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