This week’s topic is: Practical Tips on How to Incorporate Spirituality with Gary Jansen
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Gary Jansen, an award-winning author and a Director at Loyola Press in Chicago. He is also Deepak Chopra’s long-time editor at Penguin Random House and worked with Deepak and Kimberly on their New York Times bestseller Radical Beauty. Listen in as Gary discusses going beyond religion in seeking God and how to incorporate spirituality into your daily lives.
- The difference between spirituality and religion…
- If meditation should be part of your daily spiritual ritual…
- How the inner work affects our outer appearance…
- Sacred moments through awareness and remembrance…
- Going beyond religion in seeking God…
- What a spiritual journey looks like…
- Practical tips on how to incorporate spirituality into your life…
About Gary Jansen
Gary Jansen is a former executive editor at Penguin Random House in New York City where he has edited and published books by New York Times bestselling authors Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Deepak Chopra, Kimberly Snyder and Gabrielle Bernstein. He is the author of the bestselling memoir Holy Ghosts; The 15-Minute Prayer Solution; and Station to Station. His latest book is MicroShifts: Transforming Your Life One Step at a Time. He is currently the Director of New Acquisitions at Loyola Press in Chicago.
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Gary Jansen’s Interview
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- How to Easefully Increase Spirituality into Your Life
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Kimberly : Hi Beauties. And welcome back to our Monday interview podcast. I am especially excited about our podcast guest today, who is one of my closest and most beloved soul friends, Gary Jansen. He is an award-winning author. He is the Director at Loyola Press in Chicago. He is Deepak Chopra ‘s long-term editor for many of his books, and he was my personal editor for the book that Deepak and I wrote together called Radical Beauty, as well as some of my other books.
Kimberly : And he is an incredible human. He has such a wide depth of understanding about spirituality, and he has this perspective of it from a Catholic perspective, a Buddhist perspective, a Yogi perspective, a universal perspective. He’s one of my favorite people to talk to and we talk often, and we text often about ideas. So this podcast today felt like really just having this organic conversation with one of my best friends and sharing it with you. And I just love him dearly. So I think you’re really going to enjoy our show today.
Fan of the Week
Kimberly : But before we dive in, I want to give a quick shout out to our fan of the week. And her name is Arialana, and she writes, “Thank you with all of my heart. I love listening to the Feel-Good Podcast every week. Kimberly’s four cornerstone philosophy has changed my life in a positive way that I am finally fulfilling my goals and dreams. I feel excited. I love all your guest speakers, but the last two powerful women you had on really touched my heart. I’m inspired and filled with sunshine. That makes me feel joyful acceptance of myself. I’m so thankful for the Solluna team and for this amazing community. You are my shining light every week that I look forward to. Thank you for all that you do.”
Kimberly : Wow. Arialana, my love, thank you with all of my heart. I really took that in. And the first time I read this was just now, live, and wow. I felt your energy. I felt your love. I send you so much love back, my sister. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know that this work is really touching people out there because sometimes I’m sitting here, doing the podcast and going through it. And when I can really feel our connection, when I can hear about this, it really motivates me and it really nourishes me. So, thank you so much, Ariana, from the bottom of my heart. I’m so honored and amazed to be part of your journey. It is such an honor for you to be part of our community. So, thank you so much, my love.
Leave a Review on iTunes
Kimberly : And Beauties, for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week for me to read your beautiful words, please just take a moment or two out of your day, leave us a review on iTunes, which is free and easy and truly just a wonderful way to support the show. So I thank you so much in advance. And while you’re over there, please be sure to subscribe to our show and that way you get this constant influx of positivity and helpful information, and you don’t miss out on any of these shows.
Kimberly : All right. All of that being said, let’s get right into our podcast today with the amazing Gary Jansen.
Interview with Gary Jansen
Kimberly: 00:48 Gary, I am so excited to have a conversation with you. We talk all the time, but I’m actually excited to share our conversation with other people, because you’re one of my favorite people to talk to, honestly, in the whole world and especially about all this spiritual stuff that you and I talk about all the time. So this is a very happy day for me.
Gary: 01:11 I’m excited. You know, people get to eavesdrop on our conversation, but a regular conversation.
Kimberly: 01:19 I remember Gary, the first time we met, it was actually, you were our editor, Deepak and I for the Radical Beauty Book. I remember you and I decided to have breakfast together because you and Deepak had worked together on so many books and you and I hadn’t met yet. We had this breakfast. I remember it was across the street from Random House and I walked in and then I saw you. I said, I bet that’s Gary. You probably knew it was me. We sat and I think we just talked for hours and hours. We immediately clicked. From that day on, you’ve just been like soul friend, always wanted to reach out, always want to pick your brain about stuff.
Gary: 01:56 Absolutely. I mean, we ate at this place called Cognac, which was this French restaurant across the street from Random House. It was only supposed to last an hour, but I think we stayed there for three hours and we were just brainstorming ideas and just connecting on a lot of different levels. I still remember that day.
Kimberly: 02:18 As time goes on, I really appreciate what I call soul friends, where you can really talk about these issues, topics, and these questions and these big things, because sometimes you don’t always have so many people to talk about these things with. From that day forward, you’ve always been this amazing bouncing board for me. We worked together on the next book. We’ve worked together on many different things. First of all, thank you for being back on the podcast and thank you for all the conversations we’ve had along the way.
Gary: 02:53 Yeah. And all the text messages and stuff and emails that go back and forth and just really the ideas that come out of conversations are just super exciting for me. You were a big part of my spiritual path and you help. I was just talking to somebody about the Indiana Jones movies and in one of them, Indiana Jones in the third one, he has to take this step, but he doesn’t know what’s in front of him. Right? Then once he puts his foot down and takes a leap of faith, there’s a bridge that takes him to the other side. That’s a lot like your relationship, like our relationship. I don’t know sometimes where I’m going or like talking with you I feel like I take the next step and it totally illuminates and opens up. I’ve been really thankful for that.
Kimberly: 03:44 Gary, I’m so thankful for you. One of the things we talk about is this idea of spirituality and at Soluna we have our four cornerstone philosophy as you know, which are food body, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth. I’ve really started to talk about this topic, this aspect of lifestyle so much now because I really think it’s the missing component for most people really feeling their best in their day-to-day life. The thing is sometimes people hear spiritual growth and they don’t really know what that means. It’s nothing to do with religion. It’s about this idea of connecting back in to the true self, as Yogananda says, the great yoga guru, back to our essence. Then it can get murky for people that have a background. Maybe they didn’t feel as connected to their church or to their religion or whatever growing up.
Kimberly: 04:40 I know for me, I grew up Catholic and I always loved Jesus. I loved the love part of the conversations. But then there was a lot that I didn’t really feel connected to. Everybody knows the guilt associated with some teachings in some of the church. I feel like I kind of moved away from religion and along with that spirituality, and I kind of had this hole for a while and I was trying to seek it in different ways. I put a lot of energy into food and I ended up having eating disorders and just all these things that didn’t really fill the void. Then when I was backpacking in my twenties, I ended up going to India. You know this story well, Gary. And really learning about Yogananda and learning about yoga.
Kimberly: 05:34 Then I came back and I was so into yoga and meditation and I found it a little bit perplexing at first. I said, well, how does this fit in with even religion or how does this fit in with Jesus? The things that I had grown up with. It was hard for me to contextualize. Then I went along along and realized yoga and meditation don’t take over a religion. It’s more about our relationship with the true self and the divine intelligence, but it’s not organized. Can you speak a little bit about this, Gary, because this is one of the things we talk about so much because you understand my perspective and you understand yoga. We’ve talked a lot about my next book, which deals with a lot of this, and you are also Catholic. Where do we begin?
Gary: 06:25 So I have all of that guilt.
The difference between spirituality and religion
Kimberly: 06:28 Can you speak a little bit about the difference between spirituality and religion? Also, you and I joke that you’re a Buddhist Catholic. We’ve had questions on the podcast. I love what you’re talking about with spirituality and I feel love. Actually a member of our circle, Christina says this. She says, my husband says you should only love Jesus because we’re Catholic. It becomes this, like in the mind it starts, how do we find common ground? Yeah. That was a ten-minute question. Any thoughts you have around that whole topic to start us off?
Gary: 07:04 I think spirituality, like the clearest definition is awareness, right? Awareness means waking up and just means waking up to the world around you, waking up to yourself, seeing things for the first time and sometimes seeing them for a dozen times or hundreds of times, but seeing them in a new, new way. Spirituality for me is always about finding the special-ness in life. I think your encounters when you went to India and your encounters when you discovered Yogananda, you had a special moment. You had something special or something resonated with you in a very, very big way. Spirituality, I don’t think it’s really overly complicated. It’s a way of giving meaning to life. You can live your life without necessarily analyzing it. But spirituality allows you to ask deep questions and to really allow yourself to live the answers to those questions.
Gary: 08:12 What’s the meaning of life? Why am I here? Religion can give you some of that information. For some people, it really resonates really well. Right? You get it. You understand the dogma, you understand the practices, the teaching. Between myself and God. That was really the foundation for me, which is having a mystical experience. That can sound like woo-hoo, but really it’s about finding the sacred in all things. So spirituality is really awareness. It’s about finding the sacredness in the world around us and other people. Essentially what that means is that people and the gifts we’ve been given, the world that we live in is a special place. The more that you can become aware of that, I’m aware of how special people are and how important they are, I’m not necessarily sure you need religion per se.
Gary: 09:24 A lot of people don’t need religion. I like religion because I feel like it elevates my experience. I think if you can find the specialness in other people, if you can become more and more aware, like you set that intention to become more aware of the world around you, then you’re on a spiritual path. I don’t think you have to necessarily even meditate, right? Meditation is a big part of spirituality and so is prayer. I think living with the perception that I live in a special world, that people around me are special and I should honor that. I think you’ve got it. That can be difficult. That can be really difficult to live, but that’s essentially what spirituality is about.
If meditation should be part of your daily spiritual ritual
Kimberly: 10:08 Well, for me, meditation is also about, and you and I have talked about this before as well. And Depok talks about this. It’s not just closing your eyes and reducing stress. Those are happy byproducts, but it really is about this idea of union. I know when I meditate and I pull the senses back in, it’s not this empty void. You start to really feel this connection. You start to feel that experiential knowing that Yogananda talks about which, you open your eyes and then you look at the world in a different way. Sometimes you withdraw and then you come back out with more of that awareness you’re talking about. For me, Gary, I talk about meditation so much.
Kimberly: 10:55 Like you say, at a certain point, you’re sort of living the practice and you’re just in that awareness all the time. I think us everyday folks really do need these practices. Otherwise it becomes too theoretical. Oh, just live it and just see it. But these practices help. It’s just like from a food perspective, having your Glowing Green Smoothie® every day, or taking your probiotics, taking care of your body, exercising. For me, meditation becomes that practice to keep that inner anchor so that you do have a greater awareness as you move about.
Gary: 11:25 Absolutely. I think one of the things that changed my life was I was introduced maybe about 25 years ago to the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. I didn’t know what that was. I didn’t even know who St. Ignatius was. I was on my very first retreat and someone handed me this little book that just said spiritual exercises. Now I’ve always liked physical fitness. I’ve always liked to play sports. I was a big baseball guy. When I heard this word “exercise” I was like spiritual exercises. What? I didn’t know that anything like that existed. That’s so cool. I started reading and just as your body can do physical exercises that you can do yoga postures, there are spiritual exercises to help cultivate a remembering off who you truly are.
Gary: 12:15 I think that’s one of the big things that Yogananda is trying to get across in his teaching, which is we do this meditation to remember that we are the true self. What does that really mean? I think it means you and I all have a soul and that soul is part of one source by one creator. So essentially within all of us is God and once we realize that the true self is this soul that’s part of this bigger and more incredibly beautiful reality, the more we start living our life on purpose and really we’re much more engaged in life. So life itself feels much more, I don’t know, alive, or you just feel…
Kimberly: 13:09 Full.
Gary: 13:10 Yeah, full. Right. Things become more and more meaningful. Your intuition goes crazy. I know you’ve done meditation for so long. Then you realize that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking of things, things will happen. You start setting intentions, intentions will happen. It’s not like it’s magic or anything like that. I feel like if you have a soul, that soul is eternal. If it’s eternal, it means it lives outside of time, which means it understands time in a way that we don’t. So the things that have happened to us, our soul knows about in this physical plane. The things that have happened to us in the past, it understands those things in the past more deeply. If you allow your soul, through spiritual practice, to do its thing without getting in its way, the more and more you realize that the reality that we believe that we live in it’s kind of limited.
How the inner work affects our outer appearance
Gary: 14:10 But the outer reality? It’s the outer purpose of the inner reality is huge. Right. It just happened to me yesterday. I came out of meditation and sometimes meditation brings up a lot of stuff for me. I come out of it angry sometimes. But that means I’m purging. There’s stuff that’s purging through me. Then I just went about my day. Then I had this serendipitous experience where I would not have paid attention to that if it wasn’t for meditation.
Kimberly: 14:46 That’s right. It’s that awareness you were saying, Gary. When we work on the inside, it really does start to shape the outer. You said an interesting word that really struck me a few minutes ago. You said, remember. It’s funny because Mosey our baby, as you know Gary, Moses, but he pulls in the living room. Sometimes he pulls books down and it almost feels like he pulls something and then I’ll start reading it. He pulled down a Byron Katie book a couple of weeks ago, and I opened it up. There was something that felt like it was for me to read. Last night he actually pulled off the shelf, Be Here Now by Ram Doss. I never noticed this, but on the cover, I guess I noticed it, but I didn’t focus on it all around the sides.
Sacred moments through awareness and remembrance
Kimberly: 15:30 It says, remember, remember, remember, remember, so last night I was literally contemplating this word, which all the gurus say you don’t have to acquire. Another aspect of this awareness is really just remembering. We all forgot we were babies. We come from the other plane, and then we forget. It’s remembering, to what you were saying, how special we are, the fact that we’re unique, the fact that we have this soul, the fact that there’s so much more than what we see with our physical eyes and that we have this ability to drop down into the center, which is always there and is so nurturing and beyond these everyday ups and downs, the fluctuations of life. That remembrance part becomes really powerful.
Gary: 16:18 Right. When we remember people or we remember birthdays, again, it comes back to this idea of specialness. Remembrance is really tied into the sacred. There’s rituals in every religion where we remember something that happened in the past. Why? Because it’s something special about it. It represents something. Those are sacred moments. They’re sacred moments, ritual and practice. When we go back and remember, we are experiencing that event in some ways for the very first time. There’s something amazing going on between the process of remembering and experiencing something new.
Kimberly: 00:21 So Gary, I want to get back to Saint Ignatius and some of these saints in a moment. First, again, going back to this whole religion/spirituality part, for me, when I started backpacking around the world, it was amazing because I was in so many, first of all, Buddhist countries. The first place I started backpacking, which is where a lot of people backpack, is Southeast Asia, because it’s really cheap and it’s really easy. So I was in Thailand, and I was in Laos and Cambodia and all these different places. And I started seeing all these beautiful temples and all this worship and the love and the kindness. So it really started to get me questioning… One of the reasons I didn’t feel as connected to Catholicism personally growing up was this idea, like this is the way, and it has to be this way. In fact, one of the nuns at my Catholic school said, “If you don’t go through Jesus, then you will not go to heaven.”
Gary : 01:23 Okay.
Going beyond religion in seeking God
Kimberly: 01:23 And then I started traveling, and I was like, “Well, what about all these amazing Buddhist people and Hindus?” when I went to India. So it just to me and, I think, a lot of people, this polarization, this idea like it’s this or that really turns off a lot of people. And then when I started reading Yogananda’s commentary on the second coming of Christ and he has this commentary on the New Testament and he interprets some of those sayings, and he says, “That’s actually not what Jesus was saying. He was saying, when he said come…” And I’m paraphrasing here, but it was this idea of being childlike and being really humble and being connected to the Lord and coming through that way, but he didn’t mean only through this one Catholic way.
Gary : 02:07 Right. I think so much… I’ve been really fortunate because I had really good teachers, and there was a priest who I had befriended, this Polish guy named Father Anje, who I really hadn’t… I had stopped going to church by the time I got to college and all that. But for whatever reason, I went back to church when I was like 24 maybe, or maybe I was at a mass for someone’s wedding or something. And there was this guy, Father Anje, a guy from Poland, a very deep accent. I mean, he did sound like he was Dracula, right, when he spoke because he was, “And this is the blood of Christ.” He would speak like that, and I would go, “My God, this guy sounds like Bela Lugosi.” But he was brilliant, and I became friends with him. And I think what really drew me to him was that one day, he gave a sermon on The Little Prince, this little children’s book, right?
Kimberly: 03:09 Yes.
Gary : 03:09 And he started talking about the spirituality of the Little Prince and how the Little Prince represents so many different things, and one of them can be interpreted as a Jesus figure. I was just blown away by his openness, his kindness, and he became a great teacher for me. He was one of the people who really introduced me to the mystics, but also to the deep theological thought that goes behind a lot of what Catholicism is all about and also what religion is all about. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad teachers out there, right, that kind of jump to the very easy kind of way of interpreting things or just, “I’m just going to cut through it and just say this.” So there seems to be a lot of bad teachers out there, and I feel like a lot of people get bad experiences. But if you really delve deep into the theology or into the mystical experiences that these saints have had, you start to realize that, hey, this kind of very black-and-white thinking isn’t there. Or I don’t want to necessarily say it’s not there.
Kimberly: 04:16 Yeah, it’s that exclusionist thinking that’s not really-
Gary : 04:18 Yeah, it’s just wider. It’s so much bigger, right?
Kimberly: 04:21 Yes.
Gary : 04:21 And it’s so much bigger than some of the stuff that people say in these kind of bad soundbites that you hear that really give religion a bad name. But if you really do your homework… Unfortunately, you have to really do your homework a lot of times, or you’ve got to be lucky enough to find someone like a Father Anje who came into my life. But he introduced me to the spirituality of art, of van Gogh, of Rembrandt, and then I’m like, “Oh, my God.” And he was one of the first people sort of like me to be open to Saint Ignatius. And Saint Ignatius was this guy who basically said, “Find God in all things. God’s everywhere, so go seek him. Go seek God everywhere because God created the universe. And if God created the universe, there’s no place where God isn’t.” So everything goes back to God, and if you can live from that mentality, wow! I mean, it is enormous.
Kimberly: 05:21 It’s amazing. And this openness you’re talking about, it’s like Yogananda, the Kriya Yogis, there’s Jesus and there’s Krishna, right? And Yogananda talks about the similarities in these two figures’ lives, and a lot of the parables and some of the things that are written in the Gita are very similar to the Bible. But what you’re explaining with Saint Ignatius, this God is everywhere, this whole universality, I guess for me and I think a lot of people, the turn-off is this idea of control.
Kimberly: 05:47 So when I started meditating, when I started learning about yoga and Buddhism and all of this, it was, “Go within and find God inside.” But growing up, it was, “No, no, you have to go to confession to get…” There was all these controls outside of the self, and I think that turns a lot of people off because then it takes away this, like you were saying, the mystical experience, the real, the close, the friendship, the loving part. Yeah. I even love saying the word God. It almost feels like a little bit of a rebellion. You and I talked about this.
Gary : 06:20 Yeah, I know.
Kimberly: 06:20 Because I write the word God and I say the word God, and some people are scared of saying that word, and some people don’t resonate. And it’s okay. You can say spirit. You can say love. You can say universe, whatever, universal consciousness, but I connect with the word God, so I like to say it.
Breaking down confessions and sacrament
Gary : 06:36 I like to say it too. If you take something like confession, right? So for people who don’t know, confession means going to a priest and then basically saying all the bad things you did, right? You’re confessing. It’s like you’re confessing to God’s cops and just saying, “Oh, you know what? I did this. I did that. I did this.” But it’s a sacrament, right? So that right away means there’s something special going on. And I can understand why people don’t like confession, but there’s a sacred ritual that’s going on if you live from it, from a sacred place, right? You could go in and just say, “I hate this. This is a terrible thing. I don’t have to talk to anybody. I can just go straight to God. Why do I need this? I’m not going to get anything out of this.”
Gary : 07:23 But if you approach the sacrament as a sacred ritual, which it is, then all of a sudden, things start to open up, and then you start to see that your confessing of the sin or whatever, consisting of whatever the bad things that you did, is really a way of having a deeper conversation with God about who you are, about your fears, and also engaging in this act of forgiveness, right? I’m not trying to convince people that they should go to confession or anything like that, but I’m saying that all of these things exist at a higher level. Unfortunately, they’re taught at a lower level, right?
Kimberly: 08:10 Right, right.
Gary : 08:11 So you get these kind of things like you’ve got to talk to an old guy who doesn’t even know you, and then he tells you to do two Hail Marys and that’s it. I don’t get anything out of it. But there is something special that’s going on in these sacraments, which is why… I mean, why did you get married? I mean, you got married, and there was a sacred moment that you had.
Kimberly: 08:31 Of course.
Gary : 08:32 And why? Because there were other people there. So especially in our society now-
Kimberly: 08:38 That’s true.
Gary : 08:39 … it can be really difficult to engage in ritual, right? And ritual, you read up about this, and it’s really important for us. That’s why there’s quinceaneras. I probably didn’t pronounce that correctly. But sweet 16s. Why are there bar mitzvahs and stuff like that?
Kimberly: 08:54 Totally.
Gary : 08:54 They’re these touchpoints where people are growing or where they’re growing in awareness, where they have the opportunity to grow in awareness, right? There’s threshold moments where you have the opportunity to start living life at a very different level, and those are few and far in between. In more primitive cultures, they happen all the time.
Kimberly: 09:14 Right.
Gary : 09:15 Right? But for us in the modern world, they can be really, really difficult to come by.
Gary and I discuss the connection and reconciliation to Jesus and the church
Kimberly: 09:21 Well, Gary, did you ever experience this sort of… For me, it happened during the world trip and afterwards, where I was like, “Huh, I’m really drawn to this meditation yogic path.” But I was raised Catholic. Do you feel like as you keep going… You and I have had very deep conversations about the Gita and yoga and Hinduism and Buddhism. And you meditate, and we’ve talked a lot about Kriya Yoga. Do you ever feel like you’re being a bad Catholic, or do you feel guilt, or do you feel like you’re being disloyal? How do you view the connection? You know what I’m saying? Because I guess-
Gary : 10:01 Yeah, no, absolutely.
Kimberly: 10:03 There’s like this one way, and I really feel like I’m connected. I feel very connected to Jesus, and I feel less connected to the church than you do. So I just wonder how you… that perspective of how you reconcile it?
Gary : 10:17 Yeah. I mean, for me personally, I believe in God, and I believe in the Trinity, and I believe that those are the end-all, be-all in my… and in Jesus. And that’s the end-all, be-all. So everything goes back there. So if everything goes back there, then most of the things that fall underneath it, that’s fine, right? So meditation, I mean, there’s Christian meditation that’s been around for 1,900 years, so it’s not like it doesn’t exist. It’s just that in the society that we live in, it’s not necessarily promoted, right? But that’s why you have to go deep, and the mystics are meditating all the time or going off into… Just like you have yogis who go on top of the mountain in India, you have people, saints like Saint Anthony, who’s going into the desert. So they may be going high, but people are going into the desert and they’re going low in order to kind of have these God experiences.
Gary : 11:16 So for me, it’s kind of… I see all of these people like Yogananda as great teachers. Wayne Dyer, a great teacher. Deepak, a great teacher. You’re a great teacher. And all of this stuff that I’ve read that might go outside of Catholicism, for me, this is how beautiful and how big the world can be and how many different viewpoints there are. Now, it’s up to me to kind of make those decisions about some stuff I don’t necessarily agree with or sometimes I disagree. And sometimes I disagree with stuff within my own religion, but that becomes a very personal relationship between-
Kimberly: 11:53 Yeah.
Gary : 11:54 Right? And that’s what it comes right down to. So that’s where there’s always this tension between the public view of religion and then your personal. And I feel like at the end of the day, it’s my… What trumps, and I don’t know if I’ll get in trouble for this, for saying this, is my personal relationship with God and how I relate to God. So I never really feel guilty about it. I feel like, if anything, Yogananda expands the way that I see my religion. Great poets, like Billy Collins, expand my understanding. Great artwork helps me to expand my faith and my belief in God. And there’s a lot of… You and I have talked about personality types, and if you’ve ever done Myers-Briggs, there’s some people who are J’s and there’s some people who are P’s. J’s are very… They’re judges, right? So they like structure, and they like rules, and they live by rules. So there’s a lot of people in the world who live by rules. They like them. That’s how they work.
Kimberly: 13:01 Yeah. Lives in that container to live inside.
Gary : 13:04 Exactly. And then there’s some people who are perceivers. Now, I’m a P. A perceiver is kind of like… They’re all over the place. They’re like, “Ah, I don’t really like rules. I kind of like to…”
Kimberly: 13:15 Probably me.
Gary : 13:17 “I like to break rules.” Right? And I’m starting to see those correlations with Ayurveda now, right? Ayurveda breaks everything down into essentially three, but there’s a mixture of the three doshas. But a vata is a little bit more anxious, a little bit more nervous about things, where the kapha is a little slower and just kind of like chill about things.
Kimberly: 13:46 Very steady.
Gary : 13:47 Right. And so you see that Myers-Briggs test is one way of looking at people. Ayurveda has this one way of looking at people, and some things really work. Some people need those rules, right? Some people are very steady, and there are other people who don’t necessarily work well with rules, and their personality type might be very, very different.
Kimberly: 14:09 Yeah, definitely.
Gary : 14:09 So I feel like figure out what your personality type is and then follow your bliss and then follow your path to God, because it’s going to be very, very different for everybody.
Union and connection with the true self
Kimberly: 14:20 Well, for me, it comes down to connection. We were talking about that union, that connection with the true self, connection to… feeling connected to God, feeling more connected to other people. So like you said, it can be under the umbrella of religion, or more for me, this spirituality is just waking up and doing the practices, which for me are morning and evening, do my meditations and mini-meditations throughout the day. I usually do one during my walk in the middle of the day. And then in between, really trying to keep that awareness, that connection going. And like you said, some people may be drawn to more formal practices. I know in the Muslim religion you pray five times a day. In Buddhism, there are practices and Hindu… All of religions have their different practices. For me, it’s less formal than that, but still it feels the most connected I’ve ever felt living from that deep, deep place of calling on that awareness.
Kimberly: 15:25 And even going in nature, Gary. When I’m in stillness and I think of that connection with God and with spirit, I feel so connected inside of myself that… For me, I don’t need some of the formalities. I don’t need to necessarily go to the church, although I do like to go to temples. I do like to go to churches sometimes because there’s an energy there. But at the same time, I also don’t feel like I need it.
Gary : 15:48 Right. Yeah, and I think I would never try to convince anyone to do something that they don’t feel comfortable doing. A big thing for me and the one thing I would impress on everybody is just to be humble and to have a level of humility, because the tallest point on the Earth is Mount Everest, which is tall, right? I mean, if you were to try and go and climb Mount Everest, it would take a long time and a lot of energy, right? But it’s essentially under five miles high, right?
Kimberly: 16:24 Yeah.
Gary : 16:24 Ground level to the top. So it’s less than five miles. That’s about the distance from me to the mall, Green Acres Mall down the block. But when you expand… But then you take a look at it from space, and it doesn’t look like anything, right? It doesn’t look like anything.
Kimberly: 16:43 Yeah, totally.
Gary : 16:43 It’s just a giant mountain, right? And it doesn’t look like anything from space. And I’ve been really fortunate. One of the things that Yogananda’s been great on is this idea of cosmic consciousness, right? And I love this idea of expanding and just going off out into the universe and looking back and going, “Mount Everest, not that impressive, right? My ideas, not that impressive, right?” I don’t know. I have my personal thoughts, but at the end of the day, those personal thoughts, if you took every one of them, it doesn’t add up to a tiny little hill of beans in the world, because there’s so much to understand, and there’s so much going on, and there’s so many people with so many different perspectives, and there’s so many faith traditions and so many just cultural and societal traditions. I could never know even like a smidgen of it. And neither can you and neither can anybody else. Be humble about that.
Kimberly: 17:41 Yes, humble.
Gary : 17:43 We don’t know, right? And that’s where I get angry… not angry, but this is where I can get upset with my religion by saying, “Hey, you know what? Human beings… And I understand certain human beings have a certain kind of gift or relationship with God, but at the end of day, they’re still human beings and they’re still flawed and they still don’t know 100%, right? So don’t be so judgmental.”
What is the dark night of the soul
Kimberly: 18:08 That’s it. Try to live without all the walls and the separation versus putting more up, because I think that the real sign of someone that’s progressing on a spiritual path is more kindness, is more humility, is more openness, versus that polarization, that this/that, all or nothing, which really is the opposite of oneness. It’s exclusive versus inclusive. So Gary, I want to talk about for a minute Saint John of the Cross. I was reading this book about the Dark Night of the Soul, and I wanted to finish it before this podcast. I was reading part of it last night. I didn’t fully finish it, I admit, because there’s been so much going on. I’ve been doing the book edits, and it is quite dense. It’s not a long text, but it’s dense. And we hear about this dark night of the soul, and it’s so fascinating when you get into it. Can you share a little bit about, first of all, what… because you hear that term, but where did it originate? What really, in your estimation, Gary, what is the dark night of the soul? Because it has to do with humility, doesn’t it?
Gary : 19:13 Yeah.
Kimberly: 19:13 And then to an extent, take me through it.
Gary : 19:17 So Dark Night of the Soul… So from John of the Cross, and I believe he’s a 16th century… I think he’s 16th century. He’s a Spanish saint. And it’s essentially, it’s a mystical text, right? It’s about his dark night of the soul, where he… And by that, it means… I just interpret it really as his deep, dark depression that he went into, right?
Kimberly: 19:40 His spiritual crisis.
Gary : 19:42 Yeah, total spiritual crisis. And the reason why we use the word depression is because we feel… Sometimes you might feel elevated, or we’ll feel like… Or even if we just feel above ground. But when you go through a spiritual crisis like that, like he goes through, you’re suffering a deep, dark depression. So that book, which is really kind of, it’s poetry about the experience, tries to find meaning in that depression and meaning in that darkness. And that’s essentially what the book is about. And what I think he’s trying to say inside the book is that when you go deep, and we talked about this before, when you go really deep, when you have lost everything, which is what he feels. He feels despair. When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up, right? And that up is a blessing. Being able to kind of like hit rock bottom and then to start working your way up is a blessing, which he sees as a divine blessing, this ability to try and get out of that darkness.
Gary : 20:52 But sometimes in order to encounter… To understand yourself better, you have to go deep, which is what meditation practice is all about, right? Meditation practice. You can meditate for five minutes a day, and that’s good to relieve stress, but in terms of you trying to develop your soul and understand your spirituality better, then you need to practice and you need to go deep. Michael Singer talks about that in The Surrender Experiment, this need for him to go deep and to go deeper and to go deeper and deeper. And when he did that, he hit a point. Saint John hits that point too, where there’s this kind of resurrection moment, where it’s all of a sudden, they died, and then they came back to life, right?
Gary : 21:35 So when Jesus is put into the tomb, that’s a huge dark night of the soul. The dude died, and he gets thrown into a cavern and they block it with a rock, or a cave and they block it with a rock. That is total darkness. But in that darkness, new life starts to come, and new life is resurrected. The same way when you take a seed and you plant it in the darkness of the ground, right?
Kimberly: 21:58 Yes.
Gary : 21:58 And now how over time you may think that that seed’s dead, right? Nothing’s come across. Nothing’s come up. But then all of a sudden, something shoots right through the ground right towards the light. So that’s a very intense… So the dark night of the soul is a very intense experience that people sometimes have. And for me, it’s always putting a spiritual lens on depression. I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve suffered from depression, and you try to figure out… So I’ve used spirituality to help me try and figure out depression a little bit. Like, what’s the meaning behind it? So I think that’s what John of the Cross is trying to talk about. He’s trying to say, “You know what? Your dark moments, they’re meaningful.” Right? And you have to-
Kimberly: 22:46 Yes. Yes, and you can learn from them.
Gary : 22:50 You can learn from them in such a big way, but you have to be open to it, and you have to kind of embrace the pain. And a lot of times, we try to get rid of the pain. If I have a backache, I try to take Advil or something. But that deep pain that a lot of us hold onto or have inside us, we try to ignore it. We ignore it. We ignore it, and as you know, that can lead to sickness. But when you’re able to fully digest that, go deep, that’s when all of a sudden renewal happens. That’s when new life occurs. Dante calls it La Vita Nuova, the new life. And so-
Kimberly: 23:26 Well, Gary, I feel like… I’ll share this with you. I feel like I had a dark-night-of-the-soul experience a few days ago actually.
Gary : 23:37 Wow!
Kimberly: 23:38 And I kind of planned for it. I knew it was going to happen. So we talk about at Solluna this emotional well-being cornerstone, and I get asked about that a lot, and we talk about this idea of really digesting your feelings. And we’ve had so many different things happen to us in our life, and then there’s triggers and there’s wounds, and a lot of times, we don’t really feel those feelings. So I actually… There’s been some things that keep coming around, and they keep bothering me. So I was like, “I want to get past this. I feel like I haven’t digested it.” So I was with Moses. John, my husband, was away for a couple days. He was out of the house on Saturday, so I just kind of when Moses was sleeping… He was up, and then he went back to bed, so it was just kind of like in fits and starts. But I really went into those dark corners. Like Carl Jung talks about seeing the shadows.
Kimberly: 24:31 And I had the space to just lay there, and I was trying to just be very, very still, meditated very still and just say, “Show me what is in there.” And then what started coming up was waves and waves of old fears and shame, like stuff from my childhood. And it lasted some hours. It goes through this point where you’re almost rocking with all these emotions, and it’s like, “Oh, shit, all this has been in there for all this time.” And people do Vipassana, and they do this for 10 days. So mine was… But it felt intense. So it was just like a day, but it felt really, really, really dark, but I didn’t shy away from it.
Kimberly: 25:10 Actually, I did it from Friday night and then parts of Saturday when I could, when E wasn’t here, Bubby wasn’t here. And then I woke up Sunday morning after really going in, and I felt so light, and I felt so joyful. And it was like, “Oh, my God.” I’m kind of glossing over it, but there was some really dark stuff and stuff I hadn’t thought about in years and just some very like… just things that had happened, like things with relatives, like cruel aunts and things that people say to you when you’re young that are very impressionable, like really cause deep shame and deep pain, and we hold onto that stuff.
Kimberly: 25:54 So for me, I was interested. Then I picked up Saint John of the Cross again last night after having this weekend of that experience, and I was thinking sometimes we need to really go in there and go through these dark nights to really come out feeling lighter because, if not, then we’re kind of going along the surface, and we do these things, and we don’t know why we still feel not good enough. We don’t know why things still bother us. So for me now, really speaking out about these cornerstones that aren’t so physical. Gary, I’ve been talking about food for years and talking about physical [inaudible 00:26:27], different supplements, but now really talking about this emotional digestion, really talking about this spiritual connection and just the joy and the lightness I feel so much more now.
Kimberly: 26:37 And then I keep going in and I keep coming out. But it’s just like we have to talk about this stuff because this is really the way that people can start to feel amazing, and not just like pretty good. But then I still have my sugar cravings. I feel like crap if I gain five pounds or whatever. But really busting through new levels, quantum leaps is going into those dark emotions, is going into the dark night of the soul. So I feel so connected, that these Catholic mystics we’re talking about that.
Gary : 27:08 Yeah. I mean, I think having a dark night of the soul is like having a colonic for your soul.
Kimberly: 27:14 Yes. Yes.
Gary : 27:14 Like for your spirit, right? And all of a sudden, all of this stuff is coming out of you that you didn’t realize was in there. Now, I’ll try and tell this briefly, but when I was doing my backpack, backpacking through Europe on my backpack, and I did like a… I wanted to go away for 40 days and 40 nights. So again, it was kind of like a symbolic-
Kimberly: 27:34 Biblical.
Gary : 27:35 … Biblical time. And I was in Italy, and I was just sad. I mean, I was just sad. I went on this trip, and I was hoping it was going to be better. I thought it was going to be amazing. It had sucked so far. It was just I had quit my job in order to do this, and I was just feeling really, really down, so down, really down. And went back to my room after walking around Florence. Now, Florence is a good place to be depressed and to be sad because it’s beautiful. But I walked back into my room, and I laid down, and a similar thing might have happened. All of a sudden, I started hearing voices inside my head. Now, I thought, “Oh, the guy who lives down the hall from here is playing his radio.” And I actually got up and opened the door, but there was no sound. And then I laid back down, and all of a sudden, I started hearing these voices, almost like crackling radio sounds. And then again, I got up and looked around. I looked out the window. There was no radio. There was nothing.
Gary : 28:38 And I laid down again, and I’m realizing, “Oh, my God, this is inside me.” Right? And I’m hearing these voices saying really negative, nasty stuff, and I’m thinking, “I’m losing my mind.” And then I started to get sick, like literally feel like maybe I was poisoned, maybe I was possessed, that all of a sudden, there were demons inside me or something. And I started convulsing-
Kimberly: 29:05 Oh, man!
Gary : 29:05 … on my bed. I’m feeling like I’m going to throw up and just praying like, “Just stop this. Please, God. Please, God. Please, God.” And it was one of those moments. I didn’t physically throw up, but I just got so exhausted after two or three hours of this and just thinking, “I have lost it.” Then I fell asleep. Well, I woke up the next morning, and it was like the brightest, sunniest, happiest day of my life. And I just felt amazing, amazing in a way that I had never felt before. And after that, all this serendipitous stuff happened on that trip. It was like I had took this first week to get rid of all of this garbage about family members, nasty stuff that people had said to me. Really negative stuff had happened to me over the years that was all this jumbled stuff inside my head and inside my heart, and it was just coming to the surface, and it came out of me that night.
Kimberly: 30:04 Wow, wow!
Gary : 30:05 So the other 30 days after that were magnificent. Like, the most amazing things had happened to me. I’d run into people from the town next to me somewhere in this small town in Poland. So there I am in Poland, and I run into this couple who literally live like five miles away from me. And they were just awesome, and the encounters I had, it was just amazing. But I really feel like I wouldn’t have had such a great trip if I hadn’t gone through the purging experience where I was purging fear. And I think fear is a nasty monster, but I was purging fear. I was fearful of what’s going to happen next. I have no money. I went on this trip with like a thousand bucks or less than that and had to make it last for 40 days, and I had no job to go back to. I had no credit card. I had nothing except cash. It was $929 I had in my pocket.
Kimberly: 31:08 I love it.
Gary : 31:09 That I had taken with me, and I had blown most of it that first 10 days, so…
Kimberly: 31:14 Well, I love that story, Gary, and I love that these experiences take on so many different forms and they become, I think, when we’re… They say the teacher shows up when you’re ready for it, and in some ways, when we’re really crying out… Nobody wants to go through the dark night of the soul, but at the same time, we’re crying out to get to that point of peace or to get to that point of deeper understanding. And so for me, going through these meditations and you start going deeper and deeper, that awareness grows, of why aren’t I peaceful all the time? Why does this still bother me? And then you could start to sit, and it’s excavating these wounds and this darkness that is inside of all of us to different degrees. And it is, like you said, like doing a colonic. It’s like you’re detoxing different parts of you until all that’s left eventually, as Dr. Hawkins says, “Eventually, when you clear all that, all there is is bliss.” We come into this world, we’re light beings, and this heaviness comes.
What a spiritual journey looks like
Kimberly: 32:13 So thinking about our spiritual journey, whether it’s prayer, whether it’s within religion, whether it’s spirituality, whether it’s the yogic teachings, whatever, to me, it’s like keep connecting in and in, releasing what isn’t really you, and living from that pure place, that divine place inside of you, and that’s the real place of joy.
Gary : 32:36 Beautiful. Yeah, I mean, you’re right on. You’re right on the money. That’s why practice is so important, meditation practice, prayer, just to be able… And there’s this deep connection between your spirit and emotions. Well, there’s a deep connection… Right? Our mind, body, spirit. I mean, it’s been used so often that we kind of forget, like this interrelation, this really integral relationship is so important. And the more that you can meditate, the more you can find time to pray, to find a sacred moment in the day to just allow yourself to be, it can unlock stuff. And I know I’ve been doing deep meditation just recently after having kind of doing it half-heartedly for a couple of years actually, but really doing it within the last three or four months, and a lot of stuff is bubbling up.
Kimberly: 33:29 Oh, yeah.
Gary : 33:30 A lot of stuff is coming up.
Kimberly: 33:32 Oh, yeah. I love it.
Gary : 33:34 You know what? But that’s good.
Kimberly: 33:36 Oh, yes.
Gary : 33:36 It can be painful, but it’s really, really good.
Kimberly: 33:37 It’s so good.
Gary : 33:39 Because, I mean, as again, coming back to the body. When you can get all of this garbage that’s inside you out and you can start flushing the system with good stuff or getting good stuff into your body. The same thing with your soul, right? I mean, all of a sudden, things just transform. And then you start living from that place of the true self, which is the soul, which kind of guides everything. So the true self is really kind of the person who can, if you let that person drive the bus, will get you to amazing destinations. But a lot of times, we don’t have a bus driver’s license, right? So we’re like, “I’ll take the wheel. I’ll do this.”
Kimberly: 34:16 The ego, yes.
Gary : 34:17 [crosstalk 00:34:17], right? Jump in there.
Kimberly: 34:19 The fear.
Gary : 34:20 No. Let the bus driver take you on your tour because it’s a beautiful tour. And stop and just sit back and watch. Just watch, right? Stop trying to take control of the car or the bus.
Kimberly: 34:30 Stop pushing so much.
Gary : 34:32 Yeah. Just let it be.
Practical tips on how to incorporate spirituality into your life
Kimberly: 34:34 Well, Gar, I could pick your brain forever. I love talking to you, but to wrap up here, I also want to share, as I mentioned in our intro, that you are an amazing writer besides being an editor. And I really love your book, MicroShifts, because it takes… A lot of what we talked about is a bit theoretical and just sort of these ideas. But you really have this gift of bringing it down to the level of, well, what do we do with this? How do we actually incorporate it? So MicroShifts is a book that I love very much, and it’s very readable. As we wrap up, Gar, could you share a little bit? It could be one tip or a few quick little ideas that are practical. How can we start to incorporate this connection? How can we incorporate spirituality, union, feeling that deep sense of connection with essence, with the divine in our everyday life? We talked about meditating, but in your own words.
Gary : 35:33 Yeah, no, no, no. We talked about the word remember before. So there’s a chapter in there called Remember Who You Are. I mean, there are things that you loved when you were a kid or things you loved last month too that you’ve forgotten about because things get really busy. And to try to find one of those things, whether it was music that you loved in the ’90s or a movie that you loved, and to just kind of like, if you get the time, even if you’re just watching a clip of it on YouTube, just go back and remember where you were then, what you experienced, and kind of push yourself to remember who you are. Because a lot of times, we go through life; we get so busy doing things that we forget how much we love or how much we really have enjoyed in the past, and to come back to that. Come back to those things that really brought you joy years ago.
Gary : 36:34 Now, you may have changed, and they may not bring you joy anymore, but that’s a great thing to figure out about yourself. And oh, you know what? I loved classical music when I was in my 20s, but now I can’t listen to it at all. Well, that’s cool, right? But you’re learning more and more about yourself, and I think the more that you learn about yourself, the more you’re learning about the true self, this core essence within you. So there’s an exercise that you can do inside there. It’s really just to help you remember who you are, right? And ultimately, it’s to help you remember that you are a child of God and that you’re special and that you have great gifts. And you can do that by just kind of remembering a person, something you loved. Taking a special moment of someone who’s passed and just spending time thinking about that person, or write them a note to just remember because… You don’t want to live in the past, but it’s really, really important to remember.
Kimberly: 37:40 I love that, Gary. And you know what’s funny, is right before this podcast actually, I was holding Moses, and he likes to point at things now, if you remember this stage with your sons. But I brought out a picture of my mom.
Gary : 37:55 Oh, wow!
Kimberly: 37:56 And I said, “This is Lola,” the Filipino word for grandmother. And he looked, and he started smiling, and he started pointing. And it almost felt to me like he was familiar with her. So it was nice.
Gary : 38:10 Yeah. And it’s those moments. It can be sad moments too, but God, the reason why they’re sad is because they were so special when they were here. And so when we remember… Especially when we remember people who have passed, it’s a gift. Those tears are a gift, and those emotions are really, really a gift because it’s a sign of just how much that person meant to you and how lucky we were to have them in our lives.
Kimberly: 38:47 It’s funny because I can talk about her sometimes and I don’t cry, but then sometimes I do. And I totally didn’t think I was going to cry on this podcast, but yeah. Thank you, Gary. It is important to remember, and I want… Moses never met her in this physical body, but I do feel like there’s a lot of things we don’t understand and connections. So I do feel like he does know her on a level. Yeah, and it goes back to the mystical, doesn’t it?
Gary : 39:20 Yeah. And look, if we’re all souls, we all have souls, he does remember her. He knows her.
Kimberly: 39:27 Yeah.
Gary : 39:27 He knows her.
Kimberly: 39:29 Cool. Well, Gary, thank you so much. Thanks for coming back on the podcast. Thank you for being such a light. Thank you for being one of my closest, most treasured soul friends on this journey. I love you so much.
Gary : 39:43 I love you too, Kimberly. Thank you so much for having me here, and just thank you for being in my life. You’re a light. You really are.
Kimberly: 39:52 Well, and before we sign off, Gar, could you just share with everybody where they can learn more about your books and your work?
Gary : 39:57 Sure. Garyjansen.com. And all my books are on Amazon and available in bookstores, so check it out. I’m working on some cool projects, so hopefully-
Kimberly: 40:07 Definitely some cool projects coming. And Beauties, we will link in the show notes to Gary’s site and to his other books as well. So thank you guys so much for tuning in.
Gary : 40:18 Thank you.
Kimberly : All right, my loves. I hope that you enjoyed our show today as much as I enjoyed the conversation. It is no wonder that Paulo Coelho, the New York Times Bestselling author of The Alchemist, called Gary’s work, wonderful. He is such a light in the world and he has so much depth of wisdom. So for more information about Gary and his books, please head over to the show notes at mysolluna.com, where we will also have lots of other resources and information and articles and other podcast guests and recipes and meditations.
Kimberly : I will be back here Thursday for our next Q&A podcast. It’s going to be a real good one this week as well. So I’ll see you in cyberspace, I’ll see you on Instagram and social @_kimberlysnyder. Until then, take great care of yourself, beauty. Remember you are whole, you are perfect just as you are, you are perfectly imperfect, and you are completely unique, you are here for a purpose and it is a great honor for me to help support you in your purpose. Sending you so much love and see you back here soon.