Rahi Chun on how authenticity, healing and spirituality pertain to great writing in Hollywood

December 16th, 2014

In a recent interview for Authentic Listening Rahi Chun chatted with Jen Grisanti, Author, Story Consultant, Independent Producer, former VP of Current Programming at CBS/Paramount and former Head of Current Programming at Spelling Television. In that interview Jen speaks about the importance of authenticity, healing, and spirituality as they pertain to great writing, and the ways in which her practices have nourished her path as she moved from overseeing scripted series at Spelling and CBS/Paramount to creating Jen Grisanti Consultancy.

You can watch part one of that interview below. Part two of their interview is available at http://www.authenticlistening.com/home.html

Rahi Chun is the creator of the Authentic Listening Series. The Authentic Listening Series is a web site that features video interviews with leaders in our entertainment industry who discuss candidly how listening to their authenticity and inner truth informs, nourishes, and influences their outer professional lives. I invited Rahi to contribute an excerpt to Spiritual Media Blog to share why he created the Authentic Listening Series. Below is his response…

“As I was meeting with entertainment leaders about producing and co-collaborating on “conscious media” projects, I found myself consistently inspired and fascinated by those whose inner journey of listening to Spirit is being reflected in their outer entertainment endeavors. I wanted to shine a spotlight on these entertainment leaders and their inner journeys of consciousness as a source of inspiration, as well as a celebration, and in doing so, inviting us all to give ourselves the permission to live, express and celebrate our authenticity as Spiritual Beings having a human experience. The result is the Authentic Listening Series at www.authenticlistening.com


How to Live in the NOW

December 4th, 2014

20140912_190606This is a multi-part series by Neville Berkowitz on How to Live in the NOW

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

-Rudyard Kipling

In writing How to Live in the Now (PersonalEmpowerment.co) I was attempting to understand this concept which Eckhart Tolle had made popular in spiritual and similar circles when he wrote- The Power of Now, which I personally found heavy going. His follow up Practicing the Power of Now was amazing for me to understand the concept.

However, even with this knowledge inside my head, I was still struggling to experience what it meant to be in the Now. I wanted the feeling of it. The experiential knowledge of knowing when I was in the Now and also when I thought I was but it turns out I wasn’t.

Being a researcher at heart, and professionally as a Global Real Estate Economist, I decided to read all I could get my hands on so I could attempt to perfect this supposedly utopian state of Nirvana, of being in the Now.

I must admit I had help! For reasons I won’t go into here, I feel the presence of strong Guidance in my life. If you want to find out more , please visit my spiritual website, GuideSpeak.com.

In writing this article I am trusting this Guidance to assist me.

Let’s begin with the WHAT of the Now.

I believe that the Now is not a time but a space- God’s space or if you would prefer The Source’s space. The Now is the space where you will connect with The Source or Oneness if you prefer. This space is eternal and omnipresent. By that I mean it is the only time there is to affect anything in your life. You can only use the only real power you have- the power of active choice- in this moment of Now.

You cannot change your mind to wear the red dress yesterday. You cannot decide to apply for a new job tomorrow. You can only make that active choice in the Now.

WHAT is with you as you make that active choice Now? God/Source/Oneness/Jesus/Buddha/Whatever Label you are comfortable with. The Energy is WHAT it is, what we call it doesn’t matter to the Energy or Vibration. If your favourite radio station is on 101.1 FM and the radio station is bought by some new investors who rename the radio station and it still plays the tunes you like, does it matter what the name of the radio station is?

In the Now space when you decide on your active choice, if you are aware or conscious of the presence of the WHAT is in the Now, what impact will that have on the conscious awareness active choice you make?

The WHO of the Now.

This has already been dealt with to some degree in the WHAT of the Now. If I told you that the Now space is full of untold Entities WHO are non-judgmental, non-controlling and non-manipulative in any way whatsoever towards you but have your best interests at heart, would you believe me?

If you don’t believe me but suspended your disbelief for a moment and allowed yourself to believe that you are surrounded by your Higher Self, Guides, Angels, Loved Ones in Spirit as well as by all the Wise Entities in Spirit and that they all only want what is best for you how would that make you feel?

How would your life change if I could prove that to you without any shadow of a doubt?
How would your life change if you could prove that to yourself without any shadow of a doubt?
What have you got to lose?

For one hour simply believe this to be true- that God/Source/Oneness/Jesus/Buddha/Whatever label you choose and your Higher Self, all the Guides, Angels, Loved Ones in Spirit as well as all the Wise Entities in Spirit are on your Team behind your every active choice you make for the next hour. Talk to them as if they were with you .Ask them about the choice you are about to make. Be receptive to feel their answers because feelings are the language of the Soul.

If you feel the WHO is with you in the Now and you enjoy that feeling try it for each successive moment- present moment by present moment.

The WHERE of the Now

The space that is the Now is infinite. It can take anyone and everyone in our world, our universe and countless other universes.
The reason for telling you this is that there is noWHERE you can be where you cannot be in the Now and feel the grace and unconditional love of God/Source/Oneness/Jesus/ Buddha or whatever label you prefer. The deepest dungeon of human misery is easy reachable instantly if you would only open up to live in the Now.

On a more personal level the WHERE of the Now is not in your mind, it is in your ‘no mind’- the place where thoughts cannot intrude. It is the gap between your thoughts- the meditative mind. You cannot think I must be in the Now because your ego based thoughts can’t get you there- they are the very thing that prevents you from being in the Now. Being in the WHERE of the Now is in the feeling of the Oneness of Spirit/God/Source/Jesus/Buddha/or whatever label you would prefer plus all the Spiritual Entities surrounding you with unconditional love.

The WHEN of the Now
The Now is not based in time it is based in space- infinite space.
The eternal moment of Now is all we ever experience in reality. The ego based thoughts of your mind transport you to the past and the future as your ego keeps you captive not allowing you to access your Soul which is only found in the Now- in infinite space.
Accessing your Soul is the only way to enter the WHEN of the Now. WHEN you access the Now you instantly connect with your Higher Self, your Guides, Angels ,your Loved Ones in Spirit, the Source/God/Jesus/Buddha or whatever label resonates with you.
WHEN is spelt NOW.

The WHY of the Now
Unless you are suffering from masochistic tendencies WHY would you not want to feel the bliss of Nirvana. The bliss of the most utopian high you will ever experience as you connect to the most unconditional love you will ever experience.
Smothered in unconditional love from your Higher Self, your Guides, Angels, Loved Ones in Spirit, Source/God/Oneness/Jesus/Buddha/whatever label resonates with you, overcome with bliss you will soar in Spirit by being in the Now.
WHY would you not want to experience this even for an instant.

The HOW of the Now
HOW do you access the Now?
To use an analogy- a block of wood cannot be easily penetrated by a breath to create a tune but an empty reed can be transported instantly into a musical flute. The Now is easily accessible by simply emptying yourself of your ego and allowing your Soul to connect to its eternal friends and Loved Ones in Spirit. The intellectual mind cannot be interrogated to find a way to the Now. Only by not thinking but by feeling, as feelings are the language of the Soul, can you begin to access the Now. Feeling the need to connect with your Higher Self, your Guides, Angels, Loved Ones in Spirit, Source/God/Oneness/Jesus/Buddha or whatever label resonates with you, without your ego based thoughts interfering in any way, is your passport to the Now. Let me assure you that only those who don’t think much but simply BE can easily access the Now .For the rest of us mere mortals we have to retrain our thinking processes to stop functioning so we can rid ourselves of the ego based thoughts and allow the feelings of our Soul to connect to the blissful realm of the Now.

It’s worth it to retrain yourself to be in the Now and, as you have experienced in your life, nothing worthwhile was ever achieved by it falling into your lap. Living in the Now is the utopian way to experience life at the leading edge of the continual wave than never breaks. Living spontaneously by trusting that you will be given exactly what you need when you need it for the highest growth of your soul. I wish you an enjoyable voyage in the Now.

Relationships and being connected

November 26th, 2014

jasontreuheadshot3By Jason Treu

Relationships and being connected to people is why we are here and it gives meaning to our lives and our individual purposes in life.

We are the sum of our relationships. We are greatly influenced by the people we spend the most time with. We accomplish everything in life with or through other people.

Therefore, relationship mastery is essential to an extraordinary life. We’ve seen in our own lives and through the stories of other people, the pain, heartache, and destruction that can happen when we don’t master this area.

I want to share nine guiding power principles that will give you a great roadmap to create extraordinary relationships.

#1: Everyone wants to belong. Beautiful people, geniuses, the rich and famous—everyone has insecurities and fears. People are sick of trying to fit in and be liked by others. But everyone wants to be loved, accepted, and cared about. If you can help others meet people, feel a sense of belonging, get out of their own negative thoughts, and just have fun, you will generate social capital quickly.

#2: Lead with giving. We live in a world of takers and people who feel entitled to things. Everyone has been taken advantage of, had their heart stomped on, been betrayed by someone they care about, or made fun of. The easiest way to break down the emotional walls this creates is to allow people to be vulnerable and feel safe around you. You can do that in seconds when giving is a part of your DNA. You allow people to share things with you because they know you can be trusted, you give them a voice, and you won’t take advantage of them.

#3: Be a hub. Do you ever notice, when you go out, that most people spend their time with the people they arrived with? They rarely talk to strangers. As a social hub, you are the connecting point between people. You have an opportunity to help others make new friends and business connections, find dating or relationship opportunities, and build their network. Being a social hub is often equated with money, power, influence, or physical attractiveness, but you don’t need any of these to take on this role. You just have to take action. This is the easiest and most powerful way to build social capital that enables you to have significant influence. Also, you will start to gain even more influence when you connect groups to each other, and super networkers (those with 10,000+ contacts) with each other.

#4: Network in groups. Socializing in groups, rather than one-on-one, gives you a common connection and something to discuss with new people. You can meet a lot more people—and faster—in a group environment than during one-on-one interactions. You also have the capability to connect groups to each other and to be the powerful connector to make that happen.

#5: Be open, honest, and vulnerable. Leading with these traits is crucial to people feeling comfortable around you. Sure, in an ideal world others would open up first. But that doesn’t often happen. So take the lead here. You don’t have to share your deepest, darkest secrets, but putting yourself out there a little bit will go a long way. Let people see who you are. You don’t need to wear a mask and hide. You’re awesome and it’s time you believed it!

#6: Practice makes perfect. Creating a plan for your extraordinary social life takes planning, follow through, and practice. You’ll need to take action to make progress. Practice your social and communication skills by committing to talk to at least 2-3 new people every day. Don’t worry if you seem a little awkward or aggressive at first. If your intentions are authentic, you will come across that way more and more each time you try. Know now that failure at some point is inevitable, and every successful person fails significantly more often than they succeed. Remember, too, that failure is a great teacher.

Remember, motivation is a false god, so don’t give in to it—it’s not the secret ingredient for moving forward. People are always looking for motivation and complain that their lack of results is because they could not get motivated. Successful people don’t wake up every day and spring into action. No one wants to do everything they need to do. They have to force themselves in many instances. Do you think every Olympic athlete wants to practice seven days a week? Of course they don’t. Well, they still do it.

#7: Meeting people gets easier the more you do it. When I started out, people introduced me as “a great guy” or one of their “good friends.” At first, I thought it was a lie or a joke. I mean, how could anyone I’d met only two or three times feel that way about me? Gradually, after it kept happening, I began to realize it was true. I got people to prioritize me in their life, to consider me a good friend, when we’d only met a few times, sometimes very briefly. This in turn gave me more opportunities to interact with new people because my social connections would think of me as part of their inner circle of friends and invite me to other events.

#8: Listening is a skill to be cherished. In a world where everyone talks over each other, sometimes it can be hard to get a word in, let alone realize that beneath all this chatter, people just want to be validated and heard. Who are the people you feel really listen to you? Probably trusted friends and family members, right? You can build this same trust with others by prioritizing listening over speaking. When you listen to strangers or new acquaintances, you are building rapport and strengthening bonds.

#9: You can’t control critics, only your reaction to them: If you put yourself out there, you’re bound to be criticized at some point. We all have someone in our life who’s made us feel less-than from time to time. You’ve probably etched their words in your mind. Maybe it was a significant other, a boss, or a friend. Not caring what people think isn’t the answer. That’s being “carefree.” Instead, focus on your purpose, surround yourself with people who support you, self-evaluate, and then let it go.

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Jason is a life mastery coach helping men and women to create the business, relationships, and life they love. His new book, Social Wealth, was a #1 bestseller on Amazon. You can reach him at BeExtraordinary.tv

Learning to be Grateful in the Face of Adversity

November 23rd, 2014

highres_154595412By Francine Vale

Gratitude is a state of being.

It’s a feeling that resides within us, akin to love. We feel grateful when we awaken to another day, another opportunity to achieve, to be part of life and experience love.   We may not always acknowledge our gratitude, but it’s there, like our breath.  When gratitude is consciously acknowledged, endorphins immediately flow throughout the body and we feel good to be alive.  We feel renewed.  We are connecting with our soul, our essential self.

But when adversity strikes gratitude is often replaced immediately by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loss. And everything in our world grows dark.  Fear is the opposite of love and fear is a mighty challenge to gratitude – love’s child.

What good is a gorgeous sunrise when we are faced with catastrophe?  How does a lovely meadow in morning dew measure against fear? How can we resurrect that beautiful life renewing state of being grateful when it feels as if our world has turned upside down? Who among us hasn’t known that dark space where gratitude ceases to exist for us?  We feel like dying then. This is how essential gratitude is for our well-being.

I have been there, in that dark space.

A text has just this minute arrived, asking me to pray for someone I don’t know but who after all, is a brother, in critical condition shot by a terrorist in a faraway land.  A reminder that every moment on our planet catastrophe is striking someone somewhere and the question of gratitude in the face of adversity rises up in its profundity.

And yet the answers lie within our human heart.  Let us find them together.

We have discussed the essential state of gratitude for well-being, how gratitude is entwined with love within our heart. Therefore, it is clear that when adversity strikes gratitude has not flown away, it has only receded into the dark recesses of our heart, awaiting prayer and meditation to bring it back into the light.

Deep in heartfelt prayer born of love, gratitude begins to re-emerge. Gratitude for the time we have shared with loved ones.  Gratitude for the good we have done with our time on Earth, spontaneous good deeds, friends and family we have loved, how we have shared with others whatever good fortune came into our life.  Awareness begins to arise for the merit we have earned along the way and slowly we become grateful for these intangible blessings that money cannot buy, that no one coerced us to do, the goodness that arose within our own hearts or within the heart of our threatened loved one. And for these we are grateful. The precious state of gratitude shines within like an eternal flame.

When adversity has passed and we find we have outlived fear, we may survey our journey. And as I have discovered through numerous challenges and fearful times, you may also discover, there is something called Divine Timing. In some mysterious way, as I have been contemplating lately, the universe knows the best and highest good for all concerned and through adversity we are guided to learn our life lessons.  Above all, I am ever in a state of gratitude for my soul, that Divine spark of light which resides within my heart chakra and allows me to love even while facing adversity.

Book of Eli movie review

November 9th, 2014

EliThe Book of Eli is a movie about a man, Eli, (Denzel Washington) who hears an inner voice telling him to carry a Sacred book “West” in a post-apocalyptic, desolate and violent world. Eli does not question this calling even though he is being offered nothing in return, except for protection. Eli’s willingness to carry out his mission is put to the test throughout his journey numerous times as people try to kill him and a companion (Mila Kunis) he is traveling with in an attempt to take the book from him. His inner calling has guided him to navigate and overcome a world filled with violence. Now, he must find the strength to meet this challenge head on.

I was skeptical going into this movie because I thought it was just going to be some science-fiction, action-film about an apocalyptic world. However, I am glad I saw The Book of Eli. One message in the movie that really resonated with me is the willingness to trust and fight for your inner callings simply for the sake of serving some higher purpose. Eli is driven by his inner voice to carry a Sacred book to the West. He does not know exactly why he is being guided to do this, but he does it because deep down he knows it’s the right thing to do.

Additionally, Eli continues to trust even though he has not reached his destination after a long and arduous journey. In one scene, a companion he is with asks him how long he has been traveling. Eli tells her that it has been 30 years and she replies, “Do you think you might be lost?” But, Eli continues to trust that he is not lost and that he will be protected if he carries out his calling to bring the book to the West. This scene inspires us to continue to trust that we will be protected if we follow our callings — even though it may appear that we are lost.

The Book of Eli is now available on DVD on Amazon if you Click Here

Reclaiming the Wild Soul

October 21st, 2014

From the introduction to Reclaiming the Wild Soul by Mary Reynolds Thompson

The Journey of the Soulscapes
Remember the earth whose skin you are…

––Joy Harjo

Every spiritual journey is at its heart a quest for wholeness. We long to feel a part of the vast and unfolding mystery of life. We yearn to feel alive, engaged. We are seeking our place and purpose. But how do we proceed? How do we remember who we are? What path will carry us home?

This book maps a journey into the wild environs of the soul through five archetypal landscapes: deserts, forests, oceans and rivers, mountains, and grasslands. I call these “soulscapes,” for they are the merging of inner and outer nature—the meeting place of self and Earth. As you enter their depths, you will awaken the metaphors of the landscapes within you and lay claim to the wild wisdom and power at the core of your being.

Humans, after all, weren’t placed on Earth; we emerged out of the Earth. Every day, we consume part of the Earth in order to stay alive. The great landscapes of the planet are our ancestors; they arose from the Earth just as we did, and their energies evoke deep feelings and potentialities within us at both conscious and unconscious levels

Since the remarkable appearance of self-reflective consciousness around 200,000 years ago, we have been primed to connect with these regions—they are resident in our collective unconscious, part of our primal birth matrix. The cultural historian Thomas Berry puts it this way in Dream of the Earth: “Beyond our genetic coding, we need to go to the earth, as the source whence we came, and ask for her guidance, for the earth carries the psychic structure as well as the physical form of every living being upon the planet.

Today, as concern grows about how far we have distanced ourselves from the natural world, we are encouraged to spend more time outdoors, walking, gardening, or simply being in nature. These things are hugely important. But this book asks something more: it invites you to awaken to the ancient Earth-consciousness that resides within you—within us all—that you can access at any time, in any place, even in the midst of the busiest city.

The landscapes you will explore in this book are not external or extrinsic to who you are; they are woven into the core of your being as surely as elements from the stars or the salty depths of the oceans. For this is the amazing truth: four billion years of Earth wisdom are embedded in your cells. It is time to awaken to the whole magnificent geography of your soul.

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Mary Reynolds Thompson is a facilitator of poetry and journal therapy and life coach dedicated to bringing forth the Wild Soul Story. This new story is rooted in our oneness with nature and a vision of the world in which the wild landscapes of both Earth and soul can thrive. She is author of Embrace Your Inner Wild: 52 Reflections for an Eco-Centric World and Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness. Her books are available through Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Reclaiming-Wild-Soul-Landscapes-Wholeness/dp/1940468140 and White Cloud Press: http://www.whitecloudpress.com/reclaiming-the-wild-soul.html You can learn more about Mary by visiting: http://maryreynoldsthompson.com.

Creating Ritual in 7 Easy Steps to Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet

October 19th, 2014

Chris-and-Janet2-214x300 By Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood: Excerpted from their book, Your Hidden Riches – Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life
of Meaning

Do you know that there’s a unique design to your life? There is. Your mission in this lifetime is to discover that design and get aligned with it. When you do, life becomes fun, things flow easily, the inevitable challenges of life are only
temporary setbacks, and you feel that your life has real meaning.

Your Hidden Riches are what surfaces when your rituals help you both discover and stay aligned with your life’s unique design. Rituals can help you manage your time, your energy and your thinking. Only 25% of life can be experienced with the senses. Rituals allow you to connect with and tap into the power of the other 75%.

Many people think that rituals are religious practices or superstitions. Yet rituals are the “secret weapons” of the world’s most accomplished people-from sports stars to corporate executives to world-class performers. What most people have missed is that rituals are essential tools in today’s world to improve performance, to stay calm in stressful situations, and to maintain balance in an over-busy life.

But what’s the difference between a habit and a ritual? We all have good habits and bad habits. In contrast, rituals are conscious, intentional acts we choose to make habitual. Rituals focus attention in a very practical way, and can be tailored
to the major needs we all share:

* Relationships: Attracting your ideal partner and forming a loving bond between you.
* Health, Diet & Beauty: Bringing your body into harmony at every level so that
it becomes your strongest ally in reaching a state of optimal well-being.
* Money & Wealth: Matching your inner riches with external abundance.
* Ceremonial Rituals: Creating a sacred space and entering it for healing and renewal.
* Family: Bringing parents and children into a closer circle of security,understanding, and love.

There are 7 aspects to creating your own ritual-rituals that create a special feeling
and experience when they are performed:

1) Intention-Read out loud the intention you are setting.

2) Preparation and Purification-Create a special spot where you keep the elements for your ritual. Also, take a few moments before you start each time to clean up and wipe off your ritual space.

3) Use of Symbols-Place symbols in your ritual space that are meaningful to you and will inspire you. These could include photos of your family, special mentors or teachers you value, mementos, and anything else that will give personal meaning to your ritual.

4) Activating the Senses-By incorporating fruit, flowers, scented oils or candles, your ritual will have a deeper and more profound effect.

5) Prescribed Performance-Create a specific order to what you’ll do during your ritual. An example would be:

1. Prepare the space: take a moment to clean the area, light some incense, arrange
your fresh flowers, your fruit or healthy snack, and put your scarf or cloth on.
2. Sit quietly in silence for 30 seconds.
3. Open your eyes and read your intention out loud.
4. If you’re beginning your day write out 3 things you’d like to accomplish today;
If you’re ending, list 3 things you accomplished.
5. Read a quote or passage from a book that is inspiring to you and reminds you
of why you’re focusing on this ritual.
6. Quietly speak out one thing you’re grateful for – find something you have not
expressed on previous days.
7. Speak out one thing you appreciate about yourself – again find something you
have not expressed before.
8. Put out the incense and begin working on your project.

6) Repetition-Repeating your ritual over and over will help to ground your intention and create new neural pathways so that your day will always be connected to the intention you set.

7) Invoking the Unseen-This can be as simple as acknowledging that you need help to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself and you’re willing to accept that help from wherever it may come.

Using these 7 aspects of ritual as a guide (no need to follow a particular order) you will create specialness in your day and in your life. You’ll find you’re more
focused when you’re working, and you don’t obsess over your work when you’re not.

There is a design to your life. You were born with it. Uncovering your unique role and purpose in the world lies in covering that Life Design through ritual. Our world is at a turning point. It needs you doing what you came here to do. When you achieve that, you will be living your ideal life, reaping the inner riches that are your birthright.

Awake: The Life of Yogananda film

October 13th, 2014

AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. (Apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad.) By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.

It opened in theaters across the country this past weekend. To see if it is playing near you and more information about the film, visit the film’s web site at: http://www.awaketheyoganandamovie.com/screenings/

Q&A with Benjamin Wachs – Author of A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City

October 5th, 2014

The Welcome GlassQ&A with Benjamin Wachs – Author of A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City

Is there a connection between spirituality, music, and bars, during your travel experiences in the world?

Absolutely. In no small part because there was a connection between these things during my life at this time. I sat down, meditated, and asked myself: “What do I really want to be doing?” And the answer eventually came back: travel the world. Bars originally had nothing to do with it. But it absolutely blended the world of bars and nightlife into my post-modern spiritual quest.

How did you come up with the title A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City?

I started looking for patterns, and realized just how many stories from this period involved somebody walking into a bar, meeting someone, having a complicated discussion, rising sexual tension, and then an experience of the magical or divine that resolved it somehow.

Where is the Sacred City? Are we all looking for it?

Every city is an outer borough of the Sacred City, which means if you go deep enough into any city … if you go where the dreams are dense and hopes are stacked like skyscrapers and possibility hangs out of windows like air conditioning … you step into it. That much human activity, that much input, it’s a kind of prayer, and to go deep into the heart of it is to experience the holy and magical pumping through the city like blood.

I don’t know if we’re all looking for the Sacred City all of the time, but we’re all looking for it at some point in our lives.

After dropping out of graduate school, you worked as a freelance nightlife Playboy.com reporter. Was dropping out of school the right thing to do?

It was a terrible decision in so many ways. If I had it to do over again I probably wouldn’t, but I don’t regret it for a moment. There are times when you have to be true to yourself and this was one of them.

What can a city’s nightlife tell you about the people there?

It tells you about their aspirations and their taboos, along with the state of gender politics. Discoveries like:

  • What vices the police tolerate, and which they crack down on
  • How much a bribe can let you get away with
  • Who people are pretending to be when they go out (are they trying to be Scarface? John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever? Donald Trump? Muhammad Ali?)

How much fact is there within your stories?

All the stories take place in real cities, most were inspired by one or more elements in real life, and everything in between is a jumble. No story is directly true to life.

Can you name a couple of your favorite stories?

“The High Prices of Venice” where an American tourist discovers his life’s calling – living the high life with a prostitute while he waits for the devil to come to the ancient city. One of my best works includes “Feeding Time” about three friends out on the town who discover a homeless man with an extraordinary knowledge of theoretical physics. They want to find out his story, but he just wants to eat.

One of the biggest surprises for me has been the reception to “Free Will,” a story about a man who comes to a bar because his attempt to live a life free of intense addiction is failing him, and how he tries to keep from bending his knee to a visiting God. The story almost didn’t make the book, but I’ve had people from across San Francisco’s counter-culture text me at three in the morning saying “I just read Free Will – I can’t believe how much that speaks to me!” That’s really gratifying.

How many cities have you visited? Which ones were the most exotic?

I can confirm fifty-one during the period of time that inspired these stories. Twenty-six cities are covered in the book, including Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Budapest, Prague, Moscow, Istanbul, Zurich, and Rome.

The question of how exotic a city is must be matched by the question of who you are in it. I have seen teenagers enter the Kingdom of Death and leave talking about who had a crush on whom. I have seen Americans walk right past great works of culture because they were looking for a beer. I have seen first world liberals walk through Havana and miss the deprivation around them because they wanted it to be a worker’s paradise.

You’ve sung in some of history’s greatest cathedrals. What was that like?

I love cathedrals so much, and I love singing in them. Those acoustics aren’t an accident: they were built on purpose. To “see” a cathedral without experiencing the acoustics is to be half-blind.

Any life-changing revelations during your travels?

I discovered the following.

  • It’s important to not be afraid
  • Strangers will often be kinder to you than you would be to them
  • People who say they love you are far more likely to let you starve than are the people who work in a homeless shelter
  • People are absolute geniuses at finding innovative ways to make themselves miserable

How does your involvement with Burning Man impact your writing?

It’s helped me to become good at actively engaging rather than being a spectator to one’s own life. It’s been especially helpful, as I’ve moved from fiction to non-fiction.

You consider your book to be spiritual. Yet, it takes place in bars around the world. How can that be spiritual?

I’d go so far as to say that there is more spirituality in a bar where people are actively engaging with their spiritual hungers and needs than there is in a church where people are passively accepting the idea that as long as they sit still in the right place for a minimum number of minutes, they’ll be spiritual.

Does your job of Communications Director for Saybrook University which is focused on Humanistic Studies, figure into your writing?

My passion for humanistic studies does. We’re too ready to abandon the human for the technical. Our notion of what people are capable of – of what makes us human – is getting narrower and narrower.

You’ve traveled the world, lived in a Buddhist Monastery, worked as a nightlife reporter for Playboy.com and you’re the bar columnist for SF Weekly. Considering all of that, what’s one of the most memorable things you’ve done in your life?

The more interesting question is: what memorable thing is going to happen to me tomorrow? To the extent this book (and my life) are about longing, and need, and sorrow, they’re also about possibility: about our capacity to rise up and be part of something miraculous.

 

 

The Expansion of Conscious Media Film Festivals

September 19th, 2014

By Kate Neligan

In 2014 two new conscious media film festivals launched: the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, AZ and the Awakened World Film Festival in Santa Barbara, CA. There are dozens more, including one happening right now: the Awareness Film Festival  in Santa Monica, CA which is celebrating its fifth year.

As a mindful media expert who has followed this space for many years, I can affirm that this market is expanding. In fact, Gaiam put out a whitepaper called “The Explosion of Conscious Media” and acknowledged that the current audience size in the US is over 100 million and will continue to grow for another five years.

It is exciting to see more films produced that illuminate, awaken, and raise awareness. We are often surrounded by the doom and gloom of thrillers, horror movies and adrenaline-packed action flicks, but the films that tug at our heartstrings and help us connect back to our inner selves are also important. It is time for society to see a more positive, healthy mirror.

Films and stories have the potential to heal and improve our lives. This is one of the reasons why I founded my start-up, Synergy TV, which entertains, enlightens and inspires a global audience with curated mindful movies and transformational television. I believe people need to see solutions presented in the media. Our content continues to uplift, evoke awe and restore hope in humanity.

Consciousness-raising film festivals can do the same. They create a temporary home for these films to be discovered, showcased, and celebrated. The audience can watch movies with like-minded individuals and connect with the filmmakers after the screening. New friendships, business relationships and collaborations often occur at festivals like these because everyone is passionate about the vehicle of entertainment as a force for good. If you are someone who loves to see positive role models, learn something new, and feel your heart open, then these are the types of festivals you want to attend.

This weekend, the Awareness Film Festival is happening in Santa Monica.
Some key films that will be screened are Finding Happiness, When My Sorrow Died, No Evidence of Disease, and The Starfish Throwers. On Saturday, September 20th I will also be moderating a first-of-its kind panel called “The Consciousness Movement – Wellness in the Media” with writer, athlete and wellness advocate Rich Roll, chef and co-partner in SunCafe Organic Ron Russell, and founder of The Aware Guide Gary Tomchuck. Then, as a gift to filmmakers, I am hosting a roundtable on “Distribution & Marketing.” The Festival ends with a special Gala on Sunday, September 21st honoring The David Lynch Foundation and the Better U Foundation. Proceeds from this festival benefit the non-profit Heal One World which offers yoga and alternative treatments to under-served groups.

Then, from October 27 – 30, the Awakened World Film Festival launches with inspiring films such as Project Happiness, Walking the Camino, The Invocation, andMoney and Life. This festival is woven into a working conference and urban retreat that also features galas, concerts, dialogues and workshops. Produced by the Association for Global New Thought with support from Science of Mind Foundation, the festival will bring together an audience whose values are aligned with spiritual and social responsibility and enlightened action. One special event will be the 10th birthday/anniversary party for the famous documentary What the Bleep?! In honor of this celebration I asked the film’s producer, Betsy Chasse, what she thinks about the expansion of this market.

“I’m grateful to see that conscious people are creating a home for conscious films. For so long we’ve sort of been left out of the mainstream festivals. Although Awake and Song of The New Earth did premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, it’s few and far between. It’s time that there are festivals that show the quality films that are available in this genre.” – Betsy Chasse

We both agreed that it’s important for visionaries in this space to be honored and rewarded for their heart-centered work to help humanity. The community, which includes you, holds the power to choose which stories we want to see more of and you make a positive difference when you purchase tickets, sponsor, promote, and support conscious media film festivals. The time has come for us to move from a stressed society to one of synergy and mindfulness. The stories we tell in film and media, as well as inside our own heads, can take us there!
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Kate Neligan – Founder of Synergy TV Network
Follow Illuminate Film Festival @64DaysSNV
Follow Awareness Film Festival @Awarenessfest
Follow Awakened World Film Festival @Illuminate_FF
Follow Synergy TV @SynergyTVNet
Follow Kate Neligan @MindfulMediaEnt