• Acharya Shunya

Part 2: A Return to Joy! Special Guest Richard Miller's Journey to Awakening


9/18/2020 52.43 Minutes

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Namaste and welcome to Acharya Shunya’s podcast Shadow to Self, a show created to inspire you to step out of fear and darkness into a place of freedom and empowerment. In each episode, she'll explore humanity's deepest questions about your relationship with yourself and others, illuminated by the ancient and non dual wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, keep listening.

Shunyaji- Why does it feel that I am almost there but I am not there why does my mind, that makes so many promises lets me down? Why is it that people who hurt me are done hurting me but I still hurt myself? O Dear one! If these are the questions you ask yourself like I did once upon a time, but don’t worry you are not alone in this. All human beings get afflicted by the Shadow. The Shadow as described in the ancient Vedas from India is like a universal hypnotic spell that afflicts all minds. And we fall asleep to our true being. We forget that we are divine mother’s child. We forget that we are made of the same stuff that the stars, the moon and the sun is made of. We begin leading this terribly collapsed isolated life estranged from our own inner bigness.

But thankfully the same Vedas who describe this human affliction or bondage due to the Shadow in the mind also show us a door. A door with a label on it called Yoga; it’s a pathway to waking up from that shadowy existence to reclaiming, rediscovering with joy, our own inner vibrant eternally healthy wholeness. When we become one with Self, fire cannot burn you because you would have become a flame. Water cannot drown you because you would be as wide and deep as the ocean. Air cannot scatter you because you would have become nimbled, spontaneous and light hearted like the wind.

There is another waking up to do. And this waking up from this dream of helplessness, ill health, prejudice, bias, and sorrow can happen with the aid of the science of Yoga and through the teachings of great teachers. In this podcast in every episode we continue exploring the teachings of the ancient yogis who have shared their sentiments, their ideas, and their insights for all of humanity in great texts called the Vedas, the Upanishads and Bhagwad Gita which is a special kind of Upanishad. In the last episode we had also interviewed a modern day Yogi Richard Miller. And because our conversation was so fascinating and it had just begun started when it was time to end.

I requested Richard to join me for a second episode and he is such a personable, such a comfortable and a beautiful being he just smiled and here we are. Hello Richard!

Richard – Hello! Pratichi: lovely to continue our dialogue together.

Shunyaji – I want to share with all of our listeners Richard, before we continue our conversation a little bit about you. For those of you who are joining us for the first time, Richard C Miller is PhD Clinical psychologist. He is an author researcher, yogic scholar and spiritual teacher, who for the past fifty years has devoted his life to integrating Western psychology and neuro science with the ancient wisdom teachings of Yoga, Tantra, Advaita, Taoism and Buddhism, developer of the research based program iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation. Richard is founding President of iRest Institute, co-founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapist and former President of the Institute for Spirituality and psychology. He is the author of iRest Meditation Sounds True, the iRest program for healing PTST by New Harbinger Press and Yoga Nidra the Meditative Heart of Yoga again by Sounds True. By the way these books are bestsellers and you want to go may go find them.

Richard leads retreats and trainings internationally and he emphasises enlightened living in daily life because we talked about this in our previous episode that Richard is, along with being a full time yogi, also a beloved dad to two children, a beloved and responsible and a special teacher to countless people, partner to his wife, son to his parents and friend to people like me. We go back many years Richard, so that’s really is fun to be talking here.

So Richard we were talking in the last episode about your own encounter with the Shadow and you gave some beautiful insights into taking that Shadow, not allowing it to shame you or diminish you. But integrating that Shadow as part of your; it’s your own Self talking to you in different strokes may I say that. And that was really beautiful because I remember long time ago I am a devotee of Durga the divine mother.

Richard- Hmnmn!

Shunyaji- And in our temple and in our home in my home in ancient Ayodhya, which is a holy city in India. In our home we have two temples, one to Durga and one to Shambhu. And we were chanting and there is a word in Sanskrit called Trishna, which as you know represents this existential thirst. This itch that you cannot itch. This incompletion which drives us from pillar to post and we die feeling dissatisfied incomplete. So its Trishna creates this grasping ego and probably it feeds the Shadow nonstop. And I remember chanting that “Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu Trishna Roopain Samsthitaha Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah,” and as I grew older and started learning from my guru Baba, a teacher of Advaita Yoga Ayurveda and started learning Sanskrit.

I went to my Baba and I said so mother represents this Trishna this, who is she? Is she sticking it to us? Like what’s going on here? Is she the person who is playing with us? And probably I asked these kinds of questions with very morbid frame of mind because I was a teenager at that time. And this was the 1970s and India was changing and I belong to a very traditional family. And so there were all these confusions between where is India and the world heading? Why are we holding on to a piece of tradition, and so there was some pushing away of what I was born into. And to me all of these were creating a thirst to be somewhere else besides where I am, to be someone else besides who I am.

And so it was a very beautiful and rich time for me to be one on one with my Trishna. And then my guru who I simply call Baba said, though his name is Baba Ayodhyanath he said, “Yes, she is especially with you when you are caught up in your own Shadow. She becomes the darkness and she leads you away from you. So that then you can choose to come back to you.” And those were heavy words for me but they stayed with me. Richard you brought it up so beautifully about how you allowed your darkness or your Shadow or your confusions or your depressions then that pretty much all of us go through. Instead of pushing them away you saw them as part of your bigger journey.

So for those of you who missed our previous episode you want to go listen to that episode because even though each episode is self standing and everything we talk about here is going to open so many doors within your heart. But I think if you also make time to listen to the previous episode so you won’t miss any of the gems that Richard has been sharing with me on this podcast. So Richard I want to ask you I want to begin this episode by asking a question about Yoga Nidra. You talked in your previous episode about having this vast expansive curiosity, interest and good fortune of attracting teachers to give you some of the deepest teachings in Taoism, Buddhism, Chinese medicine, you name it. You know they were all aligned but still oceans unto themselves. And then on some point you said I am going to stick to Yoga. You even travelled to India to study with the Shankacharya and his father, and now you have for the last I would say two or maybe is it three decades that you have been really been at the forefront of bringing Yoga Nidra to the world. I looked at your page on research there is a lot of research supporting the work that you have done. Especially with trauma, PTSD, Complex PTSD these are very exciting areas to look at because this where the Shadow really catches hold of you and we get stuck in our own memories. So tell us more about Yoga Nidra? How do you define it? And why did you choose to become so dedicated to it for the remaining years of your life?

Richard- Sure I want to begin actually by looking at something you have said that stimulated me. This understanding of our Shadows, which for so many decades in my really growing up years, it felt like these Shadow aspects of depression, sadness, and confusion followed me along. And I was doing everything I could to get away from them, to try to find any means to stop feeling them. And I have this memory now, it was in about 1972 lying on my bed it might have been 73 thinking to myself that, I tried every which way to get away from them and it hasn’t succeeded. Maybe it’s time to stop running and start facing them.

And what I come to appreciate is just like in our dream life if we are being chased by a fear if we stop and face it. And what we realise that it hasn’t been chasing us, it has been trying to get our attention and we have been running away from it all the time. The moment we stop and face it all of a sudden it has secrets within it to reveal. So Yoga Nidra for me, when I first encountered it in my very first experience of Yoga Nidra in 1970. Well it was a very rudimentary practice that I was given. It was helping me for really I would say first time stop and look in and face these different fears and concerns that I was having and trying which way to resolve. And it was giving me some tools with which to face the Shadow on one level I saw my humanness and on the other level, it was giving me tools to open and have glimpses of this vast openness that is beyond time and space and separation.

What was interesting to me, is I started diving into the traditional literature. I was reading everything I could. I was consulting my mentors about what is Yoga? What is this Yoga Nidra and this meditative practice? And I began practicing, I would say, a very traditional Indian form of Yoga Nidra. And was asking me to do certain visualizations, see certain colors, certain monsters. And as I worked with them, I felt that they were, how should I say, very helpful in helping me gain tools to navigate these circumstances of being human being.

I am reminded of one of my mentors G D Krishnamurthy, I loved spending time with him in India and here in United States, down in Ohio, Sans Francisco. He said it is the person who doesn’t know what to do, who is in trouble. And Yoga Nidra was providing me tools that were helping me know what to do when I started to encounter different concentration and emotion, a challenging self judgement path. When I would start getting caught in negative recursive looping thoughts, it was providing me tools with which to meet it.

As I began to dive deeper into the practices and then I was invited to teach Yoga in the middle 70s and I began teaching, I realized though, that I was in a way imposing upon myself and my students. When I would say see a certain image, see a certain color, I started wondering, "What if I kill all of those away and I simply said to them, 'Feel into yourself what is most calling you to it. Does it have a particular color, sound, image?'"

What I found then is by stripping away I would say what worked through me the cultural impositions of that Yoga can sometime offer us beautifully. But by dropping them away and really making it a very secular simple Self enquiry, the practice got a thousand times more important.

People started coming up with their own imagery, their own colors, their own art type of imagery that was coming out of their direct experience from their family, their culture, their background. And so I started to develop a form of Yoga Nidra that, I would say, was very secular in nature but drawing from all the ancient teachings, from a five Kosha model, where we were examining you know what is our body, what is our senses, what is our emotions, our mind? And in a way these Koshas are for me, I came to understand are both sheets that we have identified which can cause us a sense of separation or there can be sheets that was when we enquire into them can help liberate us into a greater sense of freedom.

So as I began to do my own practice and my wife and I then would be going on, we would travel tremendously to say those, a few days of vacation. While she would go out for walks and I would lie on the floor for one two and three hours doing Yoga Nidra practices taking one sheet at a time. And what I saw that is when I really met my physical body just sensation after a while it will heal away and it would start revealing my breath and as I met my breath and the energy body, it will slowly peel away and reveal my emotions. As they peeled away my thoughts, as they peeled away incredible movements of joy and bliss and as they would peel away I would need that deeper stillness. That was there the entire time but I will say layered by these different sheets.

What I have come to appreciate is the word Yoga for me has come to mean our embodied ability to feel no sense of separation between yourself and another, a tree, the mountains everything around us. To feel this underlying essence that has given birth to the entire Universe, and each of us are unique expressions, Nidra. I came to appreciate not only means sleep in Sanskrit but the changing state of consciousness. So that could be sleep, dream, dreamless or it could mean my waking states of changing emotions, thoughts, anger, sadness, happiness, joy.

And so what Yoga Nidra has come to mean to me is our ability to deeply embody as our first hand experience. The sense of non separation no matter the changing state of consciousness that’s present. And I had the fortunate and unfortunate circumstances to try this out in my own life with many circumstances. I have had to be hospitalized for a time for extraordinary pain- when I actually had to be hospitalized because the pain was so great. Times when I had lost my parents, deep grief, sadness. Struggles, challenges in my work. Anxieties, fears. And I have come to realize these changing states of consciousness are like these waves upon this deeper essence but stillness that is always here amidst them.

And now I have come to appreciate it’s the true ground that when we will are really able to settle into it, it is from there that we meet these changing states of consciousness and learn how to navigate all what we might call Shadow states, that I have come as we are talking about in our first episode to realize what I thought was enemies that I was to overcome. I realize now how I would have been here the entire time trying to get my attention.

Which reminds me I have read so many copies, translations of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the ones that I love is by Yogananda Paramhansa Yogananda where each of the persons lined up on sides of the battlefield, how they have Indian names. He translated each one into a psychological state through the recognition that we all are on the battlefield of our mind and our emotions and our thoughts. We are learning not to, in a way, to destroy them but how to meet them in such way that they help us now on our way.

So it’s been a wonderful journey developing this practice of Yoga Nidra. I was invited back in 2004 to start to do research with it and I come to appreciate as I did when I founded that the International Association of Yoga Therapy, it is the research in the Western world that is really going to drive the teachings of Yoga and Yoga Nidra forward. So I have been continuing to do that and as you were saying, that, we were bringing the work in the prisons, into chemical propensity units, into the military both here in the United States, Canada, Australia, England around the world. So it’s been a delightful journey of honing this practice of Yoga Nidra. And just as a quick one I did out of six sheets so I hope that the teachings of Yoga are okay with that.

Shunyaji- Tell me more about that; tell me more about the sixth sheet.

Richard- Yeah as I navigated these five sheets: Anamaya, Pranamaya, Manamaya, Vigyanamaya and Anandamaya. I realized all throughout this which lies within us, the sense of an Ego or an I, reverifies itself over and over. So in the Advaidic teachings they often say I have a body, but I am not this body. I am this unchanging essence. I have emotions, but I am not emotion. I have this unchanging essence.

As I met that at each of these levels in these first five sheets: body, senses, mind, emotions and joy or bliss. As each kind of peeled away and revealed the underlined essence out of which they come.

What I saw was this Ego kept appropriating the realization. So even when I would be resting in that deep unchanging stillness, the Ego would come and say that I am this unchanging essence. So I looked at the annuals of Patanjali and the Upanishads, and I came upon this wonderful word Asmita. Which I came to understand it can both mean our individual kind of personal sense of Ego/ I-ness and the more universal sense of I-ness.

So I looked up and back in our friend Google and it said there is a thing a called Asmitamaya. So I thought let’s have a sixth kosha where we take a more subtler examination of this I part that has been here all the time I have been on this journey of Yoga. But it seems to keep appropriating anybody thinks for it is wrong; even in light moment is now saying now Ah! Now I am in line I am great. And I came to appreciate that it’s not something that sometimes I have seen in writings, you are here to kill the Ego to get rid of the Ego, I realised; Wait a minute, if this is the structure in our humanity then does this also come from the very essence from which I and everything is born. So let me befriend the Ego and see its functions. What I came to realize was in really appreciating and learning about it and not trying to get rid of it. It got set free as just any other unchanging movement. And all of sudden I realized "Oh! My goodness! I am this ground of unchanging essence, even when the Ego is present or not, even when the emotion is present or not." So I framed it as a sixth kosha where we take a subtler look at this Ego function and the different mechanisms that have been with us all through our journey.

And I realize like you were saying the word thirst, this beautiful word that had actually; it can bind us or it can be wrapped which ultimately help us to be free because it is taking us on this journey of understanding. And as I got closer and closer to abiding for a longer periods in this mystery, this essence of unchanging stillness we might say; what I came to saw, see was all of my longings, my yearnings, my hopes, my desires, my expectations, my strivings, they were all there at that juncture point. And I saw that they had surged me to bring me to this momentous moment of recognition. And now my job was to set them free.

When I first met John Klein, one of my deepest virtual mentors, I said to him, "There is a story in the annuals where King Johnacar has put luck for in stirrups, and he turns to his teacher. And he says before my right foot crosses the saddle, it comes into the right stirrups, and you are to awaken me into my full enlightenment that was the challenge he gave to his teacher.

So in my first meeting with John I was about to go into a three day retreat with him, I gave him that challenge. And he turned to me and I will never forget his words. He said all of your striving, all of your yearning, all of what you have been longing for, has brought you to this moment. Now drop me because there are going to be the very things now that are going to begin to take you away. And I must admit by the end of those three days when my right foot made effort to hit the stirrup on the other side of the saddle, I felt that I had got all that I was looking for with this teacher. And then over the next fifteen years, really maturing into that awakening that he was helping me realize.

But I realize all of these strivings, hoping, desires, and yearnings and seeking, they are bringing us to this momentous moment. And then we are being called to let them go, and I always think that this beautiful word in Sanskrit Anugraha, grace, is with us the entire journey. She is the one who gives us the yearning. She is the one who keeps us in the yearning. She is the one who brings us to that momentous moment. And then I liken it to stay in the error passé a passé, where I have done all the work that she has asked of me and now she is asking me to let go completely. And as I do it she gently pushes me off the cliff into a true awakening that I as an Ego could not have done. And then I realize it’s been her grace the entire journey.

Shunyaji- That has been her grace the entire journey.

Richard- Yeah!

Shunyaji-Yeah, It’s beautiful! You know Richard, it’s interesting that you were chosen to bring a sixth kosha and by the way for those who are new to this language ,in the Yogic, Vedic, Advaitic all these different traditions, Tantra, all these different traditions coming out of India, we don’t just have a physical body. But we have a physical body, and we have a body of vital energy- Prana of our mind and emotions and intellect and ultimately a bliss body. And it’s interesting that you would bring up the Ahamkara or the Ego as a sixth Kosha. I have to say that, it definitely will help the modern seeker cognize what they have to do with this, how they actually manipulate or work with it. So I see the usefulness of that.

And coming from a traditional Vedic family where we have this overall tradition where we kind of believe in the purity and pristineness of it, I would have responded differently, except I am responding with support and understanding because I then came across some new set of teachings for teachers. And the Vedas say that you have to be able to interpret and re interpret the knowledge, based on the needs and understandings of the era in which you are teaching.

So I then finally gave myself some permissions and freedom, to you know it was, it was the need of the hour, when I started talking about the Shadow and the Self. I mean it’s just a short word of saying I started teaching, the teachings. And I sat down and I started teaching Sadhana Panchakam by Shankaracharya and Tatwabodha and opening an Upanishad and you know readings from the Bhagavad Gita.

I realized that it was all very beautiful in the moment, but I was not really making a dent on the net ignorance, spiritual ignorance and existential sufferings. I am sure my students will want to say, "Oh! No! Shunyaji, you changed our life," and I am grateful to them. But the amount of change I needed to make was not happening because the nature of the Kaliyuga or the epoch that we are in our collective consciousness is such that the Ego has become a very big entity. It is almost like it’s an alien, sitting on our beings, sucking the light out of us. And even if you yourself try to be a non egotistic, simple, non pretentious, straight forward person, dharmic person, the collective Ego is going to come "get you" almost. And we start talking and living life scripts we are not meant to be. So I actually understand fully and applaud you at this point to say- Here’s what I did and I saw how you know what I have done is this, but I have to say you do what you need to do, as long as people can get to the place of Yoga, which you describe as the state of oneness with trees and animals and beings. It’s an Advaitic Advaita or non-dual explanation of Yoga, and it’s the ultimate truth.

And if people can understand that then that is very good. I have a future book coming up called “Roar like a Goddess,” every woman’s guide to unapologetic power, prosperity and purpose. And what I did was I took divine mother and I see her as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, the archetypes of power, prosperity and purpose, or you know Moksha and Mukti. But I have to fully redo them in 21st Century context.

In the context of the Me Too movement in the context of that, that though the Vedas were progressive and gender neutral, the Hinduism that I grew up in was patriarchal, and it did not allow the women spiritual and material life to prosper. And it had been, and bits and pieces of the Vedas have been reinterpreted by the all-male pundits and that is being put forward as the ultimate truth and I had to say, "No!" And when I had said no a long time ago and my family has said no a long time ago. But it was time to actually to show Durga as a Champion of sexual equality and gender neutrality, and so I have been doing that. And this is one we are as teachers, we are a kind of tackling the Shadow, aren’t we? By taking things out of their very tight boxes. To actually help bring light into it. What do you think?

Richard- You know I when I do teach my teachers I always want to make them understand that teachings that I am giving, where they come from. I want them to understand the tradition. But as all of my teachers have always pointed out, we are teaching to the individual we have to speak to them in a way that they can hear.

Shunyaji- Absolutely.

Richard- Otherwise the beautiful words, they fall on you know on rocky grounds.

Shunyaji- Unready ears!

Richard- Yeah! How to teach them in such a way, that the person really receives it. And something keeps calling me through upon by Mary Williamson as I hear you talking and she says, you may remember it, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves who might be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous actually? Who you are not to be? And this is the line I love- You are the child of God and you playing small doesn’t serve the world.

And it goes on and on. But I love how, in a way, what I come to appreciate: we all have this light within us, and somehow we been educated to pretend that we don’t. And the teachings are really helping us to peel off that sheet of pretending and to really embody this. As you say, the roar of the lion. Whoever we are, wherever we are, and whatever the circumstances. Which does mean coming out often with statements that challenge the people around us.

I wholeheartedly recommend our listeners to take a moment at some point when they are meditating deeply and ask themselves, am I safe with myself? Am I willing to deeply hear myself, see myself? Am I willing to be deeply heard and seen by the world? Because those three, we might call them the "statements." I find them to be really helpful to see, am I safe with myself? Am I am I saying no when I should be saying yes, and am I saying yes when I should be saying no, so that I feel not necessarily comfortable but in harmony with a deeper moment of life? There is a beautiful word that I understand comes out of the word or the word Dharma grows out of the word Rta which means living in such a way that we feel we are in harmony with the totality of the Universe in our speech, mind and actions.

And I have come to realize that if I am truly safe with myself, then I am willing to be with all the movements no matter what other people think or say about me. But I am safe with myself, my emotions are safe with me, my thoughts are safe with me and this challenge I think we all face are we willing to feel deeply heard and deeply seen. Am I willing to truly listen within and hear myself? And this longing that is trying to take me home and I am willing to be visible to others. And I know one of the deepest fears people have is public speaking because they are going to be seen and heard and they may be in a situation people don’t agree with what they are saying. We have to somehow, and I think the teachings of the Yoga do this.

They help us become safe with our self, willing to speak authentically, willing to speak out and I come to appreciate this doesn’t mean feeling comfortable. And I think what Yoga alternately helps us do is become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Because when we really face the injustices that we see around us, we know that people are going to speak ill of us. I get dirty awful letters all the time of criticism for what I am doing. This is part of our willingness to really be authentic and, as you say, roar like a lion and really confront the truth that needs to be confronted. And as we have been talking about, we first have to face within our self, so that we are truly liberated. As thus we can begin within ourselves, and then we can offer that ability to liberate others.

Shunyaji- There was a certain word that in English language, Richard, that has been coming to me and it’s like spiritual nakedness. And I was writing about Kali, who was a form of divine mother, and she is naked because she is wearing no clothes of pretentiousness or affectations and she represents time. Time is naked truth, you know, it wins in the end. It is known as the ultimate devour of all our illusions and delusions.

Richard- You Know I find Mirabai the beautiful poet.

Shunyaji- Yeah-

Richard- Said you have asked me to ride on the back of the jackass while I feel the sway of the aloofment. Somebody who actually did take off her clothes and walked-

Shunyaji- Yes-

Richard- Acknowledges and saying my rose beads around my neck are my garlands and how she beautifully rose up to really be a realizer of truth in her own authenticity and her own nakedness. And I think of Yoga Nidra actually is helping us to peel away that sheet .

Shunyaji- Yes.

Richard-That we come to that nakedness of our true essence, and then we can put the sheets back on. But we know as we walk in to world who we really are essence underlying essence.

Shunyaji- Yeah, that is so beautiful to compare Yoga Nidra as almost like, I can see it as a process of taking off those worldly clothes and roles and worries and anxieties and entering this naked dimension. There is a peacefulness and a restfulness to it and, Richard, I as a woman spiritual leader coming from a traditional Sampradaya, which means a lineage for those of you who are new to this podcast. And all male lineages prior to mine may be the first lineage holder, it’s been a leap but it’s also been so supportive that within the Yoga tradition. I didn’t have to go outside my tradition, I just had to go into the true tradition, the true universal tradition of the Vedas. The Yoga where you are actually being empowered to step into your original non cultural, non-gendered, non-limited, unlimited space. So all I had to do was say you know what? I am going to let go off the cultural versions of what is means to be a Vedic teacher, a woman, a mother. I am going to go into the true essence of the Upanishads which is then teaching me what you are talking about in Yoga Nidra. It is how you greet your true Self. And can you dare to see yourself without those worldly colors to boost you up? And like you said, divine mother’s kind of pushing you off the precipice but she's going to be right there.

Richard- I think isn’t something important to the - you're saying amidst the world, which is you are walking a householder of life. You got a child and a husband and all the different good accruements’, which many people would say these prevent us from realizing the truth. And yet I think that in this time and age we need to understand these ancient teachings are here to serve us as householders, as people with jobs in the workplace. That this isn’t about dropping out. This is really about dropping even more deeply in. As a human being amidst the human circumstances and realizing this ancient truth amidst our modern times.

Shunyaji- I have a funny story to share, Richard. That like I had to record my first podcast some months ago ,and you know with anything first you want to give a little more attention. So I was thinking should I go this way or that way, like which few waves of the ocean that I had to hold and present. And then one morning I just got up at 6am and recorded the podcast because the night before I and my beloved partner had a disagreement. And at 2am my mind was awake talking like a lawyer to him discussing why I am right and I literally broadcasted this whole thing on my first podcast, saying I am waking up to make this podcast because I woke up from the Shadow that I and my husband are different. So I am always like bowing to my householder’s life, my partner’s, my in laws,’ my child’s, my neighbors', and even my student’s, who come as part of our spiritual household. And our interpersonal play and how we can be honest and transparent in the moment. And the Shadow would have been if I pretended that I and my husband live in lotuses in our suburban home. But I blossomed on the lotus of my domestic life when without shame or guilt I could come up and say hey! My mind got corrupt with trying to win a silly domestic argument on some silly household affair, and here I am telling the world about it because I am not that. And that’s so much fun right?

Richard- You used the image of the lotus but the lotus lives in mud.

Shunyaji- Exactly.

Richard- And you rose out of the mud.

Shunyaji- Then I am on my lotus because we are very much in the muddy affairs of the world. But this is where the journey to Shadow to Self becomes so important, and Richard I want to thank you because I could have this very intimate kind of dialogue with you and you are so open and accessible to begin with. So your students are very lucky to have you and I really enjoyed this special meeting. That we could have across times and cultures and East and West because I am from the East but doing work in the West. You are in the West bringing knowledge of the East. So it’s really something universal that we are striking here that notches us and I hope our listeners will not only go find you on your website and look up your books and the work you do. But beyond the work you and I do, and beyond the message that you and I bring as spiritual teachers, I really hope they become quiet and open that door of Yoga inside their heart Richard. Their true Self is waiting for them, do not be afraid of the Shadow but because of it come closer to yourself. So Richard before we conclude this beautiful episode and discussion with you, would you like to say a few last words? And also share in what manner can our listeners find out about you and study with you and generally benefit from your contribution to Yoga.

Richard- I think I would love to continue a couple of more lines from Williamson’s poem because it so adequately speaks of what you are saying. To continue, she says “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in all of us. As we live our own life time, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. We are liberated from our own fears, our presence as we are liberated from our own fears our presence automatically liberates others." I love this. That as we truly liberate and face our fears and our Shadows and are able to come to a deeper recognition of our essence. We could be sitting as I have a time minding my own business, and I was at the beach one time in the Bahamas where I was teaching just minding my own business. Another time I was at the conference just sitting at a table. In each instance someone came up to me and said, basically I don’t know what it is you got but I want some of it and how do I get it. I think when we really embodied these precious teachings, that light becomes in a way visible, tangible to the people around us. And then they in a way, as the beautiful statement says, when we are log that is on fire as other logs that might be wet get around us, they begin to dry out and catch fire themselves. So I love all that we were talking about here this light is within all of us. I do think it’s helpful to have a teacher like you or the teachers that I have had, who can really help us see that light is within us and help us dry out in a way and catch our self on fire. Then we light other fires round us as we move through the world. We all then are teachers. Some of us may not be teaching as you are or as I am, but we all then become teachers because we carry that light within us and people really do feel that sense of a community. If people want they can come to my website as you were asking me. It's iRest.org, where they can simply put in Richard Miller or Yoga Nidra and I am sure they will find their way to my our website.

Shunyaji- Thank you so much, Richard, for being my guest for two consecutive episodes. These are episodes worth cherishing and listening to again. Richard, you are doing some great work. I have enjoyed being in dialogue with you, and I think, as they say in India, that any time two spiritual teachers across time and traditions come together, then it is by Anugraha or grace of divine mother, that they can have the Satsang. Because as teachers we are always giving, but when we talk to each other we become nourished and we feel mirrored in each other’s light. And this is at this time on our planet, the time for the light and sharing that light, as Richard says, is so important. So thank you.

We are now closing this episode. Keep tuning in, and I really appreciate you leaving your comments and giving us your five star ratings. We had all five star ratings up till now. So that just makes my heart fill with joy because I bring five stars to you, and so it’s a mutual giving and receiving of really love. That’s what happening across the wave length of this podcast. Until next time, this is your host Acharya Shunya. Take care, lots of love.

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Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind an online wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom and Sovereign Self. Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel where she holds live Global Satsangs once per month. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.


Hayward, California, USA