An Interview with Shakti Gawain about Transformation, Locally and Globally
By Rahasya and Dhara from Lotus Guide
Over the years, Shakti Gawain has been an inspiration to millions in matters of the heart and soul. She not only writes about the path that we’re all on, she also walks the path.
Carolyn Myss, P.h.D. says this about her book, Transformation, How Healing Ourselves Can Change the World.
“In this wonderful guide for the new millennium, Shakti brings us the insight and direction we need to bring our spirituality into the human experience, reclaim our power, and effect real change. I highly recommend it.”
Lotus Guide: Living in a small community, it’s very easy to see that, for the most part, people are moving out of large cities to the more rural areas. Some people say it’s because of fear and survival but I like to think that at least on a deeper level there’s a more spiritual answer. What do you think?
Shakti Gawain : There are a couple of things I think about that. One is that I do believe that one of the major ways that we’re out of alignment with our souls is in our disconnect from nature in this culture. I feel that we have kind of lost our natural way of being connected to the planet. We need to be rooted on the planet. We experience ourselves as kind of isolated from that, and I actually think that’s a great cause of the suffering that many of us are experiencing, whether consciously or unconsciously. So I think that one of the reasons there may be a trend toward moving out of the cities, again, it may be conscious or it may be unconscious, but it is a desire to connect more with nature. And with the natural rhythms. We need that! We’ve been missing it.
Lotus Guide: Yes, we do. I feel totally different when I’m out camping or just walking here in Bidwell Park.
Shakti: Yes, you all in Chico are so lucky that you have that wonderful park. Although we’re lucky here where I live in Mill Valley because we’re near the bay and I love being near the big water. Of course my other home is in Kaua’i, where I’m really near the big water. Surrounded by it. And I love that. And yes, I have to get outside at least a little bit every day – get centered, and get connected, just get filled up.
So that’s one of the motivations. I think it is to get more connected to nature and the more natural environment. And then another motivation, I believe – again it may be conscious or unconscious for any given person – but one of the things we’re missing a lot these days is a sense of community. The natural way that humans have always connected with each other is by living close together, near each other, working together. Somehow we’ve managed to create, essentially in this last 50 years or so, an environment in which we may be living in great comfort, or even luxury, but we’re living very isolated from each other, either in the suburbs or even in the cities, where there may be a lot of people crowded together but they aren’t necessarily relating to each other in a fulfilling way. I think that there’s that longing or that yearning for something that has been very natural for us and that we’ve lost. In some of the progress that we’ve been making in other ways we’ve definitely lost some things that are very precious.
Lotus Guide: I think the word ‘progress’ could be redefined at this point in time.
Lotus Guide: When my wife and I first visited Chico, we fell in love with it. It was the community – it was the fact that you could walk down the street and say, “Hi,” and people would actually look at you and say, “Hi. How are you doing?” and wait for an answer.
Shakti: Right. Yes, they want to connect. And the other thing about Chico is you can ride your bicycle around everywhere. You can commute by bicycle. When you’re riding a bike you’re more connected to the outdoors and to other people than you are when you are stuck in your car. It might be nice to mention that my good friends Tanha & John were some of the people who helped put together the co-housing community in Chico, which I think is a wonderful model for learning how to live, even in a city or in a big town, in a way where people are really connecting with each other.
Lotus Guide: Yes, we did a meditation over there one day, and some of the people come to our house to meditate once in a while. We like the whole idea of what they’ve done there; it’s an inspiration to people looking for a nice way to live together.
Shakti : Yes, I’d love to mention that; it’s something that inspired me also. At this point I’m not living in cohousing but I would love to.
Lotus Guide: I wrote an article for the latest issue called “Islands of the Future,” taken from Ken Carey’s Starseed Transmissions . Let me just read you a little bit here. These are some of the things he says about small communities and centers: “As you reorientate toward the new way of being in the world, you will be drawn to centers where the vibrational atmosphere is more conducive to a healthy state of functioning. . . . These centers will represent the focal points around which the organs of Planetary Being will form. They will be, in a sense, islands of the future in a sea of the past. . . . These will be the first beachheads . . . the points of entry where the healing energies of transformation will be channeled.”
And that’s always struck a chord with me, because it seems to me that when people get together for the right ideas, they can receive some of this higher energy that most people just can’t seem to tune in to in their daily lives. Then it can be put out into the community in a language they can connect with. Publishing the Lotus Guide puts us in touch with a lot of people that think along these lines.
Shakti:I like to think of it simply as we all have a life force moving through us, and if we allow ourselves to feel that and open up and allow it to move through, then we have a great sense of well-being, but when we get too overly active or overly involved in certain things then we kind of lose this connection to ourselves. And we suffer.
Lotus Guide: And we forget life is a process. . . . Do you think the trend that we see in the world today to unite and come together (and also the conflict in doing so) is a reflection of what’s happening on an individual level within ourselves?
Shakti: Yes, I do. Absolutely. I think that everything in the world around us on one level is a reflection of what is going on inside of us. So each of us as an individual creates a life – we draw to us certain people and events and circumstances that reflect what’s going on inside of us, so we can literally look at our life and see a mirror of our own consciousness. And if that’s true on an individual level, it’s also true that what’s going on in the world in a bigger way is a reflection of the collective consciousness. All of us as human beings are connected by one energy and consciousness. So we all affect each other and everything that’s happening in the world affects us individually. And what we’re each doing as an individual affects what’s going on in the world.
It’s a wonderful mirroring process that, I believe, we set up to help us learn, to help us grow. So anything that’s going on, for example, with a person in my life that’s important to me is always a reflection of something that’s going on inside of me. It’s interesting to do that on a personal level – to start to look at how the people in your life reflect the different parts of you and what we might be able to learn from those things. And it’s really interesting to see the whole world that way, to see everything that’s going on out there on a bigger scale in the world, that’s being played out on the world stage. It’s really very similar to things that are going on inside each of us as individuals.
For example, a lot of us, probably most of us in our culture, have a lot of trouble accepting vulnerability of one part of us. There is a part of us that is vulnerable and has deep feelings that are very emotional, and we have not been taught to be comfortable with that part of ourselves. So most of us just bury it and we pretend to be really strong and really tough and say that things don’t bother us or that we don’t have deep feelings about things. A lot of us work that way. And unfortunately, not being in touch with your vulnerability and not learning to own it and accept it and be comfortable with it leaves you in a position where you’re liable to look at and judge other people for being vulnerable because they’re reflecting that part of yourself that you’re not comfortable with.
So that might be going on with some of us in our personal lives. If we’re not comfortable with our vulnerability, usually something comes along in life to trigger it. Like a relationship breaks up, or a health issue happens, or something forces us to acknowledge that as human beings we have vulnerabilities. We also have power, but we can’t just be powerful all the time. We have to learn how to receive and be open as well. So this is true on a large scale as well as on the individual level. In the world we can reject vulnerability and reject people who are vulnerable. Some of these events that have been happening in recent times in the world I think partly are happening in order that each of us becomes aware of our own vulnerability and learn to work with that instead of just reject it. Does this make sense?
Lotus Guide: Yes. As you say, on the world view, sometimes when I watch the news, which is something I try not to do too much, I see the same conflict in my own life on a personal level. The same conflict I have with a sister or friend has the same energetic patterns as some national conflicts.
Shakti: Absolutely. All our relationships, especially the deep ones, stir up the deepest issues for us that we need to confront and work with.
So I see some of those issues that each of us is individually dealing with as definitely being played out in a big way in the world. And so in addition to just addressing those things externally with whatever solutions we may need, we also need to look inside and see: “How is this reflecting me and what can I learn from this and how can I shift the way I am living?” So that it has an effect on everyone.
Lotus Guide: Looking at it like that, it’s like a gift.
Shakti: Yes, everything that happens to us can be looked at as a gift. Although it’s quite difficult when you’re in the middle of a hard struggle with something, it’s hard to see it as a gift, but in retrospect, we can almost always look back and say, “Oh, I see why I had to go through that.”
Lotus Guide: Sounds like the voice of experience, Shakti.
Shakti: Yes, indeed.
Lotus Guide: Do you have any ideas about why the more active type of meditations, like dance meditations for instance, seem to get better, or maybe I should say, quicker, results in the West than the more traditional Eastern meditations?
Shakti: Yes, I do have some ideas about that. I think in the Western world we have gotten overly identified with doing, and we’ve kind of forgotten about the art of being. And we don’t see value in it; we think that if you’re not doing something all of the time, being very active and producing something, then you’re sort of wasting your time. And there isn’t much value given to the necessity for just being quiet. And just resting, and just being, without a focus or a goal. At least a certain amount in our lives – we don’t need to do half and half; it’s okay if we’re doing a lot of doing, we just need some being mixed in.
And a lot of us don’t have that and we’ve never really learned how to do that. In many other cultures, and certainly in the Eastern world, there’s great value put on being, contemplating, and even withdrawing from the world at certain times or for certain periods of time. But we don’t really have that in our culture, so it’s difficult for many Westerners to learn how to sit down or lie down and just be quiet without going to sleep. We’re just not trained to do it. So I have found also, as obviously you have, that many times people can access that being stage more fully and more easily if at first you are actually doing something. If you run, or dance, or do something kind of vigorous, and let the energy release, then sometimes it’s easier to sit or lie down and then feel at ease and rest and be quiet and move inside.
But even the very actions themselves can be a meditation. For me, walking is certainly a meditation if I walk for awhile. First my mind is busy and I’m thinking about all these things and after a while that starts to fall away and I start to become very present in the moment. And that feeling of being present in the moment is being. That’s when we know we’re connecting with being energy. Even driving a car, I find, driving long distances, I will start to shift into almost an altered state or a quiet being state, where I may be thinking about certain things but mostly I’m just kind of hanging. And then, oftentimes creative ideas will come or inspirations will come or I’ll just be able to get a certain kind of breath.
Lotus Guide: Yes, I know what you mean about driving. I’ve had some wonderful drives; it seems like it gives your body just enough to do to shut it down and your mind is able to relax a little bit. We’ve had some really good results with the active meditations. I guess it’s another thing too that people are so bombarded by advertisement and mental things – we think if we don’t think, we don’t exist. And it’s hard to imagine consciousness without thinking. “I think, therefore I am” is exactly what the mind would come up with as a definition for existence.
Lotus Guide: I can’t tell you how much this means to all of us here in Chico and the North Valley, Shakti. When my wife and I moved here, we realized there are so many wonderful people and groups that are fragmented from each other. We wanted to do meditation and find all the meditation groups and we realized that a lot of the groups were difficult to find, and we thought, “Wow. This place needs a magazine.” It’s working out great so far. So many people coming to us, thanking us, and I’m sure you know what that feels like.
Shakti: Yes, that’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?
Lotus Guide: Yes. It really is.
Transformation by Shakti Gawain is available online through the Amazon.com link on the Lotus Guide Shopping page and most bookstores.
For anyone interested in ongoing co-housing projects, you can contact Lotus Guide or you can contact Tanha & John directly at 530-893-3426 www.shaktigawain.com