518. Cassandra Vieten

Cassandra VietenCassandra Vieten is Executive Director of the John W. Brick Foundation, Scholar-in-Residence at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences where she worked for 18 years and served as President and CEO from 2013-2019. She is a psychologist, mind-body medicine researcher, author of numerous articles in scientific journals, and an internationally recognized keynote speaker.

Her research has focused on spirituality and health, transformative experiences and practices, and the development of mindfulness-based interventions for emotional well-being. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and completed her research training in behavioral genetics at UCSF. She is the author of Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year, and co-author of Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life, and Spiritual and Religious Competencies in Clinical Practice: Guidelines for Psychotherapists and Mental Health Professionals.

Her current projects focus on how mental health care be transformed so that it includes fitness/movement, nutrition, mind-body, and clients’ spiritual and religious beliefs and practices (when relevant) to foster mental and emotional fitness and well-being; what environmental and internal conditions, agents, practices, and states of consciousness stimulate imagination – in particular, the ability to see new possibilities; how cognitive, social and neuroscience along with practices from the world’s wisdom traditions can foster positive change in individuals and in our world (see Consciousness, Communication and Change program and Campaign Science for the political and activist arena), and how introducing people to awe-inspiring ideas and environments can stretch their imagination or help them see things from a new perspective, leading to self-transcendence, shifts in worldview and perspective on life, and other prosocial emotions and behaviors.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded September 14, 2019

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

515. Gillian Ross

Gillian RossGillian Ross has always found it difficult to put a label on her spiritual perspective. If pressed she would describe herself as a Christian Buddhist yogi and mystic with a penchant for Taoism! Over recent years, however, she has been happy to call herself a spiritual evolutionary or evolutionary mystic in the tradition of Teilhard de Chardin in the West and Sri Aurobindo in the East.

Born in the UK in 1940, she migrated to Australia as an academic in the early sixties. Her Western education gave her an Honours Science Degree, a Masters degree in Philosophy and a Doctorate in the Behavioural Sciences but left her feeling increasingly restless and unfulfilled. There was a growing awareness that her intellectual conditioning had disconnected her from the natural spontaneity and mystical riches of her childhood.

The deep love she felt for her children awakened lost memories of spiritual connection. She began to meditate, practice yoga and study Eastern philosophies. In her early forties she left her marriage, her city life, and academic career and took her family of two young sons, two dogs and two cats off to the Blue Mountains of NSW to explore an alternative lifestyle. She has never looked back! After many years of feeling like a fish out of water, she came to understand what it means to “flow in the current of the Eternal Tao”.

She trained as a yoga teacher and shiatsu therapist and has become a best selling ABC author (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) of relaxation and meditation CDs and a yoga video as well as publishing four books on science and mysticism and the evolution of consciousness.

After her sons left home she moved even further into the wild. Over the last 20 years, she has fallen in love with 40 acres of natural bush adjacent to a powerful sacred aboriginal site in Northern NSW. She nurtures it as a haven for spiritual retreats and residential weekends on evolutionary spirituality and mystic meditation, delighting in sharing with others some of the philosophies and practices that have helped to bring her out of spiritual bleakness into a lasting sense of peace, purpose and, above all, joy.

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Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded August 24, 2019

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

495. Anna Breytenbach

Anna BreytenbachAnna Breytenbach is a South African-based professional animal communicator who has received advanced training through the Assisi International Animal Institute in California, USA. She’s been practicing for 18 years in South Africa, Europe and the USA with both domestic and wild animals.

Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, she holds a degree in Psychology, Economics and Marketing from the University of Cape Town. Trained in tracking and mentoring at the Wilderness Awareness School (USA), she also mentors children and adults in nature awareness based on the ways of the Native American and San Bushmen peoples.

Anna is a qualified and experienced master training facilitator, focusing on bringing forth participants’ skills through coaching and mentoring in a practical manner. She consults exclusively with wildlife and offers workshops around southern Africa, occasionally touring Australia, Europe and the USA. Her work includes working with wild dolphins and whales, leading animal communication safaris, interspecies projects at permaculture and organic farms, and giving numerous public talks. Her pro bono work focuses on conservation projects such as elephant management, anti-poaching assistance, baboon rehabilitation, whale and dolphin research and predator conservation. She is also the subject of the feature documentary movie “The Animal Communicator” on interspecies communication.

Website: animalspirit.org

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded March 23, 2019

More videos:

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.