© Lightening Magazine 2016
What type of healing do you do?
The nature of my healing is largely intuitive. It is from this place that I offer integrated yoga workshops, yoga retreats, individual and corporate transformational coaching.
Formally, I studied yoga at the Sivananda ashram in Neyyar Dam, India and Kripalu in Massachussets, USA. I’ve also engaged in workshops with the likes of Seane Corn and Baron Baptiste. As far as my coaching goes, the basis of my approach is from my own work and studies with the Handel Group based in New York, USA.
When did you discover an interest in yoga, healing and empowerment?
Shortly after 9/11, I began to practice yoga. For as long as I can recall, I’ve had a thirst for knowledge; formal academic studies and beyond. Perhaps my first step into the world of empowerment was my work that I did with the Landmark Foundation i.e. The Forum.
I consider myself to be a seeker of knowledge.
How did you develop your abilities and methods as a writer, coach and yogi?
“Practice, practice, practice, all is coming.” – Pattabis Jois
Working with the UN for nearly 25 years, I met a lot of special people and formed incredible bonds.
Writing was a tool I used initially to remain in contact with friends all over the world. During a particularly daunting relationship breakup, I took to journaling; that became my refuge and my strength. For any aspirant following a spiritual path, you quickly come to appreciate that there is an inter-connectedness in all things. As a yoga teacher, one is in essence coaching – be it through breath, asana or the few words of wisdom that we sprinkle throughout the class. One of my strengths, for which I am deeply grateful is my ability to integrate the teachings of yoga into the corporate arena – by making them applicable.
My extended years in the professional arena prepared me to do this. In fact during my last UN posting in the Central African Republic, I offered yoga to the community as well as the staff. Much if not all of my teachings are born out of my own experiences.
One of my mantras is: ‘practice what you teach.’
How do you prepare for your classes/sessions?
For each week and/or class, there is generally a theme that flows throughout all of my offerings. These themes may arise based upon whatever issues I may be dealing with in my own life, or from observation of my surroundings. It never ceases to humble and amaze me how often students will approach me after class and inquire, “How did you know that I was dealing with this issue?” Perhaps the best way that I prepare for my classes is to connect to the source within, through prayer and meditation and then surrendering to the information that I receive. Source will always point you in the right direction.
Why specifically do you do this work?
Wow, that’s a big question!
I’m not so sure that I ‘do’ the work. Moreso, the work embodies me and I simply become the vessel. I was recently asked to imagine that I’d been given USD 5 MILLION, and to describe with exacting detail, how I would spend/use the money. My responses surprised me because what I realised is that my choices weren’t altered as a result of becoming a millionaire. They simply became more accessible and took on a wider scope. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see ‘lightbulbs’ flash for students when they ‘get it,’ on and off the mat.
What transformations have you witnessed?
To qualify someone else’s transformation is a bit of a stretch. I have seen people, through being exposed to my work, dare to become their best human selves. As the teacher/guide, I am merely the mirror. If you choose to put in the work that is required for your own shifts to occur, they can and will happen. When people choose to commit to themselves, the results are astounding.
What has your greatest realisation or learning been as a healer?
What is destined cannot be stopped.
When one chooses to refer to themselves as a healer, they must realise that with this calling comes, tremendous responsibility. On my journey, I’ve learned that the more I do my own work, the deeper i’m able to go with others. Nowadays, words like integrity and vulnerability get tossed around like confetti. To be truly effective in one’s dharma as a healer, one must be prepared to bare it all. As I’ve often shared with friends, it was important for me to clean up my own mess before even thinking that I was capable of serving others. Anything less would have been hypocritical.
What is the most powerful type of healing you have personally experienced?
Family constellations are deeply potent and transformative. Especially as a person with African slavery legacy in my blood, being able to gain some insight into my intergenerational trauma has helped to liberate me from being stuck in areas of my life that before the experience, I simply couldn’t understand. In order to heal, we must feel. And that process demands that we return to the source of our wounds.
Do you have one tip to share for happiness and wellbeing in everyday life?
Be still and know.
What is your favourite music to listen to?
So many, I’m spoilt for choice. Of course Bob Marley is at the top of the list. I also love classical music and am known to teach yoga with classical music — Bach, Mozart and Chopin are some of my favorite composers. I love old school too — Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Grace Jones, Madonna, Prince, you name it. I also listen to my fair share of sacred music, Krishna Das, John de Kadt, OKA, etc. Music flows through my veins. I’m also a sucker for the Spoken Word.
What are your plans for the future evolution of what you do?
Currently I am heavily in writing mode for my first book; a memoir of sorts. My dream is to have at least two TV shows; one is a reality show with some truly extraordinary women who are a part of my inner circle here in Bali and the other is a TV talk show that features ordinary persons who are committed to consciousness rising and are actively engaged in transformative activities. If you know of any potential funders, send them my way. I already have treatments for both!
I’m also super excited about my upcoming November retreat in Negril, Jamaica, from 13 to 17 November 2016, in collaboration with a California based company named YOL that designs bespoke yoga and service retreats.
For info on my Jamaica retreat: YOL : Yoga & Service Trip to Jamaica
To practice with me on line, please visit: SEEBENOW
Another great interview here: The Two Zen Bali Spirit Festival Interview
© Lightening Magazine 2016
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.
For more information please visit:
© Lightening Magazine 2016
So, you have started growing vegetables?
Yes, and I have to say these vegetables are going to be so uniquely experimental.
Is that because of the way you’re growing them?
We’re just bathing them in love and excitement and treating them as if they’re our children. We are just trying everything that they would ever possibly like and singing nursery rhymes to the first sproutings and gonging them with sound. It’s really out there and it’s really fun, actually. When you see them start to popup and germinate, it’s really a turn on. Suddenly, you wake up in the morning and all these little green leaves are popping up out of the swirl. It’s pretty magnificent.
What have you got growing?
In the main farm- some people call it an allotment farm- we’ve got potatoes, beetroots, fennel, some marigold flowers, radishes, cucumbers, sunflowers and artichokes.
What inspired you to grow vegetables?
My girlfriend Raisa. It was turning us on forever. It’s very hard to find truly organic food. I know there are farmer’s markets, but they’re quite hard to find. It’s so much of a turn on to eat your own food, that you grew yourself.
I’d really like to start a community on some land that we’re going to get and I am learning to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on a very corrupt system.
I’m hoping to have a center called “Lion Heart”, where we would have a conscious dining center and a center for music, writing and performing. We’d have “Heart Mountain”, a child-led school where they choose their own educational directions based on what they feel passionate about. We’d have a laboratory for studying the properties of light and water, which is where the next great breakthrough in technology is going to come from. We will have all kinds of areas for growing vegetables and looking after animals. I really want a whole town of the future. Raisa just wants somewhere nice to live, in a quiet peaceful place. I’m going to have to maybe tone down my massive world domination vision and she’s going to have to put up with some of my more eccentric ideas and we’ll meet in the middle somewhere.
If you start small it could just naturally and organically grow like your vegetables.
I just know that in my career and in my heart, I’ve always started big. I never started small. I usually have some huge big vision and then do the closest thing to it.
That’s an interesting strategy which leads me into a question about your workshops and thinking big. “What About You?” and “Transforming Shadows”. What inspired you to create those workshops?
We had so many wonderful questions and answer sessions when we were presenting our films around the place, both One Giant Leap and What About Me? All the subject matter in the films was so personal and about practical daily living of life, so the conversations and the Q&As got very deep and people were opening up so beautifully but a 35-minute Q&A session was not enough. I also just wanted to do something else that wasn’t directly creating art and it was actually Raisa who suggested I do it. She just said “Listen, you’ve done your music, you’ve done films, you’ve done everything! Why don’t you book somewhere for a weekend and just offer your direct self and see who shows up?” I was like “well, what would I do with them for that weekend?” She said “Well, what do you have to share?” I think the one thing I do know about that not everybody does know about, is how to have an idea and take it all the way through the stages of actually making it, releasing it, having a bar code on it and maybe some awards and everyone loving it. So, I thought I’d make the weekend about that.
The main workshop now is “Transforming shadows”. That’s where we go inside and meet all the crazy characters that live in our head and all the dysfunctional beings that keep leaping out and sabotaging things, so we give them new jobs. That’s become more what I do now but on the project building master class “What About You?” we’ve now greenlit more than 1000 new companies and projects that definitely work.
I think the secret is not just in thinking big, you have to think big while having zero attachment to the outcome. That’s what everybody forgets.
You’ve got to do everything that you love and it will be so enjoyable, so even if it never got big it was still time well spent because you love doing it so much! If you can find something that you love the process of so much that, of course, you would prefer it to be big – but it’s not a deal breaker as to whether it was a good use of your time- then that’s what you should be doing.
I always ask everybody in the workshop “if you had all your life expenses paid for, what would you do after breakfast?” That’s your project.
Awesome wise words! So how has “Transforming Shadows” taken over?
I think because everybody benefits from going in and meeting crazy beings that are inside them, that they usually try to push away and instead realising that they have just been looking at them wrong. Everybody can benefit from that. Not everybody will create the project they really want to do by having no jobs and families, they’re not all waiting to do that great dream project.
Do you think that everybody can dive that deep? It’s not easy work, right?
It goes deep but it’s fun. If I only feel satisfied when you go deep then I’m “vamping” you to go that deep. Some people come and they go crazy deep, other people come and they just have an interesting intellectual experience and find that they walk away with some interesting new things to think about. Now that’s obviously what’s appropriate for them at that moment where they are. It’s nothing to do with me from where our vessel journey is taking them. I just cook the food and some might eat three bowls full and others might just have one mouthful, and the other one might spit it out. That’s none of my business. It’s very important as a teacher to not attach to how deep people go. Everybody’s got their own soul journey and for some, their process and their progress go fast, some other people are slow. I make it as palatable and as fun and accessible as possible and then I don’t attach one more inch to what people will do with it.
What are the benefits of attending a group process versus maybe one-on-one therapy?
I think it’s different things for different people. When you have a group, it’s wonderful for people who feel quite isolated; especially isolated in their dramas. They suddenly realise that their dramas are exactly the same as everybody else’s just with different hats on. Obviously with one-on-one I can go deeper and give focused attention for a whole hour or longer.
I just think that the greatest benefit of all is that whatever ailments you have just seem to disappear afterwards and that wasn’t my intention. The amount of letters I get from people that say “I did your workshop and I’ve had 20 years of eczema and it’s gone.” or “I’ve had panic attacks or depression and it’s just gone, I haven’t had it since the weekend” or “I’m now talking to my daughter for the first time in eight years”. None of these things are directly intended, they are just the obvious things that happen when you start editing yourself down and you stop running from 20% capacity so you start opening up to all the treasure that you always had inside. Most illnesses are a symptom of not doing that. Illness is a symptom of suppressing and holding ourselves back, of containing and hiding, of being dishonest with ourselves and to other people or wearing masks and playing roles. That’s what creates illness, all that suppression. So obviously when people start practising techniques which are less suppressive, then their body doesn’t need to act out with those ailments to get their attention as much because they’re doing what they should be doing. I believe a lot of disease, maybe all but certainly the majority of minor ailments, is really your body trying to tell you to stop suppressing.
That’s an interesting perspective. Do you have groups of people come to work on those things on retreats?
I would like to do that at Lionheart.
You do walking and hiking where you take people up a mountain, don’t you?
Yes, we do the heart mountain retreat in the fall and we’re doing a residential What About You? project master class on a beautiful Greek island called Paros in July that is also coupled with our music. We’re making an album there with incredible musicians. People are allowed to walk through in the evenings and hear what we’ve composed. There’s also one coming up in Nicaragua in October. These are usually things I’m invited to do. I rarely think oh I think I’ll do a weeklong retreat and arrange all of that.
How do you prepare yourself for holding space, and presenting and teaching workshops and retreats?
I can’t really do any preparation at all apart from my usual preparation for living my life, which is just being me- a more different, more prepared me for that group. I just be me. The most authentic version of myself in the moment that I can be and I trust that the rest will unfold.
That word authentic is very important in what you do and it seems to be the cornerstone of what you’re teaching.
However you are behaving will usually elicit that from whomever you’re in front of. So, if you’re being a petulant, argumentative little bitch, you’re going to bring out the petulant argumentative little bitch in the person you’re talking to.
So, people are a mirror?
Yeah. And the more you’re in your center and you’re authentic and you’re loving and kind, and not “doing kind” just being kind, which is a natural state. That kind spacious open part of someone else in front of you finds it generally quite easy to come forward.
That’s very true. Do you want to say a bit about your transition from pop star and filmmaker to where you are now?
I don’t really think about it as a transition. I think about it as an addition. I am still making beautiful music and I’m making a great film with Ram Das where we’re walking each other home. I’m still doing all of that. I’m just doing more I guess.
Is it like being on stage performing, when you lead workshops?
There is a performance aspect to it, as I’m like a fool. I’m not playing the fool and by me being like that, it makes everyone laugh at how we all are. So there’s a slightly performance aspect to being the first one to be ridiculous and being the walking permission slip for everyone else’s foolishness. And obviously, it does feel good when everyone’s really receptive but it’s not as rehearsed as performance can be, it’s much more spontaneous. I really enjoy that. When someone asks a question which I haven’t answered before, I usually will say something much more insightful and deep when put on the spot. So, I really love being asked questions.
So you even have given a Ted Talk, right? How was that?
Well that was funny. That was the first 16 minutes that I ever spoke without notes because you can’t have notes. That was just the beginning of totally jumping off the deep end with my mouth and trusting it would come out fine. And it was okay. Yeah, it was nice. Now I never use notes even if I’m talking for an hour. I’m doing a workshop this evening in about one hour from now called Ego Volcano.
Are you deconstructing the ego volcano or are you exploding it?
Well, it is about enjoying it but not being obsessed with it. The ego is an illusion and I think we’re meant to meet the ego fully and enjoy all it’s individual characteristics. I’m also remembering not to be governed by all its comparative uptight worries. That doesn’t mean eradicate it like many people try and do.
Right, so it means to just understand it?
Yes, understand it. It’s like, if you imagine playing a video game and you’ve got the little guy on the screen running around. You’ve got you on the joystick making it jump around. The guy on the screen is the ego. You are the glare of the game of the joystick. So the ego is directed by you. Most people think they are the character on the screen and they don’t realise that they are the ones holding the joystick so they’re just moving for whatever the ego wants. It’s a whole load of drama.
Is it possible to sit behind the ego and not be in it’s totally competitive uptight state, being very present, noticing how uptight it is and noticing all its fun thinking and still not taking actions or writing emails from that ego place. You still notice all the urgings, but you’re the soul who directs what actual actions get taken and what words get said.
So you’re about to go and teach that to a group of people this evening. Meet the Ego. Is this the first of that kind of workshop for you?
No, I’ve been sharing this with our online workshop groups once a month and we’ve done “Mojo Blast”, we’ve done “Looking for trouble”, we’ve done “What About You?” and many others.
Do these all form chapters in your new book “Insanely Gifted”?
Insanely Gifted is a condensation of all my workshops. The basic message is that if we really feel our feelings and participate with what our genius body is doing to discharge uncomfortable feelings and if we are really willing to be in a state of listening not doing (and other things like that), then life becomes much, much more relaxing and fulfilling.
Our creative projects, our intimacies, our missions, our parenting, our sex lives, they all skyrocket when we go into the listening field, into the spaciousness, into the space around things rather than constantly being yanked left and right by them. We need to give ourselves a moment of space, a moment of pause, and a moment of listening all the time.
It’s a book about all the different things I’ve learned from many different cultures. It’s about all the different tools that I’ve learned to be in balance and to be the most successful, enjoyable, full of potential life masterpiece that you can come up with.
What’s the greatest key that you’ve been given or that you’ve found along the way for staying in balance?
The ability to walk around inside of your body and like a wine-taster, feel what’s being felt in a different place when you’re feeling reactive, rather than abandon that feeling and fight whoever did it to you.
If somebody triggers you or something upsets you, usually what we do is jump into the masculine side of our essence and jump into controlling it back to how we want it, fighting that person, manipulating that person, complaining, escaping. We rarely do the feminine thing, which is instead of doing something we decide not to let it impact us. Instead of turning away from the feeling, turn towards that feeling. Feel it, know that it was yours already. No one put it in you. They may have triggered you, but they didn’t cause that feeling, rather they are triggering feelings that already live in you and have been there like little pressure cooker time bombs waiting to go off. This really is the difference between living life as a slave or living life powerfully!
© Lightening Magazine 2016