612. Eva Natanya

Eva NatanyaEva Natanya is Executive Director and Resident Teacher at the Center for Contemplative Research at Miyo Samten Ling.

A scholar of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, Christian theology, and comparative religion, Dr. Natanya has served in many capacities as a spiritual teacher, academic lecturer, translator, and editor of Tibetan texts, writer, and retreat leader. Following a nine-year career as a professional ballet dancer with both the New York City Ballet and the Royal Ballet of England, she earned an MA in Christian Systematic Theology at the Graduate Theological Union and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. Her dissertation examined the complex interactions of Madhyamaka, Yogācāra, and Abhidharma teachings as they underlie the Vajrayāna philosophy of Je Tsongkhapa. She has worked closely with Dr. B. Alan Wallace on his translations for several books, including Open Mind: View and Meditation in the Lineage of Lerab Lingpa and Fathoming the Mind: Inquiry and Insight in Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence, and has co-taught meditation retreats with Dr. Wallace around the world. In a Christian context, she co-authored Living Resurrected Lives: What It Means and Why It Matters with Veronica Mary Rolf. She has spent more than three years in solitary meditation retreat, and remains in residence at Miyo Samten Ling in Crestone, Colorado, guiding fellow retreatants in the details of contemplative training. Her website is: evanatanya.com.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded August 21, 2021

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

603. Tara Springett

Tara SpringettFrom her teenage years onwards Tara has been deeply interested in personal growth and self-development and has dedicated her life to this quest.

Tara holds an M.A. in Education and has post-graduate qualifications in gestalt therapy, body awareness therapy, and transpersonal therapy. She is a fully qualified and licensed psychotherapist and counselor. Tara has worked as a drug counselor, counselor for adolescents, and general psychotherapist since 1988.

Tara has been a dedicated Buddhist practitioner since 1986. In 1997 she received encouragement from her Buddhist teacher Rigdzin Shikpo to teach meditation to others. In 2002 her Buddhist teacher Venerable Garchen Rinpoche also encouraged her to teach.

Tara has since taught ongoing meditation groups and combines Buddhist wisdom and her experience in counseling when assisting her clients with their personal growth, self-development, and improvement.

Since 2011 Tara has specialized in helping people suffering from kundalini syndrome.

Tara is the author of several self-help books. She has been featured in numerous publications and has appeared on various radio and television shows in Europe and the US. Tara is a regular contributor to beliefnet.com.

Tara (born 1960) lives in the beautiful countryside of Devon in England where she also works in her private counseling (Skype) practice together with her husband Nigel. In her free time, Tara loves to walk in nature, visit old-fashioned English tea rooms, and lavish many hours of work on her flower garden.

Websites

Books

Some points covered in this conversation:

  • Kundalini can be scary if you don’t know what it is: consciousness expansion.
  • ‘Higher consciousness healing’ to facilitate the process of kundalini awakening.
  • Kriyas (involuntary movements) may happen in the beginning phase of kundalini awakening. We shouldn’t repress or encourage them.
  • Traumas get stored in specific parts of the body. The physical body is permeated by an energy body, in which we feel our thoughts and emotions, including our ‘unconscious’ thoughts.
  • How different traumas reside in different chakras.
  • Kundalini is a subtle psycho-spiritual process.
  • Four levels of spiritual practice.
  • For balanced development, it’s important to continue working with the chakras, particularly the lower ones, even after reaching a high state of consciousness.
  • The importance of infusing bliss into all the chakras and purging them of negativity.
  • The foundational importance of morality and ‘loving kindnesses.’
  • Being authentic and honest, even if the world doesn’t appreciate it.
  • According to Buddhism, evolution continues on subtler levels after enlightenment.
  • Deification in Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Mental health issues and kundalini symptoms can coexist.
  • Kundalini awakenings are always accompanied by a strong spiritual motivation.
  • The importance of regular routines.
  • It’s extremely rare for kundalini to cause mental health issues, and only then if one has a disposition for that.
  • Psychedelic drugs can cause problematic kundalini awakenings.
  • The importance of preparedness before pursuing advanced teachings.
  • Love and forgiveness indicate you’re on the right path.
  • Profound inner changes usually result in corresponding changes in outer life.
  •  A ‘tantric relationship’ can accelerate your mutual development.
  • Long retreats vs. daily practice.
  • The middle path between extremes: surrender vs. control, caution vs. trust, rational thinking vs. intuition, judging vs. accepting.
  • Kundalini awakenings are conducive to good health.
  • A kundalini awakening begun in a past life can continue in this one.
  • Nine stages of consciousness.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded June 19, 2021.

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

587. Sebene Selassie

Sebene SelassieSebene Selassie is a teacher, author, and speaker who explores the themes of belonging and identity through meditation, creativity, and spirituality. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Washington DC, she began studying Buddhism 30 years ago as an undergraduate at McGill University where she majored in Comparative Religious Studies. She has an MA from the New School where she focused on race and cultural studies. For over 20 years, she worked with children, youth, and families nationally and internationally for small and large not-for-profits. Now she teaches classes, workshops, and retreats regularly and is one of the most popular teachers on the Ten Percent Happier app. Sebene is a three-time cancer survivor of Stage III and IV breast cancer. Her first book “You Belong: A Call for Connection” is published by HarperOne.

Main points discussed:

  • The importance of belonging and cultural/genetic heritage.
  • The positive, relatable tone of Sebene’s book, You Belong.
  • Trusting the sacredness of life vs. clashing with reality.
  • Surrendering to the mystery that’s beyond our logical comprehension.
  • We are not separate, and we are not the same. Living the paradox of unity and diversity.
  • The importance of integrating absolute and relative.
  • There’s a delusion of separation at the heart of all political and social divisions. ‘Unlearning’ that delusion is where the spiritual path starts.
  • Those who enjoyed embodied presence since childhood may be less effective in teaching others than those who needed to achieve it.
  • Marginalized people often have a broader and more holistic perspective on the world.
  • Healing “epistemicide” – colonialism’s destruction of ancient knowledge.
  • Modern mindfulness practice sometimes dismisses the deeper dimensions of its ancient roots.
  • Everything is sacred. Technology is not the enemy. Benefiting from the best of ancient and modern knowledge.
  • The pandemic may be the first time in history where we are all experiencing the same situation globally.
  • The importance of discernment on the spiritual path, particularly in this time of conspiracy theories, polarization, and pandemic.
  • The importance of community and dangers of isolation.
  • Increased interest in meditation and spirituality during the pandemic.
  • The authenticity, clarity, love, and spirituality of the younger generation.
  • A discussion of Catherine Ingram’s Facing Extinction article.
  • The leverage of technologies of consciousness, including ritual and ceremony.
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • Remaining curious and open.
  • Ground yourself, know yourself, connect to the moment.
  • Seeing parts of ourselves we don’t like. Meeting whatever comes up with kindness and compassion.
  • Any motivation for starting on the spiritual path is a ‘good’ one. Other reasons will follow.
  • Contemplating the beauty and mystery of nature.
  • “Love yourself” could be the motto for the whole book.
  • Detailed discussion mindfulness and its historical origins.
  • Sebene’s “Elements Practice”: earth, water, fire, air.
  • The importance of intimacy and imagination.
  • Helping heal kids with emotional trauma. Trauma-sensitive mindfulness.
  • Taking care of one’s self so as to care for others more effectively
  • An invitation for white people to learn more about other cultures and identities.
  • For mature spiritual development, we need to illumine our blind spots.

Website: sebeneselassie.com

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded February 14, 2021

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