Jeannie is the Director of Living as Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting people to live from their essence as Love. A year before the birth of her daughter, Jeannie was plunged into a dark night of the soul that culminated into a radical shift of consciousness. Grief played a deep role in this transformation and Jeannie playfully claims that instead of meditation, her spiritual practice was weeping. As a teacher, Jeannie is known for her fearless clarity, tender mercy toward humanness, and a juicy, poetic and often humorous style that speaks to an ongoing revelation of fully engaged living.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- Grief often cracks open the seed of the heart to bloom.
- Not everyone can be your peer when you are on your spiritual path.
- How songs of the ‘60s reflect the spiritual aspect of our humanness.
- As we heal and develop, we increase our capacity for fully engaged living.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS JEANNIE:
- How is the dark night of the soul different than trauma?
- How does Living as Love help those who are deeply grieving?
- How do you download information that specifically and practically addresses the various aspects of being a human being on Earth?
Listen to the podcast here
Jeannie Zandi: Spiritual Teacher And Director Of Living As Love, A Nonprofit Organization Dedicated To Supporting People To Live From Their Essence As Love
It is my pleasure to introduce Jeannie Zandi, a spiritual teacher who’s had tremendous work with grief, the dark night of the soul, and transformative healing. Jeannie is the Director of Living as Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting people to live from their essence as love. A year before the birth of her daughter, Jeannie was plunged into a dark night of the soul that culminated in a radical shift of consciousness. Grief played a deep role in this transformation and Jeannie playfully claimed that instead of meditation, her spiritual practice was grieving.
As a teacher, Jeannie is known for her fearless clarity, tender mercy towards humanness, and a juicy, poetic and often humorous style that speaks to an ongoing revelation of fully engaged humans. Jeannie, a sincere, heartfelt welcome to the show. I know that we are all going to learn much from you, especially pertaining to the role of grief in spiritual embodiment and transformative healing. Let’s begin our interview with this question. Please share with us your experience with the dark night of the soul, which led to a radical shift in consciousness due to a profound spiritual belief.
Thank you, Irene. It’s great to be on and to talk about this most vital of topics for human beings because we need our hearts in order to live here on the Earth. In my experience, grief often is what cracks open the seed of the heart to bloom. As I speak, sometimes I will speak very slowly. Sometimes I will pause as I listen to deeper content than what the everyday mind would spit out. I would ask everybody’s patience with that if that happens.
I want to give a little context, which is that somewhere early in my life, in my twenties, I discovered the useful healing role of grief. Like most people, I grew up in a family where if you were going to cry, go to your room. Crying was seen as something that you were being a bad child. Crying was a sign that you weren’t handling it, you were losing it, and you were little, broken, and in need of help or banishment. This is the way that our culture looks at crying and grieving. Yet, children come out crying up a storm. Whenever something is stressful, overwhelming, or too much for their system to digest, they weep and somehow, in the weeping, they digest the pain, the stress, or whatever happens.
I was lucky enough, before being a parent, to discover the healing nature of tears. I began to have a pastime because I was interested from a young age in how do I be here harmless? How do I be here as an embodiment of love, integrity, and clarity? What I noticed was that, in any of my suboptimal human behavior, underneath it was coming from some pain, fear, grief, undigested experience with mom, dad, or the kids on the playground or whatever.
That’s why I joked that grieving was my spiritual practice because I started being very curious about any place where I wasn’t wholesome and sturdy and letting attention go in those difficult times to the grieving and just grieving. I reclaimed this beautiful capacity we have as little ones to weep early in my life. I had to go through lots of messages in my head, etc., but I had the support of various mentors and classes or whatever that recognized this. I’m so glad because it’s been the single most valuable tool in my lifetime, the reclaiming of the joyous, beautiful capacity to emotionally heal.
In that vein, being someone who is tuned toward human potential wholeness being here, I think, as my indigenous friends say, “Being here in a good way.” We all want to be here in a good way. I was passionately interested in what does that look like. One of the things that I discovered along the way was that if I wanted some love from somebody, let’s say a boyfriend, and they weren’t, we all know what that feels like. We feel like a bad dog. We feel mad at them, rejected, and all that.
I was influenced by this wisdom about weeping as well as Sufi poetry because Sufi poetry is filled with this, Rumi says, “I want burning.” They talk about devastation. One of the main Sufi stories about Majnûn and Laylâ includes a man who loves a woman throughout his life. Even though he can’t have her, he keeps loving her and emptying everything in his heart out that would be anything other than devotional love.
Using Layla is almost like a representation of the Holy and of God. With that orientation, I tended to seek to be changed rather than to change. That doesn’t mean that I walked around with a sliver in my foot and let it fester rather than pull it out. There are things to bring our will and mind towards solving. There are mysteries in human life that are there to actually act almost as muses or as deep forces that invite us into transformation or a cauldron as we sit with them, especially the things that we can’t do anything about.
It makes us feel horrible as we fail to do anything about them and we don’t realize that they are there to shape us. I noticed that if I sat in the longing for the love that I wanted, I went to the core of the grief instead of hammering the world to try to get it. Hafiz has this poem you mentioned earlier when we were chatting, letting your loneliness cut more deeply. I would sit in that burning, grief, and wanting. I would weep.
I would stay out of the silly messages in my head like, “No one will ever love you and you’re a stinker and that’s why no one loves you.” I would drop down into the feel of the grief and let myself grieve. What I noticed was if I did that enough, something would open below the grief and the need to get that thing from the outside would evaporate. The love I was looking for would be alive in my own heart. I thought, “That’s what I want.”
Do you think you were accessing self-love?
I was accessing divine love. In very elementary terms, I was healing the owie that obscured my deeper nature. We all know what it feels like to seek things from the outside. Of course, there are things we need from the outside, especially to heal things like trauma. If we have an attachment to our mama, we could get a lot of mileage out of having a therapist who is mama-like and allows us to attach.
This thing that I’m talking about is more spiritually advanced. It’s like once we’ve addressed the very core attachment wounds or trauma. At this point, I was pretty sturdy, so I was able to hold space for myself in this grief. I also have frequently had people who could hold space for me there, whether they’re therapists, friends or whatever. I said this big prayer and I said it arrogantly like we do when we say those things like, “Take away everything that’s not you. Bust in here and make me an instrument of your piece.” I said, “Give me nothing that I want.”
They were listening because I thought, “If I don’t get a tiny thing that I want and I am forced to go down to the bottom of the well to the little grabby thing that thinks its life depends upon these things and it lets loose into a deeper contentment or simplicity, I want that. I want to sit in unconditional loving on this Earth fully.” What’s the answer to the because? There could be a million answers to the because like, “Because I want to be loved, because I want to know God, because I want the whole enchilada.” Some of us are on fire for that. I can’t say that that was causal because what do we know? I’m here. I’m experiencing life. It happens like this.
Around the time that I was about to be married and conceive my daughter, things started to go dark. Meaning I started to drain from the world and the activities that used to bring joy were flat. I started to not know who I was. I started to feel a little bit like an alien to this world. The things that people were concerned about or wanted to talk about, I was not interested in. There was a much deeper thing going on in me that I couldn’t talk to anyone about because it was so deep and so elementarily existential.
It’s similar to a Vietnam vet who comes back from Vietnam and can’t talk at a potluck or relate because of this deep experience they’re having or when someone loses a child or a spouse. When we have or get some deep illness, you can’t walk into a potluck and start talking about your struggle with cancer or with deep loss because our culture does not understand those depths.
The beings who have been initiated by the depth are few and far between. By initiated, I mean not only have faced it but have taken the invitation from the depths of us to take the grief elevator all the way down to the bottom of the well. There are very few people. It’s very scary. I had a lot of practice from the time I was 23 until I was 35 when this started shimmering. I was comfortable. In fact, I was arrogant about my ability to go down and come back up like a phoenix. I could go into that particular piece of pain. I could digest it and then I could buoy up and be all the more whole and all the more sturdy. It was my way.
When this hit, this was like the mother of all darknesses. It was similar to when I was giving birth to my daughter. The labor pain started and they started fast. I was howling and thinking arrogantly, “This is the pain they talk about. I can handle more pain than this.” The baby’s head engaged and I was like, “Hit the deck. You are a puny little thing.”
This encounter with the depths humbled me. It’s like if anyone has ever done a sweat lodge, which is an indigenous practice and I have been lucky enough to have participated in that, there’s a small structure. In the center, in a hole in the ground, rocks are put that have been in the fire and water is poured over the rocks. It’s similar to a steam bath.
Depending upon how the leader or the healer is running it, it can get very hot. People get very humbled by this heat, especially if they’re holding a lot in because the heat will force what you have inside you up and it’ll become unbearable. Part of what people do is go down to the floor of the sweat lodge or do what you want to do to put your nose by the crack or to feel the cool air. You’re basically hitting the deck or the dirt.
In this humbling, I hit the dirt and never came up with the level of humility, which is a deep principle of spiritual realization. The part of us that thinks that it’s in control, can direct life, thinks God is its pet, it can dictate how things go for an authentic spiritual realization. That aspect of us, its spine needs to be broken in a way. We need to hit the deck and not come up. We need to see that whatever it is that we think we are with our bossy pants and our sense of control is not the ultimate. The ultimate is we are mastered by it rather than that we could ever master it.
This dark night, I didn’t know this was what this was. I thought I was going crazy. I wasn’t sitting back going, “I said a cool prayer. Now here’s the dark night. How lovely.” My friend Kim says, “If you have a spiritual perspective in your dark night, it’s not a dark night because the dark night rips you of all possible ways of conceiving anything.”
You may have a moment where you hear a speaker talk and you’re like, “That’s me.” In the next moment, you feel like an utter wrench because what you’re being asked to do is digest all of the conditioning that you have taken in that’s built basically on trying to shove down the bad person and trying to cultivate the good person versus seeing the essence of ourselves as divine.
That tremendous grief rose. Grief that had no name and no memory. Fear was there. A lack of meaning was there. I had very little reflection on what was going on. I spent a lot of time alone. When I did find someone and they were usually dead poets. Rumi and Hafiz were huge. Anything that reflected to me a context that was spiritual instead of a context of I’m failing at life.
In our culture, when we start to go into initiation from the dark, which is anything from illness, trauma, loss, and a spiritual emergency, we encounter the deep training of our culture that this realm is taboo. This realm is evidence that you are bad, wrong, or messing up. The bad advice from the people around us, and bless their hearts, they love us and give us the best advice they can do, but it often has some level of, “You’re making me nervous. Can you clean that up?”
That’s exactly the wrong thing. We need people who can listen to us without a need to change us and preferably who have been so initiated by the dark themselves that they bring mercy and understanding and can create a context for us within which to go through this. Especially with a dark night or a loss, the only way is through and the way through, if embraced and held, creates maturity and wisdom and initiates us into the deeper, yummier, holy depths of divine love and wisdom. It’s the good stuff. Our culture says it’s the bad stuff.
No one wants to suffer. They want their illusion of control.
One of the most amazing moments for me a few years into this was Mirabai Starr who edited and translated Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. She was in a sacred poetry class with me at the time and I was deep in the dark and I found out that she was doing this. I said, “Can I please have your manuscript? I’ll read through it. I’m a good copy editor. In exchange for you letting me read it, I’ll let you know if there’s any little this or that I find.”
When I read that, I alternately laughed and cried and wanted to kiss St. John’s toes for having documented and reflected exactly what I was going through because I had not seen it reflected anywhere. Occasionally in a poem or in a piece of writing by Roka, I would see little hints that perhaps what I was experiencing some other human being on the planet had experienced.
His book Ascent of Mount Carmel and later, I found a Catholic named Barbara Dent from New Zealand, who has written a few books. One of them is called My Only Friend Is Darkness. Finally, I saw myself reflected. Up until then, every other book that said “dark night of the soul” in the title was more about a human hard time. Human hard times can send us into the dark and they can initiate spiritual realization, but the dark night of the soul is of another order. It is not caused by a human hard time.
St. John writes that the initiate has done all they can on the spiritual path and now it’s up to God to crack our nut. That passage is an incredibly receptive one. It’s a passive one. We are not trained in this culture in the yin side of ourselves, in the beauty of surrender, in the usefulness of receptivity, in the power of what grows a baby in a womb, or what turns a caterpillar to a butterfly inside of a cocoon. The miraculous nature of the holy as it operates in silence. We are strangers to giving ourselves to that because everything in our culture reflects tread water. There’s something horrible down there.
We have no patience for transformation. We’re like, “Get it over with.”
I want to say an authentic dark night of the soul is a butt kicker, but so are many other human events we can face on the planet. The wisdom gleaned from the dark night of the soul is useful to apply to any other dissent because we’re all getting our faces held down into the same realm when we have a hard time, whether it’s that we’re in high school and our boyfriend dumped us or whatever other tragedies can happen.
I would love to ask you on the earthbound plane, did that destroy your relationship while you were going through all of this? I know that your daughter came along later on. Was that one of the dark nights of the soul types of things that happened to you?
I would have to say that my relationship at that time was quite secondary to what was happening. In fact, everything was quite secondary. I would say my daughter’s astrology, the moment that she was born, captured the sky at the deepest of my descent. One of my mentors joked, “This baby in your womb needs you to be a little bit bigger to be her mother. We’re cleaning house.”
It sounds like she’s your teacher in many ways.
Beautiful being. The relationship was the context under which this drama played out on the periphery but the main battle was mythic and an underworld-ish and had nothing to do with anything on the Earth, even though I tried to make it about the relationship. “I must have picked the wrong guy.” In my attempts to think that I was the author of this, I was still under the impression that I was the author of my life and could direct it however I wanted, so I must have made a bad mistake if things were feeling this weird.
One of the feelings was something was terribly wrong. The only time I had ever felt that was when I had made a funny choice or said a little white lie. Something needs to be righted. I didn’t realize that the lie was actually who I took myself to be. That was what needed uprooting, which is very difficult to even get a reflection into unless you’re driven there because it’s generally down at the very bottom of the well of our unconscious, these assumptions about I’m in control, etc. Bless his heart, my daughter’s dad hung in there as best he could as I thought it was about him. I didn’t know I was panicked. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. The first year was filled with panic and flailing. Bless his heart, he was the recipient of a lot of that.
It’s scary for him too.
If you’re connected to someone whose sleigh is going down and you stay connected, your sleigh goes down with them to some degree. It was difficult. What was true for me was after the panic and everything and the deep not knowing, St. John says that one of the things that happens in the dark night is your knowing is eclipsed. Your will is eclipsed. You’re there in the present moment, digesting what’s rising. I think what we did was, in a way, have parallel lives. We lived together. We had this little being who we both adored. I was able to be an exquisite mother to her as she was a beautiful present-moment meditation for me.
Mothering is a full-on job. It took my attention off of some of the extra mental haranguing one does when one is going through something like this into a very nice chop, wood carry water, a meditation, like change diapers, nurse, sing, and play. He was a wonderful dad. We hung on through the storm. We split up when she was around three and a half.
I was now coming out of the dark. One of the things that I noticed throughout was this deep pull to be alone and crawl into a cave like a caterpillar or a wounded animal. When an animal is wounded, it goes into a safe sanctuary to heal. This is a deep piece of wisdom from nature that in our culture, even poor introverts, it’s like you go into your layer and you’re like, “What’s wrong with that person?”
We don’t understand the deep value of solitude. I had this pull to be alone. I kept fighting it off because within the culture model, to be alone is to not be in a relationship. I knew that that would be so challenging. I wanted my daughter to have her dad. I wanted us to be together. It kept coming and I fought it. I was barely even conscious of it.
One day, I realized I started having this practice of only saying what was true because I realized so many of the assumptions, I had built on top of being and so much of the way I related as a human being was false and driving me crazy. I saw that the way out of this darkness was to actually let everything go, but what I knew to be true and to start speaking those little things.
As many of us know, in a close relationship with another being, some of the simple truths can deeply threaten the other person, even if you don’t mean them, how they’re taking them. I finally one day said, “I need to live alone.” I was imagining maybe a duplex, but he couldn’t tolerate that. After that many years and a relationship prior that was similarly conflicted, he’d had it. He said, “If you need to live alone, live alone. It’s over.”
At that point, what was so important for me was to stay simple and true and come with me. I’d already tried to figure out every other way to do it than the way that was clearly being willed, not by my will, because it wasn’t my big idea. That caused the relationship to dissolve. We are still friends and we have co-parented well. Not without bumps like everyone finds, but trips through the darkness are incredibly trying for the person who’s going down and everyone who’s connected to them. We drop out of the usual lit bright, socially acceptable way that we show up in relating when we are challenged this deeply. That’s one of the deepest challenges to us.
I find a challenge also is that while you are changing and coming into your truth, you start losing people. You’re shutting people along the way. They actually get angry with you. I’ve experienced this with quite a few relationships. I’m not arrogantly telling them how to live. I’m not in any way coming from a place that I’m all-knowing or whatever, but because I’m more conscious of my relationship because of what’s happened to me, in a way, I’m role modeling a different way of being and that’s very threatening to a lot of people.
It is. It’s hard to speak some of these things in a way the mind can understand them. When you live here from emptiness, the deep living word, holy, the freshness, and the immediacy of the moment, you basically become an invitation to other people to let go of their shallow ways of being here. That’s as terrifying as it was for you to enter the dark or more. They don’t realize. It’s not like they get an engraved golden invitation that says, “Darling, please accompany me into the dark. It’ll be okay.” It’s unconscious. They feel like you are something from hell that suddenly has come to wreck their party. It is very challenging for people. I think on the spiritual path, only so many beings can deeply be your peers.
There’s a deep aloneness that has to be faced as we are invited. Do we want the truth? Do we want the holy? Do we want God or do we want the world? The saying, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all else shall be added unto you.” The missing phrase in there is seek ye the kingdom of God and you’re going to lose everything and then everything will be re-added unto you in a totally different way. That doesn’t mean she’ll have a mom, a dad, brothers, and sisters. It’s not like we have an inability to be kind to people. The number of people who want to dance our dance, a dance that is coming from the truth rather than the culturally sanctioned and acceptable way of being. Those people do fade and they do get hurt. They do see you as the source of that.
I actually had someone say to me that I’m too direct. I thought I was being very loving, but I was speaking my truth to this person about something that I had understood in this person’s life of trying to talk with this person. It’s a little difficult when so much is being heaped on you not to respond to that. The person said to me, “You’re being direct and it’s very intimidating, so I have to pull out of your life.”
Here’s what’s tricky. Zen poetry will say something like, “Now that my house has burned down, I can see the light of the moon.” Spiritual emergencies and losses of many sorts can burn down our house. That is a whole process in itself. It’s a whole deconstruction of who we think we are and how we think we want to be here. The good news is that we get a deeper sense of why we’re here.
Oftentimes, we also get the ability to be an economist and to be loving. Those are the bonus part. The burning down of the house is only the beginning because then what happens is our life becomes an answer to the question, “How do I be here as an expression of this beauty, of this truth, of this wisdom?” That’s the embodiment part. When we are emerging from the dark and trying to find our way to being both true and harmless, it’s useful to have guides or friends with a nice clean palette who can give us the feedback we need because we can be awkward.
We can be too direct in a way. Yet, if we take the feedback from every Tom, Dick and Harry and Jane, Jenny and Joan that we run across, we can be self-attacking ourselves. We’re attempting to be perfect according to the rules of the coping structure instead of the rules of the truth. I love holding people through that metamorphosis, but I love the part where we find new legs, new voices, new capacities, to actually take this that we have seen and known and function on the basis of it in the world.
There’s so much to be sorted out in that process. What is a lie? What is truth? What is tenderness? What is directness? I know you mentioned my teaching of yin and yang. It’s the learning and the development of the beauty of the tender, the open, the receptive, and then the appropriate yang that takes a stand when needed and takes action when needed.
The true yang is so informed by the tenderhearted yin that it’s most effective. I find that a lot of times, when any of us say, “I spoke my truth,” we don’t realize that we still have a little bit of a rusty sword untampered by the depths of a tender heart because being here tenderhearted feels like being here as prey. The teachings of that or the tutoring from yin is necessary for the sword of truth to cut cleanly, do no harm, and leave no residue.
I would both say that we can be entirely embodied in tenderness, deliver a true yang blow or statement, and be accused of being too direct and left. We can also have a little bit of rest still in there that actually wax the person on the way in because we’re unconscious of it. This refinement is a lot of the work post realization because nobody wakes up to their true nature and suddenly, they’re a perfect human embodiment. There are still ghosts in the closet, funky places, places where we don’t know how to use certain capacities.
We’re all works in progress.
That’s the humility that allows us to keep learning. The discernment lets us go to the sources that are most likely to give us a clean reflection. Everything is a potential reflection, but we have to sort it out to see what’s mine and what’s yours.
In your workshops, when someone is working with you, Jeannie, are you helping them to discern?
I want to segue to, if someone is deeply grieving, they’re troubled, they have all of these different things going on in their lives and they come to one of your workshops, are they going to start to receive information that’s going to help them? Tell me how that works. When they’re crying, “I lost this person or this thing is going on in my life,” why should I let this lady talk with me and how is she going to help me?
You shouldn’t. You should only let this lady talk to you if you feel a deep resonance. Otherwise, no. I’m not here to tell everybody that I’m what they need. Who knows? Everybody’s sensibilities in their own gut and heart are always what to follow, especially in these more tender places. That’s what I would say for starters.
What we need more than anything when we are going down is a context that holds us in that process so that we can see it as an initiation rather than a failure. If we see it as a failure, we are going to keep scrambling to try to solve something that is not to be solved but to be lived through. In pregnancy, you see a bump in someone’s belly. It’s good to know there’s a baby in there because then you chill for nine months because you know a baby is coming.
If you have a lump in your belly and it’s a tumor, you’re not going to chill for nine months waiting for the baby to be delivered. You want to get that thing out of there. Part of the initial discernment is what’s going on. Unfortunately, there’s a dearth of beings who can discern all the way from trauma, depression, and spiritual emergency because to be able to discern those things, you have to have some education and preferably some experience in all those things.
I would say anyone going through a significant dark period should first find any voices, dead poets, living sages, therapists, or whatever, that give you a sense that there’s not something wrong with you. That is experienced through you’re carrying this wound. You get in the room with someone and you feel like you can show it and you’re not going to get aggressively helped or advised but tenderly received and held, like that feeling of a good mama and good papa.
It feels to me like a tremendous loving acceptance.
A familiarity with this phoenix initiation or this going down. We want to know that the person has gone through something like that or has the capacity to hold it. I’m not a therapist and a therapist hold a loving space consistently and is taking you on in a daily way. I don’t do that. My work is wonderful as an adjunct to therapy. I often refer people to therapists or to trauma resolution practitioners because even though I’m educated in those things, can recognize them and hold space, I wish for everyone, a regular person, to hold space and to carry someone through all of that.
Besides which, whether it’s a dark night or a loss, so many things in us become uncovered that deserve space to digest that thing. What my work does is it gives a context and a touchstone. Many people going through the dark night say that my writing and what I teach is the one pure, authentic place besides like St. John the cross where they feel reflected because there aren’t a lot of voices of beings who have gone through this very thing and have expressed it in the down to earth way that I do. People say this. I don’t claim anything except that I went through this thing and here I am.
You’re a wonderful vessel for the truth and for what is trying to be.
It’s true. I don’t like claiming any one true anything. People have reflected to me, “Thank God for you. This article, I’ve read it a billion times. Your guided meditations, I listen to them every day because it’s rare.” I am basically the human being I could have used when I was in the dark night and I understand it intimately. The dark night is different than trauma, but you can go through a dark night and unearth trauma. You can unearth all kinds of things. The dark night because it leaves no stone unturned. I can help somebody have an overview, a sense, and a context. I’m also abundantly available. If someone is ripe for my work, what I try to do is do deep retreats that happen here and there, but I also do online programs.
One is, not accidentally, nine months long because people have the ability to relate to me through a Facebook group, monthly Q&As, and the libraries in this context of how to look at life through deep initiation versus through the everyday mind version that the culture gives us. It makes those of us who are here in a deeper way for something deeper, feel sane, feel companioned. I did a series on the dark night. The first one I did was on the phone at the time and people were weeping at hearing other people who were going through the same thing that they were going through. The power of my work is that I speak with a voice that has gone through that and come out the other side. I know the terrain.
There are people who jump on my train and ride it for all it’s worth, whatever they can afford from time and investment to do it. Some people, I do like an online call every month on various themes. Every month, I open a circle out in the Bay Area and hosts me online once a month. I do an introductory course on how to orient outside of the everyday mind called The Holy Work Challenge twice a year. That’s a prerequisite for this nine-month thing. That one is followed by a seven-month thing.
Basically, people can hop on the train and get regular support that way, which is rare. We have a list. When someone that’s involved in my work finds a therapist, a healer, or a trauma specialist who has been deeply useful to them, we add it to our resource list. Sometimes I say, “I think you could use some trauma resolution. You’re in New Hampshire. We don’t have anybody that’s been recommended there, but here’s someone.”
I don’t recommend anyone but the people who are involved in the work. I think that they’re generally good tests because they’re both attracted to this level of depth and they have had helpful support from one of these people. I have writing and stuff on YouTube. I try with my small body and not a lot of support. I have an assistant to put out as much as I can that makes people feel sane as well as holding space for people to literally be exactly where they are and feel what they’re feeling without being messed with.
You give them comfort.
That’s true. Even more than that, I give them a sturdy, safe, clarity-filled sauna container to face what is before them, digest it, bloom, and not be alone in it, which is huge. The people we’ve been hanging around with and getting company from often look at us like we’re the ugly duckling and they’re all swans. It could be nice to discover that we aren’t an ugly duckling. We’re just a different species of swan.
Let me ask you, for those who don’t understand this, you speak about the spiritual aspect of our humanness. Can you talk to people about that?
A Catholic and an atheist raised me and he’s now an agnostic and a very scientifically materialistic person. If you can’t measure, it doesn’t exist. Show me logic and these kind of things. My mom deeply has faith in a deity. I grew up going to the Catholic church and then coming home and saying, “Daddy, God made the corn grow.” He would say, “I made the goddamn corn grow. I’m out here hoeing.”
What a great relationship that must have been.
I know. He definitely had his challenges. What that did was it gave me a rigor to approach my own subjective experience to not claim things I haven’t experienced. Many of the things we experience on the spiritual path don’t have logical ways to express them because they aren’t of logic. They aren’t of the left brain. They are more like ish. Often, those realities are pointed to with metaphor, poetry, and phrases as best as we can. I often say that all of the spiritual wisdom of the ages is condensed in the songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Frequently, one of those songs will come to describe some of these things. Donovan has a song and the phrase that he sings is, “All my life I have been searching for that, which I cannot see.”
Some of us, whatever we call it, the truth, reality, God, we don’t know. This feeling that this can’t be all there is. Usually, spirituality shows up not as a something but as a gnawing lack. “What completes me? I want to go home. I want to feel full. I want to have deep meaning at midlife.” Some of us have had the bug since we were young and I certainly did. What’s real, what can be counted on, what isn’t being expressed by the things coming out of people’s mouths?
When I read a philosopher or an old Chinese poem, I go, “Yes.” That resonance pulls us along, as Donovan says, “looking for this thing we cannot see. We can’t write home about it.” If this is our research project, there’s no way to show our badge to the people who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid, so to speak, because it evaporates under the scrutiny of the left brain.
Yet, we all know what we’re talking about. It’s a deeply subjectively felt something. People throughout all ages have followed that call. In mythology, it might be represented by the sirens, or in Norse mythology, there’s the one who shows up in the snowy wood to beckon us. Something beckons but we can’t see it. Through the resonance, I call it food, things feel like food. That poet, that teacher, the way that person sings, there’s something beautiful. There’s something that peeks through the everyday and beckons of a realm or a level that is luminous, beautiful, and inspiring.
You want to be able to hear it. You have to want to choose to let it in. I would say you were spiritually precocious and now you’re guiding others who would like to tune in.
I was after it with everything I had as best I knew. I was simultaneously trying to be a good doobie and get my ducks in a row. My man, my baby, my house, and my car because that’s what the culture tells us will make us happy. Simultaneously, this thing was growing in me. Eventually, if we’re lucky, God and spirituality as a hobby take over and start driving life. That’s when things get real and that’s when things get a little scary because we like our feeling of being in control.
That dimension is real. I don’t know how to say it. You can see the light in my eyes when I start to talk, the smile on my face because I have the experience of being fed from a well inside that opened as I gave the reins over. It’s not like I’m giving the reins over. They were forced out of my hands. There is a deeper dimension that we can know. We can’t know it with mind. It beckons often through wrecking things because when things are wrecked or when our boat is wrecked, we can feel the water.
The Indigo Girls have this great song where they sing, “I sailed my ship of safety until I sank it. I’m crawling on your shores.” From the perspective of the one wanting to fit in, we can see loss. At first, all we see is loss, what isn’t there, what we’re unable to do, etc. When we start to feel the full moon coming into our burned-out mansion, it’s a different story. That’s when the gratitude starts rolling. The gratitude for the destruction because we have been given such a huge gift, but the gift doesn’t always companion us in a way we can understand through the dark. It feels like someone put out the lights, God is gone, or whatever.
I’d like to talk about gratitude and concept. You also spoke about the idea of letting one’s loneliness cut more deeply and how you use that loneliness to achieve transformation. I have a feeling that leads to gratitude. Would you like to speak to us about that?
I’d be happy to. Actually, in my nine-month course, each month has a theme. In the final month, the theme is gratitude. I have a very different take on gratitude than many because the form of spirituality here is not so much one of cultivation, being nice, and all that. It’s much more seeking first the kingdom of God and all else will be added unto you. Gratitude is a natural part of our true nature that is obscured by our owies. Our owies and our entitlement and our life sucks. I’m going to bang on it with my spoon like a baby.
That’s a part of our child within. It’s a part of what needs to be healed. We have to be tender toward it. No blame or shame to anyone. We have deep places we suffer and we’re not pleased. To add gratitude in a way you should not be feeling what you’re feeling, pace gratitude on top makes us want to take out a machete and cut down some things.
When I was in the dark night, people told me, “Can you see this is a gift? Can you be grateful?” I wanted to choke them to death, honestly, because what they were saying to me is, “Where you are is not all right. Get rid of it and install this better perspective.” If I could have done that, I so would have, but you don’t tell a liquefying caterpillar, “Can you come out here and wave your wings at me?”
It would distract the caterpillar from the necessary melting it needs, the liquefying they do in there to grow wings. The addiction to only wings keeps us from acknowledging the deep wisdom of the dark and all of these places we go through. That said, gratitude we get for free. It’s the craziest thing that when we are sitting in our burned-out mansion, as I said before, from the perspective of the me of the limited human who is identified and likes being in control, that looks like a tragedy.
Who’s going to be grateful for tragedy? When we start to see all of the suffering, we have been relieved of, the structures that evoke the structures that produce extra suffering, we have been relieved of it. The Holy has pinned us down and removed a sliver from our foot and we start to feel life without that sliver. Even breath becomes miraculous. Even the view out the window or the old bathrobe hanging on the hook. We start in our poverty. This is divine poverty. We start to have the capacity to see life as a gift and to see everything as a gift. We start to shift from a bratty, entitled, “I get to dictate how life should be and if it doesn’t go my way, poop on you,” to “Life, what are you trying to show me here?”
If we try to paste that on top of the angry entitled baby as a message that we should not feel what we feel, we’re only going to have another level of suffering layered on top of the other one. I like ways of orienting to the moment that they have at their heart. I don’t know if this is a gift, but I’m willing to open to it without my rant.
I might have grief. I might not like it. I’m not going to rob myself of feeling those things because I do feel, though I do feel tremendously grief-stricken, that I have lost my way of being here, my former life, whatever. I’m going to grieve the person I lost. I’m going to get up in the morning and not like this meaninglessness because I don’t like it. At the same time, that positionality, therefore there’s a stinker and it’s either God, me, or you. It’s like pulling the stinker out and replacing it with mystery. “I don’t know why I’m going through this.” If we can have a thank you as a practice, we can get up and say thank you. Oftentimes, we don’t feel thankful.
You don’t feel the need to place blame. You’re absolving them from the need to place that blame and experience what it is. Take that drama out of it.
Yes, because what is a transfer? Rumi says, “Welcome every guest that comes to the guest house because they might be bringing a message from the beyond.” Every energy that comes, grief and inspiration, is there for us to drop below the head and allow it to shape us and rock us in a very non-mental, more felt experience way. The only exception to this is trauma. If things are overwhelming when we do that, it’s probably time to get to some safe place rather than stewing in overwhelm.
I love how you encourage people to work with therapists or healers because I’ve done that. I mentioned to you that when I lost my husband, I worked with a very grounded life transition coach but then I also had the blessing of having an energy healer who was able to see levels of what I was going through. On the first bound plane, I was learning how to deal with what had happened but was getting a greater dimension of the meaning. They weren’t very well together. I was talking about the importance of letting one’s loneliness cut through and how it leads to gratitude. I also wanted to hear the story of your daughter.
I protected my daughter’s innate capacity to digest her experience from any interference from the outside. I let her cry when she cried. I would say, “It’s sad, isn’t it?” I was not adding anything to her, just reflecting on her if she needed to.
Instead of a parent saying, “Why are you crying? I’ll give you something to cry for.”
Also, to tell her, “You’re okay.” Someone once tried to say, “You’re okay,” and she said, “I know I’m okay. That’s why I can cry this deeply. Maybe you don’t know you’re okay, but I know I’m okay.” She said a lot of interesting things. One of the things she said is, “Mama, I cry until I’m empty and then I rest in the emptiness.” That’s precisely my experience. When we cry all the way to the bottom of something, there’s a beautiful resting in the womb of silence and opportunity. For her, she didn’t have a lot of inner voices because your inner voices come from your parents and we weren’t telling her not to cry. I also had to work on her dad some when she was young. He had a lot of already good information about this thing.
People get bothered by children who go in there and stay in there as long as they need. Also, when I said to her, “You’re a wise little girl. If you had something to say to all the children of the world as the most useful thing, what would you say.” She said, “Crying is good.” I said, “How about adults? What do you think is the one thing adults need to know?” She said, “Crying is good.” Once, she came to me in a store when she was eight. She’s given me the rights to everything ten and under. She’s introverted and doesn’t want to be talked about on the internet, but she has given me rights. She came to me in a store with a T-shirt that she wanted.
It was a black T-shirt with white ink. It had a picture of a little monster on it grinning. The monster had a plate of cookies. It said, “Come to the dark side, we have cookies.” I said, “That’s a great T-shirt, but you’re eight. What do you know about the dark side?” Her whole face got this beautiful, sublime openness to it, which she would get in her face when she said something particularly deep. She said, “Crying and stuff.”
I was like, “She had an innate sense of this beautiful world that we are carried to when we reckon with the downward pull of our being.” That’s actually wisdom. It’s very into healing. The story about the balloon is an example of the way that I parented and a beautiful example of a child integrating something that she lost. When she was little, I gave her her first balloon. I was so excited to be a mother that I frequently did things a little bit too early. I gave her a rattle that I had purchased from an indigenous boy from Taos Pueblo. I had purchased it the night I found out I was pregnant with her. I was so eager to give it to her. I gave it to her too early. She banged herself in the head with it. She didn’t know rattle from self yet.
I gave her first balloon. It was red, beautiful, and huge. I tied it very loosely around her wrist. She was absolutely in love because this defied everything she had learned about the Earth until this point that something could float above her. She could pull on it and it would bounce and float. You could see her little face. When a child is allowed to digest their experience, they bring themselves to new experiences with their openness and their wonder like, “What is this?”
She’s learning another principle of being on Earth, which is that some things float and are red and round. She could see that her wrist was somehow related to its movement, complete, surrendered awe and wonder, and, “You are my love.” It’s merging. She pulled it once extra hard and the balloon slipped off her hand and went up. Her head went up and followed it.
She realized, “It’s not on my wrist anymore.” She started howling. She loved that balloon with all of her heart. She wasn’t done playing that game and it was gone. She howled and I said, “It’s gone.” She looked at me. I’m giving her a little bit of accurate information. I’m not overlaying anything on like, “This is so sad. Let’s get you a new one. You shouldn’t do this,” because what I saw was that she was integrating something else about life, which is that things go.
Things going is not a tragedy. We can be here grieving the thing that is left. We can digest our experience. In the grieving is the love. It’s implicit. That beautiful thing was tied to my wrist and it can go. I can digest that it left. I can be sad and get in my bones that things go but that’s not something to be frightened of. Oftentimes, when we haven’t been allowed to digest that when we’re young, then when something goes later in life that we leaned into, all the stored griefs of all time are in this big scary closet. That’s why so many of us adults have a challenge when these big things happen.
They don’t know how to handle it because everything always suits them for everything.
It didn’t hold space for their innate wisdom to learn and to reference off of the calm space holding parent that this is a part of life. Now, mercy to us, we can’t parent in that way. If we don’t know in our bodies that’s okay. Every one of us parents, we’re on Earth. We’re human parents. We parent the best way we know how. This is the game on Earth that’s going on. Although we can see it as tragic, the ways that we didn’t parent perfectly, this is the game here. We’re here to be humans.
That leads to another question. What in your mind is a fully engaged limit?
I laughed because I’m thinking about some of my current experiments in fully engaged living.
We’re talking about encompassing all of this with the losses and with the things that go on.
As we heal and develop, I would say that we increase our capacity for fully engaged living. If we have been traumatized and taught that leaving our house to go for a walk may endanger us, we stay in our house and lose the exploration we might have had because we’re not equipped inside to have that exploration.
Fully engaged living is both in the moment, turning toward what’s given, finding what we need to deeply reckon with it, and healing and growing from it so that in ever-expanding circles, we are able to bring ourselves fully to whatever crosses our paths. My capacity to fully experience, for example, my emotional range was affected by my early life. Maybe fully engaged living for me was turning toward that grief and learning about how to grieve.
Now a fully engaged living contains very little grieving because the heart turned inside out. Instead, I sail my boat into absolute open adoring love with no fear of any grief closet because I don’t experience someone going as a tragedy. Earlier in my life, fully engaged living might have been sailing my boat in there and then grieving my butt off. For me, fully engaged living is actually turning toward life with everything we have. I’m fully engaged living now. It’s like, “Hello, life.”
I love that you pointed out that people that fully engaged living the experience that they had can change as they evolve and as they heal. You have to become more and more fully engaged, even though in the beginning you are.
I can remember a time when I was scared of deep water I couldn’t see in. I would swim from here to the dock hoping that whatever was under there wasn’t going to pull me under and drown me. The movie Jaws didn’t know was not helpful to me. For me, fully engaged living at that time was engaging the edge of where I was afraid and trying the next bit. In a way, it’s engaging with life in a full, “I’m here for it,” way.
Many of us have a lot of, “No way. I hate life. It’s been my enemy,” those kinds of things. Fully engaged living might be sticking our toe out into getting some help with that from a therapist and then fully engaged living in its full bore in the moment eating that strawberry, tasting every bit of what that strawberry is giving you, feeling the cold of it, and the yum of it. Giving your whole being to the miracle of whatever is before you. That capacity increases as we heal the places where we are afraid, grief-stricken, limited, and have shrunken capacities. My capacity to relate to other human beings has expanded exponentially in my journey and walk. I’m never going to stop.
I think you’ve defined why people should consider healing and what the advantage is as to why healing is important to our experience.
We wouldn’t try to fly a kite that had a broken spine or brace. We would do something with that brace first before trying to fly it. Sometimes, we are ready to be in the Red Cross tent mending things. Sometimes we are ready to take our little boat for a little ride and see what else we can handle. If we do too much of taking the boat for a ride without acknowledging and healing the places where we’re afraid or whatever, it becomes self-abuse. We have another experience of not being able to.
This is the recognition of yin, healing, and the receptive. This is a huge useful dimension of our humanness to admit that we’re human. This is useful. This is a model of spirituality that is not Pollyanna-ish. It’s not skipping over the reality of being human nor is it painting it all as a tragic, big, horrible mistake we’re going to get lost in. There’s something about the wedding of heaven and Earth in us that sets up an invitation for a lived dialogue until the two are embodied with deep wisdom. I love the whole thing. The whole thing is so right.
Wherever we are, we each are doing an independent study. This isn’t a foot race. Each being is working a different knot, doing a different study and they’re all worthy wherever it is that we are. Some of them look more tragic than others. We don’t know what the lessons are. We don’t know why we have the tutors we have. They’re all with integrity. There isn’t a single human being who is screwing up. We’re given what we’re given and we heroically do our best with it.
It’s so tremendously wise and helpful. People go, “Why should I go to all this trouble?” You can walk out of your comfort zone to do this. Maybe I can taste, enjoy, appreciate, and experience more. I’ve felt that myself in what’s going on. I want to ask you, as you download information, can you explain to people where is that information coming from? Also, talk about the integration tools you use when you’re helping people for people that are considering whether they’d like to work with you.
One of the things that happened along my trajectory and in the dark night, prior to the dark night, for the most part, I relied on the everyday mind. My GPS was the everyday mind. It was, “Does it make sense? Is it logical? Is it culturally sanctioned?” That was very focused in the everyday mind. One of the things that the dark night does is that it eclipses the everyday mind.
The everyday mind is seen as the source of much suffering. It’s good for trying to figure out how to get a banana out of a tree, but it’s not very good for feeling into the truth of the heart. When I was in the dark night and I lost the GPS of the mind, it was very frightening because I was left without guidance. I was flopped in the present moment, which at the time, I had a lot of feelings about. It was like, “I’m in the unknown. I don’t know where I’m going. This is freaking me out. I can’t see ahead.” Rumi says, “Don’t look into distances. That’s not for human beings.” There’s so much guidance in Rumi’s poems for some of these things.
I started to notice that dropping my attention to felt experience alleviated my suffering a bit. That fusing attention to the mind, which is pretty much how we’re all conditioned, and letting that thing get going in a speedy way, freaked me out. It increased my suffering. I kept pulling my attention off of the everyday mind and putting it into my felt experience. I started to have experiences that the sense of boundary around my body would soften and dissolve and I would be sitting more as a cloud or more as a field of presence than an it.
For whatever reason, having attention in that wedding of presence and sensation caused me to be more in touch with a knowing that was more embodied and caused a level of openness that would feed me things to say. The things that I say are a blend of the wisdom of the creature, the body, the wisdom, and a lived life. They are vibrating in my lived space and a very intimate residing in the reality of unity.
Sometimes I say things like I can tell someone is afraid from 50 yards just by tuning my attention over there into the felt realm. That’s something that I think creatures do. The creature of the body and animals can sense things from far away. Wolves all turn at once. Who’s the leader? You can’t tell. A school of fish, the same way. They’re tuning. They’re not like, “Leader to pack, over.” There’s something in that collective residing that communicates like sonar through water.
I am more of a mystical variety in that my depth and my wisdom come from a deep surrender to the unknown. I am given things to say and things to do. Sometimes they look sensible. Sometimes they look wacky. Sometimes when I’m addressing someone, I start to sing a song. It’s tremendously non-linear. The sense of it usually comes out in the wash, but at the time, it’s like, “What’s that?” It’s the way I live now. There’s no conflict in me between the pull of intuition and the logic of the mind because they have integrated into one single way of being.
I would say the source of life or the source of breath is the same source of everything. That’s what lives me. Whatever it is, that’s living everything else. I don’t have a chief saint or a posse of guides. I’m not visual. I may have those, but it’s all experienced for me as one vibrating fabric, and I don’t need to personify it. There’s this sense of obedience and an ability to feel with the entire instrument of my body and beyond what is simple. I don’t have any temptation to speak anything that I don’t directly experience.
It feels to me like it’s an unfiltered knowing, in a way. I’m saying it in a simplistic way, but it’s unfiltered knowing from your experience of what’s coming through you.
The tools are so many. They grow out of the alive moment of speaking to someone. One of the key things that I find useful is to help people to establish the capacity to pull attention off of the everyday mind and ground in the unknown moment. Twice a year, I do a program called the Holy Work Challenge. That name grew up organically because I wasn’t trying to come up with a technique. I was trying to tell the members or the participants of a particular committed program how I hold space for people. I came up with seven elements as I was describing it and I gave it to them as homework.
I said, “Go home and play with these things.” One of the men said, “It’s not the homework. It’s the holy work.” That’s its name now. I do a 30-day online program where people are supported to make their own commitment to explore this. They get support and a ton of mercy. There’s even a deep teaching about commitment, the harshness we’ve generally experienced with commitment and failure, and the combination of intention and mercy. Even though you’ve broken your vow perhaps 1,000 times, come again to this beautiful learning about accepting one’s humanness in that. That is one of the deep tools because I am so practical in exchanging with people, that I will give them little bits of homework to do.
I have a visualization that helps people feel the sovereign holy temple of their being and unplug from a more codependent way of being. Everything I do, I have little tips to try out because everything I’m teaching, I’m interested in embodying these things, not just learning with the brain and then going home and being as conflicted as ever.
It’s little experiments that help us to embody. The simplest thing people can take home from this if they’re reading is to play with dropping attention into one’s felt experience. Let yourself feel your footsteps, breath, heartbeat, and weight in the chair, and see what that’s like for you if you play with that. We can experience all kinds of things. If people experience overwhelming panic, that indicates that they are probably carrying a level of fear. It would be useful to find a trauma-resolution person, like someone who practices somatic experiencing.
I always say this because people carry trauma and trauma doesn’t have to be some horrific thing that happened in your childhood. People who carry this thing in their bodies are deeply attracted to spirituality and often feel like failures because dropping it into their bodies doesn’t feel good. It feels like a tiger is about to attack them.
If there’s that level of overwhelm, it’s good to know that there is a modality, at least one, there are a few of them that can help with that. It’s very common. When I first dropped my attention to my health experience, it was like, “Why would I want to do that? My body is a tense brick.” That shows us that the body is carrying so much. It doesn’t know how to unwind it. One of the ways I unwound it was to dance, shake, and let the body move the way it wants to move.
Embodiment is not an overnight happening. Usually, we’re driven to it because nothing else works. We would all love to take a magic pill, know ourselves as God, and live happily ever after. Divine love with ourselves and our neighbors. The human walk is rarely like that even in the luckiest of circumstances. We are actually asked to turn toward the slowest, dopiest, most painful parts in ourselves and find a way to make space for them and get to know them.
We need help with that because we’re filled with yuck. There are so many beings out there offering themselves these days to hold a sweet space or hold our hands through some of that because, just like in the myths, harpies are in the woods and they’re yelling bad things at us. Sometimes we don’t know how to walk through the woods with those suckers in there.
Shut those people that are helping you like Jeannie and the show. That’s what we’re all about. Jeannie, tell people how they can get ahold of you. They’re fascinated, they’re curious, they want to find out more.
What is nice about me is that I recognize that not everybody wants to jump into the deep end. There are little ways you can put your toe in the water. You can go on YouTube, search for my name, and find some nice benign guided meditation and a few little snips of me talking. I advise people, “Feel with your heart. Feel with your body. Does this feel true to you? Do you like this? Do you start getting a smile on your face?”
Maybe you get a little sound like in Jaws, like, “Deep water,” because it is deep water. We have to want the deep water, but there’s nobody who holds anybody underwater in what I do. You can do that. I have a website and it’s an old website. We’re working on a new one, but you can see my events there. My website is JeannieZandi.com. That’s good to know because almost everything you can find about me, including ancient letters to the editor I’ve written on the internet, everything you can find through my name. On Facebook, I have a public-facing page called The Work of Jeannie Zandi. We generally put all my events on there. I have a private Facebook group called Friends of Jeannie Zandi.
If you search for that, you will find that and you can ask to be added. I post something every day there. That’s a nice daily way to get a little sniff of what I’m talking about. Every month or so, I do an online meeting. No one needs to know anything to come on those. You don’t need to speak. People’s videos are off so no one sees you. You can come in and listen. We meditate. I do a guided meditation. I talk and then people voluntarily exchange with me on those.
Do they find that through Facebook, Jeannie?
The email list is probably the most reliable as long as you make sure that they’re not going to your spam.
It’s the email list that comes from your website.
On my website, there are little places you can click and email Amy or add yourself. I’m not sure how it’s working these days. Amy is my assistant. She’s very nice. The step up from that is public evenings where I’ll do a talk somewhere and then people can ask questions. Nobody has to do anything. You can sit in the back. If it feels scary, you can run out. I like to let people know they can touch this without having the shark pull them down.
I do series online on topics. I have an online school that is School.JeannieZandi.com that has some free things to watch and it also has things you can purchase. I have a series on various topics. When I do a series online, I then edit it and add it to the school as we have time to add. There’s a good amount of stuff in there. I have pieces of writing. I do deeper things like a day-long event. I have retreats. I screen for it to make sure people are ready. That’s a deep immersion.
When you step into a retreat, you’re basically saying, “I’m here for the five days. Come what may, I’m going to participate. I’m going to talk to you. I’m going to enter in. It’s nice to come to a public thing or do a series because I do hold a very deep space for people. One of the things about all my spaces, I say they are crying-friendly.
If someone is going through a big grief thing, they can sit in the retreat and they can cry the entire time. They can tune out, put earplugs in, curl up like a baby, and not listen to a word I say if they feel overwhelmed. It’s a nice space. Sometimes, if someone’s got a lot of trauma and they want to come to a retreat, we’ll have a talk about if they feel like they can, like, “What is this? Do I feel like I can handle this?” We have a little application screening thing because I don’t want people to come and get overwhelmed and have it be too much. I finished one in the mountains in Santa Cruz with the Redwoods all around.
Another unique thing about my work is that I have a background in gender conditioning. I do retreats for just women. I do retreats for just men. I am intimately connected to the way the conditioning sits on women and men and I can hold a safe space for that. That’s another unique thing about me as a teacher. It’s fun. We’re about to do a little thing out in the Bay Area with a group of men and a group of women and the men are going to meet alone twice. The women are going to meet alone twice and then we’re going to meet together and talk to each other in a safe space where healing can happen.
That sounds like fun. That sounds interesting. What would you say, Jeannie, that your tip is for finding joy in life?
The Christians have something called taking up your cross. We don’t have to be Christian to glean the wisdom from this. It’s to turn toward your life as an assignment rather than an affliction. Seek out whatever it is that helps you heal and know the truth about yourself. There are so many things that shut out the joy. Joy is an aspect like gratitude.
As we were speaking earlier, joy is an aspect of our true nature. To know and embody our true nature, we need to start to unplug all of the things we learned about ourselves and start investigating what is reliable and simple. I found allowing myself to start to tune into actual life in the moment. The feel of life, the sounds of life, and the taste of a strawberry have been the entrance onto a straight shot into living here from joy.
We have pain and emotional pain. Some of these things we actually have to wrangle with and we have to find our way through them. The joy that comes from our true nature is the joy that has nothing to do with the conditions of our lives. It is given freely. That doesn’t mean we can sit down and easily find it all because there are things that rise in us that want to be digested. I would say turn toward your life and say yes, even yes to your no, and go find the places where you can deeply plumb the depths of these human questions that are lived questions.
It’s wonderful. That gives people a lot to think about and to digest. Thank you, Jeannie, so much.
You’re so welcome. What fun. Thank you for what you do. I can’t even imagine all the people inspired and supported by the people you have on here and your own voice too.
Thank you. It’s a great honor. It’s a noble healing pursuit that you are completely involved with and it’s a precious and loving guide for all of them. Your work is wonderful. Thank you so much. Make sure to follow us and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks again for joining us and as I always like to say, to be continued. Many blessings and bye for now.
- Jeannie Zandi’s Website
- Books Referenced in this Episode: Dark Night of the Soul, Ascent of Mount Carmel, My Only Friend Is Darkness
- Jeannie Zandi on YouTube
- Connect with Jeannie Zandi on her Facebook pages The Work of Jeannie Zandi and Friends of Jeannie Zandi
- Check out the courses at School.JeannieZandi.com