Adyashanti: Ultimate Flexibility

    —
March 9, 2010

Adyashanti: Ultimate Flexibility

Adyashanti March 9, 2010

Tami Simon speaks with Adyashanti, a spiritual teacher trained in the Zen tradition who lives in Northern California. Adya (as he is called by friends and students) is often described as a non–dual teacher, someone who teaches about “awakening to oneness” or what he calls awakening to “non-division.” Sounds True has published many programs with Adya including Spontaneous Awakening, True Meditation, and The End of Your World. Adya discusses the way many contemporary non–dual teachers talk about how important it is to be “without position”—to not believe in the reality of any thought or belief or take a position on anything and how to make sense out of your thoughts. (36 minutes)

Photo of ()\

Adyashanti is an American-born spiritual teacher devoted to serving the awakening of all beings. His teachings are an open invitation to stop, inquire, and recognize what is true and liberating at the core of all existence. His books include Emptiness Dancing, The End of Your World, True Meditation, The Way of Liberation, and Falling into Grace.

Asked to teach in 1996 by his Zen teacher of 14 years, Adyashanti offers teachings that are free of any tradition or ideology. "The Truth I point to is not confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine, but is open to all and found within all." For more information, please visit adyashanti.org.

Author photo © Mukti

600 Podcasts and Counting…

Subscribe to Insights at the Edge to hear all of Tami’s interviews (transcripts available too!), featuring Eckhart Tolle, Caroline Myss, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, and many more.

Meet Your Host: Tami Simon

Founded Sounds True in 1985 as a multimedia publishing house with a mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom. She hosts a popular weekly podcast called Insights at the Edge, where she has interviewed many of today's leading teachers. Tami lives with her wife, Julie M. Kramer, and their two spoodles, Rasberry and Bula, in Boulder, Colorado.

Photo © Jason Elias

Also By Author

Waking Up: What Does It Really Mean?

Adyashanti is a widely beloved, American-born spiritual teacher whose practice is rooted in Zen Buddhism but has expanded beyond any one path or perspective. He has created many books and audio programs through Sounds True, including Resurrecting Jesus, Emptiness Dancing, and Healing the Core Wound of Unworthiness. In this episode of Insights of the Edge—which previously appeared as part of the provocative interview series Waking Up: What Does It Really Mean?—Tami Simon and Adyashanti inquire deeply into what exactly constitutes “awakening.” Adya describes his own experiences of awakening, vividly comparing and contrasting his felt sensation of each of these life-changing experiences. Tami and Adya also discuss whether awakening is a sudden or gradual process, and what one can and cannot expect from these moments of profound epiphany. Finally, Adya shares his pith instructions on how to encourage such a spiritual awakening.

Adyashanti on Awakening

Please enjoy this interview excerpt with spiritual teacher Adyashanti and Sounds True producer Mitchell Clute about The 30-Day Wake Up Challenge and some common misconceptions about awakening . . .

 

Mitchell Clute: The 30-Day Wake Up Challenge is a bold title for this new journey you’ve created with Sounds True. Can we choose to wake up? And how do the practices in this journey support the awakening process? 

Adyashanti: The whole idea of The Wake Up Challenge is really the outcome of 24 years of teaching. Early on, I saw that the first thing I needed to establish was the idea that awakening is possible. If people think, “Awakening is rare. It’s for very unusual beings and maybe I’ll get there in 10 lifetimes if I’m lucky,” they’ll tend to manifest that thought pattern in their experience and it will seem to be true, whatever meditation or inquiry or other practices they’re doing. But as soon as people begin to challenge that idea, it just makes so much possible. The biggest challenge is often opening our minds to the possibility. 

Through all my years of teaching, I’ve seen that awakening is readily available to everybody. I’ve seen it in people who really have their act together, people who have good lives and relatively well-adjusted egos. I’ve seen it in people whose lives seem to be a mess, whose egos are really struggling. They can awaken. People come to me with very difficult backgrounds, with terrible traumas very early in life, and they can awaken. And I haven’t actually seen that any one of these groups has a greater advantage in terms of awakening to their true nature. 

I used the word “challenge” because I really wanted to challenge people. When I made this program, I took the best pointing-out instructions that I’ve developed over the years to induce insight. It’s not a program about processing your emotions, or about healing, or even about your spiritual path—though all those are an important part of life. It’s really narrowly focused on awakening to one’s true nature. 

I’ve been interested in making this program for over a decade now, and one day I thought, “I’ve thought about this long enough. I’d better just sit down and do it.” It was one of the most enjoyable—and challenging—things I’ve ever recorded. 

 

MC: One of the misperceptions it seems people have about awakening is, “If I just awaken, life will be good.” We believe that somehow, in light of that experience, clarity will automatically come to our relationships, our work, and our own journey. 

A: That’s an important point, because a lot of people hold this misperception. It’s a little disappointing to hear that awakening doesn’t instantly fix everything, but the truth is always more freeing than whatever our fantasy about the truth may be. Awakening is always one of the most seminal, transformative experiences we can have in life. And it does have a bleed-over effect into other dimensions of our life—the make-up of our healthy ego structure, our relating, our healing. But each of these areas of life—including emotional development, relational IQ, and personal healing work—[is] each a separate line of human development. They all interact together. But I’ve never met anybody who had an awakening and suddenly had an A+ ability to relate when they didn’t before, or suddenly healed everything that needed to be healed. It doesn’t happen that way; it didn’t happen that way for me. 

Awakening seems to have a different effect on different people. For some people, it transfers to their lives to a great degree, but we all have parts of our lives that need attention, that aren’t instantly clarified even with the deepest awakening. That’s just part of human life. But I think we can approach all those areas of life from a more benign position if we’ve had some taste of our true nature. Then, even if we have to do some healing work or emotional maturity work, we know through our own experience that we’re not coming from a place of lack, because we’ve really touched upon our unconditioned nature—that which is always and already complete.

So, awakening is always one of the most transformative moments in a person’s life, and can become a foundation from which to address other issues from a state of wholeness and with less fear or existential dread. But it’s not a magic cure-all for everything. 

 

MC: In Zen there’s the idea of “always being, always becoming”—of attending to both our humanness and our essential nature. But many students, and even some nondual teachers, seem to put all the emphasis on the being, our eternal nature, and almost nothing on the becoming. 

A: I think that’s something within human nature; we all want our securities. We’d all like to live in a world of absolutes, feeling if we could just find those absolutes we’d be safe and not be subject to the challenges of being and existing. 

Every dimension of consciousness has its own delusions. One of the delusions that is almost always inherent in awakening or the revelation of our true nature is a sense of confidence. We think, “Oh, this is it,” because we’re touching upon what is always and already complete. This confidence can tie right into our unconscious desire for fixed, final conclusions, because they provide a sense of security. 

Also, most people come to spirituality through some degree of suffering and difficulty. There’s a big motivation to want to have an experience that will put all that suffering behind you. Psychologically, we’re caught living in denial. We think, I’m done, I’m finished, I’ve realized an absolute truth and now I’m not subject to all these other aspects of being a human being. These delusions are inherent in the revelation of true nature, because any time we touch upon a facet of our true nature it feels whole and complete. 

But in the end, we realize we’re embracing a paradox. That which is always whole and complete is also always in a state of becoming. To me, this is the real nonduality. It’s not going back and forth from one side of duality to the other—from “I’m a human being” to “I’m spirit or consciousness.” Reality embraces this paradox of both sides. Always being, always becoming. A human being and pure spirit. It’s the nature of a more mature realization that we can not only see but begin to embody these paradoxes. 

 

MC: The 30-Day Wake Up Challenge has four parts. There are sections on the three types of awakening—the mind, the heart, and the ground of being—and a final section on how to put these insights into practice in our lives. Why did you present them in that order, and what do we need to bring to make the most of these teachings? 

A: I offered the teachings in the order they’re generally easiest to approach. As you know, I talk about awakening on the level of mind, heart, and gut or ground of being, and mind is usually the easiest one. They often unfold in something like that order, but not always. 

In my case, my first awakening was to the ground of being. Since I grew up dyslexic, my whole spiritual unfolding was dyslexic! It was backwards. But the reason I arranged the journey this way is simply that for many people it happens that way.

The power of our own honesty with ourselves plays such an important role. We can have revelatory and amazingly transformative experiences, but at the end of the day, our honesty about our own experience is going to tell us, “Oh, this seems to need more work,” or “I’m actually suffering in this area of my life,” or “Relationships seems to be an incredible mystery to me, and my awakening didn’t seem to give me great relational intelligence.” If we’re honest, we’ll see it, we’ll identify it, and we’ll focus on that for awhile. 

If there’s still healing work to be done, we can live in denial. It’s common in spirituality. People think that if they keep going back to the transformational experience over and over, it’s going to make everything else go away. But if we remain honest and don’t use that experience as a place to hide, then our awakening can give us real clarity, so that it becomes clear what we need to work on. 

And it’s hard for human beings to do—to simply be honest with ourselves. It sounds easy, but it’s not easy. But our experience tells us what needs attention. When we have an emotional or psychological or spiritual “ouch” that’s the way our system gives us feedback. It’s not mysterious. It’s not hidden from us. 

So there’s work to do after awakening. But we can also indefinitely postpone awakening by believing that we need to be some sort of semi-perfect being before it can ever happen, and that’s simply not true. 

 

Continue your awakening with our brand-new journey with Adyashanti, The 30-Day Wake Up Challenge. We begin Thursday, August 15.

LEARN MORE

Awakening the Spiritual Heart with Adyashanti

Adyashanti is an American-born spiritual teacher whose work adheres to no single tradition, but points the way toward awakening for all seekers. He has published many books and audio programs with Sounds True, including The Most Important Thing, The End of Your World, and Resurrecting Jesus. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Adya (as his friends and students call him) about The 30-Day Wake Up Challenge, an upcoming online course designed to take listeners on a journey through the layers of awakened consciousness over the course of a single month. Tami expresses her excitement about the course and asks Adya whether it’s really possible to “wake up” in just a few weeks. Adya talks about the liberation of dropping into the Spiritual Heart, leading listeners in a practice for touching this sublime, compassionate inner space. Finally, they discuss the everyday applications of touching awakened awareness, as well as why The 30-Day Wake Up Challenge has been one of Adya’s intensive projects.

(66 minutes)

You Might Also Enjoy

Bruce Tift: Already Free

Have you ever wondered how to hold the following two seemingly contradictory experiences? On the one hand, you feel in touch with the vast expanse of being. You sense that your true nature is infinite, boundless, unconditionally loving, and outside of time. And on the other hand, you know that in certain situations (usually involving other people!), you are avoidant, dismissive, reactive, and shut down, and—truth be told—you have a lot of healing and personal growth work to do.

Buddhist psychotherapist Bruce Tift is a master at holding these two seemingly contradictory views, and—ready for this?—he does so “without any hope of resolution.” In this podcast, Tami Simon and Bruce Tift talk about how, in his work with clients, he skillfully embraces both the developmental view of psychotherapy and the fruitional view of Vajrayana Buddhism, the blind spots that come with each approach, and how combining them can help people avoid these pitfalls. 

Tune in as they discuss unconditional openness, and how it is important to be “open to being closed”; how neurosis requires disembodiment, and further, how our neurosis is fundamentally an avoidance strategy—“a substitute for experiential intensity”; our complaints about other people (especially our relationship partners) as opportunities to take responsibility for our own feelings of disturbance (instead of blaming other people for upsetting us); how to engage in “unconditional practices,” such as the practice of unconditional openness, unconditional embodiment, and unconditional kindness; and more.

Transform your relationship with your kitchen—and yo...

Hello gorgeous community of amazing human beings,

For the last 15 years, I have been cooking up this question: 

What does it look like to nourish YOU? 

 

Let’s drop everything we might think this is 
and everything you didn’t get done today 

and bring our collective shoulders down from the sky. 

Let’s take a minute here. We are just getting started, yet I feel we need to slow down. Will you take a deep breath with me? Thank you for being here with me. Thank you for breathing. There is nothing to do here. 

You can bring your awareness to your breath with an inhale through your nose. Open your mouth slightly and exhale with a HAAAAAAAAA sound. It feels so good to drop everything and breathe. Me too. To let go, even a little, is a real lovefest for the heart and mind = heart mind. 

It feels so good, can we do one more? 
You can close your eyes this time if you want to—

I will be right here. 

We are just getting here, together.

Now let me ask you again: 
What does it look like to nourish YOU?

What if I told you that your kitchen is a place of stories, mothers, grandmothers, imprints, and emotional weather patterns that shaped how you live now? It is also a place to deeply nourish yourself and cook up the life you have been longing to live. 

Your kitchen (yes your kitchen!) is a fierce, unconditionally loving mother holding what is ripe and ready to become inside of YOU. Who would have thought that you can heal your life in your kitchen? I did! And now you can.  

I am excited to share my new book: The Kitchen Healer: The Journey to Becoming You.

It invites you to bring your entire body into the kitchen, put your shame into the fire, offer your grief to the soup—allowing all you have been hungry for to begin to feed YOU. As you turn on the fire, you will come home to yourself. You will make the room you need, to hear and see and feel the stories you have been carrying.  

 

You will begin, again and again, to become YOU. 
Welcome home. 

In loving service to your courage, your kitchen healer,
x x x x jules

Jules Blaine Davis, the Kitchen Healer, is a TED speaker and one of Goop’s leading experts on women’s healing. She has led transformational gatherings, retreats, and a private practice for over fifteen years. She has facilitated deeply nourishing experiences at OWN and on retreat with Oprah Winfrey, among many other miracles. Jules is a pioneer in her field, inviting women to awaken and rewrite the stories they have been carrying for far too long in their day-to-day lives. She is cooking up a movement to inspire and support women to discover who they are becoming.

This Is Your Time to Be Healthy, Fit, and Fine

Sex, health, happiness, and wealth . . . you know you want it all. And there’s no better time than now for having it all and “gettin’ it good!

Without social networking, motorized vehicles, or modern-day technology, many of our ancestors went for what they wanted and got it. One trailblazing “I’ve got this” woman I revere is Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler. As the Civil War raged in 1864, 33-year-old Rebecca Lee became the first Black female physician in the US. She graduated from what is now Boston University School of Medicine. In 1865, with her husband, Arthur Crumpler, she courageously journeyed to Richmond, Virginia, to provide medical care to recently freed slaves that the White doctors would not touch.

Her life in Virginia wasn’t easy. While there, many pharmacists refused to honor her prescriptions, some hospitals denied her admitting privileges, and some—reportedly, even physician colleagues—wisecracked that the “MD” after her name stood not for medical doctor, but for “mule driver.” But Dr. Crumpler persevered!

She remained in Virginia for almost four years then returned to Boston in 1869, established her medical practice, and wrote a book about women’s and children’s health. She blazed a trail upon which many have and do tread.

Hers is just one story of a brave, determined, capable Black woman. Over the centuries, there have been more in numbers untold! In the 1900s, especially during the Civil Rights Movement, Black women were instrumental in the reckoning of a nation. While their husbands got the most notoriety, matriarchs such as Coretta Scott King, Juanita Abernathy, and Lillian Lewis stood along- side their men and played pivotal roles in moving the nation forward to live up to its creed.

And as the first decade of 2000 ended and a new one began, Black women became increasingly on the move, onward and upward, and are now doctors, accountants, judges, pilots, investment managers, nurses, and elected officials as well as wives, mothers, and caregiving daughters. Undoubtedly, many of today’s Black women are carving out lives about which our great-great- grandmothers may have only dared to dream.

Black women’s voices are no longer muted or silenced; instead, they are heard around the world, with sophisticated, strong, and successful style. In 2020, America elected its first Black female vice president, Kamala Harris, at whose 2021 inauguration the words of the first Youth Poet Laureate of the US, Amanda Gorman, rang forth for the world to hear. But there’s more!

In February 2021, Georgia Tech engineering major Breanna Ivey interned at NASA and helped put their rover, Perseverance, on Mars! And as the COVID-19 pandemic stole lives around the globe, vaccine researcher Kizzmekia Corbett, who has a PhD in microbiology and immunology that she earned at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, worked with the National Institutes of Health and was instrumental in bringing safe, effective vaccines to the world.

Indeed, Black Girl Magic is in full force! When we look around, seemingly there’s hardly any- thing Black women can’t do—and do well—in any field, including medicine, the military, politics, education, technology, business, sports, aeronautics, and the arts. What we put our minds to, we can achieve! With an “I’ve got this” approach and determination, it is ours to be had.

But life is not a bed of roses for all Black women. Too often (and still) negative images barrage our psyches, loved ones in our community lose their lives in gun violence, and our health often needs dramatic improvement. Black women still carry the highest incidence of, and the poorest prognosis for, medical conditions that affect practically every organ system in the body. We are more obese and have a shorter life expectancy than other women in the female demographic, and we carry the highest mortality rate for many killer diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, and more.

Despite those findings, the plight of Black women’s health is rarely, if ever, specifically addressed at length in general women’s health books. For that reason I have stepped outside of my medical office, outside of the sacred space of the surgical suite, even outside of my city and state to offer women in America and abroad Black Women’s Wellness: Your “I’ve Got This!” Guide to Health, Sex, and Phenomenal Living. May it be the one-stop source you can reference on your personal quest to achieve total wellness, health, and happiness in every important aspect of your life. I offer this book as a Black female who grew up poor in a single-parent household. I never knew any of my grandparents, had an absentee father (who I later found when I was 49), a mother with some “issues,” no siblings, and many naysayers in my midst. But to achieve my goals to become a physician and a surgeon, I studied to show myself approved. It wasn’t easy, but I got it done.

Over the years, I’ve seen thousands of women of various ethnicities suffer with chronic diseases, some of which can be avoided, or at least, better controlled. I also know the remarkable and re- warding joy of practicing medicine and performing surgery to remove disease, help women with their infertility, or free them from cancer.

As a physician, my question to you is, Are you taking time to take care of your health? In fact, when did you last really think about—and take time for—your health in a comprehensive, serious, deliberate manner?

Jack Kornfield’s Buddha’s Little Instruction Book reminds us that “each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” Kornfield also tells us, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Whatever your schedule, lifestyle, religious preference, or personal obligation to others, the reality is you won’t be able to do anybody any good if you’re in poor or failing health. As said in the 2021 movie Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, “Take one seed of what you give others and plant it in yourself.”

The words and images within these pages present information that is applicable to the specific medical, spiritual, emotional, and social needs of Black women. However, non- Black women can glean valuable information about their health and standing in this book as well because I also provide comparative data for Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women, as well as some data about our male counterparts. But special attention is given to Black women because the fact is, Black women’s health concerns and challenges are different from those of other women.

In these pages you will find staggering statistics and a less-than-desirable legacy of Black women’s health. But you will also find tools, medical information, and encouragement that can liberate you and Black women everywhere from a similar fate. With knowledge comes power.

Look at all the wonderful things Black women have done and continue to do when they employ their mind and determination in force. Hold on to that because improving one’s physical health is doable—you can do it!— and changing the trajectory of Black women’s health is also doable. It can be done, and it must be done because changing the health of Black women can change the health of the Black fam- ily and that of all future generations. As you review and compare the health statistics across racial lines presented herein, remember one thing: the goal isn’t to be like White or Asian women; the goal is to be healthier Black women. Black Women’s Wellness provides a head-to-toe medical reference, with information that will carry you for years to come. Some of you might read this book cover to cover, as a whole. Others might read chapters that address your, or a loved one’s, current medical concern, circumstance, or curiosity. Or as you flip through the pages, you might see a pie chart or graph that grabs your attention or gives you pause.

In chapter 1, I begin with my “Societal Stress and Black Women’s Health” flowchart that ties together the psychosocial challenges and micro- aggressions that we face as Black women and how those psychosocial stressors can affect our physi- cal well-being.

In part 1, I present timely information about heart disease, diabetes, maternal mortality, cancers, and HIV/AIDS . . . the top five conditions that are robbing Black women of life and longevity.

In part 2, I hone in on our womanly feminine form and function. As with all creation, the hu- man body is a thing of beauty with wonders it performs! No one would be alive today without a woman’s body, for it is through women that all life is formed and born.

Medical conditions can affect all of us—whether we are tall or short; “thick” or thin; heterosexual or homosexual; light-skinned, “olive-complected,” or the color of rich, dark chocolate. You’ll read about your reproductive anatomy and physiol- ogy and the diseases that can affect your female organs, such as fibroid tumors and endometriosis, but also other medical conditions that cause mid- life “female” problems such as a dropped bladder, urinary incontinence, and pelvic pain. You’ll read about vision problems, arthritic conditions, sickle cell disease, multiple sclerosis, and more. And if you are menopausal and utterly confused about hormone replacement therapy, this part can give you guidance.

No book on wellness is fully complete with- out addressing sex. Can I get an amen? Given my personal experience and professional expertise, I wrote the sex, sensuality, and relationships section with a heterosexual approach. But regardless of your sexual preference or identity, in part 3, you’ll read about the health benefits of having sex (with whoever rocks your boat). There’s also sage infor- mation about sexually transmitted diseases and how to identify any residual sexual hang-ups you may have so you can fully enjoy and benefit from the experience that love-making was meant to be.

Maybe your love life has gone from a sizzle to a fizzle, you have trouble achieving orgasm, or you experience pain with intercourse. Or perhaps you’re wondering if male enhancement medica- tions work in women or how you can possibly en- joy sex in a day of rampant sexually transmitted diseases and men “on the down-low.” Fret not; you’ve come to the right place! I give you tips on how to boost your sex life and get or keep the passion going with your sweetie. I also offer you advice on how to address these intimate issues (including sexual dysfunction) with your doctor.

And last, in part 4, I round out the call for total wellness with information on relationships, love, beauty, mental health, mindfulness, and financial well-being. I also provide a checklist for you to take stock of your health to identify the specific areas that require your medical attention.

To find happiness in a world of frequent, near-daily rejection, it is important to have inner strength, self-assurance, emotional balance, and reliable friends and family. Part 4 will give you useful tips to achieve inner peace, to keep your brain active and alert, and to avoid toxic people. It will advise you on how to capitalize on your best traits and, if needed, minimize those traits you find less desirable or that impede your personal or professional goals.

Proper diet and physical activity for increasing the secretion of endorphins—the “feel good” body chemicals—will be addressed, and tips for hair and skin care will be presented. Lastly, unique medical “pearls of wisdom” will help you improve your interpersonal relationships. Along the way, I will share a few anecdotes of my life’s journey; perhaps they will encourage you to keep moving forward when you feel you just can’t take another step.

I am excited for you and me. Despite the doom and gloom of the past, it is possible for Black women to achieve medical parity and live the best, healthiest life possible in the 21st century. We need not give up hope, for there have been and will continue to be victories and successes in the lives of women whose skin has been bountifully kissed by the sun. As never before, the 21st century presents a new day and an exciting time in health-care technology, research education, and improved medical outcomes, and no woman—whether Asian, Hispanic, Native American, White, or Black—should be left behind. Not anymore. This can yet be our time to shine, as many of us are living well past the statistical projections of life and death . . . and doing so in healthy, fine, fun, and sexy style!

Total wellness and phenomenal living are aspirations many Black women enjoy and others seek to attain. It can be done; the journey begins with just one step. Black Women’s Wellness may prove to be the long-needed source that can encourage, educate, comfort, and celebrate you, me, and Black women everywhere. With the information in this book, the evergreen list of resources I’ve provided at the end, and an “I’ve got this!” determination, your 21st-century journey to total wellness, physical health, and phenomenal living can begin right now. Let’s get started!

Melody T. McCloud, MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist-surgeon, media consultant, public speaker, and author. She lectures nationwide on women’s health, sex, and social issues and has served on an advisory council of the CDC. Affiliated with Emory University Hospital Midtown, Dr. McCloud was honored as one of the 25 most influential doctors in Atlanta and named Physician of the Year by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. She has appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC, Court TV, and in the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, Parade, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and more.

>
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap