Karuna: Hi, I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director for Mind Oasis, and with me today is Alison and Shannon, and this is Meditation Happy Hour. So we talk about it being Tea Talk and Truth with Karuna. How are you, Alison and Shannon?
Doing well. Doing OK this morning.
Yeah, yeah, me too. I’m excited to be here.
Karuna: Great. Just tell me, where in the world are you both?
We are both in the Bay Area. I am in Oakland, Shintoism, and I’m in San Francisco. So Bernal Heights, which is formerly Aloni Territory as well. So we’re both Bay Area ladies.
Wonderful. Wonderful. Yeah. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that your sisters.
We are sisters.
Karuna: You have remarkably similar smiles. They are gorgeous. But it is fascinating just how like you could be twins with your smiles. It’s really wonderful.
Yeah. It’s a common comment of the not the smiles persay, but the twins, I think to you, depending on the day, whether or not we want to enjoy that comment or not. We like each other as sisters today. Are we grumpy today?
Karuna: So I always like to start my conversation with my guests the same way asking about what your day has looked like so far. So, Allison, do you want to tell me about your date first? Oh, yeah.
Allison: It’s been quite the day. I’m studying Sanskrit right now at UC Berkeley and we had an exam this morning. So I had spent my day reviewing Sanskrit and then studying and taking an exam. So I was able to kind of calm after that and just do some grounding from that very heady, stressful place, you know. Then spent the time in between the exam and now reviewing the values and the practices and feeling pretty good.
Karuna: Wonderful. What about you, Shannon?
Shannon: This morning, I woke up and took care of my son, Adrian. He’s about three and a half, so it involved a lot of wrestling and battling legs and feeding him and Cheerios and tea. But he’s jolly. And we had a fun Halloween weekend. So he was kind of driving on that and then us getting in the space of this course and mentally preparing for this really intense week. I had a student texted me a picture of a cosmic rainbow heart that she had made to prepare her mind for the election. And I was like, well, I think I want to make one, too. So I spent the morning making a new cosmic rainbow heart and I centered it on the VII’s. So I sat down and I meditated. And I can use any kind of meditation with the cosmic rainbow hearts. But today it was just more like what needs repair and how do I strengthen my boundary? So it’s really checking into my field and imagining, like kind of sewing up the holes, like mending it and smoothing it out a lot so that it was really clear to me, like I’m sitting on the ground and I’m in this container of that. I get to decide what comes out of it. And then I like I used the viu colors to sew and stitch it together in my head. So I made this heart and then I felt really good and it helped me ground to prepare for this course. And then I spent the time after that kind of preparing our workbook for this course. So Alison and I have spent a lot of time talking and researching and honing our resources, but now I’m kind of distilling it into a workbook for the class and now I’m here and happy to see you and be with you.
Karuna: Wonderful. Well, since you went there, I want to get back to your Cosmic Heart project. But I think because you’ve mentioned the course a few times, you both are offering a series on Mind Oasis called Challenging Emotions into Wise Actions. And then the subtitle is The five Yogic Wins as Tools of Transformation. So I thought we could maybe break it apart because I think people will find it really interesting. First of all, more challenging emotions are sort of like the emotion dejour like I think we’re all unless you’re really asleep under a rock. It would be difficult not to feel challenging emotions right now. And then to say into wise actions like what what does that mean exactly? So maybe we could talk about the title of your series first and then we’ll get into the subtitle. So Alison or Shannon, whoever wants to kind of take it away.
Shannon: I can take it, if that’s cool, awesome, and then you take the next one. Yeah, this is a period of intensely challenging emotions and I think what this course is seeking to provide a space for is primarily #1 creating a safe space, a safe community that we can come together and even talk about our emotions. Right. So if we want to think about how we take care of our emotions, if we bottle them and isolate and don’t have a community to share our hearts, then it can become a little bit toxic. It can become kind of overwhelming. So that is the foundation of what this intention is in our course. And then also cShallenging emotions on their own, there’s nothing intrinsically bad about a strong emotion, there is a lot of information and emotions, and Alison and I both have a blend of backgrounds. One is we’re both training and somatic experiencing or cymatics, which involve understanding that an emotion is a combination of both a thought and a felt sense. And it’s when that felt sense becomes overwhelming that we go and we kind of go into like a habitual reaction or maybe a less considered reaction. And maybe that works sometimes. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s necessary, maybe it’s not. And what yoga is, what somatics help us understand is how are we experiencing the emotion as a felt sense as well? And how can we expand our capacity to tolerate that discomfort until that reactivity? That is the initial kind of first like knee jerk response settles a little bit and more options become available. So when I think about like, why is action versus unwise action, I can just speak from a lot of personal experience of making a lot of unwise choices in my life. I think being unwise for me is when I react and I think there’s only one solution. And I’m not grounded and not for expanded enough or aware enough or in my body enough to know that actually there’s many, many more ways to approach the situation that I’m in. So if I can and that for me has been about coming back into my body, recognizing when I’m triggered and using that as a signal to employ my healing techniques, healing devices, my practices, etc.. And then Yoga suggests, and I think it’s also a nice experience, that wisdom is not somewhere outside of ourselves, right? Maybe we look at Dharma or we have teachers or we have rituals that help us awaken our wisdom, but that we really believe and we want to empower whoever takes this course or whoever we ever engage with to understand that if you wait, if you settle, if you listen. Your own answers are going to come up for you, right, and more, and once you can see more capacity or more options, then you can choose the one that you want.
Karuna: That is so beautiful, Alison, do you have anything you want to add to that?
Allison: I think that Shannon just captured it so beautifully. I would just reinforce the importance of that because that’s where all of our choice comes back to us, we’re able to just move away from experiencing this emotion that feels so overwhelming that there’s kind of no space for thought and our prefrontal cortex like our thinking part of our mind to come back in. That is, if A, then B and. This class is just oriented towards being one of hopefully many tools that ultimately you can use. Give some space to that pause, because like Shannon was saying, that’s where all of your ability to come back to yourself, to find your grounding, to act with wisdom and compassion is able to come back in. I think I don’t want to add too much thought, Shannon said, because it was so complete. But when I think about just that kind of importance of that dot, dot, dot, this is just cannot be overstated. How important is now?
Karuna: Wonderful. So then how about Allison? Do you want to talk a little bit about the five yogic wins?
Allison: Yeah so in yoga anatomy, and I don’t want to say just yoga anatomy, I think the other traditions would hold similarly. It’s just we’ve happened to study yoga the most. There are different layers of our body and we have this physical body, sometimes people call, you know, our meat suit that we have, but we also have essentially superimposed over it a subtle body which contains different layers. But one of them is our prominent player and part of that product layer, in that product layer, there are just these winds, they’re called values, and the values are associated with a location in that body and that energy body. They’re associated with an emotion. Or set of emotions, and there are associated with a movement, a direction of movement and also with color and basically, the idea is that if there’s a shadow side to the emotions and then there’s a more wise side to the emotion and when you work with that energy, you can help transform the shadow side of that emotion into the why side of that emotion. And that’s something that yoga beautifully does in so many ways, right in the description of the course, we said there are many ways of accessing this and one of the ways is through using the bios. Right. I mean, you could work just with thought on this kind of transformation. You could work with the body, that could be your entry point to and we’re kind of working with the fire, the energy part of it and focusing on that and of course, there’s overlap, right, because the layers are so interconnected. But we’re just introducing this as a means of accessing this transformation because we think it’s just a means that people are maybe less familiar with them it’s so, so, so powerful. I’m of the belief and I’m a psychotherapist and somatic, so I love talking about it, and also I am of the belief that not everything can get the most movement by approaching it and talking first. There are some things that really needs to be space for you to feel and for you to have the capacity to kind of work in the non-thinking place, to feel some loosening, to feel some change, and then maybe later you can process it with words. Yeah, this course is just an offering of tools that can help you understand how to enter through that medium.
Karuna: So for someone who’s new knew to the idea of the values and yogic approach to emotions, will folks be moving? Will you be talking, teaching? Will you be breaking out? What could someone expect?
Shannon: Every day or so, as Allison mentioned, we’re approaching it as individuals that have many layers of being, and so we want to kind of systematically provide a ritual that addresses each of those layers of being from an outer world. We want to help people create a sacred space. We want to identify how to create boundaries. We want to get people in touch with their community. Right. And create community. And then from a body level, we’re going to be showing we’re going to be building somatic body awareness through guided meditations that are like slight triggers of uncomfortable emotions. So, for example, like one week we could address, like, confusion. OK, so there’s a meditation on confusion and what does it feel like to be confused? And we’re not going to go to the most confused place we’ve ever been in our life, just going to get a little taste and flavor of it to understand and check in with what happens in my body when I feel confused. So it expands that awareness of, oh, it’s just a thought or I’m trapped and stuck in this space. There’s all this information here. And when I’m confused, is there some part of my body that doesn’t feel confused or doesn’t feel as triggered or is activated, what happens when I go there and then check back into the feeling of confusion and the confusion? All those feelings will shift and change and they’ll get lessened as we learn how to tolerate them by finding refuge places in our body. And then from an energetic perspective, we’ll take that same emotion and weave it into a movement, practice a visualization, practice of meditation, practice related to a viu. OK, so with confusion with, say, Vianna VIU, which is an all pervading white wind that we see move throughout our body. Right. We see it in all of our body and we move and we roll our joints and we want to get dance and flow to move it. And then we’ll check back into what is the felt sense of knowing. Right. How do I know when I know something through that guided meditation and then kind of tie it all together by creating a marker, a cosmic heart or some marker of experience to bring it again outside of our body. So we’re kind of going in through the layers and out through the layers as a point of curiosity. So it’s all of those things. It’s all of those layers that we really want to work and make available to people. Because what I find and Allison, maybe you do agree or disagree, but throughout this pandemic, I’ve needed every single one of those things at some point in time, maybe today it’s about my safe space, maybe tomorrow it’s about my value, maybe the next day it’s about, man, how do I work with my confusion? And so we really want to build a library of healing practices throughout all these layers for people. Yeah, amazing.
Karuna: So I was I just had this thought as I hope I can attend, I have to look at my schedule. But I just had this thought that for those of us who are in the healing arts, who are meditation teachers, who are yoga teachers, it seems like this would be an amazing continuing education possibility as well. Like, I was just thinking, oh, it would be so sweet to be able to incorporate into my teachings some little dances with the values. And I haven’t explored them since my two hundred hours, which would have been like 10 years ago. So it’s like there’s also kind of a possibility of not just working with your own personal stuff, but also to be able to take what you learn and then to kind of spread the seeds for others as well. So, Shannon, behind you, for those of those folks who are listening, is this beautiful love yourself sign. And then there are all of these gorgeous triangles with really beautiful images on them, and you refer to them as cosmic hearts. And I know that you have the Cosmic Heart project. So now share your heart project. So will you tell us all about the cosmic hearts and share your heart project?
Shannon: Sure. It’s an ever expanding and wildly open system of a project, so I’ll do my best to kind of capture it for you. And this is a project that weaves together, I call it a mind body model for human connection. Thanks, Allison. I think she gave me that title. We worked on it for a while. Yeah, it’s a model for human connection. And so what each one of these things are called is a cosmic rainbow heart. And this is the distillation, each one of these is like the distillation of a spiritual practice or a meditative session, so in making each one of these behind the scenes is a process of an individual sitting down and undertaking a specific meditation. What that meditation is it can be very targeted, it can be very open, it’s really up to the facilitator or the user to decide which what they want to do. But what comes up in that meditation? Can be visual sometimes, right, and it can be words, it can be, yeah, whatever self arising wisdom is coming up in that moment is going to be captured through creating this heart in like 20 minutes. And then on the back is a letter. And here I have a mantra on the back of my honk honk sha la la barria, which is the mantra associated with the winds. But I have on the back of these, so I’ve made this in the beginning of the pandemic. For thirty six days, so for thirty six days, I hiked up Bernal Hill in San Francisco at sunrise and I watched the sunrise and I did a meditation on virtue. So each one of these is a different virtue that I thought about someone in my life that taught me the meaning of that virtue. So it’s this idea that, in the view of a mandala, is that we’re in this life to learn what we need to learn to awaken. And one of the key views of a mandala is that the world is a teacher. So I kind of scanned through my life, who’s taught me generosity, who’s taught me kindness, who’s taught me truth, and so then created a letter of gratitude for them. And that’s what the process is. That was really helpful for me to have a ritual that I was doing every day to be like connect with the sunlight. And then actually after what I’ve discovered is as far as healing traumatic events or any kind of healing, there’s a meaning component, a meaning component that helps us resolve our grief. Like this looks like a really bright, happy thing. But there’s actually a lot of grief. There’s a lot of challenging emotions in this mandala. But the lasting imprint that I have from that difficult time is that now I have a piece of art. I have something that is transformed into something beautiful like this one above my head here. This was made for six days, a six day sword in our six day practice when I was really sick and I was in bed. And I have a hard time. I have a lot of my afflictions come up when I get sick. And so every night I would sit and create this mandala. And it’s actually based on like an Iranian rug pattern. And Allison and I are half Iranian, kind of exploring my identity and also healing. And it helped me instead of having the lasting imprint of, oh, my God, I was sick. That was awful. And I’m a terrible person because I couldn’t do anything. I’m like, OK, I have this marker of my experience that is beautiful and positive. If that makes sense, so, yeah, it’s a project that I’ve been writing a book on for the last two years, and one day it will be a kit that people can come and make their own cosmic rainbow hearts. And I’ve used it across the country and internationally with groups, with small groups. So it’s really flexible how these cosmic rainbow hearts work. And I will say one more thing. The main practice of the Shoah project is actually share your heart, so what it’s trying to do is create a vehicle for communities or groups to come together around an intention, around one meditation, create this expression, and then have meaningful dialogue that is heart centered, that’s in a safe space, which is, you know, when I look at the landscape of how we communicate as human beings today.I would like it if we slowed down a little bit and we’re more thoughtful with how we talk to each other. So that’s what I’m trying to put out in the world. It’s beautiful.
Allison: Yeah, so that’s a share your heart project. I mean, for anybody listening, Shannon is creating what she’s already created is truly amazing. Like, so beautiful. Honestly, some of the artwork that is on her website is I think she’s eventually going to be in a museum. You know, I think it’s really beautiful and it’s clear that CNN is tapping into something that’s beyond. Comprehension, so I think. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Karuna: Yeah. Shannon, what’s your website?
Shannon: It’s to share your ShareYourHeartproject.com.
Karuna: Allison, have you shared your heart? Have you done cosmic care?
Allison: Well, I have. And I can really attest to it. Shannon is saying is that at the end of an image is just a different way of accessing your emotions and your feelings, and first of all, you have something physical that you’re holding, which is already grounding and we present it and it just pulls you more energetically into your heart already and it’s really helpful. It’s helped me move through some tough relations with people, you know, have that process, that is the movement of being centered and moving your incidentally, this part of your body would be connected to, you know, why you write like all of this stuff that it just kind of helps you channel and be with them and in a different way. And then afterwards you have something to look at and you have that connection and I’ve definitely felt that I’ve had the privilege of doing several parts over the years that Shannon has had on this project and can really a test transform its transformative power? So take our course, but even if you don’t check out that website site.
Karuna: Allison, I just want to say that you what you were referring to was just for people who are listening that the arm, right through your little heart chakra in the middle of your palm, connected to your heart and to your point of view. So as you’re making things with your hands and with your arm, you’re tapping into that energy, the energy of the heart. That’s what you were referring to, right? Exactly. Very cool. No, no problem. Hey, that’s what I’m here for. So before I get to my final question that I ask all my guests, and it’s the softball of all softballs, I just want to say that your course is going to be on Tuesday mornings and it starts on the 10th of November. And I think it’s a six week series. And each session is two hours and on my way since we always record sessions. So if somebody has to miss a week or two, they can go back and check out the materials. Of course, it’s more fun to be there in person, but you can find more information at Mindoasis.org And you’ll see there’s a tab that says Learn and under learn as workshops in series and you’ll see these ladies beautiful faces. So again, it’s challenging emotions into wise actions. The five yogic wins as tools of transformation with Allison and Shannon, Sisters of the Heart. So we like to say that we did. Did anyone have tea? Do you have tea? It’s tea, talk and truth. And I realized I’m sitting here dehydrated water. Wonderful. A tea cup. Hang up. OK, Alison’s got the or. Excuse me. Shannon’s got a tea cup. There you go. OK, we definitely got through talk so now we need to get to the truth. So Allison, what’s your truth?
Allison: What’s my truth? I think I’m still discovering in my face that I believe that we’re all here for a purpose and I’m hopeful that each day I get closer to understanding what it is.
Karuna: Shannon, what’s your truth?
Shannon: My truth. It’s so funny, it’s hard because I’ve been writing about how we live in a post truth society. And I think for me, it feels like what’s true or what’s my truth is to be discovered through what’s coming up in my body. And and to use sensation as a way to discover what’s true for me and also to start to learn to sense whether or not something someone says or some idea that’s being presented as seems true. So, yeah, I think it’s about. What’s true is, is what’s now.
Karuna: Awesome, ladies, thank you so much for joining me. There will be links up for your course. There’ll be links up to your website, Shannon. And I just want to say thank you, Allison. And thank you, Shannon, for joining me. Thank you so much.
Was such a pleasure and such a delight. Thank you for the work you do with Mind Oasis is such a gift to society.
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