is a success, I really want to talk about moments of struggle and failure. JJ: Have you ever done workshops for therapeutic situations? I could see that being beneficial. MD: I’ve done workshops for Yale, for their school of psychiatry. So, I’m working with psychiatrists to teach them about stories. You can re-contextualize your life through storytelling. You can find beginnings and ends that you don’t think exist in your life, rather than the “long slog” that people sometimes view as their life. If you can find those moments of clarity and those beginnings and endings and moments of joy that sometimes just get lost in the mess that can really be helpful to people. I know that I’ve told stories where the process of crafting a story that helped me deal with an issue in my life that otherwise would have been unresolved and plaguing me. But, I stand on the stage, I tell that story and I can move past that moment—sort of put it into a form that other people can listen to and I can understand a little about it. So, I think it’s very valuable. SS: I think for any veteran’s organizations out there, I think doing a story slam would be a worth looking into. MD: I agree. I suffer from PTSD myself. I was the victim of a horrific robbery. It’s something you never really get rid of. I’ve told that story of the robbery…which I never thought I’d be able to speak out loud—even to an empty room…I couldn’t say the words for years. But, I’ve stood on stages and told that story to a thousand people at a time and the remarkable thing is every time I say it, it gets easier. So, storytelling has really helped me in that regard. Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects. Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner. Podcast Theme Music: Sublimation (Theme from the Conscious Community Podcast) Janae Jean Almen and Spencer Schluter, composers SpindriftGreenMusic Publishing ©2017
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