All posts by Brandi Auset

On Nurturing Creativity with Elizabeth Gilbert

This video comes from TED, a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.

This talk is with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love. The focus is on writers nurturing creativity and ego from a spiritual sense, and the information is too good not to share.

 

 

From the website:

“The annual TED conferences, in Long Beach/Palm Springs and Oxford, bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).”

“On TED.com, we make the best talks and performances from TED and partners available to the world, for free. More than 700 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. All of the talks are subtitled in English, and many are subtitled in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.”

Expecting the Norm

So here’s what happened.

I was at one of these conference-type things with a friend (we’ll call her Jules), shopping for pagan statuary and taking little workshops on things such as Past Life DNA, The Buddha in You, and Intuitive Expression through Art. We’re wandering around, and we see my book being sold at one of the stands. I get excited of course – it’s been a year since publishing and I still take cell phone pics of my book whenever I’m in a bookstore – and my friend and I are giggling and fawning over it. A woman standing next to us overhears our conversation, and says “You wrote that book?”

“Yes, that one’s mine,” I said, still smiling.

“Really?” she said. “You?

And I, being easily offended and occasionally having no class, sucked my teeth and said, “Yeah, me!”

“Oh. I have your book, it’s great,” the woman said. I sparkled with pride, until she looked me up and down and then said, “You’re just not what I expected.”

My friend and I glanced each other, confused. “And what exactly did you expect?”

She looked thoughtful. “Well, you just don’t look like you wrote a book about Goddesses.”

And Jules, having even less class than I, said, “Is that ‘cuz she’s black, or because she’s not dressed in a cloak?”

Good question, Jules.

Let me interject here. This is a reaction I get often. Most women in this area of spirituality are not of color. Few are as young as me and gotten to this level of teaching and healing. Even fewer have a penchant for corsets and hot pink Converse sneakers.

And to a certain degree, Inappropriate Stranger Lady was right, I don’t look like a “typical goddess woman” – if there is such a thing. I’m African American and covered in tattoos of religious symbols. I often reek of coffee and cigarette smoke, because most of my time is spent at cafes with a Camel perched between my lips.  My wardrobe ranges from business suits to jeans and t-shirts, to gothic and steampunk inspired garb. My hairstyle changes as often as my wardrobe.  I am not a vegan. I grew up in the ghetto, fuck is my favorite word, and I flirt with anything that moves.

And within all that, I understand that first impressions are lasting.  That’s why I don’t show up to work in fishnets and a top hat, cursing like a sailor. But even in my best suit, there is always a glimmer of surprise when someone meets me for the first time. I’ve even had one client say, “Wow! You’re black! You didn’t sound black on the phone.”

But I get it. I’m not what most people expect when they buy my book, come to classes or make an appointment for counseling and energy healing. Many people, regardless of religion or caste, hear the words ‘goddess’ or  ‘spiritual’ and look forward to seeing me dressed in ritual robes or a dashiki, or for me to finish every sentence with “blessed be.”  Some assume I’m a lesbian. Others see my skin color and are confused as to why I am not a Baptist, or surprised that I’m articulate. The stereotyping of spiritual people by other spiritual people is a regular occurrence, and to me it’s a bit odd.  Aren’t we the ones who are supposed to be connected, the ones who see beyond socialization and conventionalism? But this pigeonholing happens, and most times people don’t even realize they are doing it. For some reason, we think:  If you’re a Buddhist, you look and speak this way, a Christian walks and talks this way.  Goddess women wear gauzy dresses and no bra.

For a long time, I tried to separate the facets of my life. Spirituality writing from fiction writing, comic book writing from ritual writing, meditation retreats from I-need-a-drink retreats.  I was driven to believe that since the two facets of my personality were so far from one another that it would be best if my behavior reflected as such – the Narrator vs. Tyler Durden.

And one day, during a deep meditation, I saw how much of myself I was hiding from the world, and my own consciousness. And why was I doing that – to make others more comfortable? To get more clients, or a better chance at getting published? Was I seriously sacrificing my own comfort level, happiness, and growth to supply people with what they were expecting to see?

The different things I am interested in don’t seem to mix, but they are all a part of the same path because they all come from me.  Those facets are all part of one diamond. My job in it is to accept who I am, love that person with all of her strangeness, challenges, and loveliness. This is who Spirit built me to be. My tattoos, my skin, my love of Bauhaus give me access to teach and thrive in areas where the ‘typical’ person would be denied entry. My knowledge and my kookiness all combine and work together to give me the insight and the experiences I need in order to do my part in healing and blessing the world.

So while l I may not look like the typical Goddess woman, the typical counselor, the typical spiritualist, it’s who I am. If all the wondrous things I am make me an oddity – hooray! Who the hell wants to be normal, anyway? A complete and total dichotomy, the intersecting point between the expected norm and the unknown alternative, that’s me. Only now, I’m no longer afraid to admit it, I’ve stopped trying to dissect it, and I’m showing it without shame or explanation.

There are counterculture spiritual folks out there waving the freaky flag with me (from the Dharma Punx to the Christian Goths), people from a different walk of life who find their pleasure and their joy from Spirit, those who may seem atypical to the generalized unpierced crowd but at their foundation are seekers of truth, love, and peace.

Some may shy away from us because of how we appear, and honestly, that’s ok. Please, keep your assumptions and your judgment over there in your corner. I’m used to being one of two colored folks in the room when I attend/teach classes and events. I’ve accepted the odd looks and the timid handshakes, and in some groups the talking down or flat-out segregation. It’s cool, because their reaction to me – before I’ve even said a word – says more about who they are than who I am. And hopefully one day they’ll learn the lesson hidden within their negative or surprised response. Perhaps that’s the purpose I am meant to serve in their lives – to shine a disco light on that piece of them that expects the average, the mundane.

Because in spite of my unconventional appearance, I’ve worked as a healer and teacher for over a decade. I’ve studied spirituality for more than half my life. I’ve helped women and men all over the world heal and transform themselves. Sometimes in jeans, sometimes at a workshop, sometimes sipping a martini. Always Black, and usually smelling good.

And I can look in the mirror without flinching, nicotine stained fingers and all.

A Guide to the Chakras

Chakras are centers of spiritual/magickal energy, found along the midline of the body. There are seven major chakras, and hundreds of others located all over and around the body. Here is a quick yet in depth guide to the seven major energy points.

The first chakra is called  the Root Chakra. This particular energy field deals with our survival, and the way we have developed our beliefs about this. These beliefs are primarily issues about food, money, rent, shelter, natural disasters, man-made disasters-anything that affects your personal sense of safety in the world. It is in this chakra that we ‘ground’. A healthy Root Chakra creates and supports a feeling of safety on the planet. You feel grounded and your life flows along easily. Out of balance, this chakra cannot support our feeling safe and secure about many of life’s issues.  RED

The second chakra is called the Sacral Chakra. This particular energy field deals with our stored memories, emotions, and info about how you deal with others. It is a very demanding chakra, often filled with drama when imbalanced. Relationships issues, addictions, violence, deception, emotional upset, hurtful gossip, & creativity are some of the things that operate from this chakra. When this chakra is imbalanced, many of your interpersonal relationships can be filled with drama and negative excitement. When in balance, you maneuver easily through deep and even superficial relationships.  ORANGE

The third Chakra is called the Solar Plexus Chakra. This particular chakra deals with control, power and boundaries. When this chakra is imbalanced feelings of helplessness, anger, resentment or victimization are present. Our personal use of power, or lack of it is highlighted here. The burning, tightening sensation of being ‘kicked in the stomach’ is an indication of actually having been (on an energetic level) kicked in the stomach. Eastern belief places your ‘chi’ here. It is where harmony, balance and grounding are. When this energy is blocked you may experience criticism and judgment. When this center is in balance, you’re in touch with your heart and have great compassion.  YELLOW

The fourth chakra is called the Heart Chakra. This is the center of your being. It is the bridge and support for the lower three and the upper three. This is where Heaven & Earth integrate. As you open and balance this center you begin to open yourself to your Higher Self. You begin to truly love yourself and truly love others. A heart chakra out of balance can display too much love and being to mothering or protective. This is draining and can feel painful. This center is also connected with identity…all healing takes place in this center, so your newly emerging self transforms here. Trouble with emotional expression can indicate imbalance in the Heart Chakra. Bringing this center into balance asks that you explore your self and identity, and learn to love freely with gentle boundaries and awareness of your won needs as well as those of others.  GREEN

The fifth chakra is called the Throat Chakra. This particular energy field deals with communication, personal expression and speaking your truth. This is also where your ‘inner voice’ speaks through to you, enabling you to hear & identify the truth. Indications of imbalance include sore throats, mouth ulcers, swollen glands, and laryngitis. Taking a moment to see if you have any of these symptoms, as a chronic condition will help you notice an imbalance here. Thinking about how easily you speak your truth or how difficult it is can help to shed light here as well. This is the energy center where you speak as well as listen. Being an active listener is a sign that this center is closer to balance.  BLUE

The sixth chakra is called the third eye or brow chakra. This is the energy centered associated with clairvoyance, higher mental wisdoms, personal vision, intuition and visualization, insight and imagination. This area is always in danger of being judged by ourselves & others-when we express our ‘feelings’ or a sense of knowing about something, it may seem hard to trust this. If when we were children, creativity and imagination were not encouraged, then there can be imbalances here. Do you give yourself permission to see things clearly? This is the center of clarity. This chakra can influence how you see yourself in the world, how others perceive you, or how you think they perceive you.  VIOLET

The  seventh chakra is called the crown chakra. This is the center associated with your free will: your Higher Self, Divinity, consciousness and higher consciousness. If this chakra is not open and balanced, the other chakras will not find balance. This is the first chakra to develop in an infant, the first chakra being the last to develop as the baby enters the physical world. Through the seventh chakra we get our Divine inspiration, our Divine creativity. It is our visionary center. This is where everything comes together. This is where pure intention manifests, and where the purity of all things are felt and recognized. When this chakra is balanced you are at peace and you feel connected. When it is out of balance fear and disconnectedness can occur.  WHITE

Information within this article was gathered from various sources.

39 Days of Prayer – Day 39

Day 39 – Gratitude

I inhale and receive your love

I exhale and share it with the world.

Goddess/God/Spirit

I thank you for walking with me on my life path

Thank you for guiding the evolution of my mind,

for opening my heart and spirit to receive.

Thank you for transforming me so that I may live a positive existence

and influence all I come in contact with.

May I always serve your divine will.

Blessed be.

39 Days of Prayer – Day 38

Day 38 – Freeing the Heart and Mind

You know the desires of my heart better than I, Goddess/God/Spirit

Help me to recognize and separate the things I want from the things I need.

I pray now to be aware and accepting of the things I need

to make my life one lived in happiness, charity and peace.

I pray for the faith and strength to release the things I want

if they do not serve the divine path you have laid for me.

May the wisdom of Goddess/God/Spirit guide me and comfort me.

Blessed be.

39 Days of prayer – Day 37

Day 37 – Accepting Love

On this day Goddess/God/Spirit

I release the sadness and loneliness of the past

And I consciously take action to heal my heart

so that love in all its forms may enter into my life.

I ask for your guidance in this Goddess/God/Spirit

Lead me to the people who will cherish me and easily share their affection.

Blessed be.

39 Days of Prayer – Day 36

Day 36 – Becoming Tolerant and Accepting of Others


As the world moves in confusion and intolerance

I pray to you Goddess/God/Spirit

That the love and harmony of your existence flows over the planet

And enriches the life and spirit of every man, woman, and child so that they may know peace and understanding.

Teach us accept one another, Goddess/God/Spirit

Show us how to embrace friends and strangers with love and respect

Remind us that though we all walk different paths

We are all seeking your light.

Blessed be.