444. Kimberly Braun

Kimberly BraunKimberly Braun, Minister, M.A., CSP and Meditation Coach has been impelled from and within her contemplative experiences from the age of 5, with over ten of her years spent as a Carmelite monastic nun. Her Masters in theology was completed in 2001 in Washington D.C., and is concentrated upon the adult spiritual journey. As a CSP, keynote presentations are a primary tool in her personal mission to inspire others to live from the power and wisdom within them. Her style is playful, deeply inquiring, and intelligent in the synthesis of not only how to access this part of ourselves, but how to live from that place more consistently. She is a retreat and workshop facilitator, TEDx speaker, meditation faculty at the renowned Omega Institute, and fellow seeker on the path to living freely. She has three CDs and a book now available about her time as a nun, Love Calls: Insights of a Former Carmelite Nun.

She is just launching into the online world with her World Meditation for Happiness project, new online courses, and a FREE online spiritual community.

Kimberly is now available for private sessions, keynotes, and retreats. Stay in touch by visiting: www.kimberlybraun.com.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded Feb. 24, 2018

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

443. Shakti Caterina Maggi

Shakti Caterina MaggiShakti Caterina Maggi has been sharing a message of awakening to our true nature as One Consciousness since 2003, with workshops and meetings held in Italy, Europe, and around the world.

Although in the vein of the Advaita and non dual tantric tradition, Shakti shares a very contemporary approach to self-realization and reveals the real possibility of seeing what we are and embodying it in our everyday life with clarity, wisdom and humor.

The first glimpses and non-definitive openings to the Self and the true nature of reality began to occur for her at a very early age. At around 27, these temporary windows of our true nature brought her to a state of great inner openness, without having the cognition that what was happening was called “awakening” or “enlightenment” in other cultures.

In January 2003, while working as a financial reporter in Milan, she had the first experience of kundalini awakening.

“Everything vibrated from its infinite nature: my body, the room, the bed I was on were all a unique vibration of love that expanded and dissolved itself in a space without borders. I was myself and at the same time I was no longer me, Existence itself was my nature. After about two hours everything disappeared into nothingness and I was surprised to wake up in the morning still alive. Honestly, I was certain I was going to die that night. Now there was something vast and completely silent that looked at a funny little me, acting like a cartoon character, moving but also loving. “

For the first time, she realized she needed a spiritual guide. Knowing that all this had occurred without her conscious desire or intentional action, she simply waited for life itself to deliver someone able to clarify what was unfolding. Each prayer became a simple “amen”, may thy will be done, in the recognition that existence itself, and the Divine through it, always carried what was truly needed.

Four months later, she met Bodhi Avasa in a satsang in Milan, and after only five days she encountered a definitive experience of self-recognition.

“I suddenly realized that Caterina had never existed. It was just a thought of My Mind, and that My Mind was the Divine Mind. No separate identity existed, but only a single Self, empty and aware, from which Existence itself was born as in a dream. “

It took a few months for this quantum leap to stabilize, as mind and body were traversed by profound and transformational understandings. Avasa’s guidance supported her in crossing through those energetic phenomena without attaching to any of them, and in developing an understanding that could erase the fear that emerges in this integration process.

Encouraged by Avasa, she soon thereafter started to share her experience, although it was only in 2011 that she began to hold true satsang. The process of integration of the awakening, and purification from what Ramana Maharshi referred to as vāsanas (latent tendencies), required several years, allowing her to develop a deep understanding of the path that takes place after awakening and its integration into daily life.

Since then, many people have met her and recognized the vast and transformative reach of such a simple and direct message.

Website:

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded February 15, 2018.

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

439. Michael Speight

Michael SpeightWhen I was 11 years old our school took a bus trip to the local library. While most of the children were off exploring the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, for some reason I found myself in the row of books called Philosophy and Religion.

I recall pulling a hardbound book off the shelf and directly opening it to an old black and white photograph of the Portola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. At that moment, it was as if all my breath was sucked out of me and my mind went totally quiet. Somewhere in the depth of my being, I knew I was looking at a very familiar place, one that I may once have called home. I stood there for a very long time just staring at that photograph.

Then, like a starving young man having a meal laid before him, I hurriedly began to devour the book. When it was time to leave the library and head back to school, I took the book with me to the check-out counter. What followed was a pitched battle with my teacher and the librarian on one side, and one very determined boy on the other. In the end, I got to take the book home.

That book changed my life. At the time, I took the descriptions of a world rarely seen to be real mysticism. With great determination and passion, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about Tibet, its culture, and spiritual teachings. Thus, began a lifelong pursuit for of spiritual insight and knowledge mystical experience.

In my youthful naivety, I also began what I deduced as a meditation practice from stories in the book. This practice was quite complex and involved sitting quietly in the lotus posture with my spine perfectly straight while emptying my mind of everything. Then, with eyes closed, the idea was to develop a specific color spot in my field of vision at, what one might imagine to be, an arm’s length away, and then start spinning it into other colors, all while keeping all thoughts at bay. I would do this at night after having gone to bed, or during the day when no one else was home. As you might imagine it was a difficult exercise, however, for short periods of time, I began to experience gaps in my thought pattern.

Then it happened. After about four years of practicing my meditation, one day I was sitting quietly and deep into it, when the bottom dropped out. No mind, no thought—just a great expanse. When the experience ended, I felt the most amazing deep sense of happiness bliss. This bliss we might describe as “the peace which passeth understanding”.

I didn’t know it at the time but I had transcended and experienced the basis of all life that which is complete fullness yet contains nothing. This is sometimes called non-abiding Samadhi.

The problem was my meditation practice was extremely difficult and required great effort and time to achieve the effortless state. I began to search for something easier. My readings led me to try Zen, which, while intellectually satisfying yielded no repetition of the state of no thought only pure awareness. I tried several other practices and even religions until one day I received a phone call that was to be another turning point in my life.

My best friend had gone off college and suggested that I leave my job with the Forest Service and continue my education. I think he just wanted someone to share the rent with but it got me there.

When I arrived on campus to find Maharishi Mahesh Yogi teaching a course about meditation and training young men and woman like me how to teach Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based meditation practice. I snuck into his lectures and listened attentively and knew this was the spiritual practice I had been seeking.

At the advice of my new friends, I went to ask Maharishi if he would personally teach me. Maharishi was rarely on time anywhere and I waited outside his door a long time for him to emerge. When he finally came out the door there were a number of people waiting like me, some to ask a question, some pay their respects. With about a dozen people ahead of me in the line I waited for my turn, but then I had the thought that I shouldn’t take his time, that I should instead dedicate myself to freeing his time so he could bring this knowledge of meditation and its philosophy to as many as possible, that I should work to serve him selflessly without regard to my own needs and desires. In that moment, I took the Bodhisattva vow and walked away to learn Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation from one of his teachers.

I knew I had found what I was looking for in my first meditation. Upon learning I experienced quite easily that state of mindlessness I had been struggling so hard for. I knew for certain that TM worked for me when I was walking down the street feeling the perfect bliss within yet realizing that nothing what so ever had happened in my life save for meditation to make it so.

Within six months of beginning the practice, I had gone from a 1.28 GPA to a 4.0, typical of TM practitioners, and had made the decision to become a TM Teacher. I am dyslexic and while blessed with an IQ in the top 1% school had been hell for me, a constant struggle, all that had changed for the better. I became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation in 1972; I am extremely grateful to Maharishi for all his teachings and wisdom that have shaped my life.

After many years of practice, I had a classical awakening into higher consciousness. Now living in non-duality or as Maharishi described it “living 200%, the fullness of the absolute and the relative lived completely and utterly together”.

Website: michael-lovelightlaughter.org

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group

Interview recorded January 27, 2018.

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

435. Lesley Skylar

Lesley SkylarA completely spontaneous, life-altering experience of satori or enlightenment shook Lesley Skylar’s world at about age 9 or 10. Everything, in every facet, shifted unimaginably – nothing was ever the same again. This set her on a life course dedicated to understanding, honoring and living what had been revealed.

Lesley has spent years as a renunciate, living in ashrams and working deeply with direct teachings of enlightenment, in both the East and West. She has studied and practiced Zen Buddhism, Dzogchen and the Nonduality teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. She has a Degree in Psychology, has counselled, and worked in numerous non-profit, peace and human rights endeavors.

Lesley is a teacher of spiritual awakening. The approach and teaching she shares comes directly from her extensive experience, and was developed and refined through her own realization. It is based on decades of integration and rigorous work with liberation teachings and realized teachers.

Her teaching offers individual or small group guidance for awakening, and also focuses specifically on the post awakening terrain. Many are confused or struggle after awakening as they don’t realize that awakening is a beginning – it is not stabilized and abiding, involves a coming and going of clarity and higher states, a persistent self-sense, and incomplete seeing or depth. She helps people to move beyond the initial phases of awakening, to clarify and resolve sticking points, subtle aspects of identification, shadow, unconscious beliefs and so on. This creates a deepening, integrating and embodying, which allows liberation and enlightened living to unfold.

Lesley states: “As a teacher, I am simply the voice of your own deepest being, your highest possibilities, reflected back to you. A clear mirror, reflecting back to you your most authentic True Nature.”

She has travelled extensively and lived in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. She is currently based in Vancouver, Canada. Lesley offers private sessions worldwide, via Skype/ online video or in person.

“Living a realized life is a radical shift of perception and identity, bringing with it true
freedom, clarity and peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Learn more about Lesley and her work:

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded December 30, 2017.

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

434. Joi Sharp, 2nd Interview

Joi SharpJoi was aware of the unseen magic of Presence at a very early age. She remembers being more drawn to this mystery than anything else. This led her to delve into many traditions of spirituality. After a spontaneous awakening at age 28, Joi spent two years on a blissful honeymoon of Spirit before plunging into a deep period of emotional purging and healing. Among her healers were a powerful Lakota medicine man, with whom she traveled for two years, and a group of Yogananda disciples who had developed a powerful way of unlocking unconscious beliefs using kinesiology. She worked with them 3x/week for two years. During this period that the formless aspect of the Divine Mother appeared to Joi and she began a very intense journey.

Joi met Amma in 1993, and she realized that Amma was the same Mother that had captured her heart and soul. Joi spent nine years in Amma’s Indian Ashram, and then two years in Tiruvannamalai at Ramana’s Ashram.

When Joi came home from India, she was completely exhausted, and her “seeker drive” fell away. She began sitting with Adyashanti, who helped her understand all that had taken place within her being.

Joi began teaching in 2006, with Amma’s and Adya’s blessings. Joi continues to be inspired and moved toward what Life could be if we let go to our inner potential, which is the ultimate intelligence of all creation.

Joi’s Website

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group.

First BatGap interview with Joi

Interview recorded Dec. 17, 2017.

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