Highlight : David Sye

David Sye
Photo by Paul Elliot of Hut 29

People all over England, Europe and America have chipped in to provide quite a lot of money to Yogabeats Conflict. I think it was almost £25,000 pounds we raised to do this project. This year we’re flying people out from The West Bank to Scotland to carry on training there as yogis.

Why have you chosen to fly people out of the West Bank?

It’s too dangerous in the West Bank.

I don’t recognise borders. There are no borders to me. Love is the only thing that exists. So, if we need to take them out of there, we take them out of there. I believe that yoga will create peace because it goes beyond where any source of politics goes.

These people are incredible. How powerful the human heart is in spite of conflict, in spite of oppression. I’m headlining a yoga festival in Israel and I told them I don’t want to keep any money that I make, that it will all go straight to the Palestinians and I said “you need to know that”. They said that was fine, that they were totally supportive. There’s a great tribe of Israelis that are for peace and compassion. I’m proud to say that a lot of them exist.

What’s inspired you to do this work?

It just happened quite naturally. I was in a war in Bosnia and I really saw humankind and all the aggression which was stirred up by politics. The press is always very economical with the truth because they bend the story by just leaving out a few words. The press are very responsible for creating a lot of the wars that we have on our planet right now.

I don’t see myself as a yoga teacher, I’m a yogi and I believe that our species will not survive unless we can carry out what is important to us.

There are no borders between countries and there are no borders between the human heart. All of this conflict is something we need to evolve past and for me it’s just pure intelligence. It’s just so obvious. 

Why do you need a middle man for God? Why do you need a middle man for each other? You don’t!

You sound so fearless when you talk about doing something that would scare many people to do.

lt gives me such a pleasure to know that these people love me. I mean, they’re my family and so are the Israelis. I go between borders simply because I love both sides. It’s kind of hard to love one without the other. It’s totally impossible for me.

Is it safe there at the moment? 

No it’s never really safe. I mean if it was safe, I wouldn’t do the work in the first place. It’s just, it is what it is and it always seems to work out.

So the intention, with the work that you’re doing is yoga for peace?

The yoga gives people there the physical and psychological tools to deal with being in an open prison. That’s what they are basically living in-an open prison and there’s no doubt about that. It’s a very difficult place. There’s no freedom. It’s very hard to get out of the West Bank. Life is extremely difficult and also frustrating. Yoga is a way that they can kind of find that inside of themselves and they can be free. So, you can have an overt oppression outside and inside a sense of freedom. I say interior freedom because everything that we feel comes from the inside.

Where did the idea originate, to use yoga to heal the conflict between Israel and Palestine?

I was invited in 2004 to do some yoga workshops in Israel by Israelis. I said “Yeah, I’m happy to do that as long as you provide me with classes of Palestinians too.” And they said “No, we’re in a war so that would be very difficult with a lot of potential conflict”. I said “Well then, I’m not going to come.” They said “Don’t be ridiculous.” I was in a Bosnia war and I don’t know what the enemy looks like, they’re just different people. To me, there are no such things as enemies.

Finally they agreed to let me teach a class over at Jericho. I went to Jericho and had 18 Palestinians in my first class. We went on the front lawn for prayer. And I had beats playing on the Boom Box and we were rolling and putting our legs up in the air.  I really thought I might get into trouble, but I was fine and they loved me.

When I left the Israelis to go back to the West Bank they said “You know these poor people on the other side of the West Bank they don’t have good hummus. So, I became this hummus carrier back and forth and then finally they all wanted to meet each other.

In 2006 I was on a bus going to this meeting with 18 Palestinians. We were going to meet in Jerusalem at the American Colony in town and one Israeli came up to me and said “Can I have a word with you?” She asked “What are the Palestinians like? I’m really frightened of them because they killed a lot of my family.” I said “They’re just like you.” She says “Oh, you’re sure?” I said “Yes, don’t worry. You’re going to see how lovely they are”. So later that day, we’re in a hotel and I see this same woman hugging a Palestinian woman, and they were both crying. I just thought That’s it. That’s my work right there!

I mean, that one memory of them is burned like a tattoo in my brain forever. I can’t get rid of that. No politician can tell me that there’s anything better than that. The rest is just bullshit.

 What gave you the confidence to take yoga into war zones?

I found myself in a war in Bosnia when I went there to run a radio station. I was going in and out of the borders during the worse part of the war and then I had my car stolen. I was on the run from the Middle Eastern police and I couldn’t get out of Serbia.

People looked after me when I had no money, nothing. I remember one time it was minus 24. It was horrible and they fed me, looked after me. I saw such human kindness. They didn’t really care that I was a yogi, they read me as a human being who was compassionate.

I felt my work was starting at that point. I didn’t think oh that’s what I want to do, that’s just what happened. For me, wherever I am is the place I need to be.

If you had to summarise your life’s purpose in a short statement, could you?

Yeah. My own self evolution. I know that my biggest pleasure out of this is my pleasure. I don’t give a shit about the world. I give a shit about MY world and I need to feel happy with me as a human being. I’m not such an egomaniac to think that I can save anybody. If I’m compassionate with someone else, loving to someone else, it’s because I’m loving for me. It’s a consequence of loving yourself.

So if you love yourself then you’ll love everyone else?

I think that’s one of the characteristics of all the advanced souls on this planet, they’re very childish and they’re in love with themselves but yet they do the hard work. It’s because they’re in a place of bliss.

It’s interesting to hear you say that you’re not trying to save the world, but your actions would suggest that in a way you are doing your bit to save the world.

Well we all have to come together now and stop it and rub out the borders between countries. It’s like someone saying well, I’m gay and I’m straight. I mean where does the borderline stop? Who knows? There is no borderline. It’s ridiculous. The line is in your head.

Okay that’s a great line to finish this interview with. Have a great time, wherever you’re going now.

I’m heading to Coventry for a big Yoga & Tequila Rave.

Yoga Tequila Rave- what?

Last year we had 240 people and we had 50 bottles of tequila. Basically, it started in Colorado when they wanted me to teach four hours of yoga. We had a break and they all disappeared and went into a bar. I walked in and they were all hiding their glasses behind their backs so I said “What the hell is that?” They went oh, it’s a tequila shot. I said “Well, okay I’ll do one of those too.” They said “Really?” I said “Sure.Allow us to celebrate. Don’t be such pussycats, you’ve got to celebrate your life. Don’t be wimps. Everything in life is celebration. Celebrate life in everything you do because that’s what it’s about. So, as I’m drinking the tequila I get a download from the universe, which is that I need to do tequila yoga. So I said “Let’s do tequila yoga!” and it was the best class I ever gave. Basically, one of the main principles is “turn off your head”. The head is political so if you cut the head off you go back to being simple. You just enjoy being alive without all the stuff going on in your head. You cut the head off. So I started to do this as a rave event; and now they are completely sold out yoga raves.

WWW.YOGABEATS.COM

David Sye

© Lightening Magazine 2016

Highlight : Harmony

Harmony has some beautiful songs available for download on bandcamp and is currently embarking on a U.S tour. We love her authentic, conscious heart-centered videos and music.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 track=919762646 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=2ebd35 tracklist=false artwork=small]

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 track=2666903721 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=2ebd35 tracklist=false artwork=small]

Harmony Facebook

Highlight : Kevin James

KEVIN JAMES CARROLL
Photo by Masumi Lacoste

What type of healing do you do?

I don’t call myself a healer. I suppose I facilitate a space in which healing takes place.

When did you discover an interest in the healing power of music?

It was a gradual progression of seeing results and getting feedback. I experienced it for myself early on, as a musician you soon learn about “The zone” no matter what music you play. This zone is healing in any form. I suppose what I have done is refine it and direct it towards healing and reconnection, because I believe this is needed the most.

Have you always had a musical life?

No, I was brought up in a totally non musical family. I didn’t discover live music until my 21st birthday.

How do you describe the type of songs that you sing?

I call them Heartsongs. From the heart to the heart.
They are a combination of all my influences from folk music to Indian Kirtan, Buddhist mantras, Sufi chants. I love devotional music. Music with heart.

How did you develop your abilities and methods?

My abilities and methods have developed over 2 decades of sharing, honing, refining and defining what I do, in which there is still no real clear distinction. It is an outcome of my path in life. As best I can, I follow my heart and try to find balance and harmony in everything.
How do you prepare for your circles?

This is also a constant progression. Years ago, I just showed up. Now, as the circles have grown and my path become more clear, I am in constant preparation.
Every moment is in some way preparing and priming myself for the next circle or recording..

Why specifically do you do this work?

This is not accurate for me to call it work, as I never chose this as a job as such.
I suppose it has developed this way but really it is an outcome of my connection to myself and having the faith and strength to follow my heart against all odds; which in essence is where the real work lies.
When I connect to myself, I automatically connect to my path in life, my purpose and my passion, also my dreams. Following your heart is actually about doing what makes you feel good and gives you joy. As I live life in close connection to my heart, I can honestly say that equally, life is living me. Its a dance that is so beautiful I cannot turn away from it. Instead of investing my identity into the misperception of ego. I am more drawn to identify with this life itself in all honesty, and it seems that this life, or consciousness within me seeks for the benefit of all. It seems to create a space and an energy where all are lifted. This is a lovely thing to be a part of so i willingly follow and serve its will.

What transformations have you experienced through doing this work?

Greater freedom, more choices, less desire, more acceptance, more faith, less chaos, more harmony, greater health, more balance, more good feelings, greater flow, more safety, less wrong, more right, fulfilment, contentment and purpose, effectiveness and healing. I have watched a progression or restoration in my being of what i would call good human values which in turn brings a sense of integrity and virtue that one carries with dignity and grace. This is a wealth beyond measure that we carry in our aura and cannot be taken away and it is a wealth that never leaves you, even in challenging times.
What transformations have you witnessed in others?

The obvious one is during the circles. Over the space of two hours there is a transformation that takes place that is difficult to describe in words. You really need to experience it but this video shows the journey of re-connection to the heart very well. It is a transformation wherein the veils of illusion that divide us come down and we begin to experience our true nature, which is love.

 What has your greatest realisation or learning been on your journey?

That I don’t exist as a separate entity. That I am an integrated part of the whole, a part of God and I have within me the same nature. This reflects in the way I see others and a great compassion is present. That i can relax and simply truly be myself without projecting a code or mode of behavior in any form. I can be spontaneous wild and free, without fear. This does not make me an out of control individual. Its quite the contrary. This actually makes me become more responsible for every breath I take and every movement of my being. This makes me become true.

Can you please share some powerful healing that you have experienced?

No, sorry. You will hear in the lyrics of my last song from the album Heartstrings that
a true healer does not see sickness or disease or even healing, just wellness.
What happens to others is the responsibility of themselves.
What is your favourite music to listen to?

Tina Malia, Jai Uttal, Krishna Das

Do you have one tip to share for happiness and wellbeing in everyday life?

Take the time to get your priorities right.

What are your plans for the future, evolution of what you do?

Just to keep growing with it and also to be prepared to let it it go. This is not who I am and there is nothing more important than to follow the heart wherever it takes you.

Anything else you would like to mention or share?

There is something magic that happens in the circles that over the space of two hours, can change our reality, the feeling can last for days and from some reports, it is life changing.
What I have done, is take it a step further and use the environment of particular high energy and beautiful places to support a group to go even deeper. We stay in that energy field, travel together and sing every day. I also share my morning practices of vocal tuning and emotional balancing using the voice, yoga and meditation. This experience can really transform our lives and is the essence of the few retreats that I run every year in different parts of the world like Ladakh, Corfu, Bhutan, The Grand Canyon, Chanting with whales in Australia and others.

Please check my calendar for the next planned retreats.
KevinJamesHeartSongs

Photo by Suki Zoe
Photo by Suki Zoe

© Lightening Magazine 2016

Highlight : Jana Johnson

Photo by Ulrike Reinhold
Photo by Ulrike Reinhold

Imagine that someone walks into a restaurant and when asked what they want, they answer “I don’t know”. When asked what they like, they answer “I don’t know”.

This happens in my practice more often than not. Over half of my clients, when asked why they came to see me, say “I don’t know. I know there should be more in my life but I cannot access it.”  When I ask what makes them happy or what they want to do, inevitably the answer is often times “I don’t know.”

I feel like so many people these days are disconnected. They don’t know themselves, they don’t know their heart or their soul. They only know their thoughts- a frantic collection of media, family and societal driven wants and insecurities. Perhaps this is why the world is in the state that it is, because so many of us aren’t connected with our inner selves and therefore the world is fragmented, not whole. We are so full of expectations, obligations, projections and programming that we literally “don’t know” what we even want in life.

This is where I help people. I am trained as an energy worker in various modalities, as an intuitive and as a counselor. When people show up in my office all of these skills are used in an effort to bring about some peace, some healing, some shift. My work is ever-changing, deepening, expanding.

The healing modalities can be murky waters in terms of training and practitioners. Pretty much anyone can call themselves an Intuitive or Energy Healer and indeed, how do you train or measure these things anyway? I have always been drawn to rituals and mysticism and, after working in the corporate world for years, this led me to research various worldly religions and spiritual traditions in an effort to find peace and happiness in my own life.

My first healing course was in Reiki, including master level training. I went on to complete a 4-year program called Helix, which has foundational pillars of psychology, spiritual disciplines and energy work/metaphysics, and I was ordained as a minister of the Helix Healing Ministry. The program gave me a strong psychological & spiritual knowledge base, along with years of experiential work as a psycho-spiritual counselor. While continuing my corporate work, I started seeing clients for healing work in 2005 in New York City. In 2009 I stepped out of the corporate world and put my focus on my healing practice.

Since moving to Ubud, Bali in 2012, I have opened to even stronger energy and a deeper connection to my “Higher Self” and with the Divine. My counselling background taught me how to hold space, so clients feel safe enough to explore some of the most intimate and vulnerable places in their life during our sessions. This space allows for their potential healing.

I am in an interesting position, in which I am able to observe what seem to be collective trends in healing, because of where I work. I am based in the largest yoga and healing center in Ubud, Bali, a town known around the world for being a spiritual mecca for seekers, young and old. Tracking the collective healing by various regions in the world has been fascinating.

I have been in Ubud for almost 5 years, offering energy work and intuitive guidance. With my work I bring people back to the heart, to their inner wisdom, to their bodies. I try to deflect any projections they have around me being able to heal/save them and lead them into understanding that they hold the power themselves. People come to me and I do everything I can to find that space in them and lead them there. This might happen through talking and inquiry, it might happen through working energetically on the table.

I can guide clients back to hearing their Truth, but they have to do the work themselves. I’m not a magician and I don’t have any magic cures, but I do have Presence. And in Presence I hold a certain frequency or vibration, which is then offered to the person in front of me as a meeting point. I work energetically, either hands-on or off. I reflect back to them the perfection that I see in front of me. I hold a vibration of Love which surrounds and envelopes the client, inviting them to soften and expand. This is where shifts can happen.

I currently see people for one-on-one sessions and lead meditation classes out of The Yoga Barn in Ubud. I also offer intuitive sessions, supervision for those working in the healing realm, and an 8-week mentoring program all via Skype for my international clients. 

In August I am leading a 6-day workshop for women entitled POWER WEALTH WISDOM and I am so excited about this! Women gathering in community to SPEAK about their lives, LISTEN to others share their journeys, and RISE up to responsibility. I have gathered an amazing group of women to share with us how they bring their evolution as Powerful, Wealthy and Wise women into their professions, relationships, family and daily lives. After each talk we will work with the subjects at hand and find ways to incorporate changes into our lives that support our evolutionary path.

Of course, I am still doing my own work too! I believe it is really important to maintain personal growth, whether you are an energy worker or someone who just wants to be happy in their regular life. I am always open to new ideas and I am curious about what others know that I don’t. I will check out anything that allows me to feel expanded, free, and plugged into the Universe. When I began my spiritual quest I wanted to learn everything so I took lots of classes and read a ton of books. All of that information has helped me build a foundation in which I step off from. I feel the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know, and yet I believe more and more that I can actually find all that I need to know within- with patience and persistence and continual ego check points.

Jana Johnson

For more information please visit:

Jana Johnson Healing Works website

Jana Johnson Facebook

© Lightening Magazine 2016

Highlight : Richard Stanley

RICHARD STANLEY
Photo by Anneke Koremans

The Light at the Top of the Mountain

Magic is the quintessence of life – its spice and splendour. Certainly our world would be poor indeed without it – yet until a few years ago I didn’t even believe it existed. Like most folk I thought the ‘supernatural’ was something that belonged in a paperback novel and failed to apprehend the true meaning of the word. As a young man I arrogantly assumed the world had already been safely catalogued, measured and mapped by post enlightenment scholars and magic, even if I might have desired it as a child, simply wasn’t relevant to adult life.

I first climbed the Pyrenean mountain of Montségur on a glorious late summer afternoon in 1990. I was working for a British television network and wanted to view the ruins on the summit as a potential location. I knew little about the mountain then, only that it had been sacred since the end of the last ice age and was equated by some pseudo historians with the mythical Grail castle of ‘PARZIVAL’. A ruined temple on the summit dating to the time of the Celts was fortified in the 13th century at the behest of the ‘Cathar’ high priestess, Esclarmonde de Foix. The adepts of her faith took refuge there and the castle endured three sieges before falling to crusaders on March 16 1244 when some 260 martyrs perished on the ‘Field of the Stake’, the largest mass burning of ‘heretics’ in European history.

Myself and my then partner arrived at the ruins late in the day and climbed the battlement to take in the panoramic view. As we watched we saw a spume of cloud boiling towards us. This being the nineties, we half expected it to be a UFO. But it wasn’t the ‘mothership’. It was a violent summer storm and within moments the mountaintop was ablaze with lightning. We took refuge as multiple bolts of plasma flickered around us, reaching down like fiery fingers into the castle. This was the supernatural alright – nature to the power of ten. We told ourselves afterwards it was only a storm – yet the memory of that light streaming from the castle gate and the strange, sweet smell that accompanied it stayed with me.

In 1996 I was removed from my position on a multi-million dollar feature project I had been developing with New Line Studios and Time Warner. The circumstances of my downfall are too complex to enter into here, having subsequently become the subject of a feature film in its own right (‘LOST SOUL’ – 2015), yet my downfall was complete. My agent stopped returning my calls and I found myself blacklisted in Hollywood. My partner dumped me for a passing millionaire who could keep her in the style to which she was accustomed and stripped of my green card I found I could no longer remain in the States.

Very few things made sense in my life any more. I remember feeling grateful that I didn’t have children or own a dog at the time. In the midst of that darkness I recalled the light at the top of the mountain and, without really understanding why, began to move towards it as if it were a beacon, a promise that maybe there were some things more powerful than the glacial forces of money.

I spent countless nights on the mountaintop, armed with a camera, hoping to see that supernatural light again and capture it on film. In the course of those vigils, I met others who held Montségur sacred and learned its true history. In 2001 my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma and in desperation I treated her with a ferrous solution drawn from ore samples found in the caverns beneath the castle, a substance equated by occult scholars with the ‘black stone’ of ‘PARZIVAL’ – lapis Exillis. To my amazement she went into remission – probably just placebo effect but the Grail myth certainly played a decisive role in her recovery.

The mountain was changing me too, the fresh water and clean, oxygen rich air undoing the attrition of more than two decades in London and Los Angeles. In 2007 my vigil was rewarded when I experienced what can only be described as a manifestation of the Goddess – the very essence of magic incarnate – a waking vision of the ‘Cathar’ priestess, Esclarmonde accompanied by that familiar smell of roses and lillies described in Marian apparitions as the ‘smell of sanctity’. Had I been alone I might have assumed I had finally lost my mind but mercifully there was another pilgrim present who experienced the same things as myself. A ‘shared hallucination’ sceptics might argue – yet in that moment I knew, beyond doubt, the stories about the castle were true and falling to my knees before the radiant figure I wept like a child, not out of sadness but out of gratitude and joy.

photo by Scarlett Amaris

I live alone with my books and my cat now in a cottage at the base of the mountain. Since relocating to Montségur I have become the only English speaking mountain guide in the area and in the summers I have my hands full, there being no shortage of seekers to shepherd. Close to one hundred thousand make their way to the castle gates every season. Only a fraction have the slightest inkling of what this place is but they are drawn to it nonetheless, looking for something that can’t be contained in words. In truth, many of them are pretty damaged by the time they reach me. You usually have to be, on some level, to go looking for something as ineffable as a Grail. A couple of years back I finally dropped the other shoe and got myself ordained and while I don’t wear a dog collar I am at least licensed to perform weddings, baptisms and funerals.

photograph by Scarlett Amaris
photograph by Scarlett Amaris

What little time I have to myself I spend in meditation and study. Under the influence of the divine flame my old life was consumed and a new one conjured like a phoenix from the ashes. On the whole I don’t miss the ‘real’ world. It seems like a dream at best, at other times like a vaguely remembered nightmare. When I am forced to leave the magic mountain on one mission or another I am always grateful to return, counting each day here as a blessing. The seclusion is a Goddess given opportunity to practise my art and hone my craft, the knowledge being its own reward and solace. Most folk find it hard to fathom why someone like myself would choose to abjure the world, its 21st century conveniences and comforts, to deliberately live as a quasi-medieval hermit. Outsiders do not understand that I am, above all, happy, nor if I could live my life again would I choose to live it any other way.

Richard Stanley – Montségur – May 2016

A full account of this journey can be found on kindle under the title – SHADOW OF THE GRAIL

This is the official TERRA UMBRA WEBSITE

A documentary feature, “The Otherworld” can currently be found on NETFLIX. It is based on these experiences and will be released in the US on BLURAY and DVD later this year.

The Otherworld Movie Poster