Q&A with Keri Mangis, author of Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness

Your book reveals a process of growth and maturation that ultimately leads to joy. What was the greatest insight that paved the way to joy in your life?

For me, joy came once I accepted that the happiness and fulfillment I was looking for could never be found through our many human skins—our roles, jobs, titles, and other identities. This is contrary to what we’re taught, when, even as children, when the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” really means, “What identity will you slip into to keep yourself safe and happy in the world?” As we become adults, the question changes to, “What do you do for a living?” as if our job title is all that matters about us.

These seemingly harmless questions implant in us the false belief that there is an identity for each of us that will provide a happy ever after. It sets us up for the disappointment that befalls many of us (and is too often dismissed as a “midlife crisis.”) I realized that while human skins offer things such as accomplishment, pride, knowledge, and relationships, none could provide lasting inner joy. Then, it was as easy as opening myself up to receive the natural joy that is, I believe, our birthright as human beings.

Your mentality as a competitive runner seemed to stick with you throughout much of your life—to the point that you even viewed the process of healing and increased consciousness as a race to win. How were you finally able to relinquish this view of life?

The basic philosophies taught to runners—never quit, push through pain, winner takes all—are the same ones taught by our culture at large. Being a runner just amplified this cultural message for me. It took me a long time, and some hard lessons, to realize that you can’t rush emotional and psychological healing.

I don’t know that I have completely relinquished this view on life; it’s simply that now I am aware and conscious of it (most of the time)! That means I can see it for what it is—a tactic that will only keep me in the endless cycle of wanting and needing more. As with any ingrained belief, the more we understand about what we’ve absorbed or accepted as truth, the more we can discern truth for ourselves.

In your book you not only talk about your soul, you actually give her a name—Serene Voyager—as well as a personality, dialogue, and a journey all of her own which progresses alongside her human/ego partner. It’s clear that you consider the soul as more than just an abstract concept. What do you think our souls are, and why did you detail your soul in such detail?

To me, our soul is our purest, deepest, and most essential truth and sincerest self. Her personality, then, is what I consider to be my purest and most essential self and her questions and dialogues are the very ones that I have longed to ask but didn’t know how.

Our soul is the part of us that is eternal, that is choosing this life for reasons that may or may not be entirely conscious to our human self. Through detailing my soul’s journey, and particularly her time “before the beginning,” I was trying to understand her particular reasons for choosing this life. I learned it is largely about her search for the Great Truth. Even as she knows the Great Truth is not graspable or knowable, the search itself satisfies her—and by extension, me. Knowing this about my soul gives me great comfort as I move through this life and realize that so many of the events and life situations my ego would feel were letdowns or even failures, my soul was simply watching, serenely, for the lessons and wisdom.

What is your definition of an embodied soul? Aren’t we all souls living in a human body?

I believe that there is a huge difference between the soul incarnation that occurs at the beginning of our lifetime and a conscious choice to embody one’s soul during our lifetime. Many people live out an entire lifetime never actually acknowledging the truth of their soul, let alone choosing to cultivate an ongoing relationship or even dialogue with it.

To embody our soul means to claim our truth and live in alignment with that truth—which is no small feat in a world run on façades and image! Embodying our soul is a lifelong process (not a one-time event.) A path of living as an embodied soul is not an easy path, but neither is living a lifetime without our soul ever being acknowledged in the world.

Does A Return to Wholeness imply that we were all once whole?

Exactly! As children, many of us had an opportunity to express ourselves from our wholeness. We were not afraid of our emotions—we simply expressed them. We didn’t mind being different; we just knew what we felt and what we wanted. While of course there was an immaturity to these expressions, there was authenticity. But over time, we all get “cultured.” Unless we consciously choose differently, most of us find a way to fit in as we are taught. We find ways to not accept or address our emotions—especially anger, fear, or anxiety. And many of us discredit the wisdom and bravery available from our souls, the highest voice of truth and integrity we will ever know. Meanwhile, our sense of self-worth, personal power, and our alignment with own integrity is stripped away.

There is, in fact, a way to reclaim our wholeness. We do not need to hold down the messy, sidelined, and undesirable emotions. With them, instead of despite them, we can find the humor and connection we crave and deserve.

Not only does your book alternate between the Earth Realm and the Soul Realm settings, but there is some time travel on the part of your soul involved as well as she observes Keri in different scenarios. Are you suggesting that the soul can travel in time?

It’s important to remember that time is an invention made by and for humans. But even in the Earth Realm, there was a time before time was the measurement of a life. So yes, neither the soul nor the Soul Realm is subjected to constraints of time or space. Like I say in the book, though, trying to help our egos understand this concept is like a butterfly trying to explain its access to a third dimension to an ant!

Your emotions are personified in this book as snakes, and they have dialogue and conversation with each other and with you. Why did you choose to present your emotional landscape this way?

I’ve always been a highly emotional person. To me, my emotions are not peripheral to my life; they are central to my life. And even if we don’t know it consciously, we all are having conversations with our emotions all the time. For instance, we try to cool anger down, we negotiate with fear, we court joy. I found this technique of personifying my emotions in the various situations to be a profoundly truthful way of sharing my internal dialogue and processes. After so many years of not letting them matter, I felt that sharing their voices, characters, and unique perspectives was the least I could do by way of apology!

Your soul’s guide in the book, Rasa, is the soul who imparts wisdom to your soul in the Soul Realm, the same way your soul Sëri imparts wisdom to you in the Earth Realm. Is Rasa based on any one person from your life? Or is she your assigned soul guide? And what does her name mean?

Rasa’s wise voice and advice is a compilation of the many women I’ve had the opportunity to work with or study with over the years. She is also the wise woman inside of myself. Her personality—light and fun—is the kind of energy I often find helpful when trying to digest my life, as I tend toward serious and introverted. She is a soul guide in a sense, too, but one who has her own path and journey. I view our relationship as cyclical, not hierarchical. Hierarchy, like time, is an Earth Realm invention.

Rasa’s name is an acronym that stands for Rights Advocate for Soul Animals. The reader gets a glimpse of her work rescuing soul animals and attempting to reunite them with their human partners. But also, “rasa” is a Sanskrit word, which means the “taste” of something. As she guides Séri through a review of her life situations, she doesn’t focus on whether something was good or bad, right or wrong. She asks, essentially, what was the taste of that experience? Was it sweet, salty, bitter, astringent, sour, or pungent? In Ayurvedic philosophy, it’s understood that in order to feel satiated, a meal must satisfy all six of these essential tastes. I think Rasa understands and teaches that life, too, must satisfy all six tastes in order to satiate us as souls.

What are you currently working on?

I have recently begun a podcast entitled, Awaken Your Power. To me, awakening one’s power goes hand in hand, and is perhaps the next step, after a choice to embody one’s soul. I believe the growth and increased consciousness we gain through a healing ought to be put to work in the world, rather than kept to oneself. If we have brought more light into our own lives, it is our human duty to bring more light to the world of others. We can do this in many different ways, according to our own constitution, but it is crucial that we not remain on the sidelines when the world needs us the most. Awakening one’s power, the podcast, begins with defining and understanding what power is really about, how it is claimed, wielded, used and abused. There are so many kinds of power to explore—some false, some authentic—that I believe there will be much to talk about!

How can someone purchase your book?

Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness will be available for purchase at embodyingsoulbook.com.