Donna Quesada: Part of your commitment to meeting them where they are is that commitment to living openly.
And something struck me early in our conversation. When you acknowledged that your work, your practice, is not only Yoga and meditation, but also going to therapy. So that, in conjunction with refusing to be photo-shopped… being open about the aging process. I think that is part of the vulnerability that allows others to move and confront their own trauma. And the areas within, that need healing.
Seane Corn: I’m a big believer in healing. Something that I see too often in the Yoga world… It’s called “over-understanding,” meaning, I can tell you how I feel. I can use the language and the scripture to describe it. But I don’t actually feel it. And as a result, it can look like attachment. But it’s actually dis-association. And through therapy, it becomes an environment that lets you unpack, and move towards the emotional body, and find the language to not describe but understand what is embodied. The impact that it has… to be in a relationship with it.
And for someone like me, there is a huge trapping from being a leader in this community. There is so much projection. And it’s very easy to buy the hype. Meaning, if I don’t feel good about myself, all I have to do is book a class. Walk in. Teach some Yoga, and at the end of the class, I’m going to have 10, 15, 100 people telling me I’m wonderful and fabulous and I changed their life. And it’s really easy to use that to fill a void. But there is never enough praise to fill that emptiness. And so, when I realized that my career was evolving and I was getting more attention, I saw the trap. I guess what happened here… So, my commitment to being in therapy became a non-negotiable. Make sure that I was showing up every week and processing my own stuff by being a teacher. By taking a seat of authority which is also an essential part of creating a safe space for people. But to not buy the hype. And to always remember that I am in service to something bigger than myself and certainly bigger than my students, which is God. And that I have to be accountable to show up in my humanity because I know that is what spirit demands of me. And therapy helps me to unpack all this. To be honest and transparent. And to understand when I am in resistance to that transparency and work through it.
DONNA: Well, I think that part of the hype is that when you become a spiritual teacher, your problems vanish or you reach a certain place and certain level… Well, we’ve already thrown away the concept of enlightenment…From the point of view of the public, you are untouched by all the trifles of everyday life… But in fact, it is an ongoing practice. Modeling that is, I think, inspiring to others because it makes you real, as a teacher.
SEANE: To me, it’s essential. Because I’m a student, first. This whole teaching thing took me by surprise. I’m a committed student and have been the whole of my life. Not the whole of my life but the majority of my life. And I would be disappointed in myself if I missed this particular lifetime because I got caught up in these trappings, and avoided the deep inner work, especially since I have the resources to do it and a community that supports it. And I want to continue evolving and growing until I take my final breath… and peeling back the layers of my own humanity to expose my true identity… knowing that the lessons get more complex.
I just wrote a book and, in the book, it really takes you on that trajectory. The lessons don’t end, but your ability to be simultaneously in the unconscious and aware of the choices that you are making… that gap gets shortened and shortened. Let’s say that I’m doing something that is creating separation. Internally, oh, I see what I’m doing. Whereas, ten years ago, I would have defended my actions. I wouldn’t have even been able to see what is happening. Now its…hey wait a second. I see this! I may not be able to change it, in the moment, but I might be able to say “I’m sorry”quicker.
DONNA: Do you have an example? Does anything come to mind?
SEANE: Well, in the book, it deals with racism. Because the book is called, Revolution of the Soul. It comes out in September…
DONNA: I was just reading about it. It’s got quite a long title. It’s called Revolution of The Soul: Awaken to Love through Raw Truth; Radical Healing and Conscious Action.
SEANE: And in one of the final chapters of the book…. and it was a chapter I didn’t want to share. I’m embarrassed to share it. Because it was at a point in my spiritual development where I should have known better. Meaning, I had the awareness. I had the tools. I had the resources, and yet, I was still in a moment of trigger where I was not in present time… where my nervous system was deregulated. My thoughts reverted back to a belief system that lives within my body. That is inherited because of my culture, around race. To unpack that because it could have been sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism. In this particular story, in happened to be about racism, but it could have been about anything. And I wanted to reflect back to the audience that this work is very complex. It doesn’t end and it’s humbling… deeply humbling, but it’s also fraught with so many gifts because you can’t change it unless you can see it. And the fact that I was able to see it, meant that I was capable of causing less harm by being able in that moment, to recognize the intention in my body. The impulse of my unconscious choices and make a different choice.
Whereas, in the past, I wouldn’t have been able to make a different choice. And that’s what I want people to walk away with. This is not a one and done. Forgiveness is not a one and done. Empowerment is not a one and done. It is deep, courageous, committed work. But what you get at the end of this is your true self and its humanity and compassion for others. Because it’s messy and I hope… a good sense of humor because you are going to have to have one on the spiritual path. It’s just too weird. Too raw not to. So, that’s my example of something that has happened more recently. But I’m sure I can think of examples of things that happened just yesterday, that plunged me into my unconsciousness. But again, having the tools to make a different choice. That is what’s key.
DONNA: I asked you about your biggest challenge. How about your biggest accomplishment? Something that made you proud that you took this path.
SEANE: I think where I am most proud is with my relationships. With my partner, with his children, with my mother. My family. My friends. I’m very committed in my relationships… to being generous in my relationships. Loving is really important to me to prioritize in my life. Yoga has helped me to love better. And to receive love. And I’m not afraid to receive love from my friends or family or partner. And I think that is what I’m most proud of… that I’m able to show up in the world because I am so deeply loved… and have been able to love back, in return… that it’s fed my self confidence. That I can show up, and make mistakes, and be called out, and up, and in, and not let it shatter who I am. I think that my greatest accomplishment is my commitment to doing the work itself and not being afraid of it. The rest of it. I’m proud of the money raised. I’m proud of all that stuff. But it doesn’t define my practice. In the same way, it’s a byproduct of the practice. In the same way, my muscles are… my flexibility is… Doing service work is an extension of the deeper inner work. So, I think I’m most proud of doing the deeper inner work that’s led to all these other things.
DONNA: And if you were going to be taken from the planet tomorrow, what would you do today?
SEANE: I would get on a plane with my partner and my dog and go be with my mom. That would be it. You are going to make me cry even thinking about that. I would want nothing else in the world than to be gently surrounded by the people who have influenced my consciousness. Setting my intention for the next part of my journey and thanking them for the ways they’ve influenced me and inspired my participation in this world. I don’t think anything else would be important to me. Otherwise I’d just feel rushed and scattered to do it all. I’d want to thank everyone.
I’m very, very grateful for how blessed my life has been. I do exactly what I want to do every day. My job is to simply help people be happy. And there is no greater job, if you can call it that. And as a result of being able to do that, I’m deeply fulfilled and I’m just grateful. The people I love are alive and healthy. I really can’t ask for more. And at the same time, I want more. More awareness. More consciousness. More love. More peace. More commitment. But, that’s what I would do if it was my last night on earth. I’d want to be with my mom and with my family.
DONNA: Is that the most indispensable part of your practice? If we can call it that, gratitude?
SEANE: It’s a huge part of my practice. When I roll out my mat in the morning, I put my palms together and I dedicate every movement and every breath to a conflict or crisis in the world, or a person that needs healing. Or, to somebody I love. The practice is always ritualized. It’s prayer based. Because I know how much energy I’m channeling in. It feeds my own energetic body. But I recognize that at the same time, I can churn that energy outside of myself and extend it outward vibrationally, into the world, for the benefit of others.
And at the end of my practice, the very last thing I do, is thank God for all of it. For the light. For the shadow. For the birth. For the death. For all the people that have touched my soul and opened my heart. And to all the beings that have dropped me to my knees. I ask to never take a second for granted, but instead, to live in awe and wonderment for the magnificence and the beauty and the horror of it all. I ask for more tools. For more strength. For commitment. Patience. And I asked that as I awaken, as I get stronger and committed to my own inner life, that I be used in some capacity to be in service… so that I can, through the use of inside out transformational work, help create a freer and more equitable world for all. So yes, gratitude is a huge part of my personal practice.
DONNA: For those that are watching and may be inspired by your commitment to social work, seva, in the yoga world… maybe they are so inspired and they are thinking, I want to do that.… I want to make a difference… What is the most pressing issue today? Is there such a thing as one issue that needs immediate attention? Where do we start?
SEANE: Vote. 2020 is coming. Vote your values. Get involved in the system. Don’t pretend that your vote doesn’t count. Yoga is social justice. Yoga is environmental justice. Yoga is racial justice. It’s animal rights. Anywhere people are disempowered. Where there is not equity. Where there is not a fair division of resources. Where there is suffering, there needs to be Yoga. And what impacts the most people today, is our government. Policies that are enacted that give a lot to some, and not to others. We need to be committed within our community to vote our values. And hold our leadership accountable so that these resources are used in a way that benefits all beings, but especially those that have been oppressed.
That’s one thing that can be done… is to think locally. Find out what breaks your heart. And for some, that is a process. Often, your pain is what led to your purpose. People who have been alcoholics, in recovery… drug addicts… Who better than them to go out into the world and be of service to other people who are struggling on the path of alcoholism and drug addiction? They have a level of experience that has built around them that only they can be understanding and empathetic to. And be of service to. People who have dealt with divorce or the death of a loved one. PTSD. Perhaps that is where you will be called. It really depends. If you can’t tolerate the abuse that we see with our animal friends, then commit to veganism. Or get involved with organizations that challenge factory farming.
Off the mat and into the world. If people are really interested in finding a pathway organizationally to get involved, I recommend they go to offthematintotheworld.org. And participate in some of our trainings. We also have online trainings. We have justice pricing, which allows for people who don’t have access to resources to participate in these trainings. We offer scholarships. Our faculty are people who are teachers on the margins, who teach to all kinds of subjects. From race to politics. To understanding whiteness. To help people to understand the complexities of these conversations. To become more empowered in their communication. And so, it’s a good place to start. See if there is somewhere in those offerings that speak to them and start that process.
DONNA: offthematintotheworld.org. And now, if someone wants to sign up and train with you in your program, they can take that training into the issue or the area that is geared to them…
SEANE: Yes, there are five-week trainings and they are intense. They deal with personal and cultural trauma. Through the Yogic lens, but also through the lenses of social justice. And we explore purpose and what it means to “show up” as a conscious activist. And also, connecting different leaders. We have these small circles throughout the world. We train people to become regional leaders and then they work within their own community. And at the end of their own little mini-trainings, they do projects that are relevant to their community. We have a whole program that helps them go to that next level of leadership within their community, and develop it from there.
DONNA: And it can be done online?
SEANE: Yeah, it’s online. They can do the online training but to be with us in person, I would highly recommend because we take you through the embodied experience, which is essential. But that’s the place to go to, to find community… finding people who want to do this work.
DONNA: Thank you for mentioning animals. I just read yesterday that New Zealand is leading the way in acknowledging all animals as sentient beings and therefore, with the rights that go along with that. What have I not asked you that I should have?
SEANE: You asked me a lot! My hope is… Sept 3rd, my book comes out. A lot of the stuff that I spoken about in this conversation, that I unpack in the teachings of the book. To really explore the complexities of these subjects, but connecting it back to the roots and traditions of yoga. I share a lot of my own personal narratives. So, it’s very disclosing but with the intention of being able to show the reader… Here’s what was happening in the moment. But, here is actually what was happening in the subconscious that I didn’t know about. And here are the teachings that I can now see were actually unfolding right in front of me. But when you are in it you can’t know it.
So, my hope is that people get Revolution of The Soul. I’ll be on a book tour starting Sept 5th for about six weeks. I hope people come and visit me. All that information will be at SeaneCorn.com. And come say Hi. I’ll sign the book. And also, create pathways for people to tell them “if you are interested in this work, go see this teacher.” They’re doing things on that level that I can never touch. And here’s the community that you want to be a part of… Beyond my own work at Off the Mat.
DONNA: We will have all of this information under the interview. Well, I want to thank you for your time. It’s just been delightful to talk about these things with you. Thank you for all the wisdom that you shared with us.
SEANE: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that and anyone who is listening. My hope is that you recognize… Please commit to doing the work. No matter how challenging or how overwhelming it may seem. It’s a gift that we get to unpack our own moments and beliefs. Because the gift is that we get ourselves back. We get to come home for ourselves. And for most people in the world… because of systemic repression, they will literally be jailed or killed for asking questions like, “what is truth? Or, what is God? Or, what is love? Or, who do I serve?” But, for most of us, that is not our particular circumstance. So how dare we not get deep, and get raw, and get real! And unpack all of our humanity, so that we can show up in a way that is true to our soul. And that is in alignment with love. With God. And with each other. So, I hope that people recognize that this is a gift and take advantage of it.
DONNA: Indeed. Words to live by. Thank you, again.
SEANE: God bless.
DONNA: God bless you.
Read and Watch Part I Here: Awaken Interviews Seane Corn Pt 1 – Our True Identity Is Pure Love And Truth
Read and Watch Part II Here: Awaken Interviews Seane Corn Pt 2 – Moving From The Individual To The Collective