In this episode of Tea, Talk, and Truth with Karuna, Deirdre and Karuna take a deep dive into stories that inspire change, the importance of sunlight, and the difference between the voice of an academic and a voice of ancient wisdom traditions.
Karuna: Hi, I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director of Mind Oasis, and this is meditation, happy hour, tea talk, and truth with Karuna. And my guest today is Deirdre Faye. How are you?
Deirdre: Doing? Really good Karuna. Great to be with you.
Karuna: It’s good to be with you. Where in the world are you these days?
Deirdre: I live in the south of France in Nice.
Karuna: Beautiful and how are things there in this pandemic, post-pandemic, pre-pandemic? Endemic world.
Deirdre: Gosh, well, we’ve been doing really good because France is pretty well vaccinated, but, you know, now with the new variant. So things are getting a little bit snug, but nothing like it was before, so.
Karuna: Good, you don’t sound like you have a French accent, which makes me think you did not grow up in France. Tell us a little bit about your journey.
Deirdre: Well, I actually grew up- my father is Irish and so I’ve always had an Irish passport and I grew up actually in Europe. But then when I went to school, I went to school in the states and lived in the states, mostly in the Boston area. And that’s where I, you know, did all my yoga, in India and in Kripalu Center, which was in Western Mass. So that’s. And then recently, well, about five years ago, my husband and I started thinking about there was like a push inside, you know, like I felt being called to to move outside of Boston, but I didn’t know where. And so we started looking at, literally all over the world. We even thought about India at one point and. Then different places in the U.S. and nothing was right. And then in the pandemic, I can’t even tell you exactly how it happened, but we. We ended up here. I wish there was a clear cut path. But I think it’s one thing I love so much is when I listen to my heart, it’s not easy because it’s not a clear path, but it’s like it’s like testing, testing or feeling. I call it living the brail way. And probably, gosh, maybe 30 years ago I led a workshop and there was a woman that was blind in it. And at the end of the workshop, she asked if she could braille me, and that had never happened to me. Nobody. And it is one of the most intimate experiences ever. If somebody comes up and they these light hands touch your face all over. And I remember just crying at the intimacy and I thought,
Karuna: This story is going to- is totally choking me up. I’m very tender today.
Deirdre: Oh yeah. Well, our hearts are brailing each other. Karuna.
Karuna: Mm hmm.
Deirdre: But it’s that level of connection when somebody wants to attune. You know, and sometimes we do it through a felt sense of touch. Sometimes we just do a heart to heart. But it reminded me so much of what life is about is if we surrender, if we really let go. It’s not a. At least this is my experience, there’s not. It’s the clouds don’t part and say this is where you go, it’s like one little step after another, just like sensing, if this right, this is right, is this right? And then we get a little bit of a clue, like take a left turn here and take a right turn here. And um like at one point, because my husband’s mother lives in Paris, we were thinking about Paris, but it’s like it’s too gray- Paris, is beautiful but it’s gray in the winter, and we both knew we needed light. You understand that one,
Karuna: I do very much so. I lived in Aspen, Colorado, for a period of time, not because I could afford Aspen, Colorado, but because my son and I wanted to snowboard. So we had, you know, there’s this thing you do if you’re not Aspen light, you move into a very tiny place that’s as affordable as you can get and then you just kind of swap up as things become available. And I had swapped up because we were getting closer to where I was working and closer to the slopes themselves, but I didn’t realize that the apartment was dark all the time. And here I am in Aspen snowboarding. It’s beautiful, it’s sunny, and I just kept feeling. Not depressed, exactly, but just kind of blue, and I couldn’t figure it out, and then it dawned on me, Oh my God, I’m in this home and I was working out of my home, so I was in it a lot, you know, and it’s just always dark. And so I’ve had to really be careful and look at like sun patterns wherever I live. Since then,
Deirdre: That’s so important. And like you think in Aspen, you can just walk outside and there it is. But but that’s not enough. Sometimes we need it closer. I totally relate.
Karuna: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. You have a book, maybe of more than one book. But the book I’m
Deirdre: have a few books, writing
Karuna: Good. Tell us about the few books, but I know that when you were on Mind Oasis in the past as an author, we talked about becoming safely embodied and that work to me is a personal interest, and I think that our listeners will love to hear about it as well. So tell us a little bit about you. Tell us about the books.
Deirdre: Well, I tell you, when I was in the yoga ashram, my own history, my own trauma history came up, and that was such an awakening for me because I didn’t know I had a trauma history, in part because I was numbed out. I had numbed myself. And so I went from being able to do yoga and meditation for hours a day to suddenly never wanted to get out of, you know, out of my duvet. And at the same time, I was also teaching a lot like people from small weekends to large weekends to week long retreats. And it was hard, and I thought, how did it go from being one way easy, comfortable to all of a sudden, not so easy? And that’s really begun my journey of piecing it together. I thought, how come if the texts all say that the body is the temple, the soul? How come I’m not feeling that way anymore? How did it go from being that way to not? And I tried to piece it together, and this is really when. Trauma treatment was just starting, so this would have been in the 80s, early 80s, and so we were just getting to know all this and I got myself into therapy and just trying to figure it out. And I remember having this discussion with one of my main teachers at the time and thinking. He said, well, at some point you have to do this alone. And I thought, something’s not right here, you know, like I felt like inside of me. This is such hard work, like if I’m going to do this painful work, I’m going to do it.
Deirdre: So that we can all help each other like that was so clear to me, it was like not worth it otherwise. And that’s where I really started applying myself. I started looking at the texts and saying, how OK, this is what you say here. Now, how can I apply it? And that became my life’s work. And when I left, then I left to go get for the study. I went to get my social work degree and then I ended up. At one of the large teaching hospitals in the Boston area, psychiatric hospitals, and somebody had been to one of my workshops and asked me to come and teach on the associated units at night. Yoga and meditation, so I thought, OK, you know, it’s really committed because I thought this, this helped me, how do I now help other people? So I started just trying things out and realizing like what had been hard for me, but easy for me. It was really hard for many people and I thought, OK, how do I break it down even further? And somewhere in there, Bessel van der Kolk heard about me and invited me to join his team and then asked me to lead a group. And this was way before body stuff was being, you know, there was much going on at all. And so that’s where I created the becoming safely embodied skills. And then my colleague Janina, who’s also my friend, wanted she would send her clients there and her clients were getting better, faster. And she said, What are you doing? And so she came. And actually, we started leading the groups together because we had so many going on at one time.
Deirdre: And so that really started me off. And then somewhere in there, that would have been in the 90s and then somewhere in there I started training. I went to C.E, continuing education workshop on attachment, and I sat in the back of the room and my mentor, Dan Brown, started teaching. I was like, Oh my gosh, this is the missing piece. This is why trauma doesn’t heal because of the underlying attachment wounds. So that became a 13 year study with him almost weekly for years and years and years. And then a group of us co-wrote a book together called Attachment Disturbances for Adults, which is really understanding all the literature and all the research so that so becoming Safely Embodied before the Attachment Disturbances, I had started writing another book, Norton Publishing had asked me to write a book about yoga and meditation for trauma. So I said, Well, only do it if I can include attachment stuff. So I have a book called Attachment Based Yoga and Meditation for Trauma, and that has a lot of – it’s a skill based book, too, but it has a lot of research in it. And then the Attachment Disturbances in Adults that I co-wrote with a group of other – small group of people who work together and then a manual – the Safely Embodied Manual. So that’s a lot that’s gone on. But it’s all, I think as you do so beautifully Karuna about serving people and helping people take whatever step they can, not the right step, but a step and then learn from that step and begin to, OK, how how do I sense my way to the next step?
Karuna: I love that. So I have to ask, you’ve been at this for decades? And. Did you ever feel like a phony? Did you ever have that like? That moment where you’re. You’re. In front of a group of people, but you’re in it so much yourself that you’re having a hard time like. Discussing what it is that you, you know, to be true, but then also internally, you’re at a place where you’re in it with them. Do you have any experiences like that?
Deirdre: Sounds like you have a great story behind that Karuna that we should hear… You want to say anything about that?
Karuna: Well, yeah. You know, my name is my chosen name. It was given to me when I took my refuge and Bodhisattva vows. Both of my names had the idea or Karuna in it, and so when I took my bodhisattva vows, I decided that I wanted to. Change my name to Karuna from Kelly, which Kelly and is a Gaelic means warrior and which is pretty fun, but Karuna is compassion and compassion is difficult for me. I can get the fierce compassion down pretty well, but you know, a gentler, softer compassion for me, I find difficult. And it’s been where a lot of my work is. And increasingly, I’m realizing also towards myself. And so, you know, sometimes like this past week, my usual Thursday morning class, I actually decided not to teach because I was just really in it. And I didn’t feel like I could show up and have wisdom come out of my mouth because I just couldn’t quite find. That point of wisdom.
Deirdre: Oh, man, I can relate 100 percent, I think for me, a part of how it showed up was, you know, having been so immersed in that ancient wisdom traditions. And then I could just hear the words in my mouth trying to fit into the academic world. You know that and I certainly can, and I can speak the lingo. But it’s not my first language. My first language is the language of the heart and being connected. And so. So the place where it’s been hard for me is translating. How do you trust, how do you surrender? How do you really let go? Into a protocol based world that is now the psychotherapy world, psychotherapy isn’t about really trusting your own inner wisdom. We talk it, but we don’t. Often we talk about it. I don’t know that we actually live it. We we get afraid. I think we think there’s a right answer, which is what the protocol driven world is all about is here is the way you do it. And and yet to really access our wisdom is to be in the muck that you just talked about is to be in it and to let it clean us out so that we can let more light, more divinity. No more the spirit. Just move out of us and. We don’t we don’t have an easy language for that, I think, in the western world. So good for you for taking time to listen to yourself and to say no, you know?
Karuna: What made me think of it, especially was because you said that you had found yourself kind of curled up under the duvet and I did, I went back to bed and I just placed a hand on my belly and my heart and my dogs were with me and I just there were no answers. In fact, I’m not sure that there was even a problem. There was just a. The world is hard right now, and I need to just be, which is is not.
You know, you really just touched on something in the West, I don’t know that we value. Just being I grew up in a very Germanic family, so, you know, and I’m a type a and I’m a go getter, and I just had a wonderful, beautiful spiritual friend last night say, you know, you can’t approach your spiritual life the way that you run a business, Karuna.
Deirdre: Isn’t that true? But what if we did Karuna? And what if what if that is the invitation for people like you and I and everyone is to live that integrated path? And I’m asking this for myself in the moment, not like I have an answer is what if I really trust and surrender? That this is what’s happening and just let go and let myself be led from within and not know all the time like I’m thinking about, I have a call with my community after this, and I’m not sure I usually I have some idea of what and I don’t have and it’s like, OK, so how do we be together and just be in a tune and connect? And that’s what I’m going to do, because I I didn’t have something planned out. But I really now I think I’m speaking out of school, so don’t hold me to what I’m about to say, but I think that’s what part of the pandemic has been about is wrenching us from our known ways of being and asking us to trust and surrender and let something else come through.
Karuna: I think it’s Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche that talks about the groundlessness. And, you know, that can the groundlessness of like new love and new adventures that ground listeners can feel really exciting. But the the groundlessness of like the things that we kind of thought we were holding on to, I’m just thinking through like the ability to go into a grocery store without a mask, know that there’s going to be supplies there. That was I mean, I was born in nineteen seventy five. So in my lifetime, that has always been the case. There’s been the food and there’s been, you know, all of those good things. And I grew up in a middle class family, so we always had food on our shelves. But but that moment, like now, almost two years ago where we were told to please stay home and you would go into a grocery store and the shelves were empty. And. Um, and you know, it hasn’t and then, you know, being masked up ever since. Doesn’t matter about the mask, mask or no mask, but what to me, there’s this fundamental shift that we’re all in. And then also trying to just do some of our normal things within this context of sort of a groundlessness. And I have a lot of tools and I find it difficult sometimes.
Deirdre: Mm-hmm. That’s navigating from a different place. Mm hmm. I get it. And I think that’s really true. I think that’s the wisdom of the moment is how do we do that? And. Personally, I think we should beware of people who say there’s an answer to it, because I don’t think that we know it as people how to do it, this is new. So can we respect that? And allow, allow that next step to arise in front of us without knowing.
Karuna: Yeah, that’s the trick. Did you tell us about your community? How do people connect with you and your work? You’re an amazing human being, and I want everyone to know about what you’re up to in this world.
Deirdre: Very kind. Well. I don’t know how many years ago we started an online community just to practice community for people to integrate psycho educational, psycho spiritual work, and it’s called a safely embodied learning community, and that’s basically what we do. We meet twice a month and the goal is just to keep reminding people that they have the wisdom within. And how do we access that because it’s so easy as we all know to fall into the shit stream of trauma or woundedness. And yet, you know, as we know from the wisdom traditions, we have that wealth, we have that capacity inside. We just have to keep clearing the decks. We know what it’s like, you know, we forget. You and I, we both forget all of us forget.
Karuna: I’m in the shit stream at the moment. So yes, I really understand. We forget. Trust me, I have completely forgotten this week.
Deirdre: It happens. Exactly, exactly. That’s why we need people around us to say, that’s right, you’re in the shit stream, and that’s not all there is. It’s not all there is. And how do we remember and how do we reconnect? And so that’s what we do. And I meet with them and I have seen glorious evolutions with people as they become more themselves and listen to themselves or they support each other like it’s beautiful. It’s one of the reasons I you know, don’t retire, it’s because it’s like there’s there’s a gift that’s part of my own bodhisattva vows to return to give back as much as I can.
Karuna: The power of community cannot be understated. And as an only child. And as a go getter who likes to accomplish things on her own, it’s interesting to me how. Community is just where it is at. And you can be yourself within community. You can still have that individuality, but to be in community and to just see another person’s face and to know that they’ve been in the shit stream before too. To me, I find so helpful.
Deirdre: I’m with you 100 percent, and I think I did not have that when I was in my healing. I certainly had it in the yoga community and the meditation communities, but those people didn’t always speak. The healing fits that I needed because so much of healing that we’ve known about our yoga meditation was all about. You know, being in a better place quicker. You know, we used to call premature transcendence. And, you know, I couldn’t, I didn’t. Nobody taught me how to do that. Like here I was in the shit stream and here was the possibility. But nobody showed me the little steps along the way to get there. And so I think that’s what you and I are both joined together and doing, is creating those those steps so people aren’t left in those places.
Karuna: Yeah. One of the things that I’m working on right now, mostly in practice, a little bit on paper, but what I’m wanting to do is to take the traditional nine stages of meditation as laid out by, you know, the Buddha and Chula das John Yeats, who passed away recently. He did a great job in his book The Mind Illuminated, I think, in showing through Samatha practices how to get from point zero, which is just get your asana on the cushion, as I call it, through what one would say is like samadhi or meditative absorption or transcendence, whatever you want to call it. And on Mind Oasis. We have two inversions. We have a basic immersion and there’s a teacher training component, and then we have an advanced immersion. And through that advanced immersion, I’ve been picking apart sort of like the jewels because the mind illuminated is a tome. It’s like a 400 page book, right? And an intricate like there’s just so many little tiny steps, so I’m trying to pick those jewels and then I’m I want to rework it into like a hundred page book that’s like. How do you get from over here to over here, but then from a more defined feminine perspective, like what you’re talking about, like that the heart language? These practices are designed to open up your heart, but I don’t think. I think because they have kind of a young, you know, achievement a get here and go to there, I’m trying to look at it as more of a spiral as more of an upward movement of the heart.
Deirdre: I cannot wait for you to keep putting this together. So exciting. I want to know about it.
Karuna: We need it. I think that we talk about meditation. I think we sit and we think we’re meditating, and I’m pretty convinced most of us aren’t meditating. Actually, it’s interesting. It’s having now gone. I think we’ve had about 40 people go through the basic immersion, and I have, I don’t know, eight or so in the advanced and just watching my own practice and how by taking these little jewels and applying them has really changed my practice in a potent way. It’s like, I wonder if I was really practicing for the decade prior or if I was just practicing for this next practice.
Deirdre: Right. But a good point. Isn’t that true often that those early practice stages are setting us up to have the next practice?
Karuna: So if people want to practice with you, which everyone should, how how do we connect with you? Where do we find you? What are the workshops that you have coming up with? What? What are we doing with you?
Deirdre: How do we get? Gosh, I don’t know that right now I’m trying to think what I have going on.
Karuna: Well, you’re you’re at dfay.com. Is that right?
Deirdre: Dfay.com. And one of the things I’m interested in right now is helping people amplify their voices to have people feel that they have something to say to contribute. And I really believe that we all do. And so in January, we’re going to be offering this three month program of just how do you listen to yourself? Put it together and put it out there. And that’s. You know, I feel I feel like none of us can do this alone. This is why we need each other and how do we create space for each other so that there’s room for all of us?
Karuna: Awesome. Deirdre, what’s your truth?
Deirdre: Oh, my gosh, I don’t know. Maybe the only thing is this is what I’ve been meditating on is that I want to be as close to love as I can. I just had a friend die, I found out that, you know, in April she went into the hospital, she had something going on with her stomach and she didn’t know what it was. And they kept her for a month and she ended up having stage four cancer and she just passed away. Died left the planet. And I just thought, you know, it’s so close. This is so you know, this life is close. How do I get so close to love? So close to love that it is. That is what that is, that is that I don’t even know, I don’t have an answer to that. I want to be close to love. I love to burn me up and to be in relationship with it in that way. That makes sense? But that’s what I want.
Karuna: I think it makes a lot of sense. I think it’s what we all want. It’s just some of us don’t know how to articulate it. I could articulate it. I don’t know how to do it. I mean, I just, you know, these baby steps like, can I just not react when someone cuts me off? Or can I just find kinder words to say the same thing? Or could I just have a day where my husband and I don’t fight with one another? Or if we do that, we’re fair. And it’s like, But I want burnt love to burn me up. That’s all I want to be as love. I, I want to be compassion. The aspiration and the implementation. Deidre sometimes is too far apart.
Deirdre: And that’s why you’re doing the inquiry that you are, and that’s why we need to hear more from you as you really let that inquiry move through you.
Karuna: You’re just a wonderful human being. Thank you, Deidre, for being on meditation, happy hour, tea-talk and truth with Karuna. I admire the work that you’re up to in this world and you can keep this dear woman at dfay.com. It’s just the letter d f a y dot com. So I’ll go over and sign up for the three months of of finding your voice. I need to find my voice. I want to do it with, you know.
Karuna: The last time we talked, I said to you afterwards privately that I need you in my life and then life got busy. So I better go do it right away. So I don’t lose the thread.
Deirdre: We’ll make a way. We haven’t said anything up together yet, so we’ll do that and love to have you there, for sure.
Karuna: Awesome. And Deidre’s book Becoming Safely Embodied is an amazing read, and there’s also a workbook. Yes?
Deirdre: Yes. And the attachment based yoga meditation. If people want something like that,
Karuna: Yeah, I, I’ll be in contact with you. I think we had talked about this, but we need some, some wisdom from you for our immersion.
Deirdre: Oh, cool.
Karuna: Cool. Yeah, awesome. Ok, so you can find – Mind Oasis at MindOasis.org. You can find Deidre at dfay.com. Thank you, honey. Have a great rest of your day.
Deirdre: Thank you, dear.
Show Notes and Links
http://dfay.com – Connect with Deirdre
http://MindOasis.org/learn – Connect with the MindOasis Community and Karuna
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